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Inbox: It's decided but doesn't do this one justice

They’ll be rested and ready

201012-insider-inbox-2560
Washington QB Alex Smith

Davy from Watertown, WI

Nadal wins his 13th French Open, tying Federer's 20 majors. LeBron wins his fourth title (across three teams no less) and the Lakers are tied with the Celtics for most NBA titles. What a day, not even talking football. (Where the Browns are 4-1 for the first time since Belichick.)

So let's talk some football then.

Garrett from Knoxville, TN

Name one player who has exceeded your expectations so far this year. Which team are you most surprised with through five games?

Robert Tonyan. Wes was more sure of his emergence than I was. Aaron Rodgers told us after last week's game how much Tonyan was still hurting, and wasn't really himself, when he returned from his injury last season. That provides meaningful perspective. Surprise teams? The Bears and 49ers. If you had told me their records at this point would be 4-1 and 2-3, I would have assigned them to the wrong clubs.**

Bob from New Britain, CT

Wow, did you see how the Dolphins manhandled the 49ers? It was San Francisco's third loss already this young season (each time at home). I thought our upcoming game against them would be our toughest challenge of the season... now I'm not so sure. From your perspective, are they just not the team they were last season?

The injury to Garoppolo hasn't helped, but no, they haven't looked the same. Super Bowl-losing hangovers can be real. They wouldn't be the first. But it's still early. Maybe this is their wake-up call. That team has a lot of talent and a dynamite coaching staff.

Eddie from La Crosse, WI

Is it safe to say that Patrick Mahomes, as great as he is, can't be expected to play defense, too? Too often, an elite quarterback's kryptonite is his own defense.

An elite QB gives any team an edge, but it is and always will be a team game.

Brian from Adel, IA

Hopefully you don't have to deal with too many lamenting Travis Fulgham questions, but I have a feeling you will. Condolences.

Hey, hats off to Fulgham. He kept fighting to prove himself despite getting tossed aside by two teams. The right opportunity has to come along for any player in his shoes. In this case, the Eagles' desperation at an injury-depleted position created an opportunity he has seized. That's what it's all about.

Dave from Gainesville, VA

Congratulations Alex Smith! Absolutely amazing comeback.

Phenomenal. I was 13 years old when Joe Theismann's leg was shattered in similar fashion, and I remember the play vividly. He never played again. For Smith to come back from not only the injury but the various post-op infections that nearly cost him his limb and/or life is one of the greatest individual recoveries in sports. Comeback Player of the Year award? It's decided but doesn't do this one justice.

Jeff from New Berlin, WI

What is Aaron Rodgers current no-INT streak at? He is currently at 139 attempts this season. When was his last INT last season?

Tempting fate, I see. Rodgers threw two picks in the NFC title game at San Francisco last January. But officially those streaks are regular-season only, so in that vein his last interception came late in the fourth quarter at Detroit in Week 17 last year. He then had three passes on the game-winning drive, so it's 142. He's had five separate streaks in his career of 200-plus, so we're not talking about one of his longer ones, yet.

Jim from McLean, VA

I, along with Mike, would've loved to see someone screaming at Brady after his gaffe. Speaking of screaming, have you noticed some of the NFL's angrier coaches actually pulling their masks down in order to scream in a ref's face? I'm astounded at the lack of respect and think they should be ejected for this. No fine would be enough.

The league announced last week that very action would now be subject to a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

Dennis from Parrish, FL

Come January will seventh-round pick Vernon Scott have played the most snaps of any rookie draft pick? Will Krys Barnes play the most snaps of any rookie?

Way too early to tell. Lotta season left.

Leo from Jerusalem, Israel

Hi Mike, what a mess. Could the whole season be in jeopardy?

I wouldn't go that far, but all the schedule shuffling that's already taken place doesn't leave a lot of margin for error to get through the season on time. The NFL is determined to play as long as any outbreaks can be contained.

John from Livermore, CA

What improvements do you think the offensive line needs to make?

Rodgers has been sacked three times in four games (while taking the blame for two of them himself) and the ground game is averaging 5.1 yards per carry. I have no complaints.

Paul from Cottage Grove, WI

With the missed interception opportunity in the Falcons game where two Packers' defenders interfered with each other, what do coaches do to prevent that from happening?

Nothing. You never want to curb your players' aggressiveness (enthusiasm?) when they have a chance at the ball. The result was doubly unfortunate – missing the pick and the deflection becoming a reception – but you just keep playing.

Gabriel from West Covina, CA

Who will be next on the offense to have a breakout performance against the Buccaneers?

At some point it's going to be Tyler Ervin's turn.

Eric from Arlington, MN

Great showing by the defense vs. Atlanta. This defense is even scarier if all pass rushers are healthy. Who do you think has the next big pass-rushing game from the defense? I go with Kenny Clark!

At some point it's going to be Preston Smith's turn.

Michelle from Ringgold, GA

Who will be the next breakout star for Green Bay this year?

At some point it's going to be Wes's turn to answer these questions again.

Larry from Cumming, GA

Realizing it's still early in the season, it kind of feels like 2011 all over again from an offensive standpoint. How is this year's defense different than the 2011 squad which struggled?

The depth at edge rusher and defensive back then was sorely lacking. The second- and third-leading sack totals on the 2011 defense came from an inside linebacker (Bishop, 5) and interior lineman (Raji, 3). At safety there weren't as many options and versatile parts when Collins went down, either.

Dana from Eau Claire, WI

Do you see the Packers' offense coming out with new wrinkles after the bye?

Absolutely. They've put four games on film and defenses will have some answers. LaFleur will have counters for sure.

Brett from Oshkosh, WI

Did you see the latest Aaron Rodgers quote? "All the flipping (only he didn't say flipping) media does is write stories to get clicks." It seems pretty obvious to me that that's not the kind of stories you guys write, so here's my question. Is it hard NOT to write the click-baity, out of context, headline? As in, are people so used to reacting in shock and awe to everything, that you have to deliberately try to present the humanity of each story? Thanks for answering!

I wouldn't call it humanity (except in the case of certain personal stories) but it's a matter of being honest. Present a person's comments in the proper context. Make the headline accurately reflect the story's content. It's up to the consumer. If the out-of-context stories and misrepresentative headlines didn't get clicks, they wouldn't exist. Before they click, consumers need to ask themselves whether they're taking the bait, otherwise certain media outlets will continue to make money off of rash, lazy impulses, which only influences others to copy their tactics.

Josh from Houston, TX

Mike, ignoring air resistance, all thrown objects on earth follow a course described by the same class of conic section, but it is not the parabola; it is the ellipse. And yes, it was also my understanding that there would be no math in Insider Inbox...but you started it. :-D

An ellipse? But that goes full circle, so to speak. Quarterbacks aren't throwing boomerangs. Now I'm lost.

Dave from Waterford, WI

How dangerous do you think Tom Brady and the Buccaneers will be after blowing that game to Chicago on Thursday night?

They won't be a happy bunch. They had a three-game winning streak and a 13-0 lead before suddenly their worm turned. They'll be rested and ready.

Patty from Tucson, AZ

Hi, I was just wondering if you think there will be fans in attendance this season at all? It is really sad but still enjoy watching the game and getting dressed in my gear to cheer the team on. Thank you kindly.

Again, I don't purport to speak for Mark Murphy, but I doubt we'll see any fans at Lambeau this season. The current situation locally with the virus will have to change dramatically, and there's no sign it's going to anytime soon.

Bret from Hertel, WI

Dear Mike and Wes, who on the practice squad has the best chance of being placed on the roster after the bye week?

My first guess would be Billy Winn.

Dave from Coloma, MI

Four weeks into the season and the Packers have scored in every quarter so far. They have had a grand total of one three-and-out and only punted seven times. They haven't turned the ball over yet. If you take out the five times they killed the clock at the end of the half or game, they have scored on 27 of 35 possessions. Can you remember another stretch were the offense was this efficient?

And to think two of those eight non-scoring possessions ended on fourth-and-goal stops at the 1. Anyway, the only time I could imagine a stretch coming close would be 2011, so I looked at the highest-scoring consecutive four games from that season (Games 7-10), during which the Packers put up 158 points. Going by your same criteria, this is what I found: Scores on 23 of 36 possessions (with one missed field goal), 10 punts, 3 three-and-outs, one turnover. The '11 team set the franchise records for points and yards in a season, so yeah, what the Packers are doing right now is crazy good.

Travis from Bremerton, WA

Prayers for Dak, his face told us all we needed to know. There's been way too many injuries this season. What are the stats on injuries this season vs the average season? Is there a point when we start to ask ourselves if we should just call it? Is the risk worth it?

You hate to see what happened to Prescott. The risk of playing under the franchise tag was laid bare. Dak might be the last megastar to agree to play under the tag after that. Regarding all the injuries, my sense is there isn't a huge discrepancy in the amount compared to prior years, just an inordinate number of high-profile players going down. It's too bad. Everyone wants to see the best players play.

Richard from Menasha, WI

When is the next time the Packers give an injury update?

Officially, Wednesday. But we may have a chance later today to see who has returned to practice.

Dan from Herriman, UT

Fellas, I don't understand why you go for two points early in a game. More times than not it comes back to bite you. Minny would have been up by nine with a field goal at the end.

Exactly. I didn't like that two-point call when it was made. All the focus is on the fourth-and-1 decision inside the 10, but if the Vikes just kick the PAT earlier there's no decision to make because the field goal makes it a two-score game. Three minutes left in the third quarter is way too early to be chasing a single point. Too many possessions left in the game.

Phil from Portland, OR

So this is what happens when you root for the Vikings?

In the fourth quarter, Seattle's defense gives up a 97-yard TD drive, and Minnesota's gives up a 94-yarder. Who woulda thought? Only in 2020. Wilson showed exactly why Zimmer went for it on fourth-and-1 and didn't want to give him the ball back. I liked that decision, even though it didn't work out, unlike the two-point call made earlier. But even after the failed short-yardage play, Seattle's fourth-and-10 prayer never should have had a chance. The rookie CB Dantzler was right with Metcalf, looking at the ball, and somehow overran it by 3-4 yards to give Metcalf an easy catch. A play like that could happen to anybody, but the Vikings' youth on defense is the biggest reason they're 1-4.

Ashley from Chicago, IL

At the quarter mark, which three NFC teams are the Packers' biggest threats to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl?

The Seahawks and Rams are two. Ask me after next week if the third is the Buccaneers or Saints.

David from Niedernberg, Bayern

Hi Mike, read in the Mid-Week Chat that you like to try all kinds of Oktoberfestbier. Best one by far, Augustiner if you ever get your hand on it. Also, I assume there is all kinds of that from U.S. breweries, but did you know in Germany only the six breweries in Munich are allowed to call their beer Oktoberfestbier?

There are definitely too many to try here and not enough time (at least for me). But I make mental notes on ones I've heard about to try next fall.

Lori from Heredia, Costa Rica

Hey Mike, I totally understand the players' disappointment at not getting to leave town during their bye week. Everyone needs a change of scenery now and again. But Wisconsin in October is absolutely gorgeous. How are the trees looking this year?

The blessing in not traveling with the team this season combined with the placement of the bye has been the opportunity to get out and see more fall color than I have in quite some time. This past weekend was spectacular. Hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did. Happy Monday.

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