3 in a row! Tied at the top of the NFC North! Time to dive into a beer that I've never sipped before. The NeoMexicanus Native Pale Ale is crafted by Crazy Mountain Brewery, a small brewery tucked away in the heart of Edwards, CO. It's a beer that "is an exploration of a largely undocumented hop, native to the South Western United States." At the first sip, it offers a skunky, fruity feel. Fruit smell akin to the citra hop. The pour is cloudy with a solid head. The texture is sticky. My mind is blissful.
My second beer will be the Perennial Aria. It's been aging for roughly 15 months. It's a Belgian Style Ale fermented with Brettanomyces. When I last tasted, it was sweet up front, with a funky butt to it's finish. At 7.2%, I'm stoked to see how's it's evolved with age.
The Packers are 4-2. With 5 of the next 7 at Lambeau!
Here are my quick vibes from the last week:
* R-E-L-A-X. Yes, XLV MVP, I have relaxed.
* In the 1996 Super Bowl, Andre Rison was caught on camera screaming, "We got the fuckin' MVP throwing us the damn ball!" It feels like, once again, the Packers have the MVP throwing the ball.
* The Packers have great camaraderie on this team. They enjoy one another. It appears as though the locker room is selfless. Loved Eddie Lacy's tweet after the game. As I've mentioned before, Lacy is nicknamed the Green & Yellow Bumblebee. After the game, Lacy posted a photo of himself standing next to James Starks. He stated that Starks was his "Big Brother" and was now nicknamed the "Green Hornet." I'm on board. Huge game by Starks! Especially on the final drive!!!
* That was one of the most dramatic finishes I've ever been to (an asterisk is that I don't include non-Packers games such as the Tebow TD pass to Thomas to beat the Steelers in the playoffs). It was right there with Majik to Sharpe in the "After Further Review, the Bears Still Suck" game. It was there with the Favre to Freeman "He Did What?" game on MNF vs the Viqueens. It was right there with the Favre to Kitrick Taylor win over the Bengals. It was there with the Favre to Thomason victory over the Raiders to kick off the '99 season. It was there with the Favre to Bradford TD to beat the Viqueens in '99. It was there with Favre to Freeman over the Bucs in '99. This win is fresh, but as of now, if I had to rank them, I'd go: Majik to Sharpe, Favre to Taylor, Rodgers to AQ81!, Favre to Bradford, Favre to Thomason, Favre to Freeman over the 'queens, Favre to Freeman over the Bucs. This victory was action packed! It was special. I was back in Miami. For the first time in nearly for 4 years. It was sentimental. The victory was sweet. Without that buzz, it might rank 5th.
* 3rd & 9. The defense desperately needs a stop. Philbin calls a run play. Miller had the blocking in front of him. HaHa takes on the Left Tackle and the Left Guard. He knives through both of them. He makes the tackle. The Packers get the crucial stop. HaHa was sensational in Miami. If that's the HaHa of the future, we have reason to be excited!
* Jordy Nelson. Forever!
* Once again, Randall Cobb shines in the Red Zone. He's seriously become a lethal Red Zone weapon!
* Boogie On, Davante Adams. Dude has flair. He's funky. He has shake. A good mix of James Jones & Greg Jennings. He's becoming dangerous after the catch. He's learning the Jordy stiff arm. He's playing with confidence. Soon, we'll see Davante on a double move. And, it'll be epic!
* I want Jeff Janis to get the ball, but the guy does not get in-and-out of his breaks. His route running needs significant work.
* TJ LANG! Play of the game with the fumble recovery. Plain and simple, he wanted it more. Well done, TJ. You deserved a game ball.
* Thought Sitton and Linsley played really well.
* Another good game from Bakhtiari. Yes, he got beat for a sack, but man, if you were paying attention, it was clear that Vernon jumped offside on the play. Should have been a penalty. Bakhtiari didn't have a chance.
* Bulaga will have better days. He won't play that film when he's negotiating his next contract.
* AQ81! Point to the sky, young man! Point to the sky!
* The jumbo package with Sherrod? I don't get it.
* On both sides, it was a terribly coached game. In the first half, the Packers controlled the clock. And, they had nothing to show for it. McCarthy needed to get greedy. He never did. He had multiple occasions in which all he needed was a FG to grab a 2-score lead. He never capitalized. He was ridiculously conservative. And, then, when all he needed was a couple of yards to get into FG range, he called the play-action and put Rodgers right into the face of Wake. Generally speaking, I'm in favor of the call, but not in that situation. I thought he should have pounded the ball at the left side of the line of scrimmage. We were having success running behind Bakhtiari. Wished he would have called a run to manage the game.
* What was Joe Philbin doing when he called the timeout before the 4th & 10? The crowd was rockin'. The Packers were scrambling after the sack-fumble. We looked unprepared. Philbin bailed us out. I'll be surprised if he's the Fins coach next year.
* Julius Peppers is SO CLOSE to having a multiple sack game.
* So is Mike Neal. Thought it was going to happen last week, but Neal seems to lack the killer instinct when he gets within striking distance. He doesn't drive through the tackler. Especially the QB. He's a bit passive.
* Once again, I thought Letroy Guion played a really nice game. On the goal line stop in the 1st Quarter, I thought Guion was a stud.
* Speaking of the goal line stop, what a play by Morgan Burnett on 4th down!
* Mike Daniels was quiet until the last drive of the game. And, when we needed a stop the most, Daniels was crucial.
* Soon, Clay Matthews is going to make a big play. He has to stay patient. He looks like he's pressing. And, possibly frustrated.
* My, oh my, Brad Jones is awful.
* AJ Hawk isn't tackling anyone is space.
* The fake-spike to Adams was legendary.
* Hyde not only was solid on special teams, but he looked assignment-sure on defense.
* Mike Pennel has to finish the sack.
* Casey Hayward! That was a tremendous interception. He was also more assertive when going to make a tackle.
* Ras Davon with the great break on the ball. But, dude, catch the ball. Elevate. Take your game to the next level.
* Sammy Swagga was disciplined. The interception was pure brilliance. Man, I hope he's OK. Something doesn't feel right about it.
* T-Mon was having a great game prior to the injury. Sure, he gave up the TD, but he was in perfect position. It was a great throw and a nice catch. Give credit where credit is due.
* Eddie Lacy. Yo, man. Hit the hole and go. If your first read isn't there, plant. Look for the cutback. Lower your shoulder. Burst through.
* I'm starting to really like this draft class. It's possible that we've drafted 3 gems. I like HaHa. I love Adams. Linsley looks like he can ball. I'm hopeful Bradford can emerge as a decent ILB and a solid special teams player. I believe that Janis will develop into a noteworthy WR and/or special teams returner. But, at this stage, it's clear that Aaron Rodgers has zero confidence in Richard Rodgers. He doesn't even look towards him. Even when Richard Rodgers is open, he's far from the XLV MVP's mind. And, as a blocker, Richard Rodgers remains useless. He's not even remotely developing. He can't even get in the way. I really hope I'm wrong, but I'll be surprised if Richard Rodgers ever amounts to anything.
* I'd love to see a no-huddle drive with DuJuan Harris as the back. I'd run a screen early in the drive.
* Why can't we figure out our special teams units? Can't make a tackle on a kickoff. Get a punt blocked. Absolutely unacceptable.
* Brandon Bostick should never play on special teams again. He's putrid. With that said, I still believe that we're going to see Bostick used in the next couple of weeks as a receiver. He'll be the target. There'll be a play designed for Bostick as he's either streaking down the seam or running a 15-20 yard crossing route. Wait for it. It'll happen in the next 3 weeks. I am convinced.
* Kevin Dorsey got his shot on kickoff coverage. He looked like he was afraid of contact. Disappointing.
* I said it before, I'll say it again: I believe Jeff Janis will block a punt this year.
* It's worth mentioning: Percy Harvin is out of the NFC!! He's been kryptonite for the Packers. Much like Colin Kaepernick. That's big news!
* A couple of key elements with respect to the Packers getting compensatory picks in next years NFL Draft: Evan Dietrich-Smith has started all 6 games for the Buccaneers this year. In 5 games, CJ Wilson has 10 tackles and 2 sacks. In 5 games, James Jones has 26 catches for 328 yards and 3 TD's. He is on pace for 83 catches, 1050 yards and 10 TD's. Admittedly, while I understand that games started, statistics, post season recognition, and salary are all in the equation, I don't know the exact formula for the distribution of compensatory picks. But, it's worth mentioning that the Packers received a 3rd round pick for Greg Jennings after he had 68 catches, 804 yards and 4 TD's. Last year, Erik Walden finished with 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery and 45 tackles in 15 games. The Packers received a 5th round pick for Walden. If Dietrich-Smith starts 16 games, Wilson finishes with 5 sacks and Jones continues his pace and production reigns supreme in the compensatory equation; the Packers could finish with a 4th and a 5th as compensatory picks. That'd be exciting! Any way, as I slowly piece together my mock draft, I'm projecting two 5th round picks for the Packers.
This week - it's the Panthers. At Lambeau. In October. In the Throwback uniforms. That sounds festive! Party On, Packer People!
Cam Newton scares me. He could enter Colin Kaepernick territory this weekend. I was hoping for weather in the mid-40's. Instead, we're going to get nice fall weather. A picturesque day at Lambeau. Cloudy. Mid-50's. That calls for Fall football. A brisk air. A hoarse voice. The way Football was meant to be played.
If Kelvin Benjamin plays post his concussion and T-Mon doesn't play due to his injury, that's frightening. Benjamin is a big target that makes plays in traffic. With Sammy Swagga out for the game, it's likely House will have to shadow Benjamin. Casey Hayward will shadow Jerricho Cotchery. I'd expect Hayward to win that battle. J-Bush will muscle against Jason Avant. And, Micah Hyde will follow Greg Olsen. If the Packers try to guard Olsen with either AJ Hawk or Brad Jones, Olsen will explode. I wouldn't mind seeing Lattimore on Olsen, but I don't foresee Lattimore playing this week.
Jonathan Stewart will get the start. But, he's banged up. And, therefore, he doesn't scare me.
I watch a lot of football. I'm not overly familiar with anyone on the Panthers OL. Peppers, Matthews, Daniels, Neal and Perry better have big games.
Carolina's defense is overrated. It's a shell of what it was last year. Charles Johnson can get to the QB. He'll cause problems. Star Lotulelei is legit. Other than that, they have mediocre talent in Kawann Short, Dwan Edwards, Wes Horton and Kony Ealy. Don't get me wrong, I like Short and Ealy, but neither is ready to elevate to the next level. Maybe in time, but not at Lambeau this Sunday. Also, if Colin Cole sees significant playing time, the Packers better run right at him.
The middle of the Panthers defense is entertaining. Thomas Davis has stood the test of time. He's fought through injury. He still brings intensity. Luke Kuechly is arguably the best ILB in the league. He's dominant. He intimidates. He can do it all. AJ Klein intrigues. I was interested in him coming out of college last year. He's a try hard player who finds the football.
The Carolina secondary can be had. Antoine Cason, Josh Norman, Roman Harper, Thomas DeCoud, and Bene Benwikere are all interesting names. None are stars. I liked Benwikere coming out of college this year. He might be able to fight with Cobb for a bit, but he cannot battle him for 60 minutes. Neither Cason nor Norman has the size or muscle to fight Nelson. Both will also struggle with Adams as well. Roman Harper is old. Thomas DeCoud is just a guy.
I'd have Clay play ILB. I'd have him shadow Cam. I'd have Perry, Neal, Elliot and Peppers rotate on the outside to keep legs fresh. But, Clay would play every down. He'd shadow Cam. He wouldn't let Cam get loose. If Clay plays OLB, which I anticipate he will, it'll be crucial for Clay to stay patient. Especially on the read-option. We cannot let Cam get loose. The Panther will use a bunch of play-action. The Packers will have to stay disciplined. It won't be easy. But, if we're assignment sure, Cam will give the Packers opportunities to make plays.
Early in the game, the Packers establish the run. Lacy pounds away for chunks of yards. McCarthy lines the Packers up with 3-wide. He runs the ball with Lacy. Then, it's play action. And, a big ball. It goes to Nelson. It's a TD.
HaHa grabs a pick. The Lambeau Faithful elevates.
Lacy grabs more yardage. "EDDIE EDDIE EDDIE" echoes through the most hallowed of theaters in American sports.
The Packers grab an early lead. Cam loses patience. His body language looks defeated. He throws another pick. This time to Hayward.
I'm way behind on my studying of Draft Prospects for next year. I've been working too many 12-15 hour days. With that said, here's a list of players that have jumped out at me so far: Shane Ray, OLB, Missouri; Kevin White, WR, WVU; Denzel Perryman, ILB, _; Alvin Dupree, OLB, Kentucky; Josh Harper, WR, Fresno State; Rashad Greene, WR, FSU; Kurtis Drummond, S, Michigan State; Jake Ryan, LB, Michigan; Cody Prewitt, S, Ole Miss; Justin Hardy, WR, ECU; Trey Flowers, OLB/DE, Arkansas; Bo Wallace, QB, Ole Miss.
I'll have a Mock Draft out in the next couple of weeks. I plan on spending time to get caught up.
Go Pack Go!