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You must endure

Posted Oct 24, 2017

Unlike Madden, you can't rage-quit in real life


Chris from Wyoming, OH

So, in Madden Football, do star players occasionally get season-ending injuries? Seems like it would be necessary in order to have a realistic game. Go Pack Go!

There are season-ending injuries, but I think most people just slam their controller and restart their system. Unlike Madden, you cannot rage-quit in real life. McCarthy understands that and his team understands that. You must endure.

Morgan from Minneapolis, MN

This team has talent, albeit some of it young. It just feels like there is a lack of emotional leadership. Is that fair? Without Aaron, who are the igniters on this team?

I think it’s just a product of an effective New Orleans offense and the Packers just wearing down in the fourth quarter. I said this to Spoff after the game – the Packers played the final 20 minutes of that contest out of their traditional nickel and base defenses. That’s a big ask to defend the run – even their “hippo” package for short-yardage situations had to be modified in the fourth quarter.

Blaine from Bagley, WI

What is your biggest takeaway from the Saints game? For me, it was the offensive line finally starting to get back together and the emergence of the running game. That could help a lot down the stretch.

Other than Aaron Jones’ performance, the most positive thing to come out of Sunday’s game was David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga playing from start to finish. Those tackles will be vital to the offense’s success during the second half of the year. If Lane Taylor can get back after the bye week, this offense can start to establish its identity without Aaron Rodgers at quarterback.

Scott from La Crosse, WI

I was surprised to see the lack of shorter, high-percentage passes to get the offense moving. When the running game was working, I thought play-actions with quick out routes could have gotten Brett in a little rhythm and maybe spark something else. The number of deep routes didn't seem to help our offensive situation.

The Packers planned to attack New Orleans on the ground. That was the starting point. This was just the beginning. McCarthy and Hundley will figure out a plan to get the downfield passing game opened up over the next two weeks. It’s a feeling-out process, but Hundley can throw the ball and lead an offense. We’ve seen it before.

Bill from Menominee, MI

We saw what Aaron Jones and Brett Hundley can do when they see space. Question is, do you predict teams to play up on the line to respect the run? Or do you anticipate Sunday's film will show other teams to sit back, contain receivers, and wait for a mistake?

I think teams are going to catch on quick that they need to defend Aaron Jones. When that happens, it’s up to Hundley and the passing game to make defenses pay. That’s what the Packers did so well in 2014 when Rodgers won his second MVP award and Eddie Lacy had another 1,100-yard season on the ground.

Mike from Exeter, PA

Every week it's the same "we have to play better; we didn't play good enough" quotes from these guys, the defensive players in particular. I think we need to come to grips with the fact that we have a below-average defense and Rodgers' talent will continue to be wasted unless there's significant changes. You agree?

No, but I do love the segment of Packers fans who want to turtle up and cry defeat. That’s a winning mindset. If you admit what you’re admitting, what good does that do? Negativity does nothing, but create more negativity. You’re better than that.

Lloyd from Rancho Cordova, CA

Looking back at all Brett's preseason and real-season games, are we expecting too much? Will his below 40 QB rating improve? It seems some QBs never transition from college to the NFL.

Only you could answer your first question. Expectations are what we make them. But yes, Hundley will improve. He’ll learn from that performance and the Packers will learn from this performance.

David from St Paul, MN

Why so much negativity? Sure, the Packers are in a tough spot. Will they make the playoffs? Don’t know. But true Packer fans will support the team, regardless of record, or who’s at quarterback. Let’s give Hundley more than one game before we say it’s over. And even if they don’t make the playoffs, so what! After 25 years of football that 99 percent of every other team would die for, they deserve our support.

Amen, though I’d like to encourage you to keep the window open a little wider than one game. Young quarterbacks require patience. It doesn’t always happen overnight.

Mike from Somerset, WI

With Bart Starr donating his SB ring and two Super Bowl MVP jackets, it makes me reflect how special that generation was for paving the way for the current Packers. What more can you say about such a class act?

To me, Starr is the greatest ambassador of Green Bay Packers football in franchise history. He exemplifies everything the Packers stand for. As legendary as Starr was on the field, his charitable efforts defined his legacy. He’s been through a lot over the last three years, but you could still get a great sense of Starr’s humility and kindness during Monday’s news conference announcing the Starrs’ donation to the Packers Hall of Fame. Bart Starr is the original GOAT.

Dave from Lake Bluff, IL

This is not condescending, although it is negative. In all honesty I don't know what to root for anymore. Why cheer to squeeze into the playoffs with the same lackluster performance on defense – 10 men on the field, chunk running plays given and given, zero punts in the second half. What's the point? So Aaron can come back and not win a Super Bowl once again? I'd rather have AR12 take his time and return at 100 percent next year, and in the meantime expose defensive deficiencies that must be corrected for this team to reward his greatness with the ultimate victory. We need to stop settling.

You cheer to squeeze into the playoffs because this team tends to get better as the season wears on. You cheer because it can turn on a dime on any given Sunday. You cheer because Aaron Rodgers makes the impossible possible. You cheer because it’s better to live life with a hint of optimism. You never stop chasing greatness. Ever.

Venny from Montgomery, AL

With two division games upon us, the time is now. I don't think it's a stretch to say that these next two games are vital in how the remainder of the season unfolds.

It all starts with winning your division games. I agree with your assessment – this is a vital stretch for the Packers – but I’d probably say the same regardless of who is lining up at quarterback.

Kyle from Sussex, WI

I know the draft and talent analysis is a crystal ball affair, but how come Jones was third in the depth chart until injuries allowed him a chance? Is that so hard to evaluate in practice? It seems that after a couple games he is anointed No. 1 and people are trying to figure out what to do with our former No. 1 of a few weeks ago. I would have thought coaches would have a better evaluation than that, but I am no scout or coach.

I’ve always felt you don’t know what a running back can do until you see it in games. You can get a feel for a player’s instincts in padded practices during the summer, but in-game situations are what provide insight into a player’s potential. Mike Daniels was a healthy scratch at one time. You don’t know until you know.

Jeff from Elk Mound, WI

Coaches are to teach players how to play to their scheme. Players are supposed to make plays. Do we need to draft better or put players in better position to make plays? It's one or the other. This defense hasn’t had an identity for a while now.

It’s not one or the other. I’ve been covering this team for eight years now. When adversity hits, fans want to quantify the unquantifiable. They make blanket statements with foolproof answers. The reality is this is a complex game with complex answers. You want to label this or that, good or bad, but it’s not that simple. If a team had it all figured out, it would’ve won three consecutive Super Bowls by now.

Tristan from Aurora, CO

Obviously the secondary really stepped up on Sunday and gave us some excellent chances. They did this all without Morgan Burnett. When he returns, this secondary could really take a huge step forward.

Burnett is a key piece of the puzzle. He wears so many hats for the Packers’ defense. His value can only be quantified if you’re one of the gifted fans who know the game inside and out, and have everything figured out.

Jared from Pewaukee, WI

I'd love to see the starting field position stats for when we take the kickoff out of the end zone versus just kneeling it and starting at the 25. To me, we should never take the ball out, as we'll either get tackled before the 25 or a penalty will bring it back. Hundley having to start on his own 10 in the fourth quarter after the penalty really hurt.

There’s more that goes into that, but I know Bill Huber had a stat a few weeks ago that the Packers ranked fifth in the NFL in starting field position after kickoffs based purely on all their touchbacks.

Kyle from Los Angeles, CA

How is a player compensated after being placed on IR? Do they get a percentage of their salary or do they simply miss out on all their game checks?

It depends on the contract. Established veterans and early-round picks earn their full salary, while some late-round and undrafted free agents have split-salary clauses in their deals if placed on injured reserve.

Mike from Stillwater, MN

I have a concern about the defense moving forward. It's great seeing how well Blake Martinez is playing this season, but I find myself wondering if he's going to be able to finish the season with the pace he's going at. Can or should one player be making a lot more tackles than the rest of the defensive players? And I realize Morgan Burnett was more than doing his fair share, too. But Burnett is injured now and I'd hate to see the same thing happen to Martinez. How does the defense balance out the tackling?

The more tackles Blake Martinez makes, the better it is for the defense. Generally, that means ball carriers aren’t leaking deep into the secondary. The movement next to Martinez – Burnett, Jake Ryan, Joe Thomas, Josh Jones, etc. – is why you don’t see another linebacker near him. Martinez and Kenny Clark are my two most improved players this year.

Daniel from Duncan, SC

With Aaron Jones really coming around, does Ty head back to more of an even split between RB and WR? Do the depth charts show Ty as the second back and Jones as the lead, or does it just seem that way based on playing the Saints, Ty’s lingering injury, AJ’s momentum/success, etc.?

Montgomery is a playmaker, first and foremost. The listed position is irrelevant to the Packers. He’ll play where the Packers need him to play to make the biggest impact. The Packers are going to need him this season. I wouldn’t be quick to write him off.

Paritosh from Ames, IA

I love reading this column and your other articles. I was wondering on the Richard Rodgers penalty whether the design was supposed to be a screen or quick pass to Randall Cobb. It seems like that may make sense as to why RR was blocking early into the route. When the play broke down he didn't see that and so he continued blocking and got called for PI.

That’s what it looked like to me. Something wasn’t quite right with Cobb and Jones bumping into each other in the backfield. My guess is Rodgers expected the dump off/screen to happen and got a hat on his guy downfield.

Paul from Hewitt, WI

This question is related to possible player reinforcements. Assuming both Biegel and Goodson have recovered and there is room to place them on the 53-player active roster, do we still have the option to bring back two players from the IR, assuming room on the 53-man roster?

Yes. The physically unable to perform list (PUP) is entirely different from injured reserve. The Packers can get those two back and still bring back two others from IR.

Andy from Verona, WI

How does Joe Thomas' snap streak rank in comparison to Brett Favre's streak and to Cal Ripken Jr.'s streak?

With respect to Favre and Ripken, Thomas’ 10,363 consecutive plays is the greatest streak in sports history. Favre’s durability is legendary, but Thomas initiates contact on every single play. I don’t think we’ll ever see anything like it again.

Rik from Santa Fe, NM

The burning question that we all need an answer to...Did another veteran player step up and take over the photo-bombing of the game captains’ pregame picture?

Hundley and Joe Callahan handled the duties.

Grant from Minneapolis, MN

We have a bye so...Dodgers or Astros?

’Stros.

Eric from Baker, KS

I watched the MM press conference live on Facebook and I was reading the comments as I watched. If the Inbox is one-tenth as bad as those comments, I feel for you and Mike. I've never seen so many people who had all of the answers or were just flat-out negative. Is the Inbox more balanced than that, or is it mostly negative "know-it-alls?”

I’d say the Inbox is about 40 percent “know-it-alls,” 40 percent rationality, and 20 percent pure nonsense.

Andrew from Fullerton, CA

Wes, here is a good “Dodgeball” quote for today. It describes the negative fans that would rather predict a horrible season than hope for a turnaround: "I've found that if you have a goal, that you might not reach it. But if you don't have one, then you are never disappointed. And I gotta tell you, it feels phenomenal."

After everyone finishes watching “Animal House,” they need to throw “Dodgeball” into their DVD player.


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