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QB Aidan O'Connell

Steve from Phoenix, AZ

I'm getting ready to join the team in Vegas and place a few bets this weekend. As Packers employees, do you have gambling restrictions similar to the players?

Yes, which is why gambling will remain forever illegal at Bushwood.

Ryan from Colfax, WI

What does the week look like when you have not only an early game the week before but also an extra day with the Monday night game? More rest, more practice or both?

Both. The players were off Saturday through Monday, practiced on Tuesday and then will carry out their usual on-field game prep Thursday through Saturday, plane leaves Sunday.

Sandy from Green Bay, WI

Good morning! After four games in, any big surprises from what you were expecting from this young team?

Nothing with the youth has surprised me, except maybe Jayden Reed's impact being even greater than I thought, though that's partly related to Watson's absence. The surprise, or more accurately disappointment, has been seeing a veteran defense already have two prolonged rough stretches similar to last year – the fourth quarter in Atlanta and the first half vs. the Lions. I said all offseason the defense has to smooth out its level of play, and that hasn't happened.

Nick from Plainwell, MI

Good morning Insiders! Maxx Crosby is a disruptive force for the Raiders' defense. How can the Packers slow him down so he isn't in the backfield all day? On a side note, I'm glad Khalil Mack isn't in our conference anymore!

Crosby demands attention. You can't double him or chip him on every play, but in an obvious passing situation, scheming for help is almost a necessity without an anchor like David Bakhtiari on the edge. As for Mack, the Packers have to face him this year, too, in about a month and a half.

Brian from Sussex, WI

Two general mindsets, one is games are won/lost by making/giving up big plays. The second is staying in manageable third downs and keeping opponent in long third downs. Seems like reality is a balance of the two. Does it seem like the Packer mindset (offense and defense) is skewed a little too much?

There's definitely a huge emphasis on explosive plays on both sides of the ball here, and there are plenty of statistics to back up the reasons. That and turnovers make the difference in games more often than not. For all the issues with the Packers' defense getting worn down by the run, it's easy to forget the Lions' first three scoring drives included completions of 35, 24, 23 and 26 yards, plus a 40-yard reverse. That's 148 yards on five plays, all in the first quarter. Detroit hit Green Bay with some haymakers early and wore them down later. The problem, obviously, is if the defensive emphasis is to not give up big plays, then you'd better not give them up or the opponent takes total command, which is what transpired. Meanwhile, the Packers had completions of 24 and 44 yards on their two TD drives but had only one other gain longer than 16 yards the rest of the game. Given the Packers' penalty and injury issues on offense, grinding out long, methodical drives without a miscue becomes that much harder.

Sal from Moorestown, NJ

The plan is to fix the run defense with scheme adjustments. Isn't that what the offseason was for? How can we expect to fix in 10 days what we couldn't fix in nine months?

Perfectly reasonable question and valid point. I don't know what the defense is going to try now that it couldn't have incorporated over the offseason. There's certainly risk to changing too much without the time to rep it extensively in practice. That's why I suggested the other day I think the schematic changes will be more situational.

Alan from Green Bay, WI

As I watch the games at Lambeau Field and see more and more enemy jerseys in the stands, it appears that people on the waiting list for season tickets are being denied them while the old-timers are making a profit selling their tickets to the enemy. What can be done?

Not much. Welcome to America. I highly doubt those on the waiting list for decades who finally get their tickets aren't going to sell some on the secondary market as well. It's the way of the world these days, and frankly, I don't blame folks. Tickets are expensive, and if making a profit on a few games helps pay for attending others, that's sensible. The internet makes the process convenient and opens the door to all. So it goes. Packers fans have just as much opportunity to buy those available tickets as anyone else. It was disheartening to see so much blue at Lambeau last Thursday, but it didn't shock me in the slightest.

Glen from Leesburg, VA

With all the discussion going on about what Joe Barry is or isn't doing right, the first place we have to look at is the ability for the offense to sustain a drive and put points on the board. When the defense gets a turnover inside the red zone on the third play from scrimmage, you can't ask much more than that. That has to be a touchdown, not a field goal. The defense can't be on the field for an entire half and expect to win the game. Offense needs to play an entire game.

In other words, it's a team game. What a concept.

Bill from Bloomfield Hills, MI

The Raiders' Aidan O'Connell as a fourth-round Big Ten QB has a similar moxie to Sean Clifford as both just fearlessly played themselves into QB2 jobs during training camp. One wonders if the Raiders and Packers were looking at both these guys at the time. Have you watched O'Connell's preseason film for comparison as Jimmy G is still in the protocol?

I have not. O'Connell did have a whale of a preseason, but he found out what a lot of young QBs do when they're thrown into the fire with such little experience – it takes a concerted effort to protect the football against front-line NFL defenders, and finding that balance between protecting the ball and not playing timidly isn't easy.

Don from Marshfield, WI

Milwaukee Badgers? Never heard of them. Can you tell us about them?

They only lasted for a few years in the NFL in the 1920s before folding. Johnny Blood played for them before he played for the Packers.

Robbie from Guelph, Canada

My question relates to strategy in general. Washington has the choice of a PAT to tie the game and see what happens in OT or trying for two to win the game. I think trying for two is actually the safer bet. I would always want to control my destiny when given the opportunity, especially on the road against a heavily favored divisional rival. Thoughts?

I was surprised the Commanders didn't go for the win as well. I have to believe Eric Bieniemy had a two-point play in mind. So much for Riverboat Ron. Philly had scored points on five of six previous drives, dating back to the end of the first half. I'm not sure how Washington thought it was going to win that game in OT.

Aaron from Brooklyn, NY

Kudos to Zach Wilson for stepping up against the Chiefs, but I couldn't help but think about the fact that this was the third time in five years we've been deprived of the Rodgers vs. Mahomes matchup. Mahomes missed the 2019 game with a knee injury and Rodgers missed in 2021 with Covid. Can you think of any other marquee matchups that kept just barely not happening?

Nothing rings a bell, though Rodgers and Brady were starters for roughly 20 years combined before they finally squared off, and they still wound up with four head-to-head matchups before Brady retired.

Rudy form Woodbury, MN

Saying that a QB in 2023 has a better completion percentage than two QBs who played in the '80s shouldn't be something to get too excited over. Much different era for QB stats. I'm not too concerned at this point, like that he takes his shots. But I also understand the concern when the only QB you're better than is Zach Wilson. At some point the shots taken have to be completed and not overthrown. But also, give the kid time.

That's where I am. I never denied he's missed some throws, potentially big ones, that he needs to hit. I've also said his receivers haven't come up with some contested catches they could have. Moreover, the Packers lead the league right now in highest average yards to go on third downs, which is going to impact efficiency as well. I'm willing to be patient with Love, let him settle in and figure it out.

Marc from Holmen, WI

Re: completion percentage, the Saints' last game is instructive. Carr was 23-37 (62%) for 127 yards. He targeted Kamara 14 times completing 13 (93%) for 33 yards! The next lowest yardage for that many completions in NFL history was 71 yards. No thank you. Love, while he has missed a few throws by larger margins, to my eye, many incompletions on the fades and back shoulders are positioned where only the receiver can catch it. Tough catches but catchable and low risk for INT. Is that what you're seeing?

Pretty much. I will say in Carr's defense he was playing through that shoulder injury and may not have been able to push the ball downfield in his typical fashion.

Bruce from Jackson, WI

Mike, what is more important having a good OL or DL? I would think OL to protect your QB and score points. In the past 50 years we have spent nine first-round, eight second-round and eight third-round picks on the OL. Notably the last firsts were in 2010 and '11 and then 1994, '96 & '97. Packers won SBs after the '96 and 2010 seasons. On average you get what you pay for… yes?

No need to pick which side. Show me a strong offensive or defensive line and I'll show you a team with a good chance to win games. If they have both, they have a great chance. Your first-round O-line/Super Bowl argument doesn't hold up, though. Yes, Aaron Taylor was the first-round pick in '94, and he was a big part of the Super Bowl team, but John Michels in '96 wasn't ('95 seventh-rounder Adam Timmerman and street free agent Bruce Wilkerson were far more important). In '10, Bryan Bulaga played on that Super Bowl team only because Mark Tauscher blew out his knee. He was an incredibly vital insurance policy it turned out, but he wasn't going to start as a rookie.

Mike from Ames, IA

Have brothers ever kicked against each other in an NFL game before? Any chance either Anders Carlson is dating a pop star? The TV crews need to know.

I'll leave the dating scene to others. The Bahr brothers (Chris and Matt) kicked against each other a handful of times, including a playoff game ('82 AFC wild card, Raiders vs. Browns). The Mike-Mayer brothers (Steve and Nick) kicked against each other several times in the late '70s, and the Gogolak brothers (Pete and Charlie) kicked against each other a few times in the mid-to-late '60s. The Colquitt brothers (Britton and Dustin) also punted against one another several times last decade. I did not find any instances in which the Gramatica or Zendejas kicking brothers went against each other, for those wondering.

Nate from Hartford, WI

I think if we would have known that our top two offensive linemen, top WR, top RB, top CB, and arguably top ILB would have missed significant playing time through four games, we all would have taken a 2-2 record quite happily.

If this initial injury storm has truly passed, the Packers have weathered it just fine. Now it's time to find out what this team is going to be.

Jeff from Indian Lake, NY

If there was ever a game to establish the run this has to be it. Injuries up front, facing an elite pass rusher in Crosby. Have the hog molly's attack instead of react. A good run game will only help pass protection, rhythm in the offense, stay ahead of the sticks, the list goes on. Just beat the Raiiiiidahs (Chris Berman voice).

I don't know what a hog molly is, and I'm not sure I want to know, but I like the mentality.

Aaron from Tucson, AZ

I have always loved the "G." It always represents the "G"ood "G"uys to me. However, after reading in yesterday's column about John Gordon and observing the original concept, it blew me away that it was originally intended to be shaped as a football! It goes hand-in-hand with the Brewers' longtime logo of a ball in a mitt! Nothing fancy, but simple and to-the-point, they represent the no-nonsense attitude of those sports franchises. May they never change. RIP J"G"G

Happy Wednesday.

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