Thursday, December 24, 2015

My Take -> Week 16

Greetings, G-Force.

10-4. Winners of three in a row. Leading the NFC North. Yet, somehow, Packers fans are up-in-arms over this team. Not me. Just as the Spirit of Santa will live forever, so will my belief in the Green Bay Packers.

I sip a 2014 Crooked Stave St Bretta. It's a dark ale that is brewed with citrus and fermented in Oak Foeders. Last year - it was bursting with citrus. Now, the Brett is taking over. It's becoming funky. The fruit is disappearing quickly. Time to pop open your St Bretta's that are at least a year old. Unless, of course, you want a mouthful of Brett, which isn't a bad buzz. The music is soft as the kids are sleep and my 3 month old is a really light sleeper. I have a quiet addiction to the Of Monsters & Men "My Head Is An Animal" album. I find it to be calming, yet happily inspirational.

Here are my thoughts over the last week:

* If you're looking to read something about how the Packers are currently in the doldrums, please stop reading. You can turn to a variety of other internet outlets for that. You can also get it from most of the local news sources in WI. You can also get that from most of your fellow Packers fans. You know - those same Packers fans that begged for the Packers to trade for Steve Smith before the trade deadline and those same Packers fans that were pissed that the Packers didn't make a move for the likes of Vernon Davis. Well, Packers fans, let me tell you how that would've played out: Steve Smith got injured shortly after the trade deadline and he's done for the year. Vernon Davis has been an absolute stiff in Denver. In the last two games, he's dropped crucial 3rd down passes late in the 4th Quarter. He's been such a disappointment that their are many Broncos fans that'd like him cut. Packers fans need to remember to TrusT Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy. Yes, it's spelt TrusT. Capitalize those T's because Ted Thompson should've earned your respect by now. If the Packers are going to fix what's happening on offense, it's going to have to happen from within the Locker Room. Someone on the depth chart has to play the role of next man up. At this point, Abby seems like he's our best option.

* I often hear about the stats of the Packers players or the Packers team. Growing up, I was a stats junkie. I loved Fantasy Football. I'm no longer attached to Fantasy. I feel that - in many ways - it's ruined fandom in the sport. Now, the only stat I care about in a football game is the final score. Style points don't matter in sports. The chief objective is to win the game. The Packers have won 10 games. They've lost 4 games. They lead the NFC North. And, they're in striking distance of gaining a first-round bye. Yes, there's room for improvement, but there's a lot to like. The Packers are winning games. Games in which they are seemingly being out played. But, Mike McCarthy's team is finding ways to win. Without Jordy Nelson and Ty Montgomery. Without a productive Eddie Lacy. Without a healthy OL. That, to me, is exciting.

* Clearly, Aaron Rodgers is disgruntled. He has issues with Mike McCarthy. Their relationship is broken. I hope it can be repaired. As they're both better with each other. Rodgers needs to be reminded of what it's like to be coached by someone like Mike Sherman or Ray Rhodes. McCarthy rejuvenated Favre's career. He made Favre a better QB. Rodgers better be careful as to how he chooses his words and his actions in the near future.

* The Packers offense is getting close. While the offense didn't start off with fire, I loved that Lacy or Cobb touched the ball 4 of the first 5 plays. McCarthy knows to get the ball to his playmakers. McCarthy loves to hide Cobb. He disguises him in an attempt to get him running forward with pace. I know I'm alone on this, but I liked a lot of what I saw out of the offense. I liked the design. There were play-action roll-outs. We saw crossing routes lead to first-down conversions on 2 & !7 and on 3rd & 7. After blowing the 14-0 lead, we witnessed a potent 3 play, 53 yard TD that gave the Packers a lead that they never relinquished. We saw a tough minded 19 play, 92 yard drive that ate up 8:11 off of the clock. At times, offensively, we showed a "Lion Heart." Sure, there were still a lot of errors. Adams dropped two balls, Janis dropped one, Richard Rodgers dropped a ball, and so did Kuhn on a perfectly designed screen. We also saw James Jones questionably push off in the end-zone that negated a TD. There were also two turnovers that showed poor form.

* The Raiders are an underrated team. They've beaten Denver, in Denver. They should've beaten Denver in Oakland. They had Pittsburgh on the ropes in the Steel City. Therefore, I find it easy to take a glass half-full view of this game. Had either Janis or Adams caught passes by the goal line and had Starks held onto the football...and had Rodgers not thrown the interception near the goal line...and had Crosby's FG not been blocked, this would've been a blow-out and the Packers might've put up more than 40 points. Yes, there are a lot of ifs and ands, but we showed promise last week.

* I am happy that AQ81 is back. I hope he's fit. I hope he's ready. Aaron Rodgers trusts him. We need to get the MVP's mojo back. It's time to surround him with receivers that he has confidence in. Right now, it feels like he trusts Abby, JJ and Cobb. We know that he's been comfortable with AQ81 previously. I'd play single back and go 3-wide. Also, AQ81 is a much better blocker than Richard Rodgers. AQ81 should benefit the run game.

* Davante Adams. My least favorite Packer. Full of athleticism. All the talents that you look for in an elite WR. But, he's soft. Both mentally and physically. He can't play the ball in the air. His hands are suspect. And, he complains more than any Packer that I can remember. He's hard to cheer for. I had huge expectations for him. He's been a total disappointment. His playing time should be significantly cut back.

* Need to see more of Abby. Liked his footwork down the sideline. If we're going to make a run this year, we might need his naturally instinctive route running and his sure hands.

* Great game, JJ. Good to see you rocking out in that hoodie.

* Randall Cobb showing a bit of his tough as nails persona. You know, the one that we've loved since he arrived in Green Bay.

* I'm as big of an Eddie Lacy supporter as you're going to get, but I didn't think he ran hard in the 2nd half. Want to see him trying to punish defenders in the secondary. He got to the second level on a couple of occasions, but he didn't explode. He left yards on the field. Lacy also was slow in blitz pick-up.

* Great game, David Bakhtiari. He was physical. He was quick. He used his hands well. Hurt to see him get injured. Hope he's healthy.

* TJ Lang is clearly not healthy. I find him to be our best OL. But, he was pushed around, at times. He's gutting it out and I give him mad props for that, but he doesn't appear to be healthy.

* Another solid performance by Tretter.

* The Packers have to figure out 3rd & 1. They're getting blown off the ball. Right from the snap. Next time, I'd go play action to AQ81 in the flat.

* The DL elevated in a big way. JP played his best game in 2015. Letroy Guion appears to be taking steps. Two weeks in a row, Guion has flashed in the run game. Datone Jones held the edge in the run game. Mike Daniels got pursuit. Mike Neal looked quicker than he's ever looked as a pro. BJ played with force. Once again, Mike Pennel held the point.

* YELLOW JAKE. He's growing into his role. He's around the ball. He's responsible. He's getting to the sideline. He's shedding blockers. Looks to have a little Keith Brooking in him.

* Clay Matthews wasn't himself against Oakland. Even though his bull rush was solid. He was guessing wrong in the run game. He missed a couple of tackles. Wasn't the Clay that we know and love.

* Joe Thomas had a good push on the Micah Hyde interception.

* Speaking of, tone setting play by Hyde! Great coverage. Loved how he undercut the route. And then, always a treat to see him putting his return skills on display.

* Jeff Janis. He's turning into a Pro Bowl caliber special teams player. He had a great KO return and as a gunner, he was first class on multiple occasions.

* Morgan Burnett made an appearance. First in the run game. And, then I really liked the pass deflection. Wished he'd have picked it off, but a good play nonetheless.

* Damarious Randall with the pick 6! Big play, rook! Sure, he had troubles, but that'll happen to a newbie. Huge 1st Quarter play to give the Packers a 2-score lead on the road.

* Q-Rollins. Love this kid's game. He gets his hands on the football. He sees the ball. He'll learn to catch those picks, I think. He could've easily had 3-4 interceptions. Had his hands on the ball. Didn't hang on. Love how he tackles with aggression as well. Kid has a future!

* Get well, Sammy.

* Sad to see that Ty Montgomery is done for the year. Thought he'd play a major role down the stretch.

* Enjoyed seeing Jayrone Elliott playing meaningful snaps early in the game. Brought energy.

* Aaron Ripkowski is a special teams guru. Pure hustle. He gets down the field with grit. And, he finds the returner. Fun to watch.

* Sir Charles Woodson. ONE. Forever. Happy Retirement. I love you, man.

This week - it's the Cardinals. With a win, the Packers will trail the Cardinals for the #2 seed by 1 game. But, the Cardinals play Seattle in Week 17. It's also possible that the Packers v 'queens game in Week 17 will be flexed to the night game. If that happens, the Packers will know whether they're playing for the #2 seed. This could all play into the Packers advantage. But, the Packers have to win on Sunday. I hear that their will be numerous Packers fans in the Stadium. Get loud!

It wouldn't shock me if the Cardinals won this game 38-20. But, this team has flashed greatness on a couple of occasions. Most notably against Seattle and Minnesota. Their have been 5 games that felt like the Packers were playing playoff teams: SEA, KC, DEN, CAR, and MN. In those games, the Packers are 3-2. In their 3 wins, the Packers have played really inspired football. Arguably, their 3 best performances of the year. I'm not going to be surprised if that same type of thing happens this week.

The Cardinals are loaded at talent on offense. Carson Palmer has found youth in Arizona - much in the same way as Kurt Warner did before him. Larry Fitzgerald is still a star at WR. Michael Floyd is a big target who can run. John Brown can get deep with the best of 'em. Jaron Brown is a long WR who high-points the ball and consistently wins jump balls. At TE, Jermaine Gresham and Darren Fells are both steady targets who couple as willing blockers. Prior to the draft, I had this to say about David Johnson: "He's a sublime one cut runner who sees the hole. He catches the ball with elite style. He runs with elegance. He lowers his shoulder with desire. He reminds me of Matt Forte." I still feel that way. Johnson scares me. The Cardinals have invested in their OL. They've added Mike Iupati and Jared Veldheer via FA to man the left side of the line. They drafted Jonathan Cooper in Round 1 in 2013 to play Guard. Bobbie Massie can be beaten at RT. And, Lyle Sendlein can be pushed back with an inside rush.

Defensively, Arizona packs a punch. They'll be without Tyrann Mathieu, but they'll be getting Rashad Johnson back from injury. Even without Mathieu, they have a tremendous secondary. Patrick Peterson is elite. Tony Jefferson is undersized, but he's still physically dominant. Jerraud Powers is a talented cover CB. Rashad Johnson plays the football in the air at a high level. DJ Swearinger is a physical presence who swarms in the middle of the field. They have depth in the secondary. And, they rotate often. Up front, outside of Calais Campbell - who is a staple - the Cardinals rotate their DL often. Rodney Gunter is tireless in his pursuit. Dwight Freeney can still bring the spin move on passing downs. Cory Redding and Red Bryant are beefy run stoppers. Coming out of college, I was pining for the Packers to draft Deone Bucannon. I saw him as inside the box S. The Cardinals play him at LB. Bucannon has been a menacing force. Bucannon has 11 tackles for loss, an interception, a TD, 99 tackles, 2 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries. What a beast! This offseason the Cardinals added both Sean Weatherspoon and Markus Golden to bolster their LB crops, but neither has been a high performer. Kevin Minter and Alex Okafor have been the weak links on the defense.

Bruce Arians is an offensive wizard. A dynamic play caller.

The Packers need Sammy Swagga healthy. With Sammy, I think the Packers can match up well with Arizona's talented WR's. Sammy can play Floyd. Randall fights Fitzgerald. Rollins and/or Hayward runs with Brown. I also think that Hyde matches up well with Gresham in coverage. It'll be crucial for the Packers to win the run game and to slow down David Johnson early in the game. If Johnson can be slowed early, it won't give as much merit to the play action deep ball that Arians is sure to try on multiple occasions. Arians - it seems - tries the deep ball more than anyone. And, Palmer has been a pin point passer on those routes.

Look for Josh Brown to get at least two bombs thrown his way. Look for Floyd to get a deep ball on a fly route and a couple of 20 yard come back routes. They'll use Larry Fitzgerald on crossing routes and on 15-20 yard posts.

Carson Palmer is throwing with confidence. He's fitting the ball into tight spots. Look for him to make a mistake.

And, call me crazy, but I feel like the Packers DL will come to play. I think Clay will be shooting gaps. I think he'll be making plays at the line of scrimmage. I believe he'll rebound from a disappointing performance. Expect Raji, Daniels, Guion and Pennel to all play big roles in the run game.

I've been waiting for the MVP to have a break out game. A precision performance. Where he's in the zone. He's had big games in Arizona before. He has one again. Arizona will come on a multitude of blitzes. The Packers will pick them up. The MVP will get rid of the ball quickly. He finds Cobb on crossing routes. He connects with Jones a quick back-shoulder route. He finds AQ81 on a down and out. There's a well-timed screen. Abby grabs a comeback route. Adams shakes for 6 yards after a 4 yard hitch. Almost oddly, the timing clicks.

Lacy runs hard. Starks does the same. It's a coming out party - of sorts - for the Packers offense.

Out of a DT spot, JP makes a big play getting in the face of Palmer on third down.

Packers 27
Cardinals 23

Keep the faith! Merry Christmas!

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Friday, December 18, 2015

My Take -> Week 15

Greetings, G-Force.

The Holidays are more fun when the Packers are relevant. It was an absolute treat to enjoy a Sunday at Lambeau Field. This time of year, it's common to hear "Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas." Last Sunday was certainly Jolly. But, if the Celtic meaning of Holly is to be the ruler of winter, the weather didn't do it's part. Thankfully, the Green Bay Packers did hold their end of the winter bargain. A dominating 4th Quarter that had the Packers Faithful rejoicing in one another's arms.

A trip to Lambeau is always a day to cherish. I see old friends and a bunch of family members. It was great to have the Grill Master himself, Vargas, rocking out on his tailgating job. It was a true delight to have PatRad pouring heady beers. It was epic to share a beer with Jon Longley and his bro. I was blessed to hang with my Uncle Pat, my Uncle Jeff, my Aunt Mary, my brother-in-law Brian, my cousins Ryan, Emily, and Mary, and Mary's boyfriend Anthony in the parking lot. My Mom and my sister, Marni, sat in the box. I sat in the stands with my Uncle Jeff, my brother-in-law Brian, and my cousins Ryan, Cindy, Kim, and Brian. With my Dad jamming the tunes, needless to say, there were plenty of FAMILY HUGS at Lambeau. Family. Holidays. Lambeau. Energetically, the spirit should offer victories in that scenario. The good times were rolling. And, while it's Thursday night, I'm still struggling with my voice. I've been hoarse since Sunday. I'm also probably still intoxicated. Lambeau was dope. My family is dope. And, in the words of the Hard Working Americans, "Dope is Dope." Oh, and if you haven't buzzed into the Hard Working Americans, what are you waiting for? It's a collaboration of musical superstars. And, one of those stallions, Chad Staehly, reigns from Green Bay. He's also a die hard Packers fan. Vibe into the Hard Working Americans. Your musical mind will emancipate brilliance. I promise. Dope is Dope, man.

I have two albums and two beers by my side. I'll be spinning the Emmylou Harris "Light of the Stable" vinyl and the Curtis Mayfield "Superfly" record. If you haven't heard Emmylou sing "Silent Night" - make sure you do so this Holiday season. And, watching Eddie Lacy run last Sunday, "Superfly" seems like an appropriate word to bounce to. I'm sipping a Boulevard Love Child 6. Frankly, it's my least favorite of the Love Child's. No fruit sensation. Only a light sour feel. Can't feel the barrel age. A decent funk. Not sure I'll purchase again. I've just popped a Founder's Breakfast Stout. When in the Midwest, it's a staple of my December diet. I had to fly home a 4-pack. So, if I fall off track during this blog, bare with me. Please. And thanks.

Here are my quick vibes from the last week:

* MIKE MCCARTHY CALLING PLAYS! And, suddenly, the ball is consistently in the hands of Eddie Lacy and Randall Cobb. There was creativity. There was design. The Packers were calling plays that set up future plays. The defense was confused. There were backs and WR's running in the open field. I'll never understand why it took so long for this to occur, but nonetheless, I'm happen the Head Coach is back in charge. Oh, and it seemed like people were having fun once again. Smiles bring success. In sports and in life.

* The Packers were close to making me a full-on believer. Up 14-0. With the ball. Less than 2 minutes on the clock. I wanted 3 points. A 3-score lead. Felt it could've been a first-half dagger. They had a 2nd chance in the 3rd Quarter. They failed again. While the victory tasted great, the Packers were unable to deliver a CHAMPIONSHIP DRIVE early in the game. The Cowboys were allowed to hang around. Against a better team, the Packers may not be so fortunate to come away with victory if they don't close the game when given the opportunity in the first 3 Quarters.

* 'Tis the Season. Santa resides in your local mall. A wreath hangs from your front door. Christmas lights line the streets. And, Eddie Lacy is darting into the secondary!

* Aaron Rodgers. We're spoiled. We expect him to be robotic. In 2015, he's human. He's still excellent. He's just not the supernatural player that we're accustomed to watching. Still, he's making throws that we just don't see in by other QB's. 0-0. Clock nearing 11:00 to play in the 2nd Quarter. The Packers were facing a 3rd & 10. The 13-yard strike to James Jones was an absolute beauty.

* The screen pass to Starks for a TD. Magnificent play design. Also, how about the athleticism by Lang and Tretter on the play? Both hustling into the open field. Fantastic.

* Speaking of Tretter. I'm not a masterful evaluator of Centers by any means, but for my amateur eye, it appears as though the Packers are benefitting from Tretter's athleticism. He moves better than Linsley. He isn't as strong as Linsley, but regardless, he's been smart in moving defenders. He's getting to the 2nd level. It'll be interesting to see how the Packers decide to play their cards when Linsley is healthy.

* Richard Rodgers continues to show that he's a lethal Red Zone target. His 7th TD of the year. On pace for 9. That was extremely predictable before the season.

* Truly exciting to watch Randall Cobb block. I've felt like the blocking by our WR's has been less than we've seen in past years since the injury to Ty Montgomery. But, Cobb really elevated his game in the blocking arena this past weekend. Great to see.

* Aaron be nimble. Aaron be quick. Aaron jump over that first down stick. The MVP was lethal with his legs.

* Jeff Janis showed Pro Bowl skills as a special teams gunner. Truly dominant performance by Janis.

* Is there a better mudder in the NFL than Eddie Lacy?

* Riveting to see Clay go untouched for a forceful sack. We're spoiled to have him in Green & Gold.

* Congrats to Mike Daniels. Stoked to have him in Titletown, U.S.A. for the foreseeable future.

* Mike Pennel can play in this league. Multiple dominating plays by Pennel. Including a huge tackle for loss near the goal line. He's really impressed throughout the 2015 campaign.

* Big play of the game. 3rd & 1. From the Dallas 10. After the Packers had been stopped on 4th & Goal. The Cowboys run Turbin left. Appeared to have an easy first down. But, Letroy Guion releases from the block. Sheds to his left with a sudden split. He aggressively tosses Turbin to the turf just shy of the first down. Guion's best play of the year. Gave the Packers good field position. Set up the Packers first scoring drive.

* YELLOW JAKE. Again showing that he can play in this league. He intimidates WR's that are coming over the middle. He strikes fear. He plays smart. He's a sure tackler. It also appears as though Clay respects YELLOW JAKE. To my eye, the body language says so anyways. They interact well. Sound communication. He might have a big play in his future. Possibly picking off a crossing route. He's close.

* Great tackling, Casey Hayward.

* With HaHa, Damarious Randall, Sammy Swagga, and Q-Rollins; the Packers secondary looks to have a youthfully bright future. Randall and Rollins can play.

* Still waiting for Burnett to make an impact on the 2015 season.

* EDDIE! With the burst! Showing quickness. Displaying desire. Flashing a smile. He's ready to put us on his back.

* Loved seeing Jayrone Elliott making plays. 3 of them, in fact.

* The Packers need to bring back BJ Raji.

* Mike Neal and Nick Perry won't play for Green Bay in 2016.

* Sublime to hear the EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE! chants at Lambeau last Sunday. Magical evening.

* Enjoyed seeing Chris Banjo make an impactful play on special teams.

* 21-7. 3:11 to play. Packers take over at the Dallas 38. 4 carries for Lacy. 38 yards. TD. If the Packers want the 2015 season to finish in a Super fashion, we need that type of commanding performance from the dreaded RB. We need him joyful. We need him animated. We need him forcing defenders to make business decision when approaching contact.

* Think about this: the Packers beat Oakland on Sunday. Then Sunday night becomes an Eagles party as Philly will be hosting the Cardinals. Should the Eagles win, the following week, the Packers will be playing the Cardinals for the #2 seed in the NFC. Makes me stoked to even think about it.

This week - it's the Raiders in Oakland. Which instantly brings back memories of the Irv Favre game. Boy, was Brett magical on that epic Monday Night.

The Raiders can ball. They have weapons. They can put up points. They force turnovers. They get after the QB. They're a dangerous opponent. Especially when they're playing at home. They have a clear cut home field advantage.

Offensively, the Packers better be prepared. Michael Crabtree is playing his best football. Amari Cooper is an impressive rookie WR who is lethal after the catch. Latavius Murray is a physical RB who finds his way to the 2nd level. Derek Carr can whip the football. When Carr isn't making mistakes, he's making big plays. But, he's still learning to master the position in the NFL. Still, he's capable of throwing for 300 yards and 2 TD's on any given Sunday. I've liked Mychal Rivera as a receiving TE since he was in college. Same with Clive Walford. Both will give the Packers problems. The Raiders OL can be beat. The Packers have to win the line of scrimmage and get into Carr's face. If they do, Carr will make mistakes.

The Raiders defense attacks the QB. If you've followed my blog long enough, you know what I think about Khalil Mack. I was writing about him before his Senior year at Buffalo. Kid can play. I wanted him in Green Bay. Saw him as a 1st round pick long before most "experts" on the net. Dan Williams is a plug in the middle of the defense. Mario Edwards is having a solid year along the DL. Curtis Lofton can still man the middle of the field. Malcolm Smith is a play making LB with great instincts. The Raiders secondary can be exposed, but the Packers will have to win the 1 v 1 battles on the outside. If Jordy were playing, he'd top 175 this week. But, we struggle to win on the perimeter. David Amerson and DJ Hayden can be beaten. Frequently. But, the Packers will have to be more assertive on the perimeter than we've been most of the year. I'm scared that we won't be able to take advantage of the Raiders biggest weakness.

The Raiders also have Sir Charles Woodson. Arguably my favorite football player to ever wear a uniform. I loved him at Michigan. I loved him in Oakland. I danced on the streets of South Beach in Miami when he signed in Green Bay. I bought his jersey. Still, I tape EVERY ONE of his games each week. Just so I can watch him play. He's the greatest defensive back that I've ever seen play football. And, for my eye, there is little debate. The only guy who compares is Rod Woodson. He's a Heisman Trophy winner. He's a National Champion. He's a Defensive ROY. He's a Defensive MVP. He's a Super Bowl winner. He's the only player in the history of the NFL with 60 interceptions and 20 sacks. Each week, he seems to make a play. Still. What a Superstar. That's why I've knighted him. Sir Charles. Forever a Super Bowl Champion. The "ONE" speech will live in Packer lore for eternity.

The Raiders will move the football. They'll put themselves into position to put up big points. But, the Packers defense will bend, but not break. At some point, Peppers will make a play this Sunday. A game changer. A play that could net points for the Packers defense. When Carr makes mistakes, they come in a big way. Look for Daniels to also get pressure up the gut. Datone Jones as well.

The Packers establish Lacy early. They slow down the pass rush by pounding away at the interior of the Raiders defense. Then, they attack Mack in the run game. They want him to hesitate his step by a second. As soon, it's the play action roll-out. Moving Rodgers away from Mack. And, the MVP is looking deep. To Abby. Who comes down with the first big play of his NFL career.

It's a nerve wracking back-and-forth contest. But, the Packers prevail after a late Raiders turnover.

Lacy grabs 90 yards. Rodgers tosses for 275. Cobb finds the end zone. Peppers and Matthews notch sacks.

Packers 30
Raiders 27

Here's my pre-Bowl season 2016 Mock Draft. And, for the record, I'm rarely someone that is for the all-in trade up. This year is the exception. I'd mortgage much of my draft to trade up and get Jaylon Smith, LB, ND. Smith is fast. He's strong. He's instinctive. He's EXACTLY what this Packers defense needs. Smith and Clay together would be a wrecking crew for the future. I'd trade multiple picks to get Smith.

For the sake of the Mock Draft, I play it safe. I wish I had time to be more thorough, but here are some short notes and names to take a look at. My short notes throughout the college season are more vast this year than they have been in past years, so I'll be able to give a better take in the future, but for now this will do. Here goes:

Round 1 - Alex McCalister, OLB, Florida. He's undersized from a weight perspective. But, his height distracts throws. His speed off the edge is unmatched. He'd be an ideal pass rusher who'd immediately disrupt offenses rhythm. He's been oft injured. But, I love his game. He's an underclassman, but my guess is that he comes out. He's a pure pass rusher. He'd fit a monster need for the Packers. Others: Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State; Kenny Clark, DL, UCLA; Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU; Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech; Shaq Lawson, DL, Clemson; Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia; Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama; and Josh Doctson, WR, TCU; Emmanuel Ogbah, DL, OK State; Jonathan Allen, DL, AL.

Round 2 - Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama. Great in coverage. Fast. Instinctive. Great tackler. Good football knowledge. Plays sideline to sideline. Others: KeiVarae Russell, CB, ND; Kendell Beckwith, ILB, LSU; Will Redmond, CB, Mississippi State; Jordan Jenkins, OLB, Georgia; Jayron Kearse, SS, Clemson; and Carl Nassib, DL, Penn State; Will Fuller, WR, ND; Jonathan Bullard, DL, Florida; Su'a Cravens, LB, USC; Noah Spence, Eastern Kentucky.

Round 3 - C.J. Prosise, RB, Notre Dame. He's battling injury. But, when healthy, he's lethal. Great vision. Excellent quickness. Hits the hole with intent. Would be a great change of pace back for the Pack. Others: Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas; Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson; Cameron Sutton, CB, Tennessee; Sheldon Day, DL, ND; Anthony Zettel, DL, Penn State; Kentrell Brothers, ILB, Mizzou.

Round 4 - Desmond King, CB, Iowa. King is so underrated. Could move into Round 2-3 if he comes out. Nose to nose at the line of scrimmage, he attacks the WR. He's consistent. Plays the ball with excellence. Not overly fleet of football, but fast enough. I'd take him on the perimeter to push for playing time on Day 1 in 2016. Others: William Jackson III, CB, Houston; Tyler Matakevich, LB, Temple; Aaron Burbridge, WR, Michigan State; Demarcus Robinson, WR, Florida.

Round 4 - Nelson Spruce, WR, Colorado. Every year, we hear TT say that one of his selections is a "Football player." Well, this year, Spruce fits the bill. He gets deep. He runs crisp routes. He's the consummate teammate. He plays with a fierce presence week-in and week-out. Others: Eric Striker, LB, Oklahoma; Deon Bush, S, []_[]; Joe Schobert, LB, WI; Alex Collins, RB, Arkansas.

Round 5 - Jake McGee, TE, Florida. Book it. I want McGee. He can spread wide. He's a willing blocker. He has great hands. A Red Zone target. Clutch performer. Love his game. Other: Devonte Fields, LB, Louisville.

Round 5 - Bronson Kaufusi, OLB, BYU. Work hard pass rusher. Might not be a true 3-4 OLB, but he can play the edge. He holds the point. He's relentless. Plays with effort. Decent burst. Others: Chris Brown, WR, ND.

Round 6 - Silverberry Mouhon, OLB, Cincy. He's a splash player that pursues off the edge. Maybe a pick more out of need than out of love for the player, but when he gives maximum effort, Mouhon can get home. Potential to be a boom player. Worth a late round pick. Others: Jimmy Bean, OLB, OK State; Nate Meier, OLB, Iowa.

Round 7 - KJ Dillon, S, West Virginia. Tough for me to not select a Mountaineer. He's versatile. He can cover the slot. He can play FS. He returns punts. He's a leader. He's dependable. Deion Jones, LB, LSU; Antonio Longino, ILB, Arizona State; Geno Matias-Smith, S, Alabama; Pete Robertson, LB, Texas Tech; Raphael Kirby, ILB, []_[]; Jake Duzey, TE, Iowa; Henry Krieger, TE, Iowa; Duke Thomas, CB, Texas.

I hope to post much more about Draft prospects between Xmas & New Years. Have a Merry Christmas. Thanks for your readership.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Friday, December 11, 2015

My Take -> Week 14

Greetings, G-Force.

A desperate heave at the most desperate time of the season brought a stroke of magic. An exclamatory hint of good luck. And, perhaps, it saved the season. In sports, momentum is a thing. If the Rodgers to Rodgers Hail Mary doesn't reap a memorable playoff run, then 2015 was meant to be a disappointment for the Green Bay Packers.

I write from Titletown, U.S.A. I breathe in the hallowed Green Bay air as the Packers sit at the top of the NFC North. The last week has been great fun. Not only have the Packers won via a 61-yard Hail Mary with 00:00 on the clock, but the 'queens have lost back-to-back games. And, thus, as I attend the game this week against the Cowboys, the Packers will be gleefully staring down at the rest of the Division.

I sip a New Glarus Milk Stout. It's sweet. It's smooth. It makes me smile. I'm eating Ron's spreadable cheese with Cheddar on top of Wheat Thins. I may or may not be listening to Bang On the Drum. Yes, I'm back home. We're all a product of our roots. My roots lie in Green Bay, WI. Forever.

Here are my thoughts over the last week:

* Julius Peppers may have been silent since the bye, but man, dude went straight spiritual gangsta when the Packers needed a game changing defensive play.

* Had Mike Neal not made an epic ankle grabbing tackle on the WR screen on 3rd & 11 mid-way through the 3rd Quarter, it'd have been 24-0. Neal's play, in many ways, was a game saving play.

* Down 20-0. This team was dead. They'd missed a chip shot FG. They were facing a 3rd & long. And, Rodgers to Rodgers provided a reason to move towards the edge of your seat with excitement.

* Richard Rodgers. Finally, the Packers tested the middle of the field. They found Rodgers as he was taking his break up the field. And, therefore, Richard Rodgers had the best game of his young career. He found yards after the catch. He was a difference maker, a chain mover. Guy is still a miserable blocker, but it was good to see him as a receiver taking the ball up the field rather than seeing him running towards the sideline after catching the ball on a short down and out.

* The Packers fans are an integral part of this organization. The players and the fans create a kinship community. One that is karmically intertwined. We rely on each others energy. Together, we needed a communal moment of jubilation. In Rodgers to Rodgers, we got it. Now, let's do something with it. The energy is high. It's time to carry on with goodness.

* YELLOW JAKE. Kid can play. Was great in the run game. Fun to see him pounce on the fumble. And, when he was beat in the passing game, he didn't give up YAC. Further, it appeared as though he intimidated when receivers were running across the middle.

* Mike Daniels played great. Total MAN.

* Speaking of men, David Bakhtiari. Just earning respect. Playing thru pain. Gon' old timer on us. Gritty. Gutty. Dominant.

* Jeff Janis. Why not keep running on the deep ball. Planned play to take a shot to Janis. Looked like the reigning MVP dropped it perfectly. Should have landed in his lap. But, Janis stopped his route. Was he trying to draw a penalty? Was his depth perception off? I'm not sure, but he looked like an amateur.

* Run the route 2 yards deeper, Abby.

* Another disappointing route running day from Davante Adams.

* 4th & 1. Season on the line. Cobb is open in flat. WOW! It exists! Why not do that more often?

* HaHa was the best Packers player last Thursday.

* Sammy Swagga is playing the best football of his career.

* Thought Crockett added a bit of a spark. Showed quickness. A small burst. More of one than we saw all pre-season. A little jittery. But, what could be expected. Impressive showing for the young kid.

* The Green Bay Press Gazette's "HAIL YES" quote was fantastic. So, was the moment that the HAIL YES play occurred. But, it doesn't erase the memory of 35 minutes of poorly played football.

* I'm bullish on the future of Quinten Rollins. Love how he plays. Fearless. Throws his body around. On the final 3rd down conversion by the Lions, Rollins was in position. Missed the deflection by inches.

* Eddie missing curfew? Come on, man. Really liked how McCarthy stood behind him this week in the press conference. If this team is going to do anything from now until February, we need Lacy. Mightily.

* Better days are ahead for the Packers offense. We're getting AQ81 back. The OL is getting healthier. Montgomery is close to getting healthy. Hopefully, Lacy finds his stride. These are not all "ifs" - they will occur. And, when they do, the Packers will be able to offer diversity on the offensive side of the ball. The Packers will be able to display creativity. And, Rodgers' weapons will expand.

* I wasn't overly high on Montee Ball coming out of college, but I was excited to see that he came into Green Bay for a tryout. And, I was hoping that the Packers would take a shot on him.

Mama, don't let your babies grow up to be Cowboys.

The Packers need this one. Win the next two and the playoffs should be a lock. We'd also be in position to not only win the Division, but to compete for the #2 seed. I can't stand the Cowboys. I'm still bitter from our rivalry in the early-to-mid 90's.

Regardless of the Cowboys inept play at QB, they have weapons on offense. Dez & Terrance Williams are a dynamite duo. Devin Street is a big target. Cole Beasley is a solid slot WR. Darren McFadden is healthy and playing Grade-A football. Jason Witten is still playing at a HOF level. Gavin Escobar can stretch the field. And, the Dallas OL is among the best in football. If they get average QB play, the Cowboys will put up points.

Defensively, Dallas balls. Their front 4 strikes fear in people. Greg Hardy is an evil man. He's also a dominant football player. The Cowboys sold their soul to the Devil when they signed him. Tyrone Crawford is an active pursuant of the QB. Demarcus Lawrence is an overachieving hard worker. Randy Gregory is an undersized pass rusher. At LB, Sean Lee is elite when he's healthy. Rolando McClain has found a home in Dallas. But, Dallas' secondary is vulnerable. Byron Jones has all of the athletic traits that you look for, but he hasn't been a world beater. Brandon Carr hasn't been the same player as he was in KC. Morris Claiborne has not been the player that I thought he'd be coming out of college. JJ Wilcox and Barry Church are talented players at S, but both can be exposed.

Can the Packers WR's separate? If not, we could be in for a long day. Dallas will get pressure. Dallas will get in Rodgers' face. They'll be physical up front. The Packers have to win on the outside.

Look for the Packers to use Lacy early in the game to try and soften up the middle of the Cowboys defense. It'd open up the play action. It'd make us less predictable.

In past years, the Packers would've beaten a lesser-QB'd team at Lambeau by 20 points. But, 2015 is different. Somehow, he we need to force a turnover. We have to win the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Dallas will run the clock. They'll eat up the clock between plays. They'll use Witten and Beasley underneath. They'll try to pound the ball with McFadden. They'll look for big plays over the top to both Williams and Bryant. They'll try to win on deep slants and inside-posts.

I'm expecting Lacy to have a good game. A defining game for him.

I'm expecting Aaron Rodgers to take care of the football and to give the Packers an early lead.

I'm expecting Clay Matthews to make a big play this weekend.

I'm expecting a dogfight. A hard fought, hotly contested battle.

I'm expecting the Packers to prevail in a low scoring affair.

Packers 20
Cowboys 16

The Cowboys have lost 5 games by less than one-score. They can't be taken lightly. They're better than their record indicates. Lambeau Faithful, it's time to rise. Off your freakin' ass. On your freakin' feet. This is December football. In Titletown, U.S.A. It's time to make a difference. It's time to set the standard. If you have expectations for the player, I have expectations for you as a fan. Do your part. Make a difference. Bring your passion. Be loud. Be proud. Let's make 2015 a year to yell "HAIL YES!"

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

My Take -> Week 13

Greetings, G-Force.

There’s no way to spin this one. It was likely the last time that Bart Starr will ever step foot on Lambeau Field. It was a day to celebrate the Legend of Brett Favre. It was a day in which Aaron Rodgers, Brett Favre and Bart Starr were all in the same place at the same time. On Thanksgiving. In Prime Time. Against the hated Bears. And, disgustingly, the Packers didn’t show up. Book it as the most embarrassing regular season loss in my lifetime.

I sit with Bing Crosby singing me Christmas music. Bing keeps me jolly during the Holiday season. I sip a Station 26 Single Hop Chinook IPA. It offers me a crisp pine/fruit hop sensation that is really refreshing.

Here are my quick vibes from the last week:

* Yes, an aggressive Mike McCarthy is a good Mike McCarthy. But, I hated the decision to go for it on 4th drive on the opening possession. Wanted to play the field position game. Game plan felt stale. Team energy looked flat. Awful start to the game.

* EDDIE! He was unstoppable. And, then he fumbled. But, no worries, the ball got poked from behind. Keep feeding him the rock, right? No. Instead, for some odd reason, we went away from him. Why is it that we allow for consistently poor performance from the likes of Davante Adams and Nate Palmer, but we don’t stick with EDDIE when he’s have a dominant game? We keep rolling with Adams and Palmer. We keep putting them in position to make plays. They consistently fail us. We should have stuck with Lacy. Why the double standard?

* In life, you can’t ignore what you don’t understand. Clearly, the Packers don’t understand why they can’t get WR’s open on the outside. So, mix it up. Throw the crossing route. Stack the formation. Bunch the WR’s. Give Janis a shot.

* I’m hopeful that Abby will add something on offense when he comes back this week.

* For whatever reason, the reigning MVP isn’t as sharp as he’s been throughout his career. He’s missing his target.

* Catch the ball, Davante Adams. That was 6 points.

* Another week in which Julius Peppers doesn’t make a play.

* Why is Demetri Goodson covering Alshon on a crucial 3rd down play? It was clear that they were going that way before the play. We didn’t respond.

* This years Packers team doesn’t come up with loose balls. Thought Rollins and Kuhn both had chances to pick up fumbles. Neither did. Those are the types of plays that decide games. We don’t make the little plays.

* Last year, we had the big comeback win at Miami. This year, we aren’t winning the close ones in the waning moments.

* The Packers have lost back-to-back home games to the Lions and the Bears. In the two games, the Packers combined for 29 points. At home. It wouldn’t have shocked me if the Packers scored 29 points in each game individually.

* Prior to the season, I projected 10-6 to 11-5 for the Packers. I felt that way because I thought we were vulnerable at ILB and on the perimeter at CB. I was also concerned about our ability to pressure the QB. I had no fears about the offense. It’s crazy to think about how average to below-average our offense is playing right now.

* It’s time for Mike McCarthy to take complete control of the offense once again. We’re dysfunctional.

* Really solid game from Datone Jones.

* Mike Neal played well.

* Liked seeing Quinten Rollins on the blitz. Would like to see more of that. Wish Rollins would have held onto the interception that hit him in the chest.

* The Bears were driving for the lead. Lambeau Field sounded silent. Where’d the crowd go? Too much turkey?

* Davante Adams complains for a flag way too much. It’s really annoying.

* The 2015 team kind of reminds me of the 2004 team. Playing hung over from a disappointing collapse the prior year. In ’04, we won the Division and hosted a playoff game. Only to get moon’d by Randy Moss.

We’re 7-4. All is NOT lost. But, we need the next 3. Badly. All winnable games. If we don’t, the playoffs are in jeopardy as the last two will be really tough. This week – it’s the Lions. The Lions have won 3 in a row and seem to be playing inspired football. And, frankly, I’m scared. I’m afraid of our ability to cover Golden Tate and Calvin Johnson - especially if Damarious Randall is limited. I’m afraid of Theo Riddick coming out of the backfield. It wouldn’t shock me if Riddick catches 5 balls on Sunday. I’m afraid of our ability to cover Pettigrew and Ebron. The Packers must get in Stafford’s face.

I’m concerned about our ability to block Jason Jones and Ziggy Ansah. I’m concerned about our ability to separate against the Lions weak secondary. I’m worried.

But, I’m keeping the faith. I trust that Abby and Janis get a chance. I trust that both make plays. I trust that Lacy keeps running hard. I trust that the Packers will put points on the board. I trust that the Packers will play with a pulse. I trust that the Packers will get in Stafford’s face and force a game-changing turnover.

Packers 24
Lions 23

Go Pack Go!

Talkin’ S-Mac.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

My Take -> Week 12

Greetings, G-Force.

7-3. Back on top of the NFC North! In dominating fashion! What’s the cure to a slump? A road trip to visit your little brother. And, thus, a ray of hope flickers through the Nation’s most admired sports franchise.

To celebrate, I poured a Central Waters Black Gold. An Imperial Stout that measured in at 11%. Aged in bourbon barrels. Thick, nearly oily, throughout the pour. Little head at the brim. Heavy chocolate taste with hints of vanilla and robustly bourbon. A great addition to a celebratory night.

The “Trick or Treat: Best of the String Cheese Incident” spins loudly. Love the version of Get Down Tonight. Leaves me in party mode.

Here are my quick vibes from the last week:

* An aggressive Mike McCarthy is a good Mike McCarthy. It was clear from the get-go that McCarthy wanted to set the stage with an aggressive tempo. The 4th & 1 call on the opening possession showed that McCarthy meant business. The Packers were fortunate to draw the off-sides penalty, but regardless, the decision to potentially leave 3 points on the table was a mental trendsetter for the game.

* For the first time in the 2015 season, the Packers looked like a team that was capable of sustaining a significant playoff run. It was a playoff environment. A physical game. And, the Packers were the far more physical team. The ‘queens are a tough group. The Packers punched them in the mouth. Early and often. The Packers dominated the line of scrimmage and outmuscled the ‘queens. Much in the same way that you’d expect big brother to dominate little brother in a street fight.

* For the ‘queens, it was their Super Bowl. For the Packers, it was a crucial Week 11 NFC North dogfight. The Packers played focused, physical and fully determined to leave victorious. The ‘queens played undisciplined, desperate and scrappy, which is totally out of character.

* The #1 focus of the MN franchise is beating the Packers. The Packers went to the Land of 10,000 Lakes and left with a dominant victory. It’ll be interesting to see if there is a lingering mental effect for both teams over the next 2 weeks. To a man, the ‘queens looked mentally and emotionally defeated. Meanwhile, the Packers looked unified and at times, they even appeared to be having fun. There smiles, embraces and even an all-telling fist bump between HaHa & JPepp. How cool was it to see Pepp, Clay and HaHa enjoying a chill moment on the bench after a bicep-flexing, testosterone-driven display of dominance.

James Jones gon’ HOODIE!

* The NFC North is ours for the taking. It’s time to build on this momentum. While the performance wasn’t pristine, there was enough positives to enhance the mood inside the locker room at 1265 Lombardi Ave.

* EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE! With a vengeance, EDDIE shows up! 100 yards. In a crucial game. A tone setting display as he carried Linval Joseph on multiple occasions. His spin move offered belief in a time of need.

* Throw the stats out the window, after the initial drive in which Rodgers looked jumpy; the MVP was in form. He was in control. When the ‘queens cut it to 19-13, Rodgers engineered a drive for the ages. The 1st & 15 connection to Adams was brilliant. The 3rd and 6 pass to HOODIE when he was rolling out to his left was beautiful. The TD pass to HOODIE when he was rolling to his right to elude duress was one for the ages. And, the 2-point conversion was totally awesome. A memorable backhanded flick to HOODIE that felt beltworthy.

* Before the game, the ‘queens fans paid to have a drone flying over their tailgates. The drone was burning an Aaron Rodgers jersey. During the game, the reigning MVP torched the ‘queens for 30 points on two passing TD’s. Prior to the Packers game, the ‘queens had only given up more than 20 points on one occasion; a 23-20 loss at Denver. Stay classy, ‘queens fans.


* Love the screen to Starks! The block by Lang was a Pro Bowl play.

* James Jones. Always the fashion artist. HOODIE!

Randall Cobb is pressing. He’s trying to make things happen. Desperately. He’s in a panic mode. He’s overly anxious. And, he and Rodgers aren’t on the same page. They aren’t seeing the field the same way. They aren’t in unison, but I really enjoyed the business conversation that they had as they walked off of the field together post the 3rd down incompletion in which Rodgers thought Cobb was going to take the route across the field. Instead, Cobb stopped his route and the ball hit off his hands.

* Last year – I thought Cobb was among the best Red Zone receivers in the league. It was good to see him shake loose for a TD to close the first half.

* Championship teams finish and start halves in elite fashion. It was sublime to see the Packers move the ball 80 yards on 9 plays for a TD to close the 1st half. And, it was equally as nice to see the Packers start the 2nd half with a FG on a 61 yard march. It was a 12 play drive that ate up 4:47 off the clock.

* There was a Jeff Janis sighting. In a big way. The Kickoff return was a momentum swinging play. The queens had just taken the lead. The crowd was rowdy. Janis showed his speed. The PI play was no fluke. I fancy that if the Packers ran that play 3-4 times a game, they’d likely get a big play nearly every week. He was also wide open on the previous possession on 3rd down, but the blitz got to Rodgers too quickly. Or else, Janis might have had a long TD. He had a step on Newman. Janis also continues to shine on special teams. Area of improvement: he needs to become a better blocker. Especially in the open field.

* Justin Perillo is a solid route runner. He’s not fleet of foot, but he gets out of his break well. Like how he sits down in the zone as well.

* Week in and week out, Richard Rodgers amazes with how poor he blocks. Little to no recognition. Lacks fight. On Lacy’s first run, he had a huge hole, but Richard Rodgers ignored Harrison Smith. Unbelievable.

* TJ Lang is a stud. A total throwback.

* It was telling to see Corey Linsley and Aaron Rodgers share an embrace before the game. They’re working on their mojo.

* Huge game for JC Tretter. Stepped in with great form!

* I like when Josh Walker is used as an added blocker. It’s predictable that they’ll run behind him when he’s on the field, but it it’s been successful as Walker is winning his battle. Richard Rodgers’ inability to block has forced the Packers to design new strategies to get a push in short yardage situations.



* Wasn’t Bakhtiari’s best game, but he’s a fighter. Same applies to Bulaga.

* Clay Matthews. What a Superstar. Totally dominating. He won with both speed, power and intelligence. He shot gaps. He got around the corner. He was in AP’s head. Fantastic performance from Clay. He’s undoubtedly the 2nd best Packer defender in my lifetime.

* Good to see Peppers getting a push. Looked fresh. Looked possessed.

* Datone Jones might be listed as an OLB, but who are we kidding? The Packers were clearly in a 4-3 and at times, we were lined up in a 5-2 formation. What a fantastic performance from Jones. Two crucial sacks and an epic batted pass on 3rd down. Datone’s best game as a pro.

* Speaking of the 5-2 formation. Loved the creativity by Dom. Guion, BJ, and Daniels were punishing. Neal and Peppers were collapsing. Dom was a mastermind.

* BJ Raji is earning a contract. Spectacular game from Raji. He came on a variety of moves. Showed good quickness on the spin move. Displayed great strength at the point. Forceful game from Raji.

* Mike Daniels was a star. High impact plays in the run game. Intimidated AP. Awesome sack of Teddy. Stokes my fire when Daniels is animated.

* Mike Pennel and Letroy Guion held the point of attack in fine fashion.

* I’m eternally grateful that Clay Matthews is a member of the Green Bay Packers. Love his game. Spectacular presence. Fun to see him attacking the football and going for the strip.

* HA HA! Masterful game. Terrific play on the sack. Forceful tackler. Makes his presence felt.

* Burnett and HaHa merging on the forced fumble of AP was a riveting moment in my life.

* Sammy Swagga was ballin’. Made a number of key tackles on third down. Played well in coverage. He was inspired.

* Casey Hayward with his best tackling game of the year. Even affected a play on a blitz, which shocked me.

* Liked seeing the Packers utilizing Q-Rollins on the blitz. He didn’t get home, but I’m interested to see his nose for the football when he’s attacking a QB. He’s fearless.

* Monster game from Mason Crosby. Way to rebound!

* Liked how Jayrone Elliott was utilized in the rotation. He didn’t get home, but he was close on a couple of occasions.

* What was Joe Thomas thinking? He ran right by Teddy when he had a clear shot at him on a third down. He went to cover a back that wasn’t even remotely a threat. It’s that type of play that makes me cringe and absolutely salivate at the thought of adding another star ILB to this team. Between Thomas and Palmer, we lack instincts. We lack playmaking ability. They’re decent gang tacklers, but they aren’t going to make a game changing play. Ever.

* Think of how dominating Clay would be if we had an above-average ILB lined up next to him? The Packers should draft 3 ILB’s this year. I’m not joking.

* I want to see more of YELLOW JAKE, but two weeks in a row he’s been slow to close the hole in special teams and thus, big plays have happened because of it. While YELLOW JAKE can’t be worse than Palmer on the inside, I’m concerned about his quickness ILB. Hope I’m wrong.

* Good to see Demetri Goodson drawing a penalty as a gunner.

* I want to see more of Janis as a kickoff returner. Adds a weapon to the arsenal.

* Just fair catch the ball, Randall Cobb.


It’ll be a day to remember at Lambeau Field. Bart Starr, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers all on the field at the same time. That’s magic. In Super fashion. Something to be thankful for and awesome that’s happening on Thanksgiving Day.

The Packers and the Bears. The greatest rivalry in American sports. The big city against the small town. They’ve played each other 191 times. The Bears lead the series 93-92-6. After Thanksgiving, the record will be even. Wild to consider!

Early in the year, it appeared as though the Bears would have a pathetic year. They seemed destined to finish 3-13. But, John Fox has turned it around. He’s reeled in Ray Nutler. In fact, Nutler has done a decent job protecting the ball for most of the year. The Bears have found a diamond in Jeremy Langford. Langford runs with speed, great vision and a quite toughness. He plants his foot and hits the hole. It sounds as though Matt Forte will also play this week, so expect the Bears to try and run the football north of 30 times this week. They’ll control the clock. They’ll try to run the ball right at the heart of the Packers defense. And, they’ll try to get the ball to Forte and Langford in the flat as both RB’s are solid receivers out of the backfield.

The Packers biggest defensive weaknesses play right into the Bears hands. The Packers struggle to cover the TE. Martellus Bennett and Zach Miller are both big play threats. With Micah Hyde’s status in doubt, look for Morgan Burnett to be pressed into coverage. The Bears will try to get Nate Palmer in space. If they succeed, we’ll be in trouble. The Packers struggle to cover crossing routes. The Bears live off of the crossing route. They love to use the middle of the field. The Bears offensive aim is to get their WR’s running in stride to enable them to gain excess YAC. Jeffery, Royal, Bellamy and Wilson are all dangerous after the catch. Jeffery remains an elite WR. Wilson is a young WR who is on the rise. Bellamy isn’t lethal, but he’s adequate. When healthy, Eddie Royal is steady.

The Bears OL remains a work in progress. I fully expect the Packers DL to win a couple of battles and to get into Nutler’s face. In the past, Nutler has done a decent job avoiding the Packers rush and using his feet to escape. In turn, he’s grabbed big yards running the football on 3rd downs. The Packers have to wrap him up. Vladimir Ducasse & Hroniss Grasu can be pushed around on the inside. Look for big games from Daniels and Raji.

The Bears do a solid job rotating players along their DL. Eddie Goldman has had a solid year. Jarvis Jenkins has been a great addition. Pernell McPhee has showed that he can be an every down player. He’s a great pass rusher. Willie Young is still a solid rotational pass rushing specialist. Bruce Gaston, the former Packer, has shown pass rushing promise from the interior. Lamarr Houston has ability and is a threat to get to the QB. At LB, Jonathan Anderson is developing into a responsible player. He’s been better than I imagined him becoming. Christian Jones has also flashed at times. Shea McClellin has had good games against the Packers previously. He’s a better ILB than he was an OLB. The Bears lack depth at CB. Kyle Fuller continues to play at a high level, but he can be beat on the slant and the 15 yard post route. Tracy Porter has found youth and is having a decent season. Adrian Amos belongs on the All-Rookie team. He’s not afraid of contact and plays the ball well. Antrel Rolle has been a stabilizing, gritty veteran addition for the Bears. The Packers have to spread out the Bears. They don’t have depth in the secondary and will give up big yards over the middle of the field.

The Bears come out controlling the clock. Grabbing chunks of yards consistently. 3-5 yards at a time. They find Jeffrey on a crossing route for 15. They settle for an early FG.

The Packers pound Lacy. With success. Lacy finds his bruising stride. It’s mudder season. Right where Lacy shines. It’s Rodgers to Cobb for a TD.

The Bears respond. Nutler to Wilson over the middle. Nutler to Jeffrey on the outside. Nutler to Bennett on an underneath route. Forte and Langford both annoy. They frustrate. They pick up 3rd & 3. Langford finds the end zone.

Rodgers is in rhythm. He hits Adams for 15 on a post. He trusts Janis and reaps the rewards with a big TD!

This has the makings of a night to remember. A classic Packers home blowout. But, the Bears are scrappy. They’re fighters. They’re competitors. They’ll keep this game close. They’d like nothing more than to spoil a grand ol’ Packers party at Lambeau Field on a Holiday. But, thankfully, we know that a big Nutler turnover is waiting in the wings. I’ve been waiting for a game changing play from Casey Hayward. Let’s hope this is the game.

Lacy grabs 90 yards and a TD. Rodgers throws for 275 and 2 TD's. Peppers and Matthews each grab sacks. It’s a great day to be a Packers fan.

Packers 27
Bears 23

Starr. Favre. Rodgers. Thanksgiving Day. Spectacular!


Go Pack Go!

Talkin’ S-Mac.

Friday, November 20, 2015

My Take -> Week 11

Greetings, G-Force.

I write from the perspective of an optimistic realist. I will always stand by the side of the Green Bay Packers. Regardless of whether we're World Champions or whether we're slumping deep into the doldrums. I'm a fan of the Green Bay Packers. In my youth, I was raised by positive parents. As a man, I'm a product of my roots. And, thus, I relish the gift that awaits this Sunday. A heavy weight clash. With first place lingering in the balance. I'm ready for Sunday afternoon.

To keep my vibe positive, I choose Lucky Dube's Live in Uganda. It's a fantastic album. Uplifting. Joyful. It provides glorious happiness to my soul. True excitement for my mind. Stay blissful, Packers fans.

By my side sits an Evil Twin Lil' B. 11.5% ABV. Complex in flavor. Dynamic at the first sip. Thick. Sweet. A fluffy syrup like head pours from the bottle. A burnt dark chocolate taste at the finish is preceded by a dark fruit and coffee concoction. There's a ton of action in each sip. This beer lives in my fridge during the winter months.

Here are my quick vibes from the past week:

* First and foremost, I couldn't stomach watching the Lions game a second time. It was that pitiful. I couldn't stomach it. So, my analysis is lighter than I'd like.

* Mike McCarthy is a mastermind of an offensive play caller. He's the ultimate at rallying the troops. But, in 2015, he isn't calling the plays. And, his locker room seems to be falling apart at the seams. Makes me wonder what his role is with the current team. And, I'd argue that I'm a bigger fan of McCarthy than anyone I know.

* Is Aaron Rodgers willing to be coached? Valid question, I think. He seems disinterested during meetings with his coaches. There's little-to-no eye contact. Appears as though he's lost respect for the coaching staff.

* For those of you that say that this is the lowest point of McCarthy's coaching tenure in Green Bay, I remind you that the Packers were shut out 26-0 by the Bears in his first game as a Head Coach in 2006. His team rallied around him and finished 8-8 with 4 straight wins. I remind you that in 2009 the Packers fell to the winless Bucs in Tampa (I was there) to fall to 4-4. His team rallied around him and finished 11-5. In 2010, the Packers had an ugly loss to the Dolphins at Lambeau. The loss brought the Packers to 3-3. McCarthy's team rallied. They finished 10-6 and went on to be XLV Champions. In 2012, the Packers blew at big lead at Indy to fall to 2-3. McCarthy's group rallied and won the Division with an 11-5 record. In 2013, the packers were 5-6-1 and without Aaron Rodgers. The team rallied and won the NFC North crown. In 2014, the Packers started off 1-2. The season was on the brink of becoming a waste. The Packers rallied and finished 12-4. So, here we sit in 2015. 6-3. One game behind the 'queens in the NFC North. With two dates against the 'queens waiting in the balance. I haven't thrown in the towel. The 2015 season isn't tarnished. But, our best football better be in front of us.

* Catch the ball, Randall Cobb. If he hangs on, it might've been 10-0 Green Bay. And, in that case, it might've been a different game.

* As ugly as the game was, if Mason Crosby makes the kick, we'd be sitting at 7-2. Yo Mason. We need better than that. I'd give him a pass, but we saw him do the exact same thing against Indy in 2012. That was brutal. To me, it looked like he choked.

* The Lambeau Gods were shining from the heavens. Continuously granting the Packers an opportunity to continue the Lions winless streak in WI, but Mason Crosby couldn't deliver. Bums me out.

* The Packers may not be in first place in the NFC North right now, but we do hold a 2-game lead in the Wild Card race. With tie breakers over the Rams and Seahawks. Additionally, it's noteworthy that the Rams play SEA and AZ again. And, SEA plays AZ and MN in the near future. And, MN plays ATL. There's a lot of football ahead of us. Stay the course. Be patient. Let's see how this plays out.

* Davante Adams had 21 targets. He finished with 79 yards. That's not a joke. Disgustingly pathetic. He was spending more time begging for penalties. He lost his composure. He dropped a deep ball. It was really hard to watch. And, when he was open, Rodgers missed him twice.

* Abby finally got his chance. He looked good. And, then he got hurt. Again.


* The Packers started the game with slants and screens. The offense looked great. And, then they went away from it. For no apparent reason. Terrible offensive design. I have no idea why McCarthy isn't calling the plays.

* I've been begging for Rodgers to look at the middle of the field. Thankfully, he did. And, Justin Perillo finished with 5 catches for 58 yards and a TD because of it. Rodgers has to use the middle of the field from here on out. We're too predictable. Look at the crossing route underneath. It's open.

* Great game, Perillo! A true bright spot. A security blanket.

* Nice to see Richard Rodgers in the end zone again. He's a lethal red zone target. He's up to 5 TD's on the year.

* Really like what Starks is doing in the screen game.


* YELLOW JAKE has to make the tackle on that Kickoff Return to start the 2nd half.

* Speaking of YELLOW JAKE, I'm baffled as to why he didn't play on the defensive side of the ball. Pains me. Nate Palmer can't play. He has no instincts. He'll never make a game changing play. The 3-4 defense requires big time play at the LB position. If Nate Palmer were to get cut, I'm not sure that he'd be on an NFL team. Just as Brad Jones is currently sitting on the sidelines. Palmer might be on the couch next to him.

* I love TJ Lang's game.

* I'm surprised at how bad Corey Linsley is playing. Looks like a shadow of himself.

* I'm a huge Josh Sitton fan. But, we need more.

* Gotta wonder if Bulaga is banged up. Not playing like himself. He's the best RT in the game. Need him to return to his normal self.

* I've heard many people say that the Packers limitations are showing because of a lack of FA signings. I couldn't disagree more. The Packers signed Cobb and Bulaga in FA. Two huge signings. We kept our own. They were two of the most crucial signings in all of FA. Remember that. Also, TT went for the fix at WR with James Jones.

* Speaking of James Jones, over the last 3 weeks, he's played like the player I'd thought he'd be when the Packers signed him earlier this year. He's lost a step. He's struggling to separate. He can't get open. We need more.

* The Packers were playing Datone Jones at OLB. I'm a big fan of Datone Jones, but he's not an OLB. Why don't we just run a 4-3? Neal, Perry, and Jones aren't 3-4 OLB. 3-4 OLB's weight between 245 & 260. And, they can flat out run! They can drop in coverage. They have a speed rush and a leverage winning bull rush. They win with speed. Neal, Perry, and Jones are so limited at 3-4 OLB. And, because of it, Capers has limited options. Wish we could see more of Jayrone Elliott.

* Liked Ha Ha's play. Played with fire. Thought his interception was going to be a monstrous game changing play. A season changing play, much like Doug Evans in 1996. Remember 1996? The Packers were 8-3. Coming off of 2 horrible losses. They were playing terrible at St Louis. And, then Doug Evans had a pick-6 that brought the good vibes back to 1265 Lombardi Ave. Someone has to make that play for the Packers this year.

* Ron Wolf was honored at half time of the Lions game. Ted Thompson has done everything that Ron Wolf did for the Green Bay Packers. Someday - his name will also need to be unveiled in the Ring at Lambeau Field.

* Sammy Swagga wanted nothing to do with Golden Tate on the big 3rd down late in the game.

* Why do the Packers insist on blitzing Casey Hayward? Has he ever made a play? The Packers trailed 12-10. There was 5:07 to play. It was 3rd & 9. Detroit had the ball at their own 21. Lambeau seemed to be rocking. I was convinced that the Packers would win. They had all momentum. Capers called a blitz. Stafford prepared to be hit. Hayward had a free shot. And then I'm not sure what happened. It looked like he swiped at the football instead of bringing Stafford to the ground. Instead, Stafford rolled left. Escaped pressure and hit Johnson for a 13-yard gain. Pissed me off.

* The Packers had 7 possessions that ended in a punt and had 6 plays or less. Yes, that's an Aaron Rodgers led Green Bay Packers. What world am I living in?

* The Lions were rolling CB's I'd never heard of onto the field. And, they were shutting down the Packers WR's. That's the current 2015 Green Bay Packers.

* Damarious Randall is showing a knack for making the big play. The ball finds him.

* Micah Hyde is a great tackler.

* Where is Julius Peppers?

* Make a play, Mike Daniels.

* Liked the push by Letroy Guion.

* Aaron Ripkowski is the real deal on special teams.

* Packers fans have to enjoy seeing Clay Matthews on the field. He's an absolute superstar. We're blessed that he's in Green & Gold.

This week - it's the 'queens from Minnesota. They're threatening to steal the NFC North crown from the 4-time defending Champions. In 2013, the Packers defeated the Bears in Week 17 in a winner take all game to capture the NFC North crown. In 2014, the Packers defeated the Lions in Week 17 in a winner take all game to capture the NFC North crown. It's noteworthy that the Packers play the 'queens in Week 17 in 2015.

The 'queens have won 5 straight. They have a terrific coach in Mike Zimmer. They have a fantastic defense. They have the best RB in football. They have a QB with a uniting personality. The Minnesota crowd will be loud. They're ready for this game. In many ways, it's their Super Bowl. The Minnesota 'queens are envious of the Green Bay Packers. They are the younger brother that desperately wants to be the older brother. The 'queens are without a title. The Packers have 13 of them. The Packers are the pretty team wearing Green. The 'queens are the brother that Mom & Dad didn't have time to shop for, so they were thrown in a Purple shirt off the Wal-Mart racks. The Packers have a legendary stadium. While the game this Sunday will be outdoors, the 'queens played indoors for 32 straight years. As I say to my son all of the time, "Memories are made outdoors. Go play outside." The 'queens have followed that mantra. They have minimal positive memories in their history.

But, suddenly, in 2015, the 'queens look like they're better than the Packers. They're more disciplined. They win the line of scrimmage. They force turnovers. They're better coached. They don't seem to turn the ball over. They force turnovers. They dominate special teams. They win third down. They come from behind. And, when they have the lead, they lean on AP in a big way. This version of the Minnesota 'queens is tough to beat. They're for real. The testosterone levels of the 2015 Green Bay Packers will be tested in a big way. There's a seismic shift in the NFC North that's threatening to occur. But, in order for that shift to happen, the 'queens have to get thru the Packers. And, at present, the Packers control their own destiny. Good luck, 'queens. It's not happening.

I first saw Teddy Bridgewater when he was a Senior in High School. He was athletic. He was mobile. He was a leader. It was easy to like his game. He's still that way. AP is back to his old self. The child-beating Peterson has been dominating defenses. Frankly, it disgusts me to even write AP's name. And, that's painful because AP is as good of a RB that I've ever watched play. He's right there with Barry Sanders and Walter Payton. Stefon Diggs has emerged as a favorite target of Bridgewater. Diggs gets deep on play action. He's a tough cover. Mike Wallace has shown signs of life. He's running lethal crossing routes and is a threat to beat you deep on every play. Jarius Wright is a solid slot receiver and Charles Johnson is a big target. Johnson, the former Packer, has all of the talent required to be a star WR. At times, he's put it all together and been a tough cover. But, consistency has been his issue. The 'queens are loaded at TE. Kyle Rudolph is a star. Rhett Ellison is underrated. And, MyCole Pruitt is a solid blocker who finds space and can move chains. I'm shocked as to how well the 'queens OL has played. They aren't littered with big names, but they've played really well. They've protected Teddy and created holes for AP to run through. It's worth mentioning that Minnesota is so committed to the run game that it wouldn't surprise to see Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata combine for 10 touches.

Minnesota's defense is terrific. Brian Robison and Everson Griffen have made up a 1-2 punch of edge rushers. Both win with a gifted speed/power combo. They're energizers. No one has beats them in the effort battle. Linval Joseph is an intimidating presence in the middle of the field. Joseph is a superstar. He's dominant. He's forceful. He's among the best DL in football. Sharrif Floyd is a physical figure who wins 1 v 1 battles on the regular. The Packers OL has their work cut out for them. The 'queens have an awesome LB core. It makes me jealous. Admittedly. Anthony Barr is a total stud. Eric Kendricks has been great. Chad Greenway is a veteran leader who can still ball. Harrison Smith is among the best safties in football. He can do it all. He rushes the QB as well as any Safety in football. He can cover the slot. He can play CF. Harrison Smith has mad game. Andrew Sendejo is the weak spot on the defense. He often takes bad angles to the ball in the run game and in coverage. He can be exposed. Xavier Rhodes is a shut down CB in the making. He's given the Packers problems in the past. Trae Waynes is the Nickel CB. I like Waynes game. A lot. Terence Newman is a player that Mike Zimmer trusts. He can't run like he used to, but he knows Zimmer's system and he's dependable. I hope the Packers test Newman deep on multiple occasions. Let's see if Newman can run with Janis. There could be a big play waiting if we test Newman deep.

The 'queens special teams cannot be overlooked. Marcus Sherels is sneaky quick as a PR. Cordarrelle Patterson has given the Packers problems as a KR previously. I don't want to see the ball in his hands.

The Packers backs are against the wall. In the regular season, when the McCarthy/Rodgers tandem has faced this circumstance, it's generally worked out in the Packers favor. This is a tough test. Minnesota is stout. They're more physical than Green Bay. They've played more possessed than Green Bay. They've played with more of a fighter's mentality than Green Bay. But, sooner or later, it gets real. And, this Sunday is one of those days.

Minnesota comes out running the football. It's AP at the heart of the Packers front. Raji wins with quickness. Daniels wins with leverage. Guion wins with power. AP is neutralized, but on 3rd down, Bridgewater gets to the edge and hits an open Diggs on a comeback route. Then, AP gets loose into the Packers secondary. Stay calm, Packers fans. The defense holds to 3.

Lacy gets carries. McCarthy wants to show that the Packers can win with physicality. Lacy gets some tough yards to the left side of the OL. It's Rodgers connecting with Cobb on a crucial 3rd down. Richard Rodgers gives the Packers the lead with his 6th TD of the year.

The 'queens continue to move the ball at a slow but steady pace. Sammy Swagga runs with Wallace. Randall fights with Diggs on the outside. But, Randolph gives us problems over the middle of the field as the Packers stack the box to stop the run. We're vulnerable in play action to the TE. And, Norv Turner is out thinking Dom Capers.

McCarthy often saves things for big games. This week - it has to be Janis. IT HAS TO BE. They can't run with him. On a double move, Janis gets deep for a big one.

The Packers lead 14-9. Mid 4th Quarter. AP grabs 15. Softens the defense. The 'queens go play-action to Diggs. It's Bridgewater to Rudolph. The 'queens take a 16-14 lead late.

It's a dog fight. In a rowdy environment. The Packers will is tested. This team has been to battle previously. In the regular season, they've left victorious. Almost always, it seems. Rodgers walks with a nervous confidence. He comes on the screen to Starks. He hits Cobb on a short ball over the middle. He finds Perillo for a first down. It's Adams on a comeback. And, this time, thankfully, Crosby connects late.

Packers 17
'queens 16

Stake claim to the NFC North, boys. We need this one. It's ours until we're knocked out. Have fun. Play free. Be hungry.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

My Take -> Week 10

Greetings, G-Force.

The sky isn't falling. The season isn't collapsing. The Packers are 6-2. And, if we're honest with ourselves, based on the quality of the Packers play through 8 games, we should be stoked that the Packers are currently 6-2. Even at 6-0, it wasn't as if the Packers were playing brilliant football. We're at the halfway point of the season. Last year, through 8 games, the Packers were 5-3. They got hot and finished 12-4. The same could happen this year.

Prior to the season I wrote:

"Last year, I went on record before the season and said that the Packers would win the Super Bowl. This year, I'm feeling a 10-6 to 11-5 season. The schedule is really tough. The Packers could play really good football and finish 10-6."

I still feel that way. But, I'm not concerned. While I don't think we're built to go on a road playoff run, I do think that our best football is ahead of us. I'm banking on McCarthy. First things first, this team needs to get healthy.

Beer is a mental remedy. Especially during STOUT SEASON. If you aren't drinking stouts right now, you're missing out. Evil Twin's "I love you with my stout" is absolutely fantastic. It's an Imperial Stout at 12%. Pours with a beautiful foam at the top. It sweet. It's bold. It's robustly black, in color. It tastes a bit like smoked chocolate. It's a perfect after dinner drink. It's also really good at 8:30 am on game day. And, at 12%, it's absolutely buzzworthy.

Music is the weapon of the future. As people, we have to remember this message. Music cures all. Dance. Daily. Feel the flow. Life will have harmony. I promise. Today's beat is offered by Michael Jackson. His Dangerous album is a fitting choice. It was released in November of 1991. The Lions haven't won in Green Bay since December of 1991, which provides a true reminder of how long the Packers dominance has been over the Lions in the great state of WI. But, the Dangerous album offers the beauty of "Heal the World" and clearly on a day like today, we need healing. It also offers "Keep the Faith" and those words should ring loudly for Packers fans.

Here are some quick vibes from the last week:

* Mike McCarthy needs control of this offense. In full effect. I didn't agree with him giving up the offensive play calling before the year. I don't agree with it this year. We lack creativity on offense. We lack design. We lack strategy. We lack efficiency.

* Hey Aaron, R-E-L-A-X.

* YO EDDIE! CHILL, DUDE. JUST PLAY BALL. You're a pimp. Just play. With confidence. We need you. You need us. Let's be mates.

* James Starks! The Green & Yellow Hornet! Slashing. Fighting. Playing with conviction.

* TJ Lang is a stud. Pro Bowl material.

* Corey Linsley is playing terrible football right now. I'm surprised.

* Josh Sitton is going through the worst stretch of his career right now.

* Bryan Bulaga cannot be healthy. He's being abused with both speed and strength. That doesn't happen to a healthy Bulaga.

* Richard Rodgers can't block. Never has been able to. And, I'm starting to get convinced that he never will be able to. But, Rodgers has a lot of strengths. He can sit down well on routes. He has solid hands. So, why are the Packers spreading him out wide and sending him on 15-20 yard routes? That's not his game. Keep him on short routes where he can use his large frame to shield defenders. He isn't the type of TE who will stretch defenses.

* The Packers need AQ81 back. He'll help the running game as a blocker.

* Great to see Ripkowski running in the open field! Coming at defenders with bruising intent!

* Randall Cobb was targeted 12 times. He had 4 catches. That's strange. He & Rodgers aren't in sync. And, it shows in the body language. Cobb has been open. Rodgers hasn't been able to hit him.

* Solid day for Davante Adams. Wish he'd have pulled in the ball on the final drive, but I couldn't tell if it got tipped. Nonetheless, good footwork from him down the sideline. And, he showed that he could be a prime target for Rodgers, when called upon.

* Great grab on the 4th down play, JJ! Jones is struggling to get consistent separation though.

* Loved the wheel route to Cobb.

* Let's be real. 1st and goal - Rodgers' ball to Cobb was awful. Didn't give him a chance. On 2nd down, he had Jones open. He didn't see him. On third down, after rolling out to buy time, it'd have been best to hold onto the football to see if anything opened up. Instead, he ran the football which killed clock and took it down to the 2-minute warning. There was little to no chance for Rodgers to run it into the end zone on the play. Would've been better off getting the clock stopped with 2:20 to play. And, on 4th down, the play call was perfect. Cobb was wide open. So was Adams on the opposite side. But, the MVP choked. That was devastating. For a while it felt like the Dallas game in 2013. But, on that day, Flynn wasn't afraid of making the tough throw into tight coverage. Last week, Rodgers was scared.

* It was good to see Jeff Janis getting playing time. It was odd to see him used as a blocker. I'm confused.

* Abby got playing time. He was open. He wasn't targeted.

* Hey Aaron, R-E-L-A-X.

* Not included the final drive, the Packers had 9 possessions that were 5 plays or less and ended in a punt or a turnover. WOW.

* YELLOW JAKE! YELLOW JAKE! YELLOW JAKE! Kid played one half of football. He brought a presence. He was physical. He played with passion. He had 10 tackles. 1 tackle for loss. And, 1 open field tackle tackle on Cam on 3rd down that NO ONE else on the team would've made. He needs to start. And, play throughout. If he doesn't that's a significant coaching issue.

* Clay Matthews is a stallion.

* Demetri Goodson can't play in this league. Neither can Nate Palmer.

* Good pressure, Mike Daniels.

* Liked Nick Perry in the run game. Hope he's OK.

* HaHa & Morgan were both confused in coverage. That was ugly.

* Great pick, Damarious Randall! But, dude, on the deep ball, play the ball. Not the man. Should've had another pick. Instead you gave up a 52 yard pass.

* The Packers need a healthy Sammy Swagga. And, a healthy Quinten Rollins.

* Stupid penalty, Ladarius Gunter.

* Get healthy soon, Ty Montgomery.


This week - it's the Lions. In Green Bay. Where the Lions haven't won since 1991. The Lions are pathetic. A loss would be a potentially devastating moment for the Packers season. Be ready, Lambeau. Be loud. This team needs you. In grand fashion.

The Lions have strengths. Golden Tate, Calvin Johnson and Eric Ebron are legit targets. Joyce Bell always gives the Packers fits. Theo Riddick is a solid receiving option out of the backfield. Ameer Abdullah has great potential. Matthew Stafford has showed good things when he's been given time. But, the Lions OL has struggled. Riley Reiff hasn't been worthy of a 1st round pick. Laken Tomlinson is still developing. Larry Warford and LaAdrian Waddle can be dominated on the right side of the OL. The Lions are prone to multiple penalties a game on the offensive side of the ball. GET LOUD, LAMBEAU!

Defensively, the Lions will put pressure on the QB. Jason Jones and Ziggy Ansah get after the QB with vicious pursuit. Haloti Ngata remains a presence in the run game. Caraun Reid is a developing talent. The Lions defensive weakness is at LB. Tahir Whitehead, Josh Bynes and Stephen Tulloch have all struggled and can be exposed. At CB, Darius Slay continues to play good football. Rashean Mathis continues to battle his age. Somehow, Mathis can still run with WR's. James Ihedigbo is a baller at S. I wish he played in GB. Glover Quin will take risks. He'll make big plays on occasion, but he can also be beaten over the top. The Lions lack depth in the secondary.

Early in the game, look for the Packers to come out in attack mode. Rodgers trying to get over the top. An early play action. After the early shot, the Packers go to the middle range game. 8-12 yard passes. Adams as a big time target. Richard Rodgers sitting down on short crossing routes. The Packers establish a semblance of an offensive rhythm for the first time in 5 weeks. Starks pounds at the heart of the Lions defense and grabs big yards. The Packers grab an early 7-3 lead.

Detroit hangs close. Their strength is the Packers weakness. Tate and Calvin make plays. Enron gets loose down the middle of the field.

It's 14-10. Late 2nd Quarter. Knowing the Lions lack a running game, the Packers sell out on the blitz. Stafford gives one away. Rodgers capitalizes.

This Lions team has no fight. But, you have to stick it to them when you have a chance.

Packers 31
Lions 20

Oh, and the Raiders beat the 'queens. 1st place. All alone. Once again.

Pump up the volume, Lambeau!

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

My Take -> Week 9

Greetings, G-Force.

Well, that was sobering. Entering into an electric environment on a Sunday, the vibe was healthy. By mid 1st Quarter, there was an eery tension. An unsettling buzz that was tough to shake. But, the likelihood of 16-0 was minimal and all things considered, a loss to an AFC team is the best way to lose. And, frankly, it should serve as a wake-up call. It was on Sunday Night. In front of a National audience. Under the lights. And, the loss came in an embarrassing way. It was humbling. It was humiliating. But, in the locker room, it should be an easy loss to move on from.

As I write, I sip a Sierra Nevada Narwhal. It's Stout season. This one is 10.2%. A great Russian Imperial Stout. One of my favorites. A raisin taste at the front and a little bit of a burnt chocolate taste at the finish that lingers gloriously. And, it goes straight to the head in smiling fashion.

Musically, I turn myself back to the mid-90's when the Packers dominated the Carolina Panthers to win the NFC Championship. I listen to the Blues Traveler "Four" vinyl. This 1994 record spins with an elegant tie-dye touch. I felt like there were also some uplifting lyrical reminders. For the Packers: "For every challenge could have paradise behind it. And if you accept what you have lost and you stand tall. You might just get it back and you can get it all. So now you know why it's a long way to fall. Yeah 'cause it's a long way to fall, it's a long way to fall. So stand! Stand and walk!" And, for me, as I look out the window in my living room, I'm reminded that "the mountains win again" and that "a pocket is no place for a smile." By Tuesday, I was easily over this loss. Admittedly, Monday was tough. Got home late on Sunday night. Up early on Monday. Tons of damn Donkey fans wearing jerseys on Monday. Awful reminders. But, in the end, as mentioned earlier, all things considered, this was as good of a loss as could be encountered.

Here are some takeaways from the last week:

* Mike McCarthy's team was poorly planned. The Broncos came out in single high safety. The middle of the field was wide open. Yet, we consistently tried to win in a crowded area: outside the hash marks. In the early years of Mike McCarthy's offense, we ran a bunch of slants and crossing routes. Where'd these plays go? It felt that everything was slow developing. Really disappointing offensive design.

* For all those that say the WR's weren't open, they didn't have the view that I had. Cobb was open multiple times over the middle of the field. Twice - the MVP was high on throws to Cobb in which he'd have had huge gains. There were multiple times that Cobb was wide open over the middle but the ball never showed. Adams was wide open on a deep crossing route. Rodgers never saw him. Jones had Roby beat to the inside on a deep ball. Rodgers missed him as he threw wide and to the outside. Big plays were left on the table.

* That was the poorest game of Aaron Rodgers' career. I wish he'd have owned up to it and taken the blame.

* I thought the OL did a decent job in pass protection. Rodgers had time. But, it felt as though the MVP was looking at the pass rush and not what was happening down the field.

* What happened to the back shoulder pass? Rodgers is the master of that throw. It's intended to be thrown to the WR who is covered.

* Hate to be critical of the 2-time MVP, the XLV MVP and one of the greatest statistical regular season QB's in NFL History, but this team is built around him. And, when he plays poorly, it'll be tough for this team to win. The Packers needed Rodgers. He didn't show up. And, his body language looked awful. I couldn't believe it. His posture was off. It was really disturbing. Hope that everything is OK with him.

* While Adams and Jones were occasionally open, I didn't like the way they were consistently driving on their routes. Almost felt that they were taking plays off.

* Cobb is frustrated. Watching him on the field, it was absolutely apparent. He's being under utilized in an offense that is desperate for a play maker. The Packers have to find a way to get him 7-10 touches a game.

* The Packers need Ty Montgomery at 100%.

* Where was Jeff Janis? He was on the sidelines. More excited than anyone on the roster. He was waving his arms trying to get the Packers fans into it. Trying to animate his teammates. I'm not calling for 7-8 throws to Janis, but he has speed that we don't have elsewhere. The Packers need to stretch defenses. Janis is our best option. He should run 3-4 deep routes a game. It'd keep defenses honest.

* I've been saying it for two years: Richard Rodgers is a liability as a blocker. Awful.

* John Kuhn should be getting a touch a game. At least. He moves sticks. He's reliable. And, he understands the offense as a blocker.

* Was great to see Eddie in glimpses. Ran hard. Came out on fire. Then, he was put on the sidelines. I didn't get it.

* On the other hand, that might have been the worst that I've ever seen Eddie Lacy as a blocker. Rodgers was pointing out the blitz. Lacy missed the signal.

* 77 freakin' yards.

* Not counting the final knee downs, the Packers had 3 possessions that were three plays or less. We need more chunk plays. More offensive strategy with designs on 5-8 yards rather than 15+ yards.

* Justin Perillo's 6-yard catch was a highlight for me. That's depressing.

* The Packers miss AQ81 as an in-line blocker. If Kennard Backman can't block, it might be wise to activate Mitchell Henry.

* I love Clay Matthews. I'm not sure that the Packers have ever had someone like him at ILB. He steps up to hear audibles. He mans the middle of the field. He wins with speed. He wins with quickness. He wins with power. And, he's so smart. And intimidating.

* Nate Palmer might be the worst staring ILB in the NFL. He's gullible in the run game. Often baited to overcommit, which leads to a huge hole on the cut-back. Crossing routes are easily run right in front of him. He's late to recognize and he doesn't have the speed to catch up when he's trailing an oft-injured, slow 32 year old TE.

* BJ Raji played hard. Liked his activity.

* Mike Daniels gave effort, but he was pushed around too easily.

* Mike Pennel was a fighter on the inside. Liked his game.

* Thought Datone Jones was great in limited reps. Really active. Quick to shed blocks. Great arm extension. Played fast.

* One bright spot: Down 17-10. 3rd Quarter. 3rd & 8. Was good to see Clay and Peppers having some fun. Leading the troops. Obviously, the play didn't turn out well as Manning hit Thomas for 20 yards, but it was good to see some fire being started by two of our veterans. They were having fun. And trying to rally the troops.

* Want to see more of YELLOW JAKE. Badly.

* Joe Thomas made a good play, but was quieter than we need him.

* Casey Hayward can't play on the perimeter. He's a slot CB. That's it. No more. No less. I still think he has a big play waiting for him.

* Micah Hyde would like to forget last Sunday Night. I'll join him in that thought.

* HaHa is our 2nd best defender.

* When CJ Anderson was spinning, Morgan Burnett was whiffing.

* Great pick, Damarious!

* I'd like to see Gunter active on GameDay. He showed great promise in the preseason. We lack depth on the perimeter at CB. When Sammy went out, we had limited options.

This week - it's Carolina. 7-0 hosting 6-1. A season defining game. A win and home-field throughout is our target. We'd control our own destiny. A loss and all of a sudden, not only are we in a dog fight for a first-round bye, but we'll be in hotly contested battle for the Division. It's as close to a must win game as a Week 9 game could be. The 2015 Packers team isn't built to win 2 games on the road in the playoffs prior to the Super Bowl. We are built for home field advantage. While I wouldn't be afraid to head to Carolina in the NFC Championship, I don't want to see this team playing on Wild Card weekend. This weekend could potentially be a season defining game.

Carolina plays defense. Star Lotulelei is a MAN in the middle. Kaman Short is having an All-Pro season. Kony Ealy has great length and consistently disturbs. Jared Allen still has gas in the tank. Their LB's are elite. Luke Kuechly is as good as the NFL offers. Thomas Davis keeps motoring on. He's fast, he powerful and he's all over the field. Shaq Thompson brings great speed and is fitting in nicely. Charles Tillman keeps on truckin'. Josh Norman has been a superstar in 2015. He's developed more than anyone in the NFL from 2014 to 2015. Roman Harper is a wily veteran, but he lacks speed and can be exposed. Kurt Coleman has played well. He's been tough in the middle of the field. And, he plays with good quickness. Bene Benwikere is a solid slot CB. He'll be matched up vs Cobb. I like Benwikere, but Cobb can handle him.

Offensively, the Panthers revolve around Cam Newton. Newton is an MVP candidate this year. He's been a fantastic leader. He's stood tall in the pocket. He's had a rifle of an arm. He's been composed. He's won with his arm, his legs and his mind. He's been more composed in 2015 than he's previously been. Much to Packers fans joy, the Panthers lack weapons on the outside. Kelvin Benjamin is done for the year and thus, they role out Ted Ginn, Corey Brown, and Jerricho Cotchery at WR. That's arguably the worst WR core in the NFL. But, Cam uses Greg Olsen in dynamite fashion. And, Ed Dickson is a solid #2 TE. Devin Funchess is still finding his way. He was a solid target at Michigan, but hasn't fully settled in as either a WR or a TE at the NFL level. Still, he presents an imposing figure who could offer struggles for the Packers defense. Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert seek contact. Every play. They don't win with speed. They win with power. And heart. The Packers better match their intensity. Fuzzy Whittaker will make a couple of plays to annoy on Sunday. Book it. And, after the play, it'll have you wondering how in the world that it happened. The Panthers bring a physical, yet largely unknown OL. Led by Michael Oher and Ryan Kalil, they stand tall. And they bring intensity, much like their head coach.

The Panthers are well coached. Ron Rivera brings physicality. They'll come with mental toughness. If the Packers aren't prepared for battle on every play, they'll be out matched. I believe that the Packers will be ready.

I have a ton of respect for Charles Tillman. But, he needs to be targeted. Early and often. Especially on the deep ball. He can't run like he used to. I would like to see the Packers put Janis on Tillman's side of the field. Let's see the youngster try to run by the old veteran. Tillman can be beat deep. The Packers better try to take advantage.

Look for Lacy to try to pound at the heart of the Panthers defense early in the game. The Packers have to stay disciplined. They have to keep the Carolina defensive front honest. It'll open up the play action and allow the Packers to move the pocket. The Packers have to look at designing plays that get the MVP out of the pocket. It'll offer an opportunity for Rodgers to see the field from a different perspective.

Defensively, the Packers come out with a beefy front. They win the physical battle. They slow down the run game. They collapse the pocket with Peppers at DT.

The Packers aim to shut down Olsen. He sees a lot of double coverage. While Hyde has struggled recently, he remains our best match-up against a big TE. He's physical and has the speed to mirror a TE.

The Panthers try Ginn deep. But, can't connect. If Sammy Swagga can play, I'd expect him to be 1 v 1 on Ginn all day. With limited WR options, the Panthers can't take advantage of the Packers limitations on the perimeter of the defense.

Rodgers stays patient. A couple of underneath quick hitters to Cobb. It's Adams on a 15 yard deep slant. The Packers offense finally finds its rhythm.


Lacy grabs 70 yards on 20 carries. Datone Jones slips thru for a sack. The MVP tosses two TD's. HaHa grabs a pick. The Packers defense forces two turnovers.

Packers 27. Panthers 16.

We own the NFC.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.