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It's time to get the momentum back

Posted Nov 25, 2017

Quarterback is the most difficult position to play in all of sports


Joe from Bloomington, IN

Wes, why do you respond to diatribes rather than only questions? Your choice.

I ran low on actual questions for the Thanksgiving Day Inbox. Otherwise, I’d prefer not to. We paint with the colors provided to us.

John from Apopka, FL

I think this is the biggest game of the season for Hundley and the Packers. Players feed off each other and they need success on both sides of the ball to turn that proverbial corner. The daunting task is giving Pittsburgh the toughest game they will have this season and hopefully beating them. If they lose as bad as they did to Baltimore, I don't think they will be able to recover mentally. Your thoughts?

Every game is going to be the biggest of the season going forward, but the Packers need to get one back here. If Green Bay was coming off the performance in Chicago, the narrative would be completely different than it is now. It’s up to the Packers to move past the Baltimore game and focus on what’s in front of them. I don’t care what the odds-makers say. Every game is winnable. There wouldn’t be a need for odds-makers if it wasn’t.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Wes, after the Jacksonville game in Week 5 the Steelers didn't look like a very good team. Roethlisberger had six touchdowns and seven interceptions at that point. Against Jacksonville, zero touchdowns and five interceptions. He said he didn't think he had it anymore and openly talked about retirement. What do you think was going on and what has changed since?

It might have appeared like a bad loss at the time, but the season has shown the Jaguars to be one of the best defenses in football. Five turnovers change the landscape of a game. Since that performance, Roethlisberger has been consistent and the Steelers’ defense has stepped its game up in not allowing more than 17 points in each of Pittsburgh’s last five wins. Points will be at a premium on Sunday.

Nathan from Baltimore, MD

What does Brett Hundley need to do to make the most of his God-given abilities?

Trust his fundamentals and protect the football. Hundley has the tools to keep the Packers in this thing. The throws he made to Davante Adams at the end of the Bears game were elite. He has it in him. He just needs to cut down on the mistakes and hone his timing with the routes his receivers are running. I believe the two biggest keys to this game are getting points on the opening drive and establishing the run. If the Packers can get 25 or more carries, it’ll set up everything for Hundley the passing game. 

Wilson from Bowling Green, KY

So 90 percent of our "playmakers" are on the injury report or IR. Sunday night should be a barnburner.

I think the injury report is slightly deceiving due in part to the fact there’s no longer a probable designation. Three of the Packers’ six questionable players (Morgan Burnett, Kevin King and Devante Mays) were estimated as “full participants” Friday. They should be available Sunday assuming all goes well in practice Saturday. Mike McCarthy also expressed optimism about Corey Linsley playing. The Packers will need guys to step up if Kenny Clark and Clay Matthews aren’t available, though.

Carl from Moreno Valley, CA

With the Packers taking such great care of their field, why would Washington allow its game to be played on dried-out brown grass? Don't teams like their fields to look good on TV?

Not all playing surfaces, environments and grounds crews are created equally (see: Field, Soldier).

Paul from Milwaukee, WI

I have to say "Bravo" to John from Apopka, FL, who explained that the players haven't quit, so why should the fans? I agree with this so much and I hear the negativity all the time from what I call "spoiled Packer fans." All I can do is sit there and say, “Wow.” There is always hope as long as we're mathematically still in the hunt for a playoff spot. Or am I being too optimistic?

I’ve noticed records don’t matter with fans as much as momentum. The Chargers are 5-6 but one of the hottest teams in the NFL right now. Fans were howling in November 2013 only to cheer Green Bay on in December to an 8-7-1 record and another NFC North title. A win over Pittsburgh would build momentum and quiet the segment of fans who thrive off negativity, if only for another week. It’s time to get the momentum back.

Gerald from Sternberg, IL

Has management realized that the Packers need an offensive line to protect their only asset?

Have you realized the Packers have two tackles currently on injured reserve, another just activated off IR and a starting line that played all of 50-some snaps together?

Jacob from Port Huron, MI

How can Case Keenum and the Vikings do what they are doing and we cannot?

Experience is vital to the quarterback position. Mike Zimmer has talked about how Keenum is a prime example of a quarterback who has turned the corner and is playing faster. Every quarterback is different. It took Keenum time to develop, but he has given the Vikings exactly what they needed. I see no reason Hundley can’t follow that path.

Griffin from Belmont, NC

Hall of Fame – I tried to vote but it wanted me to pick a certain number of people. I feel like some years 10 players should make it and other years only six should make it. Do the inside media have the same feeling?

That’s the way I’ve always felt about it.   

Robert from Oak Creek, WI

Three questions from the Washington game on Thanksgiving. First, how was it a touchback? Second, using the same reasoning as the refs used on that play, what's preventing a player from the punting team from grabbing a punted ball on, say, the 20-yard line, carrying it down to the 1-yard line and downing it there? And third, why did no one ask this question on Friday morning?

The way the rule works is it’s all based on perceived momentum. Although the ball is down when the kicking team touches the ball, referees have to determine whether the player’s momentum carries him into the end zone. The eye test is what’s preventing a player from carrying the ball from the 20- to the 1-yard line.

James from Ottawa, Ontario

Wes, you had answered my question back on Aug. 5, after the Hall of Fame Game, regarding the Cowboys’ DC and his harsh evaluation of first-round draft pick Taco Charlton. In your response, you indicated that time will tell what impact that blunt critique will have on Charlton. Now, as we are well past the halfway mark in the season, Charlton has notched only 11 tackles (and one sack), which is seemingly much less production than the Cowboys were hoping for from their first-round pick. Looking at his output this far, do you have any thoughts on whether the coach should have taken a different approach back then and what, if any, impact that review may have had on Charlton's headspace as a rookie?

Good recall and use of “headspace” here. Since I don’t cover the Cowboys, it’s difficult to know how specific players respond to criticism or if that’s a technique Rod Marinelli employs often. It comes down to the player. Generally speaking, I think you have to be careful when using the media to criticize a player.

Ryan from Bartlett, IL

I’m starting to wonder if we need a presentation for the people who cover the game on proper decorum. Cheer loudly not on defense, but when your team does something which deserves cheering. Be quiet on offense, be quiet on defense, be quiet on special teams – just be quiet unless something good happens. You are not the show. The show happens down there on the field. If you want to make yourself part of the show, go down there and try. This sort of thinking allowed Qualcomm and the Metrodome to crank up their speaker volume to be heard over all that crowd noise. When did we start collectively expecting every fan base to ape the morons who booed Santa? Who told us that we must debase ourselves so the rise to the top is that much sweeter for having done so? Or worse, that we aided that rise by debasing ourselves? If you want dignified questions, your commands to your audience should aid in making the audience more dignified.

Be quiet unless something good happens? That’s the spirit. Whenever my son stumbles in life or sports, I’ll be sure to remind him – when adversity hits, sulk.

Steve from Granger, IN

Wes, I realize you are a Packer reporter but what a lame response to Brad from Mounds View, MN. The difference is Roethlisberger and Flacco win! We know now what we have in Hundley. It’s time we find out what we have in Callahan. We need to know so when we go into FA and the draft we can acquire a capable backup. Callahan could be the answer?

I received like six or seven emails about this. Each one missed my point. The quarterback touches the ball every play. Even the top backs touch it only 30-40 percent of the time. Comparing a quarterback’s turnovers to a receiver or running back is absurd. You need to protect the football, but a quarterback’s percentages will always be higher. It’s time to find out what you have in Callahan? Really? You’re going to throw out a second-year quarterback who has never played in a regular-season game against the NFL’s fourth-ranked defense? Who does that benefit?

Bob from New Britain, CT

Don't you think it looks dorky when one team wears their throwback uniforms, and the other team wears a modern one? Why not schedule throwbacks for games where both teams can wear these uniforms at the same time, and bring us completely (instead of just partially) back to nostalgic mode?

That Chargers-Cowboys game was difficult to watch for many reasons, but it started here. I know the powder blue is a favorite for Chargers fans, but it was a little hard on my eyes with the Cowboys wearing their navy jerseys. I forgot to check with my colorblind father if he was able to follow the action without issue.

Jim from Des Peres, MO

The great Dak Prescott isn't looking so hot now, is he?

I think we all forget quarterback is the most difficult position to play in all of sports. Watching the game Thursday, I saw a Cowboys team with a banged-up offensive line searching for an identity without Zeke Elliott.

George from Racine, WI

Why not Romo?

The Cowboys seem committed to Prescott.

Rich from Newark, NJ

Lifelong Packer fan from NJ. I know no fan base will match the classiness of the Packers’ fan base, but what is the reputation for the Steelers fans at home games? I will be in attendance and I don't want to deal with jerks.

I don’t have firsthand experience watching a Steelers game outside of the press box, but I’ve heard they have very respectful fans. It’s a blue-collar town that loves its football team. Their fans get it.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, Ohio State or Michigan? Wisconsin or Minnesota?

Ohio State and Wisconsin – the precursor to perhaps the biggest game in program history for the Badgers. Wisconsin undoubtedly controls its own destiny here with Miami (Fla.) going down Friday.

James from Orlando, FL

Someone asked you if the players read your column and you felt that they don't. I sure hope that's true. Some of the questions that you post are borderline mean-spirted. The blog at the bottom of the column is even worse and outright venomous. The thought of a player reading that saddens me greatly. Why can't fans be more thoughtful in what they say and print?

As a good friend of mine who covers another NFL team once said regarding fans, “They’re just so nasty out there. So nasty.”

Mike from Fort Wayne, IN

Wes, IT sure DOES seem TO be AN up AND down YEAR in THE nfl THIS season. A box OF chocolate LEAGUE?

This was a challenging Inbox to get through, but this made my day.


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