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Inbox: It's going to take a significant effort

No one can just snap the fingers and make it happen

RB Aaron Jones and T David Bakhtiari

Greg from Chelsea, MI

This question's for Spoff. When Wes used the phrase, "I've been covering the Packers long enough to know … ," how old did that make you feel?

Old enough that it honestly didn't bother me that much.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Time to turn the page. Through two weeks the Packers have the top offense in the league, but I'm still not convinced. Is the Packers' offense this good or are the Vikings' and Lions' defenses that bad? Will Sunday's opponent be a fair litmus test to answer the question?

It'll be a better gauge, and the start of more stern tests I believe. It's a small sample size through two weeks, but I think Green Bay's next four opponents could all be better than their first two.

Scott from New Orleans, LA

The Packers didn't draft for the present and were going to take a step back. The Saints drafted for the present and were legitimate Super Bowl contenders. After two weeks, I don't think either of those statements was accurate. These two teams are evenly matched across the board, Hall of Fame QBs, dynamic RBs, and the list goes on. This game should be close and exciting to watch. How to you think these two teams match up?

Much like you say, but I take nothing away from the Saints. I think they've been the best team in the NFC the previous three seasons, even though they don't have a Super Bowl appearance to show for it. They chalked up a huge division win over Brady in Week 1. Anybody can lose on the road in prime time – they're the toughest games to win on any schedule, fans or no fans, and especially without a top-flight offensive weapon. It's a task the Packers could face this week. Whether we see these two offenses at their best will depend on the injuries to Davante Adams and Thomas.

Joel from Fox Crossing, WI

If Davante Adams is unavailable could we see Aaron Jones at wideout?

The whole game? No. On a segment of snaps in certain packages? Absolutely.

Pete from Chippewa Falls, WI

Brees, perhaps more than most QBs because of his height and age and lack of mobility, does not do well when getting pressure up the middle. He threw an awful pick on Monday night against the Raiders at the end of the first half when the Raiders got pressure from the middle. Most of the Packers' pressure comes from the edge rush. Do you think the Packers switch things up a bit to bring pressure from the middle to disrupt Brees?

Inside pressure is the hardest to generate but is usually the most disruptive, because the QB can't step up. That's what makes a guy like Kenny Clark so valuable. On third downs, Pettine usually has both Preston Smith, Za'Darius Smith and Rashan Gary on the field, with one of them rushing inside, most often Za'Darius. Inside pressure is an emphasis any game but no one can just snap the fingers and make it happen.

Tom from Vista, CA

What aspect of the Monday night Raider game will the Packers be most interested in exploiting?

The Raiders had 30 rushing yards at halftime and finished with 116. That can't be ignored. Also, the Saints had no answer for Darren Waller – 12 catches on 16 targets for 103 yards and a TD. The Packers don't appear to have a tight end who presents the matchup issues Waller does, but there's no doubt in my mind that performance got LaFleur thinking.

James from Appleton, WI

I understand the coaches' fascination with being able to score last in the first half and first in the second half, but please, please, PLEASE give Aaron Rodgers the ball if you win the toss. Maybe you won't need to score twice to get back in the game and the D can be pumped up by playing with a lead.

You're focused on the psyche of the Packers, and that's fine. But the psyche of the opponent when a team can double up like the Packers did Sunday takes a huge hit, bigger than any gained by an opening TD in my mind.

Curren from Edmonton, Alberta

Hey Mike/Wes, further to Wes saying that he's confident the Packers "will find a way" to keep their guys in what is looking like a very tough offseason – I am not so sure. The team doesn't appear to have that much cap to play with and in my opinion they will only be able to keep one or two of the following: Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams, David Bakhtiari, Kevin King and Corey Linsley. I know these are questions for the offseason and to enjoy this season in the here in now, but sheesh that's looking hard.

No question, and I don't think Wes was talking about keeping all the guys you listed. I certainly don't expect that. You can't pay everybody. Nobody can. But I believe Bakhtiari and Jones are the priorities, and when those get done, you see what you can do about any of the others. I think that's the way the Packers are approaching it.

John from Salt Lake City, UT

Insiders, the Edisto Island Oracle said recently, "(Aaron Jones is) making it impossible for the Packers not to afford him." If Jones keeps this up, could you see a situation where he would be a higher priority in re-signing than David Bakhtiari? Put another way, is an all-pro caliber LT always valued over an all-pro caliber RB in 2020? I'm hopeful they'll be creative in moving cap money around and restructuring contracts to keep both guys, but we shall see amidst the 2021 cap uncertainty.

It's going to take a significant effort, and every team will be dealing with cap fallout of some kind. I'm not worried about ranking the priorities. They're 1 and 1A as far as I'm concerned.

Chuck from Gold Canyon, AZ

Wow. Three coaches (probably two more after MNF) fined $100K and teams $250K for violating face-mask rules on the sidelines. I was surprised to hear Gruden previously had COVID-19. Will the NFL consider taking these fines to further contribute to coronavirus efforts?

Sounds reasonable to me. The fines always go to charitable endeavors, but I don't know what the league's plans are this year.

Bob from Grand Rapids, MI

Now that we have had two days to dissect an enjoyable victory, what was it like being alone in the press box without Wes or anyone else nearby for the occasional insightful (or even sarcastic) comment?

Definitely different. I miss carrying on a conversation with someone to either side of me, but it's hard to do that when the nearest person is two seats away and everyone is wearing masks anyway. To be honest, the harder adjustment is still no fans. The weirdest moment was on Jones' 75-yard TD run to open the second half, because it was just so strange to see him break into the open field in silence. There's a crescendo to the crowd noise on a play once everybody can see something big is about to happen or is happening. And there was just nothing, like he was running for a long touchdown on the playground.

Bill from Bloomfield Hills, MI

Is it too early to be thinking all four NFC West teams are playoff competitors? With seven playoff spots, that means an entire division could make the playoffs, right?

Yes, it's possible.

Ryan from Colfax, WI

II, regarding the question that Lori from Brookfield had, and correct me if I am wrong, but an illegal forward pass also constitutes a loss of down right?


Peggy from Bloomer, WI

You realize you jinxed Jamaal Williams, don't you?

I'm sure he has a dance to take care of any bad mojo in his orbit.

Benjamin from Bear, DE

Several jet sweeps in Game 1, but no jet sweeps in Game 2. Was that by design, something the defense figured out, or simply too many weapons?

LaFleur's game plans can change greatly from week to week. I learned that last year. They're very opponent-specific. Also, it's important to keep in mind that some of those jet sweeps and/or tap passes are options for Rodgers based on the defensive look. He can be deciding at the snap whether to give the ball to the motion man or do something else. Most of the time, the offensive line isn't blocking for the jet sweep or tap pass, it's blocking for another option built into the play.

Carmen from Trimbach, Switzerland

Hi Mike and Wes. A general question: If pre-snap motion forces the defense to show their coverage, why isn't it done on every play? Does it simply consume too much time or are there other reasons? Thank you for all your good work, I thoroughly enjoy reading and watching all the content.

Time can be a factor, but also, as noted above, watch Rodgers. Sometimes he'll call for the motion, other times he won't. It's not always automatic. If he needs to know something or make an adjustment to get into the best possible play, he's in command.

Josh from Oshkosh, WI

I know today is "on to the next opponent" day, but what a way for Mike McCarthy to still be undefeated in that stadium. If every game of his is that exciting in Arlington, I think Cowboys fans may need defibrillators.

One thing I've always admired about McCarthy is no matter what the halftime score is, he always believes his team is going to come back and win the game, and that belief rubs off on his players.

Johnny from Tillson, NY

It seems to be a common sentiment that fans wish we could be playing the 49ers, or the Panthers, or x-injury-ravaged team. What happened to having to beat the best to be the best? I get that a win is a win, but thinking about the 2011 long road to the Super Bowl, we should strive to be tested.

I don't see that being an issue these next four games. But I will say this – there are no apologies for wins in the NFL, and come January it's usually more about how you're playing and how they're playing than whom anyone played along the way.

Eric from Greenville, WI

This Rodgers and the middle of the field thing is easy. It's dangerous when you're not on the same page. A tick too slow, not looking, not reading defenses to make the correct adjustment all lead to easy turnovers for a defense. Turnovers kill offenses. Rodgers knows that. He didn't forget about the middle of the field, he just saw the big picture and took us to 13-3. This year? It's Year 2, people are more comfortable and have learned. He didn't just realize he can throw to the middle again.

True that.

Bruce from Green Bay, WI

Got a feeling Kenny Clark is going to be needed to get a victory over the Saints. Is there any word how long he will be out?

No, but the fact that injured reserve is just a three-week minimum this year and the Packers didn't put him on it would suggest the initial evaluation was he could be back before the bye.

Scott from Crystal Lake, IL

What did the D-line snap count look like with Kenny Clark out? Who stood out to you in that group without the unit's best player?

Out of 59 snaps, Dean Lowry played 44, Kingsley Keke 35, Tyler Lancaster 33, and Montravius Adams 12. I thought Lowry was the most consistent, Keke flashed on a few plays like he usually does, and I give Lancaster credit for getting back out there after that nasty cut block.

Tyler from Stevens Point, WI

Agreed to give credit where credit is due on the Zuerlein kick, but I don't think anyone can realistically think this will work again. I'd be surprised if there is one special teams players that doesn't NOW understand that an onside kick isn't like watching a slow roller on the foul line.

Those Atlanta players looked like a curling team without the brooms.

Jeff from Wauwatosa, WI

When the Packers drafted Elgton Jenkins in the second round of the 2019 draft I thought to myself, "If you're going to spend the 45th overall pick on a guard he had better be awfully good." Well, he is and as it turns out not just at guard.

For the record, he was the 44th pick. Some drafts just don't fall into place, others do, and it's looking as though the Packers had three first-round picks in '19.

Jerry from Luck, WI

I know health will probably become the biggest contributing factor, but how high is the ceiling on this DB group?

I think the top quintet of Jaire Alexander, King, Adrian Amos, Darnell Savage and Chandon Sullivan has a chance to close the gap on the best fivesome I've covered from this chair, which was in '09 (Woodson, Harris, Collins, Bigby, Williams). I say has a chance. It's not there yet, but it's the first time I've felt this way in a while, probably since '14 when the secondary added a first-round pick (Clinton-Dix) to a pretty solid group of five (Williams, Shields, Burnett, Hyde, Hayward).

Joshua from Pittsburgh, PA

You mentioned Jaire Alexander's solo tackling this week. Can we take a moment and appreciate the stronger fundamentals our defense has been showing as a unit this season? I know it's only two games, but the yards after first contact we let opponents pick up has given me heartburn for years. It seems to be starkly improved for the '20 campaign.

I agree, so far. Kamara will be a good barometer as to how sustainable it is.

Richard from Menasha, WI

The national clickbait pundits are jumping on the Drew Brees-is-declining bandwagon as fast as Aaron Rodgers can draw a defense offsides. We know firsthand how wrong they can be. Sort of scary facing Drew Brees this week.

Does anyone on the national scene not realize Michael Thomas was out? That's a heck of an adjustment to make for any team with only one game under its belt.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Well, Rodgers is a guru again and Brees is slipping. Tune in Sunday night to see which one it gets the guru mantle next week. Isn't sports grand?

Happy Wednesday.