Presented by

Inbox: It's a golden opportunity to finish strong

The backfield is rounding into form at the perfect time

201219-insider-inbox-2560
RB Jamaal Williams

Jason from Aurora, WI

With all of the possible playoff scenarios, shaky (at times) defensive and special-teams play, and a global pandemic to deal with, the question foremost on every fan's mind is this: With a Saturday night game will we hear from Dean?

You're gonna have to wait and find out…or just scroll to the bottom, I suppose.

Brian from Sugar Land, TX

Loved how the Las Vegas stadium "erupted" in boos following a challenge to a first-down spot that forced a re-spot. Are there any plans at Lambeau to pipe in "M-V-P!" chants for the next home games?

Hey, that's not a bad idea.

Tristen from Champaign, IL

Do you think Aaron Rodgers is a top-three quarterback of all time and why does Davante not get brought up in MVP convo?

Yes, Rodgers is top three…and he ain't No. 2 or 3. I think that's how the kids say it, anyway. Adams doesn't get brought up in the MVP convo because receivers rarely do. A receiver has never won the AP award. I think the tangible goal for Adams needs to be making his first All-Pro team this year.

Bruce from Jackson, WI

Morning Wes and II. One more reason ML should be Coach of the Year. First-year coach goes 13-3 and then after a controversial offseason goes 13-3 (work to be done still). Record for first two years: 26-6 or a winning percentage (.813), higher than HOFers Lombardi and Lambeau in their first two years. Also consider the previous two years before ML took over the team went 13-18-1 for a winning percentage of .419. How do we make sure the NFL gets this right? A homegrown Coach of the Year campaign! Go Pack!

We still got three regular-season games to go, but I continue to bang that drum all (Fri)day*.*

Eric from Green Bay, WI

Green Bay Packers, previously known as the Green and Gold, are now the Green and Gold-Zone?

Speaking of movements…

Jim from Baytown, TX

Not a question, just an observation for those wondering about AJ Dillon: I say keep him fresh for home playoff games. I promise, no one, especially DBs and safeties, are going to want anything to do with a 250-pound RB with speed in Lambeau when it's 10 degrees (or colder). A fresh Dillon may be the ultimate cold-weather weapon.

Yes, but right now the Packers need Dillon to get his sea legs back under him after missing a month on the COVID-19 list. Still, the backfield is getting healthy and rounding into form at the perfect time. Aaron Jones has put together a few very solid games and Jamaal Williams continues to be as reliable as that pickup getting you from Point A to Point B without any sputtering or check-engine lights. What's more, Dexter Williams and Patrick Taylor also are practicing again. The Packers' backfield is as healthy as any position on the roster.

Eric from Stramproy, Netherlands

Good morning Wes. I hope Jamaal Williams does a pregame warm-up dance in front of all the health care workers in Lambeau tonight, and make it sort of a tribute. They deserve it and I wouldn't put it past him.

Nobody loves fans more than Williams. If that opportunity presents itself tonight, I'm sure he won't disappoint.

Jonas from Milwaukee, WI

While Aaron Jones seemed to be the default option a few yards away from the end zone last year, Davante seems to be the Packers' No. 1 option there now. Could this change of strategy be because Jones' gaudy touchdown stats last year would warrant a massive contract if they happened this year? Or is Davante just the most effective option?

I always think of short-yardage situations like basketball when you're down two and there are two seconds left on the clock. You want to get the ball in the hands of your best player and that's Davante Adams. When you have a player of his skill level, I don't fault LaFleur and Rodgers for calling Adams' number.

Craig from Temperance, MI

I have been impressed with Rick Wagner. In my opinion, he's worth the price we paid for him. He's played well.

Rick Wagner wasn't necessarily pegged for a starting position when Green Bay signed him last March but he's been a brilliant insurance policy. He's looked good every time he's stepped on the field this year. Wagner is a quiet dude but you can tell how much this season has meant to him – not only being back in the state of Wisconsin, but also getting a chance to prove he still has good football ahead of him.

Chun from El Monte, CA

Rashan Gary has stepped up this season. He might only have five sacks but he has been putting a ton of pressure on the QB. What led to the big second-year jump? The obvious is more playing time but did he learn more techniques, or is his ability to read the defense helping him play better?

I think just growing into his body more and getting a better grasp of the defense in Year 2. Gary was just 21 years old when he was drafted. There also wasn't much asked of him right off the bat with the Smith Bros. and Kyler Fackrell all healthy and contributing. Gary needed to take a step this year and he's done that. As I keep saying, the best is still yet to come.

Dan from Rothschild, WI

Enough with the stats and rankings and numbers. Who cares? I don't care if the Packers rank last in every category if they win the Super Bowl.

Except that's not how it usually works. I get what you're saying but you gotta be good at something if you're going to be the best at anything.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

Year 2 of the ML offense has repeated the success of the '16 ATL offense at the QB position, something discussed at length in the preseason as a goal. Beyond the QB reading the plays faster, has there been any fundamental change to the offense from last year to this year?

LaFleur and the offensive coaches simplified terminology somewhat but I think it's mostly a product of having a lot of veterans back who are more comfortable operating within the scheme. The more confident you are about what's being asked of you, the faster you'll play.

Andy from Ellsworth, WI

The same sports analysts and fans that said the Packers had a terrible 2020 draft are now calling it Aaron Rodgers' revenge tour. I'm thinking maybe it wasn't such a bad draft after all. Your thoughts?

Cute. I'm old enough to remember when the so-called analysts were saying the Packers had a "terrible 2019 draft," too.

Derek from Norton, KS

Coach Rhule was known as a defensive-minded coach in college and seems to have translated well to the NFL game. Most coaches making the jump tend to struggle to replicate their collegiate success. What do you think of Coach Rhule and the prospects of his future success in the NFL?

He's the only NFL head coach who has unfollowed me on Twitter. I don't think it was personal, though. He just started climbing the coaching ladder and didn't need to be following random packers.com writers on social media anymore. All kidding aside, I love Rhule's energy, passion and how he communicates. He's a proven builder. I wouldn't be surprised if he has the Panthers competing for the playoffs again in the not-so-distant future.

Cam from Pekin, IL

I'm a football season-ticket holder at Southern Illinois University, and had the pleasure of watching Jeremy Chinn for four years. He is the real deal. I hope Jeremy has a good game, but we still win the game. I forwarded the comment, and Spoff's reply to our athletic department this morning. We've had a few outstanding players over the years: Jim Hart (QB St. Louis Cardinals), Brandon Jacobs (RB N.Y. Giants), Mycole Pruitt (TE Titans), Bart Scott (LB N.Y. Jets), and Tom Baugh (OL Bengals).

Chinn is an exciting young football player and the Panthers are really using his versatility to its fullest potential. He's a big part of Carolina's bright future on defense.

Steve from Algoma, WI

Good morning Insiders, and happy weekend. Have you ever seen a team in Week 15 with a shorter road (literally) to the Super Bowl? If the Packers continue to take care of business, they have only a 32-minute flight to Chicago over the next six weeks before the charter to Tampa. Home-field advantage may be one thing, but nothing beats home cooking, family and your own bed.

It's a golden opportunity to finish strong. Rodgers has spoken since the Packers' loss to Atlanta in 2016 NFC Championship Game about wanting the road to the Super Bowl going through Lambeau Field. The ball is in the Packers' court. They can make that happen over these next 15 days.

Tony from Seattle, WA

Hi Mike and Wes, I've been reading a lot of questions debating home-field advantage in the pandemic season. For what it's worth, I used to travel for a living before COVID and the mental and physical stress of going to the airport, being stuck on an airplane and not sleeping in your own bed really do affect you physically! Some of the younger guys on the roster might not feel it, but by age 28, I stopped looking forward to flying. Good luck to the Pack securing the No. 1 seed, Go Pack Go!

Exactly. It's so much easier to roll out of bed in Green Bay and drive to the office than to hop on a plane and fly halfway across the country.

Scott from Wausau, WI

Hello, now that the Packers have clinched at least one home playoff game, would it be to their advantage to continue with a relatively empty Lambeau? Do you attribute any of the Packers' success to the quieter stadiums? On a personal note, being able to have Packers football this year has really made a difficult time more tolerable – I'm very thankful for that and will not take it for granted in the future. Thanks, Merry Christmas and GO PACK GO!

It's probably a little of both. I think it has helped make Rodgers even more dangerous with his cadence and the offensive communication, but it's also tougher to get amped up going into a game without a crowd. The Packers have adapted to it, though, as the season has progressed.

Matt from Auburndale, WI

You can have one player back for the stretch run to (and hopefully through) the playoffs that we've lost via free agency in the past few years. Who would it be and why?

Micah Hyde. The guy could play anywhere, which would be valuable right now with Raven Greene on injured reserve.

Gordon from Newport Beach, CA

Wes, when Mike Pettine mentioned the other day that "offensive holding penalties were way down," could you extrapolate that to include defensive holding also?

It's funny how that doesn't seem to have decreased at all, huh?

See headshots and action shots of the complete Green Bay Packers 2020 roster. #BuildingOurTeam

Dan from Toledo, OH

Can we shout out an unsung hero? James Jones. Hear me out. Every year he hypes up the Packers and the entire NFL Network crew laughs and (playfully) accuses him of being biased...and then he's absolutely right! Feel like he deserves more credit.

James does such a great job, man – both on NFL Network and our Packers pregame radio show. He's a good reminder to national folks out there that you don't need to be overly negative and hyperbolic to succeed in an analyst role. JJ is must-see TV for me.

Greg from Kingsport, TN

How about this bumper stick for LaFleur: "Down years for LaFleur are career years for most coaches"?

OK, that was pretty funny. But how about no more bumper stickers for a while? Deal?

Pete from Chippewa Falls, WI

Answer to the TD/punt question: In 1990, the Houston Oilers had 37 passing TDs and only 34 punts. Warren Moon threw 33 of the 37 TD passes that season.

Seriously, who needs Google search when you can just throw random questions out into the Inbox ether?

Scott from Milwaukee, WI

Have the Badgers and Packers ever played on the same day, like they will be today?

According to the Journal-Sentinel's JR Radcliffe, the last time it happened was Dec. 13, 1981, when the Packers beat the New Orleans Saints 35-7 and Bucky dropped a 28-21 game to Tennessee in the incomparable Garden State Bowl.

JR from East Moline, IL

You guys should change your name to Insight-er Inbox

I'm surprised it took four years of doing this for that suggestion to get brought up.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

The North is secure,

Eyes rise to a higher prize,

Just beat the Panthers.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome Dean from Leavenworth, IN!

Yo, Derek, that's my line! How else am I supposed to transition between two submissions with bold lettering? I digress…Hey Dean, you're up.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Days grow short and winter's darkness descends on the north

Once again King of the North your crown secure

Now the focus turns to the ultimate prize Champion of the eight Kingdoms

Stay the course and the path will remain on your Hallowed Ground

Your foes must come to challenge you on the Frozen Tundra

Waver and the path becomes harder

Once again Men of the Bay the time has come has come to write the next chapter of the journey to ultimate champion

And there it is. Enjoy the game, uh, today. Boy, I don't get to say that very often.

Advertising