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Inbox: It looks ready

All you can do is keep working at it

RB Aaron Jones

Donald from Cumberland, WI

"Minnesota got the ball out to the twenty-four yard line and their offense went to work. The network immediately had the screen covered with all sorts of useless information so that the fans couldn't see the players." From "The Sum of all Fears" by Tom Clancy. The man was a visionary!

Having the down-and-distance in two places on the screen is overkill. But I prefer to look at the benefit of having so much visible information – I can mute the announcers. I do it all the time.

Rob from Edinburgh, Scotland

I saw on the injury report that Fletcher Cox did not practice on Wednesday. Do you have any idea how likely he is to play on Sunday? How big of an impact could his absence have on the game if he is ruled out?

He didn't practice Thursday, either, though it's worth mentioning the Eagles are on a short week, so we'll see what that means. I haven't heard any proclamations of his chances, but if he can't play, that's a game-changer, much like Hicks being out for the Bears in my opinion.

Robin from Ashburn, VA

What matchup should we pay most attention to this week?

Darius Slay vs. Davante Adams, if the Eagles decide to run their defense similarly to last Monday vs. Seattle.

Sam from Janesville, WI

Good morning. It was mentioned "Philly's O-line was on its 10th different combination in 11 games Monday night." I'm curious as to how many combinations the Packers' O-line has been in including the same players in different positions?

If Lucas Patrick is able to play Sunday and the Packers line up (left to right) with David Bakhtiari, Jon Runyan, Elgton Jenkins, Patrick and Billy Turner, that'll be the fifth different starting alignment in 2020. Not including the massive substitutions at the end of the San Francisco game, I've also counted five other combinations that have been used in games.

Benjamin from Burlington, VT

"It's officially December…which means it's Kenny Clark season." Exactly. I'm pretty stoked to finally bust out my Kenny Clark Advent Calendar. I'm guessing the doors mostly contain stuffed runs with a few sacks and fumbles in the mix, but I'll also be happy with eating up some double blocks that I find there too, so that the other rushers can get home more.

I have no comment. I just wanted to post this.

Kyle from Brooklyn, NY

ML is 22-7 as Packers head coach, an awesome achievement and Green Bay fans are synonymous with blessed fans because of it. The one thing I see missing – that other SB contenders that have made the leap to championship-caliber have – is the ability to consistently execute all three phases of the game for four quarters. What do you think the keys are for the Packers down the stretch to be one of those one, two or three teams that make this leap and get it done? Thanks for all that you do. GPG.

That's everyone's struggle and what all contenders are striving for. All you can do is keep working at it. We just saw the undefeated Steelers get taken to the wire by a COVID-ravaged Ravens team playing second- and third-string QBs. No one's got it all figured out. For the Packers, the next steps are to cut down on the defensive lapses against the run and get some impactful returns on special teams. But there's no guarantee if those are achieved that everything else in good shape will continue to roll along. Everyone wants it all to come together, but no one can be sure it will. That's why so many games come down to crunch time and making plays when they matter most.

James from Appleton, WI

Aaron Rodgers is looking pretty satisfied these days. He's got almost all of his crayons back in the box and is ready to draw a masterpiece. I can't help but think he's going to hand the ball to Aaron Jones at just the right time and watch Jones go for a long TD run. Put your money on the table this week: 40-plus yards, Jones run or strike to Marquez Valdes-Scantling?

I've felt for a few weeks the Packers' ground game has been poised to break a big one. It looks ready. I think it's coming.

Christopher from Frederick, MD

I know there is no chortling in the Inbox, but can there be chortling in Cliff's article about the Aaron Rodgers pick? Seeing some of the picks that were made ahead of them, and then immediately seeing the (lack of) QB talent those teams had in the following years, couldn't help but make me grin from ear to ear. God bless TT, wherever he is.

It's the ultimate reminder of how much of a crap shoot the draft truly is.

Mike from Las Vegas, NV

You guys are only human. Surely, there have been times where you had been thinking about making a comment or writing an article that would likely be considered too controversial somewhere within the organization, but you wisely chose to be discretionary instead. So, how do you cope? Is there a speed bag hanging from the ceiling or maybe a whack-a-mole machine over against the wall in your office?

I calmly wait for lunch time.

Jacob from Mason, OH

What are some crucial takeaways for this upcoming week?

Last week against the Bears, I felt it was a run-the-ball/stop-the-run game. This one against the Eagles has protect-the-QB/pressure-the-QB written all over it.

Rich from Grand Rapids, MI

This year's Path to the Playoffs might get complicated. Right now, strength of victory (i.e. combined winning percentage of opponents beaten) is the tiebreaker for GB/SEA for the second seed. If that remains the case, we will need you to point out which results are tangentially important for impacting the SOV tiebreaker (such as we want DET to win this week so a win next week over the Lions bolsters GB's SOV). Might need an intern or two.

I'm not going to dig that deep with five games to go. If we get to Christmas and such considerations will factor in, I'll explore them.

Brian from Sussex, WI

The sign has to be "Whiz is not cheese." I ordered a Philly cheesesteak one time I was in Philly, and asked what kind of cheese they had. They gave a list including "Cheez Whiz." I told them Whiz is not cheese, it's not even legally allowed to be spelled cheese. The response was that Whiz is cheese in Philly.

You and I (and Keith from Lincoln, IL) are on the same wavelength. I texted Joan the other night that this Sunday's sign should be "Philly uses fake cheese."

George from North Mankato, MN

Any chance we will see a Pat's or Geno's sign in the stands this week? Or cheese curds are better than cheese steaks?

Oh, the latter might be the ticket.

Chase from Minnesota City, MN

I enjoy analytics just as much as the next stat guy, but I don't want to hear about it from the announcers and it should certainly not be the lead factor when deciding whether to go for it. Those stats were made based on a different mindset. Game flow, situation, and personnel matchups are way more important.

Amen. The analytics geeks actually said after the Jacksonville game that LaFleur's decision to punt on fourth-and-1 from his own 23-yard line with 2:32 left and a 24-20 lead wasn't optimal. Aside from that being absurd on its face to me given the field position, even if it's from midfield instead, I think the fact that the Packers had just gotten stuffed on third-and-1 has to factor into the decision. Analytics don't consider game flow at all.

Justin from Sammamish, WA

Good morning. I just read Robert Tonyan's seven TD receptions is the most for a Packers TE through 11 games since 2001. How many would he need in the remaining five games to have the most in a full season in that same time frame?

Bubba Franks had nine TD catches for the full 2001 season. Green Bay's franchise best for a tight end is 11, by Paul Coffman in 1983. Keith Jackson also hit double digits, with 10 in 1996.

The Green Bay Packers practiced on Clarke Hinkle Field on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020.

Bruce from Lakewood, CO

Good morning Wes and Mike. I rewatched the beginning of the Bears game concentrating on Aaron Rodgers. In addition to the seemingly endless details he gets right, he seemed to make slight adjustments with his arm angle, eyes or passing speed to avoid a tipped ball. On reflection, he seems to have fewer tipped balls than other QBs. Is this just my imagination or is this one more nuance he has mastered?

He's keenly aware of the passing lane he needs and how to create it. I'm not aware of any official stats on passes being batted at the line, but I remember thinking when the third-down slant to Adams in the third quarter at Indy got deflected, you just don't see that very often.

Bruce from Las Vegas, NV

The in-game blog is really great. Thanks for doing that. It's kind of funny during home games that the comment usually comes before the play is shown on TV. If I make a few bucks betting I know what will happen during a few of those plays, will I owe you a percentage?

A betting question from Vegas. You can't make this stuff up. What happens in Vegas can stay in Vegas, Bruce. But thanks for logging on to the blog.

Rich from Reno, NV

Can you imagine betting $500,000 on the Seahawks and giving the 6.5 points, then watching Richard Rodgers make that improbable catch? Then to sit through the two-point conversion and lose by half a point. I think I would have expired before the conversion. That's the definition of "tough luck." The Book was happy though.

Sorry, can't help anyone there, and I have zero sympathy.

Scott from Lincoln City, OR

Mike, when a kickoff touchback is spotted on the 25-yard line, is the official sideline chain marker placed on the front edge, middle, or back edge of the white line?

The nose of the football is placed so it is barely touching the 25, with the rest of the ball between the 24 and 25. So the chain is placed on that initial edge of the 25.

Eric from Reedsburg, WI

Hopefully this won't be the game where Carson Wentz gets his groove back.

That'll be mostly dependent on his offensive line.

Greg from Belvidere, IL

Regarding Corey Linsley , he seems to be a solid, everyday, show-up-and-perform kind of player. Has there been a stretch where he's missed time like he's going to miss now?

Sunday will be Linsley's first game missed since 2016 and just the 11th of his career. He missed three games in '15 and then the first seven in '16 when he began the season on PUP.

Scott from Lincoln City, OR

Hi Mike, with the Baltimore/Pittsburgh game getting moved so many times, eventually ending up on Wednesday afternoon, any idea why the league just didn't put it into the vacant primetime slot on Thursday night?

Because their next games are scheduled for Monday (Washington v. Pittsburgh) and Tuesday (Dallas v. Baltimore).

Jeremiah from Madison, WI

I heard that the Broncos asked if they could have one of their assistant coaches play QB last week but the NFL nixed it, citing "inflated" roster issues. But why couldn't they just essentially sign the guy to a one-day contract and have him as a legit person on their roster? Presumably, because they already are on the team staff and going through daily testing, they would avoid the five-day waiting period other potential free agents would run into.

Assistant coaches can't be signed to the active roster for good reason. Teams could exploit the option by stashing available players under assistant coach contracts, preventing anyone else from signing them and circumventing the salary cap in the process.

Patrick from Gulf Breeze, FL

I don't know who is on the production team for "Total Packers" but everyone deserves very high praise. Not only is the content good, but the video mixing and music selection is really done well.

It's worth giving a shout-out to everyone who touches a video around here, because the work is tireless and it's all behind the scenes. I have nicknames for some of them, so kudos to Ax, Snick, Triple H, TG, Taylor, Daniel, Marv and Elyse. Appreciate you all.

Lori from Heredia, Costa Rica

Hey, please pass my thanks along to the Rock. Those Larry awards were hilarious. Does he have help writing his segments? I think you need to make some actual Larrys to give out.

That's up to the aforementioned production gang, but Larry needs no writing help. That's all him.

Steve from Algoma, WI

When Sheila Ford Hamp fired Matt Patricia last weekend she said she wants the Lions to be playing "meaningful games in December." Since 1993 the Packers have missed the playoffs seven times. Twice they lost tiebreakers, once got eliminated in Week 17, three times in Week 15 and only once were out after Week 12. So in 27 years the Packers have only played 11 games with nothing more than pride on the line (preseason aside). How lucky are we as fans? How hard would your job be were it otherwise?

I don't even want to ponder it. I learned enough from a former boss who used to always talk about his "December friend."

Thomas from Cedar Rapids, IA

I understand the Packers are again allowing family members of employees into Lambeau. Did I mention that after an exhaustive genealogy search I have found that we are fifth cousins, twice removed, on my mother's side? By marriage. So, cousin Mike, do you prefer overnight delivery or should I just go to the will-call window? Oh, and if you draw my name in the family gift exchange this Christmas, playoff tickets tops Santa's list. Thanks Cuz!

Trust me, I don't take the privilege lightly, but my teenage daughter is never interested in attending Packers games. When I told her she could go this Sunday and sit all by herself with no one else around, she jumped at the chance. I think she just wants to tell her friends to look for her on TV. Maybe Joan will give her a sign.

Dalton from DeForest, WI

With the Saints only having one game left they will not be heavily favored to win, will the Packers be able to find the consistency, and rushing defense against the Titans, to win out to secure the only bye in the NFC?

Just beat the Eagles. Happy Friday.