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Inbox: Packers are going to get Bears' best game

Chicago will do everything it can to run the ball

Bears RB David Montgomery

Rod from Ephrata, PA

It's Bear Week and do you think Vince would say, "Gentlemen, this week we start The Big Push"?

I think he'd just expound on his famous introduction: "Gentlemen, this is a football. This is a football game. This is a football game we must win."

Matt from Fort Worth, TX

Good morning. Any indication on which Bears QB we'll be facing this week?

Not yet. For what it's worth, my counterpart on the Bears' website said in a live chat his hunch is it'll be Trubisky but he has no inside information. He thinks Nagy will make an announcement today.

Thomas from Appleton, WI

How healthy is the Bears' defense heading into this game? No Corey Linsley scares me against that front.

The Packers have proven their ability to adapt up front, but Akiem Hicks is probably the toughest interior defensive lineman they'll face this season. Hicks injured his hamstring in the Bears' last game, the Monday nighter vs. Minnesota. Also, safety Eddie Jackson is on the reserve/COVID-19 list. We'll see what the injury report says on Hicks as the week goes along. Jackson has a chance to be cleared by Sunday.

Adam from Summerfield, NC

I suppose there's a silver lining to the Indy loss. Considering LaFleur has never lost two games in a row that means a win against the Bears, correct?

This team has had no problem rebounding week to week under LaFleur. I think the larger question is how much the Bears' bye week has helped them reset from their four-game losing streak. I think the Packers are going to get the Bears' best game since they beat Tampa Bay on that Thursday night a month and a half ago. I also think Green Bay can handle Chicago's best, but the Packers have to be ready for it.

Chet from Sioux Falls, SD

Feels like a primetime game against the Bears and their banged-up QBs and O-line might be exactly what the doctor ordered for the defense. I would love to see a game full of pressure; I don't think the pass rush has had a game yet this year that is reminiscent of last season's pressure on opposing QBs. This would be a perfect spot to get their mojo back. Do you think this could be a turning point in the season for our stable of pass rushers?

Only if they stop the run first. The Bears averaged 138 rushing yards per game the first three weeks in going 3-0. They've averaged 52 per game since in going 2-5. They've had their bye week to reassess. They are going to come into Lambeau Field overly committed to running the ball to help their QB, whoever it is. I don't know if they'll be handing it off to Montgomery, Patterson, Robinson, Miller or Mooney – heck, they might even give it to Jimmy Graham – but Chicago will do everything it can to run the ball.

Jeff from New Richmond, WI

Good morning Spoff, earlier in the season Aaron Jones was used much more in the passing game. Actually, his entire workload seems reduced the past few games. Is this a product of adjusting on the fly or something different? This offense just seems so much more dynamic when we are able to get him the ball in space.

That's definitely true, but the Packers have to commit to the run this game as well. As tough as the Bears' defense is overall, it's ranked 14th in the league against the run (one spot behind the Packers). Chicago is first in the league in third-down defense while Green Bay is fourth in third-down offense, so running the ball to make third downs manageable will be key. Getting back to Jones' workload, it's important to note the games when he has 20-plus touches, the Packers are running well north of 60 plays. This past game, he had 14 touches on 57 plays, just under 25%. He's usually in the 30-35% range, but it's not like he was being neglected. The two three-and-outs in the third quarter plus the kickoff fumble, combined with the Colts' long drives, just wrecked plans and opportunities offensively.

Scott from Lincoln City, OR

Reflective morning, Mike. Instead of clocking the ball with 43 seconds left and wasting a down, wouldn't it have been better to try the back-of-the-end-zone pass to Davante Adams then? Clock stops on touchdown or incompletion. Just hoping things are done differently if/when the situation presents itself again.

LaFleur blamed himself Monday for not having a red-zone play ready to take a shot at the end zone on first down rather than spiking the ball.

James from Appleton, WI

Well, the Packers gained some valuable, specific points of emphasis to work on, and I'm glad those points came up before the Bears game and not during the Bears game. It seemed that, to counter Rivers' quick, short passes, the Packers stressed getting the defenders' arms up to block the passing lane. Were the Packers' pass rushers doing that more than usual? I thought it made a real difference in the game.

It did, but they emphasize that all the time. The odds of a deflection just go up against a guy like Rivers with a funky throwing motion and lower release point.

Codi from Appleton, WI

How does the outlook of the team's late-season performance change when losses are of such small margins? LaFleur had been blown out in all of his losses last season, but a 28-22 vs. MN and now an OT defeat. If I recall correctly, every game lost in the 2011 season was by seven points or less. I think there's more character to be built in these close games, and the team's ability to try to lift Marquez Valdes-Scantling post-heartbreaking mistake speaks well for our postseason chances.

The stat you're recalling is that in 2010, the Packers never trailed in any game by more than seven points. Aside from the length of the IR list, it's still the most impressive stat about that team. As for the MVS fallout, I'm not going to overdo it because during the last couple of days, Wes and I have both posted in II and written stories examining it. But I will add this: Certain events have been known to galvanize or fracture teams. A similar moment occurred in late October two years ago in a tie game at Los Angeles, but the aftermath within the team was starkly different. This squad is in a different place and I'm very curious to where this goes.

Greg from Chicago, IL

Hi guys, that game was about as entertaining as it gets. So easy to armchair these from the comfort of a Tuesday lunch but when I saw Aaron Rodgers going to MVS on that swing pass in OT, I was surprised. Maybe they've used that play before, but it just seemed the moment might have been better suited for a tested veteran. I can see using Adams as a decoy there but just thought Jamaal Williams, Jones or even Allen Lazard would have been my choice. I guess it speaks to Coach's confidence in MVS.

It does, and to the fact that they ran the play in the second quarter to Equanimeous St. Brown and got 23 yards. The Colts reacted to it better and the Packers didn't block it as well.

Jake from Albuquerque, NM

I am old-school. What the heck is "social media" and why is it referred to as a sewer?

How I wish I could be so blissfully ignorant. Personally, I would have absolutely nothing to do with social media if it weren't necessary for work.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

In prior losses the theme has been how our blocking unit on offense was overwhelmed by a dominant front seven. Despite the loss I was encouraged to see that we finally got first-half production against a playoff-caliber front seven. In that fateful second half it did not seem we were overwhelmed but just failed to execute on what were open passes.

I'm not sure how open they were, but it was a failure of execution regardless. The second-half offensive struggles in Indy were nothing like what occurred in Tampa and San Francisco the past couple of years, I would agree.

Dave from Lake Zurich, IL

If Corey Linsley has a chronic back issue, as I believe one of the TV announcers said on Sunday, would this hurt his bargaining power?

With some teams it might. With others it might not. I can't speak to how the Packers would view it. They know all of Linsley's history, which includes not missing a start since 2016.

Jennifer from Middleton, WI

Elgton Jenkins has already proved himself to be a gem who plays beyond his years. So perhaps it should come as no surprise that he prepares to play center by trying to guess the protection calls before Corey makes them in practice. Still, I have to give him an attaboy. What a professional.

That was my favorite line from Jenkins' media session. Usually you hear about players taking "mental reps" during practice when they're injured and watching from the sideline. Jenkins apparently takes mental reps at one position while he's playing another. Incredible.

Mark from Hudson, WI

Not really a question but a shout-out. In an exciting game with a fair amount of frustration mixed in, Jon Runyan really stood out as a bright spot on the O-line, particularly after watching WYMM. The young fella really looks like he belongs out there!

I said it before and I'll say it again, I think the Packers got themselves a keeper in Runyan.

Tyler from Green Bay, WI

I'm just glad they also ruled it incomplete on MNF. That was A LOT closer than I was expecting, but I do believe it was the correct call by rule.

I do, too. When I saw the play live on Monday night, I swore it was a fumble, but the replay showed a very similar scenario to Sunday in Indy. I think they got both right.

Larry from Chubbuck, ID

In the MNF game if the double pass by Tom Brady had been intercepted does it stand? I'm not sure with it being an illegal forward pass.

I think it would, based on the fact they allowed the Rams to decline the penalty for the illegal forward pass and let the reception stand so it would be fourth down. If the defense can decline, it would take the interception.

Anderson from Twin Cities, MN

What is this defense missing? It's essentially loaded with talent (if judged by the number of first-round draft picks and higher-priced free agents). The majority have been in this scheme for two seasons. This game against the Colts was the situation they were supposed to be built for: a two-TD lead with half the game remaining. And they blew it. And, they've almost blown it several other times in similar scenarios starting with the playoff game against Seattle. Can the ship be righted?

We'll find out. I don't know what's missing except to say the up-and-down results indicate some kind of focus issue. Jacksonville's James Robinson rushed nine times for 61 yards in the first half (6.8 avg.), then went 14 for 48 in the second half (3.4). Jonathan Taylor was held to 18 yards on seven carries in the first half (2.6), then started the second half with five straight runs for 42 yards (8.4) when the defense should have been rested and fresh. Nothing's constant in this league, I get that (I'm not going on a FULL CONSISTENCY rant, for the longtime readers), but the swings can't be so wild and massive. I mentioned Monday the field awareness on third-and-longs, which LaFleur confirmed in his comments to the media, but that hadn't been a problem until Sunday. Focus and sharpness can't come and go like that. The variations within a game and week to week are too large.

John from Johnstown, NY

When it comes to analytics do coaching staffs use outside sources such as PFF in addition to their own film and grading? I would be curious how our coaches grade players compared to other sources.

Other sources are consulted, mostly in the offseason for big-picture evaluations of players, pending free agents, etc. But a team's own film evaluation always comes first.

Rick from Millersburg, PA

I'm surprised no one had a question about Robert Tonyan being wide open on the third-down incompletion to Davante at the end of regulation.

That's because the TV replay lied to you. Tonyan wasn't open in the right corner until after Rodgers already threw the ball toward Adams in the left corner. The edge rusher to Rodgers' right had broken free and was bearing down on him, so I doubt he had much chance to turn and look to the other side of the field, let alone get a pass away. The only way is if Tonyan is the first read on the play and Rodgers is looking that way from the snap and could adjust from there. But he wasn't, and FOX showing Tonyan standing by himself in the back of the end zone 40 yards away from Adams with no other context did a tremendous disservice to the fans.

Patrick from Murfreesboro, TN

HOF has an impressive list of semifinalists, with the Packers well-represented. Woodson seems like a lock (deservedly so), but don't you think it's time for Butler to leap in? He's an all-decade player who defined what it means to be master of all roles for his position. Such a rare talent and a first-class person!

I agree with everything you said, but I'll reiterate this might not be the year for Butler, as much as he deserves it. Three first-time eligibles (Woodson, Peyton, Megatron) are going to take three of the five modern-day spots, which only leaves two others available, and Butler is one of 10 finalists from a year ago back in the mix. I do believe he'll get in at some point, I'm just not sure when.

Marcus from Pleasant View, UT

Good morning Mike/Wes. Aaron Rodgers is someone who is very careful with what he says in his press conferences, and I have heard enough of them to know he only says things that he truly believes. After the Indy game, he said he came out of the game having a lot of confidence in the team and he feels better about the team now than he ever had this season. I was surprised by this statement, but came away feeling great because I trust Aaron. What was your reaction to his comments postgame?

Thanks for allowing me to shamelessly plug my other work.

Doug from Neenah, WI

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I'm thankful the Packers lead the NFC North division with a 7-3 record. Some injured players are returning to the active roster. Our head coach and QB1 handle losses with professionalism and sportsmanship...without postgame theatrics about handshakes. What are you thankful for in 2020?

My health, my family, and my job. Happy Wednesday.