Russ from Thunder Bay, Canada
Great to see Col. Jessop take over the Inbox to keep everyone in line. In response to the criticism of how the Packers are winning, there does not seem to be any talk of some of the clunkers and ugly wins from the other frontrunners.
After filing my notes on Sunday night, I sat back and tried to make sense of everything that had just occurred – the 49ers fell to the nine-loss Falcons and the left-for-dead Cowboys trounced the Rams, victors of three of their last four entering AT&T Stadium. You know what I immediately thought? Just win. Just beat the team in front of you. And that's what the Packers have done this year. Winning is an identity, folks. Good morning!
Chris from Lakeville, MN
Living in Minnesota, I have noticed that when the Vikings fans get overconfident, that can bode well for the opposing team. It would be so incredibly awesome for the Packers to get their first win at U.S. Bank Stadium on Monday and shut down the most annoying fans in football. Do you think the Packers can put it all together this week and play a full game of awesome football? I see many positives but they just need to put it together and dominate.
I saw the Vikings opened as four-point favorites, which is perfect. This Packers team seems to thrive when the pundits are doubting them. U.S. Bank is one of the most difficult places to play in the NFL but I can think of no better way for Green Bay to put an exclamation point on its playoff chances than finally getting that elusive win over Minnesota in that venue. Now that'd be quite a statement.
Cody from Aurora, CO
So I know Rashan Gary got a sack, but it seemed like he was on the field for quite a few extra snaps compared to most games earlier this year. Did Gary see an increase in playing time, because I noticed him close to Mitchell Trubisky multiple times on Sunday?
Gary only played 18 snaps, but still had four tackles and a sack. He now has seven tackles and a sack on only 31 snaps over the last two games. It seems like he's playing more, though, because he's making some nice plays. I keep saying it but the young man is coming along, guys.
Ryan from Colfax, WI
It seems like the Bears were able to minimize the impact that Preston Smith and Za'Darius Smith were able to have on the game. Was that done by scheme (on their part or ours trying to limit Trubisky's mobility) or just one-on-one matchups?
The Bears doubled Za'Darius the entire game, rolling blockers his way regardless of whether he was lined up outside or on the interior. There also was plenty of chipping Preston, as well. But at what price? I think the constant emphasis on the Smiths opened up opportunities for Kenny Clark, Gary and others.
Nathan from New Berlin, WI
Why no mention of Trubisky's play in Monday's column? I don't want to excuse the defense, but he was throwing absolute dimes into great coverage all day. I have a feeling the all-time point differential is going to stay close for the foreseeable future.
Trubisky has a lot of ability. He really does. It just comes down to accuracy and consistency with him. Plus, his mistakes always seem to be a magnified just a little larger when the Bears play the Packers because there's just so little room for error playing Aaron Rodgers. In my opinion, Chicago shouldn't be looking to replace Trubisky this offseasonn – it should be looking for a running game to complement him.
Harry from Bessemer, MI
Jake Kumerow has become one of my favorite guys to watch. Is it likely that he is going to move himself up the rotation based on his performance, or are we destined to watch for occasional intense moments with him?
It sure sounds like Kumerow has put himself in line for more opportunities based on what Matt LaFleur had to say Monday. He's accountable, smart and plays with fundamentals. Since Day 1, he's done everything that's asked of him.
Scott from Palos Park, IL
Marquez Valdes-Scantling has seen reduced reps and the miss on the first play will not help that situation. However, knowing that reality maybe the same play to start out Monday night is in order?
Marquez Valdes-Scantling is as talented as any player on the Packers' roster. You don't give up on that type of ability. Receivers coach Alvis Whitted said MVS continues to be positive in the meeting room and focused on the task at hand. Honestly, I think all he needs is one good catch to turn this thing around.
Mike from Milwaukee, WI
Dalvin Cook left the Vikings game Sunday and didn't return. If he can't go on Monday, does that give the Packers a decent edge or do the Vikings have capable backup RBs that will make sure their offense doesn't skip a beat?
That's a name to watch this week. Mike Zimmer seemed optimistic, especially with the extra day. Cook is a game-changer. He's a 60-minute problem if he plays Monday.
Dave from Roswell, GA
B.J. Goodson inactive? Is he injured?
That's what the game plan dictated. If you noticed, the Packers barely played any base defense against Chicago. Ty Summers and Oren Burks are core special-teamers, which is why they were up behind Blake Martinez.
Steven from Silver Spring, MD
So it looks like Shawn Mennenga is not a terrible coach anymore. Not to overcook it but this is looking more and more like one of those narratives of a team getting a final-quarter playoff turbo charge from some new aspect of their team that can put them over the top. For as maligned as the ST has been, the almost immediate turnaround has been particularly notable. Have there been other complementary parts such as blocking schemes that have created the improved returns?
I do feel like the blocking has been better, but a strong returner is like a good running back – he makes the entire unit better. Tyler Ervin has impressed me with his ability to catch the ball, explode and be decisive hitting the hole. He's just what Packers' special teams needed to break out of that early-season funk.
Bret from Hertel, WI
"Swervin" Ervin, Jake "The Sky" Scott, and Kicking Crosby make the Packers special teams a solid unit. What other adjustments have the Packers made on special teams to improve as they have?
I think getting Josh Jackson back on the core-four units has been another plus for Mennenga's group.
James from Normal, IL
Regarding the punt catch interference call against Patterson, isn't the punting team required to give the returner a little room to make the catch? Although the slo-mo replay showed the ball arriving before Patterson (and yes, the Pack got a break on the call), in real time the two arrived at the same time. Although the hit was legal, I'm not convinced it should be in a league that says player safety is the top priority. Time for a rule change?
Yeah. It was a bang-bang play that started with a very short punt. The refs gave Tramon Williams the benefit of the doubt with how violent a collision it was with Patterson.
Packers wide receivers Davante Adams, Geronimo Allison, Jake Kumerow and Marquez Valdes-Scantling signed autographs at Lambeau Field Monday night in exchange for donations to the Salvation Army.
Martin from New York, NY
Looking at the snap counts from this past Sunday, why is Danny Vitale's count getting lower and lower each week? Noticed it ever since the Giants game. With the colder weather and some of the defensive lines that we have gone up against as of late I would think we would want that extra push/muscle to establish the run early and often. Thanks.
Mike from St. Louis Park, MN
Did our offense just pack it in for the fourth quarter? Was it conservative play-calling? They are going to need to keep their foot on the throttle from here on out.
Too many negative-yardage plays and not enough execution. I don't care what quarter it is, that'll get you every time. The Packers have to clean it up.
Gene from Columbus, GA
I'm convinced having a healthy slate of starters for the first 15 weeks is a major reason this team is back in the playoffs. Allowing for some element of chance, is there any merit to different training and conditioning approaches implemented by Coach LaFleur and staff leading to a healthier team?
I don't want to go into the details now – because it would require me to be somewhat speculative – but I think there's something to be said for that. I'm sure that topic will be explored once the season is over.
Michael from Berrien Springs, MI
The announcers kept talking about "no Packers first-year coach" having this many wins or making the playoffs. I'm sure it's still early, but do you feel this puts LaFleur in the conversation for Coach of the Year despite how the postseason goes?
If LaFleur isn't the conversation for that award, there's no reason to even have it. You don't win 11 games (and counting) by accident.
Ryan from Colfax, WI
So if it isn't a lasso, what is it?
The coordinators will talk later this week. I'm sure it'll be the first question Nathaniel Hackett is asked. Yeet.
Dan from Wausau, WI
I read an article commenting how smart it was of Tramon Williams to fall on the ball at the 1 on the last play to prevent a Bears playing from picking it up and diving into the end zone. I understand that was ruled a fumble? If so, am I right that the only Bears player that could have recovered it and advanced it is the guy who fumbled it? If anyone else recovered it, it would have been dead at the point of recovery, which was the 1-yard line and game over. I was confused by the article.
It's true the only player who could have recovered the forward fumble was the perpetrator (Jesper Horsted). At the same time, it was a heads-up play by Tramon because it removed all doubt. It's no different than Allen Lazard jumping on a Rodgers incompletion earlier in the game just in case the officials ruled it to be a fumble.
Richard from Menasha, WI
I can't wait for the "Path to the Playoffs" later this week. If the Packers win their final two games, are they assured of at least the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye?
That's correct. A win Monday night in Minnesota would clinch the NFC North. A win over Minnesota and Detroit would guarantee the Packers the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye.
Aaron from Brooklyn, NY
We've had a lot of close games this season. In the past, I've been a nervous wreck when the Bears get the ball down eight with two minutes to play. That hasn't been happening this year. The fact that this team has found so many different ways to win has made it so that I always feel like we're fine.
With how many close, heartbreaking losses the Packers have had over the years, I find it quite odd how difficult it is for many fans to find the beauty in these wins.
Zach from Stevens Point, WI
When the Packers play on MNF how do they spend the "extra day"? More film, an additional practice/walkthrough or is it just an extra day off and work starts on Wednesday?
They'll push everything back a day, and use Tuesday and Wednesday as lift days and let guys get their bodies back before returning to practice on Thursday. The Packers will need the extra rest with the quick turnaround on the road in Detroit.
Ryan from Colfax, WI
The booth review for potential defensive PI at the end of the game is somewhat baffling to me that it was even looked at considering the way PI has meted out with challenges this year. It seems there may be an unwritten rule that the potential infraction be not able to be overcome due to the time it happened in the game.
That sure was something, wasn't it? After an entire year of watching challenge after challenge upheld, now we're going to waste five minutes of my life reviewing an uncatchable ball? OK.
Justin from Sonora, CA
Good morning Wes. You mentioned in your game notes that Dean Lowry had his first career interception. Am I wrong or did he not have a pick-six a few seasons ago? Please correct me if I'm wrong.
You're talking about Lowry's 62-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown against Tampa Bay two years ago. It was ruled a fumble because Jameis Winston threw the ball backwards.
Blaine from Fennimore, WI
Wes, it's "Star Wars" week. Since we have a Monday night game, are you going to get a chance to see the movie?
That's up in the air at this point with the Packers likely practicing on Saturday. My wife is a HUGE fan of the series, though. I'm sure I'll wind up seeing it sooner than later.
Michael from New Caney, TX
I disagree with you on the playoff form in the NFL. NBA doesn't care if you win your division. If you have a worse record then the other teams you're not hosting a playoff game. It needs to be seeded by record. Keep the divisions if ya must, but seed the teams by record. Even if a team has a better record than a division winner and doesn't make the playoffs, fine, but still seed the teams in the playoffs by record.
I wouldn't make a habit out of using the NBA as a utopian example of scheduling and playoff seeding.
Ralph from Milwaukee, WI
No 2019 season-ending injuries to Packer starters = 14-time World Champions!
I gotta give it up to Ralph. He's been spamming Inbox with these comments since the summer…and he's not wrong. It's now Week 16 and the Packers are among the healthiest teams in the entire league.
Caleb from Knoxville, TN
Leeroy from Jenkins won all of the Internet yesterday for that name. Glorious.
Yeah, I'm gonna have to talk with Spoff about that one.
Nicholas from Superior, WI
If I'm reading ESPN's playoff machine correctly: 1) The Packers win the NFC North with one more win, 2) They clinch the No. 2 seed by winning both of their final games. Also 3) If both Seattle and San Francisco lose one of their final two or tie each other in Week 17; the Packers secure the 1 seed. I love that the Packers are in control of the 2 seed. It's also fun to have a rooting interest against Seattle and San Francisco beyond the normal every-week, built-in reasons. Gotta love December!
My son was born two years ago on this day and I can remember sitting in a hospital room watching the Packers' playoff hopes dashed in Carolina. After everything this team has been through over the past two years, isn't it fun to discuss meaningful playoff scenarios again?