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Inbox: The collective performance could serve as a launching point

It’s a game played by humans

TE Jace Sternberger

Zach from Cokato, MN

My 3-year-old would disagree with Wes on the crunchy/puffed Cheetoh debate.

When I was 3, if the puffy ones even existed then, I might have disagreed, too. But now? No contest. Crunchy rules.

Ferdinand from Woodbury, MN

Do we have any idea when and how Allen Lazard injured his core so seriously?

No. LaFleur only said it happened in the New Orleans game but he provided no other details. For what it's worth, he played all but three offensive snaps and caught only one more pass, a 7-yarder, after the 72-yard reception early in the third quarter.

Kathleen from Fond du Lac, WI

Could you guys describe what a "core" type injury is since Lazard is now out with one? Is it a muscle tear and surgery was needed to stitch it back up? Does "core" refer to one's stomach area? Thanks for any info and let's hope Lazard returns soon...I really like the kid and his abilities! Go Pack!

Core muscle injuries were long referred to as sports hernias, but the medical profession moved away from that term because it was considered a misnomer. A CMI involves the area where the abdominal muscles attach to the pelvis getting weakened or torn. The latter would almost certainly require surgery in a professional athlete.

Israel from West Allis, WI

Too bad about Lazard. He was off to such a great start. I've been wondering about EQSB's progress and whether we might see him after the bye?

I've heard no updates on Equanimeous St. Brown. He is eligible to come off injured reserve after the bye, but that doesn't mean he will.

Robert from Salem, WI

Do you see Tyler Ervin getting increased playing time at wide receiver with the Davante Adams and Lazard injuries?

That's a distinct possibility. Snaps for Malik Taylor and Darrius Shepherd also should rise. Opportunity is knocking.

Corey from Albuquerque, NM

I'm disappointed. A wide receiver goes down, and not a single Jake Kumerow question?

There were too many to count.

Richard from Menasha, WI

I am interested in the game flow and play-calling discussions. How long does it take for the coaches to identify what aspect of the Packers' offense the opposing team is trying to take away? One play, one series, one quarter? How significantly does that then impact the play-calling?

Most of the time, a play-caller will want to deploy all of his primary personnel groups within the first series or two to see the defense's personnel counters. The coaches have already planned what they want to try if the defense matches up this way or that, and they start probing. Then as soon as one side or the other makes an adjustment, the chess match is on.

Sam from St. Louis, MO

I don't think it's the lack of crowd noise that pleases me as much as it's the lack of teams artificially pumping in noise. I like the idea of a home crowd having an influence in a game, I dislike a speaker system doing so.

Well said.

Nathan from Lino Lakes, MN

It seems like each season has a unique flavor that takes opponents weeks to get used to, from the 46 defense to more recently the Wildcat. What is this year's fun alteration? The onside spinning kick, or something else you've noticed?

That's the ticket as much as anything right now, unless Mahomes starts an underhand shovel pass revolution.

Terry from Springfield, MO

In regards to yesterday's II comment and JC Tretter calling for an end to turf fields, when do you think a team will try natural grass in a dome? Or why hasn't it happened yet? Outdoor stadiums have complete environmental infrastructures under their fields that can be re-created indoors. With the advances in indoor hydroponics, grow lights are a very efficient and affordable alternative to natural light. I really can't see why it hasn't been done yet.

Perhaps it will. Tretter's call should prompt the league and union to partner on a way to figure this out, with investments made by both sides. It would be money well spent.

Dan from Kenosha, WI

Mike, after watching Aaron Rodgers's video my only thought was "I would love to be his teammate." His explanation of trust and how it is gained not only answered the question about Shep but also explained why he goes back to Marquez Valdes-Scantling or Jace Sternberger. No empty platitudes. Just insightful and thoughtful responses. I have a new appreciation for him.

Just listening to him I learn so much about both the human and X's/O's sides to this game. He makes the media smarter and, in turn, the fans smarter. There aren't many players who can do that.

Mark from Pittsfield, MA

No question, just a thought. Aaron Rodgers' memory in interviews always astounds me. I'm around his age and can barely remember what I did yesterday. And he's vividly recalling plays from 10 years ago. Just amazing.

There aren't many who can do that, either.

Jason from Portsmouth, UK

Hi guys, so far in these first three games of the season it's refreshing to see different players or position groups step up on both sides of the ball. So with that said, what's your take on who or what group is going to make a difference come MNF?

I know LaFleur's game plans can be week-to-week and opponent specific. But in light of Lazard's injury, I'm very curious to see if the tight ends' collective performance – nine catches for 104 yards and two TDs last week – could serve as a launching point for the position group, especially when Josiah Deguara returns and they have four they're comfortable using liberally.

Jack from Black Mountain, NC

Two night games in a row: Sunday and Monday. Has that ever happened before? What impact of night games on the players' body clocks?

It won't have much impact with the bye week to follow in this instance, but it happens all the time. The Packers played consecutive night games in 2012, '13, '15, '16 and '18.

Bill from Wilmington, DE

Mike, what is your take on a Week 5 bye?

It certainly feels too early, and playing 12 straight – plus hopefully playoffs, with the bye so much harder to get now – will be a tough task. But regardless of Monday night's result, the benefit will be the opportunity to gear up for these next four (three on the road), which conclude on a Thursday night, so there's a mini-bye at the midpoint.

Neil from Turnbridge Wells, UK

With the Packers being a community team the loss of gameday revenue, due to no fans, will obviously affect the local area. Is the NFL doing anything to help the team financially in this matter above the normal revenue sharing?

The franchise will be fine. It's not the ideal situation, clearly, but the corporate reserve fund exists specifically for unforeseen situations like this (and gratefully keeps me employed). The real damage is to the local economy, and the NFL can't do anything about that. It's hard to know what the local landscape will look like when football as we prefer it returns, whenever that is. I feel for the businesses and employees affected so harshly.

Kirsten from Madison, WI

When an injury causes a player to leave the game, how much does the game plan shift to accommodate the replacement player's skills (or lack thereof)? Is the plan the plan, and he's simply expected to do the job assigned to his position? Or does LaFleur think, "Well, X isn't as fast as Y, so I need to call this other play instead?"

This is an oversimplification, but think of game plans as having two major components – concepts the coaches believe are the best with which to attack the defense, and specific plays designed for specific players based on matchups. The latter usually get thrown out when a player goes down, making the former the foundation so there's no desperation or head-scratching in how to adjust.

Les from Las Vegas, NV

Glad to see that Ficken kicker have a good night Thursday.

Anyone who saw him kick in training camp last year knew he had a realistic shot at an NFL future. I'm sure Mason Crosby isn't surprised either.

Mike from Highland, WI

Complimentary? Followed by complimentary? I am in deep mourning.

Man, that was an embarrassing botch by me that I fixed later. That's what I get for rushing too fast to get a story written and posted. I deserve to be shamed.

Bob from Columbus, WI

I have been saying this for years: Rodgers is the Packers' best defensive player. With his ability to put up points it puts pressure on opposing offenses to take more chances, giving the defense more opportunities to take advantage of opponents' mistakes. What do you think?

Sounds like a good description of complementary football. (Sorry, couldn't resist.) In all seriousness, it does.

Chet from Sioux Falls, SD

Here's a play call from the D2 school I played at: Spread Right Shift to Trio Left Dance Act Wreck Naked Bat. One of many that were quite the mouthful. This should give you an idea for just how long the calls in an NFL huddle might be. The ability of AR12 to repeat the calls and everyone else to know their assignments in a matter of seconds, plus be prepared for any checks/audibles is nothing short of amazing. The knowledge it takes doesn't get enough credit.

And why Rodgers lists mental preparation as the top priority for getting on the field and on the same page with him.

Ron from Bethesda, MD

How often does Aaron Rodgers call his own plays?

Other than when he takes two plays to the line and decides, or makes other checks, he'll usually call his own plays in hurry-up and two-minute situations.

Matt from Bloomington, IN

The Packers are averaging 3.77 points per possession. Apparently in the last 20 years no team has topped 3.2 in that metric through the first three weeks. I know it's early, but if healthy, does this offense have a ceiling?

ESPN reported GB receivers have dropped 7.5% of Aaron's passes, the highest rate in the NFL. I'm not worried personally – I think the pass-catchers will get more comfortable, even if weather gets worse and defenses get better. What do you think of the drops so far, and do you think they will still be a story in December?

A two-fer from Matt. After Monday, four games of the Packers' 2020 offense will be on film for opponents to study and digest. They will make adjustments, which will prompt countermoves from LaFleur and the Packers. That's why I always say it's a long season. As for the drops, they went from six against the Lions to one last week. I don't see it as a chronic issue.

Luke from Greensboro, NC

I always felt that offense was more dependent on focus, precision, and patience, while defense is more reactive and chaotic. Decisively going off-script on defense can result in a positive play (Jaire Alexander's safety is case and point), whereas not doing your job on offense generally leads to a mess. Basically offense feeds off of calm, and defense feeds off of adrenaline. Without fans in the stands, the offense can play with a clear head and less nerves.

I think you're onto something.

Andy from Verona, WI

How will the COVID testing happen during the bye week? Do players have to stay in town?

Yes. The league has mandated that no players or coaches can leave town during their bye week.

Jim from Tucson, AZ

MOMENTUM. Does it exist, or is it imaginary? The analytic guys say it is a figment of our imagination. Aaron Rodgers says it is real. Who do you trust? I'll take Aaron. How about you II guys?

It's a game played by humans, and momentum to me is like human emotion within the context of the game. I absolutely believe it exists.

Brandon from Jackson, WI

Two questions. Not including turnovers on downs, how many turnovers have the Packers had through the first three games (I can't think of any)? What's the longest a team has gone without committing a turnover?

The Packers have none so far, and while I don't know the answer to the second question, I do know this: The fewest turnovers the Packers have committed in a season is 13, in 2014 and tied last year. The longest streaks they had those years without a turnover lasted four games ('19) and five games ('14), both around midseason.

Ben from Pensacola, FL

So Jones would have a severe size adv against Jaire...but I'd still think that 23's work ethic, talent, and downright fight, could beat Jones on several big pass attempts.

Knowing Alexander, he will be fired up for a challenge that likely will involve guarding both Jones and Ridley in the same game. There were moments last year (Dallas comes to mind, vs. Cooper) where he was almost too jacked emotionally. Let's see how he handles this one.

Craig from Brookfield, WI

May I request an official II ban on any variation of "Aaron Rodgers has a chip on his shoulder" about his drop in the 2005 draft? What price would I have to pay to not read that anymore?

I could get on board with that. I might only charge you a bag of (crunchy) Cheetos. Not even a full lunch.

Shelby from Salem, WI

How great does it feel to possibly be going into our bye week with an undefeated record?

It took until Week 4. Just beat the Falcons. Have a great weekend, everybody.


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