Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My Take -> Bling, Bling!

Greetings, G-Force.

It came with a sparkle. A super shine. It was extravagant. Elite, in nature. The ring has been revealed. And, thus, Sir Charles has himself a full trophy mantle. Yes, once again, the pleasant reminder was on display: The Green Bay Packers own the Sports World.

Blessed with 105 diamonds which represents the numbers of years that America's greatest organization has been in existence (92) plus the number of World Championships the Packers have won (13). Proof that America's smallest sports town rules America's most prominent sport. Truth!

"Mind, Goal, Purpose, Heart." Forever, the words of Sir Charles will echo in the archives of the Packers rich history. These sentiments were the catalyst for Titletown's glorious Super Bowl run. To cement those words place in NFL history, the phrase was elegantly etched into the XLV Super Bowl ring.

The recent talk regarding a lockout agreement along with the Super Bowl ring ceremony has me fully animated to talk football. Last night, once again, I watched the Packers v Falcons playoff game. Each time I watch it, I am convinced it's the single greatest quarter of football that I've watched the Green Bay Packers play. It's worth another review. Other than the failed Kickoff coverage, the Green Bay @ Atlanta Divisional Playoff game includes:

* A 7-0 deficit turned into a 28-14 lead.
* 17 Aaron Rodgers pass attempts. 15 were completions. 2 were TD's. 5 were completions of 20 or more yards. He connected with 5 different receivers. Driver, Jones and Jennings all caught balls of 20 or more yards.
* The birth of THE FREEZER lead the way for a John Kuhn TD.
* A 2nd & 14 sack by Sir Charles paves the way for a 3rd & 21 interception by T-Mon.
* 195 yards of offense.
* A sack by the Claymaker, which knocked the Falcons out of FG range. Therefore, the Falcons were forced to make a decision. They wanted one more play. T-Mon stole the show and in the famous words of Joe Buck, "They tried to bite off more yardage and they just got burned!" It's so much fun to watch Nintendo Nick usher his best mate into the end zone. In the words of Lil' Wayne, "Pop Tarts!" Dude. Seriously. Pop Tarts!
* The 2nd Quarter of the Divisional Playoff game convinced the Green Bay Packers that we were the team to beat. After the game, Rodgers and BJ Raji can be heard having this conversation: Rodgers says, "We're going all the way, baby. Let's go!" Raji replies, "I like it. I like that!" Sir Charles started the post game speech with "we came into the Dome and made it our home today." Yes, belief was circulating around the locker room of 1265.

What a thrill!

Since I started following the Packers in the early 1980's, camaraderie amongst the players seems to be at an all-time high. The locker room appears relaxed. Laid back, yet motivated. Close-knit. Especially between our Superstars. The Claymaker and Rodgers appear to be great friends. T-Mon and Collins seem like they're attached at the hip. Rodgers refers to Sitton as his "bodyguard." J-Mike often says that he wants Aaron Rodgers to be his QB for the rest of his career. Sir Charles is enamored with the notion of retiring as a Packer. The bond in this locker room is firm. There's intense confidence in one another. This is a TEAM. There is no "I" in team, but there is an "M" and there is an "E" and everyone has to do his part. This roster has a positive, winning culture.

Last night, I took a moment to analyze the Packers 2011 schedule. Below is a quick glance at each game and it's ranking based on difficulty - obviously, this is based upon pre-free agency rosters, so at present, the rankings are somewhat flawed. 5 stars being the most difficult.

Week 1 - New Orleans at Lambeau (5 stars) - A battle of the past 2 Super Bowl winners. In previous years, the Thursday night game has gone to the defending champions, but the Saints are as formidable of an opponent as the Packers will see all year. Much has been made of the Saints spending significant time as a unit during the offseason. The Saints look to enter the 2011 Season well armed and healthy.

Week 2 - Green Bay at Carolina (2 stars) - Panthers fans must be excited to see Cam Newton in their colors, but let's be honest, at this stage, anything less than a 3 score victory in the contest would be disappointing.

Week 3 - Green Bay at Chicago (5 stars) - Every time these two teams meet, it's bound to be a classic. It's a rematch of the NFC Championship. Small reminder: Halas Trophy. Soldier Field. Visitors Locker Room. Trump Card!

Week 4 - Denver at Lambeau (3 stars) - While the Broncos are rebuilding, they do have players that can be game changers. Look for the Broncos to be competitive in 2011. John Fox has been a winner. The attitude is changing in the Mile High City. They won't be a playoff team, but they'll fight.

Week 5 - Green Bay at Atlanta (5 stars) - The rematch. The Falcons traded a bundle for Julio Jones. Clearly, they felt that in order to win in the NFC, they'd have to out-score the Packers and the Saints. This one will be epic!

Week 6 - St Louis at Lambeau (3.5 stars) - There's plenty of reason for excitement in St Louis. A bright, young QB. A successful defensive Head Coach. A talented RB. But, I doubt the Rams will be up for this challenge.

Week 7 - Green Bay at Minnesota (4 stars) - Don't be fooled by Minnesota. They still have AP. They still have a big OL. Shiancoe can still play. Harvin is a threat. We'll see where Sidney Rice ends up. And, they still have talent on defense. Plus, the Dome is rarely easy.

Week 9 - Green Bay at San Diego (5 stars) - Though the Packers will be coming off of a bye, this will arguably be the toughest game on the schedule. As the weather turns in Green Bay, it'll still be plenty hot in San Diego. This is also the time of year in which the Chargers normally start playing elite football.

Week 10 - Minnesota at Lambeau (4 stars) - Monday Night. Lambeau Field. Under the Lights. Polish those helmets! The 'queens are headed to town.

Week 11 - Tampa Bay at Lambeau (4 stars) - Josh Freeman can play football. The Bucs are climbing quickly. Once again, they'll compete for a playoff spot. Remember, if the Lions had not knocked off the Bucs in Week 15 at Tampa Bay, the Packers would not have made the playoffs.

Week 12 - Green Bay at Detroit (5 stars) - Thanksgiving Day. This game might be for first place. Look out for the Lions in 2011.

Week 13 - Green Bay at NYG (5 stars) - This has become a solid rivalry. 2007 and 2010. Two games at Lambeau. Two dramatically different outcomes. Both were the gateway to a Super Bowl Champion. Could 2011 be the springboard for Part III?

Week 14 - Oakland at Lambeau (2.5 stars) - The Raiders are an improving team. They believe they'll compete in the AFC West. They have a solid running game. They have a pursuing defense. They have a new, energetic Head Coach. But, I can't imagine the Packers losing at Lambeau to a warm weather team in December.

Week 15 - Green Bay at Kansas City (5 stars) - At Arrowhead Stadium. This sounds like a solid road trip. Throw in the Boulevard Brewery. And this is really a no-brainer. Many say that Arrowhead is as difficult of a place to play as Lambeau and while I disagree, this will be a rowdy crowd in a hostile Stadium against a team on the rise.

Week 16 - Chicago at Lambeau (5 stars) - Christmas Day. Evening game. Are you kidding me? Truly sublime stuff!

Week 17 - Detroit at Lambeau (5 stars) - New Years Day at the most hallowed of theaters in American sports. Last year in Week 17, the Packers needed a win against the Bears to make the playoffs. This year - the same could apply for either the Lions or the Packers in Week 17 at Lambeau. The Lions haven't won at Lambeau since 1991. I have to imagine that this streak will continue.

In order to repeat, the Packers will have their work cut out. This schedule will not be easy. We are the Champions. We'll have to be prepared on a weekly basis as everyone will be gunning for us.

Bling, bling goes the diamond. 105 times.

White House on 3,

Talkin' S-Mac.

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