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Inbox: Buckle up for these last three

The Packers have the control they need

Packers RB Jamaal Williams and LB Oren Burks greet fans as they head into the locker room after Sunday's 20-15 victory over the Washington Redskins.
Packers RB Jamaal Williams and LB Oren Burks greet fans as they head into the locker room after Sunday's 20-15 victory over the Washington Redskins.

Bill from Wilmington, DE

Mike, a win is a win, but that was ugly!

Yeah, I won't argue. I think everyone has to take 10-3 and buckle up for these last three. A lot can, and almost certainly will, happen.

Chris from Frederick, MD

So all the Packers have to do to secure a first-round bye is beat the teams in our division? I like that.

The Packers have the control they need. Now they have to keep it, one week at a time.

Eric from Reedsburg, WI

Based on comments from Packers players and coaches after the game, they were happy to get the win but felt they left a lot on the field. With only three games left in the regular season, what will the team have to do to continue the winning trend?

They just have to make the clutch plays. Rodgers to Jones on third-and-14 from the 7-yard line saved this game. That was a huge clutch play, but the Packers had many much easier third-down conversions they didn't make. To me the inconsistency was an assignment (a block, a throw, etc.) here or there. That's all it takes and they kept costing the Packers points.

Dan from Toledo, OH

To all the fans complaining about a five-point home win, ask a Texans fan if they would take a five-point home win today.

Beat the Patriots, get clobbered by the Broncos. Just as everyone predicted.

Courtney from Butte, MT

Another defensive win. Receivers aren't getting open. OL is not protecting well. Aaron Jones is MVP of game for sure with more offense than all of the Redskins. Games like that though should not be close. I firmly believe we are on the verge of peaking but need a push to get over the top. What is the answer? You know mine.

I'm not sure I do. Be that as it may, the Packers' defense gave up one drive of consequence through Washington's first seven possessions. You take that any day. They caught a break when Guice went out, but his long run was one of only two plays allowed longer than 14 yards until Washington's final drive. It was a step forward in cutting down on the explosives. I thought Rodgers had really good protection several times. When he didn't, it appeared to be one guy getting beat, not a jailbreak up front.

Paul from St. Paul, MN

Whatever happened to rhythm throws? Are the WRs not getting open or is Rodgers trying to get the big play?

I thought the running game gave the Packers some rhythm on offense, but we haven't seen a lot of rhythm throws on third down. Their infrequency has been an issue all season.

Matt from Waunakee, WI

Nice to get some punt return yards. In defense of our previous returners, I don't remember them having as much room to operate.

Definitely not. Tress Way didn't hit a lot of really high hangers, so that helped. But Tyler Ervin also didn't frog around with the ball and ran forward immediately to get what was there, and then tried to make someone miss. He started dodging after he took a couple of steps forward, not as soon as he caught the ball.

Donald from Swaledale, IA

It's a sad day when the AR-led passing game is the problem for the Packers. The Pack will need to be a lot better to skin the Bears. This late in the season, what has to change to solve the problem?

The Packers just haven't put it all together yet. Last week, Rodgers threw for four touchdowns and a 125 passer rating on a snowy, slippery field, but the Packers couldn't run the ball. This week the running game carried the day and the passing game didn't click after the first quarter. Rodgers missed a few throws he should have made, got careless on the fumble play, and couldn't find anyone open several times. They were close to a huge day but didn't get there. I think Rodgers knows a couple of better plays by him and Sunday is a different story.

Graeme from Tucson, AZ

That game certainly showed there are no easy games in the NFL, particularly if you aren't on the top of your game. However, watching the game it seemed as though if Rodgers had not just missed Jimmy Graham and we go up 21-0 at the start of the second quarter, this game likely looks a lot different. Football really is a game of inches.

That play has to be made, plain and simple. Play-action rollout, Adams was doubled as the primary and Graham is wide open on the back side. Yes, that was one of those plays that makes it a different story.

Thomas from Charlotte, NC

It wasn't perfect, but they won. Would Sunday's performance have beaten the 49ers or Saints? Probably not. But they didn't have to play those teams today.

If the Packers had scored 50 points, it wouldn't have said anything about a potential matchup with the other playoff contenders. This is as much a week-to-week offense as I've ever seen Rodgers run. I don't know what that's going to mean as the games get bigger. It could be a good thing, it could be a bad thing. I really don't know.

Jessi from Sterling, KS

I think everybody, including the Packers, felt disappointment after the first quarter. That's not how you want to play December football at home...missing opportunities. It's been talked about again and again how special this team is, I hope they become their own version of the 2010 run. Because if ever there was a year to need to get hot, it's in this NFC race. Does your gut say they have all the pieces it will take?

I think they have the pieces, but they haven't played their best. Whether they will when they have to is what we'll all be watching to see.

Jeremiah from Madison, WI

There have been multiple home games now where the players are slipping on the field. Does the team have any idea why that is and is it something that can be fixed now, or do we have to wait until maintenance in the offseason at this point?

I have no idea why that's still prevalent in the seventh home game of the regular season. A new surface was put in last offseason, and no one seems immune to the issue. I don't get it.

Trevor from Seattle, WA

I know you're not one for hypotheticals, but that would have been one heck of a game if the Badgers put together at least one long scoring drive to give the D a rest. Here's to a decisive bowl win!

It was a commendable effort by the Badgers, but in the second half they were frankly dominated in all three phases. The better team won. I'm just glad the Illinois loss didn't cost Wisconsin a trip to the Rose Bowl. That defeat could have sent the team spiraling the wrong way, but they earned the trip to Pasadena.

Jimi from Nederland, CO

I absolutely loved what you guys had to say about LeRoy, and why he should be in. Would you guys consider talking about Sterling next week? He was my first favorite Packer when I started watching as a little kid. I never thought he had a chance to get into the Hall of Fame because of his short career. But the years he did play, was absolute domination. I'm hopeful with this larger group being inducted, he can rightfully enter a place among his peers.

As I said a couple of years ago, the induction of Terrell Davis has opened the door to players with shorter careers, but Davis had off-the-charts postseason numbers that still make him a special case. I think there's a strong argument for Sharpe, but there's a significant backlog at wide receiver that doesn't help him.

Lori from Heredia, Costa Rica

I saw the Lombardi Trophy today! It's currently on tour here in Costa Rica for the first time ever. What is one of your favorite memories of someone holding it?

I was fortunate enough to hold it on the plane ride back from Dallas nine years ago. Equipment manager Red Batty was taking it around during the flight for everyone to get a close-up look.

Steve from Land O'Lakes, FL

Your info about the Packers playing their first playoff game in 1936 at the Polo Grounds got me thinking. When was the last time the Packers played at Wrigley Field?


John from Yakima, WA

Re: Crosby and GWFG answer. From what yardage were the misses?

52, 38 (blocked), 53, 51, 52, 52 and 49.

James from Charlottesville, VA

Random question. I've noticed on TV that sometimes the Packers' helmets appear shiny and somewhat sparkle whereas at other times the yellow looks more matte. I was wondering if this is simply because of the lighting/time of day the game is being played or if the Packers actually have helmets with different paint jobs. Thanks for all you guys do!

It's lighting, sometimes time of day, or sunlight vs. stadium lights, indoors vs. outdoors, all of that.

Scott from Ishpeming, MI

So much criticism about a win. We're 10-3 and in first place in the division, currently the No. 2 seed in the NFC. Oh, and we've done it with a first-year head coach. I'm okay with enjoying that.

No Packers coach prior to LaFleur had reached 10 wins in his first season at the helm. It's a noteworthy achievement for a franchise in Year 101. No one even asked him about it after the game because everyone knew his answer would be something to the effect of all his focus being on the Bears. It's just how he's wired.

Mark from Westminster, CO

Wow, how crazy is it that after 13 weeks, the NFC East will only have a combined 17 wins after Monday Night Football, unless it's a tie. There is a chance that a team with a losing record will win that division.

Meanwhile the defending NFC champion Rams are not going down without a fight, giving the West a possible third team with double-digit wins before it's all said and done.

Gary from Davenport, IA

I don't recall Mitchell Trubisky saying anything about "running the table," but they are half way to doing just that after a 4-6 start. Thankfully the Bears will have a few extra days to prepare for the Packers. The Packers have fared well so far this year when their opponent had a bye or mini-bye before the game. Do you expect a much different game than the opener next week or will it be another slugfest?

Both teams are in completely different places now. Very little from the first game matters when two teams play one another three months apart.

Dave from Coloma, MI

Packers are 1-0 on the weekend. Up next it's the Bears. I know this is a division game and there are no gimmes, but how would you rate this Bears team? Commentators are talking about how great Trubisky has been the past couple weeks, but I think it's just the opposing defenses that have been making him look good. Their three-game winning streak comes against three teams with a combined 11-26-1 record, with the Cowboys having half of those victories.

I think Chicago's offense looks much more formidable when Trubisky is using his legs, both with read-option runs and scrambles. He wasn't running nearly as much earlier in the season. I also think getting Akiem Hicks back will help a Chicago defense that has lost Roquan Smith. The Bears are coming to Lambeau Field playing for their season. That fact can't be lost on anybody.

Keith from Lincoln, IL

So, "good enough" is now the identity of the 2019 Packers?

Right now it is, and only six of 32 teams are good enough to have double-digit wins in the NFL through 13 games. I also go back to this team simply being better in the fourth quarter more often than not. They got a defensive stop at midfield in a 17-9 game and a drive to get points that consumed 7:24 to restore a two-score lead. The Packers were better in the fourth quarter again. It beats the alternative.

Kirsten from Madison, WI

I know we're supposed to be happy with 10-3 ("a win is a win!"), but we're running out of weeks to "get better." I'm confident we're heading to the postseason, but do we really have what it takes to make a deep run? I'm worried, Insiders.

You know my answer. You get in and take your chances. It's how I've always looked at the playoffs. If there are games to play, there's time to improve and find another level. I get the angst, believe me, I do. The Packers haven't looked as good as the other NFC contenders, some of whom have still "looked good" in close losses to tough teams. I believe this Packers team needs to play at Lambeau to maximize on its opportunity, so put all the focus into earning the right to stay at home and let's see where the chips fall.

Casey from Knoxville, TN

I know you answered a previous request about the "behind the scenes" of your job by saying it wasn't all that exciting, but I second that request! A day in the life of a senior staff writer must consist of juggling and triaging multiple pieces/updates at ALL times, along with the podcast recording, Insider Inbox, Packers Daily, Three Things, feature articles, Mike's Mid-Week Chat...I cannot believe how much content you guys put out. Which is your favorite job responsibility? Most difficult?

They're one and the same, actually. It's covering a road game, when I'm trying to get the Game Recap written on the bus ride to the airport, the Editorial finished before the plane takes off, and the next morning's Insider Inbox column done before the plane lands so I can go home, get some sleep and start fresh with a new week. It's a grind, but I still relish the challenge.

Rod from Middletown, NJ

Regarding Andrew from Edgewood's post, first it is gigawatts or one billion watts; it can be pronounced with the hard "G" sound or with the "J" sound. Second, gigawatts are a unit of power and Newtons are a unit of force, so they are not comparable directly. However, taking the force as given, assume a 30-meter run from Mr. Lazard at 20 miles per hour makes a travel time of about 3.36 seconds so an estimate for his maximum power usage for the run was about 43.9 kilowatts. Physics rules!

Where does the bolt of lightning come in? Lambeau Field does have a clock tower.

James from Asheville, NC

Three division games in December. Does it get any better than this?

We all saw it when the schedule came out. Just like 2016, no better way to find out what you've got and try to set yourself up for more.

Glenn from Hardscrabble, IN

Don't matter if it's ugly, don't matter if it's pretty, next week's the boys from the Windy City.

Poetry to start Bears week. Happy Monday.