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Inbox: Everyone has to look inward 

The Packers have five games to prove they are the team they believe they can be


Rexy from Eastbourne, England

I'm not angry...just disappointed. However, I do feel good about still controlling our own playoff destiny.

I wrote Saturday morning the Packers have to maximize the opportunity. They didn't do it. Plain and simple. As Matt LaFleur said during his news conference Monday – everyone with a "G" on their chest has to look inward, regroup and move forward. The Giants are waiting. Good morning!

Adam from Bloomington, MN

We still have a great chance for the No. 2 seed. Seattle and San Fran are in the same division so only one of them can get a bye. The Cowboys are hopelessly behind and the Saints are only one game ahead. I think it's all gonna come down to Vikings in Week 16.

The way the schedule lays out is favorable for the Packers, but that Vikings game is only as big as these next three weeks make it. Green Bay needs to put its foot back on the gas and take care of business against New York, Washington and Chicago, who have as many combined wins (eight) as the Packers.

Mark from Ocala, FL

After the first series, SF seemed to get amped and increase its determination and desire, while our commitment and effort lacked the urgency and execution needed to thwart SF's pressure. What self-analysis is going to fix that? This team was not ready for the moment, and coaches' preparation and game-planning left little to help their players. On any given Sunday any team can win, but looking overwhelmed and being beaten soundly is hard to accept if you're at this level of competition.

All last week, Spoff and I talked about how essential a fast start would be to the game. The 49ers knocked Green Bay down in the first quarter and the Packers never recovered. It just wasn't good enough.

Eric from Honolulu, HI

How do we recover and get better after the loss at SF?

It starts with correcting the mental mistakes, particularly on offense. LaFleur estimated there were as many Sunday night as the Packers have had all season.

Larry from Chippewa Falls, WI

If that is what you get with preparation from a two-week break, then the Packers need a bye month.

No offense, Larry, but this is a lazy take – and you weren't the only one. You can pick practically anything from that game and express disappointment, but lamenting preparation coming off a bye week is ridiculous. The Packers lost handily but that wasn't some tomato can they were playing. That was arguably the best team in football. Those are the breaks.

Jon from West Des Moines, IA

Shocked there weren't any questions/comments about Bryan Bulaga Monday morning. Maybe they just weren't posted. Obviously it was a frustrating game and we need to improve, no lack of concern there, but I for one am more worried about how serious 75's injury is.

LaFleur didn't have an update on Bulaga Monday. If Bulaga can't go against the Giants, LaFleur acknowledged Alex Light would be better with a full week of reps. LaFleur also left the door open to the possibility of the Packers moving guys around. Bulaga has been solid this year. Hopefully, it's nothing too serious.

Kevin from Lake Forest, IL

So with a 16-game schedule, each team plays its division opponents twice (six games), all teams in one NFC division (four games), all teams in one AFC division (four games) and the teams in the other two conference divisions that had the same position in last year's standings (two games). With a 17-game schedule, how will the NFL schedule that 17th game? And is there any way to do it without providing any undue advantages or handicaps?

I think it could be done if you play division twice (six games), all teams in one NFC division (four games), and games against the seven teams that finished in the same spot as you last year regardless of conference. An argument could be made that's fairer than arbitrarily playing one AFC division each year.

Lisa from Arlington Heights, IL

The next time I have a big accomplishment at work I'm going to punch someone in front of my boss. How do you think that would go? Catch the ball and go back to the huddle Adams.

Did Davante Adams punch someone in the face? Did I miss something?

Paul from Indio, CA

Unsportsmanlike conduct is committed multiple times every game by the Patriots' defense when they rip at the ball long after the play has been blown dead and never a flag. Since when is introducing yourself to a member of the opposing defense found egregious?

That's what I'm saying. I've seen more violent collisions at the water cooler when two people aren't looking. If it's a chippy game in the fourth quarter and both sidelines have been warned, that's fine. But inside the first minute? Pump the brakes, Barney Fife. Save that routine for Check Point Chickie.

Sean from Springfield, OR

On one of the first offensive plays Davante Adams looked toward Rodgers and waved his arms and pointed. Do you guys know what he was trying to draw attention to?

If it's the play I'm thinking of, I believe Adams was trying to signal for the blitz.

Jon from Minneapolis, MN

Obviously, there were many things that went wrong and need to be fixed/improved upon after last night. Pretty ugly all around. My questions is what is happening to JK Scott? He went from legitimately one of the best punters in the NFL last year to now struggling to look average.

I thought maybe colder weather had something to do with it but the conditions were ideal last night in Santa Clara. Scott felt he wore down last year, which was understandable given the draft process and longer season. This year, I don't know. LaFleur acknowledged he's struggling at the moment but the Packers have all the confidence in the world in their punter. His production is proven. He just needs to find his swing.

Brian from Sussex, WI

I believe MLF is already a good coach, exceeding first-year coach expectations, but also shows first-year learning curves. Do you think enough improvement can be made in the regular season for a coach to win it all in their first year, or is an offseason needed?

Improvement is constant. There's much that LaFleur and his coaching staff can learn from Sunday to better themselves for the stretch run.

Paul from Minneapolis, MN

Getting consistently open downfield has been a standing issue for the offense all season. It seems Aaron Rodgers is tossing the ball away quite often, even if he has time to throw or after scrambling to make something happen. The Packers have "decent players" but beyond Davante Adams, does this team lack at least one other "game-changer" in the receiving corps?

I wouldn't go that far. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Jimmy Graham, Jake Kumerow and Allen Lazard have all made big plays in key moments this year, but the Packers haven't had a consistent enough secondary threat to Adams. That's what's missing.

Tyler from Phoenix, AZ

The Packers' only legitimate WR is Davante Adams. We desperately needed to trade for at least one other WR who can create separation from the DB. I wanted us to trade for Sanu, whom the Patriots got, Sanders, who torched us on Sunday, or for A.J. Green who went nowhere. Now that the trade deadline is long past, is there anywhere the Packers can look to get a WR or are we stuck with A-Rod only being able to throw the ball to Adams or dump it off to a RB in a predictable offense?

Since when is one catch for 15 yards "torching" a team? Also, Green still hasn't played and Sanu has 14 catches for 108 yards in three games with New England (and was held without a catch against Dallas Sunday). There's no magic serum in Week 12. Get better and play better.

Michael from Montevideo, MN

Good morning. So the Packers seem to have problems covering the middle of the field. I kind of think the talent is just not there to cover these faster tight ends, or do you think it's other things? It was hard to watch Kittle so wide open all night.

The talent is there but the execution hasn't been. According to LaFleur, the Packers were in quarters coverage on Kittle's 61-yard TD and it wasn't Kevin King's responsibility to play man on the Pro Bowl tight end. The problem was nobody plugged the middle of the field. Whether that's a product of the safeties crossing or the linebackers not getting depth, I'm uncertain about.

Steve from Middletown, KY

They were more physical than we were. Unfortunately, their front four consistently pushed our OL backwards, leaving no time for "12" to improvise or extend plays. I liked seeing the quick passes to the outside, but not much else was working. Can more quick timing passes be created to help loosen up the defense? I don't remember seeing anything across the middle of the field. Are we too predictable right now?

The 49ers' defense is impressive. San Francisco is massive up front and speedy at the second level. John Lynch has put together a monster and Robert Saleh has that unit humming. LaFleur's close friend will be a head coach in the NFL next year. As for the Packers, it felt very much like the Chargers game. The offense got away from what it does best and again couldn't get the ball to Aaron Jones in space.

Elliot from Minneapolis, MN

If there could be an immediate fix on one of the three what would be most beneficial: starting field position, stopping tight ends, or costly penalties?


James from Plano, TX

It's gonna be fine. Hear me out. Of these last five opponents we're going to face, we SHOULD come away with a win in four of five. The only tough team in my opinion that we have to play is the Vikings. We should, I say should, beat the Giants, Redskins, Bears and Lions. If this happens at best we go 13-3, at worst 12-4. Then we'll play the Niners in the playoffs and we can beat them, because now we'll know what to expect. Am I wrong?

The Packers have a month to close the gap and prove they are the team they believe they can be.

Ashley from Oswego, IL

I have all the confidence in this team to turn it all around and finish the season strong. California has given the Packers two big wake-up calls; how do you expect them to respond?

Dust themselves off, build some momentum these next three weeks, and go into U.S. Bank Stadium and get an overdue win in the Vikings' home stadium. If you do that, the chips can fall where they may and the Packers will still be sitting in a good spot for January. You can't do anything about the letdown against the 49ers. The best you can hope for now is to earn that rematch.

Sha from Honolulu, HI

Personally, I don't think the Packers are blameless, but the penalties, seriously? Hands to the face, block in the back, the unsportsmanlike conduct all got called on like the first two drives. What concerns me more though is the incomplete pass to Jimmy Graham, why not challenge? Clearly upon review it's possible that there was evidence to overturn. At worst lose a challenge, but that completion would've definitely changed the narrative of the game. Thanks for reading my question.

Make no mistake – the 49ers were the better team. That was proven over four quarters. That being said, the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and the call on Kevin King were ridiculous, especially with the field judge missing a blatant hold on Josh Jackson in punt coverage in that same first quarter.

Jessi from Sterling, KS

Thank you for fielding the II, Mike, after an ugly game for the Pack. It was still enjoyable to read! My shock in watching the game was at this point in the season, I would have thought a lot of those issues would be ironed out. On the upside, thanks to you two, I approach watching the game in a much more mature way, than as an emotional fan with only highs and lows. Thank you for all the perspective you bring. Makes me appreciate the Packers organization.

The Packers are a good football team with flaws. That's football. It's been 47 years since the last time a team was perfect when it comes to wins and losses. Love it or hate it, we ride the wave here, folks. No crest too high, no trough too low.

Tyler from Green Bay, WI

The Packers lost that game, but I am interested to see what happens if the officiating early on isn't so slanted. That is one of the reasons I believe a rematch could end in the Packers' favor. And even though they came up short, the 2015 team lost to Arizona 38-8 in the regular season. Control what you can control, and earn that rematch. We're on to New York.

I'm confident the result would've been the same but that doesn't mean the officiating wasn't putrid. It eventually evened out but not after some damage. The call on King essentially gave the 49ers a free three points.

Patrick from Murfreesboro, TN

One crazy stat after 11 games is the team's season-long punt return is one yard, and that single positive yard came from a player who's been off our roster for over two months. Befuddling field-position predicament. Maybe Giant strides this week will double our season average...uh no, wait, that math actually gets more negative. Literally.

Shawn Mennenga was a man of his word – the Packers doubled the gunners more often Sunday night but you have to block them. You can't paint anything worthwhile on a 1-inch canvas. You gotta give your returner space.

Mary from Kaukauna, WI

If the NFL goes to a 17-game schedule and the dates of the Super Bowl need to be changed, can they change them to a Saturday instead? I'd be willing to start the campaign!

The Super Bowl would get pushed back a week but Sundays are here to stay. That ain't changing.

Packers LB Blake Martinez and defensive linemen Dean Lowry and Tyler Lancaster signed autographs at Lambeau Field Monday night in exchange for donations to the Salvation Army.

Michael from Chanhassen, MN

Hey Mike, living amongst Viking fans is tough after a game like Sundays. Their chests are puffed out two times bigger and they throw around how bad the Packers are. Just forget Sunday's debacle and get back to playing how you should be playing the next three weeks so that when Dec. 23 comes we can win the North and I can have an enormous silent smile around here...

Are they really puffing out their chest for those dominating wins over Washington and Denver? If so, I can tell you there's a lot of hot air filling those lungs.

Carl from Chicopee, MA

Do you have think Packers should have challenged Rodgers' fumble? On replay, it looked that Aaron had it wedged between his arm and hip, and when he hit the ground, it then skirted out a second or two later. I know it was early but that was a big play. And, also the Graham catch. Why wasn't that challenged? Might not have gotten us the win, but two big plays nevertheless.

All turnover plays are reviewable, so there was nothing to challenge on the Rodgers fumble. LaFleur said he didn't consider challenging the Graham catch/non-catch. Nobody said anything to him from the booth, either. That's a bang-bang play. My guess is it would've been upheld.

Mike from Ames, IA

I had to wait 'til after lunch to read the Inbox; it was just too soon. As writers, do you ever get to that point where you just need to not look at anything football-related for a while after a game?

I get football'ed out like everyone else but I've never really had that benefit at the newspaper or There's always Monday media availability. The wheel keeps moving.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, how was Pa Hod's hunting adventure?

Rumor has it he missed an 8-point buck from a few hundred yards out. I'm obviously disappointed for him but credit the deer for trusting his fundamentals and relying on his instincts. Buck has a lot of heart; makes the herd better.

Chun from El Monte, CA

Reason for optimism. We are 8-3 and have not played a complete game, where the D, offense and special teams have all played well. It will happen before the season ends and I am hopeful we gain some confidence with a relatively easy schedule in the next few weeks to build momentum for the playoffs.

The last time I checked the regular season is not single-elimination. The Packers have five more weeks to prove they can contend for a championship. Drain your putts, make the playoff cut and play your best ball in January.