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Inbox: That's what has to happen

A win Sunday and there’s no more stealth to this operation

DL Tyler Lancaster

Davy from Watertown, WI

If the laser goalposts were being used, I think the Chargers would have won. More of the ball would have gone through than missed. Although has anyone figured out if the increased lumens would make the lasers harder to see?

And we're off, so we might as well get going.

Israel from West Allis, WI

How does Tampa's offensive line shape up (especially the interior)? Supposing Kenny Clark is healthy and a full-go, can we expect him to have a big day? Seems like pressure through the center is critical for Brady.

That's what every opponent strives for against him, so he can't step up in the pocket, but it's easier said than done. Brady has only been sacked eight times in five games. The Bucs' interior of Ryan Jensen at center, with Ali Marpet and Alex Cappa at guards, isn't a big-name trio but it's experienced and solid.

Davey from Madison, WI

Tuesday Night Football? Has the NFL ever had a Tuesday game?

There have now been two since 1946. The other was Vikings-Eagles on Dec. 28, 2010, originally a Sunday game that was pushed back due to a blizzard in Philly. Brett Favre had played his last game in the NFL the week before.

Jessi from Sterling, KS

Spoff, I think you're trying to tell us that 4-0 means nothing unless you win at the end :) Thanks for the stats, and reality checks are always a good idea. We have a looong way to go! But I'm in no rush, I plan to enjoy it.

I just found it interesting when I looked it up that the first seven times the Packers started 4-0, they won a league title. But since the '70 league merger, none of the 4-0 starts has led to a championship. The line of demarcation is probably no coincidence, given the increased competitiveness across the league, longer regular seasons, and expanded playoffs compared to back in the day.

Dennis from Parrish, FL

I believe it could be a mess if some teams play 14 games, some play 15 games, and of course some complete the schedule with 16 games. I assume they will use some percentage of wins to determine playoff seeding?

I expect the league is going to try to avoid canceling games until very late in the season, when some teams impacted by the virus might be out of the playoff hunt. But given the seventh spot in each league this season, the field of contenders down the stretch will be broader. Stay tuned I guess.

Matt from La Crosse, WI

Besides tackling, what will you be watching for as far as improvements made coming out of the bye week?

I'll direct you to our latest episode of "Unscripted," during which we discussed that very topic (and were able to shoot the show together for the first time this season!).

Matt from Philadelphia, PA

How hard will it be for Kamal Martin to get back his starting spot with how good Krys Barnes is playing? Barnes has just been named to Pro Football Focus' all-rookie team and is second on the team in tackles (hasn't missed a tackle). I know you were high on Martin during training camp, so do you believe it will be hard to take Barnes out of the lineup?

Let's see how this plays out. With the amount of time he missed, Martin is going to need a re-acclimation period (as is Equanimeous St. Brown on the offensive side, now that he's back in practice). Christian Kirksey isn't healthy yet. Ty Summers has filled in fine and done his part with the communication. Trust me, anything that might emerge as difficult with regard to playing time is a problem the coaches will welcome.

Bill from Wilmington, DE

Mike, great piece on WYMM with Tyler Lancaster. Casually watching games with no access to game film, your work really helps me to understand the game better. Have you seen development from others on the D-line during Kenny Clark's absence?

I thought Tyler Lancaster might have played the best game of his career to date vs. Atlanta. Kingsley Keke had two sacks the previous game, and in limited snaps Montravius Adams flashed last week. That's what has to happen when a stalwart goes down, and the defensive line should be better for it in the long run.

Spencer from Scottsdale, AZ

Hey Mike, in watching your WYMM on Tyler Lancaster, I couldn't help but notice Jaire Alexander coming in on the corner on a lot of those run plays to keep it from bouncing outside. This kid's game is truly impressive. Not only great in coverage, but also not afraid to be physical in the run game.

He's a complete player. All that's left is to start snagging interceptions with more regularity.

Jeff from Belton, TX

How do you think the defense lines up this week against the Tampa receivers? Will Alexander match up against Evans or does Kevin King take him due to size?

I think a lot of that depends on King's health. We'll see if he gets back on the practice field this week.

Pete from Chippewa Falls, WI

Who gets Gronk duty on Sunday? I'm a bit concerned that Gronk has been held in check this year. Makes me think he's got a big breakout game coming.

I'm sure the extra rest after a Thursday night game will help him. I don't see Pettine picking one guy to match up with Gronk. I could see Adrian Amos, Darnell Savage, Raven Greene, Krys Barnes and Preston Smith all getting called upon potentially.

Cory from Granbury, TX

After Robert Tonyan's big game last week, do y'all believe that he will get more targets even after Davante Adams returns from injury?

Probably. More targets than Adams? No. But the beauty of Tonyan's performance vs. Atlanta was he only needed six targets to post six receptions for 98 yards and three TDs. Maximum efficiency.

Doug from Eugene, OR

Thanks as always for a thoughtful column in not-always-so-thoughtful times. I have to laud the mention of Howard Cosell and Pat Summerall, which incidentally gets us halfway to a "sports announcer Mt. Rushmore." If it were up to me, I would lobby for Vin Scully and Verne Lundquist to fill it out. Any thoughts from y'all?

Boy, I would be inclined to separate baseball and football, as well as separate play-by-play announcers from analysts. Otherwise it's just too hard. Looking at national broadcasters I've been exposed to in my lifetime, my football play-by-play foursome would be Pat Summerall, Al Michaels, Dick Enberg and Keith Jackson (with apologies to Kevin Harlan). For analysts, I'd pick John Madden, Howard Cosell, Frank Gifford and Kirk Herbstreit, though I see Tony Romo cracking the list eventually.

Rick from Green Bay, WI

Who was the last Packer player to wear the No. 1 jersey?

In a regular-season game, Curly Lambeau in 1926.

Jennifer from Middleton, WI

Tampa Bay is last in the league in penalties per game at 8.4 while the Packers are No. 8 with 4.8. The Bucs-Bears game was rather chippy with many personal fouls. Is a key to the Packers winning this week perhaps to not sink to that level?

The preferred phrase is playing disciplined football, and yes, the Packers must continue on their path while I expect the Buccaneers to button it up a bit.

Mike from New Orleans, LA

You're named GM of an expansion franchise are given the choice of one set of brothers: Bosa brothers, Watt brothers, or Smith Bros. Who do you take and why?

Based on ages alone, I'd lean toward the Bosas.

Zach from Webster, NY

Tampa Bay ranks in the top five in both takeaways and points off of turnovers. If we continue protecting the ball, it should be an uphill battle for the Bucs to beat us.

I think your second sentence can serve as an evergreen fill-in-the-opponent statement.

Daniel from Allen, TX

I never expected to gain valuable nutritional knowledge from the II. Don't go below 5% body fat. For now, I'm definitely safe. So, I've got that going for me.

Which is nice.

Clifford from Brockport, NY

Cal Ripken, Brett Favre and I don't really know who else own incredible ironman distinctions in the field of sports. But during MNF a stat involving Malcom Jenkins just blew me away: 43 consecutive games without missing a defensive snap. Over 2,600 plays. I don't know if that's any kind of record but it sure sounds insane.

Indeed. Your submission and a similar one from Brian in Okinawa, Japan, both came in with middle-of-the-night time stamps, about 90 minutes apart. I just wanted to point that out because given your locales, it was weird. Carry on.

Allen from Lake Geneva, WI

Can you name another defensive backfield that is better than the current starting group for the Packers? I think they are the best in the league currently.

I don't know if there's a predominant group at the moment. The Packers' group is strong and still rising in my opinion. The quartets of the Steelers (Joe Haden, Steven Nelson, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds), Titans (Malcolm Butler, Adoree Jackson, Kenny Vaccaro, Kevin Byard), Bills (Tre'Davious White, Josh Norman, Jordan Poyer, Micah Hyde) and Patriots (Stephon Gilmore, the McCourtys, Adrian Phillips) are all formidable as well.

Dalton from DeForest, WI

If the Packers' injury problems persist throughout the rest of the season, how big of an issue could having the earliest possible off week be towards the end of the season?

It's not ideal, but as mentioned before, this next set of four games ends with a Thursday night contest and another brief chance to rest and heal up. Get through these next four and take another deep breath.

Nikhil from Washington, DC

Dan from Herriman, UT, suggested that going for two late in the third was a bad decision and cost the Vikings the game. At first I thought so too, but then I played it out in my head. If the Vikings take the extra point and are down 21-20, they would be up 26-21 after the TD in the fourth and would have gone for two then. So it wasn't important when they went for two, it was just important that the attempt failed. Same as fourth-and-1. It wasn't the call, it was the result of the play that decided the game.

I've thought through the two-point decisions further, and the 26-21 scenario you posit is a tough call, because seven minutes on the clock is plenty of time to give up two field goals and lose. I could understand going either way on that two-point opportunity. What I do know is after the Vikes missed the two late in the third quarter, following their next TD at 25-21 they definitely should have gone for two. Kicking the PAT to change the margin from four to five with seven minutes left meant little to nothing.

Chris from Milwaukee, WI

So which member of the staff is responsible for packing Green Bay's "A" game for the trip to Tampa?

I don't know why, but I actually laughed at this.

Elyada from Boca Raton, FL

Hi, thank you so much for all that you do for the Packers and their fans. This is going to be my first time seeing Aaron Rodgers. What are things that I should look for or things that I wouldn't normally see on the TV but I will in the game?

You and Howard from Sarasota will be among the limited fans. Be sure to enjoy it. Keep your eyes on the substitutions going in and out of the huddle on both offense and defense. It helps to know who's in the game in certain situations. Then, whichever team is on offense, watch the safeties and where they line up and/or shift. They're the guys Rodgers and Brady are keying on to get their pre-snap read, which could determine where the ball is going or a check to a different play.

DT from Bozeman, MT

Are the Packers "flying under the radar" or are there just a lot of broken radars out there?

A win Sunday and there's no more stealth to this operation.

Jon from Salem, MA

The more I watch the NFL, the more I start to believe it isn't necessarily a week-to-week league, but a possession-to-possession league.

An entirely valid and worthwhile perspective.

Dar from Mansfield, TX

As the guy who inadvertently started the watt/lumen/parabola/ellipse hubbub, let me take a stab getting us all back in sync as II enters the second quarter. Currently not allowed: chortling, gloating, watts (but Watts are still allowed), the No. 88, math (sometimes), ellipses, gambling, lunch thievery, and hysterical click-bait arguments. Currently allowed: glowing, science, math (sometimes), relativity theory, clever wit, intelligent discussion, and strong journalism. What'd I miss?

I'll take running jokes in Insider Inbox for $500, Alex.

Alex from Paris, France

As a physics major, I can confirm that neglecting air resistance, ball flight is parabolic. If you were to include air resistance, which is proportional to velocity squared, how hard would you need to kick the ball to hit a laser goalpost?

Happy Wednesday.