Presented by

Inbox: He's put on a hard-countin' clinic

The grass doesn’t care whether you’re a first-round pick or an undrafted free agent

200929-insider-inbox-2560
QB Aaron Rodgers

Ryan from Minneapolis, MN

How is the red-eye drive back from Lambeau treating you today?

Monday morning sure was interesting. Thankfully, my 2-year-old and his toy horse made sure I didn't oversleep.

Chuck from Sun Prairie, WI

Someone famous has said something like, "It's not just who you play, but when you play them." Was this ever truer than this early season?

Probably not. Spoff and I have been alluding to this since the day the NFL teams announced they wouldn't have fans the first few weeks of the season. U.S. Bank and the Superdome are arguably the two most difficult stadiums to play in. Instead, Aaron Rodgers has made himself at home without fans in attendance. He's put on a hard-countin' clinic.

James from Greensboro, NC

Hey Wes, love the commentary. So I'm wondering...why, or how, is it that A-Rod can get the other opponent to jump offsides with his hard count but our team knows exactly when to snap the ball and what he is trying to do? Could you explain this? Thanks. Be blessed.

Because they have a Ph.D. in his cadence and knowing their responsibilities when those defenders cross into the neutral zone, particularly the tackles.

Michael from Hammond, IN

Great night for Allen Lazard. Do you think we can finally put to rest who should be considered our No. 2 receiver?

I hope so. Because the more we have to talk about how Lazard is worthy of his "spot," the more it distracts from the impressive start this young man has had to a promising NFL career. The grass doesn't care whether you're a first-round pick or an undrafted free agent. Do you make the plays or not? And Lazard most certainly does.

Ryan from Bloomer, WI

Will we look back at this game Allen Lazard had the same way we look at Davante Adams' game against the Eagles?

Adams was a bit more pronounced because of all the outside criticism he faced early, but Lazard definitely made a statement. He's had several of those "moments." I just think more folks are coming around on his abilities.

Zak from Verona, WI

"...More respect for my deep game considering that I'm slow." What a colorful group of personalities this Packers team has.

It's too bad I had the final question of the press conference after that nasty, nasty line from Lazard. Sarah Quick could've cut me off and ended it there, and I wouldn't have been upset. That was mic-droppable.

Brendan from Mount Clemens, MI

Are you guys seeing anything from Allen Lazard that makes you believe he can be a true No. 2 option for a long time to come, or is it still possible that he may be another flash in the pan? His performance on Sunday night was outstanding, and I was very high on him coming in. Just hope he'll continue his ascension.

It's gonna take a bust in Canton for some of y'all, isn't it?

Andy from Walpole, MA

Is it my imagination, or did the Saints have their top cover guys on Marquez Valdes-Scantling? If that's true, wouldn't that make him the No. 2 WR with Lazard feasting on lesser defenders?

Both receivers have made their mark on this offense, but the Saints did blanket MVS with a safety quite often to not give up a deep ball.

Chun from El Monte, CA

Tip my hat off to ML and the whole team and staff, execution was perfect. Zero turnovers through three games, that is what I call ball control. Not having fans at games in stadiums, where crowd noise plays a big factor is a big advantage for road teams.

Statistically, it's the best offensive start in franchise history – 35-plus points and no turnovers in the first three games for the first time in 102 years.

Dana from Eau Claire, WI

Have to give a shout-out to the O-line, third week in a row Rodgers is barely touched and I don't recall any penalties on the line. Not a ton of running yards opened up but enough to keep handing it off. How did Lucas Patrick and Billy Turner hold up on the right side?

The offensive line has been exceptional since Day 1, regardless of the combination. The Packers have made a concerted effort to integrate Lucas Patrick into their starting unit and he's been up to the task. I thought Billy Turner also did a fine job moving back out to right tackle. I've been impressed with how Adam Stenavich's group has adjusted. And David Bakhtiari is hands-down the best left tackle in the game right now. That's not up for debate any longer.

Scott from Sheboygan, WI

Both deep balls to Lazard traveled about 50 yards in the air, yet Rodgers' throwing motion looked so effortless. Favre could chuck the ball as far as anyone, yet his throws seemed more violent. Is there a difference in the technique between the two quarterbacks? If so, what is the difference?

That's like comparing Mozart to Bach. Rodgers' mechanics are near-flawless. It's such an effortless, refined and smooth throwing motion. Favre did things differently but his fundamentals were sound, particularly how he threw the ball.

Zach from Webster, NY

Much credit for the Packers' hard count is given to Rodgers, and deservedly so, but I cannot discount the impact the offensive line, and specifically Corey Linsley, plays in this process.

Linsley is a critical piece of the puzzle on free plays. His concentration and attention to detail are what bring those penalties to life. Rodgers and Linsley have worked together for six years and their chemistry shows on the field.

Benjamin from Menomonee Falls, WI

It was nice to see some young guys step in due to injuries and step up. Who out of the guys who stepped in impressed you the most?

Jace Sternberger. The Packers were without Josiah Deguara for the second straight week and Sternberger stepped up in a big way in the fourth quarter, especially after dropping a couple passes the past couple weeks. He did some good things as a move tight end and his 23-yard catch keyed that last scoring drive.

Kevin from Starr Pass, AZ

Before we fully transition to the upcoming game, it seemed AR12 was able to take advantage of short passes to the flats being caught in stride for solid gains pretty often Sunday night. Was there something going on downfield that created those opportunities that we couldn't see on TV?

The Saints loaded the box against bunch formations and often the best way to break that is pre-snap motions and getting the defense moving side to side. That's where Sternberger was very effective in the fourth quarter.

Alton from Chester, VA

Did anyone else hear the dogs barking when "Big Dog" Marcedes Lewis scored?

Fifteen years and still going strong.

Richard from Menasha, WI

How much concern is there for the depth at inside linebacker if Christian Kirksey can't play at full strength next week?

It's not ideal, especially with Kamal Martin on injured reserve, but Ty Summers showed he could handle his business as the dime linebacker in Kirksey's absence. In what was Summers' first NFL action on defense, I felt the former seventh-round pick made a good account of himself outside of that 52-yard touchdown by Alvin Kamara in which four or five Packers defenders missed tackles. He settled in during the fourth quarter and made nine tackles in two-plus quarters of work.

John from Grayling, MI

I know you referred to him as Money Mason, but seriously... Mason Crosby was 7-of-7 on his kicks including two FGs 49 yards or longer and the Packers needed each and every one of them. I know he gets a lot of love in the II, but you can't over-appreciate that kind of dependability. Was there any recognition for Crosby from the coaches after the game?

I wasn't in the locker room but there's always recognition for Crosby. It's why he's a team captain and there's no doubt he's in a groove right now. More on that next Monday.

Thomas from Cedar Rapids, IA

It was easy to see the stars of the game Sunday – Rodgers, Lazard, Za'Darius Smith, Robert Tonyan, Aaron Jones, but we had some nice performances from unexpected sources. Kingsley Keke, Summers, Jonathan Garvin were in on a lot of plays. And did you notice Tyler Lancaster on Kamara's long TD was down there at the goal line? Great hustle! And it is almost something we have come to expect but thank goodness for Mason Crosby! The guy is rock steady.

Lancaster's second effort was the lone positive on that run. If you ever wanted to know how hot the fire burns inside Lancaster, put on the film of that play. Keke and Garvin gave the Packers good minutes, too. Keke showed what he offers as a pass rusher, particularly in that second quarter, while Garvin played with his hair on fire late. He's raw but the energy was there.

Jake from Athens, GA

Wes, I hope you heard Mike Tirico refer to Tonyan as "Big Bob" a couple of times on the national broadcast. What a performance by him and so many other undrafted guys. If you ask me, Gutekunst can draft as many first-round QBs as he wants, as long as he keep signing gems like Tonyan, Lazard, Chandon Sullivan, and Krys Barnes. Every one of them contributed in a big way this week. Pedigree =/= potential!

I can't claim ownership of the nickname like Michael Cohen can of "TBLS," but I am happy to play a small role in bringing "Big Bob" to the mainstream with that profile we posted on him two years ago.

Guilherme from Lins, Brazil

After the "run the table," "we've got a defense" and so many more warning statements from Rodgers, is "I feel so much more comfortable in the offense this year" the one for this season?

Either that one or "I noticed something from a clip from 2010 actually." How meta would it be if at the end of the year, after the Packers raise the Lombardi, Rodgers is asked once more what he saw on tape? To which the now-three-time MVP plainly replies, "My smile."

Will from Fayetteville, AR

Say what you want about this defense, but looking at the pass to No. 17 at the 1:20ish mark in the third quarter, where Kevin King makes the heads up play to try and knock the ball out if the receiver gets careless when he is not yet down. That's a heads-up play, and that's smart football. I don't think they're that far off.

The defense started with a three-and-out before falling into a lull. Za'Darius Smith forcing Hill to fumble was arguably the biggest play of the evening. The Packers' defense settled down after that takeaway and contained New Orleans to a three-and-out on its next possession to seal the win.

Sean from Portland, NE

I remember a few years ago Ty Montgomery jumped his feet out of bounds to touch a kickoff that was near the pylon and GB was given the ball at the 40. Very heads-up play. My question is for the spinning onside kick, could a receiving member do this before the ball goes 10 yards if it is close enough to the sideline? Would it immediately be a dead ball when touched and given to the receiving team?

It's my understanding the penalty would be the same regardless of whether it spun out of bounds or Sternberger steps out of bounds and grabs the ball. The Packers got the best of both worlds and didn't have to worry about an accidental fumble.

Scott from Wausau, WI

Seems as though Matt LaFleur is reluctant to use Rodgers for a quarterback sneak. Why not have a play where a sure-handed receiver comes under center to take the snap in a quick manor?

Because taking a snap and carrying the ball is different than catching a pass. Taysom Hill is a quarterback by trade and you saw Sunday night what can happen when the ball isn't properly secured.

Kevin from Indy, IN

Across the league scoring is up from last year so far, and Rodgers has been fantastic with the hard count. Do you think fans should take away from this an affirmed belief in our ability to affect a game, particularly at home? I would imagine that, while the circumstances leading to limited fans is horrible for everyone, the NFL has to like the thought of fans feeling like important contributors from a ticket sales standpoint.

The relationship between the NFL and its fans is special. I already knew that, but this setup has still taught me a thing or two about how essential crowds are to the game, both strategically and from a game-presentation standpoint. The home opener against the Lions was flat-out weird.

John from St. Albert, Canada

If anyone doubts Aaron Rodgers' ability, consider that the TD to Marcedes Lewis last night was only his second to a first-round pick. On to my question – why did the scoring play by Aaron Jones have to be challenged? I thought all scoring plays were automatically reviewed.

ENOUGH WITH THE WHOLE HE'S ONLY THROWN TWO TDs TO A FIRST-ROUND PICK THING! Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams are arguably the best receivers in their respective draft classes. Who gives a hoot if they weren't first-rounders. And it wasn't reviewed because Jones was marked short. It has to be ruled a touchdown for it to be reviewed.

John (still) from St. Albert, Canada

Never mind my previous question. Lack of caffeine had me confused between the fourth-and-1 challenge by the Saints and the non-TD challenge by the Packers. One cup in and all is right with the world now. My comment about Rodgers' greatness still stands with or without caffeine. So I have that going for me. Which is nice.

IT'S TOO LATE FOR THAT NOW, JOHN!

Rafal from Zielona Gora, Poland

After three weeks, six teams with first-round WRs had five wins combined. Maybe, just maybe, that's not obligatory to have one on the roster and it's possible to win with undrafted receivers?

Teams win titles, not first-round picks. And let me make this point while we're at it: The Packers could've drafted a receiver in the first round, too, and everything would be hunky-dory. But the point I'm trying to illustrate is just because the Packers haven't drafted a receiver in the first round in 18 years doesn't mean it's the wrong move.

Joseph from Salt Lake City, UT

Will we not hear any info on Kenny Clark until practice Wednesday?

There was no update Monday but I don't know how much new info there is going to be with a groin injury. Clark practiced Thursday and Friday, and the Packers cautiously held him out. The last thing Green Bay wants to do is risk a setback with its Pro Bowl defensive tackle with the bye on deck.

Dan from Indianapolis, IN

Is my memory correct that Matt LaFleur's only losses have been in games played on the West Coast?

Three of the four (twice in San Francisco and once in LA). It's now been one year since the Packers dropped their only home game under LaFleur (Philadelphia on Sept. 26, 2019).

Matt George from Philadelphia, PA

One of the most confusing moments of the night had to be when Cris Collinsworth said the Packers' defense was "built to be in a shootout." It seemed like he was giving the defense a compliment, but can you try to make sense as to what he meant?

That one left me scratching my head, as well. It's like saying my car is built to be in an accident.

Dave from Germantown, TN

Wes, how does it feel to be an ace prognosticator? Friday you said Thomas Morestead would be the difference in the game. His short punts really helped the Packers' field position.

I'm not saying I told you so but…

Paul from Kingston, TN

Wes and Mike, I don't think this is said as often as it should be, but we have watched Aaron Rodgers play some incredible football for over a decade. He has given us many seasons of playoff potential, wonderful play, and most importantly football that is just fun to watch. We truly do not deserve him.

And that's why we shouldn't wish away the years talking about the future. Enjoy the present. Because there will only be one Aaron Rodgers. There will never be another like him.

Advertising