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Inbox: The challenge is as mental as it is physical

It’s always good to be playing meaningful December football

TE Robert Tonyan
TE Robert Tonyan

Doug from Parker, CO

The term "maul" should be included at least once in all II editions. Indubitably.

We'll mull "maul" over.

Jerry from Green Bay, WI

I know everyone is excited for the cold-weather games, but I don't believe it causes many problems. These athletes are in such good shape and burn energy at such a high rate they stay warm. Just watch kids coming out of schools after basketball games. Shorts and light sweatshirt and they are warm. I think it's harder to go to warmer climates due to dehydration.

Justin Hollins hit the palm on the countertop when he was asked about cold-weather games on Thursday, saying the media probably makes a bit too much out of the elements. However, Hollins also admitted it can be demoralizing for a team when things aren't going their way in freezing conditions. The challenge is as mental as it is physical. As Mike expertly pointed out, the Packers are 12-2 under Matt LaFleur when playing outdoor games in the Midwest in December and January.

Al from Green Bay, WI

It's time. With three home games out of the four remaining, Green Bay's cold-weather difference-makers must impose their will. Who are these players? I'll put Kenny Clark and AJ Dillon in that category. Which players would you add to that list?

December is definitely Clark and Dillon season. Clark has routinely played some of his best football in the winter months, while Dillon was built for cold weather. Without diving too deep into the numbers, I think I'd also put Randall Cobb, Jaire Alexander and Mason Crosby in that category. There are some guys you can always count on to step up in the cold.

Kevin from Indianapolis, IN

I feel like we have been noting the same surge from Kenny Clark around this same time in the year for the last few seasons. Perhaps he handles the wear and tear of a season better than most? Maybe he prefers the colder weather? Something else? What say you?

Clark is a climber who gets better as the season wears on. Ten of his 25½ career sacks and 18 of his 52 quarterback hits have come in 23 December games. He's also had at least one sack in four of the Packers' last five playoff games.

Tom from New Braunfels, TX

Playoffs would be nice, but with the way the season has evolved with some terrible play, distraught with injuries at the worst possible times, including an appendix from nowhere, I just want to see the real Packers these last four games and end on a high note. Playoffs, if possible, but win some games. Let's see the offense we expected and a defense living up to the preseason hype. Have some fun. If this were to happen, at least we have some hope for 2023. Happy holidays to the IB team!

Win, lose or playoffs, I agree we need these last four games to properly write the story of the 2022 Packers. We're more than four months into this thing and I feel there's still so much to be learned.

Jason from Austin, TX

Regardless of what happens with the games over the weekend and on Monday night, I'm just happy to have some meaningful football to watch in December. A few weeks ago, it was looking like we'd already be officially eliminated at this point. I'm in no rush to get to the offseason. Let's enjoy this ride while it lasts!

Regardless of how you get here, it's always good to be playing meaningful December football.

Jerry from Lancaster, CA

Gary from Cross Plains, WI, questions throwing a flag on action away from the play. Sometimes, it originally may look to be away from the play, but in the end plays sometimes wind up going the other way because of what the player sees. I say throw the FLAG, if it is irrelevant to the play, they could just pick it up and say there was no foul.

Unless, of course, you're a side judge in Washington.

Doug from Neenah, WI

Good morning, Wes. When the Packers drafted Zach Tom out of Wake Forest, he had experience playing center and tackle. At Green Bay, he's lined up at guard and tackle. Does the re-signing of Michal Menet this week mean Tom's days at center are over? Thanks.

Not necessarily. I think the addition of Menet was more in reaction to the Packers not actually having any offensive linemen on their practice squad since Caleb Jones' promotion to the active roster. Jon Runyan has snapped a little in Green Bay but the Packers don't have any other college centers besides Josh Myers and Tom on the 53.

George from North Mankato, MN

Who is the strongest run-blocking OL the Packers have on the roster? How important will establishing the run be against the Rams?

David Bakhtiari when he's on the field. I've always felt he brings something to the run game that most left tackles don't across the league. If Bakhtiari doesn't play, though, I'd then say Elgton Jenkins. He's a strong, nimble athlete who can move people. He also seems to have a knack for getting under defensive linemen's skin (\cough* Aaron Donald *cough*). Regardless of whether Donald plays, the Rams' front is still a tough draw for Green Bay's run game. The Packers will have to earn every yard against Raheem Morris' crew.

Linda from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Good morning, Wes. Do you expect Romeo Doubs to get significant playing time, or do you think he will be on a limited schedule?

From the sound of it, the Packers will monitor his workload somewhat. Matt LaFleur said on Friday he doesn't want to push Doubs too much in his first game in more than a month. Just having Doubs back is a huge plus for this offense, though. I'm excited about the possibilities of mixing and matching those top five receivers.

Paul from Ledgeview, WI

Wes regarding Mike's remarks in yesterday's column, while it is too early for a postmortem on this season, if you have to identify the top three reasons why the Packers have underachieved to this point in the season, what would they be? For me: 1) the turnover at the WR position; 2) injuries impacted the OL; 3) coaching for situational football was not as fortuitous as in the recent past turning close games into losses.

The slow start offensively, the defensive struggles against mobile quarterbacks and the relentless 13-week gauntlet to get to the bye week. If the Packers have a Week 6 or 7 bye, maybe Rodgers' thumb heals faster and Green Bay irons out its wrinkles. But that's all hypothetical at this point.

Dale from Prescott, WI

Are the Inbox gurus in favor of the new way the players are being introduced at home games, or too glitzy for you? I haven't personally seen it, just looking for your perspective please. Thanks for all your insight.

I love it. After traveling around the NFL for the past 10 years, I don't think it's too glitzy at all. I think it's a cool look, especially during night games.

Greg from Glendale, AZ

How does the current situation compare to the end of the 2010 season? I remember thinking at one point, "That's it." And then they miraculously slipped into the playoffs.

That's up to this year's team to decide. The 2010 squad was significantly more beaten up than the 2022 team, though the Packers didn't have the benefit of return designations from injured reserve back then.

Hugo from New York, NY

Is it just me, or are quarterbacks not using the pump fake as much as they used to, including Aaron Rodgers? Is it scheme, timing, evolution of the game?

All of the above. QBs have transitioned away from traditional pump fakes in favor of play-action, misdirection, and overall timing of plays/routes. Regardless, that's never really been Rodgers' game.

Samuel from Mora, MN

Looking forward to attending my first ever Packers game Monday night! Interesting perspective: After Thursday night's game, we need four more total losses from other teams (one from Seattle and three from the Giants or Commanders), and four wins from ourselves to make the playoffs.

Simple math for an otherwise convoluted playoff picture.

Dave from Escanaba, MI

The 49ers-Seahawks game is a perfect example of what good line play (both offensive protection and defense against run/pass rush) can get you even with a new quarterback.

Kyle Shanahan's teams always find a way, especially late in the season. It's the best compliment I can pay the 49ers.

Check out photos of Lambeau Field after a December snowfall ahead of the Monday Night Football matchup with the Los Angeles Rams.

Etienne from Saint-Joachim-de-Tourelle, Canada

I'm going for a tie between Washington and the Giants. Has that ever happened in the NFL? Two ties for the same two teams over the same season?

According to my research, which could be wrong, no team has ever had two ties in the same season since the NFL introduced overtime. So, it would be unprecedented in both cases, yes.

Greg from Conway, SC

Do the NFL New York review personnel play rock, paper, scissors to make "the call"? I am of the opinion that the review system slows the game down too much. There must be a better way. Flip a coin perhaps?

I think it's time to bring the 90-second shot clock back on reviews. Also, a quick memo to New York, Clay Matthews III has offered his services.

Dennis from Parrish, FL

Is the word "ignorant" the most underrated word in the English language?

It definitely packs a three-syllable punch.

Chuck from Menomonie, WI

"Cozying up to the gambling world and constantly having officiating controversies is not the best look, in my opinion." If that's the new Inbox T-shirt, I'll take two, please.

Indubitably, Spoff brought his driver to the range during Friday's Inbox. He was bodying dudes.

Don from Swaledale, IA

I have to go along with the gentleman from Wisconsin Rapids, the NFL wants the gathering at the "watercooler" talking about the NFL, not "Yellowstone." I also have come to believe that the schedules are set up to improve parity in the league. Better teams have their byes set at inopportune times and games can be scheduled for certain teams to have short weeks to improve the chances for upsets. It's all about the Benjamins. Your thoughts gentlemen?

I don't disagree. Plus, "Yellowstone" is a formidable watercooler opponent. Ma Hod is a massive, massive fan.

Mike from St Louis Park, MN

Jeez. Mike sure laid into Derek from Sheboygan regarding the coaching lack of fire and probably well-deserved. As difficult as this season has been, have either of you banned anyone yet? Asking for a friend.

I don't ban people as much as I quit on them. There are a few people I don't even bother reading their submissions anymore. I see the name and hit delete. If that's your definition of "banned," there you have it.

Lori from Heredia, Costa Rica

Hey Weston, I heard Rodgers say he didn't have Amazon Prime so he couldn't watch the Thursday night game. Here in Costa Rica, we could watch it on ESPN. Did Amazon Prime pay just for the right to broadcast the Thursday night games in the States? And does the NFL sign deals with ESPN and other networks to broadcast the games internationally?

Correct. Sports leagues often have different international affiliates. When I couldn't sleep in London two months ago, I watched WWE Smackdown at 3 a.m. local on BT Sport.

The Green Bay Packers held practice at Clarke Hinkle Field on Friday, Dec. 16, 2022.

Shilo from Murietta, CA

Wes, I heard you dropping strike-season one-liners in the last Unscripted. You just had your birthday, but were you even born in 1987?!?

I goo-goo-gaga'ed my way through the final 17 days of it. Great memories.

Jeffrey from Eveleth, MN

Come on Spoff. Wes doesn't like cheese, doesn't want pie crust, and doesn't drink beer. Why would you steal his lunch? I think I'd go after The Rock's instead.

Hey now, I like pie crust. The crustless pumpkin pie is just my grandma's specialty. You can have the other two, though.

Renaud from Paris, France

Hey guys, absolutely nothing to do with the Packers...Could we have an "Allez la France" from you, dear Insiders? Thanks for the great work!

All the best to you and the national team, Renaud! ALLEZ LA FRANCE!

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, would you consider publishing the first annual Inbox Naughty and Nice List?

Haha…you mean, the nice and banned list? It would consist of all our favorite II readers and then half a page of empty space.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Wes, I just read that you are doing the Saturday and Monday Inbox. I assume our pregame poem will be on Monday then. By the way, I haven't seen the announcement yet that Curtis from Corvallis, OR, has been added to the game-day poetry roster. Is it so?

At Saturday press time, we have not yet received a poem. So, I suppose it will be Monday or nothing. Until then…

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Back against the wall,

Only a haiku will do,

Run the table time.

Nothing to lose. Wins to gain. Run it back…why the (heck) not? Before I go, I want to wish my son a wonderful fifth birthday. He won't read this today but maybe sometime in the future. I'm so proud to be your dad. A big thanks to all of you for helping keep food on the table and crayons in the drawer. Have a great weekend, everybody.

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