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Inbox: December football is what Green Bay is all about

The only way to punch that ticket is to keep stacking victories

RB AJ Dillon
RB AJ Dillon

Ed from Windsor, CO

I will say it for you as it could be your response to almost every submission today, "Just beat the Bucs." Have a great weekend everybody.

Correct. If you don't like any of my answers in today's column, just sub in "Just beat the Bucs" for my reply.

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

Insiders, Sunday and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can't come soon enough. I am tired of hearing all of the carping about the Giants game.

The Packers hit a speed bump Monday night but that doesn't mean take the foot off the gas. Forward.

Kevin from Westminster, CO

Would you consider having Aaron Jones in the backfield exponentially having the same effect as Christian Watson at receiver?

There's a reason why I always bring up Green Bay's win-loss record when Jones has more than 100 total yards. The Packers need him, especially with the uncertainty surrounding Dillon's thumb injury. One way or another, however, Jones needs to be a big part of this thing if a payoff run is going to materialize. He is a face of this franchise. When Jones plays well, the rest of the team follows.

Mar from Seattle, WA

Hi guys, is it safe to say our backfield gets more touches overall than last week?

AJ Dillon, Patrick Taylor, and Jayden Reed combined for 23 carries against the New York Giants. With all the backfield uncertainty, I could see it being a comparable workload against Tampa Bay's 10th-ranked run defense. At the end of the day, quality is just as important as quantity in the run game. Get yards, build rhythm, and move the chains.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Another big game awaits with huge playoff implications on both sides. Yes, the Packers can bounce back from an ugly loss in NY. Reasons to believe: 1) Lambeau Field in December. It's home cookin'. It's comfort food. 2) This team has grown up too fast and come too far to let the season slip away now. The intensity will be on full display. 3) Baker Mayfield has thrown five picks in his last two visits to Lambeau. The opportunities will be there again. GPG!

They say turnovers come in bunches and the Packers' defense is hoping for a repeat of last December. Green Bay currently has 15 takeaways, tied for 22nd…and that comes after two bizarre New York turnovers on Monday night. Getting a few takeaways off Mayfield and the Bucs would be huge as the defense looks to build some late-season mojo.

Bob from Rome, NY

Wes: Good morning and happy weekend before Christmas – Matt LaFleur often uses the term "win the ball." I know there were issues Monday night but "losing the ball" was the difference in the outcome. A swing of at least 10 points with the Jordan Love and Keisean Nixon fumbles. Hopefully that was a point of emphasis this past week. Your thoughts?

That game perfectly illustrated why multiple turnovers matter. As ugly as the interception and fumble were in the second quarter, the Giants didn't do anything with those opportunities. However, that third turnover might have been the difference in the game. That time, Green Bay's adversity defense fell short, and Saquon Barkley found the end zone. The game changed after New York took its first lead.

Ray from Phoenix, AZ

I was excited when we drafted Luke Musgrave but knew nothing about Tucker Kraft. Kraft has played really well, so if Musgrave does come back this year, would he jump back in as the starter or do you think Kraft would be the No. 1 tight end?

I'm a firm believer those labels don't matter and that's especially true regarding tight ends. Luke Musgrave has missed some time, but Green Bay has still deployed two or more tight ends on 32.7% of its offensive snaps. That's good for eighth most in the NFL. If you're a tight end in Green Bay, you're gonna play.

Derek from South Point, OH

Insiders, regarding coaches' messages, I remember seeing a video of former Ravens coach Brian Billick discussing this. He said you had to balance everything, and that yelling without a message or purpose means you aren't teaching. The goal is to lead young men, not berate them for no reason. I think this is sometimes what separates successful college and professional coaches. Matt LaFleur is passionate and strikes me as balanced with the men in the locker room.

I agree 100%. LaFleur understands the best coaches are teachers first. His job to coach young men to their fullest potential and hold them to a standard once they reach that level. We only get to see a small portion of practice in-season, but LaFleur is constantly working with players, at every position, during offseason practices and training camp. Sometimes that requires a heavier hand and players get that – as long as it's coming from the right place with improvement in mind.

Arthur from Eau Claire, WI

What I would like to see this week is the offense to convert more third downs and the special teams to play more disciplined. The defense to me spends way too much time on the field. I believe that the losses this year have been (for the most part) a tired defense at crunch time. Are you seeing this to or am I reading too much into this?

It's on all three phases, not just one. The overriding theme this season has been when the Packers play complementary football, they win games. When they don't, you get what happened Monday night against the Giants. Green Bay can't overthink what happened in New Jersey. Offense, defense, and special teams need to get back playing in concert with one another.

Jeff from Foothill Ranch, CA

Hi Wes! Meant to write this earlier in the week but forgot about you guys switching days with the MNF game. I felt pretty confident throughout last week about the Giants game, but reading your Saturday column, I got the feeling you weren't confident. I remember reading your answers thinking, "hmmm, Wes seems concerned about this" which was actually helpful to me in how the game played out. Did you in fact have reservations or did I misinterpret?

You read that correctly. It wasn't so much about the Packers, though. Based on what I'd seen, I thought this current Giants team is better than the record suggests.

Bob from Kennesaw, GA

I find it just amazing that so many fans here are sweating getting into the playoffs. Seriously? Have any of them been watching what's happening? Folks, this is almost a new team we're looking at this year…at least in the sense that a lot of them are still making the adjustment to NFL speed and competition…while they're learning to play together. Yes, there's a ton of individual talent, but it's going to be awhile before they're clicking reliably. Hopefully, they'll build on all this next year.

This is all valuable experience for Jordan Love and this roster. Teams want to play meaningful December football. If successful, then they get invited to the January dance. I watched a lot of football this year. I personally feel Green Bay is one of the top seven teams in the NFC, but it has to earn it. The only way to punch that ticket is to keep stacking victories.

Jesus from El Paso, TX

With all the injuries and a short week, it's there a single practice where the full team worked together, or is it all mental reps until gametime?

Friday was a normal practice for the Packers, which is important to not only get the gameplan in but also gain a better feel where injured players are at with their bodies. For example, Dillon returned in a limited capacity with a claw-like club on his right hand. If Dillon is gonna play, he needs to get comfortable with that slight obstruction.

Mark from Seattle, WA

Hi guys, what is the status of Jaire Alexander? Can we expect him to play soon?

When there's an update on Alexander, we will write about it. Until that happens, all we can do is wait.

Paul from Northglenn, CO

Would it be fair to say football-knowledgeable players are also blessed with great instincts? Seems they go hand in hand.

Luck is preparation meeting opportunity, right? Rasul Douglas had good instincts and football IQ. His good fortune all started with staying in his tablet for hours on end.

Lori from Broomfield, CO

First view of the schedule that I saw the finale vs. Chicago and immediately felt it would impact GB's season. It could come down to win you're in. If so, is that a good lead into the second season, knowing you still own Da Bears?

I love finishing the regular season against Chicago but for different reasons. The Bears are the Packers' oldest rival. As infrequently as they've played one another in the season finale, each game has felt like a big deal. But in order for this year's Week 18 encounter to be meaningful, Green Bay first needs to take care of business the next three weeks.

Gary from Bear Valley, WI

I'm confused, is the prevent defense employed to help the defensive team win or the offensive team win?

The tone of your question is noted but prevent is meant to not give up explosive gains. It's using the clock to your advantage with the intent of making the offense earn its yards.

Monty from Velva, ND

Gentlemen, I watched the ESPN documentary on Reggie White this week and marveled at how interesting he was. Learned Hebrew so he could read the Bible in its original language? Wow. Anyway, isn't it crazy that with all the training available, nobody's been able to come close to replicating the hump move?

I've seen Rashan Gary bust it out from time to time, but nobody does it like Reggie did. For me, listening to J.J. Watt talk about the difficulty of executing the hump move brought everything into perspective. The pass rusher needs speed, strength, and balance to pull it off successfully.

Jeff from Indian Lake, NY

If anyone needed a reminder that it's a week-to-week league, look no further than TNF Raiders vs. Chargers. A week after putting up a very large goose egg on the scoreboard, the Raiders drop 63 on a team coached by a man lauded as a "defensive wizard" when he was hired. Go figure.

Thankfully, I didn't watch what turned out to be the final chapter of the Brandon Staley era in Los Angeles.

Bob from Atlanta, GA

The latest model Raiders go from 0-63 in just over four days! What does that tell you about full consistency? Ha.

It works harder on Thursdays?

Thomas from Cedar Rapids, IA

Why is Spoff rooting for the Seahawks against the Eagles?

It's been a long week for everyone. Spoff made the correction. It goes without saying the Packers obviously would like Seattle to take a fifth straight loss.

Buddy from North Pole, SD

In conjunction with Matt from Fitchburg's question about correlation between Packers' success and Inbox authors, the bigger question is the correlation between Packers' wins and Badgers' wins! That has been a very strong correlation in the past (e.g. Badgers' wins against Western IL, Marquette, Michigan State and followed by loss to Arizona in recent weeks). The win against Jacksonville State Thursday bodes well for a W on Sunday!

Hey, it works for me. On Wisconsin!

Bruce from Jackson, WI

Well, it doesn't look like Mother Nature is going to help us on Sunday with the weather getting up to 40 degrees. And if Santa saw last week Monday's game, we should expect a lump of coal later in the week. But if you're telling me there is a chance to make the playoffs, the team needs to cinch up their jockstraps and come out fighting. Are we buttercups or contenders? You know Tampa is going to come in playing smash-mouth football. Let's make it a long flight home!

Other than some pre-SNF flurries, winter hasn't made its way to Lambeau yet, but the Packers still need to own the elements and use the colder weather to their advantage. The North remembers.

Tucker from Belton, TX

My wife and I are heading out this morning from Texas to Green Bay for the game! This will be my third trip, but she's never been. Monday was frustrating, this season has been up and down, but at the end of the day it's supposed to be about the joy of watching the sport we all love. I'm so excited to share the team I love most with the person I love most. Go Pack!

You couldn't have picked a better time to come to town. December football is what Green Bay is all about. If you have the time, I'd highly recommend walking around Titletown tonight. It's a great atmosphere the night before a game.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

A crash back to earth and the streak ends
A reminder it's a league that can humble the best and embarrass the rest
It is said adversity can often reveal one's true identity
Now a Bucs team looking to advance their own playoff hopes comes to Lambeau Field
Time to get back up and defend your house, Green and Gold
The path remains straight ahead Green Bay

Welcome to the fourth quarter of the regular season. It's winning time. The Packers have to defend Lambeau and prove this young football team has postseason potential. Enjoy the game, everyone.

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