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Inbox: Now is time to pull together

This is what all the sacrifice was for – a shot at glory

Offensive huddle

Gretchen from Dousman, WI

While I certainly feel badly for the team, I mostly am really sad for David Bakhtiari. He seems like the heart and soul of this team. So much hard work to get this far and POW! Your season is over. What a terrible letdown.

You hurt most for the person, first and foremost. That's a real human being who suffered a devastating injury and now faces a lengthy road back. It's unfortunately a part of the game. Professionally, the Packers must find a way forward. Much like how the 2010 Packers regrouped to win Super Bowl XLV despite of all their injuries – including Charles Woodson's broken collarbone in the game – this year's squad must do the same.

Matt from Grayslake, IL

I guess we'll really get to find out how good our shuffled line is now.

Because you haven't found out already? Three games without David Bakhtiari, another three without Corey Linsley, and a season without Lane Taylor didn't prove anything to you already? Now is not the time to question. Now is time to pull together.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

The winning OL combination to overcome Bak's injury is to continue to throw the ball on time under 2.5 seconds.

I knew the No. 1 question when I opened my email on Friday was what will the Packers need to do on the offensive line to weather this injury. Certainly, the offensive line is once again going to need to step up but it also comes down to the Packers continuing to do what they've done all season – run the ball well and play on time.

Sandy from Green Bay, WI

With the loss of David Bakhtiari, the hope is the Packers will be able to make similar adjustments as earlier in the season when Bakhtiari missed a few games and the offensive line continued to be formidable. I hope the same, but my thought is that playoff football presents a different set of challenges. I have faith in our coaches and replacement players, but will the loss of Bakhtiari affect the team differently at this point in the season than it did in October and November?

I honestly think the Packers are better off now than they were midseason when Bakhtiari went down the first time. Billy Turner and Elgton Jenkins are primed at multiple positions, Corey Linsley is back in the lineup, and Lucas Patrick and Jon Runyan are both healthy and available. Assuming Rick Wagner is cleared to play with the knee, the Packers have the horses to keep the wagon moving. Replacing Bakhtiari won't be easy but this season has prepared the Packers for anything and everything.

Dave from Middletown, CT

After signing Tavon Austin it was several weeks for him to learn the offensive system before we saw him play. Is the learning curve for a defensive system just as steep or will we see "Snacks" on the field sooner?

If anyone can do it, it's Damon Harrison. The guy was traded midseason from the New York Giants to Detroit in 2018 and still played the next Sunday during what was a 17-game regular season for him. Whether it's Harrison or Brian Price getting another callup, the Packers will need an extra lineman with Kingsley Keke out with the concussion.

Edward from Littleton, CO

Chips? Pretzels? Nuts? Thanks, but the Pack has its own "Snacks" now. Time to rip open the bag this Sunday and grab a handful of sacks. Care for some dip?

You can tell there was palpable excitement around the building with the Packers bringing in Harrison this week. Like I wrote on Friday, it kind of reminds you of when the Packers claimed Howard Green. These are the moves you make this time of year when you want to win it all.

Bill from Maple Grove, MN

I was one of Snacks' major professors at William Penn. Besides being a good football player he is a good person. He returns to Okaloosa, Iowa, each year for the father-daughter banquet.

Are you serious, Bill? What a small world. Move over, Kevin Bacon. The six degrees of Insider Inbox is real.

Dave from Roswell, GA

Time to call Jared Veldheer?

Unfortunately, he currently resides at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Packers have capable reserves, and the flexibility of Elgton Jenkins and Billy Turner keep all options on the table. People keep asking what the Packers will do without Bakhtiari. I really don't know because of how many different ways they can organize their starting five.

Terry from Cary, IL

David Bakhtiari's knee injury reminded me that when I watch college football it seems every offensive lineman wears a knee brace on each knee every game. When I watch the NFL, I rarely notice an O-lineman wearing a knee brace. Is there a reason basically all NFL offensive linemen do not wear knee braces during games? Do they wear them in practice?

Knee brace questions…I knew you'd come.

Wes from South St Paul, MN

Just an observation. It's great to see Jordan Love with an earpiece and standing with a coach listening and studying and watching. Those who questioned the pick need to keep in mind that this young man is also under a lot of pressure. He is expected to follow two first-ballot HOF quarterbacks, something few if any young QBs face.

Love has been watching and learning. I know it's been a little quiet because there isn't an open locker room this season, but Love is dialed into what he's doing – just like David Yost said he would be.

Paul from London, Ontario

Good morning Mike/Wes. We all know that Aaron Rodgers is having an MVP season with his phenomenal passing numbers, but how much credit does he also deserve for the success of the running game? The threat of his arm is great to be certain, but how many line adjustments and RPO calls/changes does he make in the course of a game?

I think they complement each other, no different than in 2014 when he was the MVP and Eddie Lacy was one of the NFL's top young running backs. It's impossible to say how many RPOs Rodgers calls a game but he has a high batting average when it comes to getting the offense into the best play possible with the RPOs – and the Packers have only gotten better at it as the season has progressed.

Dan from Inver Grove Heights, MN

Am I the only one that looks at AJ Dillon and has fond memories of John Brockington, or am I just old?

I prefer the word "experienced."

Ignacio from Madrid, Spain

Good morning Wes/Mike. I remember an amazing Larry's Rock Report ("Best Play Ever") after the Saints game about a play-action pass to the tight end, with a running back (and OL) fake to one side, and Rodgers rolling out of the pocket to the other side. It surprises me how unstoppable this play is. I just think that is the perfect play. We've done it 20 times and always got the first down. I feel like every Rock Report that I watch I learn something new about ML's team.

I think it goes back to something offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett has said a few times this year – the Packers want all their runs and play-fakes to look the same so the defense can't get a bead on where the ball is going to go. It challenges the linebackers' eyes and discipline, and allows Robert Tonyan and the tight ends to sneak into the flat.

Paul from Franklin, WI

Happy New Year II. Comment and a question. It is just devastating news to hear about Bakhtiari. This injury will hamper him into next season, but we're all hoping he recovers not just to get back on the field but because he seems like the kind of guy I could have a beer with. If you get the chance, please tell him your Inbox readers are pulling for him. Do you think the Bears will plan and scheme differently now that they know he won't be playing? Will that work to our advantage or theirs?

Maybe they throw a few more stunts at that side of the offensive line but I don't think you'll see anything drastic. Khalil Mack usually lines up across from the right tackle anyway.

Linda from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Is there any better way to start the new year than with a win over the Bears?

I can think of no better way to start a playoff run.

Dan from Augusta, KS

A lot of people seem to want to look for comparisons to the 2010 SB team for hope this year is different. For me, I just want to see the Packers take the No. 1 seed, instead of finding ways to lose to an inferior team, letting home field slip through their fingers. I'm still haunted by the Giants in the divisional round and the loss in Seattle, especially Seattle. Is there anything you see about this team to make you think this year can be different than past disappointments?

There's looking at the glass half-full, looking at the glass half-empty and then there's just pouring the whole (darn) thing out. I don't know how to answer that…Yes?

Tom from Wood River, IL

Did anyone else open the 2021 Packers wall calendar and see Mr. January? Yup, David Bakhtiari. Here's to a full, speedy recovery.

Hmm…I have Tim Boyle on mine.

Keith from Greendale, WI

Who has Bruce Wilkerson's phone number?

We got plenty of these submissions, along with people asking what Chad Clifton is up to these days.

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

Mike/Wes, a question on MVP voting. Are you in favor of the current vote for one format or ranking candidates 1, 2 and 3?

The current format is fine. I'm interested in whoever the voters think is the best player, not the third.

Dwight from Brooklyn, NY

Just saw that Alvin Kamara tested positive for COVID-19. This, and other similar results across the NFL make me very nervous, especially given Green Bay's pandemic situation. Hoping that the team is taking appropriate measures.

You have to be extra careful over this next month. We've worked hard and stayed COVID-free for more than five months. This is what all the sacrifice was for – a shot at glory.

Andrew from Waterloo, IA

Wes, do the playoff snacks even make it to the table with a hungry Spoff around?

A few crumbs survived for Sunday.

Nick from Richmond, VA

No question but just want to remind the readers who are scared of a bye that the two games after a bye where we didn't show up were both on the road in tough environments. But we had a bye last playoffs, came out, played well and beat the Seahawks in the divisional round at HOME. A week to rest and guaranteed home games through the playoffs is a no-brainer. Let's get it!

There's no place like home in the postseason. And the Packers are a successful 32-minute plane ride away from having the road to the Super Bowl come through Green Bay.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Another chapter,

Rivalry with incentives,

Play now, rest after.

Well, look who decided to show up this week!

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

A short journey south to battle a hated rival of more than 100 years

A border rival Men of the Bay have battled over 200 times

A desperate foe looking to advance their quest for the ultimate crown

They will fiercely defend their home ground

Stay the course Men of the Bay Your loss of a leader must be overcome

With victory your path to glory will be clear

A path that will bring challengers to battle you on the Frozen Tundra

The time has come to rise and write the next chapter

Somehow, someway, Week 17 is here…with playoff football just around the bend. Enjoy the game, everybody!


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