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Inbox: It starts on the ground

Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry have a good thing going right now with Za’Darius Smith inside

RB Aaron Jones
RB Aaron Jones

Jason from Lake View, NY

Good thing the Packers know how to "win ugly" because none of those wild-card games were pretty.

Thank you. This isn't the NCAA. There are only 32 teams and each roster is filled with 53 of the best athletes walking this planet. The margin for error is razor thin. Don't apologize for winning 13 games at that level. Just go grab No. 14. Good morning!

Michael from Hammond, IN

Do you think that Matt LaFleur will use the running game effectively against Seattle's defensive front?

It starts on the ground. I think it has to. The Seahawks were 22nd against the run this year and you could argue Aaron Jones was the Packers' offensive MVP in 2019. When he produces, the Packers win. Seriously. Green Bay is 6-0 when either Jones and/or Jamaal Williams rushes for 100 yards. That moves to 7-0, if you count Jones' 159-yard receiving game vs. Kansas City.

Mike from Lompoc, CA

Do you think it's likely that LaFleur and Mike Pettine will designate a "spy" on Russell Wilson to mitigate his ability to extend plays and to escape contain for damaging runs? I think if we minimize his chances, we neutralize his effectiveness to make explosive plays scrambling, which is pretty much his calling card.

It's definitely possible, if not likely. They certainly have a bevy of options to choose from with Za'Darius Smith, Kyler Fackrell, Adrian Amos and Ibraheim Campbell at the top of my list. Fackrell took a lot of flak early in his career but he's the best third-rounder the Packers have drafted since Morgan Burnett in 2010. Fackrell is an effective edge rusher but is also nimble enough to hold his own in coverage. That's an underrated attribute for an outside linebacker in this scheme.

Tom from Lodi, WI

As we look forward to playing Seattle, which do you believe is the bigger issue facing the Pack: Seattle's pass rush or Russell Wilson's elusiveness?

Wilson's elusiveness. His ability to extend plays and make things happen off-script is right up there with Aaron Rodgers. They're two of the best at it, which is why it's so vital to pressure from inside and keep Wilson in the pocket as much as possible.

Robin from Flagstaff, AZ

Are Z and the rest of the line disciplined enough to contain Russell Wilson for four quarters?

I think so.

Jim from Marietta, GA

I have to believe Rashan Gary is tailor-made for this matchup, given Russell Wilson's elusiveness. What percentage of snaps will he see? Thanks.

I'm guesstimating we'll see a fair share of Fackrell and Gary in the dime package, but the Smiths lead the D-Train. As long as both Za'Darius and Preston are healthy, that needs to be the driving force for this defense.

Kent from Andover, MN

How will the Seattle O-line fare against the Packers' pass rush? Fletcher Cox made the Seahawks' O-line look like a fool. Could Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry have the same kind of impact?

Sure, but it won't just be given to them. They'll have to work for it. Clark and Lowry seem to have a good thing going with Za'Darius Smith working inside more often over the past month. You gotta keep that pressure going.

Dennis from Parrish, FL

Man, we completely blew it passing on DK Metcalf in the second round taking what, a guard? Just kidding, Elgton Jenkins is our best pick in a while! Hopefully he will be a top guard for about 12 years!

Jenkins has been superb but I'm also thrilled for Metcalf. I cannot think of another prospect whose game was picked apart and scrutinized more in the media than his this past year. Kudos to John Schneider for drafting Metcalf.

Joe from Ashburn, VA

Which Seattle player must the Pack limit in order to be successful and pull out a win?

You can't let Metcalf go off like he did against Philadelphia. Otherwise, he's an explosive play just waiting to happen.

Sue from Three Lakes, WI

If we win and the Vikings win, the NFC Championship is at Lambeau. It's very hard to beat an opponent three times in one year especially when the teams know each other so well. Hate to jump the gun but I'd be very nervous about that matchup. What say you?

I was floored at the number of submissions we received about this on Monday. I….don't care, Sue. What will be, will be. Let's keep the focus on Seattle. Nothing matters unless the Packers beat the Seahawks Sunday.

Mike from Highland Park, IL

My key to this game vs. Seahawks is the Packers' D-line controlling the game. As bad as we looked vs. Lions, anybody with a running game would be foolish not to make that a point of emphasis! Your thoughts?

You have to win up front to beat the Seahawks. Simple as that.

Laird from Yelm, WA

Do you think the league should take a close look at the hit Jadeveon Clowney put on Carson Wentz in the Seahawks-Eagles game? I thought this was the kind of thing they wanted to do away with. He should be fined and given a six-game suspension, starting now!

I can see why it wasn't called (bang-bang play) but that doesn't mean I was a big fan of it. I felt it unnecessary. Wentz was very clearly going to the ground. The angle Clowney took didn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

Jacob from Ironwood, MI

Hats off to the Eagles for their fight to get into the playoffs. For Carson Wentz to play so hard and get injured in first quarter is heartbreaking. He did not have a single receiver with over 500 yards receiving. For context, this is the first year since 1977 that the Packers did not have two players with over 500 yards receiving. Wow.

That has to be one of the most banged-up teams to ever make the postseason. Listening to what Zach Ertz was playing through made me physically ill. I get there are no real moral victories in the NFL, but it's quite unbelievable the Eagles made it as far as they did.

Thomas from Springfield, VA

Hey II, Packers fans are faced with a dilemma this weekend. Obviously, we don't care for the Vikings, but it may be to our advantage if they win this weekend. In your opinion, how should we hope the MIN/SF game goes this weekend? At present, my plan is not to root for the Vikings (it's against my moral code as a Packers fan), but to root against the 49ers. Thoughts?

I think you hope the Vikings (and obviously the Packers) win, and the NFC title game goes through Lambeau Field for the first time since 2007.

Jeffrey from Eau Claire, WI

What's your take on Mike McCarthy becoming the Cowboys' next head coach?

Great hire for the Cowboys. I feel like McCarthy will hit the ground running with that team and be an excellent mentor for Dak Prescott. The media landscape is different in Dallas, but McCarthy has the temperament to handle it.

Gary from Davenport, IA

You don't suppose Jerry hired him because of his exemplary record playing in AT&T Stadium?

I mean that can't hurt, right?

Jack from Wauwatosa, WI

Great job gentlemen! Wes, to the Packer faithful, we should all wish Mike McCarthy luck in his new endeavor in Dallas. He brought a lot of smiles to Packer fans over the years. His luck can take a break though when the Cowboys play the Packers.

That was a popular sentiment in the locker room on Monday. I always felt McCarthy was very fair with me – both at the newspaper and after I came on board at I wish him nothing but the best in Dallas.

Ben from Beaver Dam, WI

I just saw McCarthy was hired by Dallas. I hope Packer fans give him a standing ovation whenever he returns to Lambeau in the future.

They will. That's just not a guaranteed scenario again until 2022.

Brian from Chesapeake, VA

Suddenly, I don't hate the Cowboys as much. What do you make of the Redskins' and Cowboys' hires of less trendy and splashy head coaching picks? Seems like the NFC East just got a lot tougher.

It's kind of been a trend in the NFC East over the past two decades to hire established coaches (Joe Gibbs, Mike Shanahan, Tom Coughlin, and Wade Phillips). As I alluded to last week, there's more to being a head coach than X's and O's. Can you build a foundation? Can you lead a locker room? McCarthy and Ron Rivera have proven they can.

Harry from Chandler, AZ

What will be harder for fans to take? Favre going to the Vikings or McCarthy to the Cowboys.

Is that really a question?

Scott from Silver Lake, WI

I know overtime rules have been talked about before but I am really not a fan of the first team to get the ball winning the game without the other team getting an offensive possession. I know the adage make a defensive stop and you will get ball, but it still seems unfair that winning the coin flip gives you a better chance of winning in overtime. While I like to watch college overtime games, I think they are too gimmicky for the NFL. Any thoughts? GPG beat the Hawks.

No. We're not talking about that now. Save it for July.

Matt from Holts Summit, MO

If anybody wants to know why blindside blocks are illegal they should go back to 2016 and look at Allen Barbre's hit on Clay Matthews, who was injured on the play. I know people complain a lot about the game getting too "soft," but there is no reason why we should be accepting of unnecessary injuries. I want the player I love to watch and who brings me joy during the season to have a good life and a healthy body after they retire.

The NFL officials gave us the same speech in training camp that they gave players – just don't extend your arms. As long as you stand and screen a player, you're fine. It's a pretty simple adjustment to make.

Venny from Montgomery, AL

While many of us as fans are hoping for sweet revenge this weekend from the 2014 collapse against the Seahawks, I found that only seven Packers players and five Seahawks players from that game will be playing this weekend. 1) Roster turnover is crazy in a five-year period. 2) Do the players play into the revenge card, or do they see it as a very important game that they've got to find a way to win?

I'm sure some media will try to resuscitate that 2014 NFC title game storyline, but that's an NFL lifetime ago at this point. The Packers have played Seattle more than any other non-division team over the past six years. Green Bay needs to beat Seattle because it's the next opponent on the schedule. That's it.

The Green Bay Packers hit the practice field to prepare for their NFC divisional matchup against the Seattle Seahawks.

Karl from Bruce, WI

I heard a lot of player names that were formerly associated with the Packers this weekend. That made me wonder. If a player is on the practice squad with Team A and they would like to keep him for a future need like a pending retirement or for a position they are thin at, what are the rules? Is there a mechanism for Team A to counter an attempt from Team B to claim that player? Can the player decide to stay regardless of Team B's attempt to claim him?

Once the regular season begins, every NFL practice-squad player is in essence a free agent. He can sign onto another 53-man roster whenever he chooses. Now if Minnesota wants to sign Mike Spofford off Green Bay's practice squad, what the Packers can do is offer to match whatever the base salary Spoff would make on the Vikings' 53. They've done it with free agents before (Tori Gurley, Diondre Borel, Matt Rotheram, Christian Ringo, etc.). Once the season ends, however, practice-squad players are signed to futures contracts. Those are ironclad until final cuts. So if a player is cut at the end of camp, that player must clear waivers to sign on a practice squad.

Richard from Madison, WI

Mention of Nick Collins' pick-six in the Super Bowl reminded me that I'm still bitter that he got called for "excessive celebration" for simply dropping to his knees in jubilation after practically guaranteeing his team a victory on the biggest stage of all. The injustice of that flag still rankles. Do you guys ever hold grudges like that that you can't let go of?


Uriah from South Vienna, OH

Who do you think is the biggest underdog in the divisional round? I gotta go with the Titans even after what they did to New England, just because of how good Baltimore has been this year.

Tennessee. I thought Derrick Henry would be able to chip away against New England's front but cannot say with confidence he'll find the same consistent production in Baltimore. And then there's all the problems Lamar Jackson and the Ravens' offense present.

Shilo from Murrieta, CA

When Bill Belichick melted down after Mike Vrabel pulled off that delay-of-game, time-wasting stunt, to me that was the beginning of the end for the Patriots.

What a strange turn of events, with the loophole Belichick used against the Jets coming back to bite New England.

Erik from Sisters, OR

A non-Packer question for you: What fan base would actually want Tom Brady? I know even if the Packers were in need of a QB, I'd be dead set against being a fan of Tom in the sacred green and gold.

Pride comes before the fall. Owners want fans and fans want to win. Brady will have a starting job in the NFL next year, if he wants one. The only question is whether Year 21 will happen in Foxborough.

Sandy from Green Bay, WI

Do all NFL players use professional sports agents to represent them? What about college athletes who are considering going pro? At what point do they retain representation by an agent?

Most players do but some don't. Richard Sherman and Russell Okung cut their own deals. I think Bobby Wagner might have done his own contract, as well. Underclassmen aren't allowed to hire agents but have several resources available to them to determine whether to declare for the draft like the advisory board, which will survey NFL teams to get a feel on when/if a prospect could be drafted.

Mike from Ames, IA

Any chance we can get Billy Turner to design the official jacket of the Insider Inbox?

I'm all for this. I thought all of his designs were pretty sweet. I'm actually going to be writing a little about that on Wednesday morning.

Kent from Forest City, IA

Hey guys, looking forward to coming up to Green Bay for this weekend. I was also up there for the last playoff game against the Giants and enjoyed the pep rally on Saturday night before the game. Any chance we get that again this Saturday night?

That there will be. It'll be at The Turn, located next door at Titletown. The show starts at 6 p.m. CT. Spoff will be signing babies and kissing photos at 7.