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Inbox: That takes away a lot of opportunities

The Packers have to figure themselves out

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Offensive huddle

Elizabeth from Cornelius, OR

Can I panic now? Please?

You can do whatever you'd like. I know this is a tough deal for fans. These aren't normal times.

Jesse from Menifee, CA

Hopefully I have settled down enough from that humbling experience. It seems that just 12 rushing attempts and reusing the strong side "screen" to Jones was not enough. Credit goes to the OL for keeping Rodgers upright, but seems like they could have been leaned on more to create the needed push in the run game. Am I way off base?

As much as fans want to yell about play-calling, I just don't see that near the top of the list. Last week, it was the offensive line more than the plays. This week, it was basic execution. As I said over and over in the live blog, the Packers stretched the Commanders horizontally, but then when they tried to hit them vertically over the middle – even with short stuff – either guys weren't getting open, the throws were off, or they were dropped. The Packers also were in second-and-10-plus six times, mostly due to penalties. That takes away a lot of opportunities to run the ball. I actually like the stubbornness to get Jones the football, because he's their best offensive player, but pushing the edges and working the middle has to play off one another or it's too easy for the defense.

Tom from Saugus, CA

Tough to win in this league when you constantly put yourself behind the sticks, don't make the plays in crunch time and most of the breaks do not go your way. I believe there are better times ahead!

So do I, because the mistakes seem to get more basic by the week. For whatever reason(s), everything has gone backwards the last 2½ games. The struggles on offense are mostly self-inflicted, I believe. Aaron Rodgers declared Washington didn't "do much" defensively. The Packers are making their own life difficult on offense, which is putting too much pressure on the defense to last four quarters. And for the second straight week, the special teams gave one away. The pile of problems hasn't gotten any smaller.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Do you remember (not that long ago) when the NFC East was widely known as the "NFC Least"? What can we call that division now? The NFC Beasts?

They're the power brokers in the conference right now. There's no doubt about that.

Tony from San Juan Capistrano, CA

II, we can't seem to break out of this pervasive funk and the search for answers has not yielded a path. Vic used to say "help is not on the way" and that axiom is sure ringing true. But our guys are professional athletes and I hope they continue to come to work every day. The Vicism notwithstanding, I believe something has to break our way. Do either of you concur?

It will when the Packers earn it. There were some tough breaks in that loss yesterday, for sure, but the Packers didn't exactly earn a whole lot of grace from the football gods the way they were playing.

Jeff from Ely, MN

Oof dah! From bad to worse. I would guess no one thought we'd be 3-4 and now going into the most difficult part of our schedule. It's baffling to me how a team that finished the season a year ago, with mostly the same personnel, could go from playing great defense, win the turnover battle and commit so few penalties to this? Can you offer any explanation? I thought the addition of Rich B. and this year's rookies improved our team. Has the rest of the NFL figured us out? Help!

The Packers haven't figured themselves out. It is absolutely true that every year is a new one in this league, and you have to start over. How many times have I talked about embracing the grind? We keep hearing the team is practicing well, but it's obviously not translating. So where's the disconnect? That's what has to be figured out.

John from Heber, UT

The tide has turned for me. Call me crazy but I'm now "expecting" the Packers to lose. I don't mean that as a deep dig against the team; it's just that they (seemingly) find a different way to lose each week. Some teams are simply snake-bit, and the Packers are there, at least for now. Lowering expectations this way completely takes away the anxiety of watching them underperform.

Like I said, you can handle this however you'd like. But I'm seeing them lose very similarly each week. There's an inability to get any consistent flow going from drive to drive on offense, with one reliable performer (Robert Tonyan last week, Aaron Jones this week) but nobody else making an impact. That puts the defense on the field too much, and the special teams has added its own mistakes to the mix. These last two losses were remarkably alike if you ask me, and the only reason they were never totally out of this one was because the defense scored seven points.

Ken from New York, NY

Do you have a sense that the Packers aren't sure what the problem is? I'm worried that the Packers don't even know what's wrong.

That's an understandable concern given what we've witnessed the last two Sundays. But I do know if the catchable balls are caught, if the easy passes are put in the right spots, if players line up right and don't grab and hold, and if guys keep their cool in the tense moments, the product would look different. That's a lot of ifs, but they aren't complicated ifs.

Patrick from East Dubuque, IL

Who makes the final determination that a player coming off injured reserve and has resumed practice will be on the field to actively participate?

It's a collective decision amongst the player, medical staff, GM and head coach. In essence the medical staff determines to what extent a player can participate, and the GM and head coach decide how much he will participate, if at all, within those guidelines.

Adam from Washington, MO

How did Tom look at LT?

I'm curious to take a closer look at the film of the rookie's first start. The Packers' plan clearly was for Rodgers to get the ball out quickly, but the raw glance told me Tom held up fine.

Joe from Cedar Rapids, IA

You see the game in-person and I just get the TV coverage. What do you think is the problem with our defense and their inability to stop the run? We invested a great deal in defense in recent drafts and it does not seem to be paying off, at least against the run.

It looked to me like the edges weren't being set, and when contain is lost, there aren't as many defenders available to make the play. When the edges aren't being set, that usually means players are trying to do too much rather than just doing their job.

Randy from Arcola, IN

As I watched the game, unfortunately I was not surprised by the results. What I am surprised by is the lack of any exciting changes by an offense that has been terrible up to this point. Do you think that a change in play tempo, in regards to getting to the line of scrimmage much more quickly and getting the play off, might help in keeping the defense off-balance and cut their physical recovery time? Also why is Amari Rodgers still fielding punts?

Those are valid questions. I thought the tempo was good on the early TD drive, but why that was lost I couldn't tell. I think there's merit to the suggestion, not in the full-on hurry-up sense, but to promote rhythm and sharpness perhaps. I'm also starting to wonder when your two best playmakers on offense are running backs, as opposed to perimeter weapons, if the best-play-available mindset allows the defense to dictate too many matchups in its favor. I'm just spiff-balling now, I don't honestly know. The Packers have played this way, and played well, since LaFleur was here, so you don't start from ground zero, but all reasons for the funk need to be examined. On punt returns, Rodgers has put the ball on the ground three times in the last six games. Accountability is required.

Randall from Manasquan, NJ

Having just going through a Cochlear implant, I'm hoping I can hear "Unscripted" clearly now. You guys do a great job in both written and audio format. On a side note, what do you think of some of the alternate helmets? I was glad to see the red Falcons, not so much black Cards and Saints. GPG

I love the red Falcons helmet. That was the one from my youth and I wish they'd never changed it. I think the black ones some teams use as an occasional change of pace look sharp, but I always prefer the originals.

Terry from Rothschild, WI

The Jets were more physical, we allowed them to Lambeau Leap on us, and Sauce is parading around in a cheesehead – well done Allen Lazard in knocking it off. The Commanders saw the Packers commit nine penalties, seven drops, no third-down conversions, and the Packers get beat by a backup quarterback who grew up a Packer fan. Can you talk us Packer fans down from the ledge?

Ledges I will not tolerate, even though I know it's a figure of speech. This feels like 2016 to me. The rut is deep, and I believed then, as I believe now, the Packers will pull themselves out of it. But will they do so in time? They did so just in time six years ago, and the schedule was favorable to a certain extent. They have more time this year, but the schedule looks more daunting. As an old friend used to say, all we can do is watch.

Tony from Baltimore, MD

Attended game today and I'm just left wondering why didn't the Packers attempt a Hail Mary on the final play of the game? Percentages probably were higher converting Hail Mary than the play they drew up.

I'd surmise because the Hail Mary attempt in London led to Rodgers' injured thumb, they didn't want to risk that again, and/or Rodgers' thumb doesn't allow for a strong enough grip on the ball to let it rip with an all-out, super-high, everything-into-it heave.

Aaron from Phoenix, AZ

Football is really the ultimate complementary game. The problem with the defense is the offense. We typically see the D start strong then start getting gashed for big plays. The O isn't on the field long enough to provide the D with decent rest or any kind of morale-boosting momentum. The O is suffering from drops, and good gracious the penalties were awful. But I agree. They have the roster to turn it around. The Bills game is one of those contests that can completely flip a team's season. GPG

I wholeheartedly agree on all counts.

Beau from Indianapolis, IN

Hi Spoff. Tough loss yesterday. During the game-day chat, how do you type so quickly without mistakes and still pay attention to the game?

I've been doing it for a long time now, but I will admit it takes an intense level of concentration for three-plus hours, which is why sometimes after that, plus a game recap and editorial from a rough loss, by the time I get around to writing this column, I can't promise a lot of wit and wisdom. I suspect this didn't do much for readers this morning. But honestly folks, the tank and the answer bucket are empty. I did my best with what I had.

Bones from Ripon, WI

If that was having fun, I think I'll pass.

Unhappy Monday.

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