The intensity is at peak levels. Thus, I have to pour something dank. Rich in hoppy love. I select the River North Hoppenberg Uncertainty Principle. This is the 2nd time I’ve poured a bottle of this bomber in the last week. My wife just gave birth to our second Son, Simon Michael. Post delivery, this was her request. It has a fruit aroma, but I don’t pick up a ton of fruit on the flavor. It’s a thoroughly balanced beer with a light bitter finish. It comes across with a funky font. It’s heavy in IBU’s. Yet, it’s a really smooth drink. At 9%, you’re smiling at it’s finish. Musically, I select Derrick Harriott. His “Let Me Down Easy” track combines a mellow Roots beat with lyrics of loving heart break. Still, as background music, it rings smoothly and offers a calmness to tame immense excitement for this Sunday’s opener.
Here are some takeaways from the last week:
* Welcome back, James Jones. Hoping to see the yellow gloves along with the yellow tape and/or yellow wrist bands. I’m also hoping that you’re in-sync with the MVP on the back-shoulder throw. It’s been the ultimate bail-out for the Packers offense. It’s takes true unison between the WR and QB. We’ve seen issues with this in the past. When Jones was at his best, he and Rodgers had great synergy. We know Rodgers really likes Jones. I question whether Jones can truly separate from a DB anymore, but his knowledge of the offense and his ability to play on the outside are necessities right now.
* Bruce Gaston earned a spot on this team. Wondering if it’s possible for him to see some playing time on passing downs early in the year. He consistently showed a push from the interior.
* Prior to the drops at Pittsburgh, I really felt that Alonzo Harris had better upside and was well-ahead of Rajion Neal on the depth chart. Harris’ two drops were painful. Neal took advantage. Still, Neal has limited upside. What you see is what you get. Good player, but never going to be great. Frankly, I thought Neal would’ve been a better pro than he showed during the preseason. Harris could develop into a legitimate #2 back. I liked what I saw. Was happy he was kept.
* At one point, I wondered whether the Packers were going to keep 8 DL on the roster after the suspensions. But, Lane Taylor was an absolute MAN this preseason. He earned a spot. The Packers were wise to keep an extra OL.
* Was surprised that Nate Palmer won a job. Thought that Joe Thomas showed more awareness and punch. Had more potential. The Packers must’ve felt that Palmer was the better special teams player.
* Not sure how much it’s worth, but I believe this to be the best Packers practice squad. Rotheram has a future in this league. Ed Williams has the physique. Robertson Daniel is an intriguing addition at CB. Would be nice to see Abby healthy for a stretch. Another year at ILB might do Carl Bradford well. Would be excited to see what James Vaughters could do with a year at ILB under his belt. Justin Perillo showed well prior to the concussion. Christian Ringo flashed in limited reps. He looked like he’s a developmental prospect who could provide a push.
* Jeff Janis. I really hope the Packers give him a shot this year. He’s a tough cover. He has speed. He has improved route running. He’s a tough cover. And, if he gets a step, you’re not going to catch him. He deserves 3-5 targets a game.
* Jayrone Elliott. I fully expect him to be involved in pass rushing situations. Kid can get to the QB. He turns the corner. He has natural pass rushing ability. From a strictly pass rushing perspective, I view him as the 2nd best player on our team – behind the Claymaker.
* I can’t get over how intimidating HaHa looks in his uniform. Really hopes he takes the next step. No more missed tackles and this guy will be a star for us. In order for the Packers to be an even remotely average run stopping team, HaHa will have to make his presence felt.
* It’s a little uncomfortable to say this, but Aaron Ripkowski, Chris Banjo, Sean Richardson, and Jayrone Elliott are 4 crucial players on this years team. All special teams. We’re counting on them to make plays in our most vulnerable unit. But, someone needs to make the tackle. Oddly, Mason Crosby seems to be one of the few kickers that doesn’t kick the ball out of the end zone on Kickoffs. Therefore, the Packers are forced to make a tackle. Ripkowski, Banjo, Richardson and Elliott will be counted on to make plays.
* Tim Masthay. Time to wake up, man.
* I cannot believe Matt Blanchard isn’t on the Practice Squad.
It’s real. Like FOR REAL. The race for the Legendary and highly coveted Super Bowl 50. 11 am on Sunday morning. It doesn’t get any better than the oldest rivalry in the NFL. Packers at Bears. Week 1. At Soldier Field. Once again, we’re reminded of a brilliant memory in the not too distant past:
Halas Trophy. Soldier Field. Visitors Locker Room. TRUMP CARD FOREVER! Yes, the XLV run remains clearly in the front of my mind.
Dude, that’s bliss. In its purest form.
If this game were in Week 4, I’d be predicting a 45-13 shellacking. But, the Bears have an uncertainty to them. They have a new Head Coach who has a history of successfully managing a game. A new Offensive Coordinator who led one of the more fertile offenses in the NFL over the last couple of years. A new Defensive Coordinator who has had good success against the Packers. Thankfully, Ray Nutler is still the QB.
John Fox is going to micromanage this game. He’s going to run the football. He’s going to utilize the play-action pass into the flat. Look for Martellus Bennett to catch a minimum of 5 balls. Most of them will have him on the run and in space. He’ll be a dangerous cover. Defensively, look for the Bears to use a variety of blitz packages. Additionally, they’ll look to take the deep ball away. They’ll want to keep everything in front of them. They’ll play a bend, but don’t break and they’ll anticipate that – on occasion – they’ll get to the MVP on third down.
The Bears will run the football between the tackles. They’ll run to the Right side extensively. Utilizing Kyle Long who has reportedly moved to RT. Long has dominated the Packers DL in the past. But, outside of Long, the Bears OL is highly questionable. Matt Slauson has had an OK career, but he can be moved off of his spot. I’d be uncomfortable if Will Montgomery was the Packers starting Center. Vladimir Ducasse and Patrick Omameh a journeymen type players. Jermon Bushrod was a talented Tackle before injuries have deteriorated his skills. He’s still a quality player, but he’s no longer in the upper echelon of Tackles. He can be beaten with speed. I hope to see Jayrone Elliott looking to get the corner against him.
The Bears playmakers are beat up. Eddie Royal and Marquess Wilson are questionable, but both are expected to play. Still, they won’t be at full strength. Alshon Jeffery is a top-shelf WR, but he has missed all of training camp. He is a dangerous target, but I’m sure he’ll be limited by his calf injury. Martellus Bennett scares me.
The Bears have solid depth at RB. Matt Forte continues to be a dynamic RB. Look for him to get 20 carries. Jacquizz Rodgers is an undersized RB who is a threat as a 3rd down back and is dangerous in the screen game. Jeremy Langford is a solid young talent. He’s a mudder. A pound-it-out type back who has a knack for finding the first-down marker. Ka’Deem Carey is a speedy back with a shifty style. We don’t want to see him in the open field.
Defensively, the Bears are transitioning from the 4-3 to the 3-4. Without the personnel to successfully make the switch. Jared Allen still has pass rushing skills, but he can’t drop into coverage much like Aaron Kampman couldn’t drop into coverage in 2009. Pernell McPhee was a solid situational pass rusher for the Ravens. He’s a pass rushing threat, but he hasn’t been an every down player previously. Ego Ferguson, Eddie Goldman, and Will Sutton were all talented college players. Jarvis Jenkins can be disruptive along the defensive line. All are unproven at the NFL level. I like the way the Packers OL matches up against them. Christian Jones is a developing ILB, but he’s not ready to be a star. Shea McClellin has yet to make his mark in the NFL. He’ll be playing ILB for the first time in his career. The Bears secondary is complete patch-work. Expect a big day from the NFL’s MVP. Kyle Fuller had a solid rookie year, but last year, he struggled against the team that has won 4 consecutive NFC North titles. Tracy Porter isn’t the player he once was. Brock Vereen was torched on a number of occasions last year. Vereen was easily looked off. Sherrick McManis cannot cover Adams, Cobb, Jones or Janis. As the Packers spread the Bears out, the Bears have no ability to cover the Packers.
Look for John Fox to conduct an ultra-conservative game plan. He’ll try to keep the MVP off the field. Early in the game, the Bears cause trouble by running the football. They taste success. Punching the Packers in the nose. Running the clock. But, they settle for FG’s. Rodgers finds the uber slender, Davante Adams on the 12 yard slant. He hits James Jones on the back shoulder. It’s play action and Rodgers is rolling right. He hits Cobb for a 20 yard gain. The Bears see a heavy dose of Eddie Lacy. Lacy pounds at the heart of the Bears defense. It’s Aaron Rodgers to Richard Rodgers for a Packers touchdown.
The Bears keep it close for a half. But, early in the 3rd Quarter, the game changes significantly. HaHa continues to creep towards the line. He makes plays in the run game to force a third and long. And, then, it’s the vintage Nutler interception. Casey Hayward makes the game altering play.
A screen to Lacy reaps big rewards. Starks hits the hole for 7 yards. It’s Rodgers to Janis on a 25 yard TD. “GO PACK GO” chants echo throughout Soldier Field. Once again, it’s mid-way through the 4th Quarter and “Half of the Stadium is Packers fans and half of the Stadium is empty.”
The Packers special teams units do not have any monstrous blunders. Rodgers throws two TD’s. AQ81! has three catches. Adams tops 100 yards. Lacy runs for 85 yards and a TD.
THE BEARS STILL SUCK! Always have. Always will.
Packers 30. Bears 16.
Keep the vibes positive. Energy doesn’t lie. The run for a 5th consecutive Divisional title starts now!
Go Pack Go!