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Pressure disrupts timing

Offensive huddle
Offensive huddle

Don from Swaledale, IA

There's always next year. Right?

Five games in and some are writing off the season already. OK.

Robert from Chandler, AZ

I'll say it now, after a bad loss, and standing 2-3: I like Jordan Love as my QB. He's competitive, a good leader – throws it with feel, and runs the ball well. Here's hoping the fan base will give him (and his young teammates) time to improve. This season may indeed be a work in progress. But save us from the myopia that demands a finished product by Week 5 of Season 1.

I'm trying, man. As I said to open my mid-week chat, it's understandable to be disappointed. No one is happy with 2-3, particularly with how things have looked the last two games. I even get some of the impatience, which came across in my answers Tuesday. But getting discouraged is a different emotion I don't understand at this stage.

Craig from Appleton, WI

Normally the bye week is an opportunity for the coaching staff to self-scout and offer up unscouted looks to opponents. Would you expect this bye week to have a different tenor given the struggles early?

I believe the self-scouting will be extensive. Not so sure about adding a lot of unscouted looks when the execution of base concepts isn't yet where it needs to be.

Bob from Ocean View, DE

Not to diminish Aaron Jones' skills but his return can't produce better run blocking. There haven't been a lot of holes or room for the others to run so why would that change? Maybe Aaron can better spot openings that others have missed? In reviewing tape, have there been such instances where runners cut the wrong way, or has the O-line simply been missing assignments or not clearing adequate paths? If it's the latter, having Aaron back won't change that.

Jones' eventual return isn't going to fix everything, you're right, and LaFleur is sending the same message as well. He's not a cure-all. But that doesn't change the fact that he's still a special player. He hits holes differently. He cuts differently. He accelerates differently. He sees things differently. He can be used in ways the other backs aren't. Yes, the run blocking must improve, but the best running back returning to the lineup will make a difference.

Scott from Sussex, WI

No question, just an observation. I don't know enough X's and O's to say whether we ran primarily inside zone or power, but I can say we hardly ran any outside zone running plays. The results were a more consistent ground attack with AJ Dillon, and an inefficient passing attack. My theory is we had to abandon the passing concepts that are married to outside zone, and those are the concepts with which the offense is most comfortable. So … we could really use a healthy Aaron Jones.

Also a potential factor in the mix, yes.

Dave from Comer, GA

What I would like an answer to is this question: Why, when only needing 10 yards or less for a first down with time on the clock and a timeout in his pocket, does a QB go for the end zone? Favre used to do it, Rodgers would do it, and Love sure did, with disastrous results. If you're going to be doing that, make sure it is not picked off.

He intended to get the ball deeper, to the back of the end zone, where only Christian Watson would have a shot at it. Rolling left, he underthrew it. It happens. Watson got behind the corner so he took a shot. It might be the only decent shot you get to score, no matter how many first downs you pick up. Watson needs to get a better read on an underthrown ball and keep it from being intercepted. Two passes were thrown right to the sticks on the previous two plays and were dropped. It's hard to fault Love for taking a shot when he thought he had one.

Pat from Kennesaw, GA

To expand on what David from St. Louis said, also remember, Aaron took over a team that went to the NFC Championship Game and won six games his first year. Jordan is taking over an eight-win team that didn't make the playoffs. Having said that, not making excuses, just need to put things in perspective and have a little patience. I have no problem how this season ends up.

The Packers have had three games come down to crunch time, and they've won one and lost two. That's why they're 2-3. I've provided the history lesson before – in '08, Rodgers' first two crunch-time opportunities while trailing resulted in picks. He got much better late in games as the season went along, but the defense fell apart, and the result was 6-10. We just have to wait and see if it can all come together for this bunch.

Glen from Leesburg, VA

Hi guys. Help me understand the roster situation. Before the Raiders game, the Packers released Justin Hollins as they signed Patrick Taylor to the active roster. Yesterday, the Packers released Patrick Taylor and signed Justin Hollins once again. Does Patrick Taylor qualify for the practice squad, or is he just a free agent now? Or, are they going to add another veteran RB to the roster?

Taylor is eligible for the practice squad as long as he clears waivers. I've been trying to figure out, since he's now been on the active roster, if he returns to the practice squad does he get another three game-day elevations. I haven't been able to confirm it.

Ray from Phoenix, AZ

Anders Carlson has passed the early test as the kicker. How are the punting stats compared to the first five games last year? It will worth watching in Dec. and Jan.

You said it. In this environment, it's all about the full body of work. The Packers didn't go with Whelan over O'Donnell because of any failings of O'Donnell's last year. They went with him as a prospect who could develop into a long-term solution here.

Keith from North Muskegon, MI

Mike, your article on Rudy Ford was interesting and showcased some good work by the safeties, but on the touchdown Ford was standing in the end zone and couldn't make the tackle in time to prevent the score. Throughout the past few seasons it seems there have been immeasurable third-/fourth-down conversions, 8-10 yard chunk plays or scores because the defense is playing soft. Why is this the case, especially at the goal line? Had Ford jammed the receiver I believe Vegas doesn't score on that play.

Safeties rarely jam receivers. I don't think that's the call from the 9-yard line. What I saw on the film was Ford standing on the goal line, but his first step at the snap was backward, probably out of habit, and that's all it took. Based on his reaction after the play, it looked like a momentary lapse to me. He's not the only player having momentary lapses, when awareness and execution slip briefly. I thought other than that one play, which unfortunately was a TD, Ford played a solid, productive game.

Chuck from Charlottesville, VA

Mike, WYMM is clearly a powerful descriptor of the "minis" that make successful plays; great insight. I wonder…would you be willing to analyze some details about why some of the Packer plays are unsuccessful? I'm not trying to get on a divisive track, here, simply wanting to understand some failures like the coaches must look for.

Sorry, but I have to leave that for the coaches. It's one thing to discuss in print what went wrong, and I don't sugarcoat failures (even though some accuse me of that because I'm not a loud-mouthed, hot-take artist, but I digress). Breaking down film of miscues, though, is fraught with complications when you don't know what specific assignments are. Regardless, players/coaches don't need their own team website exposing mistakes on film for all to see. There are plenty of other outlets to provide that. Whether they actually know what they're talking about or not is another question.

Douglas from Parker, CO

We talk about Love as a young quarterback with only six starts, but he has three years of experience with the team. Granted it was as a backup, but it was still in ML's system. Is the whole playbook open to him, or is it cut down until he gets more real-time experience?

I think the whole playbook is open to Love, but I'm not sure it is, nor should it be, for the offense as a whole. Jones, Dillon and Deguara are the only perimeter players with as much or more exposure to the system than Love, and Jones hasn't been playing. LaFleur talked on Tuesday about paring things back because these guys need to establish what they're good at. That hasn't happened yet.

Michael from Thomson, IL

In the Raiders game it was fourth quarter with the game still there to win. On offense we come out and attempt two straight runs right up the middle? Is the play calling so conservative because of lack of confidence in your team and/or quarterback to get aggressive?

The Packers had three possessions in the fourth quarter. The first one started with a 3-yard run and a deep ball to Watson, incomplete. The second one started with a pass that turned into a scramble and holding penalty, then a pass to gain back the lost yardage. The third started with two passes to Musgrave and Taylor to gain a first down. The only time in the fourth quarter the Packers ran the ball on consecutive plays was on the initial drive, after already gaining two first downs. Dillon ran twice for six yards, and then third-and-4 was converted with a completion to Musgrave. Play-calling critics irritate the hell out of me, especially those who don't know the facts about which they're complaining.

Ben from Guffey, CO

I don't understand the overreaction to what Ja said. I don't really think he has any hatred/ill will toward the offense. I think it's more about he feels like this defense could be dominant, so they should be – which also does give them the best chance to win by proxy.

I think that's a sound interpretation. When the defense gets two stops in the fourth quarter to give the offense the ball down one score and the game is still lost, I can appreciate the frustration, especially right after the game. But I'm sure he was also annoyed the defense gave up drives of 14 plays and 10 plays for TDs, drives on which five conversions on third/fourth down were permitted.

Bill from Menominee, MI

I convinced myself prior to the season that the most important goal of the 2023 season was to determine the plan for 2024. I let myself get excited after three games. What's frustrating about this one is that the Raiders played like a 1-3 team. They didn't do anything great in particular to earn the win. The Pack unfortunately did less. The four-point differential in a 30-point game was fitting of two teams that underperformed for 60 minutes.

No lies told in my view.

Dan from Richmond, VA

I need to check my memory. In response to the Jaire Alexander-Adams matchup, Wes indicated that JA typically lines up on one side of the defensive line. However, I thought the Pack largely abandoned that approach about halfway through last season and let JA take on the other team's best wideout regardless of where he lined up with the offense – with much better results, I might add. Have the Packers reversed course again this season, or is my memory failing me (again)?

It's been a game-plan decision, depending on the opponent. When Jefferson went off in the first Vikings game last year, the Packers changed course for the rematch. But the week prior at Miami against Hill and Waddle, Alexander didn't travel with one guy.

Steve from Stillman Valley, IL

In the earlier games, it appeared that Love was throwing passes with rhythm and timing. The last couple games he seems to be unable to throw on timing. I'm concerned all the takeaways are causing him to become too cautious to throw the ball on timing. What do you think?

The Packers' pass protection through the first three weeks was probably the offense's greatest strength. That has not been the case the last two games. Pressure disrupts timing.

Brock from West Lafayette, IN

Good morning! Now that the first bye weeks have happened and every team has played at least 4-5 games, what has stood out the most to you around the league so far this season?

More often than not, that offense is ruling the league. A good offense will have a rough game now and then, but good defenses are having rough games more often. The best teams in this league are scoring a lot of points. A lot. Speaking of around the league, Wes is going to take the column the rest of this week, but I'll be opening the laptop Sunday night to write for Monday morning, so watch the games in your area and share your thoughts and observations with me.

Kyle from St. Charles, MO

How different this season could look with just a handful of points. The ups are great, the downs still frustrate. If nothing else they're making it must-watch TV each week. I still maintain this team will compete. Hopefully the bye serves a meaningful purpose and we grab a win in Denver. We win one the next week that's two in a row. We win one the week after that's called a winning streak. It has happened before.

Nothing like a good baseball movie reference. Happy Thursday.

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