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That's how the game is played

Posted Dec 5, 2017

It takes a village to replace the best player in the game


Tim from Marshall, MI

I feel like Jamaal Williams (to be successful) has to be treated as a feature back. He seems to get stronger as the game progresses. I like Aaron Jones because he has the big-play ability. However, it seems to me that if they split carries, Jamaal will not experience the kind of success that Aaron will, given his style of running. Am I off-base?

We haven’t seen Williams and Jones used in tandem yet, so it’s hard to say what would happen if they split carries. I think their running styles complement each other, though. Williams made plays from the start (11 carries for 66 yards and a TD in the first half), but he kept plowing away until the end. He also showed explosiveness in each of the last two games. We already knew Aaron Jones was a game-breaking back, but the rookie proved Sunday he can come in cold off the bench and make plays. I’m not sure how touches will be distributed, but that combo will be essential for a late-season run regardless of who’s at QB.

Declan from Saint Louis, MO

On Williams' TD run: “Rip” engaged at about the 3-yard line, and actually got stood up and driven back to the 4; the gap wasn't just closed off, the line was moving backwards. Then, Williams decided he was stronger...he would not be denied. This is exactly the sort of thing you look for in a young player, particularly in December!

That’s what I’m saying. If you didn’t know better, you’d think Williams is at least 10 or 15 pounds heavier. He runs with that kind of power.

Dan from Chattanooga, TN

With such a great showing by our run game and defense, how especially will the run game be balanced when/if Rodgers returns? Our running backs might currently feel they have to pull more weight. Will they guard against a letdown when Rodgers returns and handle more of the load?

I’m not sure how many interviews you’ve watched of Williams and Jones, but I don’t think complacency will be a problem with either player. They’re as energetic and determined as they come.

Brad from Oshkosh, WI

The blocked punt doesn't count as a block because it went past the line of scrimmage, but doesn't a blocked FG that goes past the line count as a block on the stat sheet? If Fackrell's block was recovered by TB, would it be their ball because it was touched by GB first?

Any block – field goal or punt – traveling past the line of scrimmage is considered a punt in the officials’ eyes. It can only be picked up and advanced by the kicking team if it remains behind the line of scrimmage. Once a deflected ball goes beyond the line of scrimmage, someone on the receiving team must establish possession of the ball and then lose it in order for the kicking team to get it back.

Gunars from Ames, IA

If it wasn't a blocked punt, what was it?

An elaborate hoax meant to confuse us all and give the Inbox something to ponder for a few questions?

Alex from Evergreen, CO

I'm surprised it took so long to see some read-option plays out there. Now that we see its effectiveness, any chance we see some Ohio State-type plays with our strong running game?

The Packers have busted out all the read-option looks between Hundley’s scrambles and Randall Cobb running the veer. It probably depends on what the Browns show this Sunday. It was a great adjustment the offense made with some of the struggles it had in the passing game.

Ryan from Atlanta, GA

Is it unrealistic to hope that Blake Martinez can become a Luke Kuechly-type player?

If I’m Blake Martinez, I don’t want to be the next Luke Kuechly. I want to be the first Blake Martinez. The sky is the limit for the 23-year-old linebacker. He has natural talent and intelligence, but his work ethic is without equal. He’s a tackling machine who’s only going to get better.

Phil from Boise, ID

I think if I were a special-teams coach, I might just have my returners always take a knee in the end zone, and always fair-catch a punt. The upside for a kick return is huge, but the amount of yards lost to holding and block-in-the-back penalties has to outweigh the upside long term, right?

I think I’d be more for taking a knee in the end zone on kickoffs over punts. Those extra five yards always entice me, though it’s getting more difficult for kickers to boot it out of the end zone as the temperature dips. I’m all for trying to make a play on punts if you’re confident in your returner.

Scott from Los Angeles, CA

I know, still early for playoff talk, but I'd love to see the Rams get the third seed and Green Bay come to LA as the sixth seed. In addition to the selfish reason of wanting to go to the game, I like the QB matchup, assuming AR is back.

It’s too early to talk playoffs, but there are some intriguing matchups out there with the emergence of all these young quarterbacks. I look forward to some Rodgers/Goff and Rodgers/Wentz battles in the years to come.

Mark from Stewartville, MN

Brett Hundley seems to play better on the road. Is it possible he feels pressure from the fans' expectations at home?

I don’t think it’s a home-and-away thing. I believe it’s a young quarterback thing. As Hundley said last week, he’s looking for more consistency. It didn’t happen against Tampa Bay. Fortunately, he had two running backs, a defense and special-teams unit there to help him out. Like I said, this is the time for team football. It takes a village to replace the best player in the game.

Jeff from Wentzville, MO

Why do many running backs, receivers, etc., seem to feel the need to "catapult" themselves into the end zone? If Jones had fumbled before crossing the plane, wouldn't it have been Tampa Bay's ball on the 20?

That’s only when the football hits the pylon. It’s a touchdown the instant the ball crosses the plane of the end zone. Jones was safe to launch himself into the end zone to ensure the score.

Jim from Maple Grove, MN

Is it me, or did the Lowry fumble recovery look like something out of “Angels in the Outfield”?

The way the ball came out of Winston’s hand made me wonder if there was some theatrical divine intervention. It was an insane turn of events. If the Packers get on a run over the final month, you could look back and point to that play as a turning point for both the team and the defense.

Zach from Clarkfield, MN

What are the Browns' biggest strengths at this point? What should the Packers be worried about going into next weekend?

Josh Gordon. He’s been out of the league for three full seasons, but he showed little sign of rust in piling up 85 yards on four catches against the Chargers. Only 26, the former Pro Bowler still possesses game-changing ability. Believe it or not, the Browns are the 10th-ranked defense in the NFL right now and seventh against the run. Former Badger Joe Schobert and Christian Kirksey are a formidable pairing at linebacker.

Patrick from Paducah, KY

As excited as I am to see the production of the running game against the Bucs, this weekend may bring a tough task against the one facet of the game that the Browns do well in stopping the run. Can we expect Hundley to open it up more with Cobb/Nelson/Adams against a questionable secondary?

That’s how the game is played. If the Browns are bent on stopping the run, then the Packers need to take advantage of a safety slipping into the box.

John from Denver, CO

I am loving the "old school run the football" Packers we are witnessing. I know it's too soon to pass judgment and I am not looking to take away from the potentially dynamic duo. However, where does this leave Ty Montgomery? He's a great teammate and a good guy from what I can gather. Would hate to see the machine spit him out due to injury and youth movement (he's only 24). What do you see for Ty's future with the team?

That’s the beauty of how the Packers have built their backfield. Each of those running backs has a different skill set. Montgomery has a future in this offense. He’s still a big weapon defenses have to account for. The big thing for him right now is getting healthy. It’s quickly becoming a three-back league. Teams have to be ready for any scenario.

Michael from Manitowoc, WI

Why in Lombardi's name did they kick a field goal on fourth and about two inches from the 5? My take and a lot of others is that McCarthy doesn't really trust his QB, even though he voices that opinion.

I had no issue with it. I would’ve done the same thing – take the points, tie the game and make a stop. You can’t win, though. If the Packers went for it and didn’t get the first down, everyone would be asking why they didn’t kick it. The Packers won. It was the right call.

Cam from Springville, UT

Pretty good win on Sunday, but am I the only one that thinks Hundley doesn't show enough emotion? I also saw this at Pittsburgh, what are your thoughts?

Say what you will about the 84 passing yards or the interception against Tampa Bay, but I think your question is off-base. Hundley has shown a lot of emotion in practice, in games and even inside the building. I was talking to Jahri Evans as the locker room closed Sunday night and Hundley made sure to give his veteran guard a quick hug before leaving the building. He has the competitive fire and leadership qualities desired in a quarterback.

James from Greendale, WI

You can say Hundley is off to an erratic start, but remember, the last two weeks when the game was on the line he led scoring drives. That bodes well for his future.

McCarthy said something similar on Monday. There admittedly were too many three-and-outs, but when the offense needed Hundley at his best, he responded with productive drives. He helped put the Packers in position to win that game.

Fabian from Munich, Germany

Why wasn't Matthews credited for the sack in the fourth quarter? I realize that Clark got Winston down in the end, but Clay should have gotten at least a half sack.

Matthews said in a playful manner he’d be submitting that play to the league. We’ll see if they split it. I think they did that with a Dean Lowry/Ahmad Brooks sack last month.

Randy from Washington, D.C.

Is it true that the Packers are planning on building steps at the end of each end zone so players like Lowry can do a more complete Lambeau Leap?

That wasn’t totally fair to Lowry. The man had just run 62 yards downfield at top speed. It’s understandable he was a little gassed. I’m sure he’ll watch the tape, make the necessary corrections and look to improve the next time.

Rodney from Salt Lake City, UT

Fun win against the Bucs. Looking at the schedule, we all need to become big-time Saints and Vikings fans. Feels wrong but if it gets us the help we need...And oh yeah, Mele Kalikimaka!

As strange as it sounds, Packers fans need to keep cheering for those Vikings.

Eric from Goodhue, MN

Am I the only one tired of the boo-birds at Lambeau? C'mon man, we're better than this! Negativity is a waste of time. It helps no one and rarely gets the result you want. When your team isn't executing is when they need your support the most. They need that pick-me-up. Let's bring it one more time at Lambeau this year.

I said my piece on this and wound up getting into it with a fan who only wants to cheer when something good happens. I’ll leave it at that. Call me crazy, but I just don’t see what good it does to boo your own team.

George from Sturgeon Bay, WI

Do you think that a negative aspect of an eight-team college playoff format would be the removal of those teams from premier bowls, or might they consider using these bowls as part of a playoff system?

I made a statement several years ago that I’m fine with a four-team tournament as long as we keep it to four and not keep extending it. So I have to stay true to my original stance. However, I’d imagine they’d keep integrating the old BCS games with the eight-team playoff. You’d have to get a little creative, but it’s possible.

Logan from Bloomington, IN

I have to disagree with you about the raisins in oatmeal cookies. I love the flavor and texture. What's even better though is adding craisins and white chocolate chips to oatmeal cookies. Your taste buds will thank you eternally and it looks like a festive cookie for the Christmas season!

Coincidentally, I like craisins. There’s just something about raisins I dislike. Why have dried grapes in a perfectly good oatmeal cookie when you could have chocolate?

Lori from Brookfield, WI

How are you and Mrs. Hod holding up as you count down the days to Baby Hod's arrival?

Cait is doing great. She’s been amazing through this entire process, especially with me being home sparingly during the season. It’s been quite a journey to get to this point, but we could not be more excited. We’re in the home stretch. Now, I need him to do me a favor and hold off on arriving until I’m back from Cleveland and Carolina.

Dom from Kenosha, WI

I like to read the Inbox because it gives me a better perspective than my own, which can easily be toward the negative. You guys do a good job of keeping us on an even keel. Thank you!

Insider Inbox: Doing our darnedest to stop you from saying something you’ll later regret in front of your co-workers since 2016.


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