Presented by

Inbox: No one needs to see or read a sign

It takes both the plan and the performance

Team huddle

Eddie from La Crosse, WI

Mike, I must tattle on Wes. He contemplated throwing you to the dogs today. The contemplation may have lasted a nanosecond, but it still happened. You just can't trust anyone these days...

I can forgive momentary lapses in judgment, the operative word being momentary.

Uflensia from Oblimyas, WI

What position/position group on Houston will give GB the most trouble this week?

When I search for your hometown, Google asks me if I'm looking for "Obama's war," but I'm so desperate for a question about the next game I'll take yours anyway. Watson of course makes it all go for the Texans, but his receiving corps is still formidable without Hopkins. Fuller, Cooks and Cobb have all been very productive, with the offense third in the league in passing yards per game.

Bill from Raleigh, NC

Hi II, Za'Darius Smith's game against the Falcons was showcased in one of Larry's videos. I don't recall ever seeing a Packer defensive player have such a dominant game since Clay's prime. Did the Bucs have a different scheme to contain him or simply have a better OL than the Falcons? I'm sure playing at less than 100% didn't help either.

Smith's Week 16 performance at Minnesota last year was more dominant. But to answer your question, I think it was a combination of factors: Tampa Bay is better up front than Atlanta, Smith came into the game with an ankle injury that might have gotten worse during the week (he was a full participant in Wednesday's and Thursday's practices, then limited Friday and questionable for the game), and the Packers were playing from behind from the second interception on.

Paul from Northglenn, CO

What is exploitable against the Texans this week?

Houston has one of the worst defenses in the league statistically. It's ranked 30th in yards, 26th in points, last against the run, 31st in first downs, and it has intercepted exactly one of 204 opponent passes. Those abysmal numbers were compiled against some of the best teams in the league, but if the Packers are one of the best teams in the league, their offense should be able to perform similarly. If not, then the problems last week go beyond facing Tampa Bay's stout D.

Jake from Los Angeles, CA

So both the Packers and the Packers' ex-coach suffer a 38-10 loss in Week 6.

I think this team's prospects for 2020 are much brighter.

Storm from Houston, TX

Question, how likely is ML to gather the team in a room, walk in close the double doors, take two steps back to reveal a HUGE sign that says "practice like you're playing, you'll play what you practice"?

No one needs to see or read a sign. When the quarterback and head coach both call out sloppy practices right after the game, which they know is going to lead to follow-up questions from the media to others, the message gets through loud and clear. Better practices don't guarantee avoiding a dud performance. It can happen anytime in this league. But they increase the odds of a competitive outing for sure.

Mike from Dubuque, IA

It seems to me bad teams make excuses, while good teams make changes. Assuming the Packers are a good, if not great team, what changes do you see them making?

I disagree that good teams make changes. Good teams trust what they're doing, know why their process failed them at any particular time, and react accordingly.

Michael from Morrison, IL

Just one last item on Tampa Bay before we move on to the next chapter. In 10 games at Raymond James Stadium, the Packers are 2-8 with a cumulative minus-12 turnover differential. Green Bay QBs (mostly Favre and Aaron Rodgers, but also some Matt Hasselbeck and Matt Flynn) hold a combined 62.6 passer rating and have been sacked 28 times in those games. Only once have the Packers scored more than 23 points in RJS (in a loss, mind you). That stadium is truly a house of horrors for Packer offenses.

Wow, I didn't realize it was that bad. I was there for the disasters in '08 and '09 with Rodgers, and I recall Favre having some rough days there against Dungy's defenses, but that's really something. Vishnu from Granite Bay, CA, also pointed out in addition to two of Rodgers' three pick-sixes, two of his four career three-INT games have been there (including two picks in a span of three possessions in '08, the closest he's ever come to back-to-back that I'm aware of). Unreal.

Michael from Granite City, IL

On "Unscripted," Spoff said that he was in attendance when Rodgers threw for six TDs. My question is, does that mean Rodgers is going from playing at his most troublesome stadium (eight INTs in Tampa Bay) to his most productive away venue in back-to-back weeks?

Well, the six-TD game in Houston was his only career appearance there, so to call it a small sample size would be an understatement. But in that spirit, I'll point out the game after Rodgers threw his last pick-six, in 2017, he threw four TD passes and had a 128.0 rating.

Howie from Saint Ignace, MI

Are you more surprised Chicago is 5-1 or Minnesota is 1-5?

Flip a coin.

Randy from Ooltewah, TN

I saw some nice flashes from Montravius Adams against the Bucs, and JK Scott was really good. Were there some other good performances by Packers on Sunday that got lost in the rout?

David Bakhtiari was his usual rock-solid self until he got hurt, and I thought Turner played pretty well, too. I didn't review the defensive film in the same manner, but with Evans and Godwin combining for just six catches and 58 yards, credit is due to Jaire Alexander, and I also thought Josh Jackson was having a decent game for the first 2½ quarters.

Corey from Bethlehem, PA

Why does it seem like some organizations constantly get in their own way for success? The Dolphins are sitting nice at 3-3 and second place in a more winnable division and they bench their starting QB? Fitzmagic was playing relatively well, why bench him now for an unproven rookie?

When an organization feels the future has arrived, delaying it is what doesn't make sense.

Levi from St. Paul, MN

Hey II, I was wondering what your thoughts are on the effect momentum has on pro athletes. Because what I saw after that second pick was a team that had little left in the tank. I'm sure they continued to play hard, but it just looked bad. Looking through the lens of a fan it looked sort of liked they gave up, but I know that was not the case. Was it all the combined missed opportunities, or was the juice going the wrong way?

I think there was genuine shock at the speed with which everything changed (basically three offensive snaps) and how it changed (two picks from the most INT-averse QB in history). It was stunning, and they're human. Do pro athletes need to snap out of it? Absolutely. The failure to do so must be remembered because it's quite likely they'll be called on to respond to another shell-shocking turn of events, perhaps with even more at stake.

Earl from Marietta, GA

Packers laid an egg, now what?

Like Billy Turner said Monday, don't do it again.

Mike from Brighton, IL

To give the recent blow out a break, which NFC East team do you think has the best chance of finishing at .500? And why?

I went into the season believing the Eagles were the best team in that division, and nothing I've seen has changed my mind. They're in the best shape, roster-wise, to win the East. I predict the Week 13 game at Lambeau Field will be bigger than anyone thinks right now.

Jeff from Ogden, UT

What do the Bucs and last year's 49ers have in common? Smash-mouth football. This Packer team has problems with the tough, physical style of football these teams play. How do you fix that midseason?

You can't change who you are. You have to find ways for your style to beat theirs. LaFleur admitted he didn't have a good plan. That doesn't mean there isn't one that can win. Last year's 49ers lost four games (including the Super Bowl), and only one of those teams that beat them (Baltimore) played a similar style. This year's Bucs have lost twice, to two very different teams (New Orleans, Chicago). There's always a way, but it takes both the plan and the performance. Nobody's "brand" of football is sacrosanct or everyone would emulate it.

Tony from Southington, CT

You tiptoed around David from Phoenix's question in regards to investing in a MLB. There aren't many athletes at that position who can dominate on all three downs. They had a chance to draft one and again screwed it up. MLBs like that change a defense: Kuechly, White, etc.

I agree with you. I think Patrick Queen could have changed the look of this defense considerably, and I thought the Packers were going to pick him, as I've said before. The personnel department doesn't appear to have the same view of the investment in the position and/or of that particular player. I don't know what else to tell you. But I do know this team has won 18 of its last 23 games over the past 13½ months, so those views have produced a lot of success.

Kyle from Waunakee, WI

When a player has a big game, we jump to a conclusion about how the Packers should do the same thing. Devin White was drafted fifth overall. Do we want the Packers to be bad enough to pick fifth? Cory Littleton was the prized, sure-fire ILB-to-get last offseason. He is still trying to find his footing but his cap hit isn't. Let's trust the process.

That, too.

Steve from Wellington, FL

After a hard loss, it's easy to question certain players and draft decisions. However, look at the diversity of teams and how they play. Bucs have an established QB that moves within the pocket effectively but doesn't scramble. This week, Watson can rip off 25-plus yards on a scramble and think nothing of it. To have a defense that can defend two entirely different styles of offenses is hard to manage. Do you design defense for the average between the two, speed or physicality?

You've just described one of the reasons it's so hard to play defense in this league, and why versatility is a longtime buzzword in personnel acquisitions. Coaches want versatile depth on the roster so they have options for their game plans. That goes for both sides of the ball, but with QBs being so ultra-important yet so diverse across the league, it's a huge challenge. Truly special players fit every package, but they aren't easy to find, and no one in the draft comes guaranteed.

Packers T Rick Wagner celebrates his birthday Oct. 21. Take a look at photos of him from the 2020 season.

Scott from Noblesville, IN

Realizing Kevin King has been injured, but once he's healthy, and the weather gets colder, do you foresee more all-out effort/emphasis from Pettine to stop the run and leaving/ trusting our developing corners more alone in coverage?

It will depend on specific matchups, but that wouldn't surprise me, no. In the same vein, I could see more resources being devoted to pressure as well.

Don from Riverton, UT

To me the bigger question than "how did we lose so badly" is "how do the Bucs have two losses?"

Brady's first game in the new system was against a division rival and the defending NFC South champ, so that was no surprise. But I said all last week, and anyone who watched the game knows, the Bucs had no business losing that game to the Bears. Absolutely none. It's just another one of those things that happens in this league, and that result was the worst thing to happen to the Packers over their bye week.

Jeff from Hagerstown, MD

I imagine the Texans are thinking, "Why did the Packers have to lay a huge, embarrassing egg on national TV – right before they play us?"

That whole "when you play 'em" thing may not be absolute, but it's real.

Lee from Leesburg, FL

How can Aaron Rodgers take Sunday's loss to motivate his team for next week?

I'm not expecting any rah-rah speeches from Rodgers if that's what you're asking. We don't get to see any of the 11-on-11 work at practice during the regular season, but I believe Rodgers will lead by example in those sessions with his focus and competitiveness.

Bubba from Kenosha, WI


Happy Wednesday.