Inbox: The finish was the same thing

181217-insider-inbox-2560

Steve from Ankeny, IA

So, what am I supposed to do now?

Hopefully have a Merry Christmas in eight days.

Max from Ingolstadt, Deutschland

I guess I was a fool for hoping...

No, you’re a fan, and there’s nothing wrong with that. A game on the road against the best team in the division was 14-all and the Packers had the ball early in the fourth quarter. The finish was just the same thing we’ve seen over and over, on the road, since the bye week. The Packers didn’t make anyone a fool, just frustrated.

Jeff from Modoc, IN

It's been a memorable 100th season, but for many of the wrong reasons. What seems to be the biggest need for success next year?

Health and points. The offense needs to make opponents worry again, but it hasn’t struck fear in anybody for a while. Health-wise, we all know the Packers are pretty banged up in the trenches, on both sides of the ball. They gave it everything they had, but that was an uphill battle against a much healthier playoff team.

Sue from Tomah, WI

Our season is effectively over but I will continue to watch my Packers finish out the year. What positives should I be looking for?

Keep an eye on the guys in the 2018 draft class who are playing a lot. Alexander, Jackson, Valdes-Scantling, St. Brown. If the biggest jump in a player’s career truly is from Year 1 to Year 2, those four will be key players for the Packers in 2019.

Patrick from Oconomowoc, WI

As disappointed/sad I am about this season, there are rookies and young players to build with. It’s sports, look at how many sour years the Brewers have had only to bounce back in a hurry. Looking forward, who do you think can make the biggest jump next year to get the Pack back into contention?

Aside from what I already mentioned, three players – Rodgers, because it’s the nature of his position; the guy who’s going to be drafted somewhere roughly in the top 15; and a significant free agent.

The Green Bay Packers traveled to Chicago's Soldier Field to face the Bears in a Week 15 matchup.

Jeff from Green Bay, WI

OL, DL and secondary are decimated by injury, so this game doesn't surprise me. It also makes me certain that Rodgers, Bakhtiari, Martinez, Adams, etc., have to be protected the last two games. Can't possibly start next year on a high note if any of the star players under contract suffer long-term injury this late in the season. Let's find out what we have in Kizer and Boyle and prepare for the inevitable roster and coaching turnover and see who's hungry enough to keep for 2019 and beyond.

That’s all a very popular sentiment in the Inbox, but I’m not sure the Packers are going to “protect” anybody who’s healthy. Banged-up? At risk? Agreed, but I don’t see the Packers going all preseason mode. Rodgers certainly has no intention of doing that, as I wrote about in my editorial. They’re paid to play, and you play to win. We’ll see if Philbin addresses this later today.

James from Asheville, NC

Beyond the obvious of two more games, what's next for this team?

Change, and lots of it.

Chris from La Crosse, WI

There's no more speculating about the playoffs. Now the brass get a chance to evaluate personnel.

Trust me, they’ve already been doing plenty of that.

Tyler from Grantsburg, WI

Something gave, Mike, and what a game-changer that interception was.

The Packers’ backs were up against it by that point. The game was lost on the offense’s first two possessions of the fourth quarter. With the fake punt and fumble, the Bears tried to give the game away. The Packers didn't take it.

Ryan from Plymouth, MN

I think the turning point in that game was when the Packers abandoned the run game. I understand the barrage of passing plays later on, when the Packers needed points fast, but the score was 14-14 when we recovered the Bears’ trick-play fumble. Three incompletions later, we're punting it to the Bears. Next time we get the ball back after the Bears score, it's three incompletions and another punt. If the offense does anything on either of those possessions, I think the game turns out differently.

No question. Both of those drives started with sacks on first down. So you’re immediately behind the chains. Both second-down passes were to Cobb. Rodgers said the first one, off the mini-scramble, got taken for a ride by the wind. Cobb flat-out dropped the other one. Then the long third-down shot to MVS was too far, and the other third down was a screen that Hicks wrecked. It’s easy to say now that first-down runs would have allowed things to look different, and Philbin even suggested after the game he regretted the first call. In any event, the ledger was this – in six plays, the Bears made three, the Packers made zero. It’s how you lose.

Randy from Mercer, WI

There is plenty that contributed to this poor season but I feel a huge factor is Rodgers having an off year. After the fumble recovery Rodgers missed on two consecutive throws to open receivers striking downfield, which a couple of years ago would have been TDs to Nelson. I understand the revolving door at receiver is a problem with timing routes, but a go route downfield, Rodgers should be able to complete in his sleep. He has seemed not himself this year. Your thoughts on this?

He hasn’t looked like himself to me, either. I can’t figure out why. Sorry, but I really don’t have any answers for you.

Peter from Eagan, MN

Aaron Rodgers is not the man he used to be and he will never be that man again. What say the Spoff and Wes?

Never? Careful.

Josh from Nicholasville, KY

I feel like our defense consistently put us in position this year to win games and the offense consistently failed to capitalize on those opportunities. Looking forward to next year, how does the offense turn that around with a group of young receivers that has not quite measured up?

You look for the young guys to improve, and you figure out how to return the tight end position to a high-impact one, whatever that entails.

Steve from Alexandria, VA

Since we’ve heard it from Aaron for weeks, can someone enlighten us on what “details” means? Is it route running, lack of film study, sloppiness in practice, different coverage or leverage reads? I’m surprised sports writers don’t ask the obvious follow-up.

That’s because an answer like that encompasses all those things and more. If it were one detail, they could have fixed it long ago.

Rich from De Pere, WI

We keep hearing that there will likely be a major overhaul of the roster before next year, that we just don't have difference-makers or Pro Bowl-caliber players at so many positions. What would you say are our three most glaring positions that need to be upgraded if we are to be contenders again?

I’m not sure it’s about specific positions. It’s about getting those difference-making players and then playing to those strengths.

Jacob from Superior, WI

My anxiety is rising due to the fact that usually when Green Bay has a down year, we usually know why and what needs to be fixed. This year, I guess I just really did not see us being this bad of a team, misfiring and losing in such agonizing fashion. I feel like the list of issues is continuing to build up. What do we fix and how do we make ourselves relevant again?

It sounds like you’re describing a team that needs new leadership and new vision, doesn’t it? Find that, rebuild the roster as best you can and go from there.

David from Irvine, CA

Larry McCarren mentioned Sunday (was) the 198th meeting with the Bears. I know we had at least one three-game season. This being Season 100, were there early years when the Packers only played the Bears once?  Seems un-American.

The teams’ first meeting was in 1921 (the Bears were the Staleys then), and they only played once that season, and once in ’23, and ’24, but not at all in ’22. They met three times per year in ’26 and every year from ’28-’33. The other three-meeting years included postseason games in ’41 and 2010.

Marjorie from Roseville, CA

Looking at the photos of the Packers arriving in Chicago I was impressed by the sartorial elegance. Was there some sort of agreement by the team to present a certain image? I must say these guys clean up very well!

New coach, new rules. It appears what had been a strong but friendly suggestion for a road dress code is now a regulation.

Mike from Charlotte, NC

Mike, I suppose I was lamenting the casual fans' whims more than anything. The torch-and-pitchfork act and the constant barrage of "better ideas" get a little maddening. Some get angry and even write such angry diatribes that a sane person would generally avoid. I don't know, maybe the dingo ate their baby. Maybe football just turns them temporarily into monsters. Or maybe they're just jerks. I just don't like the swelling presence of the maladjusted fan, but you're right; it is nothing new.

One of the best non-question posts I’ve ever read.

Tom from Vista, CA

The cap is raised by 10 million. How does a club cover those increased costs? Won't small-market teams be against cap increases?

All the shared revenue helps teams absorb and manage the increased costs. It’s part of the league’s competitive business model. But not all teams are crazy about it, no.

Brandon from Pleasant Prairie, WI

Told ya.

Congratulations. Feel better?

Karl from Fort Collins, CO

The officiating in the Alabama-Georgia game looked nearly flawless to me, compared to large number of bad calls in NFL games this year. Instead of considering rework on the rules, why doesn't the NFL do a better job of training officials to make the correct call in the first place? The game would be far better if the calls were correct and replay was rarely needed.

Of course it would, but the difference in the speed of the college game vs. the pro game is significant, even compared to a college game like the SEC championship. Everything happens exponentially faster. If NFL officials all went back to doing college games, they’d miss far fewer calls.

Dan from Rochester, MN

I see Lamar Jackson will be starting in Baltimore. I know Flacco has been injured prior weeks but it sounds to me like they are benching him. When was the last time a Super Bowl-winning QB was benched for a rookie?

I don’t believe it’s ever happened. The only Super Bowl-winning QBs to be benched, that I know of, are Tampa Bay’s Brad Johnson and New York’s Eli Manning. But Brian Griese and Geno Smith, respectively, were not rookies.

Dan from Norfolk, VA

Iron may sharpen iron, but never forget lizard poisons Spock.

Indeed.

Dan from Rothschild, WI

Laser uprights? Yes!

I really want this to happen before my career is over.

Take a look inside Green Bay's locker room at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Kevin from Whitehall, WI

"Except the Inbox never grows up." ... and we all live in your basement.

Virtual basement I guess.

Bill from Raleigh, NC

Hi Mike, Trubisky put the ball on the ground twice and made some bad throws, but he didn't make any stupid throws. He was more athletic than our defense. When he outran the pass rush he was still looking down field to complete big plays. He's 24 years old and looks like the real deal. But, I didn't see championship poise from the Bears. Do you think they have enough "it" to win the Super Bowl?

Their defense is going to keep them in every game they play and give them a chance. In the playoffs, it’ll come down to whether Trubisky can make that play or two in the clutch to put them over the top, and Sunday showed that trick stuff only goes so far. He’s far more dangerous outside the pocket, running or throwing, than he is inside it. If Chicago’s playoff opponents don’t pay heed to that, he might make that play or two. But all signs are pointing to the Saints being the team to beat in the NFC, especially if they’re at home.

Jim from Rancho Cucamonga, CA

I don't think we are that far off. How would you describe this season? Almost? Could've would've should've? If only?

Close doesn’t count in the NFL. Never has. If you’re always close, you’re never really there.

Luke from Fredricksburg, VA

We aren’t who we thought we were. So how do we become who we want to be?

Have the best offseason the franchise has had since 2006, when it hired McCarthy, drafted Hawk and Jennings, and signed Woodson and Pickett.

JT from Whitewater, WI

Had to turn off the postgame radio broadcast. Fans wanting to trade AR12. So typical. Throw the baby out with the bathwater. Hey, how about the Packers organization just dissolve itself? Really? Mental midgets. Maybe, just maybe, the organization should hire a coaching staff who can refocus, challenge, and motivate everyone from the QB on down. Oh wait, this would require time and trusting in the professionalism of everyone involved.

What a concept. Happy Monday, everyone.

Advertising