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Inbox: Believe you me, they're ready to go

Most great recipes have more than two or three ingredients

LB Blake Martinez
LB Blake Martinez

Bob from Rome, NY

Gentleman: Thank you for all of your hard work. Just a comment. Last year around this time Packer fans were wondering who the next head coach would be. This year we are wondering if we will be playing in the Super Bowl. What a turnaround in one year. Just sit back and enjoy the game, and the ride this team, coaches and organization have taken us on!

It's almost time to play the game. Good morning!

Bill from San Antonio, TX

It seems like everyone except the team and the fans do not give Green Bay a chance. I am sure the team hears these opinions, so here's to hoping motivation translates to execution on the field!

Here's what's great – and please say it with me in a slow cadence – it doesn't matter. It didn't matter when the naysayers questioned whether Matt LaFleur was the right man for the job last January. It didn't matter when skeptics crowed about Aaron Rodgers not playing in the preseason. It didn't even matter when critics grew incredulous at the thought of the Packers being a No. 2 seed. Wins are the only currency that counts in the NFL and the Packers have 14 of them. Now, they're one of four teams remaining.

Kevin from Mechanicsburg, PA

II, this has been bothering me since the Sunday night. At the end of the first half, on the second-to-last play, I believe Russell Wilson stopped the clock by kneeling instead of spiking the ball. The camera angle wasn't the best, so I might just not have seen him spike it. If he did kneel, the clock should have kept running and there should not have been a Hail Mary attempt. Glad the Hail Mary pass went long so this play didn't really matter.

To quote Aaron Rodgers' interview with my esteemed colleague John Kuhn, "I…don't…care, Kevin." It's Saturday. The Packers play for a chance to go to the Super Bowl tomorrow. How about we focus the conversation on that fact and save the questions about the Seahawks for the advent of time travel. Deal?

Trevor from Cheyenne, WY

I've read different theories that someone other than Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, Aaron Jones, or the Smiths will have to step up against the 49ers. I disagree. You want to be the best, you got to beat the best! I'm rooting for everyone above to have a big impact on a "W" this weekend!

But it's not like only three or four players are allowed to step up in one game. Every player on the 46-man roster can step and contribute to a victory. A well-timed Rodgers pass or clutch Za'Darius Smith sack will get the most national attention, but that doesn't mean Tyler Ervin making smart decisions on returns or Jake Kumerow setting a key block on an Aaron Jones run isn't valuable, as well. Most great recipes have more than two or three ingredients.

Jim from Tempe, AZ

Hello II, what will the atmosphere on the flight to San Francisco be, quiet and focused or loud and loose? Go Pack Go!

The locker room has been loose all week. I don't expect the flight to be any different.

Elizabeth from Sylvania, OH

How do the players manage their emotions? I started feeling nervous the second the Seattle game was over.

The same way you all do whenever you have a big presentation at work, an important lecture in the classroom or shutdown day on a paper machine. They are experts in their field. Since April, those players have been working for this moment. Believe you me, they're ready to go.

Douglas from Bloomington, IL

The matchup I'm watching the most this weekend is Bryan Bulaga vs. Nick Bosa. Bulaga only played nine snaps last time and it showed. No protection on the right side and we never had an answer. If he plays all game or even if Jared Veldheer comes in, I like our chances of the Aarons having the time they need to make plays.

I think losing Bulaga early in the game was one of several dominoes that factored into the final result. Undoubtedly, things won't go 100 percent according to plan for the Packers on Sunday, but it's hard to envision lightning striking twice with that amount of adversity. Having Bulaga back with a healthy line is a huge part of the offense getting off to a fast start and finding sustainable rhythm.

Steve from Middletown, KY

When we get a turnover Sunday, would you rather it come in the first quarter or the fourth?

First. It was the catalyst for the 49ers' win in November. I could see it having a similar effect on the Packers should they generate a takeaway in the first 15 minutes.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Since the 2010 season there have been seven or eight years where the Packers went into the season and I thought this is the year, we're going back to the Super Bowl. Shamefully, this was not one of those years I thought that. We're four quarters away, Weston. GO PACK! Thanks for the great season, II.

Like how things unfolded in 2010, the most rewarding seasons are the ones you never saw coming.

Connor from Murray, UT

Good day Insiders! On Thursday's podcast, you talked about Tyler Ervin and how he has brought a spark to both special teams and the offense. After the Washington game, I recall Shawn Mennenga mentioning that Ervin does a great job at getting the yards that are there going north and south, which also was a plus to Trevor Davis' game. Among many more similarities between Ervin and Davis that I have seen, I am wondering what differences you have noticed as to why Ervin has been better for the Pack than TD was?

They have comparable speed and decisiveness but Ervin seems to catch the ball cleaner on punts. He also has demonstrated masterful judgment, knowing when to catch punts inside the 10 and when to let the ball sail into the end zone.

Dan from Toledo, OH

Prediction time! One thing that was talked about when he was signed was that Preston Smith is capable of dropping into coverage. My bold prediction is Preston Smith will pull a B.J. Raji and get a game-changing pick-six. Big players make big plays in big games.

That's a good pick, though I don't know if I'd classify it as "bold." Remarkably, Smith has five picks over the past four seasons, which has to be among the most for pass rushers during that span. A pick-six is the only thing missing.

Anthony from Rockford, IL

One thing I haven't seen discussed is "Z" and David Bakhtiari hyping each other up in the mic'd up pregame of the divisional round. They are both swaying back and forth, uttering short, impactful statements to one another. Almost getting each other into a trance-like state leading to a crescendo to start the game. "Set the tone"…"early"…"greatness"…"I can smell it." It is awesome to see those two stars propel one another to be great. This has been an awesome season. Sunday can't come soon enough.

Those two have been making each other better since training camp. It's been fun to watch their battles in practice. I also found it interesting hearing Jared Veldheer credit his preparation to all the reps he took against the Smiths over the last month. I suppose there's no better way to get caught back up to the speed of the game than facing those edge-rushing monsters every day in practice.

Aumed from Moorhead, MN

We haven't heard or seen much from Raven Greene since his return off IR. Any update on him and if we can expect him to play a crucial role vs. the 49ers?

We'll see what happens today. The Packers are still at only 52 players, so there is a spot available if Raven gets the green light.

Ryan from Suamico, WI

While 10 of the 20 player finalists made it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame recently, what are the chances that the rest follow in the near future? Three of the 10 are former Packers.

It could be next year. It could be 20. There's only one or two senior finalists nominated each year. The 10 who didn't get in are obviously high on that list with the annual senior selection process starting over again in August.

Darren from Kingston, Ontario

I envision a few player and coach celebrations after a Packers victory on Sunday. Whose celebration is the most entertaining? Are their best celebrations unleashed on Sunday, or do they wait until after a certain game two weeks later to reveal their best celebrations?

You know who has some low-key brilliant celebrations? Aaron Jones. He always has something new and innovative.

Sean from Aubrey, TX

Just read the piece Wes wrote on Aaron Jones. All I can say is wow, just wow. Wes, you sir have a talent, and I'm blessed to be the benefactor of it. If Aaron Jones was put on this planet to play football, you were put on this planet to tell these stories. My hope is that there are many more left for you to tell. Thank you.

I appreciate the kind words, Sean, but the real credit goes to the Jones family for having an inspiring story worth telling. You can tell how that tightknit family bond is at the center of Jones' on-field successes. He learned at an early age the importance of family. Soon, he'll pass the lessons on to his own son.

Gary from Chippewa Falls, WI

If the offense plays an extra lineman and he is an eligible receiver, could they run a play like at the goal line where the lineman sneaks out for the pass?

I'm still crossing my fingers for a Lucas Patrick touchdown.

Joe from Bloomington, IN

What do the Packers have to do to blow the 49ers out?

Nobody has figured that out yet. The 49ers' most decisive loss was a seven-point defeat to Atlanta in Week 15. My hunch? Get a boatload of turnovers and score off all of them.

Sean from Chaska, MN

I can't fit "Blockhtiari" on a custom jersey at PackersProShop.com, because it exceeds the nine-character limit. Can you do something about that?

What about "BLKHTIARI"?

Darrell from San Antonio, TX

II, what do you think is the game plan to keep George Kittle from running free down the middle of the field like he did the last time we played the 49ers? Putting a DB on him with someone over the top? Don't you agree that the 49ers will test the waters early and if the defense doesn't keep him in check we may dig a hole that will be difficult to climb out of?

It's not about having one plan for Kittle – it's having multiple ways to defend him over the course of a four-quarter game. It's not just going to be one player covering him. I bet we'll see a rotation. The defense has had much better communication since that first meeting with the 49ers, which should make a difference.

Dustin from Glenwood Springs, CO

Pundits seem eager to say George Kittle is going to tear us apart and we have nobody capable of matching up with him. Many pundits were saying the same exact thing about DK Metcalf and the results force-fed those comments back into the pundits' mouths. I realize Metcalf plays WR and Kittle is TE but physically, we're talking about a 20-pound/two-tenths-of-a-second (40 dash) difference here. Who on the Packers' defense do you personally see most capable of making life painful for Kittle Sunday?

So many of you are asking for the name of the farmer when I'm telling you it's gonna take the whole dang village. Adrian Amos, Ibraheim Campbell, Tramon Williams, Kyler Fackrell and every other defender at the second level has to play a role in keeping a lid on Kittle.

Tom from Oxford, MI

How are players paid for the postseason games? Do they receive a portion of their salary or do all players receive the same compensation for the extra games? How much do they receive for each game if they are all paid the same?

Some players have specific incentives written into their contracts, but there's also a set base salary all players receive for each round of the playoffs. It's written into the collective bargaining agreement. You can Google those exact numbers.

Dex from Madison, WI

Comment, not question. Great to hear Aaron Rodgers give a shout-out to Evan Siegle at today's presser. He does some outstanding work. We have really enjoyed seeing the airport arrival photos. They sure help give a glimpse into another side of the individual players. And I'm the guy who complained earlier this year that the players' lack of "business attire" as they travelled showed a lack of discipline. Sheesh! What do I know? I'll take my "OK Boomer" and show myself out.

Amen. Evan deserves all the praise he receives. Now, if only he'd start tagging his photos in PackMedia again. That would make him a true five-tool photographer.

Nick from Lima, OH

It feels like ages ago the Inbox was filled with submissions about the shortened field in Canada. Oh, the memories. Here's to (hopefully) another two weeks of meaningful football!

Oh, how quickly the season comes and goes…but it ain't over yet.

Doug from Lafayette, OH

One player total on the NFC Championship injury report. It's our best vs. their best. Let's go get it!

The way it should be. May the best team win. Enjoy the game, everyone.

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