Skip to main content
Powered by

Inbox: And he's just warming up

Playmakers cause disruption and disruption wins games


Lori from Brookfield, WI

Mike ended his article on Washington's passing game writing, "Wes Hodkiewicz contributed." Were you being a team player, Wes, or did you pay Mike for the byline?

I brought an extra lunch. Good morning!

Al from Green Bay, WI

Insiders, I'm anxious to see how each of our running backs is used this week. From my perspective, Ty Montgomery is the biggest receiving threat out of the backfield, Jamaal Williams is an absolute stud in picking up the blitz, and Aaron Jones is the most explosive runner. Does the uncertainty of it all create game-planning challenges for Washington?

I think so because of how different all three of those running backs are. Jones is a potential home-run threat in the backfield Washington must take into account during its preparation. Each running back gives defensive coordinators something else to think about.

John from Crivitz, WI

With the poor attendance at last week's home game in Washington, here's hoping to see as much green and gold in the stands this Sunday as we saw purple last week in Lambeau.

I'm very interested to see what FedExField looks like Sunday. I definitely could see Lambeau Field East taking hold if Washington has another sparse gathering.

Matthew from Sartell, MN

How do you think the Packers' defense will pan out throughout the season?

It's going to be just fine as long as it stays relatively healthy. Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson have star potential, and Kenny Clark and Blake Martinez look like true gems from that 2016 draft class. Playmakers cause disruption and disruption wins games. The rest will take care of itself.

Shawn from Kissimmee, FL

I feel like we haven't seen the true Packers' strength on both offense and defense until Aaron Jones, Josh Jones, and Oren Burks take the field and get up to full speed. Are they all ready to showcase their talents on the field this weekend?

I'm sure they're all eager to get going. The return of Josh Jones and Burks gives Mike Pettine a lot of flexibility. If Alexander or Jackson needs to play outside, the Packers have Jones and Whitehead available in the slot of the nickel and dime packages with Burks possibly freeing up Whitehead in the box on passing downs.

Jon from Battle Creek, MI

Will the Packers start including Jimmy Graham in the offense soon? To me it's felt pretty bland so far. Just like the way it started with Jared Cook.

I had to check the submission date on this question because I didn't quite believe it at first. Did you watch last week's game? Graham was one questionable holding penalty from a 100-yard day and a touchdown. Still, his six catches for 95 yards are nothing to sneeze at and he's just warming up.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

A game against Washington was a coming-out party for the TE and sparked "run the table." I am thinking this game could be a coming out party for the TE and spark something too.

I felt last week was that moment for Graham, but I get what you're saying. While that Week 11 matchup was Cook's coming-out party in 2016, I think this is a great opportunity for Graham to build on his Week 2 successes.

Bob from Green Cove Springs, FL

I would think one of the answers to QB protection would be quicker whistles ending the play when "in the grasp." Once the defender gets his arms around him, the play is over. No last-second throws allowed and no need for a hard takedown. Yes, you might lose some spectacular escapes but it would give the defense a chance to make the play and avoid penalties. Would that work or is it taking safety too far?

It might work, but I don't think it solves the real problem these rules are looking to answer – egregious QB hits.

Kirsten from Madison, WI

So the Packers are facing Alex Smith for the fourth time, but against three different teams? I know players move around the league, but that seems unusual. Can you think of another time the Packers have faced the same player in a handful of games, but he was playing for three different teams?

The Packers have seen Josh McCown quite a bit, partly due to his 16-year NFL odyssey. Back in the day, it seemed like they were playing Brad Johnson every year with a different team. Spoff, who has a little better recall, also mentioned to me Donovan McNabb (Philadelphia, Minnesota and Washington) and Brian Griese (Denver, Tampa Bay and Chicago). Those are the only names I can think of off the top of my head.

Sean from Mack, NY

I believe the 2012 opener was at home versus San Francisco. Alex Smith and the Niners beat us. My father and I were there for it, Moss had a TD catch, Cobb a punt-return TD, and it was the greatest linebacker core I've ever witnessed in Willis, Bowman, and Brooks. Thanks for all you do!

You're right. I vividly remember that game because it was my very first as a full-time Packers beat writer. That game kicked off a four-year rivalry with the 49ers. As much as we talk about Colin Kaepernick and how that season ended, San Francisco's defense in 2012 remains one of the best I've ever seen in person. That group had it all.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

Justin McCray is going to open the season facing Akiem Hicks, Sheldon Richardson and Matt Ioannidas. Will be interesting to see who he thinks was toughest after that stretch. Our OL is facing maybe the three best fronts not our own in the whole league to start the year.

McCray and really everyone on the Packers' starting offensive line have earned their paychecks the first two weeks of the season. They can't let up now. Yes, it's a small sample size, but Washington has some real beasts in the trenches. Green Bay's line has been up to the challenge, though. David Bakhtiari is off to another All-Pro season, Bryan Bulaga has looked good coming off the ACL and the interior offensive line is game. The best part? That unit now has two full games together.

Kevin from Woodbury, MN

I'm going to the game on Sunday and I've heard Washington sometimes wears white at home. Which jersey do I need to bring to make sure I match the team?

The Packers are wearing their road white jerseys.

Justin from Stockbridge, WI

Have the Packers special teams been practicing outside this week? I'm pretty sure JK Scott hit a satellite and I had an interruption with my cell phone carrier. Is it true the Packers added the south end zone seating so JK Scott couldn't punt it out of the stadium?

What have we been telling you guys for the past two months? Scott's leg is real…and it's spectacular.

Nathan from Greendale, WI

I've been thinking a little bit lately, outside of the obvious risk of an interception, why are laterals not used more often? Or why are they not designed into the offense in route patterns that would allow for them to be used after the catch. Are laterals something that are ever practiced? It seems like they could be used to great advantage. Just look at the Reggie White to LeRoy Butler touchdown (although it was admittedly unscripted).

It's all risk and reward. Most players and coaches are so averse to exposing the football that they won't risk it until the game is on the line. I can't say I disagree with that thinking. On a typical play, all 22 players are so closely bunched together there aren't many opportunities for a lateral. Even on turnovers, what's the No. 1 thing we hear defenders say – protect the football and put the game in the offense's hands.

John from Pleasant Prairie, WI

Will Reggie Gilbert get more playing time at outside linebacker, as he seems to have been more effective than Clay Matthews when he gets into the game?

Gilbert has played 71 defensive snaps the first two weeks (or around 52 percent of the total defensive snaps). To compare, Nick Perry has played 58 percent. Pass rushers aren't offensive linemen. They can't play every down. Trust me, the Packers are getting Gilbert on the field.

Geoffrey from Rosemount, MN

How long do you think it will be until we see a quarterback take a big hit going out to catch a pass like in the Super Bowl or in the Thursday night game? Also, do you think a flag will get thrown just because this is the NFL now?

I don't think an NFL coach will put his quarterback in that position. If Nick Foles and Baker Mayfield weren't wide open in/near the end zone, the ball isn't coming their way.

Tom from Holmen, WI

By the NFL not fining Matthews for his hit on Cousins, is it admitting it was the wrong call?

My old colleague, Pete Dougherty, used to tell me that when I was a young beat writer at the Press-Gazette. Whether that's actually the case, I still think it's telling he wasn't fined.

Mark from Sturgeon Bay, WI

I know this is controversial but hear me out. Why don't coaches get unlimited challenges if they keep winning them? That means the officials got the call wrong and it is corrected. Slow the game down? Maybe. Stop all the Monday morning controversy? Not completely, but it would help. If the coach challenges and is wrong, they lose a timeout and still only get two challenges that are upheld in a game. As far as I know, there are unlimited reviews by the officials in the last two minutes of each half.

My two pennies – and you can take it or leave it – is all personal fouls within the last two minutes of the first half, regulation and overtime should be subject to review. I'm all for player and quarterback safety, but measures must be taken to prevent game-changing flags from altering the outcome of games.

Aaron from Saint Paul, MN

With all the talk about players being afraid of getting fined for late or egregious hits on plays (KB and MD most notably in the last game), is there a rule preventing teams from reimbursing players who got fined? Why not just tell those guys, hey, if you make a good play and get a fine for it, the Packers have you and your family covered.

No. That would be against the CBA. Even if you could, there would be a dangerous fine line there with what happened with the New Orleans Saints in 2009.

John from Charlottesville, VA

With all of the discussion about the new roughing-the-passer penalties, I'm curious about how this rule came into effect. I know there is a competition committee but are there any players on the competition committee? Should rule change be part of the collective bargaining process? Can you shed some light on why this isn't collectively bargained?

There's a process with rule changes, which do not need to be collectively bargained. The NFL leaves those changes up to the competition committee (made up of a select number of team owners, presidents, head coaches and general managers) and then ratified by the owners. I don't know why players aren't included, though.

Josh from Minot, ND

Speaking of jerseys at games, my brother and I have a rule. Only current player jerseys on the roster or if inducted into the HOF can be worn at games. All others must be kept on the hangers. Also, no kickers or personalized jerseys.

What do you have against kickers?

Dar from Kenosha, WI

Jeff from D.C. mentioned hunting for fans wearing obscure jerseys. I had a Ty Detmer No. 11 jersey made early in Brett Favre's career, when he was frustrating fans and Mike Holmgren by throwing too many "rocket balls." It's netted me many free beers since then. Who are some of the past unsung Packer heroes for whom you'd love to see jerseys pop up?

I still have a 13-year-old Brian Shouse T-shirt jersey I wore in high school. That's garnered me a few cheers over the years. Which jersey of a cult hero would I like to see at Lambeau? If I ever see anyone with an Andy Mulumba jersey, I'll buy them a beer on the spot.

Sean from Glen Ellyn, IL

A problem I have with the increased number of flags is the stoppage of play when the official is announcing the penalty. How about for offsetting penalties the refs simply say "there were two offsetting penalties on the play" and then move on. I don't really care about the penalties if they don't count.

The statisticians and scorers still have to mark it (eight, dude).

Freddie from West Valley City, UT

Rally Opossum?

Let the record show the Browns are 1-0 after clearing opossums from the stadium.

Benjamin from Burlington, VT

I lived in D.C. for a number of years. If you get the chance after the pep rally, the memorials are worth seeing lit up at night as well. I really like the WWII one that way.

That's my favorite thing to do in D.C. I still need to check out the Newseum. That's the only major tourist spot I've yet to hit in four trips to our nation's capital.

Jason from New Hampton, IA

I get to Washington D.C. quite a lot and I want to make sure that I'm eating like an Insider. What restaurants do you like to hit up when you are in town?

I'm a big fan of Old Ebbitt Grill, but I've been ridiculed by friends who live in the D.C. area who fault me for falling into a tourist trap. But hey, they have oysters and stay open late. Works for me.

Neal from Fort Worth, TX

It's only Week 3 but "Fluffing the passer" gets my early vote for funniest post.

We have an early favorite for the "Inbox post of the season."

Jim from Maple Grove, MN

In the first game, the Packers scored one more point than the opponent did. In the second, they scored the same number of points as the opponent did. I don't like the way this is trending. Can we break the cycle on Sunday?

Twenty-four points in the opener? Twenty-nine points in Week 2? I say 34 and a win this Sunday.