An epic tailgate party. A victory in the home opener. Multiple New Glarus Cran-bic beers ensued. If you live in WI and you aren't ALL IN with the New Glarus fruit beer series, you're missing out. Big time. They're making the best fruit beers that I've tasted. And they're punching out a wide variety of flavors.
As I write, I have Toots and the Maytals "Slatyam Stoot" album in my ear. His "It Was Written Down" song is absolute brilliance.
Here are some quick hits from the last week:
* Mike McCarthy outcoached Rex Ryan. Early, Ryan had the better strategy. McCarthy adjusted. He turned to the quick slants and the short comeback routes. The Jets still got pressure, but the ball was out of the XLV MVP's hands. And Nelson, Cobb and Adams were in business. Had Ryan slowed down his tendency, the Jets had that game in hand.
* Down 21-3. It was scary. But, the grit and fight that this team showed gives me great confidence that the 2014 Season has a ton of promise.
* Aaron Rodgers. Pure excellence. Taking shots. Bouncing up as if to say "that's all you got" in Favre like fashion.
* Jordy Nelson. Forever a Packer. Total stallion.
* T-Mon with the game changing play of the game.
* Randall Cobb does well in short spaces. He's best in the Red Zone.
* While Derek Sherrod improved as the game went along, he was way too soft. In the run game, he gets little-to-no push. And, thus, the Green 'n Yellow Bumblebee hasn't been able to be unleashed yet.
* I liked when DuJuan Harris was inserted as a change of pace back on the final drive of the first half.
* DAVANTE ADAMS! He doesn't have elite speed nor strength, but the guy comes across as a football player who'll give you everything that he has on every play. Really excited about his future.
* It's funny, growing up, I got way more out of a football game when I was in attendance. I had an eye for it. But, I attended as many games in person as I watched on TV. Now? My eye sees more on TV. The speed of the game in person gets the best of me. I still enjoy being at the game WAY MORE than watching on TV, but my eye isn't as good. With that said, there's things that you cannot experience on TV that you get in a game experience. The body movement on the sideline. Prior to the game, I made a mental note that Jarret Boykin's posture didn't look the same. He looked like he was mentally setting himself up for disappointment. Then, he drops a pass and follows it up with an inability to get open on a slant in the end zone. You could tell that Boykin's body language meant that something was wrong. Next thing we saw was increased playing time from Adams.
* Another beautiful thing about being in the stadium is that you get a bird's eye view as to how the defense were going to attack. And, post the 1st Quarter, Aaron Rodgers saw the field with absolute brilliance. He attacked all angles of the field. He saw his mismatches and he attacked.
* The 4-3 defense isn't producing the pass rush I anticipated, but it did wonders in the run game.
* Mike Daniels is a star.
* Clay is adjusting to his new role. Getting comfortable. Wasn't his best game, but he was dominant in the 4th Quarter.
* On 2nd & 3rd down of the Jets final drive, it was Julius Peppers who made the play.
* After a shaky start, Sammy Swagga played a solid 2.5 Quarters.
* Good game, Davon House. But, Rasta, pick off that crossing route!
* Morgan Burnett is a step slow. He should have picked off the 2nd down pass in the 3rd Quarter. Instead, Decker made a great grab and McCarthy wasted a challenge and a timeout. Burnett did make a nice play when he broke up a pass in diving fashion. But, his timing on jump balls is way off. He's always falling backwards. He's not high pointing the ball.
* In person, Ha Ha Clinton Dix looks slow.
* Wrap him up, Datone Jones!
* Great effort, Josh Boyd.
* I'm hoping Letroy Guion is just getting in shape because, once again, he was pushed backwards.
* Good fight, Mike Neal.
* TJ Lang and Josh Sitton are fun teammates.
* We need you healthy, Micah Hyde. I like T-Mon as a cover corner out of the slot, but as a blitzing CB; that role should be reserved for you.
* Nick Perry is off to a really slow start.
* With Mulumba out, I'm wondering if Jayrone Elliot will see action.
This week - it's the Lions. In Detroit. Wow. What a September schedule. At the Super Bowl Champs. A home opener at the Jets. At Detroit. At Chicago. That's December intensity in September!
As I talk to knowledgeable football fans who are non-Packer fans, they're all saying the Lions win this week. They think that Detroit will out-score us. That we'll have no answer for the Lions offense. And, in the end, they believe the Lions will get pressure on Rodgers, which will create necessary stops. I disagree. Fully. The Lions have injuries at CB and RT that cannot be covered up.
Matthew Stafford has elite potential. He's clutch. When the games on the line, he produces. When he's given time, he's difficult to stop. Calvin Johnson might be the most difficult WR to cover in the history of the NFL. Golden Tate is a fantastic #2 WR. Ryan Broyles does good work in the slot. Reggie Bush and Joique Bell have traditionally given the Packers fits. They compliment each other well. Brandon Pettigrew is nice 3-down TE, Joseph Fauria is legitimate Red Zone weapon and Eric Ebron is a pass catching threat who could evolve into a match-up nightmare.
The Lions are flashy. They lack brute strength. The Packers front 4 on defense will be more physical than the Lions OL. Mike Neal/Nick Perry should win against Riley Reiff. Rob Sims/Dominic Raiola/Larry Warford are not scaring Mike Daniels. Julius Peppers will LaAdrian Waddle. And, Clay will make a game changing play this week. The Packers will be in Stafford's face.
Defensively, the Lions are stacked up front with Jason Jones, Suh, Fairley and Ziggy Ansah. But, the Lions don't have the depth up front that they've had in previous years. I like Caraun Reid, but he isn't ready. Devin Taylor is an intriguing developmental prospect, but he's not Willie Young or Cliff Avril. I expect the Lions to play with only two LB's throughout. With Stephen Tulloch and DeAndre Levy, the Lions have a couple of work-hard ballers. Who'd have thought that Levy would evolve into a Pro Bowl player? Not me. I thought he was average at WI. With the Lions, he's a game changer. Tulloch is consistent. Won't miss tackles. Won't dominate. he's good enough. The Lions secondary will get exposed. Rashean Mathis has had a solid NFL career, but he's 34 years old. He can't run with Nelson. Darius Slay is an aggressive CB. He'll get beat on a double move this week. Cassius Vaughn? Mohammed Seisay? These guys aren't covering any of the Packers WR's. Wherever they are, I expect Nelson to be close. Rodgers will take advantage of that mismatch. At safety, Glover Quan and James Ihedigbo are physical performers who can intimidate over the middle.
If I'm Dom Capers, I'd have T-Mon cover Calvin Johnson. In past years, T-Mon has had some success. He has the leaping ability to make up for the height difference. While not as fast as Sammy, I believe that if you give T-Mon safety help over the top, we'll limit his success. Plus, I like the Sammy Swagga v Golden Tate match-up. Rush 5. I'd like to see a mix of Clay and Lattimore coming on inside blitzes. Have Hyde shadow Bush. Hyde is physical enough to scrum in the box. Savvy enough to understand the angle to attack Bush's speed.
Offensively, if Bulaga is playing, I'd run to the right on the first two plays of the game. Early in the game, the Packers have to slow down the Lions front 4. Punch them. Wear them down. Then test the Lions depth of the DL and their poor secondary with play-action.
Eddie Lacy, the Green n' Yellow Bumblebee is gon' sting some people this week. He's going to get to the 2nd line and into the secondary. We'll see DuJuan Harris shifting through the Lions defense on a screen pass. McCarthy gets into the minds of the Lions front 4. Lang and Sitton are flapping into the ears of Suh and Fairley. It's a great September fight.
Peppers has 2 sacks. Daniels gets 1. Clay gets us off the field on a big 3rd down. Sammy Swagga grabs a pick. Rodgers tops 300 and throws 3 TD's. Nelson goes over 100. Lacy picks up the necessary first down late in the game.
Go Pack Go!