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Inbox: It was both entertaining and horrifying to watch

Live by it, die by it

DE Josh Paschal
DE Josh Paschal

Daniel from Sammamish, WA

"The suspension is water under the bridge." Good one.

I should've shown myself out.

Mark from Seattle, WA

Hi guys, so Mike's Wednesday chats are done?

They will be rather infrequent in the offseason. If the timing seems right and I'm around, I'll fire one up here and there.

Ron from Mitchell, SD

It's halftime and the Niners appear to be missing a kneecap!

Turns out the Lions lost their teeth instead.

Jim from Tempe, AZ

I understand being aggressive but there's a tipping point. Up 14 and a chance to go up 17. Take it. It was all downhill from there. I know how bad the Packers fan base felt but I can't imagine how badly the Lions will be feeling for months to come. As good as they felt about eliminating the Packers from the playoffs last season, enjoy your sorrow!

Actually I can imagine, because nine years wasn't that long ago. But I digress …

Scott from Sauk City, WI

I did not think anyone could have a more gut-wrenching playoff collapse than the Packers, so I guess thanks Detroit?

A bad coaching decision and crazy bounce of the ball began a full-scale meltdown. It was both entertaining and horrifying to watch. It became a four-phase collapse – offense, defense, special teams, and more coaching. A costly fumble and then dropped pass on third down, no QB contain and missed tackles galore, failing to down the punt inside the 5, additional bad decisions from the sideline – all the way down to trying to run it in for the late TD and having to burn a timeout, which took away any chance for the defense to get the ball back and made the game come down to the onside kick. In the immortal words of Capt. Jack Ross: "Your boys are goin' down, Danny. I can't stop it anymore."

Rick from Queen Creek, AZ

As soon as Campbell decided to go for it on fourth I turned to my wife and said they aren't going to make it and they are going to lose this game. Right there you kick the field goal EVERY time. You go up by three scores and deflate the energy in the stadium. Do you agree the aggressiveness there was too much? I'm posting this while the game is still in the balance, so I may be eating my words.

No utensils required. Aggressiveness to foster an attitude is one thing. It's worked for Campbell and the Lions the past three years. Stubbornness to the point of detrimental, situational tone deafness is quite another. What exactly are you fostering in the NFC title game? If you insist on having to win a certain way, you're flipping the football gods the proverbial bird, and they will shove that bird … somewhere … like in your DB's facemask. He eschewed the opportunity to re-establish a three-score lead in the third quarter, and the chance to tie the game in the fourth. Some fourth-down decisions are arguable, others are indefensible. Both were the latter for me. Live by it, die by it, I guess. Not always, but more often than not, you get what you deserve in this game.

Steve from Algoma, WI

Those 49ers are like the zombies of the NFL. They just won't die.

The 49ers proved the last two weeks you have to beat them for the full 60 minutes. You can't beat them for 30-plus like the Lions did. You can't beat them for 55 like the Packers did. The full 60. If you don't, they will get you.

Eric from Kenosha, WI

Good morning. Even the best team in the league all year made a litany of mistakes in a playoff game. Is it too early to call Mahomes the new GOAT? It feels like only a matter of time until he leads in all the ways we measure that.

This is, to me, his most impressive run to the Super Bowl. If he wins it again this year, he will be the clear, and only, challenger for GOAT status.

Jim from Las Vegas, NV

Spoff, the Ravens looked more interested in being tough guys than playing solid football. Reid and Spagnuolo had great game plans, and Mahomes and Kelce played like legends. Happy for MVS!

There's nothing wrong with having toughness and discipline. They're not mutually exclusive. The Ravens acted like they have to be.

Ken from New York, NY

The Ravens. My goodness. Talk about a woulda coulda shoulda game.

There's no getting around Flowers' two blunders changing things. Not saying the Ravens were going to win, but cutting the deficit to 17-14 early in the fourth quarter, it's anybody's game. He cost them, big time, twice in a span of a few plays. Brutal.

Jon from Forest, VA

Making fewer mistakes and maintaining your poise is huge. What were the biggest factors you saw?

I'll never understand how the No. 1 rushing offense in the league gave its feature back three carries in a conference title game. The Ravens ran the ball better than anyone for four months and then didn't even try to do what they do best.

Michael from Baraboo, WI

Patrick Mahomes is absolutely amazing. Kelce hasn't lost a step and just set the playoff record for receptions. Andy Reid knows how to coach and is in the conversation for one of the all-time greats. Lastly, the Chiefs are looking like a dynasty. No questions, just in-awe observations.

No arguments here.

Dave from Stevens Point, WI

Just a reaction. It's interesting that neither Mike nor "Steve from Appleton" included Justin Fields on their lists of 16 promising young or veteran quarterbacks. That's half the league. It shows why the 16 teams whose quarterback is NOT on either list are desperate to get one that is.

I'm with Wes in that there's a lot to like about Justin Fields. He's proven he can play in this league. I've maintained all along the decision the Bears have to make is what style of offense they want to play. If they want their QB to be a regular part of their running game, then they should charge ahead with Fields. If they want to build an offense differently, then move on. But don't try to make Fields some type of QB he isn't, which is what it felt like Chicago tried to do his rookie year and it got him off to a terrible start.

Austin from Appleton, WI

A lot of talk this week about the fumble into the end zone. While I think that rule makes perfect sense, others disagree. What's the rule that boggles your mind? Mine is that offensive players are able to stiff arm in the head and neck area with impunity. From a safety perspective, that absolutely has to go.

It's definitely a double standard that everyone else gets called for "illegal hands to the face" except ball carriers (and we saw it again Sunday night). But that's my only problem with it. As for the fumble-through-the-end-zone rule, I've gone back and forth, because while I like the idea of a harsh consequence in the most important part of the field, giving the defense the ball when it doesn't recover it has never sat well with me. So I've decided on my solution: Reverse touchback. Put the ball on the 20, offense keeps possession, first-and-goal from there.

Connor from Grand Rapids, MI

I want to respond to Hugh from PA who was concerned about Jordan Love in his second year with defenses adjusting. I want to just point to the fact that Love has started against four teams twice (two of which played this weekend). Love is 4-0 when he plays a team for the second time as a starter, often looking better in the second game than he did the first. Sure defenses adjust but don't discount the lessons a young offense gets from playing games.

Nor what the coaching staff learns about its QB and his young supporting cast from each encounter. The never-ending cat-and-mouse game encompasses everything from film study to game plans to execution. It's a team game.

Mike from Lady Lake, FL

Regarding the last play for the Packers when Jordan Love was intercepted by the 49ers, it looked to me like the Packers sent three receivers deep (more than 25 yards from the LOS) and had no checkdown available for Love. None of the three receivers were coming back towards Love. Looked like a rather strange play call. Agree?

Disagree. It was first down, and it made sense to try to take a shot there right after moving the chains. Jones was the checkdown, but he was helping in pass pro. The play caller is counting on the QB to throw it away if nothing's there.

Vince from Green Bay, WI

No question, just words of caution. A lot of pundits are saying the Packers are back to Super Bowl contenders next year due to their young QB/roster, got in playoffs won a game and gave No. 1 seed all they wanted, etc. I'm excited for Pack's future too, but let's tap the brakes. That description was said about the 2023 Jaguars as well …

Sure, and they were 8-3 looking to win the AFC South when it all got derailed. Another lesson in how long – marathon, not a sprint – the season is.

Daniel from Lakeland, FL

Have the Packers ever had a previous draft with a first-round pick, two second- and two third-round picks? The potential for another excellent draft awaits.

I don't have a list in front of me as far as what the Packers had going into any given draft, and there's no telling what they'll do with their five selections in the top 100 come April. But I can tell you the last time the Packers selected five players in the top 100 was 2006 and here they were: A.J. Hawk (5), Daryn Colledge (47), Greg Jennings (52), Abdul Hodge (67), Jason Spitz (75).

Jeremy from St. Petersburg, FL

Let's talk Quay Walker. Last year his talent was obvious, but his lack of self-control was a problem. This year, he seemed to really shine and grow into a leader. I do not recall any obvious incidents like he had last year. What is your take on his development arc?

Walker showed the maturity that was demanded of him, he's still growing into his role (particularly as the unit's communicator), and I think a new DC and approach can get more out of him.

Adam from Long Branch, NJ

I'm a Packers fan who also happens to be a Denver Nuggets fan. Several years ago, the Nuggets broke through for a playoff berth with a young team, won a series, then had their heart broken in a Game 7. They progressed to the Western Conference finals the next year, and later won an NBA title. The stepladder nature of growth has me looking forward to seeing the Packers' next step in 2024/2025. Hope it produces a similar prize.

Of course, but no offense, your comparison is meaningless to me. The structure of the NBA playoffs allows for teams to overcome a bad day (or two or even three) in the postseason. There's no such luxury in the NFL. Just ask the Ravens. They had one bad day from mid-October on, before Sunday.

Collin from Omaha, NE

Hello II, I was watching the brand new Pro Volleyball Federation when the 'casters said something interesting about coaches' challenges. Coaches can challenge a specific aspect of a call from the ref, but if the replay highlights a different violation unrelated to what the initial challenge was for, the refs can enforce that violation to ensure that the call on the court matches what actually happened on the play. Why does the NFL refuse to do this with certain aspects of the game?

Because there are too many variables, in particular judgment calls like holding and PI. You make an already difficult situation for a coach untenable if, for example, he challenges an incomplete pass saying his defender intercepted it, but upon review they can come back and call DPI. So that's never going to happen.

Michael from Alpharetta, GA

Considering the success the Packers have had at quarterback by drafting one while having a great current starter and letting the draft pick learn, do you think the same should be considered at running back? Aaron Jones ability to get yards when the hole isn't there and breakaway speed when he's free appears to be a large asset in making our offense go…should we target a future home-run threat replacement in the draft?

With Jones turning 30 next season and AJ Dillon a pending free agent, the Packers will be looking to restock the position regardless.

Robert from Chandler, AZ

I think all would agree that among the top Packer achievements for 2023 was the emergence of Jordan Love as a top-tier NFL quarterback. But if you could pick a couple of things for JL to improve upon next year, what would they be?

The biggest is what he pointed to himself after the loss at San Francisco – late-game situations. If I'm counting correctly, he had nine gotta-have-it drives in crunch time, and he came through four times (Saints, Chargers, Giants, Panthers) while failing five (Falcons, Raiders, Broncos, Steelers, Niners). He has the talent, and now the experience, to convert at a higher rate there.

Kevin from Savage, MN

Lots of thoughts about next year, which is good except it's a week or two earlier than desired. Would you give a detailed comparison on how last year's salary cap situation differs from this coming year's situation? AR12 is now (will be soon?) off the books completely, yes?

Rodgers is completely off the books now, but the Packers have several decisions to make on high-priced contracts (release, restructure, etc.) before their 2024 cap picture comes into focus. It'll look a little clearer come mid-March.

Jerry from Des Moines, IA

In both conference championship games, champions make plays while the losers go home thinking about the ones they didn't make. The Chiefs and 49ers made the plays.

Funny how that works. Happy Monday.

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