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!
* JORDY! JORDY! JORDY!
* 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.
GET UP, LAMBEAU! WHERE'D THE FANS GO? MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
Go Pack Go!