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Inbox: That's the question on everybody's mind

The Packers planted seeds they hope will blossom into future stars

WR Christian Watson

Rob from Kenosha, WI

"Loud-mouth hot-take artist" is my new band name. Thanks Mike.

Too late. Spoff already trademarked, "Magic Mike and the Loud-Mouth, Hot-Take Artists." Rumor has it they already booked a side stage at Summerfest next year.

Ray from Phoenix, AZ

I read Green Bay leads the league in third-quarter production. What are they doing different? It does seem after the break the pace is quicker. Am I off-base with that observation?

You're not off-base. That's the question on everybody's mind. Matt LaFleur and his coaches are trying to get to the bottom of it, but I think it comes down to tempo, execution, and purpose. Once the momentum starts, it snowballs for this offense. But the question is how do the Packers get the ball moving from the opening whistle?

Noel from Norwalk, CA

Good morning II! Just an observation. It seems that running a faster-paced offense has been productive in allowing the offense not to think too much. Obviously, there are drawbacks, but IF they are successful, then running a quicker pace would help this young team. This team HAS the potential to be very good. Growing pains.

And that's why tempo is so critical. It's like a fast break in basketball. It not only puts a defense on its heels but also builds momentum for the offense. The Packers need a spark.

Jesus from El Paso, TX

Is it fair to say this next game is more about the Packers than their opponent?

That's a good way to look at it. To me, it doesn't matter if Denver is 5-1 or 1-5. Green Bay needs to come out with a sense of urgency. Winning is the key objective, but more importantly, the Packers need the wind back in their sails.

James from Panama City Beach, FL

After watching Denver, the Packers have a great shot at a win. That being said, it'll come down to the trenches. Can GB stop the run, and can GB run the ball? It's that simple.

Yes and no. While the general premise of your point is valid, that's not really how Kansas City won that game. The Chiefs' defense completely neutralized Russell Wilson en route to two takeaways, while Patrick Mahomes was effective enough to win. I give a lot of credit to the Broncos' defense, though. For all yards that unit has allowed, Denver's D gave its team a chance to win. Green Bay can take nothing, or no team, for granted right now.

Hannes from Glendale, WI

Doing some self-scouting during the bye, I realized nothing has happened so far that would've been unexpected before the season started. Aaron Jones is what, in theory, makes this outside-zone scheme work. If they get him back and still struggle against another not-so-great team after the bye, then it may be time to start worrying.

The Packers are 23-2 (22-1 in the regular season) under Matt LaFleur when Jones has more than 100 total yards. What does that tell you? Jones has missed 15 games in his NFL career. The Packers have won five of those contests. What does that tell you? Jones has been the yardstick for the offense for years. Once Jones is back – like really back – that's when we'll get a true feel of where this offense is at.

Tucker from Belton, TX

The game at the professional level is so much more intricate and complex than even the most informed fan can imagine. So, if you think, "they just need to do X and then Y will happen," save yourself the stress. You don't know what you're talking about.

We see such a small percentage of the bigger picture. That's not to say we know nothing (Jon Snow), but the personnel department and coaching staff see it all. They're not always right, but they consider the angles most of us don't.

Brian from Charlottesville, VA

I hear you about focusing on the core playbook during the bye rather than installing new looks. Since our bye is on the early side, how does the eventual adding of new wrinkles look later in the season? Is the team always adding, or is there a point where it's time to change things up more noticeably? Or is it all opponent-dependent?

Teams are always evolving. I remember Mike McCarthy using pretty much every personnel package imaginable against Carolina in 2015. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Packers come out with a few new wrinkles/adjustments against Denver, but I'm not expecting them to start running the Wildcat or anything.

Theresa from Sylvania, OH

A lot of the conversation I've seen posted on the lack of productivity has focused on either the offensive line or the running back. What about the fact that we are looking at young receivers and tight ends? Marcedes Lewis and Allen Lazard did some strong run blocking last year. Could the lack of veteran experience also be playing a factor or is this a non-factor based on where the run is being stopped?

Perhaps, but the Packers also were playing the long game with the moves they made this offseason. I think everyone knew this team wouldn't be as proficient in run blocking on Day 1 as it was 10 months ago, but how about December? Time always moves forward, and it ain't all waiting on you (that's vanity). When Matt LaFleur says it takes all 11, he isn't saying that to fill the air. He means it. That requires returning veterans providing leadership and young players stepping up.

Paul from Medford, OR

With Aaron Jones out, our run production suffers. With Christian Watson out, our passing game suffers. It seems they are constantly injured. Do we need to obtain a solid journeyman (or two) off waivers to fill in for either when this happens?

I'm not there yet. First, Watson seems to have put his hamstring injury behind him and hopefully Jones will follow. I believe in the young receivers on this roster and want to see them grow. Maybe that's the direction you go in the run game if something were to happen to both Jones and AJ Dillon like what Green Bay did in 2012 with Cedric Benson and Ryan Grant.

Chuck from Santa Ana, CA

The horse-collar penalty against Watson got me thinking. In the NHL a penalty against a player on a breakaway (very similar situation) nets a penalty shot. While not a given to score on the penalty shot, it's a pretty high percentage. Since there are no goalies in football, the best solution I can think of is put the ball on the one.


Darrel from Pueblo, CO

II, I don't understand why a team goes to "prevent defense" and plays soft when the whole game they are playing tight and winning. Is it a lack of confidence that it continues or playing percentages to prevent scores? It seems like when a team goes to prevent mode, it seldom prevents the other team from scoring.

It's trying to limit explosive plays. While teams are passively allowing the offense to "dink-and-dunk" down the field, the strategy is intended to drain the clock and win the game.

Steve from Wabasha, MN

Since Spoff didn't discourage looking three games ahead, I'm going to look two games ahead. Good news/bad news: The Vikings aren't going to have Justin Jefferson. I'm going to miss Ja Money taking his lunch.

This will undoubtedly be a tough stretch for Minnesota without its All-Pro receiver. But like LaFleur often says, nobody is gonna feel sorry for you. The Vikings will have to find another way to keep their ship afloat.

Jason from Austin, TX

If you took the games, plays, stats, etc., from the first five weeks and played them out in reverse order, I think fans would be ecstatic even though the record and the team would be the same at 2-3.

It's incredible how powerful a single victory can be. Just ask the Chicago Bears.

Yotam from Atlit, Israel

In the preseason we had the "Battle of the Running Backs," and Emanuel Wilson won the roster spot. Since then, I have rarely seen him in action. If anything, it seems that Patrick Taylor got more snaps, having been elevated and later moved to the roster. How has Wilson been doing? Is he playing mainly on special teams? Why choose him over Taylor if he is not getting snaps?

I think the Packers were more concerned about Wilson passing through waivers than Taylor, who was cut a few times last season. Wilson is doing fine. He's learning the speed of the NFL game and everything that's required of a running back beyond just carrying the ball. All the best to you, Yotam.

Keith from North Muskegon, MI

Wes, with as much time as you spend interviewing the players and coaches, dissecting film, and Inbox questions, and if you had the requisite resume, would you accept a position as Coach Weston with this organization, if offered? Why or why not?

Coaching not so much, but I would've loved to have gotten into football analytics. I took a keen interest in Bill James and sabermetrics after "Moneyball," but that wave hadn't really hit football yet when I was in college.

Andrew from Placentia, CA

In looking for patterns and explanations for what has happened to the Packers' offense the past few seasons, here's what I found. In 22 games since "17" left, Packers QBs have completed 64% of passes and have had four games with 30-plus points. In Davante Adams' last 22 games, the QBs completed 70% of passes and had 12 games with 30-plus points. It seems to me the O has suffered more from losing "17" than "12." I know there are other factors, but is it possible Matt LaFleur's scheme isn't as effective without an elite WR?

That is a whole lotta research – and credit to you for that – but you don't need Elias or PFF to know any NFL offense would be less effective without Adams. It's what makes Davante a future Pro Football Hall of Famer in my eyes. Like my earlier answer, the Packers planted seeds they hope will blossom into future stars. But it takes time, no different than with Adams, Cobb, Lazard, and Tonyan.

Joe from Hampshire, IL

Wes, did you get a tour, or an explanation in Vegas of the mechanisms that allow the field to be taken outside to grow the Vegas field grass? Any sightseeing, Vegas dining, or press box foods that were memorable for you?

No tour but I received an explanation of the five-foot deep tray that is moved inside the stadium for gamedays. The press box food – and candy bar – were great. I didn't do anything too crazy in Vegas but did go down to the strip with TV's Rob Demovsky and a few colleagues Sunday night.

Eric from Springfield, VA

During roster cuts I remember the number of offensive linemen catching people off-guard. Now, we are beat up and need those jars. Also, I remember the low defensive back numbers catching people by surprise. How was that initial number been faring?

Football is a weird sport, man. The Packers have had injuries up and down the offensive line, while I don't think a single defensive lineman has been on the injury report all season. The defense got into a little pinch with Jaire Alexander's back injury lately but soon should be getting an extra reinforcement at corner with Eric Stokes' return.

Sandy from Green Bay, WI

When the playbook is falling short in terms of effectiveness and success on the field, how do coaches deal with the lack of productivity while devising more effective alternatives? It seems like a challenging situation to troubleshoot on the fly.

The same way you fix a leaky faucet, Sandy. You have to get out the toolbox and get to the bottom of what's wrong/broken. The coaches must determine what's working, what's not working and the reasons behind both scenarios.

Todd from Long Island, NY

Hi Wes, the video presentation of the alumni suite was excellent. With the inside lights at Lambeau being a bit dimmer and the facilities being more dormant during the bye week, is there any chance we get to see a video of the new and improved training facilities, coaches' offices, and parking garage? Or is that verboten? Trade secret? Reserved for Lambeau Field tours? I'm sure a lot of fans who live far and away from GB would like to get a glimpse.

There will be a time and place for that. I think the problem was the "Grand Opening" came weeks, possibly even days, before the start of training camp. Once players report in July, it's all-systems go for football.

Patrick from Wauwatosa, WI

Speaking of T-shirts, I bought the funniest shirt I've seen to date. It's not football related, but certainly could be. It reads: "My wife says I only have two faults – I don't listen...and something else." Pretty accurate, especially when I'm watching football. Thought you guys would get a chuckle out of that one.

OK, that's a good one.

Dustin from Kansas City, MO

Wes, just when I though UFC 294 couldn't get any more exciting, they went and added Volk and Usman. Not sure what they have planned for UFC 300, but I think top to bottom, it's going to be tough to top this card.

Conor and Michael Chandler will headline UFC 300. I have no doubt about that, especially after this recent USADA news. Pound-for-pound, skill-for-skill, Makhachev-Volkanovski II is the best fight UFC could make right now. I'll be watching Saturday night in Denver…

Ed from Windsor, CO

I implore Packers fans living in Colorado to submit best places to eat in Denver so Inbox will have plenty of fuel. There are a lot of Packer fans in Colorado, and we all have to listen to a lot of Bronco posturing. There is no gambling allowed at Bushwood, but a Packer victory would certainly reduce the amount of grief I will encounter.

…and I'm making a beeline for The Delectable Egg as soon as I wake up on Sunday.

Jake from Marina del Rey, CA

Obviously, everyone prefers winning. I wonder, however, if a little humble pie in the form of losing the close ones will help this young team develop more than winning them.

It sure did for the players who returned from the 2008 and 2018 Packers teams. It's up to this current squad to decide which direction this season will go. Have a great weekend.

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