I hope that your Christmas Holiday was as vibrant as mine. My apologies for the delay in the take. I've been indulging in vacation. A couple of solid hikes through Baird's Creek. A plethora of sublime family time. And an evening in "Ecstasy" with Rusted Root.
Any way, G-Force, it is not time to push the panic button. I hear people talking about our need for gaining offensive momentum and the need for getting a win as we move into the playoffs. For me, while these things are great, I think the Packers simply need to go out and play a strong 1st Quarter. We are a young team who is still forming an identity. Hence, as fans, we worry that negativity will carry over from week-to-week. However, our youth and carefree mentality is one of our greatest assets...especially after a disastrous showing against our arch rival.
In 7 of the last 8 games, the Packers have scored at least 27 points. You don't lose your offensive rhythm in one week! In my mind, we froze in the cold after the Bears first possession. Prior to kickoff, the Packers looked ready. Favre looked excited. He was pumping his fists with enjoyment and anticipation. However, this was followed with a Bears possession that lasted in excess of 10 minutes. At this point, I feel that the Packers offense became more concerned with staying warm than scoring points. I would argue that had the Packers stopped the Bears on 3rd down early in the game - the Packers offense would have been more fluid.
We took one on the chin in Chicago. It took a couple of days to swallow the loss, but I've got G-Force clarity and last week is behind me. Bring on the Lions.
This week is about staying healthy and moving into the bye with a confident Defensive Line. If the Packers are to make a Super Bowl push, the Defensive Line must be the catalyst. We must return to our early season roots on defense. In 5 of the last 6 games, the opposition has had a rusher eclipse 100 yards. Frankly, this concerns me. We need an immediate solution.
Pickett must be at 100%. I would not even consider playing him tomorrow. Tomorrow, I'd force him to ride the bike for an hour and then I would have him run the treadmill. Stay in shape, big boy! Corey Williams, in a contract year, continues to be pushed backwards on run downs. I'd replace Williams on run downs with Harrell. While Harrell has been hit or miss thus far, he's showed the occasional ability to hold the point of attack. Last week, he had 5 tackles (4 of them were solo).
Additionally, we have struggled to get pressure from the D-Line. I would rest KGB tomorrow as well. He has not been himself since his ankle injury against Detroit on Turkey Day. Replacing Williams with Harrell on run downs would allow for Williams to be well rested and physically prepared to rush the passer on 3rd down.
Mother Nature is calling for the mid-to-high 20's. Low winds. Slight flurries. Ahhh, Lambeau in December. How beautiful!
The Lions are banged up as they walk into Lambeau. Kevin Jones and Roy Williams will not play. Therefore, I expect the Lions to use a mixed bag of players to attack our defense. The Lions will try Calvin Johnson deep and over the middle on 15-20 yard crossing routes. They will put Shaun McDonald and Mike Furrey in the slot and try to let them make plays after the catch. Sean McHugh will be involved with short down and outs and roll outs. TJ Duckett will pound away at the interior of our Defense. Aveion Cason will be utilized via the screen and dump offs. And it sounds as though Tatum Bell might be activated this week. He's been out since Week 5. I'm not sure how effective Bell will be, but nonetheless, at times, Bell has been a productive NFL runner.
Duckett will be getting his first start of the year. He's averaging 5.9 yards per carry this year. Against us on T-Day, he ran for 29 yards on 7 carries. If Duckett rushes for over 4 yards per carry tomorrow, we will be in trouble.
Early in the game, the Packers play to stop the run. Chuckie and Al are left on islands. Bigby inches closer to the line of scrimmage. The Packers set the tone. They show attitude. They show athleticism. They play with passion and a defensive conviction. Lambeau elevates. Personally, I will lead the charge in my first visit to Lambeau in '07.
The Packers stuff the run. Martz gives up on the run and attacks the secondary, notably Willie B. Willie B. responds and gets the Packers off the field on 3rd down with a pass defensed.
On offense, the Packers come out with 4 wide (I'd be surprised if Jennings plays). Grant as the single back. I expect immediate traction from the offense. Favre to Driver on the first play of the game. Offensive rhythm. Grant on the draw. Favre to Jones. Favre to Lee. Favre to Martin. Favre to Franks. Favre to K-Rob for 6 points.
The critics are quieted. Our offense does not have static. Our offense has electricity.
The Packers jump out to an early 17-3 lead. And then we rest. I'm excited to see performances from Daniel Muir, Michael Montgomery, Willie B., Tramon, Desmond Bishop, and Brandon Jackson. In the preseason, I thought that Muir showed tremendous potential. I'm curious to see him get real life game experience.
Late in the game, the defense rises to the occasion. Craig Nall leads two drives for FG's.
Green Bay 23. Detroit 20.
The Packers finish 13-3. 7-1 at Lambeau. The victory is sweet. The rest is sweeter. For the most part, the Packers are healthy for a playoff push.
I'm excited to be in the stands. Tomorrow is a celebration.
Have a Happy and Safe New Year,