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Inbox: The contributions have come from everywhere this season

This young Packers team didn’t back down from the magnitude of the moment. They embraced it.

T Rasheed Walker
T Rasheed Walker

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, what or who impressed you most in the Chicago game?

This young Packers team didn't back down from the magnitude of the moment. They embraced it.

Tommy from Waukesha, WI

First, let me compliment your staff on the awesome "Clinched" video. Very, very well done. Secondly a comment, rather than a question. You guys said all training camp long that J-Love was something special but watching his continual growth throughout the season sure was a treat. I am never one to anoint a player to a pedestal too early, but I have been saying the same thing for about eight weeks now. We got ourselves a QB! Our division rival fans have to be swearing in their coffee. GPG.

That "Clinched" video came courtesy of our supremely skilled videographer Tyler Gajewski. He did an unreal job on that package. As far as Jordan Love is concerned, I can't say it any better than Matt LaFleur – I don't think there's many questions left with the young quarterback. The talent was evident from the start, but Love's preparation and leadership are that of a grizzled veteran. I liken his performance this season to someone who studied hard for the exam and exudes confidence once the test is placed in front of him.

Keith from Bakersfield, CA

Has Jordan Love ever played a higher-pressure game than the Bears game? Win and in, at home, against a team you're expected to "own." Both his passer rating and my eyes said he met the challenge with his best performance as a pro. Even the miscues during the game had no effect on him. He's had a cool demeanor all along, but Sunday proved it's not just an act!

No matter how bright the lights, Love remains a cool customer. It's his superpower.

Jason from Austin, TX

Aaron Jones seems to play well against the Cowboys. He's never rushed for less than 100 yards against them! I think we're going to need another dominant rushing performance from No. 33 in his home state to keep the Cowboys' offense on the sidelines. Speaking of running, how's AJ Dillon doing? I hope he'll be able to play this week.

I love the way Jones is playing. He looks fast, fresh, and powerful. He ran like a 240-pound back through a few tackles against Chicago. I don't have an update on Dillon other than to say the Packers did not chose to put him on injured reserve when they cleared a roster spot for Emanuel Wilson's activation Saturday. That suggests Dillon has a shot to play again this season.

Mark from Dayton, OH

Youth, rookies, and stepping up in the second half of the season gets a lot of press. Looks like Devonte Wyatt, Karl Brooks, and Colby Wooden are playing solidly in the trenches too without the fanfare. For the playoffs, anyone to keep an eye on for a breakout game?

The defensive line is a good place to start because it was the unsung hero in that win over the Bears. That performance against Justin Fields and Khalil Herbert was an exercise in discipline and skill, and all five D-lineman played a role in containing Chicago to 75 yards on 25 carries. Another guy to keep an eye on for a breakout game is Lukas Van Ness. The rookie first-round pick is getting better every week. Around midseason, Van Ness started putting his hand in the dirt and it seems to have made a difference. With Preston Smith a little nicked up, Van Ness could play some major minutes in Dallas.

Sam from La Mesa, CA

I say major kudos to Brian Gutekunst for not just Love but doing a great job of building the O-line and the receiving corps in such a short time. The O-line has been quietly spectacular the last month and the receivers all contribute despite their youth. Where should the major focus be on this offseason? DB or LB?

Don't know. Don't care. I'm in playoff mode. I will say the synchronization of the offensive line has been impressive, particularly with how Rasheed Walker has locked down left tackle. The former seventh-round pick has played 851 offensive snaps after seeing just four snaps on special teams as a rookie. There's still work to do, but it's one more example of how the contributions have come from everywhere this season.

Rich from Bristol, England

By my watch, that game was done in just over two hours, 30 minutes. Have the Pack ever played a shorter game?

Just before half, Spoff and I looked at each other and basically said the same thing. It sure felt fast.

George from Kennebunkport, ME

Last year our WRs had significant trouble getting separation, and that was one of the reasons for our losing record. This year, with a younger and less experienced group, it seems that was not as much of a problem. In fact, in the past three games, we had guys running wide open. Is the difference more related to speed or scheme?

Scheme, speed and skill. Even when guys have been banged up, this offense still presents a lot of looks to the opposition. What's more, no two players are alike. The running backs have contrasting styles, the tight ends have varied strengths and the receiving corps can hit defenses from every direction. With how well the Packers have drafted and developed the past two years, they're building something special here in Green Bay.

Paul from Ledgeview, WI

Wes, while I watched the game, I did not pay particular attention to Jaire Alexander, though I would say anecdotally what I did notice was positive. From your eye, how would you assess his contribution to the winning performance of that defense?

I thought Alexander and the secondary played well. D.J. Moore had the one in-breaking route for 33 yards where there appeared to be some confusion, but otherwise the Packers held him at bay all afternoon. Alexander also had the pass breakup on the Robert Tonyan incompletion in the end zone. Green Bay is in for a stiff test this Sunday against CeeDee Lamb and Co., but I felt like that was a very encouraging performance against one of the NFL's top wideouts.

Mark from Deerfield, IL

It doesn't matter now, but my household was very sure Bo Melton made that catch for a TD. We watched it 15 times and once he had the ball controlled with it held to his knee, the ball never moved. Even though the ball touched the ground, he had control. What did you think?

I'm not saying Melton's play was by the letter of the possession law. However, I stand by what I tweeted during the game – if New York ruled D.J. Moore's play a catch, then I'm not sure how Melton's wasn't.

Larry from Chippewa Falls, WI

Please explain why the referee wound the clock preventing us to get off a field goal kick. Our player was out of bounds, clock should have stopped.

The side judge ruled Tyrique Stevenson stopped Dontayvion Wicks' forward progress in the field of play, which resulted in the clock continuing to run.

Richard from Sarasota, FL

How do I vote for Brian Gutekunst as NFL Executive of the Year and Matt LaFleur as Coach of the Year? At 3-6, no one gave this team a chance. Yet, the youngest team in the league went 6-2 in the second half of the season and made the playoffs. BG and ML deserve so much credit (that heretofore went to a certain quarterback).

I promise neither man wants this to be about him. This playoff appearance is rooted in team. However, Gutekunst and LaFleur deserve to be praised for having the courage of their conviction and unwavering trust in the process of development. This season was a leap of faith into the future and yet here the Packers stand – 14 remaining teams chasing football immortality.

Scott from Manson, IA

Venny from Montgomery, AL, noted that the Pack had 432 total yards and only 17 points. However, the Packers only had seven possessions all game, and never punted. The possession results, in order: Missed FG, TD, clock expired at the end of the first half, TD, lost fumble, FG, and victory formation. Did they leave some points out there? Sure, but the offense looks pretty formidable, regardless.

There's plenty to clean up, but the most important part was it resulted in a win. If I'm an offensive player in that locker room, Sunday was a reminder of the importance of execution and protecting the football. Green Bay dominated but a few mistakes kept it closer than the stat sheet would've suggested.

Rick from Trempealeau, WI

Back to favorite unbroken streaks and records. In 2002, I believe, Michael Vick and the Falcons came to Lambeau where the Packers had "never lost a playoff game." I bet I heard that line 50 times during that week prior to the game and I just knew we were doomed. Let's all hope the same "unbeaten at home" curse hits the Cowboys.

Streaks are what you make them. The Cowboys were 8-0 at home during the regular season, but this is no longer the regular season. Dallas has the benefit of homefield advantage but also has the pressure of holding serve against an ascending team.

William from Scranton, PA

Greetings Insiders, I think most regular readers had tempered expectations coming into this season. I know I did. Do you feel this team exceeded those expectations of a successful season? How do you think this group will handle going into Dallas?

The Packers took a different path to 9-8 than I expected in August, but this is the area code of where I thought they'd be. Having won three straight and six of their last eight, the Packers are playing their best ball at the right time and ready to give the Cowboys their best shot on Sunday.

Pete from Hemet, CA

Now that the team has qualified for the Second Season, what steps or actions should the team take to keep the momentum from Sunday's game alive and carry that into the Second Season? Pleasantly surprised how the regular season ended and the results.

It feels like the "fast start and protect the football" maxim applies for the rest of the season.

Keith from Dodgeville, WI

Guys, I know this season is not over, but next season's schedule sure looks a lot tougher.

Yeah, I'm not crazy about the road trip to Kansas City in 2027, either. At least the only thing that matters is the Packers are, you know, in the playoffs…like right now.

Chad from La Crosse, WI

What are your thoughts on Anders Carlson? The young man needs time to develop, but what's your initial impression? Maybe we should have had him sit for three years behind Mason Crosby to learn the ropes... Seems like a winning recipe. Thanks for all you do!

That's unrealistic. Most teams don't carry an extra kicker on their practice squad, let alone a 53-man roster. Carlson has had his ups and downs this season. The biggest compliment I can pay the rookie is Carlson doesn't let one negative outcome affect his next kick. That 41-yard miss was tough, but Carlson did his job and made the next three.

Bill from Menominee, MI

On the pregame radio broadcast, Wes and James Jones emphasized the importance of making the playoffs. This already young team gets another week of NFL preparation and it's at a higher level. J.J. reflected on the increased detail between training camp, preseason, regular season, and playoffs. I thought it was a great topic to discuss regarding the youngest team in football. Win or lose, this will benefit the 2024 Packers. The Super Bowl-winning Pack in 2010 was a product of the '09 Pack.

For those who didn't listen, James and I discussed how beneficial 2009 was in the long run for the Packers and Aaron Rodgers. The loss to Arizona – however bitter it might have tasted at the time – helped Green Bay close the gap the following season. We'll see how far this 2023-24 ride goes. Shoot, maybe it goes all the way to Las Vegas. But the overall experience will have a lasting impact on Jordan Love and this young roster.

Jeffrey from Eveleth, MN

It's hard to cheer against Big Mike, but I'll get used to it.

That's the NFL. A lot will be made of McCarthy and the Packers this week, but it's really just a story in name only. There are only four players in that locker room who played for Mike (Kenny Clark, Aaron Jones, David Bakhtiari and Jaire Alexander).

Daniel from Cudahy, WI

I'm just wondering why no one has mentioned how much the one-bye, three-team-wild-card playoff scheme "is bad for football" now.

Maybe because it's not 2009 no more?

Craig from Brookfield, WI

What are your thoughts on the NFL going with an NBC Peacock-only streamed playoff game? I'll never miss a Packer game. And for any NFL playoff game, I don't care who's playing – it's worth watching (at least casually). But, signing up for yet another streaming service, for one NFL game? I think not. There are probably more fans that take this viewing approach. Just how much money does the NFL need?

I'm sure the Swifties are thrilled. We live in the age of subscription streaming and the NFL is the belle of the ball when it comes to live sports. As frustrating as I'm sure it is for some, this is the world we live in now.

Mark from Waterloo, IA

Good morning Wes! I caught a glimpse of you during locker room interviews on YouTube after the game in what looked like a suit coat. Do you often wear suits at games? You looked sharp!

Every game. Other than when I was on Zoom during the pandemic, I've worn a tie to every game since 2014. I respect anybody's personal approach to attire, but I treat gameday with reverence. These men put their bodies on the line. The least I can do is dress the part.

Paula from Apple Valley, MN

A strange thing happened as I watched the game on Sunday. I found myself wanting the win more for the players on the field than for myself as a fan. The way this team picks each other up (literally and figuratively) after almost every play is telling. When a guy makes a play, a teammate is right there (sometimes running from yards away) to pick them up from the pile, celebrate a great play, or pick the grass out of their helmet. No matter the outcome in Dallas, this team is special.

You make a great point, Paula. It's something I've thought about myself. When you get to know players' stories on a deeper level, it's only natural to want to see them succeed. There not only is a lot of great, young talent on this team but also some really solid dudes. With a ticket to the dance, the Packers have earned the right to pen their postseason story. It's gonna be a fun week.

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