We are one game away from the opportunity to play for all the marbles. I can taste it. It's Super.
As I do my best to stay calm, I settle into a Paradox End of the Beginning. It's a sour beer that'll make you pucker. It's cloudy at the pour, but it settles nicely. Much like the Packers performance against Dallas. I chill to the Bob Marley "Exodus" album. I don't want to wait in vain. I want to enjoy a Super offseason.
Here are my quick vibes over the last week:
* An aggressive Mike McCarthy is a good Mike McCarthy. 3rd & 11. Game on the line. I might have run the ball. Then punted it and forced Dallas to go 90 yards with just over a minute to play. Not McCarthy. He went swinging and trusted his MVP. The tipped pass landed in Cobb's hands as the good Lord was shining his light on Lambeau. After all, Titletown, U.S.A. is Football Heaven.
* R-E-L-A-X. I'm sorry, MVP. I can't. I'm too ecstatic. You amaze me, Aaron. Your brilliance overwhelms.
* JP is taking his role as a playoff captain seriously. He wants to be the next REGGIE or Sir Charles in the eyes of the modern day Packers kinfolk. He played his best game as a Packer.
* Clay Matthews was tremendous. Great move by Capers to move out of the zone and to put Clay on Witten in man-to-man coverage. The coverage was sound. The sacks followed. Huge of the Claymaker to tuck the ego aside and to take one for the team.
* I like the Pistol formation with Kuhn lined up next to the MVP. Gives Lacy a veteran FB to help pave the way. On the 3rd play from scrimmage, EDDIE might have gone all of the way if he had followed Kuhn.
* NEW YORK BOZO!
* Really fun to see AQ81! extending his route on the first TD.
* The interior of the OL continues to be absolutely punishing in the run game.
* Peppers at DT on passing downs. It's a thing. Loved Clay's reaction after Julius' strip sack on the opening drive. Teammates!
* Good blocking, Randall Cobb.
* Davante Adams' catch on the HUGE 4th Quarter 3rd and 3 was special. It was a bad pass. But, Adams wanted it more. Then, he showed the mental wherewithal to stay in bounds. Veteran play by the rookie. Also, great fun to watch BJ Raji's excitement on the sideline during the play. Come back on the cheap, big fella!
* Our defense is extremely vulnerable on WR screens.
* Oh, that Julius Peppers strip of DeMarco Murray. If the Packers finish Super, that play will carry the same weight as the Desmond Bishop shoestring tackle do DeSean Jackson. Without it, nothing else matters.
* John Kuhn. Man, he was great on the first drive of the game.
* I'd really like to see Randall Cobb give the Packers a home town discount.
* Thought that Barrington came out attacking. He needs to keep that mentality for 60 minutes.
* Mike Daniels is a beast.
* Good effort, Mike Neal. His skills are limited. His effort is not.
* Nick Perry flashes, at times. He made a couple of big plays. But, I wish he'd be more consistent.
* We need better T-Mon.
* Solid game from Sammy Swagga.
* I really like when Starks runs as a one-cut back. Plant and go, James.
* To my eye, it looks as though Clay is evolving into a top notch leader.
* The MVP on the hard count. Mint!
* Datone Jones has good quickness. He has a good work rate. Unfortunately, he gets pushed around often.
* EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE!
* The 15-yard penalty on Lang was horrible officiating. He was about to make contact right as the whistle blew. There was no way to avoid it. And, well after the whistle, Adams got slammed to the turf. Penalty should have been called on Dallas.
* We cannot count on Josh Boyd to pressure the QB from an end position. Where's Jayrone Elliot in that situation?
* Huge tip on the FG by Datone Jones!
* I like seeing Hyde on the blitz.
* The Rodgers to Cobb pass at the end of the first half was spectacular. And, good footwork, Randall!
* Guion should focus on being powerful. Not slippery.
* Davante Adams just busted through the rookie wall.
* Bakhtiari and Bulaga. Steady as rocks.
* It was 3rd & 3. 3:21 left in the 3rd Quarter. The prospects of victory felt dim. We had the ball at our own 17. Rodgers hit Adams on a short hitch route. Adams shook loose and rattled off 17 yards. Over the last 18:21 of the fame, Aaron Rodgers added to his legend in a Super way. It was a performance that'll be discussed for ages. MVP! MVP! MVP!
* 1:52 remaining in the 3rd. 3rd and 15. Trips right empty backfield. Adams fights off a jam. Gets out of his break akin to a youthful Greg Jennings. Rodgers hits him in stripe. Then, Adams goes pimpin' in the open field. Momentum swung greatly on that play. Delightful!
* Enormous fumble recovery by AQ81!
* Thought Capers did a solid job of mixing up the blitzes. He disguised Clay in a wide variety of ways.
* Brad Jones makes a lot of mistakes. His tackle on the 3rd down play prior to the 4th down Dez Bryant drop at the goal line was not one of them. Big play by Jones.
* Fantastic catch, Richard Rodgers! He might have the best hands on the team.
* Rodgers' ball handling is an under discussed art.
* AQ81! fighting for first down yardage after the catch!
* Shake and bake, Davante Adams! His after the catch moves are Au Natural. You can't teach that. It's innate.
* Mike Pennel tries hard. Has to get stronger.
* Ah. The Rodgers to Rodgers TD. A laser of a pass. An emphatic BELT!
* Prior to the Cowboy game, I thought Sean Richardson would be an upgrade if he saw more time. But, against Dallas, he looked slow and took bad angles.
* Felt HaHa was also slow in the run game. He, too, was taking bad angles.
* Julius Peppers at DT on the pass rush. Reminds me of Justin Tuck for the Giants in 2007 and 2011. Hands in the air. Altering plays. Getting a push. Providing an interior pass rush.
* Davante Adams. With the spin move!
Welcome to Championship weekend! It’s the Packers traveling to play the defending Super Bowl Champions. In Seattle. Call me crazy, but I trust Mike McCarthy. And, I believe in Aaron Rodgers. I also ask Packers fans to heed these words: ENJOY this weekend! Cherish it. It doesn’t happen often. Just think about how awesome the Favre years were. Then remember that he made 4 Championship games with the Packers. It’s not often that you get this opportunity. Embrace this weekend. Most fans watch a game and feel tense. Packers fans watch games with intensity. Throughout the regular season, we watch with great anticipation as to our playoff seed. Thus, when the playoffs start, we have to throw away the nerves. Have fun watching the games. Spit positive energy at the TV. Imagination creates reality. Picture the Packers in Arizona. Playing for the Super Bowl. Let’s go grab a ring for the thumb!
The Seahawks have attitude. They have confidence. They believe in themselves. They’re the Champions. I’ve been waiting 2 years for this game. I wanted to play them last year. I like the way we match up. I firmly believe that with a healthy Bulaga in Week 1, the result might have been different. Sherrod was exposed at RT. In a big way. We’ll need Bulaga to be at his best against Avril and Irvin.
Offensively, Seattle uses deception. Wilson is great with play-action and the read-option. Lynch is nicknamed Beast Mode for a reason. I give props where props are due. Robert Turbin is underrated. He’s fast, tough and is a great compliment to Lynch. Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse are also underappreciated. Baldwin reminds me of Antonio Freeman. He finds the zone. He sneaks behind the defense. He’s smart. He’s savvy. Kearse is a big target who is a tough cover. Ricardo Lockette had a big game against us in Week 1. He shouldn’t pose too much of a threat though. Luke Willson is a legitimate weapon. He runs a solid down and out route. He uses his body well. He has good hands. He’s tough to bring down. Seattle’s offensive line leans on you. Their intent is to wear you down. To beat you up. They’ve invested in their OL with 2 first round picks and 2 second round picks.
If I’m Dom Capers, I’m exclusively using Clay and Barrington at ILB. Clay is a spy on Wilson. He never follows the RB. His two eyes are glued to Wilson all day. When Clay is at OLB, he can be attacked in the read-option. He over pursues and gives up big plays. Clay’s role should be to limit Wilson’s mobility. Barrington, on the other hand, should solely focus on Lynch. His aim is to stand Lynch up. Not to bring him to the ground. Then, the Safety – either Burnett or HaHa – comes to gang tackle, while the 3rd man goes for the ball. Lynch will occasionally fumble. Let’s go force one!
Our heavy rotation on the DL should keep us fresh as they attempt to wear us down up front. Boyd, Daniels, Guion and Pennel all play with conviction and give maximum effort.
Hyde mans up on Luke Willson. We trust Sammy Swagga and T-Mon in man-to-man coverage. We’ll have an opportunity to make a pick. Carpe diem!
Defensively, the Seahawks bring as much intensity as any team in the NFL. Bennett, Avril, and Irvin are undersized, but they bring speed, power and sheer will. Kevin Williams and Tony McDaniel add beef to the DL. Bobby Wagner and KJ Wright bring extreme quickness to the LB core. They get sideline to sideline. They can do it all. Richard Sherman is the best CB in football. Byron Maxwell has had a huge year. Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas are the best safety combination in football. Jeremy Lane has had a solid year as a nickel CB.
If I’m the Packers, I want to play defense to start the game. While a 10-0 Seattle lead would be devastating, Seattle has not started games well. They’ve had big second halves. With that said, I want to get an early stop. Then, I want to limit possessions in the first quarter. I want to survive the heat of the playoff environment. I want to see Rodgers in the Pistol. Kuhn lined up next to him. I want Lacy to pound away.
As the 2nd Quarter begins, I spread the Seahawks out. Cobb in the backfield. I’d put Boykin on Sherman’s side of the field. I’d have Nelson in the slot. I’d have Adams in a position where Maxwell is covering him. Adams has shake on his double move. Maxwell often grabs on a double move. There's a good chance that we'll draw a flag or two in that match-up. I want Cobb and Nelson in match-ups that they can win. They’re our bread and butter. I want Richard Rodgers and AQ81! lined up against the smaller LB’s to see if they can box them with their bigger bodies. Maybe, just maybe, Richard Rodgers has a 5 catch game. We dink. We dunk. We should exceptional patience. Our OL holds the point of attack.
At some point, we know Seattle will grab momentum. The crowd will be rocking. The intensity will peak. They may rattle off 14 quick points. We have to be able to respond.
Defensively, we give up yards. But, we don’t give up touchdowns. It keeps us in the game. On 3rd down, we have Neal and Perry on the outside. Peppers and Jones on the inside. Jones and Peppers are long and tall. The shorter Wilson will have a harder time seeing over them. If Peppers and Jones can’t get home, they have to get their hands up and play big. Neal and Perry keep Wilson in the pocket. Matthews is the spy.
The Packers trail 23-17. It’s late. Aaron Rodgers has his Joe Montana moment. It’s Rodgers to Nelson. And the Packers are going to the Super Bowl!
Enjoy it. When the Seahawks grab momentum, stay positive. This won’t be easy.
Go Pack Go!