9-0. It's on. We're for real. Ready to make a "Run at the Repeat." The domination of the 'queens was sublime. Tremendous. Full excitement. On overdrive. Sure, there were still flaws. It was not perfection. But, it was the most complete game of the year. It was convincing. For the first time all year, we looked like were were primed for a repeat. We played defense. We had a strong display on special teams, minus Cobb's dropped punt. And, while the offense wasn't as polished as it has been in previous games, we still threw up 45 points via 4 more Aaron Rodgers TD passes.
Before I dig into the Packers too much, I have to give a massive SHOUT OUT to my Dad! For those that don't know, I proudly say that my Dad is the Producer of the games at Lambeau Field. I often refer to him as the DJ at Lambeau Field. After all, he is the man who both chooses and pipes in the music at the stadium. This Sunday morning on ESPN NFL Countdown, they're doing a special on the "Bang On The Drum" song that he plays after the Packers score a TD. Look for it. It'll be spectacular!
Onto the Packers demolition of the Viqueens:
* Mike McCarthy got what he wanted. He destroyed the 'queens. In every facet. He continues to call the play-action roll-out pass to Jordy. It's a beauty. It has been almost unstoppable.
* Aaron Rodgers continues to be the NFL's MVP. Sure, he hung onto the ball too long - at times. Still, he was absolutely dominant. His mobility. His poise. His confidence. He's playing at a level I've never seen before. Pure brilliance in every facet of his game. He's beating teams with his arm. He's beating teams with his legs. He's beating teams with his mind. He's been athletic. He's been totally cerebral.
* Last week - I wrote that Jordy Nelson is the elite #2 WR in the NFL. Those thoughts were furthered on MNF.
* I normally don't write anything with a negative thought early in the previous week's review, but man, Josh Sitton is not the same player that we've seen. Haven't lost confidence in him. I still consider him a robust bodyguard for Rodgers. But, he's struggled. It seems he's been beat each week. He must buckle down.
* On the other hand, while TJ Lang has had faulty plays, he's been a huge physical upgrade over Daryn Colledge.
* Bryan Bulaga is our best OL right now.
* I give Marshall Newhouse credit. He's in a tough spot. While he practiced at LT, he played RT in the preseason. He's come in and he's learning on the fly. He's been playing with fight. Mostly, he's done well. Jared Allen is a tough match. He stood up to Allen and although, Allen won some battles, for the most part, Newhouse played admirably.
* James Starks falls forward. Every time. Like no other Packers back in my lifetime.
* Another precise route by Greg Jennings leads to another Jennings TD.
* Great grab by Double-D! Turn back the clock!
* J-Mike going up and grabbing the ball in traffic on 4th down.
* Randall Cobb at Lambeau Field. Under the lights. Expect greatness. It's coming. For now, I'll overlook the dropped punt. But, remember to focus, young man.
* Note to NFL Offensive Coordinator: T-Mon is back. He's healthy. And, once again, he's in the top tier of the NFL's CB's. He's a key to the "Run at the Repeat."
* Sir Charles calling out the defense. And then playing as the Leader he is. Coming on the blitz. Covering ground across the middle. Man, I wanted that pick-6. Would've tied the record!
* Des Bishop coming on the blitz!
* Sometimes, in basketball, a shooting guard in a slump needs a lay-up to get him going. Well, the same applies to a pass-rusher. In the case of the Claymaker, look out. 2 big sacks. More to come!
* CJ Wilson with his best game of the year.
* Soon, Raji has to find himself in the backfield. A top-shelf Raji is a necessary ingredient for this team to Repeat.
* Mason Crosby!
* I gotta say that P-Lee and J-Bush have been solid special teams players this year. I've been critical of them in the past. So, I have to give them props when they are due.
* DJ Williams with the big block to spring Randall Cobb free.
* Ryan Grant is not running like I thought he might at this stage of the season. Makes me think Saine is going to get his chance soon.
* Though extremely limited, disappointed in So'oto's performance. Didn't get a long look but I was hoping he'd explode. He didn't burst off the ball. I know that I was expecting unrealistic results and I'm not giving up on him - by any stretch of the imagination - but, I really wanted him to make an immediate impact. Hopefully, that was the first of many opportunities for him. He has the tools to make an extreme difference for the Pack!
* Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Yes, soon, Mike Neal will get his first chance to make a play in the 2011 NFL Season.
This week - it's the Yucs from Tampa. And for Mike McCarthy, this game is personal. He still thinks about November 8, 2009. I was at the game. It was a disaster. The Packers were 4-3. Playing a decent brand of football. The Yucs were 0-7. There were numerous Packers fans in the stadium. Leading 28-17 in the 4th Quarter. Chants of "Go Pack Go" echoed throughout the stadium. And, then, 21 straight Tampa points. 38-28 Tampa. Ugly. Ouch. Painful. It was the worst moment of my Packers-fan life that I've ever experienced in person. For McCarthy, it was his ALL-TIME LOW as a Head Coach in the NFL. After the Super Bowl, as he celebrated with Jennings, he mentioned it. This day is etched in his coaching mind. Forever. He wants to beat Tampa. Badly. Revenge will be sweet. Normally, this would be a trap game. Sandwiched between division rivals. 3 games in 12 days. You'd think that something would have to give. The team will be reminded of the pain experienced on November 8, 2009. The team will taste the sweetness of success. 10-0 is within sight!
After a 3-1 start, Tampa has lost 4 of 5. They're banged up. And with temperatures expected to be in the mid-30's at kickoff, with a chance of flurries, the Yucs won't want to get off the plane. An early lead and this one could be a blowout as the Yucs will simply look for ways to stay warm.
Prior to the season, this was a game that scared me. I thought the Yucs matched up with the Packers really well. They play a slow-paced ball-control offense. Kellen Winslow is a possession receiving TE who has a knack for getting open on 3rd down. Blount is a punishing back. Josh Freeman is a talented QB with a pension for leading late-game heroics.
The upset is not happening.
Jordy Nelson. In college, he ate up Aqib Talib. Talib was at Kansas. Nelson at Kansas State. Talib could not cover Nelson. The same will apply on Sunday.
Like most teams, Tampa does not have the firepower to stay with the Packers lethal offense. Spread 'em out. As long as the winds are light, Rodgers should have another MVP performance. The Yucs are not applying an abundance of pressure on the QB. Our OL should win the battle at the line of scrimmage. When Rodgers has time, look out. He's putting points on the board.
The Yucs will probably try to use zone coverage and jump the short routes. Look for Rodgers to use the pump and go. Probably to Nelson. It'll net a big play.
The middle of the Tampa defense can be exposed. Expect big statistics for J-Mike.
The Packers jump out to an early lead. The Yucs are known for their comeback skills. It's not happening this week. They'll be more concerned about getting back to the Sunshine State of Florida.
Furthering his campaign for the MVP, Rodgers goes for 250 and 3 TD's.
Packers 38. Tampa 17.
It'll be one of those classic November days at Lambeau. Beautiful football weather. A rowdy Lambeau crowd. Chanting "Go Pack Go!" It's a crucial NFC Game. And victory is sweet.