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Inbox: That’s the challenge, and it’s on everyone

Packers Head Coach Matt LaFleur
Packers Head Coach Matt LaFleur

Dan from Toledo, OH

We’re on to Carolina!

That’s as good a place as any to start.

Steve from W. Terre Haute, IN

Wow, that was awful. What lessons should learned by our team? By our fans?

The team should learn that nobody is good enough to just flip a switch, and coming out not ready to play leaves you grasping all day. The fans need to remember it’s a week-to-week league. You’re never as good as your best game and never as bad as your worst.

Roland from Oconomowoc, WI

Really hard to watch. That was the new coaching staff’s first real blunder. To come out as an offensive team that mentally not ready to play – ouch. Need to snip this in the bud fast.

That’s the challenge, and it’s on everyone. LaFleur didn’t shrink away from this clunker. He said “coach better” as often as he said “play better” after the game. Plenty of blame to go around in this one.

Joe from Minneapolis, MN

To those of us who aren't experts that looked like a trap game. What was it actually?

That was a playoff team from a year ago finally playing up to its potential and getting its season back on track, and a playoff hopeful from this year having a bad day that never got better. That missed field goal in Chicago gave the Chargers a reprieve and they’re determined to make the most of it.

Tony from Bronxville, NY

Did the Chargers just give the rest of the league the blueprint for stopping the Packers?

Any defense that can steadily disrupt the quarterback with a four-man rush and drop seven in coverage is in good shape. The Packers were running the ball pretty well and should have been able to use the run to set up something else but never could.

Michael from Winfield, IL

Were there ANY positive takeaways from Sunday’s game? Did Davante Adams’ presence cause the offense to get away from what’s been working for us in his absence? What adjustments can we make to fit Adams into our offense rather than changing the offense to accommodate him? This is not to disparage Adams in any way. You stick to what’s working.

That’s what the coaches have to figure out, how to incorporate Adams into what the offense had evolved and become. LaFleur said after the game things got so sideways they didn’t even get to most of the game plan. Five penalties and two sacks on three first-half drives will do that to you.

Andy from Grabow, WI

Mike, did you have to look up the definition of "tergiversation" from the submission from Christopher from Cal? If so, do you get personal enjoyment out of broadening your vocabulary, or is it just another tool to potentially use at work?

Oh, I looked it up. When you write for the masses, it’s not a common word you’re going to use, but I’m always curious.

Niels from Bridgetown, Barbados

First of all, I feel sorry for you having to do II today after a bad loss. Was it only to me watching on TV that it looked like Aaron Rodgers was trying too hard to get the ball to Adams? And what was the story with the OL?

No one needs to feel sorry for me. It’s part of the gig. I think there was a concerted effort to get Adams involved early, which is understandable, to get him in the flow of the game after a month off. But it’s not like other guys were running free out there, and all the negative plays in the first half stifled any chance at rhythm. The Chargers got the best of the Packers on the edges today, for sure.

Scott from Greensburg, IN

Coach McCarthy's quote about the biggest challenge his Packers would face would be how they'd handle success pops into mind. To say the least there have definitely been two instances, at 3-0, and again at 7-1, in which we didn't handle it well. If you magically could fix one trouble spot, which one would it be?

There are too many to pick from after a performance like that. Pass protection had a second straight tough week after a really strong six-game run. Special teams hit a low point after an already shaky first half of the season. The defense is still giving up too many explosive plays. I’ve been saying week after week there’d be more adversity to respond to, and the Packers are dealing with a big dose of it now.

Cindy from Los Angeles, CA

Hi Mike, actually it's the subjunctive mood, not tense. Sorry to be that guy.

Everything’s a mood these days, right? Ha, keep it up.

Ian from Sherman Oaks, CA

I was at the Charger game along with a swarm of other Packer fans. We were there and definitely ready to cheer our team on. The first big play would have sent us wild. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a Packer game with so little to cheer about.

I genuinely feel bad for all the Packers fans who showed up and took over the place. You guys brought it and did your job. The Packers didn’t. I strongly suspected during the week the Steelers game prepped the Chargers for what was coming (Friday’s Inbox headline), and they clearly were unfazed.

Scott from Los Angeles, CA

Mr. McKittrick, after careful consideration, I’ve come to the conclusion that this game sucked.

Nothing like a “War Games” reference to get me through a long flight and even longer column. Thanks.

Griffin from Belmont, NC

AR12 has enough money and accolades to leave football tomorrow and disappear forever. With good quarterbacks' longevity and signing the contracts they are these days do you see somebody like Rodgers getting into broadcasting, or is Romo the exception? His football IQ would be really unique in the broadcast booth.

He would be outstanding in the booth, but I have no idea if it’s an interest of his.

Mike from St. Louis Park, MN

Does ML burn the game tape and move on?

You watch it before you burn it.

Mike from McFarland, WI

I really enjoy your in-game chat. A nice mix of play-by-play and chat with the fans.

Thanks. It’s been an interesting new wrinkle to the coverage this year.

Josh from Denver, CO

11-5 is the best record a team has had and missed the playoffs, but what is the best record a team has had and not gotten a first-round bye?

13-3. The Titans in ’99 and the Saints in ’11 both missed out on a first-round bye with that mark.

Sue from McMillan, MI

In a number of interviews with AR, I’ve heard him give a shout out to “Big Dog” on the O-line. To whom is he referring?

Tight end Marcedes Lewis.

Big from Rochester, NY

Well, the whole NFC North lost today. So we have that going for us, which is nice.

If the Seahawks hadn’t survived in OT at home the Saints and 49ers would have been dancing all night. Huge missed opportunity for the Packers, but the happenings at Arrowhead should put last week’s game in the proper perspective.

The Green Bay Packers traveled to California to take on the Los Angeles Chargers in a Week 9 matchup.

Greg from Downers Grove, IL

Watching the Houston-Jax game. I am convinced that playing across the pond is a bad idea as it is done today. Game after game of poor product. To me it is evident that the time change is difficult to overcome. Has the league considered scheduling the teams on the back side of their bye weeks?

That would put the teams coming back from overseas at a distinct disadvantage against their next opponents. For all the challenges with the current setup, at least the two teams playing are on equal footing.

Robert from Seattle, WA

Time for II to eat humble pie. You demeaned your readers about this being a trap game. Some of your readers have been involved in football longer than you've been alive. Oh, and ummm, we don't have a defense.

I’m sorry, but I don’t believe in trap games. I didn’t demean anybody. I said all week there are plenty of ways the Chargers can beat the Packers. It wasn’t hard to find them. Any game is a trap game when you play like that. Whatever makes you feel better.

Carolina from Olympia, WA

Do you think a suspension is coming for Za'Darius Smith?

We won’t know until we know.

Lori from Winona, MN

Do they always bring that much food on the plane?

Oh yes, especially for a long flight. There is food provided on the plane, but the players like to have options and/or appetizers.

Steve from Mount Vernon, WA

In viewing the photos of players boarding the plane at Austin Straubel Airport, I couldn’t help notice that many players were clutching a white envelope addressed to themselves. It got me thinking. Is there per diem allowance for the weekend or a team memo from management? Also, did you fellows receive one too?

Players get a per diem for any meals not provided by the team. When Wes and I board the plane, we each get two envelopes – one with per diem and the other with our game credential to get in the stadium.

Mike from Algoma, WI

I’ve been thinking about the game for a couple of hours now. Obviously I’m not a professional, so can you tell me. What happened? I’m baffled.

It’s the NFL. It was reminiscent of the Denver road game in ’15, when the Packers were rolling along at 6-0 and then somehow did nothing right for a whole game. We didn’t know at the time that Denver defense would end up being historically, Super Bowl-winning good. But regardless, that defeat led to a three-game losing streak that got things really off the rails. The task is to avoid letting this loss spiral. One game before the bye. Put everything into it and get to the break 8-2. That’s the sole focus.

Dean from Orlando, FL

Fun fact – JK Scott’s brother is the punter at Air Force. Both are having good years.

That would be neat if they were to follow the Colquitt brothers.

Jacob from Superior, WI

I heard the announcers state Green Bay’s defense gives up more 40-plus-yard plays than anyone else in the league, which followed with Jaire Alexander giving up a 47-yard play soon after by trying to go underneath and more later in the game. What gives? Is it players trying to make plays and getting burned?

The crossing route early certainly was. On big plays I see times the help isn’t there, and other times the defender not playing to his help. It’s never just one thing.

Jim from Tucson, AZ

Wes: I have been member of the no-shave club for nearly 80 years. Whenever it comes up, I just tell people that I am a little further along the evolutionary scale. It works.

I’ll keep that in mind as well.

Andres from Tempe, AZ

It seems like there is a lot of young coaches being hired in the NFL now. As an aspiring pro football coach how do you think the journey to becoming an NFL coach is?

It’s full of long, long hours. Believe me, no one at 1265 Lombardi works longer hours than assistant coaches.

Bob from Cortez, CO

Home game coming up and a week off. I believe we are ready for both.

Agreed. I’ve felt for the last few weeks the defense was in need of the bye getting here. Now it surely feels like the whole team is in that spot. Ten games without a break is not easy. As I said in my postgame editorial, the Packers’ biggest challenge of the season thus far is this week.

Rich from De Pere, WI

The entire team wasn't prepared, wasn't focused, had no energy, put up no fight. Is that something you can see happening during the week or right before the game, or does it just show up unexpectedly at kickoff and it’s a total surprise to coaches and players?

I don’t think anyone can see it coming. If they could, they’d do something about it before it happens. It’s look-in-the-mirror week. Every team goes through these. The Patriots’ perfect season fell by the wayside, by 17 points.

Adam from Moncure, NC

What the heck was that?

Disappointing, for all involved.

Chris from Jackson, WI

Well, here’s that adversity we were waiting for. Everything was going too well for too long. Now we find out what Coach LaFleur is made of.

And his staff. And the locker room. Come out better because of what happened. Make eating the “slice of humble pie,” as Rodgers so aptly put it, worth something.

Marty from Fulton, IL

The outcome of the Chargers game surprised me, especially with the return of Davante Adams. What do you feel the Packers have to do to get back on our feet and beat the Panthers?

Protect the quarterback, stick with the run, knock off the penalties, communicate better on defense, and block more effectively on special teams.

Scott from De Pere, WI

I believe questions have been asked whether or not the Packers have played their best game. Let’s hope this was their worst game.

Amen.

Martin from Darien, WI

No question, just a few comments. The Packers were not going to go 8-0 the rest of the season. The Chargers are a good team. They are better than their record indicates. Sometimes you need to be reminded of your faults. It's the only way to correct them. It's all about getting to the playoffs. The Packers are still in control of the division. On to Carolina.

Amen again.

Daniel from Lakeland, FL

The outcome of a football game is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you're going to get. Learn from the experience and move on to the next game.

And one more. Happy Monday.

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