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Inbox: That's a mentality that can start to permeate

The Packers need to keep that D reeling

RB Aaron Jones
RB Aaron Jones

Curt from Green Bay, WI

I was able to crisply execute my assignments on the computer today. But that is largely due to pretty much no one actively trying to stop me.

And we're off …

James from De Pere, WI

Hello gentlemen, on Sept. 10, how many of us would've considered the Nov. 6 Lions game to be a "must win"? Oh, how things can change in a week-to-week league, eh?

On Sept. 10, if you had told me when the calendar turned to November, neither the Packers, Buccaneers, Rams, 49ers nor Bengals would be above .500, I would've just figured my alarm needed to go off, or a flux capacitor was in my midst.

John from New York, NY

Vikings and Bears make moves at trade deadline and we don't. Aaron Rodgers isn't getting any younger and we haven't helped him add any weapons this year and missed our last chance to. It's disappointing, very disappointing.

I find it hilarious how many readers got all worked up about what the Bears did Tuesday, apparently forgetting the moves they made in the prior days. That aside, I get the disappointment. I really do. I can't offer much in the way of answers because I'm not privy to what went on behind the scenes. But what I do know is the MO around here, which is to set a value on a player – whether it's one of your own with an expiring contract, a free agent from elsewhere, or a trade target – and if the cost is too steep, then take a pass. I believe Gutey when he says he's in on conversations. I also know he's not going to get baited by another team's bid into overpaying.

Joe from Ormond Beach, FL

Mike/Wes how do you feel the locker room reacts to crickets at the trade deadline? They look around at better teams (Kansas City, Philly), teams with similar records (Bears, 49ers), to name a few, all add talent to give their team and fan base improved chances at competing at the highest level, but once again the Packers do nothing. Do you think it lowers morale?

Another mention of the Bears (smh). Lowers morale? They've lost four in a row. I understand the perspective of guys like Rodgers and Big Dog would be different, but if the locker room as a whole is looking externally to the trade deadline rather than internally for a morale boost, it might as well collectively turn in its pads.

Tom from Woodbury, MN

What message was sent to the players at the trade deadline? (1) We think we are good enough with talent we have to get to the playoffs and win or (2) We think we are too far away for one or two improvements to matter this year.

(3) The team as currently constructed has to play a whole heck of a lot better to make something of the season, and an outside acquisition at an unpalatable price was not going to magically make that happen, no matter how much said acquisition might contribute individually.

Grant from Kent, OH

Two questions for you. Is this a roster of underachievers or overrated players? By not making a trade for any help again this year, does the front office think this roster can make the playoffs or think this roster is not capable of winning? Just frustrated with the lack of urgency to improve roster with proven talent via trade year after year.

I think the Packers mostly have underachieved to this point. The offense has not been deep or experienced enough to overcome injuries and lack of continuity. Meanwhile the defense has lost something in translation, because the unit is primarily comprised of proven players, some of whom have slipped from previous levels. I think the front office believes this roster is capable of winning, and if in the end it's proven wrong, it will learn from what transpired. It just wasn't going to make a move out of desperation and have less to address whatever it learns down the road. As I said, I understand fans' frustrations, but I'm giving you my best read of the situation. I don't know how else to interpret it.

Al from Green Bay, WI

I always look forward to WYMM. Thanks for another insightful version. Most of us Insiders are merely novices when it comes to the X's and O's of the game, but you help to deepen our understanding of the complexity involved in a simple handoff. As a side note, I saw the athleticism of Josh Myers getting downfield blocks on a number of the featured plays. It takes all 11!

One thing the Packers do not lack is athletic offensive linemen who can get to the second level, and they generally win those matchups, as they should. No offense to the rookie Tom and the job he's done as a fill-in, but if the current group can get Jenkins back and settle in, I think the cohesion will come with it.

Jeff from Indian Lake, NY

I write this at 3:11 p.m. (ET, Tuesday) and this is already the craziest NFL trade deadline I can remember. It seems in years past this date came and went without too many players moving. What do you think has led to the sudden change in strategy for so many teams? I know the Rams are coming off a Super Bowl win they secured largely on the backs of players acquired with draft picks but jeez.

That's a great question. I think the current front-runners and other contenders don't see any dominant teams out there. Meaning it's anybody's championship to win, and one more piece could tip the scales. For the teams looking to the future, I think they're positioning themselves to take advantage of the upcoming spikes in the salary cap to shop for veterans they want while getting even more bites at the apple in the draft and/or flexibility to target specific players.

Bryce from Lorain, OH

Looking to the Lions, what are they saying and how are they preparing for the Packers this week?

They're preparing without one of their biggest offensive playmakers, now that tight end T.J. Hockenson is in Minnesota. I don't think anybody saw that coming. I know it was a different regime when the draft pick was made, but the Lions used the No. 8 overall selection to get him, and now he's not part of their future. Very curious.

Izzi from Raleigh, NC

Of all the trade deadline action (and non-action), the move that puzzled me the most was the Lions' trading TE T.J. Hockenson inside the division. Usually a trade to a rival comes at a premium price tag, but instead, it seems the Lions practically gave away a potential star to the Vikes. What do you make of that?

I don't. I felt the same way. The return the Lions got exceedingly underwhelmed me. Assuming the Vikings are headed to the playoffs, that second-rounder next year for the Lions will be around the No. 50 overall pick at best, and likely lower.

Jacob from Superior, WI

Hockenson to the Vikes when they already have Jefferson, Thielen and Cook and supposedly had the worst cap space in the league? How did they do it?

The Vikings' cap charge for Hockenson is minimal because most of the money in his rookie contract was in the form of signing and roster bonuses, which the Lions already paid. He has a big cap number in 2023 due to the fifth-year option, but that doesn't matter until next year.

Tim from Olathe, KS

Mike, what is your take on the Bears trading hard-hitting Roquan Smith? Is there more to it than meets the eye?

That had been an ongoing next-contract dispute, and the new regime in Chicago must not have foreseen an agreement. I've never seen a team do what the Bears are doing, though, trading away established defensive stars (first Robert Quinn, then Smith) and then immediately trading for an offensive piece (Chase Claypool). Again, very curious.

Venny from Montgomery, AL

The Lions' defense is desperately looking for a breakout game allowing 32 points per game and the Packers' offense is looking for a breakout while averaging about 18 points per game. Which team is likely to see their breakout manifest this weekend?

I didn't watch the Lions game vs. Miami, but I believe the positive signs the Packers showed with their ground game and the rookie receivers bode better than anything Detroit showed defensively last week. The Dolphins fell behind 14-0 and then scored 31 points in a span of five possessions (four TDs, one FG) before the Lions finally forced a punt, and then later Miami killed the last three minutes on the clock to ice the game despite the Lions having four timeouts (including the two-minute warning). The Packers need to keep that D reeling.

Bob from Bement, IL

I get ML's wish for the defense to be "more physical." You could really see in Buffalo's D what he hopes to see in the Pack. Every GB offensive play seemed to feature a defensive intensity by Buffalo, approaching the ball carrier right through to the point the play was concluded. I was afraid that intensity might wear our offense down quicker, but GB appeared to show similar toughness. The Bills execution on both sides of the ball was impressive, and I firmly believe GB has that potential.

I mentioned on "Unscripted" how much I liked the physicality and toughness the Packers showed by pounding the run in Buffalo against the top-ranked run defense. That's a mentality that can start to permeate throughout a team. Quay Walker plays that way and the Packers need him with that attitude, channeled properly. Losing De'Vondre Campbell, even if it's just for a week or two, is a big blow in that regard. But if LaFleur is going to stand at the podium and call on his defense to be more physical, you can guarantee it's being talked about in meetings.

Mark from Big Bear City, CA

Good morning gentleman, I was just wondering, I haven't heard any news about Krys Barnes. Any word on the ETA of his return? I thought Isaiah McDuffie held his own in the second half when he came in. What a thrill for him to be playing in front of friends and family for a substantial amount of time in the second half.

LaFleur was very non-committal, but on Monday he didn't shut down the thought of Barnes potentially being available soon. So we'll wait and see. McDuffie should be proud. He was put in a tough spot, with a ton of emotions flowing I'm sure, and held his own. That young man, who was in my view a rather surprising standout of the preseason, has come a long way from where he was as a rookie.

Don from Swaledale, IA

Last word on kick returns: Who ran back the opening kickoff in 2010 against the Giants at home for Green Bay in the regular season?

Sam Shields, the defense's No. 3 rookie corner, not the team's highest-paid by a longshot. He and Jordy Nelson, the offense's No. 4 receiver, had the most kickoff returns for the Packers that year. Whether the team's patience with Amari Rodgers is warranted or not is a legitimate debate, but this topic must be let go.

Matt from Fitchburg, WI

I'm not trying to be negative, but I don't get the positivity coming out of the Bills game. It was the same performance we've seen all year long, fits and starts on offense and defense. There have been bright spots in every game, but they have been inconsistent and at times inept all year long. Their playoff hopes are hanging by a thread, and in my admittedly uninformed opinion, if they lose this week they're done. Anything less than playoffs this year would be a massive failure.

I get where you're coming from, and I wholeheartedly agree on your concluding point. As I mentioned in the live blog during the game, the performances the previous weeks vs. the Jets and Commanders were far more concerning than what went down against the Bills, a truly elite team. Yes, some of the same issues showed up, because Buffalo's too good not to exploit certain weaknesses. I think the key questions moving forward are whether what was established with the ground game can continue as an offensive foundation, and if the defense is turning a corner in the turnover department. If both answers are yes, this team's fortunes could start to change.

Phil from Marietta, GA

In response to Fred from Grandville, Wes said there are also professionals on the other side attempting to "execute" as well. So what's the root cause of GB's inability to successfully execute to this point? Have the other players been simply better/more talented at their jobs thus far? Is our scheme inappropriate to put players in position to win? Or for some reason (as coach ML said in regard to Sunday's first half) that the other teams have displayed more urgency?

It's some of all of that. If only one fix were necessary, I don't think the Packers would've lost four in a row.

Paul from Ledgeview, WI

The assumption is that the Packers have the horses to turn this around. Again, on paper this is a talented roster. Clearly something is getting lost in translating talent to performance on the field. Or, maybe the Packers simply don't really have the horses. Maybe we will learn one way or another by season's end.

That we shall.

Ed from Windsor, CO

I felt AR12's reaction after Watson's catch, run, and injury. The Packers battled through significant NFL game obstacles. Let's get healthier and smarter (no ejections/fewer penalties). October is over. Let's hope this is a November to remember.

Sounds like a plan, Stan. I mean, Ed. Happy Wednesday.

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