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Early bye presents opportunity and challenges

Jordy Nelson's return provided a spark for the Packers


Chad from Tarpon Springs, FL

Is Jordy Nelson the leader of the team? Is his presence felt not only in the architecture of the offense, but also the team?  

There are numerous leaders on the team, but Jordy Nelson certainly is one of those individuals. I remember a conversation I had with Morgan Burnett after Nelson's first game back in Jacksonville. Burnett said Nelson's return definitely provided a spark for everyone on the roster. From his ability to how he conducts himself, Nelson seemed to infuse some swagger back into the team. He's a core guy.

Noah from Spooner, WI

After watching our defense through three weeks, it appears Capers and Co. are really committed to stacking the box and getting after the passer. This leaves our young DBs in tough one-on-one matchups. If Randall, Rollins and Gunter figure that back end out...Watch out!

Those three second-year cornerbacks are only going to get better. You've seen how different the defense is when Shields isn't on the field, but the young cornerbacks will benefit from these last two games. I thought Gunter played well against the Lions. Randall is a rare talent who played well beyond his years last season. If the run defense continues to play like it has, watch out for this defense in December.

Kevin from Bridgeton, NJ

Is it just me or does this defense have a certain physicality to it this year than in years past? With Daniels, Ha Ha and even Joe Thomas it just seems every week they are laying the boom on opposing players.

Daniels has spoken about the evolution of the defense frequently over the past year. There's an attitude and edge with this defense that probably wasn't there three years ago. I think they had a good mentality for the past two years, but it seems like the defensive front has the right blend of aggression and ability now. They're much more active in the trenches these days. I love the speed of the linebackers, too.

Patrick from Folly Beach, SC

Luke Getsy had the WRs catching bricks and juggling in order to hone their pass-catching skills. Adams may have improved because of that. Perhaps the DBs could use that drill as well?

The defensive backs already do quite a few ball-catching drills during training camp and practice. That's been a staple of their training during the tenure of Joe Whitt and Darren Perry as the secondary coaches. I remember a few years ago Whitt had his cornerbacks hitting the sleds after a poor performance. I don't know if it's the same as bricks and tennis balls, but Whitt seems to be on the cutting-edge when it comes to prepping corners.

Jeff from Scottsdale, AZ

It seems in the past year(s) the defensive line scheme was to hold the line and occupy as many blockers as possible for the linebackers to clean up. However this year, it seems the defensive front is in more of an attack/disrupt/penetrate mode; or are they just executing better this year?

The Packers transitioned from a two-gap scheme a few years ago and I think it's benefited them in every area of the defense. They're definitely a more penetrating front than they were in 2012-13. Plus, you have an interior rusher in Mike Daniels who is strong enough to get an offensive lineman on his heels, but also quick enough to not abandon his gap responsibilities. He's become a five-tool player.

Curt from York, PA

Insiders, concerning the defense and the second half of the Lions game, why is it so tough for Packer fans to understand that the ONLY defensive stat that is meaningful is how many points they give up compared to how many the offense scores. If they give up less, then we are good and the final score does not really matter. Stop me when I say something wrong.

I noticed a lot of this in 2014 when the Packers were blowing teams out and leading by 35 points at halftime. I'm not downplaying the importance of playing a complete game, but it's been my contention that people get too fixated on the statistics. It's like the game is over, but we need something to complain about. The Packers won the game.

Ginger from Superior, WI

When Peppers came to the Packers, he said he was really excited to have another premier pass rusher on the other side for the first time in his career. The way things have worked out, Matthews has played limited snaps at outside linebacker due to injuries and the move to the inside. Do you think we will ever see a string of games where we see both active at one time?

Sure. You've already seen the two rush together quite a bit in the pass nickel and dime packages. Assuming Matthews returns in a timely manner, you'll probably see it even more as the season wears on. At the same time, Peppers has had a pretty good cohort on the opposite side in Nick Perry this year.

John from Onalaska, WI

Not a question, just something I wanted to point out for the "trade Rodgers" dipsticks. On the play Trevor Davis drew the PI call, did anyone notice how insane the throw Aaron made was? He was scrambling to his LEFT, so no chance to set his feet before launching the ball what looked like about 74 yards IN THE AIR! And had Davis not been interfered with, it would have dropped right in his basket in stride. That was probably a better throw than the Hail Mary in Detroit.

Rodgers plays the game so effortlessly that I think sometimes moments like this can get overlooked. The quarterback heaves a 70-yard pass downfield rolling out left and throwing across his body. When it happened, all I could think was, 'Man, that dude's core strength is unbelievable.'

Duncan from Fort McMurray, Alberta

I remember when Lacy got tackled by his dreadlocks in the preseason, he said he might cut them, but he'd have to wait for the bye week. Any word on if this is happening?

I forgot to ask Lacy this before he left. I guess we'll find out when he returns from Louisiana next week.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Have the Packers found a "field stretcher" in Trevor Davis?

It sure looks that way. Davis' speed is definitely something defenses are going to have to account for. He's young and has much to learn, but you cannot teach speed. Davis certainly has it.

The Packers hosted the Detroit Lions in the home opener last Sunday, take a look back at the 34-27 victory. Photos by Evan Siegle,

Jeff from Grass Valley, Calif.

We need to keep running the ball late in games the way we have and not change. We will punch them in the mouth with our run game and take advantage of them with our pass game.

I really liked the way the Packers ran the ball against Detroit. They established it early and dedicated themselves to it coming out of halftime. I know Green Bay probably wants to run more plays, but I really liked the 24-24 run/pass breakdown (factoring in Rodgers' scrambles). If they want balance, they got it against Detroit.

Eric from New York, NY

As writers, what are your thoughts on the early bye? Do you feel it interrupts your rhythm as a reporter, particularly so early in the campaign? Is there value in a mid-season bye as a referendum of sorts on the team, whereas a Week 4 bye means minimal definitive evidence available to analyze the team? As always, thanks for the material, and keep it up!

I'm not a big fan of it. When the schedule was first announced – and I didn't work here – I had a difficult time comprehending how the Packers wound up with the first bye for the second time in four years. You can't really analyze too much only three weeks into the season. You'd prefer a Week 9 bye like in 2014 to really split the season in half. It presents the Packers with opportunity and challenges. They benefited from the early bye in 2013 and pulled together to weather the 13-game gauntlet to finish the season. Now, they'll have to do it again.

Joe from Pittsburgh, PA

With all of the rightful concern over serious injuries happening at an alarming pace, what is the justification of playing your big stars when the game is out of reach late and almost inviting catastrophe? I point to the Steeler game on Sunday, down 35-3, and the first-team offense and defense is on the field until the final gun. Don't you live to fight another day at some point?

*I didn't get a chance to watch the game. Every coach handles that situation differently, though the Steelers haven't found themselves on the losing end of a lopsided game in decades. I don't know Tomlin's reasons, but sometimes you want to keep your starters on the field to work through whatever issues put you in that position in the first place. *

Jerry from Wilmington, NC

Wes, has working with Mike made you a better writer?

Indubitably. In my 10 years of writing, I've never met anyone more knowledgeable about the mechanics of writing than Spoff. I've only been here a little more than five months, but I'm a better writer for working with him.

Chris from Brighton, IL

Hello, what is your reaction to the success that Casey Hayward is having over in San Diego? Do you think the Packers made a mistake not resigning him?

Echoing Spoff's comments in Thursday's Inbox – I loved Casey as a player and I loved Casey as a person. He'll go down as one of my all-time favorite players to cover and I'm happy to see him have early success in San Diego. At the same time, I understand why the Packers proceeded how they did. Randall and Rollins have a lot of potential and deserved full-time roles in this defense. If you invest a first- and second-round pick into a position, you want those guys to play.

Scott from Sparta, WI

A lot of people are calling into question the coach's and GM's decisions and management. I would suggest to those folks to think back to the dark years, before Ron Wolf and Mike Holmgren. You think it is bad now, look back to the early '70s and '80s when nobody wanted to play in Green Bay. This franchise is in very good shape compared to the '70s.

How soon they forget. That's why I don't have much time for commenters who talk about the window closing. Thirty years ago, the darn thing wasn't even open. Enjoy the breeze a little.

Dave and Taters from Long Beach, CA

"Whatever the opposite is of seven consecutive playoffs appearances and a Super Bowl ring." I am really liking Wes. That may be the best answer this season.

I'm really liking you guys, too.

Greg from Ann Arbor, MI

Here's a bye-week question for you guys: Is Brett Goode's last name really pronounced like the first syllable in "gouda," and not like the word "good"?

Correct Greg. The former.

Jamie from Savannah, GA

So, how about that glaring need at inside linebacker Ted Thomson ignored by drafting a rookie and going with two second-year players? It's been fun.

Yeah…how about that?

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Insiders, in past years, Vic has mentioned how much time he had to spend editing the questions. Bad grammar, bad sentence structure, bad spelling, etc. I remember seeing several no edit Fridays. Brutal, if those were examples of what he had to work with every day. No wonder he retired. I can't imagine how many hours he spent on the column every day. I think social media and Twitter have forever damaged our English skills. Have the questions been any easier on you guys? How long does it normally take to do the column? About how many questions do you receive daily, and do you try to read through them all? We appreciate your effort.

Vic wasn't lying. It can be tedious at times, but the questions I choose usually have pretty good grammar and sentence structure. There are some doozies out there, though. I agree that social media might have contributed to this. It's probably also a product of people writing haphazardly. You could probably write three or four full-length columns each day with the questions we receive. Since I was hired, I've been blown away by the amount of submissions there are.

Joe from Milwaukee, WI

Alright Biff, as you stated in your podcast, you're an athletic animal. You're the point guard dribbling the ball down the hardwood, who in the Packers organization are your other four on the court with you?

Julius Peppers, Demetri Goodson, Quinten Rollins and Davante Adams. There's enough talent there that I could stand in the corner and hide.

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