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Inbox: Packers have to do better there

Those situations don’t truly compare

RB AJ Dillon
RB AJ Dillon

Markus from Aurora, CO

There is one thing for sure: You never know when an injury hits. Ouch.

Injuries are both unpredictable and inevitable, if that makes sense. I considered it practically a given that a 39-year-old Rodgers would get hurt behind such a poor offensive line, but as I said on "Unscripted," I never pondered something this devastating. I echo many of Wes's sentiments from yesterday's column. I've probably grown too callous over the years to injuries and their impact on players and teams, but this one certainly hit different. I'm most bummed for the game of football not having Aaron Rodgers right now.

Craig from Brookfield, WI

My favorite AR12 stat is how many times he caused Packer fans to scream and raise arms of joy in the air – too many times to count. Even if AR8's season is over, we should have learned over the past 18 seasons that you never, ever count Rodgers out. Here's to hoping he adds "Comeback Player of the Year" to his long list of accomplishments.

I'll second the motion. I realize this is pie-in-the-sky thinking, but here's what I want to happen – Green Bay wins the NFC North, the Jets win the AFC East, Rodgers rehabs and is rarin' to go in '24, and he plays against the Packers at Lambeau thanks to the scheduling formula. I know such a scenario would reduce the value of next year's second-round draft pick the Packers are getting from the trade, but I'd sacrifice that if the rest falls into place.

Steve from Beaver Dam, WI

I don't usually compliment the Buck/Aikman announcing duo but following Rodgers' injury on Monday, thought their comments about the team needing to adjust to a different quarterback cadence interesting because it's not something the average fan would think about. What other not-so-obvious adjustments will the Jets need to make now that Rodgers is officially out for the season?

Beginning this week, the biggest adjustment is mental. Everything the players in that locker room were counting on and planned for is out the window, and they have to move on. Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Billy Turner and maybe even Adrian Amos all signed there because of Rodgers. A psychological blow like this will test their spirit and professionalism. It's a huge test for Robert Saleh as head coach and leader. The players have to decide what they want the as-yet-unwritten story of their season to be.

Tony from Edinburgh, UK

Hi Mike, I read an article in March quoting Giants owner John Mara as saying that an improved synthetic turf (to reduce injury) had been installed at the MetLife stadium. The article indicated that it was Mara's longer-term intention of replacing this turf with grass (or hybrid field). I think the Johnson brothers would now concur that grass should have been installed sooner. It's certainly terrible to see this happen to AR and the Jets; Lambeau Field was certainly kinder to AR.

I honestly don't know what to make of all the banter about playing surfaces, or how much the artificial turf actually factored in this one. But if Rodgers' injury instigates a potential sea change in team owners' thinking, maybe something good comes from it. Interestingly, the only other injury in Rodgers' career I can recall that was at least partly attributable to the surface itself was his pulled calf at Tampa Bay in 2014. That was a grass field but a soft, thick one he frequently complained about.

Aaron from Tucson, AZ

So, the debate against artificial turf cannot seem to be any stronger than a first-ballot HOFer, after months of excitement in New York where the Jets had been toiling for decades and finally appeared to have a championship-caliber roster, tearing his dang Achilles on the fourth snap of his tenure in the Big Apple. If ever there was a moment to inspire the key decision-makers in the NFL to perk up and say, "We gotta stop this (baloney)," this would seem like the one to me. But … I doubt it.

Yeah, I'm not holding my breath.

Craig from Cortland, NY

Hey, Mike. Do you think there is any correlation between the strong Week 1 performance and the fact that JL10 and most of the number ones had game experience together in each of the preseason games? Is anybody talking about that and might it alter approaches to preseason in future years? Or was it out of necessity with this group and the transition at QB instead of a new paradigm? Nice to see the team look crisp instead of sputtering as has been the case when the starters watched the entire preseason.

Matt LaFleur was looking for the right balance between getting preseason work, particularly for a young offense in transition, and minimizing risk. At the conclusion of the preseason, he suggested it wasn't even so much the snaps themselves as the process of gearing up mentally and physically to play a game, even if it was only for a few snaps, that probably mattered most. But the injury risk is ever-present. Anybody's QB or other star could go down on a fourth snap, as Rodgers did Monday night, real game or not. All that said, I still think the opponents in Week 1 have had plenty to do with the Packers' results. Yes, the Packers didn't look ready for the season to start the last two years. But the 2022 Vikings won 13 games, and the 2021 Saints were 5-2 when QB Jameis Winston blew out his knee. This time the opponent was the Bears, a three-win team last year that remains a long ways away. It's never one thing. There's always a bigger picture.

Joe from Liberty Township, OH

To follow up on the comments regarding the Packers' three-year development of QBs (both Jordan Love and Rodgers), they have two significant advantages over the other 31 teams. No impatient and/or meddling owner, and 100,000-plus fans on the season-ticket waiting list. Plus, they also have a front office and team culture focused on both the present and the future.

As it specifically relates to quarterbacks, I think the biggest factor is the no owner. Twice the Packers have spent first-round draft picks on a quarterback, in 2005 and '20, when they had a Hall of Famer still playing. Bob Harlan didn't stand in Ted Thompson's way, and Mark Murphy didn't stand in Brian Gutekunst's. I don't know how many owners in this league would sign off on using a first-rounder on a QB when the team has an elite QB in place. Other readers have brought up Drew Brees and Patrick Mahomes sitting for a year, but the Chargers had Doug Flutie and the Chiefs had Alex Smith – capable QBs but not HOFers (and Brees was a second-round pick). Those situations don't truly compare.

Anthony from Madison, WI

So, I know it's early, and there are still 16 weeks left, but which team in the NFC North is the Packers' real competition? The Vikings are a mess, the Bears looked awful ugly against us, and the Lions win for me was a fluke. As we all well know, and you have written numerous times in II, all the hype in the offseason is simply idiotic people wasting time speculating about what they couldn't possibly know. This past week's results proved that in spades. I am so excited for this team!

I don't expect the Vikings to look that bad again, or at least not regularly, though the quick turnaround for a Thursday tilt vs. the Eagles is a tough task. Even if the Chiefs catch a couple passes and beat the Lions, Detroit was playing tough and wasn't getting blown out by the defending champs at Arrowhead.

Wayne from Stevens Point, WI

About the Dallas win over or, to put it another way, the pummeling of the Giants. Last year, didn't the Cowboys lead the league in point differential? But once you dig into the individual games, isn't it true they went wild against lesser teams and weren't anywhere near as good against competition? So the smackdown is just a continuation of last year? What do you think it means, besides the Giants might not be much this year?

I don't know. It's one game for both teams. The Cowboys' point differential last year was built mostly on three blowouts – of the Bears, Colts and Vikings. Two of those clubs were poor, one was a division champ. As for the Giants, it was rather universally believed they overachieved last season, but they still won just four games (including their playoff victory) after a hot 6-1 start. Sustaining success might be the biggest challenge there is in this league.

Thomas from Cedar Rapids, IA

At the end of another offseason I realize what I might have missed is "What You Might've Missed." The video seems better and I love the end zone views of the two short-yardage plays. Sometimes even in Year 18, veterans can make a jump. Well done, Mike.

When I started doing WYMM back in 2012 (hard to believe), there wasn't as much game film used in the media/social media compared to now. Its prevalence has made it more difficult for the weekly endeavor to live up to its name, showing elements in a given game not being highlighted elsewhere. I do my best to stick to the segment's foundational spirit, even as it has by necessity evolved.

Dylan from Deronda, WI

WYMM, hilarious. Please get T.J. Slaton and Kenny Clark to do a synchronized swimming skit before the end of the year.

That was Olympic quality, wouldn't you say?

Hugh from Ottawa, Canada

Great start for JL10, however I worry about his aggressive running with the ball. Veteran QBs know when to slide and his youth and inexperience could create an unnecessary serious injury. I hope ML highlights this.

He will, if he hasn't already.

Chris from Voorhout, Netherlands

Apart from discipline to minimize the penalties is there anything else you would focus on as coach going into Week 2? Where are you looking for further improvement going forward?

The ground game. Aaron Jones was plenty productive, but even two of his nine carries went for zero or minus-1. AJ Dillon averaged just 1.5 per carry. LaFleur said it himself Monday, the Bears had too many free hitters in the running game. The Packers have to do better there to set up play-action.

Dan from Cross Plains, WI

Did ML address the clock management at the end of the first half? Seemed to me they could have handled that situation a little better as they wasted close to 30 seconds after the sack.

He took the blame for not getting another play call in quickly enough for Love.

Daniel from Green Bay, WI

Perhaps my favorite play from Sunday was actually a non-play when we got caught with 12 on the field. We're used to seeing our guy put up big plays when that happens, but Rashan Gary came off the edge like a rocket and Fields never had that chance. Really excited for him to get fully healthy and this pass rush to keep developing this year.

For the Packers' pass rush to look as effective as it did with Gary playing only a dozen snaps or so, that's a hugely positive sign. But it was the Bears, who aren't stout up front and started a rookie at right tackle. I do think Gary is going to be a serious problem for opponents, though, when he's playing 40-some snaps per game, and the ripple effect on the rest of the defensive front could be significant.

Troy from Westminster, CO

I can't stop seeing James Jones whenever Romeo Doubs catches balls in traffic. I saw it again on Doubs' second TD catch Sunday. Although Doubs seems to have a more elusiveness than Jones did, it's Doubs' acumen in traffic that keeps standing out. Thoughts?

I thought Romeo Doubs looked like the second coming of James Jones the first time I watched him practice last year.

Lee from Citrus Heights, CA

It seems like LVN did not bite on the inside run on the sack he had. Poor fake or good ball-location read on LVNs part?

Lukas Van Ness did his job, staying home on the backside and then, I believe, surprised Fields with his speed.

Joe from Wausau, WI

If Packers beat Falcons on Sunday, they will have opened the season with two road wins for the first time since … ?

Ever. The Packers have opened the season with two road games only twice previously – in 2016 (split at Jacksonville and Minnesota) and in 1924 (lost both at Duluth and Chicago).

Nik from Moore, SC

The simple answer is…the "no chortling" is one of the oldest rules of the Inbox. It brings bad juju with it. Winsome fan bases do not chortle.

Thank you.

Rod from Chugiak, AK

I like the reasoning behind the gameday dress code favored by Wes. It also pays homage to past decades of tradition followed by reporter immortals the likes of Grantland Rice. Now a fedora with a big "PRESS" tag tucked into the band would complete the throwback look.

I've got to get me one of those for when the Packers wear their throwback duds. Happy Wednesday.

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