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Inbox: Every situation requires its own plan

This team just needs some good vibes blended into the grind

Rams DTtackle Aaron Donald

Joe from Las Vegas, NV

Hi guys, I hope that you didn't pig out on the kids' candy on Halloween.

My kids aren't even home anymore, but the combination of leftovers in the bucket and a World Series game on TV was tough on the self-control.

Dan from Columbus, OH

Thanks to 'Sul for all the memories. Feels like a gut punch to this team to remove one of the few veteran leaders.

I'll certainly miss Rasul. He shared the stand-up guy award from the media beat corps last season for a reason. He was honest about his feelings and analysis, he hated losing games, and he resurrected a career that was languishing on Arizona's practice squad just a little over two years ago. Lots of folks are asking for the rationale behind this move, what it means, wondering why the Packers didn't get more than a two-round pick swap for him, and other questions. I'll admit I didn't anticipate him being traded, so I don't want to guess at any answers. I'm going to leave those until we hear from LaFleur and Gutekunst as the week continues.

Brock from West Lafayette, IN

Say it ain't SUL! I was not expecting this trade at all but I'm thankful for the memories, especially the game-clinching interception against Arizona. This had to be one of the best nights on the blog and one of the hardest game stories to write with the back and forth at the end.

That will go down as one of my most memorable live blogs, for sure.

Jonathan from Nashville, TN

I'm glad we re-signed Rashan Gary. He has definitely been a bright spot for us this year. Is there any standard timetable for deals like this, or is the timing just the culmination of ongoing discussions? It's always interesting to me when these agreements are reached midseason. It seems like it should be an offseason thing.

In Gary's case the timing was very much related to his injury recovery, as it was with Jenkins' new deal last season. I have little doubt with Gary it would've been an offseason thing last spring had he not torn the ACL and embarked on the long recovery process.

Caleb from Knoxville, TN

What's something the Rams do well, and something they struggle at?

The Rams move the football. They're top 10 in the league in total yards at better than 350 per game (compared to the Packers' 287). The production just hasn't resulted in enough points. They've scored just 17 TDs in eight games and their recently released kicker missed six FGs.

Jason from Austin, TX

Third time's the charm, right? Aidan Hutchinson, Maxx Crosby, and now Aaron Donald. Based on what you saw on film in the games against Detroit and Vegas, what did we do wrong against Hutchinson that we tried to correct against Crosby, and why didn't it work? What can we do better or differently this time? We can't let Donald control the game like those other guys did.

No, the Packers can't. But the three situations are like apples, oranges and bananas. Hutchinson lined up all across the front, disrupting everywhere, and when he was handled, a teammate was penetrating the backfield. Crosby was on one edge or the other and specific double-teams and help protection calls weren't executed properly. Donald is primarily an interior guy who will use either his quickness to split a center-guard double or his power to bull through a one-on-one. The Rams also will utilize a blitz to occupy a running back and prevent him from helping on Donald. Every situation requires its own plan and the Packers have to execute it.

Brian from De Pere, WI

"This just doesn't look like a well-coached team in any phase." This is a quote by one of your colleagues in response to the Viking game. I am curious if you concur?

Let me know when you hear a team on a four-game losing streak described as "well-coached" and I'll get back to you.

Scott from Chippewa Falls, WI

Players not plays. How many players do we really have, especially on defense? I'm starting to wonder. Rashan is great, had a critical penalty, and Ja was awful vs. Vikes. Huge disappointment for a bunch of first/second-round picks that were supposed to carry this team while the young O learned. First and second down, lots of plays made by our D. Third down, the other team has the perfect play called for the D we are in. Frustrating! So, a waste of an incredible amount of draft capital? Poor coaching? Both?

I honestly don't know how a defense that had been reasonably solid on third downs for several games suddenly allows six third-down conversions of 8-plus yards in one day. I just don't. I saw Jaire Alexander lose his footing twice as a receiver gained separation. I saw a two-man rush, with nine players in coverage, and a tight end wide open for 23 yards. I originally thought the Packers didn't blitz much, but on film I saw a lot more five-man rushes than I noticed live. I missed them because they were largely ineffective, and one fewer player in coverage left too many holes when the QB had that much time. The pass rush didn't affect Cousins much, if at all, until the fourth quarter, and the RTP on Gary was a ridiculous call. I realize that doesn't answer your question. I'm just telling you my observations. I wish I knew the why behind everything. If I did, I'd have a job much higher on the totem pole around here than perusing hundreds of fan emails daily.

Pete from Hillsborough, NC

We finally stop the run for a game and everything else falls apart. So far is the team identity consistently un-complementary? The pieces of the puzzle all seem to be there, just haven't quite figured out how to put them all together. To make matters worse, key injuries haven't helped.

No lies told.

Keith from Bakersfield, CA

I've always heard NFL commentators point to discipline and low penalty rates as hallmarks of great coaches. GB currently ranks dead last in the NFL with 7.4 penalties per game. Those penalties are not all coming from the rookies, either. What does ML need to do to improve the discipline of this team? How much does the penalty rate reflect on coaching versus the players committing the fouls?

That last question is, much like any attempted analysis in a professional sport dealing with all grown men, the million-dollar one. I went off for a bit about certain penalties in our latest "Unscripted," and I'm not a fan of blanket statements about penalties just based on the numbers. This last game was a perfect example when you look at the personal fouls called on Jonathan Owens and Gary compared to the one on Kingsley Enagbare. False starts and holding penalties are signs of a struggling offense for sure, and the Packers must avoid those. I'm not excusing them in the slightest. But for the life of me, I can't figure out how or why an official would throw a flag for ineligible player downfield on a lineman who is standing – literally standing and doing nothing – two yards downfield on the opposite side from where the relevant action is occurring. But it resulted from a major breakdown and miscommunication on the offensive play. My point is there are penalties reflective of the Packers' problems, some caused by them, and others about which I honestly don't know what can be done.

Jim from Tempe, AZ

This team struggles with basic fundamentals in multiple areas. Blocking assignments, ball placement/accuracy, catching, tackling, gap integrity. Much of it could be blamed on youth, but at some point, you either learn or you're replaced. How long is long enough to learn? How much is coaching to blame? Given cap constraints and the youth movement of this roster, nobody should be given up on too soon this season. Patience is a virtue; complacency is not of value to anyone.

Anyone in this building who's complacent right now would be spotted from a mile away and that mindset would not be well received.

Joel from Paris, KY

In the WYMM column I noticed De'Vondre Campbell attacks the line of scrimmage, but Walker stays back or goes side to side. Is that by design defensively?

It's based on the defensive call and the players' respective assignments on a given play.

Dean from Greenville, WI

The last couple weeks the Pack seems to come alive when they go no huddle in the second half. Why doesn't ML start the game with no huddle and create some energy?

There are only so many plays on a hurry-up menu, so there's risk of going to that well too often early and then repeating plays if the no-huddle is needed again later. That said, at this point I could see them trying anything for a single possession if they're looking for a jolt.

Joe from Bozeman, MT

I think the offense would benefit from beginning the game in the hurry-up mode. It seems like they do better with that. Like a basketball team using a full-court press. What was disappointing on Sunday was the run call with AJ Dillon right after the strip/sack/turnover. Go right for the end zone on the first play like the Vikings did after the turnover.

Because the sack on second down, which also included a facemask penalty, had no chance of happening on first down with a go-for-broke call? The same type of go-for-broke call everyone has ripped LaFleur/Love/etc. for attempting at the end of the Vegas and Denver games? Just checking.

Mark from Genoa, IL

I don't believe in benching Jordan Love for Sean Clifford. It's not all on him and, yes, he needs the game reps. That said, he's not a rookie QB. He's been through four offseason programs and training camps, as well as the benefits that come with being around a future HOF quarterback. Wouldn't that experience lead us to believe he'd show more progress at this point?

I can appreciate the sentiment and desire. But his progress will be slowed, if not stunted, when the cast around him isn't playing well. The offensive line hasn't performed to its capabilities and has drawn too many flags. That unit and the running game were supposed to be his stabilizing forces, but injuries and ineffectiveness have shown otherwise. Aside from Romeo Doubs, receivers making contested catches have been rare. McCarthy always used to say it's not whether a young QB is ready, but whether the team is ready for a young QB. Injuries of varying degrees to three veteran stalwarts on offense (Bakhtiari, Jones, Jenkins) undercut the chances of the latter being true. But all the current group can do now is move forward. Love's mistakes get magnified. All quarterback miscues do. Love elevating his game could elevate others, but others elevating theirs would benefit Love and the offense more, in my opinion.

Jay from Altoona, WI

The most frustrating part of this season (for me at least) is that the team improvement appears to be non-existent. I watch other teams making improvements and wonder why it has not happened for the Packers. Then I remember that the Packers had a five-game losing streak last season only to turn it around and barely miss the playoffs. The Packers are a collective "Eureka" moment away from putting it all together, and it will likely take a spark from an unexpected player.

Realistically, it needs to be multiple players or the spark will just die out rather than ignite anything.

Christopher from Hagerstown, MD

45 minutes of ineptitude, 5 minutes of great play (one drive), 15 minutes of head scratching. That's a Packers game for me. Remember, no math in II. That's entertainment! I'll keep watching, no matter what. Thanks for the effort.

Well, the Giants did manage to play 64 minutes last week with minus-9 net passing yards, so anything is possible.

Tony from Cedarburg, WI

It has been said many times "you are what your record says you are." This feels very true, the Pack is a 2-5 and looks like a 2-5 football team. I know last week there was talk about how they should have beaten Denver and the Raiders but after watching Sunday's game I feel they were lucky to have beaten the Saints. And you can see what winning does to a team look at the Broncos after beating the Pack, go on to beat the Chiefs. So winning does solve a lot of things.

It can. The comeback win against the Saints, which probably doesn't happen if Carr doesn't get hurt, didn't provide the juice we all thought it might. But you never really know. The Broncos certainly aren't apologizing that the interception at the end of their game with Green Bay set the stage for the Chiefs to turn the ball over five times. Crazy (stuff) happens with no telling where it leads. Right now this team just needs some good vibes blended into the grind.

Greg from Perkasie, PA

Wes stated that, "Everyone is disappointed but nobody is pointing fingers." It seems that the only finger pointing going on is from each player to themselves. Rasul was upset with his own play and the defense's play as a whole. Aaron Jones heard that and said he feels that he and the offense are letting down the defense. I'll take that type of locker room any day. Here's to hoping the play on the field starts to match the character of the locker room.

That's what you count on. The culture here has shown in the past the locker room can handle adversity, in fairly large doses. The Packers have to lean on that, knowing they've stayed together before and come out the other side OK.

John from Topeka, KS

If you guys want a break, could you do an II edition where the answer to every question is "OK"? Kidding, kidding – but do let me add my voice to those saying "thank you." I truly appreciate the steady probity you both provide to my corner of the NFL, perhaps never more so than when the team is facing adversity like this.

We all have burdens to carry. Ours are no greater than anyone else's.

Mark from Westminster, CO

I found the house giving away "mistake-free Packers' scoring drives" for Halloween trick-or-treating this year. The homeowner was nice enough to drop a few into my pumpkin. I can't wait to try one!

Happy Wednesday.

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