Wednesday, December 14, 2016
My Take -> Week 15
7-6. Above .500. I don’t remember what this feels like. It seems foreign to me. I’m intoxicated. Both literally and figuratively. Complete joy floods the soul. THE PACK IS BACK. Ready for a December run. But, we need help. And, we got none in Week 14. We took care of business. We gained zero ground. It’s nail biting time. It’s scoreboard watching time. We need good fortune. Thankfully, generally speaking, in the regular season, karma has been on our side. If this team gets a shot in January, I believe that we’re capable of a Super run. I really do.
For Christmas, I asked for the Peter Tosh Complete Captured Live album. It’s the only Tosh album that I don’t own on vinyl. In hopes of getting my wish, I’m sending both Santa and the Elf on the Shelf my vibe. I’m listening to it via iTunes as I write this. Also, I’m sipping a Port Brewing Santa’s Little Helper. 10.5% ABV. It’s an Imperial Stout that is sweet with a roasted malt backbone. Really smooth. Find it. You want to sip it. And, with Avery’s Czar not being produced post 2016, this will rest well in my bunker for years to come. My gut tells me that it’ll age really well for 3-5 years. I’m hoping a little of the sweetness dies and that some caramel flavors pop.
Here are my quick vibes from the past week:
* Mike McCarthy. Aggressive. Victorious. That’s not a coincidence. In fact, it’s commonplace. When McCarthy attacks, he wins. When McCarthy is an offensive dictator, he’s the best coach in the NFL. Yes, I wrote that. And, I firmly believe that. His problem: he’s inconsistent and he often goes conservative. Stirringly, McCarthy was fierce in his approach against Seattle. Pete Carroll’s defense had no answers. McCarthy was in complete control. In fact, other than when Rodgers missed a wide open Adams down the sidelines near the end of the 2nd Quarter and when Lane Taylor got completely destroyed early in the 3rd Quarter, Pete Carroll was hopeless against the McCarthy led troops. McCarthy’s football team dominated. It’s December. Super teams win in December. McCarthy has his group of men ready to win. They’ve responded. They need to continue to play with intensity or the season will devastatingly end prematurely.
* Aaron Rodgers. Suddenly, he’s in the MVP mix. If he can finish the season the way he’s played the last 3 games, he’ll lead the NFL in TD’s. He’ll boastfully have carried his team to the playoffs. He deserves consideration. Plainly stated, Rodgers is dominating his competition right now.
* JORDY! JORDY! JORDY! Straight ballin’. Owning the red zone. In mental unison with Rodgers. Really fun to watch.
* Randall Cobb. Tough. Full o’ desire. Looking like his 2014 self.
* JEFF JANIS! Loved the call by McCarthy. Showing a massive middle finger to Pete Carroll’s dirty, cheap-shot taking bunch of losers.
* Davante Adams, once again, emerging as a true threat. Is this real? A year ago, I didn’t want him in GB. Today, he’s the bringing the shake that could put the Title back in Titletown, U.S.A.
* McCarthy is using Jordy in the slot. He’s using Ty extensively at RB . He’s owning the mind of Defensive Coordinators. He’s walking away victorious. No reason to think that this doesn’t continue.
* Really liked how McCarthy inserted Spriggs as a TE on run downs. Didn’t like how Spriggs got off of the ball. Spriggs was slow footed. Almost as if he didn’t know the count. Good coaching, poor execution.
* For weeks, I wondered why McCarthy was playing Starks extensively. Clearly, it was because he trusted him. Michael showed that he’s not yet to be fully trusted. It was a crucial 3rd down play. The Packers were on the brink of FG range. Leading 7-3 in a must win contest. And, Christine Michael ran the wrong way. Starks might not have picked up the first down, but he’d have been in the right spot. Rodgers is a cerebral player. He has to trust his players. Michael was not mentally up to speed for the 2nd week in a row. Both times, it cost the Packers.
* Ty Montgomery. Just how good can he be? In my September 11, 2014 blog, I wrote that I thought Ty Montgomery should be someone that the Packers should consider in the 2015 NFL Draft. He’s looking like he’s worthy of a 1st round pick. He’s a talented player who is mentally fit and the first player that makes contact with him never wraps him up. He’s growing into the role. I seriously wonder how good he can be. My Dad compares him to Le’Veon Bell. Can’t say I disagree.
* Christine Michael is quicker than any back that I can recall in Green & Gold. Travis Jervey may have been faster, but he didn’t dart through the hole like Michael. Jervey had straight line speed, a great special teams pit-bull. Michael has pure burst. He sees the hole and he hits it.
* Really enjoyed watching Jared Cook running the slant. Bummed me out that he didn’t get the PI call on the play in which he got injured. There was definite contact. The penalty should have been called. It wasn’t. Poor officiating. Cook has the DB beaten.
* McCarthy saw the mismatch. He attacked the mismatch at CB. McCarthy is in the coaching zone right now. DeShawn Shead couldn’t cover anyone on the field. McCarthy knew this. He went after it. All game. And, yes, the Packers dropped 38 points on the Seagulls.
* TJ Lang. What a gamer! Such a throwback. A dude from the 1960’s version of the Packers. He’d have fit in next to Thurston, Kramer, Curry, Skoronski and Gregg.
* Corey Linsley. Still feels odd watching him getting blown off of the ball.
* Lane Taylor. He’s either really good. Or really bad. When he’s good, he’s creating lanes for Ty to plow in for his first TD. When he’s bad, he’s destroying drives.
* David Bakhtiari & Bryan Bulaga. Is there a better pass blocking duo at Tackle in the NFL? I don’t think so.
* Jared Cook. One big play. Leading 14-3. Third down. Rodgers hits Ty in the flat for a first down. Would’ve been a nice gain. And, then Jared Cook gets his hands on Kam Chancellor and it became a terrific play. Cook moved Chancellor back in a fashion that allowed Montgomery to pick up an additional 12 yards to get the ball inside the 10. On the next play, Rodgers hits Nelson on a TD to make it 21-3. If Richard Rodgers was blocking in that situation, the extra yards wouldn’t have happened.
* I enjoyed watching the Seagulls defense melting down on the sidelines. In each others faces. Confused. Unable to stop McCarthy’s offense.
* Good to see Richard Rodgers soften the blow as he held on for a sublime first down reception on 3rd & 4. The following play was Rodgers to Nelson for a 3 yard TD pass to conclude a 32-yard CHAMPIONSHIP DRIVE.
* Montgomery had 12 touches for 84 yards. That's 7 yards a POP! WILD!!!
* Once again, a total treat to watch Christine Michael sell the play action fake. A true pro. So well schooled.
* As I've been saying, this defense doesn't have to be overly dominate. They just have to be able to force a turnover or two a game and they have to win the line of scrimmage. I think we're built for that. We're going to give up big plays. Without Nick Perry, we are going to give up chunks of yards - on occasion - in the run game. But, if we can utilize the DL rotation to keep legs fresh and apply pressure on the QB and if we can take the ball away, we're going to be a contender. We're going to be a team that NO ONE wants to face. We'll be a playoff team. We'll be able to make a serious playoff run.
* Have to give a shout out to Dean Lowry. Not just for the sack, but for his overall activity. Really enjoy the way he gets his hands up to distract passing lanes. He has good length. He's winning with effort. He's winning the leverage battle.
* Good game, Datone Jones. Again, he was really physical in the passing game. Solid pass rush. Has a lot of work to do in the run game though.
* Couple of really awesome plays by Jayrone Elliott. Hope the sack was a confidence booster. Need him to continue to make plays. Didn't like seeing Jimmy Graham eat him up in the run game though.
* High effort game from Kenny Clark. Was a fighter. Was getting a good jump off the ball. With the exception of the play in which he jumped offsides, I really felt like he had good timing off of the ball.
* Thought Daniels and Guion really controlled the line of scrimmage.
* The type of game that earns Micah Hyde a paycheck. If not in GB, somewhere. He was playing well in the slot, he was coming on the blitz, he was dropping as the deep safety, he was stepping into the box, he was covering the TE, he was covering the back out of the backfield AND he was returning punts. Great game from Hyde. Fun to see the game clinching pick as well.
* Knew Damarious Randall had big plays coming. Think there's more, too.
* Felt like Rollins had a pick in his future. He got it. Might be another one over the next three games as well.
* Huge game from Morgan Burnett. The defensive MVP. Dynamite work on Graham. Stepped into the box as an ILB. Looked quick. Playing some of the best football of his career.
* Joe Thomas filled the stat box, but didn't pass the eye test - for what that's worth. Wonder if the Packers should work out Marwin Evans as an ILB in the offseason. He's faster than Joe Thomas. He's likely just as physical. In the brief moments that I've seen him get after the football, I'd think he'd have the instincts for the role, too.
* Christian Ringo! BULLYING Bull Rush! Late to the party, but the play didn't start until he arrived! Forced a fumble as well.
* Have a feeling that Gunter has a pick coming in the next two weeks.
* Can't afford any more missed FG's this year. Need every point.
This week - it's the hated Bears. Yes, at 3-10, the BEARS STILL SUCK. But, admittedly, the Bears have been extremely competitive. In most every game. In fact, in their last three losses, they've had the ball and a chance to win on their last drive of the game. In each game, they were within 40 yards of victory. With temperatures expected to be between -1 & -15 on Sunday - yes, you read that right - the playing field levels out. It comes down to toughness, the line of scrimmage and turnovers.
The Bears have decent talent on offense. Cameron Meredith is showing that he's a worthy developmental WR. He can get over the top and he's not afraid of running crossing routes. Eddie Royal is still a dangerous slot receiver who can beat you deep. Alton Jeffery returns from suspension this week and he remains an elite deep threat. Daniel Braverman is an slot receiver who can move the sticks. Marquess Wilson can beat you on the go-route. Josh Bellamy is a high-effort WR. At RB, Jordan Howard is fast becoming a top-notch, do-it-all RB. Jeremy Langford is a talented RB who can both find the lanes as a RB and catch the ball out of the backfield. Ka'Deem Carey is a nice change-of-pace back. I give Matt Barkley credit. He's been put in a tough position. He's played with composure. He's protected the football. He's moved the ball. He's played within the system. He's put the Bears in position to win games. He's stood in the pocket well and played with confidence. The Bears OL is a weakness. Bobbie Massie and Charles Leno can be beaten around the edge - especially with speed. I'm sure Josh Sitton will be motivated this week, but he's had an average year. Ted Larsen is a bad Guard. He should get destroyed this weekend. Cody Whitehair is a rookie Center who offers great promise.
Defensively, the Bears have played really well. Especially in the front 7. Akiem Hicks has made plays. Pernell McPhee is a legitimate pass rusher. Leonard Floyd has made big plays. Jonathan Bullard has offered great promise as an interior DL. Eddie Goldman has been a high effort interior defender. Willie Young continues to offer length and a pass rush from the outside. Nick Kwiatkoski has been a surprisingly good player at ILB. I thought he'd be too slow, but he's masked that fault with good instincts and understanding. Christian Jones is always around the football. In the secondary, Tracy Porter remains a talented, play-making CB. Cre'von LeBlanc is a gifted slot CB. Outside of that, the Bears secondary is pathetic. It can be had. If the turf allows, it will be had.
On special teams, Deonte Thompson is an under-appreciated kick returner. He's a threat every time the ball is in his hands. On a cold day in which it'll be tough to kick the ball into the end zone on kick-offs, beware of Thompson.
The temperature is a thing. If the weather was going to be in the 20's, I'd be calling for a 3 score Packers victory. But, with cooler temperatures, uncontrollable things occur. Unforeseen mistakes happen. This game will be uncomfortably close.
Look for the Bears to run the ball early and often. They'll want the ball first. They'll pound it at the heart of the Packers defense with the goal of running it more than 40 times. They'll eat up clock between each play. Mostly dropping the play clock under 5-7 seconds. They want to shorten the field. They want to keep Rodgers off of the field. They look to find 3rd & short. They try to pound away with Howard. I expect to see Howard carrying the ball at least 25 times this weekend.
On the contrary, the Packers pick on the Bears via the passing game. Attacking the perimeter. Singling out Bryce Callahan, the Packers go after him. With an abundance of short passes. Even in awful temperatures, Rodgers finds his rhythm.
Montgomery fights the Bears defense and bounces off of tackles. Finds his way into the secondary and busts open a long 40 yard run.
It's late 3rd Quarter. The Packers lead 13-10. And, then Barkley makes his mistake. He overshoots Meredith on a crossing route and it lands in HaHa's lap. The Packers quickly attack. It's Rodgers to Nelson for the TD. A 2-score lead. And, the playoffs are one step closer.
Julius Peppers also makes a big play against his former team.
Go Pack Go!
THE BEARS STILL SUCK!