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Inbox: He’s as savvy as they come

CB Tramon Williams
CB Tramon Williams

David from Minneapolis, MN

Why can't we get ahead of ourselves? I mean we're undefeated and leading the division, what else is there to consider?

A road win over the defending NFC North champions is a victory worth celebrating, but the work isn’t over. The Packers need to hold serve against the Vikings Sunday.

Jack from Chicago, IL

There is an awful lot of chortling going on in the Inbox right now. I think people need to relax a little and take the game for what it was.

I think you and David should chat. Good morning!

Mark from Grand Rapids, OH

In regards to the idea that divisional games shouldn't be played in September, I am of the opposite mind. I think every team should play three divisional games in the first three weeks, and three divisional games the last three weeks. It creates excitement coming into and going out of the season, and would give teams more reason to be ready at the gun. Thoughts?

If I’m being honest, I think division games are what make September compelling. When the Packers opened against Jacksonville in 2016, it just didn’t feel right. I like having some division implications right off the bat and then finishing against NFC North opponents.

Kurtis from Port Washington, WI

I think one overlooked play in Thursday's game was Tramon Williams’ contribution on Adrian Amos’ interception. He got position on the Bears receiver and slowed him down which gave Amos the room to make the play. With the play he made on the sidelines do you think he deserves the Genius of the Week award?

That game was a perfect illustration of why Tramon Williams is still around at 36 years young. It wasn’t flawless. He had a personal foul and a controversial DPI, but Williams rebounded to finish that game strong. He not only made a terrific play to push Allen Robinson out of bounds, but Williams also did a great job of not panicking and making contact too early. He’s as savvy as they come.

Chris from Belleville, WI

Hey II, where was Jake Kumerow Thursday? Would have thought to see him a few snaps.

When a team is this deep and this healthy, difficult decisions must be made when formulating game plans. There were only so many snaps to go around Thursday night. Kumerow will get his opportunities at some point.

Nick from Lancaster, PA

I thought Bryan Bulaga was one of the unheralded stars for the Packers on Thursday. When matched up against Khalil Mack, he essentially neutralized him, not allowing any sacks or QB hits. The rest of the O-line was where most of the pressure, hits, and sacks came from. Will not having to game plan for a Mack-level rusher in the coming weeks allow the O-line unit, as a whole, to perform better by not having to focus as much time and resources into preparing for a game-wrecker?

In most weeks, yes. But the Vikings’ defensive front is a puzzle in and of itself, especially with Mike Zimmer’s propensity to blitz anyone from everywhere. I agree Bulaga was solid against Mack and the Bears. That’s been his M.O. over the past 10 years. He’s been everything you want from a first-round pick at that position. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times – I feel like fans will appreciate Bulaga a lot more once he’s retired.

Myles from Mesa, AZ

Hello II! The Packers win on Sunday if?

They set the edge against the run and force Kirk Cousins to throw more than 10 times.

Terry from Sun Prairie, WI

What can we expect from the Vikings’ defense this year?

Much of the same, I suspect. The Falcons did not look good Sunday and could be in for another rough year, but the Vikings did what they needed to against that offense. Minnesota sacked Matt Ryan four times and forced two picks on eight passes defensed. It’s an older defense but it remains impressively effective in dictating how the game is played.

Josh from Des Moines, IA

Is it possible three of the top five defenses will be in the same division this year?

Anything is possible. Green Bay, Minnesota and Chicago all came to play Week 1.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

Spoff's evaluation of the Vikings’ skill-position talent relative to the Bears’ was really interesting. I see the QB as less mobile for the Vikings, and as such, an easier target for the pass rush. The Falcons’ front seven has not been a strength as we discovered last year ourselves. Whatever production our front seven created against a mobile young QB will be magnified against a lesser athlete.

True, but Cousins is also a more polished passer than Mitchell Trubisky. He was very efficient in both games against the Packers last season. Green Bay’s pass rushers need to maintain leverage, play disciplined and force bad throws with consistency.

Cameron from Wayland, MI

How do our corners match up with the Vikings’ wide receivers?

As a whole, favorably. Minnesota’s depth chart at receiver is relatively top heavy with Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. The real question is whether the Packers will travel Jaire Alexander with Thielen or allow Tramon Williams to handle the Pro Bowler in the slot.

Phillip from Wonder Lake, IL

The Packers and Vikings both have a win so far. What are some of the Packers’ strong points that should give them a win over the Vikings on Sunday?

I want to see what this pass rush can do against the Vikings’ offensive line. I’m not expecting another 10 pressures from Za’Darius Smith but this Green Bay front can win in more than one way from more than one player. That’s a lot for an offense to prepare for.

Nick from Lancaster, PA

Davante Adams was our top red-zone target the previous couple seasons. Thursday showed that Jimmy Graham can still be that great matchup problem for defenses in the red zone. With the lack of experience at receiver behind Adams allowing defenses to cheat his way, is that going to allow Graham to return to the consistent high-level red-zone threat of the past, or was this a one-off? I sure hope it's the former.

The Packers’ offense had issues in the red zone last year but that didn’t change my stance about how Graham could be an asset in that area of the field. I feel like that catch against the Bears showed what kind of resource Graham can be for Rodgers and the offense in 2019.

Corinne from Chicago, IL

There are some Bears fans here in Chicago that are under the impression that Matt Nagy abandoned the run too quickly when the Packers didn't successfully take it away from them on Thursday. Did the Bears make a mistake in having Trubisky throw, or in your opinion did the Packers successfully stop the run?

I don’t fault Nagy at all. The Packers were showing a five-man front for most of the night. If you’re the Bears, you want to throw against that. It also didn’t help Chicago only averaged 3.1 yards per carry and didn’t have a rush of more than eight yards.

The Green Bay Packers practiced ahead of the Week 2 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings.

Tecwyn from Cedarburg, WI

Hey II, love the column. One thing I noticed about the Bears game that I haven't seen much about was how much the ball was spread around. I count eight players who caught/ran the ball. Do we think this is indicative of the new playbook, AR having more confidence in his receivers or something else? Like what I am seeing and appreciate your input.

Rodgers never has been afraid to spread the ball around but I also think the balanced results are a reflection of the package variation LaFleur utilized against Chicago. Eleven different skill-position players played at least 10 offensive snaps. Last year’s opener? Only seven.

Tim from West Bend, WI

Hey Insiders, back during the 2018 draft, Brian Gutekunst took some heat from some fans for using a fifth-round pick on a punter and a seventh on a long snapper. Do you think these same people are eating crow today?

I watched the entire Cleveland-Tennessee game. You know what the difference was in that game? Brett Kern backing the Browns up with 70-yard punt to their own 3. Two plays later, the Titans sacked Baker Mayfield for a safety to go ahead 12-6. They never looked back. This isn’t fantasy football. Special teams matter. Every championship-caliber team needs a reliable kicker, punter and long snapper. So I’ve never taken issue with drafting a specialist, especially in the seventh round when everything is a crapshoot anyway. GMs will be praised when it works and criticized when it doesn’t, but either way you’re trying to help your team.

James from Easton, MD

In preseason a lot of media and fan attention was devoted to the No. 2 QB competition. While Tim Boyle won a spot on the 53, I presume Gute will continue to evaluate the No. 2 QB position in collaboration with the coaching staff. Boyle’s hold on a roster spot, it would seem, is one of the more tenuous positions on the 53. If Boyle is not provided an opportunity in a regular-season game, do you see a situation during the season where Gute makes a trade absent Boyle playing significant snap counts?

You presume wrong, James. The Packers made their decision with the backup quarterback position. Barring an injury, Gutekunst has bigger fish to fry right now than trying to find a backup QB this time of year, especially one with no knowledge of LaFleur’s scheme.

John from Manitowoc, WI

What do the players do during the day of a night game, especially on the road?

Mostly meetings and walkthroughs. They do have a little free time built into their schedules to walk around and get a bite to eat, especially the day the team flies in.

Noel from Norwalk, CA

Good morning II! Concerning visiting teams who visit hot-weather fields (Jacksonville, Charlotte,) how much does it really affect the visiting team wearing their home uniforms? The Rams and Chiefs both won. Is there any kind of stats supporting this theory? Thanks.

I won’t go so far as to say it affects the final outcome but it most certainly matters over the course of three hours. I think back to the Packers playing in Miami in 2014 and the ’16 opener against the Jaguars. Those are hands down the hottest road games I’ve covered. Green Bay prevailed in both but the players were absolutely drained afterwards.

Jeff from Fayetteville, NC

Those dreaded ties. No one likes them, yet they show up every year. After an extra quarter of play there still needs to be a tiebreaker. Why not start at the 25-yard line at that time? Do know if that has ever been considered?

In all my years covering football, I’ve yet to witness a tie that either team deserved to be victorious. Detroit lost that game in the fourth quarter and Arizona didn’t do enough to win it in overtime. That was the right outcome.

Nate from Kewaskum, WI

Who makes the call to drive or fly to Chicago? I thought the Packers in the past had taken buses down.

Maybe in the distant past, but the Packers have been flying to Chicago as long as I’ve been on the beat. It’s a 37-minute flight or a three-hour drive – which would you prefer?

Al from Green Bay, WI

The Steelers looked pretty bad on Sunday night. Prediction: Pittsburgh misses the playoffs for the second consecutive year. Tomlin gets fired. Hometown boy Mike McCarthy steps in and takes over as the new head coach. Maybe?

It was one loss to the defending Super Bowl champions. Let’s take a breath, folks.

Jonnie from Garden City, MI

Was Antonio Brown subject to waivers after being dropped by the Raiders, or did being cut from the team leave him not subject to waivers? I'm not saying I wanted him on the Packers, but I can say I didn't want him to go to the Patriots. It stinks of a conspiracy to make the AFC (and NFL) suffer through another year of Patriot domination, while all the other AFC teams are wallowing in mediocrity. And what did it cost the Patriots?

Brown is a vested veteran so he’s not subjected to waivers. Once released, he’s free to sign anywhere. It doesn’t cost the Patriots anything beyond his new contract.

Theologos from Athens, Greece

So, the Raiders gave away two valuable draft picks just to have a guest star on “Hard Knocks”....

Yep.

Bret from Hertel, WI

Could all of the Antonio Brown drama been a ploy to get cut and go to the Patriots? And did you notice Bret Bielema is the DL coach for the Patriots?

Bielema has blocked me on Twitter so I didn’t notice that. I won’t say it was a ploy, but I raised an eyebrow seeing Brown agree to terms with the Patriots the same day Oakland released him. You don’t see that very often.

Charles from Omaha, NE

I am not sure how dumb a question this is: If a punt is so straight and so deep that it accidentally goes through the uprights without triggering the lasers, is that an accidental field goal or does the lack of proper set-up disqualify it?

Actually what happens is a black hole forms and the entire stadium is sucked into it. Thank you for your question.

Ken from New York, NY

I was really looking forward to the Packers-Vikings game. Now I'm reeeeally looking forward to the Packers-Vikings game.

I’m with you – home opener, the Bart Starr celebration, and two 1-0 NFC North teams with a rich history. It’s going to be a fun week.

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