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Inbox: No book is close to written

Patience isn’t a luxury at this stage

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CB Eric Stokes

Steve from Ankeny, IA

It's been five days, I don't feel any better!

I saw a lot of blue sky yesterday. That was nice.

Scott from Augusta, GA

Is this what parity looks like?

With Tampa Bay's loss last night, none of the four division champs from last year in the NFC is currently leading its division, and only one of them (Dallas) is above .500.

Tim from Rosario, Argentina

Always love the Rock Reports, most recent ones do not disappoint. Some of the narratives are worth it alone to watch them; "pursues like it is personal" … "he arrives in a bad mood." Keep the Rock Reports coming.

Larry is always on top of his game. I've decided the vernacular with which he describes the game can only come from someone who's played it at this level.

Linda from Alameda, CA

Mike said the three words are "Catch the ball." Don't you think it would actually be "Catch, then run"? Seems to me the receivers are already looking up field instead of looking the ball in to a secure catch before starting the move up field.

True to a certain extent, but there were at least two if not three times in the last game that simply catching the ball with no additional yardage would have moved the chains.

Agustin from Buenos Aires, Argentina

"Also, three words could go a long way: Catch the ball. Both on offense and defense." I'd like to see them catch the ball on we-fense as well.

Indeed. Point taken.

Bob from New Britain, CT

Mike, we do have an outstanding punt returner already on our team. I saw a YouTube video of him playing college ball against Florida State. He returned a punt for an electrifying TD early in the game, then almost took another punt to the house a second time before being tripped up at the last minute. The announcers were both marveling what a great kick returner Jaire Alexander was!

I don't see the Packers exposing their highest-paid cornerback to potential high-speed collisions as a punt returner, if that's what you're asking.

Paul from Ledgeview, WI

Mike if the shuffle is over and the O-line settles in, this team has a chance to change their trajectory. Would this be the latest point in a season that the Packers have been able to establish their starting unit?

I don't know how to pinpoint that, but it's certainly the most in flux that unit has been in the first two months of a season that I can recall. The group needs time to settle into its new reality but patience isn't a luxury at this stage.

Matt from Bloomington, IN

Any news on Rashan Gary? I know concussions are unpredictable things, but boy could we use that guy in Buffalo this weekend.

Gary was practicing in full pads Thursday, so that's a good sign.

Steve from Stillman Valley, IL

Seems like our defense has a problem setting the edge. Is this an issue with the 3-4 scheme, coaching or players?

It's 100% on the players. It's obvious on the film. When the edge is set properly, the run defense looks great. When an edge defender peeks inside and gets sealed off, it's trouble. I'll just say that Preston Smith is the most reliable, assignment-sure run defender the Packers have on the edge.

Jake from Stanley, WI

"I strenuously object?" Hey, the Packers have made some mistakes, let's not relive them! On to Buffalo!

Wes is now too far ahead of me in "A Few Good Men" references. That's not acceptable for one of my all-time favorite movies. I've got to channel the baseball player in me and find my bat. I think better with my bat.

Jonnie from Garden City, MI

Good morning! The question on officiating is not so much "how bad were they?" Fans judge for themselves when officiating crews affect the outcome of a game by making questionable fluffing the passer calls, missing a delay of game, or borderline calls that have no material impact on the play or player safety. Most fans want officials to let the players play. What can the NFL do to provide a more consistent product across the 16 different crews on 16 different fields every week?

That's the $64 billion question, and the league has tried to allow New York to be more involved in certain situations aside from official replay reviews. But judgment calls are judgment calls and subjectivity by its nature reduces consistency. I think "material impact on the play" should be the standard the vast majority of the time (aside from safety rules), but as far as I know, the officials are trained and graded on calling whatever infractions are visible. I personally don't believe that's what's best for the sport, and it honestly ruins individual games here and there.

Aaron from Phoenix, AZ

Three early kickoffs = three-game losing streak. Maybe the cure is getting away from these early kickoffs! Bring on SNF!

Whatever it takes.

Ryan from Noblesville, IN

Roquan Smith's media session reaction to hearing Robert Quinn was traded … they are all human. So much we don't see or know. He might be a Bear but there's still respect over here.

Difficulties arise in this business in different ways, and the "professional" in professional football carries different connotations.

Tim from Superior, WI

I get that the team needs to move the chains with consistent good yardage gains, but it seems to me that to pull an upset like this on Sunday will require a fair amount of explosive plays to feed the energy level on the sidelines. I don't know about you, but I'd sure like to see a replay with a better result of course, of the first play from scrimmage in 2022.

The Packers are always going to take their shots, but I'm more interested in seeing them walk before they run. They have to show they can move the chains consistently, and this Buffalo defense will present a huge test in that regard. A big play here or there is great, but confidently converting to keep possession is the first step to more sustained success.

Mike from Mebane, NC

I assume one of the ways to beat the Bills is to win first and second downs, so third is a manageable down and distance. I get the keep the chains moving philosophy and keeping their offense (and our defense) off the field. But one of the ways teams change mojo is to change speeds, go hurry-up or two-minute more often. The Packers under ML are very slow, which leads to fewer plays. While this may not be the game to try this, does a hurry-up approach warrant some consideration?

This was also brought up by Bobby from Aberdeen, SD, this week and others previously. I understand the interest, but again, I'm in the walk-before-you-can-run camp. I can see trying the hurry-up if a situation outside of two-minute feels right, but that's not sustainable as a base approach for the bulk of the game when the offense is having so many execution problems right now.

Jeffrey from Eveleth, MN

I really don't think the Packers can win this game. But it reminds me of Mr. Miyagi's quote. "Don't matter what Jeff from Eveleth thinks. He's not playing."

"Better learn balance. Balance is key. Balance good, (football) good. Everything good. Balance bad, better pack up, go home. Understand?"

Nathan from Philadelphia, PA

Mike, I always look forward to your recap of memorable history against each opponent in One Last Look. Of course, this week the Packers are traveling to a city where they've never won. By my count, the Texans still have 10 NFL teams they've never beaten on the road in their short history, and the Jaguars have six (including New England, whom they've visited nine times!). What's the longest-running NFL matchup where one team is still undefeated at home?

That's a great question and one unfortunately I don't have time to research. If anyone out there knows or is so inclined, feel free. I will be reviewing Green Bay's miserable history in Buffalo in this week's OLL column, hoping perhaps the overemphasis puts the kibosh on it.

The Green Bay Packers held practice at Clarke Hinkle Field on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022.

Marty from New Orleans, LA

The team is currently dealing with the consequences of two failed draft classes in a row. When will Inbox start accepting questions about the failures of the front office? Why is Gutekunst shielded from deserved and well-intentioned criticism?

Nobody's shielding him, but to label the last two draft classes as "failed" is ignorant. If you want to say Amari Rodgers, Devonte Wyatt and Christian Watson haven't lived up to expectations thus far, that's fair. But Eric Stokes, Josh Myers and Quay Walker are starters, playing a lot and well at times, albeit with growing pains. Royce Newman was a solid starter, has become a backup, but shouldn't be written off. T.J. Slaton is seeing his role increase. Romeo Doubs is learning on the fly. Zach Tom just stepped in at left tackle and held his own in his first NFL start. Kingsley Enagbare has sacks in the last two games. No book is close to written on either of the last two draft classes.

Roger from Roseville, MN

I realize it's been this way since the challenge system began, but why should a team be penalized by losing a potential third challenge if their first one is successful (official's error), but the second is not successful? If both are unsuccessful, fine, but why should a team have to pay because the officials were wrong on the first challenge?

I've been saying for years it makes no sense that going 1-for-2 on challenges is treated the same as going 0-for-2. My face got too blue so I had to stop.

Steve from Colorado Springs, CO

Hey Insiders, tough couple weeks. Having not been in that place for quite some time, what is the effect on you two? Is it harder to do the II, or maybe not as fun? I appreciate your efforts to bring folks back up when you can.

I've always said this job is more fun when the team is winning, but when it's not I put no less effort into it. Any loyal reader is owed that at a minimum. I also don't focus on trying to boost anyone's spirits. I'm certainly not going to wallow in a loss beyond Monday's column, but my intentions are generally to tell you what I see and how I see it, trying to use a 27-year career as a sports writer to provide perspective. As long as the team has something to play for, it's a treat to gear up for the next game.

Bill from Fort Worth, TX

There's no arguing the Packers haven't been executing to their potential thus far. We also know that over the last few seasons they snuck away with a number of wins that could've, and maybe should've, gone the other way. Perhaps we're now seeing the law of averages come due with a vengeance and in a very compressed time span. Here's to hoping that's just about run its course!

The Packers have been in good position in the middle of the third quarter to win all three of these games they lost. They need to make a key play at that stage to give themselves a viable chance at crunch time. As I said the other day, teams have to make their own luck, too.

Sam from Greendale, WI

When we lost to the Jets I was in Boston and drowned my sorrows in a lobster roll. When we lost to the Commanders I was in New York and drowned my sorrows in pizza. Now I'm back home and I think Culvers may be out of the curder-burger so this game is a must win.

I haven't had a shot at one of those burgers yet but I'm getting the sense it's a rite of passage of some kind.

Andrew from Chicago, IL

Richard Feynman once said, "The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool." I know I tend to be a pessimist, but I think it's important that we do not fool ourselves with comparisons of the past. This team is too different and the Bills are too different from past "turning point" games, whether they be in 2012, 2014, 2016, or whenever. Let's see how the 2022 Packers respond, instead of projecting previous teams' success on them.

This team will have to find its own way, I agree, but citing past examples – at least for me – is rooted in possibilities, not projections. I don't think anyone is being fooled into thinking this Packers squad doesn't have a tall task ahead, both in turning things around and with this particular game.

Clark from Lampson, WI

Is it too early to say it's getting late early?

Sort of but not entirely for real maybe.

Christopher from Frederick, MD

Ray Liotta said it best: "Sometimes you're flush and sometimes you're bust, and when you're up, it's never as good as it seems, and when you're down, you never think you'll be up again, but life goes on." When the Packers turn this around, and I say "when" because I believe they will, this rough patch will make this team better for having gone through it.

That's the only option as far as I'm concerned.

Tim from Charlotte, NC

Shouldn't Jacob from Melbourne, Australia's question appear in tomorrow's Inbox?

Happy Friday.

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