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Inbox: That's football for you

Consistency has been difficult to attain this season and so, too, have been the victories

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Packers' defense

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

This game had so many positive takeaways (running game, coming back from 13 down, a spark in the return game, Quay Walker's fumble recovery, Aaron Rodgers' performance in the first half, Christian Watson taking another step forward and Jordan Love looking decent) and also so many negative takeaways (Rodgers' injury, horrific run defense, missed tackles, another disappointing loss, playoff chances crippled). In the end I don't feel one way or the other. I feel nothing. Maybe I've reached nirvana?

It happened again – big plays, followed by breakdowns. That, unfortunately, has been the story of the season. For whatever reason, consistency has been difficult to attain and so, too, have been the victories.

Greg from Perkasie, PA

Watching that game in-person, you could feel how fast Watson is. I started cheering and my Eagles fan brother-in-law let an expletive slip as soon as Watson caught the ball over the middle from Love because we both knew he was going the distance. Love also looked pretty sharp with his snaps. I thought he may have missed Allen Lazard for a touchdown on a scramble drill that I've seen Rodgers hit a thousand times, but other than that, Love's showing was quite encouraging.

As I tweeted during the game, Watson's speed is prodigious. NFL NextGenStats clocked him at 20.97 miles per hour on the 63-yard touchdown, the fastest max speed by a Packers ball carrier this season. It looked like Philadelphia's secondary took the proper angles. Reed Blankenship may have bit just a little low, but Watson's ability to get up the sideline made their whereabouts a non-factor. He's turning into one of the brightest spots in a disappointing season.

Mike from Keshena, WI

Christian Watson doesn't even look like he's running hard. He just ran away from two defensive backs and didn't look like he was working at all. Amazing.

He makes it look effortless. That's the best compliment I can give him.

Ryan from Kaukauna, WI

I liked what we saw from Jordan Love. He looked confident, poised in the pocket, and sharp throws to his receivers. I know it was one game, but the future doesn't look so grim. Have a good day and thanks for all of your hard work.

Love has had some impressive practices over the last two years, but I think it's safe to say this was the biggest moment of his burgeoning NFL career. Yes, the 146.8 passer rating is nice, but more importantly, he was confident in the pocket and delivered the ball on time. It was the growth you wanted to see after last year's spot start in Kansas City.

Ed from Minneapolis, MN

Hey Mike and Wes, I remember when Brett Favre had a broken thumb and kept on playing. I think that was driven by the ironman streak. I don't remember who his backup was. Is the drop-off so great between Rodgers and Love that a hurt Rodgers is still better than a healthy Love? Is it just the drive in Rodgers? Is it a little bit of all of it?

The only update Matt LaFleur provided Monday was that head athletic trainer Bryan Engel reported to him that Rodgers was feeling better. If Rodgers is healthy enough to play against Chicago, then he will play. The Packers have confidence in both quarterbacks, but Rodgers is the starting QB and reigning NFL MVP. They'll monitor the situation with Rodgers' thumb and ribs, but he's proven so many times he can play through injury at a high level.

Caleb from Knoxville, TN

What did you think of our run game against Philly?

Offensively? Good. Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon did well with the opportunities they were given. Defensively? It was…something.

Mike from Baraboo, WI

Is giving up 363 yards more on the coaching staff or on the players on the field? More importantly, how can this weakness be turned into a strength?

It's on everybody and the Packers are running out of time to find a solution. Two weeks ago, they used overload fronts to stymie Tennessee and Ryan Tannehill picked the defense apart with his arm. On Sunday, they tried to defend Hurts' speed with a base nickel and the Eagles found openings inside. Green Bay now ranks 31st against the run after Sunday night, allowing 154.8 yards per game.

Randy from Klamath Falls, OR

Wes, I was pleasantly surprised by the offense last night and held out great hope that if they could somehow get a win the Packers could go on a roll. But after the defensive performance I don't think this team would do anything in the playoffs, if it somehow made it. I still believe there is way too much talent on the defense for such poor performances. Do you see anything in the film study to show why this defense is so terrible?

Poor tackling, open gaps and not enough hats flying to the ball when the ball carrier ran through first contact. When the Packers had Jalen Hurts corralled, he always seemed to make someone miss. You can't give a guy with his immense talent a second chance. Matt LaFleur said they counted 20-plus missed tackles against the Eagles, the most of his nearly four years as Packers head coach. Hurts made the Packers pay a dear price for that.

James from Appleton, WI

Well, the Packers learned you can't contain Jalen Hurts with a spy. They did a decent job when they pushed the pocket into Hurts until he had to start moving backwards. Let's hope this lesson gets applied to Justin Fields.

That was my biggest lasting takeaway because these types of dual-threat quarterbacks aren't going anywhere. The Packers could see another one next week in Chicago if Fields is cleared with the shoulder injury. Either way, I'm sure the Bears are jotting down notes of what the Eagles did that worked so well against Green Bay.

Reed from Myrtle Beach, SC

I gotta feeling Justin Fields is going to start feeling fine real soon.

Mayhap, though it's not as simple as Fields just throwing on the pads and running out there. He plays the game physical. With Chicago sitting at 3-9, the Bears have to think about their future, too. But certainly the Bears were not the same team Sunday without their QB of the future.

Doug from Lithia, FL

Realizing that times, rules and physical stature of players have all changed, I can't help but thinking back to the '72 playoff game against Washington. We went in with the best running tandem in the league, John Brockington and MacArthur Lane. George Allen put in a five-man D-line and shut us down. Sunday night, I saw us with a two-man down line most of the game. Obviously, it wasn't working. Why in the world didn't Joe Barry try something different?

I'm sure the question will be asked when Barry speaks with the media later this week. But yes, the Packers stuck to their nickel to defend Hurts and the Eagles' run game with some Penny base (3-3-5) mixed in.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

After watching Sunday's game, I am truly amazed that we only lost by seven. Philly seemed much more physical and aggressive on both sides of the ball. Now on to Chicago and another running QB. The film room will provide lots of what-not-to-dos. I hope we are quick learners. Was there anything positive that you saw on defense that we can take as hopeful?

I liked what I saw from Justin Hollins. On four days' notice, I thought he played well during his 21 defensive snaps. He held his edge, produced a sack on a three-and-out and contributed another tackle for a loss. With Hollins, this isn't just about the stretch run. It's seeing whether this young man could be a fit for the future, too. The Packers need depth at the position, especially in the aftermath of Rashan Gary's knee injury.

Jim from Freedom, WI

I learned how to tackle in high school. Doesn't the defensive coach teach them how to tackle, especially making millions a year? I could tackle better in HS and was not on the HS payroll. Seeing Rodgers is hurting why not give Love the opportunity, he looked good and cool out there.

You learned how to tackle 5-foot-nothing, 145-nothing Johnny Przybylski from Little Chute – not a 6-foot-1, 223-pound quarterback like Hurts who runs a 4.59 40 and can cut on a dime. In the game of false equivalents, you take win, place and show, sir.

Jim from St. Pete Beach, FL

Hurts was the difference in that game. His mobility is clearly off the charts, but that throw to the pylon to end the first half is what the final difference was. Where is he in the MVP rankings in your mind, Wes?

If we're talking about the individual who is of the most value to his team, I think it has to be Patrick Mahomes, Hurts or Mike White.

Steve from Bradenton, FL

Your thoughts on the obvious, you score 33 points you should win the game.

But the Packers also expect to win when they hold an opponent to 15 points like they did earlier this month in Detroit. That's the give and take that's been missing this year. It's frustrating, but that's football for you. The best teams solve the riddle. Green Bay has yet to pass that test this season.

Dan from Algonquin, IL

Hi Wes, though not mathematically eliminated, the door is all but closed and barred for this season. I was hoping the bye week would be relevant and help our chances for a playoff push, but that is now irrelevant. We can still enjoy watching our beloved Packers beat the Bears and Lions, and hopefully eliminate the Vikings' chances of a No. 1 seed. What are you most interested in seeing in the Packers other than Watson's emergence and Love's opportunity to prove he belongs in the NFL?

The most difficult thing to swallow about the Packers' current state of affairs is that the NFC is wide open. Whatever you think of how the season has played out for Green Bay, the Packers put up 33 points against one of the league's top defenses and played with the 10-win Eagles to the bitter end. In my estimation, any of the seven teams that make it in the NFC have a realistic shot at the Super Bowl.

Ken from New York, NY

This game made me remember a Packers-Jets game I went to a few years ago where the playoff chase for the Pack was already lost and the Packers were being beaten badly by the Jets. And yet, the Packers never quit and they fought their way back to a thrilling victory. I'll always remember that game, because even though we lost on Sunday, as long as the Packers remain a never-say-die team, we'll be just fine (even though this season hasn't gone the way we wanted it to).

Joe Philbin's two wins as interim head coach in 2018 still rank among the liveliest locker rooms I've covered. Because these men are competitors. They've been playing to win since they were children. Even when a team is eliminated, you have to remember these players are still fighting for jobs and contracts.

Bil from Stateline, NV

When Keisean Nixon bobbled the kickoff in the end zone, could he have taken a knee rather than trying to run it out, or would the bobble deem that a safety? Seems to me that he never left the end zone, so he should have been able to down it and take it at the 25. I know that in a crucial game you want to be aggressive, but this seemed a poor choice. Was it an emotional decision, or a rules decision?

He's good as long as he doesn't advance the ball out of the end zone.

Douglas from Plover, WI

Now that Jim Leonhard has been passed over at Wisconsin, is it time for the Packers to go hunting?

All the best to Leonhard. He sounds like a good dude, but I'm covering the football team that's in front of me. If you've been reading Inbox long enough, you know we don't speculate on the future. When moves are made, we'll react accordingly.

Kyler from Redding, CA

Who would you consider the best back from the 2017 class? Whoever you pick from the fourth overall selection in Leonard Fournette all the way to the 182nd pick (Aaron Jones in case anyone didn't know that), I think an argument can be made. One hell of a draft for running backs.

The 2017 NFL Draft was for running backs what the 2020 draft is turning out to be for quarterbacks. Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon, Alvin Kamara, and Jones have all made Pro Bowls and consistently ranked as the NFL's top running backs for the past six seasons. Even Fournette, Kareem Hunt and D'Onta Foreman have had resurgences.

Brooks from Moore, OK

I understand that roster moves are sometimes a numbers game but I don't understand why Patrick Taylor was released, re-signed, and activated within the same week. What was the cause?

The Packers needed a 53-man roster spot after they claimed Hollins. They had Taylor on the practice squad twice before this season and likely figured he'd clear waivers again. Since Taylor still had elevations available, the Packers could have their cake and eat it, too. It's nothing against Taylor. It's just circumstances.

Greg from Downers Grove, IL

Next up the Bears. I say there's a chance. If we win this one, the Packers will stand alone as the franchise with the most wins in NFL history. We have a lot to play for here.

There is. Packers vs. Bears in December. It's what this sport is all about. Have a great Tuesday, folks.

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