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Inbox: Control the controllables

Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams have become every-down threats on offense

Head Coach Matt LaFleur
Head Coach Matt LaFleur

Nathan from Lino Lakes, MN

There was video of Aaron Rodgers telling Matt LaFleur he wanted "five today" in reference to touchdown passes. Weeks ago, Rodgers stated he was comfortable at this age with just wins, and not stats. What do you make of the comments?

He wanted to dominate – and he did. Good morning!

Carolyn from Greenlawn, NY

So Green Bay didn't make any splashy WR trades. Can we still be confident that No. 12 has plenty of options?

If the Oakland game taught us anything, it's that Aaron Rodgers has no shortage of options in this offense.

Hank from Centennial, CO

The Patriots have had a great deal of success throwing to their running backs, and putting them in position to gain more than your standard three or four yards for a check-down throw. Former Badgers star James White is excelling in just this way. With Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams on the roster, both of whom can catch, do you think the Packers can emulate this success? Do you foresee more throws to the running backs in the future?

The stigma of throwing to running backs has changed. Why? Because it's often the path of least resistance to a first down IF your running back can catch the ball effectively. That's what New England does so well, and it's also the beauty of Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. Both were good runners when they came to Green Bay in 2017. Two years later, they've become great running backs. They're pass-catchers. They're blockers. They're every-down threats. And they're a big part of the Packers' future on offense.

Adam from Wausau, WI

Hey Wes, I think when Vitale scores a touchdown, he should rock bottom one of his teammates and then do the people's elbow on him. Maybe Rodgers puts the belt on him... Anyway if you could pass this along that would be great!

Those are good suggestions. I haven't talked to Danny about it yet, but I'm confident he has something ready should he finally get in the end zone.

Colin from Tripoli, WI

Guys, I find it remarkable how everyone now can declare the Packers' offense is on a roll. Why couldn't anyone see the progress and momentum building each week? Why do they always need to see a game like the last? We have a young, talented and ambitious coach paired with a HOF quarterback looking for redemption. Plus, the roster has been massively improved. Solid veteran offensive line. Can I say any more? I would never predict individual game success but this level of output in no way surprises me.

I agree, Colin. The signs of progress were there even before the Raiders game, if you were looking closely and objectively enough. The best teams and units get better as the season wears on. The Packers' offense is on that track.

Terry from Springfield, MO

I know a lot has been talked about the out-of-bounds end-zone fumble. Mike you mentioned it is a harsh price to pay. What happens if it's on the other side of the field? The ball is fumbled out of the end zone and its two points for the D and the other team gets the ball after a free kick. Just as harsh and I think it is a well-balanced rule for both the end zones. Now I finally get the Packers back in my state this week!

Right. And as Spoff put it – play smarter. It's that simple.

Chris from Modesto, CA

How would the end-zone fumble go back to the offense? Get it at the 1? Spot of fumble? At the 20 or 25 with the following down? To me, it makes the most sense to take it away with the end zone being so valuable.

This is what always bothered me about those who argue the fumbling team should get the ball back. Why should they be rewarded for exposing the ball in the opposing team's end zone by having it placed at the 1-yard line? It's the defense's end zone. It should belong to the defense. If you have an issue with it, those are the rules! It's all there, black and white, clear as crystal. So, you get nothing. You lose! Good day, sir! I SAID GOOD DAY!

Dan from Toledo, OH

I have noticed when Rodgers jogs off the field after a win he holds both hands up with his little and index fingers extended in almost a "hook 'em horns" position. Any idea to the origin of this?

It's sign language for "I love you."

Brian from Sussex, WI

Playing against Mahomes would be a bigger challenge, but how much of an added challenge is it being the first team playing KC starting their backup QB?

The unknown – of whether Patrick Mahomes can actually go, and if he can't, how differently does Kansas City's offense look with Matt Moore at QB. LaFleur can't worry about all of that, though. The Packers need to remain focused on the task at hand and prepare for every possibility. Control the controllables.

Steve from Middletown, KY

Game center stats show KC offense is first in passing yards and weak in rushing. KC defense is top 10 against passing yards and near the bottom against the run. Without Mahomes, do you think they will try to run the ball more or try to continue their strength of passing? Since KC is weak against the run, will we pound the rock more early to soften the back end for 12? After last week, KC defense may have to pick their poison, so to speak.

I don't know what to make of Mahomes practicing Wednesday. Personally, I think it would be bad optics to play an MVP quarterback on a recently dislocated knee cap, but I'm not a doctor. As far as Moore, he has a ton of experience and a plethora of weapons, but can he deliver the ball in rhythm? Because we all know he won't be able to extend plays like Mahomes does. Regardless of the QB situation, the Packers need their run defense to make this game one-dimensional and their pass rush to keep the pressure on whoever the quarterback is for 60 minutes. Offensively, this game is tailored to what Jones and Williams do best. Let them eat.

Joe from Hartford, CT

Gentlemen, do you feel that Andy Reid is throwing up a smokescreen? Doesn't it seem kind of foolish to jeopardize a season to win a game or two by playing the franchise QB on one leg?

That's my headspace right now. I don't know why you'd jeopardize your season for an intra-conference game against an opponent KC wouldn't see again until the Super Bowl. On a personal level, Mahomes is eligible for an extension after this year, so is the risk of re-injury really worth it? Don't get me wrong – I'd love to see Rodgers vs. Mahomes. But at what price glory?

Chad from Kansas City, MO

The crowd at Arrowhead won't be as loud as you might think. Ticket prices have dropped significantly and there will be a very large Packer contingent.

One way or another, I expect it to be loud.

Craig from Brookfield, WI

The Packers' schedule with so many road games loaded in the second half will really tell what kind of team this is. After fretting about it early on, I'm now thinking it may have been a gift. With a new coach, new offense to learn and new key players on defense, it was probably good to get that all rolling within the friendly confines of Lambeau, not having to try and run the new offense on silent counts and such.

That's why I feel like this game Sunday night is so important. Whatever the crowd at Arrowhead looks like, I can already tell you the Los Angeles game is going to be Lambeau Field West. With what the Chargers are, uh, charging, I expect that stadium to be 80-90 percent Packers fans. Maybe more.

Samuel from Brooklyn, NY

What are the chances that we see No. 23 in green and gold tracking No. 10 in red all day? That's what I'm hoping to see...

That's the decision Mike Pettine, Jason Simmons and the Packers' defensive coaches will have to make this week. Kansas City can stress a defense in multiple ways with Travis Kelce's versatility and Sammy Watkins' big-play potential. But certainly a Tyreek Hill-Jaire Alexander matchup alone would be worth the price of admission.

Robert from Salem, WI

As we near the midpoint of the season, how would you grade out this year's rookie class?

I'd probably go with a B so far. Darnell Savage and Elgton Jenkins are looking like All-Rookie Team contenders, while Rashan Gary has had his moments.

Bill from Iowa City, IA

Last week, KC had nine sacks. I think the Chiefs' D will want to win one without Mahomes. How do you see the KC pass rush against the Packers' offense?

I think last week was a coming-out party for Frank Clark and Kansas City's pass rush. I also think the Packers' offensive line is much better than Denver's at the moment. I think the starting five will be up to the challenge.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Regarding passer rating, when it was created in 1973 it was intended as a way to measure past QB years or careers to QBs present and future. I don't think it was ever intended to be used as a one-game metric. But I was surprised to learn AR's 158.3 was the first-ever perfect QB rating in a game for the Packers. This can be achieved with a stat line of 8-of-10 for 125 yards, two TDs and no picks. Difficult but not impossible. How surprising is it to you that in 100 years this is the first time it happened?

That's interesting about pass rating, because if it truly was intended to measure QBs past and present, it failed miserably. Regardless, it is surprising it took that long for the Packers to have a quarterback register a perfect rating with the lineage of Hall of Famers that have strolled through Green Bay.

Al from Green Bay, WI

With the rhythm the Packers' offense has been establishing, with the reality that some key players (Adams, Savage) are nearing a return, I would make the argument the Packers' arrow is pointing up. Where is the arrow pointing for the rest of the NFC North?

I made this point on "Unscripted" this week – we talk so much about Mike Zimmer's defense but how about Mike Zimmer, the head coach? Zim did an exceptional job of guiding his team through a tough time and has the Vikings back at 5-2. The Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions are at a crossroads no different than the Vikings were a couple weeks ago. Both teams have to find a way out of the hole or they'll succumb to it.

Peggy from Bloomer, WI

Please comment on the Packers' special teams so far this year. Do you think they get a better grade than last year?

All three specialists are off to great starts. JK Scott and Hunter Bradley have taken the second-year jump you wanted to see. The kickoff coverage unit has some things to clean up. You always want to get production in the return game, but consistently covering kickoffs well is a must.

Marcus from San Tan Valley, AZ

We've won with defense, offense, but not necessarily with special teams (although they may need to make a new award for punters with the season JK is having). I am predicting this weekend will be the battle of special teams!

That's not a bad bet. Dave Toub is one of the best special teams coordinators in the NFL, and Shawn Mennenga and Chicago's Chris Tabor are disciples of his system. Dustin Colquitt is still one of the league's best punters, as well. I definitely think special teams and field position will have a sizeable effect on Sunday's outcome.

Jordan from Sturgeon Bay, WI

Maybe I am in the minority but I am extremely happy we missed out on Emmanuel Sanders and Mohamed Sanu. I try not to question Bill Belichick but I think what was traded for both guys was insane; on paper it's a half-year rental on a WR on the wrong side of 30. Call me crazy but I want to stay the course with the young talent we have and let's use those picks we didn't trade to draft a young WR on a rookie contract with potential.

It was a steep price, but the Patriots clearly felt they needed a veteran receiver in the mix. The news of Josh Gordon Wednesday also makes a little more sense now. The other brilliant thing the Pats accomplished with the Sanu trade is it set the market for any other receiver trades before next Tuesday's deadline.

Ron from Riverview, FL

Hey Wes, yesterday Mike mentioned a couple of times that we have too much time on our hands. Isn't that a good thing? It allows us the opportunity to read and respond to II, the podcasts and all other things Packers Nation.

Some of you have too much time on your hands…and that helps put food on my kid's plate. So I appreciate your fandom.

Michael from Dover, PA

My daily morning ritual includes that first hot cup of coffee along with II. But after watching the Smith Bros. doing the Whisper Challenge I now have coffee spilled on my desk and I find myself trying to explain why I am laughing almost uncontrollably. Outstanding stuff and kudos for the added feature. Thanks!

Awesome. That's all I can say. It was hilarious to watch. A shout-out to Ryan Hartwig, Duke Bobber, Adam Hoebelheinrich, Matt Haberkamp and Mike Atkinson, who did a tremendous job bringing that project to life.

Steve from Land O' Lakes, FL

There are four of us headed to KC for the game. Is there a Packer rally planned?

There is not. I love you guys but Hod occasionally needs a Saturday night off. I have a trip to Top Golf in my future.

Chuck from Gold Canyon, AZ

Why is a veteran day of rest listed as an injury?

Because if a player doesn't practice in full, teams must provide a reason.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, what costume will Little Hod be wearing for Halloween?

We went with Dracula this year.

Evan from Middleton, WI

The Packers do have an odd schedule this year but I am not sure anything compares to Atlanta's schedule. They are the only team who has yet to play a division opponent and they won't until Week 10 when they start a streak of five games straight against teams in their division. Have you ever seen anything like that?

Wow. I didn't realize that. Five-in-a-row and then six division opponents in the last eight weeks. That's insane.

Herb from Albuquerque, NM

Can we have more Whisper Challenges? Maybe have Mike and Wes do an "Unscripted" Whisper Challenge?

You were literally the third person to tell me this on Wednesday – and all before noon.