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You have to keep grinding

Posted Nov 21, 2017

The development is constant for the Packers' young players


Dan from Saint Louis, MO

My mom once told me difficult times are a great opportunity to learn about yourself and grow as a person. What do you think the Packers have learned the past five games they can use to grow?

They don’t quit. There were plenty of chances for the Packers to fold up the tent over the past month, but this team keeps pressing forward in every phase. That’s something my mother taught me, too – the result doesn’t always go your way, but you can’t quit. You have to keep grinding. That’s the truest test of character.

Bill from Wilmington, DE

Now that the playoffs are almost out of reach, should we hope for development with more losses? Moving up in the draft and getting our injured players back could be a recipe for success next year.

The season isn’t over, but to your second point, the development you mentioned is constant. Regardless of who’s at quarterback, the Packers always look for improvement from their first- and second-year players during the final stretch of the year. Kenny Clark, Mike Daniels and Davante Adams are just a few examples of young players who had their breakouts during the final month of their rookie regular seasons.

Jim from Cordova, TN

We all know that the NFL is a game that is always changing its face with new players taking the spotlight every year. That being said, how much has Hundley's performances hurt both his stock and the Packers’ ability to get value for him in a trade?

Fans and media made “trade Hundley” a thing. The Packers simply are developing a quarterback with some credentials. I don’t know much about stocks, but I do know they’re only worth what you sell them for. Green Bay isn’t selling on Hundley. He’s the quarterback.

David from Los Angeles, CA

I get McCarthy not ripping the team or players in the media, but how can we as fans see evidence that players are being held accountable for their play, other than when/if they get cut/released? Thanks, Wes.

McCarthy has never graded players in the media, but I can assure you he is holding the team accountable. I agree with that approach. Criticism should be constructive, not destructive. It doesn’t do any good to rip each other in the public domain. You only create divisiveness.

Richard from Madison, WI

Is it just my imagination, or are teams going for it more on fourth down than ever before? It used to be a desperation move in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter, but now I'm seeing coaches call it in the first half of close games, with less than 5 yards to go, from midfield or worse. That's new, isn't it?

That’s a good observation. While I don’t have the exact numbers, it does seem like those fourth-and-short tries are up. It’s not just Packers games, either. I’ve noticed this in some of the Thursday, Sunday and Monday night games I’ve watched this year.

Mark from Minneapolis, MN

Were you surprised that a five-loss team (in nine games) could put such a suffocating defense on the field?

Nothing about the Ravens’ defense surprised me. Its pass defense is legit and Baltimore’s front looks a lot different with Brandon Williams.

Tyler from Green Bay, WI

Can you explain the false-start call on Hundley? First-and-15 instead of first-and-5. I believe we went incomplete and interception.

Spoff and I looked at each other after that play. Maybe there was a false start somewhere, but I don’t know what Triplette was looking for with Hundley. It looked to me like a quarterback trying to signal for the snap out of a shotgun formation.

Rob from Orlando, FL

I'm a fan of McCarthy but am now concerned about the validity of his "quarterback school." Hundley has had three years in the system and doesn't appear to even have the basics down. We expect better from first- and second-year players on the defense. Hundley has had three years with this offense and training. Am I missing something?

Alex Van Pelt addressed the Packers’ quarterback school when talking with the media last week. The current CBA has greatly impacted what the coaches can do with the quarterbacks during the offseason program, which means most of their work has to come during training camp and preseason. Hundley is a third-year quarterback, but his situation is vastly different than Matt Flynn in 2010.

Bill from Bloomfield Hills, MI

Wow, the NFC is upside down from last year and GB has an “excuse,” but what about the Falcons, Cowboys and Seahawks? Have last year's playoff teams lost their edge, or have the Eagles, Vikings and Saints picked it up that much?

That’s the NFL for you. Teams are rising and falling every year. I think many Packers fans miss that when looking back at this run the team has been on over the past eight years. I couldn’t give you a thorough explanation for what’s going on with Atlanta, Dallas and Seattle, but Philadelphia and New Orleans are legit contenders. They had the quarterbacks, but the running games and defenses are vastly improved.

Jeff from Fayetteville, NC

All the coaches and all the players say the right things. They don't need to talk the talk, they need to walk the talk.

I think the coaches and players have been upfront and honest about what they’re dealing with. They’re trying to pull together to help replace the best player in the game. It’s not easy. Talk, walk, whatever – the Packers just want to win some ball games.

Jeremiah from Denver, CO

How much more effort might be involved in game-planning for Hundley versus Rodgers? Thanks for the measured approach.

McCarthy and Rodgers have been together for more than 10 years. Those two know each other better than any other coach-quarterback combination in the league. They know each other’s strengths. So naturally it’s going to make game-planning easier than a young quarterback who’s getting his first regular-season action.

Jordan from Lino Lakes, MN

Is there any way to read/hear about how players on the practice squad are coming along, if at all? I was intrigued by Michael Clark in training camp and wanted to see how he has been doing.

Practice-squad players aren’t readily available to the media during the regular season, but the Packers clearly like what they have based on how few transactions they’ve made this season. All 10 players who signed to the Packers’ initial practice squad are either still there or on the active roster. I can’t ever recall a year where all eight (or now 10) practice-squad players were still on the roster in some capacity this late in the season.

Dan from Austin, TX

I actually thought the Packers played an excellent first quarter...except for the turnovers. Were those three mistakes enough to blow the whole game, or was there more to it than that?

I still wonder how the game might have been different if the Packers could have put up at least three points on the opening series. Green Bay has moved the ball on that opening possession in each of the four games without Rodgers. You have to pivot off those opportunities. The Packers did in Chicago. They didn’t against Baltimore.

Harry from Chandler, AZ

Is Spriggs’ return from IR the second return for the Packers? Does this end AR's season?

No. Spriggs is the only player to be designated to return from injured reserve to date. Vince Biegel was activated earlier this month off physically unable to perform. The two lists are different. The Packers still have another designation to potentially return Rodgers to the 53-man roster.

Blaine from Bagley, WI

Tough start for Mays’ first couple carries. How does he bounce back?

It was a tough break for Mays. He just has to pick himself up and keep grinding. The Packers drafted him for a reason. They didn’t want to risk losing him in college free agency. They believe in his talent. At the end of the day, you have to protect the football.

Dave from Seattle, WA

As I read the postgame comments, I see a lot of the defense saying they need to do more. From the comfort of my home, it looks like the D is holding up its end of the bargain. Those guys are studs and have brought their game to the next level. I get the team mentality piece, but come on, can we change the script a little bit?

Regardless of the noise outside of the building, nobody is throwing anyone under the bus inside of it. As David Bakhtiari said afterward, the offense and defense have to “complement” each other. That’s how you achieve winning football.

Robb from Merrimack, NH

Hey Hod, they always talk about how fast a QB progresses through his reads. Can a QB be taught to process faster or do you just scheme around the slower speed to utilize ability?

I think there are two facets to playing fast – NFL experience and experience in a system. Which one is more valuable? That’s in the eye of the beholder. The challenge for every quarterback is taking what they’ve learned and applying it on the field. Baltimore was a stiff test.

Greg from Marquette, MI

Do you think the Packers might change their philosophy on the backup quarterback and go with a veteran next year? Seems to be working in Minnesota.

It is working in Minnesota and you tip your cap to Rick Spielman for making it happen. It isn’t working everywhere, though.

Dylan from Apple Valley, MN

This upcoming SNF game feels very similar to the one in New England in 2010. Coming off an ugly offensive performance vs. Detroit, with a backup Flynn at QB, and traveling to play one of the AFC's best. We were very much in that game with the famous Dan Connolly return and Flynn debacle on the last play. I expected a blow out and we had a chance to win on the last play. What is something we can take from last game and apply to Pittsburgh?

I just remember the Packers team left for dead after the 40-10 loss to Detroit on Thanksgiving in 2013. They were 0-3-1 without Rodgers at that point and nobody gave them a chance. Then, Green Bay picked up wins over Atlanta and Dallas en route to the playoffs. You never know. That’s why you play the games.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, to what do you look forward, with hope, from the Packers the rest of the season?

If the Packers can run and protect the football, they’ll have a chance in each of these next six games. That Chicago game showed this offense could produce with Hundley at quarterback. Now, it needs to do it again.

Nathan from Baltimore, MD

Did we forget that playing QB in this league is not as easy as Aaron made it look?

The Packers always have said they’re spoiled with Rodgers at quarterback. I’m not sure whether fans have the same self-awareness.

Roger from McGrath, AK

We saw a ref go down on Sunday and it's not the first time. With all the concern over player safety, has there been parallel discussions about referee safety? Seems to me that a helmet, even our dumpy old Little League runners’ helmets, would prevent a share of injuries.

That has to be the first time I’ve seen a referee carted to the locker room. It doesn’t happen frequently. I don’t know what other measures could be taken. Would a helmet actually provide increased protection or just a hindrance?

Dave from Franklin, WI

Did the equipment manager get to go home early last week with not having to put the decals on the helmets?

Ha. More like the opposite.

Zach from Rice Lake, WI

While I was disappointed in the outcome, the experience of my first regular-season game at Lambeau will be something I never forget! The atmosphere walking into the stadium was amazing and our seats were awesome! My girlfriend told me I looked like a 5-year-old on Christmas morning. Do you remember your first game at Lambeau and if so, were you as impressed as I?

Nov. 19, 2000. My dad paid an arm and a leg for seats near the 50-yard line for the Packers’ 26-24 win over Indianapolis. That was the first time I watched Peyton Manning play live. The second was covering the Packers-Broncos game in 2015.

Kyle from Carlisle, IA

More of a PSA than a question. It is a dangerous time of year right now and wanted to hope everyone has a safe season, be it deer hunting, hanging Xmas lights, or Vikings fans getting mouthy. Stay safe my friends!

Tis the season.

Zane from Hobbs, NM

What are the chances of a Run The Table 2.0? If we can get two wins before Rodgers is eligible to come back (Bucs and Browns?) and then he (and teammates) runs the table....

A win in Pittsburgh wouldn’t be a bad start.

Cassie from Darlington, WI

Thanksgiving is better than any given Sunday because it is about family, good food, football, and a day off work.

And that thought of turkey, gravy and all the fixings is what got me through this edition of the Inbox.


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