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Inbox: He's an explosive play waiting to happen

The entire secondary deserves the collective kudos

TE Luke Musgrave

Drew from Carmel, IN

Roll out the barrel!

Finally, eh?

Steve from Scranton, PA

Mike, maybe the best thing I saw yesterday was Aaron Jones sitting on the bench with his arm around rookie WR Dontayvion Wicks, consoling the youngster after a fumble in the third quarter. What a great person and leader … after seeing that, I truly feel much better about where this team is headed. Ironically Jones later had a crucial fumble, but Wicks had a few big receptions which picked up his older teammate and contributed to the win. As long as this team sticks together, they'll be fine.

These guys have stuck together through it all so far. There's still plenty wrong with the offense and all its ups and downs, but there's nothing wrong with the culture that's been established on this team.

Patrick from Lakewood, IL

Silver lining from last week? There's still more football to be played. That TD pass to Luke Musgrave was a thing of beauty. How do the Packers get more from the TE group on a regular basis?

Keep designing ways to get Musgrave the ball. He's a tough matchup, and production from him can help open things up for others. He's still learning all the nuances of route running, timing, footwork, etc., but he's an explosive play waiting to happen.

Douglas from Harbor Springs, MI

Thanks for what you guys do. I always get a little more insight after reading the Inbox. This game was encouraging, and a little more fun to watch as of late. My question is regarding the Wicks fumble on the opening possession of the second half. I've been watching football for 50 years, and always was given to understand that the ground cannot cause a fumble. In Wicks' case, his hand was on the ball, it was on the ground, then squirted away. I would have thought it was a dead ball spot.

I said this in the live blog multiple times. The ground can cause a fumble if you're not down. It can't if you're down by contact, as with the Rams running back on the next possession when he lost the ball. Wicks wasn't touched by the defender and was still in bounds. He could've gotten up and tried to run. When he lost control of the ball, it was live.

Tim from Conway, SC

Matt LaFleur is now 6-1 when Aaron Jones gets 20-plus touches. I know he's been limited all year, but do we ride this train and see where it goes? I believe he is our best playmaker. Yet for some reason we inexplicably don't give him the ball. Thoughts?

You said it yourself. He's been limited. A player on a snap count is not going to get 20-plus touches. It's not realistic. The Packers also aren't going to run him into the ground with nine games still to go. When he's fully healthy, he needs to stay that way so the Packers can get the most out of his availability.

Tom from Saugus, CA

Hats off to the defense! A win is a win, but I am concerned that Love continues to be off target on many throws (several low passes to open receivers and high throws that receivers went up for and caught that didn't need to be so difficult). Granted the weather may have been a factor. That said, I believe the result of this game could have been different if Stafford was playing. Thoughts?

Of course the game is different if Stafford plays. Who knows about the result. But as is always the case with injuries, nobody cares. That's this league. Jordan Love had six incompletions on a drizzly day. I'll take that. Yes, he underthrew Christian Watson deep early, took a sack he absolutely can't take when the protection held up as long as it did, and that one possession in the fourth quarter with a 10-3 lead he needs to be way more protective of the football. Those were his negatives on the day, to me. But it seems everybody is looking for every throw to be right on target, right in stride, like a video game. I've never seen a first-year starter at QB throw the ball like that regularly. When the ball is catchable it needs to be caught. Heath needs to make that catch near his knees. That was a huge drop. Could that ball have been in a little better spot? Sure. But an NFL receiver has to make that catch, no excuses. When you go 20-for-26 with some moisture in the air, that's putting the ball where it needs to be most of the time. He's not a finished product. I want to see him keep developing.

Chris from West Allis, WI

After that fourth-quarter touchdown, strangely the most striking thing to me was how good it was to see Matt LaFleur smile again. How good must that have felt for him?

I'm glad he enjoyed that moment. I'm not sure he's enjoying much of today's film review, but that's the nature of this business.

Paul from Ledgeview, WI

Given the opponent and facing a backup QB, did you see anything that suggests the O and D found something to hang their hat on? While it was a win, and that is progress, could you consider it a winning performance (victory notwithstanding)? Seems a trick question, I know. But our opponent certainly cooperated in creating the conditions to secure a W.

There was a lot not to like. No getting around that. I spelled out many of the miscues, penalties, fumbles, etc., in my game recap story. Here's what I did like that had nothing to do with the Rams' limitations with a backup QB: the coverage downfield against two impressive receivers (Kupp and Nucua), the production from and commitment to the run, the pass protection (particularly keeping Donald in check), the return of motions and mis-directions, converting a couple of long third downs, the bounce back by Wicks, and last but certainly not least, the deep ball contested catch by Watson. All of those are items I would classify as improvements over recent weeks, even amidst the frustrating mistakes.

Joshua from Bellingham, WA

This is an interesting one to dissect. On the one hand, we looked similar to the team we have for the last month. On the other, we finally beat a team we should beat. Especially one starting its backup quarterback. But I'm left wondering, was this a big step forward or just one bad team beating an even worse team? What are the biggest positive takeaways?

I listed those above. I do agree the Packers beat a team they should beat, and I maintain this team should've been able to beat the Raiders and Broncos, too. They didn't do it when they didn't need to play great to win. They just weren't able to play "good enough." Sunday was finally good enough. Baby steps.

Tom from Fort Myers, FL

Who got game balls this week? I vote for the defensive backfield.

The coaches will hand those out today, but the entire secondary deserves the collective kudos, yeah. With the trade and the injuries, young guys filling in, everybody showed up to play. Backup quarterback, yes, but it's not as though Kupp, Nucua and Higbee were running free out there. Valentine looked like a different player compared to the Denver game. Johnson was active and around the ball. Alexander looked like the guy we expect.

Jeremy from Tel Aviv, Israel

I know I'm legally obligated to hate the Vikings, but their new QB, now playing for his fifth team in a year, just walked into a game not knowing the playbook or even many of his teammates' names and without the help of a single practice rep led five scoring drives against a pretty good defense. How can anyone not love football?

Yeah, I'm not accustomed to tossing roses at division rivals, but what Josh Dobbs did for the Vikings was truly phenomenal. Hard to fathom, actually.

John from Sturgeon Bay, WI

II: A much-needed victory! Sitting in Sec. 129, it was hard to see/believe that the Packers offense was offside – twice. Second one was replayed on the big boards a few times. Didn't look like a Packer was offside. Can II shed some light?

They apparently ruled the helmet was in the neutral zone.

Mike from Katy, TX

Points of emphasis should apply equally across the NFL. The two offside penalties did not seem consistent with what I watched from both the Eagles and Cowboys in their game. Is the league saying anything about consistency of calls? That is the first time I have seen an offside call on the offense in that situation.

Me, too. If it's indeed suddenly a point of emphasis, that feels to me like the officials trying to do something to make it harder for the tush-push play to be successful. But that shouldn't be their job. The competition committee should've outlawed the play in the offseason. Everyone knows it. That's one of the biggest offseason oversights by the league I can recall in recent memory. Borderline negligent. All that said, if you get called for lining up offside once, it's totally on you to get flagged for the same thing again. No reason not to adjust.

Check out photos from the Week 9 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Rams at Lambeau Field on Nov. 5, 2023.

H.R. from Henderson, NV

Seeing as we are discussing penalties, I'd like to lobby for the removal of illegal contact. Supposed to be any contact initiated by the defender after 5 yards, but it is so inconsistently called that you never know when that flag is coming out. Not to mention that there are separate penalties for holding (grabbing or impeding the route) and PI (entangling the receiver as the ball arrives). Why not just let them jostle and play within the limits of the other two penalties?

The college game functions fine without an illegal contact penalty.

Roger from Eau Claire, WI

The answer to Dan from Richmond regarding referees not reviewing film of teams got me wondering. Do referees review "bad" calls or tough calls from other games to help them not make the same mistakes or get clarifications?

Great question. Given the officials are (secretly) graded by the league on every call, I imagine there's film review as part of the communication. But I honestly don't know.

TK from Grafton, WI

Do WWE referees take part in "preventive officiating"?

I'll check with Wes. I gave up watching the WWF when I, like, grew up.

Austin from Manassas, VA

Regarding Friday's submission about comeback player of the year, if Damar Hamlin sets foot on the field (he was inactive again Sunday), it won't be a race. Hamlin will get it, as he should. It won't matter if Rashan Gary has 100 sacks, although maybe then we'll have a non-QB in the running for MVP.

All true.

Bob from New Britain, CT

Mike, you said it best during the live blog – even an ugly win beats the alternative. But the streak is now nine consecutive games (win or lose) that I've felt really disappointed by our team's performance. For some reason, we just haven't been the same team since our playoff-denying home loss to the Lions on the final game of the season last year (in fact, neither have the Lions!). Did you ever consider the possibility the repercussions of that loss are still stuck in our craw?

I know few things for certain in this game of football, but I have absolutely no doubt the Week 18 loss to Detroit last January has absolutely nothing to do with how this season's Packers are performing. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

Micki from Sturgeon Bay, WI

Well we're off, so we might as well keep going! Go Pack Go!

Happy Monday.

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