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Inbox: Maybe his isn't done getting better

Lambeau is ready to go

TE Robert Tonyan

Scott from Hayward, WI

For the past couple of seasons, it seems like I was always good for 2-3 appearances in your Inbox. This year I am 0-17. Do you think I need to rethink my game plan or is this more likely attributed to the parody amongst the Inbox fans?

Parody or parity? Your choice.

Matt from Delavan, WI

Did you read the Players Tribune letter from Robert Tonyan? I really liked it and I believed every word/sentiment in it. The funny connection for me is that my wife's aunt is Bobby's grade school principal. I just saw her and she has memories of him wearing Packers gear always.

There are a lot of stories that have just kept getting better this year, Tonyan's included. Maybe his isn't done getting better, either.

Dylan from Cary, NC

How does the field look for Saturday?

It was fully painted by Thursday morning when Wes and I went out into the bowl to shoot Final Thoughts. Lambeau is ready to go.

David from Florence, AZ

The big difference between the Rams quarterbacks seems to be one can run and the can't. Would it be that hard to create a game plan for the difference?

I don't think so. The Packers have faced pocket passers and scramblers all season long. They can adjust as needed.

Shaun from Cottage Grove, WI

With the Packers having the season they have had this year, I really hope COVID isn't what derails any chance at a playoff run. I took a deep sigh when reading about Jared Veldheer's positive test. How are there no close contacts even with him being on the practice field?

In the latter portion of the season, with the stricter protocols, the NFL has defined a high-risk close contact as less than six feet of proximity, for five minutes in duration, indoors and unmasked. The league collects the data from the trackers the players wear and then investigates any potential close contacts, even using surveillance video. The Packers have had no other positives pop up since Veldheer's, which I attribute to a few saving graces: Tuesday's practice was outside; the offensive line took over the media auditorium as its meeting room this year, which allows one of the largest position groups, numbers-wise, to socially distance during all sessions; and the players haven't laxed on the mask requirement.

Chris from Clive, IA

Good morning! Since it's just the three of you sitting in a suite for home games, do you get to cheer? Or at least have the chance to chat more throughout the game? Do you randomly yell "sit down" just for fun? I would imagine that it's pretty tough sitting there relatively quietly like during a normal season's setting.

We don't cheer. It's just in our nature when we're doing our jobs. But I will definitely yell at Wes to sit down a couple of times, just because I can.

Jim from West Hills, CA

You guys do great job! We all understand the Rams have a very good defense and the "Any Given Sunday" rule. They also lost to the Jets, Niners twice and had other near misses against less-than-average teams. Beating a descending Seattle team thy know well is different than coming into Lambeau. The hype for this game is media-driven. No mention of Jaire Alexander, Kevin King, Kenny Clark, Preston Smith and Za'Darius Smith, Aaron Jones, etc. No game is easy but GB has no excuses Saturday. Play their game and they win going away...

I don't know about going away, but I do think the Packers are the better team, and I've been saying and writing all week this game comes down to, as you noted, the Packers playing their game.

Lynn from Butler, IN

Do you believe someone on the Rams staff reads the II to try to get insight on what's going on with the Packers' plans for the game?

I hope so, because it'll probably be to their detriment.

Ryan from Colfax, WI

Mike, reading Cliff's story on all of the "premature" losses post-Super Bowl XLV makes me think how differently things could have played out, and maybe even brought a Super Bowl to Green Bay in 2014 had some of those injuries not happened. I know you don't like hypotheticals, but between J-Mike and Collins, who did you feel the Packers could not afford to lose more?

Collins. He was a Hall of Fame talent at a position you can't just compensate for elsewhere, unlike tight end, where numerous other offensive weapons can fill a void.

Tommy from Waukesha, WI

Longtime reader, first-time writer. We have all read the articles this week about Adams vs. Ramsey, our OL vs. Donald, McVay vs. LaFleur. Who is your X factor on our defense this week? I love the way Krys Barnes is playing lately and Darnell Savage is showing us the first-round talent he has, but I have to go with Adrian Amos. He is so versatile and smart I just believe he is going to make a major impact on this game. What say you?

He's as good a pick as any. But I don't think Amos has to do anything spectacular to make the impact the Packers need. Solid run support vs. Akers and keeping things coordinated vs. Woods, Kupp and Higbee can go a long way.

Joe from Wauwatosa, WI

I know he is starting to be more well known locally but I think this playoff run will be a national coming-out party for Rashan Gary. Is there another player who may not be as well-known on a national scale that you see having their "breakthrough" in this playoff run?

Perhaps Krys Barnes.

Craig from Brookfield, WI

Time to show some appreciation for Brian Gutekunst, and yes...Ted Thompson. Here we are in cold, slippery January, and our RB cupboard is full without committing any first-round picks to the position. Getting AJ Dillon at pick 62 (Gutey), and Jamaal Williams at pick 134, Jones at 182 (both Thompson) is looking pretty smart right now. None of us fans got goosebumps when those picks were made. But here we are with our biggest RB problem being how we fit all this talent into the salary cap. Clap. Clap. Clap.

Success will always create problems, but they're the better problems to have.

Patrick from Gulf Breeze, FL

Rob Demovsky answered a question I've had for a long time in a recent article: 24 of Aaron Rodgers' 89 interceptions were off tipped balls. For a QB to throw 412 touchdown passes and 65 interceptions that were legitimately his own fault (with its own margin for error), is absolutely bonkers.

I so want him to get to 500 before 100.

Dan from Lignite, ND

What's your favorite Rams uniform? The navy with the real gold, or the bright yellow? I have always thought the helmets with the horned look were cool.

The ones they wore in my youth, the blue with yellow, were their best and I've never understood why they changed.

James from Chicago, IL

How things have changed. In 2020 the NFL's top defense in yards surrendered is the Rams. The Rams are the only 2020 defense that would have been ranked in the top 10 in 2000. If you go back to 1975, all but one defense in the NFL gave up fewer yards than the Rams did this year. You cannot compare different eras.

I think we've tried to make that point a few times here.

Brianna from Farmington, MN

What will be Rodgers' biggest challenge in these upcoming playoffs?

That's an intriguing question, and I really don't know. It might be staying in the same comfort zone mentally knowing David Bakhtiari is not on his blind side. I'm sure he has plenty of trust in Billy Turner, but just human nature makes it difficult not to think a little bit differently once something doesn't go as planned over there, with the stakes so high.

Erik from Anchorage, AK

Has Rodgers ever shared his recollection of his first NFC Divisional game? Is it published anywhere? I'm betting that his current perspective at this stage in this career would be a wonderful introspection.

Well, he lit the world on fire in that one, at Atlanta 10 years ago. I'm sure he recalls plenty from it. I've never witnessed a player, in person, so singlehandedly control an entire playoff game.

Marty from Rexford, MT

Mike, we both agree it's vital for every player to do his job and that QB is the most important position. But, over the years, I felt you overhyped the importance of quarterbacks. Well, of the eight teams remaining, I count seven MVP trophies by quarterbacks. All three of the old guys are going to the HOF. All the young guys were drafted in the first round. So, do you know any good crow recipes?

No. Ma Hod has never packed it for lunch.

Edwin from Des Plaines, IL

Mike from Cascade asked about QBs from the same college program facing off in the playoffs. Rodgers-Goff would be the seventh time. The two Mike missed are Steve Young and Ty Detmer of BYU in a 1996 game between the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles, and Neil O'Donnell and Frank Reich of Maryland in a 1993 game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Buffalo Bills.

Much appreciated.

Jon from Sparta, WI

Mike stated he didn't like using athletes as examples of sportsmanship because the bad ones got more publicity. All summer we applauded the players' efforts in their support of racial injustice and how many of them were working hard to make a positive change in their communities. If we are going to applaud their efforts for social issues, why don't we expect the same of them on the issue of sportsmanship? They are athletes, and sportsmanship is part of their job.

Again, you have a point. I separate on the field and off the field a little. Maybe I shouldn't, but I guess I'm just willing to cut guys some slack on the field, knowing how emotional, intense and heated these games are. But by "a little" and "some," I'm not granting carte blanche. There are some sportsmanship lines that just shouldn't be crossed, and there are some things that don't bother me as much as they bother others.

Ky from Santa Cruz, CA

One interesting aspect of this postseason is the dichotomy of quarterbacks in the two conferences. The NFC is primarily the old guard of Rodgers, Brees, Brady, while the AFC is the up-and-comers of Allen, Jackson, Mayfield, and Mahomes. Are we headed for AFC dominance in the next decade?

Dominance? Rodgers and Wilson are still going to be around awhile. Dak Prescott plans to come back strong. Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts are just getting started. I wouldn't project a decade of dominance just yet.

Aaron from Dallas, TX

How does the scout team replicate, in practice during the week, the kind of pass rush someone like Aaron Donald is going to bring?

You can't. That's why he's so hard to prepare for. If teams could prepare adequately, he wouldn't get double-digit sacks rushing on the interior every year.

Greg from Downers Grove, IL

First, best to Tom and his treatment, hope he goes 1-0! Wow, all of the pregame analysis is playing out on my ceiling like "The Queen's Gambit"! I know Ramsey and Donald are great players who can make an impact. Let's not forget this is still a team game. The Packers have more talent on O than most other teams. And our leader continues to make great decisions. I believe Rodgers ability to lead this team is the deciding factor.

I do, too, and I had to get the Inbox's first "Queen's Gambit" reference posted.

Brady from Minturn, CO

Do you think Davante Adams considers Jaire one of the three or four elite CBs in the league?


Andrew from Placentia, CA

You mentioned that outside a few outliers, the Rams haven't allowed opponents to score 24 this year. I think 24 will be a magic number. The Packers' offense hasn't been held under 24 since their last game against the Vikings on Nov. 1 (though twice they scored 24 exactly). Meanwhile, the Rams' offense has been held under 24 points six times in that same span. It seems a match of who can score 24, on paper at least. But then games aren't played on paper. I hope our next game's on the 24th.

Don't we all.

Darren from Warrington, UK


Making sure everyone hears that from across the pond.

Brian from Rochester, NY

Ughhhhhhh, is it Saturday yet?

Almost. Happy Friday.


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