THE BEARS STILL SUCK! 1-0. Perched atop the NFC North. In lonely fashion. Just the way it’s supposed to be. After 4 consecutive NFC North titles, we expect it this way. Anything else is considered failing. To celebrate, I pop a 2013 version of the Cascade Figaro. 10.7% ABV. Blissfully aged in chardonnay barrels. A white wine, lemon zest feel that is perfectly tart. Figs and raisins speak loudly from the glass. It joyfully opens as the beer breathes after being poured from the glass. Musically, I play the Cool Runnings Soundtrack. I’ve adopted Jimmy Cliff’s “I Can See Clearly Now” as Simon’s (my newborn) anthem.
The Packers traveled to Soldier to kick-off the 2015 NFL Season. We knew how that one was going to end. Sometimes it ends with a Halas Trophy in the Visitors Locker Room. Sometimes it ends with Bears fans burning jerseys in the Solider Field parking lot. Sometimes it ends on a 4th & 8 pass with 00:38 left in the game to seal the NFC North Crown. Sometimes it ends in a mid-December victory to clinch the NFC North. Sometimes it ends in blow-out fashion as the MVP tells the G-Force to R-E-L-A-X. And, I guess, sometimes it ends in a Packers victory to kick-off the season in a game that was played in ugly fashion.
Here are some quick vibes from the last week:
* McCarthy looked frustrated. Couldn’t believe the Packers were so undisciplined. The Sammy Swagger off-sides penalty was absolutely unacceptable. Terrible play by Sammy. McCarthy was furious. In all, 10 penalties by the Packers. Under McCarthy, the Packers have been a slow starting team outside of the 2007 and 2011 seasons. McCarthy expected this year to be different. If the run defense and the penalties are a sign of the future, 2015 might also end up being a slow-starting season.
* The MVP in MVP form! Calm, casual and under control. Playing with confidence. He wasn’t going to be denied.
* Sporting yellow on the wrists, it was great to see JJ back in action! Far exceeding my expectations. Playing as well as ever.
* Life without Bryan Bulaga. That sucks. He’s a crucial component to the Packers success. Hoping for a speedy recovery.
* The Claymaker! Sure, the interception was heroic! But, how about Clay chasing down Forte when it looked like he’d walk into the end zone? That was phenomenal effort.
* Love that the MVP’s hard count was in mid-season form.
* Lacy played with good patience. Showed vision. Found the hole. Hit the hole. To the tune of 4.5 yards per carry.
* Randall Cobb with the spectacular TD catch!
* Richard Rodgers is in line for a big year. He looks like a different man.
* Eddie Lacy with the one-handed grab!
* Was surprised that AQ81 wasn’t involved in the design of the offense.
* 8 targets for Davante Adams. On a day when the coverage seemed to be focusing on Adams. He has an opportunity to have a big year. He showed great footwork and body control on the catch along the sideline. Hope there’s more of that in the future.
* James Starks running aggressively for first down yardage on 4th down!
* The OL was absolutely dynamite. True domination. They took command of the line of scrimmage. Fantastic performance by the entire unit. Thought that the holding penalty on Bakhtiari that denied JJ of an epic TD was unfair. Bad officiating.
* The Bears still suck.
* Sammy Swagga. Awful, dude. Pathetic performance.
* Ha Ha. Come on, man. We need better. You’re too talented. Pick up your head. Lift your shoulder into the defender. Really disappointing game by the former first-round pick.
* Good to see Raji playing with high activity.
* Nate Palmer isn’t good enough. Need YELLOW JAKE playing instead of him. The Barrington injury hurts. Especially on run downs.
* Josh Boyd was pushed backwards. All game. When Guion returns, Boyd might need to go.
* Julius Peppers! Really strong game from the vet. 1.5 sacks. 5 tackles, 4 of them were solo. 1 tackle for loss. 2 QB hits. Looked youthful!
* Sean Richardson is a total buzzkill. Bad angles. Out of position. Playing with stupidity.
* Jayrone Elliott showed glimpses. Looking for more burst out of him. Looked like he might be banged up. Hope he’s OK.
* Mike Neal got pushed around.
* Impressive debut from Damarious Randall.
* Nick Perry was non-existent.
* Ty Montgomery received great blocking. He displayed good vision. OK burst. Ran with confidence. We should see more big returns in his future.
* Mason Crosby was money!
* Good punting, Tim Masthay. Let’s make that your trend.
* The MVP with the flick of the wrist! Gorgeous!
This week – it’s the long anticipated battle between the Seahawks and the Packers. Finally, at Lambeau. We’ve waited for this game since 2012. The head says that it’d be easy to view the Seahawks as being in a position to win by 2 scores. Recent history suggests that fortune is on the Seahawks side when the two teams meet. First, there was the FAIL MARY. Then, there was the preseason game in which Jake Stoneburner fumbled as it looked like he was going to walk his way towards the end zone. We know what happened last year. Additionally, the Packers will be without Bryan Bulaga. Simply put, when Bulaga didn’t play last year, the Packers lost. But, I believe in the power and the soul of Lambeau. I loved how McCarthy rocked the “GET LOUD LAMBEAU” t-shirt. The Packers will be ready. Lambeau will be electric. It’ll have a playoff atmosphere. And, it’s only Week 2.
The Seahawks will be ready. They’ll be physical. Offensively, they’ll attack with an abundance of read-option. They’ll also extensively utilize Jimmy Graham, who presents a horrible mismatch for the Packers. And, expect a bunch of WR bubble screens to Baldwin, Lockett, and Kearse. They’ll force Sammy Swagga to tackle. They run those short routes right in front of the most experienced CB on the roster. They’ll run Lynch to Sammy’s side of the field. Sammy better be wearing a thick coat of armor because the Seahawks are coming after him. Expect Lynch to touch the ball 20-25 times.
Seattle’s weakness on offense is their OL. Okung, Britt and Sweezy have been tested and all have played well. But, Drew Nowak and Carry Gilliam need to be attacked. Nowak has Green Bay roots. He’ll be stoked to be playing at Lambeau. I’m hoping the Packers overload and come on inside blitzes. I’m hoping Jayrone Elliott gets an opportunity to test his speed rush against Gilliam. St Louis’ DL abused the Rams OL in Week 1. The Packers will need a big game from Mike Daniels on the interior if they plan on having any chance to slow down Seattle.
Defensively, Seattle will be without Kam Chancellor. But, they’re still littered with sublime talent. Michael Bennett is fierce. Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, KJ Wright, Bruce Irvin, Bobby Wagner, Cliff Avril and Brandon Mebane will all be suited up and ready to lower the boom. Avril vs Donny Barclay is one of the biggest match-ups of the game. There’s no question that Avril will be coming on a speed rush. Barclay struggled in the preseason. He’ll be tested early. He’ll be tested often. Seattle does have some holes on defense this year. Cary Williams is a veteran, but he can be beaten. Tye Smith and Tharold Simon are unproven. Dion Bailey is inexperienced and has flaws. He doesn’t have the speed that we’re accustomed to out of the Seattle defense. Last week – the Seahawks used Sherman in the slot, on occasion. I don’t anticipate that they’ll do the same this week. They’ll use Sherman to take away one side of the field. He’ll likely be against Adams for most of the game. Seattle had success swinging coverage against Cobb with a LB. They got their hands on him and took him off his route. They’ll likely try a similar approach on Sunday night.
Special teams will play a big role. Tyler Lockett returned two kicks for TD’s in the preseason. He returned one vs St. Louis as well. I’m scared of him. He’s elusive. I don’t trust our ability to tackle on special teams.
Against the Bears, Jeff Janis and Ty Montgomery weren’t involved. In fact, the Packers were fairly basic on both sides of the ball. I anticipate that the Packers will play with more play calling aggression on both sides against Seattle. Look for creative design with packages that include Montgomery in the backfield. It’d be nice to see Montgomery on a swing pass. Look for a deep ball to Janis. Ideally, I’d like to see Janis run down the sidelines vs Cary Williams. Williams can’t keep up. A big play could be waiting in the wings.
Defensively, look for a variety of stunts that bring Matthews and/or YELLOW JAKE on the blitz. Especially on passing downs. On run downs, Wilson will have to be shadowed as I expect a bunch of read-option. Early and often. The Packers haven’t been able to defend it previously. Seattle will think that they can find quick results utilizing it again this week.
Early on, the Packers bang away with Lacy. Right between the tackles. Linsley, Sitton and Lang lean with success. Barclay gets a push. Bakhtiari neutralizes. The Lambeau Faithful rises with conviction. Rowdy, in nature. The Packers strike first as Aaron Rodgers connects with Richard Rodgers for a TD. The defense benefits from crazy volume from the stands. They get off the field. The Packers take a two-score lead.
Lynch punches the Green Bay defense in the mouth.
Down late, Rodgers gets the ball. He lays the BELT on the table. He picks it up. He wraps it around his waist. It’s Rodgers to Jones against Cary Williams.
Keep the faith. Bleed passion. Turn up the volume.
Go Pack Go!