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Inbox: Enough progress can be made

It takes the whole village

WR Amari Rodgers, RB AJ Dillon & TE Marcedes Lewis

Chuck from Richfield, WI

I've spent many a Wednesday night reading II nuggets to my 93-year-old Dad. His radio is on every Sunday. He can't see anymore. He's a 35-year Army vet, Packer owner, and Ice Bowl attendee. His first game was at State Fair Park in 1934, before Don Hutson even joined the team. Last night "Doc" asked if I could somehow thank Wayne and Larry for bringing games so vividly to life for him. This note is my effort to do so. Thank you both for your insightful and joyful work.

It's our honor and privilege.

Bill from Raleigh, NC

Hi Mike, I get that Washington's front seven are really good and it will be tough to run and give AR time to complete passes. I've seen that Heinicke is good and we better be ready for him. But, they're 2-4. What weaknesses does Washington have that we hope to take advantage of?

The Commanders don't run the ball very well (95 ypg, 24th in the league), aren't good on third down (26th) and have been outscored 75-34 in the first half. Take command early, keep them one-dimensional and then finish the deal.

Tom from Charlotte, NC

During Wednesday's locker room interviews, Aaron Rodgers twice referred to Matt LaFleur as "Captain Blood." What is the story behind that?

The reference apparently is from the "Mighty Ducks."

Paula from Apple Valley, MN

Good morning II. I can't think of one thing to say or ask about the Packers at this point that hasn't been beaten to death. So here is a more general question. Has field-goal accuracy gone down across the league? It seems there are more misses and blocks this year than usual.

Actually, the numbers are remarkably consistent. This year league-wide, kickers are making 84.4% of their field goals, and eight of the last nine years have come in between 84.0 and 85.1 (2019 is the exception, at 81.6). The most interesting stat is teams already have attempted 84 field goals from 50-plus yards, which puts the league on pace for 238 attempts, well above last year's total of 182 from 50-plus.

George from North Mankato, MN

Mike, I haven't seen mention of the curious decision to pooch kick after the touchdown pass to Lazard. Didn't the Packers elect to take the roughing the passer penalty on the kickoff? Why not just kick it through the end zone and start them at the 25? They got better field position and almost broke that for a score.

Obviously they were trying to use the advantageous kickoff placement to pin them inside the 25, but Bisaccia blamed himself for making a coverage call that put his guys in a bad position.

Randy from Raymond, IA

Would you rather play a team coming off a big win or a disappointing loss? Or does it really matter in this day and age?

If you know how certain teams are going to react to success vs. adversity, then the choice makes itself. Absent that knowledge, it's irrelevant to ponder.

The Green Bay Packers held practice at Clarke Hinkle Field on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022.

Doug from Stockton, IL

For the better part of 30 years, we could rely on our offense to keep pace with and outscore the other team. Unfortunately, we cannot do that now. It is time for this defense to live up to the hype, and carry this team until the offense gets things figured out. They need to bring the game to the opposing offense and set the tone, be a disruptive force, instead of sitting back and just reacting to what the other offense is doing. Do you think Coach Barry can get this team to play at that level?

Yes. He did so in January so there's no reason he can't now.

Nathan from Philadelphia, PA

What are realistic expectations for this team going forward? I think the problems, especially on offense, are pervasive enough that it's not realistic to expect them to be fixed quickly. Mike McCarthy's teams had some pretty good midseason turnarounds, whether through scheme (Matthews moving inside in 2014) or execution (Rodgers raising his level of play in 2016). Matt LaFleur's teams haven't been in a position to need something like that before.

No, they haven't, which is what makes the response as intriguing to watch as it is impossible to predict. I don't think it's realistic to get the problems fixed quickly, either, but enough progress can be made to start winning games again, and then we see where the season goes. The 2016 turnaround was due to a lot more than Rodgers (though he was a big factor, for sure). That year, a defense that had given up 33, 31, 47 and 42 points in a four-game losing streak suddenly surrendered just 13, 13 and 10 the next three games. It takes the whole village. Every area of this team is capable of playing better than it has because we've seen it.

Keith from Yorktown, VA

If you knew then what you know now, what is the one thing you change/do differently this past offseason?

Keep Christian Watson healthy.

Jared from Rigby, ID

Good morning. I've always wondered what the financial implications are to the team and surrounding community when enthusiasm wanes for the team. How financially important is winning?

Home playoff games are financial boons to the community. Not getting those are a bigger hit to the local economy than any sliding interest due to a few losses.

Stephen from Fort Atkinson, WI

Was this last game the first time Keisean Nixon returned kicks? Who has returned kicks so far this season?

Nixon returned a few kickoffs for Bisaccia with the Raiders in 2019 and '20. He's the third player for the Packers to attempt one this season, along with Rodgers and Watson. I suspect he's going to get more opportunities after almost breaking his one attempt.

Henry from Brown Deer, WI

Wes and/or Mike, do you feel Elgton Jenkins should move back inside at left guard to stabilize half of the line? I think Elgton is being moved around so much that maybe it is affecting his game as he is returning after the ACL injury. I thought the left side was sound when paired with David Bakhtiari, granted they haven't been together for some time. Thoughts?

It wouldn't surprise me at all if the coaches want to get Bakhtiari and Jenkins playing side by side again. They formed a heck of a combination in 2020. If they go that route, then maybe putting Jon Runyan and Yosh Nijman together on the right side is the corresponding move, as they've played next to each other on the left side a fair amount. The other lineman I wonder about, assuming Jake Hanson is sidelined awhile with the biceps injury, is rookie Zach Tom, and if they'd like him in the mix somehow. I'm not sure. But generally, this staff has leaned toward experience over youth up front when possible.

Sam from Janesville, WI

Can you please remind me how the practice squad rules work? I thought if a player came from another team's PS they had to be signed to the active roster. Has that changed? For example, the article about Kawaan Baker said he came from the Saints' PS but he got signed to our PS.

Baker had been with the Saints' practice squad in the past, but he wasn't a current member. He was a street free agent. Poaching a player directly from another team's practice squad does require placement on the 53.

Kevin from Indianapolis, IN

Terry McLaurin is a real threat at receiver. Do you anticipate seeing Jaire Alexander shadow him to prevent another Justin Jefferson-type performance?

Wes and I discussed this very topic on our latest "Unscripted," and we agreed it's very likely, especially with the way Alexander took Jets first-round pick Garrett Wilson out of the game last week.

Sean from Cortland, NY

Who is your prediction for the hero for us this week in a hopeful and much-needed W? I say Rashan Gary just needs to wreck a game and have at least one sack but many pressures and hits. It seems all good defensive stands have him as a major factor.

Gary is as good a choice as any, but don't forget Preston Smith is heading back to his old stomping grounds for the first time. In any event, I hope come late afternoon Sunday we're talking about a game-changing performance from Aaron Jones.

Paul from Northglenn, CO

I'm a firm believer the game is 90% mental. After being exploited and emasculated is there any greater challenge to the character of the team? Will this week's game give us the best representation of their mental fortitude?

I think it could, but I disagree wholeheartedly on the game being 90% mental. Maybe a game like golf is. This game is brutal, full of physical confrontation and demands on the body that aren't easily met on a weekly basis. Emasculated? Anyone who's played this game has been whipped before, and done the whipping, too. It happens. It comes with the territory, as does the need to bounce back from it.

Scott from Chippewa Falls, WI

I began the season feeling like we would not be a 13-win team this season. I also believe we are not as bad as we displayed last Sunday. That being said, I don't remember similarly frustrating games in the RELAX or RUN THE TABLE years. Were there "rock bottom" games such as this in those seasons? Or any recent seasons that you can recall?

You don't remember the losing streak before "run the table"? The last two of the four losses were 47-25 and 42-24, and both games felt worse than those scores. That was as close to rock bottom as the Packers had been since '09 when in a span of a month they lost twice to Favre's Vikings and then fell to a winless Tampa Bay team on the road, reaching 4-4 at the midway point. Both of those teams bottomed out and found something. This team can, too.

Sonia from Fairbanks, AK

Jim Irsay stated in a media session this week that there is merit to remove him (Dan Snyder) as an owner. Do you think controversy like this can impact a team's performance? Actually, I was looking to gain an edge.

I would think by now their players and coaches have learned to shield themselves from such distractions.

Kevin from Neptune City, NJ

Not to look too far ahead, but Washington, Buffalo, then Dallas along with Philly and LA on the horizon. A lot of extremely good defensive fronts this team is going to face moving forward. Obviously we'll see how the O-line handles it, but it's a scary thought considering what we've seen so far this season. Fingers crossed they improve and fast.

Just beat the Commanders.

Jimmy from West Fargo, ND

Did any of you by chance watch what Dan Orlovsky said/showed regarding 10 guys right, one wrong? I feel it perfectly encapsulates what we're seeing this year. He showed three plays: a sail route against quarters coverage, a TE seal on a running play, and a screen pass. Each play is set up perfectly where every single player is doing it right, except for one and that's what blows up the play. The opportunities are created but haven't been taken advantage of. All we can hope is they see them too.

I did see that and found it very enlightening. I often say the plays were there to be made, and that was certainly the case.

Gary from Davenport, IA

Mike, are you rooting for the Padres in the NLCS? I know you're no fan of Manny Machado but seeing Josh Hader getting mobbed on the mound after the last out would be pretty cool.

As someone who will never forget the 2019 wild-card game, and how one pitch/play ended the Brewers' season and sent the Nationals on their way to a World Series title, it's just serendipitously strange that Juan Soto, Josh Hader and Trent Grisham are teammates elsewhere in the MLB postseason just three years later.

Izzi from Raleigh, NC

I was a military flight instructor for 22 years. We had a saying about putting a bad performance behind us: "New day, new jet." How easy is it to have that mindset in the world of professional football?

It's imperative in order to have any level of sustained success in a league that is guaranteed to humble you at some juncture (or three) along the way. And now I'm going to end the column with three posts that I feel are worthwhile, sans response.

Tom from Palatine, IL

Wins are better than losses but to read/listen to a lot of fans is exhausting for me so I can't even imagine how debilitating it must be for the people themselves. Life is too short (and I'm too old) to allow the performance of a bunch of oversized young men to affect how I feel until the next game is played. The beauty of sport is to see how a team regroups and responds to adversity. The regular season has come very easy the past few years, maybe a little adversity will do them good.

Zachary from Waupun, WI

Do you think the Packers might be overthinking things with their recent struggles? Aaron Rodgers said it best, if the preparation is good enough in wins then it's good enough in losses. Sometimes no matter how good and prepared you are the execution isn't there. Just keep grinding.

Kim from Hudson, WI

It's hard to keep being positive as a fan but Wes is right. If the players start "playing loose" and enjoying the process, good things can happen. Maybe it's too simplistic but they all know the fundamentals so just trust in what you know and let go of the rest.

Happy Friday.

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