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Inbox: That guy never left

Packers’ goal-line stand was the embodiment of team defense

QB Aaron Rodgers
QB Aaron Rodgers

Garrett from Houston, TX

Wait, Aaron Rodgers has only had 10 400-yard games including playoffs? And two of them were in the last four games? Oooooh.

Looks elite to me. Good morning!

Casey from Frisco, TX

Chemistry may be the "X" factor for this year's Packers. Two moments from Sunday's game specifically caught my attention. One, immediately following his TD catch, the first thing Jamaal Williams did was look for Aaron Jones and waved him over to co-celebrate. Two, Rodgers sprinting into the end zone with an ear-to-ear grin to congratulate Graham following his TD catch. This team takes true joy in celebrating each other's success. And over a 16-game season, that's a difference-maker.

Chemistry is the "X" factor for every championship team. This squad has passed that test through the first seven games of the season, in both victory and the one defeat. I think there was some added joy for Rodgers in seeing Jimmy Graham have one of his best games in a Packers uniform, as well.

Sandy from Green Bay, WI

Seven weeks into the regular season, and we have heard continuous questions and innuendo regarding the relationship between Coach LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers. Can it finally be put to rest? All I have read, heard, and observed is mutual respect, admiration, and positivity between the two of them during interviews and on video, and what appears to be healthy, effective, and normal interaction on the sidelines given the rigors and frustrations of NFL football games.

Say what you will about Mike and me, but that storyline was never pushed in this column. Externally, I think the national media needed something to latch onto and pushed a narrative that wasn't really ever there. These things are cyclical. Undoubtedly, this week will be about how Aaron Rodgers is back. The truth is that guy never left.

Nathan from Sayulita, Mexico

Let's all relax on the whole "this is Aaron Rodgers' best game" conversation just because of an obscure metric that nobody understands. Anyone who thinks this is the best he's played needs to go re-watch the highlights of the 2010 playoff game versus Atlanta. The only "best" from this game was the D-Train celebration. That's an all-timer in my book.

The true indicator of an all-time great quarterback isn't which game is unanimously considered his best – it's that he gives fans a bevy of options to choose from. It's those moments that matter most.

Darren from Kingston, Ontario

Anyone predicting AR12 wins the NFC Offensive Player of the Week award isn't exactly making a bold prediction. But I can't help but wonder how many times he's won this award in his career. For this award, where does he rank all-time among Packers who have won this award?

Assuming Rodgers receives it this week, it would mark the 17th time in his career he's been honored as the NFC Offensive Player of the Week, a franchise record.

Ken from Stevensville, MT

So AR was first Packers QB with a perfect passing game. How about any other team?

From what I gathered, this was the 76th time in NFL history a qualifying quarterback had a perfect passer rating. It's the fourth time it's happened this year, too (Lamar Jackson vs. Miami and Dak Prescott vs. the Giants on Sept. 8; Deshaun Watson vs. Atlanta on Oct. 6).

Shane from Bourbonnais, IL

Would you say a perfect passer rating is similar to a no-hitter in baseball?

It's probably more like a perfect game (there have only been 23) than a no-hitter (302).

Timothy from Spooner, WI

Is it possible that the injury to Adams has forced Rodgers to scan the whole field for possible targets, instead of maybe focusing on Davante Adams perhaps a bit too much at times? Seems to me there were several instances where Aaron had missed open receivers in the first few games. Of course, great protection helps too, but just wondering if the injury to his favorite target has led to a more complete viewing of opposing secondaries.

I wouldn't say Adams' absence has forced Rodgers to play any differently. He already was distributing the ball around well before Adams' injury. I think the other skill positions played more to Rodgers' level in this game. There were fewer drops and more big plays.

Trevor from Seattle, WA

Biff, the title belt celebration is back, baby! I see that as a sign Rodgers is not only seeing something special happening, but (maybe more importantly) he's having fun. If you could pick another wrestling celebration to make an appearance, what would it be (and by which player)?

You mean besides Danny Vitale Hulking up?

Paul from Channing, MI

Hi, thanks so much for this Inbox. If anybody doubted the speed of Allen Lazard, you can gauge it as he was quickly narrowing the gap behind Valdes-Scantling after that reception. The guy can fly and elevate. What are your thoughts of him becoming the "second guy"?

Lazard has earned more playing time with what he's put on film the past two weeks. There was the drop but he came right back to make that incredible catch in the fourth quarter. Lazard made a series of changes to his diet and training over the past year, and it's showing in his play.

James from Clarkston, MI

Remember when "pundits" were so bent out of shape about the starting offense having no snaps during the preseason and how the offense would not do well? Those were the days...

Yeah, that was a thing. The reality was the Packers had a perfect plan for Bryan Bulaga, while Elgton Jenkins received the necessary reps in camp to play right off the bat.

Brett from Omro, WI

Great plays and great play-calling by our new HC! It was great to see our scheme get players open with our QB hitting them each time. I especially love the deception with the passes downfield to the FB and the RBs! Is this the offensive scheme that we've been waiting for?

The motions and misdirection are starting to add up. When you add that scheme to Aaron Rodgers' pre-snap abilities, that's a recipe for a very dangerous offense.

Al from Green Bay, WI

That goal-line stand was a thing of beauty. Here's my question: In a tight formation of 300-plus pound bodies on both sides of the ball, how does the smallest guy on the field (Jaire Alexander) make first contact with the running back? It seems to defy physics, and it was an awesome play by Jaire and his teammates!

Guts. I think Alexander and Kevin King proved how tough they are with how they attacked that fourth-and-goal play. Keep in mind, Mike Pettine did switch to a jumbo package with four defensive linemen. He played base on those back-to-back stops. If you're going to get a stop, you need all 11 – your corners, your linebackers and linemen – to do it. The goal-line stand was the embodiment of team defense.

Zach from Stevens Point, WI

I have barely noticed Jaire Alexander at all the past two games. That's a good thing! Is he just completely shutting down his half of the field?

Alexander has the makings of a shutdown cornerback. Mike wrote an excellent story last week about his mentality.

Bill from Madison, WI

With GB coming off a short week and Oakland coming off a bye, the difference in energy level can often be seen in the pass rush. Kudos to the Raiders' O-line and to Derek Carr for outstanding play, but that may be part of the reason for the lack of sacks. GB played with tremendous heart but with the margins in this league so thin, it makes sense that having fresh legs can mean the difference between getting to the QB or not. Great team win!

It's true the defense didn't record a sack, but that doesn't mean it didn't generate pressure. Pro Football Focus had Green Bay for nine pressures Sunday, but Carr did a phenomenal job of climbing the pocket, which helped keep his jersey clean.

Steve from Davenport, IA

Is Kansas City still a very good team without Patrick Mahomes?

Yeah. It would be foolish to say the offense is as dangerous and explosive without Mahomes behind center, but Matt Moore has several premium weapons at his disposal. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are two of the best at their respective positions, and LeSean McCoy is still a top-level running back at 31 years old. The question is how much the 35-year-old Moore has left after not playing in 2018. That's a huge challenge. I've always been high on Moore's skill set, though. He's played a lot of football and knows how to lead.

Stefan from Kiel, Germany

Well, not a question. Regarding all of football missing out on that Mahomes vs. Rodgers matchup, I wouldn't mind too much if that was just delayed until, say, February, would you?

Works for me.

Matthias from Colgate, WI

Kansas City should not be taken lightly this week, even without Mahomes. I don't recall a time when the Packers actually won at Arrowhead. Especially losing in 1996, 27-20, and 2011's only loss.

The Packers won the game in between back in 2007. It is not an easy place to play, though. I expect Arrowhead to be rocking.

Tom from Menifee, CA

Packers fan since my uncle took me to a Milwaukee game in 1957. Mike mentioned defense has had problems giving up big plays for the last three games. Might missing Darnell Savage be the problem?

This defense is obviously better with Savage on the field, but it still takes all 11. The defense has work to do in order to defuse the explosive plays it's allowing. However, the biggest reason for optimism stems from how well the Packers play in clutch situations. Giving up a big play is demoralizing. Having the mental toughness to rebound and get a stop is where they separate the wolves from the sheep.

Craig from Brookfield, WI

To what extent do you think a healthy Darnell Savage would take care of those wide-open receivers running around the middle of the field?

In that regard, I believe a healthy Savage can make a difference for the secondary. Without Savage and Raven Greene, the Packers have had to mix and match their safeties with Adrian Amos playing in the box and cornerback Chandon Sullivan playing safety in dime.

Greg from Downers Grove, IL

Great to see AR in stride. Another great performance yesterday came from Blake Martinez – 16 tackles (eight solo) and a FF, which became the turning point of the game before the half. I am surprised that I am not seeing the accolades BM deserves. Heck, 16 tackles represent over 25% of Oakland's plays. Two big performances from this game.

I tweeted this stat last night to promote our game-notes story and was disheartened by how many negative responses I received. Honestly, I think this generation of Packers fans would find fault with how Ray Nitschke plays the position. They have this utopian viewpoint of what a middle linebacker should be. Martinez is the conductor of Mike Pettine's defense, and when the time came to make a play, he did his job. He now leads the NFL in tackles (76), seven more than any other defender.

Jason from Austin, TX

How do you feel about the rule that says a fumble out of the back of the end zone is a turnover and a touchback? I know the Packers benefited from that rule this time, but I would like to see that rule abolished. Let the offense keep the ball from the spot of the fumble. I remember it cost us when James Jones fumbled into the pylon. Sunday's game would have been totally different if that was a Raiders TD instead of a Packers TD before the half.

I don't have as big a problem with this rule as most. Ninety-five percent of the rules in today's NFL favor the offense. Why not throw the defense a bone? If you have a problem with it, then don't fumble in the end zone.

Kevin from Asbury Park, NJ

Did I see Rodgers "put on the belt" after his rushing TD? It almost looked like he did it without thinking. Call it a sign, the bad man was feeling himself.

The belt is back, baby!

Nick from Richmond, VA

After Maxx Crosby's sack on Rodgers he did a little discount double-check. I'm curious if you guys know what the stats are when an opponent mocks Rodgers with the "belt" celebration after a sack? It seems like when they get a little cocky early, and poke the bear, they get a multi-touchdown big day from AR12. I seem to remember Atlanta mocking Rodgers early in a postseason game in 2010 with similar results...

I searched Pro Football Focus and couldn't find anything.

Amy from Bayport, MN

Although they are no longer Packers, there are certain players I just can't stop rooting for. Did you see Micah Hyde's leaping pirouette onside kick recovery/touchdown? It was a thing of beauty. It certainly must have helped ease the sting of being popped at the goal line by Fitzmagic on his TD run.

As I tweeted Monday, “Micah Freakin’ Hyde.” Seriously, how cool was that play? I had a bunch of people tweeting at me, blaming the Packers for not re-signing him but that wasn't my intent. Football is a business, but Micah is one of my all-time favorites. I'm thrilled for his continued success in Buffalo. I'm sure Spoff would say the same.

Dave from Saint Michael, MN

I was at the game on Sunday and I give props to the fans for how loud they were! On first and second down, too! Not just third or fourth. I was thoroughly embarrassed when the fans started the wave with our offense on the field, though. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Thank God it only made halfway around the stadium when Rodgers hit MVS for the 74-yard score. Everyone stood up to cheer and the wave was quashed! Apparently, Rodgers knows the secret to shutting it down.

Don't think I didn't notice that and the "Go Pack Go" chant with the offense in the huddle. It was disappointing, but it was impressive to go four straight home games without the wave making an appearance.

Tom from Phoenix, AZ

If you peel the onion back a little further on Bobby Dillon, his 52 interceptions over eight seasons with 12 games per season (96 games) vs. seven seasons with 16 per (112 games) casts an even brighter light on the accomplishment. In an age when football was a running game and being legally blind in one eye, it seems to me it's the HOF selection committee that may have been legally blind all these years.

Dillon is a criminally underrated player. I put him in that same category as Don Hutson and Cecil Isbell as offensive players who excelled in an area of the game that was relatively undefined at the time – the forward pass.

James from Spring Hill, FL

Maybe Jordy Nelson would come back. Any chance?

Do me a favor and hold off on the Jordy submissions this week. Not today, James. Not after that performance.

Achilleas from Volos, Greece

I like the week-by-week mentality. But when do you think it will be time to start talking about a bye week?

I'd say the night of Nov. 10. Have a great day, everybody!