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Inbox: A season like that leaves much to ponder

For 18 years, Aaron Rodgers has given everything he has to his teammates, the fans and the Packers organization

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CB Keisean Nixon

Paul from Ledgeview, WI

Wes, the final game the Packers regressed to the mean. The indicators (data, stats) are there, the question I have is why? What explains such a middling performance in such a meaningful game?

I've been asking myself that same question. Detroit just outplayed the Packers. Even when Green Bay was up at the end of the first three quarters, something just felt off. In the postgame locker room, Allen Lazard even acknowledged the parallels to the playoff game against San Francisco last year. A season like that leaves much to ponder for the coaching staff and front office.

Kevin from Kirkland, IL

Once again short yardage and red zone let us down. When will we commit to formations designed to get the tough yards and get out of the "multi-purpose" shotgun? There are never enough O-linemen/fullbacks to take care of the stacked box and running a WR end-around on fourth-and-1 deep in our own territory made me want to throw up.

In my opinion, that's the No. 1 thing Green Bay needs to find an answer for this offseason. The Packers missed the mark inside the 20 this year. It's not easy to convert 80% of your red-zone trips into TDs but the Packers were nearly 30 points beneath that. Other than a few AJ Dillon goal-line runs and two TD passes to Marcedes Lewis, Green Bay didn't have much to hang its hat on in goal-to-go.

Tom from Edgewood, NM

Wow, such a disappointing way to end the season. The Lions are not a better team. They just played with more emotion than we did. We had stupid penalties, dropped balls, things that plagued us all year. Time for everyone to do some inner soul searching. As far as Aaron's presser, please don't pull a Brett and waver about retiring. Make up your mind early and stick to it. Show up to OTAs and build the chemistry. Don't wait for training camp. If you retire, stay retired, don't waffle!

The Lions played how I expected – gritty and fearless. Aaron Glenn and his staff developed two solid game plans for both matchups with the Packers. The Lions didn't have the benefit of three turnovers inside the Lions' 25 this time around but found ways to make life difficult on Aaron Rodgers with the two-shell. The Packers only committed four penalties, but they were significant. I had a pit in my stomach after Michael Badgley's field goal before halftime and that uneasy feeling never left in the second half.

Mark from Canton, GA

Looking at the future. The NFC East was the dominant division in the NFC this year. Can you see the NFC North being that dominant division soon? Despite what happened Sunday night I believe the Pack will be back in contention. The Vikings have a great lineup and a good new coach, Lions are on the definite uptick, and the Bears...who knows what happens if they spend their high draft picks wisely and build around Justin Fields? With the NFL being so fluid lately, nothing would surprise me.

The task is only going to get taller with Fields in Chicago and the Lions on the come up. So many of you asked us last offseason about which team scared me the most and every time my answer was Detroit – because of the foundation Brad Holmes and Dan Campbell are building. The NFC is lucky the Lions got off to such a slow start and couldn't catch the playoff pack.

Rich from Manitou Springs, CO

Being a kid during the Lombardi era, I heard it said that a rookie will cost you a game during the season. Do you think we had too many rookies this year for part of our downfall?

I actually think more the opposite. The rookies helped save this team. The offense went as Christian Watson went during the second half of the year, and Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt both improved significantly outside regrettable finales. The Packers didn't play to their potential this season. I don't think we ever saw the best version of this 2022 team. There were too many missed opportunities, especially in the red zone. Final regular-season records reflect the totality of a season, and the Packers were as inconsistent as their 8-9 mark suggests.

Jason from Baraboo, WI

Before Sunday's game, I remember thinking the Packers really have something with Quay Walker and his aggressive, physical style in the middle of our defense. Here's hoping this young man discovers a more mature player going forward and is able to channel that passion to stop at the whistle in his sophomore season. But is it as easy as that?

Football is a game of passion, but players must control those emotions. I commend Walker for coming into the locker room on Monday and taking ownership of his wrongdoings. Walker, teary-eyed, delivered a heartful apology and said he also reached out to the Lions trainer to say he's sorry. Incidents like that cannot happen once, let alone twice, especially in the same season. Hopefully, it's something Walker can learn from heading into his second NFL season. Walker is a talented young man but you gotta control your emotions on the field.

David from San Antonio, TX

Wes, compared to Detroit, Green Bay was, in a word, soft. Mentally, physically, and emotionally, they were passive and outplayed. I don't mean that to sound as negative as it does, but it speaks to culture. Is this an issue to address moving forward?

The undisciplined penalties are something LaFleur has to nip in the butt heading into next season. He said as much during his season wrap-up news conference on Monday, adding that those type of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties will not happen again. I think that goes back to the culture under LaFleur's watch the past four seasons.

Grant from Green Bay, WI

A lot was made of Rodgers skipping OTAs, and I, like most, shrugged it off – he'd done it before and won MVPs. But with three WRs and a new one in Watkins this year, every game had multiple plays where he wasn't on the same page as the newbs. In hindsight, Rodgers' greatest strength has always been his telepathy. I now think the OTAs could've been an opportunity for him to coach them on things like diagnosing defenses, where to go when plays break down, etc. Have you changed your mind, too?

OTAs are voluntary, so I'm never gonna sit here and say, "Oh, Player X has to be here." I've maintained my position that it was just as beneficial for the young receivers to learn the offense with Jordan Love under center given the learning process involved with the playbook. I think of it as studying with the teaching assistant before taking the test with the professor.

Larry from Greensboro, NC

With Rashan Gary back, what's your take on additions to our Packers' defense? Oh yeah, still raking leaves to relieve frustration.

The Packers need more jars on the edge-rushing shelf. I'm guessing that'll likely come through the draft, but Green Bay pretty much finished the year with a three-man rotation of Preston Smith, Justin Hollins, and Kingsley Enagbare. Shoot, there were a few snaps Sunday where they used just one edge and had a defensive lineman playing a wide technique. You hope Gary comes back on the short end of his timeline, but you can't take any chances.

Paul from Los Angeles, CA

Watching Aaron Rodgers' postgame press conference was tough. He obviously has a lot to process and think about. It made me look up his very first press conference from '05. I recommend others revisit it. So much of his high praise for Favre can be applied to himself as well. Right down to playing with broken fingers and not telling the press. We, as fans, have been very fortunate these past three decades.

David Bakhtiari made a few thought-provoking points on Monday when discussing his situation and perceptions about Rodgers. Since I doubt we'll use Bakhtiari's quotes in any content, I thought I'd post it below for you to read and consider. I don't know exactly what people want from Aaron Rodgers other than the obvious Super Bowl answer. But I promise, for 18 years, he's given everything he has to his teammates, fans and the Packers' organization. Now, here's what Bakhtiari said: "Seeing him kind of open up and really see a side of who he is, I've loved that. I've lightly kind of pushed that because I think he is an amazing person and I think people should see that because it's crazy, like when people have a good life, it's funny how people just wanna make them out to be a villain. And I'm not just saying that just in Aaron's perspective. I'm not saying that – he's human, so everyone has their own flaws – but across the league, I've heard other Hall of Fame-caliber quarterbacks, they say, why does everyone hate me? I guess that's media and social media I guess."

Brad from Henderson, NV

Did the GM sacrifice this season by not replacing Davante Adams with a proven receiver and instead is quietly rebuilding for the future with three rookie receivers while saying they are doing everything possible to win now?

That player wasn't out there, Brad, especially given the Packers' cap constraints. I thought Brian Gutekunst made the best out of a less-than-ideal situation. The Packers brought back Allen Lazard on the second-round tender, signed Sammy Watkins and drafted three receivers. Not every pick or signing is gonna work out, but Green Bay did the best it could and will be better for it in 2023 and beyond.

Joshua from Pineville, LA

In Week 17, Damar Hamlin's health reminded us this is just a game. In Week 18, that potentially final walk down the hall by "12" and "18" should be another reminder that real people are inside those uniforms. Occasional human mistakes aside, I've always been proud of the quality of guys on our rosters over the years. As much as I hate seeing Seattle in the playoffs, I couldn't be happier for Jamaal Williams. It had to have been even more special to break the Sanders record at Lambeau. He'll always be a Packer.

That's why I talk so frequently about how all these players are real people with families, dreams, strengths and flaws. And the longer I cover the Packers, the more I'm reminded how fast NFL careers go. It seems like yesterday Cobb and Bakhtiari were rookies; Jamaal Williams, too, for that matter.

Adam from Kenosha, WI

Insiders, my favorite band has a lyric "the cure for pain is in the pain." This year certainly didn't go as expected, nor did our offense look the way it usually does with "12" at the helm. It reminded me how special and effortless Mr. Rodgers made it look all those years, and how hard it really is to accomplish in this league. Nobody says the ride is over yet, but we should be thankful to have witnessed such sublime dominance when it was there. And until the opera lady sings hope springs eternal.

The Packers kept fighting and made things interesting until the very end. They didn't give up on themselves. It's the best compliment I can pay Rodgers and the 2022 Packers.

Fred from Shorewood, WI

Just a question: The penalty on Rasul Douglas was for retaliating for being pushed, correct? He wasn't penalized for slapping the ball away from the snapper. Do the rules allow the Lions to take a practice kick during a timeout? Thanks for your consideration.

There was no foul for touching the ball because Green Bay already had called timeout. It was just gamesmanship on Douglas' part. If Douglas turned the other cheek after the shove, he would've been fine.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Happy preseason 2023 Wes, I don't know about you but the Jones fumble before half, though a bit later in the game, was eerily similar to the Marcedes Lewis fumble vs SF last year. At the time I got this sinking feeling that things were not going to end well.

That fumble and the field-goal fiasco did it for me. Those are the strange plays that seem to lead to losses in marquee games.

JR from East Moline, IL

I don't care if it's fourth-and-a-blade-of-grass and you have the greatest offense of all time, I'll never understand going for it in the first quarter with the lead when failing almost guarantees points for the other team.

It was a bold decision, and the Packers unfortunately did not catch Detroit guessing. The Lions had a good plan for handling Green Bay's misdirection and outside-zone run attacks. Still, the game wasn't over there. The Packers' defense responded and sacrificed only a field goal after the turnover on downs. To me, the reason the Packers lost was a lack of execution in the fourth quarter. Shoot, I don't even know if Jared Goff threw an incomplete pass in the final 15 minutes. Detroit played with heart and determination.

Michael from Morrison, IL

While the season didn't go as many of us had hoped, I have to appreciate the good moments we witnessed in the last few months. Two Mason Crosby walk-offs, the two-point denial in Tampa Bay, late-season wins over Miami and Minnesota to propel us to meaningful Week 18 football, and the emergence of young talent. Life may never go how we want or expect, but that doesn't mean we can't take solace in the good things that come along the way.

It was a disappointing year but there was still a lot of magic to be found in it. Crosby's game-winners against New England and Dallas were fun and I'll never forget the atmosphere at Soldier Field after Watson's touchdown run, either.

Dylan from West Haven, CT

There has always been talk of Lambeau in January and how nobody wants to see the Packers at Lambeau in January, yet the past three seasons, the Packers' season has ended in Lambeau. It's said that things come in threes, so here's hoping that next season will be different (and better)!

The Packers didn't play well. Point. End of sentence. They didn't get it done. But I was disappointed to see so much purple in the stands last week and blue this week at Lambeau Field, particularly behind the opposing team's bench. I don't get that. Jordan Love's poor mother watched his first start from the andromeda system last year in Kansas City. How is it that these road teams have so many fans behind their bench? Like who's selling those tickets?

Ray from Phoenix, AZ

Everything about today was so negative until I looked at the 2023 schedules for the Packers, Vikings, and Lions. Detroit has some difficult matchups and the Minnesota schedule is a killer. I know this is all on paper, but the Packer schedule has very few playoff teams and therefore a great opportunity to have a bounce-back year. Any thoughts on that?

Every season is different. I'm sure most Packers fans had wins over the Giants, Jets and Commanders written in Sharpie. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Rams game was viewed as a measuring-stick game before a potential playoff run.

Curtis from Corvallis, OR

Epilogue

Too many mistakes and lacking a stop

Cost us a win some thought was a lock

Offseason awaits with changes in store

We may have a very different core

In a few months we'll be on the clock

Hickory, dickory, dock.

Lou from Edmonton, Canada

Based on the Sunday outcome, I did not expect my pregame submission to II to be published. It is now evident that the cosmic geometric balance is just fine with the Packers not winning the SB this year which is fine. However, it is distressing to learn that Dean's poetry wasn't potent enough. Will you be developing an offseason training program for Dean and our other poets so they can bulk up and better sharpen their nibs?

Dean actually came out of retirement, Eric Weddle-style, to try pushing the Packers back to the playoffs. We're gonna let him rest, though. Maybe this offseason we can brainstorm some ideas for Inbox in-season closers in 2023.

Joseph from Vermillion, SD

Someone mentioned the seven months with no Packers football. Unfortunately, I'd be willing to bet a lot of fans here, like myself, have more good memories from II this season than actual football. So, we have that going for us...

Win or lose, rain or shine, Inbox is here – and now we all venture into an uncertain offseason…together.

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