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Inbox: It didn't matter, not one bit

The Packers yet again blew a huge opportunity

Buccaneers QB Baker Mayfield
Buccaneers QB Baker Mayfield

Bill from Oswego, NY

Arrow is not pointing upwards. So much promise turned to cold reality. Crushing defeat.

No lie told.

Allen from Fairhope, AL

II: Is the opposite of complementary football obtuse football? That's what we've seen all too often, all three phases letting us down at the same time.

That'll work. Covers the angles (sorry). Though unlike last Monday, when the breakdowns in all three phases made it a total team failure, this game was about one phase in particular. The defense never gave the Packers a legitimate chance to win that game, period. The special teams were fine. The offense had 20 points on the board with 10 minutes left. Any semblance of resistance on defense in the second half and the Packers had a chance, but no.

Mark from Genoa, IL

Remember when everyone was excited about hitting the soft part of our schedule?

That's why talk like that is only talk. It means nothing. How this team went from 3-6 to 6-8 is about as bizarre and head-scratching as it gets.

Vincent from Seattle, WA

How can the Packers play Detroit and KC like they did, then come out and play the Giants and Bucs like this?

If anybody knew a meaningful answer to that, it wouldn't have happened. But it's further proof in a one-game shot there isn't as much difference between the double-digit win teams and the sub-.500 clubs as the numbers make it appear. The double-digit winners just don't have as many off days and find a way to win once or twice when things don't go great.

Jordan from Osterdock, IA

I didn't get a chance to watch the game but the defensive numbers look like we just traded rushing yards for passing yards. Did I miss anything?

Be glad you didn't get to watch it.

Jim from Albuquerque, NM

How many more excuses do we need from an underachieving defense?

I didn't hear any excuses Sunday after the game. I heard a head coach determined to find some answers.

Scott from Centennial, CO

This is a website, so we don't blame you for not criticizing coaches whose faces you have to see often. However, I think it's obvious to everyone including the media after the game, Joe Barry is the stone sinking the Packers. Matt LaFleur has a decision to make or it could cost him his job as well.

Through all the aftermath of an incredibly rough day, I'm certain of one thing – LaFleur's job is absolutely not in jeopardy. Not in the slightest.

Brian from Trego, WI

For the last two years our defense on paper should have been lights out but has steadily degraded. Given that they played most of this year without four starters in the secondary this year (Douglas traded, Stokes, Savage and Alexander) do you think those absences of key players or the defensive scheme is more to blame for the step backwards?

The Packers were missing those same players in the secondary (except Darnell Savage) when they beat the Lions and Chiefs. Everyone who knows me knows I'm never going to point the blame solely in one direction. That's lazy and way too simplistic. But wherever the blame lies, the bottom line is this is a results-oriented business and the results aren't there often enough. So something has to change. At this moment, it's up to the head coach to decide where to focus the change for these last three games – personnel deployment, preparation, scheme and approach, in-game calls and adjustments, leadership, all of the above?

Check out photos from the Week 15 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Lambeau Field on Sunday, Dec. 17, 2023.

Dan from Rice Lake, WI

Well, at least our defense didn't give up 200-plus rushing yards, so we've got that going for us, which is nice, I guess.

Appreciate the humor. In all seriousness, though, I don't think allowing 200-plus rushing yards four times is entirely unrelated to what we saw Sunday, even though the passing game obviously was the dominant factor. When one issue continues to require extensive attention, it's not easy for everything else within a unit's execution to stay sound. Other breakdowns are bound to crop up. The coverages broke down repeatedly and it made everything look easy for the Buccaneers. They didn't have to make contested catches. If Mayfield was protected, he found somebody open. The Packers sacked him five times. The first two had an impact on the game. After that? It didn't matter, not one bit. He just got back up and kept firing.

Kyle from St. Charles, MO

Was that a defensive effort issue? Mental? Physical? Placement? Scheme? Just trying to figure out what went wrong defensively after that strip sack. Sitting at home you knew it was going to be a midrange pass, likely to Godwin, every time they got to third down. In a season of ups and downs this one really stings. Three more games. I'd love a playoff berth, but I'd sure take a strong finish to build some confidence heading into this squad's first offseason if it's not in the cards.

Again, it's hard for me to get inside anybody's head, but as the game progressed, I wondered if the third-down sack to force the field goal on the opening drive, followed by the subsequent strip sack near the goal line, were fools' gold in terms of the approach. The reluctance to try to heat up Mayfield felt like it was based on that early pass-rush success from a standard four-man front, and as a result the Bucs converted six of their next eight third downs while the Packers were hoping for the four-man rush to get home again.

Marty from Plymouth, WI

Jaire Alexander was inactive for the sixth consecutive week. He practices all week but can't go on game day. Is this lingering shoulder issue something that will prevent him from ever being able to effectively tackle again? I'd guess he's frustrated, but so are we as fans. Any updates on what's really going on?

I wish I had something for you. All I know is Alexander has said the injury is not something he can play through, and it is not the same shoulder he hurt two years ago. Also, LaFleur has said his availability comes down to whether he can protect himself from further injury. That's all I got.

Pete from Caledonia, MI

RIP II. Safe to say, the season is quickly unraveling. No defensive goodwill exists, and it may have been the worst performance since SF ran wild in the playoff game. It appears if the front four don't make a play, no play gets made. "Communication problems" has become tiresome for years now. Fire Barry? I don't think it matters who coaches it now. Do you think this D can be coached differently the next three or are the players just not that good? I'm sure effort isn't a question. What is it?

The players have shown they can get it done. They just haven't done so regularly enough, and the wild swings of inconsistency have become the hallmark of the current defense over the last two seasons, to the team's overall detriment. I think on that we can all agree. What are the reasons? That's up to the people involved in every aspect of this thing, immersed in it every day, to figure out, led by the head coach. Trust me, there's so much that goes on about which we have no clue. I have no clue, and I work here. Right now, LaFleur has to focus on what can effectively get changed over these last three games, while the season is still alive. Then a more comprehensive evaluation will take place after the season with the bigger picture in mind. The answers at both moments in time may not be the same, because the goals and perspective may not be the same. All we can do is wait and see.

Don from Aurora, CO

There are so many positives to Jordan Love's game … but his sloppy footwork is exasperating. Unlike play speed or reading defenses, this isn't something that requires years of experience as a starter to master. He's in his fourth year in the NFL and his fundamentals, inexplicably, are a mess. We've spent years praising Tom Clements as the QB guru. He and Matt LaFleur should both have to answer direct questions about this.

Look, you're not the only one here. I think folks are a little too hung up on the missed fourth-and-2 inside the 5. Yes, he has to connect on that throw and yes, his footwork got away from him and directly contributed to the incompletion. But he was 29-of-39 on the day. You don't complete three-quarters of your passes in this league with fundamentals that are "a mess." That's an absurd comment. Does he need to stay on top of them? Absolutely, all the time. But does anyone else regret that what might've been Love's biggest "wow" moment of the year – the scrambling 17-yard TD dart to Jayden Reed on third-and-14 that kept the Packers in the game at the time – became a mere footnote today? That was an absolutely incredible touchdown throw, one week after missing a similar throw against the Giants to Samori Toure. Progress is not linear, but it's there. You'd have to be blind not to see it.

Janet from Auburn, WA

I love watching football and would never claim to know a lot about schemes and play calling, but what in the world happened during the second quarter? I don't think the Packers ran the ball one time after Aaron Jones seemed to light a spark in the first quarter with some pretty nice carries.

You're right, that was pretty mystifying, though LaFleur admitted he was being careful about Jones' reps in his first game back, and he fed him eight times on the opening drive. The Packers ran 13 plays from scrimmage over two drives sandwiched around Tampa Bay's lone three-and-out. The only handoff in those 13 plays was a near-disastrous one to newcomer Kenyan Drake, they got three points on those two possessions, and more than two minutes still remained in the half for the Bucs to score again. It was less than ideal, obviously. Bigger picture, I really liked what Jones brought to the offense with his return, along with the production from Dontayvion Wicks and Tucker Kraft.

Michael from Baraboo, WI

How big was the Vikings' loss in OT for the Packers' chances of making the playoffs?

Significant, but the Packers yet again blew a huge opportunity. By dropping back to 7-7 rather than jumping up to 8-6, the Vikings brought the No. 6 seed back in play for everybody in the hunt. So rather than this large conglomerate of teams feeling like it's competing for one spot, suddenly two are there for the taking with three weeks to go. But the Packers are on the outside looking in now, when they had a great chance to get to this point and not need any help.

John from Grand Rapids, MI

I am very hopeful this team can make the playoffs. But it is not because I think they can win it all. It's because this team needs the experience of the grind to get there and then, the experience of playoff intensity. Teams don't do well until after they have learned how to play in the playoffs. Comments?

There's a lot to be said for that. So far the returns on "the grind to get there" have been alarmingly poor. Two brutal outings with a lot at stake. Gaining this experience given where the team is in its development is not a bad thing, even if the results have been.

Lewis from Bloomfield Hills, MI

Do you see how the Bills are playing Dallas at home? That is how you play like a team on the brink. I hope the passive Packers defense is watching that game. How many eggs can they lay when it counts? Offense did what they could. Pathetic display considering what they're supposedly playing for…

No argument from me. The teams with the best chance are the ones who play their best football this time of year. Right now, that's not this team. Can they find it again? Sure. Will they? No idea.

George from North Mankato, MN

Having participated in and relied on many live blogs this year (and years past), I was wondering which game has produced the largest online attendance? What was significant about this game that led to the increased viewing? What is the average number of followers?

Unfortunately, the "live viewers" counter on the platform we use hasn't been working for a couple of months now, so I really don't know what the peak audience has been this season. It feels like readership and participation has been rather robust, and for that I thank the audience. Usually the biggest crowds occur for the noon CT games (regional TV broadcasts) that are close at crunch time. If memory serves, for the New Orleans game back in Week 3, the live audience topped 5K in the fourth quarter.

Larry from South Milwaukee, WI

I think I'm going to save my optimism for next season. What do you think?

That's your prerogative. I'm never going to give up on a season until the math says it's over. But that's just me.

Kyle from Osceola, WI

Is "This can't be confirmed as an exhaustive and complete list (I did the research myself)" the new "According to my research, (which could be wrong)"? Haha

You're an astute reader, Kyle. Thanks for noticing. In retrospect, trying to attract clicks with that headline sure turned out to be rather prophetic, unfortunately.

Ron from Spooner, WI

What word would you use to sum up this one? I had several in mind, but since it's the holiday season I won't use them. Not out loud, anyway.


Shanna from Colorado Springs, CO

No, Pack. No.

Tough Monday.

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