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Inbox: The NFL cannot ignore him any longer

There’s no better sight in the football universe than a clear path to the end zone

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RB Aaron Jones

Eric from Oshkosh, WI

Those Atlanta players looked like a curling team without the brooms. This statement is Inbox HOF worthy. I'll be laughing all day – maybe all week. It was brilliant. Give Spoff a yellow (and green) jacket for that one!

As a former curler myself, I greatly appreciated Spoff's metaphor...and he wasn't lying.

Evan from Marquette, MI

I still remember after 25 or more years catching a pick on "their" 1-yard line, Malcolm Butler style, and running it back across the (playground) gridiron for 99 miraculous yards and the score. This was in the third grade. I think Aaron Jones will remember these achievements, and here's to many more runs across the playground!

For those blessed with breakaway speed – I was not – I gotta imagine there's no better sight in the football universe than a clear path to the end zone. I've watched Jones' touchdown at least a dozen times. If Jones plays 15 seasons, that should still go on the highlight reel. The way he split those safeties was a thing of beauty.

Sue from Tomah, WI

Just a comment: The sports world lost another great when Gale Sayers passed. He wasn't a Packer, but he was another legend. RIP

A true legend whose story had a profound impact on me as a teenager. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.

Chuck from Gold Canyon, AZ

Although like this season it is too early to determine just how good this team will be, can we give a shout-out to Gutey and his scouting staff for his first three drafts and FA signings? The NFL is a roster-turnover league but he has hit on both draft and FA signings with half of our full-time starters and many other impact players. Many of us armchair QBs were critical of our 2020 draft. There could be 5-6 starters even if Jordan Love doesn't hit. RIP Gale Sayers, one of the greatest all-time.

You're not going to hit on every pick but Brian Gutekunst already found some keepers in Jaire Alexander, Elgton Jenkins, Darnell Savage and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. The early returns also are promising on Rashan Gary, AJ Dillon, Josiah Deguara, Jon Runyan and Kamal Martin. But the Packers historically have drafted well. That's nothing new. The Midas touch Gutekunst has brought is free agency – and not just having to foresight to bring in Za'Darius Smith,Preston Smith or Adrian Amos, but also his mid-level acquisitions (Marcedes Lewis, Jared Veldheer, Tyler Ervin and even Rick Wagner). Not to mention signing Allen Lazard and bringing in Chandon Sullivan as a street free agent. I've said it before but it's true – Gutekunst vowed to leave no stone unturned and he's been a man of his word.

Craig from Appleton, WI

Might this be the week we see the no-huddle offense that was discussed all offseason? The Saints' front four really gets after the QB and might be a good way to tire them out and slow the pass rush down.

I'd understand this sentiment more if A) The Packers weren't getting in and out of plays as well as they have been the past two weeks, or B) They hadn't just hung 1,000 yards of total offense on their opponents. Everyone loves the no-huddle. I get it. It's fun. But faster doesn't always mean better. It just means faster.

Bruce from Appleton, WI

Did the team surprise you at how many points they scored this year so far?

Yes. I wrote last week how it's hard to envision the Packers matching their offensive output from Week 1 against the Lions…and they nearly did it.

Dano from Seal Beach, CA

Do you think it is a serious option to move center Corey Linsley to a guard position if he cannot snap the ball efficiently next Sunday? He doesn't need to grip the ball at guard. Elgton Jenkins can be the center and we keep two of the best on the field.

In six years covering Linsley, I've yet to see him take a rep anywhere other than center in practice. That's not to say Linsley couldn't play guard but it would be a big change. Regardless, he was a full participant in Wednesday's practice. That's a positive sign.

Dan from Toledo, OH

Rashan Gary is vastly improving in Year 2, MVS in Year 3, and here I was wondering why we didn't pick all these guaranteed OROY/DROY contenders. How have Gary and MVS shed these bust labels when no other players have ever improved early on in their career?

First, Marquez Valdes-Scantling is no bust. MVS could never catch another pass in the NFL and still finish with a more productive career than his fifth-round contemporaries. He was a good find. As we've been writing since Day 1, Gary has a bright future. It ain't easy coming into the NFL when you're 20 or 21 years old. Just ask Randall Cobb and Kenny Clark. It takes time but Gary wants to be great and he's working to get there.

Liam from Cranbury, NJ

Hey fellas, why is the NFL handing down such large fines to the coaches (and teams) when they don't wear masks? Aren't they tested every day like the players? I don't see the reason they're forced to wear a mask if they and their team all test negative, plus $100K+ seems steep if the NFL is just trying to have coaches set an example to the public.

Because the games are getting played, and players and personnel are healthy. Why mess with that? We, as a society, want to let our guard down and get complacent. It's the human condition, though some are more predisposed to it than others. That's fine if it's leaving your sandwich on the arm rest, and your dog eats it, but we don't have that kind of luxury in a pandemic. Light one match and you risk setting the entire room ablaze.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Week 1 was Davante Adams. Week 2 was Touchdown Jones. Who's the guy Week 3?

It could easily be MVS if the Saints aren't careful. If not for a couple drops, he might be the league-leader in receiving yards right now. Despite all that, MVS is still averaging 22.9 yards per catch at the moment.

Bubba from Kenosha, WI

Knowing LaFleur's game plan is opponent-specific, put on your Carnak turban and give us what you think we'll see used...jet sweeps, screens, what? Do you think it will be more run- or pass-dominant?

The starting point is the run, so I expect that to be a consistent facet of LaFleur's offense moving forward – misdirection and all. When you have a good offensive line and a featured back like Jones, that's going to keep you in a lot of second- and third-and-favorable situations, and that's where the Packers want to be. That being said, this game has Aaron Rodgers written all over it to me – the fast track, the hard count and how precise his passes have been so far.

Daniel from Catonsville, MD

How did our defense look so poor the first quarter vs. the Lions and then played so splendidly afterwards? Was it adjustments, substitutions, better player performance or a young group of players that are gaining confidence as a unit or with each other?

Because boxing is more than just who lands the first punch. It's who's in the fight in the later rounds. The Packers' defense needs to start faster. There's no debating that. But you gotta see the forest through the trees here.

Dave from Sheffield, South Yorkshire

Putting it simply, if we score more than 30 points on Sunday, do we win? Saints average in their two games is 29 scored and 28.5 conceded. Pitch that against our average of 42.5 scored and 22.5 conceded? Stats can be misleading but it looks promising if we can get close to the last two weeks' averages, or do you see a lot tighter game now in Week 3 (more tape on opposition available, defenses finding more rhythm, etc.)?

It's going to be tough to score 40 points for the third week in a row but I'd feel good about the Packers' chances if they put at least 30 on the board in a visiting stadium. There is more film out there of this offense now but LaFleur's game plans have been malleable. He still has more tricks up his sleeve.

Thomas from Folsom, CA

Is Aaron Jones ever going to get the recognition from the national media that he gets from Pack fans? I don't think it's even a debate that he's a legit star in the league.

Jones will if he stays healthy and keeps this up. We're living in the age of fantasy football and he plays everybody's favorite position. The Packers have known what they have in Jones for some time now, but the NFL cannot ignore him any longer.

Jeff from Taylors, SC

With weapons like Davante and Aaron-squared, how do you find time to throw to the TEs?

Easy. Those tight ends often are seeing single coverage, which allows Rodgers to find Robert Tonyan for a touchdown or Josiah Deguara open in the flat. Green Bay has taken a by-committee approach and it's working.

Joe from Wausau, WI

If I have this right, through two games, the Packers have played extensively two guys at RT (Jenkins, Wagner), three guys at RG (Lucas Patrick, Lane Taylor, Runyan), two at C (Linsley, Patrick), two at LG (Patrick, Jenkins), and one at LT ( David Bakhtiari). With all that shuffling, they've passed for almost 600 yards, run for more than 400, scored nine TDs and allowed one sack. Obviously, that is beyond impressive. So much for my concerns back in 2019 that Stenavich might not have the needed experience for the job. Thoughts?

The guy can coach. Elgton Jenkins is a talented young man but you can't do what he's done without someone who can bring that production out of you. Considering how big the shoes were that James Campen left in the O-line room, I think Stenavich has done one hell of a job.

Mark from Austin, TX

On at least one of the snaps last Sunday, I saw Za'Darius line up at MLB and Gary take his spot on the edge. It was effective in stopping the run and reminded me of when the Packers played Matthews at MLB occasionally. Do you see this as a get the best players on the field move (to compensate for Clark being out) or a reflection on how lackluster Christian Kirksey has been at stopping the run so far?

Good observation. More on that later this week (probably Friday).

Aaron from Scottsdale, AZ

We know these guys are professionals and generally carry themselves as such. We also know motivation comes in subtle forms at a conscious and even subconscious level. Most of the players relish being Packers with the history and reputation involved. With Bak, Jones, Jamaal Williams, Linsley, and Kevin King (the more prominent FAs after 2020 ends), are they possibly having any friendly competitions throughout the season to be the recipient(s) of contract extensions, hence driving up performance a tick?

No. None whatsoever. Whatever motivation they have to play well and earn a deserved contract in free agency is internal. There's no one-upmanship involved.

Andy from Tomah, WI

It was mentioned about the psyche of an opponent taking a bigger hit when a team can double up vs. scoring on the opening possession. It seems to me a strong defensive stop to open the game does more towards setting the tone. Just go out and punch them in the face, steal their lunch, kiss their girlfriend, whatever it takes. Now they know you came to play. I guess that makes me old-school. I'm okay with that.

I won't argue there's value in a strong defensive stop to start off a game but there's so much ebb and flow at the highest level. It's difficult to put your foot down on the gas pedal and keep it there for 60 minutes without any resistance. That's why those double-ups can be so useful. The Packers got a big stand in the second quarter and that enabled the offense to start that turnaround.

Statham from Pineview, GA

With Alvin Kamara's unique skill set, do you think we could see him drawing coverage from a corner or safety more often than not over a LB this week?

Mayhap. I don't see Jaire Alexander or Kevin King shadowing him or anything, but I could see Chandon Sullivan, Raven Greene, Will Redmond or maybe even Darnell Savage line up against across from Kamara depending on the coverage and game situation.

Nic from London, UK

We're playing at NOLA in prime time – the one stadium in the league that's seared into my brain as a place where we're consistently made into roadkill at 7:30 p.m. on Sundays. What can we do to avoid repeating the past?

It works to the Packers' advantage that there won't be fans. While New Orleans is one of my favorite road trips, it's probably my least favorite venue to cover a game. It's an open-air press box near the roof of the stadium, so it gets LOUD in there. For me, the game plan starts with disrupting Drew Brees' rhythm early. If Brees is getting the ball out inside 2.5 seconds, it's going to be a long night for the defense. Brees has a 108.7 rating on passes thrown under 2.5 seconds this year, according to Pro Football Focus. Over that mark? 76.4, which is 27th among NFL QBs.

Tony from Rock Falls, IL

Of other recent head coaches in the NFL, who does ML remind you of the most thus far in his tenure?

Sean McVay…and not just because of their shared history but the way the two changed the culture in an NFL locker room in less than a year. Both had a clear vision for what they wanted and executed it in Year 1. I don't think he gets nearly enough credit for engineering the largest single-season turnaround in franchise history.

Seth from Ellicott City, MD

Which is a greater threat: A good team trying to maintain their win streak, or a good team trying to bounce back from a nationally televised loss?

I'll take playing with the wind in your sails any day.

Bill from Mediapolis, IA

Will this be a game to see how Gute did in the draft a couple years back? Slipping out of the first round.

Maybe a little if Alexander has another strong game, but Marcus Davenport has yet to play this year due to that elbow injury.

Billy from Kenosha, WI

In response to Scott from Crystal Lake, IL, with D-line snap count without Kenny Clark. The players' snap counts ALL were listed, with a small comment about their play. Except Montravius Adams...that bad of a game?

I don't want to speak for Spoff but I think that was more a reflection of Adams playing sparingly in his first game back since spraining his toe last month. There wasn't much to draw from.

Brian from Hackensack, NJ

What is Jamaal Williams listening to before these games? And do you think he's the next Packers player on "Dancing with the Stars"?

That's on ABC. He should've already been on it…and won.

Paul from Nevada City, CA

Finally get to see a Pack game being stuck in Niner country. Be honest, the MVP so far, and to season end, is Gute. He's covered his bases, balanced unsung veterans and new talent. Very happy with my NFC and SB bets right now and expect to remain so. Could you give a shout-out to my aunt/uncle's 65th anniversary on Oct. 15 as I expect my cousins (one who lives in MN but is still a diehard Pack fan) to treat them royally albeit in my absence – Uncle Neil supervised the presses at the Gazette.

Anything for you, Paul.

Michael from Chanhassen, MM

Hey Wes, I had an outburst laugh at Clipton's submission. That was great! Tell him thanks for that.

That goes down as one of my all-time favorite finishes to an Inbox.

Dar from Mansfield, TX

Can I make a polite request that all II responses this week that might normally be written as "true that" instead be "true dat"? The Pack is playing in New Awlins, after all, and I want to make sure dat mojo be good.

But how often do Spoff or I write "True that"?

William from Traverse City, MI

If Aaron Jones goes to wideout, will they use white duct tape to change "33" to "88"?

That's ridiculous. Duct tape? The seamstresses would clearly pull out some more threes, turn them upside down and sew them on top of the pre-existing threes. Duh.

Randy from Raymond, IA

I see the Saints have a player on their roster that's listed as a running back, but wears No. 88. I thought all RBs have to wear a lower number. Why is the NFL allowing New Orleans to break this rule? (Sorry...I'm leaving.)

Don't announce you're leaving. Just leave, Randy. Just go.

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