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Inbox: He's a superb technician

That ship sailed long ago

201016-insider-inbox-2560
T David Bakhtiari

Robert from Chandler, AZ

Undoubtedly we'll hear the Bruce Arians' mantra quoted: "No risk it, no biscuit." But with Aaron Rodgers, we can do better: "No interception, no indigestion."

Undoubtedly? Really? That's the word you pick to start?

Brian from Bemidji, MN

Creamsicle or pewter?

They both have their charms for me. The former takes me back to my youth. The latter is just a really sharp color.

LeeAnn from Carefree, IN

Tom Brady has been very good at exploiting favorable matchups and finding the weak link in a defense throughout his long career. What matchups or areas in the Packers' defense do you think he'll be looking to attack this Sunday? Go Pack.

I expect him to go after a potentially less-than-100% Kevin King or his replacement at boundary corner. But primarily I think the Bucs are going to try to run the ball, to test the Packers at the point of attack as well as their tackling, and use Ronald Jones as a receiver out in space like the Saints did with Kamara.

Jared from Rigby, ID

Good morning, I'd like to chime in on the new playoff format. I don't like it because I feel it cheapens the regular season. Why are these players risking so much injury over so many games when half the league gets in anyway? I get that there are still things to play for, home-field advantage, pride, contracts...but I feel that the season becomes longer without producing a higher-quality product. I wouldn't be happy if I were a player. Have we heard their thoughts (not just the NFLPA's)?

There wasn't much player reaction to the playoff expansion, but I'm with you and Wes on this one. The league is creeping closer to half the teams getting into the playoffs and it doesn't feel right. I'd rather have a deserving team not get in every once in a while than open up the possibility each year for average clubs to sneak through.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

How many QBs do you think Rodgers is playing for the last time this season? It feels like that number could be higher than usual.

It's certainly possible this is it for his head-to-head matchups with Brees, Brady and Rivers. There's a lot of speculation swirling about the futures of Ryan in Atlanta and Stafford in Detroit, but whatever happens I don't think those guys are done playing anytime soon.

Megan from Wausau, WI

The loss of Vita Vea in TB's defense is going to be crucial. Here's to hoping our missing pieces get us to 5-0!

It's hard to believe the Packers have had Kenny Clark on the field for only 15 snaps all season.

Corey from Henderson, NV

Wes failed to mention both Lizard and Spock in his response to Eric from Oshkosh, WI, in Thursday's Inbox. Any chance someone could have him do an updated correction on that?

I'll pass that along.

Steve from Neenah, WI

I feel if one team cannot have fans, no team should have fans. And what the Saints are trying to do, is just wrong. What do you think?

The league and all teams are taking a significant economic hit in order to play this year, so we have to accept that economic motives are going to supersede fairness in some circumstances. I mentioned this months ago.

Scott from Crystal Lake, IL

For offensive and defensive rankings, is it total points/yards or a per-game basis? Wondering if the Packers' bye week affects their overall ranking.

The league rankings for total yards and points are calculated on a per-game basis.

Dan from Kenosha, WI

A couple of thoughts. First, if the Minnesota RB goes off the outside shoulder of the block, all the questions about whether they should have gone for it would be moot. Players, not plays. There was a huge gap between the line and the corner and with body lean he would not have been stopped. He just didn't see it. Secondly, I believe the biggest difference in Rodgers is that he made improving a personal goal. Mentally, mechanically, he just wanted to be a better Rodgers. Scary.

Minnesota's right guard and right tackle getting blown up on the play didn't help Mattison, either. I also think this is the first year in a while – following the broken collarbone in '17, wrecked knee from Week 1 in '18, and learning a whole new offense in '19 – that Rodgers has been able to devote all his physical and mental energies into the self-improvement of which you speak.

Aumed from Moorhead, MN

I came across an interesting fact in an article. Rodgers has acquired an injury in both of his appearances at Raymond James Stadium (shoulder in 2008, and calf in 2014) with him blaming the stadium itself for his calf injury in 2014. Have they done anything to the field since then, and do you think it's something to watch for given the history?

For the record, Rodgers also played there in 2009 without incident (except for the awful, forgettable loss). I don't know if they've changed the surface at all, but I suspect Rodgers will very thoroughly test out his footing during pregame.

Bruce from New Canaan, CT

Spoff, I would like you to use your pull with the NFL to lead a campaign to have a game played on every day of the week at some point during this crazy season like no other. We already have Thursday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday covered. There is a Friday game scheduled in Week 16, though curiously no Saturday games that week or any other. It should be easy to move one of the Sunday games that week to Saturday. That would just leave Wednesday. C'mon, we can do this!

There are actually Saturday games scheduled Weeks 15-16 but the league hasn't chosen which ones yet. But I'm going to hope there's no Wednesday game coming because that'll mean more outbreaks and schedule shuffing, which would not be good in the bigger picture.

Blaine from Fennimore, WI

In the mid-week chat someone mentioned having an advantage for outdoor stadiums in the postseason. Now I see the NFL is considering a bubble for playoffs. That would change the home-field/cold-weather advantage for some teams in the postseason.

Indeed it would. A playoff bubble would make a lot of sense but it would render seeding, except for the one team in each conference getting a bye, even more meaningless than it might already be with no or limited fans. I guess we'll see what unfolds.

Jim from Woodbury, MN

What are your biggest surprises through five weeks of the NFL season?

The Bears, 49ers and Raiders.

Jeff from Greenwood, MN

Mike, during the Monday night game against Atlanta the gentleman who does the officiating commentary made some interesting statements regarding our left tackle. He inferred that David Bakhtiari and I'm paraphrasing here "stretches the limits of what is legal and what is not." I don't know if you heard that or not but was wondering if you had an opinion on it. Thanks!

I did not hear that, but I've heard that about Bakhtiari in the past. He's a superb technician, and he takes his techniques right up to the edge to make life as difficult for his opponents as possible. I don't know how anyone could be consistently successful blocking the best edge rushers in the business without that approach.

Dar from Mansfield, TX

To extend Dylan from Forney's question, if Tyler Ervin is out, who becomes the offense's primary "motion man"? I'd be surprised if LaFleur runs less pre-snap motion given how integral it is to play set-up, but Ervin also has unique quickness and skills for the role.

I could see Aaron Jones, Darrius Shepherd and Marquez Valdes-Scantling all being used in that motion role.

Steve from Yorktown, VA

Hey guys, I don't remember seeing it brought up this week yet, but I think Bakhtiari and Corey Linsley are the only linemen still on the team from the stomp heard 'round the world. With Suh across the line again this week, does that add a little extra grit or have bygones been bygones? Thanks guys!

None of the current linemen were around for the original stomp on Thanksgiving Day 2011, but you're right, Bakhtiari and Linsley were on the field for the follow-up on Rodgers' injured calf in 2014. There were no issues when Suh was with the Rams and played against Rodgers in 2018, so I think that's over.

Kelly from East Lansing, MI

Is it possible that less is more for Aaron Jones? His best game of the year came during Week 2 against the Lions when he was on the field for a meager 35 snaps, a season low. I'm all for keeping Aaron on the bench more often.

I think LaFleur is going to use him as much as it takes to win games. I also think he can put both Jones and Williams on the field together for more snaps without subjecting either to too much wear and tear.

Robert from Harris, MN

As for all the bad tackling talk, let us not forget, the other guy, the one with the ball, it's his job to avoid being tackled. I've noticed that a number of players on this level are quite adept at that skill.

They get paid, too.

Sam from Harlan, IA

In my opinion, the question of the week revolves around if we can get enough pressure on Brady. Do you have a different question or headline of the week on either defense or offense?

I'll go with tackle Ronald Jones and protect Aaron Rodgers.

Jim from Burlington, KY

What will the defense need to do to stop Tom Brady and the Buccaneers?

Aside from the above, it needs to limit big plays by Mike Evans and get at least one turnover.

Steve from Kansas City, MO

Can't wait for another Rodgers/Brady matchup. It's so much fun to watch Brady melt down when he loses a game he desperately wants to win. That said, it's rare Brady loses back-to-back. Will GB be as ready to play after their layoff as the Titans were Tuesday night?

That's the plan, Stan. I mean, Steve. But you're right, Brady doesn't lose consecutive games very often. Only nine times in his last 16 seasons.

Nathan from Lino Lakes, MN

In today's age of football, it would seem impossible to win with a quarterback that doesn't extend the defense with his legs. How does Brady get away with it?

He's the all-time master at buying time within the pocket. His shuffles and slide steps create clean platforms and throwing lanes without having to bolt. He and Brees have been the best at that, in my opinion, for years.

Swedgin from Norton Shores, MI

The Bucs decided to wear white on Sunday. The forecast is calling for a high of 88 degrees with substantial humidity and a stiff wind at 10-20 mph. A former writer of this column would be telling us that the Packers are in for a rough day. Are we doomed? How many casualties should we expect?

Doomed? It's going to be a challenge, no doubt. A lot of readers are asking about the jersey color thing. I've seen II's resident scientists go back and forth on the topic, so I'll say this: If the Packers think it matters, it probably will, so don't think it does. Professional athletes are good at winning those mental games. Regardless, LaFleur has been preaching hydration all week. It's probably a good thing kickoff isn't until 4:25 p.m. ET as opposed to 3½ hours earlier. Assuming fans are not returning to stadiums in droves in the next two months, the weather probably makes this the Packers' biggest road test of the season.

Jim from Tucson, AZ

I just watched the 1983 Redskins/Packers game, (48-47) AGAIN. I love it. I never noticed it before, but while plays were being run, there were no pop-ups or boxes of information on the screen. There is nothing but the action. It is great, much better than the interrupted screen we see today. We don't need the score, time etc., etc., etc. posted every minute. Can we go back to that? Please.

Sorry, but that ship sailed long ago. I appreciate the graphic with the score and clock being on-screen, and the yellow first-down line is nice. But I don't need the down-and-distance plastered on the field in big letters/numbers, the 10 yards needed for the first down being a different color of "grass," and the personnel groupings (3 WR/5 DB, etc.) being flashed at me before the snap. Some of the networks have definitely gone too far.

Matt from Plover, WI

If the Buccaneers win Sunday do you think they'll be the favorites to win the NFC Central? Or do you see them losing the tiebreaker to the Bears?

Happy Friday.

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