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Inbox: Nothing boosts a defense's performance like takeaways

It seems to function just fine


Steven from Redlands, CA

Or could it be Hangry Hod – any time he goes without lunch for named or un-named reasons?

That'll work.

Dale from Harpers Ferry, WV

Regarding the No. 80/88 Packers receiver statue, the statue was originally erected in front of Bob Long's Pizza Hut on Lombardi Avenue. Bob wore No. 80.

Speaking of hangry … but thanks. I love learning new little tidbits like that.

David from Alexandria, VA

Mike, add one more game to the list of devastating losses for the Packers: the 1962 Thanksgiving Day game in Detroit against the Lions. The Detroit defense was devastating, sacking Starr 11 times, including a safety. The Packers had no answer in a 26-14 loss, the only one of the season. Lombardi said the team was overconfident – mostly himself – in what everyone thought was going to be another win toward an undefeated season. That loss was a real gut punch.

I get that, but I don't see how it can rank among the most devastating if the Packers won the NFL title anyway and that club is considered the greatest in franchise history. Just because the squad didn't go undefeated? If they were so overconfident, maybe they needed a loss to humble them a little, reset and finish the deal. That chilly day at Yankee Stadium against the Giants for all the marbles might've gone differently if they'd still been overconfident. Maybe that's actually one of the most important losses in franchise history.

Dennis from De Pere, WI

I would add the Jerry Rice fumble in the 1998 Wild Card game to the list of worst losses.

It was included. That occurred in the same game, on the same drive, as the T.O. catch.

Bob from Rome, NY

Gentlemen, just an opinion. I think the 2020 championship loss to the Bucs is more devastating than fourth-and-26 or T.O.'s catch. This one was a home game that cost a trip to the Super Bowl. Thank you!

I can respect that. I know Wes agrees with you, and that was the toughest one for me to leave out of my top five. That game just had a different feel to me, from the empty stands to being down 18 points to all the bad breaks and other (stuff) that seemed to go against the Packers at every critical turn. The playoff games lost when a win is right there for the taking on one simple play just come to mind first for me, I guess.

Tommy from Waukesha, WI

Not a question but just a comment regarding Danny from Potosi's question of dark days in Packer history. While I agreed with all of the games you mentioned, I think in terms of dark days and not games, I would regard 1986 being a dark year with James Lofton being arrested for sexual assault and Mossy Cade going on trial for the same offense in 1985. I thought that gave the franchise a couple of black eyes and seemingly lead to Lofton leaving town for the Raiders the next season.

The Forrest Gregg era was about as dark as it gets, at least in my lifetime. Scott from Reno, NV, also brought up the Charles Martin body slam of Jim McMahon and other items from that period. Cliff detailed it all in his historical anthology of the franchise. As a reporter who covered that era, he knows all the details, so I'll leave them to him.

Chas from Modena, WI

My fellow Modenians and myself feel the Packers' defense must step up their performance to make a run in the playoffs. What will be more important, stopping the run or takeaways?

Nothing boosts a defense's performance like takeaways. Nothing. The four-game winning streak late last season that almost got the Packers to the playoffs was proof of that.

Randy from Klamath Falls, OR

I was watching highlights of the 2021 game against SF. Packers down one with 37 seconds left; Rodgers hits Adams a few times to get Crosby in position to win. A graphic before the drive started said Rodgers was 4-12 when needing a field to tie or win with less than 3 minutes remaining. Sure isn't what my gut thought and it was eye-opening. I know he had a couple more comebacks after that but I would have never guessed his record was that poor in coming back. Does that statistic surprise you?

Not necessarily. I can think of at least three games off the top of my head when Crosby missed the kick at the wire, and a few others when the Packers scored late to get to overtime and the offense never got the ball again.

Blake from Itasca, IL

Every year we latch onto an UDFA or bubble player and keep a keen eye on them. Personally, I still have a load of unanswered questions about Carpenter. Seemed like he found his groove on teams midway through the season. This offseason, I heard he was transitioned to a hybrid 'backer. Any note on how he's evolving with the position group? Will we see him on empty-back sets or will he be a weak-side pursuer? Maybe both?

He's got some climbing of the depth chart to do first, but if he shows he can bring something to the table others don't, the coaches will work on ways to use him. Wes wrote an update on him a couple of weeks ago in case you missed it.

Scott from Palos Park, IL

There has been a great deal of concern about the run defense with a couple of young DL guys being relied upon heavily. However, to what extent could a second-year jump from Quay Walker help the run defense? I realize Walker had a very good rookie season, albeit with some maturity issues, but is it possible that experience might get him to the right gap sooner so 5-yard gains become 3-yards gains? Just how important is the MLB play in today's NFL run defense?

Run defense is as team-oriented as it gets in this game. Everybody has to mind their gaps, get off blocks and pursue to the ball at the right time. So it's hard to say one player's improvement could boost the entire unit. But there's no question with the experience Walker gained as a rookie he should be able to read and react faster than he did a year ago. How much impact that'll actually make will still depend a lot on his teammates, though.

Nathan from Philadelphia, PA

I don't think Rodgers cared (or cares now) about his passer rating for its own sake. Mostly, he hated turning the ball over, and he felt more confident about holding onto the football himself if he took a sack (see the plays before fourth-and-Janis or third-and-Cook in the playoffs) than throwing one up for grabs. Now, would a QB of Jordan Love's age even think of passer rating as the go-to stat to summarize his overall performance? Or would he look at QBR, or his rating in Madden?

I couldn't care less about your questions (no offense) but I wholeheartedly agree with the beginning of your post.

Paul from Ledgeview, WI

My friend maintains that Favre's penchant for risk taking was driven by a lack of weapons over the course of his career. Can you objectively state that Rodgers had better supporting casts, or not?

This isn't the be-all end-all statistical comparison, but I took a look at the Packers' Pro Bowl selections at wide receiver, tight end and running back over the two QBs' tenures, and here are the totals: Favre 21 (Green 4, Sharpe 3, Chmura 3, Franks 3, Driver 3, Jackson, Freeman, Levens, Henderson, Walker), Rodgers 15 (Adams 5, Kuhn 3, Jennings 2, Driver, Lacy, Cobb, Nelson, Jones). Make of that what you will.

Joshua from Milwaukee, WI

Regarding Rodgers throwing fewer INTs than Favre, no question Rodgers was surgical and careful with the ball. As Wes suggested, maybe analytics have led to increased focus on ball security. But rule changes are the biggest impetus. Can't touch the QB, can't hit a defenseless receiver, the continuing emphasis on PI and illegal contact penalties. No wonder INTs are down. I'd love to see illegal contact beyond five yards eliminated as a penalty. Give something back to the defense!

The college game doesn't have illegal contact penalties and it seems to function just fine. As long as the defender doesn't grab/hold the receiver, he can make contact beyond five yards until the ball is in the air.

Tom from West Palm Beach, FL

Not really a question, but it blew my mind that Crosby never made a single Pro Bowl! The consistency/longevity he brought to the kicker position in Green Bay is something I hope we don't miss.

For all the stability the Packers have enjoyed at kicker through the Jacke-Longwell-Crosby run (with the one-year Dave Rayner interlude in 2006), not one of those guys ever made a Pro Bowl with the Packers. The last Packers kicker to be selected for the Pro Bowl was Chester Marcol in 1974.

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

Hi guys, a follow-up to Craig from MKE's question about special teams. When was the last time the special teams did not allow a blocked kick or punt for a season?

2019. Before that, you have to go back to 2013.

TJ from Springfield, IL

Is Lukas Van Ness a better fit at 5-technique or pass rusher at LB?

At 6-5, 272, Van Ness is almost identical in size and body type to Preston Smith (6-5, 265). To me, that's a classic two-way, on-the-ball outside 'backer who's stout enough from a stand-up position to set the edge against the run and nimble enough to get after the QB. I think Van Ness could play inside and attack from there in passing situations, but he's not a hand-in-the-dirt run defender at this level.

Raymond from Marquette, MI

Generally speaking, how many "plays" does the average NFL team have in their playbook (tablet these days)? I would surmise that the offense and defense would have separate plays, but how many – 20, 30, 40-plus? Sure would like to know.

So would I. I honestly don't. I'm not even sure how the coaches would count them when there are so many variations of a concept run out of a certain formation, and then similar plays run from altered formations, etc. I don't think it's an easily identifiable number.

Brent from Janesville, WI

Hiya fellas. When I click on a player's link in II, I often wish their draft year, round and number were easier to find, even years into a player's career. What is the fastest way to find this information on Thanks for all you do!

My best suggestion would be to bookmark our “How Built” page. We lost that page for a while during the most recent site revamp, but we eventually brought it back and do our best to keep it updated.

Dale from Prescott, WI

Mike, watching the Brewers Monday night, I noticed Willy Adames wears a rubber piece around his right thumb while batting. How does that help his batting?

I think that's just a little device to minimize vibrations after contact off/near the handle. You ever notice when Adames fouls one straight back, he puts the foul-tip spot of the bat up to his nose to sniff the burning wood? It's like a smelling salt for him. Always cracks me up.

Christopher from Hagerstown, MD

As Christopher from both Frederick and Hagerstown, I can now say I've hit the II cycle! I've had my submission influence the headline, the caption, I've had two in one Inbox before, I've been the closer, and now thanks to Monday, I got that elusive leadoff submission. I guess what I'm asking is … what now?

A dose of humility?

Randall from Manasquan, NJ

Even with no gambling allowed and being a novice gambler at best, I thought I would take Jim from Westland's idea and give it a shot. To my surprise the numbers only go to 69 so I had to think on my feet for the Powerball number. I chose 22 for my favorite player as a kid, Elijah Pitts, crossing fingers. GPG

I just want to tell you both good luck, we're all counting on you. Happy Wednesday.

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