Suddenly, desperation has settled in. Almost ridiculously, at 3-2, our lifeline is ticking. Injuries are outrageous. Yet, we're still breathing and we must keep fighting.
8-0 at home. 2-6 on the road. Playoff berth. Let's make it happen. The road to the playoffs comes through us. But, we must control our own turf. Regardless of who steps on the field, we can make it a tough place to play. But, we must bring it.
For this week, it's about playing with a free spirit. Not sure if the expectations have gotten to us or what, but we're playing tight. We must play with passion. But, we also must be carefree. It seems like this team, which was once youthful, jovial & exuberant - its now pressing, playing with panic. I don't know this team. But, this week, we must return to our roots. Return to what has made this generation of Packers a fun team to watch.
No doubt, we should be 5-0. No question. Some may blame Ted Thompson. Others will blame Mike McCarthy. I blame the players that are the leaders of this team. I look at players that we've depended on. In fact, I commend Mike McCarthy. His star QB asked for the football. McCarthy gave both the ball & the game to his QB. Rodgers wanted the ball in his hands. McCarthy positioned Rodgers for success. Rodgers failed to win the game when we had multiple opportunities to do so. In the 4th Quarter & OT, Rodgers had 6 chances to essentially seal the game. The Packers offense totaled 3 first down. 91 yards. 0 points. 1 turnover. Thus, our chances of victory were shattered.
Since 1999, we've depended on Quickie to make plays over the middle. He's been our go-to guy. 4 drops last Sunday were unacceptable. Especially the play when we led 13-3 & we were driving. Rodgers hit him in stride. Double-D has made a living catching that ball. If he hangs on, we have 1st & 10 from the 13. A chance to seal the game. He dropped it. It was the biggest play of the game.
Greg Jennings, ditch the pink. Go back to yellow. Bust out the yellow wrist bands/tape that you were rockin' at the beginning of last year. Play with flava. Play with confidence. Mate, I understand that you're frustrated. But, bro, you have to hang onto the ball when it hits you in the hands.
No one loves Sir Charles more than me. But, Chuckie, man, it's time to roll smoothly. Get your hands off the WR's. Play with confidence. No reason to press. The plays are coming. Be patient. They'll happen. Karma is on your side.
Coming into the year, I thought Nintendo Nick, the Claymaker, YOTTO, and Rodgers were all possibilities for the All-Decade team. But, Nick, it's time for you to make a play. Where are you, Nick? We need you! We depend on you! Nick? Nick? Nick!
By the way, what has happened to Aaron Rodgers? He's back to his jumpy ways. He can't put a team away. Forcing throws. Dancing in the pocket, not trusting his line. Not looking downfield. Rather he's looking at the pass rush. EVEN WHEN HE HAS TIME, he seems to be looking for pressure! Drives me nuts. Aaron, when it's 1st & 10, it's OK to use the check down. It's OK to use the middle of the field. There's nothing wrong with 2nd & 5. Trust Crabtree. We kept 4 TE's for a reason.
Rodgers isn't seeing the field. While, he does have 99 yards rushing, I think that there have been more opportunities to use his legs. Yet, he's forced plays downfield & the result has been an incompletion. Almost amazingly, Rodgers is 12th in the league in passer rating. He's tied for the 6th most interceptions in the league. That's not Aaron Rodgers.
Play with confidence, Aaron. I trust in you. When you play as you're capable, no one is more talented than you. You have the potential to be the MVP. But, you have to play as yourself. Find your playmakers. Let them make plays. Make decisions quick. Get rid of the ball. Good things will happen.
- Anytime we want to sign Cullen Jenkins, I'll be fine with it. He's an anchor on our defense. With Jenkins, Jolly, Pickett, Raji, and Neal, we'll have the best DL in the NFL for the next three years. CJ Wilson is our developmental prospect unless we find someone better as an undrafted FA. LOCK UP JENKINS!
- BJ "Jazz Hands" Raji. What a stud!
- Mike Neal. Making plays. Getting a push.
- AQ81 showing promise. Wish we would have seen more on the 4th & 1. But, he showed enough to get me excited.
- Speaking of the 4th & 1, didn't we learn our lesson yet? On the road, ALWAYS take a 2 score lead when given the opportunity. We had our chance at the TD. We tried a QB sneak when we should have given the ball to Kuhn. When we got stuffed there, we blew our opportunity. Should have kicked the FG. Said it during the timeout. Saying it again right now. ALWAYS take the points if you have a chance to take a 2-score lead.
- BRAD JONES? Where are you, Brad? You've disappeared. And it looks like you've lost the confidence of the coaching staff. Interesting to see him dropping back into coverage. Almost as though he was an ILB as Desmond Bishop was pressuring the QB.
- Super impressed with Desmond Bishop. HUGE game from Bishop. Would love to see more of it.
- Like the intensity that AJ Hawk is playing with as well.
- T-Mon Williams, any day now, Ted. LOCK HIM UP! Nothing to wait for. Get it on this year's books. Get it done, Ted.
- Can't be pissed with Peprah. Sure, he got beat twice, but you almost had to expect it. Other than those two plays, I thought he played physical & confident. Looked comfortable in the defense.
- P-Lee can't play in this league.
- I wouldn't be disappointed if we started TJ Lang & Bulaga at tackle one of these weeks. See what we have in both of them.
- Our special teams are a disaster.
- Lets promote Dom Capers to Co-Head Coach. Give him a title. Can't let him leave!
- After 5 weeks, our defense has totaled 21 sacks & 8 turnovers.
This week - the Dolphins come to town. Without special teams miscues, the 'Fins might be 4-0. They've been playing better on the road than at home. Expect a stiff challenge. They'll take chances with Brandon Marshall deep down the middle of the field. On 3rd down, they'll look for Davone Bess. While Henne has been mistake prone, he's also made good progress. He'll look for Fasano on 1st down & take what the defense gives him.
Ronnie Brown looks to be on his last leg, while Ricky Williams continues to pound away. Yet, on 3rd & 2 or less, the ball is going to Lousaka Polite. Every time, expect the ball to be in Polite's hands. Normally, he'll fight for a 1st down.
Surprisingly, the Dolphins have looked good on defense. Randy Starks, Karlos Dansby, Cameron Wake, Vontae Davis, and Yeremiah Bell have all had great years thus far. Additionally, they'll get Channing Crowder & Jared Odrick back this week. Koa Misi has shown promise at OLB. Chris Clemons has been decent, but he can be beaten over the top. Jason Allen has improved, but he to can be beaten.
The Dolphins special teams have been the worst in the NFL. I just fear that we can't take control of this weakness.
The 'Fins will use a variety of blitz packages to confuse the Packers & then they'll depend on Starks to get a push from the inside & Wake to beat whoever plays RT with a speed rush. Wake has developed as a rusher. He'll force Rodgers to step up in the pocket, which has become Rodgers' biggest weakness.
The opening play of the game. I want 3 WR. 1 TE. B-Jack in the backfield. Jennings is split wide left. He'll be 1 on 1 vs. Jason Allen. Next to our RT is AQ81. Next to AQ 81 is Double-D. James Jones is split wide right. B-Jack gives help against Cameron Wake. It's Jennings on a puma-route. He'll catch it. Turn. He'll be man v man against Allen. Make a play, Greg.
Quarless grabs 5 balls this weekend. Gives us hope in a post J-Mike life.
Prediction of the week: Our defense scores a TD.
Packers 23. Dolphins 20.
Polish your helmets. Let 'em sparkle. Let 'em shine. Lambeau will rise. We're ready. Let's go have fun. Remember to enjoy yourself. Play with a free spirit & you'll capture the victory. Even with the injuries, we are the better team. Our depth will rise. Our youth will elevate. Play with energy. This is our game. 8-0 at home brings us a playoff berth.
For those of you that are new to the blog, when I had more time, I would occasionally post a blog titled "Who are you watching now?" It focused on players that I was interested in at the college level. As time has diminished, I've narrowed the list to a mock draft. I only include Seniors that I've seen play. Also, I don't draft OL as I don't follow it closely enough. I'm projecting the Packers as having approximately the 24th pick in the draft. I try to apply a few principles that Ted Thompson seems to follow - mainly that he mostly drafts players with associations to Texas, Michigan, Florida, NJ, and California. I also apply a couple of basic McKenna-isms. First, the "Mark Clayton effect" which forces me to pay attention to the University of Louisville. If the Packers would have followed this effect, the 2008 draft would have looked significantly different. The "Law of Brian Dawkins" which makes sure you pay attention to the defensive backfield at Clemson. The "Antonio Freeman Attraction" which ensures that Virginia Tech playmakers are noticed. Thus, the 2011 Packers mock draft:
Round 1: Greg Jones, ILB, Michigan St. When Stack speaks, I listen. 3 years ago, he brought his name up to me. I've paid high attention to his game ever since. He'd instantly be an upgrade at ILB. Jones has the speed and power to play at the next level.
Jones barely beats out Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia. Come on! How could I not consider him. First, his name is Ras-I! He's 6-2, 200 lbs. By now, we know that Ted Thompson only drafts CB's that stand at least 6-0 tall. He attacks the ball in the air. Living in ACC land, I've been watching him for 3 years. I thought he was a better player than Chris Cook - who the Vikings drafted with the 1st pick of the 2nd round. He mans up. Plays the ball. Moreover, he's dealt with a hamstring injury. Doesn't that make him a lock for our 1st round pick?
I'm trying to look at LB's as much as possible this year. Guys I'm following as 1st round prospects are Jeremy Beal, OLB, OK and Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M. Interestingly, both have Texas ties. I've also got my eye on DeMarco Murray, RB, OK.
Round 2: Noel Devine, RB, WVU. For years, I've been begging for an electric scat back. A HR hitter. A game changer. A guy who can also return kicks. Devine fits this category.
Others: If not Devine, another HR hitter is Randall Cobb, WR, Kentucky. He can do it all. He single-handedly keeps Kentucky in games. A terrific utility football player. How can you not cheer for Mark Herzlich after all he's been through with - beating cancer. If healthy, the big time playmaking OLB from Boston College will have a career in the NFL. A trend is that I'm following OLB's that can drop in coverage. Stand 6-2 or above. Weigh approximately 250. Would like for them to run in the 4.6 range. Mason Foster, OLB, Washington played a huge role in Washington's upset of USC. I want to see more of him as I hadn't noticed him prior to that game. Prior to the disaster at UNC, I was enjoying Quan Sturdivant, ILB. Austin Pettis, WR, Boise has big time playmaking ability. Another player that I'm considering is Chris Culliver, CB, South Carolina. Has the size and the make to perform at the next level.
Round 3: Chris Rucker, CB, Michigan State. Rucker has the size & speed that Thompson looks for in a CB. He'll also make a play on the ball. Displayed in the game at Michigan when Rucker stepped in front of a Denard Robinson ball. Rucker plays the ball well in the air. And he's not afraid to help out in run defense. At this point, Rucker beats out Leonard Hankerson, WR, _. Hankerson will make it in the NFL. Guy can play in the slot. Will run over the middle. Can take you deep. Great size. Great speed. Occasionally, he'll drop a pass, but he'll also amaze with sensational grabs. Jones is soon to be a FA. Jordy has not developed like we'd hoped. Driver is aging. Need to continue to give Rodgers options. Hankerson fits what we do.
Cliff Matthews, OLB, South Carolina. No relation to Clay, but he'd look nice rushing the passer opposite Clay. Guy has speed & can get to the QB. Big problem is that he can't drop in coverage like we'd need, so he's not the answer.Others: Marcus Gilchrist, CB, Clemson. I like Gilchrist, but he's only 5-11. Need to be 6-0 to be on our roster. Kelvin Sheppard, LB, LSU. I fear that Sheppard might not be fast enough for the NFL. Will be interesting to see how he times. Sometimes he's slow to get sideline-to-sideline, but he'll bury you if you're in front of him. Kendall Hunter, RB, OK State. Not the dynamic scat back, but he'll run around you. Great vision. Can catch the ball. Has shown some HR ability. Another OLB's that has caught my eye is KJ Wright from Mississippi State. He isn't as big in stature, but he can drop in coverage and has decent pass rush skills. Finds the football.
Round 4: Dontay Moch, OLB, Nevada. Have yet to see him this year, but last year I was indoors on a rainy night watching Missouri at Nevada. Dontay Moch stood out. He was the sole playmaker on the Nevada defense. Great speed, but passive. Nonetheless, he was in Missouri's backfield. Going to try & catch a Nevada game this year on TV, but I've had his name jarred in my memory for the better part of a year. Moch beats out Derrick Locke, RB, Kentucky as I selected Noel Devine earlier. Locke can cut with the best of them. Dangerous in the open field. He'd fit what we need. Small & elusive. Quick with the ball. Big play capabilities.
Others: If only Brandon Hogan, CB, WVU was listed at 6-0. He plays the ball in the air with the best of them. Sure tackler. Physical style. But, he's only 5-10. Colin McCarthy, ILB, _ reminds me of Brian Noble in many ways. Gritty player. Fighter. Get dirty. Plays physical and with attitude. Great heart. Also, when I watch Nevada later on, I'm going to have my eye on Colin Kaepernick, QB.
Round 5: Casey Matthews, ILB, Oregon. Can you imagine two long-haired Matthews brothers manning our LB unit? It's possible. Make it happen, Ted! Another to consider is Terrence Tolliver, WR, LSU. Great size. Gets deep. Tough to bring down. When it's all said & done, he might be a 3rd rounder, but for now, I see him listed on web sites as a 4th-5th round prospect.
Others: Similar to Locke is James Rodgers, WR, Oregon State though I'm not certain how Rodgers will respond to injury. Similar to Tolliver is Armon Binns, WR, Cincy.
** While it's likely that the Packers will have an additional 4th or 5th rounder via compensation with the loss of AK-74, until it's announced, I'm not going to make a pick. **
Round 6: Tejay Johnson, S, TCU. Smart player. Good range. Plays the ball well. Sure tackler. Damien Berry, RB, _. Guy has speed and great vision. A one cut runner who can fight through arm tackles.
Others: Brooks Reed, OLB, Arizona. Might not have the true speed to drop in coverage, but he's a fighter. And he has the motor that's required. At the college level, he can pursue the QB. Damien Berry, RB, _. Guy has speed and great vision.
Round 7: Dom DeCicco, S, Pitt. A ball hawk. A football player. Tough minded. Finds the ball in the air. Though a bit stiff, he seems to play faster than he runs.
Round 7a: Kevin Riley, QB, Cal. Poise in the pocket. Good composure. Confident. Good developmental prospect.
Others: Jock Sanders, WR, WVU. Good return skills. Offensive utility player. Can play a WR or can play RB. Poor man's Percy Harvin. Elusive. Makes people miss and makes plays with the ball in his hands. Zac Etheridge, S, Auburn. Physical. Leader on a solid Auburn team. Also, two RB's to watch are Graig Cooper, RB, _ & Donald Buckram, RB, UTEP. Prior to injury, Cooper might have been one of the top backs in the country. Rushed his way back. Relegated to mostly special teams work. Worth considering. Buckram is elusive and aggressive with the ball in his hands. Shifty. Small. Makes you miss.
More to come in the following weeks. Thanks for reading.