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Don't let home division games get away

Posted Sep 27, 2017

It's about doing whatever it takes, for now


Lee from Marshfield, WI

I’m on to Chicago. Beware the Bears. John Fox has this team playing hard. Detroit has improved. I don’t know about Minnesota yet. How big is this next game?

It’s a division game at home. When you lose one of these, you’re chasing it the rest of the year. Don’t let it get away.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Insiders, Bear week! (or half-week, whatever). I love the Nitro package, but I'm wondering if it will be used more sparingly against the Bears. Chicago's offense will live or die based on the run. Is there a better formation for use on first and second down to stuff Jordan Howard and Co.?

The Packers will adjust accordingly if needed. Regular nickel or base are always options depending on Chicago’s personnel. Nitro provides more speed on the field, but if it’s not standing up to a ground-and-pound attack, it’ll be obvious. I’m with you, I think the Bears are going to try to pound the football all night.

Gary from Oostburg, WI

Not a question but a comment on your reply to Grand Island Grady. The turnaround for the Packers is the second-hardest. The hardest is for the Bears, who have the same short week but now have to play a road game.

Valid point. It’s interesting both teams are coming off of unseasonably hot games that went to overtime, too.

Corinne from Chicago, IL

Will the Packers and the Bears be wearing color-rush uniforms on Thursday?

Same as last year, yes. That’s why packers.com’s desktop background changed to white this week.

Kelly from Placerville, CA

With the new injured reserve rule, can the team bring back two of the three linemen that are on IR now? What are the restrictions?

The Packers can bring back any two players from IR they’d like over the course of the year. The players have to miss at least six weeks of practice, and eight weeks of games, from the date they were placed on IR.

Brett from Boonsboro, MD

Let’s temper our praise of Romo and his performance in the booth. It is still September. Lol.

Ouch.

Tim from Marinette, WI

Any chance we see the rolling pocket for Rodgers due to the offensive line injuries? Quite a few years back I remember Green Bay doing that for Favre when the line was in shambles. If I remember correctly it helped quite a bit. Obviously the downside is using only half the field, but it would have to be respected if the Packers used it even just a handful of times.

They’ve employed the strategy each of the last two games, but you can’t overuse it.

Ken from Brown Deer, WI

It was hard to tell on the TV broadcast, but after Rodgers got the Bengals to jump offside during overtime, I thought I saw him take a quick peek at the side judge to make sure that the flag came out. Did you guys notice that, and is there video to show it?

It’s not entirely clear on the all-22 either, but he said after the game he did glance over, just as he did in the Seattle game for the 12-man flag.

Joe from Pittsburgh, PA

Nearly a month into the season, what team is your biggest surprise and your greatest disappointment? I go with the Giants on the down side, and Kansas City on the plus side. Even though they were a playoff team a year ago, their early strength is still unexpected.

Hard to argue with those choices. I’d put Detroit up there, too, at 2-1 with a road prime-time win and coming inches from knocking off Atlanta. The Lions’ defense is generating turnovers at an impressive clip.

Andy from Appleton, WI

What do you think is the area in need of most improvement after three games?

Health.

Jared from Kenosha, WI

How do the logistics of the short week work? Do the players have meetings on Monday? Do the coaches work Sunday night on game plans or film review that they would normally do on Monday or Tuesday?

You have to turn the page so quickly to prepare for the next opponent that much of the film review of the previous game is put off, and the two games are graded and reviewed together. Some of the game plan has been worked on in advance, as far back as the offseason when extensive study is done on division opponents, and you quickly review the most recent games to finalize things. You can’t have your normal Thursday padded practice, so you in essence have a Wednesday practice on Tuesday and a Saturday one on Wednesday. It’s a tough deal for all involved.

Josh from Denver, CO

Once again the Packers have the chance to take the lead in the all-time series against the Bears.

Once again? The Packers had a chance to tie the series in 2015 on Thanksgiving night, but lost. Sweeping the Bears last year tied it up for the first time since the early 1930s. Green Bay hasn’t had this chance since then.

Tyler from Miami Beach, FL

I've been extremely impressed with Vogel's punting so far. Do you believe we've finally found a long-term solution at the position?

He’s off to a solid start and has boomed some key punts. He just has to eliminate the one bad punt per game, which is very common with young punters. The one thing I noticed with Vogel during training camp is he rarely seemed to get off a good punt on a bad snap. On his 27-yarder out of bounds Sunday that gave the Bengals the ball at the 40, the snap was low (perhaps it was Goode’s first snap after the hamstring injury, I’m not sure). Now he has to deal with a new snapper and find a way to be more consistent even if the snap isn’t perfect.

Tony from Colorado Springs, CO

Great timing for Vogel to hit a 51-yard punt, as anything shorter may have resulted in the Bengals attempting a free kick at the end of the first half. Had Erickson fielded the punt successfully, it would have been a 74-yard attempt. With a 45-yard punt, for example, I am guessing Bullock attempts a 68-yarder. What do you think?

Maybe, but the Packers could have put Janis or Davis back there to try to return it if it came up short.

Drew from Billings, MT

Hi Mike, thanks for taking the time to stop and chat for a minute on Sunday before the game. I had an incredible experience there this weekend.

Thanks for saying hello. I don’t normally take that route through the parking lot on game day, but happenstance is good.

Erik from Colorado Springs, CO

After seeing Quinten Rollins have such a strong training camp and receive high praise from the coaches, I'm curious to know what's going on with him. Did he even play this last game?

He did, but the Packers started with Morgan Burnett at slot corner rather than Rollins, with Marwin Evans at deep safety and Josh Jones at the hybrid spot. Brice could be back this week in place of Evans, but it appears the Packers want to get both Burnett and Jones on the field together now.

Chase from Sunnyvale, CA

For clarification though, it is my understanding that if the holder had mishandled the ball but retained it, they could have tried again on third down. Does this apply if the kick is blocked? At what point does a kicking play (punt or field goal) become a change of possession regardless of whether the kicking team recovers it?

When the ball crosses the line of scrimmage.

Charles from Poynette, WI

Hi Insiders, I just read the article about Rodgers wanting fans to lock arms during the anthem at the next game. How do you think the fans will respond?

I hope positively, but the Inbox has already told me not everyone will view the gesture the same way.

Doug from Unity, NH

Your quarterback has the longest run of the day? He is your team's second-leading rusher for the day? Again, no running game. This team has a very short postseason run, if it gets that far.

Glad you have it all figured out with 13 games left. Questions about the running game are prominent this week. Look, the injury situation at offensive tackle has to be taken into account here, both in terms of the success and commitment. When you get hammered by injury at one position, it’s not about establishing something long-term or for the postseason. It’s about doing whatever it takes to win that week until the injury situation settles down and there’s more clarity moving forward.

JT from Whitewater, WI

"Get Rodgers to the short respite after Thursday, and then get him his starting offensive tackles back,..." Please tell me the Packers will have at least one of their two starting tackles back for the Bears game this Thursday.

It looks like Bakhtiari has a chance, though I thought he was going to play in Atlanta and now he’s missed two games. So what do I know? When the Packers got desperate down the stretch in 2015, they tried Sitton and then Tretter at left tackle, so you never know.

Larry from Green Bay, WI

Guys, if you could add any player from the NFL to the Packers’ roster right now, who would it be and why?

Tony Boselli. I’ll get his number from Vic.

Dennis from Waucoma, IA

Is there a shortage of NFL quality O-linemen coming out of college every year? It seems like a lot of the teams are weak on the O-line. I know the Packers have injuries but not many quality players to pick from off of other teams’ bottom 10.

Scouts and analysts have been saying for a few years that O-line depth around the league is down. They cite the post-2011 CBA practice restrictions and the proliferation of spread offenses in the college ranks as primary factors.

Lane from Kihei, HI

Has Rodgers ever thrown interceptions in three consecutive games before and is that his longest streak?

He threw one in three straight in the final three regular-season games of 2015 – also when the offensive tackle position was besieged by injuries – but that was his only three-game streak dating back to mid-2012, when he had a four-gamer. He also had a five-game streak in early 2010, and a six-gamer in 2008.

Nathan from Baltimore, MD

What does it say about Aaron Rodgers that he can call on muscle memory from a specific play four years ago?

I don’t know but he gets more fascinating the longer I cover and write about him.

Chris from Jackson, WI

Looks like the Packers' mini bye week couldn't come at a better time, could it?

Healing time will be more enjoyable at 3-1 than 2-2.

Brian from Urbana, IL

How does John Fox stack up historically against Mike McCarthy, including Mike's days with the Saints?

As the head coach of three different teams against McCarthy, Fox is 2-5, getting wins with the Panthers in ’08 and the Bears in ’15. When McCarthy was offensive coordinator in New Orleans, Fox’s Panthers were 4-2 against him.

Wayne from Sheffield, England

It seems the first casualty in the seesaw hysteria of fan reaction after a game is always perspective. Thanks, Wes and Mike, for providing me with perspective in this forum, win or lose. It makes life better. I watched the 2015 Thanksgiving game against the Bears in a bar in NYC on my 50th birthday. I managed perspective on that occasion thanks to the anesthetizing effects of beer. You guys are as good as beer. Cheers!

I’m as good as beer. I’ve never been more proud.

Eric from St. Louis, MO

I was rooting for the Lions to win, but it seems poetic that Tate's touchdown was overturned five years to the day of the "Fail Mary."

Careful. Dec. 3, 2020, will be a Thursday again.

Allison from Sioux City, IA

I'm thinking of buying an "Allison" jersey after that game. Will this will be a wise investment in a few years or will people just assume I was cheesy enough to put my own name on a jersey?

Sounds like you’ll have a conversation starter either way.

Matt from Hartford, WI

Romo made the comment that Geronimo Allison had trouble making the quick cuts out of the slot, that his height advantage was a disadvantage in the slot. Should Randall Cobb stay out, would Davante Adams be a better fit in the slot with Allison playing split end?

If Cobb’s still out, Nelson is your best slot guy, and it didn’t surprise me at all to see him lined up there on the first snap Sunday.

Alex from Sheboygan Falls, WI

Turnovers win games, yet through three games the Packers have zero interceptions and two fumble recoveries with a minus-2 differential. Should fans be worried about the lack of takeaways?

They need to start coming soon. There’s no better tonic for an injury-depleted roster than getting turnovers.

Marissa from Fennimore, WI

Are you going to have a live chat on the short week?

Yes, later today, 11:30 a.m. CT. Thanks for your interest.

Kevin from Louisville, KY

"Only the woefully un-athletic such as myself get hurt celebrating." Does this make Wes the Martin Gramatica of sports journalism?

It was Martin’s younger brother, Bill, but good one. That fits better than Stephen Tulloch or Lamarr Houston, … or Jessi from Kansas.

Jessi from Sterling, KS

I had to smirk at that one because about an hour after the game I asked my Mom, "What did I do when the Packers won? My ankle is throbbing and my back hurts."

I embarrassed my kids at Disney World when Bronson Koenig drained the 3-pointer from the corner to beat Xavier two Marches ago, but I guess I can take pride in emerging healthy.

Alison from Aurora, IL

Repeat after me: I will not make blanket statements about the Packers' 2017 offense/defense/playoff chances based on this Thursday night's game alone. Our guys are coming off a ridiculously hot game on a short week. Injuries are plentiful. Let's all take the rest of the week off from expecting mistake-free football.

It’s an Al Davis/Vic Ketchman game even more so than usual. Just win, baby.


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