Sunday, October 30, 2016

My Take -> Week 8

Greetings, G-Force.


4-2. In creative fashion. It was one of those games that could've been painful - at times - if you allowed it, but in the end, the Packers stuck to the game plan and they had too much firepower for the pathetic Bears. Meanwhile, with Minnesota's loss, the Packers are, once again, right in the thick of the NFC North race.

I'm mellowing out to the Ethan Tucker "Acoustic in LA" album. Low key acoustic music. Fun lyrics with a hoppy beat. I'm sipping a Trinity 7-Day Sour that I've been bunkering since May of 2014. It's a tart sour. Not overwhelming sour - instead it has more of a wheat feel to it. Still highly carbonated. Both Lacto and Brett yeast leave a distinct rub to the back of the palate.

My quick vibes from the last week:

* Great to see the Packers rolling onto Lambeau in "stormtrooper" uniforms. Capped with the classic Packers yellow helmet. Gorgeous uniforms. Even more gorgeous to see a victory over the Bears.

* Kudos to Mike McCarthy. He was in a tough spot. Coming off of an ugly performance. Playing the most hated rival. With multiple significant injuries. He devised a game plan that put the ball into the hands of his 2-time MVP QB. He mostly looked at routes that were 7 yards or less. As a play caller, he was disciplined. He was patient. Frankly, I wasn't sure that the McCarthy/Rodgers combination had that type of patience in them any more. It was good to see. Even when the Packers trailed 10-6 in the 3rd Quarter, McCarthy stuck with the game plan. He didn't waver. His decision paid off.

* It would've been easy to be a yawner of a fan with the Packers only putting up 6 points in the 1st Half, but man, the Packers were unlucky. Twice, Cobb nearly had TD's. Additionally, the 90-yard drive that netted nothing was unfortunate as well. They had opportunities, but they didn't finish the deal. Regardless, we were handicapped and we moved the ball with elegance.

* Heavy credit to Aaron Rodgers. Surrounded with adversity, Rodgers played well. He wasn't laser sharp from an accuracy perspective, but mentally, he saw the field well. He was quick to get rid of the ball. He made really good decisions throughout. He carried the team to victory.

* Ty Montgomery. What a performance. I love his crossing routes out of the backfield. He's a constant mismatch. I don't see any reason why he can't continue to catch 7+ balls a week. For years, I've wanted a scat back in Green Bay. Finally, we have one.

* Jeff Janis is clueless. RUN THRU THE DEFENDER! Draw the flag. When's he going to learn?

* Bummed to see Abby's career in GB come to an end.

* GERONIMO. Hope to see him in action this week.

* Trevor Davis concerns me as a PR. Wish we were healthier in the Secondary, so we could play Hyde at PR.

* I liked Don Jackson's quickness. And, his confidence.

* It's so fun having Ripkowski on the team. The Packers are a better team when he's on the field. He moves people. I wouldn't play a TE without Jared Cook. Two backs. Three WR's. Have Ripkowski on the field. He opens holes. He's a punisher of a blocker.

* There was a Davante Adams sighting. In a grand way. He was dominant. He had wiggle. He had swagger. I really hope he can build on that performance.

* Had Cobb made the two plays in the end zone, he'd have had his best game in a year and a half. Still, he was a mismatch. He was getting in and out of his breaks. Really great to see Cobb finding his 2014 form.

* I expect Jordy Nelson to bounce back from his mini slump with a really big game.

* The Packers need Jared Cook to get healthy.

* Don Barclay should never step on the field again for the Green Bay Packers. He's a horrible liability. When Lindsley is ready to return, I have to imagine that it'll be Barclay who goes.

* TJ Lang. Pay the man. Make a Packer for life. Love him as a figure on this line. His toughness was a huge component to the Packers pulling this one out. When Lang went out in the 2nd half, I wondered if he was done for the game. I worried that he was not going to be able to come back. But, once again, Lang displayed his toughness. His grit was clearly appreciated by Rodgers who walked over to Lang after his TD pass to Cobb to thank him for his efforts and to offer him a complimentary tap on the shoulder pad. TJ Lang is a Green Bay Packer.

* Bakhtiari and Bulaga continue to show well.

* Tretter is a stud at Center.

* Props to Lane Taylor. He's played much better than I expected that he would.

* What's happened to the special teams units? We seem to be faltering in every phase. Needs immediate improvement.

* Kenny Clark!!!! What a monster game. He was tossing OL to the side. He was quick. High effort. Making plays. He's coming into his own.

* Mike Daniels continues to dominate the line of scrimmage.

* Two weeks in a row, Guion has been inconsistent.

* Need Pennel to find his form. I'm expecting him to have a great second half of the year.

* Blake Marinez with the pick! Loved his excitement. Kid wants it.

* Nick Perry. He has to be considered a Defensive MVP candidate, doesn't he? 5.5 sacks on the year. An interception. A fierce run stopper. Guy stuffs the box score. Against Chicago, he had 4 tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss, an interception, a pass defensed, and a QB hit. Another fantastic game for Perry. Really, he has been absolute magnificent in all games this year - with the exception of the Cowboys game. He's going to get paid.

* JP was motivated to play his old team. We need more of that zest from Peppers.

* Clay was physical when he was on the field. Wonder if his body can hold up as an OLB? Doesn't seem like it. Wish we'd see him more at ILB. Next to Martinez. We'd have great speed in the middle of the field. I'm worried that we're eventually going to be exposed in the passing game on plays to the RB. Might happen this week.

* Kyler Fackrell continues to work hard and to make a meaningful impact when he's on the field.

* Marwin Evans!!!! Great talent. Love that he's on the roster. I get excited to see what he's going to do on special teams.

* Solid game from Ladarius Gunter. Way to bounce back, young man.

* Morgan Burnett has been around the football two weeks in a row. He's been active. Can it continue?

* Micah Hyde is invaluable to this team. Need him on the field. So dependable. Offers so much versatility. I'd like to see him come on a blitz out of the slot. Feel like he could make a game changing play as a blind side rusher.

* TJ Lang. Needs to be re-emphasized. Football player. Turn back the clock player. Thank you, TJ.

This week - it's the Falcons. In Atlanta. It's a make a believer out of me week. In a Super Bowl or Bust year, the Packers need a statement win. A victory in Atlanta would be just that. It'd also allow the Packers to potentially go on a little run. After this week, the Packers play Indy and TN. You'd like to think that the Packers would win both of those games. It'd be fun to see the Packers at 7-2. It's a week-to-week league and a lot changes - quickly. But, a win in Atlanta and suddenly, the Packers are in position to put themselves in a healthy spot.

Whenever I think about the Falcons v Packers, I think of the 2nd Quarter of the Packers January of 2011 NFC Divisional win over Atlanta. To date, in my opinion, it was the best Quarter played by the Packers in my lifetime. 28 points. The 5th play of the Quarter capped off a 13 play, 81 yard TD drive that ate up 7:56. BJ RAJI as the FREEZER capped off a 10 play, 92 yard TD drive that chewed up 5:44. After a Sir Charles sack & a T-Mon pick, it was Rodgers to James Jones for a TD that completed a 7 play, 80 yard drive as the Packers were in a 2-minute offense. Then, we saw Clay with a big sack to knock the Falcons to the brink of FG range and on the last play of the Quarter is was T-Mon with the pick and a 70 yard return for a TD. GREATEST QUARTER EVER!

The Falcons can score points. In abundance. Matt Ryan is playing as well as he's played since 2010. Julio Jones is arguably the best WR in the NFL. Devonta Freeman is a do-it-all RB. He's physical, he's fast, and he has great vision. He'll challenge the Packers LB's. Mohammed Sanu is an extremely talented #2 WR. Jacob Tamme is a solid blocking TE and a sure-handed, savvy TE. Justin Hardy is a developing #3 WR who has all of the talents that you look for in a young WR. The Falcons OL is improved. Jake Matthews and Alex Mack are core players. Andy Levitre, Chris Chester and Ryan Schraeder are all over-achievers. The Packers are lucky that Tevin Coleman won't play this weekend.

Defensively, the Falcons are getting after the QB. Brooks Reed and Vic Beasley offer a good speed/power combination from the ends. Both are high effort QB rushers. Beasley brings the type of turf speed that has offered Bulaga troubles previously. Jonathan Babineaux and Grady Jarrett are run stuffers up the middle. Deion Jones offers great speed at ILB, but he's undersized and can be moved in the game. De'Vondre Campbell is a talented LB, but he often plays too high and can be moved in the run game. As pass defenders, both Jones and Campbell are gifted. Keanu Neal is a beast of a safety. He pursues with vicious intent. He's not fast-footed, but he punishes. Robert Alford and Desmond Trufant have played well on the perimeter. They'll challenge Davante Adams. I loved Jalen Collins coming out of college, but he has yet to show his worth in the NFL. I'm not sure how the Falcons plan to cover Randall Cobb in the slot. Their secondary is shy on depth.

The Falcons special teams scares me. Eric Weems is a threat to take it to the house, every time that he touches the ball. Matt Bosher is a better punter than Jacob Schum and will swing the field, if needed. Matt Bryant is automatic in the dome.

The Packers can't expect to win a shoot-out. If this thing gets into the 30's, I don't feel good about the game. The Packers are going to need to utilize ball possession. Long sustained drives on offense. Once again, the Packers aren't going to be fortunate enough to have a full-time RB who understands the offense. So, I expect Rodgers to throw 40+ times. The only reason it won't be more than that is because the Falcons will have more success moving the football than the Bears. Nonetheless, expect Rodgers to play with ball control. Underneath routes to Cobb. Stacking WR's to the right side of the line of scrimmage to allow Cobb to get a free release. We'll see Montgomery on a wide variety of routes out of the backfield. There isn't an ILB in football that can cover Montgomery as a receiver out of the backfield.

If we see Knile Davis, I certainly hope it's with Ripkowski in front of him. Out of the I-formation. Ripkowski can help pave the way. Also, Ripkowski will blow up Campbell and Jones 10 out of 10 times. He'll add multiple yards to each carry. I like the way the interior of the Packers OL matches up with the interior of the Falcons DL.

Chewing up the clock keeps Julio Jones off of the field. It's hard to cover Julio Jones with an All-Pro secondary. It's even tougher to cover Julio Jones when you're down your top 3 CB's. Ladarius Gunter has the length and the physicality to match-up with Julio. He doesn't have the speed. Don't forget, on the other side, Demetri Goodson can't cover Sanu. Still, I'd try to take Julio away. I'd put HaHa over the top of Gunter. I'd double Julio all day. I wouldn't let Julio beat me on a deep ball. If Sanu is going to grab 8 balls for 120 yards and 2 TD's, so be it. But, I'm going to trust that the defensive front can slow Freeman in the run game. And, I'm going to slide HaHa to help limit Julio's touches.

I'm scared of seeing Freeman in the screen game and on wheel routes against Jake Ryan in coverage. Big plays could be awaiting the Falcons offense. So, it'll be important for the Packers to keep the Falcons offense off of the field.

Dom Capers has had a great year. I'm curious to watch how the Packers approach the Falcons weapons. I have confidence that he'll have a couple of tricks up his sleeve.

I'm expecting to see Rodgers to Nelson on the back shoulder. At least 3 times. The Falcons CB's, Trufant and Alford, are both aggressive. They'll both look to jump routes. At some point, a stop and go will work. For a big play. Likely to Nelson. Maybe to Janis.

Historically speaking, neither Rodgers nor Ryan have been overly prone to turnovers. If there's a turnover this week, it could be the crucial play in the game. I'm expecting to see JP making another play this week. A strip sack that changes the outcome.

Packers 24. Falcons 23.

I'm a believer.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

My Take -> Week 7

Greetings, G-Force.

I'm no journalist. I'm a fan. A die-hard Green Bay Packers fan. A loyalist, to the bone. The intent of this blog is to take an optimistic yet realistic point of view on the state of the Green Bay Packers. Today, the outlook is tough. As my brother Chad says, "it's tough to be positive and genuine." Normally, I look for a spin. As I write, the future looks bleak. If this isn't rock bottom for the Green Bay Packers, what does that look like? In fact, I haven't feel this uncomfortable about the future of the Green Bay Packers since 2005. This year is Super Bowl or Bust for me. Presently, the Packers are leaving me with an aching heart.

I write with a Funkwerks Tropic King. An Imperial Saison Ale that "pairs well with hula hooping." Think bananas and hops. And perfect carbonation. So smooth. 7.5%. This past weekend, I took my son, Dylan, to the record store. I asked what he wanted me to buy. He said, "Bob Dylan." So, I bought the Essential Bob Dylan vinyl. A number of the songs seem to mimic the state of 1265 Lombardi Ave. "Blowin' in the Wind" seems to be where the Packers are grasping for answers on offense. Yet, they answer is always, "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" as they go back to what has been broken for the last year. As they go to bed, the staff has to fear that "The Times They Are A-Changin'" as the offense continues to falter downhill "Like A Rolling Stone." All in all, it leaves me with "Subterranean Homesick Blues."

Here are my quick vibes from the last week:

* What was Mike McCarthy thinking on 3rd and 1 on the opening series of the game? Trailing 7-0. The OL was in control. With relative ease, the offense moves into the Red Zone. The offense was far from predictable. Then McCarthy goes heavy on a formation that was clearly going to Ripkowski as the ball carrier with Barclay and Spriggs added to the offense. What a joke. If you want to give the ball to Ripkowski in that scenario, have him lined up as a FB. Or spread the Cowboys out with 3 WR or 4 WR on the field. The OL was winning the 1 on 1 battles. And, then trailing 20-6 in the 3rd Quarter, the Packers offense establishes themselves as they move the ball to the 1 yard line. 74 yards on 11 plays. Ball on the 1. McCarthy goes empty backfield. And a QB draw from shotgun? BAFFLING! FREAKIN' PATHETIC! I get the QB sneak call, but a draw? From SHOTGUN? Who are we fooling? That was a joke! Both plays were catastrophic to the Packers. Both plays defined the state of the Packers performance in a crucial home contest at Lambeau Field. And, with the loss, any shot at home field advantage throughout the playoffs went directly out the window.

* As a fan, it genuinely makes me sad to see this version of Aaron Rodgers. For so long, he was so graceful. He was authentic. He was carefree yet fully passionate. He was loose. He was easily loved. It brought joy to watch him perform. He bled excellence. Everything about him. Today, I don't recognize him.

* EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE! He brought conviction to the offense. And, now, there's rumors that the IR is in his future? If so, this season could run away from us.

* Starks is out for multiple weeks? Why not cut him?

* As I write, Don Jackson is not active. So, as of now, the Packers are going into the game against the hated Bears with Randall Cobb, Ty Montgomery and Knile Davis as their RB's? How is that even possible? Don't get me wrong, I like Davis. In fact, when he was entering the Draft, I wrote: "Knile Davis - Terrific size and speed combo. Always hurt. Occasionally, a fumbler. But, dude is a freakish athlete. The type of back that the Packers might take a shot on. The sky is the limit for Davis although I wonder if he'll ever be healthy enough to maximize his potential." He's wearing Ahman Green's #30. He has many of the same traits of a young Ahman. Ahman came for Fred Vinson. Davis comes for a conditional 7th rounder. I'm not saying. Not by any stretch. But, I'm cautiously optimistic about what Davis could bring.

* Jared Cook, hurry back.

* The last 2:00 of the first half were enough to make a man vomit. Trailing 10-6. Feeling momentum. The Packers offense melts down. The Packers punt. The ball is downed at the 2. McCarthy goes aggressive and calls timeouts - which I agreed with. But, on third and 1, Julius Peppers lined up on the outside. I've said it before and I'll say it again - Julius Peppers can longer play on the outside. And, when he is playing on the outside, the offense should always run the ball to his side of the field. He can no longer contain the run. 26 yards later, the Cowboys were in business. Then, Gunter gets burnt on two plays and the end result was 98 yards in 33 seconds.

* Aaron Rodgers' interception on the opening drive of the third quarter. In 9 years, I bet you can count on one hand the number of times we've seen him get picked off in a situation like that. He didn't see Barry Church. It was gross. He led the WR right into Church.

* Crucial point of the game: 2:19 left in the 2nd Quarter. 4th & 5. Trailing 10-6. Rodgers has Cobb open. Could've been a TD. Rodgers misses him. Tough pass, but we've come to expect Rodgers to make that throw.

* When the Packers play without Shields, Rollins and Randall; it'll be tough for the Packers to beat anyone in the NFL.

* Good to see Morgan Burnett make a play.

* I felt as though JP had a strip sack coming. Was good to see it happen. Also, nice to see Joe Thomas around the football again.

* Amazing that Edgar Bennett protected the football so well. He almost never fumbled. But, his team can't hang onto the football with him as the Offensive Coordinator.

* Jordy. Man. Two weeks in a row in which Jordy has not been the guy that we know and love.

* I want to see Don Jackson.

This week - it's the hated Bears. At 1-5, the Bears record is abysmal. Don't let the record fool you. They could easily be 3-3 if not for losing to late games. They'll give the Packers all we can handle this weekend. The Bears will play two deep safeties. They'll test McCarthy and Rodgers' patience. They'll let Montgomery catch 10 balls. All underneath. They won't give up the big play. They'll get in our outside WR's face. They'll get physical with Cobb. They'll plug the middle of the field. Drop 7 on nearly every play. Rodgers will have time. He won't have many open receivers. And, since the Packers don't have a RB, we won't be in a position to pound the football at the heart of the Bears defense.

Offensively, the Bears will be conservative. They won't turn the football over. They'll run it with Howard on 1st and 2nd down. They'll try to get it to 3rd and manageable. And, then, they'll try to hit Jeffery or Meredith on 3rd down. Both will be tough for the injury riddled Packers secondary to cover. Brian Hoyer isn't going to amaze with his arm, but he's going to take care of the football. Sure, he's had poor performances in his career, but for the most part, Hoyer has been a steady NFL QB. He's won games. His teams have mostly been competitive. He's a savvy player who knows how to move the sticks. The Packers front 7 should dominate the Bears OL. That'll be key in order for the Packers to win.

I expect an extremely frustrating night of football at Lambeau Field. Ultimately, the Packers prevail in a nail biter.


Packers 17.
Bears 16.

Talkin' S-Mac.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

My Take -> Week 6

Greetings, G-Force.

First and foremost, thank you for the vibes last week. Last week, I received more Facebook and Twitter shares than I've ever received. With each week that passes, it gets more difficult to find time to get in front of the computer for an hour or two. Without distraction. Readership inspires me to carry on. Thank you.

3-1. In fairly blissful fashion. As fans, we demand excellence out of our beloved Green Bay Packers. We expect flawless precision. Even though, we should recognize that it's nearly impossible to achieve such greatness. In the regular season - for the most part - we've been spoiled over the last 24 years. But, we need to remind ourselves that it is tough to win in the NFL. And, as much as the losses pain us; we have to enjoy the wins.

In the past, it was viewed as though the Green Bay season ticket holders were the ones who were the difference makers. The Milwaukee season ticket makers were the ones who were reactionary. After thoroughly criticism the fans in Week 1, which were the Green Bay season ticket holders, I have to thank the Milwaukee season ticket holders. It was significantly louder vs the Giants than it was vs the Lions. It looked festive. It looked fun. TJ Lang even went to Twitter and posted this: "Fans were awesome last night at Lambeau!! What a great crowd. Let's be even louder this weekend!! #GoPackGo" Yes, fans make a difference. Players notice it. I'll be interested to see if the Green Bay season ticket holders are interested in getting off their ass and on their feet this weekend. Thanks for making a difference, Packers faithful.

As I write I have two albums lined up. I have the Bob Weir "Blue Mountain" vinyl lined up and I have the Phish "Big Boat" album lined up on my iTunes. I'm still waiting for the "Big Boat" album to be delivered since I pre-ordered it. I'm getting anxious. Nonetheless, the song "More" is a beautifully moving musical piece. Makes me joyful. Also, "Things People Do" seems to ring well in my ear. I sip a New Glarus Scream IIPA. Daniel Carey writes on the bottle: "Some people paint, some sing, others write...I brew." Yes, you do, Daniel. And, we're all better for it. Keep after it. You've master the art. Oh, and be sure that it remains ONLY IN WISCONSIN.

Here are my quick vibes from the last week:

* Good day, Packers fans. Your team wins with defense. Recognize! Props to Dom Capers.

* In the 1st Quarter, Mike McCarthy was in control. Consistently shifting formations. Changing personnel. In control of the line of scrimmage. He used a variety of looks. The Giants defense was on their heels. They had no answers for what was coming next. On the opening drive, the Packers ran 16 plays. Gaining 75 yards. Chewing up 8:42 of the 1st Quarter. It was text book. A statement drive. On the 2nd drive, again, McCarthy was a mastermind. 10 plays. 71 yards. 4:21 off the clock. The drive ended in an unfortunate interception, but we'll get to that later. Regardless, McCarthy was a strategist. He was an offensive maestro. Then, in a flash of light, he went predictable. No more 6th OL. No more lead FB. It was 3 wide with Adams, Cobb and Nelson along with Richard Rodgers and a RB. The RB was usually James Starks. Suddenly, the offense was predictable. And, our offense stalled. Often. In fact, there was a stretch where over 5 consecutive possessions the Packers accumulated a total of 32 yards. That's unacceptable.

* Aaron Rodgers. There was a glimpse of the MVP. Then, he went away from the crossing routes. He became indecisive. He held onto the ball. And, when he was quick to release, he was off-target. It's interesting. He moves like the #12 that we know and love. He looks like the #12 that we know and love. He was playful like the #12 that we know and love. But, he's missing his spot with his throws. He's almost out of rhythm. Looking for his groove. Hope he finds his touch soon. I still believe he has a big season in store.

* EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE! Love the motivation that he's running with. Up 7-3. Eddie put the Packers on his back. He tossed would-be Giants tacklers out of the way. 2 carries. 37 yards. Both looked like they'd be minimal gains. Eddie picked up chunks with pure effort. Fantastic to see.

* RIP! Falling for him. Can't say enough about him as a lead blocker. I've said it before and I'll say it again; at times, Lacy struggles to see the hole, but Rip really helps him find the hole as his lead blocker. And, as a ball carrier, Rip reminds of William Henderson. Pushing the pile. Forcefully moving sticks. I'm anxious for a pass in the flat to RIP. We've seen goodness from it before. I anticipate good things happening again.

* James Starks. Dude. We've been loyal. We're forever grateful for the XLV run. Hell, you can have a space in the Packers HOF because of your playoff game against Philly. The Packers weren't winning that game without you. But, man, your time has come. You struggle to see the hole. You struggle to catch the ball. And, the fumble was absolutely intolerable. Thanks for the memories. All love.

* Randall Cobb. "Vibrating with love and light. Pulsating with love and light. In a world gone mad. A world gone mad. There must be something more than this."

* Rodgers is anxious to get his chemistry with Jordy back on track. Forcing it. All in time, 12. It'll come.

* Prime example that this team is going to continue to grow in 2016. Packers were in the midst of a CHAMPIONSHIP DRIVE. Up 20-9. Seeking a dagger. Forcefully beating the Giants into the ground. 2nd and goal. Under 7:00 to play. Ball on the 7. Aaron Rodgers hits the normally sure-handed Richard Rodgers in the hands. Richard drops it. Then, on 3rd down. It's back shoulder to Jordy. The play was open. The pass was thrown up the field. Had it been 1 foot behind the defender, it'd have been a touchdown. Still, Nelson had the ball in his hand. He couldn't corral it in. And, thus, the Giants were kept alive. I fancy the Packers will close that drive with a TD in the near future. I really do.

* A glimpse of the 2014 version of Davante Adams. Word, yo.

* Someday, we'll see Abby lined up in the slot. I'm excited for that moment.

* Someday, we'll see Ty Montgomery involved in the offense. We'll see him and Cobb lined up in the backfield together. Defense will be confused. We'll see a lot of motion. We won't have any idea as to the play design based on the formation. I'm excited for that moment.

* Generally, Mike McCarthy's teams have improved as their has progressed. I have an inkling that this year will be much of the same. We'll see more variety in personnel and in formation as the season progresses. I keep thinking back to that NE game in 2014. McCarthy has the creativity in him. We'll see it again this year. I'm excited for that moment.

* TJ Lang. ALL PRO.

* David Bakhtiari. Forever Aaron Rodgers LT. That epic.

* Bryan Bulaga. Rock solid.

* JC Tretter. His athleticism amazes me. So quick. Strong. Gets side-to-side. Gets forward. All with elegance. Gotta lock him up.

* Lane Taylor. Doing his thing. Playing very well. Holding the point. Often, moving his man.

* There was a Jason Spriggs sighting. And, I liked it. That surprised me.

* Was sad to see Callahan leaving the system. Good for New Orleans. They picked up a QB project who has been well groomed. It created a roster spot. I'm hoping it's for Don Jackson. Jackson has wiggle. He has shake. With Starks' injury, it's possible that he doesn't play. I'd like to see Jackson getting a couple of opportunities on the draw and on a screen. I'd like to see him in the open field. If given the opportunity, carpe diem, Jackson.

* Starks' poor play has me wondering. What happened to Jhurrel Pressley? Why was he added and then cut so quickly? Why was nothing reported about it? I'm confused.

* Richard Rodgers continues to be an incapable blocker.

* Kenny Clark, Letroy Guion and Mike Daniels continue to win their battles. It's great fun to watch!

* Kyler Fackrell! With the game changing play. Great presence of mind to go for the strip as well as the sack. Brilliant play!

* Claymaker! FLEX ON! Long hair - don't care.

* Jayrone getting home. Negated by a penalty. Still, good for the morale. Confidence booster. He has a play coming.

* JP. Guy can no longer contain the run from an end/OLB position. Needs to play on the interior. I think he has a forced fumble coming soon. A strip sack. Game changing play.

* Nick Perry. Don't pinch yourself. He's in contention for the defensive player of the year. Yes, I wrote that. Keep on, keeping' on, Nick.

* Blake Martinez, Jake Ryan and Joe Thomas. I thought this was going to be the weakest part of our roster. It's been a strength. Blake has been plugging holes. Thomas has shown around the ball every week. And, Jake has been a steady tackler. Don't fool yourself though, there's room for improvement. This group needs to continue to improve in coverage. We're going to give up a big play to a TE or a RB in the pass game on a play in which the ILB core will be fully responsible.

* Ladarius Gunter. Again. Looking like he belongs. Nice.

* Q-Rollins. Solid performance.

* Micah Hyde. Making a case for a solid contract. Mr. versatility. Wish he was returning punts as well. Know that the injuries in our secondary makes us vulnerable to exposing him, but still he is a weapon back there.

* Jacob Schum. Yawn. Time to find a replacement. He sucks. Period.

* Soon, I'll have a 2017 Packers mock draft again. Admittedly, I've been slacking on watching College Football. I'm far behind where I've been in years past. And, where I was originally paying heavy attention to ILB's and DL, I now need to shift to RB, CB and TE. Total shift in focus. I'm lost. I'll watch a lot of college football this weekend, and I hope to catch some over the next 2 weeks. Should bring some clarity.

This week - it's the Cowboys coming to Titletown, U.S.A. In this case, for most, the first memory is either the Ice Bowl or Dez Bryant's no-catch review. But, for me, it's November 23, 1997. A crisp late-fall afternoon. Bright blue skies. The Cowboys were the nemesis. Even though the Packers were the defending Super Bowl Champions. The Packers led 24-17 early in the 4th Quarter. We then witnessed the most parade-like celebratory final 10 minutes of a game in my Packers life. The Packers scored 21 points in the final 10 minutes. And, Mac, yes, my Dad pumps in "Mama, don't let your babies grow up to be Cowboys" over the loud speaker at Lambeau. It was fan pandemonium. Crowd was singing in unison. Arms around one another. It was glorious. A memory I'll hold onto forever.

Offensively, this Cowboys have some similarities to the Cowboys teams of the '90's. They have a young QB, Dak Prescott, who doesn't make mistakes. They have a young running back, Ezekiel Elliott, who sees the hole and hits it hard. The Cowboys have young WRs in Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams who are fully dangerous. Cole Beasley will man the slot in a fashion that Packers fans wish the Packers would use Abby. Much like the 90's Cowboys, this version of the Cowboys has a dominant OL. They have no weak spot along the line. Jason Witten is a consistent threat. He's also a blocking dynamo. Alfred Morris is a great back-up RB to Elliott. He pounds away and pushes forward. The Cowboys have been banged up on offense this year, but they look to be getting healthy this week as both Tyvon Smith and Dez Bryant are expected to play.

The Cowboys defense has overachieved, thus far. They lack a presence on the DL. I expect the Packers OL to manhandle the Cowboys DL. The Cowboys DL will work hard, but they won't be able to out-work the Packers OL. Sean Lee is a gem at LB for the Cowboys. Andrew Gachkar and Anthony Hitchens give high energy and offer good speed, but they can be overpowered. Brandon Carr has been a solid player at CB. Morris Claiborne is finally living up to his 1st round draft status from 2012. Byron Jones offers speed and physical stature. Barry Church is a staple for the Cowboys. JJ Wilcox is an intimidating force at Safety. Jeff Heath doesn't belong in the NFL. The Cowboys lack depth in the secondary.

This one is widely billed as a marquee match-up of the Packers DL v the Cowboys OL. Rightfully so. Both are among the best in the business. I believe that both will score wins against each other.

Really though, this game will come down to the turnover battle. Dak Prescott has yet to turn the ball over in his young career. That changes this weekend. HaHa grabs a pick.

Expect the Cowboys to play a lot of 2-deep safeties. Especially with the injuries at RB for the Packers. Lacy plays. He pounds away. Ty Montgomery gets opportunities on swing passes. He nickels and dimes the Cowboys defense to move the sticks. The Cowboys defense dares the Packers to shoot defense. Rodgers stays poised. He stays calm. He stays patient. He sticks with the underneath routes. He moves the chains.

Rodgers throws for 250 and 3 TD's. The defense holds Elliott under 80 yards. The Packers flex their muscles to a 4-1 mark.

It's a highly intense game in Titletown, U.S.A. The Packers prove that they're championship worthy.


Packers 24.
Cowboys 20.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

My Take -> Week 5

Greetings, G-Force.

As I hope is a lifetime tradition for me, I went to the Packers home opener. It was terrific to see Lambeau. Plush green grass. Unscratched brick. The holiest of sporting venues. I had a fantastic tour given by my Dad. If you haven't seen Mac give a tour at Lambeau, what are you waiting for? It's first-class. Get your tickets. Make a request that Mac is your guide. Take the Champions tour.

As for the game, Lambeau is not what it once was. The fans in attendance are yawners. They aren't their to be rowdy. Lambeau has become much like Augusta. It looks beautiful. The crowd sits in silence. It applauds a good shot...or in this case, an Aaron Rodgers touchdown pass. But, for the most part, due to the lack of the crowds presence, I view Lambeau as mostly a neutral site. If the Packers are the better team, they'll win. If they're having an off day, they'll lose. But, the fans at Lambeau won't make the difference. Multiple times, I was encouraged to sit down as I tried to get the crowd off their ass and on their feet. Frankly, as a fan, it was defeating.

Lambeau used to be a place to leave with a hoarse voice. You walked in proud to be a rowdy Packers fan. Today, it is a place to be seen. Fans sit. They watch. They aren't their to play a role in the outcome of the game. They aren't their to help swing momentum. They aren't their to create a difficult atmosphere for opposing QB's.

I hope that vibe changes. Quickly. Or else, once again, the Packers will have a 5-3 record at home. The naysayers will blame the team. They'll blame TT. They'll blame MM. They'll blame Rodgers. They'll blame the defense. They won't blame themselves for sitting on their hands for 4 Quarters and bitching about a missed tackle. If you can't tell, it was a frustrating experience to be a fan at Lambeau Field against the Lions. In fact, their was only one time that the crowd was vocally visible. It was the only GO PACK GO chant throughout the entire game. It happened as the Packers were in the huddle and designing a play as they tried to clinch the game. Cobb even waved to quiet the crowd. I wondered where that noise was as Stafford casually audibled along the line of scrimmage like he was the boss of Lambeau Field. I was in disbelief.

It's a Super Bowl or Bust year. The fans should get on board and try to help the cause.

I sip a Renegade Grapefruit Endpoint. Triple IPA. 11%. Sips as though it's a 7% ABV IPA. Has a beautiful grapefruit bite to it coupled with what appears to be a bit of a citra hop. Great fruit buzz throughout. I listen to the Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars album "Living Like A Refugee." It's tribal. It's communal. It's uniting. Much like I used to feel when I sat in the stands at Lambeau.

Here are my quick vibes from the Lions game:

* Loved MM's play calling. Enjoyed the FB in front of Lacy. Lacy has seemed to struggle to find the hole. Ripkowski helped direct Lacy. Ripkowski added a power element. In addition, it opened play action. McCarthy was aggressive in his attack. The offense generated 31 first half points. Had Nelson held onto the one-handed grab in the corner of the end zone, Rodgers would've thrown 5 first half TD's. While some will complain that the offense went conservative in the 2nd half, I can't say that I fully agree with it. Had Davis held onto the pass and had Bulaga not been penalized, the offense's numbers would've looked much better. A couple of mental mistakes were extremely problematic for the offense's production in the 2nd half.

* Aaron Rodgers: I'M BACK. Yes, Aaron. Yes, you were.

* Lacy throwing defenders around. Great fun to see Julius Peppers emphatically cheering him on from the sidelines. TEAMMATES!


* Randall Cobb sat down in the zone really well. Found the space. Had mental same mindedness with Rodgers. Good buzz!

* Jared Cook. That hurts. Looked really good until the play in which he got hurt. He's a clear mismatch. Hope he is back soon.

* Trevor Davis can fly. But, he looks lost when the ball is in the air. Doesn't appear to have good depth perception.

* Davante Adams showing passion as he fights his way into the end zone!

* Rodgers was seeing the field and quickly getting rid of the football. Thing of beauty!

* The OL was dominant. All game.

* Mason Crosby. Smooth.

* Mike Daniels. Total superstar.

* Kenny Clark. Showing promise.

* Nice to see Jayrone Elliott making a play.

* Nick Perry is playing like a Pro Bowl OLB. A monster in the run game. A physically imposing pass rusher. The MVP of the game.

* Micah Hyde was around the football. Wish he'd have corralled the interception.

* Joe Thomas is off to a really nice start. A tough minded pro. Should have grabbed the pick. Nonetheless, he's been in the right place.

* Kyler Fackrell! Nice sack!

* Good to see Dean Lowry making a play in the backfield!

* Blake Martinez and Jake Ryan seem to share chemistry. They're teammates. They read each other well. They're well schooled. They're playing MUCH BETTER than I had anticipated they would.

* Damarious Randall's interception was gorgeous. Sheer willpower. The rest of his game was not well played. I still believe that Randall is going to have a good year. I believe in him.

* Didn't like to see Q-Rollins getting beat out of the slot by Boldin with such ease. Have high expectations for him. Believe he'll improve as the year progresses.

* Ladarius Gunter looking like he can play in this league. He turns and runs. Gets his hands on the football. Should've held on, but still a nice play. He also stepped up in run support. He's been a sure tackler. Plays with a swagger to him.

* Josh Hawkins. Gulp.

* Kentrell Brice. Ummm. He was equally at fault on the deep TD at the end of the half.

* HaHa has a big play coming. He's an intimidating presence in the secondary.

This week - it's the Giants. In a crucial NFC contest. If you watched the Giants in Minnesota last Monday night, you saw that Eli struggles with crowd noise. The Giants OL struggles with crowd noise. You can create false starts. You can create miscommunication. You can create unnecessary timeouts. You can create 5 yard delay of game penalties. For most of the game in Minnesota, the NYG offense was unable to operate due to the crowd noise. The Packers must do the same this weekend or Eli Manning could pass for 400 yards. It's important for the Lambeau Faithful to create a tough environment or else the Packers will fall to 2-2.

Eli Manning is surrounded with talent on offense. OBJ, Victor Cruz and Sterling Sheperd are lethal WR's. All can play on the outside. All can play in the slot. All are dangerous getting in and out of their breaks. All can be used interchangeably. All are tough to tackle after the catch. Larry Donnell might be inconsistent catching the football, but he's still a physical mismatch for most LB's and Safeties. Will Tye is a big bodies, sure handed TE. Rashad Jennings - when healthy - offers a solid power-speed combination. Orleans Darkwa falls forward upon contact and wears on defenses. Bobby Rainey is a great pass catcher out of the backfield. Paul Perkins should see increased action out of the backfield. He's a shifty back who is sure to make the first tackler miss. The Giants OL has issues. Eric Flowers is an OK left tackle, but he can be beaten. Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg and John Jerry are all average pros. Marshall Newhouse is well, Marshall Newhouse.

Dwayne Harris is a dangerous kick and punt returner. He'll try to return the kick rather than downing it - more often than not.

JPP is not all the way back from his hand injury, but he's making his presence felt. Olivier Vernon has caused problems for Bryan Bulaga in the past. Jonathan Hankins and Damon Harrison add big beef to the middle of the DL. The NYG LB's are the wink link. Devon Kennard, Kelvin Sheppard and Jonathan Casillas can all be had. The secondary - when healthy - has played well. Last week - they didn't look good as they were beat up. DRC, Janoris Jenkins, and Eli Apple are very good CB's. If DRC or Apple can't play, Trevin Wade will be forced into action. He's terrible. Landon Collins is an up-and-coming safety. He's solid in run support, but can be beaten over the top.

I expect a shoot out. Both teams with their offenses rolling.

Aaron Rodgers throws three TD's. Lacy runs win in. Eli throws 4 TD's.

But, the Packers get the ball last. Crosby seals the deal.

Packers 34.
Giants 31.


Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.