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They’ll never learn

RB Aaron Jones

Dennis from Parrish, FL

A Kurt Benkert sighting! Great for him to close it out!

I am generally not a Twitter aficionado, but Benkert's postgame tweet was absolutely an all-timer.

Jenn from Peoria, IL

For the love of God, PLEASE don't leave the live blog early anymore. It messes with the team's mojo which messes with my sanity!

I got bombarded with this. Wow. I do appreciate how much y'all care, but I'm not trying to tempt fate, honest, and I really do have to start my postgame work as soon as I reasonably can. I don't leave unless I'm truly confident the game is over, and I'm conservative in that respect by nature. I haven't been wrong yet and don't plan to be.

Gary from Arvada, CO

Mike, the Packers clearly made key offensive adjustments at halftime, leading to a dominant Q3. What are your thoughts/comments?

When this offense runs the ball well it's really tough to defend. I say it all the time. You could see the line of scrimmage moving backward in the second half. It's just a matter of time before Aaron Jones and/or AJ Dillon is going to break a big one. It's coming.

Adam from Regina, Canada

Was I the only one who saw the belt after that first sack and said, "Well, here we go again…" I know 12 has spoken on it as not playing a conscious role in his performance, but you'd think that eventually defenses would just know to leave his belt well enough alone. Outstanding performance through both phases of football though! (Mom always said if you can't say anything nice…)

They'll never learn about the belt. Quinn did it both games this year.

Jim from Chelsea, WI

How long before opponents decide ol' p.s. (practice squad) Rasul Douglas is for real and stop throwing near him?

They have to throw it somewhere. But you can't say enough about what Stokes and Douglas are doing as a duo out there. Combined stats for Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney: 11 targets, three catches, 33 yards.

Jenny from Milwaukee, WI

Insiders, do you guys cringe like I do whenever special teams comes on the field? I find myself holding my breath and praying to St. Vincent. My husband doesn't even watch the play, he just watches me for his own personal entertainment.

It's not good right now (thanks, Captain Obvoius). The coverage units had actually been the strength of the special teams through the first three months but the breakdowns last night were awful. It's hard not to wonder if so much time and energy has been spent fixing the field-goal operation that other stuff hasn't received requisite attention (I wrote that before seeing your submission, Rachel from Minneapolis). It's aggravating to watch. We all know that's a four-touchdown blowout win if the special teams simply do no harm.

Tom from Highland Village, TX

Hi Mike, I can recall seven very bad plays on special teams. These type of plays should be less than one per week over the season. If a gunner had not stepped out of bounds we may have been in a nail biter. How can a perennial contender have such consistently poor special teams? Can you think of another team with a similar history? Besides firing another coordinator, what would you suggest to fix special teams this season as well as any long-term corrections?

I wish I had any answers, but I'm not going to insult this faithful readership by trying to make something up just to sound good. I don't know of any other perennial contender that deals with this on an annual basis, and I can't recall a single-game performance that bad in all my years covering this league. Long term is an offseason discussion. In the near term, they have to figure out what's not getting through or what's not understood and/or what other teams are doing to beat them, because there's no place to hide now. Opponents are going to exploit this advantage any chance they get.

Jacob from La Crosse, WI

Insiders, is there a special-teams tree out back we can pick from before the playoffs get here? Also, is it correct Grant's punt return TD was the first punt return TD of the year in the NFL?

That's correct.

Sam from Melbourne, IA

As much bemoaning special teams this, slow start that I'm sure you're receiving, I look at this game as proof that this team can overcome such adversity and still win. Sure they need to clean things up but what a crazy game. My thoughts aren't even coherent.

I tried to coherently express similar sentiments in my postgame editorial. Resiliency in whatever form it's required is the hallmark of this team since LaFleur took over.

Charlie from Simi Valley, CA

What moment when you were little did you realize, this is what I love to do and this is what I want to do professionally?

When I was little I wanted to play. That morphed into wanting to be the next Bob Uecker behind the mic. Then as a junior in high school I got my first article printed in the school newspaper and was hooked.

Ryan from Noblesville, IN

Spoff, I'm just going out on a limb here, but I'm sure the founder of this Q&A column wouldn't have allowed poetry. Would you agree with that or does he have a softer side that his readers don't know about?

The only thing that would've been met with greater scorn in his inbox than a poem would've been a poem about soccer.

Tom from Dollar Bay, MI

Mike, I'm glad to get the win, but the big plays given on social teams and defense scare me. Against a better team, we are in trouble. Can these issues be fixed this late?

I'm less worried about the big plays on defense, though I mentioned last week it's an area to shore up for the stretch run. The defense is making as many big plays of its own as it is allowing, and with a Rodgers-led offense you can live with that. They got caught momentarily in a couple of bad matchups and lost their vision on the ball. That's fixable and was fixed in the second half, frankly.

Lambeau Field hosted a Sunday night matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears on Dec. 12, 2021.

Brandon from Kronenwetter, WI

Never would have thought that Wes Hodkiewicz was actually an alias for Art Vandelay.

If he brings up having "Joe Pepitone Day" in our next staff meeting, I'm going to get really worried.

Dennis from Ottawa, IL

Nice to see Paul Tagliabue get his HOF ring at Lambeau. Was that his wish, or how did that work?

Yes, he chose to have it presented at Lambeau during a Packers-Bears game.

Ferdie from Galt, CA

Not a question, just couple of observations involving one player each on offense and defense. Steelers' Claypool cost his team precious time with unnecessary celebration and Bengals' Bell's um, unnecessary taunting, put the 49ers up 17-6 instead of 10-6 going to halftime. Some players just don't put the team ahead of their ego.

A tale as old as time.

John from Madison, WI

I think the Bears just played their Super Bowl. Also, I am not looking forward to seeing Justin Fields twice a year.

The Bears threw everything they had at the Packers in the first half. They had to be walking into the locker room at intermission wondering how they were only up six points with everything they'd done. Fields is going to be a handful, and he's just getting started. He'll learn to protect the ball better. He's got 14 turnovers (10 picks, four lost fumbles), and he'll work on getting that number down in the years ahead.

John from Livermore, CA

What do you think of the Monday night Manning experiment?

I don't think it's the last time we will see that type of approach to broadcasting NFL games.

James from De Pere, WI

Good morning II. Two unsung heroes this season have to be DC Barry and OL coach Stenavich. Can you recall a year where two Packer coaches had to do so much with all the upheaval going on?

As far as specific positions, it's reminiscent of how Kevin Greene was coaching up new edge rushers seemingly every week early in his tenure, and what Ben Sirmans was tasked with managing at running back in 2016, his first year here.

Jack from Moweaqua, IL

Speak on the season Preston Smith is having? I know he had some issues last year, but he has been outstanding in the midst of his counterpart not playing this year.

It's impossible not to be impressed with the season Preston has put together, and he's grown into a greater leadership role as well. He's a respected pro who has proven to be a team player in every sense of the term, from his approach in the offseason after a down year to his quick recovery from an oblique injury this season. The Packers have needed Preston more than ever this year and he's delivered.

Zak from Huntington Beach, CA

Man. Just the thought of having Eric Stokes and Douglas on the boundaries, with Jaire as the nickel roaming to cover the elite slot receivers or speedy RBs, has me salivating. Getting both him AND Za'Darius Smith back would be like getting race fuel and track tires for your new Ferrari. Take it to a Whole. 'Nother. Level.

This defense is fun to watch already – that was a thoroughly dominant second half – and could get even more interesting. Fingers crossed.

Anthony from Auburn, WA

It took a while, but we're finally starting to see some teams in the NFC separating themselves from the rest of the pack. Other than the Packers, Buccaneers, Cardinals, and Cowboys, is there another team that you feel can make a run through the playoffs, similar to what the Bucs did last year?

If the Rams beat the Cardinals tonight, they're going to be right there with everybody else. I'm also not counting out the 49ers. They're still a bit up-and-down but that's a bunch that knows what it takes if they get into the dance.

Terrance from Sun Prairie, WI

What would be different this year if Packers get home-field advantage?

About 70,000 voices.

Emma from Winter Garden, FL

Hopefully, fans aren't getting overconfident if Lamar Jackson isn't available on Sunday. John Harbaugh is so good when the Ravens' backs are against the wall. Whether they have Jackson or not, what do you feel are the one or two keys to winning in Baltimore?

Stop the run and be able to run the ball. The Ravens usually get the best of teams in both of those categories and at least one of those tables has to be turned.

Gary from Davenport, IA

Do you remember in Week 2 when the Cardinals beat the Vikings by one point when the Vikings' kicker missed an extra point and a short field goal as time expired? Most of us were pretty happy with that result. Now how many of us wished he would have made the field goal?

Funny how that works, right? Go Rams. Happy Monday.


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