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Inbox: He's a key piece of the action

Defensive lines are a different animal

TE Robert Tonyan
TE Robert Tonyan

Russ from Henrico, VA

So are we entering the "new" season now?

The one where everyone's gotten their legs under them to brace for the long haul? Yeah, I think so.

Dan from Algonquin, IL

Hi Mike, Brian Hoyer has 71 games under his belt, but only 49 career TDs in those games (and five TDs in his last 28 games). Doesn't look like the Patriots have the firepower to compete in a shootout. With the Packers at home against a backup QB, and the defense playing so well, is this a golden opportunity for the Packers to test out a few wrinkles from deeper in the playbook on offense, with a goal to become more diverse, dynamic, and unpredictable in games down the road?

I think the Packers should keep working on the development and evolution of their 2022 offense in ways that make sense. Keep probing with concepts to determine who does what best, and find those things to potentially hang the proverbial hat on in certain situations. There's no need to get cute or go crazy, regardless of the situation. Learn more about yourselves.

John from Gaylord, MI

It's not about who you play, it's about when you play them, right?

Whom, actually.

Caleb from Knoxville, TN

Biggest question mark on offense and defense, respectively, for the Patriots?

My biggest question marks right now are health-related. How is the offensive line constructed if David Bakhtiari is ready to play a full game, and will Christian Watson and Alexander be back?

Chris from Saint Paul Trois Chateaux, France

Unlike what I expect from a dedicated fanbase, so many of the published Inbox submissions are written with measured emotion and admirable thoughtfulness. Is that generally true of submissions made to Inbox or do you just edit out the rude ones?

I'm not going to break the first rule of Inbox, so you can decide that one for yourself.

Jeff from Des Moines, IA

It seems that the narrative about the Tampa Bay game from the national media is the Packers beat a "depleted Buccaneers team." What were the Packers if not depleted? Sorry, but from where I was sitting, Green Bay earned this one.

Those are the same national narrators who couldn't stop comparing the Week 1 stats between Davante Adams and the Packers' receivers, right? At some point you just have to stop caring what the media who aren't around the team every day think, because they're trying to grab your attention with less knowledge.

Paul from Gorham, ME

Good morning! Mike, you wrote Monday that it's been 15 years we've been uncertain if a catch is a catch. Has it been that long? Was there a moment or a play that you identify as the start of this period?

It definitely started with the Calvin Johnson play at Soldier Field. I looked it up to confirm, and it was Week 1 of 2010. So it's only been a dozen years. It's just felt like 15, I guess.

Matt from St. Paul, MN

In addition to 12 men, illegal forward pass is a reviewable play. Also, penalties can be negated on a review if a different (reviewable) aspect of the play is reversed. For example, the officials will eliminate a pass interference penalty if the play is reviewed and it is determined the ball was tipped. The same thing would happen if roughing the kicker is called, but replay discovers the kick was blocked.

Thank you (and Eric from Bemidji) for the additional details. I was too tired on the plane Sunday night to think through them all.

Mike from St. Louis Park, MN

Do the Bucs really have the best defense in football?

I'd take that unit anytime. Statistically, it's splitting hairs amongst four defenses after three games. The Bucs are first in points allowed, fourth in yards, while the 49ers are second and third, the Bills are first and fourth, and the Broncos are third and second. So take your pick. The Packers are currently sixth in both categories.

Steven from McCordsville, IN

Longtime reader, first time submitting a question. I'm wondering how the personnel groups are alerted when ML calls a play? Is there another coach on the sideline (listening in), who yells out the required personnel? Obviously, same curiosity about calling the defense … AND simultaneously managing player rotations on the line.

I don't know all the specifics, but there are other coaches on the sideline responsible for calling out the personnel groups when they change. The position coaches are responsible for any rotations, as far as who's in which personnel group when, and the players react accordingly.

Venny from Montgomery, AL

If NFL players had to choose between playing in a game where temperatures reached 95 degrees and humid vs. a game at 10 degrees and windy, which side of the fence do you think most players would stand on?

I think they'd take the heat without hesitation.

Craig from Niagara, WI

I noticed the Packers' defense did a lot of blitzing with Quay Walker (7) but very little success with him blitzing. Against Brady, if he isn't getting home, is that a smart idea to keep trying? That defensive front is so good with front four, why send him? It's not like Brady hasn't seen that kind of rush before, you aren't going to faze him like a younger QB.

No, but you can speed him up and make him get rid of the ball sooner. With the Bucs shorthanded at receiver, I think Barry was fine in a lot of situations with six in coverage as long as the ball had to come out quickly.

Paula from Apple Valley, MN

I was (perhaps unrealistically) expecting Robert Tonyan to be making more of an impact by now. Has something changed in the way he is being used in the game or is he still working his way back? What am I missing? Thanks for all you do to keep us diehard fans informed.

Tonyan was targeted seven times and had six catches in Tampa, so he's a key piece of the action. But he had just 37 yards, I think because the Packers – like the Bucs – were getting the ball out. Neither team was trying a whole lot of downfield stuff, just here and there. I think in certain games we'll see Tonyan trying to stretch seams, but that defense wasn't the right matchup for it.

Matt from Bloomington, IN

I feel bad for Christian Watson. He was so excited to play at Raymond James as an NFL player and had friends and family in the stands. Sometimes injury timing can be so cruel. Hopefully he has a long enough NFL career to get another chance or two.

Agreed on all counts.

Keith from Wallace, ID

I know a lot of folks are happy to see the Pro Bowl go away. But, for me it's bittersweet. As a child of the '70s, not a proud time to be a Packers fan, I looked forward to seeing green and gold "G" helmets on the field in the game. It was always a thrill when Ezra Johnson, and others, made big plays and the announcers would have to call out tiny Green Bay.

I felt the same way as a kid about the MLB All-Star Game and seeing Brewers players get their moment. Things change for any number of reasons. It doesn't mean we have to relinquish our memories.

Michael from Grovetown, GA

How does the Pro Bowl going away affect players' contracts? I thought that was always an incentive and a tangible piece of leverage a player could use in negotiations?

Pro Bowl rosters will still be selected as normal, so there's no impact on contract incentives.

Keith from Bakersfield, CA

The platoon to ease Bakh back into live action seemed to work well. Typically the OL play every snap, while their opponents on the DL rotate. This seems like a bit of orthodoxy. If a team has the talent to do it, couldn't it gain an advantage in a game and over a season by reducing the load on some linemen by rotating series?

The best offensive lines are cohesive units that play as one. The synchronicity in run blocking and communication with pass blocking improve with groups that play together. Defensive lines are a different animal.

Grant from Kent, OH

Did you think the Packers should have been called for running into the kicker? It looked like the rusher was held and dragged into the punter. This negated a very nice return by Amari Rodgers. If they called holding, would it have been a safety since it occurred in the end zone? Or would Green Bay have the choice to add 10 yards to the end of the run? Would have been an interesting decision for Coach LaFleur.

I hadn't thought about those potential ramifications, but I don't believe adding 10 yards to the return would've been an option, because the holding would've occurred before the ball was punted. I think the choice would've been take the safety and the ball (off a free kick), or take Amari Rodgers' return. Still might've made for an interesting decision, given Rodgers got to the Tampa Bay 32-yard line.

Mutt from Blaine, MN

I know the desire to rush the punter when at the 1- or 2-yard line, but it also seems like a great time to set up a return to ensure great field position. While the call was questionable, I think it was a penalty and why take that chance when you can all but guarantee the 40-yard line or better with a return? Do you think they'll have a different mindset if that play comes up in the future?

I'm sure the thought crossed Bisaccia's mind. The temptation is always there because a traditional punt snap is 15 yards, so anytime the ball is inside the 5, the rush can get there sooner. But I'm curious about your question as well, and hopefully there's another scenario soon enough for us to find out.

Jeff from Ogden, UT

Douglas looks far more comfortable on the corner than in the slot. What do your eyes see?

That's to be expected given his history and experience. It's something to monitor when Jaire Alexander is back, how the corners are deployed.

Scott from Green Bay, WI

What is the definition of success on special teams? We're seeing it. Our special teams used to be a liability our opponents happily devoted practice time to take advantage of. Now they're a weapon our opponents must grudgingly devote practice time to defend against.

Michael from Pound, WI, channeled his inner Looney Tunes and said the special teams finally "have taken that left turn at Albuquerque." Whatever works.

Megan from Minnetonka, MN

One sack a day for Gary all year long is fine by me.

That'll work too.

JR from Silvis, IL

I know there have been some blowouts, but it feels like this season picked up where last season's playoffs left off and almost every game I watch comes down to the wire. It makes non-Packers games much more enjoyable.

ESPN posted a stat the other night that 18 games have been decided by three points or fewer, the most in NFL history through the first three weeks of a season. And I counted 11 more games decided by four to eight points, so that's 29 one-possession margins out of 48 games so far.

Joe from Harrisburg, SD

Good morning. In our opponents' opening drives this season we have given up 17 points out of the total of 45 we've allowed in three games. Is there something opposing coaches are seeing on film, are we not reacting well to their scripted plays or our we just slow to get in a game flow?

Each foe has drawn up an early explosive play the Packers have not defended well. The Vikings hit Jefferson for 20 yards on the initial third down of the game (and then for 22 two snaps later). The Bears ran the flea-flicker to EQ for 30 yards. Brady hit Perriman for 24 yards on the opening snap. The opponent has landed that first punch, and if the Packers can dodge it and prevent the early explosive, the odds of the first drive ending scoreless go way up.

Mark from Iron Mountain, MI

Looks like a possible trap game coming up with New England QB problems, a possible Packers' hangover and a trip to London the following week.

It's only a trap game if the team allows itself to get distracted. I've never felt under LaFleur this team is distracted.

Craig from Sheboygan, WI

After watching the Giants' awful offensive line play, I am grateful Gute drafts well in that area AND I'm looking forward to seeing what Rashan Gary and Co. will do to Daniel Jones in London.

(Sigh). Just beat the Patriots.

Connor from Minnetonka, MN

Let's go on a little run to 6-1 before Buffalo. Why not?

(Heavier sigh). Happy Wednesday.