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Inbox: Rashan Gary is everything that's great about the game of football

You have to make progress to gain production

LB Rashan Gary
LB Rashan Gary

Luke from Dallas, TX

Thanks for all you're doing here. I love wallowing in despair as much as the next guy, but maybe let's flip the script. This is very obviously a learning/formative year for the Packers. I'm not saying we should tank or give up or not care, but it is what it is. That said, what are your thoughts on some good things that could be on the way? I'm done being sad and want to be optimistic.

Then listen to Rashan Gary's media session on Monday. He just signed a life-changing contract…and the thing he wanted to talk about most was the Los Angeles Rams.

Eric from Liberty Twp, OH

Rashan Gary's extension is a ray of sunshine bursting through a dark, cloudy sky!

Rashan Gary is everything that's great about the game of football. His approach has been the same since Day 1 – he's a first-round pick with an undrafted free agent's mentality. So, it's great to see Gary get rewarded for everything he's invested into his craft. When adversity hit last November, Gary used that setback as an opportunity to get better. Best of all, he's nowhere close to reaching his ceiling as a player.

Blake from Marion, IA

Getting Gary locked up long term is great for the Packers. Also, well deserved for him. It's hard to get super excited about it though with our current struggles in all three phases. Hopefully we get things turned around in the coming seasons, and Gary is a huge part of it. Go Pack Go!

Regardless of record, the Packers had to get Gary locked up once he put the knee injury behind him. He's a wrecking ball up front and the type of playmaker who makes life easier for those around him.

Ned from Laguna Woods, CA

Can there be any explanation for how well they played and scored in their first game compared with this current four-game display of ineptitude, other than they were playing the Bears?

Winning the turnover margin and generating explosive plays.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

From Week 1 in Chicago to Week 8 in GB, I'm not seeing anything that's gotten better. Also, with a young offense the rollercoaster ride should be expected but so should gradual improvement as players and the offense mature. I've not seen any of that since the Bears game. What am I missing? It's "getting late early" on the 2023 season.

There have been moments, but it takes more than moments to win a 60-minute football game. We're almost at the midseason point. Both answers and progress are needed.

Baryan from Valencia, CA

When you watch the first three offensive series of the Vikings game you see dropped passes, missed blocks and penalties. But you also see a young quarterback evade a defender and make a great throw on third down to Romeo Doubs, which is then negated by a penalty. We all knew Jordan Love was going to have growth challenges, but he has had some great moments. Isn't this a case of a young quarterback needing the players around him to step up and make some plays so that he can run the offense?

Everyone needs to step up. It's not isolated to one individual. The penalties have to get cleaned up, though. The call on Jonathan Owens was ridiculous but you still gotta overcome it and not make a tough situation worse on the next play.

Roger from McGrath, AK

Rasheed Walker started at left tackle but was replaced by Yosh Nijman during the second half only to have Walker come back in. Was there any clarification regarding why? Was it driven by performance, or injury, or some other reason?

Nijman injured his ankle. When asked about the situation at left tackle on Monday, LaFleur said: "That's going to be up for discussion I would say this week."

David from Kenosha, WI

It seems like the Packers have switched identities with Detroit. We used to win games that we were barely in while Detroit lost those games somehow. Do we just have to be patient with our young team or has LaFleur lost his team? Could we be closer than we think to being competitive or do we need a couple of rebuilding years?

Nobody has lost anything. What LaFleur built here isn't a sandcastle. The foundation is sound and so too is the culture.

Bryan from Oshkosh, WI

Considering the youth and inexperience of our WRs and TEs, I would have thought we'd see more of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon on the field at the same time. Especially with Matt LaFleur's connection to Kyle Shanahan who seems to utilize two backs. I get Jones has been hurt, but why not put more of our experienced weapons on the field together?

I'm sure LaFleur would love nothing more than more "Pony" packages with Jones and Dillon, but hamstrings can be tricky, and Jones already tweaked it once before. Hopefully, Jones came out of Sunday's game all right and the Packers can get back to their more traditional run game.

Robert from Chandler, AZ

OK, maybe this is truly a rebuilding season. Wouldn't it be wise to design a game plan that emphasizes down-the-field passing, quarterback run-options, up-tempo in the first quarter, maybe a trick play or two ... things that will reveal whether we have the personnel for the future? I mean, plowing poor AJ Dillon into the line isn't really teaching us very much.

The Packers have to do something differently, but I'm not the one with those answers.

Robert from Georgetown, TX

Hey guys, I think a bright note on an otherwise depressing Sunday was T.J. Slaton. He looked to play one of his best games for us. I will not get negative – GO PACK GO! One week at a time!

The Packers had their best game of the year against the run. Unfortunately, Minnesota converted too many third-and-long situations…and that's why we talk about consistency. It won't all be perfect, but it's hard to win without doing the little things consistently and the numbers bear it out. Green Bay is now 21st in total defense (339.1 yards per game) and 20th in scoring defense (22.3 ppg).

Kenton from Rochester, MN

Reality check: The NFL is tough. The Packers are an extremely young team with significant injuries to key veteran players. Mistakes (probably many) will happen, as long as they don't keep happening to the same guys. I'm betting "11" won't have another completion "stolen" and "13" won't drop another easy pass at the goal line. And expecting a seventh-round, second-year player to seamlessly replace an All-Pro at left tackle is unrealistic. Games will be lost. Carry on. Dawn will come.

When the going gets tough, you either step up or fall back. One response is more difficult than the other, but that's what defines winners.

Maureen from Tampa, FL

Wes, at 2-5 what is the "temperature" in the locker room between the players and between the coaches?

It's fine. Everyone is disappointed but nobody is pointing fingers.

Eric from Green Bay, WI

I agree with Vic on most things, but I disagree on his idea that it's never been easier to play QB in the NFL. That may be physically true but I think there is a massive black hole in QB talent compared to 10-20 years ago. Manning, Brady, Brees, Big Ben, Favre, Rivers, Ryan, an aging Rodgers, and declining Wilson are not being replaced at a 1:1 clip. We just experienced a golden age of QBs. This position will never be easy to play.

Physically, I'd agree it's easier to play QB in the NFL today than it was in 1970 but it's never been more difficult mentally. There is so much information to process. I know fans grew restless with how Aaron Rodgers handled the play clock at times, but pre-snap clues often affect the outcome of the play. It's four-dimensional chess and Love is learning how to play it on a week-in and week-out basis.

Bruce from Jackson, WI

Morning Wes, not to be trite but to say Love is the starter and Sean Clifford is the backup is rather banal. Love is one injury, play or frustrated coach away from being the backup. Just as Love should have become the starter earlier last year; I hope if nothing changes in the next month we don't waste this entire season without giving Clifford a chance. Do you know for a fact Clifford can't provide a spark or warming the bench won't fire Love up? Love's not a rookie.

This narrative is banal. Clifford looks like a fine player, but he's a rookie fifth-round pick. If injury forced Clifford on the field, the Packers would rally around him, but this is Jordan Love's team right now. He doesn't need any extra "fire." He's carrying the fire. What Love needs are reps.

Aaron from Tucson, AZ

Truly feel awful for Kirk Cousins. He's a good guy of this league and has weathered all sorts of criticism throughout his career but is about as consistent as they come. Watching the replay of the injury, I saw his calf jump when it happened and I told my wife, "I think he just popped his Achilles like AR8 did in NY." I pray he makes a full recovery because that's no way to go out, especially for the good guys of this league. Life doesn't usually work that way, however.

You hate to see it. Echoing Matt LaFleur's comments last week, Cousins is one of the most underrated players of his generation and a remarkable find for Washington in the fourth round in 2012. He's a great competitor and the reason the Vikings have clawed back at 4-4. I've also only heard positive things about him from friends who cover the Vikings. Sending positive vibes to Kirk.

Phil from Marietta, GA

Sorry for the vitriol you must be absorbing. On Sunday, when the Vikings faced a third-and-long situation, Cousins was able to consistently find a receiver who had gained several yards of separation. When GB needed to pass, it seemed that almost all of the passes resulted in "contested catch" situations. Did the Vikings scheme players open more effectively than did GB or are their receivers just that much better than GB's – even without Justin Jefferson suiting up?

I'm not going to get into comparing one to another, but obviously the Packers aren't doing enough to win contested catches right now. Like Matt LaFleur said after the game, players need to make plays for Jordan Love, too. It isn't all on the quarterback. Defensively, the pass rush and pass defense didn't marry up well enough against Minnesota.

The Green Bay Packers extended Rashan Gary's contract on Monday, Oct. 30, 2023.

Bart from Green Bay, WI

Last year Rodgers expressed his dislike for the motion and jet sweep, play-action plays. Now he's gone and it seems like those plays as well. Do you have any idea why? Too complex for Love? Keeping it more vanilla for him? Just curious why doing more of that isn't happening?

Not sure. A lot goes into how the Packers scheme for specific opponents, but the pre-snap motions haven't been on the call sheet much over the past month.

John from Jupiter, FL

Morning Wes. My frustration was summed up when the Vikings kicked off out of bounds. The Packers start at the 40 and punt I believe three plays later from the 36. That's unacceptable. Thanks.

It was the 41 but point taken. You have to take advantage of that field position.

Lee from Ravenna, OH

I'm not getting wrapped around the axle this year. Drops, while maddening, are part of growth. For his first two years in Green Bay, Davante "Hands of Stone" Adams, seemed to drop everything! I screamed "TRADE THIS GUY!" with every drop! Luckily, Rodgers and the coaching staff knew they had a "Davante in the rough," and were patient with him through his growing and maturation process and the rest, as they say, is history. Watch this season for the "long haul" and "dial back" the panic please.

You can obviously be disappointed in the outcome of these games but rushing to conclusions on young players is a fool's errand. Again, the most important part is progress. You have to make progress to gain production.

Mike from McFarland, WI

When you were starting your reporting career, what was the first story you wrote that made you think "I've made it. I belong here."?

My first story as a full-time Packers beat writer in 2012 on Charles Woodson moving to safety in base and Jarrett Bush getting the first shot at replacing him at cornerback.

Arthur from Eau Claire, WI

Not a question, but a hope. I hope the team starts to make baby steps forward. Mike, Wes, Larry and all your colleagues need a break in the miasma of futility that the season has become. The players and coaches can just turn off the social media and cocoon in Lambeau but you all can't. Honestly, I wasn't planning on this season being great but also not quite this bad. You are doing a great job. Please don't think that everyone wants to blow things up and start over, that hasn't worked for the Bears.

I always go back to Jordy Nelson's words in trying times – the only way to fix it is to keep working. The issues won't magically resolve themselves. Have a good Tuesday.

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