I sit in Morrison, CO. On a night in which Star took the short ride to Red Rocks Amphitheater to see Sound Tribe Sector 9. Me? I'm marinating with my boys. At home. I watched the sunset behind the foothills and embraced today. I exist and I'm grateful. So, I remind myself to relish what I have. It was a cool evening, so I put on a Packers sweatshirt. Over my "GET LOUD LAMBEAU" t-shirt. Above my Packers sweatpants. I'm straight chillin'. And, to boot, I'm wearing green socks. COlorado is home. But, my roots rest in Titletown, U.S.A. And, I'm damn proud of it. We are all products of our youth, yo. So apply them today. It's the best way.
I'm sipping a New Glarus Cran-bic. My Mom brought it to me last weekend when she came to kick it with my 2 boys and 2 of my nephews over Labor Day weekend. My brother, Chad, and his wife, Ashley, came up from LOBO-land to marinate in Phish vibes at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. It was a magical weekend. The Cran-bic tastes like the beauty found in yellowish leaves falling from trees as they slowly blow towards to the turf. It seems as though the beer is crafted with crystalized cranberries that carbonate throughout the mouth. In many ways, it coats the palate like sparkling water. It's refreshing. It's an early fall treat. I listen to the Phish 1995 New Year's Eve vinyl. It spins with wickedness on the player.
It's a Super Bowl or Bust year. So, we all better bring it. All year. No bad vibes. We control the destiny. Super Bowl 51 is ours. Do your part. I'm doing mine.
Here are my quick vibes over the last week:
* I'm über stoked that the Packers kept 6 safeties. And, with Banjo being banged up and with Burnett not having played in the 2016 preseason, I wouldn't mind seeing Brice and/or Evans on the field. They should definitely both be active. They should definitely be asked to perform on special teams. I fully anticipate that they'll both be around the football in that phase of the game. Keeping Brice and Evans gives merit to the preseason games. Had their been only 2 preseason games, we might not have seen Evans on the team. As the preseason carried on, Evans was phenomenal.
* Josh Sitton. There has to be more to it. It was such an un-TT like move. Sitton was in a contract year. The Packers were sure to get a 3rd or a 4th round compensatory pick for him in the 2018 Draft. It was part of TT's long term plan as far as continuing to build the team. And, then, he gets cut? That has a certain stink to it. I've heard the rumors. I won't comment on them. This move quickly decimated the OL depth on the Packers roster. Last year, we saw how crucial OL depth was to successful football teams. It's baffling. The only positive to this situation is that it cleared enough cap space to ensure that Bakhtiari should definitely be the LT for the rest of Rodgers' best football years.
* I don't love the thought of Lane Taylor being the starting G. Wonder if Tretter moves to G when Linsley is healthy?
* Congrats to Joe Callahan. I wonder if him being kept on the 53-man roster is a sign that the Packers are concerned about Brett Hundley's health. I'm curious to see who will be the back-up QB this weekend. If it's Callahan, then it might be telling that he made the roster due to Hundley lingering injury. If it's Hundley as a back-up, for me, that'd be an even greater nod to Callahan's fine play throughout the preseason.
* Jhurell Pressley!!!! Prior to the Draft, I wrote: "Would love to have a LOBO in GB. He's elusive. He runs with a purpose. He produced at a ridiculously high level. Every time he touched the ball, it seemed like he was picking up a first down. Gets outside and turns the corner with a possessive eye. Won't be able to be an every down back in the NFL as he lacks the size to run between the tackles on a consistent basis, but if given an opportunity, he'll be able to to make an immediate impact as a situational runner." I'm really excited that he's on the roster. He'll bring a fun dimension to the team. He'll add speed. He'll be a great threat on the screen. He will make impactful plays in 2016. Guaranteed.
* With Josh Hawkins, Marwin Evans, Kentrell Brice, and Makinton Dorleant; Ted Thompson found 4 DB's in UDFA who can play in the NFL. Dorleant is being tucked away for a season on the IR, but he'll be on the roster next year. Great work by Teddy T!
To kick off the 2016 season, the Packers travel to Jacksonville. It won't be an easy contest. The Jaguars are my favorite to win the AFC South. And, there are two things that you can't train for: Altitude and Humidity. Unless your body acclimates to both, you're destined to have pains as the game lingers. With temperatures expected to be in the mid-90's, the weather is supposed to feel as though it's as high as 105 degrees. The Packers better be drinking water in abundance in preparation for that heat.
Jacksonville has a young team. I really like the make-up of their roster. Blake Bortles - in some ways - reminds me of a young Favre. He's tough. He rolls out well. He's gritty. He has a cannon of an arm. He makes odd decisions, at times, as he tries to force throws into coverage. He has a bit of the ol' gunslinger mentality. He's going to make a couple of big plays every game, but he's also going to be prone to making mistakes. He will give you 2-3 chances to force a turnover every game. You just have to capitalize on those opportunities. Bortles is littered with weapons. With Yeldin and Ivory, he has two solid RB's. At WR, he has Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns who both topped 1,000 yards last year. He also has two extremely talented young WR's in Marqise Lee and Rashad Greene. Both have the quickness to do wonders in the slot. With Julius Thomas and Mercedes Lewis, he has two play-making beasts at TE.
On the OL, Jacksonville has invested on the left side. Luke Joeckel was the 2nd pick of the 2013 Draft and they bought Kelvin Beachum in FA. The Jags have big expectations for Joeckel and Beachum lining up next to each other. I think that they can be beaten with speed around the edge. The right side of the Jaguars line is suspect. AJ Cann and Jermey Parnell aren't household names. They aren't for a reason. Both can be exposed. Look for Capers to overload the right side of the Jaguars OL. The Packers will confuse the right side of the Jags OL and we'll create problems.
The future of the Jags defense is bright. Dante Fowler, Myles Jack, and Jalen Ramsey are all young gems in the making. Malik Jackson was the prized FA in 2016. Jared Odrick is a tenacious fighter on the DL. Telvin Smith is energetic. He brings great speed to the defense. Paul Posluszny brings a veteran toughness to the defense. Davon House had a great year as a Jag last year. Prince Amukamara is a solid #3 CB. The safety play is suspect. Johnathan Cyprien is still developing. He has speed, but he's been exposed in coverage. Tashaun Gipson can be exposed.
Aaron Rodgers must test the middle of the Jaguars defense. It'll be important for McCarthy to start the game with some easy throws. To get his QB into the flow of the game. Sure, Rodgers is a seasoned superstar, but he also hasn't played much football since last January. So, I'm hoping McCarthy starts the game with a couple of play-action roll-outs. Give Rodgers some options. A couple over the top, but with the immediate design being an underneath route. Something safe to get Rodgers in rhythm. To set the tempo. I'd give Rodgers the opening possession of the game. Let him do wonders with his arm. Cook is used early. He's used often.
Defensively, it'll be important to stop the run. Can't let the Jags eat clock early in the game. Not only will it wear the defense down, but it'll open up the play action pass. We can't have either. I don't want to fall behind early in this game.
Sammy Swagga matches up well with Hurns' speed. Randall's length pairs well with Robinson's height. But, Randall will need help over the top. Robinson runs shifty routes, he gets off the jam and he, too, can run. Randall will need help on the deep ball. If not, it could be a big play. I'm scared of the damage that Lewis and Thomas could do at TE. I hope we have figured out how to cover a TE over the offseason.
Look for Lacy to pound away in the 2nd Quarter.
Mid 3rd Quarter, McCarthy gets creative. It's 5 wide. Cobb, Montgomery, Jordy, Cook, and Abby. Cobb and Montgomery switch downs flip-flopping into the backfield. Jordy and Cook are spread out wide. Abby is consistently in the slot. The Jags don't have a solution. It's a game defining drive. It finishes with a Rodgers to Cook TD pass.
I'm happy Brett Goode is back in GB. I'm happy that the Packers have moved on from Tim Masthay and are giving Jacob Schum a crack at the punter/holder role. I don't want the game to come down to a last second FG in which both of them are asked to make a play as a long snapper and a holder. I'm concerned about their execution in the kicking game this week. Thankfully, it won't.
With the lead, the Packers punch forward for the game winning first downs and run out the clock. It's victory formation bringing the Packers to a 1-0 start to the 2016 season.
Both teams score 5 times. Red Zone efficiency is the difference.
Go Pack Go!