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Inbox: It's not an accident

Continuity up front has been elusive

WR Christian Watson

Thomas from Cedar Rapids, IA

"The boat the Packers have been pedaling"? Did he mean bike? Or paddling? Or maybe Wes meant paddle boats on the kiddie pond. Or the fourth option: He purposefully left that little nugget for Mike to clean up on Wednesday. Wes is a gamer. I say option 4.

He's fortunate to be such a likeable guy.

Mike from Baraboo, WI

How does the team prepare for playing in a higher altitude?


DJ from New Glarus, WI

Thanks for this opportunity! When the Packers travel, does the team bring a cook along, have meals planned at the hotel, or? We got to thinking of all the mouths to feed, and I'm sure not everyone likes the same thing. Between the players, coaches, and other associates that work in the background, are we talking a hundred people? I wouldn't expect a lunchbox lunch though!

The players usually are on their own for dinner the night before the game. They go out together and do their own thing until a team meeting in the evening, which brings everyone in before curfew. After that, their other meals and snacks, etc., are provided at the hotel.

Chuck from Jackson, WI

I haven't seen the assistant coaches' interviews on the site as I once did. Has the club decided not to put those online, or am I missing something?

The videos of the coordinators' media sessions are still posted, but not those of the position coaches. We continue to provide the written recap of key comments for every coach who addresses the media.

Charles from New Berlin, WI

Hello Insiders, regarding the timeout question, the person on the sidelines with the fluorescent orange glove signals the referee when to start play. Who communicates with the orange glove man? The network or the league?

The network.

Gary from Arvada, CO

Good morning Mike, and thanks for all your accumulated knowledge and professionalism. Based on said accumulated knowledge, and in your professional opinion, do you think the Lions are finally beyond the Curse of Bobby Layne?

I'm sure their fans are feeling like it's over, and they have every right to. I know Peyton Manning and his Omaha Productions put together a video to exorcise the curse in the middle of last season, and it appears to have coincided with their recent surge (13-3 over the last 16 games). But I'm not sure it's entirely gone until they win in the playoffs. Since their '57 title and subsequent Layne trade, the Lions have qualified for the postseason a dozen times, but they're 1-12 in playoff games (0-11 on the road).

Travis from Fort Walton Beach, FL

II, assuming Stokes can be activated from PUP prior to next week's game, do the Packers have to make a corresponding roster move? With all the injuries I couldn't keep up if we're still down a man on the roster.

The roster is currently at 53, so a corresponding move would be required to activate Stokes.

Craig from Appleton, WI

Russell Wilson's career record versus the Packers is only 3-4, but two of his victories are amongst the most painful Packer memories in recent history. What are the keys to preventing him from adding another painful memory to the list?

Don't let him out of the pocket. He's getting back to being the mobile Russell of years past. He's got 150 rushing yards through six games, already more than half his total from last year (277) and almost equaling his total from all of 2021 (183).

Mike from Katy, TX

The Broncos put some pretty good pressure defense on film against the Chiefs. What is the O-line going to need to do to shore up the front and give Love time to throw?

I think in general the group just needs to continue playing together, health willing. They can settle into the reality that Bakhtiari isn't coming back this year, Jenkins has returned from his injury, and hopefully the time off helped Runyan (ankle) and Tom (knee) with the stuff they were battling through. No one knows what's around the corner, but continuity up front has been elusive for a while now in Green Bay, and hopefully that can change soon.

Hannes from Glendale, WI

Please tell me you'll keep an eye on Anders Carlson during warmups in Denver and dutifully report his longest make here?

I'll do my best. He went to high school in Colorado Springs, so he probably already has an idea of how much extra distance he can get in the altitude.

Chad from Town of Middleton, WI

Following up on the distance for an illegal man downfield penalty, I have a theory that this is the "point of emphasis" for refs this year but they just didn't announce it as such. I swear I've seen that penalty called more so far this season than in my 30 years of watching the NFL. It never seems to actually be affecting the play in question but it sure is slowing the game down (to the viewers' detriment) and costing offenses.

You may be onto something there. But I think it's also a function of RPO prevalence, where offensive lines are run blocking, but the QB is pulling the ball back on the handoff and then firing a pass instead. If a lineman gets too much surge with his run block and continues forward, he's illegally downfield if that pass isn't released right away. To answer those who inquired about why this penalty matters, it prevents offenses from scheming to confuse defenses into covering players downfield who aren't eligible receivers. Even though in many instances it appears the penalty has minimal if any impact on the play, the absence of such a rule would be blatantly unfair to defenses.

Julian from Gastonia, NC

Regarding Steve's comment that the 49ers were hosed for the hit on a defenseless receiver. The rule states "forcibly hitting the defenseless player's head or neck area with the helmet, facemask, forearm, or shoulder, even if the initial contact is lower than the player's neck, and regardless of whether the defensive player also uses his arms to tackle the defenseless player by encircling or grasping him." By that rule, it certainly was a correct call. Rule 12, Section 2, Article 9.

I agree.

Jeff from Ely, MN

I watched MNF. Overall, that could have been an entertaining game. It was close all game, back and forth with long drives by both teams, stopped often on a fourth-down try. But then, there were the penalties. There were so many nice plays...only to be negated by a penalty. It was frustrating to watch. Why? Are the rules too difficult to follow? As professionals, these guys must know the rules, right? Troy Aikman seemed to think the officiating was excessive. Any thoughts?

I didn't see a bunch of penalties that looked ticky-tack or irrelevant to the outcome. They all looked pretty legit to me, and I don't think it's fair to ask officials to pick and choose which fouls to call (though that does happen, as we'll get to in the next item). I'm not an apologist for poor officiating, but if it's truly a sloppy game, I don't think that should be pinned on the officials.

Mike from Littlestown, PA

Do you feel it is time to include penalties not called to be able to be challenged? The ending of the Buff-NYG game was the worst non-call I have seen. Dude was holding the receiver from the start of the play, pulling on his jersey, and holding is arm. The NFL officiating IS a joke!

I don't see the league ever going down that road. In reference to the Buffalo ending, there's a strategy that isn't talked about much but I've seen employed more frequently lately, and that's daring the officials in a last-play scenario to throw the flag. The Bills, obviously, were determined to be physical against any routes in the end zone, and got flagged on the previous play, setting up the untimed down. The last play would've required the same official, once again, to throw yet another flag for the same offense against the home team, and he didn't do it (though he obviously should have). The moral of that story, to me: Having received an additional last chance from the officials, don't beg for another. Run it from the 1-yard line and don't put the game back in their hands the same way again.

Willie from Superior, WI

Back in the days of Favre/Holmgren, Green Bay used the screen pass extensively as an extension of the running game. Dorsey Levens and Edgar Bennett were big benefactors with much success. Why don't we seem to use it more often these days?

I've seen the Packers try to run plenty of screens. They just aren't executing them very well.

Rob from Prospect, KY

It's nice to be back in a game week. I know it was preseason, but it seems that the offense performed in a nice rhythm when Love worked off of play-action, moved the pocket and hit crossing routes. Is that a function of the vanilla defenses presented in preseason games, or could that approach work in season?

Again, that's what they're trying to get to, but it's difficult for play-action and rollouts to be effective when the running game isn't a consistent threat. In my view, it's not an accident the coverage bust leading to the 77-yard pass to Watson off a play-action rollout in Vegas came on the first play after a drive during which Dillon ran five straight times covering the last 29 yards for a touchdown. The Raiders' focus and concern was on the run, and they got hit over the top. That's how you'd always like it to work.

Ron from Appleton, WI

Is it concerning to you when the head coach publicly says he's going to see what other teams are doing to be successful? He did that for the bye week and also a few years ago when the special teams were struggling. I know it's a copycat league, but to hear that stated in public sounds more like a follower than a leader/innovator.

Everyone does it, and it doesn't mean they haven't done their share of innovating. I remember Rodgers commenting multiple times about seeing offensive concepts on film from other teams that were copied from here.

TK from Grafton, WI

Regarding the popular description of "well-designed plays" (ugh!), I hereby suggest that ML immediately remove all the stuffed runs, incomplete passes, and sacks allowed from the offensive playbook. Am I an innovator, or what?

I'm sure he'll appreciate the advice.

Jared from Rigby, ID

Hey gents, I've always wondered, do you ever get done interviewing somebody or listening to a Q&A and walk away not having a clue what you are going to write about? Oftentimes the comments from those being interviewed seem to be a rinse and repeat of other interviews. I'm grateful for your creativity, because I wouldn't be able to produce a single original article after a few years at your job.

One-on-ones or small group interviews without cameras are always the most productive for writers. When it comes to the large group settings, the key is to sift through it all and pick out the most meaningful, enlightening comments. Even amidst what sounds like a rinse-and-repeat session, to use your phrase, there's usually something worthwhile to latch onto.

Jeff from Mequon, WI

Hey Mike, this Sunday's game against Denver will be no gimme. The defense hasn't been great but they're still mad about 70 points and kept KC from running away on them last Thursday. It seems to me this offense runs through Aaron Jones, and what we saw the past few weeks was a QB and receiving core who aren't quite ready to put the offense on their backs. To win this game we need a steady dose of Jones and Dillon, control the TOP, and keep their defense on the field. What do you think?

Works for me. Happy Wednesday.

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