The 2013 Green Bay Packers season got off to an entertaining start. Although the result wasn't what we anticipated, the game was 60 minutes of action-packed football. From the looks of it, the Packers are going to be a team that is full of both excitement and frustration. They also look like a team that is destined to finish 9-7. 10-6, at best.
I'm not being negative by suggesting such a record. The reality is that the 2013 Green Bay Packers team does not possess the depth that we're used to under a Ted Thompson team. Post the game, I read a number of people suggesting that if Hayward and Burnett had played, the Packers would have won. Injuries are a part of the game. Remember that SF played without Crabtree and Manningham. And, in 2013, the Packers have severe deficiencies at Safety and at Center.
You'll never hear me say that I don't want Ted Thompson as GM of the Packers. I won't ever say that I don't want Mike McCarthy as the Head Coach of the Packers. After all, I'm a loyal man. And they provided me with one of the greatest memories of my life in the 2010 Season. With that said, I feel Thompson wrongly assessed the Packers talent at Safety and at Center. The positions needed to be addressed during the offseason. It didn't happen. In Week 1, the middle of the Packers defense was destroyed.
All offseason, it seemed as though Mike McCarthy was talking about becoming a better running team and showing that they were a physical defense. EDS has not shown me that he's an effective run-blocking Center. Often, he gets blown up or flat out misses. And, I can't get over the acceptance of the penalty prior to the Matthews personal foul penalty. It should have been 4th down. Twice, the Packers stuffed the 49ers in short yardage situations. He should have had confidence that the Packers had either held SF to a FG or he should have lined his defense up for in an attempt to get a stop on 4th down. Instead, he gave Kaepernick another shot. He got burned. Some will blame the poor officiating for giving SF another down. I blame McCarthy. It shouldn't have gotten to that point.
Here are some short thoughts about from the game:
* Aaron Rodgers looking sharp. I've watched the game three times. I can only fault him for two plays. On the second offensive possession, I wish he would have completed the pass to an open Lacy on 3rd down. And, when the Packers were trailing 31-28, on 3rd down, he had an open Lacy on the check down and he missed him. Lacy would have had an easy 1st down. Rodgers didn't see him.
* Jordy Nelson looking like the 2011 version.
* Randall Cobb is an absolute superstar.
* If I were to start a defense, my 1st selection might be Clay Matthews. Love his quote: "I'm an awesome player, not a dirty player." Yes, Clay, you are.
* Ryan Pickett was beastly.
* Welcome back, Johnny Jolly. Love his attitude. Brings a spark.
* Really excited to see what comes of the 3rd down pass rush with Datone Jones & Mike Neal lined up inside and Clay/Nick Perry on the outside. If Jones is who we hope he is, the Packers will get pressure on the QB.
* T-Mon jumping routes! Liked his game. Seemed active. Happy with his performance. Thought he played aggressive.
* Didn't like J-Mike's drop. It was a big play as it turned into an INT. But, I thought he was passionate. In a positive fashion. I like the short down-and-out play. Hope to see more of that. I also expect to see him getting down the seam a little more this week.
* Tim Masthay. Put him at Safety! A punishing tackler.
* Eddie Lacy! Adding a spark. Of course the fumble was a buzz kill, but I liked how he rebounded.
* BJ Raji played with intensity.
* Outside of the last play of the game, I thought Barclay held up well.
* For his first start, I thought Bakhtiari played really well. Especially against that defensive front.
* Thought Nick Perry played well. Did a nice job containing Kaepernick.
* Outside of Hunter's run on the game winning drive, I liked the run defense.
* I wouldn't mind seeing a little bit of Robert Francois at ILB.
Things that must improve:
* Josh Sitton, EDS, TJ Lang all must play better. Little to no push in the run game. Often beat off the snap. Unacceptable. On the last play of the game, I'm not sure what Lang was doing.
* This defense must force turnovers.
* With a 28-24 lead, the Packers were in position to win. The defense needed a stop. Instead, it was 80 yards over 5 plays. Our safeties were absolutely exposed on the Boldin pass play and on the Hunter run play.
* Welcome to the NFL, Micah Hyde. Better days are in front of you.
* Dom Capers didn't adjust. I've seen enough of the zone defense. And, when a QB is locking in on a WR, you have to get a DB to jam him at the line of scrimmage. Knock him off his route. Disrupt the timing. Too vanilla in the secondary. Capers didn't want Kaepernick to beat him with his legs. Instead, he threw for over 400 yards. Without his #1 and #3 WR's.
* In Capers' defense, he was playing with 2 safeties that aren't cut out for a game against SF. After the game, Anquan Boldin said "that was a man's game." MD Jennings and Jerron McMillan were not men. I wish we would have seen Chris Banjo. Banjo tackled everything he touched in the pre-season. McMillan consistently whiffed. Jennings is too passive to play Safety in the NFL. If the Safety play doesn't change, I don't see why Offensive Coordinators won't consistently attack the center of our defense.
* Jeremy Ross. Yikes!
This week - it's the Redskins. At Lambeau. In the home opener. The Packers have scheduled a festive Half time show. Alumni appearances from the 1965, 1966 and 1967 teams. The last of the NFL teams to win 3-straight titles. EPIC! Be sure to see that show. It'll be a great introduction. True football legends.
A Mike McCarthy/Aaron Rodgers team has never started 0-2. It's not happening in 2013. I say this with complete conviction. The Green Bay Packers are beating the Washington Redskins on Sunday.
I expect Rodgers to have a field day against the Redskins secondary. I'm also assuming that the Tackles hold up against Kerrigan and Orakpo. If so, the 'skins secondary cannot cover our WR's. De'Angelo Hall and Josh Wilson can't run with Jones & Jordy. Washington has no one that can handle Cobb in the slot. Further, London Fletcher and Perry Riley cannot cover J-Mike down the middle of the field. With that said, I have absolute admiration for London Fletcher's game. If Kerrigan & Orakpo are blocked, Rodgers will throw for a minimum of 300 yards.
Much like against SF, I don't expect the Packers pass rush to go all out against Washington. They'll try to contain RGIII. Keep him in the pocket. Not let him escape. Alfred Morris is legit. Look for the Packers to utilize their abundance of Defensive Linemen to keep Morris under wraps. On the outside, I like the way the Packers match up with Hankerson, Garcon, and Josh Morgan. Though he's often underutilized, Fred Davis is legit. Davis could present issues for Brad Jones and AJ Hawk.
On offense, look for the Packers to utilize the play-action early. They'll attack the middle of the field. J-Mike down the seam. Cobb on crossing routes. AQ81 gets involved. Rodgers is in complete command. It's Rodgers to Jones for an early TD.
The Lambeau Faithful elevates. The defense gets off the field. With pressure in his face, RGIII throws off his back foot as he's afraid to step into a pass as he's still gaining confidence in his knee.
This drive - it's Lacy. Pounding at the middle of the 'skins defense. Then, McCarthy calls the screen to Lacy who barrels for 1st down yardage.
The Packers jump out to an early lead. Washington plays catch-up for the entire game. They can't catch Rodgers.
Packers 31. Redskins 23.
Lambeau, be loud. Garcon says it's louder in DC than it is at Lambeau. Show him the TRUTH! Take command. It's the home opener, baby! And it's a September celebration. You feelin' it? I'm feelin' it. We're back to even.
Here's a quick 2014 Mock Draft. I'm hunting for WR/S/TE/OLB. Hasn't been a ton that has jumped out at me yet. Other than Khalil Mack, of course. At some point, the Packers will draft a TE. Other than Ebron, I haven't found anyone that I'd stake my name on yet. And, as always, if I haven't watched him, I don't pick him. Here goes:
Round 1: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo. The most enticing guy that I've watched in college football this year. I taped his Ohio State game and his Baylor game. I want him. I also really like Eric Ebron, TE, UNC.
Round 2: Rashad Greene, WR, Florida State. Don't love his weight. But, he has the body to add weight. And the dude plays football. Catches everything in his range. Not afraid of contact. Big time prospect.
Round 3: Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia. At times, he's inconsistent. If you pressure him in the face, he'll miss his target. But, he can throw on the run and if he has time, watch out. A great developmental QB. Has smarts as well.
Round 4: Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State. At first glance, he looks the part, but my only time watching him was against a porous USC team. So, I need another sample. Nonetheless, he gets up for the ball and has an NFL frame. From what I saw, Bucannon finds the football.
Round 5: Max Bullough, ILB, Michigan State. Love his size, his knowledge and his energy. Total leader.
Round 5 (Conditional for Jennings): Kenny Ladler, S, Vanderbilt. The Safety position must improve. Ladler has range. Plays the ball. Solid tackler as well.
Round 6: Andre Hal, CB, Vanderbilt. Yes, I like the secondary at Vanderbilt. Hal is physical for his size. Can run on the outside. Could also play the slot. Plays the ball well in the air. An absolute fighter. A little undersized.
Round 6 (Conditional for Walden): Beau Allen, DL, WI. I'm really excited to watch him play Arizona Sate. Allen is tough to move. He's also surprisingly agile for his size. I believe he has a future in the NFL.
Round 7: Alex Neutz, WR, Buffalo. I watch Buffalo to see Mack, but Neutz has caught my eye. I'd take him in a heartbeat. As of now, CBS doesn't have him listed as a 7th Round prospect. I'd go as high as Round 5 for him. I believe in his game.
Go Pack Go!