5-0! Winning with defense! An tireless pursuit of the QB. Great defensive design. Attacking from all angles. Beating the Rams at their own brand of football. Great fun!
As I write, I marinate with a Crooked Stave Colorado Wild Sage Brett Saison. Brewed with White Sage and Lemongrass. 7.2% ABV. All ingredients are locally sourced. After pouring, it'll blaze a path across the whole palate. A funky lemon feel. It's wonderful.
It's late. So, the music is at a lower decibel than I normally play it. Michael Franti's "Song From the Front Porch" album is my selection. It's soothes with lyrical richness. And a joyful beat. "When you're lost and alone, it's when the rainbow comes for you." Perfectly stated. Over the last 6-plus weeks, as I've lived the emotional roller coaster of raising a preemie who is still on oxygen, there's been multiple moments in which I've felt both lost and alone. Yet life has continuously offered those blissful moments that present the proverbial Rainbow coming for me. And, "Sometimes, I feel like I could do anything." For me, Michael Franti is to music in the same light as Aaron Rodgers is to football.
Here are some quick vibes over the last week:
* An aggressive Mike McCarthy is a good Mike McCarthy. I have to remind myself of that. Frequently. Especially when I'm yearning for a bit of a conservative approach in hopes of playing the field position game. The defense is playing better football than the offense right now. The defense is our strength. I'd play more field position. But, I have to trust McCarthy. He normally has a strong pulse on his football team. And, I can't ever accuse him of being too aggressive. Because, historically, when he's been aggressive, good things have come to the Green Bay Packers.
* Michael Franti just sang: "The streets are alive." "All the Freaky People Make the Beauty of the World." "Stay Human." He must be talking about the vibe at 1265 Lombardi Ave. Through 3 home games, the crowd has been special. The stadium has been loud. The fans are making a clear difference. We're seeing false starts, Timeouts by the oppositions offense as the play clock winds down and we're seeing 5 yard delay of game penalties. Keep up the vibes, Lambeau!
* Aaron be nimble. Aaron be quick. Aaron jump over that first down stick. Rodgers decisively used his feet. He was active with his feet. He rightfully lost patience with his WR's and he looked for positive yards. His sigh of relief after the James Jones TD was telling.
* It was 14-0. Tim Masthay had a beauty of a punt that was going to sit pretty at the 2-yard line. Then, Jeff Janis went brainless. What was he thinking? Absolutely silly play by Janis. The type of play that shows why Aaron Rodgers doesn't trust Janis. And, frankly, it felt like it was a momentum changing play. The Rams immediately drove 80 yards for a TD.
* The Packers offense was pressing for most of the game. Felt like it'd have been wise to design a play to Kuhn in the flat. Give Rodgers something easy. In space. Try to get him into a rhythm. The WR's weren't getting separation. Richard Rodgers wasn't free.
* Clay Matthews. Becoming an artisan on the inside blitz. A master of the craft. Consistently providing a punishing pain to the oppositions QB. He's been as individually dominant as any defensive player that I've seen this year. He had 1.5 sacks and he was close to have 3.5 sacks. Clay is on the prowl. He's hungry for the football. Capers is moving him towards the line in stealth like fashion.
* Eddie Lacy. A lot of people that I talk to are disappointed in Lacy this year. I'm not going to extensively defend him, but I will say that he's had very little room to run. To me, he looks like he's still a little banged up. But, fret not, Lacy's play will improve as the weather turns. He's a mudder. He's going to have a big year. The bye week will treat him well. It's worth noting that after 5 weeks in 2013, Lacy had 270 yards (he missed one game during this stretch and missed most of another game with a concussion). After 5 weeks in 2014, Lacy had 267 yards. After 5 weeks in 2015, Lacy has 257 yards. He's going to eclipse 1,000 yards again this year. And, he'll likely top 1,100 yards.
* James Starks flashed as a receiver, but he, too, was nonexistent as a runner.
* It's been often said that one of Aaron Rodgers' keys to success is that he doesn't throw the ball down the middle of the field late in the play. But, man, at some point, you have to use the middle of the field. In fact, the two touchdowns were over the middle of the field on crossing routes. And, had Richard Rodgers held onto the ball on the crossing route, he, too, might have scored. Really think the Packers have to look at more crossing routes. Especially underneath the safeties. St. Louis seemed to be playing with a single high safety. The middle of the field was open.
* The Packers have to continue to find new ways to get Randall Cobb the ball.
* Ty Montgomery continues to grow in this offense. Rodgers depends on him. He trusts him. Loved the short slant diving catch on third down. He's a fighter. He plays with great desire.
* JAMES JONES! 5 weeks in a row! The guy keeps making plays. Rockin' hair. Bringing flavor to the Titletown, U.S.A. sideline. Dude looks so smooth.
* Richard Rodgers would like to forget last Sunday. Dropped pass. Multiple penalties. Dude still caught 6 balls, but it should've been 7 and a TD.
* Like the Justin Perillo promotion. He should help as a blocker in the run game. He is instantly our best blocking TE. He is also a reliable receiver.
* Was also interested to see Mitchell Henry added to the practice squad. Had he not been injured, he might've made a run at the 53 man roster. Also, if nothing else, hopefully, he can provide some inside insight as to how the Broncos will prepare for the Packers in a couple of weeks. He might able to offer opportunistic ideas as well.
* David Bakhtiari had his best game of the season.
* Well played, Josh Walker. As I've wrote previously, I think that this will be Donny Barclay's last year in Green Bay. He'll sign a contract elsewhere and the Packers will receive a compensatory pick. If Walker plays like that and if he can slide to Tackle in a time of need - both big if's - the Packers won't be overly pained with losing Barclay.
* Josh Sitton & Corey Linsley anchored well.
* Ty Montgomery tossing defenders to the turf with the stiff arm is a beautiful thing!
* TJ Lang is ridiculously tough. A gamer. A throwback.
* Davante Adams needs to get healthy.
* The fake punt was so predictable. The Packers had it covered. Demetri Goodson slipped. What a mess. Goodson seems dispensable at this point.
* The DL rotation is thick. Great depth. And, Capers is doing a great job rotating the line and keeping the troops fresh. All made impact plays last week. They consistently knocked Foles off his spot and kept him uncomfortable.
* Mike Daniels showed tremendous burst. He was active. 8 tackles. 7 of them were solo. 1 tackle for loss. And, multiple pressures on Foles.
* Julius Peppers on the bull rush was a beautiful thing. He looks really quick. Quicker than last year on the pass rush. Soon - we could see him drop into coverage and - if the timing is right - a big play could follow. 4.5 sacks so far for Peppers!
* When BJ Raji gives the punch jab, you're going backwards by at least a yard. Nearly every time. Another dominant performance at the line of scrimmage by Raji. Get healthy, man.
* Bummed that Nick Perry got hurt. Not surprised, but he was playing the best football of his career. Heavy in pursuit.
* BJ Guion continues to bring both force and attitude. Dude is strong.
* Mike Pennel is no fluke. He's holding the point of attack almost every play that he's on the field. And, he's finishing plays.
* Datone Jones applying pressure! Slippery in the pass rush! Getting in Foles' face and forcing the turnover. And, a huge blocked FG! Jones is coming of age.
* Mike Neal played really well. He held the point. He won his battle. He found himself in the backfield. He knifed his way through a couple of times with great form.
* Jayrone Elliott! No flash plays, but I thought he played really well. Looked great chasing down runs from the backside. Loved the speed rush that forced Foles to step up in the pocket. He did all of the little things right. He has more big plays coming.
* Nate Palmer continues to struggle. He's a big body. But, he doesn't react well. He looks lost. He's out of position. He gets eaten up. He's giving great effort, but he's not strong enough. When YELLOW JAKE is healthy, which it appears he is, I'd like to see him in the middle of the field lined up next to the Claymaker. YELLOW JAKE has a history of rushing the passer at the college level. I'd like to see YELLOW JAKE and Clay lined up next to each other with both of them coming on the blitz via a stunt. Good things would happen. I also think that YELLOW JAKE is more instinctive than Palmer. He's more of a natural on the inside. As the season grows, I expect to see less of Palmer and more of YELLOW JAKE.
* Joe Thomas is playing really good football. He's aware. Really wished he'd have picked off the pass at the goal line, but happy that Ha Ha was on the spot to clean up his mess. From what I see, it appears as though Thomas is consistently assignment-sure.
* It won't show up in the box score, but in limited action, Andy Mulumba played really well in the run game. Won his battle, held the point and extended the play towards the sideline.
* Happy for Ha Ha. He had a good game as a tackler. Thought he had a bogus PI call on him. But, the interception in the end zone was golden.
* Micah Hyde was a dynamite tackler.
* Both Ha Ha and Hyde seem to be playing faster than they have in the past. They've both played really well in Morgan Burnett's absence.
* Another game in which Damarious Randall had his hands on a ball. He's looking the part.
* Quinten Rollins. Q! Monster pick-6. Welcome to the Lambeau Leap club! And, a second pick to go along with it! Really like the way Rollins plays the run. Could develop into an ideal slot CB. Sure, he got torched by Stedman Bailey for a big play, but those things will happen during the course of a year.
* Sammy Swagga! Big pimpin' the yellow shoes. It's fashion. It's flair. It's confidence. And, Sammy has his Swagga back. Playing sensational!
* Really liked Casey Hayward's intensity and aggressiveness. Said it last week: he has a big playing coming soon.
* Through 5 weeks, this defense looks worthy of being a champion. Let's hope it continues.
* Side note: Nico Marley, LB, Tulane. Undersized. 5-10. 210. Only a Junior. But, if somehow, someway, he ends up in Green Bay, I'll have his jersey. He's the Grandson of Bob Marley. And the guy balls with quickness.
This week - it is the Chargers. At Lambeau Field. I always love the October afternoon games at Lambeau. The temperatures will cool in the 2nd half as the sun sets and it gives a great feel of Football Season. Those games were always a highlight for me when I lived in Wisconsin. Sunday afternoon will be one of those days in which I'll miss the Dairyland State. There's no place I'd rather be than at Lambeau Field this Sunday afternoon. It'll be a grandiose celebration.
The Chargers are typically a team that play to the level of their competition. They're well coached. Mike McCoy is an up and coming, bright football mind. He'll have his team ready. Philip Rivers is a fiery competitor who'll try to attack the Packers on essentially 5 different routes: The deep crossing route to Floyd, the 10 yard come-back to Allen on the the perimeter, a short curl to Gates over the middle of the field, a post-corner to Gates and the swing pass to Danny Woodhead. They're a fairly predictable offense. But, they have talented players. Gates is one of the best TE's to ever play the game. And, he's still a difficult cover. Keenan Allen is a physical presence on the outside. He runs a lot of underneath crossing routes, but largely, he's going to be running comeback routes. He's strong and tough to bring down. Malcom Floyd is a long strider. He'll try to get over the top of the defense and he'll run a number of deep crossing routes. Stevie Johnson is doubtful and unlikely to play. Jacoby Jones isn't the receiver that he once was, but he's still a dependable return man. Danny Woodhead is dangerous. He finds his way into space. He can still slash. It's always uncomfortable when he has the ball. I'm shocked that Melvin Gordon hasn't unleashed himself. He looks like he's running without confidence. I was positive that Gordon would have a stellar rookie year. Let's hope that he holds off for another week.
The Chargers OL is beat up. Starting LT, King Dunlap, is out. His back-up, Chris Hairston, is questionable. Starting LG, Orlando Franklin, is questionable. Starting C, Chris Watt, is out. Starting RG, DJ Fluker, is questionable. Starting RT, Joe Barksdale, is a journey man who can be beaten with both speed and a powerful bull rush. I fully expect the Packers DL to terrorize the Chargers OL.
Defensively, the Chargers will bring pressure. Melvin Ingram is on the brink of becoming an elite pass rusher. His speed will present problems. Kyle Emanuel has been a pleasant surprise as a pass rusher. Jeremiah Attaochu can disrupt as well. On the DL, Corey Liuget is legit. Kendall Reyes is inconsistent, but he flashes. Manti Te'o has had a good year, but he, too, is hurt and might not play. If he doesn't, Denzel Perryman will get the start. Some may recall that Perryman was pegged as a potential target for the Packers in last years draft. He's undersized and not overly fleet of foot, but he brings the boom when he hits you. I've always thought highly of Brandon Flowers, but he got torched on MNF against the Steelers. Jaleel Addae is undersized, but plays bigger than he looks. Eric Weddle is as good as it gets at Free Safety. I'm really surprised at how well Jason Verrett has played. He'll likely blanket Randall Cobb for most of the game. Patrick Robinson cannot cover James Jones.
If the Packers can take care of the football, I cannot imagine a scenario in which the Chargers win this football game. A turnover free game will net a victory. Without question.
The Packers start out fast. Lambeau is electric. The crowd is rocking. The Packers pound the football at the teeth of the Chargers defense. It's Lacy grabbing yards in bunches. It's Rodgers to Rodgers on the crossing route for a big play. It's Rodgers to Jones on a back-shoulder pass for a TD.
The Packers DL dominates the line of scrimmage. Clay breaks through on a blitz up the middle and tosses Rivers to the turf. Rivers gets rattled. He's frustrated. He's annoyed. It's clear. It's present. The Packers DL talks loudly. Lambeau gets even more rowdy.
Rodgers comes play action. He rolls right. It's James Jones on a deep ball.
Casey Hayward grabs a pick-6.
San Diego rallies late. It's harmless everywhere except in the box score.
Lacy tops 100 yards. Jones grabs two more TD's. The Packers lock down 5 more sacks and force 2 more turnovers.
Green Bay 30. San Diego 20.
The Packers at 6-0. It's fall. It's Football Season. It's Titletown, U.S.A. Make it festive. Vibe On.
Go Pack Go!