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Inbox: He's right on the verge

Any rejoicing ends soon

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S Darnell Savage

JD from Madison, WI

As mentioned during the game-time blog, that robot dance is going to look pretty cool in the LEGO replay.

My brain is not ready for this today.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Turns out the Packers did play a bunch of starters in the preseason, we just didn't know they were going to be starters at the time!

And now I'm really flummoxed.

Daniel from Richmond, VA

I wouldn't want to list them out loud for risk of jinxing, but I was thinking of how many of our starters/significant role players have not either missed entire games, or exited in-game and not returned due to injury. On offense, I can only think of maybe four. On defense, only three? So what, seven or so out of 28-ish regularly essential players? That screams depth, resolve, and coaching ability to me.

All of that, plus a healthy measure of cohesion and culture, because – even though as reporters we're not in the locker room anymore – it sure feels like the guys filling in are the last ones who want to let anybody down, and the team leaders instill that attitude by not allowing excuses. It's cliché to say "the standard is the standard," but this team truly holds it up there as the target, knowing full well, for example, that Yosh Nijman isn't David Bakhtiari or Elgton Jenkins, and Rasul Douglas is not Jaire Alexander.

Shannon from Ovilla, TX

A different spin on Ian from the UK's question. How valuable is the practice time Love is getting with the first team? No starters in preseason games and no practice with Adams before the KC game. Does AR12's toe injury actually help the Packers get a better feel for Love's progress since he is running the team in practice for a month?

Indubitably.

John from Shorewood, WI

I was at the game Sunday near the Packers tunnel and was able to ask President Baker when LeRoy Butler would get into the Hall of Fame. He said he thinks it will happen soon. Was that just lip service to a Packer fan or does he know something we don't?

Some of the former perhaps, but he's also probably just reading the tea leaves like the rest of us, and I don't doubt he's had some private conversations with members of the selection committee supportive of Butler. He's been a finalist multiple times already so plenty of discussion has taken place.

Richard from Farmington Hills, MI

I know an onside kick has to go 10 yards for the kicking team to make a legal recovery. I have a question about Adrian Amos recovering the onside kick last Sunday before it had gone the 10 yards. If he had "muffed" it and the Rams recovered it, would it have been Rams ball?

Yes. The ball is live prior to going 10 yards if the receiving team touches it.

Jim from St. Pete Beach, FL

With P2P just around the corner, what record in the NFC will earn the bye? To take away the easy answer of "the best one" I'll ask for a win-loss-tie number…

I'm confident 14-3 gets it for the Packers, because I don't see the Cardinals running the table with their schedule. But I'm not sure 13-4 would do the trick, because that would mean two Arizona losses and another loss for the Buccaneers, who schedule-wise are set up for a strong finish if they get through these next two weeks.

Mark from West Des Moines, IA

What do you think the Packers' greatest weakness is going into the bye week?

The last few games have shown a key area of vulnerability in each phase for the Packers. On offense, it's the red zone (or gold zone). On defense, it's the explosive plays. On special teams, it remains the field-goal operation, while getting something from the return game would certainly help, too.

Scott from Sauk City, WI

Wes is a little SASSY, huh? I will admit, I did chuckle at 39:40-Barbara Walters. I think you're a little bit "preachin' to the choir" on the ML for Coach of the Year, tho. I doubt that there are (a lot of?) II readers who don't believe that he deserves it. And I'm also certain (based on the way you guys talk about him) that he doesn't give a single hoot if he wins the award. I don't need Packers players and coaches getting attention, I just want to see them winning Lombardis.

Of course. That's what matters, and the rest is ancillary. I do love your line about LaFleur not giving a hoot, and not just because it's true. Also because I thought my dad was the only one who actually used the word "hoot" anymore.

Jim from Chetek, WI

Nice Barbara Walters reference. Just don't forget her old partner Hugh – turnover on – Downs. I'll see myself out.

Please do.

Spencer from Crystal Lake, IL

Gents, among J. Alexander, Za'Darius Smith, D. Bakhtiari, and Josh Myers, the most likely candidates to hopefully return from IR at some point, if you could only have one of those four players come back from injury for the stretch run, who would you choose? With how well the next guys up are playing, I can't decide who I want.

Boy, that's really tough. Hopefully it's more than one, of course. But forced to choose, and no disrespect to the other two, but for me it's a coin flip between Bakhtiari and Alexander. My mind goes to last January's NFC title game and how much Bakhtiari's absence factored in the game, and the immense impact Alexander had in the Packers' comeback.

Mark from Iron Mountain, MI

I hope everyone realizes when some of these players return from injuries they won't be able to pick up where they left off. It will take a game or two to work back into the team rhythm. Just because they are back doesn't make the team instantly better.

Valid point, but the hope is the payoff will be there in the end.

Neil from Baltimore, MD

Hi Mike. Always love your WYMM because it's so informative. Because you're a great writer with high standards I feel compelled to point out that the "calvary" didn't come to the rescue because that's a religious monument. But you're right, the cavalry sure did!

Busted. Correction made. Clearly, I need the bye, too.

Dave from Germantown, TN

I know offensive linemen love to get credit for a pancake block. In WYMM, you show Dean Lowry knocking a Rams lineman on his butt. Does Lowry get credit for a pancake or is there another metric for defensive linemen?

It's not an official stat for either side, but I'd surmise someone is keeping the tally in the locker room or meeting room.

Michael from Novato, CA

If I could have only one thing after the break, more than Z, Jaire, or even Bak, I'd like to have some way for Savage to hold onto the balls he has a real shot at. He's very assignment sure, so he's almost always in position, but if makes either pick in the MN game (including the one that resulted in DPI), we win. I can think of at least four more games he should have had the pick. He's my choice for potentially greatest post-bye impact.

As I'm sure I've mentioned before, Darnell Savage is a treat to watch on the game film. I can only imagine how much he stood out on the college film, prompting Gutekunst to trade up in the first round for him. He's a really good player who's right on the verge of becoming a weekly game-changer. Really, when you look at the last two games, as great a play as Douglas' pick-six was, the number of potential INTs for the secondary as a whole was very high. That could be a good sign for the stretch run.

Donald from Hazelton, PA

Adam Stenavich … I know they don't give coaches MVP votes, but this guy seems to be pulling all the right strings with the offensive line. I can't even imagine where the Packers would be without his coaching the players, having them ready to play.

And he's not even 40 years old. Talk about a bright future in this league.

Anthony from Eden Prairie, MN

Well II, there goes another one of your noon games. Apologies, but I guess not the worst problem to have, since it means we're playing well.

That game with the Ravens obviously was not staying at noon, not with FOX having the late afternoon window that day. Selfishly, I'm glad it wasn't flexed to prime time with the Bears game next week already in that slot, because the back-to-back night games in Weeks 2-3 nearly wiped me out.

Caleb from Knoxville, TN

What game is the most intriguing this bye weekend?

Would I be crazy to say Minnesota at Detroit? The Lions had them beat in Minneapolis, get them at home this time after some extra rest, while the Vikings are coming off a tough West Coast trip and might've lost Dalvin Cook to injury. The real game of the week, though, even with no bearing on the Packers, is the Patriots-Bills Monday nighter. Buckle up for that one.

Jeff from Muskego, WI

Who do you think is the best team in the AFC?

If the Bills win Monday night, I'm going with them. But I also could see the Ravens getting hot, or the Chiefs putting it together at the right time again.

Chad from Middleton, WI

Serious question here about officiating on the Monday night game – 15 seconds left, down by two, Seattle attempts an onside kick which they recover and I'm looking forward to the most exciting 15 seconds of my week (after the Packers' win of course). But it's canceled due to an illegal formation penalty which the announcers said was a safety issue. If it's a safety issue, why don't the officials step in before the play starts and say hey there, you mind lining up two steps to your right?

The kickoff alignment rule was implemented with safety in mind, but it's not up to the officials to be pre-emptive. Knowing and following the rules better than your opponent, regardless of the rationale behind them, will always be part of the competitive give-and-take.

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2022 Pro Bowl Vote

It's time to cast your votes for the 2022 Pro Bowl!

Mike from Madison, WI

I just finished watching the Woodson presentation video. There is nobody who can rock an ascot better that Charles Woodson. Nobody! Nuff said.

I've never seen Charles not look good.

Don from Cedar Rapids, IA

Besides his outstanding line work, Yosh Nijman recovered a fumble by following a pass/run play well outside of his area, something I doubt that few players would have done. I know it was on a Packer drive deep into Rams territory, but I don't recall what happened after that. Can you please provide that info?

Nijman was blocking downfield on a screen to Lewis when the Big Dog fumbled inside the LA 15-yard line. Nijman recovered and a few plays later the Packers kicked a field goal.

Gary from Davenport, IA

So Matthew Stafford has a three-game streak of throwing a pick-six and he could have easily had another one or two on Sunday. Aaron Rodgers has thrown three pick-sixes in his career. Is that one of the most amazing career statistics for Rodgers?

Here's what makes it amazing. Brett Favre threw 31 pick-sixes, Dan Marino 29, Joe Namath 28, and Peyton Manning and Drew Brees 27 apiece.

Dar from Mansfield, TX

How much does a Spofford or Hodkiewicz rookie card go for these days? What if they're signed? I'm assuming they must be incredibly rare.

That's the next hot new collectible, II trading cards. I can picture myself now, scrolling through a brand new pack, and seeing Lori. But is it Lori from Brookfield, or Lori from Costa Rica? Then I have to flip it over and check the back to find out. OK, I'll stop now.

Steve from Alexandria, VA

Curious ... how close to chortling do you feel we're getting? I share in the elation that this year's team – from the players to the coaches to the front office – is persevering in the face of so much adversity. I also am haunted by the mistakes of the conference championship in Seattle and last January's gift to Tampa. Rest and resolve are the key elements for the bye week, I'd suggest.

Sound advice. I do think it's worth a mini-celebration, given all the Packers have been through, that they got to this late bye at 9-3 with so much available to them. But any rejoicing ends soon, because no amount of basking in anything will help them seize all that's out there for the taking. With the lone exception of 2016 and the 4-6 start, there's zero satisfaction in – to paraphrase the classic line from Ted Thompson's late, great head coach in Houston – knocking on the door, then beating on the door, but not kicking the (stupid thing) in.

Randy from Clarksville, TN

Hey guys. I have tried unsuccessfully to have a question answered in the Inbox for the last 12 weeks. Could it be possible that a bye this week would allow my brain to reset, get healthy, and allow my questions moving forward to be more poignant and thought provoking? Here's hoping…

…you can take the last train? Sorry, couldn't resist. Happy Wednesday.

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