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Inbox: That level of play has to continue

The Packers are plenty capable

Linebackers Za'Darius Smith and Christian Kirksey

Mutt from Blaine, MN

Good morning Mike/Wes. Should we still start with "Good morning" even if writing in the evening with the understanding that you don't read submissions until the morning? Or is it better form to just assume the time of day you're writing is the proper greeting? Or maybe just a "Happy Festivus!" is OK this time of year?

It's definitely time to air some grievances, especially this year, that's for sure.

Ashley from Chicago, IL

What will be the key matchup for Sunday's game?

The one not getting enough attention is special teams. The Colts blocked a punt for a TD last week and have returned a kickoff for a TD this season. The Packers are coming off a bad game in that phase and had a couple of breakdowns a month ago in Houston, too. I'm posting a story later this morning on the special-teams factor for Sunday.

Randy from Westminster, CO

Philip Rivers is one of the top quarterbacks statistically all-time in the NFL. Yet I have a hard time ranking him with the other greats. He has an odd throwing motion, isn't mobile, and throws a fair amount of picks. And his few playoff appearances are middling at best. Still when he gets into a rhythm he can be tough to stop. What does the defense have to do to disrupt him?

As LaFleur has said, the Packers can't get frustrated if the rush doesn't get there, because the Colts' O-line is stout and Rivers will release the ball quickly. But they have to stay after it for that one play or two he's going to hold the ball and the pressure will matter. As for those quick releases, it's on the rest of the defenders to not miss tackles. Green Bay can't let the checkdowns and dumpoffs rupture into explosive plays.

John from Charlottesville, VA

It seems everyone is down on Darnell Savage and Rashan Gary (until this last game) and the rest of the 2019 draft class. How much of an impact on their development do you think the reduced offseason has had? Do you think instead of a second-year leap we may see a third-year leap from these players?

Second-year jump or not, I don't consider any player done developing at that point.

Jay from Meridian, ID

I know everyone hates the preseason but consider this matchup: Aug. 11, 2005, Chargers at Packers. Starting QBs....Brees vs. Favre...Backups Rivers vs. Aaron Rodgers. Though it was just preseason the fans in the stands that day may have seen one of the rare, if not only time, that 3-4 HOF QBs played in the same game.

I double-checked just to be sure and all four did play in the game. That's pretty cool.

Terry from Sun Prairie, WI

I was hoping the run defense would start to improve last week. Can the defense eventually improve enough before the playoffs?

The run defense took a step forward in the second half last week after a rough first half. That level of play has to continue.

Doug from Neenah, WI

Marquez Valdes-Scantling has 463 receiving yards after nine games and has been improving. Aaron Jones has 493 rushing yards but has only played in seven games. Do they both get to 1,000 yards for the season?

I'm going to say no on MVS only because Allen Lazard is on his way back, though I wouldn't be surprised if he did hit the mark. I'm very confident Jones will get there.

Bruce from Lakewood, CO

Good morning, gents. As one fan who loves the look of the Packers' offense with Allen Lazard in the lineup, it strikes me as amazing that he has come back this quickly from core injury and surgery. Can you shed some light on his recovery journey and the people involved in overseeing that return? To say nothing of the guts and determination of Lazard himself.

We haven't had a chance to talk to Lazard yet but should get to soon.

Eric from Green Bay, WI

Good morning Mike/Wes! Looking closer at the Colts' defensive rankings I'm not as impressed as I was before looking. They've played the Jets, Bears, and Vikings Week 2 when they were still struggling. They lost to the one-dimensional Browns and gave up 300-plus yards and three TDs to the one-dimensional Lions. This defense can be had. I think the key will be getting Jaire Alexander and Kevin King back hopefully since pass rush will be hard to come by.

I take nothing away from this Indy defense. I saw it shut out the Titans in the second half for a huge division win last Thursday. That said, any defense can be had in the NFL. It'll take sharp execution and clean play, meaning no penalties or turnovers. The Packers are plenty capable.

Geoffrey from Rosemount, MN

He's only a rookie, but Michael Pittman Jr. might be the man to stop on Sunday. I feel like he's got similar size and abilities to Vincent Jackson.

It could be any pass-catcher at any time for the Colts. They have eight players with at least 13 receptions on the season, nobody with more than 33. Rivers will spread it around, including to the backs and tight ends.

Robert from Salem, WI

With the passing of Paul Hornung and reflecting on Lombardi's comment of him being the greatest player he coached, in your lifetime, who would you put as that individual, both league-wide and amongst the Packers?

I've never coached anyone except my daughter's softball team, but as far as players I've seen in person several times who rank as the greatest and most impressive to me, the first half dozen who come to mind are Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers, Charles Woodson, Adrian Peterson, Larry Fitzgerald and Brian Urlacher.

Al from Green Bay, WI

In the last two home games, Aaron Rodgers has had to deal with high winds. I'm looking forward to a return to pinpoint accuracy that's afforded by a dome game. Do you have any stats (QBR, yards/game, completion percentage, etc.) comparing his outdoor versus indoor games?

I specifically asked Rodgers on Wednesday if, after these last two home games, he's looking forward to a climate-controlled environment, and he said, "I am. I really am." He's played three indoor games this year so far (Minnesota, New Orleans, Houston) and his QB ratings have been 127.5, 124.9 and 132.4. Those are his third-, fourth-, and fifth-best on the season behind the Atlanta (147.5) and San Francisco (147.2) games.

Matt from Waunakee, WI

Rock is using baseball analogies in The Rock Report. What's next, ballet analogies?

From Larry? C'mon now.

Paul from De Pere, WI

Does the pre-snap motion come and go with Tyler Ervin? This appears to be an offense predicated on schemes and matchups each week, not an offense that lines up and takes what it wants. Is that a fair assessment?

Yes, but that's how most offenses are these days. Lining up and taking what you want is the game of yesteryear. Defensive packages are so specialized that certain players can be targeted, forcing offenses to adjust. The hardest thing to take away is a big, power back (Derrick Henry, Dalvin Cook) but very few teams have one in that mold. As for the pre-snap motion, I saw MVS used in that fashion Sunday and Jones has been used previously, too.

Sam from San Francisco, CA

Mike, you said in response to the Hopkins PI yardage question that the sport doesn't need more statistics and that is frankly a dumb answer. In this era of analytics where every edge matters, dismissing a stat just because it isn't recorded now is how you get left behind. PI is almost always as good as a catch and I guarantee you smart teams are already paying attention to this.

I'm sure they are. I just think the frequency of DPIs is more about the defender involved than the receiver. Maybe I'm wrong.

Jason from Austin, TX

Do you think next year's cap situation will create an increase of one-year, low-cost contracts to bridge the gap between a low cap year to a normal cap year? If free agents sign lower one-year deals, wouldn't that impact the compensatory pick system?

The compensatory system hands out 32 picks every year based on the free-agent activity of the previous year, so it's all relative and shouldn't change much. I don't see top-of-the-market players signing a bunch of one-year deals, though. They're going to want their signing bonuses, which is their guaranteed money, and teams will want to spread those bonuses out over multiple years cap-wise, like they always do. Will more mid-level free agents end up signing one-year deals without big bonuses and guarantees? Quite possible.

Steve from Cedar Falls, IA

Good morning, Wes/Mike. How many posts did you get with this opening line? I think the key to the Colts game will be for the Pack to have long time-consuming drives that culminate with points. I know this is the plan every game but is very important this week.

I'm not as focused on time-consuming drives as I am with finishing in the red zone. The Packers rank fourth in the league there at 73.5%. Indy is just 25th at 55.9%. If Green Bay plays to that edge, that could make the difference.

Nathan from Philadelphia, PA

What are the chances Packers-Panthers gets moved to Saturday? None of the games eligible to be moved that week are exactly crying out for a national audience...

Yeah, I have a feeling that'll end up a Saturday night game.

Andy from Lancaster, PA

The 2012 fake field goal against Chicago wasn't fourth-and-26. It was fourth-and-goal, from the 26-yard line. It's the same thing, but it's not.

It was fourth-and-26 from the 27-yard line, to be fully accurate. The Packers actually could have gotten a first down on the 1.

Michelle from Ringgold, GA

What do you think will be the key to the Packers' offense staying healthy and productive for the rest of the season?

They go hand in hand, and for health you need a little luck. The Packers haven't been as lucky as a year ago in that department, but if the storm they've had to weather has passed, no one will complain.

Ryan from Berthoud, CO

Do you know if CB Rhodes travels with the No. 1 in the Colts' defense?

Davante Adams indicated to reporters Wednesday he doesn't think Rhodes shadows the top receiver as much in Indy as he did in Minnesota.

The Green Bay Packers practiced on Clarke Hinkle Field on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020.

Mike from Madison, WI

Mike had mentioned the official who missed the roughing-the-passer calls against Minnesota would be downgraded. What exactly does that mean? Is he moved to the chain gang or down marker? Is he moved to a lesser important position? Or does he just have to light a candle, say three Hail Marys, and three Our Fathers? Or does he just wear a scarlet letter?

Z for zebra, right? (Sorry, Keith from Muskegon, this follow-up was funnier.) Kidding aside, the officials are graded on every play, every week, and those grades factor into postseason assignments and promotions (or demotions) and their future prospects. The officials are unionized, but the league does take steps to remove the worst performers after a season if warranted.

Tim from Hales Corners, WI

Now that David Bakhtiari has been signed to an extension, it seems to be that everyone assumes the next priority is Aaron Jones. I don't know. If it is true that "it all starts up front," then I would be very hesitant to let Corey Linsley walk out the door. While listening to an interview with him recently, I was amazed at what he brings to the table. He would be very, very hard to replace.

I certainly agree with your last point, but as I mentioned in my mid-week chat, I don't know how the Packers are prioritizing from here. Based on how the roster is currently constructed, they have options for making changes on the interior of the offensive line, if they have to. But that doesn't mean they won't work to keep Linsley.

Adilson from Rotterdam, Netherlands

Good morning, Mike. Is it possible for the Packers as an organization to request the Pro Football Hall of Fame to rectify the quotes concerning Paul Hornung and Forrest Gregg based on the superb research by Cliff? Not only is Cliff one of the most respected former Packers beat reporters and the current team historian, he is also a former Hall of Fame voter. This shouldn't be that hard, right? David Baker seems like a reasonable man.

I'm staying out of it, but I'm going to ask Cliff the next chance I get if he ever pushed the Hall to straighten this out while he was on the selection committee.

Scott from Issaquah, WA

It appears the Inbox was ahead of its time yet again. The Seahawks have renamed their stadium Lumen Field, despite being in the NFL city with the lowest lumen levels. The only explanation I can think of is that they're going to use lasers to increase the lumen level.

I'm sure there's a scientific way to dispute that assertion, with which an Inbox reader (or three) will entertain Wes.

Sreedharan from Pewaukee, WI

So, who gets the better contract? Does the GM consider lunch lifting adeptness? Or do the speed of younger nimbler fingers win the day? Much like Adams, Spoff can do the whole gamut of routes. However, Wes excels at the long, over-the-top tear-jerker routes.

Don't underestimate the speed and nimbleness of my older fingers.

Marc from Holmen, WI

The quote, "Prediction is difficult, especially when it involves the future," is frequently misattributed to Yogi, as it sounds like something he would say. The most likely attribution, although it isn't definitive, is to Niels Bohr, the nuclear physicist. Which just goes to show that when Yogi said, "I've never said half the things I've said," he was right.

Happy Friday.


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