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Inbox: Nothing tricky about what the Vikings did

Packers have to change the narrative

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Vikings RB Dalvin Cook

Ross from Hudson, WI

Tell us it will be OK.

Nine games left to state a case. Nobody's season has been defined.

Chris from New Canaan, CT

No more "happy talk." It's time for the defense to find its soul ... if that doesn't happen, good night.

Nothing in LaFleur's postgame sounded like happy talk to me.

Mark from Austin, TX

Will the real Packers please stand up? I think they did. Despite early success against easier teams, this is the same horrendous run D that got embarrassed by SF twice last year (no changes) and an offense that struggles under adversity. It's time to stop flaunting the T-shirts about "Who needs a #1 pick" and for the Insider Inbox to quit sugarcoating the TB game as an anomaly.

Well, to be fair, it was an anomaly until yesterday. But I've constantly harped on the fact that how any team looks in September is not how it will look the rest of the year. That's how this league is. Long season, and still lotta season left. There's plenty for the defense to work on (stating the obvious). That unit was as healthy as it had been all year, and I thought it was heading in the right direction. Not so. My bad. Back to work. Offensively, not having three of your top roughly half-dozen guys – David Bakhtiari, Aaron Jones, Allen Lazard – is bound to produce struggles at some point. The Packers perhaps could have overcome them today if the defense had done its part.

Kasey from Charlotte, NC

I was pretty disappointed in the loss, I thought with Holton Hill and Mike Hughes being out and Cameron Dantzler going out that it would help our offense.

It should have, even on a tough day to throw the ball, conditions-wise. After the 45-yard catch by Robert Tonyan, the lack of execution was glaring on the next four plays. Then the following drive had the first-and-30. The Packers did it to themselves more than the backup corners. That said, it was good to hear everything checked out OK with Dantzler.

Trevor from Seattle, WA

Not the treat I was looking forward to on Halloween weekend...

Nothing tricky about what the Vikings did, either. I even called the screen pass in the press box. You can ask Duke.

Brayden from Fayetteville, NC

Packers missed tackles and penalties. Enough said about that game. What were you seeing on those fronts? And what injury statuses do you find most intriguing going into a very important tilt in four days against the 49ers?

It was disappointing to hear LaFleur say they knew referee Alex Kemp's crew was among the more flag-happy groups. No reason for the lack of discipline with that data available. The last two weeks, because the injury report has been so long, LaFleur has turned Wednesday's practice into more of a walk-through, and lack of work is how fundamentals lapse, on both sides of the ball. Those aren't easy decisions for coaches, balancing preparation with health. Moving forward injury-wise, the three guys I mentioned on offense are the story for the Packers. The 49ers also are coming out of their loss to the Seahawks really banged up. Stay tuned.

Mike from Dubuque, IA

Great rundowns in Packers history? How about George Teague in his last game before becoming a Packer? 1993 Sugar Bowl versus the Miami Hurricanes. Chased down Lamar Thomas and ended up taking the ball away. That play might have been the deciding factor in the Packers drafting Teague in the first round a few months later.

I do remember that, and I was impressed at the collection of plays submitted by Inbox readers in this category. I'm disappointed in myself for not remembering the Al Harris one in San Francisco in '06 because I covered that game. Shame on me. I didn't recall the Javon Walker play against the Bears because that was one of the few home games in my newspaper days I missed. But my hat is off to the Inbox for its collective recall.

Dave from Waterford, WI

How much longer do you think it will be before Davante Adams gets to come back?

My hat is back on.

George from Mineral Point, WI

I don't dislike San Francisco, ONLY Pete Carroll!

Now it's pulled down over my eyes.

Rich from Grand Rapids, MI

It's always easy to second-guess, but on a day where the weather and opponent seemed to cry out for a defensive game plan centered on stopping the run and forcing an iffy QB to throw the ball in tough conditions, GB seemed lost in run D. And it isn't like they had to even worry about a running QB, either. Hard to look at that game – the entire game – and think GB's D can hold up its end of the bargain against good teams. On to San Fran, a team with an iffy QB that likes to run ...

I couldn't agree with you more about the circumstances that set the stage Sunday. The prelude was obvious, making the result all the more disheartening. Going forward, you can say it's time to dig deep, gut-check, whatever your favorite phrase is. The Packers have to change the narrative on that side of the ball.

David from San Antonio, TX

Going back to last year the run defense has been our Achilles heel. It hasn't been addressed. Do you see us as legitimate title contenders if we don't do something different?

Like I said, the narrative needs to change. I think the two rookie inside linebackers learned some lessons. The defensive linemen need to get off blocks, but we've heard that before. The edge needs to be set stronger. If the players are looking for some magical scheme fix at this point, their heads are in the wrong place.

Bill from Mesa, AZ

Packers seriously need to fix their run defense. What can they do this late in the season to stay competitive going down the stretch?

I wish I had a great response for you. Unlike last January, there's still time. That's all I've got. Otherwise, if I really knew how to answer this understandably popular question I wouldn't be sitting here trying to answer it.

Klay from Great Falls, MT

Mike, any information on Kevin King's quad injury? Is it that deep of a bruise or does he have a tear? Thank you and Wes for all you do.

We haven't been given any information other than King had a setback during his initial recovery, so he's going to be out longer than initially thought. But there's been no timeline divulged.

Tim from Port Washington, WI

Tough game. Defense needs to tackle better for sure. Had a couple of drives that could have ended in points. My question is could Robert Tonyan have "fumbled" the ball out of bounds on the last ball he caught, once he realized he couldn't make it to the sidelines?

If they rule his forward progress stopped, they would have kept the clock running.

Fritz from Stevens Point, WI

My biggest worry as we get deeper into the season: Will players on teams that are out of playoff contention become increasingly lax in their anti-COVID protocols? Got any reassuring evidence to the contrary to put me at ease?

Well, the players don't get paid if they don't play.

Michael from Novato, CA

No real question, but a real rant – 34 rushes, 15 passes for the Vikes. Any reason any of the contenders are going to bother trying to pass against us? Under Capers it was "pad level." Now it's "maintaining gap control." We have (IMO) too much talent for this to continue. Do we adjust the scheme, or is it time to pull Za'Darius Smith in, and not give him as much freedom as he's had?

I think that's a legitimate question with Z, though I'd have to review the film to see how much he's free-lancing on first and second downs as opposed to just third-down passing situations.

Jim from McLean, VA

Hi Mike, I finally got around to this week's WYMM, and it was my favorite ever. I think it should be WYDM (D for definitely). How long does it take you to put that together and at what point do you pick your "topic"?

Sometimes I have an idea what I'm looking for, and I either find it or don't. Other times I just start watching closely and see what emerges as a worthwhile theme. I'm not sure where I'm going to start today, or if I even have time to do one on this short week. We'll see.

Bob from Springfield, MA

Dear II, tough loss, but I really appreciated LaFleur calling for the two-point conversion after the last touchdown. He was playing to win. Yes?

For sure. I suspect he wanted no part of overtime with another game in four days.

Mark from Brillion, WI

My son and I were dining at 1919 restaurant this past week and, with the Hutson Center in sight, wondered how the players got to practice facility and back?

They drive in carpool fashion.

Jason from Vernon Hills, IL

What type of player, if any, will the Packers get at the trade deadline?

If I know Gutekunst, any acquisition will be a player who won't compromise the cap or cost too high a draft pick. The Packers are projected to get some compensatory picks in the fourth through sixth rounds, so that may be the cache from which he's willing to deal.

Andrew from Green Bay, WI

When a player is traded, does the other team have to honor that player's previous contract?

Yes, the contract goes with the trade, unless the player and new team agree to a restructuring.

Mark from Bettendorf, IA

After watching "Final Thoughts," I wondered: Do you guys keep track of your "prognostications"?

Not officially, but I'd say we make a good point as often as we miss one. I nailed it last week when I said red-zone stops were the key to beating the Texans. This week I didn't see the Vikings winning without winning the turnover battle, and I'd have been dead wrong if not for the last play of the game.

Dan from Allen, TX

C'mon NFL Network! In the video posted here about Herb Adderley's passing, at least two of the INT's shown are actually Willie Wood. We're talking about arguably the greatest CB of his era.

Apparently everyone knows the pick from Super Bowl I was Wood except that film editor at the Network.

Ryan from Colfax, WI

What a perfect example of how a double dip on either side of halftime can completely change a game. I guess that's why you defer if you win the toss.

It's the most popular strategy by far.

Chuck from Wilson, WI

Packers got "Cooked," couldn't stop the run. Too many penalties. And, we still don't know what is pass interference. Cannot believe refs picked up the laundry on that one. Thoughts?

It was a curious decision, especially in light of the two DPI flags on the Packers at that same end of the field earlier. Both LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers felt Tonyan was hit early, and it could have changed things. But I don't like to dwell on the officiating too much. Minnesota's mentality on their last two possessions is different if the score is different. I think we all know who the better team was Sunday.

Packers QB Jordan Love celebrates his birthday Nov. 2. Take a look at photos of him from the 2020 season.

Dennis from Appleton, WI

This season more rookies and free agents have appeared in games than I can ever remember. Do you agree that it is primarily due to the revised practice-squad regulations facilitating more movement?

Yes.

Chuck from Sun Prairie, WI

Congratulations to the Vikings earning a solid victory. There's a very little difference between victory and defeat in the NFL, perhaps sometimes just one piece of yellow cloth. Besides stopping the run, what's the next key for Coach LaFleur keeping one of his important streaks alive?

Thursday night will be all about discipline. Penalty discipline. Tackling discipline. Gap discipline. The list goes on.

Nic from London, UK

100% consistency is impossible, one loss isn't the end of the world. This will be the big question: If we can't win winnable games that we need to retain the No. 1 seed and clinch home playoffs, can we find a way to make it to the SB on the road? If not, will we finally stop using absence of home field as an excuse for getting demolished in the NFC Championship? The manner of the Bucs loss was more troubling than the loss itself. But at home against a slumping QB, and backup DBs, I expected more.

The big-picture, playoff talk isn't worth the hot air right now. Playoff seeds except the No. 1 might not even matter if they go to a bubble. The Packers have gotten punched in the mouth twice in the last three weeks. They need the break next weekend brings but have an important game first. Thursday night will feature two teams that don't feel so great right now. But somebody's getting a big win.

Keith from Andover, MN

Oof. At least I'm still working remotely and don't have to go into the office tomorrow.

My condolences to those in mixed work company this week.

Don from Stevens Point, WI

A divisional loss at home. That's liking picking the Jack in the blind and not getting Schneider.

There we go, starting my week with a Sheepshead reference. I'll take it. Happy Monday.

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