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Inbox: He's a special fit for this offense

It’s a crowded field of candidates

RB Aaron Jones

Jim from McLean, VA

Reading Mike's answer to Joe from Monroe got me wondering – do we need laser pylons as well?

Oh no.

Bill from Wilmington, DE

Hi Mike, I'm guessing ML is going to have a fired-up team on Sunday! I don't recall a coach stressing the lack of energy in a win as much as he did after the game.

I don't either, and even though LaFleur walked it back a bit Monday, I expect the message will still be taken seriously.

Statham from Pineview, GA

There has been a lot of talk about how the Pack will head to Indy fired up after a subpar performance against the Jags, but I think there will be another aspect to Sunday that will create that extra motivation: fans. I anticipate a lot of green and gold in the stands this weekend. How many fans are the Colts allowing into the game?

The attendance at each of the last two Colts home games has been a little over 12,000.

Noel from Norwalk, CA

Greetings II. It seems that visiting teams are not as stressed with no fans, while the home teams are not as pumped up. What is the win-loss record of visiting teams this year compared to last year?

Before last week, road teams were above .500 this season (67-65) before home teams went 11-3 in Week 10 (11-1 on Sunday, actually, with the road teams winning Thursday and Monday nights). For the year, 76-70 (.521) is a similar winning percentage for home teams compared to 2019, when the numbers were 136-124 (.523), including playoffs.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

After watching the Colts-Titans game Thursday night, this will be the most dynamic DL let alone front seven that we have faced since TB. How is our health heading into the Colts game relative to the TB game? Are there any skill-position players missing or that we will have back for this one?

The hope is Allen Lazard will be able to play now that he's activated, but we'll have to see. It'll help to have David Bakhtiari for the whole game, not just the first half. Tyler Ervin also missed the Bucs game and his status is probably iffy at best for this one as well.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Highlighting the importance of every game, the Seahawks went from No. 1 seed position to No. 7 with their loss on Sunday. Just. Win.

And stay as healthy as you can.

Jay form Land O'Lakes, FL

Guys, I opened the Monday Inbox, expecting to read about how wonderful the Packers were against lowly Jax, because we won. I was shocked to see you called out the team's performance and their poor effort. I applaud you and even though you guys will never publish this, I think the entire nation needs a little truth be told. Thank you.

I'm mildly insulted that you're shocked I told you the truth. I think I do a pretty good job of it, if I'm allowed to say so myself. And never assume I won't publish something.

John from Livermore, CA

Guys, in your opinion why is Matt LaFleur not mentioned more in the Coach of the Year conversation?

Great question. I really don't know, except it must have something to do with the perception, fair or unfair, that this team rises and falls with Aaron Rodgers. It's too bad. LaFleur deserved stronger consideration last year, especially since Rodgers didn't light up scoreboards, though I had no problem with John Harbaugh winning it (for the first time in 12 years in Baltimore). If people questioned whether the Packers were a fluke last year, hopefully LaFleur will get more consideration this year. It's a crowded field of candidates. Arizona's Kliff Kingsbury, Buffalo's Sean McDermott, and Cleveland's Kevin Stefanski along with obviously Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin might all be in the running depending on how the second half of their seasons go. But LaFleur should be in the mix, too, especially with the Packers dealing with more injuries than a year ago.

Aaron from Mesa, AZ

DeAndre Hopkins, with the assertion that PIs usually happen because a DB is beat, thinks PI yardage should count towards receiving yards. An interesting thought, given the potential impact of incentives and comps for contract negotiations. It's somehow akin to getting to the line in basketball and walks in baseball. What are your thoughts? Is number of PIs drawn a tracked stat?

It's not, and while I can appreciate Hopkins' sentiment, the game doesn't need more statistics. Do we start counting holding calls drawn by defenders as sack or TFL yardage? No thanks. To play a silly devil's advocate to Hopkins, receivers who get separation before the ball is thrown can't be interfered with, right? He showed last Sunday he doesn't need new stats to prove anything.

Simon from Copenhagen, Denmark

What's better? An ugly game and a healthy QB, or a pretty game and a QB with four broken ribs and a collapsed lung? Still a lot of games left. Hang tight.

Man, I sure hope Drew Brees is going to be OK. You hate to see that. There's so much left to sort out in the NFC and it feels like it's only going to get more complicated in the coming weeks.

Steve from Scranton, PA

Mike...slightly different angle on a recent comment re: vocal locker-room leadership. IMO a championship-caliber team at any level needs both a QB and defender who can step into a fourth-quarter huddle in a playoff game and literally will their teammates to a scoring drive or three-and-out (e.g. Favre/White, AR/Woodson), but it must be organic and not forced. Looking at talent, experience and overall credibility, I sense Kenny Clark is the man, but is he ready/willing to assume that role?

I believe Clark, Za'Darius Smith and Jaire Alexander could all be candidates in that regard. The crunch-time performance by the defense Sunday was noteworthy. Let's see what it means moving forward.

Anthony from Rockford, IL

One thing not brought up about Rashan Gary was after his dominant performance pass rushing on the final drive, on the final play with the Smiths and Clark all in the game, guess who the Jags decided to chip with the RB? Rashan Gary.

There you go.

Greg from Panama City, FL

Insiders, statistically it's to the Packers' advantage the Bears lost, but am I the only one taking notice to Minnesota re-emerging as playoff contenders?

I was saying all last week I thought it would be better for the Vikings to lose. Wes and I disagreed on "Unscripted" about whom to root for Monday night. I think Minnesota will be 7-5 in three more weeks.

George from La Grange, IL

With reference to Jake from Athens...The flag was thrown about whether the ball was tipped, NOT the pass interference. What they said was the pass interference occurred BEFORE the tip so it was assessed. Pretty tricky stuff.

Yeah, that was an unusual one. Normally, you see that challenge made with the defense trying to prove the ball was tipped to negate a DPI. In this case, the initial call was so awful it was the other way around.

Jeff from Madison, WI

If Rodgers draws an offside penalty but a Packers player, during the play, commits a personal foul would the 15 yards come from where the play ended or the line of scrimmage?

From the line of scrimmage, and the Packers would replay the down. If the personal foul were after the play (dead ball foul), both penalties would be assessed.

Luke from Oconomowoc, WI

Spoff, can you take a look at how Rodgers took a knee at the end of Sunday's game and explain that to us? Is this an inside joke with Tim Boyle?

Maybe. Wouldn't surprise me. It certainly looks like he's trying to kneel and avoid getting tagged with lost yardage. Officially, the two kneel-downs went for minus-1 total on the stat sheet.

Rich from De Pere, WI

I've heard announcers say this year that referees have been asked not to call so many penalties. Is that true? In the Vikings-Bears game, Foles was sacked one time with a hit below the knees and another pass he was hit hard in the helmet and nothing was called either time. Is this coming from the league or was that official having a bad night?

The league mandate early in the season was to flag only "clear and obvious" fouls, especially offensive holding. We've seen the flag frequency trend more toward the normal range in the middle of the season compared to the beginning. Either way, I think the official who missed those two fairly obvious RTPs on the Vikings will be downgraded for them.

Jordan from Virginia Beach, VA

I love the deals for Clark and DB being done. It gives Gute a real look at what he has left to work with instead of trying to make predictions. As much as I love Aaron Jones, I think Jamaal Williams has proven that he can be a bell-cow type back in this league. I could see a scenario where our RBs next year are Williams, AJ Dillon and Ervin. Many fans will disagree, but I think it may be the best financial move for us long term. We would also receive a high compensatory pick. Thoughts?

I think Aaron Jones is no plug-n-play running back. He's a special fit for this offense and, with all due respect to Williams and Dillon, something would be missing without him. Look at the Minnesota game two weeks ago – as soon as the Vikings felt comfortable stopping the run with both safeties back, the offense stalled. You have to scare a good defense out of Cover-2, and Jones does that.

Jake from Lansing, MI

Insiders, thank you for all your work! You have talked about defensive turnovers come in bunches...when do you think the recent trickles are going to start pouring?

I wouldn't count on it this week. Indy has only nine giveaways in nine games. The Colts protect the ball pretty well.

Eduardo from Queretaro, Mexico

Hey guys, with so many competitors in the NFC going against each other this week, who do you cheer for? We have the Cards and Hawks on Thursday and Bucs and Rams on Monday. They all have the same amount of losses, the Bucs being the only team with seven wins because they haven't had their bye.

I think it's impossible to tell at this early stage which results in those two games would help the Packers more. Maybe lean toward the Rams winning because the Packers would lose a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Bucs, and the Rams have the tougher schedule the rest of the way. But I have no idea on Cardinals-Seahawks. Both should be great games and I'm just glad they're scheduled when I can watch them.

Travis from Caledonia, WI

I do not think I have ever seen a QB get BOTH feet stepped on at the same time on the same play, let alone by both OTs and I do not think I will ever see it again. Can you think of any other obscurities that you will probably never see again? The NFL is wild sometimes. Thanks for all you guys do...especially with the WYMM segment. I really look forward to it every week.

That's one of my all-time favorite finds on film, and it was even on a crucial, high-impact play.

Gary from Bear Valley, WI

Opening drive. Cold and windy. Third-and-3. QB is pressured. Escapes to the right. Is three yards behind line of scrimmage. No defensive player within 15 yards. Why doesn't QB run for an easy first down. Instead of throwing down field for an incomplete pass? Happens way too much. Fourth-and-1. Run RB into brick wall? Previous coach didn't have much luck with that either. Need a formation that doesn't say were running it up the middle. Or, have No. 17 fly over the top. Your thoughts?

On the opening third-and-3, Jaguars LB Myles Jack was bearing down on Rodgers and five yards away when the ball was released. There's no way Rodgers could have run for the first down, and he'd have gotten clobbered if he'd tried. If you couldn't see the defender on TV, you can be forgiven, but don't assume because you couldn't see him that he wasn't there. It was obvious from the press box (and confirmed on film). I assume you mean the late third-and-1? Three tight ends, eight-man offensive front. One guy got beat on his block or Jones gets the first down easily. Everyone else was blocked. It's not formation, it's execution. Sending Davante Adams on a fly against that wind with the game on the line? Idiocy. Those are my thoughts.

Kevin from Fort Collins, CO

Wasn't the fake FG against Chicago in 2012 done on fourth-and-26? I've been choosing to associate that down and distance with that play. Not sure why everyone else gets so weirded out?

True enough. Much lesser stakes, though.

Greg from Perkasie, PA

I'll gladly take 7-2 and still not playing their best football in November. The Packers set themselves up nicely in the division and amongst the other NFC teams, so now they can get hot in December and carry that through to the playoffs.

Sounds like a plan.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Mike, I'm sorry. My pregame submissions were never meant to offend you or any of the loyal Inbox readers but apparently they have. I am certainly not a poet and don't intend them to be thought of as poetry. Just looking to put out some pregame thoughts and have some fun. Message received and I promise to end the "poems." Mask up Packer fans and lets all stay healthy so we can enjoy the rest of the season.

No worries, Dean. I'm far from offended, just having fun as well.

Dan from Lowville, NY

As Yogi Berra supposedly said, "Predictions are difficult, especially about the future."

Happy Wednesday.


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