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Inbox: New year, same mission

Matt LaFleur’s words are as true today as they were back on Aug. 2, 2020

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WR Davante Adams

Linda from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Good morning and Happy New Year, Wes! That goes for Mike as well. How did you ring in the new year? Did you toast it with a pumpkin spice latte? Or is that just a fall season drink?

I'm big fan of sparkling grape juice. That's my NYE drink of choice. I didn't do anything too crazy, though. I went to bed pretty early. It's been a long week.

Christian from Plymouth, MN

Football is the ultimate team game – COVID has made that even more apparent.

"We're all in this sucker together." – Matt LaFleur, Aug. 2, 2020. That's as true today as it was back then.

Julian from Gastonia, NC

Do you think the Packers might put 11 in the box Sunday night?

Only if the Vikings run goal-line and put 11 in the box.

Shannon from Ovilla, TX

Happy New Years to everyone. With Kirk Cousins out, Sean Mannion just getting activated and the weather forecast I would expect lots of running plays from the Vikings. Does the defense adjust accordingly and play the safeties closer to the line in run support? Or does the threat of Justin Jefferson keep us in a regular defense?

That's the cat-and-mouse game these two teams will play. It's possible Joe Barry pulls Adrian Amos closer to the line of scrimmage than usual but it's ultimately going to come down to how Minnesota wants to play its personnel. If Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison run well early, maybe that's when Green Bay devotes an extra guy into the box.

Noel from Norwalk, CA

Morning II. This morning as the clothes were in the washing machine, I read Captain Kirk will not be at the helm of the Vikings ship. I don't want to chortle but it's hard not to when you look down the depth chart to see who's next in line. Oh, I'm sure there will be plenty written in the Inbox about the lack of experience of the "next man up." I can imagine the giddiness that's permeating throughout the Inbox. After my initial thoughts of an easy victory, the phrase "On any given Sunday" …

The Packers must respect the opponent. As much fun as the fanbase had on Friday about Mannion not throwing a TD pass, that tune will change into vitriol if Green Bay struggles to stop him. Again, it starts with Cook and Mattison. The Packers need to stop the run, especially in the cold, and challenge Minnesota to beat them with Mannion's arm.

Dave from Huntsville, AL

It appears stopping the run just became even more important...

That is true…but Cousins also beat the Packers at Lambeau last year when he threw just 14 passes. Even before the Cousins news broke, the Packers knew they needed to stop Cook to win. As De'Vondre Campbell said after Friday's practice, Green Bay was preparing for the Minnesota Vikings, not just Kirk Cousins.

Dick from Four Oaks, NC

As soon as I heard that Kirk Cousins would not be able to play Sunday, my superhuman premonition waves kicked in and predicted that Rasul Douglas will have another pick-six to add to his already incredible year. If you'd like, you might hold this submission until Monday to see if I'm clairvoyant or just delusional! Either way, I'll be looking forward to seeing the Pack scrap their way to win No. 13.

Let's put it right here and sees what happens. Listen, Douglas now has four INTs in his last four games. I'm not betting against that guy.

Travis from Fort Walton Beach, FL

It's fortunate the talent evaluators in Arizona whiffed on Rasul Douglas. Do you think a miss like that is considered an acceptable loss, or do you expect the leadership staff has difficult questions to answer for this offseason?

I want to straighten one thing out here. The Arizona Cardinals did nothing wrong as far as Douglas goes. I actually give them credit for realizing Douglas' talent and signing him to their practice squad after he was waived by the Houston Texans at the end of training camp. It just happens the Packers pounced on signing him to the 53-man roster first. The only error Arizona made was not using one of its four weekly practice-squad protections on Douglas.

Kirsten from Madison, WI

Wes' (or Wes's, if you prefer) article on the Packers' in-season acquisitions makes me wonder: Do you think there are always players on the practice squads who would be immediate stars if they just found the right team? Or is Rasul Douglas an exception who just fell through the cracks? Happy New Year, II guys, and to the entire Packers media team.

As I wrote a couple days ago, there's always hidden gems out there but the challenge is finding them. Scheme and fit go a long way in bringing the best out of overlooked players, but the Packers had a storied history of developing practice-squad players (Tramon Williams, Robert Tonyan, Allen Lazard and Lucas Patrick) into bona-fide starters even before Douglas came to town.

Dan from Plymouth, WI

Will the Vikings QB on Sunday be a Cousins sub? GPG!

No golden fries or creamy shakes, though.

Steve from Portsmouth, UK

If the weather stays as predicted, will the league relax the "Hoodie" rule?

At least scuba suits are still legal.

Tony from Denver, CO

We've talked a lot this week about how the defensive effort left a lot to be desired against the Browns, even with the four INTs. In general, would you rather have a defensive performance like last weekend (giving up yards without much resistance but generating takeaways in key moments) or a defensive performance that is more fundamentally sound (good tackling, limiting big plays, stopping the run, etc.) without any takeaways?

I'll always take the takeaways, especially with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback.

Venny from Montgomery, AL

I really hope Corey Bojorquez can play on Sunday. The FG unit seemed to have found a groove. It would stink to have a disruption in that unit as they gear up for the playoffs.

It's now Saturday morning and the Packers have yet to make a move at punter. At the very least, that would appear to suggest Bojorquez is doing OK. Local reporter Rob Demovsky reported Green Bay worked out former Raiders draft pick Johnny Townsend on Friday, so the Packers will be ready for whatever happens.

Subhadeep from Middletown, CT

Is AJ Dillon going to be more successful long term vs. Eddie Lacy since he was playing in cold weather in Boston for his college vs. Lacy in warm Alabama and Lacy's pre-existing conditions? NFL teams draft with players having barely any choice. Eli Manning comes to mind as an exception. Could Lacy have had a more successful long-term career with a warm-weather team?

Asthma aside, I thought Eddie Lacy was a great cold-weather back. I'm not going to get into comparing him and AJ Dillon or hypothesize how Lacy's career would've played out elsewhere. I do think the future is bright for Dillon when the temperatures dip. It's no accident his breakout game came in 28-degree weather with 15 mph winds.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

I just noticed that Jared Goff is doubtful for the Lions this week. I know we only take one game at a time but wouldn't it be something if Tim Boyle started in Week 18?

That would be interesting. I know it's been an up-and-down year for Boyle but I'm glad he's getting the opportunity to play. Whatever happens, Boyle deserved to write his own story and not let his college career define him.

Ryan from Suamico, WI

In the past, it was Jerry Kramer. Now it is LeRoy Butler. Who will be the next player Packer fans will campaign for to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

Let's get LeRoy first and then I'll think about it.

Dave from Rockford, IL

Is there anything at all Packer fans can do to help Butler make the HOF?

Just keep banging the drum on social media. In Kramer's case, his daughter Alicia deserves a lot of credit for continually stumping for her father's candidacy. She breathed life into Kramer's groundswell of support and kept that fire lit.

Ed from Windsor, CO

Curly or Vince on NFL Mt. Rushmore?

Vince.

Etienne from Tourelle, Canada

Paul Brown has to be on that Mt. Rushmore. Has to.

Two words: Outsider Inbox. So, it is written.

Mike from Baraboo, WI

What's the coldest game you have ever attended? It sounds like it is going to be freezing cold Sunday night.

That Packers-Bears game in 2016 is the coldest game I've covered but the 2013 game at Soldier Field is the one that affected me the most. The Press-Gazette made Mike Vandermause, Pete Dougherty and I do a 45-minute livestream in freezing rain in a nearby park. Vandermause and Dougherty both had to call in sick the next day.

James from Plover, WI

How many more years do you plan on playing quarterback for the Packers?

My focus is on the Minnesota Vikings right now. I'm not thinking about my future right now.

Bil from Stateline, NV

I've seen this misused over and over. It is, correctly: "The quick red fox jumps over the lazy brown dog." Thus, using every letter of the alphabet. It is an old "typing" exercise from the industrial age.

OK, but do you have any poems about black foxes?

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

New year, same mission,

Turtleneck weather arrives,

win for auld lang syne.

That's good, Derek. That's so good it might be the headline.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Be inspired to be the best

Now a visit by a border rival to the frozen tundra

A desperate Vikings team that defeated the Packers six weeks ago

They must match that victory on our hallowed ground to remain in the hunt

A treasured prize in your grasp you must not waver

With your ranks diminished by injury and COVID rise once again to meet the challenge

Stay the course Green and Gold

The road to 14 remains straight ahead

Be inspired

Be the best

I won't lie. 2021 was a letdown but I continue to look up and look forward. Here's to a better 2022, filled with peace, love and championships. As always, thanks to each and every one of you for coming along for the ride. Enjoy the game.

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