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Inbox: Development is progress meeting potential

It takes a village to win the big games


Jeff from South Bend, IN

Aaron Rodgers is the Jimi Hendrix of quarterbacks. He does the equivalent of playing with his teeth and lighting his guitar on fire out there.

That's certainly one way to put it. Good morning!

Brian from Sussex, WI

One week into the regular season, and by my count, there have already been 55 different people on the 53-man roster, and at least 11 different people on the practice squad. Seems so long ago when everyone was asking who was going to make the 53-man roster.

Have we mentioned in the last five minutes how rosters are fluid in the regular season?

Scott from Hamlin, NY

I think the different way to play defense you're referring to is to play cover instead of rush. The pressure at the end of the game was a result of coverage. As Vic likes to say, choose rush or cover, we chose cover.

There will be weeks where the rush drives the defense. This just happened to be a game where coverage won the day. The most promising thing I saw Sunday was how all those defensive backs stayed on the same page. Development is progress meeting potential.

Jeremiah from Denver, CO

What kind of impact do you think Rodgers' injury/rehab schedule will have on DeShone Kizer's development with him practicing as QB1 this week?

Any in-season reps are valuable reps for a 22-year-old quarterback. Kizer would love nothing more than to be on the sideline supporting Rodgers Sunday, but he said it's his "duty and responsibility" to be ready if his number is called.

Scott from Hayward, WI

Is it safe to assume our coaching staff has an obligation to game plan for Minnesota with Kizer as our starting QB until the verdict is in about Rodgers? If so, do they try to make Kizer read and react more like Rodgers, or do they design the play-calling around Kizer's skill set in an attempt to confuse Minnesota and increase Kizer's chances for success?

Mike McCarthy was asked this question on Wednesday morning. The game plan is intended to attack the defense regardless of whether it's Rodgers or Kizer. Now, things open up a little more with the two-time MVP under center, but McCarthy and his coaches will find what works for Kizer if need be.

Matt from Verona, WI

The assertion that Rodgers being forced to play "on schedule" is a good thing just blows my mind. It is absolutely not better if the defense knows Rodgers can't go schoolyard.

Moves and counter moves. If he's on the field, AR12 has more than one way to beat you.

Jeff from Kenosha, WI

Aside from the miraculous comeback and the performance of AR, the one thing I took away from Sunday's game is that Geronimo Allison is for real. Another Sam Shields-like UDFA.

So much was made this offseason about the three rookie draft picks, but this always has been about Allison stepping up into that No. 3 role. He looks like he belongs in this offense. He's versatile, athletic and assignment-sure. Allison took over during the series Rodgers hit him for the 39-yard touchdown. He's off to a great start.

Brian from Green Bay, WI

Not to diminish Aaron's accomplishments which are incredible, but just like the miracle in Dallas, Aaron didn't win the game, Mason Crosby did. Granted Crosby wouldn't have had the chance to win it without Aaron's heroics, but how incredible is it to have a snapper, holder, and kicker so dependable we celebrate the win before they even kick.

To the point I almost tweeted 24-23 before the extra point. It takes a village to win the big games and Mason Crosby is as steady as they come.

Guillermo from Aurora, CO

What are the keys for a victory against the Vikings?

It starts with containing Dalvin Cook. The more one-dimensional Green Bay can make the Vikings' offense, the more the defensive front can pin its ears back in pressuring Kirk Cousins. As far as the offense is concerned, it's keeping the quarterback clean and getting the ball out quickly to build some momentum against Mike Zimmer's defense.

Don from Juneau, WI

So I've been wondering about this for a while. When we talk about a QB's arm strength, aren't we really talking about the explosiveness of his throw? I'd bet a zillion dollars Arnold Schwarzenegger could never throw a football 60 yards.

Exactly. There's more to throwing leathered air than the size of your bicep. If that were the case, Ronnie Coleman would have set a record for MVP selections.

Bill from Wilmington, DE

I was surprised at the lack of carries from Ty Montgomery (two). Do you believe he will get more versus the Vikings?

The early deficit caused the Packers to go into their no-huddle for the better part of three quarters, which limited Green Bay to 17 designed runs compared to 43 pass plays. He'll get more opportunities if the Packers can establish the run early against Minnesota.

Kyle from Spooner, WI

Which do you suppose is the greater challenge: an offseason of prep time, but with no game film/unscouted looks (as with the Bears), or a typical week of prep time, but with a game's worth of film available to dissect (as with Minnesota this week)?

I still think weekly in-season game-planning is the greatest challenge in the NFL because there's such a time crunch. You make preliminary plans during the offseason for each opponent, but all the variables change once the season starts.

Alistair from Mississauga, Canada

Was hard to tell on TV, but how did the new turf hold up?

It looks like it's held up well in the first three home games.

Charlie from Superior, WI

Do you know what approach the Packers are taking with all the new NextGen stats available to all the team? I know that some front offices (Vikings, Eagles, Rams) are pretty forward-leaning, but I'm curious, what, if anything, the Packers are doing in this space. Does Gutekunst have an analytics team? Are there plans? Any insight into this newer area to impact the game?

I'm not sure how the Packers are utilizing them, but McCarthy mentioned their importance when addressing the media back at the NFL Scouting Combine. The organization is forward-thinking when it comes to analytics with a department dedicated to that area of the game.

Andy from Baraboo, WI

A lot of people are asking where Clay Matthews was Sunday night. On the play with the strip-sack by Perry, Clay dropped into coverage against Burton, which would have been an easy pass for a first down. Let's give Clay some kudos, too.

Matthews appears to be a big part of Pettine's plans for the defense. He was flying around out there against the Bears in coverage, and rotating inside and outside. It's a 16-game season. We're on to the next one.

Jake from Loveland, CO

Wes, what did you think of Kizer's performance? While there were many issues, I actually felt comfortable with Kizer's ability to step in to such a chaotic game and Khalil Mack's disruptive force.

There obviously were youthful mistakes, but the natural arm talent and ability were there. He stepped into the game and moved the football, putting Green Bay in scoring position. It's another reminder of the importance of protecting the football at all times.

Take a look at Wednesday's practice as the Packers prepare to take on the Vikings this Sunday.

Bill from Brooklyn Park, MN

If the lines in the end zone are a nod to history, I'd like to suggest another nod to history sometime, and bring back the green-and-gold diamonds in the end zones from a half century ago.

That would be sweet.

Tim from Upland, CA

As an organization, do you think the Packers started valuing draft picks after the trade for John Hadl? Two first-rounders, two second-rounders and a third-round pick for a 34-year-old QB? I couldn't imagine the Packers current (or former) GM ever giving up that much.

You live and you learn. I think the Packers – and the entire league – learned from that trade.

Ryan from Westfield, IN

Everyone mentioned Reggie Gilbert covering Tarik Cohen. To me, the biggest part of that play was pre-snap. It totally looked like Blake Martinez told Gilbert to watch Cohen. Guy's a beast and a genius.

You're seeing the evolution of a leader. Nobody is going to outwork Martinez when it comes to staying in his playbook and knowing the assignments. Pettine put even more on his plate by leaving Martinez as the only inside linebacker on the field for 59 of his 70 plays Sunday night. I don't know if it was the Stanford education or just his football acumen, but Martinez had a whale of a ball game.

John from Clintonville, WI

More of an observation than question. Everyone from Coach McCarthy on down has stated at this point in the season the defense is not a finished product. There is one notable aspect I observed against the Bears. For the past couple of seasons, it seemed the defense could not get off the field on third and fourth downs. It was one of the most negatively defining traits of the recent defenses. Sunday we saw the defense get off the field on a few key occasions. That gives me optimism.

After the first quarter, Mike Pettine's group was exceptional on third and fourth down. The Packers don't win that game if the defense doesn't slow down the Bears. It's just one game, but that performance in the second half gave Green Bay the time and momentum it needed to mount the comeback.

Joe from Asbury, IA

Outside of the win my favorite part of the game was that besides Rodgers the team seemingly came out unscathed. I really hope that's the trend for 2018 and into 2019.

It's a good start on the injury front. The only new injury was Davante Adams, who expressed optimism he'll play Sunday after banging his shoulder at the end of the 51-yard catch against Chicago. Plus, Oren Burks is making progress towards a return.

Connor from Detroit, MI

In regards to booing, no team has ever deserved to be booed more than the product the Lions put out on Monday. Were you surprised about a division rival getting throttled at home under a new coach Matt Patricia?

Against the Jets? Yes. I'm still not a fan of booing, though.

Dave from Lake Mills, WI

I am amazed that John, supposedly a fan of the Packers, would justify booing. To me, that is incredibly disrespectful to this team. They're a perpetual playoff team, often in the talk of Super Bowl contenders. If you want to boo, go find a different team, then. Do you really think the players don't realize they're behind, or that McCarthy isn't trying to find a mismatch, etc.? I think this team has earned, more than earned, the benefit of the doubt.

Discomfort wasn't the right word. It's disenchantment. Spoff probably said it better than I could Wednesday, so I'll leave it as that. I guess my thing is if the Packers play poorly, you complain to your friends all week and bark at Spoff and me in this space. And that's fine. In the moment, however, what purpose does booing serve? To me, it looks entitled.

Michael from Littlestown, PA

IR? Any word on Jake Kumerow's shoulder? Also, does he get to participate in practice while on IR?

IR players are not made available to the media, but Kumerow felt he had a good chance to get cleared when he becomes eligible to practice again after Week 6. Stay tuned.

Gene from Oshkosh, WI

Last I saw Devante Mays was on the roster under injured reserve. Did he get an injury settlement?

Correct. He's been removed from the roster.

Eric from Greenville, WI

50th in 2007? How did we age 50 seasons in 11 years?

My word. Why is this so difficult? I answered this same question on Twitter last week. Lambeau Field's 50th anniversary, not the organization's.

Tony from Oak Lawn, IL

Wes, how do you think Murray Hewitt would fit in the Packers' front office? He did an admirable job running meetings as the manager of Flight of the Conchords.

One word: Championship.

Ricky from Lula, GA

Did Mike say Wes's last name with a "witz" at the end in the "Unscripted" video? If Wes is Polish, it should be "vitch," as w = v and cz = ch.

It's funny you mention that. My father and I actually pronounce our last name differently. If you call his office phone, you'll hear, "You've reached the voicemail box of Don Hod-kay-vitch." That is the proper Polish pronunciation. I use the Americanized-phonetic spelling "Hod-kuh-wits." One time when I needed to get my car fixed about three years ago, my dad suggested a call a friend of his at a local dealership: "Tell them, hi, I'm Wes Hod-kuh-wits. Donald Hod-kay-vitch's son." Love you dad.


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