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Inbox: Nothing like a 21-point swing

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Eric from Kenosha, WI

When we were trying to predict who would step up and make the big plays this week, we all forgot one guy. Was QB1 the answer so obvious it slipped by right under our noses?

The offense was pointing toward this last week, but guys kept dropping the ball. They made all the catches Sunday.

Mike from Rapid City, SD

WOWED?

Pretty fitting in a week that a major online outlet publishes a gobbledygook analysis of statistics explaining how Rodgers is no longer elite – curious timing given the absence of his No. 1 receiver – and Raiders coach Jon Gruden follows up by laughing off all the next-gen stats as incomprehensible anyway, No. 12 goes out and hits 158.3. Of course.

Robert from Verona, WI

The reports of Rodgers’ decline are greatly exaggerated.

That, too.

Johan from Pembroke, Ontario

Hey II, 350 touchdowns means a lot of buttonmen over the years catching Packer city lightning. What stood out as the key in this game for you? Three red-zone turnovers by the defense was huge.

When Aaron Jones made that nifty adjustment to catch the first touchdown pass, especially given what happened last Monday night, I thought it might be a sign the offense was headed for a big day.

Paul from Shoreview, MN

Does this game, with this kind of production and no Davante Adams, lay the groundwork for a stronger receiving corps later in this season?

Absolutely. Whenever Adams comes back, the Packers will be better offensively for how they’ve won the last three weeks. The fact that they’re winning in the process just gives them better position for the run they expect to make down the stretch.

John from Gaylord, MI

When Davante Adams returns, the Packers will be...

Rodgers’ word was dangerous. At least that’s how I took his comments.

Dave from Roswell, GA

Great win. I was unable to watch the game but looking at the game book it seems the D wasn't able to get to Carr at all. Off day for the D or great OL play by the Raiders?

After a couple of early penalties by the backup RT, Sharpe, the Raiders’ offensive line was outstanding. Except on the goal line in the fourth quarter. The Packers finally got the best of them there.

Zach from Clarkfield, MN

If I'm a football coach at any level, I'm showing my players the video of Will Redmond's pursuit and tackle in the second quarter. Was that potentially the biggest tackle of the game?

Without question, because it allowed for the biggest single play of the game to occur, Carr’s careless fumble by the pylon. The game completely shifted on that turnover. The Raiders were going in for a 17-14 lead, and the next time Carr got the ball back, he was down 28-10. Nothing like a 21-point swing.

Matthew from Sheboygan, WI

The Packers win, so the operative pronoun category can happily be the first-person plural – chiefly when expressing concerns about our next game: Is our pass defense struggling toward the middle of the field, and if so, how difficult will this aspect of our defense be to correct?

Teams are going to keep testing the Packers with their tight ends until they get it squared away. More generally, there were way too many plays with guys running free in the secondary. I don't know if it was miscommunication or missed assignments, but some of those passes were way too easy. Big, explosive plays have been a major bugaboo with this defense three straight games now. The Packers have to take those away or teams will keep pushing the ball downfield.

Mike from Eastchester, NY

What was wrong with the Packers’ pass rush against the Raiders? No sacks and barely any pressure all game. Seems like Pettine didn’t dial up many blitzes and the defense got burned for it by Derek Carr. Do we go back to blitzing against the Chiefs without Mahomes?

Pettine dialed up plenty of blitzes. The Raiders either picked them up, or Carr beat them by getting the ball out in a flash. Carr played an outstanding game except for two plays, really. When the Packers did get pressure without a blitz, he was sliding in the pocket and getting the ball out and on target. I was really impressed with him except, again, for two plays. The margins in this league are so small.

Ken from Racine, WI

Just what is the record for end-zone picks by one team in a season? The D-Train seems to have developed a knack for these opponent-deflating events. I'm liking it!

Interesting question. I don’t know if there’s a stat for that, but three in seven games sure seems like a lot. And to think how close the defense came to having a major goal-line stand in two straight contests.

Marc from Bloomsburg, PA

Great game all around. I was very impressed with Aaron Jones. Fifty yards on the ground moving the chains, a spectacular TD catch, and outstanding blocking. The downfield block on the Marquez Valdes-Scantling long touchdown was great, but I liked the one early in the game where he squared up on a blitzing LB and stonewalled him so Jimmy Graham  could make a catch up the sideline. Is he now a bona fide three-down back?

Indubitably.

Marc from Munster, Germany

Hey Insiders, first of all, you do a great job. I have a rules question. After the two-minute warning every injury break leads to a loss of a timeout. What will happen if a team doesn’t have any timeouts because they took all of them before?

The officials will grant a “fourth timeout” for an injury in such case, but if it happens again, any subsequent occurrence also results in a 5-yard delay of game.

Moose from Seattle, WA

The NFL fines Clay Matthews for tweeting what everyone already knows about the awful officiating. Some might say he is just the whistleblower of the whistleblowers.

So does that make the league office employee who first spotted his tweet the whistleblower thrice removed?

Michael from New Orleans, LA

Favre 12/22/03 or Rodgers 10/20/19?

Why the need to rank two games with entirely different circumstances? They were both immensely impressive, but I’m not sure I even consider either game the greatest played by either QB.

Dennis from Wisconsin Rapids, WI

Bobby Dillon snagged 52 interceptions in eight seasons for the Packers. Has anyone ever averaged more interceptions per year for the Packers?

I don’t believe so. The only ones I know of to come close to Dillon’s 6.5 average are Charles Woodson, with 38 interceptions in seven seasons (5.4) and Irv Comp, with 34 in seven (4.9).

Trevor from Seattle, WA

Mike, it was one of those weeks I'm glad I missed the Badger game. It looks like we kicked a field goal from inside the 2. On one hand, I understand there's a lot of faith in our D, so going up by two possessions seems like a no-brainer. On the other hand, put the ball in the hands of your Heisman candidate on third and fourth down and see what happens. If he gets in, things are looking good. If he gets stuffed, you have the confidence in a strong D to force a three-and-out from their end zone. Thoughts?

You said it. I’m glad I missed the game, too.

Aaron from Brooklyn, NY

At what point are coaches going to realize that challenging pass interference is never going to work?

They’re learning, though I said in the live blog I wonder about the DPI on the Raiders on the pass to Graham near the goal line. If Gruden hadn’t blown his first challenge so early and recklessly and challenged that play instead, it would have really tested the current trend of PI challenges not getting reversed. I thought it was an awful call.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Tramon Williams’ answer to Charles Woodson's question "Do you still enjoy the grind?" was one of the most insightful answers I have ever heard, athlete or otherwise. Those who did not listen to the interview missed a gem, wouldn't you say?

He gave me a similar answer this past spring, which is why I fashioned an entire story around it. Tramon is and always will be one of the best interviews ever. Charles was no slouch in that category, either, I might add. It was good to see Charles again and say hello. I told him I’d see him in Canton in 2021.

Ian from Sherman Oaks, CA

Six different Packers scored all six touchdowns. Have the Packers ever had that many players score TDs in one game?

Six different players scored TDs in back-to-back blowout games in 2014 against the Bears and Eagles, but both of those games involved at least one defensive or special-teams score. Speaking of six, here’s a postgame note from the team’s communications department I found interesting: Six different Packers had a pass reception of 20-plus yards for the first time since 1983.

Robert from Joplin, MO

Two things I've noticed. It seemed that the Raiders’ offensive tackles were doing several cut blocks on the Smiths. Did I imagine it and only noticed a couple plays? Here is a stat line I think that should be brought up. None of the Packers players were targeted more than five times. That must be a coaching frustration to game plan against.

I’ll have to check the film on the Smiths. This was the second straight game eight different players caught at least two passes from Rodgers. That’s pretty remarkable.

Anthony from Staten Island, NY

With all the young talent such as Jaire Alexander and Aaron Jones. How proactive should the Packers be in paying these guys to lock them up for years to come?

It’s a question for the upcoming offseason for Jones, but another year away yet on Alexander. Draft picks’ rookie contracts cannot be renegotiated or extended until three years in.

Jeanne from Neenah, WI

This is driving me crazy! When the ball breaks the plane of the goal line, which edge of the white goal line does it have to break? The goal line looks to be six or more inches wide so that certainly would make a difference in touchdown or no touchdown. I've never seen anyone ask this. Please help!

Front edge.

Matt from Pontiac, MI

Good morning. Hey, this is the first decade since the 1910s no team from New York won a World Series!

No complaints here.

Rick from Racine, WI

What is the best season record for a coach in his rookie season in the NFL?

In the Super Bowl era, these are the best regular-season records by rookie head coaches: George Seifert, 1989 49ers (14-2, won Super Bowl); Don McCaffery, 1970 Colts (11-2-1, won Super Bowl); Red Miller, 1977 Broncos (12-2, lost Super Bowl); Jim Caldwell, 2009 Colts (14-2, lost Super Bowl); John Madden 1969 Raiders (12-1-1, lost AFL title game); Jim Harbaugh, 2011 49ers (13-3, lost NFC title game); Chuck Knox, 1973 Rams (12-2, lost in first round of NFC playoffs); Steve Mariucci, 1997 49ers (13-3, lost in NFC title game).

Adam from Toronto, Ontario

It sure looks like the NFC North will now be a two-pony race. I see Week 16 as the deciding game on who the Kings of the North will be. Thoughts gents?

Way too early to write off the Lions or Bears, but they’ve both lost a home division game now, and those are the difference in the race. They will get their opportunities to make up for them, though.

Margo from Solvang, CA

Hi Mike, would this be an appropriate time to remind us (without chortling) of how you told us during the preseason that it would take a bit of time for Rodgers to settle into Coach LaFleur's offense? He looked to be running on all cylinders Sunday!

I don’t think anything I said was some earth-shattering prediction. I was just being a realist.

George from North Mankato, MN

There were a lot of positive things for the Packers in today’s game. The offense showed what it is capable of doing, the defense provided big plays when needed and JK Scott had another great day kicking the ball. What do you think needs to be cleaned up first going into the game with the Chiefs?

Aside from the defensive issues already mentioned, the Packers need to get more from their return game. Field position is even more critical on the road, and the Packers are playing four of their next five away from Lambeau. Starting three possessions after kickoffs at the 22-yard line or worse, with no penalties, isn’t close to good enough.

Steve from Green Bay, WI

They say it's a game of inches, not yards. On an 80-yard field the Raiders may have bested the Packers again. It's what you do down by the goal line that matters. See the difference between this game and the tilt vs. the Eagles. Plus, it helps to have the quarterback who, if you give him an inch, will take a (quarter) mile. Is there anything that needs to be said other than "Wow"?

Even without the wow, your summary is a good one.

Frank from Lake Sherwood, MO

I don't recall hearing a single lineman's name all broadcast (though I have kids and may have missed a mention). It wasn't even until the postgame presser that I remembered those studs have names. There's five big compliments in this comment and I assume all of our O-linemen are comfortable with the lack of name drops on air.

Rodgers called it the “best pocket” he’s had all season. That says a ton. Rodgers has been good at avoiding pressure when it does come, but still, after the five sacks at Chicago in Week 1, seven sacks in the last six games. That’s just outstanding however it’s accomplished.

Thorben from Bochum, Germany

Great win today. On to the next one. Are you more disappointed that we won't see a Mahomes vs. Rodgers matchup (and maybe never will), or more lucky that our next opponent is not at full strength on Sunday considering the Packers are dealing with their share of injuries to key players as well?

You make no apologies in this league. It’s unfortunate for football as a whole not to get Rodgers vs. Mahomes, and I’m glad for his sake the injury isn’t serious. I hope they meet again before the next scheduled one in 2023. But as far as Week 8 of 2019 goes, the Packers caught a break and have to take advantage.

Leandro from Lexington, KY

Is it just a genuine pleasure to write about performances like that?

I really had fun writing my postgame editorial, if I’m allowed to say so.

Chris from Frederick, MD

Just keep winning…just keep winning…

Happy Monday.

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