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Inbox: The mindset of this team is in the right place

Keep the ground game rolling and the rest can follow


Preston from Tallahassee, FL

I would rather the team go into Chicago a little frustrated, edgy than blowing out the 'Skins and feeling satisfied. Lastly, never coached real football, just flag, but I did coach basketball. It takes a season to fully learn a new offense because teams defend it differently. The nuanced adjustments happen game by game. My guess is a better performance the second time against the Bears' D. Is our D ready for the improved Bears' O?

Or a Chicago offense willing to pull out all the stops? I could see Nagy getting crazy creative in this one.

Geoff from Beaver Dam, WI

Rodgers seems to have a personal goal of getting every pass-catcher on the team a TD this year. Are Jace Sternberger and Danny Vitale  the only remaining players without a TD catch this year?

Correct, though I don't really think Rodgers is going out of his way. I suspect he likes to rib Vitale for getting tripped up inside the 1-yard line on the wheel route vs. Denver back in Week 3. Sternberger doesn't have a catch yet, but last year Robert Tonyan's first NFL reception was a 54-yard TD, so whatever works.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Run the ball effectively and then hit them where it hurts with play-action. Seems like a winning offensive formula to me.

As I mentioned on "Unscripted" yesterday, almost every time the Packers ran play-action last Sunday, someone was wide open. Keep the ground game rolling and the rest can follow.

John from Madison, AL

Spoff/Wes, there's been lots of lamenting from fans on the poor play of the Packers against the Redskins despite the victory. I do think that some of that lamenting is valid; however, fans should note that Matt LaFleur acknowledged that the Packers must play much better and many of the players said the same thing. With that being the case, I think we can look forward to a much better performance against the Bears!

The head coach and his players aren't content, and they're taking nothing for granted. The mindset of this team is in the right place.

Gerry from North Bay, Ontario

At what point in time did it become a bad thing to be winning games?

Look, I think the perspectives on all sides are getting skewed. As much as I do believe every week in the NFL is different, and every game is its own entity, it is December, and no one honestly evaluating the Packers believes last Sunday's performance will be good enough to win either of the next two games, let alone a contest in January. I think that's fair. LaFleur's repeated line, "There's more out there," covers a lot of ground.

Jared from Tampa, FL

I loved Tramon Williams' response to the question about 10 wins. It means nothing this year. It means we still need to win three more. This team gets it.

I think one reason the diverse leadership (meaning veterans who have come to Green Bay from different teams) works is the various levels of motivation. Williams hasn't been to the postseason since 2014. Jimmy Graham and Marcedes Lewis have never been to a Super Bowl. Turner has never been to the playoffs. Za'Darius Smith got his first taste of the playoffs last year. Preston Smith hasn't been back since his rookie year. It's an intriguing convergence, you might say.

Julian from Gastonia, NC

I live outside Charlotte, NC, and all the talk on sports radio is that it appears Mike McCarthy is the odds-on-favorite to be the next head coach of the Panthers. Any thoughts on this?

I think it's a little early to peg anyone as the top candidate for any opening, but I hope McCarthy does get a chance to coach again. Having covered his entire tenure here, I would enjoy following a team of his from afar, just for the different perspective.

Paul from Bay View, WI

Guys, on that fourth-quarter thread-the-needle catch by Aaron Jones, he was touched on the way down but never touched once he had firm possession and his knee or elbow on the ground. Jones was touched only on his way down but the ball was never deemed in his control at that point. Was this rule changed at some point? I thought it was a TD since Jones took it all the way. If so, why wasn't this even challenged?

The officials had blown the play dead.

Kapil from Oklahoma City, OK

Hi guys, if the Packers, Seahawks, and Saints finish 13-3 and win their divisions, what will be the 1, 2, and 3 seeding? Do the Packers have a shot at the No. 1 seed in that situation?

A popular question. The answer is no. In your scenario, the Packers and Seahawks would get the first-round byes due to a better conference record than the Saints, but Seattle would get the top spot by virtue of a common-games tiebreaker with Green Bay.

Phillip from Glasgow, Scotland

Am I right in saying that regardless of the outcomes this week or Week 17, if we beat the Vikings we win the NFC North?


Tony from Oak Lawn, IL

Mike, correct me if I'm wrong, but this is the first noon kickoff for Packers-Bears at Lambeau since 2008. I have 2009, '14, and '18 on Sunday night. 2010 was 3:25 p.m. 2011 and '15 were Christmas and Thanksgiving games. 2012, '16, '17, and '19 were Thursday night games. 2013 was on Monday Night Football. It's hard to believe you have to go back to Rodgers' first year as a starter for a noon Packers-Bears game at Lambeau, which the Packers won 37-3.

That is really something, and you are correct. Only the 2010 game was scheduled for noon and it got flexed to late afternoon because it was win-to-get-in for Green Bay. I think if anyone had anticipated the Bears' recent surge, this one would have been flexed, too.

Clinton from Racine, WI

During the MNF broadcast they had a graphic showing the total points scored in the Eagles-Giants rivalry and the spread was 33. I was curious and looked up the Packers-Bears total points and was surprised they too had a spread of 33. Here's to widening that spread on Sunday!

Heading into the second meeting in 2016, the point differential in the all-time series was a measly one, I believe. It's pretty cool to think about 200 clashes in one rivalry. Here's another tidbit – the Bears beat the Packers last season to end a five-game losing streak in the series, but the Bears haven't beaten the Packers in back-to-back years since 2007-08. Don't think their fans don't know it, either.

Rich from Grand Rapids, MI

Disciplined rush lanes will be key against Trubisky. If the Pack can prevent him from winning third downs with his legs, it makes it much easier to stop him from winning third downs with his arm.

Couldn't agree more. Trubisky is a better passer now than he was in Week 1, but you still have to make him beat you throwing the ball, not running with it. Defensive discipline will be required not just with the pass rush, but on the read-option looks, too.

Dominic from Chesapeake, VA

Mike, two questions, please. First, how long have you been with the Packers? Secondly, I realize from a production standpoint that our receiving group has been less than spectacular this year, but from a talent standpoint, do you think this is the best corps of receivers and tight ends, top to bottom, that we have ever had? If not, during your time with the team, what group would you rate the best? Personally, I don't think we have scratched the surface of what these guys can do.

This is my 14th season working for the Packers and Career-wise, covering the team in some capacity dates back to 1996 in my newspaper days. There's a ton of room for growth with the current crop of pass-catchers, especially those who arrived this year and last. No offense to any of them, but this is nowhere close to the most talented collection of individuals. The 2011 crew of Nelson, Jennings, Finley, Jones, Driver and Cobb is far and away the deepest and most talented I've ever seen in Green Bay.

Bill from Menominee, MI

Is there anything to draw from the fact that 13 games into the season, the Packers have one of the top scoring percentages on opening drives but are lower in the rankings on points per game? It seems as if LaFleur has the team rolling on its scripted plays, but after the game starts to take shape, the offense struggles to keep the sharpness.

Some of that is just football. Adjustments and counter-punches are being dialed up all the time, and last Sunday the Packers had plenty of opportunities to keep rolling and didn't cash in. As I noted after both of the road losses out west, my greater concern is whether this team can right the ship and get itself going when things don't start well. The offense rose to that challenge vs. Detroit back in October, but that might be the only time, and that was at home. The Packers are most likely going to have to find a way to win a big game here that doesn't start well offensively, and probably on the road at some point. That's a test they haven't really passed since Week 1, and the offense never found its footing that night.

Dan from Cross Plains, WI

Responding to this comment, "We've seen the run D look great (CHI), the pass defense stifling (MIN), the run offense break free (DAL, DET, WAS), and pass offense look superhuman (PHI, OAK, KC)." This proves the point that our team can come up with different ways to win. I think this speaks more to the coaching. Not every team is the same in the NFL. Each have their own strengths and weaknesses. Best way to win is preparing to exploit your opponent's weakness to turn that into your own strength.

As I suggested Monday, game plans seem even more opponent-specific now than ever. The Packers' changing looks on offense week to week speak to that. LaFleur's comment about Washington dropping eight into coverage several times, which apparently that defense hadn't done all year, is another example. I think that approach can lead to more inconsistency in execution overall, but it also sets you up to make a key play at a key moment. I still maintain the biggest reason the Packers are 10-3 is they've been the better team in the fourth quarter most of the time.

Rick from Defiance, OH

A lot has been made about the poor play of Aaron Rodgers this season. Do any of the coaches ever challenge Rodgers to review his technique or his poor play in games? Or does he just get a pass?

Rodgers has had a few subpar games, but your opening statement is a little overarching for my tastes. Rodgers is critiqued just like any other player, and he's plenty critical of himself as well. I think he's forthright in taking his share of the blame when things don't go right (I've never heard him blame a fumble on the pass protection, for example), but he's not going to heap it all on himself, nor should he, because that just gives everyone else a pass.

Kevin from Rockton, IL

We lost a great Packers fan and high school football coach on Saturday. John O'Boyle (Sturgeon Bay H.S., Class of 1954) coached the Stockton (IL) H.S. team from 1961 to 1997 and retired as the winningest football coach in Illinois state history (279-74-1). His tenure included two state titles. "Coach" was a wonderful guy to engage in conversation, particularly in regard to all things Packers. He influenced hundreds of young lives and was a better man than a coach. He will be truly missed.

Your note prompted me to look up his obituary, which noted he attended Packers games at City Stadium in his youth. It sounds like the man getting taken out of Wisconsin did not take Wisconsin out of the man regarding his fandom in all sports. Only 74 losses in 37 years? Wow. RIP, Coach.

Brian from Two Rivers, WI

Hi II, not a question just an astronomical observation. The December full moon, called the cold moon, will reach its zenith at 12:12 AM on Dec. 12, that's 12:12 12/12. Call me a lunatic, but I expect both Rodgers and Brady to have good weeks. If I were Washington I'd start Colt McCoy.

Happy Wednesday.