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Inbox: That's what competitors do

The Packers have 16 chances to make that one an anomaly

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LB Chauncey Rivers

Eddie from La Crosse, WI

Dear Wes, please tell me that everything's gonna be all right. PLEASE.

Everything's gonna be all right, Eddie. The appetizer was disappointing but this is a 17-course meal. It's a new week and a new opportunity.

Alan from Chardon, OH

I am so thankful for Mike talking John from Boca Raton, FL, down off the ledge. It would have been a shame for the Packers to lose a loyal fan. I guess what his response is saying is there's still a chance...

Did Spoff talk him off the ledge or shove him off?

Sreedharan from Pewaukee, WI

Hi Wes! I feel much better now that we've been reminded about last year's Bucs vs Saints game that the Saints won 38-3. I can plan the Super Bowl after-party now.

The lesson the Bucs taught everyone is that it's not how you lost – it's how you respond. Tampa responded after that letdown against New Orleans and the Packers must do the same now.

Ryan from Lewisburg, PA

The TV announcers suggested the Saints' strong performance may have resulted from the unity and camaraderie they built as they had to move to new practice and game locations due to Ida. I'd like to agree with them and think the Packers just got unlucky, but do you think this played a role in the outcome?

I mean, how could it not inspire the Saints? They were on a serious mission Sunday. They came out with their foot on the gas and didn't let up. The Packers didn't match that energy.

Neal from Ft Worth, TX

Good morning Wes! There's no better cure for a poor running attack than playing the Lions. I'll be at the game and want to be sure I follow protocol. No noise or waves while on offense and no ketchup on a brat. Anything I'm missing?

It seemed to me the Packers got away from what they do best. There was very little pre-snap motioning, personnel variation and they failed to establish the run. When AJ Dillon did pick up 12 yards on back-to-back runs, Aaron Rodgers was sacked on the next drop-back. When adversity has hit the past two years, the Packers have always bounced back. Again, as Davante Adams tweeted on Monday, they have to "flush it and respond."

See photos of Packers running backs during their college careers.

Logan from Dublin, GA

Why didn't we see Randall Cobb much against the Saints?

Good question. I was surprised how little we saw either Cobb or Amari Rodgers until Jordan Love entered the game in the fourth quarter.

John from Fairfax, VA

To paraphrase that old sage Mike Tyson, the Packers had a plan until the Saints punched them in the mouth. If Jameis Winston's inaccuracy was the supposed weakness, then making him throw more would have been key. Though one has to stop the run and there were no signs we could do so.

I think that's a huge credit to the game plan Sean Payton and my older brother, Pete Carmichael, assembled. What doesn't get talked about nearly enough regarding Winston's 30-INT season is also he threw a league-high 626 passes that year. The Saints shortened that game with the run, particularly in the first half. It was a recipe for success.

Jason from Austin, TX

If you would have told me Alvin Kamara would be held under 100 yards, Winston would have less than 150 yards, and the score was so lopsided we got to see Jordan Love play, I would have thought the score was the opposite of what it was. We did get to see some good play by Love, at least. If Love's throw to Rodgers was in stride, that would have been a huge gain. I'm not sure if the ball was overthrown or if Rodgers mistakenly came back to the ball, but it was nice to see some big gains.

It was not the game I excepted. But the Saints won all the major categories: turnover margin, third-down efficiency, fourth-down efficiency and red-zone production. You might be able to get away with one of those, but it's tough to win if you go 0-for-4 in those categories.

Sal from Hailey, ID

Rodgers said the Saints were playing Cover-2 all night. I'm no football guru, so I'm asking you two. Were we trying to exploit the weaknesses of that defense and failing? Or was it bad play-calling? Both? Perhaps related, why did we relegate "33" to blocking duty and sideline spectatorship?

The two-shell is daring the Packers to run because they're using two safeties high to A) take away deep passing plays (Marquez Valdes-Scantling) and B) double-cover a star receiver (Davante Adams). If an opponent goes with a light box, Green Bay must make it pay…which it typically has with Aaron Jones on the roster.

Charlie from Spring Lake, NC

So that's what a complete game looks like. My hats off to the Saints for coming in with an excellent plan and executing it to perfection. I thought the MLBs looked pretty good at tackling. So that was encouraging. What did you think about Za'Darius Smith's RTP call? It was reminiscent of Matthews' non-sack of Alex Smith a couple years ago to me. Will he get fined?

I couldn't get over how good Demario Davis looked at 32. He was still flying to the ball and playing sideline-to-sideline. New Orleans played physical, man. Of course, when Za'Darius played physical, the referee pulled his hanky out quicker than you could say, "Achoo." As I tweeted on Sunday, the game was pretty much over but that's garbage Darnell Savage lost an interception on a bad call. But sure, let's emphasize taunting some more.

Sam from Greendale, WI

One highlight from an otherwise unremarkable game: Rashan Gary in an absolute mad-dash pursuit of Winston on a scramble. Most quarterbacks would have been caught by what looked to be an absolutely terrifying sight.

I stand by what I said about the upside of those three edge rushers and what is possible this year. The Packers just need to get Za'Darius healthy. By the sound of it, Smith came out of the game no worse for wear. That's a win.

David from Janesville, WI

Insiders, an ugly game is an ugly game and nothing will change that. However, there are always bright spots. In addition to playing a very respectable left tackle, did you see Elgton Jenkins hustle to make the tackle on the first interception? I believe he was in on the tackle for the second one too, but after a much longer return. I hope we can afford to keep him in a few years, he is the real deal (although you already knew that).

Jenkins came to play on Sunday. Unfortunately, he's just one man. It takes all 11 on both sides of the ball to get the job done. The Packers need more Elgtons next Monday.

Margo from Solvang, CA

Hi Wes, Mike thought the defensive front was the unit most in need of improvement after the game. I'm nominating run blocking as a close second. Even though we had to go to a two-minute pass-first offense when things got out of hand, there seemed to be very little room for the running backs on the first few offensive series. Is it people playing out of position or starting two rookies or a combination of the two? Thanks for the opportunity to vent – the Inbox must be brutal after games like that.

I appreciate your well-wishes, Margo. Heck, their best O-lineman on Sunday was playing out of position. I think this group just needs to gel and get back to moving people up front. You have to win at the line of scrimmage to give Aaron Jones and Dillon opportunities to change the game. The Packers didn't do enough of that against New Orleans.

Aaron from Brooklyn, NY

I doubt it would have mattered given how the game played out, but were you as surprised as me to see Jack Heflin be inactive? I'd think in that kind of heat against a team that wants to run you want as many big guys to rotate in as possible to keep everyone fresh.

Not at all. Heflin is a great story but Tyler Lancaster was active. Plus, T.J. Slaton is from Florida. He's played in that weather. I would've wanted him out there as the fifth D-lineman, too.

Izzi from Raleigh, NC

Not much talk here about Jordan Love's debut. What did you think? I know it was mop-up duty, but NO was still playing hard. I thought the kid looked good.

Love has a cannon for an arm but you can tell he's still trying to figure out how much mustard to put on those throws. What impresses me the most is how comfortable Love is in the pocket. He doesn't get happy feet. That's a good trait for a 22-year-old QB.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

Coming out of halftime, I was really surprised how much shotgun and straight drops were utilized. I thought with the younger OL we would have more rollouts and play-action, not less. Was the concern that the PA was too slow developing for the rush we were facing?

I'm not sure. The Packers only had a dozen offensive plays until the two-minute drill late in the first half, so it's hard to say what the plan of attack was. I still feel like the path of least resistance was running the ball to let those young O-linemen settle in and get the play-action going. That would be my plan heading into the Lions game.

H.R. from Las Vegas, NV

Any update on Josiah Deguara's concussion? After missing all of 2020, I hope he can get back better and get on the field.

LaFleur said Deguara was doing better on Monday, which was encouraging to hear given how scary it looked. Deguara is currently in the concussion protocol.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Down 3-0 in the Packers' first offensive series, LaFleur chose to go for it on fourth-and-1 from their own 34-yard line. They converted but punted a few plays later. At the time, I saw it as an unnecessary risk. After having a bit more time to process the decision, I still believe it was an unnecessary risk. Did the coach address this decision postgame? I'd be interested in the thought process.

The Packers weren't alone. There were several teams across the league that all went for it on fourth-and-short deep inside their own territory this weekend. LaFleur said he did it because he was confident in the offense and its ability to get that yard. There's risk involved but I'm sure there was analytical data behind the decision, as well.

Chase from Fort Leonard Wood, MO

Good morning team. How was our new punter's Packers debut?

I thought Corey Bojorquez was solid. He had two good punts, one so-so effort and another he probably wanted back. Most importantly, the Packers didn't allow Deonte Harris to hurt them in the return game. And you guys saw firsthand on that 55-yard touchdown just how dangerous Harris can be. I give Bojorquez a plus grade.

Brian from Columbia, MO

Somebody last week referenced the season as 17 different Christmases. OK, so Week 1, we got socks. Let's see about Week 2.

To quote Willie in "Bad Santa" while comforting the kid after a disappointing treat in his advent calendar: "Now, they can't all be winners, can they?"

Jason from New Hampton, IA

Knowing what you know about Aaron Rodgers, so you think he looks forward to, or dreads going into the film room after a game like Sunday?

He'll want to watch the film, see everything that happened and make the corrections. That goes for the rest of the locker room because that's what competitors do.

Mike from Somerset, WI

Wes, who impressed you the most in Sunday's game?

Matt LaFleur. He's steady as it goes. He doesn't get chippy with the media, takes responsibility and pushes forward. He's one of the league's brightest offensive minds but it's that quality that makes him an impressive NFL head coach.

Joel from Sand Springs, OK

Insiders, both of you have talked a lot about the fan/work balance you live with. So, after that game what was your first thought, "Wow, this team has a lot of work to do" or "Well, the Inbox questions are gonna be a lot of fun this week…"?

One bad tomato plant doesn't make the entire garden a failure. Trash it and try again…or next Monday, in this case.

Andy from Kaukauna, WI

Mike, you write that preseason is not real football. So Belichick, Reid, Payton, Tomlin…are they ill-advised in your mind to play starters in the preseason? Their teams won. Their teams weren't out of sync, etc.

You might wanna recheck that Pats box score.

Tom from Blaine, WA

After a game like that, does the Inbox take on a Blues Brothers quality? I'm imagining the following exchange on Monday morning. Spoff: "There's seven days to the next game, we've got a fully charged laptop, half of Wes's last lunch, the Inbox is on fire, and we're wearing sunglasses." Wes: "Hit it!"

We're on a mission from Vince.

Levi from St Paul, MN

Sunday was tough to watch but it was one game and I have full confidence they will bounce back. The worst part is the click-baiters going wild with all sorts of nonsense and the talking heads on the sports networks are having a field day. Good thing we have learned through this column to shut out the noise and enjoy the ride. Here's to a big win next week.

It's a new week folks. Take a breath. The Packers have 16 chances to make that one an anomaly. But they have to earn it.

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