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Inbox: Lots of young talent has gotten more than an intro

It’s too hard to single out one play


Ron from Appleton, WI

No question, just a comment. There sure are a lot of armchair quarterbacks, coaches and general managers out there.

That would not qualify as a news bulletin.

John from Stevens Point, WI

Where have you seen the greatest improvement with this year's team since Week 1? Are they getting better, or stuck in neutral?

Progress isn't linear, but that doesn't mean it isn't there. For the first two games, minus the fourth quarter in Atlanta, this team looked strong in a lot of areas. Then the rollercoaster began, on both sides of the ball, frankly. The offense showed a lot of positive signs last week, but now it must build upon them. The defense has been riding that rollercoaster for two seasons now and is going to face immense challenges the next three games. Overall, I'd say the most improvement, as expected, has been with the draft class. Lots of young talent has gotten more than an intro to the NFL this season.

Paul from Ledgeview, WI

Mike, looks like Walker was back at LT. Do the Packers have a franchise LT or do they draft an OL with their first-round pick?

I anticipate the Packers spending a fairly high pick on an offensive tackle in the upcoming draft whether they feel they have their starters for the 2024 season or not.

Daniel from Algonquin, IL

Hi Mike, every loss hurts, but we are building towards a significant jump next season, not a playoff run now. The final 2023 record does not feel as important now, as long as progress is shown. The "reward" for a miserable season is high draft slots; 7-8 wins feels like purgatory. After a poor 2008 we drafted B.J. Raji at No. 9, Clay Matthews at 26, and T.J. Lang at 109. A similar draft in 2024 would be nice, yes? We should have three (or more) picks in the top 100 in 2024.

The Packers should have five in the top 100, and I know I've answered a couple of draft-related questions today to humor folks, but consider this fair warning. I'm mostly going to ignore them from here on out. There are eight more games to play, and when the season is over, we'll have three-plus months to talk about almost nothing but the draft. If that's your focus now, fine. I won't speak for Wes, but it won't be mine until the time comes.

Jeff from Indian Lake, NY

The Chargers will score points, that much we know. Our offense has shown signs of life lately but I wonder if they're ready to hang in a straight-up shootout. A defensive or special teams score would do wonders for our chance for victory on Sunday. When is the last time we had one? Was it Quay's pick-six in Week 1?

Correct, while several other opportunities since then have slipped through, bounced off of, or otherwise eluded defenders' hands.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Harsh Mike, harsh. Channeling a bit of your inner Vic on Dave? Question for Sunday, will the Packers have an effective plan to contain Joey Bosa? He's a player that is capable of destroying their game plan if they can't get him stopped.

So is Khalil Mack. Or Derwin James. Eric Kendricks is no slouch in the middle of a defense, and Asante Samuel Jr. is a heck of a corner. As Wes noted on our latest "Unscripted," this Chargers defense has a number of proven, high-level pros. For whatever reasons they haven't put it together, but they still have 15 takeaways so you'd still better protect the ball.

Al from Green Bay, WI

It seems that every week the Packers' O-line is facing elite pass rushers. This week it's the Bosa/Mack combination. Do the Packers need to employ a similar strategy of chips on the edge and quick-release pass plays to minimize the damage these two beasts can do?

I would think so. You can't help or double on every play, obviously, but you have to pick your spots when you're leaving them one-on-one.

John from McHenry, IL

When the Packers drafted Jayden Reed and I saw some highlights of him I told my Phyllis, "I think we just drafted the next Randall Cobb." Your thoughts?

As I wrote in the preseason, the Packers had been trying since LaFleur arrived to find the right slot receiver for this offense, and they even tried Cobb himself. No one quite worked. I felt Reed looked like the perfect fit this summer and nothing I’ve seen since has changed my mind.

Dave from Olean, NY

J-Love has yet to throw for 300-plus yards in a game; no Packer RB has rushed for 100-plus yards in a game; no Packer WR/TE has gained 100-plus yards in receptions. According to my possibly inaccurate research, the Packers are the only team in the league with this ignominious statistical trifecta. In your opinion, which GB player is the most likely to be the first to achieve a 100-plus or 300-plus game?

Well, the Chargers are allowing an average of 291 passing yards per game, so this is a great shot for Jordan Love to post his first 300-yard outing. As for the 100 mark, I'll say Doubs or Watson.

Tim from Olathe, KS

Mike, there was a good question yesterday asking why ML does not utilize AJ similar to how Austin Ekeler is used, especially in overall touches. I felt Wes's answer diminished AJ's talents versus Ekeler and he essentially bailed on a good question. Why do you feel Ekeler gets so many more touches than AJ?

The numbers aren't that drastically different, actually. Dating back to LaFleur's arrival in Green Bay, here are the combined rushes and receptions for both players: Jones 285, Ekeler 224 in 2019; Jones 248 (missed two games), Ekeler 170 (missed six games) in '20; Jones 223 (missed two games), Ekeler 276 (missed one game) in '21; Jones 272, Ekeler 311 in '22. Ekeler has gotten the ball more, on average a couple of extra touches per game, over the past few years. He was the Chargers' leading pass catcher last year by a wide margin, with 107 receptions to Keenan Allen's 72, due to Allen missing seven games. Frankly, I think Jones' production and usage would mirror Ekeler's more if the Packers were a better screen team. They haven't been all that great running screens for several years now.

Charles from New Berlin, WI

Hello II, how much in advance do teams know which officiating crew has been assigned to their game?

I believe they know by Wednesday or Thursday.

Dennis from Parrish, FL

I thought we had a NO chortling policy at Insider Inbox? So we are 10-2 against the Chargers all time? Last time I remember playing this squad we got our tushes handed to us at a high school/soccer/futbol temporary stadium out in Tarzana!

Thanks, Dennis. I had almost managed to block that miserable day out of my memory. For the life of me, I'll still never understand why that game wasn't played in front of 80,000 fans at Wembley Stadium in London as opposed to 25,000 fans in Carson, Calif.

Steve from Ellison Bay, WI

The 2007 victory and seeing Jennings break through the secondary is a favorite Lambeau Field memory. Hoping for a great game Sunday.

Now there's a fun one. That Favre-to-Jennings TD tied Marino's all-time passing TD record for Favre at the time, No. 420. Since then, five other QBs have surpassed 420 TD tosses. Kinda wild to think about.

Ray from Phoenix, AZ

What are practice and travel plans for the Thanksgiving Day game? Is there a team Thanksgiving dinner after the game in Detroit or do they head back to GB right after the game?

We will head back right after the game. I'm hoping to get home in time for the family dinner at my house.

Jason from Austin, TX

On the last play of the game, if Love or LaFleur wanted more time to think about how to attack the look they saw from the Steelers at the goal line, could Love have spiked the ball in order to think about it for 40 more seconds? I can't imagine a spike taking three seconds and it was only second down. Are you allowed to run back-to-back spikes?

Not that I know of. I believe the QB would be called for intentional grounding if he spikes the ball outside of the parameters allowed for a "stop the clock" play.

Bob from Rome, NY

This may sound like a strange question but consider the source (me). If you could identify one play this season that might indicate that this season might not go as hoped, what would you pick? Mine is first-and-goal play from the LVR 3-yard line, after the horse-collar penalty, that resulted in a 2-yard running play loss. Any positive yardage and it's second-and-goal from about the 1. TD there most likely leads to a win and momentum into the bye and Denver. What say you?

It's too hard to single out one play. With your choice, the Packers still had two cracks to score a touchdown there and couldn't. If you pick the INT at the end of the Raiders game, it's impossible to ignore the two dropped passes on the two previous plays setting up that situation. The INT at the end of the Broncos game? A holding penalty two snaps prior was a killer. You see my point. It's always been a sequence of things that have gone wrong. One reason the Pittsburgh game felt so promising, despite another frustrating ending, is so much had gone right leading up to the disappointment. It was one play, twice, at the end of an otherwise strong sequence. That's what felt different to me. Will that mean anything going forward? It should, but who knows.

TK from Grafton, WI

What is one aspect of the team's weekly preparation that fans underestimate?

How much of the game plan requires mental preparation because there isn't enough practice time to physically rep everything.

Joe from Pittsburgh, PA

At the season's halfway point, who is your choice for league MVP? There really isn't a clear-cut choice for the first time in a few years. I would say Mahomes without much certainty but it sure is a horserace this season.

I think Mahomes and Hurts are the top two candidates at the moment and Monday night's game could have some influence over the final result.

Bobby from Sterling, OK

To Florian from Kronak, GA, question from Monday. It might be because the red jerseys of the QBs show up better among the white jerseys than they do the green ones.

That thought had crossed my mind, too.

Bruce from Jackson, WI

At first I thought I had been given a two-minute minor for cross-checking the II hosts. Then after the two minutes expired I realized it must have been a five-minute major but that expired as well. If I received a 10-minute misconduct I have to question the II referees (questioning referees has been popular lately). Even hockey doesn't suspend players for an entire season. All of this leads to … how about the Badger men's hockey program this year!

Remarkably fast turnaround. It'll be fun to see that program return to national prominence. In my youth, I followed Badger hockey more passionately than probably any other team in any sport. I loved staying up until the wee hours on Friday and Saturday nights to watch the game replays on public TV without knowing the final score.

Dave from Hollywood, MD

Growing up in Marshfield, WI, in the 1960s we played a baseball version of 500. 200 points for a one-handed catch of a fly ball, 100 points for a two-handed catch, 75 for a one-hopper, 50 for a two hopper, and 25 for catching a grounder. When a fielder made it to 500, he became the hitter. Great memories.

We never played it with baseball, but if we had, my dad would've made the two-handed catch worth the most points and awarded none for a one-handed catch if it could've been two-handed. Fundamentals, forever and always. Happy Friday.

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