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Inbox: That put the Packers on their heels

What shouldn’t be different is how they respond

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Saints QB Jameis Winston

Mike from West Bend, WI

Well, that was a stinker!

Thanks, Captain Obvious.

Warren from Conway, SC

Explain that one!

The Packers got off to a sluggish start and blew their one chance to get back in the game. The rest was rather academic. I also don't think they thought the Saints could be that good with Winston at quarterback and some guys missing on defense.

Steven from Tucson, AZ

I know this is overreaction Monday but wow someone may need to talk me down after that. My question is why fire a DC and then hire a new one that runs basically the same type of scheme? I saw all the same problems. Inability to contain the run, inability to force punts, receivers running free in the secondary, etc.

I knew Winston's mobility would be a factor in this game and it was early. The Packers didn't seem to take that threat seriously, at least based on the way they rushed him. He ran out of the pocket three times for 36 yards in the first 18 plays. It felt to me that put the Packers on their heels, and then the Saints' traditional running game took over on the third drive.

Gene from Anderson, IN

Let's get the questions (season) started. Offense, was it game plan or execution? Defense, execution or plan? Should Aaron Rodgers have been in camp earlier? Should the first team have played in the preseason? Change in defensive coordinators at fault? Who gets the kick in the butt?

Take your pick on laying the blame and doing whatever kicking you want to do. I'm not going down the preseason route. Rodgers said it's not real football and he's right. The Packers lost any realistic shot at the Super Bowl in '15 when Jordy got hurt in Pittsburgh. No thanks. The Saints had a better plan and they played better. Which of those areas saw the larger gap between the teams? That's where I lean toward execution. The coaches will say they need better plans, but that only goes so far. Rodgers took an early sack he never should have taken. He called it a gift himself. Marquez Valdes-Scantling fell down on a third-down route. Marcedes Lewis did the same on fourth down. The protection breakdown in the red zone was a killer. I already mentioned ignoring Winston's running on the first two drives. That's discipline. After the first two drives, the Saints used basic, straightforward running plays to control the game. Nothing fancy there. On a fourth-down screen to a tight end, Jaire Alexander was the only defender in the vicinity with a chance to make the play. No way that's drawn up to leave a cornerback all alone if the defenders are following their "rules" to be in position. Dean Lowry jumped offside on fourth-and-goal from the 3 to put the ball on the 1½. I could go on, obviously. All of that was before the game got out of hand.

Al from Pasadena, CA

Do you think we'll see a little more humility from the receivers' room now after almost nobody could get open against the Saints? All the bragging in recent weeks was getting a bit old.

Everyone who's played this game gets humbled at some time or another. This offense finding its footing, though, starts with rediscovering the ground game. I've said it since LaFleur got here, so much of the passing game comes off play-action. You have to run the ball for play-action to mean anything, and the Packers didn't do it well enough or try hard enough. Rodgers said the Saints kept their two safeties back the whole time.

Highlights from the moments leading up to the Week 1 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Fla.

Doug from Wausau, WI

Well, with performances like that they probably won't even make it to the fake Super Bowl. Yikes.

Appreciate the sense of humor.

Mike from Madison, WI

Okay that looked bad. Not that they cannot make it to Los Angeles in February. Did they need a good whoopin' to make them stand up and fly straight?

As I mentioned in my postgame editorial, this isn't the first time in recent years this team got a little too full of itself and was brought back down to earth in rather convincing fashion. The difference here was it happened to be Week 1. What shouldn't be different is how they respond, which has always been like determined professionals under LaFleur.

Steve from Hilton Head Island, SC

Wow, did not see that coming! Team looked flat in all phases. We have had games like this in each of the past two seasons. Hopefully we got it out of the way early this year. How do we bounce back?

By not overreacting but not brushing it off, either. There's a lot of work to do, but you can't overwork everyone when it's such a long season. There's always a balance to be struck, emotionally and physically.

Richard from Menasha, WI

Yeah, no. I could see how you could pick up on a head coach's speech patterns. Frankly, I have no issues with it.

All in good fun.

Dale from Prescott, WI

Mike, I know it's football season but we're you able to watch the no-hitter Saturday night by Burnes and Hader? What a gem!

Listened to the first seven innings on the radio traveling back from a short road trip. Caught the last two innings on TV. Pretty special, given the franchise's history. The Cain catch to end the eighth inning was reminiscent of Yount's catch to end the ninth back in '87.

Marty from Rexford, MT

When Dean from Leavenworth's contract comes up for renewal, how can you possibly keep him and remain under the cap?

Good one.

David from Appleton, WI

Hello Insiders! David Bakhtiari can't return from PUP until after Game 6. What is the latest he can return from the PUP without having to go on IR?

After Week 6, a five-week window begins in which the player must start practicing or be placed on IR (or released, but that's not an issue in this case).

Matt from Irvine, CA

I am trying not to vent on here as I'm sure everyone is frustrated so how about some good news. How would you rate Elgton Jenkins' performance at tackle? I admit I wasn't watching him too closely but didn't notice any issues.

I want to look more closely at that on the game film.

Kirsten from Madison, WI

"Hey, Google. What are synonyms for shellacking?" "Annihilate, blow away, bury, clobber, cream, drub, flatten, rout, skin, skunk, smoke, smother, thrash, tromp, trounce, wallop, whup." (You two have a lot of writing to do this week. I just thought I'd save you a step.)

Thanks?

John from Boca Raton, FL

Give me one example of a Super Bowl-winning team that lost like that at any point in a season, and I'll watch more games.

Same opponent, same score, same state. Week 9 last season, at Tampa Bay: Saints 38, Buccaneers 3.

Mike from Baraboo, WI

So much went wrong versus New Orleans but it was just one game in what is a long season. Which position group needs to make the biggest improvements before their next game on Monday night?

If I had to pick one, I'd say the defensive front. You can't let teams run the ball on you like that. It's demoralizing as well as exhausting and time-consuming.

Chris from West Allis, WI

Can we all take a moment to appreciate that this is the closest thing we've had to losing back-to-back games with LaFleur as head coach? And even this barely counts...

I think that bears remembering. I have to say it is (darn) strange that in losing just nine games as a head coach in two-plus seasons, this is the fifth one that qualifies as a blowout. That's what doesn't make sense to me.

Daniel from Catonsville, MD

ML stated "we weren't ready to play" in his postgame press conference. How can you not be ready to play on opening day?

That's the million-dollar question. So much prep and energy are spent on season openers in this league. It's a question he'll eventually have a long offseason to ponder. That's when the big-picture issues are addressed. There's no time for that now. It's the beauty of this league in some ways.

Bob from New Britain, CT

In their 1970 season opener, the Packers were blown out at home by Detroit 40-0. It featured a 76-yard run by Greg Landry on a quarterback sneak! So today wasn't the worst opening-day loss ever, but it was close.

So we got that goin' for us, which is nice.

Larry from Carney, MI

Was the Packer offensive or defensive play more surprising?

Yes.

Tom from Riverside, CA

Sloppy. Lackadaisical. Inefficient. Embarrassing. I don't believe for a minute the Saints are a superior team, but they put together a superior effort. Props to them.

My thoughts exactly.

Sam from Boston, MA

Trying to think of things other than that loss. Does Jamaal have a shot to be THE back in Detroit? He really looked the part.

He definitely does, and Wes called that one way back in the offseason.

Drew from Monroe, WA

Does Rodgers really trust his O-line? They blocked well with two rookies but some of those plays looked like Rodgers panicked when he didn't need to.

It looked to me more like he saw his guys not getting open against the two-shell and knew he'd have to buy some time to have a chance to make a play. We've seen this movie before. The Packers will have to run the ball to force teams out of sitting back defensively. I believe they will if they commit to doing so.

Terry from Elk Mound, WI

Can we go back to worrying about special teams and losing third stringers to waivers?

Works for me.

Ryan from San Diego, CA

The 2014 opener against Seattle comes to mind – another total blowout. Rodgers went on to earn his second MVP that season and we all know how a close we got to a Super Bowl that year. We'll be fine. Onto Detroit.

I don't think this Saints team is as good as that Seahawks one, but we'll find out. Based on how they played today and their schedule, I'd expect the Saints to be 5-0 when they get to their Week 6 bye. There, that oughta jinx 'em.

Joe from Tuckahoe, NY

Well, at least the entire NFC North had a terrible start. Is there hope or despair in this fact?

Who cares? The Packers are no worse off than the rest of their division. If anything eases the sting of a dreadful day, that's it.

Susan from Santa Cruz, CA

Hi Mike, thanks for fielding our questions during the game chat. Unfortunately, it was disappointing to see some of the comments sent to you. You always give us an honest perspective on games and players, but are not responsible for what the team does. Like so many others, I have learned so much from reading you guys.

Much appreciated. Sunday was a long day but reading this at the end of it as I finished the column helped with the ride home.

Ron from Sun Lakes, AZ

There is work to be done. It is only one game. Get ready for Detroit.

That's the only attitude worth taking. Happy Monday.

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