Pardon me, while I feel as though I'm Irenaeus. Often times, a trip to Lambeau offers a righteous white horseman feel to mankind. This past Sunday was one of those days. Allow me to act as a cavalier.
Welcome to the playoffs, G-Force. Congrats on the berth. As Charles Woodson put it, Sunday was "fan appreciation day." Both Woodson and the fans showed their mutual affection. The fans giving a chorus of "MVP" chants to Woodson was brilliant. Woodson responding with a victory lap around Lambeau was reminiscent of the days in which Reggie White displayed his love for the greatest fans in sports. Woodson is a proud Green Bay Packer. It's a treat to witness.
Shout it with me: Aa-ron Rod-gers. Aa-ron Rod-gers. Aa-ron Rod-gers. He's cool as a cucumber in hot sauce. He's the key to our playoff run. He has the capacity to carry us through the playoffs. After the game, Rodgers was spotted in Curly's Pub inside the Lambeau Field Atrium. He was shaking hands and talking about how much he enjoyed being the QB of the Green Bay Packers. He also thanked the fans for their support.
Behind Charles Woodson, Aaron Rodgers is quickly becoming my favorite player in the NFL. He's become a stallion far sooner than anyone could have predicted. He's maturing gracefully. He reminds me of an athletic, mobile Troy Aikman. Poised in the pocket. Confident and able to make every throw. Consistently looking for the deep throw. Lethal on third down.
I enjoy noticing the little things that you get to see being at the game. It is apparent that Nick Barnett & Clay Matthews are the vocal leaders on defense. They conduct the defensive huddles. They've both been playing exceptionally and showing that actions are louder than words. Barnett has played with terrific physicality. Matthews - who Boots accurately calls "The Claymaker" - is a true presence on the field. His quickness constantly alters plays. Even if the box score does not show it. On multiple occasions, he forced Hasselbeck into mistakes. By the way, I hope Hasselbeck is our back-up QB next year.
The interactions between the likes of Clay & Chuckie shows a strong respect between veteran and rookie.
J-Mike, Double-D, and Greg Jennings are absolutely pleasant to watch on the pitch. They're enjoying themselves and the offensive camaraderie is impeccable.
Ryan Grant, B-Jack, and Ahman Green also have a mutual adoration. Regardless of who scored the TD, it was an absolute love fest between the three. Great to witness.
BJ Raji is forever named "Jazz Hands." His reaction after a big play is absolutely spectacular as he begs for heightened crowd recognition. Raji is a big bowl of jelly. Slippery to contain. Bubbly. Three times, he made drive altering plays. If he develops into a pass rusher, he could have Pro Bowl potential.
Johnny Jolly is a Winter Wonderland. He's arguably the most underrated DL in the league. He's an absolute winner. His 11 passes defensed are beyond amazing. He's a tremendous run stopper. We can win with him. Against anyone.
If Ras-A-tari performs as he did last weekend, we'll be tough to beat. Making plays on the ball. Lowering the boom on receivers. He'd be another weapon that teams would have to prepare for. His physical play will also strike fear in the minds of receivers much like he did late in the '07 season.
The fanfare for Crosby before his 52 yard FG is unmatched in all of sport. Sublime support.
Brad Jones continues to grow in his role. He's been more than satisfactory and he seems to improve each week.
In all, the Packers look to be having a lot of fun. I give Mike McCarthy a lot of credit.
This week -> it's the Cardinals. With very little on the line. But, the Packers must look sharp. Frankly, at the present moment, I'm not afraid of any NFL team. I'd play anyone, anywhere. My biggest concern is staying healthy. I would not be totally surprised if the Cardinals shared a similar thought especially if there is no possible way they can gain a 1st round bye out of a victory.
I'd like to see the starters play the 1st Half with great success. The Packers jump out to a 24-10 lead. Rodgers stays in rhythm, throwing his 30th TD. Driver goes over 1,000 yards for the season. Jennings eclipses 1,100. Grant goes over 1,250. Defensively, the Claymaker grabs his 11th sack. Chuckie grabs his 9th pick. Statistically, it is a terrific season for the Packers.
In the 2nd half, I want to pay close attention to Flynn's development. I want to see the U-HAUL get real life experience on the big stage. Remember that this is the type of game in which T-Mon came of age in the '07 season finale. I want to see Cyril Obiozor get a chance to work on his first step off the ball. He's got the body to be an elite 3-4 OLB. I want to see if Wynn can make it in this league, he needs additional reps. I want to see more of Bishop at ILB. The 2nd half of this game will help provide an indication of offseason requirements. While one half of football does not provide concrete conclusions, it does allow for a reference point.
Enjoy this week. Wear Packer colors. Harness in the energy. Feel the buzz. Whether you are in Denver, New York, Green Bay, London, Milwaukee, Madison, Albuquerque, Miami, San Diego, Seattle, Minneapolis or Chicago -> it just does not matter, promote the Packers word. Feel it on the inside. Wear it on the outside, baby!
Think of the Cowboys post Aikman. The Dolphins post Marino. The Broncos post Elway. The Bills post Kelly. The 49ers post Young. Hell, look at the Browns post Kosar. It's a great relief to be back in the playoffs. And it's a credit to Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers.
Packers 27. Cardinals 23.
Go Pack Go!!!
Have a Happy & Safe New Year.