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Inbox: The best things in life come in threes

The Packers have trusted the developmental process – and reaped the rewards

QB Aaron Rodgers

Bret from Hertel, WI

Dear Wes, Mike Tirico was very complimentary of the Packers' draft-and-develop program. Fans expect instant results. We are quick to criticize players too early in their growth such as Rashan Gary, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Robert Tonyan, Aaron Jones, Darnell Savage, and others. Not every player is an All-Pro or star as a rookie. It takes time for them develop and grow. How would you assess this Packers' philosophy?

The Packers have trusted the developmental process – and reaped the rewards. Not every draft pick will work out like Elgton Jenkins, a bona-fide starter from jump street. Many times, some assembly is required. Take Equanimeous St. Brown, for example. E.Q. has battled through some injuries the past two years but is starting to carve out a role as the next man up behind Davante Adams, Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling.

Tracy from St. Charles, MO

No question just loved seeing St. Brown on the field and making plays. Go E.Q.

I felt like that was his best game as a member of the Packers and Pro Football Focus agreed. His 78.7 grade was the highest of his three NFL seasons. I thought E.Q. looked explosive, sure-handed and was the complementary receiving threat Green Bay needed on third downs. He did a good job on those in-breakers.

Ben from Menomonee Falls, WI

This was the type of game that will give our defense confidence moving forward. That was the defense I remember from last year – gave up a lot of yards, but created pressure, and took the ball away. How can the team build off this and not take a step backwards?

The takeaways that were missing earlier this season have started to materialize over the past month and it's made a difference for the defense. It still has a ways to go but the swagger is back and it comes at a good time. Because no QB has thrown more INTs than Carson Wentz's 14 this season. The Packers gotta keep them coming.

Theresa from Sioux City, IA

Great win over the Bears. The Packers were awesome. It's always great when we're jumping off our couch yelling for joy as Aaron Rodgers throws the ball and his receivers snatch it out of the air – as if it were quietly handed to them from 35 yards away. But I'm wondering if Allen Lazard is all right? My husband and I were worried he may have aggravated that recently healed core injury.

We'll see how the injury report looks Wednesday but Lazard was cleared to return to the game. He just didn't because the game was well in hand. He also tweeted a GIF of himself after the game, giving a thumbs up.

Tom from Fairfield, CT

Is it OK if we start talking about this very exciting and cool now weekly duel for the rest of the season between Mahomes and Rodgers for the MVP race? I know others also still have a shot, but these two are clearly alone in the front of the gang.

It's a two-man race in my mind with five weeks to go, but after everything that's been said the past few years, MVP voters better put some respect on Rodgers' name if he keeps his torrid pace (117.6 passer rating). The best things in life come in threes, right? What better year than 2020 for Rodgers to fulfill a part of his destiny with a third MVP.

Geoff from Omaha, NE

Did ML steal that Robert Tonyan TD play from the 49ers? Sure looked a lot like the 61-yard touchdown George Kittle scored on us last year. Great play design.

I don't know where the play originated but it was a similar concept to the deep ball Rodgers missed Davante Adams on earlier in the game. He joked with LaFleur that he wouldn't miss that throw again if LaFleur called it again…and Rodgers lived up to his word.

Gary from Potter, NC

Do you think Robert Tonyan's friendship and training with George Kittle has helped his game? I know he was already emerging as a good TE but he's exceeded my expectations of him profoundly!

Very much so. Every offseason, he works out with one of the elite tight ends of this era of football. Plus, Tonyan also had those two seasons with Jimmy Graham and now three years with Marcedes Lewis. He's on the fast track to earning a master's degree in how to play tight end at the game's highest level.

Ferdinand from Woodbury, MN

Has Aaron seen "Queen's Gambit"? Watching Beth Harmon visualize the chess board on the ceiling, I think I have a greater understanding of how Rodgers "sees" the opposing defense and a play unfolding.

He said on Pat McAfee's show last week he hasn't seen it yet. I wish he would. I think he'd love it. And I'm with you on the parallels between how Rodgers sees the field and Beth visualized the chess board.

Scott from Ishpeming, MI

This is not a chortle, I promise. I was wondering what Trubisky's TD/INT ratio against GB for his career is. It seems to me that he may have thrown more interceptions than touchdowns against us, is that right?

Trubisky has thrown seven touchdowns and five interceptions in six games against the Packers, completing 59.9% of his passes for 1,507 yards and a 79.0 passer rating.

Bob from Racine, WI

Glowing comments about the Packers demolishing the Bears. But if it weren't for a few mishaps by Trubisky, the game would have been very close. In the fourth quarter, the Packers' pass defense was extremely soft. The Bears made one pass after another and got first downs each time. If others don't see it this way, what am I missing?

LaFleur mentioned Monday afternoon how it's a balance of defending ground and shielding yourself from a big play to allow the opponent back in the game. The bad news? The Bears converted a pair of 13-plus play drives that produced touchdowns. The good news? Chicago had to work for its yards, eating seven minutes off the clock. Green Bay would've loved a fourth takeaway with a Kevin King end-zone INT or a stop on fourth-and-11, but the name of the game is draining the clock and winning the game. The Packers did that.

Dave from Germantown, TN

With the Bears getting two TDs in "garbage" time at what point do you want your prevent defense to actually prevent the other team from scoring? Lombardi would never stand for that type of performance.

"Prevent" defense doesn't mean prevent the opposing team from scoring. It means "prevent" an explosive play.

Adam from Phoenix, AZ

Good morning Insiders. Like you, it drives me crazy when fans get so riled up about "letting teams run up the score" at the end of a game the Packers have dominated. These people are not fans of football, they are merely fans of chortling. If the final score doesn't "look" as lopsided as the game was, somehow that is a loss to these people. I feel sorry for them.

Focus on what matters. That's it. If you want to talk about David Montgomery breaking that 57-yard run on the second play and what the Packers need to do to fix that? Totally understandable. That was a huge play. Or even the yards per play Green Bay allowed through the first 45 minutes of the game? Fine. But lamenting the fourth quarter is wasted energy.

Mike from Fort Wayne, IN

When a credentialed reporter said he won't know about a certain play or aspect of the game until he views the "coaches' tape," what is on the tape that is different than fans watching it on TV?

The reporter is referring to the All-22 film that is posted on NFL Game Pass on Wednesday. It's an aerial shot of the field, so you have a better vantage point of what the safeties are doing.

Dale from Lima, NY

Kevin Patra began an article he wrote this morning this way: "The Chicago Bears entered Sunday night hanging their hat on defense, owning the ability to shut down opponents with relative ease, giving their offense at least a chance to win games. Aaron Rodgers took that hat, ripped it to shreds, stomped on it and tossed it in a dumpster of flames." Which gives you more satisfaction? The fact that it's true? Or the memorable writing?

The fact the Packers saw something on tape that they felt they could exploit with balancing a steady ground-and-pound running attack with empty formations. The Bears tout a top 10 defense with playmakers who can change the complexion of a game in an instant. The Packers imposed their will on Chicago, while Rodgers was not hit a single time. I have to go back and look when was the last time that happened. It must be very long ago.

Mark from Charlotte, VT

Terrific outing Sunday night. Curious about one thing though...with five minutes or so to go and the game clearly in hand, any reason why they would leave 12 in? Why not protect him and give others same game experience?

LaFleur touched on this Monday. The Packers wanted to get Boyle in there but it also was a two-score game after the Bears' successful two-point attempt. If the Packers stop them there, I'm guessing Tim Boyle comes in with 3:20 remaining in a 41-24 game.

View some of the best photos from the Sunday Night Football Packers-Bears matchup at Lambeau Field on Nov. 29, 2020.

Robert from Menasha, WI

Do you have any examples of ML deviating from the "Midwest nice guy" for a moment, and unleashing the inner fire on someone? I really like his steady and humble leadership, but also believe really good coaches (and baseball managers) need to be able to get red-faced hot and scream occasionally, at the appropriate times of course. Have I missed it with ML or perhaps it's just forthcoming?

I don't think that's a problem. Just because a guy doesn't make the SportsCenter "Top 10" for chastising an official or screaming at a player doesn't mean he isn't passionate. LaFleur is all the things you described. He just channels it in a productive way.

Israel from West Allis, WI

As enjoyable as the game was and as glad as I am that Savage made the plays and the defense had three, and nearly five, turnovers, I think there is a fair amount to nitpick. If Akiem Hicks is in, or if the QB doesn't make three terrible passes, there's a very likely chance that this game is a dead heat. The Bears' offense looked very capable against GB other than the turnovers. They count, and I enjoyed the win, but this team could lose to the Bears in January if Hicks and Foles are in.

Nitpick away but if a few things went differently against Tampa Bay, Minnesota and Indianapolis, the Packers would be a perfect 11-0, no? That's sports. We don't live in a world of ifs, Israel. We live in a world of really happened.

Ron from Mitchell, SD

In the live blog Sunday night Mike mentioned something about a steak for everyone when the game was over which brought this question to mind. Do the Packers feed the players after the game at Lambeau or are they on their own? Am guessing they must be starving by the time a game is over? Silly question in know but inquiring minds want to know.

They have food after the game. In the past, it's various snacks in the locker room and then a postgame spread. This year, due to restrictions in the cafeteria, the team uses an app for players and coaches to order prepared meals.

Joel from Sand Springs, OK

I don't expect you to know all the details, but what are your thoughts on the delaying of some prime games (Ravens/Steelers) but not delaying games like Broncos/Saints? It seems a little inconsistent. Is there a league standard for those decisions?

Many of you are so bent out of shape about this. I don't care. I just don't. I hope those afflicted get better as soon as possible but all the NFL can do is lean on its protocols and keep pushing forward. There are no good answers to this stuff, people – only answers. It's just like our everyday lives – we're all making chicken salad out of…chicken byproduct.

Mike from McFarland, WI

I was surprised to see Jordan Love wasn't deployed in the fourth quarter. Should we read much into that?

No. He was inactive.

Robert from Verona, WI

Has there been any word on when we can expect Tyler Ervin back? Perhaps the bigger concern should be Corey Linsley, though. Even with the great play of the offensive line, we are better with him than without him.

Nothing to report yet on Ervin. The Packers like to err on the high side of caution, especially when it's a rib injury (See: David Bakhtiari). We'll find out soon enough what the forecast is with Linsley, but the fact it doesn't appear to be season-ending is a small silver lining.

Mike from Algoma, WI

I hope Corey Linsley can return soon, but how good is Elgton Jenkins? I think it was on his first series at center and the Bears jumped offsides. How many people realize he had to be aware to snap the ball so Aaron could have the free play? "74" is playing like a longtime veteran.

I've never seen an offensive lineman quite like him. It's one thing to have the ability to play all five positions. It's an entirely different deal to show all that versatility before your 25th birthday. Jenkins is a special, special talent.

Bruce from Green Bay, WI

I am older now and some of the game has passed me by with all the rule changes, size and speed of the athletes, but mostly game plans. Because of these changes the way Green Bay's offensive line dominated with two starters out was impressive to say the least. How did that happen? Please don't give a cliché answer because they played better.

I'm sure there will be a "Rock Report" on this but the Packers hit the Bears where they were hurting – right up the middle with the inside-zone and the interior offensive line was just more physical than Chicago. It didn't matter if it was Jenkins, Linsley, Lucas Patrick or even Jon Runyan. That's obviously a credit to the players but it also speaks volumes about how Adam Stenavich prepares the entire room.

Dave from Germantown, TN

If the Packers' QB room got sidelined like the Broncos due to COVID, who would play QB?

I hate answering a hypothetical like this because COVID is such a serious matter and I do not wish to speak it into existence, but my best guess is it would be Davante Adams. In case of emergency, I go back to "High School Football 101" … Put the ball in the hands of your best player. Adams can chuck the pigskin, too.

Luke from Verona, WI

What's the biggest challenge facing the Packers in the matchup this week?

Miles Sanders, who's averaging 5.7 yards per carry this season. He's healthy again and getting more consistent time in Philly's backfield. Don't let the Eagles' record deceive you. They have playmakers: including former Packers camp receiver Travis Fulgham (31 catches for 451 yards) and Richard Rodgers, who has enjoyed a resurgence with Philadelphia this year.

Renee from Green Bay, WI

What happened to Bryan Bulaga? Is he still playing? If so with whom? I always liked Bryan, he was a gentleman off the field but a relentless warrior on it. How was Bryan with the media?

Bulaga signed with the Los Angeles Chargers as a free agent in March. He had a knee injury earlier this year but has returned to start seven games at right tackle. Bulaga grew so much during his time in Green Bay. He went from a guy who was rather surly with the media at first to winning the "Stand-Up Guy" award last year.

Mike from Cibolo, TX

Alright Wes, who's winning tonight: Moxley or Omega?

It would be strange to have a title change on basic cable, but I'm leaning toward "The Best Bout Machine," which would give the Elite (almost) all the gold.

Jeff from Moore, OK

How were the 500 fans allowed into Lambeau selected? Was there a lottery among season ticket holders?

In order to evaluate COVID-19 stadium protocols, the Packers limited it to employees and their household families. And a quick shout-out to Joan Malcheski, our director of brand and marketing for capturing the imagination of our country with her "Deep Dish Pizza is Overrated" sign Sunday night. Good job, Joan.


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