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.