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Inbox: It will just have to wait

Those moments were not seized

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LB Preston Smith

Don from Cedar Rapids, IA

Ads on TV during the football game: "How do you football?" "Change the way you pizza." "How do you cashback?" Don't you just hate it when advertisers verb nouns?

Let's Inbox, people!

Eric from Mequon, WI

I wonder if the NFL schedule-makers were a bit disappointed in seeing a Packers loss. Makes Week 2 just another game.

Yeah, that whole all-time winningest team thing? It will just have to wait.

Brian from Waukesha, WI

So, the Packers need to get the ball into the hands of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon more often, according to the coach with the MVP QB. I can't wait to see what happens Sunday.

I think the beauty of working Jones and Dillon together is they'll force defenses to defend the entire width of the field against both run and pass. That's how cutback lanes and shots down the seam will develop.

Cami from Jupiter, FL

Hey Mike, what are some key matchups to look for against Da Bears?

Justin Fields and Roquan Smith. Keep Fields contained and make him beat you from the pocket. Get a hat on Smith on the second level. Do those two things and I like Green Bay's chances.

Jack from Indianapolis, IN

Watching both Manning brothers agonize over Denver's clock management was brutal. Do you think it just boils down to having a new QB and new head coach? I would have expected better time management from a Super Bowl-winning QB and Nathaniel Hackett.

It wasn't about the clock management. Hackett had decided to kick the long field goal, and if that's the decision – a highly debatable one, to say the least – then letting the clock run down was the way to go. Everyone was stunned they didn't call a timeout right away to talk about a fourth-down play, as was I, but while the clock kept running it eventually hit me: "Holy cow, he's kicking it from here."

Steve from Fullerton, CA

What do you think of coach Hackett calling timeouts when Seattle was doing the kneel-down drill to end the game?

Maybe he was just buying himself extra time to think about how he was going to explain the fourth-down decision to the media.

Beckett from West Bend, WI

Seattle was definitely loud Monday night with the return of Russell Wilson, huh?

As expected, and the gold zone was anything but golden to Hackett and the Broncos. 0-for-4, two field goals, two fumbles (at the 1-yard line, no less). The fact that they still had a chance to win after all that says something about both teams, though.

Dar from Mansfield, TX

Spoff, did you happen to notice that on the ill-fated fourth-and-1 play, Marcedes Lewis was lined up wide rather than on the end of the line? Call me old-fashioned (preferably the brandy variety), but to my mind the best blockers should be blocking on a short-yardage play. What was Coach LaFleur trying to leverage there?

The passing threat (and it's Windsor for me). The play call was a run-pass option, so it's up to Aaron Rodgers in shotgun whether the look is better to run it or throw it. Lining up Lewis as a potential passing target impacts how the defense aligns itself. Turns out, the best option was the improvised one Rodgers regretted not taking, calling his own number and pulling the handoff to run it himself. He said after the game it would've been a walk-in touchdown, and the film confirmed it. Za'Darius Smith crashed so hard from the high side if Rodgers had kept the ball he would've strolled in, because Smith committed to Dillon from the edge and the perimeter defense was spread out to defend the pass routes.

Keith from Miamisburg, OH

I have noticed a trend under Matt LaFleur. If an opponent gives fits to start a game, he tends to get knocked off his game plan. The losses are usually attributed to not running enough, etc. I believe he is still learning in his young career, but this is an area he still needs to develop a bit more, the ability to counter punch and stay on your plan. Do you think this is due to him still learning or getting pulled into the emotional responses in the ebb and flow of the game?

It's all of that, but I'll throw in a caveat. There's a lot of volume to every game plan. Coaches tend to pack more into it than they'll actually need, to cover various contingencies. When things go a little haywire early, I think a lot of coaches (not just LaFleur) tend to start exploring other parts of the game plan to provide a spark or a jolt. When that works, and things settle down, the foundation eventually rebuilds, the rest of the game flows a little more naturally, and no one's the wiser. When it doesn't, they regret the attempt to deviate and the time lost to re-establish priorities.

Brian from Sugar Land, TX

During the telecast of the game, it was said that LaFleur was great at developing rookies by keeping them in the game, not benching them for a mistake. After his first play drop, Christian Watson was essentially an invisible man. Two of his three later targets came in fourth-quarter "garbage time." Your thoughts.

Watson played 40 of 61 snaps, most of any perimeter player aside from Sammy Watkins (41). He ran the end-around in the red zone on the Packers' third possession of the game. He showed he's a willing blocker on the edges, which bodes well. He's going to be a big part of things, but I think force-feeding a kid who didn't play a single preseason snap and made a huge blunder on the first play wasn't the way to turn that game around.

Dave from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Do you think the NFL will ever go back to the old rule that doesn't allow offensive linemen to push the ball carrier forward? Why do you think they ever changed that?

I have no idea, but I think it's ridiculous. That's not football in my view.

Bob from Kennesaw, GA

Immediately after humiliating loss, ML: "We have to flip the script and move forward." While I do get that there's another game looming, if someone doesn't take the time to closely examine this loss while the sting is still fresh, come opening day next season we'll be 3-for-3. In the other games I watched, none of the teams looked as feeble as the Packers did. Even the Bears looked better. Vince: "What the hell is goin' on out there?" Sorry. I just had to let all that out…

The Packers can't win their 2023 opener this week. They can beat the Bears. Compared to last year, LaFleur changed his practice plan for the time between the last preseason game and the first real game, but it didn't produce better results. I'm sure he'll review it all again at the appropriate time.

Steve from Hurricane, UT

Win the coin toss and defer. Go for touchdowns on fourth-and-goal. I believe in both choices because even if they don't take the ball or make the TD, I thought the defense would get three-and-outs or turnovers or maybe a safety. I think it's the way to go, but it defeats the purpose in either event (of course) if not successful. Do you think they will stick to this approach and trust the D not to let them march down the whole field?

Yes. The defense had allowed the Vikings just one first down on their last two possessions combined when they took over at the 1-yard line. Then suddenly Cook ran three straight times for 22 yards and Jefferson was wide open for a 64-yard gasher. The defense needs to pick up the offense after a letdown and vice versa, and those moments were not seized.

Rob from Wilmington, NC

I'm counting six division games in Week 1 off the top of my head.

Yes, but only two in the NFC, as Wes noted.

Terry from Rogersville, MO

With knowing preseason is for non-starters for the majority of the league, I got to thinking about having Game 1 with a non-conference opponent. Bills-Rams was great and though the Rams lost, they lost out of conference which can minimize the loss in my mind. As opposed to laying an egg against a divisional opponent. Do you think it would be realistic to have all teams play out of conference on Week 1 as a pseudo warmup game?

I think it would make a lot of sense, but the league will never go for it.

Nick from Boston, MA

It's only Week 1, it was ugly but there is no need to overreact. For all the talk about the secondary having blown coverages, how did the pass rush look to you? I think they only got one sack but it felt like we were hitting Cousins a lot.

They got to him a fair amount, but not enough to make him uncomfortable when that many big plays are allowed. Overall, I'd label it inconsistent.

Gordon from Newport Beach, CA

Mike, it sure seemed like a lot of teams in Week 1 could have taken an easy field goal versus a failed fourth-down conversion. Why take the risk?

That's been the trend in the NFL for several years now. I thought it was interesting LaFleur said after the game if they got inside the 3-yard line on third down he was going for it. I would've thought it was 1-yard line or kick, but he was going to be aggressive for sure. As an aside, I mentioned in the live blog I thought Dillon got robbed on the third-down spot. It looked to me like he rolled on top of the defender and that ball was at least halfway between the 1 and goal line, but they put the nose of the ball on the 1, if not slightly behind it. You still have to get that yard, but in my view they should've only needed a half yard.

David from Chestertown, MD

Hello Inbox scribblers! Was/is Robert Tonyan on a pitch count? It felt like we could've used his savvy more than it was employed. Here's to bumping off the Bears!

LaFleur hasn't addressed it specifically, but it looked to me like he was on a snap count. He played only 22, roughly one-third.

Caleb from Knoxville, TN

Bigger Week 1 surprise – Dolphins downing the Patriots, or Giants edging the Titans?

Joe Burrow throwing four interceptions.

Paul from Middleton, WI

Good morning! So, from what I've read…what our coaches are saying is Minnesota just gave everyone a blueprint on how to stay away from Jaire and get your best receiver guarded by someone else because we won't change our defense?

They decided against it this game and got burned. Doesn't mean they won't change their approach another time. Also, LaFleur emphasized matching up situationally (third down, red zone, etc.) is more feasible and I took the comment to mean he felt they could've done that more.

Derek from Norton, KS

For those wishing Rodgers had played in the preseason, one only needs to point to the accuracy of the deep throw to Watson. Most of the other offensive issues started up front. While visually the defense looked poor, you would expect the Packers to score 24 points most weeks. What did you see as the most glaring issue from Week 1?

I can't say I saw them because I don't know all the X's and O's, but when Rodgers talked repeatedly postgame about mental errors across the board, that got my attention. It sounded a lot like the media session at his locker midway through training camp, except he seemed more focused on blocking mix-ups than other issues.

Ray from Phoenix, AZ

I see Caleb Jones was activated to the 53-man. Are we to assume that either David Bakhtiari or Elgton Jenkins or both will not play Sunday and Krys Barnes will go on IR?

I wouldn't assume anything about the other linemen. Barnes to IR is the corresponding roster move to make room. I suspect all the O-line injuries around the league prompted the Packers to protect Jones from being poached. I believe the weekly practice-squad protections begin when the transaction wire is announced on Tuesdays (3 p.m. CT) and end after that week's game, so there's always a Monday-Tuesday window even protected players become available.

Dan from WI

So, I'll be an optimist. New head coach, rivalry, home opener and the advantage of unscouted looks for MN and the Packers' defense only gave up three points in the second half. MN won't have any of those going for it next time.

Next time is more than 100 days from now. That game will be ancient history by then, for both teams.

Jeff from Indian Lake, NY

Last year we rebounded from a bad Week 1 loss with a win in the division. This year we are set up to do the same. I believe this team will find it's true identity in all three phases as the season wears on. Until then, just win baby. That starts Sunday night.

Sounds like a plan, Stan. I mean, Jeff. Happy Wednesday.

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