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Inbox: His impact shows up more and more

Well-executed defenses look simple

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DL Dean Lowry

Richard from Laramie, WY

Would that T-shirt be available at the Jerk Store?

Only when they run out of shrimp.

Steve from Marinette, WI

With the signing of Whitney Mercilus, do we now have a defense that is both Darnell Savage and Merciless? Asking for a friend?

Please see yourself out. Your friend, too, while you're at it.

Matt from Montclair, NJ

I hope you have received hundreds of a submissions like this, but I have to give props to BG, JB, and of course the defensive players. For years, I have been screaming at the TV 'cause the tackling is so poor and we can't stop anyone. Given the insane amount of injuries and a new DC, just want to praise the defense and hope they all only continue to get better and healthier. IDC if it was the Bears or the Chiefs, that effort with 50% of a preseason unit on D was great to watch. Go Pack Go.

The personnel approach in response to injuries has shifted compared to say, 2016, when the primary reservoir for reinforcements was the practice squad. It helps to have veteran players to weather a storm and make the whole team stronger when better health returns.

Ryan from Sun Prairie, WI

I have heard a lot about how the Packers are "all in" this year and that is because Gutey is trying to make Rodgers happy. Have people forgotten that Gutey brought in veterans last year – Snacks Harrison, Christian Kirksey, Ricky Wagner, Tavon Austin, etc.?

Exactly. Jared Veldheer in 2019, too. There are more injuries to deal with this year, and Gutekunst is regularly exploring veteran options. These types of transactions, or supposed lack thereof, were not among Aaron Rodgers' offseason grievances. Has Rodgers had any input and been part of conversations, like he asked? Perhaps. We don't really know. But the specific narrative you reference is a convenient, non-fact-based thread for the talking heads.

Michael from Burnsville, MN

What can we expect from Whitney Mercilus? How was he in his limited action this year?

He was second on the Texans with three sacks through six games. The guy can still rush the passer. He might play as soon as Sunday. His position allows for him to learn a small package of calls on short notice and get in there to do his thing.

Dean from Huntsville, AL

Oct. 17, 1983. I'm stationed in Korea, but the watching Pack/WFT on MNF in the middle of the night. Back-and-forth game with both Lynn Dickey and Joe Theismann throwing for almost 400 yards each. Paul Coffman snags two TDs. James Lofton almost 100 yards receiving. Jan Stenerud kicks the go-ahead field goal with :53 left to put the Pack up 48-47. But Theismann does his thing, and Mark Moseley (great kicker) lines up for a 39-yarder as time expires. He MISSES! Best Packer/WFT ever?

Indubitably.

Jeffrey from Eveleth, MN

Wes must be a young man. Best Washington-Packers game definitely was the Monday nighter. Packers 48, Washington 47. I believe that still stands as the highest scoring MNF game ever, does it not?

Nope. The 95 points stood for 35 years, but the Rams and Chiefs put up 105 in 2018 in a 54-51 LA victory.

Leo from Appleton, WI

I noticed in a couple of games last week that the refs changed a call without it being reviewed. Is that something new the NFL is doing on obviously wrong calls? Would that be New York in the refs' ear telling them they got it wrong?

Yes, my understanding is that is part of the enhanced communication with the command center in New York. What's not clear to me are the parameters in place on the kinds of calls that can be changed via this direct communication with the referee. I don't think it's happening often, but it is on occasion.

Mike from New Orleans, LA

Did you see the Bucks' championship rings? Those things are flashy! They even have a QR code that shows highlights of the season! What is the gaudiest/most impressive championship ring you've seen?

I haven't seen one that isn't gaudy to some degree. It's all part of it, but I honestly don't know how to compare. I do give the Bucks credit for the unique touch of being able to convert the ring top into a pendant. That's pretty cool.

Daniel from Waukesha, WI

Hey guys, who will have more impact, Jaylon Smith or Whitney Mercilus?

In the long run, I'm going to say Mercilus because he's an edge rusher who could work his way into a regular role with Za'Darius Smith out indefinitely. Plus, the defense always has two and sometimes three edge rushers on the field at once, whereas at times only one inside linebacker plays, so opportunities may be more limited for Jaylon Smith.

Hap from Graham, WA

Good morning, Mike. I just finished watching the initial Mercilus interview ("I just arrived here last night"), and what jumped out at me was his character, integrity, and commitment to the team. Another great traditional character addition. His willingness to teach the younger guys anything he can is especially impressive. What impressed you the most in that interview?

Just how genuine, as well as grounded, he is. He understands how what's transpired is just business, and he really appreciates the opportunity in front of him.

Rachel from Minneapolis, MN

Did I see the team in their throwback helmets in pictures today?

Yes, the team is wearing the logo-less, stripe-less helmets in practice this week.

Adam from Wausau, WI

Mike/Wes, what is your favorite Greg Jennings non-Super Bowl memory? He had so many highlights and I can't decide between the walk-off touchdown in Denver (when Denver supposedly had the best CB duo in the NFL) or the "walk-off" TD against the Chargers. I say non-Super Bowl because of all the plays he made during that game. Also, with no numbers in front of me, do you think he is the all-time leading WR in Packers history if he re-signs with us?

Jennings' core-muscle injury in 2012 was a pretty serious deal, so while I always admired his talent and production, it's hard to say whether his body would have allowed him to add another 3,500 receiving yards to approach Driver's 10K if he'd stayed, and on a unit so loaded with weapons to boot (Nelson, Cobb, Finley, Jones, etc.). The Denver OT in '07 is definitely his top non-Super Bowl moment for me.

Gordon from Newport Beach, CA

Mike, when was the last time a Packers punter walked on the field and you felt like we were going to make the opposition pay?

Back in '06-07, I thought Jon Ryan could really blast it. I haven't seen a leg with that much raw power in a Packers uniform until now.

Josh from Hackensack, NJ

Just a point about 2010. Players on IR were done for the year. Hopefully, Jaire Alexander, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Smith can return at some point.

That's the hope. If the 2010 roster rules were still in place, none of those three players you mentioned would have been placed on IR.

Jack from Indianapolis, IN

What's the word on Washington's running game? Is their QB "mobile" at all? Those two facets of an opponent's game have given me fits over the years. Am I too fixated on one aspect of the game?

Antonio Gibson is averaging just 4.0 yards per carry, and QB Taylor Heinicke is the team's second-leading rusher. He can definitely run around, but the biggest thing missing from Washington's offense is the explosive play. It averages less than 11 yards per completion.

Austin from Manassas, VA

I'm happy to say, Dean Lowry has been showing me he isn't who I thought he was. All the talk about Kenny Clark has overshadowed how well Lowry's been playing. He's been making game-changing plays a few weeks running. This is part of why our D has survived while being down so many key starters. Just wanted to give him a shout-out.

And a well-deserved one. Lowry has had strong stretches of play at times throughout his career, and he's in one of those stretches now where his impact shows up more and more. Kenny Clark has told the media multiple times now that Lowry doesn't know how strong he is, and when he uses all his strength, he wins at the point of attack.

Scott from Albertville, MN

How many games is the longest win streak the Packers have had in their history?

Nineteen games. Beginning with the last two regular-season games of 2010, continuing into the postseason, and then through the first 13 games of 2011.

Derek from Sheboygan, WI

Is Amari Rodgers the answer for punt return or should the Packers give Randall Cobb a chance?

I like the way Rodgers is trending as he learns the duty.

Robert from Verona, WI

Do you see any parallels in the progression of Rashan Gary's career and Za'Darius Smith's career? When the Packers signed Smith, he didn't have gaudy sack numbers, but his QB pressure/hit numbers suggested he was on the verge of breaking out. Gary seems to be on a similar path. He is impacting the game, even though the sack numbers aren't there yet. While Rashan Gary's journey is his own, it seems like we've been here before.

I concur.

Casey from Butler, MO

It seems that Newman has had the most troubles on the O-line but Lucas Patrick and Jon Runyan have both been solid when needed even going back to last year. Why do you think Royce Newman was the preferred starter Week 1, and do you think he remains the starter at RG when David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins are both back?

Newman was the best of the three guards in training camp and the preseason, and he won a starting job. If Bakhtiari is back at left tackle for, say, the KC trip in a couple of weeks (with Jenkins then moving to left guard), the coaches will have eight regular-season games to evaluate who's the best option to play right guard. We shall see.

The Green Bay Packers held practice on Clarke Hinkle Field on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021.

Jennifer from Middleton, WI

Curiosity piqued…Matt LaFleur has a locker?

The coaches have a locker room separate from the players' one. It's across the hall.

Francis from North Haven, CT

Miscommunication was blamed for a wide-open receiver in the Chicago game. It seems like there are multiple miscommunications each game. It's just a matter of if the opposition finds it on the play. In the beginning of the year it was magnified since the issues arose at the goal line. The most pronounced was the one with King and Stokes. Is Barry going to simplify the D to compensate for these miscommunications? The best defenses always seem to be simple defenses that execute well.

I don't believe the coverages are any more complicated than these players have executed in the past. I'd dispute your notion about "simple" defenses. I'd say well-executed defenses look simple. It doesn't mean they're totally basic. Unless you're loaded with a half-dozen All-Pros, simple defenses don't hold up over four months because offenses will figure them out too easily. I'm not saying schemes should be overly complex, but I don't think that's the case here.

Douglas from Bemidji, MN

I'm assuming that DB being left off the injury report is because he's not on the 53-man roster yet?

Correct. He's still on PUP. Same for MVS, who remains on IR.

Melody from Geneseo, IL

Which Packer has flown under the radar, not gotten headlines, but done everything asked of him through Game 6?

I'll pick one on each side of the ball, looking at everything from Week 1 until now – Billy Turner on offense, Adrian Amos on defense.

Chris from St. Louis, MO

Morning. So I was looking at the Packers' scores during the winning streak. The points for the Pack have been decreasing each week since scoring 35 against Detroit. Kind of an interesting occurrence. Do you think they will buck this latest trend on Sunday?

Yes.

Jim from St. Petersburg, FL

I read in the chat that I have something in common with Mike – I'd much rather watch a game from the press box than on TV as well! What aspect of the game do you miss most when watching on TV?

Simply seeing the whole field, so the defensive alignment the offense is reacting to is visible. It's also nice to be able to see some of what goes on along the sidelines during the timeouts.

Jeremiah from Madison, WI

Someone mentioned the game blog sometimes spoils the game for them as their broadcast is behind you. I have the same issue, but I just scroll down on the blog until it more or less matches with my stream timing. A simple yet effective trick.

Posting this for those who want to try it. I've also heard from others who say they aren't reading the blog live, but they catch up on all the posts during the commercial breaks.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

I loved Rodgers' answer to the "look ahead on the schedule" question. Of course we know what's in front of us, that doesn't mean we aren't totally focused on the task at hand. Just beat Football Team.

Happy Friday.

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