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Protecting the football is job one

Posted Oct 18, 2017

The NFC North is wide open


Mike from Somerset, WI

Mike, what do the Packers need to do to win on Sunday?

Win the turnover battle, protect Hundley, and stand tall defensively in the red zone when Brees’ throwing windows are smaller. A lot will be made of running the football to help Hundley, like the Packers did with Lacy in ’13, and that’s important. But if I’m the Saints, I’m going to make the new QB beat me before I let Green Bay’s ground game control anything. On the other side, the Saints are going to move the ball. Brees is too good not to, but making them kick field goals a couple of times could be the difference.

Jamie from Brooklyn, NY

The good thing about catastrophes happening in the middle of the season is you get to move on in a week instead of having to remember loss all offseason. The Saints are coming to town. Hundley gets his first NFL start against Drew Brees. While I would expect Brees to put up a lot of points, how is the Saints' defense?

It’s a typical Saints defense that appears vulnerable to the passing game. It ranks 26th in total yards, 28th in passing yards, 21st in points allowed and last on third down. That said, the unit scored three defensive touchdowns last week against the Lions, so protecting the football is job one.

Amanda from Villa Rica, GA

I'm not sure if I consider preseason or even last week's game tapes of Hundley meaningful for the Saints. He was never in a "real" game situation until last week, and like Wes said it was like driving with a flat tire. How do you think the Saints will go about preparing for Sunday?

They’ll mostly study personnel and formations, and decide on packages to counter. Then they’ll adjust during the game to how Hundley is using the personnel and what he’s running out of those formations. This is where McCarthy’s “less volume, more creativity” mantra comes into play. What we, and the Saints, won’t know until Sunday is whether McCarthy’s approach with Hundley will be to run multiple plays out of similar groupings and formations, or run a lot of the same plays but with different personnel and alignments.

Edwin from Madison, WI

Does McCarthy already have a backup set of plays/game plan suitable for each QB that fits their style already just in case something like this happens, or are they planning it out as we speak?

He may not have put it on paper, but after three offseasons and training camps with Hundley, it’s been in his head, for sure.

Evan from Appleton, WI

I loved MM’s reaction to the reporter asking about bringing in Colin Kaepernick. The fire he showed and defending his players/system. That's what I want in a coach. Got my wife pumped up (and she's not a big football fan).

To be clear, I think McCarthy’s response to the Kaepernick question would have been the same had any other QB not on Green Bay’s roster been mentioned. He believes in his guys and his program. I loved the fact that, going against the media grain of the day, he wanted to focus his remarks on his team’s poor play that had nothing to do with Rodgers’ injury. He was borderline sick to his stomach after watching the film. That’s a coach and a leader, through and through. Even though we might all feel better if the Packers were 5-1 right now, losing that game might have been the best thing for the Rodgers-less Packers.

Adam from Montgomery, AL

It is very unfortunate about the injury to Rodgers, but I am staying positive and hoping for the best to come this season. I sense a different tone of voice in McCarthy. Do you think this has anything to do out of frustration with Rodgers out, or maybe sending the team a message that we must play better?

Didn’t you just read my last answer? Sorry, couldn’t resist.

Kevin from Asbury Park, NJ

I'm genuinely confused about Adams getting fined for throwing the football into the stands. Why can Cam Newton give the ball to someone in the stands after every touchdown but Adams can't throw it into the stands after a touchdown?

I don’t think the league likes the prospect of a melee in the stands for a souvenir football, but maybe if a player hands one to a fan he just has to pay for the cost of the ball? I don’t know. In any event, I loved Adams’ pump fake in the end zone after his Minnesota TD.

Fred from Belleville, MI

Detroit sports radio seems to think the Packers’ season is over, based on the fact that GB went 2-5-1 during Rodgers' last bout with a broken collarbone. The radio personalities are feasting on the idea that the Lions get the Packers twice and have already beaten MN on their turf. To hear them talk, the Lions are a shoo-in to take the North title. Based on McCarthy's press conference, I suspect teams will be making a mistake to take our Packers too lightly. Your thoughts?

The NFC North is wide open, so I can understand anyone’s optimism. Within the division, the Lions have the top QB currently playing, the Vikings have the best defense, the Bears have the most productive running game, and the Packers, in my view, have the most diverse set of offensive playmakers, the most accomplished coach and the most experience as winners. Game on.

Jeff from Green Bay, WI

Something strikes me very odd at fan logic after the injury to Aaron. Many seem to think that the Packers should tank this season for a high first-round pick. I think that Rodgers and the Packers have handed Hundley the reigns at the perfect time with a bye upcoming and a tie for the division lead at 4-2.

I have no time for the tanking crowd, which is why their thoughts are not getting posted, at least not by me. What message does that send to the other 52 players on the roster? How do young players develop if the coaching staff and organization aren’t behind them 100 percent to succeed? This is professional football. To steal Herm Edwards’ line, “You play…to win…the game.” Period. To strive for anything else is an insult to the rest of your players and the sport in general.

Dean from Orlando, FL

My concern is less about Hundley and more about the O-line. By my unofficial count, the Pack has had 11 different offensive linemen through six games. At the end of the Vikes game, they were playing tackles No. 7 and 8. I don't care who the QB is, having someone else's practice-squad players as your tackles is not good. What is the status of our normal starting O-line?

That will be as big a story now and moving forward as Hundley, and McCarthy said it’s not likely to be sorted out for New Orleans until later in the week. The irony is the Packers got their starting five on the field together for the first time in Minnesota, and ended the game with the unit in worse shape than it’s been all season. Figure out a way to get through the Saints game and then get healthy over the bye. That’s the hope at this point.

Bobby from Midland, TX

We were down to just five O-lineman at the end of the Minnesota game. If someone else would've gotten hurt, who would we have put on the line?

In the NFC title game last January, they plugged in Letroy Guion, so my guess would have been Ricky Jean Francois.

Steve from Wichita, KS

Do offensive coordinators ever go to D-coordinators and talk about how to attack a team’s defense or vice-versa. Or is it you stay in your room and I’ll stay in mine?

McCarthy refers to those as “across the hall” meetings and conversations, and they do take place. They’re more frequent in the offseason in the self-scouting sense, where an offensive coach might ask a defensive coach how he’d go about defending a certain concept.

Michael from Modesto, CA

Scott’s comment about Capers was an example of what not to do as a fan. I didn’t have a chance to watch the game out here, but Hundley turned the ball over three times. That’s not a shot at Hundley, but a credit to our defense for only giving up 27 points on a day like that. Give Brett a chance to settle in as captain of the ship, and I’m excited to see what happens.

23, but who’s counting. That said, the tackling was atrocious and can’t be pinned on the injuries in the secondary. That Vikings team was ripe to be beat, Rodgers or no Rodgers, and I think that contributed to the edge in McCarthy’s Monday press conference.

Pat from Hudson, WI

What? Over? Did you say "over"? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!

 I was waiting for someone (and it was more than one) to come at me with that, especially after I apparently missed a good movie reference on Monday.

Chad from Evanston, IL

Where do you think you all are going? Nobody's leaving. Nobody's walking out on this fun, old-fashioned football season. No, no. We're all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm Hundley emergency here. We're gonna press on, and we're gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Packers season since Rodgers hit Cobb for a TD on fourth-and-8. And when Hundley & Co. squeeze into the playoffs, they're gonna find the jolliest bunch of cheeseheads this side of Lambeau to cheer them on!

I knew that one was coming, too, and it came with varying line choices. They were all entertaining.

Brent from Oakley, CA

How do you feel about the hit Aaron took? While I don't believe it was illegal, I feel the intent was to let Aaron know that he'd be there all day, something defensive guys do to intimidate QBs. Unfortunately, that splash tackle resulted in an injury. I believe that was not the intent. What are your thoughts?

That’s a pretty fair assessment, and I tend to agree. The quarterback doesn’t have the same protections outside the pocket as in. As I’ve said a couple of times this week on “Unscripted,” it was an opportunity to take a shot at a quarterback. Some players take that shot, others don’t.

Nate from New York, NY

Given Hundley's accuracy issues, do you think McCarthy will implement some read-option to involve all three RBs to utilize Hundley's mobility, more importantly to get him in rhythm?

I think any accuracy issues will be smoothed out by getting all the practice reps, but every QB is going to miss some throws, especially young ones. As for the read-option, it’s an intriguing thought, but exposing Hundley to that kind of contact would strike me as extremely risky.

Jeff from Grafton, WI

You guys need to get a secondary pic of yourselves for articles that are bad news. A pic with a serious look. Seeing a smiley face on an article of someone getting hurt or cut just doesn't seem right.

What the Inbox spends its time thinking about never ceases to amaze me.

Charles from Rice Lake, WI

Where does the Packers’ pair of defensive tackles stand compared to the rest of the league? Can't imagine it getting much better than Kenny Clark and Mike Daniels.

I’d have to do more league-wide studying to analyze comparisons, but I like what the Packers are developing on the interior of their defense with the Daniels-Clark tandem and Blake Martinez’s emergence.

Nate from Pueblo, CO

Do collarbones need longer healing time when it’s the throwing shoulder?

Almost certainly. Rodgers didn’t need surgery last time on his left collarbone. Once the bone was healed and at no greater risk for re-injury, he was good to go. I don’t know the specifics of the current injury, but with the throwing shoulder, the area needs to be re-strengthened after the down time, which in itself adds to the timeline. I suspect a surgical procedure is being done because the fracture is more complex than the last one, or to possibly allow him to resume throwing sooner, or for the long-term health of his shoulder. Perhaps all of the above.

Jake from Los Angeles, CA

We think we’re upset as fans? Can’t even imagine how AR12 feels.

No doubt.

Michael from Manlius, NY

I have an idea for a rule change regarding replay review. If the call cannot be confirmed on a coaches’ challenge, then the coach keeps the challenge and his timeout. He only loses both if the call is confirmed.

Interesting, but I’ll stick to the suggestion I’ve had for a long time – two strikes and you’re out. Simple, and more fair.

Jason from Johnston, IA

During last week there was a lot of discussion in the Inbox on the rule regarding the offense fumbling the ball out of the opposition's end zone. I felt there was even some clarity to it. Then the Jets-Pats game happened. Now what?

Great question, and funny how the Inbox discussion preceded the calamity. I don’t know what to make of the call against the Jets. I can see the argument that by the letter of the law, the call is correct, but was the law intended for that play, as it happened, to result in a turnover? Do we need a better definition of a fumble, or what “lost control” really means? It looked like a touchdown and it smelled like a touchdown, so it should have been a touchdown. They got rid of the “tuck rule” after enough plays that looked and smelled like fumbles weren’t fumbles. This rule might go, too.

Ethan from La Crosse, WI

Why are officials, or at least the main referee, not required to speak to the media after games?

He is if there’s a particularly controversial call, such as the Dez Bryant play in the 2014 playoffs, and a pool reporter conducts the interview. But I’m glad it’s only for special circumstances. There’s plenty of attention on the officiating already.

Cindy from Oshkosh, WI

Everyone needs to look at what's going in in the league this year. The Dolphins beat the Falcons. No one gave the Giants a chance in Denver and look what they did. The downtrodden Steelers beat the undefeated Chiefs. No one knows what can happen week to week. There is always hope.

All but two teams have two or more losses. I say it all the time, it’s a crazy league. Anything can, and will, happen.

Damon from Bismarck, ND

Go get 'em, kid. We'll sit back and watch.

My thoughts exactly.


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