5-5. It may feel like the season is rapidly slipping away. If so, you couldn't be more wrong. Thanks to Jim Schwartz's coaching ignorance, the Packers still control their destiny. We are the two-time defending NFC North Champions. We won't go down without a fight. And, if either the Lions or the Bears are to steal what's rightfully ours, they're going to have to beat us for all of the marbles. In that scenario, my faith is in the Green & Gold. But, first, we have to beat the hated 'queens from Minnesota.
The loss to the Giants was ugly. A porous performance. Mostly lackluster. At times, it was heartless. Among the worst performances that we've seen from a Mike McCarthy coached team. For the most part, it was flat-out boring. The Giants weren't good. The Packers were worse. That sucked. Here are some takeaways:
* Mike McCarthy looks like he's carrying anciently tired eyes. Worn down. Beat up. In need of a long rest. He's showing a sense of frustration that I've never seen before. I didn't like how he called out Tolzien for the JPP pick-6. He claimed that Tolzien should have spotted JPP's stance. Well, Mike, did you notice it? The play was designed to go to the flat. If you noticed it, why not call a timeout from the sideline in that scenario? It was a big enough moment in the game to take control. Stay confident, my fellow Irishman. Be a Leader. Take ownership.
* I like Scott Tolzien. A lot. More than Flynn. In fact, I'm positive that I want him to be our back-up QB next year. Saves us a 3rd round pick in next years draft.
* T-Mon was Tramondous! A willing tackler. Aggressive. A great interception. Needed others playing with his intensity.
* We miss you, Sammy Swagga. You, too, Donny Barclay.
* Yes, Clay had an epic sack. But, this isn't the Claymaker that we know and love. On occasion, he seems helpless.
* What happened to the Defensive front since Rodgers went down? With Rodgers, they looked like a unit that could carry us to a Super Bowl. Since his injury, they've looked like a unit that is among the worst in the league. Did Rodgers play defense as well? Maybe his spirit carries more leadership qualities than anyone imagined.
* Loved the Eddie Lacy TD run. That was ALL Lacy!
* Micah Hyde is an Artisan when he's attacking he ball. He's uber talented when the play is in front of him. He's instinctive. When he's trailing the play, he's lost. Looks like he's thinking too much.
* Dear Mike McCarthy, how about we try to have the pass set up the run when they sack 8 in the box?
* Tolzien throws a great ball. He showed decent footwork. He has a great deep ball. A quick release. He's not afraid of contact. He looks confident. Doesn't get rattled. Wants to make plays. I like him.
* I like Brad Jones. He's steady. Has moments of beastly play. Shows flashes of brilliance. But, upon contact, he's going backwards. He has poor leverage. Tackles too high.
* Tighten the helmet, AJ.
* For 4 plays, we played with great passion. The TD by Lacy. The three-and-out that followed. It felt like momentum was on our side. Then, JPP happened. Pissed me off.
* I'd like to see more of Jamari Lattimore.
* At some point, I'd like to be done watching MD Jennings play football. With that said, why is the fake punt designed to go to him? Liked the call. Liked the design. Didn't like who was put in position to make the play.
* Jordy Nelson. Besides Calvin Johnson, who is a better WR? Anyone? Julio Jones? AJ Green? Brandon Marshall? Dez Bryant? D. Thomas? Wes Welker? I guess I'd probably take Green and possibly Jones or Thomas. But, after that, it's Jordy. For my eye anyway. Please sign a lifetime contract, Jordy.
* In 7 years of watching Mike McCarthy coach football, I've learned that a conservative Mike McCarthy offense is never a good thing.
* BJ Raji was offered an $8 million per year contract and he didn't jump all over it? What's wrong with this world? I want BJ in Green Bay. He's a huge part of the XLV for Life buzz. But, BJ, let me explain something to you. Dude, you've become a role player.
* Mike Daniels continues to apply pressure with goodness.
* Nice sack, Mike Neal.
* Good game, David Bakhtiari. You, too, Josh Sitton.
* A screen to Franklin is coming. Or another wheel route.
* Jarrett Boykin is gold. This might not spell good things for JJ's future in Green Bay.
* JJ seems to lack burst. Wonder if he's healthy. He's trying.
* In time, Tolzien will learn to finish drives. That prospect brings me great excitement!
* Need more out of you, Morgan Burnett.
* EDS was a fighter.
* Nice catch AQ81. Same for you, Brandon Bostick.
* Need better special teams tackling from Nixon & Stoneburner. Learn from Chris Banjo.
* Well done, Mason Crosby!
* I like having Marshall Newhouse's personality on the team. I can't stand his play. Drives me crazy.
* TJ Lang can play for my team any day.
* While I've been hard on McCarthy in this post, I'd like to point out that his throw back play to Kuhn was beautifully crafted. What was Kuhn thinking? He had an easy TD to the outside.
* Quick note: The first win for Aaron Rodgers? A home game against Minnesota. The first win for Scott Tolzien? You guessed it.
This week - it's the 'queens. At Lambeau. It's not a win-or-die scenario, but it's close. Another NFC loss, especially in the Division, jeopardizes tie breaking scenarios.
When you play Minnesota, the first thing that comes to mind: how to tackle AP? He's banged up, but he'll play. And he'll be going against a defense that needs to find its heart. Or else AP could rush for 200 yards again.
Once again, Christian Ponder will be taking the reigns as the starting QB for the 'queens. You have to wonder if he'll be on a short leash. They've turned to Cassell previously. Further, I imagine that Minnesota might hand the ball to Joe Webb in an attempt to display some Colin Kaepernick-type option plays.
Greg Jennings returns to Lambeau. Yawn. As a fan, I wouldn't even pay him the attention that he wants. He's not worth it.
I'm worried about what Simpson and Patterson might do to the defense on deep balls. The 'queens will attack the Packers on multiple deep throws. Hoping for the big play. If not by catch, by penalty. Ponder will put air under his deep ball. If our safeties are in position to make a play, they could capitalize. Might Burnett force a turnover?
The 'queens will be without Kyle Rudolph. A painful blow. A crutch for Ponder.
We know the 'queens defense. I like their front 7. I am afraid that Barclay will not play. that means that Newhouse will block Robison. Advantage Minnesota. In a big way.
The secondary can be had without Harrison Smith. Be aggressive, Irishman. They cannot cover us.
I'd like to see Lattimore's speed, power and desire on the field as the defense is stealthily on the prowl to slow down AP.
Look for McCarthy to give the game to Tolzien. Not just the ball, but the game. Multiple back-shoulder throws to JJ. 15 yard crossing routes to Nelson. 12-15 yard posts to Boykin. The ball in the flat to Franklin. The screen to Lacy. The out to AQ81. Tolzien uses play-action early. The Packers find success.
Ponder has tools. He moves really well. He can throw on the run. He gives you opportunities to make a play, but if you don't capitalize, he can beat you. He will move the ball. He will put points the board. He'll keep it competitive in what becomes a grinder of a game in the 3rd Quarter.
But, finally. Yes, finally! Finally, the Packers defense gets the big stop.
Note to the fans in attendance: don't get frustrated. This team needs encouragement. I fear that there's a possibility that we hear boo-birds if the Packers come out slow. This team needs a pick me up. Provide. Let's get this one!
For what it's worth, I've compiled another mock draft. But, I'm waiting until after Thanksgiving to publish it. Call me a dreamer, but I remain a believer.
Go Pack Go!