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Inbox: It’s on to Buffalo now

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Dan from Des Moines, IA

First-time writer, longtime reader. The first lines in the roughing-the-passer rule showed on TV Thursday said that the QB had to be throwing the ball or have just thrown the ball to be a defenseless player. Smith did not do either one. I’m still confused. Maybe a little clarity would be good.

Yes. Yes, it would be. Good morning!

Carl from Wisconsin Rapids, WI

I was not happy at all with the call on Adrian Peterson’s touchdown Sunday. If an official did not see him cross the plane, how can he call a TD 10 seconds later just because he's lying on the line? Obviously, a smart player is going to put the ball over the line when he's at the bottom of the pile.

Spoff leaned over and said the same thing after the touchdown. There was no way to know whether he crossed the end zone – and no indisputable evidence to overturn it.

Dan from Jimboomba, Australia

Firstly, devastating news on Mo Wilkerson. I was more excited with his addition than Graham in the offseason, but I don’t understand what makes great DL play watching in real time. My question is if he has only five tackles and no sacks on the year, but PFF has him rated as a top-30 DL league wide, just how big of a loss is 96 for us?

It’s a tough injury for the Packers because of how many things he did for the Packers’ defense. Wilkerson practically had a package designed for him as an edge rusher in that sub-base defense. He also affected Alex Smith on the Ha Ha Clinton-Dix interception. The Packers are fortunate to have Dean Lowry and Montravius Adams, but losing Wilkerson is a tough blow for the defensive line this early in the season. Guys have to step up.

Adam from Madison, WI

I know things look bleak right now, but with the exception of a few particular moments, I don't feel like the Packers have been overmatched in any of the games so far. I think Corey Linsley alluded to the fact that all the things going wrong so far like penalties and missed assignments can be corrected. This outlook might be a little too glass-half-full for some, but that's the belief that I am going to hold on to. That's all I can do.

I get the frustration, but here are the facts – the Packers are 1-1-1. Yes, they started slow Sunday, but were never out of that game. It’s understandable fans will dwell on the misfortune, but Mike McCarthy is right. It starts with cleaning your own house, correcting mistakes and taking care of business. That starts Sunday.

David from Stevens Point, WI

Any explanation given on why Oren Burks had such limited snaps? Just being a young guy coming off injury? I thought he would have more opportunities to play and was surprised it was so limited.

Yes. The Packers always are mindful of managing the workload for returning players. It’s no different than how they approached Aaron Jones Sunday. There are 13 more regular-season games to play. You gotta be smart.

Michael from Berrien Springs, MI

I have so many thoughts at this early point in the season, some glass-half-full and some half-empty but, after three games, I believe that Jaire Alexander just may be one of the best, most reliable tacklers on the team. Would you agree?

Alexander has been a revelation as a tackler in the open field. As Joe Whitt Jr. said last week, Alexander’s physicality has been a pleasant surprise.

Mike from Lyons, OH

I feel like the efforts of one guy are getting lost over the past two weeks. Geronimo Allison has looked like a man with Gorilla Glue on his hands. He seems to catch every ball thrown his way. He may not get as many targets as Davante Adams or Randall Cobb, but that guy can play, and he leads the team in receiving yards through the first three games because of it. Hats off to G-mo.

Allison is everything you want to see a third-year receiver stepping into the starting lineup do these first three weeks. Consistency is king in this offense and Allison hasn’t disappointed.

David from Janesville, WI

He may have had a bad day, but boy is Randall Cobb a class act. In a world where accountability seems to be replaced with blame, blame, blame, I respect a person who takes ownership of mistakes and you know is already planning on atoning for them. Looking forward to seeing how he performs against the Bills.

They broke the mold with Cobb. He’s a consummate professional. I give him credit for standing at his locker and facing the music instead of running from it. He takes the same approach whether he has a career day or a regrettable one. Cobb will clear his mind and be back at it this Sunday no worse for wear.

Marc from Aachen, Germany

Wes, this was without a doubt the best “Packers Unscripted” performance ever. I know as reporters you gotta be a little objective most of the time but this was pure entertainment as regards to giving your opinion on the roughing-the-passer thing and still feels like journalism to me. Loved it. Serious. You stole the show.

Thank you, Marc. I got a little fired up because I hate to see a player – any player – get reprimanded for making a play. That should be sack No. 81 on Clay Matthews’ career stats page. Unlike last week, I can’t say definitively whether that call influenced the outcome of the game, but it’s a shame Matthews wasn’t rewarded for beating the tackle and making the play.

Joe from Columbia, MO

Wes, I loved your attitude during “Unscripted.” I think it perfectly exemplified the frustration all Packers fans feel about the "roughing" situation. My question is this: If Matthews actually does bear hug the next opposing QB, how long will it take for the league to realize how ridiculous the new rule is?

I don’t know, Joe, but I feel like that day is coming. Trap the arms and hold on for dear life until you get the flag. It might not look great in a highlight reel, but it should keep the laundry off the field.

Steve from Los Angeles, CA

Lots of debate about the whether the body weight rule makes sense, but not much about whether it's applicable. The actual rule specifically referenced by the league (Rule 12, Section 2, Article 9b), about body weight states, "When tackling a passer who is in a defenseless posture (e.g., during or just after throwing a pass). . . ". Seems pretty obvious to not apply to Matthews’ sack, but not much talk about that. Is there something I'm missing here?

The spirit of the rule is well-intentioned, but the interpretation has us all confused. I just stared in disbelief after the flag was thrown. I don’t know anymore, guys. One rule cannot fit all. This game is too nuanced for that.

Daniel from Sioux Falls, SD

Do you think these roughing-the-passer calls could backfire on the league? I would think that eventually these pass rushers will get so upset that they won't care how they hit the quarterback because the officials are calling RTP anyway. I think these calls are hurting football more than helping.

There’s always a reaction. There’s always adaptation. I think rushers will have to start playing the ball rather than the quarterback, but there also will be consequences to that. Also, look at what happened with Williams Hayes. It’s what Kenny Clark alluded to two weeks ago. It’s dangerous for a 300-pound lineman to contort his body to avoid falling on the quarterback.

Dale from Aurora, CO

How was the sack on Rodgers different from Matthews’ sack? Rodgers took the full weight of the tackle, but no call.

The referee told my old colleague, Kareem Copeland, he didn’t see the sack in the pool report after the game.

Chris from New Richmond, IN

Is the league providing the correct way to tackle quarterbacks in the pocket or simply saying what can't be done and letting the officials figure it out? The officials seem to have a checklist of things to look for to throw a flag but the players seem to be lacking an official technique to tackle the quarterback.

Correct. Again, citing the pool report, Craig Wrolstad said the league has been providing examples. In his mind, Matthews needed to either shove Alex Smith or release him as they went to the ground.

Todd from Farmingville, NY

Wes, do you think the reluctance of the NFL to add more "replay decisions" has anything to do with 1) network broadcast contracts and delaying games so the broadcast can't get on to the second game during a doubleheader and 2) the possibility of NFL replay officials potentially being inundated at the "Mother Ship,” not being able to review every play that should be reviewed? Too many decisions in the "centralized" review at once?

Never before in NFL history has the league been better positioned to handle review of personal fouls. If you’re going to change the game in this manner, there needs to be oversight in my opinion. Players move too fast for officials to make those calls in real time. I think fans would be OK with games being five minutes longer if they’re confident they watched the better team prevail.

Trevor from Seattle, WA

I like the point brought up that the word “unnecessary roughness” has been lost in the shuffle with regards to these roughing-the-passer calls. You obviously need some level of roughness to bring down a 6-foot-4, 220-pound man. Big tree fall hard, after all.

Remember what I said about officiating a subjective game with objective rules?

Al from Wausau, WI

I submitted a question to Vic several years ago suggesting Matthews was too aggressive and it would cost him and more important his team. Vic did not answer my question but hopefully you do. Matthews in the past has hits that could have ended quarterback's seasons. I remember hits on Kaepernick and Wilson that were close to being gross. With the league’s new approach to QB safety and Matthews sounding off after each game, do the Packers not realize he has a target on his back from the referees?

The league fines players for recurring offenses, but it doesn’t tell its officials to call the game differently. Wrolstad also said referees “react to the play” by itself, adding he didn’t know it was Matthews until the flag was thrown.

Matt from Kula, HI

The league office stated that the roughing calls on Matthews the last two weeks were both correct. Who, exactly, makes this determination? Would it be confirmed by Goodell? There should be accountability for this ridiculous interpretation of the rules.

There are so many checks and balances that go into rule changes, but once they’re made, it all filters up to the head of officiating, who’s currently Al Riveron.

Bobby from Green Bay, WI

Do you think the Packers taking the day off on Wednesday had a significant effect on their performance Sunday?

Do you think the Vikings’ practice Wednesday had a significant effect on their performance Sunday?

Joshua from Desert Hot Springs, CA

What does the Pack have to do to avoid getting trounced like the Vikings did against the Bills? P.S. Anyone not over Sunday’s game yet...smile, they're free!

I’ve only seen highlights from the game, but Sean McDermott had the Bills ready to play Sunday. Whatever the outside perception was, Buffalo played like its season was on the line. Josh Allen protected the football and the Bills’ defense took it from there in forcing three Kirk Cousins fumbles. Don’t forget Buffalo was a playoff team last year. The Nathan Peterman experiment didn’t work, but there are some players on that squad.

Jim from McLean, VA

I had been looking forward to going to that game since the schedule was announced. Now it’s time to put it behind us, just as the Packers are. What do we need to do to beat the team that whipped the team we tied?

It’s not complicated – protect the football, take the ball away and make tackles. The Vikings put the ball on the ground and the Bills made them pay for it.

Kyle from San Francisco, CA

Our next three games are against Josh Allen, Stafford, and now a Jimmy G-less Niners team. Why not sit Rodgers so he can get a solid month of recovery in before the tough stretch of the season? The team needs to prove they can rely on the run game and defense to win a few games.

If Rodgers says he’s healthy enough to play, you play him. I think the Bills’ rout of the Vikings reiterates there are no gimmies in this league.

Chris from New Richmond, IN

Given the history of injuries the Packers have faced the last couple of seasons, do you think they are holding back more this season to try and stay healthy, or are they leaving it all on the field?

Have you noticed what Rodgers is doing?

Dan from Saint Louis, MO

Has the Packers media or marketing team thought about making it a goal to attract fans in St. Louis? I've noticed a lot of Inbox questions come from here and heard that when Packer games air here they get good ratings, but I've struggled to find anything Packers-centric going on in St. Louis, even using Packers Everywhere.

I heard from a good friend of mine who lives down there that the Packers fan base is growing by leaps and bounds in St. Louis.

Steve from Racine, WI

I admit I do not understand how passer ratings are figured, but according to the gamebook stats, Alex Smith had a higher passer rating than Aaron Rodgers, 110.0 to 93.5. How come, since Rodgers had a higher completion rate (61.3 to 60.0), more passing yardage (265 to 220), and threw two touchdown passes with no interceptions, while Smith had two touchdown passes with one interception? Is it because Rodgers was sacked four times?

Smith averaged 11.0 yards per attempt. That’s a part of the equation.

Lyle from Baggs, WY

What did you think of Drew Brees breaking Brett Favre's completions record?

Pretty cool.

Rick from Harrisburg, PA

Hey, I learned a new word: Perseverate.

We like to throw around “perseverate” in these parts.

Bill from Mequon, WI

There seemed to be a consistent problem with long snaps. Was this weather-related or do we have a long-term problem?

I didn’t get a chance to speak with Hunter Bradley, so I couldn’t tell you what exactly happened. Mike McCarthy voiced his support for his long snapper Monday. The Packers tend to take a long-term view with specialists. It would have been easy to move on from Mason Crosby in 2012, but they didn’t do it because they saw the big picture and benefitted from that approach in the long run.

Chris from Eau Claire, WI

So the Bears are in first alone and the Lions are in fourth alone with only one win behind. Has it ever been tighter going into the quarter mark of a season?

Yes. Last season. When the Packers, Vikings and Lions were all 2-1 and the Bears were 1-2.

Glenn from Naples, FL

Being negative never helps the team! NFL staff knows a lot more than armchair QBs. It's early in the season! Be a real fan and yell like hell next Sunday!

Keep calm and Inbox on, right? By the way, kudos to Tom Maniaci. Your timing could not be better with the shirts. Let’s take a breath, everyone. It’s fine to feel disappointment, but the Washington game is over. It’s on to Buffalo now.

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