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You do what you have to

Posted Dec 4, 2017

Packers' RB combo moving forward is really intriguing


Ken from New York, NY

Still in it.

Still a long way to go.

Ian from Sherman Oaks, CA

On paper, last week the Packers should have won; they lost. On paper, this week the Packers should have lost; they won. The NFL is a strange beast. Did Sunday all come down to the defensive touchdown?

I don’t have the stats in front of me, but scoring a touchdown on defense or special teams creates a very high probability of victory. Against the Buccaneers, it overcame nearly 200 passing yards, nearly 65 passer rating points and 10-plus minutes in time of possession. A football is shaped funny. So is the game occasionally.

Wes from Fishers, IN

Sunday’s game highlighted how important health is to the overall success of the team. Matthews, Clark, and Aaron Jones (for one significant play!) were huge contributors.

The Bucs playing two backups on the offensive line certainly factored into seven sacks, too. One of those backups botched a shotgun snap in goal-to-go and was flagged for holding and an illegal block, all in the fourth quarter. Sometimes it’s not who you play, it’s when you play ’em.

Erick from Charlottesville, VA

Did you get a chance to hear Jennings' call of the game? I thought his analysis was excellent, all the way up until the last play.

We don’t hear the announcers in the press box, so I’ll let y’all tell me. I actually ran into Jennings on my way into the stadium Sunday morning and chatted briefly. He actually spotted me from about 30 yards away in the parking lot. I know he said some things that have rankled the Packers and their fans since he left, but Jennings was always good to me here, and I appreciated that.

Spencer from Rockford, IL

I saw an NFL analyst comment that Brett Hundley's development has "peaked" at this point. It still seems too early in his career to make a statement like that. Do you think there's still a lot of developmental upside left?

Of course. The “peaked” comment is a convenient hot take, and it’s ridiculous. Hundley’s performance Sunday through 54 minutes was not a step forward, though. He keeps going forward, then backward. From what I saw, he was missing open guys, both with his eyes and his arm. There were a lot more plays out there to be made. I liked the read-option wrinkle. I’d been waiting for that to emerge, and it paid off big-time late in the game. With the way the running game was working, a couple of plays change the look of his day, but he has to make those couple of plays, not leave them out there.

Christian from Ontario, Canada

Despite our QB situation, it's been exciting to watch the explosive 1-2 punch from our rookie running back duo.

The 1-2 punch was four-plus quarters of jabs, jabs, jabs from Williams, and then one roundhouse right from Jones. I look for a more divided workload moving forward, and it really intrigues me.

Matt from Hartford, WI

At 6-6, 295, Dean Lowry has wheels! Maybe tight end plays in his future?

It’s that Northwestern speed. Wes says I’m the faster writer of us two.

Mark from Seattle, WA

Hi Mike, the Saints use their backup quarterback, who runs a 4.42 40, on special teams. Have you ever seen a team do this?

It’s not unheard of. Joe Webb.

Brett from Merrill, WI

Hey Insiders, that was a great game! The Bucs really beat themselves, though. I know a win is a win, but I’m almost afraid of complacency. The Browns are in the NFL too, and I think a lot of teams might just look at them like a bye week. Is complacency something that a great coach like McCarthy addresses regularly? I feel like it’s a killer for a lot of teams.

McCarthy has his finger on the pulse of his team. Always does. They’re in no position to overlook anyone, and they know it. They will see plenty of film this week that shows them how they could have lost Sunday.

Jim from Horsham, UK

What a thriller! But do you think MM has decided that No. 12 is coming back, so he is backing what Hundley's strength is, his legs? To do it sooner would have been a massive risk with No. 12 down, but the landscape has changed?

I don’t see it that way. The landscape was the Packers absolutely needed points on two late drives to save their season and his quarterback hadn’t found any rhythm in the passing game all day. You do what you have to.

Jim from Vienna, VA

Not a question, a comment. Kudos to Jordy on a great block on Jones's TD run. A team effort!

I was so frantically trying to post the bulletin story and get downstairs for the press conferences I never saw a replay. I’ll have to check it out. As Darin from Madisonville, KY, pointed out, it shows the true pro Nelson is when he’s not having the impact in the passing game everyone would like.

Thomas from Highland, IN

Wes my friend, I feel you and Mike are friends to all of us readers. Thanks and keep up the good work. No question, but a comment. I agree never ever any raisins, but you have to try oatmeal butterscotch cookies. I bet you will say, "Where have you been all my life?" P.S. Wishing all Packer backers a happy holiday.

I am a fan of butterscotch in just about any dessert.

Roger from McGrath, AK

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix suggested in an interview that it would be great to see fine money go to some of the charities supported by the players. Hear, hear for Ha Ha! Where does that fine money go now?

The NFL has charities, foundations, etc., that get the money, as far as I know.

Brandon from Oshkosh, WI

Mike said in the Inbox on Dec. 1 there used to be a rule that missed field goals were placed at the 20. I didn't know about that rule, as I was 4 when it got changed. Did teams ever exploit that rule? Why wouldn't they automatically try a field goal on fourth down if the ball is anywhere outside of the red zone? Or was there some rule preventing "ridiculous" field-goal attempts?

You can always send a return man back deep to return a missed field goal that stays in the field of play, and a field goal doesn’t have the hang time of a punt, nor is a field-goal protection unit conductive to covering and tackling a return man. The deterrents are built into the rules.

Zach from New York, NY

My girlfriend is from Germany and I've been introducing her to football. I told her about the ways the league keeps the teams competitive – the way the draft works and the salary cap (so far as I understand it, based on my years of reading the Insider Inbox and Ask Vic). Her reaction: "I don't understand why Americans are so against socialism in your healthcare and government, but you do it so well in your football!"

I just love hearing international perspectives on America’s most popular sport.

Eric from Kenosha, WI

How does Aaron's return to practice affect Brett's preparation?

Hundley needs to take most, if not all, of the first-team reps to prep for Cleveland, but I imagine Rodgers will run the scout team all week and get a bunch of work in that way.

Bob from New Britain, CT

Gee Mike, when I watched your "Final Thoughts" video for the Tampa Bay game, I wished I could have sent you an express cup of hot chocolate. Your Packers shirt looked really cool, but judging from your body language, I don't think it was as warm as advertised!

Brought the wrong jacket to work that day. No excuse for a veteran Insider.

Steve from Minocqua, WI

Given all the collapses that occurred there over the years, are you surprised the Silverdome survived the first implosion attempt?

That was just too good to pass up.

Mark from Iron Mountain, MI

Fackrell's block of the punt isn't considered a blocked punt. Why?

Because the ball made it back to the line of scrimmage. Just a statistical technicality.

Pete from Music City, TN

Mike, congratulations to your daughter! I played Harold Hill when I was in the eighth grade and had a huge crush on the girl that played Marian. Memories make us rich!

I told my daughter about your note and she had a nice laugh before the second public performance. The shows went great, and she even sang one of Marian’s solos through a wardrobe malfunction. Not Janet-esque, but a little too close for comfort.

Paul from Indio, CA

Alabama?!? Alabama!!???!!

C’mon, don’t tell me you didn’t see that coming. 55-24. That’s the score on Ohio State’s ledger that was impossible to overlook, just as 49-6 was for Penn State last year. The committee did the right, and consistent, thing.

Andrew from Memphis, TN

I know that the college football discussion is largely regulated to the Badgers in this forum, but coming from Memphis, what are y'all's thoughts on college football playoff expansion?

I think it’s obvious it needs to go to eight teams – the champions of the Power Five, plus three at-large berths (I won’t repeat my rant about how easy it would have been to do this 20 years ago with a 6-2 format). Eight would give every major conference a berth, plus it would give an undefeated Central Florida (or the Boise States of the past) a chance to be in the discussion. If Notre Dame deserves a berth at some point, it wouldn’t be at the expense of a Power Five champ. I would rather have the wrangling center around non-champs, or undefeated champs from “other” leagues, than on whether or not major conference champs should get in. And no, I don’t think eight just means everyone will clamor for 12 or 16. College football’s current structure tells me eight is the right number.

Darrell from San Antonio, TX

Been a Packer fan since 1962. Was thinking the other day of all the great players I've had the chance to see play. Here is my all-time Packer defensive unit. Adderley, Butler, Wood, Woodson, Carr, Nitschke, Robinson, Matthews, Davis, White, Jordan. Can you think of anyone else that I've unintentionally left out?

If you’re sticking with players you’ve seen play, it would be tough to do better than your list, as hard as it is to not see Nick Collins on it. Elite longevity obviously keeps Wood and Butler at the top of the safety position. Going back further, I might be inclined to add a HOF defensive lineman like Mike Michalske in place of Carr and play a 4-3.

Gordy from Tomahawk, WI

I keep seeing stories about repainting the field and have wondered what they paint it with. It is too cold for a latex paint, as it would freeze, and an oil base would kill the grass. Do they have a special paint? Many years back I worked in a paint store and painted houses for a living and this just makes me curious as to what they are using.

This is directly from our fields manager, Allen Johnson: It is latex-based, mixed with hot water if needed. Sometimes it freezes when applied, which can be just as good as drying.

Scott from Las Vegas, NV

So this team almost beats Pittsburgh on the road and then almost loses to Tampa Bay at home?

Never expect the NFL to make sense. The Chiefs were 5-0 and everyone was putting them in the Super Bowl. Now we might have a second straight year a 5-0 team misses the playoffs.

Lane from Kihei, HI

How many times has Davis made a fair catch inside the 10-yard line this season? I thought the general consensus was to let it go inside the 10.

Not anymore. With the Aussie-style punts, it’s more like the 7 or 8 is the line. He fair-caught one at the 6. Not going to quibble. It’s too bad his long kickoff return got called back. Biegel’s holding penalty had nothing to do with it.

Andrew from Valparaiso, IN

The overtime rules definitely feel a lot better when they benefit the Packers, and I'm sure the Inbox reflects that!

Defense at crunch time is part of the game, too.

Jon from Winona, MN

What did you guys think of the performances by Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, and Blake Martinez? Not a bad defensive draft class if you ask me.

Plus Kyler Fackrell blocked a punt (yeah, I’m still calling it a blocked punt), Jason Spriggs had a quiet second start at right tackle, and Trevor Davis almost broke one. The class of ’16 was all over this win.

Dan from Corona, CA

There is no such thing as a winnable game. This is a week-to-week league, so we came close to losing the game. The play of the game wasn't Aaron Jones running in for a TD, it's Martinez copying Matthews' famous Predator stance. I loved that one. What was the play of the game in your opinion, Insiders?

McCarthy waiting to call the read-option run until third-and-2 from the Green Bay 44 with four minutes left, down 20-17.

Paul from Grayslake, IL

Guys, mostly I am glad that I get to watch meaningful football for at least another week.

It’s all about survival now, one week at a time.

Rob from Buckinghamshire, UK

Well, it wasn't pretty. But if our D, special teams and run game play like that with A-Rod back, watch out.

Just beat the Browns.


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