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Inbox: Some perspectives worth pondering

The most valuable leadership isn’t seen

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Al from Green Bay, WI

I've just completed my bye week self-scout. I believe some of my questions are too cryptic, and others lack the substance to really drive the conversation deeper. I resolve to do better in the back half of the season.

Nicely done.

Keith from Dearborn, MI

I've got to give a BIG shout-out to daily reader and frequent question submitter, Dan from St. Louis, on the birth of his first child early this morning!

Congrats Dan!

Gary from Hayward, WI

Any discussion of G.O.A.T. batbreakers should include Jim Rice of Boston, who was so strong he used to snap bats on check swings without hitting anything. I challenge any normal person to break a bat just by starting and stopping a swing.

Meant for this to be in yesterday's column and lost track of it. I think Rice once hit a homer over Fenway's Green Monster on a check swing.

Steve from Cottage Grove, WI

No question, just a thanks for advocating for the Lego awesomeness. Love Rodgers' hat at the end.

That was a worthwhile touch.

Josh from St. Paul, MN

Beggars can't be choosers and all, but I really wish they had painted a knee brace on the Lego Aaron Rodgers!

As my teenage daughter would say, that would have turned great Lego highlights into epic Lego highlights.

Sean from DeSoto, TX

I couldn't help but notice that on the Lego highlights on Adams' game-tying touchdown, it looks like he doesn't get both feet in bounds. Packers dodged a bullet there.

Many viewers questioned this. Good thing Lego highlight TDs are not automatically reviewed.

Lane from Kihei, HI

Hey Mike, great job flying solo so far. You're obviously a very busy Packers guy and have intimated you have a home life as well, so I was wondering in a typical week how many other NFL games you get to watch?

Virtually none, but that's partly by choice because when I'm home I don't want to spend three hours watching another game. But I have the NFL app on my TV and I watch the online highlights packages of other games that interest me and/or affect the Packers.

Andrew from Dayton, OH

One of the biggest complaints my dad and I are always voicing, to each other, is that DBs do not turn their head around to the ball when the receiver is going to make a catch. We felt justified by how Kevin King made his interception. He saw the WR going to catch the ball, turned his head, and picked it off. It was beautiful. Why don't more guys turn their head around when they see the WR going for it? Is it how they are coached, or is it a risk vs. reward thing?

There's a lot that goes into that, not the least of which are instincts and anticipation. Some receivers are also incredibly skilled at not giving away with their eyes or hands when the ball is arriving, so the DB isn't given any clues when to turn his head. King's play was fantastic, and it wasn't nearly as easy or simple as he made it look.

Subhadeep from Rocky Hill, CT

In responding to Nick from Dallas, TX, we need to highlight that if we go hurry-up and go three-and-out, our D then is gassed, especially if a methodical opponent sustains long drives. It's a balance of possession time and methodical scoring vs. hurry-up and fast scoring.

You can't be a one-trick pony and win consistently in this league.

Brett from Glen Rock, NJ

Observing the front seven so far this year the clear standouts have to be Kenny Clark and Blake Martinez. After those two, guys have only played well in spurts. Is there any way to improve the pass rush going forward other than guys (Nick Perry, Clay, Mike Daniels) just playing better? Having to bring six, seven guys to get near the quarterback is not sustainable with how the league is now.

I pointed out how early in the season, Pettine was often bringing different combinations of four or five rushers, and the element of surprise would leave one free once in a while. Eventually offenses are prepared for those disguised looks, react accordingly, and it comes down to winning one-on-ones.

Stephen from Oshkosh, WI

You mentioned interviews in the locker room when it's available to the media. Do you and Wes get special or priority access working for the team? Or is it just easier to request one-on-ones if you want? Any perks when it comes to needing players and working for the team?

We are afforded special access on occasion and for certain projects, but it's a privilege we intentionally don't abuse. Out of respect to the players and their time, we pick and choose our spots.

View photos of the Packers in the community in the first half of the 2018 season.

Tony from Los Alamos, NM

Who's the emotional leader on the team these days? I'm just not seeing an outright or obvious leader who's rallying his team when the going gets tough, but it's hard to know as a fan, since we're not in the locker room or on the sidelines with the players.

This is a popular topic but one I generally steer clear of judging, because I believe the most valuable leadership goes on in the locker room and meeting rooms, which I don't see either. In my opinion, the most important leadership during games comes from performance, and on the sidelines it's the quiet conversations that mean something, not the rah-rah stuff. That's just for show and for commentators to blab about.

Paul from Cumming, GA

No question. I'd like to report a Giorgio (don't call him Sergio) Tavecchio sighting. He'll be kicking for the Atlanta Falcons for the foreseeable future.

The thought of Tavecchio possibly getting to kick at Lambeau Field in December brings a smile to my face, and an even bigger one to Wes's I'm sure.

Todd from Carson City, NV

Visiting the Packers Hall of Fame, I read that the current CBA only allows players to practice in pads for 14 of the 17 weeks of the season. Seems kinda random. How does a team choose which weeks to go without padded practices?

It's actually 14 padded practices, total, which means one per week for 14 of the 17 weeks. Teams generally don't practice during the bye, and every team gets a Thursday night game now, so that's another week you skip it. That leaves only one other, which is usually late in the year when bodies are more worn down and banged up.

Eric from Oshkosh, WI

Everywhere I go I keep hearing complaints that the Packers are abandoning the run. Either that, or "How come Jones isn't getting the ball more?" Up until the last seven minutes of the game, on first and second downs the split was about 22 pass, 17 run. Do they want Rodgers to throw less than that? The emphasis on running the ball was there, but 13 third-down plays needed an average of 10-plus yards for a first down. How many would like to give Jones (or Williams or Montgomery) the ball on third-and-11?

This is one of many interesting perspectives on the offense I came across in the Inbox today. What follow are some others, all worth pondering, so I'm just going to post them and stay out of the way a little bit.

Brandon from Wausau, WI

Six. That's the number of drives we started with two straight passing plays on first and second down. MM says this is his best running back room in his tenure. AR is hurt and the offensive line hasn't been playing its best. We are getting offensive penalties like crazy. The defense is on the field constantly. We are in third-and-long consistently because we aren't attempting to run the ball.

Time of possession hasn't struck me as an issue with this team, but what does concern me is whether this offense will be able to run the ball in the fourth quarter when it really needs and wants to.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

There is a lot of conversation about too many pass plays being called, but what is unclear is whether the play is being altered by AR12 or not. Many readers have pointed out that we are constantly running the play clock to zero which would suggest that the play brought in by the coaches is being changed at the line. So are the pass vs. run plays and pass routes the product of McCarthy's play calls or are they the product of AR12 changing the play?

There are definitely RPOs and line checks in the mix, but no one is going to reveal to what extent for obvious competitive reasons.

Richard from Farmington Hills, MI

Mike, I have to disagree with you as to the inordinate number of negative-yardage plays being the biggest thing the team must fix on offense. I think the biggest problem has been the surprising number of failures in the red zone. We have no chance to go very far if this doesn't get fixed.

If negative-yardage plays on offense is issue 1A, the red zone is 1B for me.

Dave from Germantown, TN

I am not so sure that the run-pass balance is the Packers' biggest offensive problem. Against the Lions we scored three TDs and attempted five FGs. Against the Niners we kicked four FGs, scored three TDs and turned the ball over at the 4-yard line. In both games we generated over 500 yards of total offense. IMO, we are going to need to score every time we have the ball to beat the Rams and the Patriots. If we don't get the red-zone offense right, the run-pass balance won't matter. How do we fix it?

But doesn't an effective, respected running game bring the linebackers tighter to the line of scrimmage in the red zone and open up the middle of the field more? I'd offer maybe the run-pass balance can be part of the red-zone fix.

Matt from Hoboken, NJ

Mike, that was a really interesting and insightful WYMM. Really cool to see the adjustments/progression during the game. Well done. This is why I'm not as concerned as some others about the defense because there are so many young players playing a lot of snaps. If anything is guaranteed in the NFL, it's young players experiencing growing pains. I anticipate them continuing to improve each week and play their best ball down the stretch.

That would be the goal. Thanks for the kind words. If I'm allowed to say so, I'm sorta proud of what I found for this one. I think the bye week allowed me to spend a little extra time and watch the film that much more closely.

Nate from Amherst, WI

The last safety should have been against Washington, when Nick Perry got bear-hugged from behind right in front of Alex Smith in the end zone. I believe it was something like four plays later the Redskins scored, which I said at the time was kind of a microcosm of that game.

That falls under the category of what I definitely missed (WIDM).

Kyle from Mukwonago, WI

In response to Alan from Fresno's question, one need only understand the difference is on which side of the ball the player committed the "unsafe" move. It will never be stated out loud by the NFL, but it's abundantly clear which side of the ball is being favored, and defense will not be getting equal treatment in today's NFL. Food for thought in the bye week, what does our country's penchant for offense say about us as a whole?

That we prefer to attack as a guise to defend.

Jacob from Phoenix, AZ

Regarding Claus from Honefoss and his question about if there is any proof teams with close or hard-fought wins will be successful later on, the most glaring example in my mind is that '07 Giants team. They had to scratch just to get to the playoffs and what they did there at the expense of teams that had dominated (our Pack being one of them) was remarkable. To cap it all off by beating possibly the statistically best team of all time in the Patriots shows how adversity can breed perseverance.

Five of that Giants team's 10 regular-season wins were by seven points or less, and every loss was by double digits until the Week 17 down-to-the-wire shootout with the unbeaten Patriots, which cemented a belief they could beat anybody.

Cameron from Brevard, NC

Mike, thanks for putting up with us a whole week. I know it is never this simple, but was Oren Burks drafted with games like these next two in mind? A former safety playing linebacker who can hopefully cover two of the most prominent pass-catching backs in the league?

He was drafted because he brought a combination of athleticism and skills the Packers didn't previously have at inside linebacker. He has a ways to go to be a premier coverage 'backer, but I think he's a matchup that makes offensive coordinators sit and think a little rather than widen their eyes.

Michael from Berrien Springs, MI

I think the Pack has a tremendous amount of wide receiver talent, veterans and up-and-comers, to give Aaron targets for years to come. But there is something about Jake Kumerow that really intrigues me. I honestly feel he could become the "Adam Thielen" of the Packers and that would be something. No one saw Thielen coming on the way he did and I think Jake might be the same type of guy. Is that too big a leap this early?

He's never caught a pass in an NFL game that counts, hasn't caught a pass in a Packers uniform since August, and hasn't even been activated off IR yet. You're not alone here, but I think you answered your own question.

Jason from Janesville, WI

I know how you guys feel about booing the home team, and I agree. But how will you feel when Miller Park (rightfully) lets Manny Machado hear it Friday night? I'm looking forward to it.

Me, too. It'll be well-deserved.

Chipper from Clear Lake, IA

So I've got an older brother, Brian from Adel, IA, who informed me yesterday that he got a question posted to the Inbox. As the younger brother I've been chasing him all my life. Would you be able to help a younger brother out by posting this so I can add a little fuel to a sibling rivalry?

My dad is the youngest of three brothers and I'm going to visit him this weekend, so in his honor, Happy Friday.

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