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Inbox: He's such an improv threat

Circumstances won’t win this game

Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen
Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen

Brandon from Summerville, SC

Can we go back to the days when the most troubling issue was the rogue JUGS machine?

Sign me up.

Caleb from Knoxville, TN

How's Buffalo's run game doing?

Josh Allen is the Bills' leading rusher by one yard over Devin Singletary, on 10 fewer attempts.

Kelly from Stoughton, WI

I for one have instituted a 24-48 hour ban from asking questions after a loss. And we are on to Buffalo, from what I can see Buffalo will kill you through the air with a softer run game. Please tell me we will not slip back into that soft shell that J. Jefferson torched them for 9-184-2. What is the best way defensively to attack Buffalo? Would you lock Jaire Alexander onto Diggs? Didn't seem to work too well against Washington but I cannot watch them get burned on crossers all night Sunday.

I could see Alexander matching up on Diggs. McLaurin made three impact plays against him, but I would argue on two of them the coverage was decent, just the ball was in the perfect spot. I also could see one of the inside 'backers, Campbell or Walker, being responsible for Allen because of his running ability. He's such an improv threat. This is the biggest test of the season for Green Bay's defense. Buffalo has scored 50-plus points in both the second and third quarters this year. Once they settle into the game, the Bills really get going, and then they come out of halftime maintaining command.

Jim from St. Pete Beach, FL

Hello Mike! I doubt the Bills will enter the playoffs at 16-1. What's the biggest change needed from the last three weeks to make the Packers the team to give them their second loss?

The Packers' offense needs to help the defense, which hasn't happened. Maintain possession, provide respite, reduce the number of times the defense is called upon. I think both sides of the ball start looking better if the most struggling one can get it going. Also, three words could go a long way: Catch the ball. Both on offense and defense.

Jeff from Dorr, MI

I know you don't like the term "trap game" but could this be one in reverse? As a positive person I even found myself last week saying we need to beat Washington because we aren't beating Buffalo. The Bills are coming off a high beating the Chiefs and looking ahead to a rising Jets team. Here's hoping!

Circumstances won't win this game for the Packers. This team could use some luck to go its way, but it has to make its own luck in some respects, too.

Glen from Eugene, OR

Mike, awesome job on the WYMM this week. Showing how just how fine a line there is between success and failure at this level.

It really is true that all these games hinge on a few plays here or there. You just don't know in the moment which plays those are going to be. What stood out to me the most about the missed interception opportunities is what happened right after those chances got away – a pivotal play for Washington. Every time.

Mike from West Bend, WI

Hey II, thank you for giving us downtrodden lifer Packer fans your introspective views of our questions. For some time now we've had what some consider a top-three running back combo at our disposal every week. Why does it seem like AJ Dillon is not being used except for what seems like smash-into-the-line, get-a-few-yards plays. He's got good hands and he's not being used to catch a pass very often. What's going on with this?

The Packers made a concerted effort to get Aaron Jones the ball more this past game, which I think was important. He got 17 touches. But when you only run 47 total plays, that's not a lot for others, including Dillon. When they ran 69 plays the week before vs. the Jets, Dillon had 14 touches.

Dave from Lakewood Ranch, FL

I have to believe 12's thumb is a bigger issue than is being divulged by the team. If your future HOF quarterback can't throw 20 yards downfield with accuracy, and they don't believe he can hurl it 50 yards downfield for a Hail Mary, how is this situation going to get better?

The thumb will heal in time, just like Aaron Rodgers' toe did last year. How soon? No idea. I do believe it's harder for this offense to be at its best when it's running 80-plus percent of the plays out of shotgun, and LaFleur has suggested the shotgun reliance is due to the thumb. Rodgers admitted after the game he got his thumb taped at halftime because a couple of snaps bothered it. I always believe the running game and, more importantly, play-action are more effective from under center. I do apologize for an incorrect guess in Monday's column regarding the non-Hail Mary. LaFleur said they abandoned the Hail Mary when Washington blitzed.

Miranda from Rochester, NY

Good morning all. We know cohesion and teamwork are the main ingredients that make a good O-line. We also know David Bakhtiari is one of the best in the game. But with him going in and out of the starting lineup as much as he is, does it hurt that cohesion?

It doesn't help. You have a point there. But as you said, he is one of the best in the game, and one of the Packers' best players. The Packers need their best players. In this case, that counts for more than perhaps less-than-ideal cohesion up front.

Darren from Wakefield, MI

So, with the Bears winning, where is the best record in franchise history at now vs. the Packers? I would have looked it up, but I've learned my research could be wrong.

The Packers remain one behind the Bears for the most regular-season wins in NFL history, same as when the regular season began.

Jeff from Athens, WI

I remember the old saying "it's a game of inches" and lately that does not hold true in my opinion. I would go with the phrase "it's all about the details." Securing the ball, timing between QB and WR, blocking assignments, wrapping up to tackle, keep playing to the whistle. While the Packers' record is bad, it is worth noting that better details likely produce a better record overall and that is the final detail that will matter getting into the playoffs.

I'll resist going all Jim Mora on you. But you are what your record says you are, no matter how you got there. That is and remains true.

Ryan from Sun Prairie, WI

I read that there needs to be accountability for the punt returner and ball security. Who else is taking reps in practice?

We don't get to see those periods in practice anymore. I think Romeo Doubs would be next up there, especially with Randall Cobb on IR.

Joshua from Baton Rouge, LA

There's been a lot of talk about Zach Tom over the last week, which leads me to a question. How does our front office manage to assess attitude along with skill and scheme fit? I had an office down the hall from Zach Tom's dad for five years, and if the young man is anything like his father, he's a selfless class act. I look forward to seeing the development and impact of a player to whom I've got a personal attachment.

That's why the personnel department conducts interviews at the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine, as well as talks to a lot of people who know the player so they get to know him as best they can. They try to make sure they know the person before they draft the player.

Kyle from Ooltewah, TN

Wait, did Kenny Clark actually get called for "holding" while being double-teamed?

I'm joining Wes in refraining from commentary on the officiating, but I did watch all the game film. There's a reason the only chuckle from LaFleur in his Monday press conference came when he referenced the blindside block penalty that would've wiped out the lateral-rooski had the Packers managed to pull it off.

Anthony from Sturgeon Bay, WI

Do you find greater appreciation for your job when you can directly ply your trade to we the fans with Inbox or indirectly with the various interviews/research you do to create articles and podcasts?

At the risk of talking too much about it, I look at reporting on the team and interacting with fans almost like different jobs, even though the former certainly bleeds into the latter (but not vice versa). I do my best for all of it, but when a story or column is strictly "your own" product without outside contributions, it means a little more.

Graeme from Tucson, AZ

Going into this season, the Packers were a team with a top 10 defense, one of the best 1-2 punches at running back and no WR1 on the books. The first seven weeks of this season should have been about leaning on the defense (which we have been doing) but also loading up the running backs and have them go win on offense (which we haven't been doing). Of course we have AR12, but even to the casual observer this season looked different going in. So, what happened? What am I missing?

An unsettled offensive line hasn't helped matters, nor a certain bum thumb, injuries at receiver, ghosts of special teams past, an upside-down turnover margin, or several opponents making major if somewhat unexpected improvements over a year ago (Vikings, Giants, Jets). It's never really simple. If it were, it would all be easy to fix.

Eric from Chicago, IL

This week's game has the same feel to me as the New England game in 2010, with our backs to the wall against a top team in the league. Do you think that something positive could be taken away from a competitive loss this week like that game, or are we at the point where we just really need the W?

Both. There are no moral victories in the NFL, and this team needs a win in the worst way. But it also just needs to play better and there's a lot of season left. Yesterday, Bruce from Travelers Rest, SC, likened this to the trip to Houston in Week 6 of 2012, and that's not a bad comparison. Though I would say that year the Packers weren't playing this poorly, just losing tough games (Fail Mary, Indy RTP/missed FG). But that game was definitely a turning point and this team's gotta have its, and soon.

Michael from Weston, Canada

Fellas, the reason for my continued optimism in this season lies in the fact that the Packers were in a position to win all three of the games on this losing streak. It feels like they beat themselves as opposed to getting beat. I think we are in for an exciting finish to the season.

Michael from Weston? Really? Regardless, I hope you're right. I think the schedule is going to make that a monumental challenge, but it's one at a time in a week-to-week league. I agree the Packers are beating themselves. I'm not sure they were ever in position to win the Jets game, but the other two were absolutely there for the taking. The margins are forever small.

George from Olympia, WA

How do we fix this?

Play better. Happy Wednesday.

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