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We're on to the next act

Posted Oct 28, 2017

A healthy O-line and emerging run game will help the Packers' offense

Dennis from Edina, MN

Mike McCarthy said he's coached Hundley for 2½ years. He is ready to go. Why are biased reporters like you defending his poor play?

Because I prefer to watch the play before writing a review, not the opening credits. Do me a favor – no, do yourself a favor. Hop out of your bath tub of negativity, grab some popcorn and take a seat. We’re on to the next act.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Wes, I enjoyed your article on Aaron Jones and his family. Strong roots make a difference. I'm hoping we get to cheer for him for many years in green and gold.

Thanks for checking it out, Dean. It was a fun story to tell. I couldn’t imagine having to live with extended family when my parents are deployed to Iraq for a year. The family’s strength is inspiring. Getting a chance to talk with his dad also helps understand Aaron a little more.

Mitch from Bettendorf, IA

Is there a stat line for TDs following a three-and-out? Seems like defenses get more mentally fatigued when they stop a drive, then the offense produces nothing for their efforts.

I’m not sure if that’s something Elias tracks, but the more time the defense gets to regain its breath, the better the results will be. The biggest challenge for a defense is coming back on short rest.

Jeff from Farmington, NM

Can a team reward a rookie for having a better year than expected (Aaron Jones)? Or are they locked into the original contract?

A contract is a contract, but there is a “performance-based pay” provision in the collective bargaining agreement that rewards late-round draft picks, undrafted free agents and veteran-minimum players who play above their contract value.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, what are Brett Hundley's strengths? What does it mean strategically when McCarthy says he plans to design the offense around those strengths?

Good arm strength, mobility and size for the position. I believe he’s proven to be a good decision-maker during extended preseason appearances. He has a lot of tools the Packers can build the offense around. A healthy O-line and emerging run game will help him after the break.

Zach from Honolulu, HI

Since Barclay is not coming back this season, who is Linsley's backup at center? I've heard McCray, but he seems to be a backup at all other line positions as well. Is anyone else taking reps just in case they are needed at center?

Justin McCray and Lucas Patrick are the Packers’ two backup options at center behind Linsley.

JJ from Cape Coral, FL

I think we should turn Brett loose. He can run like crazy and has a cannon. Don't you think we'd be better off than playing so conservative? Nice job, guys.

This is only the beginning. As I’ve said before, there’s going to be a feeling-out process with Brett Hundley and this offense. As Hundley gets more comfortable, I assure you the Packers will have no problem turning him loose.

Cindy from Los Angeles, CA

Since it's the bye week, I have a more general question. What are some of the hardest things to understand for those of us who have never played football? Are there aspects of the game that can only be grasped by actually playing (or playing at an elite level)?

What the offensive and defensive lines are trying to accomplish on a given play. T.J. Lang was particularly enlightening in this area. You think you know, but you have no idea.

Brian from Baltimore, MD

After his years in the Packers’ system, Hundley's performance between now and the return of Rodgers will speak volumes for the QB coaching abilities of McCarthy and the talent evaluation skill of Thompson. The guy's not a rookie. There really are no excuses. He's ready or not. Now we find out which it is.

Another Inbox, another reader trying to quantify the unquantifiable with a blanket statement. If Rodgers didn’t work out as a first-rounder in 2005, I agree that’s on Thompson and McCarthy. But I don’t see how you can draw that conclusion based on a former fifth-rounder’s ability to fill the shoes of a two-time NFL MVP.

Josh from Hackensack, NJ

More of a statement than a question. Have the younger fans spent some time looking back at the 1968-1991 Packers? Twenty-five years, two playoff appearances (including an eight-win season in 1981). By staying loyal, look at the rewards – two Super Bowl wins, three appearances, seven NFC Championship games, countless amazing wins and losses. But most important, a sense of belonging to an ever-changing group of young men who play a game that allows an escape from the real world. And currently I have never needed that escape more. Go Pack Go.

If you really want to talk about missed opportunities, go back and watch the early-’80s Packers. Those offenses with Lynn Dickey were prolific, but the defense gave up too much production. Never take winning for granted. It’s not easy to get all the pieces to fit perfectly.

Paul from Farnborough, UK

I might be in the minority here but I didn't think the hit on Rodgers was that bad. The injury happened due to the outward extension of his arm and the impact on the turf. I've seen him take more vicious hits than that and pop straight up to his feet again. Surely, we don't need any more rules protecting the QB just because of an awkward fall by an elite player. The NFL is becoming too much like flag football already.

I was driving the other day when another car cut me off in a round-a-bout. I could’ve crashed into him and been completely in the right, but then both of our cars would’ve been smashed up. Instead, I quickly pressed my brake, took a deep breath and went on with my day. Just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s necessary.

Don from Albuquerque, NM

It seems the running game is working for a lot more teams this year than just the Packers – or is it my imagination? I like it!

I don’t have any stats to back that up, but it does seem like we’re seeing more 100-yard rushers this year than in the past. You have to be able to run the ball. It’s a passing league, but the ground game is still the oil powering the engine. If you can run the ball, you have a chance.

Jonathan from Hednesford, England

Coach McCarthy, Brett Hundley, and other players have talked about making adjustments on offense to suit Hundley. Firstly, I think if Hundley gets us in the playoffs, he should play in the playoffs. Secondly, if Aaron Rodgers comes back, would more adjustments need to be made to suit him? Wouldn't this upset the apple cart late in the season?

Rodgers and McCarthy have been at this thing for over a decade. While I’m not saying there wouldn’t be some initial rust to knock off, I wouldn’t anticipate the Packers having much difficulty restructuring the offense around Rodgers. It’s like riding a bike.

Larry from Green Bay, WI

In your opinion, what is the reason for the lack of sacks? Scheme or personnel? Thanks.

The Packers need longer fingertips. That’s how close I think they’ve been to increasing the number of sacks they’ve registered this year. The pass rush has been in the quarterback’s face, but just a tick late. I have a feeling you’ll see them catch fire after the bye. Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark are trending that way.

Don from Cedar Rapids, IA

It seems that successful baseball teams have gotten very deeply into data and analytics to plan offensive, defensive and pitching strategies. Do football teams do the same? How about the Packers?

The Packers have put a lot of resources into their analytics department over the last four years or so. McCarthy doesn’t go into great detail about all of it, but he really feels it’s made a significant impact on his program.

Brian from Maple Grove, MN

I was thinking about how Aaron Rodgers feels about his season ending after all the dedication and hard work he put in since last season in order reach the Super Bowl again. All his goals were wiped out by one overly aggressive “hit” that didn't even draw a flag. I'm wondering how Rodgers or any other QB ramps his drive back up knowing that another cheap hit could end their season again the next year, and the defensive player would gladly draw the penalty if it means they eliminate the one player that keeps them from winning the division.

I couldn’t be a professional athlete. This game requires a certain level of mental toughness I’d never be able to attain. I’m not talking about aggressive hits, either. I just mean watching someone like J.J. Watt work his way back from a season-ending back injury only to break his leg five games into his return. Those lengthy rehabilitations would ruin me. To your point, it’s a shame to see a player of Rodgers’ caliber sidelined knowing how much work and discipline it takes to play at such a high level.

Mike from Las Vegas, NV

Why are there so many penalties on punts and kickoffs? It's not just the Packers. It's pretty much every team. It's a bit of a turn off fan-wise. They should either make it a "point of emphasis" or adjust the rules. It's getting difficult to watch.

First, special teams tend to feature a lot of young players and young players tend to have more mental errors and miscues, especially when it comes to illegal blocks in the back. Regardless, McCarthy has said the Packers need to cut down on penalties in the third phase. Field position is too important to forfeit free yards.

Brant from Millis, MA

To address Matt in Hartford, you only need to go back to 2014. Nobody in the league won more than 12 games and nobody with nine wins made the playoffs (but a sub-.500 Carolina team did). That year was so fun to watch across the league, and I think this one will be very similar.

I agree. There definitely has been an “Any Given Sunday” element to this season. Thank you Mr. Lebowski…it’s Brant.

Nathan from Sioux Center, IA

Thursday night, Joe Flacco was knocked out of the game from a hit by Kiko Alonso. While the play was dissimilar from the Barr-Rodgers hit, the defender's opportunity to adjust was similar (although I'd say Barr had more time than Alonso). Naturally the announcers analyzed the hit, agreed that Alonso could've let up, but then Tony Romo pretty much guaranteed a hefty fine for the hit. It got me wondering – are fines even effective deterrents for these unnecessary hits, especially since the money goes through the NFL Foundation to organizations that the players love?

The money goes to a worthy cause, but it’s definitely a deterrent. I’ve seen how players react when they find an envelope in their locker.

Matthew from Shorewood, WI

Dating back to the 2006 season, the Packers are 9-2 following the bye week with an average points per game at 27.72 and an average points allowed at 16.82. Any room for a stats intern on your staff?

Thank you for looking that up. I could use an intern. The only requirements are prescription glasses, a penchant for PSLs and passion for “Game of Thrones.”

Joshua from Houston, TX

Two things: Wes, what is so charming about Mike? He seems to think your idealism is your charming trait. I also have an answer to Idwin from Kearney, WI, about who to cheer for this weekend. Go Astros!

His professionalism. He’s the best editor I’ve worked with.

Lauren from Tampa Bay, WI

Do you think Kiko Alonso should have been ejected from the game after the "unnecessary roughness" hit on Joe Flacco? Where's the incentive to stop those type of hits?

I do. Sorry, Kiko (and probably every defensive football player out there). I get it may be a late or awkward slide, but the quarterback is clearly giving himself up. We’re not talking about Michael Vick here. You don’t have to worry about Joe Flacco cutting on a dime and breaking the tackle.

Spencer from Harbor City, CA

I'm watching Baltimore handle Miami, and it appeared the RB fumbled the ball well before the end zone, and it was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. Why wasn't the ball returned to the point of the fumble?

It wasn’t within the final two minutes of the half or game. And that fumble cost me six points from Javorius Allen. Thanks for the reminder.

Dan from Fort Atkinson, WI

Another quote from history that I think applies to the Packers' current situation: "It's easy to grin when your ship comes in and you've got the stock market beat. But the man worthwhile is the man who can smile when his shorts are too tight in the seat." – Judge Smails. OK, Pookie, do the honors.

Spaulding, get your foot off the boat.

Jim from Marengo, WI

Some people are never happy unless they’re unhappy.

No way to live.

Carlos from Pasco, WI

This will be the first time the Packers don’t make the playoffs in how long? Eight seasons? Maybe seven?

That’s a great attitude you have there.

Evan from Durango, CO

Wes, are you excited for “Isle of Dogs”? The appropriate response would be, "Cuss yeah!" The “Royal Tenenbaums” is Wes A's masterpiece. The cast is unbeatable and the screenplay so well written. Glad to hear you're a fan.

“Hell of a grave. Wish it were mine.” I don’t have many must-see movies. Wes Anderson’s always make the short list.

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