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Inbox: Keep grinding and take care of what's right in front

There’s a long way to go

Team huddle

Lee from Conifer, CO

How many clicks does it take to get to the center clickbait article?

And once again we're off.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

How have Zimmer-led Vikings teams performed coming off the bye week?


Eric from Ewa Beach, HI

How do we keep the momentum going?

Keep getting stops in the red zone on defense. That'll be enough for this offense the vast majority of the time.

Ben from Menomonee Falls, WI

A lot of people are complaining about the defense and lack of turnovers. I am not too concerned about it. I wish we were creating more turnovers, but that is something that can be fixed. We are not lacking talent. We proved last year that this team can create takeaways. It just isn't happening right now. I thought we looked great in the first half against Houston. The real test will be vs the Vikes, a team desperate for a win. Who do you think will stand out on D this week? I've got Rashan Gary.

That's a good pick. I like Kenny Clark in this one, too.

Jon from Eden Prairie, MN

While we're still discussing a name for Jaire Alexander's own personal airspace, I figured I'd offer one that I saw on the Packers reddit fan page: "Jairea 51" (Credit goes to u/Brocklee213). I thought it was pretty clever, but until we come up with a catchy nickname for our lockdown corner, I'm just going to keep calling him Alexander the Great.

It's funny, because I watched every snap of the defensive film from Houston – and I'm not saying this to disparage Alexander – but it's not like he had lockdown coverage on every single snap. Guys running wide open, no. Good coverage, yes. Windows for potential completions, yes. But Watson simply never even looked his way. Had no interest in considering it. We've spent a lot of time discussing the wider perception of Alexander, when the recognition will come, etc. The reputation exists for opponents. At least the film appears to show that.

Craig from Appleton, WI

Which Vikings wide receiver would you want Jaire Alexander to cover this weekend? Jefferson and Thielen are both solid.

Jefferson is averaging 19.2 yards per catch to Thielen's 13.0. Thielen has seven TDs to Jefferson's three, including a 71-yarder. Would it be crazy to put Alexander on Jefferson most of the time and switch him to Thielen in the red zone? I wonder.

Nate from Pueblo, CO

It was nice to see Preston Smith back to his normal form. He was great. How much do you think Kenny Clark's return helped him?

I don't think there's much correlation. I think Preston's just upping his game and settling in.

Jake from Athens, GA

Yet another reason I love the Inbox: Here I can get even the highlights from the TV commentary. Where I was watching the game, I didn't get to hear the "Bobby" Turner analysis...but I did have to listen to a guy at the bar yak authoritatively about Robert "Tunyan" for three hours. I came this close to asking him what he thought about the play of Jon Runyan.

Just to make it known, the correct pronunciation of the tight end's last name is indeed "Tun-yin." He informed the team's communications staff a week or so ago with the desire to get the word out. He never bothered to tell anybody around here for more than two years his name was being pronounced wrong. He may be fighting a losing battle, but just the fact that he didn't worry about it for so long makes me like him even more.

Kent from Lewiston, ID

JA absolutely a top-notch pick for Gutey. However, moderate at best first-rounders the past few drafts and one pick remains unseen. Packer signings of UDFAs always a boon, outstanding. Middle-round picks more than solid. I am sure scouting is not an exact science, but is the same process of evaluating used for top-tier talent? Seems like this team could be better yet, without the swings and misses. Do we struggle evaluating the blue chippers? Appreciate your Insider perspective.

Every team could be better without the swings and misses, but that's the draft, even with the highest picks. The process isn't any different for first-rounders. Evaluations combine what a player brings to the table now, and what he's projected to become down the road. Teams don't necessarily weigh those the same. Even with identical evaluations in front of them, a GM on the hot seat versus one who feels more secure could make a different decision. The variables are endless.

David from Appleton, WI

I remember reading last year where it took until Week 12 for you to feel like the 2019 Packers were a special team. Despite the Tampa debacle, the 2020 Packers are winning by an average of 11 points/game. Are you beginning to feel the 2020 Packers are yet again a special team who can go places? Or is it too early in the season for this type of thought?

I don't recall saying that about last year's team (maybe Wes did). I remember feeling the Week 5 win at Dallas was the first sign, and the Week 16 win at Minnesota confirmed for me last year's team had a real shot. I believe this year's team is better. What we've seen on offense is at another level, and I think this defense will continue to evolve. But here's the caveat – the top of the NFC is stronger and deeper. The Bucs and 49ers have loudly asserted themselves the past two weeks. The Seahawks, Cardinals, Rams and Saints are all right there. If the Bears find an offense and the Lions find a defense, look out. I know those NFC West teams are going to beat each other up, record-wise and otherwise, over the next two months. But my point is even though I believe the Packers are better, it'll be even harder to get as far as they did last year, especially with only one team getting a playoff bye. Keep grinding and take care of what's right in front, because there's a long way to go.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Everyone is sleeping on the Lions but I believe in their next five games only one team has a winning record (Colts). By the time they get to the Bears and Packers they could be in the mix. Your thoughts?

Entirely possible. They're a brutal dropped pass from being 4-2. They beat the Cardinals and lost to the Saints by six after leading 14-0. Did their defense just get a jolt with Everson Griffen? Stay tuned.

Markus from Sea Ranch, CA

I think the lack of the usual parity regarding the win-loss record is due to the pandemic crisis. The lack of fans in the stadiums, as a 12th player, has a larger negative impact on a sub-.500 team than a prospering team. The good teams win regardless while the struggling team goes without the home-field crutch that can help win a few more games.

I think you're onto something.

Gabe from Milton-Freewater, OR

What does Davante Adams' contract look like? How long can we expect him to be a Packer?

Adams is under contract through 2021, when he will turn 29 at the end of that year. Assuming the Packers exercise Alexander's fifth-year option, Adams will be by far Green Bay's highest priority pending free agent for 2022.

LeeAnn from Carefree, IN

"Serenity now!" My question Mike, how can a team, any team, NOT double-cover Davante Adams on every play? Are they not watching the tape?

Every play might be a bit much, but teams aren't going to make the mistake Houston just did. I think the Texans got caught in an inability to adjust their plan after Bradley Roby left the game. It was a failing effort however you slice it, but future opponents, starting with the Vikings – who were already torched by Adams in Week 1 – are going to make Aaron Rodgers throw the ball elsewhere. It'll be up to the Packers to make that work and still devise ways to get Adams the ball in certain situations.

Jonnie from Garden City, MI

How do you anticipate Minnesota's defense will adjust to Adams? Do they have anyone who can go one-on-one and keep up with him? Might they double-team him in man coverage, or give extra help over the top in zone coverage?

They didn't have anyone who could handle him in Week 1, but those young corners are in a different place now, so we'll see. As much as Zimmer likes to roam Harrison Smith all over the defense, I'd suspect the other safety, Anthony Harris, to be shaded Adams' way a lot.

Matt from Waunakee, WI

How does college eligibility work? The Badgers may need me.

What a crazy situation, huh?

Eddie from La Crosse, WI

I have too much old curmudgeon in me, I guess. When I saw Andy Dalton's teammates do nothing after he got massacred, I was disgusted. Back in the day (yes, I said "back in the day"), a massacred quarterback's teammates would have gone after Bostic without hesitation. Is there any room in today's NFL for old-school vengeance? Just a little bit, maybe?

Last week revealed there are issues in the Dallas locker room. Those can manifest themselves in various ways.

Marin from West Lawn, PA

With such a short turnaround between games next week, might Matt LaFleur assign any of the coaching staff to do some preliminary preparations for the 49ers game while the rest of the staff focuses on the Minnesota game?

Once the Minnesota game plan is prepped and presented to the players, some of the coaches – while not at the practice field or in player meetings – will work ahead on San Francisco. That's pretty standard procedure in these situations.

Kevin from Mechanicsburg, PA

Minnesota at home and then the West Coast trip to SF seems daunting. Can you share the schedule for the team starting after the game against the Vikings?

If I remember correctly from last year's Week 4 Thursday game, Monday will be film review of the previous game and film prep of the opponent, with Tuesday and Wednesday being walk-through game-plan installs. They'll get on the plane Wednesday afternoon and then have some final meetings at the hotel Thursday before heading to the stadium.

Margo from Solvang, CA

Hi Mike! Not to pile on, but I loved the comment by Michael from Winfield about the announcing job by Jonathan Vilma. I'm sure he's a great guy, but his commentary seemed to be nothing but a bunch of Captain Obvious observations. "They really need to pick up this first down." Really? Do you ever find yourself muting the TV coverage?

All the time, Margo. I have the sound on when I'm live-blogging the road games from the conference room down the hall, but only to hear the discussions on replay reviews, really. My ear caught Bobby Turner, Jamaal Adams, Matt Pettine and all the "There you go's" but I gave up caring a long time ago.

Steve from Ankeny, IA

What do we know about Allen Lazard's return? Equanimeous St. Brown was invisible during the Texans game, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling seems unable to get open OR catch the ball. I didn't realize how important Lazard was to this offense until he was gone!

Lazard has missed three games, so he is now eligible to come off IR, but the Packers have divulged no timeline for his return.

Gary from Benevides, Brazil

What a great weekend of results for the Packers with both the Bears and Hawks losing! Have you ever seen a punter have such an impact on the game as the Rams punter did on Monday night? It seemed like the Bears were constantly starting at the 5 and the Rams at the 50. Feels good to be alone at the top of the division again.

Now it's time to get some cushion. Win on Sunday, with the Bears having a tough one on a short week vs. the Saints, and the Packers could get some breathing room in the North. As for Johnny Hekker, that was an all-time performance. All five punts inside the 10, including a 57-yarder to the 1-yard line and a 63-yarder to the 6? Are you kidding me? That's insane, and he taught everyone the watermelon punt to boot (pun intended, I'll see myself out).

Richard from Racine, WI

What is the longest punt by a Packer kicker?

90 yards by Don Chandler against San Francisco in 1965.

John from Worthington, OH

Could the Rams have challenged that the holding call on the Bears was in the end zone thus resulting in a safety, particularly since they had initially declined the penalty?

I don't believe that's a reviewable call, but it arguably should be.

Robert from Verona, WI

What was your take on the Bears-Rams game? I suspect some people will point to the game to say the Bears are a fraud, but I don't think it's that simple. While the Rams absolutely looked like the better team, I also saw a few critical plays (like the interception in the end zone) that would have kept the Bears in it. The Bears aren't built to blow teams out. It seems that they're built to "stay in the game" and make a big play when needed. Do you think they can sustain success that way?

They're gonna try while they work on fixing the offense. How much they can change seven games in remains to be seen, but their defense is legit and it's a funny game. Just ask the Bucs.

Mike from Dubuque, IA

Spoff, last week you disagreed with me when I said that I thought bad teams make excuses, while good teams make changes. Perhaps the word "changes" was poorly chosen by me. I meant to infer that good teams "adapt," not make wholesale changes. I think it was obvious that the Packers made a number of good adaptations this past week. Would you agree with that assessment?

Sure, but I also think a strength of LaFleur's leadership is those adaptations come well within the structure of his review and preparation process. He sticks with what works off the field, which provides stability and consistency for the players. It's why I wrote late last week about him having yet to lose consecutive games as a head coach.

Bette from Chamberlain, SD

Do you think you will lead the division at the end of the year?

No, I think the Packers will. Happy Wednesday.