Presented by

Inbox: That's all you can ask for

Sunday was a reminder of what this team is capable of 

181211-insider-inbox-2560

Randy from Mukwonago, WI

Wes, I had to chuckle after reading your response to Ray from Middletown NY. A little edgy on your response, I like that! One of the things I enjoy most is reading, be it a novel or sports columnist who is well-versed and articulate. We may have had a down year on the football field but we'll always be at the top of the league with guys like you to keep us entertained! Thanks!

ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED? Good morning!

Jeff from Green Bay, WI

Is stacking success the most important feat for this team to accomplish this season? This is the first game this season (Atlanta) that I remember all three phases playing well and not committing turnovers, and the defense creating takeaways and scoring points.

I felt this game was going to go one of two ways given everything that happened last week – the Packers were either going to play like champions or come out deflated. Joe Philbin earned his game ball with how energized and focused he had his team. The Packers legitimately looked like they were enjoying themselves out there without forsaking their fundamentals. That should serve as a reminder to every player in that locker room of what this team is capable of. I understand Atlanta is having a tough year, but last week's game against Arizona proved there are no gimmes in this league. You have to earn it and Green Bay did that Sunday.

Keith from Fishers, IN

I was watching for things that were different (from MM) on offense. I saw using the GOAT QB passing game to set up the run game (and patience to wait for that to happen), Jamaal Williams starting in the backfield to help an OL minus three starters, calling a screen pass right immediately after a failed screen pass left, and the play in the red zone with Williams in at fullback to block for Jones. Do you concur with any of those, and/or were there others? Either way, I loved the rhythm on offense.

I said this to a few of my colleagues after the game and to Spoff on Monday. That game reminded me of the 2011 Packers with getting Rodgers into an early rhythm and using the pass to open up the run. Credit to Philbin and Jim Hostler, too. They mixed a lot of personnel and didn't seem to have any issues with communication. I also loved the Packers going back to the screen after it failed on the left side. I asked Aaron Jones about it after the game. Jones mentioned how much he loved the call since there's no earthly reason Atlanta should have expected Green Bay to run it again after how poorly the first attempt went.

Andy from West Allis, WI

There's still a chance! A longshot, but it's not truly meaningless yet! Also, I've said for years I prefer the nail-biter/down-to-the-wire games better than a Packers blowout. In the past, those nail-biters went our way more often than not, so maybe this is just the universe evening things out for nearly 20 years of dominance in the division.

Or making up for those sack/unnecessary roughness calls earlier this season. Either way, the Packers are still alive entering Week 15. That's all you can ask for after the season they've had.

Donna from Darien, WI

I'm still saying, wouldn't it be something if the Packers can get their first road win against Chicago on Sunday? Let's go get 'em!

And then suddenly you become the team nobody wants to play.

Chase from Fort Huachuca, AZ

I hope you picked up on the "Dumb and Dumber" reference in my question. What needs to happen for the Bears to still be playing for something Week 17?

I fear Spoff might be a little too smart for "Dumb and Dumber," but I certainly appreciated it. I'd say win out and get some help from the Rams and Saints. This is an important game for both teams Sunday.

Joe from Rochester, NY

I cannot be the only one wondering why Aaron Jones does not get the ball more. He should only come out of the game when he needs a break. He did not even play in the first quarter. Is there something going on behind the scenes that we do not know?

I suggest re-watching the opening drive. It's very clear the Packers' first 15 ideas centered on the short passing game and getting Aaron Rodgers into a rhythm. It's tough to argue with the results. Joe Philbin only called two runs on the nine-play, 75-yard opening drive that produced a touchdown. Jones got his opportunities, touching the ball 20 times on 42 snaps.

Andy from Verona, WI

Which of the two record-breaking feats from Sunday's game will last the longest: Rodgers' streak of passes without an interception (which could increase a lot more) or Coach Philbin's amount of time to use both challenge flags?

The answer honestly might be Philbin's challenges because of the heavy emphasis today's quarterbacks put on protecting the football. It's going to require a highly unique situation for another NFL coach to use both of his challenges in the first two minutes of a game again.

David from Oak Hills, CA

One of the unsung heroes on the Packers has to be James Campen. The work he does day in and day out to have the offensive line prepared for game day is incredible. To have three starting offensive linemen out and to still come out and produce like that. I feel that many fans have taken his work for granted. Aside from a few offensive linemen, he's not exactly working with big names or first-round talent, and yet the Packers' offensive line consistently ranks up there with the best of them.

It's damn-near impossible to get Campy to say anything positive about himself, but the proof is in the production with his offensive linemen over the years. I've long said he does some of his finest work in the face of injuries. It wasn't perfect, but Lucas Patrick, Justin McCray and Jason Spriggs did a hell of a job considering the circumstances. Lesser units collapse with a banged-up left tackle and three starting offensive linemen missing. Not Campen's.

Kary from Sheboygan, WI

Wait, nobody in II wanted the Packers to lose to the Falcons?! I get the ethical, emotional, and pay sides of this for the players and coaches, but why doesn't the team try to "lose to win." I don't think anybody has any real playoff expectations for this team, so why not try to improve your future? They could get a top 10 pick if they choose to lose. Vic would say "help is not on the way," but in this instance, it IS – you just have to go for it.

As I wrote last week, playoffs or no playoffs, winning these last four games will go much further in helping the 2019 Packers than losing. This team knows it has work to do, but building late-season momentum can catapult a team into the next season. Brian Gutekunst and his personnel department are pros. They'll find their guy whether it's at No. 11, 20 or 32.

Fans enjoyed the gameday atmosphere at Titletown and Lambeau Field during Sunday's game against the Falcons.

Brett from Atlanta, GA

Am I off base to compare this team to 2006 with Favre which started 4-8, went on to win the last four and carry that on to a great 13-3 2007 campaign? Hoping we can gain some momentum this year and carry it over to next year with some of the young guys making some big strides in the offseason!

Or 2009 when the Packers won seven of their last eight after starting the season 4-4. Or 2013 when they rallied to make the playoffs at 8-7-1 prior to making a run to the NFC Championship Game. Never underestimate the power of winning.

Mike from Yonkers, NY

Hey guys, what happens first for Rodgers: 400 TDs or 100 picks?

Rodgers currently is at 336 touchdowns and 79 interceptions for his career. Using a ratio of 4.25 touchdowns for every pick, the statistics show Rodgers would eclipse 400 TDs before throwing his 95th INT.

Scott from Hamlin, NY

The NFL wanted to change the catch rule because everyone watching knew the Steelers caught the ball and beat the Patriots. Now we have a new rule and everyone watching knows Jones didn't make either catch, and yet…

That's why I tweeted right after the "catch" Sunday it "looks like the ball comes out of Jones' grasp, but I don't know what a catch is anymore." Poor Spoff. He fell victim to common sense and reality, and suggested it was an incompletion. I'm fully convinced if a pass touches a receiver now the New York office will find a reason to call it a completion.

Craig from Port Charlotte, FL

I'm wondering if Aaron's record-setting streak of no interceptions is a symptom of his uncharacteristic struggles this year. Is he trying to be too careful with the football, is he not taking enough chances? I know, I know he's a damn good QB, but just not quite as brilliant as usual.

Rodgers admits there have been times when he's been a bit too cautious and needs to let it fly more, but I disagree with the basis of your question about not taking chances. His yards per attempt (7.5) is as high as it's been in four years. I think the streak is a combination of skill and good fortune. There have been a few times during this streak where a defender dropped a would-be-interception, including twice on Sunday against the Falcons.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

I just read the snap count totals and it said Bashaud Breeland only had 23 snaps. It felt like a lot more. Was the count in error or just an example of a player maximizing his opportunities?

Breeland definitely maximized his opportunities. The Packers had him on a pretty strict rep count in his first game back from the groin injury, but the fifth-year cornerback still managed to grab a pick-six and recover a fumble. If the Packers are going to get on any kind of late-season run here, a healthy Breeland needs to be a part of it.

Venny from Montgomery, AL

I was just checking for ties between Chicago's Eddie Jackson (fourth-round pick in 2017 out of Alabama) and Tony Brown (undrafted out of Alabama in 2018). These guys were both vital in the success of Alabama Crimson Tide title runs. I also looked up the 2016 draft and saw that Trevor Davis was taken two spots before Tyreek Hill in the fifth round. What was the difference in the two speedsters that swayed the Packers toward Davis?

I can't speak for the Packers specifically, but there were some off-the-field incidents that caused Hill to fall (NFL Draft Scout projected him as an undrafted free agent). I'll leave it at that.

Joe from Asbury, IA

That was the first game all season that I didn't watch, maybe it was me all along?

I guess we're all finally looking in the mirror.

Shaun from Oak Creek, WI

How does a player get ejected for slapping someone in the helmet but not for jumping on another player's back while grabbing and pulling on their head? Asking for a friend.

The same reason pro-wrestling managers don't get tossed from ringside for tripping the opponent.

Domenick from Kenosha, WI

I didn't see any discussion of the almost brawl between the Packers' and Falcons' players. Why was Jones not suspended for jumping on the back of Patrick and grabbing him around the neck? Offsetting personal foul penalties are basically telling the players, go ahead and get involved in the fight because nothing is going to happen to you.

We'll see what the league has to say about it when fines come out later this week.

Erwin from Dallas, TX

Mike/Wes, it's possible the reaction to this question/statement will not be viewed in good light. However, since I am in my 50s I place myself in this situation. The NFL officiating quality has diminished over the last 20-30 years and more so in the past five or so. I have stated may times to friends/football fans that it makes no logical sense to have 55-65 year-olds in many cases trying to keep up with incredible athletes in the 23-30 year range. Seems off to me. Thoughts?

The ever-increasing speed of the game is problematic for officials of any age, but my issue right now isn't with the calls on the field. It's how a collection of individuals hundreds of miles from Green Bay can honestly say that first pass to Julio Jones Sunday was a legitimate catch.

Ron from Waukesha, WI

This may sound like crazy talk but somewhere in the catch rule shouldn't it be stated that the receiver actually has to catch the ball at some point through the "act of catching" it?

Meh. That's optional.

Ben from Madison, WI

Hello, I was wondering what your opinion was on Joe Philbin and if the Packers should consider keeping him as coach full-time.

A natural leader, good coach and one of the finest human beings you'll ever find in the NFL. The second part of your question can only be answered once the season is over.

Bruce from Green Bay, WI

I feel a little confused about the power structure we have here in Green Bay; there is talk of Coach Pettine leaving, was he signed to a one-year contract? To me it sounded like Mr. Murphy was satisfied with his coaching abilities and the players are responding positively and improving their play, yet he may go depending on whether our new head coach wants his services. Who then makes this decision?

The head coach picks his staff and we've seen in recent years how an incoming coach (e.g. Matt Nagy) will keep a defensive coordinator (e.g. Vic Fangio) around. As Pettine said last week, though, he'll cross that bridge eventually. For the next three weeks, he has a job to do.

Gerbie from Elk Mound, WI

The Packers' play-calling is so predictable. Why can't they draw up a creative, game-winning, last-second play like the Dolphins?

Move over, Sean McVay. There's a new mad scientist in town.

Luke from Manchester, UK

I know the Pats lost, and this decision may have been why, but Bill Belichick playing Gronk as a deep safety on suspected Hail Mary's is a genius move. Why not put up your 6-foot-7 catcher for the high ball? He is half a foot bigger than your average safety.

Exactly. I know it's become a meme on social media, but Gronk wasn't back there to make a game-saving tackle in the open field. If your team finds itself in that predicament, you messed up a long time ago.

Rod from Chugiak, AK

Like fellow writer Lance from Grafton, as a book author I can't help noting Inbox writing for the craft of it. It seems quite improved since I first began regularly reading, back when Vic initially came aboard. It's obvious our Insiders family includes many pretty sharp writers. I often tender what I think is a well word-smithed submission on a pertinent subject that fails to make your cut. Quite a few times I've later enjoyed the way someone else's wording covered it much better.

That's mostly a credit to Spoff. My wife also is very proficient in the language arts. I've often joked about being the second-best writer in my household.

Rich from Sierra Vista, AZ

Mike, thanks for displaying professionalism and dignity. "I can't help you" was the perfect answer to take the high road.

You ask the question, he'll answer it.

Greg from Ann Arbor, MI

Will "I can't help you" become the new "OK"?

Only time will tell.

Advertising