Friday, December 30, 2016

My Take -> Week 17

Greetings, G-Force.

After a festive thrashing on the purple panty queens from Minnesota, the Division title is firmly in sight for the Green Bay Packers. For the 4th year in a row, the Packers will play an NFC North title game in Week 17.

To celebrate the intensity of a Week 17 NFC North title game and the complete domination of the 'queens, it's a Crooked Stave Raspberry Origins. Fruit meets sour and a little bit of funky goodness to balance the overwhelmingly eye-pinching sour treat. I listen to a mix of the String Cheese Incident who I'll be seeing in advance of the NYE Holiday. I'm imagining myself standing on a mountain top...seashells are at my feet. Imagination creates reality. Aaron Rodgers imagined that this team could run the table. They've conquered 5 of the 6 tasks. There's one more hurdle. I'm looking forward to seeing how the Packers respond to the Prime Time finale.

Here are my quick vibes from the last week:

* Mike McCarthy outclassed Mike Zimmer in a big way. Zimmer had no answers. McCarthy attacked. He showed a variety of formations, a wide mix of personnel and he used the success in the run game vs Chicago to set up the play action pass vs Minnesota. Minnesota's ILBs were keying on stopping the run. They consistently bit on play fakes to the RB. And, this, Packers WRs were often running open across the middle of the field.

* Aaron Rodgers. In MVP mode. Playing as the most cerebral man on the field. Patient. Using all of his Arsenal. His vision is back to where it was in 2014.

* JORDY! JORDY! JORDY! Put him in the slot. Put him on the outside. Have him run a lengthy blend of routes. The queens had no answers. That was vintage JORDY Nelson. He was emphatic is demeanor. More demonstrative than I've ever seen him. A Packers legend.

* What a great performance by Geronimo Allison. Difference making catches that kept the chains moving. He wasn't afraid to cross the middle of the field. He displayed terrific hands on his last catch to keep the chains moving.

* 31-13. Targeting a championship drive. 1st & 20. 13:02 left. McCarthy calls 4 WRs. With a TE. He lines up Adams in the backfield. With a backup RT. Three WRs to the right side of the field. Cook split left. 1/2 tight to the line. McCarthy forces Harrison Smith to step towards the box to the left side of the field, expecting the slant or a RB circle pass to Adams. Instead - it isolates Cook in man-to-man coverage against MN's #4 CB. It's not a slant. It's a GO route. It's 30 yards. It's a 1st down. It's McCarthy > Zimmer.

* Ty Montgomery delivering contact!

* Aaron Rodgers with the shake, the rattle and the roll for the Packers TD and a truly sublime Lambeau Leap. Watch out, NFL. Aaron Rodgers is having fun again!

* Bulaga and Bakhtiari. Weapons as bookend Tackles.

* TJ Lang. I hope he's a Packer forever. Give us a discount, TJ!

* Linsley was moved in the run game on the opening drive. Really, really surprising to see. Otherwise, a solid game from the 3rd year Center.

* Jared Cook needs to be back in Green Bay next year. Really wish Rodgers would've connected with him on the GO route to the back corner of the end zone. Cook had a step.

* Loved the back shoulder to Adams for a TD. Hope to see more of that.

* Richard Rodgers with the TD down the middle of the field. On an absolute dart from UNO-DOS! What a beauty!

* I've wondered what a healthy Aaron Rodgers would look like in the playoffs. We haven't seen it since 2012 when we weren't in the same class as SF. He's starting to look like he's close to 100%.

* Love the way Janis is being used. Keeping DCs guessing. Soon - we will see the reverse again.

* If that's how Clay is going to play, we instantly become contenders.

* Good to see Nick Perry back on the field. This team needs him.

* Happy to see Mike Daniels reap rewards from the Clay pressure to grab a sack.

* Really wish Janis would've downed the opening punt inside the 5. Other than that, I thought he did a good job as a gunner.

* As I've been saying, if this team can get pressure on the QB and if we can force a turnover or two a game, we will be tough to beat. Each week - it seems to be someone new making a play. That excites me. Everyone is stepping up to force turnovers. Randall, Rollins, HaHa, Burnett, Peppers, Hyde, Clark and Clay have all made monster plays in recent weeks. Need that trend to continue.

* Amazing to see the variety of ways that Clay dominated the game. He won with speed. He won with power. He won with finesse on a healthy mix of spin moves. Terrific performance!

* Kenny Clark showing great awareness! Additionally, Clark is quietly providing a tremendous push. He isn't getting home, but he's disruptive. He might have a sack in him this weekend.

* If this season ends with a Super run, the Clay strip-sack will live grandly in my mind forever.

* Etch this in your brain: Mike McCarthy's troops dropped 38 points on Mike Zimmer's ass in a Week 16 December contest on Christmas Eve. Help your Holiday spirit?

* I'd lock up Micah Hyde. 4 year deal. $14-15 million. He adds great versatility. He has a big play coming as a punt returner.

* I like the use of Christine Michael as a kickoff returner. Brings great speed and vision to the unit. Kid can move. Has burst.

* Dorleant. Was that the biggest cushion you've ever seen in a non prevent defense?

* Damarious Randall. What an enigma. Who is this guy? Looks like a natural at times. Then - he's totally lost on the next play. Feel like he has another big play coming.

* Happy Gunter is healthy. Team needs him on the perimeter. Still think he has an interception on the horizon.

* Mason Crosby's 48 yard FG was big. And, his kickoffs were exceptional .

It's Super Bowl or Bust. It all starts with a Division title. We need to beat Detroit. I have a hard time imagining anyone winning at SEA, at Dallas and at either NYG or ATL. Let's start the playoff run in Titletown, U.S.A.

The Packers head to the Motor City. For all of the NFC North marbles. Suddenly, the Packers are mostly healthy. And, the Lions are banged. Player availability is a key element this week. Do Darius Slay, Theo Riddick and Travis Swanson play? Without them, it's tough for me envisioning a scenario in which the Packers lose this weekend. We'd win the line of scrimmage if Swanson is out. Riddick is as elusive as it gets in the open field. Slay is as underrated of a CB as there is in the NFL.
The #1 thing to look for this weekend: is Darius Slay going to play? If not, Detroit cannot cover Green Bay. If so, how effective will he be? The Lions lack depth at CB. They need Slay to be healthy. Nevin Lawson will grab. He always does. If his tugs are called, we will see big plays down the field. We will receive gift first downs. If the contact isn't called, Lawson can frustrate WRs. He's annoyed Adams previously. As Lawson is in stride, he's easily beaten on the back shoulder throw. Let's hope that Rodgers is in mental unison with his WRs down the sideline. If so, the Packers will light up the scoreboard.

The Lions have talent, but they lack depth. Golden Tate has hurt the Packers previously. And, with Andre Roberts unlikely to play, it wouldn't surprise me if the Lions use Tate as a punt returner. Tate is tough to bring down. Every time he touches the ball, he's a threat. Marvin Jones crushed the Packers in Week 3. Anquan Boldin is banged up. But, he's a gamer and I anticipate that he'll be ready this weekend. TJ Jones is a young receiver who looks the part. He's a tough guard in the slot, but he & Stafford aren't always on the same page. For most of the year, Stafford was on the short list for the MVP award. Have massive respect for Stafford. He never quits. He's a king of the 4th Quarter comeback. I've always liked Eric Ebron. He runs a sharp down-and-out, he can power through tackles and he's not afraid to run the fly route down the seam. Ebron is a difference maker who wins with both speed and power. Riddick strikes fear in opponents. If he's out, the bulk of the load falls on the hard-working, over-achieving Zach Zenner. The Lions OL is suspect - especially if Travis Swanson is out. Taylor Decker and Riley Reiff can both be beaten on the edges. Decker can be beaten early with a speed rush around the edge and after he plants to hold the edge, he can be beaten with power to the inside. Riley Reiff can be out-smarted by a savvy pass rusher. If Nick Perry is fit to go, he'll give Reiff all kinds of trouble as he gets underneath Reiff and pushes him back. Graham Glasgow and Larry Warford have talent, but both go through mental lapses. If Daniels, Clark and Guion play with endurance, they'll each make plays this weekend.

Defensively, the Lions have a great front 4. Ziggy Ansah is as dynamic as a pure pass rusher as their is in the game. Devin Taylor has length and speed. When Taylor extends his arms in the run game, he's not going to be moved. Taylor can also get around the edge with surprising quickness. Haloti Ngata can still plug the run game. He's tough to move. A'Shawn Robinson is showing signs of being a legitimate NFL starter. The 2nd round pick can be beaten with physicality, but he's a fighter and won't take plays off. Kerry Hyder has been a surprise as an interior pass rush. If Rodgers holds onto the football too long, Hyder will get a sack. DeAndre Levy - when healthy - is a star LB. He's been banged up. He should be good to go this weekend, but he's not 100%. Tahir Whitehead is not great in run defense, but he's an animated presence in the Lions nickel and dime defense. He's fiery. He's fast. He plays with attitude. The Lions secondary is a huge question mark. After Slay and Lawson, the Lions roll out Johnson Bademosi. Bademosi is a special teams gem, but he can't play CB in the NFL. If he sees significant action, he'll get torched. Alex Carter is not yet ready for prime time. Asa Jackson is a below average slot CB. Randall Cobb would run circles around Jackson, if Cobb can go. Glover Quin is an underrated Safety who has the ability to make plays. The same can be said for Tavon Wilson. But, the Lions depth at safety is also poor. Miles Killebrew doesn't match up well with anyone that the Packers roll out on offense.

Stafford will put up points. He will also take chances. And, those chances can lead to turnovers. I foresee the Packers defense forcing two turnovers. Peppers gets a strip. Gunter gets a pick.

The Packers have to watch the WR screen to Golden Tate. It'll come early. We will see it often.

I expect Capers to use a blend of Joe Thomas and Morgan Burnett against Eric Ebron. Ebron is problematic down the middle of the field. If we aren't careful, he could terrorize us.

Against MN, early in the game, McCarthy called 11 straight pass plays that led to 14 1st Quarter points. Zimmer had no response. The Lions don't have the queens secondary. They don't have the queens front 7. They don't have the queens defensive mental wizardry. McCarthy should give the game to Rodgers. Let it loose for 45 passes. We will see positive results. And, if we are in sync, I really believe that the only way the Lions can stop the Packers is if the Packers stop themselves.

Rodgers outplays Stafford. The NFC North title comes back to Titletown, U.S.A. Where it belongs.

Packers 38
Lions 27

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac

Friday, December 23, 2016

My Take -> Week 16

Greetings, G-Force.

When in doubt, throw the TRUMP CARD. Halas Trophy. Soldier Field. Visitors Locker Room. TRUMP CARD FOREVER! Yes, the XLV run remains clearly in the front of my mind. And, the Soldier Field magic still remains. Now, Rodgers to Nelson for 60 yards on 3rd & 11 with 00:31 seconds left sits just behind the Rodgers to Cobb 48-yard TD on 4th & 8 with 00:38 left in the game. Both are true signs of being able to drop TRUMP CARD. Post the win, hope still remains in the hearts of the Titletown, U.S.A. faithful.

When you bunker beers, you save true treats for celebratory fashion. The 2013 New Glarus Wild Sour Ale fits in that category. Sour plum goodness. Still beautifully carbonated. Surprisingly, a little less sour than I recall. To celebrate I listen to Stevie Wonder's Number 1's collection. After all, when the Bears equalized at 27, I was uptight. But, with Aaron Rodgers, everything's alright. Really wish this was released on vinyl.

Here are my quick vibes from the last week:

* Mike McCarthy. Aggressive. Assertive. Playing his stallions. Leaving victorious. In December. I'm not surprised. Are you? In typical McCarthy fashion, his team is peaking when it matters. And, now, his team controls it's own destiny. The NFC North is the Packers to win. Win and we're in.

* Aaron Rodgers. Had Nelson caught the two earlier deep balls and had Adams caught the two TD passes, statistically, Rodgers would have entered the MVP race. He's carried the team. I've wondered about his leadership skills previously, but the RUN THE TABLE message is residing strongly within the Packers locker room. His belief has carried over. Others could've said the RUN THE TABLE statement, but it wouldn't have carried the same weight. It needed to come from the 2-time MVP. He's playing with a magical form.

* Ty Montgomery! YES! YES! YES! Displaying elite skills. He's still learning the position - obviously - and I can't tell if he's overly patient or if he's slow to see the hole on occasion, but while that was an absolutely fantastic performance, I think he can be even better with more experience at the position. I love the way he powers through arm tackles. I love the burst between steps 2-5. He has a quick turbo button to his eruption through the running lane. His first TD was grand. He got the edge and then he batted off a would be CB tackler. What's amazing is that as marvelous of a performance as it was, he had 1 yard on 2 receptions. Someday - he'll have a 200 yard day.

* Christine Michael. Can you say explosive? With Michael and Montgomery, we're onto something. Throw in the occasional RIP touch and I like our backfield in a way that I've never liked our backfield. We have a great mix of players who feel comfortable with the football in their hands.

* Jared Cook. Continuing to grow in the offense. Rodgers is looking to him. He's a third down weapon. He's a mismatch all over the field. I hope he's back next year on a cap friendly deal.

* JORDY! JORDY! JORDY! Adding to his Legend. I still need his autographed photo hanging in my Packers Wall of Fame. For my taste buds, he defines what it's like to be a Green Bay Packer. Great dude. Teammate. Hard worker. Bounces back in a tough moment during a sub-par game to make the monumental game clinching play.

* Adding to how tremendous the Rodgers to Nelson play really was, the Packers had both back-up Guards on the field for the play.

* Momentum is on the side of the Packers. Need to keep on playing with confidence.

* Loved the fake reverse to Janis on the first drive of the game. The results weren't glorious, but it sets up a double play-action play in which their might be an open receiver of the top. Look for it. Fake hand-off to Ty, fake reverse to Janis, and Adams is wiggling his way down the sidelines for a big play.

* Julius Peppers! I had a feeling he had a big play coming. You know what? He has another one happening before the end of the season.

* Play Clay Matthews at ILB. Please. He's not healthy enough to take on the contact against a more powerful OT.

* As I've been saying, the Packers don't need their defense to be elite. They just need to convert a turnover or two a game and they need to apply pressure on the QB. The turnovers were in abundance last week. The pressure on the QB was not enough. Still for 3 Quarters, the Packers had a championship worthy defense. The 4th Quarter meltdown was largely due to a lack of pressure on the QB and a lack of intensity on the perimeter at CB. I'll never understand why the Packers give such a cushion on the outside. Baffling.

* Congrats to TJ Lang. Ture footballer. Gritty. Gutty. A Packers HOF'er.

* HaHa. Taking the next step! Two massive, game-changing interceptions. Leading to 14 thrilling points.

* Need more out of Datone Jones. Especially in run defense.

* Damarious Randall. Who is this guy? Two weeks ago - he looked great. Last week - he looked like he didn't belong in the NFL.

* Micah Hyde. Earning big coins in his pocket.

* Ladarius Gunter. He's inconsistent, but he shows signs of being a legit #3 CB. And, he is a perimeter CB. Those are tough to find. Still have a feeling that he has an interception coming. I think it happens this week.

* Mason Crosby. Cool as a cucumber in hot sauce under pressure.

* Dom Capers. Zero confidence in him.

This week - it's the 'queens from Minnesota. Showing up in their purple panties. Last year - they stole the NFC North crown from us in Week 17 at Lambeau. This year - they punched us in the mouth in Minnesota. We need this one. Badly.

Sam Bradford has cooled off since a hot start. The 'queens offensive line has been decimated by injury. They've been a disaster. The 'queens have talent at the skill positions. Adam Thielen is a talented WR who gets almost zero props. He's a dangerous play-making WR who offers big-time match-up problems. The Packers had no answer for Stefon Diggs in Week 2. I'm not sure we can cover him this week either. Cordarrelle Patterson is being used more extensively as a WR, often catching short screen passes. He's a threat to take it to the house every time he touches the ball. AP was back last week. His status is uncertain for this week. Without AP, they'd be using Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata as a 1-2 punch. Asiata has been tough for the Packers to tackle previously. McKinnon is a mismatch for the Packers. Especially as a receiver. He's tough to bring down in the open field. Kyle Rudolph often destroys the Packers. He seems to score a TD every time we play each other.

Defensively, the 'queens match up with us better than any team in the NFL. Between Robison, Hunter and Griffen; they get to Rodgers from the outside. Linval Joseph has beaten us up on the inside. At LB, Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks and Chad Greenway make up one of the best LB groups in the NFL. Terence Newman can't run and can be beaten on the outside. Xavier Rhodes is an elite perimeter CB. Andrew Sendejo is a tough-minded, sure tackling S. The 'queens should get Harrison Smith back from injury. Without Smith, they'd have Anthony Harris playing S. If it's Harris playing instead of Smith, look for many big plays to come down the middle of the field. Smith might be the best run stopping S in football. Trae Waynes can be beaten. Captain Munnerlyn is a solid slot CB.

The Packers cannot let Patterson beat us on special teams.

Plainly stated - these teams don't like each other. Minnesota wants to be Green Bay. They look at us with envy. They look at GB in much the same fashion as GB looked at CHI in the 80's. They look at us with disgust. They go straight emo when we win.

Mike Zimmer will pull out all of the stops. He'll have trick plays. He'll have a fake punt or FG at some point. He might try an on-side kick. He'll be aggressive. He's trying to install an attitude within his organization that they have to be able to beat the Packers - much in the same way that Lovie Smith used to talk to his Bears teams. Whether we're on top or not, the North title goes through GB. And, Zimmer knows it.

Much like last year - look for the 'queens to try to get McKinnon loose on the outside as a receiver. They try him deep. Our LB's can't run with him. If they connect, it could be a big play.

I don't expect Montgomery to have as big of a game running the ball, but I do see him having a big game as a receiver. And, if the Packers think that they'll be able to run at the heart of this MN defense, they're silly. They should spread MN out and go to the short passing game. Then, it's Nelson on a double move against Newman for a big play.

The 'queens secondary is a bunch of grabbers. They'll be victimized for at least 3 penalties this week. The Packers must attack with the double move. They'll bite. All game.

The Packers front 4 destroys the 'queens OL.

The key match-up of the game is Morgan Burnett vs Kyle Rudolph. With the exception of 2012, Rudolph has always won this battle. The Packers need Burnett to show up. Or they need to play Micah Hyde on him.

Ladarius Gunter makes the big game changing play this week.

The Packers are in the midst of a special run right now. It won't be spoiled on Christmas Eve.

Packers 20
'queens 16

Happy Holidays.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

My Take -> Week 15

Greetings, G-Force.

7-6. Above .500. I don’t remember what this feels like. It seems foreign to me. I’m intoxicated. Both literally and figuratively. Complete joy floods the soul. THE PACK IS BACK. Ready for a December run. But, we need help. And, we got none in Week 14. We took care of business. We gained zero ground. It’s nail biting time. It’s scoreboard watching time. We need good fortune. Thankfully, generally speaking, in the regular season, karma has been on our side. If this team gets a shot in January, I believe that we’re capable of a Super run. I really do.

For Christmas, I asked for the Peter Tosh Complete Captured Live album. It’s the only Tosh album that I don’t own on vinyl. In hopes of getting my wish, I’m sending both Santa and the Elf on the Shelf my vibe. I’m listening to it via iTunes as I write this. Also, I’m sipping a Port Brewing Santa’s Little Helper. 10.5% ABV. It’s an Imperial Stout that is sweet with a roasted malt backbone. Really smooth. Find it. You want to sip it. And, with Avery’s Czar not being produced post 2016, this will rest well in my bunker for years to come. My gut tells me that it’ll age really well for 3-5 years. I’m hoping a little of the sweetness dies and that some caramel flavors pop.

Here are my quick vibes from the past week:

* Mike McCarthy. Aggressive. Victorious. That’s not a coincidence. In fact, it’s commonplace. When McCarthy attacks, he wins. When McCarthy is an offensive dictator, he’s the best coach in the NFL. Yes, I wrote that. And, I firmly believe that. His problem: he’s inconsistent and he often goes conservative. Stirringly, McCarthy was fierce in his approach against Seattle. Pete Carroll’s defense had no answers. McCarthy was in complete control. In fact, other than when Rodgers missed a wide open Adams down the sidelines near the end of the 2nd Quarter and when Lane Taylor got completely destroyed early in the 3rd Quarter, Pete Carroll was hopeless against the McCarthy led troops. McCarthy’s football team dominated. It’s December. Super teams win in December. McCarthy has his group of men ready to win. They’ve responded. They need to continue to play with intensity or the season will devastatingly end prematurely.

* Aaron Rodgers. Suddenly, he’s in the MVP mix. If he can finish the season the way he’s played the last 3 games, he’ll lead the NFL in TD’s. He’ll boastfully have carried his team to the playoffs. He deserves consideration. Plainly stated, Rodgers is dominating his competition right now.

* JORDY! JORDY! JORDY! Straight ballin’. Owning the red zone. In mental unison with Rodgers. Really fun to watch.

* Randall Cobb. Tough. Full o’ desire. Looking like his 2014 self.

* JEFF JANIS! Loved the call by McCarthy. Showing a massive middle finger to Pete Carroll’s dirty, cheap-shot taking bunch of losers.

* Davante Adams, once again, emerging as a true threat. Is this real? A year ago, I didn’t want him in GB. Today, he’s the bringing the shake that could put the Title back in Titletown, U.S.A.

* McCarthy is using Jordy in the slot. He’s using Ty extensively at RB . He’s owning the mind of Defensive Coordinators. He’s walking away victorious. No reason to think that this doesn’t continue.

* Really liked how McCarthy inserted Spriggs as a TE on run downs. Didn’t like how Spriggs got off of the ball. Spriggs was slow footed. Almost as if he didn’t know the count. Good coaching, poor execution.

* For weeks, I wondered why McCarthy was playing Starks extensively. Clearly, it was because he trusted him. Michael showed that he’s not yet to be fully trusted. It was a crucial 3rd down play. The Packers were on the brink of FG range. Leading 7-3 in a must win contest. And, Christine Michael ran the wrong way. Starks might not have picked up the first down, but he’d have been in the right spot. Rodgers is a cerebral player. He has to trust his players. Michael was not mentally up to speed for the 2nd week in a row. Both times, it cost the Packers.

* Ty Montgomery. Just how good can he be? In my September 11, 2014 blog, I wrote that I thought Ty Montgomery should be someone that the Packers should consider in the 2015 NFL Draft. He’s looking like he’s worthy of a 1st round pick. He’s a talented player who is mentally fit and the first player that makes contact with him never wraps him up. He’s growing into the role. I seriously wonder how good he can be. My Dad compares him to Le’Veon Bell. Can’t say I disagree.

* Christine Michael is quicker than any back that I can recall in Green & Gold. Travis Jervey may have been faster, but he didn’t dart through the hole like Michael. Jervey had straight line speed, a great special teams pit-bull. Michael has pure burst. He sees the hole and he hits it.

* Really enjoyed watching Jared Cook running the slant. Bummed me out that he didn’t get the PI call on the play in which he got injured. There was definite contact. The penalty should have been called. It wasn’t. Poor officiating. Cook has the DB beaten.

* McCarthy saw the mismatch. He attacked the mismatch at CB. McCarthy is in the coaching zone right now. DeShawn Shead couldn’t cover anyone on the field. McCarthy knew this. He went after it. All game. And, yes, the Packers dropped 38 points on the Seagulls.

* TJ Lang. What a gamer! Such a throwback. A dude from the 1960’s version of the Packers. He’d have fit in next to Thurston, Kramer, Curry, Skoronski and Gregg.

* Corey Linsley. Still feels odd watching him getting blown off of the ball.

* Lane Taylor. He’s either really good. Or really bad. When he’s good, he’s creating lanes for Ty to plow in for his first TD. When he’s bad, he’s destroying drives.

* David Bakhtiari & Bryan Bulaga. Is there a better pass blocking duo at Tackle in the NFL? I don’t think so.

* Jared Cook. One big play. Leading 14-3. Third down. Rodgers hits Ty in the flat for a first down. Would’ve been a nice gain. And, then Jared Cook gets his hands on Kam Chancellor and it became a terrific play. Cook moved Chancellor back in a fashion that allowed Montgomery to pick up an additional 12 yards to get the ball inside the 10. On the next play, Rodgers hits Nelson on a TD to make it 21-3. If Richard Rodgers was blocking in that situation, the extra yards wouldn’t have happened.

* I enjoyed watching the Seagulls defense melting down on the sidelines. In each others faces. Confused. Unable to stop McCarthy’s offense.

* Good to see Richard Rodgers soften the blow as he held on for a sublime first down reception on 3rd & 4. The following play was Rodgers to Nelson for a 3 yard TD pass to conclude a 32-yard CHAMPIONSHIP DRIVE.

* Montgomery had 12 touches for 84 yards. That's 7 yards a POP! WILD!!!

* Once again, a total treat to watch Christine Michael sell the play action fake. A true pro. So well schooled.

* As I've been saying, this defense doesn't have to be overly dominate. They just have to be able to force a turnover or two a game and they have to win the line of scrimmage. I think we're built for that. We're going to give up big plays. Without Nick Perry, we are going to give up chunks of yards - on occasion - in the run game. But, if we can utilize the DL rotation to keep legs fresh and apply pressure on the QB and if we can take the ball away, we're going to be a contender. We're going to be a team that NO ONE wants to face. We'll be a playoff team. We'll be able to make a serious playoff run.

* Have to give a shout out to Dean Lowry. Not just for the sack, but for his overall activity. Really enjoy the way he gets his hands up to distract passing lanes. He has good length. He's winning with effort. He's winning the leverage battle.

* Good game, Datone Jones. Again, he was really physical in the passing game. Solid pass rush. Has a lot of work to do in the run game though.

* Couple of really awesome plays by Jayrone Elliott. Hope the sack was a confidence booster. Need him to continue to make plays. Didn't like seeing Jimmy Graham eat him up in the run game though.

* High effort game from Kenny Clark. Was a fighter. Was getting a good jump off the ball. With the exception of the play in which he jumped offsides, I really felt like he had good timing off of the ball.

* Thought Daniels and Guion really controlled the line of scrimmage.

* The type of game that earns Micah Hyde a paycheck. If not in GB, somewhere. He was playing well in the slot, he was coming on the blitz, he was dropping as the deep safety, he was stepping into the box, he was covering the TE, he was covering the back out of the backfield AND he was returning punts. Great game from Hyde. Fun to see the game clinching pick as well.

* Knew Damarious Randall had big plays coming. Think there's more, too.

* Felt like Rollins had a pick in his future. He got it. Might be another one over the next three games as well.

* Huge game from Morgan Burnett. The defensive MVP. Dynamite work on Graham. Stepped into the box as an ILB. Looked quick. Playing some of the best football of his career.

* Joe Thomas filled the stat box, but didn't pass the eye test - for what that's worth. Wonder if the Packers should work out Marwin Evans as an ILB in the offseason. He's faster than Joe Thomas. He's likely just as physical. In the brief moments that I've seen him get after the football, I'd think he'd have the instincts for the role, too.

* Christian Ringo! BULLYING Bull Rush! Late to the party, but the play didn't start until he arrived! Forced a fumble as well.

* Have a feeling that Gunter has a pick coming in the next two weeks.

* Can't afford any more missed FG's this year. Need every point.

This week - it's the hated Bears. Yes, at 3-10, the BEARS STILL SUCK. But, admittedly, the Bears have been extremely competitive. In most every game. In fact, in their last three losses, they've had the ball and a chance to win on their last drive of the game. In each game, they were within 40 yards of victory. With temperatures expected to be between -1 & -15 on Sunday - yes, you read that right - the playing field levels out. It comes down to toughness, the line of scrimmage and turnovers.

The Bears have decent talent on offense. Cameron Meredith is showing that he's a worthy developmental WR. He can get over the top and he's not afraid of running crossing routes. Eddie Royal is still a dangerous slot receiver who can beat you deep. Alton Jeffery returns from suspension this week and he remains an elite deep threat. Daniel Braverman is an slot receiver who can move the sticks. Marquess Wilson can beat you on the go-route. Josh Bellamy is a high-effort WR. At RB, Jordan Howard is fast becoming a top-notch, do-it-all RB. Jeremy Langford is a talented RB who can both find the lanes as a RB and catch the ball out of the backfield. Ka'Deem Carey is a nice change-of-pace back. I give Matt Barkley credit. He's been put in a tough position. He's played with composure. He's protected the football. He's moved the ball. He's played within the system. He's put the Bears in position to win games. He's stood in the pocket well and played with confidence. The Bears OL is a weakness. Bobbie Massie and Charles Leno can be beaten around the edge - especially with speed. I'm sure Josh Sitton will be motivated this week, but he's had an average year. Ted Larsen is a bad Guard. He should get destroyed this weekend. Cody Whitehair is a rookie Center who offers great promise.

Defensively, the Bears have played really well. Especially in the front 7. Akiem Hicks has made plays. Pernell McPhee is a legitimate pass rusher. Leonard Floyd has made big plays. Jonathan Bullard has offered great promise as an interior DL. Eddie Goldman has been a high effort interior defender. Willie Young continues to offer length and a pass rush from the outside. Nick Kwiatkoski has been a surprisingly good player at ILB. I thought he'd be too slow, but he's masked that fault with good instincts and understanding. Christian Jones is always around the football. In the secondary, Tracy Porter remains a talented, play-making CB. Cre'von LeBlanc is a gifted slot CB. Outside of that, the Bears secondary is pathetic. It can be had. If the turf allows, it will be had.

On special teams, Deonte Thompson is an under-appreciated kick returner. He's a threat every time the ball is in his hands. On a cold day in which it'll be tough to kick the ball into the end zone on kick-offs, beware of Thompson.

The temperature is a thing. If the weather was going to be in the 20's, I'd be calling for a 3 score Packers victory. But, with cooler temperatures, uncontrollable things occur. Unforeseen mistakes happen. This game will be uncomfortably close.

Look for the Bears to run the ball early and often. They'll want the ball first. They'll pound it at the heart of the Packers defense with the goal of running it more than 40 times. They'll eat up clock between each play. Mostly dropping the play clock under 5-7 seconds. They want to shorten the field. They want to keep Rodgers off of the field. They look to find 3rd & short. They try to pound away with Howard. I expect to see Howard carrying the ball at least 25 times this weekend.

On the contrary, the Packers pick on the Bears via the passing game. Attacking the perimeter. Singling out Bryce Callahan, the Packers go after him. With an abundance of short passes. Even in awful temperatures, Rodgers finds his rhythm.

Montgomery fights the Bears defense and bounces off of tackles. Finds his way into the secondary and busts open a long 40 yard run.

It's late 3rd Quarter. The Packers lead 13-10. And, then Barkley makes his mistake. He overshoots Meredith on a crossing route and it lands in HaHa's lap. The Packers quickly attack. It's Rodgers to Nelson for the TD. A 2-score lead. And, the playoffs are one step closer.

Julius Peppers also makes a big play against his former team.

Packers 23.
Bears 17.

Go Pack Go!


Talkin' S-Mac.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

My Take -> Week 14

Greetings, G-Force.

BACK TO EVEN! A little momentum cooking. Still, in dire need of continuing the win streak if we're going to extend the life of the 2016 Season beyond the regular season. We dug the hole. Now, we have to dig ourselves out. Nonetheless, you have to enjoy the journey to reach your destination. The last two games were excellent indicators that this team still has fight.

It's Stout season. And, while my previous two beers were stouts, I sit down with a Crooked Stave Pure Guava from August of 2015. It's refreshing. It's perfectly carbonated. Much of the fruit has quieted, but it still has a tropical mist to its nose. I listen to MGMT's Oracular Spectacular album. It offers a healthy, uplifting energy. An "electric feel" - of sorts.

Here's my quick vibes from the last week:

* An aggressive Mike McCarthy is a good Mike McCarthy. The thought never gets old. Once again, McCarthy was in attack mode. Once again, McCarthy's team walked away victorious. It's noteworthy the McCarthy's teams have a 33-14 record in December and January regular season games. I have great confidence that his teams will continue to be prepared to win games between now and the end of the year. I have confidence that McCarthy will continue to be aggressive in his personnel use. I believe that McCarthy will continue to mix up his packages. The offense won't be stagnant. He'll keep defenses on their toes. He'll win the mind games late in the contest, which will propel the Packers to victory.

* Aaron Rodgers. Outside of the fumbled snap, it was a mostly magical performance from the 2-time MVP. Rodgers was gutty. He was in attack mode. He was smart. He was decisive. He used his legs. He remained patient. He battled through pain in difficult conditions. He stayed within the offense. He took shots deep. He took chances in 1 on 1 coverage. He was the MVP.

* JORDY! JORDY! JORDY! He looked like he was back to me! He got separation deep when the DB slipped. On the final, game-clinching drive, it was vintage JORDY. The drive went 8 plays for 89 yards. Nelson grabbed two balls on the drive for 49 yards. He braced himself for contact on the brilliant catch down the sideline for 21 yards. And, then, on the all-important 3rd & 6 from midfield, he out jumped the Texans star CB, Kareem Jackson, for a 28 yard catch. It was a monstrous performance from Nelson. Loved the emotion he was showing on the field as well. He understands the urgency.

* Randall Cobb. SNOW ANGELS! What a beautiful pass by Rodgers on the TD. Rolling right and whipping it across his body. Cobb smothered himself in contact and held onto the football for the TD. Cobb is playing with great passion right now. He's lethal as a punt returner as well. Fearlessly attacking the oppositions return units.

* It was 7-7. There were just over 3 minutes left in the 3rd Quarter. The Packers were backed up at their own 2. McCarthy gathered his wits. He gave the backfield to Montgomery. Finally! Dude, what were we waiting for? On 3rd & 1 from the 11, Montgomery responded. In epic fashion with a 13 yard run. He's a mismatch. I'm not sure how to defend him. He's too fast for LB's. He's too tough for CB's. He's a fantastic talent. He's quickly becoming a Packers favorite of mine.

* James Starks. 4 carries. 1 yard. Those statistics included a 4 yard gain, in which a decisive, quick-footed runner would've gained at least 7 and possibly 12. He had room to run. He didn't take advantage. Barring injury, I'll be disappointed if he has 4 carries in a game again this year. We are so much better with him on the sidelines.

* Christine Michael. On the contrary to Starks, the stats don't tell the story. He looked quick. He has a burst. He's lining up 8 yards off the line of scrimmage. He has a nice zip to his step. I also really enjoy the way he sells the play fake. He's well schooled. He has a big game in his future. It appeared to me that he's clearly still learning the offense though. It looked like he didn't understand the audible on the 3rd Quarter hand-off to him. He caught Rodgers' attention, in advance, so there was no harm, but it was evident that the didn't know the adjustment. For my eye, Michael didn't have room to run when the ball was in his hands.

* Montgomery touched the ball 8 times. He totaled 56 yards. That's 7 yards per touch. Fantastic work.

* RIP! RIP! RIP! I HOPE HE HAS A LONG CAREER IN GB! HUGE FAN! Is there anyone tougher than him in the NFL? He seeks contact. He wins that battle every time, it seems. Wish he could play ILB.

* When Jared Cook catches the ball, it seems like it's a first down nearly every time. Hope he continues to be utilized more and more in the offense. Would like to see him targeting roughly twice as much as he is right now.

* Davante Adams didn't have his best game. Didn't seem like he gave maximum effort. Tough footing, but it didn't appear as though he was trying to get in and out of his cuts.

* Definitely not Lane Taylor's best game. Need more from him as we try to fortify a minimal semblance of a run game over the last month of the year.

* Jason Spriggs was a battler. Guard might end up being his position.

* When your defense is mediocre, ball control is one opportunity that you have to limit possessions for the opposition. Even if it comes at the expense of operating out of the no-huddle offense.

* I often talk about the CHAMPIONSHIP DRIVE. It's the knock-out punch. Wayne Larrivee's "dagger." But, for my eye, the CHAMPIONSHIP DRIVE can just be a time eating drive. It doesn't have to be a drive that nets points. Nonetheless, the Packers offense has delivered that CHAMPIONSHIP DRIVE two weeks in a row.

* Clay Matthews is hurt. It's clear that his left shoulder cannot handle contact. He's approaching blockers in a fashion in which he doesn't want contact to the left shoulder. When rushing, he needs to attack as a ROLB. That way - the can approach the edge without the fear of getting a physical shove to the shoulder. I still believe he's best utilized at ILB. Generally speaking, he'd see the contact coming at him as well. I appreciate his courage. And, his mere presence is a difference maker. But, it's definitely banged up.

* Speaking of injuries, the Nick Perry hand situation could be devastating. It'll be tough for the Packers to finish the season on a 6-game winning streak without a healthy Nick Perry. His injury worries me.

* Julius Peppers. What a gamer! Again, the dude just makes plays. In fun fashion. He has a strip sack coming again. It'll be a game changer. Maybe not this week, but it's coming soon.

* Dean Lowry with the monster performance!

* The Packers need Jayrone Elliott to produce. They need him flying around the edge and creating a big play. I like how he has been dropping in coverage, but he's needed as a pass rusher right now.

* Really solid game from Datone Jones. Maybe his best game of the year. He was physical at the edge. He was pursuant all game.

* Micah Hyde was a diamond in the secondary. Treat to see him cover last week. He was slapping wrists and defending well.

* Jake Ryan played with great activity. Interesting positive attribute: Ryan looks like he runs with the same speed on a slow track as he does on a fast track. A true mudder.

* Didn't like how Morgan Burnett and Joe Thomas were getting sucked in on running plays. Way too many big runs. Packers were vulnerable.

* With that said, I wish the Packers would play with Burnett and Clay at ILB on a handful of plays each week.

* Ha Ha has superstar potential. He has another big play coming.

* Q-Rollins & Gunter teaming up to cause the forced fumble! Big way to start the game!

* This defense won't be dominant. But, if this defense can cause a turnover or two a game and if it can apply pressure on the QB in the same fashion that it has over the last two weeks, we're going to be tough to beat. Especially, if the offense continues to utilize the quick-passing game.

* Crucial play of the game: Packers leading 14-7. Houston crosses over to Packers territory. Less than 11 minutes left. Ryan comes on the inside blitz. He breaks through. He forces Osweiler to flip to Blue. Guion reads it and buries Blue for a 9 yard loss. I pumped my fist so hard that I thought I was going to have the same AC joint injury that Clay has and I yelled so loud that I felt as though I injured a vocal chord. Intense play!

* 12 plays. 98 yards. Glorious season-saving drive.

* I had high hopes for Mike Pennel. Now, I doubt he ever plays for Green Bay again.

* Morgan Burnett. Our season might hinge on his ability to cover the TE. With Jimmy Graham, Kyle Rudolph and Eric Ebron waiting in the wings; the Packers are going to need premium TE coverage skills. Burnett is often given that task. That worries me. I wish that was Micah Hyde's responsibility.

This week - it's the hated Seagulls from Seattle. In a near must win for the Packers. Even with a loss, both the Wild Card and the Division are potentially within reach, but I don't want to face those odds. Let's win out and we'll be in. Each game is vital. Neither Tampa nor Detroit did us any favors last week as both came away with tough road wins, so we have to take matters into our own hands. And, that requires winning out. 10-6 will make the playoffs.

Seattle comes to Lambeau off of one of their best performances of the year. They dropped 40 on Carolina. They have talented playmakers on offense. Doug Baldwin is an underrated, premier WR in the NFL. He's physical. He's dangerous. He catches everything. He's tough minded. Jermaine Kearse is overly talented, but the guy makes plays. Almost every week. Jimmy Graham is healthy and fitting into the Seattle offense in a scary fashion. He and Russell Wilson have found comfort with one another. Tyler Lockett is a terrific slot WR who can also line up on the perimeter and win with speed. Paul Richardson has shown flashes of becoming an emerging threat at WR. Thomas Rawls is a dangerous do-it-all back. Wilson is healthy and he's playing at an MVP level. He's seeing the field. He's not making mistakes. He's mobile. He's an All-Pro talent at QB. The Seagulls OL is their liability. The Packers must dominate the line of scrimmage. I believe they will.

Seattle plays a lot of 4-2-5 defensively. They do a great job of rotating their front 4. Michael Bennett often plays on the outside on early downs and rotates to the inside on pass downs. Bennett will give Spriggs and Taylor all-kinds of problems. Tony McDaniel and Ahtyba Rubin are solid run-stopping DT's. Cliff Avril can still attack the QB. Off the bench, Frank Clark and Cassius Marsh add speed as edge rushers. Jared Reed is a talented rookie DT as well. Bobby Wagner and KJ Wright are as good of a tandem as their as at LB. Brock Coyle adds high-effort to the depth of their defense. Richard Sherman is elite. So is Kam Chancellor. The rest of the secondary has the attitude and the swagger, but they aren't as talented. The Seagulls will be without Earl Thomas. So, expect the Packers to attack Jeremy Lane, DeShawn Shead, and Steven Terrell. Look for the Packers to utilize the quick hitting attack. Early and often.

I pray that Lockett doesn't destroy us on special teams. He concerns me. Greatly.

I look for the Packers to utilize Montgomery. Coming out with Jordy and Cobb in the slot. Adams and Cook on the perimeter. The Packers will try to get Cook matched up 1 v 1 against Wright on the outside. They'll try to get Nelson matched up against someone not named Richard Sherman. If Sherman is matched up against Nelson in the slot, Rodgers will lick his chops and Adams will get 10+ targets. It's a match-up league. Rodgers will see the match-ups, he'll attack the edges.

The Packers DL dominates the line of scrimmage early. Guion and Daniels make their impact felt. They swallow Rawls.

Eventually, Russell Wilson gets loose. He connects with Graham and Baldwin for big plays. He quiets the crowd. Seattle grabs a 3rd Quarter lead.

But, the Packers grab momentum. Michael bursts to the second line of the Seattle defense. Adams grabs a back-shoulder grab. Rodgers connects with Cook on a deep ball. The Packers defense forces a turnover. Crosby seals it with a late FG.

It'll be a fierce dog fight. From the start. I've been wearing my GET LOUD LAMBEAU t-shirt all week. I'd like to hear Lambeau rockin'. Don't be afraid to stand up and make some noise either. We need to create a false start or two. We need to force them to burn timeouts early in the 1st & 3rd Quarters. The Lambeau faithful need to be lively for 60 minutes. We can't afford a 3rd Quarter energy let down. Prepare to celebrate!

Packers 23.
Seattle 20.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

My Take -> Week 13

Greetings, G-Force.

Life is better when the Green Bay Packers win. With the victory, positivity was restored amongst the Packers fan base. Grasping onto hope that Mike McCarthy's team can, once again, play it's best football in December. And, confident that if the Packers play with the form that they played with on Monday Night, we'll be back to .500 after a Sunday at Lambeau.

To celebrate the victory, I write with a Crooked Stave L'Brett d'Cherry from September 2015. Robustly sour. Heavy Cherry. A mouth full o' Brett yeast. Golden Sour. Golden Flavor. Aging perfectly. I'm listening to the Michael Franti & Spearhead show from Jazz Fest in 2008. Seriously, one of the best shows I've ever seen in my life. Total dance party. It was raining NOLA-style. Total swamp feel. He jammed throughout. I'm super stoked to see Franti two times next weekend.

Here are my quick vibes from the last week:

* An aggressive Mike McCarthy is a good Mike McCarthy. McCarthy had his foot on the gas pedal. He wasn't going to leave anything on the table. He was the dictator. He determined the tempo of the game. He attacked the Eagles defense with quick hits. When the Packers offense plays with that tempo, I'm not sure that there's a defense in the NFL that can defend us.

* Yo, HaHa! ROCK WITH ME! That pick was a game changer. And, the Packers defense was desperate for a turnover. Often, turnovers can come in abundance. I have a feeling that we have a couple of turnovers coming this week as well.

* After the HaHa pick, I was calling for a deep shot. McCarthy did so. I was hoping he'd look for Cook. Instead, he went to Adams. Adams found magic down the sidelines.

* Davante Adams! Playing with shake to the beat of "A Little Bit A Riddim make the world go round."

* Rodgers was in MVP form. Playing with magic. Focused. In rhythm. Cerebral. Smartest player on the field. Concentrating on moving the sticks. When that's Aaron Rodgers, we are tough to beat.

* Jordy showed flashes. He's still not himself on the deep ball, but the footwork was terrific down the sidelines.

* Randall Cobb running with conviction is a scintillating sight.

* I've been critical of Jason Spriggs previously. He held his own. Played well. Still needs to get stronger. But, he played well. Moved his feet well. Like his athleticism.

* Bulaga and Bakhtiari. Hats off. Total studs at Tackle. Glad they're locked up. Need them healthy.

* It was only 1 carry. It was only 4 yards. But, I was really encouraged by Christine Michael's movement. Could be a really nice dimension to this offense. If McCarthy allows it.

* Loved the way McCarthy called the clinching drive. He didn't let up. He played to win. He called safe plays. He trusted his players to make plays. Rodgers did. So, did Jordy. It was a thing of beauty.

* Offensively, we weren't perfect though. There's no reason for James Starks to carry the ball 17 times. Sure, Starks picked up a couple of nice first downs, but I view that as being a product of the system, not a product of Starks' play making abilities. I'm antsy to see more of Michael. And, man, I don't get why Montgomery isn't catching swing passes and curl routes across the field out of the backfield? That should be happening a minimum of 5 times per game. It should be noted that I'm not a Starks hater, but man, we need better than 2.4 yards per carry out of the running game. And, throw in this, Starks had three carries that added up to 22 yards. So, on his 14 other carries, he grabbed a total of 19 yards. That's 1.36 yards per carry. That's not going to scare anyone. With Michael and Montgomery getting those touches, I promise that those statistics will improve. And, in turn, the offense will be even more dynamic.

* Also, want to see comedy? Watch Richard Rodgers block on Starks' 8 yard carry on 3rd & 1 with less than a minute in the 1st Quarter. He doesn't touch a soul. Literally. I have no idea what he was thinking. Also, watch Richard Rodgers on Aaron Rodgers' first down scramble on the first 3rd & 1 of the game. If he had any foresight to throw a block, Aaron Rodgers would've picked up another 5-7 yards easily.

* Remember when Corey Linsley played like the strongest guy on the field? What happened to those days?

* Julius Peppers continues to make plays. Looks fresh. Playing with intensity!

* This defense is so much better with CM3 at ILB. He adds speed. He brings an inside blitz dimension. He makes more plays at ILB than he does at OLB. He shows his instincts. He gets to read and react. His talents are on display. He makes a huge impact as an ILB. I hope he stays there. In fact, a piece of me would like to see Burnett and CM3 as the ILB's with Brice and HaHa at Safety. It'd add more speed to the defense.

* Another nice game for Nick Perry. He's earning coin.

* Mike Daniels was a difference maker.

* Really liked Letroy Guion's play.

* Again, Kenny Clark showed push in the run game. He even powered through for a bit of a pass rush.

* Damarious Randall may have shown terrible tackling skills, but I loved the way that he attacked the slant. I see big plays in his future.

* Liked to see Q-Rollins get his hands on a football. Expecting a big play from him soon.

* Another up-and-down game for Gunter.

* Big play: 17-10. 3rd Quarter. Eagles driving. Clay showing blitz from the inside. Instead he drops and Capers sends Q-Rollins and Hyde. The Packers get pressure from the backside with Hyde and Perry. They hold to a FG. It was a crucial play in the game. Good call by Capers, but if Dom Capers thinks he can win this week with Jake Ryan and Joe Thomas starting at ILB, he's a fool. Keep Matthews at ILB.

* Jayrone Elliott was given an opportunity on defense. He didn't come through. I was excited to see if he could perform. Left disappointed. Was really hoping that he could add an outside rush with Clay playing ILB.

* Jeff Janis continues to disappoint on special teams.

* Marwin Evans continues to impress on special teams.

* RIP! RIP! RIP! Total fan.

* Why is Demetri Goodson still eating up a roster spot? Isn't he done for the year?

* Liked to see Josh Hawkins making a special teams play.

* Felt like Datone Jones added a physical push.

* Good punt, Jacob Schum.

* Someday - Mike McCarthy will learn that his defense can't get off the field at the end of the half and he won't use a timeout to help the opposition.

* The Packers played loose. They were having fun. There was continuity. It was a joy to watch. Now, think of this. Dallas travels to MN on Thursday night. Let's get a Dallas victory. Detroit travels to New Orleans on Sunday afternoon. Let's do this, Drew! With a Packers win, we're one game out.

This week - it's the Texans. In another must win. At Lambeau Field. Frankly, if the Packers can't win this game, we don't deserve to hold out hope. We need Lambeau rockin'. We need Lambeau ready to bring us a victory. Stand up, G-Force! Off yur' ass! On yur' feet! Let's make some noise!!!

The Texans have solid weapons on offense. DeAndre Hopkins is a weapon on the outside. He's as talented as it gets at WR. Will Fuller is rich with athletic gifts. Jaelen Strong is a physical mismatch at WR. Braxton Miller is an athletic gem as a slot WR. CJ Fiedorowicz is a big bodied TE who blocks well, sits in the zone and has great hands. Lamar Miller is a speed back who adds a little shake and a lot of power. But, the Texans have Brock Osweiler at QB. And, he's awful. He plays small. He holds on the ball too long. And, he doesn't see the field. Also, he's mistake prone. Additionally, the Texans OL can be abused. I fully expect the Packers front 4 to dominate the Texans OL.

The Texans are without JJ Watt. And, it shows. Jadeveon Clowney is a decent player, but he hasn't lived up to the billing. I believe that he'll be shut down. Whitney Mercilus is a good pass rusher, but when's he asked to cover, he struggles. Vince Wilfork is still a tough run stopper. Antonio Smith brings energy to the DL. Brian Cushing is tough as nails and even after the injuries, he can play. Benardrick McKinney is an over achiever. I believe the secondary for the Texans can be exposed. They lack depth. They don't tackle well. I'd like to see the Packers spread them out. I'd like to see some shots deep down the sidelines. The Texans don't match up well with the Packers on the outside.

I wanted the Packers to draft Tyler Ervin last year as a scat back and a returner. He's returning kicks for the Texans. He's dangerous.

I'm hoping that Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews are fit to go. Both in playmaking positions. In the spotlight. At the core of the team. Ready to dominate. Saviors to the 2016 season.

Rodgers finds his rhythm. He attacks the secondary with quick hits. He finds Cobb early and often. Cobb moves sticks. He looks to match Nelson on Jonathan Joseph. Nelson stiff arms Joseph to the turf.

I have an odd feeling that Geronimo Allison makes a big play this week. Don't ask me why. But, I feel it.

Osweiler struggles early. He commits two turnovers. Randall makes a pick and has a nice return.

But, with Osweiler, you have to play 60 minutes. He gets hot late in the 3rd and leads a Houston comeback. The crowd gets antsy. Rodgers leads a late scoring drive.

Party up, G-Force!

Packers 30
Texans 23

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

My Take -> Week 12

Greetings, G-Force.

4-6. The 2016 season slowly slipping from our grasps. Super Bowl or bust appears to be a wasted thought. Instead, it's broken further than it's been since 2005. Still, the smallest bit of hope remains. We cling to the thought of a potential pending Detroit late season collapse and we couple it with the mere hope that the possibility of this team getting hot does exist. Gripe as it may seem. We get 16 games a year to hold onto. Therefore, I'll cling to any bit of hope that might remain alive. But, sooner or later, this team has to get a win or else we will be forced to focus on the 2017 NFL Draft. I'm not mentally ready to shift my attention.

I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving. I'm thankful for all who read this blog. As I write today, I sip a Galaxy Double Dry Hopped Hop Wizard from Odd 13. It's lighter than most beers I sip at 5.75% ABV. Heavy hop bomb that flows well. It's an easy drinking beer. I relax as I listen to Greg Brown's Dream Cafe album. Totally mellow, chill music.

Here are my quick vibes from the last week:

* Welcome to the 2016 NFL Season, Jared Cook. Cool showed up in a monstrous way. He was a weapon on the perimeter and out of the slot. Great to see him stretching the defense. Equally as awesome to see him as a Red Zone threat.

* Mike McCarthy. Open your eyes. Your offense went three and out on their first 3 possessions. On the 4th drive, Ty Montgomery caught two passes. Both went for 1st downs. He's a difference maker. Use him. He's a match-up nightmare. Put him in position to be successful and you'll be successful. It's that simple. What point are you trying to prove by having James Starks touching the ball twice as much as Montgomery? On the season, Starks is averaging 2.5 yards per carry. Still, on 2 of our first 6 plays, the ball went into Starks' hands. It's really disturbing. And, really, Mike, when you open up the offense, you have weapons and you move the football. But, the rotations should mostly be between Jordy, Cobb, Ty, Adams, Cook, Allison, Rip and Michael.

* Give credit to Aaron Rodgers. He's doing everything in his power to will this team to victory. Have to applaud his decision to stand up in front of the media and to say that he feels like this team can run the table. He doesn't want 2016 to be a wasted year. He senses that it's slipping away.

* Not to beat up the point, but I don't understand why the Packers don't use a combination that includes Jordy, Cobb, Ty, Adams and Cook on more than 50% of the snaps. I feel that'd it be our best time of possession team as well as our best big play threat unit. And, when you're giving up 30+ points a game, you have to look for ways to eat up clock. Without a running game, the best way to chew clock is via a short passing game. When we go to the short passing game, we look like a solid football team. When we get away from it, we look like a clueless, desperate group.

* Dom Capers will go to his football grave running a zone defense with DBs that don't understand their responsibilities and ILBs that are matched up with much faster slot WRs. Those are losing recipes.

* Say what you want about Julius Peppers, but he's one of the few players on the defense that continues to make plays.

* Mike Daniels was pushed backwards in a big way.

* No place in football for Datone Jones' actions.

* Thought CM3 made an impact early. He provided a spark. I'm still pining for him to be moved to ILB. If Capers thinks he can win with Ryan, Thomas and Bradford at ILB, he's horribly mistaken.

* Speaking of Bradford, boy, did he look inflexible on his attempt to bend down and intercept the batted pass. Could've been a game changing play. Instead, he wasn't athletic enough to seal the deal. Consistently, on defense, we've failed to come up with the "oh, so close" big play.

* Felt like Kenny Clark showed a solid push early on, once again.

* Quinten Rollins is not playing like a 2nd round pick.

* Ty Montgomery needs to see the football. Early and often. Amazes me at how much he's underutilized week after week. Why not put him in space against a LB or a S? Baffling.

* Gunter makes some nice plays on defense. He shows glimpses. And then, he gets totally smoked for a big play.

* Is it just me or does Capers seem to call the same blitz packages every week?

* Anxious to see Christine Michael this week. Hope he takes snaps from Starks and not from Montgomery.

* Suddenly, Jeff Janis has become a below average special teams player. For a while, I thought he was flashing Pro Bowl special teams potential.

* Two penalties in the Red Zone. Both by a guard. One on Barclay. The other on Spriggs. Fully unacceptable. Both penalties set us back in big fashion. After them, the Packers combined to settle for 3 points on the 2 drives.

* It amazes me that the Packers never get in WR's faces. We never jam. We always give a cushion. We leave the underneath route open yet we still get beat over the top. What gives?

* The Packers special teams continue to fail each and every week.

* Nick Perry needs to get paid.

* Kentrell Brice often covered slot WR's in college. I'd like to see him give it a shot in the NFL. If he's not ready yet, I question why? And, it should be a priority for him to learn the role during the off season.

* Someday - the Packers defense will force multiple turnovers in a game. Really, it'll happen someday. Hopefully, it'll happen soon.

* Help me to understand: What does Winston Moss do? He's the "Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers coach." What does that mean? I don't get it. Consider this - the defense has given us 42, 47, 31, 33, 10 and 30 points over the last 6 games. If Capers' defense isn't working, shouldn't the "Assistant Head Coach" who is a defensive mind be vetoing Capers' calls? Or at least advising? Or maybe even taking control?

* Here are the hypotheticals as to why you should keep the faith: for the sake of argument, let's assume the Packers win the last three against the NFC NORTH. Let's also assume that the Packers beat HOU at Lambeau. That'd mean the Packers would have 8 wins. A win over Philly or Seattle would get the Packers to 9 wins. All far fetched - I know - but the possibility remains. Additionally, here are the Lions and the 'queens opponents: In addition to the Packers, the Lions still have games at NO, at NYG and at Dallas. They also host GB. Even though the Lions are 7-4 as I write, I can envision a scenario in which they only win 8-9 games - assuming GB beats them in Week 17. The 'queens are 6-5. In addition to GB, they still play Dallas, at Jacksonville, Indy, and Chicago. If MN loses to GB & Dallas, they finish 9-7. If GB, MN and Detroit all finish 9-7, the tiebreaker would go to the Packers based on their record inside of the Division. Presently, Detroit is 2-2 in the Division, MN is 1-3 in the Division and GB is 2-1 in the Division. Yes, this is a long shot, but there's a chance.

This week - it's the Eagles. On Monday Night Football. I really hope that the Packers don't get embarrassed on Prime Time TV for the 2nd week in a row.

The Eagles have athletes on offense. Athletes at the skill positions who will give the Packers trouble. Doral Green-Beckham is a talented, long WR who has inconsistent hands. I'd think that Gunter could match up well with Green-Beckham. I'd have Gunter line up and get in Green-Beckham's grill at the line of scrimmage. Have Gunter jam him off his route. Nelson Agholor can run. He is shifty after the catch. I'd have Rollins follow him around the field. Jordan Matthews is a lethal slot receiver. He runs a dynamite crossing route. He's a fantastic 3rd down WR. Zach Ertz continues to impress at TE. He'll be a full-on mismatch for the Packers. Ideally, Morgan Burnett would guard him. He won't be able to though. Trey Burton is the Eagles 3rd TE. He's be really good in Green & Gold. In fact, every time I watch him, I wonder how the Eagles can find him in UDFA out of Florida and yet, we're stick with Richard Rodgers in the 3rd round. Both came out of the 2014 Draft. Brent Celek is a veteran that still gets the job done. Darren Sporles remains one of the most dangerous players in the game. Wendell Smallwood finds yards. It appears as though Ryan Mathews won't play. I really like Carson Wentz's future. He moves well. He can make all of the throws. He can throw on the run. And, when he's on the move, he's looking down field to find the big play. The Eagles weakness is their OL. There's no reason for Dom Capers to blitz. If the Packers front 4 cannot beat the Eagles OL, the Packers don't deserve to win. The Packers have to win the Line of Scrimmage. They should be able to.

The Eagles defensive front scares me. Brandon Graham is a terrific pass rusher. Fletcher Cox could abuse the interior of the Packers OL. Vinny Curry can do it all on the edge. Connor Barwin is a physical specimen that can drop in coverage, defend the run and rush the passer. He'll make his presence felt. With Nigel Bradham, Jordan Hicks and Mychal Kendricks; the Eagles LB's play with speed and a physical edge that punishes. The Eagles secondary is good, but it lacks depth and it struggles when they have to get out of their base defense. Nolan Carroll is a decent CB, but he can be picked on and will get multiple penalties for using his hands. Leeds McKelvin can play, but he too, uses his hands too much. When you watch Malcolm Jenkins at S, you'll be jealous that he isn't playing for the Packers. He's one of the best Safeties in football.

If special teams are a factor in this game, it's a big advantage for the Eagles. In all facets of the special teams game.

If the Packers are going to win they'll need to use the short passing game. I'd like to see Rodgers connect with 7 or 8 receivers. He needs to spread the wealth. That is usually a sign that Rodgers is seeing the field well. The Eagles defense has taken on the personality of their defensive coordinator, Jim Schwartz. Schwartz will be in attack mode. He'll blitz Rodgers. Rodgers better see it coming or it could get ugly. Especially if the Packers offensive line continues to be banged up. Either way - Rodgers needs to get rid of the ball. Quickly.

It'll be important for McCarthy to stack formations to try and get his WR's a free release off of the line of scrimmage. If not, the Eagles defense might be too physical for the Packers WR's and it could be a long day.

Defensively, it comes down to the front 4. We have to get into Wentz's face. If so, he'll make mistakes. A lot of them. If he's given time, it could be a long day as he picks apart the Packers defense.

I really believe that the Packers will limit Sproles. He doesn't get loose for a back breaking play. Green-Beckham gets frustrated on the outside. The defense rebounds.

Rodgers stays poised. He stays calm. He wills the team to victory. In a big way.

Packers 30.
Eagles 20.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

My Take -> Week 11

Greetings, G-Force.

I went to Nashville in search of my favorite source of entertainment. Family, music and Green Bay Packers football. I saw my family. My parents, my siblings, 6 nephews and 4 nieces. I saw music at the Ryman Auditorium. If you've never been, put it on your bucket list. Then, I hit up the Country Music Hall of Fame. Followed by 3 breweries. It was a vintage BuzzBoy style weekend. We rented a party bus. It was fantastic. Then - we saw the Green Bay Packers play. What a buzzkill.

4-5. Still, a glimmer of hope remains! Only one game out in the Division race. The only team in the Division with only one loss inside the Division. Bleak as it may be, a thread of optimism exists. Ever so slightly.

I sip a 2015 Sierra Nevada Narwhal. I've had it open for an hour and 15 minutes. As it warms to room temperature and the beer breathes, it really flows smoothly. It's rich chocolate goodness. Sticky. Sweet. I listen to the Katastro Strange Nights album. When you live less than 5 miles from Red Rocks Amphitheater, you get introduced to fun live music. Especially if you aren't afraid of some mid-week live shows. Katastro won me over this summer. Katastro opened for the Dirty Heads this summer. They were a winner. An up-and-coming band. Fun musical buzz.

Here are my quick vibes from the last week:

* I've been saying that it's Super Bowl or Bust. Clearly, Ted Thompson feels the same way. He doesn't sign Christine Michael any other year. But, this year is different. He knows that his team was built to win this year. Michael will certainly help after he learns the offense. Still, I'd like to see Ty Montgomery playing more than half of the snaps. Look around the NFL. The NFL has become a match-up league. More so than ever. Teams are using RB's as receivers more than ever, it seems. They're spreading RB's outside against LB's and running go-routes. They're hitting big plays. Why can't the Packers do that with Montgomery? It seems to make too much sense. Instead, the Packers are ignoring the mismatch.

* Mike McCarthy had no game plan entering the Titans game. Zero strategy. With the stadium seemingly 60% Packers fans - no joke - it appeared as though it'd be a game in which we'd be celebrating all afternoon. Instead, it was quite the contrary. The Titans were desperate. Hell, they tried a freakin' onside kick to start the game. AT HOME! They were absolutely intimidated by a 4-4 Packers team. How does McCarthy respond? Starks for 3 yards. Starks for 3 yards. Incomplete pass. Way to attack, Mike! Making matters worse, Starks hadn't played since Week 5. In the 4 games that he'd played prior to the Titans game, Starks had carried the ball 24 times for 42 yards. Starks had been averaging a WHOPPING 1.75 yards per carry on the year. He'd also dropped passes and fumbled the football the last time we saw him on the field. So, what's McCarthy's game plan? Let's hand it to Starks twice in a row. Brainless. Thoughtless. Utterly disappointing.

* The Titans couldn't cover the Packers. They didn't have the secondary to defend the Packers. The Packers should've come out with Montgomery in the backfield. Nelson and Cobb in the slot. Adams on the perimeter on one side and either Janis or Allison on the other perimeter. Should've spread the Titans out. Rodgers would've had a field day. Instead, McCarthy was beyond foolish and tried to establish some sort of non-existent run game. Baffling. Seriously, it dumbfounded me.

* Demetri Goodson should get cut. How do you not down the football at the one-yard line? Pathetic.

* God bless Aaron Rodgers. The TV does not do him justification. They show the negative. Rodgers was a fighter. A competitor. From the opening snap, he wanted the game. He was trying to will victory. Unfortunately, he can't play defense.

* When the Packers offense has looked championship-worthy, we've seen quick passes. With Ty or Adams in the backfield. Where'd that go? I DO NOT UNDERSTAND! Why not stick with what has worked?

* Here's the harshest stat I've seen in a long time: In what was considered by most as a must-win game, McCarthy rolled out Richard Rodgers for 83% of the snaps and James Starks for 71% of the snaps. Meanwhile, Randall Cobb only played 69% of the snaps and Montgomery played 28% of the snaps. What in the world are we thinking? I mean, Justin Perillo played 18% of the snaps. Why not play our weapons? It's painful.

* I really like watching Jordy Nelson operate out of the slot. It'll add longevity to his career. And, makes the Packers really dangerous when Jared Cook comes back. Cook can play on the outside. Line Jordy up to the inside next to him. Like the way Jordy works the middle of the field. Can't cover him with a LB.

* Speaking of Jared Cook. Please. PLEASE. PLEASE hurry back. I don't ever want to see Richard Rodgers on the field again. What does he bring?

* Mike Daniels needs to stop talking and start playing.

* Get well soon, TJ Lang. Worried about his injury.

* You, too, David Bakhtiari. We need you if we're going to salvage the season.

* Lane Taylor has been struggling mightily over the last couple of weeks.

* I keep envisioning a Packers team that gets a healthy EDDIE for the playoffs. Without the nicks, bumps and bruises. Ready to dominate. Then, I pinch myself and I wonder where the wins are going to come from on the schedule.

* For all of the Clay Matthews haters: have you seen this defense without him?

* Sorry to see Jake Ryan get hurt, but I wonder if it isn't a blessing in disguise. Might force Clay to play ILB when he returns. Said it before, I'll say it again, I seriously believe that his body cannot handle the physicality at the line of scrimmage.

* For the Damarious Randall haters: sure, he gets burnt, but the dude also makes plays. Right now, we're watching a defense that cannot force turnovers. We used to own the turnover battle. Not anymore.

* If Sammy Swagga retires and the Packers cut both Morgan Burnett and James Starks after year, the Packers will save roughly $22 million against the cap. As of now, I believe that they're roughly $36 million under the cap for next year, if they're to carry over the $10 million that they have left to spend in 2016.

* Prior to the 2013 NFL Draft I wrote this about Christine Michael: Christine Michael (3) - If I had the time and the access, I'd watch every carry of his college career. He has a nose for the end zone. Good vision. He will put the ball on the ground in careless fashion, but he'll also burst through defenders and pick up additional yardage. He has a stellar attitude. A consummate pro. Would be great in Green & Gold.

* Joe Thomas is not an every down ILB. I had high hopes for him. He is a 3rd down ILB. That's it. He lacks recognition in the run game. If it's not Clay playing ILB, I'd rather see Morgan Burnett at ILB, so Brice could play more safety. Brice was the only defender to make a play in TN.

This week - it's the Redskins. In Washington. On Sunday Night. In Prime Time. Oh boy. I'm scared. But, Mike McCarthy teams have played well with their backs against the wall in the past.

The Redskins are also in a must-win situation. Kirk Cousins has - at times - looked like a QB who could carry the Redskins back to the NFL Promised Land. He sees the field well. He finds the mismatch. He doesn't go away from it. He's deceptively quick. He uses his feet well. I'm a Kirk Cousins fan. Rob Kelley doesn't scare me out of the backfield. Chris Thompson is a solid pass-catching RB. He's shifty and has good vision. DeSean Jackson is questionable, but Pierre Garcon has been playing really well lately. Jamison Crowder has quietly become one of the best slot WR's in the NFL. Crowder is a first-down machine. He's also a lethal Punt Returner. Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis could have field days. Reed destroyed the Packers in the playoffs last year. Davis has found youthful energy in Washington. The Redskins weakness is their OL. The Packers front 4 has to dominate the line of scrimmage. Especially on the edges. Ty Nsekhe and Morgan Moses can be beaten at the Tackle position.

Washington has a try hard defense. Chris Baker is a solid interior pass rusher who will give the Packers Guards all kinds of problems. Ryan Kerrigan is a beast on the edge. Preston Smith also is trouble off the edge. Smith and Kerrigan can dominate games. Mason Foster is an off-and-on ILB. When he's on, look out. But, when he's off, he's really bad. Will Compton will give effort, but he's limited athletically. With Josh Norman on one side, look for Aaron Rodgers to attack Bashed Breeland. If Breeland is left alone, he can be beaten off the line of scrimmage for big plays. The Redskins safety play is not up to snuff.

There's no reason for the Packers to blitz this weekend. All too often Dom Capers has come with predictable blitz packages. QB's are recognizing them and tearing the depleted Packers secondary apart. Let's limit Clay's snaps. Let's limit Peppers' snaps. But, on passing downs, let's have Clay and Peppers attacking. To me, that seems like the best strategic approach towards getting the defense off the field.

I fully expect to see Mike McCarthy's Packers in attack mode. Playing with Cook, Nelson, Cobb and Adams as the most often used receiving options. Allison sees snaps as well. Montgomery used as a RB. Montgomery seeing pass catching opportunities. The Packers playing a fast paced brand of offensive football.

And, FINALLY, the Packers get a game changing turnover that gives momentum in the third Quarter on a HaHa interception.

Rodgers has a brilliant game attacking the middle of the field and targeting Breeland. Rodgers throws for 300 yards and 3 TD's.

If Clay, Rollins, Bakhtiari and Cook play, there are no excuses. This one is mandatory. I'm not surrendering. I'm doing all that I can to remain a believer. I hope the locker room at 1265 Lombardi Ave feels the same.

Packers 30.
Redskins 27.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

My Take -> Week 10

Greetings, G-Force.

4-4. It’s ugly. But, we can’t panic. We have to keep the faith. There are 16 teams in the NFC. 11 have either 3, 4, or 5 wins. There’s no time for hating. Instead, this team needs support right now. It needs positive kinetic energy. With Minnesota traveling to Washington this week, there’s a strong possibility that the Packers will be in a 3-way tie for first place in the NFC North with 7 games to play. More often than not, McCarthy and Rodgers teams have improved as the season has gone along. And, with the team getting healthier over the next couple of weeks, there’s a possibility that this team can put it together. Further, there’s a chance that after this weekend, the Packers will be right in the mix to achieve a 1st round bye. Sounds crazy, but while the outlook is bleak right now, most teams in the NFC likely feel just like Packers fans felt on Sunday afternoon. It’s not the time to give up. And, if the Packers fail to find victories over the last 8 weeks and they miss out on the playoffs, then it might be time for the Packers to evaluate whether they’ve met the end of the Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson road. But, for now and for the rest of the year, I’m going to focus on the 2016 regular season.

The Avery Kaiser welcomes me with a smile. Rich in ABV. Smells like fall. A toffee, caramel feel. It’s sweet. Big bodied and ready to tackle your buzz. Sly & The Family Stone’s Greatest Hits keeps my happy and rhythmically bouncing. After all, we have to “Stand!” for what we believe in. I believe in Dancing to the Music of the Green Bay Packers. I also listen to the Avett Brothers because "There's a darkness upon me that's flooded in light. In the fine print they tell me what's wrong and what's right. And it comes in black and it comes in white. And I'm frightened by those that don't see it. When nothing is owed or deserved or expected. And your life doesn't change by the man that's elected. If you're loved by someone, you're never rejected. Decide what to be and go be it."

Here are my quick vibes over the last week:

* Mike McCarthy went bland for three quarters. And, while we had opportunities for big play, we were extremely predictable. Sure, the offense moved the ball and was often in Indianapolis territory, but the Packers couldn’t finish the drive, with the exception of a free play that resulted in the Rodgers to Nelson TD. Also, McCarthy’s use of Cobb and Montgomery was baffling. It didn’t seem like he kept his players in the loop. Poor leadership move by McCarthy.

* Aaron Rodgers wanted that game. He was wearing his emotions on his sleeve. Trying to will the team to victory. He wasn’t always on target and he wasn’t seeing the field at an elite level, but he played with the type of command that will bring the Packers victories in the near future.

* Jeff Janis had me punching the floor with vulgarities like a 2-year old throwing a terrible tantrum. I can’t do that in front of the kids again.

* Huge props to Corey Linsley. He saw the DL jump. He snapped the ball. He created the free play that led to the Nelson TD pass.

* Ty Montgomery needs to touch the ball a minimum of 15 times every game.

* Don Jackson, once again, showed burst. He has quickness. Now, he needs patience.

* Good game, Davante Adams. Liked the way he used his body on the TD catch.

* This team needs Clay Matthews healthy. Like immediately. Even if it’s as a situational pass rusher. I seriously wonder if Clay's size is his hindrance. I wonder if the 50 pound weight difference against OT's put pressure on his back and if it then has an effect on his hamstrings. I really hope he gets put back to ILB. I know I write it weekly. But, I think it could be a solution.

* Back-to-back weeks, the defense had a chance to put us in position to win the game by getting a stop on the last drive. Two weeks ago, the ball bounced off of HaHa’s hands. Last week, HaHa missed the sack. Not on knock on HaHa, I’d just like to see him seal the deal. With that said, without HaHa’s performance, the Packers might’ve been blown out early in the game.

* Love the way Kentrell Brice wraps up. Feel like he has a forced fumble on the horizon.

* The Packers need Micah Hyde to be healthy.

* Julius Peppers spent a lot of time on the ground. He was pushed around. But, he's playing too much. With Clay hurt, Fackrell not ready for full-time duty, Elliott not taking the next step and with the diminished production from Datone Jones; Peppers is forced to take on more snaps than what was planned. In return, we've seen decreased production. Still, Peppers remains one of the few Defenders that we have who you'd expect to make a game changing play. That can't be discounted. When Clay comes back, I'd expect Peppers' play to improve as well.

* I remain optimistic that the Packers could put together a late season run. The NFC looks bad. Outside of Dallas, who feels good about themselves? And, we have to remember that the Packers seem to be getting healthier. Soon, we'll see Jared Cook. We'll have Clay back. While I don't like Starks as a starting RB, at least he knows the position and the offense. Damarious Randall will be back soon. And, it's quite possible that EDDIE will be back with fresh legs for the playoff run. It's possible that the Packers will be healthy at the right time and if so, it's possible that we'll be ready to peak at the right time.

I’m not going to dwell on the negative. I’m moving onward. So, my attention will be directed toward the Titans. After all, I'm headed to Nashville. For a family reunion and a family date at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. And, I'm making sure that I'm leaving with victory in hand. We are bringing the G-Force. We are bringing excitement. We are bringing positivity. We are bringing the FUN back to the Packers. If you're going to Nashville this weekend, be ready to get a hearty high five, to be greeted with a grand smile and a full-on GO PACK GO. The 2nd half of the season is our time to shine.

The Titans have played decent football lately. They're going to be a physical test for the Packers. And, when they don't turn the football over, the Titans win games. But, Marcus Mariota has been mistake prone. The Packers are going to need to jump routes as Mariota lives for the underneath route. He can't throw the deep ball. If we're aggressive in the secondary, big plays will happen. Rishard Matthews and Kendall Wright are dangerous after the catch. Harry Douglas can play the slot WR role. Tajae Sharpe doesn't scare me. The Titans will have Delanie Walker in action. Walker is a really talented TE threat. He'll be a mismatch for the Packers. DeMarco Murray is a bruising back. But, he puts the ball on the turf, so it'll be important for the Packers to be slapping wrists as they look to make tackles. It doesn't appear that Derrick Henry will play. The Titans have a physical OL. They're gritty. They're under appreciated.

Defensively, the Titans are aggressive. They attack. They'll come with a wide variety of blitz packages. From all angles. DaQuan Jones is a force in the run game. Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan are tireless around the edge. Both offer a talented speed/power pass rush. Orakpo scares me. Avery Williamson and Wesley Woodyard are talented ILB in a 3-4 defense. The secondary takes chances, but can be beaten. Perrish Cox has been a physical addition on the perimeter at CB. Jason McCourty is a battle tested perimeter CB. Antwon Blake can't cover anyone on the Packers. He'll get torched. The Titans lack secondary depth. Rashad Johnson and Da'Norris Searcy are confident, hard hitting safeties, but both can be had.

I expect a Music City Packers celebration. I look for Rodgers to be in command. To be in complete control of the game. From start to finish. The Packers are on a mission.

Tennessee will annoyingly move the ball. They'll bring the read-option. They'll hit underneath routes. They'll be methodical. But, they'll struggle to finish drives.

The Packers finally connect on multiple big plays down the field. Jordy has a monster day.

Packer fans will show up in Tennessee in abundance. It'll be a fun buzz.

Packers 31.
Titans 16

Go Pack Go!

You gotta believe!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Friday, November 4, 2016

My Take -> Week 9

Greetings, G-Force.

4-3. I'm not one for finding enjoyment in losses because we look good. I'd rather have an ugly win. Nonetheless, it's hard to not be encouraged by the play of the Packers offense. McCarthy is showing imagination. Rodgers is showing precision. And, because of both, the Packers offense has had a passing rhythm over the last two weeks. More points are on the horizon. Wins should follow.

Just like the Packers offense, I've gone back to the roots. I sip the beer that really motivated to dig deeper into the sour beer craze. A Crooked Stave Surette. A classic in its genre. Perfectly tart. Super smooth. Balanced in glorious fashion. Musically, I am groovin' to Bob Marley & The Wailers. The African Herbsman album. After all, the Packers have to keep on "Riding High" on offense. And, this week, if you're at Lambeau Field, it's time to "Lively Up Yourself" and make some noise.

Here are my quick vibes on offense:

* An aggressive Mike McCarthy is a good Mike McCarthy. He was in attack mode. He was fearless in his playcalling. He went after the Atlanta secondary with a confident approach. McCarthy did a great job alternating personnel throughout the game. He showed a wide variety of looks even though the offense was decimated with injury. When McCarthy mixes up his packages, he showcases his offensive wizardry and he becomes an elite NFL coach. When he's conservative, he's a below average coach. I like the groove that McCarthy is in. Feels like it's his offense, once again.

* Kudos to Aaron Rodgers. He trusted his teammates. He put them in position to succeed. And, thus, once again, he looked like an MVP. He was hitting receivers in the buckle. He was confident. He was in command. He looked like a leader. He played with passion. He had a coolness to him that felt like California Swagger. He'd been missing that bounce to his step. But, his body language carried confidence. And, success followed suit. Really enjoyed watching him applaud the defense after Atlanta's opening drive when GB held ATL to 3 points. That's the Aaron Rodgers that I know and love. Confident leadership. Keep with it, MVP.

* Massive shout out to Davante Adams. I have been critical. Overly so. I've even wondered whether he should be on the team prior to the year. But, Adams is playing like a budding star right now. He's focused. He's reading the game well. He's playing with a sense of relief. He looks healthy. He looks quicker. He wants the ball in his hands. He has to hang onto the football.

* RIPKOWSKI! I dig him. Old school football player. Tough minded. Most physical blood on the field. Unintimidated. He wants contact.

* The Knile Davis experiment was a bust. Nicely tried, TT. Davis doesn't have it. I'm surprised. He looked slow. Never found his tempo.

* Don Jackson, on the other hand, looks like he can play in the league. He's still learning, but I'm really anxious to see him on a screen. Like his burst. Want to see his vision in the open field. Also, I'm interested to see if he has a little wiggle in him with room to run.

* 4 catches. 94 yards. 1 TD. That's the Jordy Nelson that I remember. Hope there's more of that to come.

* Thought a big play in the game came on the opening drive of the 3rd Quarter. While I was happy that the Packers were moving the ball so well offensively, I didn't feel as though we could win a game in the 30's. So, when the score was 24-19 at the half, I really believed that the Packers needed a TD to start the 2nd half. After back-to-back first downs, the Packers were at their own 49. Rodgers flushes left. He hits Geronimo Allison in the hands with a quick flip of the wrist. Allison drops it. He would've picked up a minimum of 12 yards. The Packers would've been on the brink of FG range. After the play, the momentum almost instantly changed. The Packers ended up punting. They did so again on the next possession. Allison had a chance to make a big play. He failed to do so. With that said, it's tough to be critical of Allison. He had a good game for only being on the active roster for a couple of days. I was happy to see him score a TD. And, I really enjoyed his footwork along the sideline on his 17-yard grab on the crucial 4th Quarter TD drive that gave the Packers a 32-26 lead.

* Congrats to Jeff Janis on his first Regular Season TD. Good to see him in mental unison with Rodgers after Rodgers rolled from the pocket. Also, nice to see him massage the hit and hang onto the football.

* Trevor Davis with a riveting punt return and beautiful footwork along the sideline for a TD. Well done, rook!

* Why is Richard Rodgers on the team? He offers absolutely nothing. The Packers are a better team without him on the field. With that said, he'll likely catch 2 Red Zone TD's this weekend.

* I felt bad for Dom Capers. He played the game exactly the way I'd have designed it. He limited Julio Jones' touches. Granted, Jones was banged up, but still, Jones was well covered for most of the day. But, when you're forced to play with Demetri Goodson on the outside, you're going to give up big plays. The 47 yard TD that Goodson gave up in the 1st Quarter showed an absolute lack of awareness. Additionally, I thought that Capers had a couple of well-timed run blitz calls. Martinez just missed the tackle. I must admit - I've been really surprised at how well Martinez has played this year, but he was disappointing against Atlanta.

* Mike Daniels. All Pro.

* Julius Peppers showed flashes. Really wanted him to get home on the last drive. The defense really needed someone to step up and make a play. I kept waiting for Peppers to burst through. He never did.

* On the final drive, both Gunter and HaHa had chances to make a game winning play. Neither seized the moment. Crushing.

* Jake Ryan in pass coverage. Intolerable.

* Prior to the year, I'd have bet a lot of money that the Packers secondary would intercept more than 20 passes this year. Through 7 games, they've intercepted 2. In fact, the Packers LB's have more interceptions than their secondary. I'd like to think that will change. Gunter has big plays in his future.

* Micah Hyde is quietly having a dynamite year. Feels like he'd be tough to replace if he's not back next year.

* Two really horrible calls on the Packers offered heavy momentum to Atlanta in the first half. The pass interference call on Gunter was absolutely criminal. What a terrible call. It should've been offensive pass interference on Jones. Instead, it put the Falcons in Packers territory on a 24 yard penalty. And, the roughing the passer penalty on Datone Jones was beyond questionable. It, too, offered Atlanta 15 vital yards. Both drives ended up netting points for Atlanta.

* JC Tretter with his worst game of the year. And, then, he gets injured to boot. Unlucky. Packers are fortunate that Corey Linsley is healthy enough to return this week. Don Barclay continues to be a liability.

* TJ Lang. Dude is a baller.

* I said it last week, I'll say it again. I want to see Clay at ILB. And, at OLB on passing downs. Total shame that he wasn't available on the final drive last week. Packers lost a nail biter. A game that we had. Would've loved to have seen Clay pursuing Ryan with the game on the line. I don't think Clay's body can hold up at OLB.

* What pains me most about this loss is that Mike McCarthy teams always seem to lose a game that you absolutely expect them to win. Therefore, it wouldn't shock me if the Packers lost to Indy, Tenn, Houston or Chicago. With that said, it's noteworthy that Chicago already has home wins over both Detroit and Minnesota. In a tight division race, it's important to note the teams records inside the Division and inside the Conference.

This week - the Packers play an absolutely desperate Indianapolis Colts team. There's no reason the Packers don't bury the Colts. It's a must win for Green Bay. In fact, the next two weeks are mandatory victories or the Packers backs will be against the wall. The Colts are terrible. The Packers are at home. This has to be a win. In convincing fashion.

The Colts have struggled offensively. Andrew Luck is capable of a 400 yard game every week. He's also going to give you two chances to pick off a pass every game. What scares me most about Luck is that he's fearless. He's going to take chances. He's going to test the Packers depleted secondary deep down the field. And, he throws a gorgeous deep pass. He'll look to attack the Packers secondary early and often. If the Packers DL doesn't win in the trenches, Luck could have a monster game. If there's heavy pressure, I anticipate that Luck will throw 2 interceptions.

Luck will likely have TY Hilton and Dwayne Allen available this week. Both have been nicked up. Both will cause big time problems for the Packers. Allen is a speed-power mismatch for the Packers. Hilton gets in and out of his breaks as well as anyone in the game. Donte Moncrief is an under appreciated WR. Demetri Goodson can't cover Moncrief. Phillip Dorsett is a speedster who is still developing at WR. Frank Gore keeps on truckin'. He motors through the line of scrimmage. He isn't as quick as he once was, but he still gets the job done and causes damage upon contact. Robert Turbin is an OK change of pace back. Jack Doyle is a sure handed TE who sits down well in the zone of the defense. The Packers should overload the right side of the Colts line of scrimmage. Denzelle Good and Joe Haeg can't play.

Defensively, the Colts do not scare me. Kendall Langford and Arthur Jones are high work rate DL. They shouldn't be able to move the Packers OL. Erik Walden is Erik Walden. Walden offers high effort, however he has limited skills to offer. But, I'll forever be grateful for Walden's Week 17 performance against the Bears at Lambeau in the XLV run. 10 tackles. 2 sacks. D'Qwell Jackson is a tackling machine. He's mostly making plays 3-5 yards down the field. He is, however, a great pass defending ILB. Robert Mathis can still speed his way around the edge. You can attack the Colts secondary. Patrick Robinson can't cover the back shoulder. Vontae Davis will make plays, but he'll get burnt equally. Darius Butler never became the guy that people thought he'd be coming out of college. Mike Adams and Clayton Geathers can be beaten over the top.

Not surprisingly, the Packers will get totally outclassed in the kicking game. Pat McAfee is a great punter. Adam Vinatieri is one of the best kickers to ever play the game.

I really expect Aaron Rodgers to have a monster game. It might not show up statistically, but Rodgers will be in command of the attack. He will be the best player on the field. The Packers will control the clock. They'll look to keep Luck off of the field. Rodgers hits 8 different receivers. He uses his weapons. Spreading the wealth, he keeps the sticks moving. He annoys the Colts defense who can't get off the field.

Meanwhile, Luck takes shots deep. He has some success, but he also throws a big interception into Gunter's hands. Hyde also snatches one.

The Packers defensive line grabs 4 sacks.

It's a classic fall day at Lambeau. Sunny skies to start. Finishing with sparkling G's under the lights. Loved these games growing up. Crisp air. At kickoff, it'll likely be around 65. By the end of the game, it'll be a perfect Midwest day. Roughly 50 degrees. And, a Packers victory. This one isn't as close as the score indicates.

Packers 31.
Colts 23.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.