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.
Go Pack Go!