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Inbox: That's a sour taste

There’s a lot of unknown

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Detroit Lions S Kerby Joseph and teammates

Jake from Decatur, GA

I dunno yet what you're going to say, Mike, but I know I'll need to hear it. I think I was ready to lose, but not like that. A bitter end to a bizarre season. Thanks for being here for us.

I just do my best. Bitter and bizarre are good words. The football gods handed the Packers an opportunity that may or may not have been warranted, and they proved it wasn't. That's a sour taste but so it goes.

Brian from Iron Mountain, MI

One week you're the team no one wants to face in the playoffs. The next week you're the team no one is going to face in the playoffs.

It remains at its core a week-to-week league.

Mark from Westminster, CO

WHAT HAPPENED?

The Packers of the first 12 weeks of the season returned, as the offense squandered way more chances than it cashed in, the defense didn't take the ball away, and the return game couldn't provide a spark.

Ian from Sherman Oaks, CA

During LaFleur's halftime interview he said he told the guys that this was going to come down to whoever wanted it more. So what do you think it was? Motivation? Execution? It's hard to argue with the coach and the results.

I don't question the motivation. The defense did not play well in the second half, and the two personal fouls on Rasul Douglas and Quay Walker were beyond inexcusable. But I put the loss mostly on the offense. AJ Dillon, Allen Lazard and Romeo Doubs all had brutal and costly dropped passes. Aaron Jones' fumble was a killer. Five of the offense's first six possessions got inside the Detroit 35-yard line and the Packers had nine points. The running game got stuffed with the Lions sitting back in two-high most of the night. Green Bay had a 12½-minute advantage in time of possession after three quarters but led by only three. I could go on and on. That game was there for the taking, the Packers didn't take it, and then they got whipped at crunch time by power running, play-action and one well-timed, all-out blitz.

Peter from Irvine, CA

A fumble, an interception and two stupid shoving penalties? Was it really that simple?

Almost, yeah. But it started with the dropped passes in my mind, and then continued with dropped passes as well. You have to make the plays that are there, because against good teams a lot of plays won't be.

Sam from Melbourne, IA

Mike, just an observation on how at the beginning of the season Watson was struggling and Doubs was flourishing, yet tonight for whatever reason Doubs was struggling and Watson seemed to be consistent as he's been lately. Hopefully Doubs just had a rookie mistake game. Still can't wait to see what these two do in the future.

Me, too, and Doubs needs to use Week 18 as fuel the same way Watson used Week 1.

Beau from Lancaster, PA

In a close loss there are often multiple plays which could have changed the outcome. The one I wish we could have back was the Jones fumble. As AR said in his press conference, they probably take a two-score lead into halftime if he doesn't fumble.

The fumble was either a six- or 10-point swing, take your pick.

Dan from Kenosha, WI

Insiders, I had the privilege to be at Lambeau last night. We were done in by a lack of red-zone efficiency, dumb penalties, and mistakes aplenty. How do you get an unsportsmanlike penalty on a FG before the ball is snapped? With all of the attention given to team medical staff this week (rightly so), you decide you want to push an opposing staffer while they attend to an injured player? I would have to say that we didn't play like a team that deserved to be in the playoffs so we're not.

Way more often than not, you get what you deserve in this league. I can't think of any of the nine losses this season the Packers deserved more than that one.

Bill from Olathe, KS

Hey, when looking at the AFC Championship Game and the possibility of a neutral site if it's the Chiefs and Bills, the talk is to try to get that in an outdoor stadium. Plus, Indianapolis and Detroit have other previous engagements going on there. One possibility I heard is Pittsburgh. But would seem to me to be even more neutral and fair is to put that at Lambeau Field with weather being similar but an NFC site. What are your thoughts on that?

A lot of folks asking about Lambeau Field possibly hosting the AFC title game. I've heard no such discussions, and I would consider it highly unlikely. I could see Pittsburgh, or maybe Nashville if they want to reduce the potential weather impact.

Richard from Madison, WI

Given that the Pack's last three No. 1 draft choices have been from Georgia, plus the familiar letter "G" on the side of the Bulldogs' helmets, are you guys perhaps just a teensy bit biased about whom you'll be rooting for in the CFP title game Monday night?

If you're not an actual Georgia fan, how can you not root for TCU? The Horned Frogs have given hope to all the non-Power 5 teams out there, and they're even bigger underdogs in this one than they were against Michigan. I'd love to see TCU win it all.

David from El Segundo, CA

I sat in shock when the clock hit zero, just in disbelief that they didn't come back, as I thought they would. I'm sure many of us did. But once it wore off and I listened to Aaron Rodgers' press conference, I felt saddened to know how much these guys put into it all year, all career, and at some point, it all just ends. It's sad and symbolic…kind of how it felt symbolic when Mason Crosby's kick hit the crossbar again, but fell to the wrong side. Thanks for the memories, Packers. And to you both as well.

When the crossbar clunk went Green Bay's way last week, it felt like nothing could go wrong. When it went the other way last night, I was not surprised the Lions hit a 43-yard pass down to the 1-yard line two plays later. It just felt like more bad was going to happen, and quickly.

Donny from Green Bay, WI

The season seemed to end in an appropriate way. Inconsistency, red-zone problems, third-down difficulties on both sides and a few dumb moments (Rasul Douglas and Quay Walker). But my gosh the offseason hits in an instant. Aside from Aaron Rodgers, what's your biggest offseason question?

That's like asking other than the half-court buzzer beater, what was the biggest highlight? There are always questions related to the coaching staff, which is up to LaFleur to figure out. I'm curious about some of the salary-cap issues, such as with David Bakhtiari, Jones and others. I also wonder if the first pro offseason can do for the draft class what it needs to for all the promise to become significant progress. This past year, we saw that with T.J. Slaton, Josh Myers and to some degree Isaiah McDuffie from the '21 class, but not so much the rest (including before Eric Stokes' injury). The '22 class could be a great one, but the proof must be forthcoming.

William from Fairhope, AL

Friday, I think Charlie from Waukesha, WI, was referencing William from Fairhope's July 29 post about number of kickoffs since we scored a TD. Spoff's answer then was 378. And he went on to state in his reply back in July, "Snapping those streaks won't be a meaningful measuring stick, at least for me." C'mon man, you want to double-down on that one?

Nixon having five kickoff returns of 50-plus yards, most in team history since at least 2000, when no one else in the league this year even had three is the more meaningful measuring stick than the fact he took one to the house.

Joshua from Eagle River, AK

What do the Packers do with Jordan Love? What do they do with Rodgers? I love Rodgers and appreciate him but I would be intrigued to see the quarterback play within LaFleur's play-calling system. You won't convince me that we've seen that under Rodgers. He checks into his own plays a lot. Jordan would be more confined. We might actually stick with and run the ball more. I would love to see what Love has to offer and what LaFleur does too, for that matter.

I don't know what's going to happen. It could be an offseason of major change, or one with just the usual roster turnover and the rest roll into another year. There's a lot of unknown. Rodgers operates with a ton on his plate because LaFleur gives it to him. Love would have to earn that over time and prove along the way what he can handle. I can appreciate the curiosity, but I also think a healthy Rodgers with maturing youth could be really intriguing on offense. As usual, it's wait and see.

Jake from Greenfield, WI

With the HOF finalists announced, who do you think are the top five locks to make it in?

I don't know about locks, but without giving the list of finalists a thorough player-by-player study, there are six who jump out to me this year: Joe Thomas, Zach Thomas, Darrelle Revis, Devin Hester, Patrick Willis and Jared Allen. Difficult decisions await.

Barb from Appleton, WI

As a journalist following the Packers this season, what play or game do you think was the turning point for this season?

If I were to pick one play that began the upswing to give what appeared to be a lost team a shot, it's a toss-up between Christian Watson's first TD on the deep ball vs. Dallas and Jaire Alexander's late INT at Chicago. The former began Watson's TD binge that turned around the offense, and the latter came in Green Bay territory with the Packers leading by just two points and began the defense's turnover barrage. I suppose fitting then to see a reversion to the offense scoring just one TD at home, and the defense getting nary a takeaway.

Matt from Pontiac, MI

Once again, we couldn't control the line of scrimmage when it mattered most. Once again, we proved we don't belong with the big dogs.

Fair.

Randy from Lively, Canada

Sending this in at 7 p.m. local time Sunday night…after watching all the games so far today, if there is an NFL fan that still thinks one of these players thinks about tanking for a draft pick, they need some serious help.

True.

Bill from Raleigh, NC

Hi Mike, there were a lot of bounce backs this season and we should be proud of those. But, my favorite was Randall Cobb. He was crying when he was carted off the field in mid-October. He realized his season and his career were probably over. A few weeks later, he was back playing and he ends the season walking down the tunnel with his arm around Aaron Rodgers. That memory made me rich. Best of luck to them both.

I saw Cobb coming out of the Pro Shop the other day, carrying his purchases like any other normal shopper, and he gave me a wave. I guess I just wanted to share that.

Charles from Kalispell, MT

With all the safety protocols the NFL has put in place over the last few years, why wouldn't they stop hurdling a player as one of them? I believe someone is going to get seriously hurt one of these times. So much can go wrong during this action.

I wish it would be outlawed as well. So many seem to easily forget Nick Collins' career ended when a Carolina Panthers player tried to hurdle him, and the ball-carrier's glute clipped Nick's helmet and jammed his neck. I cringe every time I see a player try to hurdle another. Alexander practically got karate-kicked last night.

Eric from Kenosha, WI

Good day, sir. As it turns out, the only unfairness anyone had to worry about was against the Lions, in the form of questionable officiating in the Rams-Seahawks game. Running into the kicker, really? What a shock, right?

The Rams still got a great chance to win that game on what could've been a walk-in touchdown by Van Jefferson, but Baker Mayfield underthrew the ball as the safety swooped over. A harbinger of sorts as it turned out.

Kyle from Osceola, WI

Oh well. Honestly, my second-biggest regret might be that Seattle got in and Detroit didn't. The Lions might be the most dangerous team to not make it, and I sure feel like they would have fared better than the Seahawks or the Giants.

I agree. The Lions went 8-2 in their last 10 games, with one of the losses a walk-off vs. Buffalo on Thanksgiving. And hat's off to Jamaal Williams, for sure. The Seahawks won a crazy game to end a crazy year and give themselves a chance. I guess that's somewhat appropriate.

Jessi from Sterling, KS

I think I'd be sad even if we won the Super Bowl, because it would mean Packer football is over for the year. Buuuut, this ending was a hard one to swallow after the past five weeks of comebacks and the dominating win last week. Listening to Aaron and his articulate, gracious and reflective answers makes me long for another year with the legend at the helm. Offseason already, boy does time fly. You two ready for seven months with us before we can even talk preseason?

I don't think any of us have a choice.

Tom from Lisbon, WI

Buffalo returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown?! Are you kidding me?! That was one of the most thrilling and exciting plays I've ever seen. Just the sheer emotion involved in that runback was amazing.

Even more amazing was the Bills doing it again in the second half. Seeing Bill Belichick's special teams give up a kick return for a TD on Thanksgiving was shocking enough. To see it happen to them twice with a playoff berth on the line absolutely floored me.

Karen from South Beloit, IL

Mike, congratulations on your performance review in MT5. We all appreciate your "unique content" and are thankful for the information and attention you give every day to Packers fans.

Speaking of being floored, those were incredibly flattering and humbling comments from the boss of all bosses. I've missed the press box conversations I used to have with Mark on the road. I sat next to him at most road games for years, then our department didn't travel in '20 or '21, and this year seating configurations for our travel party changed a bit. In any event, I've always appreciated how personable and approachable he is as the leader of the entire organization (his comfort being called Mark by pretty much everyone is just one example). But I also want to emphasize the praise he gave for our entire digital/video/social team. I work with a lot of tremendous people (yeah, even Wes) who help me look good and possess the same commitment to the fans. This is a great place to work, and Mark as well as my many talented colleagues make it so. This season did not transpire, nor conclude, the way any of us wanted, but I hope everyone knows our digital team gave everything we had, every step of the way, because this fan base's dedication deserves to be matched. Hopefully you still got plenty of enjoyment out of the season thanks to our content. Try to make it a happy Monday.

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