Thursday, October 12, 2017

My Take -> Week 6

Greetings, G-Force.

4-1! The Packers went to Dallas. The Stars were shining big. The Stars were shining bright. Deep in the heart of Texas' football livelihood. And, the biggest Star was shining brightest. Aaron Rodgers. In control. Determined to grab home field throughout the playoffs. Knowing the importance of winning a crucial NFC game against the team that possessed home field throughout last years playoffs. It was absolutely phenomenal drama. A sensational victory. It was the type of game that write historical legends. An instant classic. A fairy tale finish that brought the Packers to Four and Freakin' One.

I'm listening to the Hard Working Americans "We're All In This Together" album. Always enjoy the purity of live music and the way it translates to wax. The album has so much personality. A wide variety of musical flavor. Highly profound bass bombs bouncing through the speakers. "School Day" is a must listen. Fun, happy musical vibes with powerful vocal tones. Love the way that Green Bay's own, Chad Staehly, says hello on the keys in the "We're All In This Together" funkified jam. Much like the Green Bay Packers, this music promotes unification. It promotes love. It promotes togetherness. I'm with ya, HWA. Peace, yo. Keep stompin'. Keep hollerin'.

Here are my quick thoughts over the last week:

* Mike McCarthy. He knew the importance. He was bullish on his offense. Full of confidence. Ready to throw his chips to the middle of the table. It was telling when he said that Dallas couldn't stop his offense. He was right. His 4th & 1 toss to Aaron Jones brought extreme joy to my soul. It was a throwback to the old school Jon Gruden kinda call. The one he used to call for Charlie Garner. Just get the quick kid in space. Let him show his shake.

* Dom Capers. His defense showed vulnerability, yes. But, consider this: the Packers took the Cowboys strongest punch. They did everything they could to throw a dagger. They went to their playmakers. Elliott had 30 touches. Witten was targeted 10 times. Bryant was targeted 8. Dallas knew that they needed the win. Capers defense kept getting to 3rd down. They struggled to get off the field. And, when they stopped on 3rd down, there was either a phantom flag or the Cowboys converted on 4th down. But, in the 2nd half, the Packers needed stops. Here were the Cowboys drives in the 2nd Half: Punt, FG, Interception that was returned for a TD, TD, Fumble. So, in essence, the defense was outscored 10-7 in the 2nd half. It wasn't a masterful performance by the defense, but it was enough to put Aaron Rodgers in position to win. On the road. Against an NFL powerhouse. I'll take that every single time.

* Rodgers high-stepping for a first down on the game winning third down play is a moment that could live on forever. It's the type of moment that could be a defining image of what leads to a Super season.

* Aaron Jones. Decisive. Extraordinary vision. I admit - I was wrong on him. I worried that he might lack the speed to play at a high level. It concerned me. But, he's fast enough. His quickness has shown. And, he knows how to accelerate. His ability to appear as though he was shifting direction without wasted steps or much variance is not something you can coach. It's instinctive. He does a great job selling his run to the outside and then cutting it back. He's showed enough power to step through arm tackles. He's also shown football smarts. Additionally, how about that catch along the sideline? Wow. In mental lock step with Rodgers. And, clearly, Rodgers is comfortable with him.

* In some ways, the injury to Ty might be a blessing. As long as the injury doesn't linger. We have a rotation at RB. Jones and Montgomery should compliment each other well. RIP will eventually see added carries as well. For now, it appears as though the RB position is solidified.

* Mike McCarthy trusted his tackles. And, because of it, we were able to see a glimpse as to how the Packers plan on using Martellus Bennett. Good to see him moved around. Good to see him standing up in the slot and on the outside. Good to see him sealing the edge in the run game as a blocker. When Bakhtiari comes back, I expect to see Bennett utilized as even more of a focal point. His sideline catch was true brilliance. His reception for a 1st down on the final drive was dynamite. I'm still anxious for him to be utilized in the Red Zone. Let's hope he can build upon this performance.

* Lance Kendricks is averaging 15.7 yards per catch this year.

* Lane Taylor. Earning that extension. Balling hard. He's been our best back-up Tackle.

* Way to gut it out, Bulaga. This team is so much better with Bulaga on the field.

* Jahri Evans has been a super FA acquisition.

* Corey Linsley had a couple of really tough moments, but overall, I'll take it.

* Justin McCray really stepped up. He missed the block on the final run play, which led to nothing and forced to call a timeout. Had a made the block, it'd have been an opportunity for Jones to make his way to the 3rd level. That was a bummer, but other than that play, I thought McCray played really admirably.

* Aaron Rodgers. 1 minute drill. WITH AUTHORITY! Amazing to find out that he was calling the plays as well.

* Rodgers to Adams. Book it.

* Adams really showed that karma is a thing. A week after getting sent to the hospital on a cheap shot, he's digging deep to get up and secure a jump ball to earn the victory. Gamer.

* Jordy Nelson. End zone. Hand in hand.

* Randall Cobb. Total team player. Getting in the mix as a blocker. He's a feisty blocker. Really opened up Bennett for a first down on the final drive.

* Bobsled on, boys.

* Richard Rodgers showing some athleticism on the back shoulder reception.

* We've often heard Mike McCarthy talk about players making the leap from Year 1 to Year 2. I think it plays a role - in large part - due to the fact that the new CBA doesn't allow players to do much hitting in practice. So, the learning curve is longer than it was previously. The Packers 2nd year players are taking huge leaps on the defensive side of the ball. Kenny Clark is living on the oppositions side of the line of scrimmage. Dean Lowry is moving people. And, Blake Martinez looks amped. Martinez has taken his game up multiple notches. He's a completely different dude. He's intense. He's flying through the hole. He's been dominant through 5 games. He's following Kenny Clark's lead and because of it, he's been a difference maker. Clark and Martinez compliment each other well. Clark gets the push, but often doesn't make the tackle. Martinez has trusted Clark's ability to win his 1 on 1 battle and he's followed closely behind and he's often making his tackles without having to fight off blocks.

* Nick Perry was inches from having three sacks. Against most QB's, he would've. But, give credit to Dak Prescott. Guy can play. He muscled through Perry's attempts. Regardless, Perry was active and breaking down plays.

* Clay Matthews. Teammate. Dropping into coverage. Knocking away passes. Forcing 3rd and 8 on a vital 4th Quarter drive as he jarred the pass to Witten loose. The Claymaker finished with 5 tackles, 1 tackle for loss and 1 pass defensed. Great game.

* Injuries can sometimes show your coaches things that they have in players that they didn't know they had. It forces teams to evolve. It can be healthy for a team as long as the injuries aren't season ending. I hope Morgan Burnett's injury doesn't linger. He's the play caller of the defense. But, if he is injured and it opens up the door for Marwin Evans to play more, then I'm eager to see what Evans offers.

* Thought Q Rollins played better in the run game. Stuck his nose into contact. However, he struggles mightily in coverage.

* DAMARIOUS RANDALL WITH THE TD! Game altering play! Hopefully, the play sparks confidence in him. HaHa calls him the most athletic player in the secondary. Need to see that out of him while King and House battle injuries.

* Justin Vogel's 59 yard punt that pinned Dallas back prior to the Randall interception was the field position changing play that the Packers have missed in recent memory. Further, Janis' tackle was fantastic. Monster play.

* Need HaHa to return to form.

* Ahmad Brooks punishes people. He knows one speed and only one speed.

I did a Fanspeak Mock Draft. As is the norm, I'm short on OL knowledge at the college level and I only draft someone if I have watched him play. Here's what I came away with:

Round 1: Tony Brown, CB, Alabama. I wanted Bradley Chubb, OLB, NC State. The auto-draft had me picking 30th. He was selected 26th. So, I went with Brown to help patch up the CB position.
Round 2: Quenton Meeks, CB, Stanford. Ideal length. Turn and run CB. Tough guy.
Round 3a: Chad Thomas, EDGE, []_[]. Thomas disrupts with length. Holds the point of attack. His game should translate really well as an early down 3-4 EDGE player.
Round 3b: Lorenzo Carter, EDGE, Georgia. I am enamored with the way he gets the corner. Has a nose for the strip sack. Has been really active in pursuit of the QB.
Round 4: TJ Edwards, LB, WI. Took him over Steven Parker from OK. Went with the homer pick. Edwards is always around the ball. He looks thicker than he was last year. And, because of it, I feel like he might be a little slower, but he's still always around the ball.
Round 5a: Akrum Wadley, RB, Iowa. Slashy back who falls forward and plays with good balance. One cut runner. His game fits in GB. He's an elusive highlight film runner. Great vision. Finds the open field. Overly productive. Finds the sticks.
Round 5b: Dee Delaney, CB, []_[]. Game hasn't flashed this year like I thought it would. The Coastal Carolina transfer has been more of a project than I projected. Still, he has all of the natural ability that you look for in a perimeter CB. Looks like he has the speed to play, too.
Round 6a: Jake Roh, TE, Boise State. Athletic player. Willing blocker. Can move him around the field. Nose for the end zone.
Round 6b: Cody Thompson, WR, Toledo. NFL size. Highly productive. Gets downfield. Catches the ball and stride and gets downfield. Guy puts points on the board.
Round 6c: Deadrin Senat, DL, South Florida. Battling injuries this year. He moves people off the line. Wins his one-on-one battle. Good athlete for his size.
Round 7a: Kyzir White, S, Dub-V. Active defender. Finds the football. Can cover in the slot or play in center field. Hard hitter. Solid tackler.
Round 7b: Justin Crawford, RB, Dub-V. Enamored with his game. Plays bigger than he looks. So quick. Reminds me of a poor man's Jamal Charles. Not sure how he lasted this far, but he did. I view him as a 5th round prospect. HR hitter who can take it the distance every time he touches the ball.

This week - it's the 'queens. In Minnesota. A win and the Packers grab a 2-game lead over the hated 'queens. Notably, Minnesota would also fall to 1-2 in the Division. The Packers would move to 2-0 in the Division. This is a big game. A must win for Minnesota. A chance for the Packers to toss a heavy blow at the 'queens as the weather starts to turn.

Even with the injuries, the 'queens have weapons on offense. Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs are as underrated of a WR duo as their is in the NFL. Thielen is a Pro Bowl quality WR. Diggs is inconsistent, but when he's full focused and healthy, he's an elite level WR. Both run solid routes and can get deep down the field. Kyle Rudolph is among the best TE's in the NFL. Jerick McKinnon is a gifted receiving RB and when he's responsible for carrying the bulk of the load, he follows his lead blocker with excellence. Latavius Murray is talented, but has yet to make his impact in Minnesota. I expect Case Keenum to start. Bradford didn't look healthy. Keenum has played very well for Minnesota. He can connect on all routes. He isn't turnover prone. He can roll-out. He throws a nice deep ball. He was a good signing. The 'queens revamped their OL. Thus far, their Tackles have played better than I expected them to play. Riley Reiff has been more physical in Minnesota than he was in Detroit. Mike Remmers has trouble sustaining blocks, but he usually wins the initial jab. Nick Easton and Joe Berger have been solid plug and plays at Guard. Neither of them intimidate, but they do a good job throwing their weight around. Pat Elflein has been an anchor for the 'queens at Center.

The 'queens have as much continuity as anyone on the defensive side of the ball. And, they're healthy. They're disruptive and they force turnovers. When the Minnesota defense isn't forcing turnovers, the 'queens aren't winning. Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen get off the ball with lightning like quickness. They're great at guessing the snap count. They're also vulnerable to jumping offsides on the hard count, which can lead to free plays. Brian Robison is a hard working rotational DE at this stage of his career. Linval Joseph is a fierce presence in the middle of the field. Tom Johnson is active at DT, but he can be moved. Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks are absolute studs at LB. Both are looking for a big play every snap. At CB, Xavier Rhodes continue to be a shut down CB. But, outside of him, the 'queens CB's can be beaten. Trae Waynes is a grabber. He doesn't get his head turned. Terence Newman can no longer run and can be beaten over the top. Mackensie Alexander lacks toughness. He can be abused. Outside of Seattle, Minnesota might have the best safety combination in football with Andrew Sendejo and Harrison Smith.

You can't let Marcus Sherels beat you on special teams. It'll be up to Janis to shut him down on punt returns. It's interesting to note that while the Packers don't typically look to return kickoffs that reach the end zone, the 'queens almost always return kickoffs. They're looking for a big play on special teams. Look for the Packers to take a knee nearly every time, while the 'queens attempt to shorten the field.

This is Minnesota's Super Bowl. They can't afford to start off 3-3. They're healthy on the defensive side of the ball and they know they need this win. Look for the 'queens to come out swinging. They attack Rodgers with a multitude of blitzes. Look for Kendricks to come on delayed blitzes. Look for Harrison Smith to read plays and come on highly strategic blitzes as he creeps towards the line of scrimmage. The Packers combat the 'queens strategy by putting Jordy in the slot. Expect to see more of GERONIMO on the field as well this week. Minnesota doesn't have the CB depth to cover the Packers. I don't envision empty sets per se, but you might see some 4 WR formations with a back. And, you could possibly see 4 WR's and a TE in which Rodgers motions Cobb into the backfield as a blocker. I envision GERONIMO getting over the top for a big play. Davante, too.

Minnesota is going to try and eat clock. Utilizing a strategy similar to Dallas last week. They'll take the play clock down. They'll get Rudolph involved. They'll hit the Packers with a variety of slants and crossing routes to Thielen and Diggs. Then, they'll try to beat the Packers over the top on play action to both Diggs and Thielen. Minnesota feels like they win on the outside if they can protect Keenum. I think the Packers Defensive front wins the battle.

Expect Nick Perry to plow through Riley Reiff for a sack.

Expect Clay to outwork Remmers for a sack.

Expect Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark to win the interior of the line of scrimmage.

Look for Josh Jones to play an integral role in slowing McKinnon. Man-to-Man.

GERONIMO is my surprise player of the game.

Packers 23.
'queens 20.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

My Take -> Week 5

Greetings, G-Force.

3-1. It'd never get old watching the Packers absolutely dominating the Bears on National TV. Yes, THE BEARS STILL SUCK! From the start, it was pure destruction. The Packers were immensely more gifted in all three phases of the game. The city boys from the most pathetic state in America made their way north through the farmlands of Wisconsin to play football in the town that has won more World Football Championships than anyone else. Again, the Bears proved their worth. The 35-14 Packers victory was true joy. THE BEARS STILL SUCK.

I listen to Michael Franti's 2008 release All Rebel Rockers. What a great piece of vinyl. Went to see Franti in Taos, NM last weekend. Get to see him in CO this weekend. I'm spoiled. Michael Franti is my musical spirit animal. His music brings balance to my life. Plainly stated, "Hey World" is an epic tune. If you aren't familiar with Franti's music. Get to a gym. Put your headphones in. Block out everything around you. Listen to the All Rebel Rockers album. Don't blame me when you're hooked.

Here are my quick vibes from the last week:

* I have mad respect for Mike McCarthy. He hasn't had his two tackles on the field for a play over the first four games. His Pro Bowl Left Tackle has played one game. His star RT has played 2.5 Quarters. His star slot WR has missed a game. Then, against the Bears he lost his top two RB's early in the game. He was without his top 5 Tackles on his roster entering the season. Yes, his top FIVE Tackles entering the season were not on the field. He played with 4 Guards. That's unheard of. Still, he dropped 35 freakin' points on the Bears ass. Silly Chicago fools. The BEARS STILL SUCK. And, Mike McCarthy is a wizard.

* Dom Capers has been really impressive thus far. He's mixed and matched his defenses to mirror the opponents perceived game plan to perfection. He's made adjustments. He's drafted up a variety of blitzes. He's had 4 safeties on the field at a time. He's been without Mike Daniels. Nick Perry has had one hand. He's been without Davon House. Brice has missed time. Jake Ryan has missed time. He's had to adjust due to the fact that Q Rollins can't play and Damarious Randall is a selfish, me-first athlete. Capers deserves significant props.

* The Packers have been decimated with injuries through 4 games. Most coaching staffs would've been happy at 2-2 with the injuries that the Packers have endured. But, 1-3 would've been the likely scenario. Mike McCarthy and Dom Capers have the Packers atop the NFC at 3-1.

* The Packers have to win one of the next two games on the road. The mission is 8-0 at home and 4-4 on the road. 5-3 on the road gets you home field throughout. 4-4 gets you a first round bye and a shot at home field throughout. In order to do so, the Packers need at least one of the next two road games.

* Aaron Rodgers. In MVP form. Through 4 weeks, he's on the short list of MVP contenders. He's using all of his tools. He's been cerebral. He's been mobile. It feels as though he's used the middle of the field more than he has in recent memory. He's been quicker to get rid of the ball. He was 18-26 with 4 TD's against the hated Bears. And, he's yet to play his best football.

* Get healthy, Ty. We need you, my man.

* Aaron Jones. Have to admit: he surprised me. He looked quicker than he did all preseason. He looked animated. He showed the burst to get to the edge. He was light on his feet. He put his head down and got tough yards. Suddenly, I'm anxious to see more of Jones.

* It was nice to see RIP getting a carry. It didn't surprise me to see him get 4 yards on his lone run. On his one catch, he gained 6 yards. As the season wears, I imagine we'll see RIP getting more involved in this offense.

* Flex on, Davante. You're created with otherworldly hands. Tough as nails.

* Randall Cobb. Sporting yellow gloves. Loved the look. 11 yards a catch out of the slot. And, a beauty of a TD. The route was drafted to perfection.

* Jordy Nelson in the end zone. Joyful!

* Martellus Bennett was supposed to be our prized FA. Due to injuries, he's essentially been a blocker thus far. Had to like his 3rd and 1 catch on the opening drive of the game. Fantastic play design in a 3-TE set. McCarthy used his tools and Bennett got loose and came up with a big play.

* Tip of the cap to Lane Taylor. Really nutted up. He's off to a great start in 2017.

* Corey Linsley. Playing as though he's in a contract year. He's earning his keep. Dude gonna get paid!

* Thought Lucas Patrick really played well for his first real game action.

* Jahri Evans is settling in nicely. Had a great game. He's really steadied himself the last couple of weeks.

* I'm still pining to see Bennett used as a Red Zone weapon.

* I keep waiting to see Jordy in the slot. But, that can't happen until we get our tackles. Then, Bennett can go out wide. Jordy can man the middle. Both could do damage.

* Thought Jake Ryan played with good speed in the middle of the field.

* Blake Martinez was an absolute bruiser.

* Kenny Clark was manning up at the line of scrimmage.

* Quinton Dial was tough to move off the ball.

* Ahmad Brooks with another solid game. Great signing by TT!

* CLAY MATTHEWS! ALL TIME SACK LEADER IN PACKERS HISTORY! The strip sack was a game changer. Set up the 2-score lead. Tremendous play by Clay. He also forced the overthrow on the Brice interception. Clay has been a stallion to start the season.

* Nice to see HaHa and Brice grabbing interceptions. Neither has been an impressive tackler to start the year, but I hope the interceptions get their year jump started.

* Josh Jones needs to be on the field. Period.

* Fun to see Josh Hawkins step up when he was put to the task. 3 passes defensed. Impressive showing. Had 5 tackles. Threw his body around.

* Awesome pass break-up by Joe Thomas. Game changing play.

* Nick Perry brings the intensity to this defense.

* Trevor Davis needs confidence. He needs to catch and go. Stop the dancing. Start running. Straight at the defense on special teams. A little hip shake and go. Not every return needs to be focused on a TD, but let's try to get 7-10 yards at a minimum. Take the ball up the field with heightened speed.

This week - it's the Cowboys. In Dallas. This new stadium has been good to the Green Bay Packers. It's brought us the XLV title. It's brought us the sublime Matt Flynn comeback. It's brought us the instant classic in last years playoffs. Hopefully, this week adds to the legend.

The Cowboys have a plethora of talent. Dak Prescott has not had the start to the season that he'd have liked, but he's a weapon every time he touches the ball. He beats you with his legs and he's had a pension for hitting the deep ball on busted plays this year. Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams are lethal WR's who rack up yards after the catch. Brice Butler is a solid deep ball receiver. Cole Beasley is a dangerous slot WR. Ryan Switzer is a rookie WR who is dangerous as a PR and a dangerous slot WR. The Cowboys OL isn't the same as it was last year, but Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin are as good as any in the league at their positions. La'el Collins is a fast rising RT. Jonathan Cooper can be beaten at LG. That's the match-up the Packers have to win. Jason Witten remains a reliable TE. Zeke Elliott should be suspended. But, he's not. And, he's a threat every time he touches the ball. He falls forward as well as anyone in the league. He's as good as any runner in football.

Defensively, Dallas relies on speed on the edge. Demarcus Lawrence ducks his shoulder underneath the Tackle and explodes towards the QB. Taco Charlton and Tyrone Crawford to the same not he opposite side. Lawrence leads the league in sacks. Maliek Collins has been a solid run stopper. Stephen Paea has proved tough to move on the interior. David Irving is a force on the DL. When Sean Lee is healthy, this Dallas defense balls out. When he isn't, the defense can be picked apart. If Anthony Hitchens can play, he'll be disruptive. Jaylon Smith is a Dallas Cowboy. I can't stand that. For those that have followed my blog for a while, you know that I wanted Smith in Green Bay. He'll be a Pro Bowler some day. The Cowboys secondary is a work in progress. Jeff Heath is a steady safety, but he lacks height and speed. He wins with smarts, not athleticism. Byron Jones wins with athleticism, but you can beat him on double moves. Chidobe Awuzie has been banged up and might not play. Jourdan Lewis has the makings of a star slot, but due to injuries he's been forced to play on the outside. He won't be savvy enough to cover Jordy. He won't be athletic enough to cover Davante on the outside. Orlando Scandrick is among the best blitzing slot CB's in football.

The crowd will be hyped. The stadium will be amped. The Cowboys are 2-2. They can't afford a loss. A win would do wonders for the Packers when it comes down to December tie breakers in the NFC. This is a meaningful game for both teams. In a big way.

Look for the Cowboys to blitz often from the edges. I anticipate a wide variety of blitzes that challenge the Packers RB's to block. The Cowboys know that they'll struggle to get pressure with just 4 men, if the Packers OL is at full strength. So, it's vital for the Packers to prepare for the blitz. If Rodgers is protected, he'll have opportunities for big plays.

I expect that both teams will try to run clock. Both teams know this will be a tight battle. Both teams know that it'll be a physical contest on the line of scrimmage. Both teams know that they have to keep the oppositions offense off the field to rest their defense.

Turnovers and sacks will tell the story. Whoever wins those battles will win the game.

With the electricity at full blast, the Cowboys try to pound away at the heart of the Packers defense. Elliott blasts his way to the third level of the Packers defense. Prescott rolls out on play action and hits Williams on a comeback route. Prescott hits Witten on a come back route. Kevin King breaks up a ball to Dez Bryant to end the drive. The Cowboys settle for 3.

The Packers respond. With their Tackles at full strength, McCarthy gets to open the playbook. We see Bennett involved in the offense. Split out wide. He's a mismatch. Rodgers connects with him on the slant. He powers forward for added yards. Nelson catches one up the seam and splits the safeties for a big gain. It's Rodgers to Bennett in the corner of the end zone for the TD.

It's back and forth. Aaron Jones has a big play in the screen game. We see Cobb in the backfield and he's catching passes as an outlet receiver.

Rodgers is in rhythm. He's not to be denied. In a nail biter, like last year, he leads a late drive. Crosby is money at the buzzer.

Clay grabs a sack. So, does Perry. Daniels disrupts. Martinez continues to have a stellar 2017.

Brice grabs a pick.

Jordy has a TD.

Packers 30.
Cowboys 27.

Mama. Don't let your babies grow up to be Cowboys.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

My Take -> Week 4

Greetings, G-Force.

2-1. In dramatic fashion. 2017 continues to have the makings of a special year at Lambeau. The Stadium sounded great through the TV. The fans made a difference in the outcome. Lambeau appeared to be in party mode. Without a doubt. The Bengals calling a timeout on the first play of OT? That's HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE! 2-0 at home. Both wins were massively aided by the Faithful. The environment feels so great. I really enjoyed seeing the dude wearing a Craig Newsome jersey straight getting after it. He was elevating the stands, making a different. Marvelous to see.

I sit with the LCD Soundsystem American Dream album rocking through the speakers. Musical creativity at it's finest. They put on a fantastic, high energy concert. Diversity in their music. The sound rings smoothly. This new album is a nice addition to their collection.

Here are my quick thoughts on the past week:

* A short week is not only tough on the players, but it's also tough on the bloggers. Especially those with a full-time job, a wife, a dog and 2 young boys. Oh, and when one of the nights in between involves a Gorillaz concert, you feel the rush of the train to punch out the blog. So, if I'm not overly thorough, it's due to a time crunch.

* Mike McCarthy's team shows that it has the mental fortitude to punch through a trying situation. It certainly felt like melancholy as the teams went into the tunnel for halftime. The team couldn't protect Rodgers. The team was struggling to slow the Bengals offense. But, McCarthy rallied the troops during the intermission and the team rallied in robust fashion. Striking with a 51 yard pass from Rodgers to Kendricks to start the 3rd Quarter.

* Kudos to Dom Capers. He's often maligned. But, he adjusted really well in what felt like a must-win September game. While the offense attempted to gather itself in a comeback effort, the defense really led the charge. After giving up 2 TD's in the first three drives, the defense only yielded 3 more points. Capers was playing without Brice, Ryan, House, Daniels and Perry. Still, he received maximum effort from multiple back-up defenders.

* Aaron Rodgers. I really hope the TD drive to equalize at the end of regulation is the moment that sparks excellence from the 2017 Packers offensive unit. Rodgers was in control when the pressure was highest. A true treat to watch. He's uncanny ability to draw the defense offside is the stuff of legend. It was on display at crucial moments - including on the games most determining play.

* Martellus Bennett has to catch the football.

* Happy to see Lance Kendricks making an impact. He had to be so stoked with his TD grab. Imagine being a WI boy catching a tudd at Lambeau? Man. Epic.

* The Packers need to get the ball to RIP. Give Ty a break. Let RIP bang away at the line of scrimmage. Soften up that defense. Would like to see RIP get 5-7 carries this weekend.

* GERONIMO! I thought he ducked short of the first down marker on a third Quarter pass when he went for 9. Felt like he could've easily got the first down. Left me disappointed that he didn't lunge forward for a first down. But, boy did he ever respond on the final two drives. He caught two passes for first downs on the game tying drive. And, he set-up the game winning FG as he willfully fought for additional yards after contact on his glorious 72 yard reception.

* Jordy gonna Jordy.

* Davante Adams. Showing a lil' shake to his hips after the catch.

* Thought Corey Linsley looked like a Pro Bowler.

* We need you Bulaga. Hustle back.

* I'm surprised at how slow Bennett and Kendricks look.

* I fear that Ty has tired legs. He's playing an abundance of snaps. He's lost a little of his burst. He looks like he could use a massage table and a hot tub.

* Let it be known that the Packers were missing nearly 30% of their starters. Additionally, they lost another starter in-game. They played with two back-up tackles. And, they still won. That doesn't happen in the NFL.

* Rodgers to GERONIMO. Beautiful. What a pass. And, the run after the catch. Gorgeous.

* Maybe it's just me, but I'm not sure the Mixon slipping play was luck. I wonder if it was 80,000 Packer maniac fans making a difference. Creating nerves in the young back. Forcing him to feel the energy from the ghosts of Lambeau.

* Kenny Clark is a budding superstar. Can't wait to see more of Clark and Daniels lined up next to each other. Need Daniels to get healthy.

* Thought Dean Lowry hustled well. His play was inconsistent, but it wasn't due to a lack of effort.

* Josh Jones. We are a completely different defense with him on the field. We're faster. We're more dynamic. We're more versatile. We're more confusing. As he gets more accustomed to the setting, he's only going to get better. 12 tackles. 3 for loss. 2 sacks. 2 QB Hits. When's the last time a Packers defender had that stat line? I can't recall. He was a difference maker. He had instincts. He's in attack mode when he sees the ball carrier. Josh Jones was the MVP of the game.

* Blake Martinez read his DL moves really well. He followed Kenny Clark into the backfield. As Clark won his battle, Martinez trailed perfectly in pursuit. Martinez showed intelligence and intensity as he had 11 tackles; 1 of them for a loss. I thought Martinez misread the zone coverage in pass defense on a couple of occasions; especially on the games opening TD. Further, I thought Martinez might have been at fault on the Bernard TD as he failed to pick him up on the pre-snap switch that he called out.

* Yes, Martinez & Jones combined for 23 tackles; 4 of them for a loss. Both played with speed.

* Kevin King plays with confidence. He plays with fire. He plays with swag. He has big moments in his future.

* Really liked Marwin Evans look deep in the secondary.

* Yo, HaHa. You're my boy. But, time to make a play. This team needs you. This defense needs to start forcing turnovers. You are that guy for this team. Be the Leader. Initiate the 2017 turnover party!

* Ahmad Brooks! Making an impact! Not only with the sack, but I thought that he altered the kicker's motion on the missed FG as he burst through the middle of the line of scrimmage.

* Clay Matthews may not have dominated the box score, but he was consistently getting double teamed and he played with high energy throughout.

* Mason Crosby is so clutch.

* Justin Vogel was booming kicks after his first punt.

This week - it's the hated Bears. Yes, the Bears still suck. They're 1-2. But, they're one play away from being 2-1. They've beaten the Steelers. They were in position to beat the Falcons. If the Bears don't turn the ball over, they can play with most teams in the NFL.

Offensively, the Bears run the football. They mix and match Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. Howard brings power. Cohen brings speed. They run the ball early and they run the ball often. They run the ball to set up the play action pass to the TE and the comeback route to the WR. Zach Miller is a talented, under appreciated TE. He is a fighter as a blocker and a sure handed TE. Kendall Wright is a gifted WR who is a threat with the ball in his hands. Markus Wheaton can stretch the field. Deonte Thompson is a tough tackle. The Bears OL is a force. Kyle Long and Josh Sitton are both Pro Bowl caliber OG's. Charles Leno can be beaten at LT, but he's steady. Bobby Massie is a big bodied, athletic RT. Cody Whitehair is a highly touted 2nd year Center. Mike Glennon is a turnover waiting to happen and since most of his passes are underneath, he's vulnerable to the pick-6.

Defensively, the Bears try to move the line of scrimmage. Akiem Hicks is a force on the DL. Willie Young, Leonard Floyd, and Pernell McPhee all get after the QB with a fierce viciousness. Eddie Goldman and Jonathan Bullard are fast improving DL. At LB, Danny Trevathan gets sideline-to-sideline with the best of them in the game. Prince Amukamara is a fighter at CB. He plays every play as if it's his last. Kyle Fuller is a talented CB with play making potential, but he's been picked on to start the season. Marcus Cooper is a long CB who does a good job getting his hands on a WR's. At S, Eddie Jackson is a rookie who shows promise. Adrian Amos can be beaten.

Although both Bulaga and Bakhtiari are both listed as doubtful, I'm hopeful that the Packers can find a way to get both of them on the field. Without either of them, it'll be hard to win. Without them, the Packers will be without their top 5 OT's.

I expect the Bears to slow the pace down. Immensely. They'll look to run the football. In most cases, they'll run the ball on both 1st and 2nd down. They're going to come at the middle of the field in an attempt to keep Josh Jones off the field. It'll be up to Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, Quinton Dial, and Mike Daniels (if healthy) to keep the OL from getting to the 2nd wave of defense. If so, Blake Martinez and Josh Jones will be able to roam field. If not, we'll likely see more Jake Ryan and less Josh Jones. Ideally, the Packers defensive front will win the battle and they'll be able to eat up blockers.

The Packers have to play with 8 in the box. Single high safety with HaHa as the safety valve over the top. It'll limit the CB's aggressiveness on jumping routes. But, it's the Packers best chance to force 3rd and 7. It'll be tough for the Bears to move the football when they need to get more than 4 yards on 3rd down. The Bears will have some success outmuscling the Packers front. They'll move the football. Chewing clock. But, the Bears will struggle to find the end zone.

On the contrary, the Packers come with the quick hitters. Cobb gets the ball early in the game. Davante Adams gets a free release and gets loose on a double move. Lance Kendricks finds the middle of the field on play-action.

Rodgers gets McPhee to jump and it's a big ball to Nelson.

The Bears lead late over the injury riddled Packers. But, Rodgers gets one more chance. He finds victory on a strike to GERONIMO.

Expect to see RIP getting some touches pounding the ball at the heart of the Bears defensive front.

Expect to see Rodgers trying to get rid of the ball quickly.

Expect to see Martellus Bennett used extensively as a blocker.

Expect to see the Packers secondary forcing their first turnover of the young season.

3-1 will feel Super exciting. !0 days to get healthy will be much needed for this team.

Packers 24.
Bears 23.


Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

My Take -> Week 3

Greetings, G-Force.

1-1. With two games at Lambeau on the docket. Need to dominate our home field. With the injuries, we’re going 81,441 Green and Gold maniacs in the stands to help pull out these next two wins. Injuries are an equalizer. It’s up to the fans to ensure that Lambeau is protected. If you’re going to be in attendance, you best bring your A-game!

While I write, it’s the Grateful Dead’s Terrapin Station that rings in my ears. This 1977 classic gets the spirit Dancin’. And, how can you dislike the studio version of Terrapin Station? Perfectly performed.

Here are my quick vibes from the last week:

* Call me crazy. But, the best thing to happen to the Packers was to fall behind 31-7. The Packers won’t win the Super Bowl with Randall and Rollins starting in the defensive backfield. We’ve seen that story before. And, while both are highly capable defenders who offer bright spots, they both have severe limitations. Josh Jones and Kevin King were drafted to be difference makers. They have the size and speed that are required to dominate defensively in the modern NFL. Additionally, in limited action, both have flashed playmaking ability. It’s beyond vital for the Packers to get both players in the mix. Immediately.

* Thought McCarthy brought fire to the team. Liked his animation on the sidelines. Appreciated his sideline penalty. This is no excuse, it’s just a fact, but the officiating was awful. Though it didn’t decide the game in any fashion, it was very poorly called. The Bennett pick penalty was unfair. It changed the momentum in the game. The Packers were poised for points before the half and they were set to get the ball to start the 2nd half – down only one score. Instead, it was 24-7 at the half and the game was all but over. Making matters worse, on the Atlanta TD, there was a clear pick directly in front of the Field Judge. There was no call. Finally, down 31-7, the Packers scored an apparent TD, only to have it called back by another questionable pick call. A pick that was far less blatant than the non-call on the Atlanta TD.

* Capers tried to diversify his defensive calls, but his team was crippled due to injuries. No Brice. No Daniels. A limited Perry. House also left. Capers couldn’t win with what he was playing with. I was happy that Randall was replaced so early in the game after his poor performance. I wonder if we’re going to see more of Josh Hawkins as well. Hawkins showed well in the preseason. I’m also curious if Pipkins might get his shot in the slot. Pipkins performed really well in the slot throughout the preseason. We may see a new look against the Bengals this week.

* Aaron Rodgers. Tough as it gets.

* Martellus Bennett. Come on, Marty. Get focused. We need you in a big way. Catch the ball. He’s made a great impact as a blocker, but need him as a receiver. Desperately.

* I’d like to see McCarthy designing a play to get Kendricks the ball deep down the field.

* It was clear that Geronimo and Rodgers aren’t in-sync with one another.

* Quinton Dial showed flashes of heightened physicality. Then, on other downs, he was pushed 3 yards backwards.

* I can’t wait to see Montravious Adams on 3rd downs. Hope it happens this weekend.

* Welcome back, Ricky Jean Francois. I like RJF as a rotational DL. Hope that his addition does not mean the Daniels injury is severe. We are far less powerful on the DL without Daniels. Daniels brings quickness to the defensive front. He’s needed.

* Thought Kyle Murphy played very well at LT. He was quick off the snap and for the most part, he was able to man up and use his body well.

* It may not show up in the box score, but I really liked the way Kevin King matched up with Julio Jones. He was a gamer. He’s length was a disturbance to Jones. Thought King covered the crossing route well. He fought through the traffic and showed his competitive nature.

* Fantastic use of sending Josh Jones on the weak side blitz. He has the speed to chase down ball carriers and if the timing is right and the play call is a play-action pass, Jones will almost certainly come away with a sack.

* Congrats on 300, Rodgers. Let’s see 340 by the end of the year!

* Right now, Ty Montgomery is the Packers offensive MVP.

* Fans are overly critical the Claymaker. Dude was the only defender to show up in the first half last week. So far, in 2017, he’s showing the quickness that we last saw in 2014. His burst his back. He’s been tireless in his effort. I’m expecting a big year from him.

* With the Perry injury, we need Ahmad Brooks to show in a big, big way.

* The Packers are going to need a big play on special teams over the next two weeks as we strive to find health. Hoping Trevor Davis is up to the task.

* Soon, this secondary is going to force a couple of turnovers. With added length and quickness, we’ll be around the ball and game changing plays will occur. Should happen this week.

This week – it’s the Bengals. At Lambeau. When the schedule is tough, you need to win the games that you’re supposed to win. This is one of those games. You can’t lose to the Bengals at home and expect to be in the mix at the end of the year. Not when the Lions and Viqueens look as good as they do. It’s going to take a minimum of 11 wins to win the NFC North. That requires 8-0 at home. That also requires Lambeau to be as rowdy over the next two weeks as it was during the Home Opener. If the fans make it difficult for Andy Dalton, he’ll make mistakes.

Although their offense has been putrid thus far, the Bengals do have a slew of talented offensive players. AJ Green is a dynamic WR. Brandon LaFell is a tough match-up. He uses his body to shield defenders at a first-class level. That Packers are fortunate that John Ross is not able to go. When healthy, he’ll give the Bengals speed that they haven’t seen before. He gets in and out of his breaks with lightning-like quickness. He’d have been a match-up nightmare in the slot for the Packers. At RB, the Bengals have three really solid players in Joe Mixon, Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. It looks like the Packers will catch a break with Tyler Eifert being out. The Bengals offensive line is significantly below average. The Packers have to win the trenches – even without Daniels. If we can get pressure on Dalton, he’ll give us opportunities to make plays.

Defensively, the Bengals will try to out-muscle you. Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson bring incredible height to the edge. They’re both masters of batting down passes and above average pass rushers. Jordan Willis has the makings of being a stud as a pass rusher. Geno Atkins is arguably the best interior DL in football. Ryan Glasgow is a promising run-stopping DL. The Bengals LB’s are a huge weakness without Burfict. The LB group is inexperienced and hasn’t spent time together. They lack leadership. The middle of the field should be open. In the secondary, the Bengals lack depth. The Packers should be able to spread them out and they’ll find some mismatches. Adam Jones is a fighter, but he lacks speed. You can beat him over the top. Dre Kirkpatrick brings ideal length to the perimeter and is a bright spot in the secondary. Shawn Williams and George Iloka are punishers at Safety, but both can be beaten over the top.

Health will be a major factor in determining the outcome this week. If Bulaga and Bakhtiari can play, Rodgers will have plenty of time to throw the ball around the park. If Nelson and Cobb are a go, the Bengals won’t have the personnel to cover our weapons and the Packers will put up north of 30 points in a 20 point victory. If Daniels is fit, he’ll destroy the Bengals OL. But, those are all significant question marks. Seeing that Bakhtiari, Perry, Ryan, Cobb, Daniels, Brice, House and Bulaga are doubtful; I don’t anticipate that any of them will play. I imagine that those 7 players will also be the inactives for the week. Yes, the packers will be playing without 7 starters. And, Bulaga and Nelson are questionable.

Still - expect McCarthy to come out aggressive in his play calling. He’ll look to his double TE sets early. They’ll present mismatch problems for the Bengals undermanned LB crew. Look for the Packers to limit Nelson’s snaps. We’ll see Adams and Allison on the outside with Bennett and Kendricks being moved around the formation. Both will get opportunities downfield. Both will be in position to make plays. Rodgers knows the importance of this week. He doesn’t allow a repeat of the Colts game from last year. Rodgers is in control. Here’s to hoping he whips it around the Field 45+ times this weekend. I’d give him the game. I anticipate that McCarthy might move the pocket more this week than he did last week.

The Bengals will try to control the clock. They’ll look to run the football on early downs. Without Daniels, the Bengals might be able to experience success moving the line of scrimmage and frustrating the Packers defensive personnel.

Don’t be shocked if the Packers start Hawkins and King at CB with Pipkens in the slot. With Jones and HaHa at Safety. There's even a possibility that there's a Marwin Evans sighting on defense.

Look for HaHa to come up with his first momentum swinging play of the new year.

Look for Adams to find the end zone over PacMan Jones.

Look for Bennett to score a Red Zone TD.

Clay grabs another sack.

Lambeau gets loud and makes a difference.

The diversity in this offense shows it's face this week. In past years, these injuries would've crippled the roster and led to a bad loss. This year - these opportunities give the Packers a youth movement. And, our youngsters will shine. We’re headed to 2-1 with the Bears coming to Lambeau on a short week.

Packers 24.
Bengals 16.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin’ S-Mac.

Friday, September 15, 2017

My Take -> Week 2

Greetings, G-Force.

In emphatic fashion, the Green Bay Packers went to 1-0. The Green Bay Packers beat the Seattle Seahawks at their own game. The Packers were more physical. The Packers were stronger. The Packers were tougher. And, when push came to shove in a tight game, it was the Packers defense that elevated and not the Seahawks. This was a big win as the Packers prepare to play 3 of the next 5 games on the road. Those 3 road games are going to be tough. If the Packers can find a way to win 1, I'll like our odds of being in contention to win the NFC North. If the Packers can win 2, I'll like our position to make a run at the #1 seed in the NFC.

As I write, I am listening to the Greensky Bluegrass "If Sorrows Swim" album. I'm seeing Greensky at Red Rocks in just over a week. Greensky plays jam music with bluegrass instruments. The have a hint of rock & roll with intensely energetic vocals. Each note is pointed with intent. There's no dull moment. It's head bobbing musical theater.

Here's my quick vibes from the last week:

* Lambeau Field. If the crowd and the Stadium carry that vibe all year, the Packers will go 8-0 at home. No one is walking into Lambeau and beating the Packers. Not with that energy vibrating off the hallowed walls of the most epic Sporting Venue in America.

* It's hard for me to explain it, but this Packers team just feels different. The make-up. The texture. The energy. The exuberance. The togetherness. It feels fresh. It's fun. Regardless of what happens from here on out, I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for the 2017 Green Bay Packers.

* Mike McCarthy. He had his team ready. He had his team fired up. The team looked ready to deliver an early knock-out punch until the fluky Rodgers interception. I thought the Packers were fairly well coached until the final minute of the 1st half. And then, what was McCarthy doing calling those timeouts? There was no chance that the Packers were going to get the ball back. All Seattle had to do was run the football three times and they could run the clock out if they didn't get a first down. But, the Packers idiotically called two timeouts to preserve time for Seattle. Then, after Seattle picked up the first down, they had life and they were able to get aggressive down the field. McCarthy needs to learn his lesson and not call late timeouts near the end of the first half. He's been burned time and time again. What was so odd about this time was that there was ZERO chance that his team could get the ball back. Seattle would have never had to punt. In fact, defensive players on Seattle were already walking back to the locker room for an early halftime break. It was unbelievably poor coaching and because of it, McCarthy gave 3 points.

* I'm a big fan of the nitro package on defense. We look faster. We look tougher. We looked fresher as players were rotating in and out.

* Rodgers wasn't in MVP mode, but he was tough. He stood in the middle of a collapsing pocket and he stood tall against the Seattle pass rush. Post the Mike Daniels forced fumble, Rodgers seemed to relax. He was getting rid of the ball quicker. He seemed to see the field better. The Daniels forced fumble appeared to settle down the offense in a big way.

* Ty Montgomery is a budding star in this league. 23 touches. 93 yards. 1 TD. He was consistently falling forward and picking up yards after contact. He's a tough runner. I'm hoping he can take the pounding of a RB for the entire season. His durability will be tested.

* Would like to see RIP get the ball on an inside hand-off out of shotgun. He'll wear on defenses. I'm not worried about his fumble in ATL last year. Give the man confidence. We'll need him at some point this year.

* Jamaal Williams looked impressive on his two carries. On the first one, he bulled his way forward for first down yardage. And on his second carry, he showed quickness that we've yet to see out of him. He also displayed good vision and the ability to step to the outside and turn what could've been a loss into a 6-yard gain.

* Rodgers-to-Jordy on a free play. Midseason form.

* Really enjoyed how Cobb was moved around. Liked seeing him come in motion on the end around and then having the ball flipped to him on a swing pass. Next time, I'd throw the ball to the weak side of the field. Adams was 1 v 1. And, he was open. Imagine he would be the next time we saw that play as well.

* Martellus Bennett was more valuable as a blocker than as a pass receiver. He's defining of the Packers physical intent for the 2017 season. He's not fleet of foot, but he'll overpower you. On the Montgomery TD, Bennett drove his defender 6 yards back off the line of scrimmage into the end zone. We haven't seen that type of blocking from a TE in a long time.

* When Lance Kendricks is on the field, for the most part, he's open. He has big plays in his arsenal this year. He, too, is a steady blocking hand.

* Richard Rodgers is not happy. He didn't like how Aaron Rodgers showed him up after the incomplete pass that was thrown in his direction in the 4th Qtr. After the game, Richard Rodgers sprinted off the field without shaking anyone's hand. He was anxious to get to the locker room.

* The Packers need better out of Jahri Evans. Evans was pushed backwards. Often. He was also a grabber. He's scrappy, but he needs to be stronger at the point of attack.

* Thought Kyle Murphy settled down well. His play was up-and-down early. He was late to get off the ball in the run game and lost his block due to quickness. But, as the game wore on, Murphy held up well.

* I'm excited to get Geronimo back this week.

* Wish Davante would've came down with the acrobatic catch on a day in which Adams only caught 3 of the 7 passes thrown his way.

* Mike Daniels absolutely dominated the game. 7 tackles. 1.5 sacks. 1 tackle for loss. 4 QB Hits. He overpowered the Seattle OL all day. He's forced fumble was the play of the game. It swung the momentum. Post the play, the Packers offense had four possessions. The results: TD, TD, FG, and a 6:17 clock-gutting drive to seal the win. Over the last 25:33, the Packers offense looked like a Championship unit. Daniels jump started the offense's engine.

* Nick Perry was an absolute MAN! He was muscle infused. He manhandled whoever was blocking him. He lived in the Seattle backfield. 3 tackles. 1.5 sacks. 2 QB hits. 1 tackle for loss.

* Kenny Clark was winning the line of scrimmage nearly every play.

* If Clay Matthews stays patient and plays with that level of quickness and effort, he's going to have a 10-sack season.

* I am not sure Blake Martinez can play better than he did against Seattle. He was in command of the middle of the field. He was possessed as he went to plug the hole.

* Morgan Burnett at ILB is a thing. He really limited Jimmy Graham. Had a blanket on him all day. Graham finished with 3 catches for 8 yards on 7 targets.

* Kyler Fackrell showed life. He had a handful of good pressure plays from his OLB spot. He was giving maximum effort.

* When Ahmad Brooks was on the field, he had the Seahawks attention. Seattle was often looking to chip him or come with a double team.

* I can't wait to see Quinton Dial in a Packers uniform.

* Surprised that Ricky Jean Francois was released. Thought he played with good effort and extension on the few snaps that he played.

* Jake Ryan looked really sharp in limited playing time. He was seeing the field well. Kudos to the DL for opening the lane for Ryan and props to Ryan for hitting the hole with anger.

* Fun to see Davon House setting the tone with a forceful tackle on the 2nd play of the game.

* Quentin Rollins was aggressive in the slot. He was around the ball. He was pursuing the line of scrimmage. He had a couple of missed tackles that were worrisome and he was a step late a couple of times in pass defense, but overall, Rollins showed well enough to warrant the start in Week 2 as the slot CB.

* Damarious Randall was in position throughout. If he can stay healthy and continues to earn a starting spot, he could intercept 5 passes this year.

* Kentrell Brice is a hitting machine in the middle of this defense. He's going to force turnovers this year and they'll come at a time when the Packers desperately need a momentum swinging play.

* Jeff Janis was stellar as a gunner. He won his battle nearly every time. Thought it was interesting that Josh Jones was used as the other gunner. He certainly has the skill set for it. He has to be careful that he doesn't run out of bounds for so long before coming back on the field though. Twice, I thought he could've gotten penalized after he was bumped out of bounds early in the play and he didn't immediately look to rejoin the action as he ran downfield.

* Trevor Davis was a buzzkill as a PR. Didn't look confident. Was shy on running up to catch a short punt with plenty of hang time. He doesn't appear to be a good decision maker.

* I plan on marinating in relaxation for most of Saturday afternoon and evening. If so, I'll be able to get caught up on some college football and I'll put out another 2018 Packers mock draft. I've put Justin Crawford, RB, Dub-V in ink as someone I want on the Packers next year. He's shifty, he's fun.

This week - it's the Falcons. In Atlanta. One would have to think that the Packers have been preparing for this game since last January. They've been trying to figure out how they can slow down the Atlanta attack. It's why the Packers drafted the tall, speedy, rangy CB in Kevin King. It's why the Packers brought back Davon House. Remember that House played well against Julio Jones towards the end of the 2014 game in which Jones destroyed the Packers prior to House being assigned to him. It's also why the Packers are looking to get more physical up front. The Packers DL was manhandled in ATL. With Dial and hopefully, a healthy Brooks, I'd imagine that the Packers will put up a much better fight against the Falcons talented OL. Further, the Packers clearly studied the speed that ATL played with on defense. Hence, we'll be seeing the nitro package in abundance this year.

ATL continues to be littered with weapons on offense. Matt Ryan is the reigning MVP. Julio Jones is among the top 2-3 WR's in the NFL. Mohamed Sanu is a brute of a WR. He's a tall, muscular WR who is a tough cover and a talented 3rd down threat. Taylor Gabriel is an undersized slot WR who uses quickness to get loose. He gets in and out of his breaks in eye-popping fashion. At RB, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman are the best 1-2 punch in the league. Austin Hooper is a sure handed TE who's best attribute is his blocking skills. Jake Matthews has consistently tamed his cousin, Clay, in their one-on-one battles. Alex Mack is among the best Centers in the league. Andy Levitre is a veteran who won't be beaten often. Wes Schweitzer was terrible against Chicago. Daniels has to destroy Schweitzer.

Don't be fooled about Atlanta's performance in Chicago. The Falcons offense is legit.

Defensively, Atlanta plays with speed. Brooks Reed and Vic Beasley are relentless coming off of the edge. Tak McKinley is an aggressive pass rushing specialist. Dontari Poe is a block-eating run stopper in the middle of the DL. Grady Jarrett is an active big body. Courtney Upshaw is a tough dude manning the edge. Adrian Clayborn brings fantastic depth to the Falcons DL. Deion Jones and De'Vondre Campbell are ideal speed LB's who will often line up side-by-side in the heart of the defense. They can cover and get to the sideline in the run game. Jarrett, Poe and Clayborn eat blockers to allow Jones and Campbell to run. The Falcons lack height at CB. But, they have quickness and attitude. Desmond Trufant, Brian Poole, Robert Alford, and Damontae Kazee are all undersized corners who can run. They can all be beaten on the jump ball. All will use their hands and get gritty with you. If the refs are calling it tight, we'll get some free first downs. Keanu Neal is a beast at Safety.

The Packers defense has to be in attack mode. If not, Atlanta's offense will pour it on just like they did in the NFC Championship Game. I'd like to see Capers call a number of different blitzes early. The Packers have to get in Ryan's face early. Ryan isn't mobile, so you have to get in his face. Daniels has to win on the interior. He has to beat up Schweitzer. I'd like to see Josh Jones coming on a blitz from an ILB position around the edge. I want to see Blake Martinez attacking the heart of the ATL OL as a pass rusher on the blitz. Rollins needs to come on the slot blitz. Matthews and Perry need to win their 1 on 1 battles. There has to be confusion. Without it, Ryan will have a field day.

It's very possible that the Packers will play well defensively and still give up 27 points.

Offensively, the Packers have to try to control the clock. The Packers have to try and get the run game going. I'd like to see RIP carrying the ball. Leaning against those ATL LB's. I want to see Montgomery catching the ball in the flat. Let's utilize Bennett's blocking strength and run behind him. Eat clock. Keep that ATL offense off of the field. It'll also open up play action. The Packers will have opportunities for big plays down the middle of the field on crossing routes. Look for Geronimo to have a big game.

Whoever has it last wins it. This time - fortune is on our side. It's Crosby from 47 yards out and a Packers victory!

Packers 30.
Falcons 27.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

My Take -> Week 1

Greetings, G-Force.

I head to Titletown, U.S.A. this weekend. For the home opener. To take my wife, Star, and Son, Dylan, to the game. To watch my Dad perform at Lambeau. This Sunday marks the start of his 28th Regular Season in which he's been involved with GameDay Production at the World’s Greatest Sports Theater. I’m damn proud to be Mac’s son. Love that man. Grateful to call him Dad.

I’m still in recovery mode after 3 nights of Phish in CO. I can’t get enough. I’m listening to the 9/3/17 show as I type. 9/3 is a special day in my Family. It’s Simon’s birthday. He's my youngest Son. If you’re a fan of jam band music, be sure to get your ears on this show. It was an inspiring musical showing. Powerful from an instrumental and a lyrical perspective. Vibe in!

Even though the 2017 NFL Season has yet to Kickoff, I already love this version of the Green Bay Packers. The Packers are built with a more physical nature than we’re accustomed to. Outside of Spriggs and Fackrell, we don’t aren’t comprised of soft players. We have sheer force on this roster.

I don't envision this team finishing 13-3 and having home field throughout. But, as is often the case with Mike McCarthy teams, I do think the Packers will be playing their best football in December. This team will take a little while to gel. There are a lot of new faces. Especially on the defensive side of the ball. And, the beginning of the year is loaded with difficult tests. The Packers could play really good football and start the season 3-3. So, I'm picking 11-5. Another NFC North Championship. And, with that, let's get to the playoffs, while playing our best football and see what happens.

Here are a couple of quick vibes from the last week:

· Ted Thompson. He wants another ring. He’s built a group that – if healthy – is capable of winning a title.

· Ahmad Brooks is a Packer. He’s going to bring intensity to the OLB group. He’ll be muscle flexing with jubilation.

· Quinton Dial’s signing is massive. Dude can play the run. Tells me that the Packers are looking for Mike Daniels’ largest role to be as a pass rusher on 3rd down. I salivate at the thought of seeing Daniels and Adams rushing the passer on third downs. That’d be two quick dudes who understand leverage and know how to collapse a pocket.

· Can’t say that I’m bummed that Taysom Hill didn’t make the roster, but a year of development might’ve eased the Packers thoughts about traded Hundley after the year. Would be nice to enter next year with a QB who has seen the system prior to getting rid of Hundley. Don’t be surprised if Hill isn’t back on the roster at some point during the year – maybe even the Practice Squad.

· Really surprised that Yancey is on the practice squad and Malachi Dupre is not. Thought Dupre looked like a top notch athlete who had a shot in this league. Shockingly, it doesn’t appear as though Dupre was even added to anyone’s practice squad.

· LaDarius Gunter earned his roster spot. Put him in action and the dude simply makes plays. Exciting to see him on the blitz. He’s around the football. He has to learn to finish plays.

· The Packers appear to be extremely healthy heading into the regular season. Bulaga’s status was encouraging. The Packers need the OL intact in order to be a threat to win the Bowl.

· Looking forward to seeing Lowry, Clark, Dial and Jean Francois punishing OL on early downs. This DL should be extremely physical.

· If Jayrone Elliott meets the conditions of the trade, the Packers will have 13 selections in the 2018 NFL draft. I’ll be following his progress all year.

This week – it gets real. The fun begins. The Seagulls come to Lambeau Field. Seattle has become a serious rival for the Packers. And, it seems that the team who hosts is generally the team that wins. There’s no reason that the Packers don’t continue that trend in Week 1.

A 3:25 start. I anticipate an intoxicated, fully amped Lambeau Field.

As a general thought, when these two teams have battled, the team that was most physical was the team that won. The Packers should dominate the line of scrimmage this weekend. The Seahawks have one of the worst OL in all of football. I’ll be shocked if Rees Odhiambo can adequately fulfill the LT role. I’d think Clay Matthews, Nick Perry and Ahmad Brooks will plow right through him. Luke Joeckel was a bust for Jacksonville. He’s trying to salvage his career in Seattle by moving to Guard. I like Justin Britt as an anchor at Tackle. Mark Glowinski is average – at best – at Guard. I’d like to think that the Packers DL will beat him up as they rotate throughout. The Packers DL will be fresh and they should overpower Glowinski. Germain Ifedi is a solid RT, but I’m hoping that Matthews and Perry can run around him.

Doug Baldwin is a cagey WR. He plays faster than he times. He is more physical than he looks. He’s tough to bring down in the open field. He’s a fighter. He’s a winner. Paul Richardson brings speed to the outside. He can get over the top of the defense. He'll also fight for the ball in coverage. He'll test the Packers deep down the field. Tyler Lockett isn't only a lethal returner, but he's also a dangerous slot receiver. He works hard on busted plays. The longer Wilson holds on the ball and tries to improvise, the better the chance that Lockett gets open. Tanner McEvoy has made the transition to WR. He's a great athlete and has the height to present a mismatch on the perimeter. Although he has not lived up expectations in Seattle yet, Jimmy Graham is a stud. He is a mismatch every time he steps out on the field.

At RB, Seattle is loaded. They'll be bringing a motivated EDDIE Lacy to town. I'll always have space in my heart for EDDIE and I'll miss him in Green Bay. You know he'll want to run all over us. Thomas Rawls and CJ Prosise present big problems for the Packers offense. Prosise has tremendous receiving skills. And, he's extremely dangerous in space. Rawls punishes when he connects with defenders. He seems to always fall forward for extra yardage. With Rawls, Prosise, and Lacy; I anticipate that Seattle will try to run the football early in the game. They'll try to set up the play action pass to get Wilson rolling out of the pocket and looking downfield to test the Packers secondary.

If I’m Dom Capers. I’m playing Seattle straight up. Collapsing the pocket with our rebuilt DL and putting a spy on Wilson. I’m banking on the Packers DL winning the battle against the Seattle OL. Our 4 DL can beat their 5 OL straight up. I'm confident in that. I’d consider playing Burnett and Jones at ILB. Having Burnett covering Graham as his core responsibility. Jones spies on Wilson. We can’t let Wilson get loose. But, we have to be aggressive in our attack of him and Jones is our best option for mirror Wilson’s elusiveness in the open field. Jones is also faster than Wilson. It’s a tall task for the rookie, but this is the type of role that we drafted him for.

Defensively, the Seahawks have some big bodied athletes up front. Michael Bennett leads the charge. Sheldon Richardson was recently acquired and he's among the best DT in all of football. Jarran Reed is a run stuffing DL. Cliff Avril and Frank Clark are pass rushing specialists. The Seahawks still have Bobby Wagner, KJ Wright, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, and Earl Thomas. But, their depth isn't what it once was. This defense can be beaten.

If the Packers try to outmuscle Seattle in the run game, we're in for a long day. But, if we give the game to Rodgers and spread out Seattle, we're going to have a lot of success. They can't cover us. Jeremy Lane is trash talking junk at CB. I'd attack him all game. He can't back-up his talk. He'll be grabbing all game. If the refs are up for it, Lane will get multiple PI calls on him. For big gains. Shaquill Griffin has the tools to become a solid CB, but he's a rookie and I expect Rodgers to target him both early and often.

During the offseason, the Packers signed two new toys on offense to play TE. I envision an offense that plays multiple TE sets. Both TE's are fierce pass blockers and talented receivers. I'm really excited these two TE sets. Early in the game, I wouldn't show it. I'd come with 3-WR, Bennett at TE and Montgomery as the lone RB. Rodgers at QB. In attack mode. Aggressively attacking the Seattle defense. Looking at Griffin and Lane. Then, looking to find Bennett streaking down the middle of the field.

The Packers start win the toss. They kick to Seattle. The rowdy Lambeau faithful elevates. Seattle is forced to punt. Rodgers goes to work. It's a thing of beauty. He looks to Montgomery on the swing pass. Montgomery seeks contact and bulls over Seattle defenders for extra yards. The drive results in a TD as Rodgers finds Bennett for the TD.

Seattle's offense annoys as Wilson wills his way to first downs. He hits Baldwin for first down yardage against Randall. He hits Graham over the middle. He eludes pressure and creates plays.

But, this is Aaron Rodgers' day. Rodgers is in command. He's in rhythm. He hits Nelson on a deep ball for a TD.

RIP punches the Seattle defense in the mouth.

In all, Montgomery gets 20 touches. Rodgers hits 7 different receivers and tosses 3 TD's. The defense grabs three sacks and forces two turnovers. It's a season opening celebration!

Packers 30.
Seattle 20.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

My Take -> Preseason Week 4

Greetings, G-Force.

It was a true delight to belt out my first "GO PACK GO!" at maximum volume on Saturday night. It was spectacular to take my 4 year old to his first game. In his car seat on the way home, he said, "Dad! Roll my window down! I want to yell 'GO PACK GO!' at all of the people wear Packers clothes!" Yes, Dylan. Yes, I will roll the window down. To no one's surprise, he not only made it through 4 quarters. But, he didn't miss a play. And, he wanted to know all the details. Great fun!

I listen to Femi Kuti's "Africa for Africa" album. Femi brings a great bounce to the head as you seek rhythm in life. His energy is uplifting. He takes my spirit up a notch. Plainly stated, it's happy music.

Here are my quick vibes from the Packers visit to COlorado.

* The Packers buzz is healthy. The team is engaged. They feel like the time is now. Fully noteworthy that when the offense was on the field, Rodgers was positioned right next to McCarthy throughout the game. They're working to get on the page. Ensuring that they're seeing the same things. Preparing for a special season.

* I love every Packers team. I especially love the 2017 Green Bay Packers. We have so much personality. The camaraderie is at a championship level. They're having fun together. Seeing true teamship. The culture on this team seems to be surrounded with more both a unified and a fun approach. It's playful.

* Are the Packers trying to hide Taysom Hill, so they can tuck him onto the Practice Squad? Sure seemed like it.

* Ty Montgomery is a true baller. He has all of the traits to be a top-shelf RB. There's no reason he's not touching the ball at least 15 times every game. He's a dual threat. I'm already anxious to see him running a wheel route against a LB.

* Aaron Jones. Really liked the vision to see the cutback. But, where was the speed to take that one to the house?

* Devante Mays is a tough minded man at RB. Love his game in the flat. Hasn't shown that he can step thru an arm tackle yet, but it looks like it's a simple fix if he just picked his knees up a little more. What's interesting is that Edgar Bennett was the master at running with eyes knees in traffic and that was one of the reasons he excelled in the screen game. Hope he passes that trait to Mays.

* Lance Kendricks and Martellus Bennett are open. Especially over the middle of the field on crossing routes. Rodgers isn't used to seeing an open TE running across the middle of the field. He'll have to grow into that option. He'll have to learn to trust that the play is open. If so, we could see multiple games in which both Kendricks and Bennett are grabbing 3-plus passes.

* On two separate plays the Packers ran stop routes on third down that were completed. Both times the receiver stopped his route short of the first down. Once it was Adams. The other time is was Kendricks. Gotta be aware of the marker and run that route to the sticks.

* Surprising to see how Malachi Dupre and DeAngelo Yancey were used. It was clear that Michael Clark was who the Packers really wanted to see perform in the altitude. Appeared as though Clark was ahead of both on the depth chart. I highly doubt that Dupre will make it to the practice squad. Though he's a 7th round pick and Yancey was a 5th round pick, Dupre really passes the eye test of an NFL receiver. I want to see Dupre grow as a receiver in Green and Gold. I'm less optimistic about Yancey evolving into a legit player. He didn't seem to have any separation against Denver.

* Jason Spriggs. Not ready to give up on him yet, but the guy looks like he's lost all of his confidence. He used to look good on his feet. He shuffled well. Now, it appears as though he's thinking and not playing. He might also be suffering from the new CBA rules and the inability to make serious contact during practices. Hard to development as a lineman if you're not consistently blocking with the pads on.

* Kyle Murphy is a much better run blocker than a pass blocker. He's too stiff as a pass blocker. It's too easy to get underneath him. Needs to get lower and extend his hands with a wider base.

* I don't like any of our back-up Guards. Not one of them. McCray, Amichia and Gray were all abused in an ugly way.

* Didn't think I'd say this, but the Packers need Donny Barclay to return.

* If I were TT, I'd be searching for a veteran swing OL that falls victims to waivers over the next week.

* I wouldn't keep Kerridge. He doesn't impress me. Didn't like his penalty, which was unnecessary. He also missed a special teams tackle. Not sure why we'd eat up a roster spot with a 2nd FB. I certainly wouldn't.

* This team needs to sign Ahmad Brooks. With Biegel still in recovery mode and Fackrell looking like he can't play in the league, the Packers need depth. They need a veteran presence who is experienced in the 3-4. Brooks is that guy. He'd immediately upgrade the defense and would be a perfect fit in a rotational role that required him to play 15-20 plays a game. He's a mean dude. He'd bring attitude. Brooks needs to be signed!

* Mike Daniels as a pass rusher. Looked like he's ready to get after the QB on 3rd down. Happy to see that Lowry is healthy again because he'll be able to eat up early down snaps and he'll help keep Daniels fresh. Daniels as a 3rd down pass rusher could net 5 sacks.

* Kenny Clark looks like he's ready to have a break-out year in a big way.

* Ricky Jean Francois was extremely active, once again. Really excited that he's in the mix on the defensive front.

* Christian Ringo looks much quicker this year than in past years. He's been active. He'll be a tough cut as he finally looks ready to be depended on as a rotational DL. There isn't room for Ringo and Price. Tough choice.

* Izaah Lunsford continues to impress. I'm hopeful that he's on the Practice Squad.

* Ahmad Brooks. Make it happen, TT. Go ALL-IN!

* Call me crazy, but I'd strongly consider keeping Derrick Mathews. Mathews absolutely deserves to be on the practice squad, at a minimum. He's active. He sees the field well. Love his instincts. He wraps up well. He finds the football. He looks to have a really big upside. Wish there was a roster spot for him.

* Reggie Gilbert needs another year of practice squad development. However, there's no question that he's outperformed Kyler Fackrell this preseason.

* Jayrone Elliott. Going to need much more out of Elliott this year. Wish he'd just let himself go and try to get the edge as a rusher again. The less he engages the OT, the better. He needs to run around the Tackle.

* KENTRELL BRICE! Fantastic presence in the secondary. Loved seeing him grab the pick. Wanted to see him dancing in the end zone, but terrific return nonetheless.

* Marwin Evans can play in this league. Each week - he's seemed to be the best player on the field each and every week. Really wanted him to grab the pick. Would have been such a fun moment to see him striding down the sideline. In some ways, Evans is reminding me of the way I viewed Des Bishop early in his career. Each week - in the preseason - he's the best week, but then when the season starts, Evans is relegated to special teams in the same way that Bishop was prior to the Nick Barnett injury.

* Kevin King. Dude really likes to get in a WR's face. Like the way he jams the WR. He turns and runs well. I'm concerned about his ability to cover the crossing route. Hoping that he has the make-up speed if he's off-balance early in the route or if he loses his initial jam. He's a fighter and he's easy to cheer for. I'm optimistic that King will have a really strong year.

* Lenzy Pipkins had a chance to really make his mark as a legitimate contender for the roster, but he didn't perform as he needed. Now, he seems like he's a prime candidate for the practice squad. He was in position. But, he didn't finish the play.

* Aaron Taylor won't make the roster due to the great depth at Safety. He probably won't make the practice squad either, but Taylor has shown well throughout the preseason.

* Josh Jones showed his speed. Really liked seeing his back-side blitz. He was absolutely destroying plays and loving every moment of it.

* I really hope Capers doesn't continue to call zone coverages in short yardage situations. Man up, Dom!

* How fun would it be for Biegel to be studying the game from the sidelines while standing next to Ahmad Brooks as Brooks awaits his next snap? Needs to happen.

Headed into the Final Preseason Game, here's my Final 53. Admittedly, this is tough to do without attending practices. Also, this is what I would do if I were the GM, not what I think the Packers would do.

QB: Rodgers and Hundley
RB: Ty, Williams, Mays, Jones RIP
WR: Jordy, Cobb, Adams, Janis, Davis, Dupre
TE: Bennett, Kendricks, Rodgers
OL: Bakhtiari, Evans, Linsley, Taylor, Bulaga, Murphy, Spriggs, Barclay, Amichia
DL: Daniels, Adams, Lowry, Jean Francois, Clark, Ringo
LB: AHMAD BROOKS, Clay, Perry, Tripp, Ryan, Thomas, Martinez, Elliott
DB: King, Randall, Rollins, House, Gunter, Hawkins, HaHa, Evans, Burnett, Jones, Brice
ST: Goode, Crosby, Vogel
Suspended: GERONIMO
PUP: Biegel
Practice Squad: Yancey, Clark, Pipkins, Mathews, Patrick, Lunsford, Gray, Gilbert, Price, Hill

Every year - I attempt to get a Packers centric mock draft out prior to Labor Day weekend. As always, I only select players that I've actually watched play. Otherwise, it wouldn't be authentic. I've given the Packers four draft picks due to their losses in Free Agency. OVER THE CAP projects that the Packers will receive a 3rd, a 5th and two 6 round picks as compensatory picks. I've also given the Packers a 7th round pick in the Lerentee McCray trade. I have the Packers penciled in as the 32nd pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. I haven't invested enough time into RB's nor TE's. I've been more focused on CB's and LB's.

Round 1: Bradley Chubb, OLB, NC State. The Packers need depth at OLB. Chubb is stout. He uses leverage to power through blockers. He can also grab the edge with speed. He extends his arms to hold off OL and force run plays to the outside. He destroys QB's with his pass rush.

Round 2: Quenton Meeks, CB, Stanford. I thought that I was locked into Iman Marshall, CB, USC with this pick, but I'm giving the slight edge to Meeks. Meeks brings great length and make-up speed. He plays the ball well. He has football smarts. He has the physical make-up that would allow him to be left alone on the perimeter. Meeks has unlimited potential and appears to have the desire to become a star.

Round 3: Chad Thomas, OLB, []_[]. Thomas has top-tier length. He's overly disruptive as he extends his massive frame. Consistency is his biggest area of opportunity, but when Thomas is dialed in, he dominates the line of scrimmage. I expect Thomas to have a tremendous year.

Round 3: Dee Delaney, CB, []_[]. As I write, I am more excited to watch Delaney than any other prospect in college football in the 2017 season. Delaney has all of the tools to propel himself to a 1st round pick. Because he's a transfer from the Citadel, it's tough to gauge where he'd roughly fall at this stage in the process. Others have him as a 4-5 round pick. I see him as having way too much upside to drop him that low. He has length. He can turn and run. He plays the ball. I'm expecting a break-out year from Delaney.

Round 4: TJ Edwards, LB, WI. Edwards will be under the microscope. He's been surrounded with talent throughout his career, but the loss of Jack Cichy cannot be understated. Edwards led the Badgers in tackles last year. He also had 3 sacks and 3 interceptions. He was a run plugger. He's always in pursuit. I love his game. He drops well in coverage. He can do it all. He'd be a pillar in the heart of the Packers 3-4 defense.

Round 5: Michael Gallup, WR, Colorado State. Gallup's elusiveness and quickness make him a prospect to be an elite NFL slot receiver. Just get the ball in Gallup's hands and watch him get loose. He has a nose for finding the first down marker and when he sees the end zone, he'll juke most defenders in the open field to find his way to pay dirt. Dude can straight up boogie.

Round 5: Steven Parker, S, OK. Parker has everything you look for in a Safety. Now, it's up to Parker to put it all together. He has the size, the speed and the athleticism. He can step into the slot to assist in coverage. But, Parker has missed too many tackles and has not been the playmaker that I envisioned he'd become. He's now a Senior leader on the Sooner defense. If he takes the next step, he has the gifts to rise much higher than a 5th round pick.

Round 6: Jake Roh, TE, Boise State. Roh is a steady TE. Soft hands. He works the middle of the field. He'll dig in and help out as a blocker. A reliable target who sits down in the zone and falls forward. He's not an overpowering TE threat, but he seems to do everything well enough to warrant a late round pick.

Round 6: LJ Scott, RB, Michigan State. Admittedly, Scott doesn't have the speed that I'm going to be looking for throughout the 2017 college season. But, Scott has the size to be a workhorse and he fights for tough yards. He's been an under-utilized RB as a receiver. He has soft hands and can do damage in space as he's a good athlete. Scott shows heart every time he touches the football.

Round 6: Deadrin Senat, DL South Florida. Senat is a run-stuffing stud. He eats blockers and plays on the other side of the line of scrimmage. He's not going to add much in the way of a pass rush, but he has the physicality to be a solid run stopper in the NFL.

Round 7: Fred Warner, BYU, LB. Warner finds the football. He has NFL instincts. He fights on every play. He diagnoses plays and gets after the football with above average speed. Displays leadership qualities as well on the field. He's in command.

Round 7: Donovan Olumba, CB, Portland State. I actually think that Portland State has two prospects at CB to watch this year. The other being Chris Seisay. Olumba has the size and the confidence to be able to be groomed into an NFL perimeter CB.

This week - The Packers host the Rams. In the classic Midwest Shrine Game. I always loved this game growing up. Festive environment. Lambeau Field. You feel a little of the nerves inside that the real games are just about to kick off.

There's no reason for the Packers to not take it to the Rams. The Packers depth is much better than the Rams. Especially at QB. Additionally, I anticipate that the Packers back-up DL will destroy the Rams back-up OL.

Look for Marwin Evans to make another big play this week.

Expect Brett Hundley to be a star in the early going. He utilizes the depth at WR and hits Michael Clark on a jump ball. Handley rolls right and hits Dupre on an out route.

Jamaal Williams gets to the open field on a cut back run.

It's a blowout.

Packers 23.
Rams 6.

I'm ready for the regular season.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Friday, August 25, 2017

My Take -> Preseason Week 3

Greetings, G-Force.

Ah. The start of a riveting two weeks. This week - the Packers COme to visit me. Next week - it's Phish COming to visit. Back to back thrilling weekends of epic proportions. "Everything's right. So, just hold tight."

Phish. 7/21/17. MSG. The kick-off to the Baker's Dozen. It's in my ear. An exhilarating night. I'll forever hold it close. It's a fun one to relive.

Here are my quick vibes on the win over the Redskins:

* Mike McCarthy looks intense. He looks determined to get this team off to a fast start. He's all business. In command of the team.

* Aaron Rodgers appears to be having more fun. Liked seeing him crack a semi smile after Bennett dropped his opening pass. Rodgers seems to be having a lot of fun taking on a heavier leadership role with the team. It feels like he's taking a different approach with his attitude. He's carrying the cool California feel again. His play looked like he was in midseason form. Moving the sticks with his quick-count, his arm and his feet. A treat to watch. He looks like he's ready to be the MVP.

* Jamaal Williams really drives forward. Might need to be a more patient and let the play develop. He seems to be pressing a little bit. I'm hoping to see him get loose this weekend. I want to see him running at the secondary. He hasn't been able to get started yet. Admittedly, I wonder if he's quick enough to play at this level. I was hoping for more speed at the position, which is why I was pining for Marlon Mack prior to the draft. The Packers had a shot at Mack, but drafted Williams instead. I'll forever compare their careers.

* Rodgers to Jordy. Rodgers to Cobb. Rodgers to Adams. Rodgers to Bennett. Get used to it. Spreading the ball around. Using all of his weapons.

* The fade to Bennett will help elevate vocal chords.

* Nice to see Aaron Jones finding the end zone. Jones has displayed soft hands so far. I wonder if he's fast enough to outrun a LB on a wheel route? If so, that could be something to watch at some point this year.

* The Packers have clearly studied the way the Patriots have used RB's over the last couple of years. We're seeing a lot of swing passes in the flat to the RB's. Last year - we saw that when Davante Adams was playing RB - at times - but not much other than that. I've liked what Devante Mays has brought to the swing pass. Want to see if he can step through arm tackles. I'm hoping that he gets a 1st Quarter touch or two this weekend, so that he gets to taste an Aaron Rodgers-led huddle.

* Jordy. I love that guy.

* Adams on the slant for a 1st down!

* Bulaga and Bakhtiari are book-ends at Tackle. Really enjoy watching the Bakhtiari and Rodgers bond grow. It's clear that they've become great buddies.

* Bulaga's injury better not cause him to miss a down this year. Jason Spriggs looks awful. Kyle Murphy looks like he can run block, but as a pass blocker? Well, he'll need Bennett lined up next to him to help double team. If so, look for Bennett to chip often and to be available as a quick dump off option as a receiver.

* It's worth reiterating. Jason Spriggs. WOW. What a disappointment.

* With Lance Kendricks' versatility, it's really tough to see the Packers keeping two FB's. Kendricks can easily step into that role, if needed. Either RIP or Kerridge has to go. I'd keep RIP.

* Janis vs Davis. Advantage Janis. The only thing Davis could not do during the preseason was to fumble. Had he not fumbled, I'd have considered him a near lock to make the team. But, he fumbled and now, his spot has to be questioned. Mike McCarthy prides himself on building a football team that protects the football and wins the turnover battle. That was a huge error by Davis. Meanwhile, Janis had a solid day as a receiver and as a gunner on punts.

* Brett Hundley looks like he's ready to start in the NFL.

* Joe Callahan needed a perfect preseason in order to be considered for the 53-man roster. That didn't happen last weekend.

* Taysom Hill excites! You can't teach determination. You can't teach intensity. You can't teach will. Hill has all of those things. If Hill continues to play this way, he will make it easier for the Packers to stomach a Hundley trade after the year as Hill could be penciled in as the back-up. At this rate, I'd think it'll be tough to sneak Hill onto the practice squad.

* Geronimo Allison playing as though he's ready to have a break-out year. Might be tough to keep him on the sideline. His fancy dancing led to some riveting yards after the catch.

* Marwin Evans can play on my football team any day.

* Mad props to HAHA. Monster year ahead for HAHA.

* Liking the pace that Blake Martinez is playing with. Playing in attack mode.

* With Blake Martinez, Jeff Janis, Jayrone Elliott, Jordan Tripp and Marwin Evans; I really like the Packers punt coverage unit. Need someone else to become a reliable gunner.

* Ricky Jean Francois will add good snaps throughout the 2017 season. Like him as a rotational defender.

* Fantastic to read the story of Aaron Rodgers being the first to visit Malachi Dupre at the hospital. I want to see more of Dupre in uniform. Hoping he's fit to go. Really optimistic about the size and athleticism that he brings to the field.

* The Packers DL was absolutely dominating. Glad Lowry's injury doesn't appear to be serious. He looks like a man. So, does Kenny Clark.

* Christian Ringo is a fighter. He'll be tough to cut.

* Izaah Lunsford is a fun watch. Great effort. Tenacious. Slippery. He won't make the team, but he has to warrant practice squad consideration. He's been active the past two weeks.

* Q-Rollins. Why would we ever consider playing him on the outside? He really flashes his quickness in the slot. I like seeing him on the blitz. He's fearless. He plays with no care for his body. He understands how to dip his shoulder underneath the tackle and then he quickly transitions into attack mode. I like his burst when he's in pursuit and motivated around the line of scrimmage. It's clear that the Packers are going to have to find new ways to get to the QB. I believe Rollins could get home a couple of times this year on a slot blitz.

* Kevin King. Love the attitude he brings to the field. Dude has confidence. Wants to be THE MAN.

* Our young secondary has so much swag.

* Kinda hope Pipkins makes the team. He has style. Wish he'd have come down with the late pick to seal the game.

* Josh Hawkins. Who is he? Is he the guy that we've seen in the preseason over the last two years? Or is he the guy who was horrible against the Lions last year? He was a stud agains the 'Skins.

* Happy to see the quickness that Clay is playing with right now. He brings speed to the defensive front - when he's healthy. Hoping this trend continues.

* Justin Vogel deserves to be the Week 1 punter.

* If Jason Spriggs and Kyler Fackrell could play in this league, the Packers roster would be littered with depth. Instead, we have two GAPING holes at crucial positions. LT and OLB. Our depth is razor thin.

This week - it's the Donkeys. In Denver. I can't wait. I'm taking my wife and my 4 year old, Dylan.

I'd only play Rodgers for a couple of series. And, I'd be really cautious. Especially without Bulaga. It'd be a lot of quick hits and hand-offs. I'd like to see Montgomery getting a couple of hand-offs out of shotgun. I want to see him attacking the hole with intensity. I want to see his quickness.

Hundley comes in and once again, Hundley performs. He dominates. He moves the sticks. Again, he hits Janis on a deep ball. Hundley hits Jones in the flat. Hundley is in complete control and again, he engineers a TD drive. This time on a pass to Kendricks.

The Packers second string DL applies good pressure and wins the line of scrimmage.

Again, Taysom Hill leads the Packers dancing into the end zone. He uses his mobility to elude pressure and to move sticks. He uses his arm to find Yancey in the end zone.

Pipkins makes another big play this weekend. Wouldn't shock me to see him come down with an interception. And, if so, I can't wait to see him boogie.

Packers 27.
Broncos 24.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.