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Inbox: It could make all the difference

The Packers need to do what they do best on Sunday

Offensive line

Logan from Lamar, CO

What drew me to the Packers during my football infancy years ago was the "little things." Small-market team, community ownership, and a rich history. I just wanted to tip my cap to Mike, Wes, and everyone that makes Insider Inbox possible. You go above and beyond every single week. Your wit, insight, and level-headed/no-drama approach is truly refreshing. I couldn't think of a duo better equipped to run this page. Thank you for all the "little things" you do. Merry Christmas to you both!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and continue to enjoy the holiday weekend. Let's get on with the show.

Scott from Seattle, WA

Was I the only II reader ROFL after reading Spoff's "Santa must be real? Dad would never buy a big TV like that!?"

I can assure you that you were not. That was an Inbox all-timer. Thankfully, Santa Claus loosened the wallet and came through for the Spoffords.

George from North Mankato, MN

What is your favorite Packers Christmas memory? I remember watching the Green and Gold beat the Buccaneers on Christmas Eve in overtime after Martin "automatica" Gramatica missed a short FG. I was frozen cold and wondering why I was still in Lambeau with nothing to play for...I now know why, memories!

Coincidentally, that's my favorite memory, as well. I was at that Christmas Eve game. There was so much excitement – not only for the Packers win but also the fact Christmas was the next morning and I had the next week off from school. A decade later, I had a chance to work in the press box, running quotes for the PR staff, when the Packers beat the Bears on Christmas Day in 2011. So two cool memories.

Jeff from Brooklyn, WI

Just take care of your own business and the No. 1 seed will be yours. Just a side note left on each of the players' pillows by Santa this year. Hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas with blessing to spare.

I don't know about pillows but that's the message LaFleur has been sending the players home with every night.

Charles from Mondovi, WI

How will the Packers exploit the Titans' defense?

It's fairly straightforward – start fast, get in manageable third-down situations and take care of the football. Tennessee has been very opportunistic this year but also has given up a lot of yards and red-zone touchdowns. The Packers need to do what they do best on Sunday.

Steve from Rockville, MD

Are the Packers working on shoring up the defense for a deep playoff run?

Yes, and I think you're already seeing it. The Packers have shifted to a rotation at inside linebacker with Krys Barnes playing more. Adrian Amos is playing closer to the line of scrimmage, the outside linebackers are setting their edges, Clark looks healthy again and Dean Lowry is playing the best he has all season. Containing Henry won't be easy but the run defense is at its high point right now for Green Bay.

Dale from Prescott, WI

Merry Christmas everyone! Jerry Gray said JA has improved from learning the off-technique. What exactly is that?

It's referring to Alexander playing off from the receiver he's defending, not just pressing his man at the line of scrimmage. A lot of those pass breakups Alexander has made this year have come when he's playing off-coverage. You might have noticed it when Alexander's breaking on the ball whenever a receiver runs a stop route.

Chun from El Monte, CA

Krys Barnes and Kamal Martin have shown flashes of big-play ability. It would be hard to take them off the field especially with Christian Kirksey not displaying the same athleticism as these younger guys.

The play of Barnes and Martin was part of the reason they implemented a committee approach to inside linebacker. Barnes played 31 snaps against Carolina before the eye injury, while Kirksey saw 49 defensive snaps and Martin received 22. I bet we'll see more of Barnes in the "Mike" linebacker role, Kirksey playing "Will" in nickel and Martin in base.

Tom from Beaver Dam, WI

With everyone speaking of the improvement of Adrian Amos and his play this year, how much has the improvement of Darnell Savage helped? It seems Adrian has less to worry about.

Considerably, especially with Raven Greene and Will Redmond both missing time with injuries this year. Savage was a first-round pick because of his speed and intangibles, but he's cut from the same safety cloth as Amos. He's smart and instinctive. The Packers will let Savage roam centerfield but he also can step up as a strong safety. His maturation is tied directly to the Packers' comfort in moving Amos around more this year.

Daniel from Atlanta, GA

An interesting point about the new playoff format is that it's now possible to play three home playoff games on the way to the Super Bowl. It used to be that if you won on wild-card weekend you'd be going on the road the following week. But now it's theoretically possible for the No. 2, 3, or even 4 seed to make it to the Super Bowl playing all their playoff games at home. Obviously, the bye is a huge advantage but maybe this reduces the importance of getting the top seed a bit. What do you think?

I still think the importance of grabbing the No. 1 seed supersedes everything. Yes, a team could win three home games on its way to Tampa but that's also one more rock to stumble over on the way to the ultimate prize. And even if you advance, a key player could get injured along the way. To paraphrase Frost…Two roads diverge in a playoff wood, and I – I'll take the path of least resistance. It could make all the difference.

Walt from Skandia, MI

I guess Alvin Kamara is just hard to tackle.

Yes. That is true. But that wasn't exactly a three-day seminar on tackling fundamentals and effort. To my untrained eye, that looked like a Vikings defense with zero interest in being inside the Superdome Friday night.

Dwight from Brooklyn, NY

One of the few times I was rooting for the Vikings, and of course, they don't come through. But, Alvin Kamara with six touchdowns? I get the impression the Saints wanted to make a statement, particularly with that last touchdown.

And that message came through loud and clear. The Saints aren't fooling around – especially when it comes to the run game. This isn't the same "Hey Drew, throw for 5,000 yards" Saints offense of yesteryear. New Orleans can embarrass you in a lot of ways if you don't get off the bus. Oh, Michael Thomas isn't available? Here's Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray running the ball down your esophagus 34 times.

Jason from Houghton, MI

What are thoughts on Malcolm Jenkins' knee hit on Adam Thielen in the fourth quarter? Not cool, in my opinion.

Awful. Unnecessary. Cheap. Those were the three words that immediately came to mind. Be deliberate about what you're doing or don't do anything at all and accept the guy beat you on the play. I just have no time for that WWE stuff.

Mark from Grand Rapids, MI

Mike's answer on Christmas Day about both Matt LaFleur and Mike McCarthy stressing avoidance of controversy in public comments made me wonder how much time is spent teaching players how to not do that. When I was as young as these guys, stupid comments seemed to fall out of my mouth on a regular basis.

That may be true but how often did that happen to you at work? I think it's a pretty easy ask – especially when it's coming from your head coach – to not create questions for your locker room. There's too much on the line. If you can't do it for your team, then you better do it for your paycheck.

Paul from Gorham, ME

Merry Christmas! Can salary-cap space be traded for players or draft picks?

Technically, no. But the Browns did agree to take on Brock Osweiler's contract a few years ago for a second-round pick. It was an unprecedent trade but Cleveland had ample available cap room to "buy" the draft pick.

Bob from Cortez, CO

This is the time of year failing teams start looking for coaches on playoff runs. Are teams' coaches protected from outside offers until their team is eliminated?

The NFL has altered the rules, so teams with a head-coaching vacancy may request virtual interviews with candidates currently employed by another team. In the past, they'd have to wait until after the season, or during playoff byes. The interviews must be done remotely, though. No exceptions.

Dave from Fort Knox, KY

Okay so how many Jake Kumerow questions after he was cut by the Bills? Merry Christmas.

Two…and by 3 p.m. CT, it was all a moot point. The Saints claimed Kumerow on Friday…a true Christmas miracle.

Doug from St. Germain, WI

When the world backs away from the brink, and it's safe for Trans-Siberian Orchestra to tour again, my wife and I will once again travel to Green Bay to see them. Since I now know that both of you are fans also, why not join us? (We always go to the first show, so you'll have to sneak out of work early and scoot across the street to the Resch Center).

I've been known to do that a time or 10. I miss going to events over the Resch. PMI does such an amazing job of bringing acts and shows to Northeast Wisconsin.

Bruce from Jackson, WI

Mike, Wes & II, another year and obviously everyone at 1265 Lombardi Ave. was on Santa's good list. Before the season started the haters and doubters had written off the Packers and were forecasting a team ready to implode. Instead, Packers Nation has been spoiled again with a great group of players managed by professionals, including Mike and Wes keeping us informed and knowledgeable. Kudos! Thank heavens this team is community owned and doesn't have one owner messing it up. Go Pack Go!

You guys know my feelings about how Mark Murphy has guided the ship, specifically the past two years. The best leaders empower people and put them in a position to succeed. The Packers have done that with Brian Gutekunst and LaFleur. And oh, they also happen to have arguably the best player to ever play in the game of football, in case y'all forgot.

Jake from Orem, UT

Hey Insiders, love the column. Wes mentioned how odd it is that the NFL scheduled the interconference game in Week 16, and I'm wondering what you think about making a schedule structure league-wide that keeps those games at the beginning of the year? For example, interconference games occur the first four weeks of the season, followed by three division games, then the six conference games, and the season ends with the final three division games. What are your thoughts on such a structure?

If there was ever a year to do it, this was it. But the NFL wanted to keep the schedule as is. The league finishes the season with division games but that's about the only set structure each year. I think the NFL likes having a certain amount of uniqueness, I guess you could call it, the other 16 weeks.

Dan from Toledo, OH

Although it fell short, how great was it that fans of the Lions, Bears, and Packers tried to organize a mass voting campaign for Yannick Ngakoue to make the Vikings have to pony up a higher pick? I love rivals coming together for the greater good. Merry Christmas to you and your families, and thank you for all that you do!

Unfortunately, as fun as this all was, the fan vote only counts for a third of the final tally so it would've been tough to get him in. Plus, there's also an entire locker room of Vikings who could play defense with their own Pro Bowl ballots.

Ronald from Panabo, Philippines

Insiders, so what kind of car did Za'Darius Smith buy for Preston?

You are asking the wrong guy. All I know is it was white.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

An uncommon foe approaches looking to secure their own crown

A foe looking to make their mark on the hallowed ground

A feared opponent led by a beast who invokes fear with the thrust of a stiffened arm

The stiff-arm from the depths of hell

Stand your ground Men of the Bay

You must neither waver nor show fear when you defend the Frozen Tundra

Your story continues The next chapter waits to be written

The time has come Men of the Bay

Christmas was fun. Now, it's time to get back to work.


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