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Beware of a dangerous mindset

Posted Oct 25, 2017

Packers must capitalize on attention Aaron Jones will draw


Kyle from Ottawa, Canada

If a coach brings back two players successfully from the IR, does he gain a third for later in the season?

That’s funny. A little humor to start the morning.

Randy from Des Moines, IA

This is not negativity: the defense lacks consistent pass rush and they get exploited because of it. I get the desire to stay positive, because anything is possible, but at what point is it just fantasy? Without an honest diagnosis, you can't find an honest cure.

I don’t think anyone is saying all is well with the pass rush. It was a tick late several times against Keenum in Minnesota; it was held even more at bay vs. Brees. Getting pressure with a four- or five-man rush comes down to winning your one-on-one. When you have to scheme to get pressure, you’re going to be vulnerable somewhere.

Mike from Madison, WI

"Turtle up and cry" is a classic. You guys need to face reality. For instance, if you guys didn't meet deadlines, produced a bad product, consistently underperformed, you would be let go and change would take place...that’s reality. Fans are paid employees somewhere, and if they don't do their job, they are let go. The fans see the defense as consistently underperforming, year over year. These gentlemen, including coaches, are highly paid employees. If they don’t do their job, change is in order. This is not a charity, fans will not accept participation trophies, Vince said winning is the only thing. Why is that so hard for you and those "remain calm" fans to understand?

I don’t think conceding the season is over, as many fans are doing, is reality either. I also don’t think my Monday column was all sunshine and roses. When the head coach says, “We’re not going to play like that anymore,” and it lasts for all of a quarter and a half of the next game before reversion to the prior, that’s a problem, and I don’t think I hid from it. Wes has maybe a brighter disposition than anyone I’ve ever worked with, and he likes to bring that to the column. I have no problem with that, and hearing different perspectives throughout the week, I hope, is what makes this fun. You used the word “paid” twice in your post, so I’ll close this little lecture with the ultimate reality: The other guys get paid, too.

Tommy from Minneapolis, MN

With the loss of A-Rod do you believe Green Bay is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions? I mean Old Testament, real wrath-of-God type stuff. Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies. Rivers and seas boiling. Forty years of darkness. Earthquakes, volcanoes. The dead rising from the grave and human sacrifice?

Speaking of perspectives …

Chuck from Sun Prairie, WI

With a full two weeks to rest, heal, prepare and being a home division game, would you say our next game is the biggest of the season so far? Huge for standings and even bigger for team psyche?

Every game right now is the biggest of the season so far, until the Packers get their first win with Hundley.

Bobby from Joplin, MO

Insiders, I had two questions and couldn't decide between the two, so I'll ask both. First, what is with our screen game since Rodgers went out? It seems like we have called more screens in the two games Hundley has played than all other games combined, and it has not worked at all. Is it the timing? Secondly, it seems like we have lost the one player on offense we can't afford to lose in Rodgers, and are without the one player on defense we can't afford to lose in Burnett. Do you think the communication issues, not lining up properly, 10 men on the field mistakes are largely due to his absence and leadership?

I see two issues with the screen game. One I’ve mentioned before, which is the offensive line has constantly been in flux, not just on game day but in practice with players being limited, etc. That has to affect continuity. Second, a screen is a deceptive play, and defenses seem to be reading and reacting to it readily, which makes me wonder if the offensive unit isn’t selling the deception enough. As for the defense, it’s not all on Burnett. He’s important, but to think it’s all going to be fixed when he comes back is a dangerous mindset. Playing with proper leverage and better anticipation won’t suddenly happen because Burnett is back in the lineup.

Pat from Collierville, TN

What is up with Clinton-Dix this year, or should I say what is wrong? Sure is not playing at the same level as last year.

This is the one area I’ll concede Burnett’s absence may be a more significant factor. Dom Capers suggested as much on Monday, because of all the extra communication responsibilities heaped on Clinton-Dix right now. He’s not as free mentally to react and attack. To his credit, Clinton-Dix is making no excuses, but I remember Burnett not looking like the player we thought he could be in the post-Collins abyss at the position from 2011-13. The Packers are deeper at safety than they have been in a while, but a true veteran partnership has value.

Juan from Barcelona, Spain

Our defense is being criticized for their fourth-quarter performance, which hasn't been the best. Do you guys think that could be because ball possession has consistently been less than our rivals, especially in the lost games?

That can be a chicken-or-egg question, particularly in the Saints game. Through three quarters, it wasn’t that out of whack, with New Orleans holding a lead of 24:37 to 20:23. The fourth quarter was 12:19 to 2:41. So which came first? The fourth-quarter letdown or time-of-possession dominance? The bottom line is you have to make plays in the fourth quarter, and they were all made by one team. You can’t win a close game that way.

Justin from Atlanta, GA

Get to eight wins. If Rodgers comes back Week 15, it would make for an exciting three weeks of football.

I have no idea if Rodgers realistically can come back then, but if that’s true, the number in my mind has been seven, though it’s pointless to project until the fifth one is in the bank. That’s all that matters right now.

Jeff from South Grafton, MA

“Madden Football screwed this whole thing up...” Game. Set. Match. McCarthy 1, Soap Opera Talking Heads 0.

He’s had some great lines in press conferences this season, but that one took the cake.

Jesus from El Paso, TX

Mike, I wrote in at the beginning of the season stating that Aaron Jones would be the sleeper of the draft. You accused me of being biased. My question is, how do you like your crow? :)

I believe, more accurately, I suggested you might be biased, which any reasonable observer would do given your locale. Be that as it may, pass the salt.

Margo from Bloomington, IN

Hi Insiders, it was nice to take a break from the gloom of Sunday’s game to see the pictures of Bart and Cherry Starr. What wonderful ambassadors they are of all things Packers! I was reminded of being a kid at training camp where everyone wanted an autograph from Bart. He was probably tired from practice but he stood at the door of the bus and said, “How about if everyone lines up and I’ll sign autographs until the bus has to leave. Is that fair to everybody?” I didn’t get an autograph, but even as a kid, I respected how reasonable that was and admired what a nice man he was. After Sunday’s game, that memory helped give me some perspective so thought I'd share it.

I echo all that Wes, and Margo, have shared about Starr. I remember several years ago, when renowned team photographer Vernon Biever died, I called Starr down in Alabama to get some comments for a story. Starr had campaigned for Biever’s induction into the Packers Hall of Fame and then introduced him the night he received the honor. Unbeknownst to me, I ended up breaking the news of Biever’s death to Starr with that phone call. I felt terrible. Yet with his typical graciousness, Starr spoke with me at length about Biever so Packers fans could hear how one of his closest friends in the organization remembered him.

Art from Edwardsville, IL

Am I mistaken in thinking that the backup QB used to be a veteran who was a little past their prime? Now it seems like the backup is almost like a farm system for the position. While that has its place for situations like Rodgers eventually taking over for Favre, I can’t help but feel it’s not helpful for a team trying to stay on course like we are currently watching. As much as I like Hundley, it seems like a veteran QB could’ve gotten us at least one win over these past two weeks.

Each team will have its own approach, but when you’ve got the guy who developed Rodgers, you try to develop young quarterbacks. The Wolf/Holmgren regime did the same with Brunell, Hasselbeck, Brooks, Detmer, etc. They never had to play behind Favre, but here’s the thing. There’s no guarantee a veteran backup could have beaten one of the league’s best defenses or a future Hall of Fame QB on the other side, and even if he were able to get the one win you wish for, after two games, what you’d see is what you’ll get the rest of the way. I don’t think that’s the case here.

Lori from Heredia, Costa Rica

It seems like there are more serious injuries to star players this year than in the past. Do you agree? It makes me think there will be some stiff competition for Comeback Player of the Year in the 2018 season.

The list of big-name players across the league on injured reserve at the moment, aside from Rodgers, is astonishing. J.J. Watt, Joe Thomas, Greg Olsen, Marshal Yanda, Haloti Ngata, Tyler Eifert, Whitney Mercilus, Julian Edelman, Cliff Avril, Brandon Marshall, Odell Beckham Jr., Quintin Demps, Danny Woodhead, Eric Berry, Ryan Tannehill. I had to quit reading.

Nathan from Okabena, MN

What did you think of a potential "Fail Mary" Part 2 in the Seattle game?

A poor imitation, because I thought it was a more reasonable interpretation of the simultaneous catch rule. The receiver clearly had possession first, and the defender was not able to fully take it away. That was not how the original unfolded.

Scott from Green Bay, WI

A great way to make up for difficulties elsewhere is to win the special teams battle. Some teams just seem to have the knack for outstanding, and unexpectedly creative special teams play. Instead, our special teams hurt us when we needed them most. How do we get better, and then even better special teams play?

Stop committing penalties, and once you stop, don’t start again.

Stephanie from Brooklyn, NY

Insiders, do you have any insight on what MM might have meant by this comment: “I told them before the Minnesota game they’re not practicing the right way, and this thing is going to bite us and we have to get on top of it.” Is he referencing coaches or players, methods or commitment?

The head coach wants to see a certain tempo, rhythm, intensity and sharpness to practice. He knows what it’s supposed to look like. McCarthy stayed the course last year at 4-6 because, as he kept saying, he was seeing the right things in practice, and he was eventually proven right. Granted, that was with Rodgers. He told us practice improved considerably last week. I believe him.

Dan from Ludlow, MA

Seeing how the Cowboys safety made a few field goals the other day due to injury has me wondering if any non-kicker/punter has scored an extra point or field goal for the Packers?

The most recent examples I could find glancing through the statistical archives were linebacker Rich Wingo making an extra point in 1981 and defensive lineman Dave Pureifory making a pair of PATs in 1975.

Max from Neenah, WI

Is it possible for a player to win league MVP despite (or maybe because of) being on IR? If anyone questioned how valuable Rodgers is, they're going to find out over the next few months.

If that were to ever happen, it would have been in 2011, when Peyton Manning was out and the Colts’ nine-year postseason streak ended with a 2-14 mark.

Justin from Centerville, UT

Back-to-back weeks with an important player getting knocked out against the Vikings, on late hits and Zimmer defending them. Granted Mike Wallace is no Aaron Rodgers, but he was one of Baltimore’s last remaining healthy WRs. The conspiracist in me is starting to wonder about Bountygate 2.0.

I’d never go that far, but the Vikings play on the edge and Zimmer clearly condones it. I remember Sendejo, who was just suspended for the Wallace hit, was the defender who gave Rodgers a late shot to the thigh well after he crossed the goal line on his scramble TD last year in Week 2.

Mike from Niceville, FL

Mike mentioned on the fair-catch penalty the player can’t be touched until the ball hits the ground. Is there any limit to this? For instance, why wouldn’t the returner just gently tip the ball in the air all the way down the field and catch it when he crosses the goal line?

The only reason I’m entertaining this absurd question is so many dozens of you pondered it. Please, people. A fair-catch signal concedes any attempt to gain yardage on the return. Any effort to do so anyway is flagged as unsportsmanlike conduct. That said, after slowing it down on the all-22, I do think Ginn’s second bobble of the ball came before he was contacted, and he deflected it too far away from his body to be able to catch it. As Brian from Baltimore, MD, pointed out to me, the “reasonable opportunity” language of the rule was probably satisfied, but you’re just not going to get that call if you hit the player before the ball hits the ground (except in Nashville, apparently). It’s not reviewable either, unfortunately.

Joshua from Houston, TX

I appreciate the Astros shout out! What are your thoughts on this World Series?

I’m hoping for seven games.

Greg from Cuenca, Ecuador

Insiders, if I were an opposing coach, I'd put eight men in box, bottle up the run game (which has been a pleasant surprise), and dare the Packers to beat me through the air. That would be the reverse of almost 25 years of opposition preparation. A lot changed two Sundays ago.

I was stunned the Saints didn’t do that from the start and Jones was able to get four carries for 70 yards on the opening drive. He’s going to attract more attention now, to which he’ll have to get accustomed, and upon which the Packers must capitalize.

Jason from Johnston, IA

If we're mentioning “Cheers” quotes, Cliff's explanation of how drinking makes a person smarter has to top the list.

It’s logic I live by, especially during the bye week.


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