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Inbox: That's life in this league

Lest we forget a lot of winning has sprouted from that soil

Head Coach Matt LaFleur and QB Aaron Rodgers
Head Coach Matt LaFleur and QB Aaron Rodgers

Tom from Birmingham, MI

II, "Kiss Me, I Panicked" T-shirts. I wish this question box allowed'd be seeing three laughing with tears right now.

It's been one of those weeks. Good morning!

Bob from San Diego, CA

Nice job with the flat tire analogy! True statement. Hopefully, all the fans who are starting to panic took a deep breath afterwards.

One last thing on the panic in the Inbox before I move on with my life. Fans can panic. That's their prerogative when adversity hits because they're the spectators, not the participants. Because you all pay the money. You all buy the merchandise. You click the stories. But please understand NFL teams don't have that luxury. The contracts are signed. The plays were installed two months ago. The cards have been dealt. This is the hand the Packers are playing in 2022 – and I think everyone agrees they could be playing better. But panic doesn't go poof and magically turn into production.

Kevin from Indianapolis, IN

I'm OK with the outrage at the last few performances because it stems from the fact that we believe we have a great team that is just underperforming. That's better than the alternative. Moving on to the Commanders, and knowing that getting back on track is likely a process, what is the one aspect of the game that absolutely needs to improve for this week to show progress towards being a Super Bowl contender?

Things don't get any easier for the Packers' offensive line. Defensive fronts don't get much better than Montez Sweat, Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen and Jamin Davis. Shoot, even former seventh-rounder James Smith-Williams has a pair of sacks this season. We'll see what form the Packers' O-line takes in Washington, but that starting five needs to communicate and play as one to have success against the Commanders' front.

Jeremy from Collegeville, PA

Hey Wes, what player on the Packers' defense has stood out to you the most so far this season?

To use some old hockey terminology, Rashan Gary, Kenny Clark and Jaire Alexander are my three stars of the first third of the Packers' 2022 season. Here are more words on the run Gary has been on over the past 361 days.

Rusty from Eustace, TX

As we say in the Corps, "Adversity tempers steel." Having been here before, I have faith they'll figure it out. Looking for a statement game this weekend! Go Pack Go!

I want to see them play loose this weekend, which is why Matt LaFleur's message on Wednesday resonated so much with me. He not only talked about working hard and competing this week but also having fun and enjoying the process. Some Twitter killjoys were howling about those remarks, but it's not a new concept. LaFleur's best teams have been fun-loving and loose. Lest we forget a lot of winning has sprouted from that soil the last three years.

Craig from Appleton, WI

In retrospect, do you think the organization wishes it had taken the bye week following the London trip? Would you expect them to re-evaluate for the next go around?

No. This team is actually pretty healthy compared to many in the NFL right now, including the Giants. The Packers don't need a break. They need to bounce back. If this team is as good as we all thought it was, the December bye will be much more beneficial.

Joseph from Vermillion, SD

Any idea how Taylor Heinicke has improved since the last time we saw him?

Heinicke is cagey. He can run a little, throw a little and do enough to win some football games. The Packers' defensive front needs to apply pressure like it did last year when it sacked Heinicke four times but also be smart in pursuit. Because as we also saw last year, Heinicke can do damage with his feet if the defense loses contain.

Geoffrey from Rosemount, MN

Call me crazy but I think Washington is a better team with Heinicke at QB than Carson Wentz.

Seven of Ron Rivera's 16 wins as Washington's head coach have come with Heinicke as the starter at QB. The Packers better prepare for the best version of the Commanders on Sunday. They aren't facing the Generals.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

More and more I see statistics used (or overused) in articles. If the piece is about how great the team is doing, they find a bunch of stats to show just that. Another writer has a piece on the same team writing an article about the team how bad they are can find plenty of stats that show exactly that. Mostly I rely on the eye test and points for and against. What stats do you feel you can trust the most? Least? Any that you feel you can rely on for a true picture?

You need to take in all the information and base your own opinions. The Packers have the No. 1-ranked pass defense right now but certainly I'm not writing a story this week on how Green Bay is dominating in that phase of the game and there's no room needed for improvement.

Chris from Titusville, FL

On Sunday, I noticed that everything clicked in the hurry-up. Guys were running great routes, made the catch, and got out of bounds. Is it possible we see more no huddle this weekend?

Some of that is dictated by the game situation and the opposition playing more in zone while not wanting to give up a big play. But to your point, the Packers clearly played with better tempo in those instances. That's what I'm looking for this week against Washington – establishing rhythm and seamlessly getting in and out of the huddle.

Mike from St Louis Park, MN

Morning guys. Hey, what's up with Sammy Watkins and Christian Watson? Will either be available anytime soon?

I don't have an update on Watson, but the fact he has yet to be placed on injured reserve seems like a positive. Watkins returned to practice Wednesday. While LaFleur wasn't making any promises on when Watkins will be back, it is good to see it wasn't a season-ending hamstring injury for the veteran receiver. Since Watkins got hurt in practice, it's been hard to get a read on the severity. Hopefully, it's smoother sailing from here because the Packers need him.

Tom from Burlington, WI

Zach Tom has 10 starts at RT from college so his familiarity is certainly there. My hope when he was drafted, and when I purchased his jersey, was that he would be the RT of the future. Certain media outlets have certainly perpetuated that idea, but have there been any comments at 1265 for that plan? If so, why delay?

Tom did some good things this summer, but it was expected this would be a bit of a redshirt season while he adds a little more size. From a fundamental standpoint, Tom was one of the most pro-ready rookies on the roster. I love his footwork and felt like he battled when he was in there with the ones.

Steve from Ellison Bay, WI

Gents, I recall the Packers' defense faced a fourth-and-26 in a game a couple of years ago (I think it was Jacksonville), and my heart skipped a beat or two when it was announced. Same with the onside kick at Tampa Bay. All I could watch were the blockers in front of Allen Lazard, can you please identify those players who did their jobs perfectly? Thanks, Steve.

Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage. Textbook.

Doug from Neenah, WI

Good morning, Wes. What happens to a punter's statistical average when one of his blocked punts never reaches the line of scrimmage or goes backwards? Does that go for negative yardage or a zero?

It's all baked into the pudding. Because Pat O'Donnell's punt was blocked and returned for a touchdown, it goes down as a punt for zero yards. So, O'Donnell's net Sunday dipped from 42 to 35 yards per punt for that reason. On Eric Wilson's block of Braden Mann's punt, the ball went past the line of scrimmage. So, Wilson doesn't get credit for a block, and it goes down as a 6-yard punt for Mann.

Craig from Mendota Heights, MN

Two 13-win seasons meant a lot of good coaches being plucked by others. Does this new overall group just need a bit more time together, especially as it relates to making in-game adjustments?

I've noticed this question popping up in the submissions the past few days. While Nathaniel Hackett, Luke Getsy, Justin Outten and others were key losses, the main construct of the Packers' coaching staff remains in place. Every coordinator has been here with LaFleur the past two seasons. So, it's not like it's an entirely new staff or anything. As Rodgers has said, the scheme works. It's up to the players to execute.

Derek from Norton, KS

It's clear the offensive line is struggling. All the core linemen have some experience with this scheme. Are there any simple changes that can be made schematically to relieve some pressure up front? Passes to the running backs in the flat?

Again, you can scheme until the cows come home, but if a pre-snap check is made and a lineman doesn't respond accordingly, bad things happen. Communication is the mother of all execution…or something.

Josh from Milwaukee, WI

Do you think there's any correlation between the successful development of Yosh Nijman and the Packers' willingness to claim Luke Tenuta, another OL from Virginia Tech? Does Va. Tech get a slight bump when looking at FA or practice-squad OL to sign?

I think the Virginia Tech connection is merely a coincidence, but there's something to be said for Tenuta's size. Like Nijman, Tenuta is a massive prospect at 6-8, 319 pounds. The Packers have been high on tall tackles in the Gutekunst era. He's green after being an early entrant in this year's draft but has an intriguing athletic background. Both his dad (football) and mom (basketball) played at Virginia.

Phil from Oshkosh, WI

Tuesday's II asked, "Does sitting in the stands and booing help anyone?" I think the answer is yes, along the lines of tough love. There's truth in the old chestnut that "your best friends are your harshest critics." By booing such shoddy play, paying fans are letting players and coaches know how they feel, and instantly giving added motivation to improve. ... How is that not helping?

You chant "Go Pack Go" when the offense is on the field, don't you?

Chuck from Wilson, WI

At 75-plus, I've been to many sporting events, including the game last Sunday and will never understand booing the team you support, too much booze or not. To me, that was as big a disappointment as the Packers' performance. I don't know whom to attribute the following quote to, but it is always applicable in sports and in life. "Success is not owned. It is rented. And rent is due every day." GPG

I understand fans' frustration and respect their freedom to voice disapproval. But booing didn't lead to some sudden surge, did it? The Packers still lost.

William from Fredonia, WI

First-time poster, and Packers shareholder: My research finds that three of the next five Packers opponents will have more rest than the usual week. Washington last played on Thursday, Oct. 13 (nine days off). Buffalo and Dallas will both be coming off their bye weeks. A tough stretch indeed. Thoughts?

It is a tough stretch, but that's life in this league. You have to adjust, make the corrections and take on the schedule as it comes.

Ken from West Valley City, UT

I actually have two questions: How come we don't see pictures of Wes and Mike boarding the bus or plane on road trips? Or entering the stadium on gameday? This is really late, but can you include a picture of your vantage point during games, especially road games? You mentioned being down low in London.

Simple answers. First, our photographer uses slow-developing film. I'm still waiting on our arrival photos from the 2016 season. And here's our view from the press area at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Cheers!


Kathie from Pasadena, TX

My son, who is in the Army stationed in Hawaii, had sent me a text saying that he is going to cheer me up after the Packers lost back-to-back. He then sent me a picture of his wife's sonogram showing twins! Yes, we all are over the moon! They both have children from first marriages so this will be five grandchildren for me. Twice to love and more to spoil.

Congrats, Kathie! All the best to the happy couple.

George from Edinburg, VA

Sadly, I was looking forward to meeting Wes and seeing my Platteville cohort, Mike, and perhaps Mark again, but my shareholder boss (wife) nixed it after the Alexandria rally was so tough with my canes. Happily, my other shareholder boss (son) is going with me to the game. Midfield at row 10 on Packers' side. My third game, it will be the closest to the field we've ever been. Half the price of Lambeau tickets. My question is, could you guys get the team fired up, so we can see them win?

We'll do our best, George. Enjoy the game.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

What is Matt LaFleur's streak of games without three consecutive losses? Asking for a friend.

Just win, baby.

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