I pour a New Glarus Belgian Red because this one tasted sweet. I listen to Michael Franti's "Sound of Sunshine" album because the win over the Viqueens left me smiling and with a skip to my step.
Here are my quick vibes over the last week:
* If you've followed this blog long enough, you know that I believe in the CHAMPIONSHIP DRIVE! 14:52 to play. On the road. Hotly contested. Against a Division rival. On a day in which the ball isn't bouncing your way. Leading 17-13. 87 yards from pay dirt. GAME ON!
* The CHAMPIONSHIP DRIVE ended with 8:34 seconds left in the 4th Quarter. 6 minutes. 18 seconds. Rodgers to Lacy on the shovel pass. A Green Bay Packers TD! Emphatic!
* The CHAMPIONSHIP drive included two big third down conversions.
* Eddie Lacy was an absolute BOSS on the CHAMPIONSHIP DRIVE.
* But, the defense couldn't seal the deal. And, once again, the offense delivered the knockout punch. EDDIE for 3 yards. EDDIE for 5 yards. EDDIE for 4 yards and a Packers 1st down. EDDIE for 5 yards. EDDIE for 10 yards, another Packers 1st down and an absolute dagger into the hearts of the Viqueens. BALLGAME! Not just one offensive drive, but two true CHAMPIONSHIP DRIVES. A SUPER feeling!
* This win was special. Rodgers wasn't at his best, but still, we found a way to pull out a tough win. On a day when things didn't feel right. Impressive!
* The character of the team was tested in Minnesota. Super Bowl teams need those types of games. They build confidence. They bring about mental mettle. We left shining brightly.
* The most nerve releasing plays of the year: 1.) Rodgers to Nelson on 4th down in Miami. 2.) Rodgers to Adams on the fake spike in Miami. 3.) Rodgers to AQ81! for the TD in Miami. 4.) The pass from Rodgers to EDDIE in Minnesota for the TD.
* Here's yet another reason that I love Mike McCarthy. I've often said that I believe he's a player's coach. Clearly, for most of the year, Brad Jones has been in the dog house. But, with injuries to Nick Perry and Jayrone Elliot and with Sam Barrington and Jamari Lattimore not performing up to expectations, McCarthy knows that he needs Brad Jones in some form. So, what does he do? He makes him a Captain against the Viqueens. McCarthy is a Leader. He has his finger on the pulse of this team. He's a mastermind of creating a culture founded on camaraderie and good vibes. He keeps the locker room unified. He makes the best of what's around.
* Great play design on the inside screen to Kuhn on the first play from scrimmage. Fun to see Linsley & Bakhtiari hustling 8-9 yards downfield to lay blocks.
* Strong performance from Jayrone Elliot. Showed speed off the edge. Also had a nice special teams tackle.
* EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE! Ring the chants! He was a possessed bruiser.
* Josh Boyd, once again, showed both burst & strength off the snap. Consistently.
* When AJ Hawk runs, it looks like he's stuck in quick sand.
* Mike Neal was awful. Undisciplined. Unaccountable. Unacceptable.
* Eddie Lacy is an underrated pass blocker. He sees the blitz well. He wins the point.
* TJ Lang is a crucial component to this teams success. A true anchor.
* Just another day at the office for Corey Linsley. Solid as a rock. Quarantined from the Earth.
* I wrote this last week and it got love, so I'll offer it again: Rodgers be nimble. Rodgers be quick. Rodgers jump over that 1st down stick!
* Thought the officiating was awful. Especially in the 1st half. Inconsistent. Missed a clear cut pass interference when Jordy was roughed up on a 3rd down, but called a minimal grab on Hyde on an important 2nd Quarter 4th down. By the way, the McCarthy reaction after the no-call on Jordy was mint with animation.
* Josh Boyd swallowing running backs. Cool to see.
* Congrats, on your first TD, Richard Rodgers! And, man, what a pass by Aaron Rodgers on the play. Great field recognition. Brilliant!
* Josh Sitton is such a stud. An absolute wall. Surprisingly athletic. Moves well.
* EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE!
* Why did the Packers start kicking it short? Know Cordarrelle is dangerous, but go make the tackle!
* Rodgers grabbing first downs with his legs. Skipping over 1st down sticks. Great fun!
* Morgan Burnett meant business. Played decent. Grabbed the pick I thought he might get. Was disappointed when the penalty negated the play.
* Fashion win: Micah Hyde in yellow gloves. SHOWCASE, Casey Hayward, doing the same. Also, T-Mon with the yellow wrist bands. Pimpin'!
* The 3rd & 10 pass from Rodgers to Cobb with just over 3 minutes to play in the 1st Quarter was absolute perfection.
* ¿Donde esta Julius Peppers? Quiet game from the big fella. Outside of one nice play in the run game.
* Tim Masthay was punting with near perfection.
* Another active day for Clay at ILB. No real flash plays, but liked his hustle and persistence.
* For the third week in a row, Micah Hyde made a huge play. This week, both his interception and sack were crucial. That said, Hyde didn't perform exceptionally well as a tackler in the open field.
* On the 4th & 1 run play in the 1st half, I was really hoping HaHa was going to plug that hole. He was a second late, but he read the right gap and came with purpose.
* I want to see more of Jayrone Elliot this week.
* Ummmmm, Bryan Bulaga. That's not how you win a contract.
* AQ81! with a couple of big catches to get us inside the Red Zone!
* EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE! Get up. Get up. Get up and over that pile. For the touchdown! Hope you caught that Bob Uecker vibe!
* Ras House, Sammy Swagga and T-Mon were all beaten badly on a number of plays. Thankfully, Teddy was erratic.
* Datone Jones gives effort, but he's just a guy.
* Guion was brutal.
* Nice special teams tackle, Jamari Lattimore!
* Big 48-yard kick, Mason Crosby.
* Know he had the block in the back penalty, but still, Davante Adams is improving as a blocker every week. Also noteworthy, so is Richard Rodgers.
* Nice tackle, Sam Barrington! Wish it wasn't 5 yards down field.
* Another huge officiating mistake: Packers first drive of the 2nd half. Jordy with the sensational catch. He was never touched. He was called down. Should've been another 20 yards for the Packers.
* Wish Demetri Goodson didn't get the penalty. Felt he looked good as a gunner prior to that play.
* Mike Daniels with the sack! He was quick off the snap. And, winning the leverage battle.
* The screen to EDDIE is a thing.
Not much change to my 2015 Packers Mock Draft, but a name to consider is Quinten Rollins, CB, Miami (Ohio). He’s raw, but instinctive. A natural athlete who was a 4-year letterman at PG. Here is a small list of players that I’m looking at in each round at this stage:
Round 1: Danny Shelton, DT, Washington; Devin Funchess, TE/WR, Michigan; Kevin White, WR, Dub-V; Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State; Alvin Dupree, OLB, Kentucky; Marcus Peters, CB, Washington.
Round 2: Hau’oli Kikaha, OLB, Washington; Ty Montgomery, WR, Stanford; Derron Smith, S, Fresno State; Josh Harper, WR, Fresno State; Denzel Perryman, ILB, _; Rashad Greene, WR, FSU; Ben Koyack, TE, ND; Cody Prewitt, S, Ole Miss.
Round 3: Justin Hardy, WR, ECU; Trey Flowers, DE/OLB, Arkansas; Kurtis Drummond, S, Michigan State; Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA; Tyeler Davison, DT, Fresno State; Jeremy Langford, RB, Michigan State.
Round 4: Jake Ryan, LB, Michigan; Levi Norwood, WR, Baylor; Za’Darius Smith, OLB, Kentucky; Bernard Blake, CB, Colorado State; Quinten Rollins, CB, Miami (Ohio); Preston Smith, DE/OLB, Mississippi State; David Cobb, RB, Minnesota.
Round 5: Kenny Bell, WR, Nebraska; Gerald Christian, TE, Louisville; Curtis Riley, CB, Fresno State; Junior Sylvestre, LB, Toledo; Tony Lippett, WR, Michigan State.
Round 6: Jake Waters, QB, Kansas State; Olsen Pierre, DT, _; Blake Bell, TE, Oklahoma.
Round 7: Nick Perry, S, Alabama; John Timu, ILB, Washington; Karl Mickelsen, ILB, Fresno State.
This week – it’s the Patriots. In what appears to be a match-up between two teams that believe they’re headed to the Super Bowl. With temperatures projected to be in the high teens to the low 20’s, it’ll be a grind it out kind of game. Especially as the sun sets and the temperatures dip further.
I expect a rowdy crowd. A loud crowd. A festive crowd. We haven’t had a home game like this in a long time. An AFC opponent. Thanksgiving weekend. Both teams in prime position to grab onto home field throughout the playoffs.
This Patriots team is different than the Patriots teams of years past. Sure, it’s still Bill Belichick and Tom Brady at the forefront. But, this team has an absolutely intimidating defense with dominant players. Vince Wilfork is an absolute MAN in the middle of the defense. Jamie Collins is one of the most underrated players in the NFL. Collins is a star on the NE defense. He plays with speed. He can come on the rush, he can drop in coverage and he’s a great tackler in space. I wish he played in GB. If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you know that I was high on Akeem Ayers. Well, since being traded to NE, Ayers has been a star. Dont’a Hightower brings a physical presence. Jonathan Casillas adds good depth to the LB core. Rob Ninkovich can get to the QB. Dominique Easley and Chris Jones are both solid at holding their gaps and plugging the run. And, NE has the best secondary in football. Darrelle Revis can still ball. Brandon Browner is as solid as it gets. He’s physical. He has length. And, he can run. Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung are ball hawks. Tavon Wilson, Alfonzo Dennard, and Kyle Arrington add good depth, but all have limitations. This defense is playing at a ridiculously high level and what’s amazing is that they’re doing this without Chandler Jones. It wouldn’t shock me if Jones returns this week. If so, he’ll give the Packers OT’s all kinds of fits as he’s an elite pass rusher.
Offensively, outside of Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots aren’t littered with big name skill making players, but they have solid system figures. Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola are quick, shifty slot WR’s that will give the Packers issues over the middle. Brandon LaFell is a solid target on the WR screen. Tim Wright is a great Red Zone target. He has solid hands and uses his body well. Shane Vereen is a weapon out of the backfield. LeGarrette Blount adds a physical dimension to the Patriots offensive backfield. Jonas Gray is a journeyman who was a stud against Indy. NE can attack from a variety of ways. Dan Connolly and Nate Solder are proven veterans on the left side of the OL. Sebastian Vollmer has been solid for years in NE.
Early in the game, I anticipate NE to run a number of WR screens. They’ll get the ball into the hands of Edelman, Amendola and LaFell on the outside. They’ll force our CB’s to make tackles. They’ll try to soften us up on the outside. I expect NE to be patient. A number of run plays early in the game. They’ll get both Gronk and Tim Wright involved at TE. Belichick attacks weaknesses. The Packers have been unable to cover TE’s this year. Belichick will also aim to get Vereen open on a HB circle. Hawk cannot cover Gronk or Vereen.
With that said, I believe NE comes out running. They’ll try to test our defensive front that has been unable to stop the run in ’14. A big difference between NE and other teams we’ve faced is patience. Where other teams have gone away from the run game early, Brady is tried and true. He’s patient. He’s diligent. He does what it takes to win the game. The Patriots will believe that they can win the game by running the football and grabbing 4-6 yards at a time. Mixing those run plays with a variety of WR screens and then opening things up for a big play over the middle to Gronk.
How do the Packers cover Gronk? The local media is suggesting Brad Jones. Yes, Brad Jones. Are you kidding me? If I’m Dom Capers, my solution is Sean Richardson. He has the toughness. He has the speed. He’s tough enough to ante up in the run game, if necessary. Brad Jones is not the answer. In fact, when the Patriots come with 2 TE sets, it’d be my strategy to cover Wright with Hyde and Gronk with Richardson. I’d play a 4 man front. 1 ILB (Clay). And a rotation of 6 DB’s for most of the game.
I’d like to see the Packers target the right interior of the Patriots OL with a variety of inside blitzes. While Brady is a legend, he isn’t mobile. He’s an old school pocket passer. Send Mike Neal on inside stunts. Bring Clay up the middle as he’ll win with quickness. We’ll need Guion, Boyd, Daniels and Datone Jones to be aggressive up the middle. The aim is to knock Brady off of his spot.
I’d also have Peppers collapse the right side of the line and send Clay on an inside-out blitz around Peppers. In this set, I’d have Jayrone Elliot coming on a speed rush from the outside against Solder at LT. We can create pressure on Brady. We can irritate him. We can frustrate him.
Offensively, the Packers have to spread the field. I’d attack whoever is playing the 3rd CB for the Patriots. I wouldn’t stay away from Browner or Revis. In fact, I’d attack Browner on double moves. Browner will use his hands and draw flags. But, the reality is that Rodgers has confidence in Nelson, Adams and Cobb. All 3 can beat the 3rd NE CB. That’s our mismatch. Further, I’d use some 4 WR sets and try to get Boykin involved. I wish that we could depend on Bostick because this would be a perfect game to get him involved, but I’m starting to lose hope that he’ll ever make a play for us in ’14. The guy just cannot stay healthy.
I’m expecting a trademark Aaron Rodgers day. Especially in the 1st half. Then, in the 2nd half, we see EDDIE! The Lambeau Faithful echoes chants of “EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE!” The playoff spirit is alive. It’s well. ‘Tis the Holiday season.
The secondary gets a big turnover in the 3rd Quarter. Rodgers capitalizes on the Brady mistake. That’s the difference.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! I’m both happy and thankful for those that read this blog. I also appreciate the likes, shares and RT on social media. It’s helped my readership and keeps me motivated to continue this blog. Bless up and vibe on.
Go Pack Go!