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Inbox: He's their most dangerous weapon

In the NFL, it’s anybody’s guess


Dennis from Parrish, FL

High noon in the FLA and still NO Inbox. It has to be something big? Did Spoff get traded to an XFL team for three pair of shoulder pads and a sideline heater?

No, fortunately I'm still here. Sorry for the delay today. The NFL was doing technical maintenance across all team website systems and we had to wait until that was completed to post anything new. Appreciate your patience.

Riley from Waukesha, WI

I think Monday's Inbox is the spiciest I've ever seen Mike. Warranted considering what we had to watch on Sunday, but man am I glad I wasn't asking questions.

It's never personal. But I was not in the mood to suffer fools gladly. Still not, to be honest.

Tom from Saugus, CA

"The Packers are finally back at Lambeau and facing a Vikings team marred by injuries and inconsistency." They looked pretty good against the Niners on Monday night and more consistent than our team has been! Granted the Niners didn't have Samuels as a weapon and the end of the game looked very much like our last two (late interception preventing a comeback win). The Detroit collapse against Baltimore proves it is a week-to-week league. Does the rivalry get our guys up for this one? Thoughts?

In Wes's defense, he filed the Tuesday morning column before MNF. I don't think the rivalry means squat this week, to be honest. At least not to the players. The Vikings will be coming to Lambeau feeling pretty darn good about themselves, and rightly so at 3-4 after an 0-3 start. The Packers aren't feeling good about themselves at all, and rightly so on a three-game slide. This game will be about which team is handling its current circumstances best. Will the Vikings properly channel their newfound success that has suddenly created buzz around their season? Will the Packers be toughened by the adversity they've encountered? In the NFL, it's anybody's guess.

Tom from New Braunfels, TX

This new mantra that ML has started and continued in the latest II, losing three games by a total of seven points is just something to distract from reality. One must consider the three teams – LV, the Broncos, and Atlanta – the first two should have never been close enough to lose at all regardless of how many. Chicago just blew LV away. Even the Falcons are only 4-3. Losing to bad teams says something.

I'll refer you to my answer on Monday responding to the comment about three losses by seven points. Not my headspace. I'm not going to outright disparage other teams in this column, and the Falcons are proving to be a competitive outfit, but the disdain in my words was partly fueled by the last two opponents the Packers lost to. Those are games that should be won, home or away, doesn't matter. It's particularly frustrating to see what happened in Chicago last Sunday. I know the Raiders played with a backup QB, but so did the Bears, and theirs had 21 points on the board through three quarters against a Vegas defense that held the Packers to one TD, on a short field at that. It's a reflection of how much the Packers are struggling right now and how far they have to go. That said, if you pull out a close game or two at the end, it feels a lot more manageable to work through the other stuff. The bottom line is the Packers have to start generating their own good vibes, whatever it takes, to get out of this.

Dave from Waterford, WI

What do the Packers need to do to bounce back against the Vikings this Sunday?

Wes and I discussed on "Unscripted" how different the Packers might look if they could get a lead in the first half. Doesn't need to be a huge advantage, necessarily, but playing from in front early might – I stress might, no guarantees – change the feel and mojo.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Even without Justin Jefferson, the Vikings' offense looked really good against a heralded SF defense on Monday night. Cousins was at his best, and his young receivers stepped up. If GB sleepwalks through the first half on Sunday, this one may be out of reach. What's the biggest challenge the Packers' defense faces this week?

Jordan Addison. In the Vikings' first game without Jefferson, in Chicago, they looked really shaky offensively. Addison changed that Monday night. He showed he's their most dangerous weapon.

Mike from St. Louis Park, MN

With Flores' blitz-happy Vikings up next, we can't afford a slow start Sunday. How will our O-line protect No. 10 long enough for him to have any success? I don't like this matchup.

If the Vikings blitz frequently, there's as much burden on the receivers as the linemen. They have to know the hot reads and win their matchups right away, because the ball is coming out. They have to give Love somewhere to go with it.

Mike from Charlotte, NC

Honestly, while it isn't the only reason the Packers struggle, the Packers don't seem to be as good at reeling in the contested catches as other teams I've viewed. They appear to need the ball to be "FedExed" right to their fingertips. Sometimes, a WR's job is to rescue the QB on a bad throw that's still able to be caught. I think more of that will result in more points early on in games. I'm overgeneralizing a bit, but I hold my breath on a lot of those kinds of contested passes.

We've seen some of Jordan Love's downfield passes come up short, but the receivers' adjustments to underthrown balls have been just as hit or miss. Romeo Doubs made a great adjustment and catch in the end zone in Denver. Other times, the receivers don't seem to get a good read on a short ball, and the delayed or missing reaction dooms them.

Ron from Bellaire, MI

We keep questioning why the offense has the slow starts. Maybe we need to look at what the opposing defense is doing that puts the offense in that position. Have you seen anything the different teams are doing defensively at the start of the game consistently that is causing the offensive issues?

They're attacking the line of scrimmage at the snap and not sitting back concerned about the big play. I think once the Packers' pass protection – which was really stout through the first three games – broke down so badly against the Lions, defenses began playing the Packers more aggressively, figuring they'll disrupt the pocket before an explosive downfield play can gash them.

Christopher from St. Louis, MO

This season all I care about is seeing Jordan play 14-17 games and judging whether he can be the guy. My memories from 2008 aren't great but I do remember at some point in the latter half of the season realizing Rodgers can be the guy. We haven't even gotten to Game 8 yet, people. Though I would like to see Love put together a whole game performance where he plays great. Then see it a second time. That's all I'm waiting for this season.

I think we'll see that when the rest of the cast around him performs collectively at a higher level. The Packers aren't there yet. They're working toward it and it's frustrating not to see leaps and bounds of progress right now. Yes, great quarterbacks can elevate those around them, but Love can't reasonably be expected to do that as a first-year starter. Putting that on him isn't realistic. He needs to improve his downfield accuracy, timing here and there, some decisions, like all young quarterbacks. He also needs the guys around him to make plays on his behalf.

Curt from Westby, WI

Do you think the defensive player with the green dot comes to depend on that voice in his ear and it precludes him from thinking on his own? That is, can he change the defensive call based on what he sees, just as the QB can change an offensive call?

If there's a check built into the defensive call, the signal caller is tasked with making it should circumstances warrant. Changing the defensive call entirely? Not likely, because you can't change personnel on the fly anyway, and with too radical a call change the defense could end up with too many moving parts at the snap.

Jeff from Ely, MN

Gents, a comment. I was a bit surprised, but pleased to see Jackson ejected from the game after the hit on Musgrave. The league followed up with a four-game suspension; a correct move. It reminded me of past hits (Jermichael Finley, Don Beebe) when safety was less a concern. Finley's career ended and I don't think the Browns' Gipson was even penalized, let alone ejected. At the time, it didn't seem fair. Football should remain a contact sport, but that's not how we've all been taught to tackle.

For the record, Jackson's suspension was reduced to two games on appeal, and Gipson was flagged, but not fined.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

As a Packer fan who lived through the '70s and '80s it can be very easy to see these first six games through the same lens. Countering that thought in my mind is that today's NFL is defined by the word parity more than ever before. ACL Cornhole has a motto: "Anybody can play. Anybody can win." Everybody can't play in the NFL but seemingly any team can win. I don't remember that being the case in the past. Does history back up my statement?

The present does. Five of the 14 teams that made the playoffs last year (Bengals, Chargers, Vikings, Buccaneers, Giants) are a combined 13-19 so far this season. Meanwhile four teams that didn't make the playoffs (Steelers, Browns, Lions, Falcons) are a combined 17-9. And yet none of the nine aforementioned teams' seasons has been defined by any stretch. Neither has the Packers'.

Daniel from Chillicothe, MO

It is interesting to me that our current style of play where we get the offense rolling in the second half dictates the course of the game with it being a low-scoring affair. Do you think that's a credit to our D being pretty good to keep it low scoring or more of a byproduct of the offenses of NO, Raiders, and Broncos? In half our games this year, the winner has scored less than 20 points. League-wise, 15% of games have a winner with less than 20 points.

The simplest way to put it is the defense, by and large, has held middling to below-average offenses to their somewhat expected output. The Packers have faced only one offense so far ranked in the top dozen in the league in either yards or points per game: Detroit (fourth in yards, eighth in points). Rankings can and will change, but five of Green Bay's next six opponents have offenses ranked in the top dozen in either yards or points: Minnesota (11th in yards), the two L.A. teams (Rams sixth in yards; Chargers eighth in yards, tied for 11th in points), Detroit again, and then Kansas City (second in yards, tied for sixth in points). The tests will get tougher for Green Bay's defense, and the style of games likely will change, too.

Cory from Nekoosa, WI

You probably heard this from several actual football officials, but I believe that defensive offsides is a free play as long as the offense starts the play legally. If the offense jumps, the foul is still against the defense, but the play is whistled dead. Defense unabated to the quarterback or otherwise making contact with an offensive player also kills the play. I think.

Correct. The bottom line is offenses need to decide whether they want to try for a free play or guarantee the 5 yards. Because if you want your offensive lineman to come out of his stance and point at the defensive player who jumped first, the play is getting blown dead. I said before, for a few years there, officials were giving Rodgers and the Packers free plays even when offensive linemen were moving before the snap. They cracked down on that and free plays became mostly relegated to catching the defense with 12 on the field while substituting.

Mike from New Orleans, LA

I saw a clip from the DET-SEA game earlier this year where Jared Goff had a ball fake in play-action and a Seattle player tackled him resulting in a penalty. How is that a foul if Goff is trying to trick the D? Shouldn't that also mean on any play-action play tackling the RB is a penalty? Please help my brain understand.

That was quite the highlight, but the flag wasn't thrown solely because the defender tackled Goff without the ball. He landed with his full body weight on the QB, which is a foul whether the QB has the ball or not. The same standard would not apply to a running back.

Matthew from Janesville, WI

Hey guys, trying to understand the difference between Walker jumping the O-line on the FG a few weeks back and getting flagged while Myles Garrett did it last week and was praised for his athleticism with no flag. Was there a difference between the two plays?

Yes, Garrett did not take a running start, so jumping the line was legal, and rather incredible.

Matt from Middleton, WI

Hi Mike, did you get a chance to see the new stadium at Platteville High? The Hillmen have a nice team this year.

I did not but I've heard about it. I'll have to make a point to catch a game there sometime. Good luck to my alma mater in the playoffs. I was in sixth grade when PHS won its first and still only state football championship.

Mitch from Bettendorf, IA

"If the Packers throw three straight times and punt, everyone would be asking why they aren't running the ball." This actually made me laugh because I think the exact same way when people throw these questions out there. How can you win in a lose/lose situation? The media and fans play this game too much. You are both winners in my eyes and keep (most of) us sane! Several people need to remember an old Vic-ism that goes somewhere along the lines of "don't mistake results with intentions."

Hey, I thought that was my line?

Michael from Berrien Springs, MI

People who wonder if the glass is half empty or half full miss the point. The glass is refillable.

Happy Wednesday.

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