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Inbox: It's a team game

Always be prepared to forge ahead


Bruce from New Canaan, CT

Even though they have gone about things in slightly different ways, the Packers' and Seahawks' seasons are quite similar. As judged by yards gained versus yards surrendered, both teams are about middle of the pack in the NFL. What they both have done very well is figure out how to win close games. I guess we're due for another close one on Sunday, right?


Trevor from Hartland, WI

I'll be rooting for the '9ers on Saturday. (Not overlooking the Seahawks but our game is last.) The Vikings with a healthy Cook and Thielen look like a different team. Sixth seed everyone keeps overlooking that only needs to beat their hated division rival in their house to advance to the Super Bowl? No thanks – the Packers own that story. I like our chances in a rematch with SF. Seems easier than taking on an underdog on a hot streak for the third time.

Just beat the Seahawks.

Dave from East Burke, VT

Pete Carroll says Lynch will be taking on a bigger role this week. What is the best strategy for tackling the Beast?

Get multiple hats to the ball, and don't stop coming till he's on the ground.

Robert from Salem, WI

The two most recent signings of Begelton and Wellman are listed as reserve/future contracts. What exactly is that? Are they part of the 53-man roster? Practice squad?

Neither. They become part of the Packers' 90-man offseason roster when the new league year begins in March.

Neal from Fort Worth, TX

ML's mantra of "one week at a time" served the team well during the regular season. With a number of players embarking on their first playoff experience, how do the coaches harness that excitement and avoid overzealous play on the field?

You emphasize to the players that they need to do what got them here. No one's being asked to be Superman. It's a team game. Do your part. I think LaFleur's "1/11th" focus will work here.

Bob from Cortez, CO

Remembering Aaron Rodgers' first season leading the team, there were many instances of being a bit late because of the decision-making process. It takes time to internalize plays to the point where someone can perform without thinking. We see it again this year as the new plays are tried out. Perhaps it's why the two-minute drives are so effective. Fully internalized, they can be performed without the added burden of thought. It's the difference between my hunting and pecking and your writing.

And why I was really intrigued by what I was hearing last week (and wrote about Monday) regarding the offense taking the playoff bye to zero in on what it does best.

Tanner from Chicago, IL

Vic loved to say there are few unscouted looks this time of year. Success in the playoffs comes from lining up and running your go-to play and daring the opponent to stop it. What is this team's go-to play?

With all due respect to Vic, the game isn't really played like that anymore, not with this new wave of young coaches. Though as noted above, I suspect the Packers are going to try to hang their hat on a few plays moving forward. We just don't really know what they are yet, with this being Year 1 of LaFleur's offense.

Roland from Oconomowoc, WI

There is no doubt that the Packers have made it to 13-3 by winning ugly. What I do not understand is why only a few of us see that as a sign of character, grit and determination. I have owned and run a number of companies during my life. Often thought good leadership and a team that sticks together can overcome the worst of situations. One game at a time baby. My guess the biggest change we will see going into the postseason is the speed at which the Packers' offense operates.

We shall see. Continuing with the thread of the last couple of questions, I could see some tempo developing, but if the opposing defense is doing a lot of disguising, there are times Rodgers will want to gain as much pre-snap info as possible, too.

Mike from St. Louis Park, MN

If Spoff gets signed by Minnesota off of the Packers' practice squad, my coworker Sam and I would like to buy him a beer when he arrives. We'll make it a local IPA.

Get it in my contract.

Alan from Mount Auburn, IL

Last week the Packers had seven offensive lineman available. Who would have been the next man up after Corey Linsley and Bryan Bulaga went out if Billy Turner was not able to play hurt?

My best guess is Marcedes Lewis. We'll see how the week plays out, but I suspect the Packers will have eight linemen active on Sunday.

Mike from Sioux Falls, SD

Last week on "Unscripted" you guys mentioned your under-the-radar offensive and defensive players. Now that we know are our opponent, who are your picks for next week? Mine are: Jimmy Graham – I mean, no one would see it coming. But effective run game would set him up well. Rashan Gary – Won't play a lot of snaps but I could see a couple splash plays from Gary if the Smiths are double-teamed.

Other readers have brought up Sternberger and Tonyan. The Inbox seems focused on tight ends. Hmmmm.

Simon from Santa Clara, CA

Kinda cool McCarthy is inheriting the Cowboys job from the guy he originally helped get the job in 2010.

I had forgotten that angle. Garrett took over as interim for Wade Phillips mid-2010 after the Packers blew out the Cowboys, 45-7, dropping them to 1-7. It's also interesting McCarthy will have Mike Nolan as his defensive coordinator after Nolan was head coach with McCarthy as offensive coordinator in San Francisco in 2005 before McCarthy came here.

Bryan from Madison, WI

I'm glad for Mike McCarthy. Pretty cool for him to coach two of the most recognizable teams in all of sports. Pack vs. Cowboys has always had a special place in my heart. Perhaps more so now.

I'm happy for McCarthy and look forward to watching from afar. Dallas has challenges Green Bay doesn't (different structure, media market), but there's similarly no lack of resources. I think it's astonishing for one man to lead both the Packers and Cowboys in his career. It feels comparable to the same guy managing the Yankees and the Dodgers, or coaching the Lakers and the Celtics. It's pretty cool, and the NFC East now has three coaches who have been to Super Bowls.

Joel from Green Bay, WI

A lot has been made of Rudolph's push-off on the TD in overtime. I think what's being missed in all of this is how Sean Payton mismanaged the clock at the end of the fourth quarter. When Jordan sacked Cousins with roughly 2:45 left, had Payton used their final timeout, they would've had the ball back with about 2:30 left after the punt return. Those extra 35 seconds would have been more than enough to get the ball into the end zone, especially with the two-minute warning. Why let the clock run there?

Many have wondered the same thing. The only rational explanation that occurred to me is by burning his last timeout, he would have lost the ability to challenge any calls from 2:45 down to 2:00. But he still could have used it after the pass to Cook put them on the 26 with about 35 seconds left, or to prevent the 10-second runoff after the false start at 21 seconds, but he didn't and never used it.

Tony from Colorado Springs, CO

Has Max from Rockford, IL, submitted any question(s) after this one from September? "After that disgusting loss Thursday, here is the elephant in the room. G.B. will lose against Dallas, K.C., L.A., N.Y., and Minn. Maybe Chi." I can't imagine I'm the only one who put a pin in that question.

Inbox on Inbox crime.

Kathy from Whatcom, WA

Earlier this season, Spoff cautioned us several times about the adversity sure to come. Sure, it was easy to be upbeat when things were going great, but the true test would be how the Packers responded when things didn't. And there was some adversity, but overall the Packers have been hugely successful winning games with limited injuries. Everything that happens now is gravy. Do you think we're past the point when adversity could affect the season?

You can never think that way. I remember a certain game eight years and 11 months ago, after a team had already overcome loads of adversity just to get there, and then Driver went down, then Shields went down, then Woodson went down … Always be prepared to forge ahead.

JR from East Moline, IL

If Green Bay beats Seattle and then goes out west near his hometown, to a place Rodgers had some tough losses, and beats the team that passed on him and who were proclaimed to become more disappointed than him, can we just label this postseason as "The Reckoning"?

Just beat the Seahawks.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Does DK Metcalf remind you of a slightly bulkier former Packer nemesis?

Tramon Williams was asked that very question on Monday, and his response was great. He said as big as Metcalf is, Calvin Johnson was still bigger.

David from Minneapolis, MN

I'm glad that DK Metcalf put that on tape prior to this weekend. Do you know if that has been on tape prior to that? I'm just glad it won't be a surprise coming into this game.

He had only one 100-yard game prior to last weekend (OT win over Tampa Bay in Week 9), but 58 catches for 900 yards and seven TDs in a rookie regular season is an awfully strong start to a career.

Austin from Milwaukee, WI

There is a lot of talk on Metcalf and rightfully so, but Tyler Lockett is a gamer. In games where there is two or more potential risks for cornerbacks, is consistency of the same defender or a barrage of different looks better for the D? I feel like if I was a CB, I would rather want to be attached to the hip of one specific receiver, knowing all of his skills and weaknesses.

Defensively, the perspective of affecting the quarterback has to be considered as well. Is changing up coverages and looks the best way to keep him from finding any rhythm, or does how the corners match up against particular receivers take priority? Those are game-by-game decisions most often.

Mark from Marxville, WI

Morning, containing Russ Wilson is the key to assuring a "W" vs. the Hawks. The Eagles assigned a safety to spy on him with mixed results, mostly unfavorable in my opinion. How do you think the Packers will try to defend him?

That's the million-dollar question heading into this game. I generally fall into the school of have multiple options and plans, and keep the other guy guessing.

Andrew from Waterloo, IA

Has Spoff ever been flagged for excessive celebration, after successfully stealing Wes's lunch?

Only the time I actually found cheese on the sandwich.

Matt from Bozeman, MT

Fletcher Cox really caused some havoc lined up against Seattle's center and really anywhere lined up inside against the Seahawks last week. Do you see Kenny Clark having a big game this Sunday?

As Wes and I discussed on "Unscripted," it could depend on whether or not the Seahawks get guard Mike Iupati back from injury. He's a veteran, interior presence who changes that matchup.

Ryan from Appleton, WI

Outside of Seahawks-Packers, what game are you most looking forward to on Divisional weekend?

As much as I'm having fun with everyone for repeatedly bringing it up, it's obviously Vikings-49ers. San Francisco is the new kid on the block, relatively speaking, as far as the playoffs go. First appearance in six years, with a new roster, new coaches, everything. Minnesota's current team has been through some of these wars. I thought Zimmer's postgame locker room message Sunday was spot-on. He quickly reminded his players how two years ago after their dramatic victory over the Saints, they got smoked the next week. As challenging as the turnaround and travel are for the Vikings, they'll be ready.

Nicholas from Portland, OR

Given the history and what's at stake, would you classify the upcoming game as must-win?

To steal Wes's line from yesterday, is that really a question?

Greg from Long Beach, CA

I read Clete Blakeman will be the head official for Sunday's matchup. Is he known to have a crew that calls more penalties or lets the players play? Is there anything we, as fans, could expect now that we know the officials?

Hard to say. For the record, Blakeman's crew called the second-fewest penalties in the league this year, and the Packers had Blakeman only once this season – for the Monday night game vs. Detroit in October. But only one member of that crew will be on Blakeman's crew Sunday.

Bill from Bloomfield Hills, MI

Thanks Wes for bringing up 2007. I remember how "thrilled" I was when the Giants beat the Cowboys and we got to host the NFC Championship, as I'm sure the Patriots liked the Giants as NFC champs over us or the Cowboys. Just win three games. If it's your year, it doesn't matter who you play.


Dave from Germantown, TN

In the Packers' matchup with the Seahawks, we have the Hawks at 11-2 in one-score games and the Packers with an 8-1 record. The Seahawks have outscored their opponents by seven points during the regular season and the Packers by 63 points. These two teams are either the two luckiest teams in the league or the two most clutch teams in the league. Which is it?

We'll find out next week, when one of them gets a shot at the Super Bowl, but that's for next week.

Martin from Evansville, IN

Why does everyone look ahead so much? Our goal should be 1-0. Whether true or not, I liked Wilson's comment that he didn't even know he was playing the Packers next week. We need to be that focused on this next game.

Amen. Happy Wednesday.