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Inbox: It's not just the fan base that's curious

Not all will live up to those hopes and dreams, but some will

Bears QB Justin Fields, Packers LB Preston Smith
Bears QB Justin Fields, Packers LB Preston Smith

Zak from Huntington Beach, CA

What title would you use for the new chapter in Packers lore that we're about to begin?

Sorry, this particular scribe has never chosen the headline before writing the story.

Joseph from Sioux Falls, SD

Just thought you would all like to know that "cinnamon roll w/chili" was a standard school lunch in Yankton, S.D. I'd estimate it was scheduled at least twice a month. I'd be curious if Tucker Kraft had a similar experience in Timber Lake. Will you ask him sometime?

I'll try to remember.

Bill from Richmond Hill, GA

Good morning, Mike and Wes. How are you doing? I hope you both got some time to relax and enjoy yourselves with your families and friends this off season. But now, it's time to get to work. How is Chicago's O-line looking, and how do you see them matching up against our (young, but) extremely talented D-line? Will it even be close, or is it time for Chicago sports fans to focus on hockey?

When I look at that matchup in the trenches, Kenny Clark is the best player on either side. So it'll come down to how the Bears handle Clark, and if he requires extra resources, whether the Packers' young guys can win their one-on-ones.

Erik from Holstebro, Denmark

I think we can all agree that this has been a pretty good preseason. Now, on to Chicago. We know they've invested in some pass-catchers for their run-around QB, but what about their defense? Who are the big names, who are the up-and-coming guys, and what are they trying to be good at?

Having lost Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks and Robert Quinn in recent years, I don't think the Bears are as stout in the trenches defensively as they've been in other years. But their trio of off-the-ball linebackers – T.J. Edwards, Tremaine Edmunds, Jack Sanborn – is as good as they've had in a while. On the back end, they want DBs Jaylon Johnson, Eddie Jackson and Jaquan Brisker to take the ball away at every opportunity.

Ross from Hudson, WI

When rushing a "pocket passer," pressure up the middle is most disruptive. What is paramount when going against a "rushing" quarterback? What is the cardinal sun against the elusive? Does the required align with the Packers' skill sets and scheme?

I've always felt it just takes discipline, and a lack of concern for getting sacks. A running QB wants pass rushers to try to sack him, because he's confident he can get away and take advantage of any opening. Staying in rush lanes and keeping him contained so he doesn't have natural escape routes is the key. As soon as he senses someone out of position, he's going to see what he can do with that space.

Jason from Austin, TX

Mike, I completely agree that there is greater pressure on the Bears this game. Some big questions are going to start to be answered. The Bears traded away the No. 1 pick because they were confident that Fields is the long-term answer. Did the addition of DJ Moore flip the script on him (similar to AJ Brown in Philly)? This game isn't a be-all end-all, but I bet the fan base will be very curious if Justin Fields has grown as a QB or if he still takes off and runs at first fright.

It's not just the fan base that's curious. It's the rest of the NFL, especially the other three NFC North teams. Fields was drafted with the No. 11 overall pick in 2021, and the Bears committed to him by trading this year's No. 1 pick for a haul of draft assets to build around him. It's up to Fields to reward that faith.

Caleb from Knoxville, TN

Who's one less-than-obvious Bears player we should keep an eye on?

Darnell Wright. The rookie right tackle was the No. 10 overall pick in April, and he'll be dealing with Rashan Gary and/or Preston Smith in his NFL debut. If Wright lives up to his billing and draft status, the Bears have a key offensive piece for the next decade.

Ed from Wauwatosa, WI

Okay, let me say this first: Just beat the Bears. That said, I think too many people are looking at our early schedule and seeing very winnable games. I see a bunch of teams likely to be better this year than last. Thoughts?

I agree. The Packers' first six games may be against non-playoff teams, but most of them are in the second or third year of a new head coach when significant improvement is expected. Not all will live up to those hopes and dreams, but some will.

Sarah from Neenah, WI

What opposing team will be the biggest challenge this season?

Well, the defending Super Bowl champs visit Lambeau in Week 13, but we said the same thing last year about the Rams' visit in Week 15, so you never know. I also expect the Packers to be a much different team in the first week of December than right now.

Mick from St. Paul, MN

I was really excited when the Packers drafted Amari Rodgers. It seems like a true slot receiver will fit in very nicely to Matt LaFleur's offense. Unfortunately Amari didn't work out but I'm excited once again to see what Jayden Reed can do as the slot receiver. How did he perform this camp and preseason and how much playing time do you expect him to have now that the season is starting?

Reed is going to play a lot and he's going to get the ball a lot, based on what we saw during training camp. I've said in multiple forums already, no offense to Randall Cobb, that Reed fits the slot receiver position in LaFleur's offense better than anyone the Packers have previously tried.

Dan from Rice Lake, WI

Fair or not, this Sunday is a seminal moment in the assessment of BG's legacy as GM. We'll know much more in three or four years, but the talking heads will be circling. GPG

Just as they were with Ted Thompson as the Packers endured a losing season in '08, lost twice to Favre in '09, and were 10-14 with Rodgers at the midway point of that year. Those assessments didn't mean, to put it mildly, jack squat. Neither will anything anybody says about Gutey after Sunday's game, win or lose.

Bob from Emmaus, PA

Training camp and preseason have demonstrated that the young team has talent and speed and shown that they are learning to win. How much time do they have to acquire the experience to be a consistent winner?

They have as much time as the decision-makers are willing to give them, and I expect this organization to exercise a certain level of patience. If you're asking how long it'll take, well, if I knew that, I wouldn't be such a stickler that gambling is illegal at Bushwood.

Dennis from New Berlin

Can Anders Carlson practice kicking inside Lambeau Field? So much is always made about wind conditions inside and cold-weather kicking. Seems like practice inside Lambeau might be helpful...or, are there NFL rules that say "no can do?" Or, is it a plain and simple field maintenance issue?

The Packers' specialists practice inside Lambeau on their own on a regular basis once the season starts.

Scott from Hayward, WI

My one and only Aaron Rodgers question. Do think Aaron has moved on and he's golfing on Sunday afternoon, or does he tune into the Packers-Bears game? After all, he still considers himself as a longtime owner of the Bears.

Rodgers has said many times he's a fan of football. In that context as well as the personal connection, I could see him spending his late Sunday afternoon taking in the game while watching a final round of Buffalo Bills film on his tablet.

Jim from St. Pete Beach, FL

Hello! Hope springs eternal this time of year around the league. Other than the Packers, which team's fan base that didn't make the playoffs last year has the most reason to be optimistic?

The Jets, Steelers and Lions are three that come to mind.

George from Hutchinson, MN

Any word on if David Bakhtiari will be placed on a snap count this Sunday?

The plan is to get Bakhtiari ready to play full games.

Scott from Sauk City, WI

Gents, DB69 opened up a can of worms on Twitter this weekend with the "should sacks count against the run game" debate. Who am I to argue against a future HOF offensive lineman, but I tend to disagree with him. If the QB didn't throw the ball, it's not a pass! If a QB gets sacked for a 10-yard loss on the first play of the game, he's not 0-for-1 with minus-10 yards, he's got one rush attempt for minus-10 yards. Settle this debate, would ya? Sheesh!

I'm not interested in the debate, only that it's framed properly, so people know what they're actually arguing about. The facts are that in the college game, statistically speaking, sacks count as QB rushing attempts for lost yardage. In the NFL, sacks are not rushes, and the yards lost are subtracted from a team's passing yards, but not from the individual QB's numbers. If a QB is 4-for-5 for 50 yards and then gets sacked for a loss of 10, he's still 4-for-5 for 50 yards, but the team now has 40 net passing yards. Like it or not, that's how it works.

Paul from Ledgeview, WI

There was some discussion yesterday about the trend of HOF QB play tipping the scales for teams seeking a SB. Is that an organic progression of the game, or have the rules changes created that condition? Not exactly a "chicken or the egg" thing, but close.

The rules have definitely contributed to the overwhelming importance of QB play.

Jim from Wausau, WI

With all the recent mentions of the training staff, any of them been elected to the Packers HOF? Important aspect of the team success.

Trainer Bud Jorgensen was inducted in 1976, and team physician Dr. Eugene Brusky was inducted in 1987.

Mike from Baraboo, WI

I am excited for the upcoming season. Who are your way too early picks for our best players on offense, defense, and special teams?

Aaron Jones, Rashan Gary and Keisean Nixon.

Bob from Kennesaw, GA

We all know Mike is a reasonably intelligent guy, but his answer to Terry from Cary regarding left-footed Packer punters and Donny Anderson was just lame in the extreme. Please tell us that Mike is not one of those people who believes that nothing occurred on the planet before he arrived to witness it, personally. Come on, Mike…we were ALL born after the French Revolution, yet most of us are somehow aware of it anyway. Does he also believe the Apollo 11 moon landing was faked?

The origin of the thread was my comment that I didn't know until I saw Bucky Scribner as a kid that anyone punted with the left foot. When Scribner became the Packers' punter, I was 10 going on 11. At that age, I had absolutely no clue who Donny Anderson was. That was the context.

Mike from Niles, IL

Mike used the term "small college" to describe UC-Davis. Regardless of its football program, it is a major university. And a highly regarded one. For two writers who are so careful about word meanings, grammar and punctuation, that was a major error. Unequivocally.

In further defending myself, I'll direct your attention to the final five minutes of our latest "Unscripted" episode.

Brian from Twain Harte, CA

The Packers have had some excellent drafts of late, as evidenced by the large number of first- and second-year players that made this year's roster. Next year we get an additional first- or second-round pick and most of the salary cap dead money will be gone, allowing the Packers to be a serious player in free agency. BG has set up the Packers to be serious contenders for the foreseeable future. Is it any wonder that the fan base is so excited?

Just beat the Bears.

Monty from Velva, ND

Gentlemen, MLB plays 162 games, NBA and NHL play 82 games, and the NFL plays 17. Every game matters in the NFL. This is what makes the NFL regular season so exciting. I feel like a kid at Christmas! Let's go!

Happy Wednesday.

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