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Inbox: Be ready for their counterpunch

Sometimes the best deals are the ones you want to make that don’t work out

Eagles QB Carson Wentz
Eagles QB Carson Wentz

Eric from Mequon, WI

On Thursday, fans should really keep an eye on ____.

Which team has more bounce in its step in the fourth quarter. These short weeks are brutal for players. I don't know how they do it.

Collin from Kirkwood, MO

Why is there so much discussion about the Packers' offense needing to improve? To me the narrative is overplayed and I have little doubt Rodgers and this offense will be carving teams up this year. They've battled elite defenses early, two of which are bound to give opposing offenses fits all season long. What offenses do people expect will be clicking on all cylinders against the Bears and Vikings this year?

The Packers' offense does need to improve. Let's be clear about that. But all you need to know about September football was exemplified in the Rams-Browns game Sunday night. Cleveland's entire starting secondary was injured. The Browns had nothing but backup DBs against LA's vaunted offense, and the Rams scored 20 points. Everybody has issues to work out this time of year to get where they need to be, and the Packers are no different.

Joe from Hartford, CT

Good morning gentlemen, bold prediction on Thursday's game, Shepherd takes one to the house. What do you guys got?

This game might actually signal Tremon Smith's arrival. The Lions took a kickoff the distance against the Eagles last Sunday.

Jim from Tomahawk, WI

What is the best record ever by a first-year Packers coach?

10-1, Curly Lambeau, 1919. Since then? Lombardi went 7-5, and Holmgren and Sherman were both 9-7.

Steve from Davenport, IA

Is this the best Packers' defense since the 2010 Super Bowl run?

It has a chance to be, but three games does not a season make.

Blaine from Fresno, CA

NFC North teams all have winning records and are 9-0-1 outside of division matchups. Fluke thing or division quality?

I think this division is pretty good, but we'll find out how good soon enough. In the coming weeks, the Packers play the Eagles and Cowboys, the Lions play the Chiefs, the Vikings play the Eagles, the Bears play the Saints, …

Janet from Brown Deer, WI

With the NFC North so strong, how many wins do you think it takes to win the division? I wouldn't be surprised if 13 is necessary.

Way too early to tell, but not out of the question.

Ferd from Woodbury, MN

For fans who still have to fret and can't seem to enjoy hard-fought victories, either the Bears or Vikings games could have gone the other way. Then the 1-2 Packers would be three games behind (counting head-to-head tiebreakers) both undefeated division rivals. Razor-thin edge in the NFL every week. Enjoy this ride!

Make no apologies and move on to the next. I believe every team looks different in November and December than it does in September, but wins now give you valuable margin for error in a thin-margin league.

Jonathan from La Crescent, MN

Any talk of using Adams more as a slot receiver?

He has lined up in the slot a fair amount already.

Jonnie from Garden City, MI

With the Lions playing the Eagles at the same time as the Packers on Sunday, I got to see what the Eagles have going for them. They played the Lions tough, but caught some bad breaks with turnovers. They also had a few OPIs called on them for the receivers pushing off. I think the DBs for the Packers will be difference-makers on Thursday night, unless the pass rush gets to Wentz first. What do you see as the Eagles' strength, and do you feel the Packers are equipped to take it away from them?

If Jackson and Jeffery both remain out – Pederson said Tuesday he was hopeful Jeffery could return – Ertz might be the toughest matchup for the Packers in this game. He's a great security blanket for Wentz, who can get away from the rush and doesn't go down easily. I'll be interested to see who Pettine wants to have primary responsibility on Ertz.

Kristen from Surprise, AZ

So we know the Eagles are a banged-up team, but what do we as a team need to look out for from them? What areas of strength have they down so far and how do we match up?

The Eagles are second in the league against the run but 29th against the pass. They have two sacks and three takeaways in three games, so all the numbers say attack through the air. They've also been outscored by a wide margin in the first half (50-23) but have been a strong third-quarter team (27-7), so be ready for their counterpunch coming out of halftime.

Andrew from Falls Church, VA

Do you have any insight from Eagles Insiders about what to watch for this Thursday? Personally, I am very curious about how our WRs will do considering the Eagles seem to be pretty depleted in the secondary.

If the Eagles are going to devote as much attention to Adams as I expect, MVS and Allison will have matchups they simply have to win.

Chris from Victor, ID

I've come to realize it's a little easier to stomach watching a bend but don't break approach to defending the run vs. the pass. The Packers defense was remade to disrupt the passing game, and has done so to say the least. The fact that they have held their own against three offenses built to run the ball is the best part, especially with the Philly and Dallas ground attacks on deck. It will be interesting to see what Pettine does with personnel up front in the next two games.

During Pettine's first press conference as defensive coordinator last year I truly realized how much the game had changed. He made a point of saying how quickly the pass can beat you, essentially conceding that stopping the run (except against certain teams) is no longer the top priority. No one wants to get run all over them, but defensive coordinators are confident they can stop the run in the red zone, where the field is more compressed, and force field goals. Explosive passing games are what make leads in fourth quarters disappear, and those are the times defenses can't afford to let their teams down.

Ryan from Appleton, WI

Biggest surprise team in the NFL so far?

Buffalo at 3-0 with two road wins.

Don from Cedar Rapids, IA

The Vikings play at Chicago this Sunday, with both having 2-1 records. Although it's hard to do, I'm rooting for da Bears. Since both teams have the same record, I think it's better (for the Packers) if the home-team Bears win this game rather than the road-team Vikings, which would be in a good position for a divisional sweep by winning later in Minneapolis. I know it's early in the season to know how things might play out, but who do you hope wins the Vikings-Bears game?

My thinking is in line with yours. The way things look now, Minnesota and Chicago splitting those two games is probably best, and the odds for a split are best if the home teams hold serve. Wes had a different take on "Unscripted," though. He feels because in the rematches the Packers will be hosting the Bears and traveling to Minneapolis, it would be better if the Vikings lost this one. It's a valid argument. So either way, it's time to root for Chicago.

Mark from Byron, IL

Howdy, II! AR's record for not turning the ball over is incredible. I have, however, heard a couple prognosticators state that it could be a bad thing and maybe he needs to take more chances. Has anyone ever asked during an interview if his care of the ball could be a result of watching No. 4 put so many up for grabs? I loved Brett, but a couple hundred less INTs would not have been a bad thing.

Rodgers has always said his disdain for interceptions has been part of his makeup since high school. It's how he's wired and I've never wanted him to change. Certainly not this year with the defense the Packers appear to have.

Niels from Bridgetown, Barbados

Congratulations to Wes for coming up with a great nickname for Jaire THE MENACE Alexander!

That's a moment that needs to be archived in "Unscripted" history. Menace describes him perfectly.

Max from Ingolstadt, Germany

The look on Noah Fant's face when he walked to the sideline after Jaire Alexander had taken his ball away was almost comical. Do you think if he makes it in the NFL (which I believe he will), someday he will describe this situation as his "Welcome to the NFL moment"?

If he isn't pondering it in that vein now, he's probably not going to make it. But I'm with you, I think he will, and he will.

Chuck from Seattle, WA

Are two Smiths in Green Bay worth one Mack in Chicago?

I've said before it's clear the Packers were more than one defender away, while the Bears were in a different place with their unit. The cost in cap space and draft picks for Mack probably would have meant no Smiths, no Gary, no Savage. Sometimes the best deals are the ones you want to make that don't work out.

Don from Camp Douglas, WI

On Darnell Savage's interception the replay seemed to show that Flacco's hand was hit as he released or the ball was deflected immediately after the release. They only showed that view once, and the announcers started to comment and then got distracted. I have searched in vain for any comments on that part of the play. Are you able to provide any information? If so, which Packer deserves the credit?

I looked at the play on the all-22 numerous times and did not see a deflection nor Flacco's hand/arm getting hit.

Mark from Iron Mountain, MI

Just a thought...if the Packers run 20 less plays than the Eagles, have an 11-minute TOP deficit, and only complete two third downs then it will be a long night. Even the best defense can't bail the team out every week with stats like that.

Shows how important turnover margin is, doesn't it?

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

Three games into the season Kenny Clark has been playing > 75% snaps and while that is usually monitored for DL, our OLBs who are really DEs in practice have even higher utilization rates > 90%. As productive as our pass rush has been, is there any concern about the sustainability of the unit as we enter the second month of the long journey? The offenses we have faced are not known as top notch groups and we are already maxing out our star players it seems.

The break this weekend will help the bodies recover for the six-game stretch before the bye, but I don't think those play-time percentages are sustainable over the long haul. Gary has been getting more snaps. Fackrell can handle more. Up front, Adams is out right now, but Keke got into the mix last week so we'll see where that goes. It's a process and I'm confident the coaches are monitoring the developments and have a plan.

Evan from Polonia, WI

Prediction vs. the Eagles?

A game that won't be decided until the final five minutes.

Michael from Charlotte, NC

Wes and Mike, I think the thing that gets people on a holding penalty after a 13-yard gain is the fact that first-and-7 didn't seem like much of a penalty when all things are considered. It essentially recognized only three yards out of 13, yet it effectively adds a fifth down (the 3-yard gain) with which the team can move past in seven yards instead of at least 10. So, in other words, it really isn't much of a penalty outside of the cancellation of part of the gain unless you make it second-and-7.

But the offense shouldn't have yards taken away if the defense wasn't going to make the tackle, theoretically, until 13 yards were gained. If someone else on defense not being held makes the play, the defense gets rewarded.

Drew from Rogers City, MI

With so much (well-deserved) hype being given to the Smith brothers, Kenny Clark and our ball-hawking secondary I feel we have begun to under appreciate the sure-tackling machine that is Blake Martinez. Is our defense the same without an ILB like him?

I doubt it. Martinez looks like he was born not just to play, but to run, Pettine's scheme. Watch how often he's tapping the defensive linemen in front of him so they shift to different gaps right before the snap. He knows exactly where everyone's supposed to be.

Gary from Stockton, CA

Is staying healthy the most important thing in pressing through a championship season?

It doesn't hurt. Injuries are going to happen. It's who gets them that matters most.

Samuel from Spokane Valley, WA

Which stat is most surprising through Week 3 (though I doubt either will last much longer): No TDs for Davante, or no picks for Jaire?

Adams hadn't gone two straight games without a TD since the first two games Rodgers missed in 2017, and he hadn't gone three straight since 2015.

Monty from Hazen, ND

Hey Spoff, never thought I'd ever see SOL in a column. I thought that was a North Dakota saying. Now I'm thinking upper Midwest. What do you think?

I don't know. My dad's from Jersey and has said it as long as I can remember. Speaking of which, Happy 75th, Pops.

Bob from Melbourne, Australia

Bob from Sydney, Australia, nailed it. He and I could join Theologos and Jake and visit sister-cities everywhere, waxing lyrical about the virtues of Insider Inbox. At the moment, I'm in Hell, Mich., but we could all meet in its sister-city and treat you both out to some stolen lunch.

You guys are too much. Happy Wednesday.


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