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Inbox: He's right in the middle of everything

A lot can change over the next six games for all the contenders

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Bears defensive tackle Akiem Hicks

Eddie from La Crosse, WI

I would be just fine with packers.com not having Inbox sessions on holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas, especially. The writers and staff deserve a few more days away from us knuckleheads. We're like the manners-deficient side of the family that comes over unannounced.

Your words, not mine. Kidding aside, the workweek is still pretty normal for us except for slipping out a few hours early on Thursday. Got home in time for the Dallas game and a wonderful meal.

Robin from Ashburn, VA

Who is the biggest threat from the Bears' defense?

If he plays, I think it's Akiem Hicks, and that's no disrespect to Khalil Mack. But Hicks is a beast, and he's is right in the middle of everything, run and pass.

Steve from Colorado Springs, CO

Nagy hasn't named the starting QB yet for Sunday's game, but according the "insiders," it will be Trubisky. Does going from Trubisky to Foles to Trubisky create an advantage for us, because of the change in styles from the two QBs? How do you develop some consistency with that kind of change?

It's still the same offense. Not much changes, except Trubisky's scrambling ability forces a defense to be aware of him running for first downs. I think a vastly overlooked aspect to the Bears' 2018 division title was Trubisky's running ability. He rushed for 421 yards that season. Injuries since then, due in part to his scrambling, took that away. His rushing yards were more than cut in half (193) in 2019.

Ben from Menomonee Falls, WI

The Bears' offense has been pretty meh this year, which their QB issues haven't helped. Who on their offense do the Packers need to watch out for?

Wes hit the nail on the head with Montgomery, now that he's cleared. As I said, I think the Bears will have a fierce commitment to running the ball Sunday night. But Allen Robinson is a darn good receiver, and the Bears will look for opportunities to get him one-on-one.

Graydon from Menomonie, WI

What is your favorite Packers-Bears rivalry memory? Mine was January 2011. First, on Jan. 2, Packers beat Bears 10-3 on the last weekend of the regular season to make the playoffs as the sixth seed. Then the Packers and Bears met in the NFC Championship Game on Jan. 23 with the Packers winning 21-14.

Can't ignore that. As I've mentioned before, mine was the first NFL game I ever attended, Packers-Bears at Soldier Field on Dec. 9, 1984, during which Walter Payton took some snaps at QB (before anyone called it "wildcat") and Rich Campbell hit Phil Epps for a long TD pass in the final minute to pull the upset. As a reporter, I have two, one from this job and one from my newspaper days. The '13 finale in Chicago, fourth-and-8 from the 48, was unforgettable to witness in person. But early in my Press-Gazette tenure, I also covered the '99 game at Lambeau Field, six days after Payton had died, and I happened to be on the sideline for the final snap when Chicago's Bryan Robinson blocked Ryan Longwell's field goal and the Bears won, 14-13. I was assigned to go to the Bears' locker room to get comments, and Robinson told reporters it was the "hand of Walter" that blocked the kick. I know that was a frustrating one for Packers fans, but when you step back and look at it from afar, that was quite a moment and I saw it right up close.

John from Elgin, IL

What was the last season that the Bears swept the Packers?

2007, when Green Bay went 13-3.

Griffin from Belmont, NC

Brees has kept his career going with dinks and dunks to Kamara with a few longer throws to Thomas sprinkled in. That scheme keeps the chains moving and the Saints a top NFC team. Many would agree that Aaron Rodgers has better arm talent at this stage of his career, Aaron Jones is right there with Kamara, and Davante Adams is argued as one of the best. Are the Packers missing personnel to emulate that success?

I'm not sure what you're asking. The Saints are 12th in the league in total offense, the Packers are seventh. The Saints are fifth in total points, the Packers third. The head-to-head game went Green Bay's way, and New Orleans is currently one game up overall with six to play. The difference in the offenses is the running game (Saints eighth, Packers 14th) and the bigger difference in the teams is the defenses. New Orleans is up to third in the league in yards and eighth in points and is playing defense, in my opinion, as well if not better than anyone in the NFC right now.

Ryan from Appleton, WI

NFC seems wide open. With that said, which matchup do the Packers hope to avoid in the playoffs?

See above, but it's still too early to tell. A lot can change over the next six games for all the contenders.

Mike from Evansville, WI

Good morning! Longtime, first time. My question is in regards to special teams play. How many turnovers have Packers' return units given away since the last touchdown return from punt (2014) or kickoff (2011)? It seems like the law of averages should kick in at some point and the tide should turn, what say you?

They're due for a break, but you have to make your own breaks, too. If my impromptu research is accurate, since Micah Hyde's punt-return TD in Week 17 of 2014, the Packers have turned the ball over nine times on special teams and taken it away just three. It should be noted five of the nine giveaways were in 2018 alone. No other year has had more than one, either way. The Packers also have allowed three return TDs since then (Colts kickoff in '16, Jets kickoff in '18, Jaguars punt return two weeks ago) while having no TDs of their own on returns. Green Bay did block a punt for a TD in '18.

Brandon from Margate, FL

Has there been any public discussion regarding JK Scott's performance lately, aside from the punt return that went for a TD two weeks ago? He doesn't seem to be playing his best football.

He's not. Scott is capable of better and the Packers need it.

Kent from Homosassa, FL

Noticed a "Skoronski" playing for Northwestern. Is he related to the Packers' Lombardi-era tackle? Besides always pulling for the AFC against the NFC Packer fans should cheer on the Panthers, 49ers and Eagles this weekend.

I believe Northwestern offensive lineman Peter Skoronski is Packers Hall of Famer Bob Skoronski's grandson. As to your second point, add the Chiefs and Patriots to that list. Looks like it's time to bring back "Path to the Playoffs." We'll start it up again next weekend.

Luke from Kenosha, WI

Us a fans watch the game but you both see different things then we do. My question is simple. Is it possible the Packers' D is not playing with the same swagger from last year's "D-Train" as well as no chip on their shoulder? I am not questioning their heart but it feels like something is missing.

The sacks and turnovers haven't been there, and those are plays that generate the swagger. Everyone feeds off of them. We'll see if the two turnovers in the first half vs. Indy is the start of something. But turnovers mostly come from pressuring the QB into mistakes, and the Packers simply haven't pressured QBs as effectively as a year ago. That's really what it boils down to.

Mike from Mebane, NC

II mentions about defensive consistency and the unit knowing more about down and distance. How could this unit not know about down and distance? We would not forgive our offense if on a third-and-10 our WR ran a 7-yard pattern. Why does our defense get the benefit of the doubt? With all the first-round picks and high-priced free agents, the expectations should be higher.

I believe they are. When I mentioned field awareness on third downs from the Indy game, I wasn't making an excuse. I was pointing out an obvious problem, and multiple defensive coaches who spoke with the media on Wednesday brought it up, too. It's not a difficult issue to fix, but the tackling still needs to be sound.

Rich from Grand Rapids, MI

It seems like every week I and my family debate the question: To jump or not? As in, rusher flushes QB out of pocket and QB begins throwing motion (whether actually throwing or faking), sometimes the defender jumps with hands up to deflect, sometimes keeps his feet and bears down on QB. I prefer the latter, largely because it increases the chance to put a hit on a QB, which is rare, and you don't get faked out. Curious as to your preference, and what the Packers' D coaches teach their players.

In the words of defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery, they're taught to get an arm up to "match the path of the arm of the quarterback." But they are not taught to leave their feet.

Kevin from Whitehall, WI

So, regarding Tom Brady's illegal forward pass, since the penalty was declined, it counts as a completion and Brady is credited with the yardage. Did he also get credited with an incompletion on the play, so in essence he was 1-for-2 on that play?

No. Because the penalty was declined, statistically the play counted as only one pass attempt and one completion.

Quinlan from Mead, NE

Given what we've seen from Kenny Clark this year, should we expect to see his usual December productivity? If not, what changed?

His red-zone sack last Sunday was a good start, but it really depends on where offenses want to devote their blocking resources. Double-teams are part of the game when you're a tough interior player. It's a matter of how often you can make an offense pay when it leaves you single-blocked.

Jeff from Verona, WI

All the best, gentlemen. Two questions: Am I an II stalker if I rarely submit a question? Most importantly, are we watching a harmonious synergy forming on the O-line like no other in Packer history?

Stalking is allowed at Bushwood. To say anything is like no other in Packers history is a bit much, but I will say I've seen less variation in the quality of the O-line play relative to the position shuffling than I can ever recall. It's been impressive.

Dylan from Cary, NC

There are no more scheduled bye weeks, but the Packers are not going to have to travel very far for quite a while. Will the minimal travel provide any appreciable advantage down the stretch?

Anything that helps keep the legs fresh late in the season is a good thing.

The Green Bay Packers practiced on Clarke Hinkle Field on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020.

Patsi from Riverside, CA

It appears that Davante Adams is just 150 yards away from a 997-yard receiving season.

Speaking of milestones, Wes has a story today on a big one for Adams.

Laura from Arlington, VA

What are the keys to winning on defense this week?

Stop the run, stop the run, and stop the run. And if Trubisky is QB, stop him from running, too.

Chris from West Allis, WI

What do you think the Texans' thought process was in the fourth quarter running that trick play to go up 41-17? Great play, but I was surprised they put it on tape already up 17. Team morale? A more realistic "practice run" than actual practice?

Some trick plays are opponent-specific based on film study, and they probably figured running it to slam the door on the game was better than taking it back home with them. It closed out Detroit in more ways than one I think.

John from Harvest, AL

Watching the Dallas-Washington game it really makes me want to root for Alex Smith. What a great story. And he still is loving every minute of it. It makes me thankful for men like Alex Smith who play this game.

There are great stories, and then there are great stories that keep getting better. Who outside the NFC East doesn't want Alex Smith to lead his team to a division title at this point?

Davy from Watertown, WI

Enjoyed a great Thanksgiving with the sounds of "Go! Pack! Go!" echoing through the house. (You'll have to forgive my daughter. She's 2, and all she's learned is that when football is being played, that's what to say.)

It's a start.

Dustin from Warrensburg, MO

Good morning, just wondering if you guys would ever share a blooper reel of Packers Daily, Final Thoughts, etc., when you record?

This is a family website.

Doug from Union Grove, WI

A very Happy Thanksgiving to Mike, Wes, Duke, and all the others that make the Inbox a reality nearly every day. I'm jealous of where you are, and what you do, but at my age, I can't say that I envy your schedule, so I will just say a sincere thank you, from all of us who check in here every day. You are much appreciated!

Thanks for the kind words. Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. Happy Friday.

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