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.
Go Pack Go!