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Inbox: The defense must make those count

All the matters now is the organization believed in him


Bobby from Jacksonville, FL

I'm not a smart man, but I think I understood yesterday's II. We need to clear the runway for the experience particle accelerator and rebuild the puzzle corner foundation of the tower staircase to the purple Gatorade? Yes? No?

And once again we're off, so we might as well get going.

Charles from New Berlin, WI

I urge fans to read Cliff Christl’s latest column. "(N)one of us have any clue what tomorrow will bring, much less a string of tomorrows. Not in our personal lives and certainly not as far as football and the NFL."

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I learn something every time I read one of Cliff's pieces.

Thomas from Cedar Rapids, IA

I looked at the injury report for Sunday's game against the Rams. Clearly, something is wrong here. I haven't seen our list shorter than the opponent since the Miami game last year. Is this the first of many baby steps toward righting the ship?

Perhaps. Let's hope.

Jeff from Indian Lake, NY

We just need to get a win. Doesn't matter what it looks like, just a big ole Green and Gold W.

It doesn't even have to be "big" or "ole."

Paul from Los Angeles, CA

Poor Davante Adams … I guess you should be careful what you wish for. This game changes quickly. Think he'd be any happier if he had stayed in GB?

Gary from Davenport, IA

Do you think the Raiders regret not offering Rich Bisaccia the permanent head coaching job a couple of years ago?

Scotty from Lombard, IL

Will the Packers be wearing the throwback uniforms for this Sunday's game?

I addressed some version of these three questions, among many others, in my mid-week chat, for those who haven't checked it out.

Ryan from Colfax, WI

Brian is right. The move from a fifth-round player to a third-round player is sizable. There are always anomalies but if you look at rosters and draft rounds, things drop off sizably at round 4.

I found his comment about a top 100 pick usually being a top 50 player on a team's draft board very interesting. Nuggets like that are worth filing away.

Clay from Council Bluffs, IA

Will there be any cap savings this year or next with trading Rasul?

Nothing significant to speak of this year, but the move slashes in the neighborhood of $6-7M off next year's cap.

Mark from West Des Moines, IA

Following the contract extension of Rashan Gary, are there any other players who the Packers should prioritize extensions on their contracts?

The Packers will have plenty of decisions to make, but I don't want to get into the prediction game. I'm not saying the entire list of players headed for free agency in '24 will be gone, but now that Gary has a new deal, I don't see any names that strike me as, "Oh, there's absolutely no way they're letting that guy get away." After 10 more games, maybe that'll change. I don't know.

Michael from Baraboo, WI

It sounds like Jordan Love will have the next 10 games to demonstrate his value to the Packers. Do you feel that he will rise to the opportunities that lay ahead?

I do. I don't believe what we saw through the first seven quarters of this season was some sort of fluke. He showed the command, poise and production expected when everything around him is functioning effectively. I expect him, and the Packers as an offensive unit, to get back to that.

Jacob from West Allis, WI

Before the season started, the offensive line was perceived as the strongest position group on the entire team by many. The offensive line and running back room were supposed to carry the load until Jordan Love and the young receiving core could make strides. Due to early injuries, this has not been the case. What position group do you think has performed the best up until this point?

Probably the linebackers, if the inside and outside guys are lumped together. Inside, I think Walker has played pretty well overall, while Isaiah McDuffie and Eric Wilson did the job filling in with De'Vondre Campbell out. On the outside, Preston has a sack in three straight games, Gary has made a big impact during his ramp-up to a full workload, and Lukas Van Ness has flashed at times. The Atlanta game was a rough one for this group, but the majority of the time there's been a lot to like.

Marjorie from Roseville, CA

Do you think Gary has a chance for Comeback Player of the Year?

Interesting thought. Hadn't specifically considered it, but I don't see why he wouldn't be in the running if he puts up a double-digit sack season.

Jake from Regina, Canada

Provided we don't continue to run into the problems associated with early three-and-outs (ML made a great point about not even getting to calls plays in the plan when this happens), do you think we'll see more jet sweeps and push passes with Christian Watson and/or Jayden Reed in the coming weeks? Stresses the defense horizontally which creates gaps for the inside run game, is a good way to get those two involved early, and can give the OL a break. Besides, 9 was dangerous on them last year. GPG!

LaFleur has always said those types of calls are game-plan specific for certain opponents, but you do wonder if such plays were up in any recent games and they didn't get to them because the first halves were such a struggle.

Leanna from Mandan, ND

I still have confidence in the Packers' coaches, but in response to Mike's challenge to show him a "well-coached" team on a four-game losing streak, I will point to last year's Lions. When we first played them they were 0-6, but I remember reading that they played their hearts out for their coach in those six losses. I can't guarantee the exact phrase was used, but I remember believing they were "well-coached," despite the losing record.

That's fair, and to be accurate they were 1-6 when their turnaround started against the Packers. But that wasn't everyone's narrative. In the midst of losing several close ones, there were also a lot of questions as to whether Campbell could effectively manage the end of games, and whether his team was ever going to find what it took to win at crunch time. At that point, he was 4-19-1 in his first two dozen games and a lot of people wondered if he was going to last. All that matters now is the organization believed in him and he's proven it right.

Lee from Citrus Heights, CA

Is Love throwing the ball short or are guys over-running routes? I think once Love and Co. get on same page the offense will be out on field more and a "fresher" defense will get third-down stops?

Route mistakes and off-target throws both have been issues, so yes, things need to get synced up. I emphasized on "Unscripted" what I'm expecting to be game-deciding third downs against the Rams. Like the Vikings, they don't appear to run the ball that well, and the Packers should be able to get them in some third-and-longs. The defense must make those count. Last week's troubles on third-and-8-plus dropped the Packers from ninth in the league in third-down defense to 17th.

Alex from Sanford, FL

Can you guys clear up something about injured reserve rules? Me and a fellow Packers fan in my office are both confused when it comes to Eric Stokes. We've seen other outlets and now you guys in Thursday's Inbox say that Stokes can come back from IR. I thought a player could only come back from IR one time as Stokes already did for the one game. Thanks for clearing this up!

Stokes originally was activated from PUP, because he hadn't practiced at all since training camp started. After getting hurt in Denver, he went on IR, so this is his first IR stint.

Kyle from Osceola, WI

Speaking of ticky-tacky calls like the ineligible lineman standing flat-footed away from the play but a yard over the line, wouldn't you say 12 men on the field, with a player leaving the field, with his foot barely still on the green, and spotted during a replay review, is ticky as tacky comes? There is too much refereeing going on in general, even when it benefits us.

In that instance I'll disagree, because that player is running off the field due to the defense subbing, and if the opponent can't execute its substitutions in a timely manner, the offense should be able to take advantage of that.

Dan from Richmond, VA

As it pertains to penalties, yesterday's II contained a tidbit about how teams can point out particular areas of emphasis to officiating crews. I remember hearing about this before, and it strikes me as odd that referees would meet with teams beforehand to essentially listen to suggestions for how to do their jobs on Sunday. Any idea when this practice began and why the league thought it was important and appropriate? Seems to me the zebras should enter each game as unbiased as possible.

I don't know when it started but it's been standard practice in the league for a long time. The officials also use that time to explain things they might be on the lookout for based on communication from the league. I don't think it's about creating bias, but teams study film, not officials, and the meeting gives them an opportunity to point out things they've seen from their opponent that might be on the edge of the rules. With both teams getting that same chance, it makes sense to me.

Bill from Brooklyn Park, MN

With all the questions you guys must get regarding penalties, officiating calls, and referees in general, have you ever considered adding an Insider Inbox officiating expert to your crew, similar to what the networks did with their broadcast crews about 10 years ago?

Sorry, it's not in the budget.

Sebastian from Erlangen, Germany

Gentlemen, Hi! I am going to the inaugural NFL game in Frankfurt, Germany, this weekend, Dolphins vs. Chiefs. I will be wearing my Packers wear. I will bring a big sign to flash, what should it read to make me stand out?

A song title or lyric from Taylor Swift written in German might get you on TV.

Bruce from Travelers Rest, SC

Mike, has Bochy punched his ticket to Cooperstown?

He already had in my opinion. But now he's joined an even more elite group. He's just the sixth manager to win at least four World Series titles, joining Casey Stengel (7), Joe McCarthy (7), Connie Mack (5), Joe Torre (4) and Walter Alston (4). He's only the third on that list to not be part of a Yankees dynasty (Mack, Alston), and the first of the bunch with rings from multiple teams. Remarkable manager.

Shannon from Ovilla, TX

Mike, last baseball submission until our offseason. While I am thrilled that the Rangers won, having lived in the DFW area for the past 20-plus years, it still doesn't feel like it would if the Brewers won. My 11-year-old self cried when they lost in '82 and the sheer joy of them winning a World Series would be on par with the '96 Super Bowl win and the '21 Bucks championship.

It would dwarf those for me. Not even close.

Dan from Cross Plains, WI

Do you wish you could know everything? Make Inbox a little easier for you?

Nah, that wouldn't be any fun.

Herbert from Palm Desert, CA

Hello gentlemen, I for one wouldn't be opposed to an Inbox filled with nothing but the most outrageous rants from the fire-everyone, trade-everyone crowd. It could save you some time not having anything to answer, and it could be cathartic. An Inbox juice cleanse, if you will.

You don't have children, do you Herb? Encouraging behavior you'll be forced to deal with once it's modeled and deemed acceptable only leads to regrets.

Jeffrey from Eveleth, MN

Live blog in the deer stand. Sounds like a plan?

I don't think I can see the game from there.

Chuck from Richfield, WI

I hope you might post a historical perspective that might help fans of the team with the greatest story in sports. In 1992, a young squad under Mike Holmgren sat at 2-5 at the end of October with a QB named Brett Favre mustering 26 total points over his last three games. In 1959, a young squad with eight future Hall of Famers lost five straight midseason games after a 3-0 start. I submit that the 2023 experiences will forge strength in the long run. Now let's go beat the Rams.

Happy Friday.

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