Presented by

Inbox: The best teams find a way to make it work

Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon have taught each other a thing or two

211019-insider-inbox-2560
WR Allen Lazard

Ferdie from Galt, CA

Hi Mike, you wrote, "Besides, Tom Crabtree's fake-field-goal TD vs. the Bears came on fourth-and-26, so the jinx was broken long ago." Where's the like button?

Tom Crabtree, the prince that was promised.

Jake from Oswego, IL

Living in the heart of Bear country, it always makes my life easier and feels extra good when we beat them. That being said, as soon as the interception and apparent missed offsides occurred, I was instantly disappointed. Bears fans around here really BELIEVE that there is a conspiracy in the NFL that officials favor the Packers and that they intentionally prevent the Bears from winning. It is VERY prevalent amongst my Bears fan friends. What can I say to Bears fans that believe this?

Oh, so that's the reason Aaron Rodgers has thrown 36 touchdowns against two interceptions in his last 14 games against Chicago. It all makes sense now.

Bob from Vigardolo, Italy

Packers-Bears and other conference games are always important, but I think this past game was very much so. Packers won, so they are two games ahead of Chicago just as they get ready to enter a difficult stretch of the schedule. If the Packers lost, they would have been "tied" at 4-2 with the Bears but the Bears would have had the tiebreaker.

Just keep winning. That's it. This week, the Packers need to get back in the lab, build a good plan, get (a little) healthier and beat Washington.

Dar from Mansfield, TX

While we are eager to welcome David Bakhtiari back to the playing field, we likely need to temper expectations; he's been out a long time. From personal experience, I know since I took a break from posting here over the summer it's taken me nearly two months to get back up to Inbox "game speed." And protecting a quarterback's blind side from 300-pound aggressors has got to be at least as tough as posting here, right?

Once Bakhtiari practices, I believe the Packers have a 21-day window to return him to the active roster. I have no knowledge of where things are with his rehab but that three-week window seems perfect for Bakhtiari to have his own mini-training camp. We'll see where the next 10 days take us but certainly it's good to hear Bakhtiari will be back on the practice field this week.

Matt from Philadelphia, PA

Since the Saints game, Packers' D has limited opponents to 17, 28, 17, 22 and 14 with injuries piling up to notable players each week. Still, Coach Barry finds a way to plug, play and produce! Is it time to start appreciating him a little more?

I think the whole unit should be appreciated more. Yes, the defense needs to get the red zone cleaned up, but it's been pretty darn good this season despite missing two of its best players. Then, Darnell Savage and Preston Smith both had to leave Sunday with injuries. The best teams find a way to make it work and the Packers have through the first six games to rank fifth in total defense/yards, seventh in takeaways and 13th in scoring.

Randy from Ooltewah, TN

Since we now love poetry in the Inbox, my new favorite poem: Roses are red, violets are blue, da Bears still suck, and the Vikings do, too! For my question, which injury replacement on Sunday had the biggest impact: Lucas Patrick, Jonathan Garvin, Henry Black or Rasul Douglas?

Patrick. The Packers would've been in a real pickle if Patrick wasn't able to step in at center after Josh Myers left four plays into the game. Jake Hanson can play there, but it's a luxury to have a veteran like Patrick with intimate knowledge of this offense to plug in at such an important position. Like I wrote last week, there's value in his brand of versatility. On Sunday, he proved it.

Ben from Pensacola, FL

ML wasn't the only one about to throw up when Kenny Clark had that injury scare. He's an underrated monster that causes a lot of the sacks others have. I was concerned when Savage went out, but Black definitely held it up. Also, I still think Adrian Amos' INT should have stood. It was so close – if they ruled it an INT to begin with, it might not have been overturned either, which I think is weird.

My other big takeaway from Sunday's game was when the chips are down and a defense is hurting, its best players have to step up and perform. Clark was the best player on the field all afternoon and finished that game the way the Packers needed him to. I didn't have high hopes on Amos' near-pick since he plays safety, not receiver.

Sawyer from Simpsonville, SC

Forget about Rodgers' Bears stat. How about Adrian Amos being 5-0 against them since he signed with Green Bay?

*That was the most disappointing part of the near-pick. He was inches away from having back-to-back-to-back interceptions in his return to Soldier Field. *

Margo from Solvang, CA

Hi Wes, one of my favorite plays from the game was the Rodgers sneak on fourth-and-1. I loved that we went for it and loved that we used a sneak since it seems we hardly ever see Rodgers take that play. I know we don't want to risk an injury but that sure seems like a play we could use more often in fourth-and-short. Do you think we'll dial that one up more often if the situation comes up?

I felt like it was the perfect call at the perfect time. With the Bears only putting four defensive linemen on the line of scrimmage, it made total sense for Rodgers to follow the lead block of Patrick and Jon Runyan for the first down.

Steve from Land O Lakes, FL

It looks like to me that the special teams are improving and staying a bit more consistent. What do you see?

There's still work to do with the coverage units but Corey Bojorquez has been exceptional since taking over punting duties. He talked recently about having the ability to pound the football but not wanting to outkick his coverage. Well, Bojo showed that Sunday with the 82-yard bomb. I think Amari Rodgers is developing nicely, as well. You can tell he's getting more comfortable back there.

Eric from Stramproy, Netherlands

Well, no worries. Mason Crosby is still Mason Crosby.

Yeah, I wasn't concerned. I knew Crosby would respond the right way.

Carl from Sheboygan, WI

Guys – no questions, just a couple comments. I know the theme this week is "just beat the WFT," but after watching the AR12 postgame interview, the Packers have to find a way to keep him around. Also, I watched the ML interview from Monday. It's fun to see how much he has progressed and matured as a head coach. I remember watching his very first interview and how nervous he looked. Great to be up two games in the division. Love the "I own you" comments from AR12. Great segment! GPG!

It's been cool watching LaFleur grow increasingly more comfortable at the podium. You're definitely seeing his wit more this year, which is fun. I arrived on the beat six years after Mike McCarthy was first hired and he already was engrained into that figurehead role. It's a tough gig and it takes time to grow into it – and LaFleur certainly has.

Matty from Troy, MO

I'm really hoping that we can turn the corner on the injury front and get back some of our starters. Is there ever an advantage to having so many injuries? Obviously, you want your best on the field. But does it make it harder for opponents to game plan against a team that has so many unknowns? Searching for a silver lining here.

While it appears Josh Myers will miss some games with the knee injury, the Packers received some good news on the injury front. It sounds like David Bakhtiari will return to practice this week, while the team remains hopeful Jaire Alexander can avoid surgery. Spoff had the full story here.

Sean from Chicago, IL

Good morning Wes! I feel like Marcedes Lewis was an All-Pro LT in a past life. What an incredible asset to this offense!

Greg Olsen mentioned during the broadcast how Lewis reinvented himself as a tight end. While Olsen is not wrong, Lewis has been one of the league's best blocking tight ends for years. He embraces that role and the physicality that comes with it. They broke the mold with that dude.

Nathan from Sayulita, Mexico

Good morning Wes! Obviously, many adjustments are made throughout the game. But defensively, it seemed that substituting Rasul Douglas for Isaac Yiadom in the first quarter made a huge difference. What were your thoughts on Douglas' performance and whether he will be the starter opposite Eric Stokes going forward?

Douglas played fast and physical. He might have gotten a little too physical when Justin Fields was giving himself up, but Douglas brought an edge to the secondary the Packers needed without Jaire Alexander and Kevin King. I was a big fan of how he played. I want to see more.

Josh from Sherwood Park, Canada

In one of Mike's responses yesterday he mentioned how Matt LaFleur switched up the approach to the running game and it paid off. Was he referring to getting AJ Dillon in for more snaps as a change of pace, or was there another adjustment that I didn't notice? I did notice that Aaron Jones got stuffed on several runs in the first quarter and it was refreshing to see them stick with it instead of abandoning the run early as ML has lamented in the past.

The Packers pulled their guards a little more than usual but mostly it was switching to more inside-zone concepts and running north and south. Green Bay's offensive line dug its cleats into the ground, and Jones and Dillon played off it. The two combined for 135 yards on 24 carries (5.6 yards per attempt) against one of the best run fronts in the NFL. They were up to the task.

Terry from La Crosse, WI

Insiders, how awkward do you think it was for the officials when they had to review the Equanimeous St. Brown catch in the end zone to determine if he was in bounds, so they could confirm the option on the downs (third versus fourth down) and all the while seeing the questionable PI call knowing the viewing audience was watching?

I would say it was very awkward. It was a ticky-tacky call, which is what you expect in today's NFL. The official who flagged St. Brown for the push-off should've seen what Diontae Johnson did to Jaire last month.

Ryan from Colfax, WI

Did Justin Fields think that to throw the ball away it had to go out the back of the end zone? That is the only way I can make those two long throws make sense.

I'm still not sure what was going on there. I saw a few Bears players talking about how that sequence was a game-changer but it still was third down. That turnover still is on Fields. If the quarterback doesn't see the yellow flag on the field, then he needs to be smart with the football. He got careless and Savage got a pick out of it. Regardless, it would have been fourth down anyway.

Donna from Oak Creek, WI

That was quite an outburst from Aaron Rodgers after his rushing TD on Sunday. You can't convince me that he doesn't still love playing for the Packers!

Maybe it's the pro wrestling fan in me, but I loved every second of it. It's not Rodgers' fault there are a hundred cameras tracking his every move. He said it himself, it was a euphoric blackout, a cleansing moment of clarity. If you have a problem with anything he did or said, don't hate the player – hate the game.

Daniel from Allen, TX

I wonder if Rodgers is eyeing a minority ownership stake in the Bears.

Why must you own it when you're living rent free?

Kirsten from Madison, WI

If you're a coach devising a game plan, which do you emphasize: Playing to your team's strengths or playing to your opponent's weaknesses?

Generally speaking, I prefer to play to my strength over an opponent's perceived weakness. I'd rather get beat doing what we do best than trying to force a square peg through a round hole because it looks better on film.

Markus from Sea Ranch, CA

Considering a 17-game regular season, is Game 1 now the new preseason? Seems so looking at the Packers' record.

Mayhap but I still believe the Packers did the right thing resting their veterans in the preseason. Look no further than all the injuries this team has had to weather through the first six games. Personally, I just don't think you can jeopardize your entire season for some extra prep. Who knows how far the 2015 Packers go if Jordy Nelson doesn't tear his ACL?

Dave from Middletown, CT

Great closer yesterday, Mike. Wes, I don't recall seeing Randall Cobb ever mentioned in the Bears game live blog, nor yesterday's II. Is he OK? Did he play?

Cobb is fine. He played 23 snaps but wasn't targeted. That's how it goes. It's a situational offense. On Sunday, it was Allen Lazard joining Davante Adams, Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon as the targets. Next week, it could easily be Cobb.

Al from Green Bay, WI

AJ Dillon displayed surprising shiftiness on his long run against the Bears, and Aaron Jones made a guy miss in the open field on his TD reception. With power as his primary weapon, do you think AJ is learning some moves from his teammate, helping him to be a more complete back?

They push one another…and evidently have taught each other a thing or two, as well.

William from Dallas, TX

Is Tuesday too early to say, "Just beat Washington!"?

No. I prefer, "Just beat Football Team."

Advertising