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Inbox: That’s everything you need to know

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Dan from Cross Plains, WI

I'm in agreement with Mike on the cheese curd debate. Totally seasonal. Of course, it’s all personal preference. Take for example last weekend, we were celebrating my niece's ninth birthday and ordered fried cheese curds for appetizer. My niece likes to take off the fried portion and just eat the cheese. To each their own, right?

This submission led me to look deep inside my soul, probably more so than any Inbox comment in 3½ years doing this. The bit about your niece pulling the fried part off brings me back to the day I realized I didn’t like cheese. My aunt, wonderful lady, asked me when I was about six or seven if I wanted cheese curds. Young Wes had only known the squeaky variety and I thought they were always squeaky. The ones she gave me were a few days old and I didn’t like them. So she tried to microwave them for me and I REALLY didn’t like them. I swear I didn’t touch cheese curds for like 10 years after that. Working in this organization has caused me to change my stance…slightly. Good morning!

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, what has impressed you most about Coach LaFleur after his first five games? What has surprised you?

His willingness to adapt. He doesn’t try to fit square pegs into round holes. LaFleur identifies the strengths of his personnel and tailors his system to accommodate those players. That’s what makes good coaches great. The biggest surprise is how he, Brian Gutekunst and Mike Pettine developed such a strong team chemistry in less than a year. Win, lose or tie, this team fights together. When speaking to the character of a team, that’s everything you need to know.

Austin from Minneola, FL

Aaron Jones had a monster game while Jamaal Williams was out. After seeing what Jones can do with more touches, do you expect Williams and Jones to continue to split carries as they have in the past?

I wouldn’t say even split but I expect both to be part of the offense, especially over this next month. The Packers have five games between now and their Week 11 bye. They’re already without their top guy in Davante Adams at the moment. Jones and Williams both have something to offer.

Joe from Las Vegas, NV

Here we are again, getting ready to play another good football team. It seems like the secondary gives up a lot of yards in the fourth quarter and they got tired legs. How does the defense stop Matthew Stafford in the fourth quarter or at least slow the Lions down? I never played but even at my best my legs would wear down with that kind of demand.

Pursuit and finish. Mike Pettine really harped on keeping the foot on the gas pedal, himself included, when working with a big lead in the second half. Stafford is cut from strong cloth. He’s seen adversity and he’s risen above it. The biggest key is getting consistent pressure on him. The Packers haven’t done enough of that the last two years. The more pressure, the more chances for the secondary to make a big play.

Erik from Sisters, OR

If you're looking at stats to confirm what your eyes are seeing from this Packers D, what stats are you looking at? Third down, red zone, and turnovers would be the most important for me. Packers overall sit at No. 22 according to NFL.com, but according to my three stats they sit more around 10. I'm not comparing for comparison sake, I want to know just how good this defense is by means other than eyes and guts, know what I mean?

I’ve said for a number of years “total defense” shouldn’t be “total yards.” That’s an archaic way to rate efficiency. A better stat is the average of total defense, takeaways and red zone. Why don’t we call it “total dominance”? Every defense is searching to succeed in those three aspects of the game.

Jake from Athens, GA

How much do you read into the phone conversations with opposing head coaches, or do you mostly take their comments at face value? Coach Patricia said about Aaron Rodgers, “He just looks very comfortable.” Is that a clue that a big part of his game plan this week will be trying to make Rodgers uncomfortable?

I was on Patricia’s conference call. I just took it as Rodgers looks at home in LaFleur’s scheme. The Lions obviously will try to make Rodgers as uncomfortable as possible on the field Monday night, but that’s entirely independent from how QB1 has adjusted to Green Bay’s new offense.

Bruce from Green Bay, WI

Green Bay is really going to be challenged Monday running the ball against a very talented Lions defense. Hard to believe a stout player like Mike Daniels is a backup. Could this be the week that play-action opens up the passing game with so much success against the Cowboys last week on the ground? Because Detroit plays the run well, would it be better for Green Bay to play-action to the pass to open up the running game or vice versa?

People (not saying you, Bruce) who want to bang the Daniels drum are going to have to hold off for another two months. He hasn’t practiced this week and it stands to reason he won’t play Monday night. Also, with all due respect to Detroit, the Lions right now are 27th in total yards, 20th against the run and 30th against the pass. The challenges Detroit presents are different than the Dallas game and the Packers must plan accordingly. Regardless, the Packers need to get Jones and Jamaal Williams going. That’s a must.

Oscar from Sherman Oaks, CA

Has anyone brought up Mason Crosby’s tackle on the kickoff? That man was not afraid to get in there and prevent a return TD. I held my breath when I noticed he stood up and walked back gingerly. I’m glad he’s doing well. Also, if he couldn’t kick, and JK Scott has to carry the kicking duties, who would be the holder?

Mason Crosby is not to be trifled with. I am not privy to who the emergency holder is, though. Maybe Tim Boyle?

James from Chicago, IL

I know power rankings don’t mean a thing, but I have to admit it makes me smile to see James Jones giving his continued plugs and love to Green Bay

As an aside to this submission, how flippin’ good is James Jones on TV? I knew he’d be successful if he chose to go the sportscasting route after his playing career, but Jones has blown me away by how seamlessly he’s transitioned into that field.

Linda from Lyndon Station, WI

Do you think the team gets better with every game?

Yeah, I think so. Each week, you’re seeing signs of progress you want to see from a contender.

Daniel from Johnston, IA

Taunting is always a between-downs foul and won't negate touchdowns. Excerpt from NFL 2019 rulebook: (c) Using baiting or taunting acts or words that may engender ill will between teams. Penalty: Loss of 15 yards from the succeeding spot or whatever spot the Referee, after consulting with the crew, deems equitable. If the foul is by the defense, it is also an automatic first down.

If waving at a defender constitutes taunting, the NFL needs to stop taking itself so seriously. If I have no problem with my child seeing the “act” in question unfold, then it’s not a penalty. Simple as that. I was disappointed to learn Jones was fined for the play. That’s unfortunate.

Bill from Menominee, MI

Would you agree the Packers actually have a pretty favorable schedule in 2019? Open on a Thursday getting an extended rest and prep for Game 2. The second Thursday game was at home early in the season. Then, the bye week falls later in the season to regroup and adjust for injuries. Schedule-makers can't make everyone happy but the Packers didn't get the short end of the stick by any means.

It’s a weird schedule – five of the first seven at home and three straight against the NFC North to close the regular season – but it could’ve been much, much worse. For me, the No. 1 thing is having a bye week as close to the middle of the season as possible. I’d much rather have a Week 11 bye than one in the first six weeks.

Steve from Ashland, WI

Will New England have a playoff spot wrapped up before Thanksgiving? Just win baby!

The Patriots will get tested…eventually. After the New York Jets and Cleveland, New England has Baltimore, Philadelphia and Dallas in consecutive games coming up. As it stands right now, however, New England’s first eight opponents have combined to go 9-28 with one team (Buffalo) sitting with a winning record. For sake of comparison, Green Bay’s first eight are a combined 22-16-1 with only Denver currently under .500.

Cindy from Los Angeles, CA

Hi Insiders, what makes Tom Brady so good at the QB sneak? He does it so often I've come to expect it in short-yardage, but nevertheless he is generally still successful. What's the trick?

He has a real knack for it. Watching him against the Giants, Brady always seemed to find the soft spot in the line and drive forward. He’s not build like Carson Wentz but Brady makes it work. No team in the NFL has found more ways to move the chains than the Patriots over the past decade…and that’s why they’re champions.

Al from Green Bay, WI

The Niners-Rams game intrigues me this weekend. What might we learn from this matchup?

Are the 49ers for real? Or can the Rams dust themselves off and beat the NFL’s biggest surprise through the first month of the season? San Francisco is a real problem for the NFC with how consistent it’s been on both offense and defense.

Justin from Sioux Falls, SD

Do you think it’s harder to play in the extreme hot or cold?

I would think extreme hot, but I’m not a professional athlete.

Joshua from Desert Hot Springs, CA

Wes, would you break down a coach’s job as follows? 60% preparation, 20% teaching, 10% screaming & cursing, 10% praying.

I’d say that’s a fair assessment of it.

Jim from Eau Claire, WI

Do you expect Oren Burks to play more snaps on Monday night? Containing Kerryon Johnson will be very important and I think Burks could help with this.

Burks has been a full participant in practice this week, which leads me to believe he checked all the boxes the trainers were looking for coming out of Dallas. B.J. Goodson is healthy, too, so we’ll see who plays in base against Detroit. Regardless, I expect the second inside linebacker to be on the field quite a bit against the Lions’ offensive front.

Joel from Sand Springs, OK

Insiders, with Larry’s use of “What say you?” in the latest “Three Things” is that phrase officially fair game again? What say you?

It’s Larry’s world. I just live in it. He can do whatever he wants.

Gabriel from Glen Ellyn, IL

Why is the “All-22” camera angle not shown often? It's a great way to review plays which involve sacks, missed receivers, etc. When I'm at a game, there are often plays, which are quite meaningful, but might get the short shrift by commentators. Seeing all the players reveals so much, I just don't get why we don't get to see this perspective.

That’s team video footage, not TV production cameras. The replays use the latter. 

Lincoln from Eau Claire, WI

Spoff, re: your reply about the safety officials. I was on a vacation cruise with an official who worked last year's Super Bowl. We were both waiting in line at a bar and I noticed he was wearing a Super Bowl ring which I had to ask about. He told me they give a special one to refs who work the big game. I peppered him with questions and suggested a replay official in the booth be mandated so obviously missed calls like the Saints-Rams PI or concussions are not missed. He agreed, seems simple...

That’s one heck of a story.

Scott from Hamlin, NY

I think what the listeners are hearing is "FIRE" as in, short punt. Get out of the way.

Yes. Previously known as “Peter! Peter!”

Jeff from Winnipeg, Manitoba

I too would like to see a referee with live video review access. I would also like to see a contraption which releases flags from the sky landing on the 50-yard line when s/he calls a penalty. We would know where to look before prematurely celebrating and then saddened upon the discovery of a flag. Also, there would be some charm in seeing the flag slowly float down to a snow-covered turf catching an infraction that would otherwise have been missed.

Looks like somebody watched “Hunger Games” last night.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

I was surprised Jonathan Taylor of the Badgers came back for another unpaid season as a RB given all we know about the controversies about pay and shelf life for that position in the NFL. Watching him catch the ball almost McCaffrey-like out of the backfield this year shows a new wrinkle he had not showcased previous seasons. Does Taylor look more like a first-round prospect now that he is showing dual threat capability?

Taylor didn’t have a choice because of the three-year rule not allowing true rising juniors to declare early for the draft last year.

Richard from Lake Geneva, WI

As someone who works in media, have you gotten comfortable listening to your voice when you hear yourself in interviews, press conferences, or “Packers Unscripted?”

Nope. I’m always open to criticism and improvement, but I have a difficult time listening to or watching myself.

John from Winsted, CT

You're all wrong. Piled on a plate of fries and covered in gravy is the proper way to eat cheese curds.

I think I just threw up a little.

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