The take comes early this week as I'm heading up to Lambeau this weekend and to celebrate Vargas waning days as a bachelor. A 1-0 start feels good. Though it was frustrating, I blame myself for setting my expectations as high as I did. Regardless, its' great to sin against your most hated rival, at home, in the opener! If you listen closely enough, music will direct you throughout life. Two bands that I spend a lot of time listening to are Yonder Mountain and Michael Franti. Two of their songs that I regularly jam are "Complicated" and "Have a Little Faith" (Hi Patrick). Yonder provides reasoning for my gripping emotions: "In my own defense, I don't believe that I was born this complicated." And Franti is UNO-DOS! echoing "Have a Little Faith in Me." Not that I doubted. Never did. In fact, I was counting down the yards to FG range. Nonetheless, you feel what I'm saying. I know you do.
First and foremost, much props goes out to the G-Force that was in attendance. You brought it. It was loud. It was clear. Even through the TV. You could feel the intensity. I'm certain that you altered Lovie Smith's decision making capabilities and impacted Jay Cutler's buzz. We need a repeat performance in Week 2.
Many concerns came out of our performance. Shame on us for not being better prepared and acutely aware that Barbre's performance was a legitimate possibility. All pre-season we talked about how he was a potential liability. In Week 1, he was.
In many ways, it reminds me of 1996. Yes, I love to reflect and compare. I cherish the history of the Green Bay Packers. Probably too much. Any way, a lot of the pieces seem to be in place. But, we fail at Tackle. Heading into 1996, LT was our question mark due to the uncertainty surrounding Ken Ruettgers status. Ruettgers played in 4 games. Gary Brown and John Michels were supposed to replace him. Both were young, inexperienced and incapable. We were left with Bruce Wilkerson, our veteran insurance policy. He protected us at the end of the season and throughout the playoffs. I sense similarities in 2009. Tauscher goes down. Barbre and Lang are unable to play adequately. If Tauscher is unable to return, I'm hoping that we have Jon Runyan's phone number handy. If we don't hurry, the Eagles will beat us to it, just as they did Jeff Garcia.
Defensively, we were outstanding. Al Harris playing as though he was 25 years old. Aggressively attacking ball carriers. T-Mon, one of the fastest rising CB's in the NFL. Nintendo Nick reading the QB's eyes. Cullen Jenkins playing at an All-Pro level. Johnny Jolly feeling ecstasy without codeine in his body. Pickett holding the point. CM3 forcing Forte to the inside - allowing Hawk and Chillar to both make plays behind the line of scrimmage. Chillar blitzing with a vengeance. CM3 & AK-74 applying pressure but unable to wrap up Cutler. We looked spectacular defensively and our best defensive player, Mr. Charles Woodson, played his worst game as a Packer. Defensively, somebody was winning an individual battle almost every play. It was beautiful to watch.
I was disappointed with our play calling early in the game. I thought that the pass could have set up the run. We had small success early throwing the football. Then we went with a predictable wishbone-style 3 RB set with 2 FB's. We tried to smash mouth a football team that was more physical than us. It seemed to disrupt our offensive rhythm early in the game.
Ultimately, it was UNO-DOS! providing his first NFL act as Houdini! Hanging tough under pressure with the Bear defense piling on, it was UNO-DOS finding the yellow wristbands sprinting down the sideline past a washed-up Vasher. Tremendous! A struggling, frustrated, annoyed UNO-DOS! providing an MVP moment to remind the G-Force that the Bears still suck!
This weekend - it's the Bengals coming to town. The Bengals might be the recipe that the Packers offense needs to regain our momentum. After watching the replay of the Bengals game, I saw an opportunity for our offense to make big plays - especially with the TE over the middle of the field.
I'm curious to see Michael Johnson play for the Bengals. Leading up to the draft, I was convinced that he'd be able to play at this level. My eyes will be on him. Credit the Bengals for also adding Roy Williams and Rey Maualuga on defense. Both have added an attitude to the defense that has not existed since Odell Thurman's exit. I really like Leon Hall at CB and Johnathan Joseph is an athletic CB as well. Dhani Jones and Antwan Odom are average ball players. Chris Crocker at S is about to get abused. Robert Geathers is not a threat.
Offensively, Carson Palmer looks to have lost confidence. Laverneus Coles appeared as though he did not care. Chad Johnson is a fraud. Andre Caldwell became Palmer's go-to-guy in Week 1 down the stretch. I'm curious to see if they give him an enhanced role out of the slot. Chris Henry was largely invisible. Expect the Bengals to take some chances deep down the sideline on bombs to Henry. He has the speed and height to put himself in advantageous positions. Cedric Benson was running with a purpose and was surprisingly able to grab the corner on a couple of occasions. The Bengals OL is bad. Really bad. We should have at least 4 sacks this weekend and endless pressure on the QB.
In Week 1, UNO-DOS! connected with 7 receivers. In Week 2, it would not surprise me if he connects with 9 receivers. Nelson and Jones will catch their first passes of the season. Jones looked frustrated as he was open on a couple of occasions and UNO-DOS! did not notice him.
I hope to see the Packers utilize Jones on the drag route that he ran so effectively in 2007. 4 wide. Single back. Jones lined up outside. Driver inside of him. Driver is sent down the middle on a fly route. Jones comes underneath the coverage 5-7 yards down field. He's hit in stride and picking up 12-18 yards. It's an added dimension.
J-Mike catches 5 balls this week. An emphasis is put on getting him in position to succeed.
Ryan Grant leaps over 100 yards.
Greg Jennings gets deep for another long TD.
Chuckie grabs his 1st interception of the year. T-Mon snatches his second.
Desmond Bishop and Brandon Chillar are used as ILB's on inside blitz packages. Their presence is felt.
Raji makes his debut.
The juggernaut is back. The Packers are 2-0. I'm hoarse on Monday morning.
Green Bay 38. Cincinnati 13.
This one feels good. Really good.