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Inbox: It’s all eyes and minds forward

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Charlie from Cameron, NC

Wes is best when he’s edgy like yesterday. When will he turn the corner and be edgy until the final whistle every week? Do you think he can run the table?

Never let it be said the Inbox doesn’t entertain from time to time. Onward …

Linnea from Milford, PA

I'm probably not the only one to notice this, but last week, Montgomery makes a bad decision that leads to a game-ending fumble, and is traded a few days later. This week, Whitehead gets ejected for an inane penalty, a potentially game-changing mistake, and is cut a few days later. Coincidence, or is Gute sending a message to the team that stupid decisions that hurt the team won't be tolerated? If the latter, do you think this approach will pay dividends by incentivizing players to be smart?

It’s likely there’s more to the situation than just the penalty and ejection from last week. There’s a lot that goes on within a football team.

Lynn from Somers, WI

Congratulations to Ted Thompson on his selection for induction into the Packers Hall of Fame. I noticed that he is the only individual mentioned. Does that mean that he will be the only inductee this time around, or will one or more players be announced later? If he is indeed the only person, was the Hall trying to make a statement, or is it just a coincidence?

It’s intentional on the Hall’s part and well-deserved. Others who have been inducted alone include Brett Favre (2015), Mike Holmgren (2012), Bob Harlan (2004) and Ron Wolf (2000). Thompson oversaw the rise of a crumbling 4-12 team from his first year, transitioned from one HOF QB to another, won a Super Bowl, and kept the Packers in contention annually despite the premature ending of the careers of some of his best draft picks (Collins, Finley, Raji). He’s more than worthy of the honor and to be in the company of the other solo inductees.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Looking at the schedule of the rest of the NFC polar division I see nothing but hope. No team has created unbeatable separation. Let the momentum begin on Sunday!

I continue to believe … OK, enough with that. Chicago has a gauntlet coming up. Minnesota has its bye. Beat Miami and you’re one game back of the Vikes with one game left against each team in front of you.

Steve from Conde, SD

It's (the morning after) Election Day. Most of us have had our fill of crazy political rhetoric. And we can find crazy Packers rumors and opinions in all kinds of places. I am amazed that II readers want more of that from you. You are a sanity oasis in a media jungle. And anyone who thinks you are sugarcoating should re-read your articles and Inboxes after these last two losses. Keep doing what you are doing. We know where to find the bloviating Packers "experts."

Bloviate – to talk at length, especially in an inflated or empty way. Great for the vocabulary, useless for the soul.

Paul from Minneapolis, MN

The whole point of deferring after winning the coin toss is so your defense can make a statement by shutting down the opening drive. The Packers’ D hasn't made much of a statement yet this season, have they?

The opposing team has gotten the ball first five times this season and scored a touchdown three times. That’s not ideal. (For the record, it’s been four 7-0 deficits before the Packers touched the ball due to the Detroit punt snafu.) But in those four games, the Packers have taken the opening possession of the second half and scored three TDs and a field goal. What’s been missing is getting points at the end of first halves to maximize on the decision to defer. The opportunity in Detroit became a turnover and touchdown the other way, which really hurt, while the one squandered last Sunday in New England (third-and-1 from the Green Bay 45 with 1:02 left and two timeouts) didn’t help either.

Joe from Dundee, IL

OH my, much to do on Twitter about a Ryan Wood flippant answer on his Monday chat. Can we get a photo of Mike and Wes and Ryan hugging it out in the press box at Sunday's game?

There’s no hugging in the press box, just like there’s no cheering in the press box. Trust me, we’re all good. It’s a tough business for tough people.

Brian from Schertz, TX

Replay is there to change bad calls by the officials. Do you see a day when calls like the roughing-the-kicker penalty on Tonyan will be reviewable? Or the personal foul that resulted in an ejection?

Ejections are reviewable, and my understanding is Al Riveron confirmed the ejection even though he didn’t stop the game for it. The Tonyan call resides in the “can of worms” the league does not want to open with regard to reviewing flags. If they’ve held out this long on big pass interference calls not being reviewable or challengeable, I don’t see the stance changing.

McKinley from Chicago, IL

Hi Insiders, how do the players/coaches balance learning and improving from a couple tough losses vs. putting those games behind them and moving on to the next on their schedule?

That’s the beauty of the business. On Monday, everyone reviews the previous game, swallows hard and processes what happened and why. On Tuesday, the players are off and the coaches work on the game plan for the next opponent. On Wednesday, it’s all eyes and minds forward.

Jim from McLean, VA

How much of our lack of "rhythm" on offense is related to the cumulative effects of Aaron's injury (keeping in mind I know an injured Rodgers is better than most healthy NFL QBs)?

I’ve been saying all season it’s definitely a factor, not only whatever adjustments he’s made physically to play through the knee all these weeks but also all the practice time he’s missed. Hearing Rodgers in his postgame news conferences have many of the same regrets game after game hasn’t swayed my thinking. He’s just not going to make excuses, to his credit. He’s gone through some ruts before and come out of them. I believe he’ll come out of this one, too. I just hope it won’t be too late.

Brett from Poplar, WI

What do you see as the main problem in Green Bay's offense? On Sunday night we were moving the ball well in the third quarter until the Jones fumble in the fourth, but that is a mistake that can be corrected. All in all they didn't play a horrible game. It doesn't seem like we are making the game any easier on AR. Is there anything that the coaching staff or the players can do to help him make those plays more often like we saw in previous years?

Rodgers looks caught in the middle to me. He’ll often pass up an open guy early to look for a bigger play in the progression, and it can work against him at times. Then he’ll regret plays like the second down in the fourth quarter last Sunday, when the play-action shot was called, and he pulled the trigger early to go to St. Brown on the cross when holding a tick longer for Adams in single coverage deep might have changed the game. He needs to find a rhythm for all the mental stuff to stay in sync. I think these last two games he’s dealt with a lot of interior pressure in his face, and that has been very disruptive to the offense and to finding said rhythm.

Chris from Minneapolis, MN

The Packers could really benefit from generating turnovers. Perhaps facing a backup QB from a warm-weather team on a cold day will help in that regard.

The Packers need to start taking the ball away, but Osweiler has thrown only three picks this season and hasn’t fumbled. Coming into Lambeau as Houston’s QB back in December of ’16 on a snowy day, he didn’t turn the ball over. Any smidgen of opportunity must be pounced upon.

Chase from Fort Huachuca, AZ

Another AFC team I know nothing about. What are the Dolphins doing well this year? What are some weaknesses we can exploit?

They pick the ball off. They have 15 interceptions this season, but when they’re not getting picks, their defense has given up plenty of yards and points. Offensively, they’ll run the ball with Gore and Drake, but losing Wilson to injury has limited their big-play ability.

Arthur from Chippewa Falls, WI

I keep seeing the mouth breathers crying that Coach is too predictable. Then they say that he needs to do more “trick plays.” My opinion (for what it is worth) is trick plays are only effective if you are doing everything else correctly. Just play your position, clean up the horrendous mental errors.

That’s pretty much the same thing I said in my mid-week chat.

Robert from Joplin, MO

I must say that for the past two seasons, I am starting to realize how crucial special teams truly is to football. I think many make-or-break games can come down to two things. QBR and field position (the latter being hugely related to special teams). I understand that there are many more aspects to it, but I am curious as to what your guys’ thoughts are.

In the last two games, not including the ensuing drive after the goal-line stand, the Packers have begun five possessions inside their own 20-yard line, including three inside their own 10. Their opponents have begun two possessions inside their own 20, none inside the 10. Field position has been a significant factor in both losses.

Matt from Pocatello, ID

I spent my growing-up years watching Brett Favre and one of my favorite pass plays of those days barely involved him. The screen pass. I’m no football expert, but I know screens have more than one advantage. I go through all my daily Packers reads for weeks though and there’s never a mention of them. Is there an advantage to not doing a screen occasionally? Am I the only one with this sickness? I’ve got a fever, and the only cure is more screen calls.

The Packers have called one, and sometimes two, screen passes to running backs just about every week, and their execution hasn't been there. They’re trying it, but they can’t get the play to work, for whatever reasons.

Kevin from Whitehall, WI

Re: Scott from Watumpka's comment. Are the Packers underperforming or is this simply reflective of the talent level of their roster? Not one player from the 2015 draft class is currently on the Packers’ active roster. This would be Year 4 and the time when these picks should form the core of the team. Only two remain from 2014, one from 2013, two from 2012, and one from 2011. That's six players from the first five draft classes since the SB win. Not an impressive record for a "draft-and-develop" team.

Going back to ’11 at this stage is a little far, but your point is well-taken.

Doug from Estherville, IA

The reason I or readers may come off as insulting with some of the questions we ask is because the rose-colored glasses never seem to come off completely. A reader asked why there doesn't seem to be a positive vibe coming from Rodgers like during the "relax" era and "run the table" era. That is a great question that I would love to hear asked. Coaches are supposed to put players in the best position to win. Maybe Rodgers doesn't feel like that's happening. I hear his subtle hints, don't you?

I’m not about to ascribe hints and suggestions to any of Rodgers’ body language or postgame comments after a tough loss. I think Rodgers has been pretty straightforward. He’s criticized his own play, and he’s perfectly aware it’s his play that elevates others and widens this team’s margin for error. As for the lack of positive vibes, Rodgers is the last person to blow smoke and fake it. He’s calculated, yes, but he’s also genuine with his thoughts. “Run the table” was said because he believed it, and he wanted everyone to know it. Right now I believe he’s genuinely disappointed, in a lot of things, proportionately so after being truly fired up in the offseason about coming back from the collarbone, getting Philbin back on the staff and adding Graham to the offense. He as much as anyone in the locker room needs to keep it real, leadership-wise, because players who get to this level see right through anything fake.

Jeff from New Ulm, MN

Hey, guys. I remember Vic reminding us about the "howl of the wolves." Social media nuts are screaming for Coach McCarthy's head on a platter. I refuse to believe that firing a coach who has had this team so well-prepared the last two weeks vs. SB contenders is a reason to howl. They had great schemes that were working on both sides of the ball vs. the Rams and Pats. I'm more upset about mental errors and poor calls. We seem snakebit.

Well, the team can’t feel snakebitten or it’s already lost. Defeatist mentalities will get you nowhere. But to your other point, I don’t believe longtime successful coaches suddenly forget how to coach. I’m not saying they don’t share some blame when struggles hit, but no one is shirking responsibility whether they reveal it publicly or not. Sonia from Fairbanks mentioned new coaches this year are 17-35 in reiterating Wes’s point about Sean Payton and stability. What changed for the Saints? A rebuilt defense and Alvin Kamara, to be brief. Let’s see what develops. McCarthy’s leadership has been invaluable to this franchise through some turbulent times – the summer of ’08, the Fail Mary in ’12, Rodgers’ first major injury in ’13, the run in ’16. Last year didn’t go as hoped, and this year has been frustrating for all involved. But in the last two weeks I’ve seen a team against two major contenders put together its best seven consecutive quarters this season before the final period in Foxborough. I want to see this play out.

Mike from Mt. Prospect, IL

Gentlemen, as a teacher of 33 years I've written hundreds of recommendations for students. Those who read my letters know that what I say matters, but also how I say it and what I don't say makes a great deal of difference. Same with this site. Read critically and note what Spoff and Hod don't say. I feel like there's more than meets the eye. Keep up the good work.

Trevor from Carmel, NY

Before shooting that scene, Frank Capra pulled the actress that played Miss Davis aside and told her to “surprise” Jimmy Stewart. Her modest request was not in the script, and neither was Stewart's reaction. It was completely genuine. These last two weeks may very well have been our “run on the bank.” In the end, things turned out OK for Bedford Falls and George Bailey.

I honestly don’t know what Vic thinks about what we’ve done to this forum he founded for our website, because it’s been too long since we’ve spoken, and that’s my bad. But I’ll bet he’d be proud to know “It’s a Wonderful Life” has appeared in it.

Tyler from Wayzata, MN

The Packers play a decent Miami team this week but will be favored to win and should win. Seattle will be tough on a short week but very much beatable. Minnesota plays at the Bears after their bye and depending on that outcome, Pack could be playing for the division lead against the Vikes right?

I guess I have to go back to it. Just beat the Dolphins.

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