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Inbox: Jaire Alexander backs down from no one

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Zach from Clarkfield, MN

I'm going to assume that many would consider this a "low point" of the season, but what this team does from here on out speaks more to their character and resolve than any of the other games this season.

Every week is a character check for the Packers from here on out because they need to pull together and get some wins. Even if things go well, they’re going to need help. This Arizona game is the only thing that matters now, though. You have to get this one. Good morning!

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Another forgettable loss, but long after I've forgotten this game/season I'll remember Alexander’s KO on Thielen and Diggs, then bouncing up and getting the tackle to complete the 10-yard loss. I would have liked to have heard Larry's reaction on the radio. Was there any reaction in the press box from you or Mike or anyone else? Don't know if I've seen a DB do anything similar. Thanks Wes.

Regardless of how the final stretch of this season plays out, the Packers appear to have found their shutdown cornerback of the future. What Jaire Alexander has done at 21 years old is incredible. He carries himself like a 10-year vet and is a bright light in the secondary’s future. Whether he’s traveling with Adam Thielen or disrupting a play like he did on the Diggs catch, Alexander backs down from no one.

Miranda from Rochester, NV

"I found that if you have a goal, that you might not reach it. But if you don't have one, then you are never disappointed. And I gotta tell ya...it feels phenomenal.”

If you don’t have a goal, you’ll never achieve anything in life. I’d rather strive to do something great and fall short than never to have lived at all.

Curt from Oronoco, MN

But the punting! Has that been great or what?

It’s too bad Trevor Davis had to drop out of Sunday’s game with the hamstring. You not only got a taste of what he brings as a returner, but also in punt coverage. That combination of JK Scott’s leg and Davis’ speed helped the Packers control field position in the first half.

Will from Milwaukee, WI

The wolves are howling, but this is when you can tell if you are a fan of the Packers, or just a fan of winning. The drama of each game on the road has been exciting, albeit in an "oh please no, not again" kind of way. But I grew up with Bart Starr as the first head coach I remember, and all I heard about was the Glory Years. I waited more than 20 years to see the Packers become a team that was feared in the NFL. We're in a rough patch. It's OK. Winter is coming. Just beat the Cardinals.

It’s been a rough year, but there’s a reason the Packers have opened as a 14½-point favorite over the Cardinals. They stayed with Los Angeles and New England, and need to take care of business against a 2-9 Arizona team that’s coming off a 45-10 loss to the Chargers. Win the next two home games – where Green Bay is 4-0-1 this season – and let the chips fall where they may.

Jason from Greenwood, IN

Call me crazy, but we have New Orleans’ first-round pick and will have our normal one. Right now it should be a top 10. Why not throw Kizer in for the rest of the season, let Rodgers heal and see if we have our quarterback of the future?

Rodgers is the quarterback of the future.

Matthias from Hartford, WI

What a game by Philip Rivers! One incompletion and three touchdowns! Wow! Is it fair to say that Rodgers needs to trust his receivers more? I see him looking for Davante Adams more and more, and not looking for the open man. I remember Favre completing passes to eight, nine, sometimes 10 different receivers. What's going on?

When Rivers is hot and protecting the football, he’s one of the best pure passers of the modern era. He didn’t have a monster game through the air – 259 passing yards – but that’s as cerebral a performance as I’ve seen from an NFL quarterback in some time. Rodgers and the Packers’ offense have to take advantage of that blueprint Sunday against the Cards.

Ron from Tolleson, AZ

Drew Brees and the Saints have had some down years and look at them now, just saying.

Faith and consistency are the two strongest traits of winning franchises – in the NFL, NBA and MLB. Every situation is different, but the high turnover of coaches and personnel directors in the league indicate how the grass isn’t always greener. I tip my cap to Mickey Loomis and the Saints for realizing change for the sake of change isn’t going to improve the football team.

Troy from Madison, WI

You keep saying it’s the lack of third-down conversions that are keeping the Packers from victory, but isn’t it really wasted plays on first and second down that make the third-down conversions so difficult?

The Packers had some pretty manageable third-down situations against the Vikings. Only one was from more than 10 yards out, I believe. It’s called the money down for a reason. The offense has to find a way to get it done to get a rally here late.

Evan from Hudson, WI

I think that’s awesome that you guys want to celebrate and make the most out of Davante’s sporadic yards this season. I just feel like we’re missing that reliable (Jordy, Cobb) possession, doesn’t-step-outta-bounds, fights-for-the-ball, and most importantly has-Rodgers’-“trust” receiver! I mean we drafted three, what does it take?

The Packers didn’t draft Moore, St. Brown and MVS to be Jordy Nelson in 2018. Just like they didn’t take Adams in 2014 expecting him to be a 1,000-yard receiver right off the bat. It was an investment in the future behind Nelson and Cobb after James Jones left in free agency. The Packers’ plan this year was to have Adams, Cobb and Geronimo Allison as their top three wideouts, but injuries pushed those young guys into the lineup sooner than anyone could have expected.

Kerry from Glen Burnie, MD

OK, another pitch coming from me to bring up Jake Kumerow. It couldn't hurt, right? We're getting spotty performances from the draftees (no performance from J’Mon Moore) and now Trevor Davis is also banged up to the point where we are risking a turnover putting Williams out there to field kicks. All he did was outperform every other wideout except for Adams in the preseason. Let's get him in there and see what he can do.

Last week was the first time Kumerow practiced since mid-August, so it’s understandable why the Packers didn’t rush to bring him back to the 53, especially with the exemption that allows him to practice. Whether it’s this Sunday or next, Kumerow will get his chance at some point.

Bryce from Billings, MT

I'm not sure what to think of Matthews' play this year. I know he has made some good plays, but he has had more and more of the ones like Thielen’s touchdown at the end of the third quarter Sunday night. He looked lost after the run fake and this allowed Cousins to get around the end which left Williams stuck between a rock and a hard place. I know it all happens quickly, but how can he still make mistakes like that after this long in the league?

Matthews has made some big plays this year. He’s also been healthy, which has been important with how short the rotation is right now at edge rusher. That being said, he’s aware of what the sack totals are. Matthews wants more.

Mike from Oshkosh, WI

Thank you Wes and Mike for your articles and insight. Always a pleasure. Would you please comment on why Gute did not acquire Amari Cooper and/or Golden Tate III? We needed weapons for Aaron, especially after he let Jordy go to Oakland. Ron Wolf was always bringing in players to help Brett during the season – players such as Don Beebe and Andre Rison, for example. And not landing Khalil Mack is huge. He would have been an instant defensive force for years to come in Green Bay.

The difference between the two scenarios you outlined is Ron Wolf didn’t have to give up first-round picks to acquire Don Beebe and Andre Rison. If memory serves, they both were in-season street free agents. So a more applicable comparison would be Gutekunst signing Bashaud Breeland and Ibraheim Campbell. The Mack and Cooper trades have benefited the Bears and Cowboys, respectively, but both teams paid a heavy price in draft picks – and it’s guaranteed at least one of them won’t win the Super Bowl.

Jim from Stevens Point, WI

After the Packers scored their last field goal I thought the best thing to do was to kick the ball deep but short of the end zone. It is almost impossible to have a successful onside kick now. The Vikings only had one player deep so he would not have any blocking help. There was around 2:30 left on the clock and the Packers had one time out plus the two-minute warning. If they could stop Minnesota with a three-and-out they could have gotten the ball around midfield with a minute left.

It’s trickier now, but I still like the Packers’ chances with Mason Crosby. He’s been one of the league’s best onside kickers for some time now. I was fine with it. The only problem was getting called for being offside.

Cheryl from Strawberry Point, IA

Robert Tonyan got one snap on offense against Minnesota. I would have thought given his performance against Seattle he would have had a few more chances to see what he could do, didn’t you?

I mentioned last week it was conceivable Tonyan wouldn’t play much with Jimmy Graham playing through the thumb injury and that’s how it played out. The Packers had a pretty even split with snaps divvied out to Marcedes Lewis (23), Lance Kendricks (22) and Graham (22).

Paul from Milwaukee, WI

So frustrating. This was another game we could've won. I mean we played the Vikings pretty well for the most part. But the difference I see is that the Vikings have Diggs and Thielen. If we had Randall Cobb, I think he would've made the difference. Cobb is the one guy who could've created problems for the Vikings by playing the slot and working the middle of the field. Do you think it comes down to one tiny detail such as this?

Possibly. The absence of Cobb has been tough for a number of reasons for the offense. Namely, I felt one of the big strengths of the offense this year was going to be Graham and Cobb stressing defenses in the middle of the field. We just haven’t been able to see that combination together much this season. The Packers have some talented young wideouts, but no one on the roster with Cobb’s knowledge of the offense and Rodgers’ tendencies.

Dave from Lake Zurich, IL

The Packers seemed to have quite a few more injuries than the Vikings Sunday night. To what do you attribute this? Bad luck? Coincidence?

Attrition. Kentrell Brice, David Bakhtiari and Davis all exited with injuries they’d been nursing.

Tyson from Mililani, HI

I’m part of the generation of Packer fans that started in the mid-’90s with Favre, so I can’t imagine what the ’70s and ’80s were like. Even this being a down year, at least we’re in it for most games and the young guys are making progress so I can’t imagine these struggles extending to next year. Whatever happens with the rest of this season, is it safe to believe there’s hope for at least the next few seasons?

Of course. There are solid pieces in place for this season and beyond. Yes, the sand is slipping through the hour glass on 2018, but there’s still time.

Brad from Alexandria, VA

Lack of pass rush was the biggest factor in that last loss, in my own opinion. However, the Packers have drafted high on defense for many years. I was once all aboard the TT "draft and develop" management style, but so many misses in the draft have caused my confidence in this philosophy to wane. I know most folks consider TT a first-ballot Packers HOFer, but in all seriousness, if the majority of his draft classes are considered "busts" in hindsight, could this diminish his chances?

This is the most ridiculous comment of the 400-plus emails we received Monday. A “majority” of Thompson’s draft classes were not busts. And that aside, Thompson had the moxie to draft Aaron Rodgers in 2005 when Brett Favre was still the quarterback and then sticking by him in 2008. That’s a Hall of Fame move. Thompson built a perennial winner and he’s taking his rightful place in the Packers Hall of Fame for it.

Blake from Wayzata, MN

Wes, it was a treat to meet you at the Pep Rally in Minneapolis. I truly appreciate that you took the time to share a real chat for a few minutes. I've managed to enjoy many decades as a Packers fan, regardless of the ups (1960s championships as a kid) and downs (’70s and ’80s), and still find enjoyment and perspective, as Vic always suggested. I'm far more frustrated by the "wolves" howling than the inconsistent performances this season. How do you find balance as a writer in a season like this?

Thanks for coming out, Blake. Perspective, mostly. The longer you cover this league, the more you see. Regardless of what I write, the season is going to be what it’s going to be whether that’s 12-4 or 7-9. I generally save the “big-picture” stuff until the dust settles because so much can change week-to-week.

Shawn from Kissimmee, FL

Will the Packers win a road game this year?

Yes.

Tyler from Grantsburg, WI

Did you know the Packers will have gone 63 days between noon games Sunday? When’s the last time the team went this long without a 12 o'clock kickoff during a season?

No clue, but it definitely feels like it’s been nearly two months since the last noon game. This schedule has been ridiculous.

Robert from Saginaw, MI

I have three home games remaining in my inaugural season as a Packers season-ticket holder. It is going to be three fun weekends in Green Bay. The season is far from over.

Win, lose or draw, you can’t beat December football at Lambeau Field.

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