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Inbox: That's how you play winning football

Nobody impacts a game quite like Aaron Jones

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Packers offense celebrates after TE Robert Tonyan's touchdown

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Wes? Is that you Wes? Game ball revisited. Week 1, it was Tae Adams. Week 2, it was Touchdown Jones. Week 3: Allen (needs a nickname) Lazard. Who will Week 4 be? For the record, I think this week it goes back to Jones. One more question, if last year was "winning ugly" is this year "winning pretty"?

It is I. Thanks to everyone for bearing with us. We're going to try to follow this alternating schedule for the next week or so with the Monday night game on the horizon. My Week 4 pick is Robert Tonyan. He's playing more than ever and seems to be finding his groove. And if last year was "winning ugly," this year has been "winning definitively."

Derek from Norton, KS

With the bye week ahead, do you anticipate the Packers looking to give Davante Adams and Kenny Clark another week to recover?

No. If they can play, they will play Monday night. The Packers may really need Adams, too, depending on the severity of the core injury that held Allen Lazard out of practice Thursday.

Matt from Minneapolis, MN

One thing that I like about Matt LaFleur's offense is that it is built to last the season. By scheming opportunities for four RBs and four TEs, and big WRs like Allen Lazard, we spread the hits guys take throughout the season among a large number of guys built for contact. Do you think this could be an intentional way to stay healthier and be fresh when it matters most, or a lucky byproduct of the system?

It's a little of everything, but the advantage of LaFleur's offense is it's built around an idea more than it is the personnel. Certainly, the Packers want Davante Adams on the field but the offense can pivot easier to other personnel than when Jordy Nelson went down with his season-ending knee injury in 2015. Just look at how Tonyan, Jace Sternberger and even John Lovett have stepped up behind the line of scrimmage during Josiah Deguara's two-game absence.

Bob from Myrtle Beach, SC

So, as a defense, you had Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams, and Davante Adams to game plan for. After last Sunday, we add Allen Lazard, and the TEs. As a defensive coordinator, how do you realistically game plan now? Also with all that, who is going to cover Marquez Valdes-Scantling?

The Saints didn't want Aaron Jones to beat them in the box and MVS to get loose down the field…and the Packers made New Orleans pay for that game plan with Lazard winning his one-on-ones and the underneath passes to tight ends. LaFleur and Rodgers continue to be one step ahead.

Mark from Bettendorf, IA

It seems the only way AJ Dillon gets more touches is if he "learns" pass protection. Is this something he had to do in college?

I don't think that's true. Dillon has only had a few snaps because Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams are two really good veteran backs. You gotta remember Jones was a healthy scratch in his first NFL game way back when. The Packers want to get Dillon more touches – and he will get them, in due time.

Otto from Gaithersburg, MD

With all due respect, I have to disagree with Aaron Jones being our most valuable player after Rodgers. Behind Jones, we have at least one (and possibly two) guys who could pick up the mantle and be a 1,000-yard rusher, especially with how our offensive line is blocking right now. On the other hand, if Za'Darius Smith or Jaire Alexander get injured, our defense would be in a really tough spot.

I'd probably argue Adams is the MVP after Rodgers, or maybe David Bakhtiari, for the long-term ramifications for the offense if they were out for a significant amount of time. But Jones is not a bad pick. Yes, the Packers have a deep backfield but nobody who impacts a game quite like Jones. It's not just what he does with the ball – it's the attention he commands even without it.

Forrest from Euless, TX

Do you think Kingsley Keke's first sack is like opening a bag of Old Dutch? Can't stop at one?

Yes…haha…and that legit made me laugh.

Nathan from Lino Lakes, MN

It would seem if the stars had to align for anyone, this season is it for Rodgers. No preseason for the vet, no crowd noise for the master at the line, years of mental preparation for the changing environment. How does Rodgers prevent a regression to the mean as others catch up? It almost feels like he was given a 50-yard head start in the 100-yard dash, but there are faster/younger out there that will be showing up.

I think it's as simple as Rodgers just staying healthy. Because when he's in a groove, Rodgers typically stays in it. He's diligent about his preparation, takes care of his body like no other and really seems to be having fun out there. When those three stars are aligned, there are few better players in the NFL.

Michael from Burnsville, MN

Will Kamal Martin come in when healthy with a big role or will the Packers be comfortable letting Ty Summers continue to man the middle with the dot on his helmet? If Martin does play significantly, will he be taking play calls?

That depends on the severity of Christian Kirksey's shoulder injury and how Summers performs in the interim. Martin was playing that run linebacker role Krys Barnes is at the moment. Maybe the Packers like Martin in that three-down linebacker role, too, but we've yet to see him there.

Ryan from Appleton, WI

Any thoughts on playing time at ILB being distributed between Oren Burks, Krys Barnes, and Ty Summers?

Barnes is the run-down base linebacker and he's done a nice job in that role. Burks played as almost a hybrid outside linebacker against the Saints and was productive there, especially in the dime. He failed to seal off the edge on his first snap but then settled in, with two tackles in 13 snaps. I want to see more of him in that spot.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

With offensive holding calls being down so far this year could that account for the Packers having more manageable third downs? Any idea how many third-and-longs we had through the first three games last year compared to this year?

The third-and-longs are down this year, but even when the Packers have been in third-and-7-plus, the offense has done a better job converting in those situations. That's a credit to the offensive line giving Rodgers time to work and skill-position players catching passes in critical points of the game. That's how you play winning football.

Matt from Oshkosh, WI

Gentlemen, I would like to propose a new order of importance in signing the Packers' own free agents this offseason. David Bakhtiari would be my No. 1 priority but I would argue that Corey Linsley at center should be the next priority. You cannot keep everybody and I love Mr. Jones but I believe a great O-line is more important and can make most running backs. What say you?

I don't rank free agents but Linsley is deserving of whatever third contract is coming his way. As we wrote Thursday, Linsley has been a dependable pillar on the O-line for seven years now. The Packers have some really tough decisions to make after this year, which is a good problem to have. You'd rather have an overabundance of good players to re-sign than having to overspend on another team's unrestricted free agents.

Thomas from Appleton, WI

Jaire Alexander on Calvin Ridley and Kevin King on Julio Jones, assuming he plays, makes sense to me. Or with such talented receivers, does Pettine just let them play the sides they're most comfortable on?

The Packers are confident enough in both Alexander and King that they've allowed them to play sides this year. If Jones plays, I expect both Packers cornerbacks to see their fair share of the All-Pro receiver.

Terrance from Penfield, PA

What type of information does Aaron Rodgers have on his wristband? It would seem to me that he would know the plays and formations.

He knows the plays and formations but the wristband helps decode what LaFleur is calling in from the sideline.

Jake from Eden Prairie, MN

I believe I saw Lucas Patrick wearing the COVID facemask piece during the Saints game. I'd be curious to know what he thought of it.

Yeah, Patrick has been wearing it since the team started practicing in August. He wanted to do everything possible to stay healthy and available.

Zach from Delavan, WI

I know that you both are the most consummate of professionals. You would provide great content and a positive spin despite the team's performance. But, how much more fun and exciting is your work when you are covering a 3-0 team with the highest-scoring offense in the NFL so far? #blessed

If the fans are happy, then I'm happy. It makes it much easier to open the Inbox three days a week. So yeah, 3-0 is fine by me.

Scott from Fredonia, WI

I don't completely understand the angst about our defense. In a season where crowd noise is low, scoring is high, and the Packers are more often than not playing with a lead, they are middle-of-the-pack in points and yards allowed. Perhaps given the circumstances the defense is not playing as badly as advertised?

The defense needs to play better. I'm not debating that. But the Packers currently are 14th in total defense. So Green Bay isn't the only NFL defense with some work to do.

Andy from Kalamazoo, MI

Dear Insiders, I wonder if the rise in points this year is a result of no crowd noise. Instead of one offense being limited by a communication disadvantage, both can communicate freely and score more, and scoring more begets more passing/scoring to catch up.

I think it's a combination of no crowds, fewer penalties and defenses not having a full offseason/training camp for installs. The quarantine affected both sides of the ball, but the burden of proof is always on the defense to counter the offensive pace and what the game is dictating.

Kevin from Morristown, NJ

This year with the Packers off to a fantastic start, memories of the Miami Dolphins' perfect season come to mind. Who will be the Packers' greatest challenge this year assuming the team stays healthy?

The Falcons. For real. Atlanta is playing for its season on Monday night. The Packers are going to get the Falcons' best game…and that passing offense will keep them in any game. Beyond that, the Tampa Bay game was the game I had circled since the summer. That's going to be a great litmus test for where this team is.

Paul from Mount Calvary, WI

A friendly disagreement with Mike. I agree with Paul from Johannesburg, South Africa. I actually enjoy seeing which is the better team and not whose fans can scream the loudest (or who has a stadium most acoustically designed to amplify sound).

I think the better team can still win in spite of a loud stadium, but I get your point. Maybe it doesn't seem too out-of-the-ordinary with ambient crowd noise on these broadcasts, but it was weird for us covering a game without fans at Lambeau Field. But Rodgers doesn't seem to mind.

Matt from Sierra Vista, AZ

What is your take on NFLPA rep JC Tretter calling for all teams to move to real grass? Citing a 28% higher risk of lower body injuries while playing on artificial turf.

I love it. Because JC is right. I've heard for years from linemen about how tough artificial turf is on their knees and joints. I understand the limitations of dome teams but I can see no reason an outdoor team should have turf.

Geoff from Omaha, NE

Assuming fans don't return for the playoffs, do you think home-field advantage will be more important for the Packers, as opposed to someone like the Saints? Even without fans, coming into Lambeau Field in January is no easy task.

It's the biggest home-field advantage in the NFL and the Packers have an offense that can take advantage of it.

Megan from Quincy, IL

Are the Packers going to allow fans to purchase cardboard cutouts to place in the stadium?

Not yet. There's still a lot the organization has to sort out. Those dominoes will start to fall after the Falcons game.

Don from Riverton, UT

Mike's response to Brandon from Baldwin, WI, on the Vikings appears to the naked eye like it could be the longest II response ever. I'm assuming that "OK" is the shortest ever. … (nerd nerd nerd nerd)

K

Rudy from Urbania, OH

Do you like your Cheetos crunchy or puffed? I prefer puffed.

Crunchy. Puffed is an abomination.

Steve from Seven Devils, NC

What do Ty Montgomery and Juwann Winfree have in common?

I hope it was worth it, Steve. I truly hope it was worth it.

Jeffrey from Eau Claire, WI

Can't wait till Monday night! Any comments.

I'm ready for some football.

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