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Inbox: His presence was felt practically every snap

It’s high-risk, high-reward football

LB Preston Smith
LB Preston Smith

Paul from De Pere, WI

I would say that was a parody on parity. Does Luke know Lucas?

I must channel my inner Vinnie Barbarino here. I'm so confused.

Ben from Pensacola, FL

Just finished watching the last locker room interview with 'Tae. His responses to different questions, the comments he makes about other players (same team or opposing team) is with a lot of respect. We all love Nelson, and in some ways, 'Tae has his level of professionalism and work. But he is still very much his own. He's gotta be one of the favorites. When I have the funds, he'll be my first jersey.

My favorite answer was when he was asked about getting respect from opponents, such as when the Bears lined up three defenders to handle him. "It means a lot but I still want the ball." That's what makes him very much his own, as you say.

Bill from Bloomfield Hills, MI

Every receiver sans Adams has less than a full season of working with Rodgers on the field in our first-team offense. I see flashes from them, but which do you think are closest to that mental telepathy level that has existed in the past with Jordy, et al, and who has the most promise for that (mind you not who is most targeted)? Thinking this might be more apparent in the repetition of practice versus what we have seen the past season or so.

At this point, it's Allison based on his experience with Rodgers, and Graham based on his experience in the league. But I don't think any of them are that close to the connections he's had with Nelson, Adams, etc., and that's not a knock against them. I don't think it really started to click with Adams until late in 2016, the tail end of his third season. Allison appeared headed there last year early on and then got hurt. It takes a lot of time and a lot of reps, on the practice field and in games, particularly clutch situations. You can't force it.

Kegan from Deployed

Hey guys, the modern-era HOF nominees were released. Just wondering how many Packers are on the list and how many have a shot of getting in this year? They're inducting more right?

The most prominent former Packers on the list are Butler, Collins, Driver and Longwell. The only one with a realistic shot in my view is Butler, who reached the semifinalist stage last year. The expanded class is for the senior nominees only, not for the modern-era group, which will have a maximum class of five, as usual.

Justin from Los Angeles, CA

"Actually, the way to win the division is to lose less games than the Vikings, Bears and Lions." Ho boy, talk about teeing up grammar perfectionist Spoff. If you're gonna be pedantic, at least get your grammar right.

Seeing rather large number of Inbox readers who submitted the appropriate correction to fewer made me proud.

Cody from Payson, UT

What constant do we need on defense to continue to dominate through the rest of the season?

If I were to pick one thing from Week 1, it would be the steady pressure on the QB.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Despite having a solid O-line, Green Bay's pass protection was suspect in Chicago. Is that an area in which home-field advantage will help this week, or does it have more to do with scheme and winning the one-on-one battles?

When an offense is on the road using a silent count, it provides a slight edge to the pass rushers getting a jump off the ball. That slight edge is dulled when the offense is at home, but you still have to win your one-on-one.

Ferd from Woodbury, MN

The mention of speakers' location and volume...does the NFL have limitations for the home team? Can a team just go ahead and place a bank of speakers behind the visiting team bench and blast noise at any decibel level it likes when they are on offense? If so, are there times you can blast noise/music and times you have to shut it off?

The rule is any music or artificial noise has to be cut off when the center touches the ball or with 20 seconds left on the play clock, whichever comes first. But how that rule is policed I have no idea. Guys who played at the Metrodome said the speakers there used to pump in crowd noise all the time.

Jeff from Green Bay, WI

Hi Mike, it seems that Rhodes is one of the few DBs in the league that can prevent the back-shoulder throws to Adams with his long arms and press-style of play. It also seems that Harrison is always effective at doubling the slot receiver and breaking up passes and intercepting overthrows in pressure situations. My eyes will be glued to the two-TE and bunch formations to hopefully get back to screens and draws as an extension of the running game and hopefully get some rhythm on offense going.

I don't mean to pick on you, but fans often holler about running screens and draws all the time. Those are reactionary plays, designed to slow down a pass rush that's jetting up the field. Screens and draws aren't really proactive plays for finding a rhythm. If the defensive pass rush doesn't overplay its hand, screens and draws won't work. They're useless. The running game and timing patterns are better for trying to establish a rhythm.

Lillian from Knoxville, TN


Hi, Lillian.

Andy from Lancaster, PA

Hello Insiders! I've seen mentioned several times about JK Scott's performance falling off late in the season due to the length of the season and the wear and tear it has on a player. Does that really apply to specialists? What does a punter do throughout a week's worth of practice, and several months of a season, that would lead to such fatigue? I'm not saying he should suck it up; I'm genuinely curious what kind of work a specialist is required to put in on a weekly basis.

It's about monitoring the workload and not over-kicking. Specialists, especially young ones trying to get their career going, have to guard against overworking themselves if a bad game or slump crops up. The natural tendency is to work at it, get after it, kick yourself out of a slump, but often that can do more harm than good over the course of a long season. He has one set of muscles he relies on, and he can't wear them out. The phrase "trust your training" applies to specialists, too, but it can be easier said than done.

Tim from La Crosse, WI

Even though it's very early in the season, starting off 2-0 in the division and having those wins against the Bears and Vikings makes a pretty big statement.

You wrote that in the present tense. Interesting.

James from Easton, MD

Mike, you have a great way of handling the wide variety of questions you invariably must field. Your wit reminds me of the sharp intellects I observed in a number of fixed wing Marine Corps fighter squadrons in which I served and with one Navy squadron. The film "Top Gun" might be too ancient for you to have watched. If you haven't seen it I encourage you to watch it. I think you'd appreciate the Ready Room humor and camaraderie. Thank you (and your readers) for a very entertaining column.

I appreciate the compliments, especially your belief that a movie released in 1986 is too ancient for me. Maybe for Wes. I saw it in the theater the summer before my freshman year of high school and bought the soundtrack on cassette.

John from La Crosse, WI

Practice, playoffs? Google Lee Elia. Now that's a rant.

I'm old enough to remember that one, too.

Connor from Murray, UT

Mike mentioned, both in II and the podcast, that the difference between the Bears and Vikings defense is the blitz/pressure packages Minnesota will dial up. I have heard multiple times that great quarterbacks love when you blitz. So is Rodgers looking forward to the blitzes to pick apart the weak spots? I'm excited to see the awareness and knowledge Rodgers has in this new system.

There's a lot that goes into beating a blitz. The protection call must be right, and every player must know his assignment. The receivers have to recognize the blitz and adjust accordingly, depending on who's the hot read, and they have to be on the same page as the QB timing-wise. It's high-risk, high-reward football. What's interesting about a Rodgers-Zimmer matchup after all these years is whether the Vikings can throw something at Rodgers he hasn't seen.

Troy from Houston, TX

In honor of Preston and Za'Darius, I have named my fantasy team Mr. and Mr. Smith. What do you think? I even have a complementary celebration move when one of them gets a sack. My fiance says it needs some work.

Be grateful her thoughts for improvement are focused there.

Richard from Menasha, WI

Atlanta's run defense was a mess against Minnesota. What were they doing/not doing to make it so? After watching the film of that game will the Packers be able to avoid those problems?

From what I saw, the Falcons couldn't set the edge and kept letting Cook get outside. Know your assignment, fill your lane, get off blocks.

Anthony from San Antonio, TX

I like Scott's (from Fredonia) suggestion about ties counting as losses. They could call it the "Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing" rule. As an added bonus, it would solve the overtime rule controversy; just eliminate overtime and watch teams frantically trying to score points late in fourth quarters. Sounds like quality entertainment to me.

Not the craziest idea, honestly. Also solves the player-safety concern with extending games. Then overtime would only be needed in the postseason. This is starting to grow on me.

David from San Francisco, CA

Mike, I'm not all that sure what you mean by off-site tailgating, but I do want to point out that if a game is kicking off from the West Coast, it either starts at 1:00 or 1:25 out here so our tailgating is equal to the East Coasters. On the other hand, I love rolling out of bed on my lazy Sunday at 9:45 a.m. and moving immediately to the couch for the 10 a.m. games. Our night games end at 8:30 p.m. I don't think it gets better than the West Coast experience.

I was referring to those out west who are dedicated to doing the full-on pre-game party for a noon CT (10 a.m. PT) kickoff. It takes serious commitment. I do remember a long time ago, before I got into this line of work, spending an NFL Sunday with a friend out west, with the 10 a.m. games, a mid-afternoon tilt, and then the early evening. We still had time to get in a game of cards after the final whistle. It was fantastic.

Dave from Germantown, TN

Mike, I like WYMM. Do you think the Packers' opponents look at your work just to make sure they did not miss anything in their film study?

Ha. If they do, the Packers are in great shape.

Brian from Schertz, TX

Does the special teams coordinator call a "play" on punts, e.g., "punt to left, line drive" or "down the middle, high hang time"? Or does the punt team survey the return alignment and make a call from there?

Usually a play is called from the sideline, but adjustments can be made. That's often the personal protector's job to communicate any changes to the call.

Ryan from Appleton, WI

What player were you surprised to see have such a major impact in last Thursday's opener?

Preston Smith. His presence was felt practically every snap, and he played every snap, too (except one, I think). Not knowing much about him before he arrived, I'm curious whether that was a great game for him, or a good game, you know what I mean?

Dave from Sparta, WI

When a quarterback is scrambling outside the numbers, and a defender has the choice to pursue the quarterback or stay with the receiver, what split-second considerations need to be processed by the defender? Is there a general rule that is followed?

Generally the defender lets his instincts take over. You can't think too much out there or you'll get nothing done. The best ones have a feel for where they are on the field, the traffic around them, the location of the first-down marker, and they react accordingly. Sometimes it doesn't matter. The QB might have you beat as soon as you commit to either chasing him or staying back.

Jeff from Ogden, UT

In this day of zone blocking and personnel scheme-related running games, I miss the days of a smash-mouth, road-grading lineman. Who, in your opinion, is the closest we have to a road grader on this team?

Probably Corey Linsley.

Craig from Brookfield, WI

The 2019 version of the Packers' defense seems to have very decent talent at every position (except the second ILB slot) rather than a Mack, Miller, Watt who can tilt the field week after week. While a talent like that is always a good thing, it strikes me that with this year's crew there's less potential for an injury that makes us go from a top 10 to a bottom-dweller. Our "field-tilter" can vary week to week. What think you?

That's one way to look at it. I also think there's time for a go-to guy to emerge on this defense as well. It comes down to the plays made at crunch time. That ultimately defines the true difference-makers.

Paul from Bay View, WI

Guys, was the win against Chicago the type of win that can catapult a team into instant success? Or do you think they will have to face some adversity to help with their success?

Expecting to avoid adversity is the first step toward not handling it properly when it arrives.

Jason from Des Plaines, IL

After a 2018 season where our chances of making the playoffs were ultimately uncertain throughout the entirety of the season, a Week 1 road win against the best defense in the league cannot, must not be taken for granted. It's wins like these the Packers have been dying for in recent years. Week 2 is no different. If we can go 2-0 after facing two of the hottest defenses in the league, November will have much more clarity in terms of the NFC North competition. How do we get there?

One week at a time. Happy Friday.