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It’s going to take fundamental football to stop Ezekiel Elliott

CB Jaire Alexander
CB Jaire Alexander

Kirsten from Madison, WI

Just to be clear: The Packers are starting Q2 of the season with a 3-1 record, including two wins over division rivals, and put themselves in position to win the fourth game. Sometimes, we obsess over the details and miss the big picture. You don't have to win each game by four TDs to be a great team, folks. Just breathe.

Kirsten gets it. Be more like Kirsten. Good morning!

Tom from Lodi, WI

After watching Dallas limited to 10 points against the Saints last night, I have a bit of optimism for Sunday. How does Mike Pettine scheme for this road battle?

Bottle up Zeke Elliott. I know that's WAY easier said than done but New Orleans had a good plan for him. If you limit Elliott, Dak Prescott's play-action becomes much less effective. The other name to watch this week is All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith. Jerry Jones says he has a high-ankle sprain. Smith isn't easily replaced.

Paul from De Pere, WI

In spite of the turnovers and the absence of a run game, did you consider the offense's performance against Philly a significant step forward?

Big time. Rodgers was at the peak of his powers in that game. He saw the field well, avoided pressure and played in rhythm. QB1 kept that offense humming and it also was good to see Geronimo Allison get going. The only thing missing for the offense was the points in the red zone.

Mike from Madison, WI

With Packers vs. Cowboys this week, how do you think the teams match up this year?

It's going to be a lot of fun. I think this needs to be a day for Green Bay's backfield. Alvin Kamara's numbers Sunday weren't eye-popping but he was critical to the win. If the Packers can get Aaron Jones consistent touches – runs, catches, whatever – I think that's the can-opener for solving a very talented and athletic Dallas defense.

Scott from Hayward, WI

So here we sit with Dallas and Green Bay at 3-1 with an early but very meaningful NFC showdown that may have serious implications in January. Both teams were kind of full of themselves after Week 3. Both teams are fairly humbled after Game 4. It's one game at a time, but I have to believe Aaron Rodgers will not just be playing for win No. 4. He will be playing for home-field advantage in January.

AT&T Stadium has been kind to Rodgers over the years and he's going to have a great deal of wind in his sails after that 422-yard performance against Philadelphia. Now, we'll have to wait and see what happens with Davante Adams.

Brad from Coon Rapids, MN

I love what Pettine has done with the defense, but regarding how porous the front seven has been over the last three games, that is a trend that has to change. It's one of the 800-pound gorillas this team needs to fix. I sense that after the Dallas game a trade may be in the works for this team. Elliott and Pollard and their offensive line could punish our front seven. Not sure if Pettine can scheme ways to be more effective stopping the run, or is it a talent issue?

Run defense never is just one player – it's everyone. It's getting into favorable calls and playing good team football. It obviously would help the defense to get Oren Burks, Ibraheim Campbell and Montravius Adams back sooner than later, but improvement must come from within. It's filling gaps, finishing to the ball and gang-tackling. It's going to take fundamental football to stop Elliott and Co.

Bob from Rome, NY

I noticed on the last play of Saints-Cowboys game the Saints blitzed a DB from Dak Prescott's right. I have been thinking for a long time that teams should bring pressure from the QB's throwing side to not allow him time to throw the ball far enough for the "Hail Mary." Just a thought.

The Saints' play-calling at the end was fantastic. So many prevent defenses are content with sending three and keeping eight back. Instead, New Orleans was creative, collapsed the pocket on Prescott quickly and rushed the Hail Mary throw.

Cameron from Wayland, MI

I am interested to know how this coach and this team is approaching the loss last week versus the McCarthy teams so far. Have you noticed any differences?

The locker room was very relaxed and introspective after the game. The defense, in particular, knew it would face adversity at some point and was ready for it. You have to remember this was a group that pulled together after a meaningless game in Baltimore to make corrections after the plane landed at 3 a.m. CT. It's not a locker room of frontrunners. They take the great with the not-so-great and evaluate their performance accordingly. It's on to the next one.

Logan from Lamar, CO

What is your assessment of Josh Jackson's progression a quarter of the way through Year 2? Expect we will see more of him as the year progresses? If he reaches his potential, he'd certainly be a very nice chess piece on that defense. Thank you gentlemen!

Jackson is a smart player who can play multiple positions. If any of those injured defensive backs can't go against Dallas, Jackson will be ready to contribute.

Mark from Atlanta, GA

Hey Wes, how come no one is talking about how Alex Light held his own in the game after Bryan Bulaga went out? We are always so quick to point out the mistakes a backup makes but how come not when he does well?

I thought Light passed his first test in extended playing time. We'll see what the week holds for Bulaga but I felt like Light can build on that if called upon again this week. It's important when you can plug a backup into the lineup and not have to move a starting guard like Billy Turner over. It helps maintain the cohesiveness of the starting five.

Steve from Middleton, KY

I'm not a fan of going for the two-point conversion every time like the Ravens did two games ago. They missed three opportunities in a row before making one this past weekend. However, as you mentioned yesterday, you have to take it game-by-game, situation-by-situation. You can't second-guess your call. Mack Brown made a gutsy call over the weekend, too. In that situation, would you have gone for it?

I have a lot of fun with Rob Demovsky in this column and on Twitter, but I subscribe to his theory about two-point conversions – don't go for it until you absolutely need to. Because early on, you never know how important one point may be to the final outcome of the game. It nearly came back to haunt the Eagles on Thursday. I don't blame Mack Brown, though. Yes, you're at home but you're also 2-2 and have the No. 1 team in the country on the ropes. Play to win.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Trevor Davis made an immediate impact as a member of the Oakland Raiders with a 60-yard TD run on a reverse. I was happy for him, but it made me wonder who on the Packers' roster has his speed and quickness to fill the void. Does Darrius Shepherd come the closest?

The Packers have used all of their receivers in that role – from Shepherd to Jake Kumerow to Davante Adams. There's more to executing a successful jet sweep than speed, too. It takes vision. Credit to Davis for having both on what was his first TD since the Atlanta game in 2016.

Evan from Middleton, WI

"If you were told a month ago that the Packers would be 3-1 at this stage, I think most would have been thrilled." I just wanted to add to this that two of the wins are over the Bears and Vikings. Before the season started I would have been happy with 3-1 and losing at Chicago. Yes, Thursday's game was rough but I am good with where we are one-fourth of the way through the season. Time to move on to Dallas.

And that road win over the Bears is going to be valuable, too, because that defense is for real. Also, if you ever need a reminder of how good David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga are, watch what Khalil Mack did to the Vikings' tackles Sunday. Yowie wowie.

The Green Bay Packers practiced at Clarke Hinkle Field in preparation for the Week 5 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys.

Derek from Des Moines, IA

Do you think the outcome would have been different if Adams was on the field?

I can't tell you the outcome would have been any different but the Eagles would've had to defend those five or six plays much differently with No. 17 on the field.

Bill from Wilmington, DE

Wes, I was at the game Thursday night and I thought the crowd was really loud. Your thoughts?

Lambeau has been lit. That's what the kids call it, right?

Mike Franksville, WI

Why did the Packers play the Cowboys twice in the regular season during the 1989 Majik year? They weren't division opponents. What gives?

It had to do with the NFC Central and NFC East having five teams so the fifth-place teams from the previous season played each other twice.

Richard from Madison, WI

At the beginning of each half, and after each score, there's a kickoff. Suppose your kicker is hurt but you've got a world-class punter. Do the rules allow you to have a tee-less punt-off instead?

No, but there are many punters who handle kickoffs. I mean Adam Vinatieri hasn't kicked off the ball in 10 years. Tim Masthay did for a short time here in Green Bay in 2013.

Jeff from Athens, WI

I watched the KC-Detroit and Minnesota-Chicago games and have one conclusion to make from them in comparison to Thursday's game. Officiating between them was consistent. Albeit a poor quality of officiating but it was consistent. The early game relied too much on New York and the late game was just ugly. There really needs to be a league-wide commitment to officiating improvement. Al Riveron clearly is not able to do the job and it trickles down from there. What are your thoughts?

I watched the Detroit-Kansas City, Minnesota-Chicago and Dallas-New Orleans games on Sunday. The only thing that makes sense to me is officials are indirectly protesting the owners' approving replay review. That or they're simply incapable of properly officiating it. Referee lockout notwithstanding, I used to go an entire season without complaining about officiating. It's not even week-to-week now. At this point, it's quarter-to-quarter.

Stefan from Walenstadt, Switzerland

Now that Vontaze Burfict suspension came out, is there already something announced regarding Derek Barnett? His hit looked to me way more intentional to hurt Williams, but I guess Burfict is punished this hard as a repeated offender?

Editor's note: I'm moving on from this one after today unless there's some kind of league update. I made my feelings clear on the Barnett hit but it was obvious Burfict lowered his head in the open field to hit Jack Doyle. As a multiple-time offender, Burfict doesn't get the same benefit of the doubt Barnett did.

Joe from Harford, CT

The NFL should be handing out more suspensions and game expulsions if they really want to clean up targeting with the helmet. All personal fouls should be reviewed by the booth much like college. What happened to Jamaal Williams last week was a disgrace. The player could have been crippled for life.

Yes, but the NFL can't just throw around suspensions left and right, either. The NFLPA, acting in the interests of both players, has a say in the matter, as well.

Drew from Edina, MN

Could Andrew Sendejo be fined for his hit on his own teammate Avonte Maddox? If he made contact with Tonyan, there would be no questions about it. From the replay it looks like he initiated contact with his helmet, but just happened to hit his own guy.

That was my initial thought. We'll find out for sure later this week.

Brian from Twain Harte, CA

After a loss, I tend to shy away from watching the replays and reading II. Either I don't want to be reminded of the loss or I don't like to wade through all the negativity of the II, or both. My question: Does the II readership increase or decrease after a win or a loss?

It depends on the game. We had terrific numbers through the first three weeks. What's lacking after losses is the sensibility of the questions. It was brutal writing Saturday's II. I walked away from it like six or seven times and almost shut it down after 900 words. It was the four same questions over and over with varying levels of cynicism.

Peter from Orland Park, IL

The loss Thursday stings but the positive is most if not all are correctable (that includes the officials). My question is regarding the Pro Football HOF, and correcting wrongs by electing players of the past who deserved it. We live in the present so much, when the HOF was established in 1960 players of past lore were mostly forgotten. I am suggesting players from the Packers '30s team to be elected: Verne Lewellen, Lavvie Dilweg and Red Dunn. Even Ken Bowman and Bob Skoronski from the '60s.

This is a better question for Cliff but I wonder if Lewellen could still be considered someday if someone pushes hard enough. Rick Gosselin and the Hall of Fame committee have done a tremendous job of revisiting some of the senior-eligible players who have been passed up.

Charlie from Racine, WI

So how long until we get a picture of the entire Insider Inbox team?

I don't know. It's not easy to get all four of us in the same room together.

Gary from Wrightwood, CA

Please remind Erik from Sisters that first names aren't used on the back of jerseys. So the correct name would be Spoffhod, giving Mike the position of seniority...

That and Hofford just sounds weird.

Kyle from Jenison, MI

I think I'm a bad person. I have passed on Go Fund Me campaigns for people in need, but if Erik from Sisters, OR, crowdfunded that 88 Wespoff jersey, I would be compelled to contribute.

No. Donate to those in need. If people really want one, maybe we should commission one – and only one – "Spoffhod" jersey from the Packers Pro Shop with "II" numbers to raise money for a worthy cause.

Blane from Albuquerque, WI

I enjoy Insider Inbox for some reason. Spoff's in-game updates are great and the inputs by Wes are enjoyable.

I'm sorry, Blane. I know I cut off your actual question but "I enjoy Insider Inbox for some reason" may be my all-time favorite submission in 3½ years doing this. I decided to quit while you were ahead.


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