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Inbox: Ideally another recovery awaits

It properly applies to just about everything in this league

LB Kingsley Enagbare
LB Kingsley Enagbare

Mark from Waterloo, IA

I look forward to every "Three Guys with Three Things" episode now just to see what Larry comes up with and how you and Wes respond. Good luck with all that NIL money, by the way!

As I said, I don't think I'm eligible. Wes sure looks young enough, though.

Matt from Fitchburg, WI

Has anyone ever checked to see whether there is a correlation between the Packers' success and whether you two switch what days you write the Inbox? Not saying Wes is bad luck, but he did write the Inbox Monday...

We've always done it that way for MNF weeks, and since Wes's arrival, the Packers were 7-1 on MNF before this season so …

Joe from Swansea, IL

Hey, II guys, I was dismayed to see the league is doubling the number of overseas games, to eight instead of four. Seems to me a slap in the face to the local fans who support their teams here. My question: Does this mean the Packers will again play internationally sooner than we had thought?

A slap in the face to all the fans who sell their tickets on the secondary market, which happens everywhere? C'mon man. As to your question, quite possibly, yes.

Kyle from Osceola, WI

Mark it down. I'm calling it now. The 17th game in the schedule will eventually be an international, neutral-site contest and every team will play one every year. That way no team will have to give up a home game and every team will be so challenged to play, and recuperate, from such travel. This is the way.

Gambling remains illegal at Bushwood, but I wouldn't bet against it.

Mike from Algoma, WI

Did you see the NFL's brilliant "silent" response to the Chiefs? A 25-minute video: "Greatest plays called back by penalty." Do you know what we learn? It happens to EVERY TEAM.

I often use the phrase nobody is immune. It properly applies to just about everything in this league.

Zak from Huntington Beach, CA

There was a play against NY wherein we had a D-tackle (Slaton, I think?) two steps into their backfield before the O-line was even out of their stance. He's had some nice plays before, but that was an incredible display of speed and timing from a man of his size. Unfortunately, he couldn't make the tackle in the backfield, but hopefully that kind of play continues so it diverts some of the attention away from our perimeter pass rushers. Any thoughts on his progress so far this year?

D-line coach Jerry Montgomery commented last week on T.J. Slaton improving his consistency, and he's settling in as a solid pro on the interior. The play you reference was a matter of him timing the snap just right, but honestly it doesn't do any good if you don't make the play, because by being in the backfield, a gap opens on the line.

James from Panama City Beach, FL

Good day folks. I expect Barry's defense to bounce back this week vs. Tampa. It seems following the next game after being gashed for over 200 rushing yards the defense bounces back and holds the opposing team under 100. Is there any truth to that? Thanks.

After the Falcons, the Saints rushed for 77. After the Lions, the Raiders rushed for 96. After the Steelers, the Chargers rushed for 150, with almost half (73) coming from QB Justin Herbert. Ideally another recovery awaits.

Paolo from Turin, Italy

Hello II. Re: Jordan Love's attempt to check the ball to AJ Dillon, which resulted in a great loss of yards, could a receiver just willingly drop the ball for an incomplete? What would the zebras say? What would his coaches say? If your QB puts you in a tough spot, are you supposed to try to make the most out of it regardless of the real chances? If Dillon swats that ball down, the team avoids losing 10 yards.

Sure, and I've seen that happen, but when the intended receiver is looking back for the ball, he's not necessarily going to have a read on the entire field around him. How bad would it look to drop a ball on purpose with plenty of space, assuming incorrectly you were a dead duck? The QB is the one who can see the field at all times and must make that decision.

Karl from Valparaiso, IN

Gentlemen, before the Giants game, I saw statistics that showed how successful the Packers and Love were with play-action in the previous three games. On Monday it seemed they really didn't use play-action very often. Thoughts?

They used it, but as I said on "Unscripted," it didn't have the same effectiveness because the Packers didn't make the Giants fear their run game between the tackles. Four of Dillon's first six carries went for two yards or fewer, and his longest for the game was eight yards. New York's stoutness on the interior helped the sideways/stretch runs work pretty well through the first three quarters, but if you can't bust multiple runs between the tackles to get the defense on its heels, it's not as likely to bite on play-action.

David from Buena Vista, CO

Re: comment on "Unscripted" about no way to make it fair when a division champ is sub-.500. What if when the division champ is sub-.500 they forfeit the 4 seed but still get a wild-card spot that falls wherever their record fits in relative to the other wild cards seeding wise (likely a 7 seed)?

Folks have made these suggestions forever, but it's been long documented the league's owners are in favor of division champions hosting a playoff game, so that's why the system is the way it is. If it ever changes, it's because the owners no longer feel obligated to guarantee that reward to a division champ. I wouldn't hold your breath.

Chris from Marshfield, WI

After that game, I was wondering how you're supposed to respond to the team as a head coach? We all can imagine an angry rant, and we can all imagine a calm, pick yourself up "you're better than that" approach. What is the right way to speak to a group of young adults that definitely communicates the mistakes are unacceptable while still being an uplifting, effective leader?

Finding the right touch, and having your finger on the pulse of your team, is what leadership is all about in those situations. A lot depends on what's been said previously, what messages were already delivered, what a coach feels his team needs in that moment. If a coach has a predetermined plan for how to communicate at times like these, he's not coaching. He's just ranting and/or making himself feel better.

Chris from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Julian from Gastonia, NC, asked a good question about coaching chain of command. As a follow-up, LaFleur is calling plays for the offense. How often is he giving input to defensive calls/alignments? Does that happen in-game or just in game prep and reflection?

I honestly don't know. In general terms, I know there's oversight of the game plan and regular communication during the course of a game. But LaFleur has never shared specifics in that regard.

Bil from Stateline, NV

"Fundamentally sound teams rarely beat themselves." What does that say for our Pack, Mike? That seems to be this year's MO. Beating ourselves versus teams we should throttle, on paper. At this point in the season, I had hoped we would not hear "consistency" being the consistent reason given for lack of execution. Do you think that the number of rookie players, with rookie jitters, is a major factor? Seems like a lot of dropped balls, missed blocks and errant throws. That just seems like nerves.

Throttle? If you expected a team with a first-year starting QB to be throttling anybody, I can't help you. I don't think the youthful mistakes are jitters so much as lack of experience with all the adjustments and decisions that must be made on the fly. You have to go through those in the game to really learn how it's played at this level. In the NFL, offense or defense, it's not as simple as calling a play in the huddle and everybody just does what's called. It's a fast-moving, fast-changing game that presents different challenges in every situation and on almost every play, pre- and post-snap. Which is why any players, young or not, can get overwhelmed and lose sight of their fundamentals along the way.

Mike from New Orleans, LA

Thank you for your explanation of having vs. establishing possession. Is this something that changed recently? I'm thinking of the fantastic Santonio Holmes Super Bowl XLIII game-winning catch as an example. He barely tapped his toes while falling out of bounds. By today's rules is that not a catch due to no third step?

No, the boundary is treated differently from the field of play, always has been (to also answer several others). On the boundary, if the ball is secured and not bobbled, two feet are in, and if the receiver doesn't lose any measure of control while going to the ground, it's a catch. The Holmes play in the Super Bowl was prior to the Calvin Johnson play in Week 1 of 2010 that started the league down this never-ending path of defining a catch. I don't recall if anyone even paid attention to whether Holmes maintained control of the ball while going to the ground out of bounds.

Aumed from Moorhead, MN

I remember back in 2016, at Washington, Jordy Nelson caught a similar touchdown where the ball was instantly knocked out, but they kept it a touchdown in the end. Was this third step not a part of the rules back then?

I saw the Jordy play being bandied about on Twitter/X. If I recall correctly, the "third step" is a recent substitute for/alternative to a "football move," but the "football move" still applied then. Re-watching that play, Nelson had two feet on the ground when he caught the ball, and then he spun it away from the defender before it got knocked out. The "keep-away" move appeared to save the TD. Splitting hairs? Yes, but I can see the logic.

Tom from New Braunfels, TX

I know I am supposed to be over the Giants game, but it is tough. In the press conference ML was saying how hard it is to read the Giants' D as Martindale does such a great job with different looks and disguising his blitzes, etc. Does anyone ever say that about our defensive scheme? It does not look to the untrained eye that our D offers up those challenges. I am not calling for anyone's head, but if we copy O-plays as ML says he does, why not work on confusing offenses with our D?

Valid question. While disguising can be related to blitzes, disguising is more directly attached to the coverages being played behind whatever front is shown. I don't know if developing more disguises was in the offing with an experienced starting nickel secondary of Alexander-Douglas-Nixon-Savage-Ford, but once you start losing your main guys and have to play a lot of younger players back there all the time (Valentine, Ballentine, Johnson) executing disguises can get in the way of younger players just figuring out how to do their jobs.

George from North Mankato, MN

Good morning II. I won't point fingers but it seemed to me that some players were trying to do more than their 1/11th on certain downs. I assume the urge to make a big play can factor into this. Can you think of any other reasons that this occurs?

Not really. It's usually guys, especially on defense, believing a big opportunity is in front of them, but when their attempt is not successful, all it does is compromise the unit.

Sandy from Green Bay, WI

Jordan Love's demeanor on the field has consistently been described using complimentary adjectives such as even-tempered, unflappable, focused, etc. Have your impressions of his persona been the same during any off-field interactions, interviews, etc., you have been privy to, including when he is responding to pointed questions following a loss or botched play? I have been impressed with how he has conducted his on-camera appearances.

Me, too. For a guy continuing to learn the ropes his approach is admirable, and he understandably doesn't want to reveal too much, so he plays it straight. As he settles into who he is and where he's going, I think he'll peel back the curtain a bit more perhaps. All in due time.

Nathan from Williamstown, MA

I know we don't deserve a Path to the Playoffs yet, but do we have permission to root for Tommy Cutlets to win one more this week?

Absolutely. Most important this week is to root for the Bengals, Giants, Commanders, Panthers and Eagles. There might be others to pay attention to, but those are the priorities.

Kerry from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Before the season one of your astute Inbox contributors gave us their road map to the how the Packers season could play out. "Break even with your divisional rivals and the AFC West, win three of four from the weak NFC South and beat the Rams at home for a 9-8 record." That is still in play and so is a playoff spot.

Just beat the Bucs.

Steve from Dodgeville, WI

Holmgren said of Favre in his early years the first six passes could go anywhere. Barry Sanders said of himself although he does not show emotion, he feels it. I thought JL looked agitated and nervous before the game. JL is going to be fine. We have a first place in their division team coming up. Recent history is on our side. Any comments or thoughts?

Happy Friday.

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