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The show ain't over

Posted Nov 28, 2017

The investment the Packers made in the backfield is paying off


Brian from Hinton, IA

Stat guys, when was the last time the Packers were a 14-point underdog? I'm betting pre-Favre. Packers should hold their heads high. Put up a good fight when nobody expected it to be close.

The Patriots were 14½-point favorites against the Matt Flynn-led Packers in 2010. New England won 31-27. I didn’t know how Sunday’s game would play out, but I thought the two-touchdown spread was an overreaction to the Baltimore loss. With or without Aaron Rodgers, McCarthy’s teams historically have played their best during times of adversity. They’re still nobody’s underdogs.

Luke from Galesville, WI

In 2010, after the New England loss, the Packers had to win out AND have LeSean McCoy's punt return in order to have a shot at the playoffs. C'mon man.

If you’re going to try to put us in our place, then at least get the information right. First, it was DeSean Jackson’s punt return, not Shady’s. Second, that play happened before the New England game. The Packers had all the help they needed before the loss to the Patriots. It was two wins and they were in. C’mon man.

Leo from Kenosha, WI

Well, shut my mouth Hundley actually looked pretty good.

Rodgers’ consistency spoils us all. He makes playing quarterback look like a stroll through the mall during the workday. That level of consistency is not easy to achieve at the quarterback position, especially for young players. As we said from the start, there will be ebbs and flows with Hundley at quarterback. The Packers hope Sunday gave him a foundation to build on. They need another step forward against Tampa Bay.

Brady from Dubuque, IA

If Hundley continues to play at this level, do the Packers, when the time comes, risk putting in AR who still might be rusty? This is kind of reminiscent of the Vikings’ QB situation.

Let’s just get through these next two games and see where everything is at. If Rodgers is cleared and the Packers are in playoff contention, he’ll play. That’s it.

Ryan from Sturgeon Bay, WI

It’s interesting seeing the growth of Brett Hundley. So Rodgers comes back, Hundley is relegated to No. 2 once again. What lessons and experience does he take to his role as backup that can help?

Hundley has five NFL starts under his belt now with 184 pass attempts. That’s incredibly valuable information for a young quarterback to learn from in the post-CBA environment. Recall is a quarterback’s best friend. 

Landon from Coeur d Alene, ID

Both the Vikings and Eagles allow their opponents to convert less than 29 percent of their third downs. The Packers meanwhile allow their opponents to convert over 42 percent of their third downs. What needs to be done to fix this?

Stop the run, generate negative-yardage plays, and tackle. If you do those three things, you’re going to be among the top defenses in third-down efficiency. You take out the guesswork. Minnesota and Philadelphia have consistently done that this season. The Packers didn’t tackle well enough against Pittsburgh and it haunted them.

Andy from Fremont, MI

I was somewhat surprised to see Spriggs start at RT instead of McCray. Was that related to McCray's knee injury, or is Spriggs the better option even when both are healthy?

It made sense. This is an opportunity for the Packers to find out what they have in Spriggs. While McCray has proven to be both reliable and versatile, his best position is on the interior. It’s also worth mentioning he was taking reps at center this week with Corey Linsley banged up, giving Spriggs more snaps at right tackle. I thought Spriggs played well. He battled throughout. 

Dom from Durham, England

The only knock I had on Hundley were his three drives after the TD on the opening drive of the second half (0-of-5 with three sacks).

That’s life as an NFL quarterback. It once again shows how small the margin for error is against the league’s elite. There can be no let-up. You have to convert on the opportunities you’re given.

Ryan from Chicago, IL

It's amazing how much hype the Aaron Rodgers throws during pregame got. Let's not lose sight of the fact that Hundley just had a 134.3 passer rating. Not sure even No. 12 could've helped us last night. Perhaps we should defensively focus on the deep-threat playmaker on the last drive of the game.

You know something is going down when Rob Demovsky comes running out of the tunnel with a camera. Rodgers’ first collarbone injury in 2013 was a nightmare to cover. It seems every movement Rodgers made was logged and chronicled. So I’m not going to overreact to anything we saw on the field Sunday. However, it was good to see him throwing the ball with so much verve.

Ryan from Staten Island, NY

You have to like the toughness and grit that Jamaal Williams plays with. Even if the Packers can't create some magic to end this year, it has to be exciting to think about this offense going forward with Montgomery, Jones, and Williams to run alongside No. 12.

You can see why Williams was so effective at BYU. He’s a sturdy, durable back who doesn’t shy away from contact. The most fascinating part of watching the offense with Montgomery, Jones and Williams this year is how each back has thrived with a different running style. Williams still is looking for that big run, but his 54-yard touchdown off the screen showed his explosiveness. The investment the Packers made in the backfield last offseason is paying off.

Bob from New Britain, CT

Which loss bothers you more? A loss like the one to the Ravens, or like the one to the Steelers (especially with the missed helmet-to-helmet penalty with time winding down)?

The Ravens loss because it was a missed opportunity. I thought the Packers played a whale of a game against the Steelers. In the end, the playmakers who have lifted Pittsburgh to a 9-2 record came through in the clutch. It happens. That’s a quality performance. The game against Baltimore was more discouraging because that was a winnable game if you protect the football.

Tom from Woodbury, MN

First I want to say, I appreciate you and Mike for being a voice of reason, and even-keeled. It really helps me keep objective. That said, I see this year and last year as an amazing job by Mike McCarthy. Keeping a team believing and working hard is not easy when adversity comes. This team goes out every week with the right attitude. That's leadership, and leadership is what you need from a head coach.

That was my biggest takeaway from Sunday’s game. If you want to see how much this game meant to that locker room, bring up the tape of Jordy Nelson laying out for the first down on that late third-and-1. The wins haven’t been there. I’m not debating that, but the energy and passion is where it needs to be.

Pat from Paducah, KY

With the 21-14 lead, what was the rationale given for electing for the 57-yard FG attempt rather than punting and trying to pin Pittsburgh deep in their own territory and flip the field? I thought that drive woke up the beast.

McCarthy stood by the call at the podium Monday. He made the decision to seize momentum and a two-score lead at a critical time in the game. Ron Zook said Monday it was completely within range for Crosby, who McCarthy reiterated he has endless confidence in. The one thing McCarthy lamented was the loss of eight yards on the two sacks before the kick. If the kick is attempted from the 31, I don’t think we’re having this conversation.

Col from Ludlow, UK

Hard to tell, but it looked like Boswell’s game-winning field goal might have been good from 57 yards, which makes questioning McCarthy's decision a bit rough. How did it look from your point of view?

Boswell certainly got all of it. That’s a big-time kick, especially after he missed the extra point early in the game. 

Ray from Clark, NJ

Mike responded to Adam from Cleveland with, "As bad as this feels, it’s gotta feel even worse in January." Don't we know what it feels like in January? 2007, 2009, 2012, 2014, all walk-off losses.

Trust me. It happens to everyone. Just ask the 2012 49ers, 2014 Seahawks or 2016 Falcons. It’s what I think makes the game beautiful, but also soul-crushing at times. It’s human chess and you only have one shot at everything. Every play, every yard matters.

Eric from St Paul, MN

Great game Sunday night, so close. I was wondering, what is the cause of the shorter punts in colder weather? Is it the kicker's muscles not working as well? I find from Ultimate Frisbee that distance improves in colder weather (lower humidity leads to less resistance) but less curve control (less stuff in the air to work off of).

Muscle tension is one part of it, but I think the bigger issue is the decreased air pressure inside the football. While the volume remains the same, the pressure is lower. It’s an extreme example, but think about kicking a deflated football or driving a car with under-inflated tires.

Chris from Minneapolis, MN

Regarding the helmet-to-helmet hit on Hundley at the end of the game, could the official say that Hundley was a "runner" instead of a protected QB as soon as he tucked the ball and stepped up in the pocket?

It’s a reaction play, but Hundley was clearly turtling up. He wasn’t trying to advance the ball on the ground. Even if the refs didn’t see it, I’m surprised they didn’t hear the crack of the helmet and throw the flag. I guess we’ll see what the league says this week. That’ll tell you whether it should’ve been a flag or not.

Stephen from Chicago, IL

Wes, after his late-game sack, did Watt's expression as he turned around look less like celebration and more like panic, expecting a flag (or maybe just to see if he knocked the QB out)?

There definitely was that “Oh, fudge” moment on his face after the sack.

Dan from Chattanooga, TN

So on the last Pittsburgh play before the field goal, if no one had touched Bell once he laid down on the field, would the clock have continued to run? I doubt coaches train for that unlikely of a scenario, but I was curious.

Technically yes, but if I’m Morgan Burnett, my instincts are telling me get a negative-yardage play there. Four seconds is an eternity in real time.

Peter from Eagan, MN

How do you lose when the QB has a rating over 130 and plus-three in the turnover ratio? Last time that happened was 1940.

That’s crazy if it’s true. Takeaways are great. Points generated off takeaways are better. Execution.

Brett from Omro, WI

Except for one punt, it seemed like Vogel had a very good game with great hang time and distance. Did he seem to take a step forward?

He had some pivotal punts in the fourth quarter, making Pittsburgh earn every yard it generated. The Packers played with fire a bit punting to Brown in the middle of the field, but considering the conditions, Vogel stepped up with a 48.2 average and 46.4 net. If Vogel holds serve, he’s on pace to reset the franchise’s top net average.

Harry from Chandler, AZ

Drafting King was not a mistake. Not drafting Watt was. Instead of a good player at a position of need, we get two injured (when drafted) players. It may turn out to be a good draft three years from now but doesn't help now. Your thoughts.

If you’re not drafting for three years from now, why are you drafting at all? The debate serves no purpose now. The Packers wanted a cornerback. Anyone who watched what happened in the secondary last season can understand why.

Ryan from Bloomer, WI

I couldn't stop watching the Talib-Crabtree fight. Part of me wants them to fight it out like a hockey fight, the other part thinks it's a disgrace and they should be suspended for a year. Which side of me is right?

We love conflict. Watch any sport. Anytime a fight breaks out, people are going to drop what they’re doing and watch it. I think it’s some primal instinct that’s engrained into all of us. Was it unnecessary? Absolutely. Was it the only thing on TV this morning? Absolutely.

John from Apopka, FL

Wes, does Spoff always have the Monday morning honors of answering the tough "day-after armchair QB questions" or do you take some of the heat off of him and do it occasionally?

It fits better with our schedules and Spoff is a faster writer than I am. He can get it done at a reasonable hour during the night games, so you guys can get your AM Inbox fix. Plus, it makes sense since he handles a majority of our “big-picture” coverage after games.

Mark from Bettendorf, IA

Le'Veon Bell. Wow.

A lot was made out of Brown’s game, but Bell is the straw stirring that offense. He constantly falls forward whether it’s carrying the ball or catching it out of the backfield. The Packers didn’t allow him to escape for a big gain, but the guy just eats yards. He’s a 60-minute headache.

Brendan from Beaver Falls, PA

I was at the pep rally in Pittsburgh this past Saturday night with my daughter and had a great time. Got to meet Wes and Mike and wanted to again say thanks, especially to Wes, for taking the time to talk with me and for being very gracious. Keep up the great work fellas, and here's to many more lunchtimes with the Inbox.

You the man, Brendan. It was great to meet you guys. Thanks for coming out and following our coverage. I hope you have a great time in Cleveland. Maybe see you there.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Where do you think you're going? Nobody's leaving. Nobody's walking out on this fun, old-fashioned Packers season. No, no. We're all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm run-the-table emergency here. We're gonna press on, and we're gonna have the hap, hap, happiest season since the last time Packer Nation thought the playoff chances were gone. And when Rodgers squeezes his head through his shoulder pads Week 15, he's gonna find the jolliest bunch of cheeseheads this side of the nuthouse.

Still five games to go. The show ain’t over.



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