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Inbox: Now would be a good time to find it

They will have a different plan

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Team huddle

Rusty from Eustace, TX

From the kid at heart, is it Lego time yet?

I hate to burst everyone's bubble, but I have not been able to secure a yes on Lego highlights. It isn't my call, but I will keep conveying the masses' wishes.

Mary from Conway, AR

The Packers winning Christmas Day was the best birthday present this girl could ask for! What are the chances of David Bakhtiari being available for the Vikings game?

Aaron Rodgers told McAfee yesterday he expects Bakhtiari to be able to practice this week, so stay tuned I guess.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Welcome to Florida, Spoff! An A/C vent over your head in 47-degree weather is the norm but not the coldest place in the state. That would be the freezer aisle in any grocery store but at least there you can keep walking.

My fingers have never been so frozen trying to live blog a game. It reminded me of being on the sideline at a high school game on a really chilly night and trying to keep my own stats on my clipboard. You just have to power through.

Eric from Kenosha, WI

Seeing Wes describe Miami's press box as the coldest he's covered a game in brought to my imagination a picture of you two sitting there like Bob Cratchet is Scrooge's office, typing with the fingertip-less gloves. It's a tough game for tough men.

You're not far off.

Doug from Neenah, WI

Good morning, Mike. If J.J. Watt is one of four NFL players since 1982 with 100 sacks and five touchdowns, is former Packer Julius Peppers one of the other three? Thanks.

Yes, Peppers had 159½ sacks and six TDs. I believe the other two are Jason Taylor and Clyde Simmons. Congrats to Watt on a phenomenal career. What a player and person.

Brian from Trego, WI

The Vikings lit up the Packers' secondary earlier this year and now have added a major threat in T.J. Hockenson to their arsenal. Is the best plan to mitigate the damage to attack Kirk Cousins with blitzes since it's almost impossible to cover the entire dangerous Viking receiving corps?

No. I mean, the Packers will pick their spots with some blitzes, but you don't just throw up your hands and say, "We can't cover these guys." The Packers' plan in Week 1 didn't work. They will have a different plan, and whatever it is, they have to execute it.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Stop Justin Jefferson, stop the Vikings. It won't be that simple but stopping Jefferson for 60 minutes has to be job one for the Packers' defense. What's the NFL equivalent to a box-and-one? I would think Jaire Alexander would be happy to match up with Jefferson and follow him all over the field with the other 4-6 back-end guys playing some sort of zone. Is it possible Mike?

Somebody's probably tried, but it's not easy or practical to install some newfangled defense in just three days if it's not a fundamental concept within the scheme. The Packers will have to rely on the calls they run well, with perhaps some tweaks due to Jefferson's usage. Green Bay didn't know what it could do well in Week 1 and looked lost. There's more to go on now. But the Vikings will see that, too, and have their counters. Detroit held Jefferson to three catches for 14 yards in the first Lions-Vikings meeting, then Jefferson went off for 11-223 in the second. Nobody's got definitive answers because he's that good and the Vikings are that creative with how they use him and the others around him. The Dolphins had a pair of 100-yard receivers last Sunday but scored only 20 points. The Packers won't stop Jefferson but they'll have to find a way to keep the point total down. That's the bottom line.

John from Jupiter, FL

Morning Mike. Jefferson and Thielen or Hill and Waddle, pick your poison. To me the difference is Dalvin Cook. Slow the run and win the time of possession. Your thoughts?

The Dolphins averaged 5.8 yards per carry in the first half (10-58). That averaged dropped to 3.0 in the second half (8-24). Stopping the run is always a factor.

Robert from Chandler, AZ

If we want to worry, yes, Justin Jefferson is ample to fret about. But perhaps the anxiety should be on the other side. After 16 weeks, the two teams at the bottom of the league in total defense are the Vikings and the Lions. Here's to hoping GB has a good week of soul-searching and planning about red-zone strategies. Let's outscore them: 7's, not 3's (with all due appreciation for Mason Crosby).

Whatever works.

Richard from Livermore, CA

I see why math is not allowed in the Inbox: Neither 9-8 nor 8-7-2 is a .563 winning percentage.

Rules are in place for a reason, because I don't always have the time or energy to review everyone's calculations. Though I wouldn't put it past Wes to have stuck me with reading all the corrections that came through.

Sam from Antigo, WI

Send me a copy of your calendar with Saturday, Jan. 8 and Sunday, Jan. 9, 2023, please.

That one's just as much on his editor, too. Long road trips make me tired.

Kerry from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Is it safe to say that the Packers have underutilized Big Dog in the passing game this year as a receiver?

Not necessarily. If they used him more, he probably wouldn't get as open as when they use him sparingly.

Rob from Hartland, WI

Has it been explained what happened with the failed punt fake? Was there something the Dolphins were doing that the coaches thought left them vulnerable, then they changed it at the worst time? Or was it simply a lack of execution of the play?

The fake should've been aborted, because Miami left its regular defense on the field, meaning Leavitt was trying to run up the gut against 300-pound defensive tackles being blocked by special-teamers. LaFleur said the process and reasons for calling it off weren't communicated properly to the players.

Jeff from Vandenberg SFB, CA

Mike, regarding replay review, I agree the decision should come mainly from what the replays show. However, doesn't there have to be something to fall back on in case the replay is truly inconclusive? There must be some type of default so if not the ruling on the field, then what, tie goes to the offense (defense)?

If it's truly so close either call makes sense, and there's nothing the replay official(s) would lean toward, then I'm fine with a coin flip. Honestly. On 99% of calls, it's going to look like it should be this or that, not that everyone would agree, but a significant majority. They have to get rid of the call on the field precedent nonsense, though. An anachronistic concept shouldn't matter.

David from Janesville, WI

Mike, you often see players have a few words with the officials, but in the Miami game the TV caught Allen Lazard having a full conversation with the side judge (I think). Are you privy to what those types of conversations entail? I assume it was about football and not what they got for Christmas. I'm sure players like to point out what their opponents are doing that should be called, but this seemed super in-depth. Oh, and just beat the Vikings.

Most likely they were talking about calls/non-calls and what both parties are seeing out there. If it's a good, productive conversation, players generally don't divulge the contents or make public comment about it out of respect for the official who took the time to engage him.

Dennis from Parrish, FL

I remember when we signed Jarran Reed last spring, and it was stated that for the Chiefs last year, his best play was in December and January. That is a great thing! So maybe we have seen this movie before?

Reed was a tough customer in Sunday's game for sure. He got caught chasing Tua on what he thought was a play-action bootleg early in the game, and Mostert gashed the Packers with a big run through his gap. That might've been the only mistake he made.

Tom from Cambridge, MA

I was joking with a friend about Tua gift-wrapping our team's Christmas present. Now that I see him in the concussion protocol (again!) I think maybe that wasn't so funny. What do you think is going wrong in the system that lets these get missed? Is there anything to be done? Does the league need to mandate some minimal test for every player at every halftime? Every time they leave the game after more than a play or two? Your thoughts?

Concussion symptoms showing up a day or two after the concussive event is a very real thing. It happens and it doesn't mean the player or anyone else was hiding anything. That said, it's ultimately on the player if he ever doesn't feel right to get himself checked out. But I'm not saying Tua didn't feel right and kept playing anyway. I honestly don't know. Maybe adrenaline can mask a mild concussion initially. Again, I don't know. There's no foolproof protocol when it comes to head injuries, and I just hope Tua is OK.

Bill from Burke, VA

Loved this quote from Marcedes Lewis: "...saw the ball up there and the rest was fundamental after that. Been doing that all my life and I was just very grateful to be accountable when my number was called." For such a selfless veteran to continue to grind week after week without fanfare providing valuable blocking and more, it was great to see his TDs both this week and last week. "Grateful to be accountable" is the epitome of what it means to be a Packer!

It's the epitome of what it means to last 17 years in the NFL.

Matt from Oshkosh, WI

79/983/11. That's the stat line for the Packers' rookie receivers in 2022 thru 15 games. If you would have predicted those numbers at the beginning of the year, I would have been very happy. Two more games to go, let's add to those totals and then make some noise in the postseason!

That's not bad considering Romeo Doubs has missed four games plus all but one play of a fifth, while Christian Watson has missed three full games, nearly a full fourth, plus two other halves for the equivalent of almost five, and Toure's opportunities have been limited.

Matt from Troy, MO

Base on injuries and it being December football at Lambeau I expect to see a large dose of No. 28. How do you see the forecast for this next game?

Well, it'll actually be January football, and it'll be chilly in the 30s but not bitterly cold. Still, these are the games for which AJ Dillon was drafted, to make the hits sting a little more and the linebackers tired of taking them.

Scott from Hayward, WI

How do you recommend fans prepare for the proverbial floor to drop out this weekend, and yet encourage fans to remain optimistic for the most sensational comeback season ever?

You don't prepare for the floor to drop out. You know it's possible, but so is continuing the winning streak and creating exciting possibilities. That's why we watch.

Michael from Pound, WI

Gents, I've been a casual observer of late concerning the Inbox, quite simply because the same questions or concerns the team had at the beginning of the year still seem applicable today in my view, besides K. Nixon. To you has the team made any consistent significant advances or positive changes in play-calling, QB play, defensive flexibility, offensive execution, or individual play? Or maybe something you have noticed that Inboxers haven't asked about?

The Packers are who they are at this point. What they have, even as it has evolved, has been good enough to win seven, bad enough to lose eight. Some of the wins could've been losses and vice versa. But I still don't think they've played their best game, and now would be a good time to find it.

Shawn from Cedarburg, WI

Assuming the Packers win this weekend do you have a best guess on when they would play Week 18? If it is a win-and-get-in scenario, am I correct to assume that it would be either one of the Saturday games or Sunday night?

If the dominoes fall to create a de facto playoff game between Green Bay and Detroit – which would require the Packers and Lions to both win this week, and the Commanders and Seahawks to both lose – gambling becomes legal at Bushwood because I'd bet my house Sunday Night Football is coming to Lambeau Field.

John from Yakima, WA

Mike, does Wes get a star for using "recombobulate" in a news article? Or at least warms the hearts of his high school English teacher and first newspaper editor?

I forget which airport I was in, but I distinctly recall one time seeing a big sign on the other side of TSA screening labeled "Recombobulation area." I thought to myself, what are we actually doing to ourselves in order to get on a plane?

Jeff from Chandler, AZ

I know there is no math in the Inbox but if there is a 40% chance of purple rain on Sunday (good one, btw) that means there is 60% chance of green and gold sunshine. I like those odds. GPG!

Finally some math I don't need to double-check. Happy Wednesday.

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