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Inbox: It's never happened before in Packers history

Success in big moments breeds confidence

RBs AJ Dillon & Aaron Jones
RBs AJ Dillon & Aaron Jones

Jessi from Sterling, KS

Is it weird that I get jealous when I see the snow shoveling photos? Because I do. Sigh. I need more frozen tundra in my life.

Not much will be frozen Sunday. Temps in the 30s for the game. It's going to push 50 tomorrow so a whole lotta meltin' goin' on.

Brian from Chesapeake, VA

Thank you for taking a peek under the tree as you promised Adam from Aloha, OR, way back on Dec. 5. Did you think Path to the Playoffs was a real possibility?

I never ruled it out. Back then, it just felt like playoff picture would morph from a pipe dream into a realistic possibility at 7-8 with two home games left.

Jeffery from Brooklyn, WI

Hello II, what's the feel around the team as this important game nears?

That an important game nears.

Dave from Hollywood, MD

The Packers-Vikings game will have Jim Nantz and Tony Romo broadcasting. The Vikings are 0-3 with them broadcasting so, we have that going for us.

Which is nice.

James from Monument, CO

I agree with you that Christian Watson has shown great potential on the field. He's also shown a great propensity to get injured. As they say, the best ability may be availability. What do you see for him moving forward?

He'll have full offseasons now, beginning with this first one, to work on his body, rather than training for the combine, prepping for interviews and visiting teams as he did during the draft process. Offseasons are invaluable for young players in that regard.

Julian from Gastonia, NC

What would be the turning points? If the Packers don't make the playoffs I would view the second half against the Giants as the turning point. If the Packers do make the playoffs I would view the fourth quarter against the Bears in Chicago as the turning point. What are your thoughts?

Pretty much the same.

Matt from Cottage Grove, WI

How does Rashan Gary's ACL injury affect his contract negotiations?

He's under contract for 2023 with the fifth-year option, and I would expect if he comes back full strength and proves he's the same player he was, the Packers would be interested in extending him before the end of the season, just as they did with Elgton Jenkins last week.

Jim from Mundelein, IL

Myself and a lot of my friends spend time thinking about draft-choice position relative to winning games and wanting to see Jordan Love play. A recent Gutey comment about winning being a cultural thing as long as he is GM, GB will try to win every game it plays really resonated with me and as a disconnect between fans and team reality. What disconnects between "fan world" and team reality do you see? GPG

Many fans are quick to assume when a play doesn't work it's due to a bad play call. Most of the time, the film shows a play getting wrecked because a guy (or two) got whipped by another guy (or four).

William from Little Chute, WI

I remember you saying that all the gear worn by the players is owned by the team. So are the players charged when they swap jerseys with other players?

Yes. As Fletch would say, they have their wages garnish-eed.

Nick from Boston, MA

I know AJ Dillon is about 100 yards short as of now but it looks again like Aaron Jones and him will both have over 1,000 yards from scrimmage in back-to-back seasons. That can't be a very common stat to have two running backs doing that on the same team for multiple years in a row, two really talented and productive backs.

I don't know about league-wide, but it's never happened before in Packers history in consecutive years. The tandems with both over 1,000 yards from scrimmage have been Brockington-Anderson ('71), Brockington-Lane ('72), Ivery-Ellis ('80) and Jones-Dillon last year. That's it in team history.

Terry from Cary, IL

I feel like all the questions are focusing on Jefferson this week. However, it seems like over the years the one who has really hurt the Packers is Thielen. I don't have the data to support that feeling but thought you might be able to shed some light on Thielen's performance against us. I worry more about him then Jefferson. I think of him as the Vikings' version of Jordy Nelson.

In 16 career games against the Packers, Thielen has 77 catches for 1,022 yards and seven TDs. He has four 100-yard games (including one 200-yarder) and a pair of two-TD games. For comparison, Jefferson's numbers vs. Green Bay are 28-463-4 in five games, with two 100-yard/two-TD games.

Scott from Norwalk, CT

Morning Wes and Mike, per, Carl Cheffers' crews averaged a combined total of 2.1 penalties per game (DPI + defensive golding) in 2021. I have no idea whether that's high or low, but it seems like the refs will probably let them play on Sunday.

That crew is at 1.9 per game for those fouls in 2022. They're on the high end for DPI, middle of the road for defensive holding, compared to other crews. They're also on the high end for illegal contact, for what it's worth.

Joe from Wauwatosa, WI

On the play where Allen Lazard blocked three Miami defenders it looked like Tyler Davis was actually running towards the line of scrimmage as opposed to parallel before the play started. Is this illegal and just not caught on that specific play?

Yes. He easily could've been flagged for illegal motion on that play.

Larry from Woodridge, IL

Greetings II. Longtime reader, first time posting. What, in your opinion, did the Dolphins see or know that told them to leave their defensive line in on the failed fake punt play? It couldn't have been field position or time on the clock. Did the Packers have different personnel on the field? Did Miami read signals or even lips from the Packers' sideline? Thanks for a great column.

Some teams make it standard practice to leave their regular defense in for a punt when it's just a few yards to go (or less).

The Green Bay Packers held practice at Clarke Hinkle Field on Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022.

Tom from West Palm Beach, FL

More of a comment than a question – I think people question why Devonte Wyatt hasn't seen the field more because he was a 24-year-old, first-round draft pick. Expecting him to play more snaps than 21-year-old Rashan Gary in 2019 isn't unreasonable. I trust the FO and coaching staff know what they're doing, but I think that's where the disconnect is. (Gary is not even 4 months older than Wyatt!)

I don't think age has anything to do with it. Gary was playing behind the Smith Bros. as a rookie in '19. Wyatt is coming along, the Packers are happy with his progress, and he's earning more playing time. But if you want to know why he's not yet an every-down lineman, watch Jeff Wilson's 1-yard TD plunge after the 52-yard reception by Hill in Miami. Wyatt got shoved 3 yards into the end zone. That's not uncommon with young players in the trenches at this level, and it's exactly what LaFleur is referring to when he's demanding consistency and reliability.

Nick from Santa Rosa, CA

Only because this future Hall of Famer has been in the news recently, J.J. Watt also played in all three phases of the game. With three receiving touchdowns to boot. Talk about an amazing career.

And he got those three receiving TDs on a total of 14 offensive snaps. Looking up his numbers, I never knew how much he played on special teams earlier in his career – several dozen snaps per year his first four seasons. This is actually the first year he hasn't played any snaps at all on special teams.

Doug from Neenah, WI

Good morning, Mike. Your live blog from Miami included the term "guitar fake" by Aaron Rodgers. Since Chris Banjo is no longer on the team, I'm not sure what you meant. Could you please explain? Thanks.

That's Rodgers' term for the play fake where he turns his back to defense, sticks out an empty hand to the running back going one way, and then rolls out the other way. When he's hiding the ball in one arm with an empty arm sticking out, he looks like he's playing guitar.

David from El Segundo, CA

Guys, how cool would it be if, on the first offensive play, they ran the exact same one that they missed to Watson during the first series of the season, and hit it for a TD? Full-circle symbolism right there! Oh, and they'd hopefully be up six points.

A lot of folks are asking for this, so I'll ask this instead: Don't you think the Vikings will be ready for it this time?

Nathan from Manitowoc, WI

With Dean Lowry going on IR, were you surprised that the front office signed another WR instead of promoting Chris Slayton from the practice squad? I thought he played well in the preseason.

Slayton could still be elevated from the practice squad for game day. He has all his elevations remaining.

Wesley from Kingsland, GA

In regards to Mike's take on the Packers/Lions game being flexed to Sunday Night Football if the dominos fall right: Jaguars/Titans will be for the AFC South championship that weekend (nothing happening this weekend matters) and I got to believe for a division title, that has got to take precedent.

Not if a ratings king like Green Bay is playing a division rival in a win-or-go-home game for both squads.

Steven from Stephens City, VA

I honestly feel bad for Davante Adams right now. I've seen a lot of comments from Packers fans about probably wishing he stayed and I just don't get it. He didn't leave because he wanted out. He just wanted to play with his best friend. That speaks volumes to me about who he is as a person. And now Carr is benched and reportedly away from the team so he's not a distraction. For the memories Adams brought us Packers fans, it sucks. I was looking forward to watching them succeed together.

The business of this game can be cruel as well as unpredictable at times. Adams also wanted to be closer to his family on the West Coast, but this is not what he envisioned, and I hope he can still find happiness. We all have to make grown-up decisions and move ahead. That's life.

Jason from Austin, TX

Wes, I get that the 2006 Colts had the worst defense statistically during the regular season, but there was a noticeable shift in the defense the second Bob Sanders was healthy. He was the heart and soul of that defense and was the reason for their postseason success. Who is at the heart and soul of this defense?

I'd say it's a cross between De'Vondre Campbell and Jaire Alexander. When those two are making plays, the whole unit looks different.

Todd from Phoenix, AZ

The Vikings would be 6-9 if their games ended after three quarters. What makes them so good in the fourth, and what do the Packers need to do to close out the game if the Packers are ahead at the end of the third quarter?

The Vikings started playing close games in Week 3, and they started winning them. Being the better team at crunch time on a regular basis fosters a belief within a team that it's going to find a way. It feeds on itself. I saw it with the Packers in LaFleur's first season, and a similar mojo has developed in O'Connell's first year in Minnesota, to an even greater extent. Success in big moments breeds confidence. That's the crux of it.

Dave from Groton, VT

Seems like the Vikings would have less urgency than the Pack, given the guarantee of playoffs. Understand they can improve seeding.

Don't undersell the difference between the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds. In addition, I'll let Scott chime in.

Scott from St. Cloud, FL

Lest anyone thinks the Vikings are going to "rest" someone this weekend because they have won the division, I have two reasons why they will play as if nothing has been accomplished. One it is a divisional game and two, a win is a win but beating the Packers and putting an end to their hopes, that would be very, very, satisfying. So buckle up because if the Packers can win this game then nothing should be beyond their reach. GO PACK GO.

The Vikings would love nothing more than to raise their helmets leaving Lambeau Field having squashed the Packers' playoff hopes.

Steven from Balsam Lake, WI

Four Novembers ago, I was at the Packers Everywhere pep rally in Minneapolis. That evening I met a woman there. Fast forward to this weekend, that woman is now my wife and we will be attending our first Packer game as a married couple this Sunday! Here's to hoping the Packers can pull out this huge win. Go Pack Go!

Congratulations. I'm posting this so our pep rally organizers see your story. Very cool.

Steve from Ashland, WI

I miss the "Ask Vic" days. Football was discussed then, now you talk about lunches and donuts. You two are knobs.

Big fan of lawnmowers and gas pumps, eh? OK.

Bill from Fort Worth, TX

This season certainly hasn't matched my preseason expectations, but it, along with this column all the way back to Vic, has given me perspective. I'd love for us to win every game and stun the sports world, but if we don't, life goes on. I know there are myriad things for which I am grateful in life. Thank you both for accompanying me, and the rest of the II community, through what's still turned out to be an entertaining season. And given sports are entertainment, what more could we ask?

Apparently not about lunches and donuts.

Doug from Lafayette, OH

There has been (too) much attention thrown at GB's deficiencies this season, including by me. However, through all of its struggles, this team has refused to falter in terms of its desire to win. Top to bottom, no one has given up on this team. That's the exact reason they'll be playing meaningful football in January. You don't need perfection to have soul.

If they go from 4-8 to 9-8, it'll be because of that soul.

Ryan from Bloomer, WI

Just discombobulate the Vikings and recombobulate the season! GPG!

Works for me. Happy Friday, and Happy New Year to all of the II community. I'll see you on the other side.

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