Skip to main content
Powered by

Inbox: Only he knows for sure

Those are the best defenses, hands down

QB Aaron Rodgers
QB Aaron Rodgers

Russ from Henrico, VA

A playoff game in Lambeau with only 6,000 fans? Sure, but those fans are well rested, will be sleeping in their own beds, keeping their normal routines, no jet lag and will have their own Snacks.

Here we go.

Gary from Davenport, IA

Have you seen the "Jeopardy" show where the contestants failed miserably with the football category a couple of years ago? Alex Trebek had a sad look on his face after that category ended. I can imagine Aaron Rodgers's disappointment if something similar happens when he is the guest host.

I bet he'll push for a "Game of Thrones" or "The Office" category when he hosts.

Brian from Sussex, WI

I separated cartilage in my ribs as a high school wrestler. It's not only painful but makes it hard to breath. Just bending over takes your breath away. It will be amazing if Donald can play a full game at his normal level considering it's a contact sport which he needs to get into a three-point stance while breathing the cold, dry WI air. The difficulty in breathing will be a bigger obstacle then the pain. I'll be in absolute awe if he can be a constant force for the whole game.

You know there will be a camera on him every second.

Jacob from Mason, OH

What is the key to stopping Aaron Donald?

Not to oversimplify, but I think it comes down to the offensive tackles being able to handle their one-on-ones, so the three interior guys can theoretically have two available as often as possible for Donald. Communication and coordination against the blitz is key, too, because sending the extra guy is one way the Rams try to get Donald singled up.

Ben from Menomonee Falls, WI

All this talk about how Jalen Ramsey shut down DK Metcalf in their three meetings, and how he will do against Davante Adams. I think Adams will still get his catches, and at least one TD, but someone else will need to step up. Who do you think that guy will be? My money is on Allen Lazard. He's been quiet as of late, but I feel he's due for a big game!

It does feel like he's due, doesn't it?

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

Could watching SEA/LAR and TB/WFT back to back be any better of a lesson in offense? Both LAR and WFT have dominant DLs and pass rushers. The differences in outcomes? SEA frequently held the ball and took deep shots when passing. Brady on the other hand, threw the ball so quick that the Pro Bowl-caliber pass rush of WFT was off the table. While not scoring as much early, it allowed TB to control the game. SEA ate sacks, turned the ball over and lost field position.

I agree, but also Tampa Bay's line gave Brady time when he did want to look downfield, and he was able to hit check-downs on occasion, too. Protection and offensive rhythm go hand in hand.

Joel from Chalfont, PA

Is there a more time-honored tradition than the Insiders dancing around a player acquisition question when everyone knows what you know, knows why you can't talk about what you know, but somehow you still tell us what you know?

Nicely done.

John from Peoria, IL

Does Jared Veldheer get two playoff checks?

For sure. It's a great gig if you can get it.

Snapshots of re-signed Green Bay Packers T Jared Veldheer.

Tom from Burlington, WI

Good morning Mike, a quick look at the first injury report sure illustrates the benefit of that first-round bye. With no practice Tuesday for the Rams, and a day of travel, how do they attack their practice week to be ready for Saturday?

I can't speak to how they're going about it. The travel part is interesting, because I think in a normal year, a West Coast team would fly out here Thursday after practice for a Saturday playoff game, but I wonder if COVID protocols nix that possibility.

Eric from Mequon, WI

Reading some Rams fan sites, they are talking about how bad 20 degrees will be and how Rodgers is 12-1 in temps below 30 degrees. One thing they did say is that the Bucs, Colts, and Vikings showed how to beat the Packer offense. It's with four rushers harassing Rodgers. What are your thoughts?

Well, the Packers did score 31 at Indy. But anytime a front four can get home without compromising the back end by having to blitz, it makes life difficult on any quarterback. Those are the best defenses, hands down.

Craig from Appleton, WI

Jaire Alexander has taken his game to the next level this year, but we hardly ever see the corner blitz from him. The only time I can remember was the Vikings game when he got the safety and that was not called by the sideline. Could this be the type of unscouted wrinkle in the playoffs that would pay big dividends?

You might blitz your best corner when you're playing run at times, but in a passing situation, you're flashing a red light at the QB's hot read if the best cover man is not covering.

David from Whitefish, MT

The level of confidence in our home-field advantage exuding from the II on Tuesday has me worried. With a heavy run scheme in Akers and a punishing defense, don't the Rams look like the perfect foil to a cold-weather advantage?

Those are key foils, which puts on the onus on the Packers to stop the run. Diminish the use of play-action and this Rams offense isn't as effective. That's been evident all season.

Michael from Elizabethtown, KY

After the game Saturday, I believe everyone will be talking about the Packers' defense rather than the Rams'. Will the Packers' defense use all the public praise for the Rams' defense to create a chip on their shoulders? Creating the perception of being disrespected can be a great tool to keep you focused and dialed in.

That just sounds like a distraction to me.

Nick from Greenfield, WI

What's one story or player that's "under the radar" for Saturday's game?

Tyler Higbee. Goff threw only 20 TD passes in the regular season. Five were to Higbee. The Packers have defended tight ends pretty well this season and that has to continue.

Ingrid from Superior, WI

Are the edited roster rules from this season the same throughout the postseason? Can the Packers still call a player up from the practice squad for one game?


Mike from Cascade, ID

As a Cal alum I'm happy to see the Rodgers vs. Goff matchup. I was wondering how many times two QBs from the same college program had faced off in the playoffs. I found these: Sanchez and Palmer in 2009, Kosar and Kelly 1989 (Miami), Dawson and Griese 1971 (Purdue), Montana and Theismann 1983 (ND), and who could forget that Brees and Foles went to the same high school?

Appreciate the research. I'm not 100% convinced Goff is going to play if Wolford is OK. It wouldn't shock me if the Rams went back to him with the difficulties Goff might have throwing in the cold with the pins in his thumb.

Keegan from Atlanta, GA

How much of the Rams' defense is predicated on turnovers? Does Rodgers' ability to avoid interceptions tilt the No. 1 offense vs. No. 1 defense battle in our favor?

Rodgers' ball security is a big part of this offense's efficiency. It's not so much the Rams' takeaway total (22 in the regular season, tied for 10th), but what they do with them. Williams' pick-six of Wilson was the Rams' fourth on the year.

Karl from Fort Collins, CO

Shouldn't we consider that the Rams lost six times, once to the Jets and twice to the 49ers? How many coaches will be digging through the film to see where the Rams can be attacked?

All of them, but they scouted their own film when they had rough games, too. That's the constant give and take in this league. Buffalo scored 35, Miami 28 and Arizona 28 (with Murray) against this defense, so it can be done. Other than that, nothing more than 24 all year.

Brannon from Greenville, SC

I respectfully disagree with Mike's statement, "I couldn't care less about the logo stomping. It's childish, big whoop." Given what happened on Jan. 6, all of us need to behave more civilly. The lack of awareness shown by Ravens players on national TV just makes me sad. We need sportsmanship modeled for all today more than ever.

You have a point, but I've never been one to look to athletes to set an example in that regard. It would be nice, but it's an inherently unreliable approach because the bad apples get exponentially more attention than the good ones, so I just don't go there.

Neil from Brooklyn Center, MN

Not sure if it was asked already, but has Adams gone up against Ramsey before and what was the output/result?

A few snaps in Ramsey's NFL debut in Jacksonville in the '16 opener and about five plays in the Pro Bowl that Adams could recall. That's it.

Brendan from Mount Clemens, MI

It's not a secret that one of the things that makes Adams so effective is his ability to move around the LOS and play multiple positions. As you guys are talking with coaches and players and reviewing film yourselves, do you notice Ramsey moving around a lot with the opposing teams' primary receiver? Should we expect to see him lined up across from Adams in the slot or wherever else? Thanks for the great info as always, gentlemen.

I think that's the wait-and-see element of this game. Ramsey is certainly capable of traveling with anybody. As Rodgers said, the Rams also like to keep both safeties back, so they could let Ramsey match up on the perimeter but bracket Adams with a slot corner and safety when he moves inside. I really don't know.

Paul from Johannesburg, South Africa

Given Mike's assessment of Trubisky that the Bears must '"move on," why aren't there three rock-solid rules of life: 1) Never get involved in a land war in Asia, 2) Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line, and 3) Never trade up in the first round to take a QB? I don't have hard data but empirically, but it seldom seems that what is gained outweighs what is given up.

The Chiefs have no regrets. It's not about whether to trade up for a QB, it's about making sure you're getting the right QB.

Curt from Westby, WI

The Rams had a pick-six on a wide receiver screen pass. The Packers like to throw that type of pass as well. Can the Packers do anything to keep the defense honest and prevent them from jumping that route?

Most of the time when the Packers throw that, it's what they call a "run alert" or "run solution," where Rodgers can choose between a handoff and the quick flip to the flat. Only he knows for sure which he's doing, and he only throws it if the DBs are giving too much cushion.

Chris from Eau Claire, WI

Buffalo, Cleveland and Tampa Bay all get a win this postseason. Which organization needed it the most? Is it Detroit, Cincinnati and Miami's turn next year?

You have to feel good for Buffalo and Cleveland, especially doing it by building primarily from scratch. As for the future, you never know. That's what makes this fun. Five of the 12 teams that reached the postseason in 2019 did not return to the playoffs this year, even with two extra spots available.

Art from Elizabethtown, KY

How crucial has tight end play been this season in the run scheme?

You don't fashion a top 10 rushing offense in this league with only five blockers.

Melody from Geneseo, IL

Will the younger generation (under 40 years old) have the luxury of seeing more of the "young gun" QBs like Mayfield, Tannehill, Allen, Jackson and others playing into their mid-40s due to the rules that protect the quarterback? Players like Brady, Brees, Favre, Rodgers, Roethlisberger all had years of playing time when they were not afforded such protection. Will more QBs experience longer careers due to the rules?

That's certainly part of it, and all the "old guard" you mentioned except maybe Favre has benefited from protective rules as well. But it's also the advanced training methods, how guys take care of their bodies now as they get older. If the body gets less beat up on the field and better cared for off it, that's how you end up with a playoff matchup with a combined age of 85 on Sunday (Brady-Brees).

Thomas from Cedar Rapids, IA

To Brett and Ryan: A toddler and a baby will never remember who was at their parties but you will always remember a Packer playoff game. Photoshop yourself into a couple pictures, in a few years tell them how great their party was, and go turn on the TV. You know you want to, so just do it. And grab a piece of cake at halftime.

It's a better story to tell them later if you skip the party for the game, right?

Tommy from Toronto, Canada

To add to Wes's response to Jeff from Frisco, let's hope that starting this weekend our defense gets so tight that we could stick a lump of coal into it, and in two weeks we'll have a diamond.

This gang was on its game today. All that was missing was a submission from Abe Froman, the sausage king of Chicago.

Greg from Perkasie, PA

I hope everyone is cherishing being in the playoffs and not taking it for granted. I would rather have nerves and cautious optimism all week and excitement on gameday than spend an offseason talking about hiring a new head coach and debating what to do with the quarterback situation like my family and friends (Eagles fans) are. Here's to hoping we can make this last another week.

Amen. Happy Wednesday.