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Inbox: The outcome felt inevitable

It’s not how good you are, it’s when you’re good

Vikings TE Irv Smith
Vikings TE Irv Smith

Brian from Fanwood, NJ

Mike, you may not be able to read the sheet music for "Hot Cross Buns," but what about "Three Blind Mice"?

I'm working on it.

Darren from Oklahoma City, OK

Stoopid Broncos!

When Denver blew the chance to add to the lead just before halftime, and then allowed a Minnesota TD to open the second half, the outcome felt inevitable to me. That said, if McManus makes the field goal midway through the fourth quarter, there's a good chance the Broncos regain the lead with another field goal (they'd have kicked on fourth-and-6 with two minutes left), forcing the Vikings to score one more time. Which also would have felt inevitable, so I stand by my original comment.

Duane from Oak Creek, WI

Boy! Minnesota comeback on Denver?!?

I provide that game as Exhibit A for everyone who gets hung up on having a "top 10 defense." How much good did it do the Broncos to have the fourth-ranked unit in the league and pitch a first-half shutout when they couldn't get a single stop in the second half and allowed four touchdowns in four possessions? To steal a line I've never forgotten from a late high school coach I used to cover that applies to sports in a multitude of ways: It's not how good you are, it's when you're good.

Tucker from Temple, TX

How frustrating was the end of that Vikings game? I was surprised that Denver took them down to the wire, but unfortunately I was not surprised that neither of the two DPIs on the last three plays were reviewed. If the new rule isn't even going to cause them to look at a defender pulling a receiver down by the face mask when the ball is in the air, we need to just get rid of it.

At this point, I'll be shocked if the rule isn't scrapped in the offseason. It's been sabotaged by the command center in New York and there's no workable standard for how it's being applied.

Andy from Tomah, WI

To what do you attribute the league's recent uptick in interest of Colin Kaepernick? I find it interesting that after an extended time of silence, out of the blue the league hastily schedules a somewhat unorthodox workout. While I'm certainly not advocating for either side, I found it odd that less than a quarter of teams attended. Especially with some of the injuries this year and some of the sub-par quarterback play in places like Chicago.

Three-quarters of the league was set to attend the original workout before it got moved. The whole thing turned into a fiasco. In hindsight, it's not surprising at all that two sides who don't trust one another weren't able to work out all the legal wranglings necessary and other arrangements/preferences in a matter of a few short days. The enterprise was ill-conceived and poorly executed by all involved.

Larry from Belgrade, MT

What a disappointing Sunday. We were approximately a combined five minutes away from ascending to the top of the conference as well as adding an extra half-game of distance from our division foe, but alas, Arizona and Denver couldn't close out at crunch time.

I give the 49ers a ton of credit. On a short week after an exhausting overtime loss, they had to come from behind multiple times against a feisty, improving division rival. They passed a significant test. I expect the Packers to give them another one. Contain the run, force a turnover or two, and protect Rodgers. That's what it'll come down to.

Andrew from Simi Valley, CA

Looks like we are gonna have to take matters into our own hands.

At some point, every contender must. It's officially a two-horse race in the NFC North now, and I didn't think I'd be saying that before Thanksgiving.

Gary from Belle Mead, NJ

Tell ya what... I'm sure glad it's the Saints and 49ers that have to play the Falcons down the stretch!

Atlanta has put on notice all the NFC hopefuls on their schedule. The Panthers have to play the Falcons again, too. Amazing how dramatically and quickly Carolina's fortunes have changed. They were one play (and a conversion) from taking the Packers to OT at Lambeau, and seven days later they're in danger of falling out of it.

Donna from Darien, WI

Lego highlights, the next best thing to watching an actual Packers game during this bye weekend.

The depiction of the final play was exquisite, and I think a replay review announcement is a Lego highlights first.

Terrance from Sun Prairie, WI

What division game will end up being the biggest one?

Isn't it obvious?

Andy from Clive, IA

Yes, Aaron Jones should be on the MVP watch list, but Lamar Jackson is running away with it, literally. Did you see the Ravens' Heisman formation with Jackson, Ingram and RG3 in the backfield? Fun team to watch when the Pack aren't playing!

That's something special going on in Baltimore. For as much as I think the NFC is deeper overall than the AFC, the Ravens might be the most feared team in the league come January.

Isaac from Columbia, TN

The Packers have about $26 million that they are paying to players who aren't playing for them on Sundays. The reasons vary (injury, practice squad, dead cap, etc.). What is crazy to me is the Packers are on the very low end. Many are more than double that amount (the Dolphins are over $80 million!). I'm amazed at the work that GMs and cap managers do year in and year out to keep track of it all and not get caught in too many situations where you are paying people not to play.

It's what an old friend of mine used to call "cap jail," and the Packers have done an admirable job staying out of it. There are no orange or yellow cards that get you out for free.

Kyle from Sun Prairie, WI

Reading an article about Tramon Williams. Talked about how he was lucky on the end-zone INT and that he was in the "right place at the right time." It reads like a sucker punch, then continues to say Tramon has been in the right place at the right time all season; i.e., the INT was no accident. While No. 38 hasn't necessarily been making big, splashy plays, he has been impactful for the defense. Who has been making a big difference so far this year that most of us at home are likely not noticing?

The easy answer is Elgton Jenkins, but I'll go right next door and also say Corey Linsley is having a really strong season.

Al from Green Bay, WI

The Packers player that has had minimal impact through the first 10 weeks that will really come on strong after the bye week is…

Hmmm…I'm inclined to guess Kyler Fackrell.

Paul from Shoreview, MN

Kenny Clark started out looking like a beast. He had some injuries and had tailed off for a bit. Was his decline due to injuries, added attention or combination of both? He looked like he was around the ball a lot last week. Hoping a week off and he comes back rejuvenated for the stretch run!

I think Clark was playing through some minor hindrances and adjusting to the attention he's commanding. I could have very easily said him as the answer to the previous question.

Mike from Madison, WI

I know Coach LaFleur has some strong ties to the SF coaching staff. Do you think that is an advantage or disadvantage for either side?

I would think the familiarity has to cut both ways.

Brad from Northport, MI

Hello Insiders, I have a couple questions about a step in the tiebreaker procedure around determining strength of schedule. Is the SOS number calculated off of last year's final standings or is it constantly changing based on this year's current standings? Same question for strength of victory.

This year's records are the only ones that matter.

John from Austin, TX

All this talk about flying, what type of aircraft do the Packers fly on? I'm guessing it's not a typical airliner with so many "little" seats.

I'm not well-versed in types of aircraft, but generally the longer the trip, the bigger the plane.

Steven from San Diego, CA

What is the next upgrade to Lambeau Field?

The practice fields are the priority this year and next. This month, the Lambeau Field marquee signs are being replaced with new ones that include digital message boards.

Gordy from Plymouth, WI

I am not supporting Garrett's action, he deserved his suspension. I also saw that Rudolph will be fined which is good. His action of placing his foot in Garrett's crotch while on the ground led to Garrett's grabbing Rudolph's helmet. Do you think Rudolph should have been given any suspension for his actions prior to having his helmet removed by Garrett?

I think a fine for Rudolph is sufficient. He got taken down in a 14-point game with less than 10 seconds left, and his reaction crossed a line. But if it had ended there, or even at the moment Garrett took Rudolph's helmet off, no one would have been talking suspensions at all.

Matthew from Montgomery, AL

Do you agree with Pouncey's suspension? I do not think it was warranted because in my eyes everything he did was in response to Garrett's egregious act. If someone did that to Rodgers I would want our linemen to react the same way.

I doubt Pouncey regrets anything, but throwing punches is going to earn a suspension regardless, and I think he escalated it from one game to three with the kicking.

Dan from Oregon, WI

The Myles Garrett helmet attack got me thinking: What would it take for an incident to move beyond the NFL and into legal action, be it civil or criminal? And has such a thing ever happened?

Criminal charges have arisen in hockey. You can Google the names Marty McSorley and Todd Bertuzzi for examples. In my quick research I came across a civil tort resulting from an NFL incident (Hackbart v. Cincinnati Bengals) in which the trial court ruled that pro football players are aware of the dangers and have surrendered their rights to seek redress for injuries, but the appeals court ruled that not all rights are extinguished for egregious conduct beyond the pale of what's common to the sport. Thankfully, and luckily, Rudolph was OK.

Joey from Groveland, MI

Richard Sherman, Richard Sherman, Richard Sherman, Richard Sherman.

Here we go. Serenity now.

Brian from Superior, WI

Was wondering if you had anything to say to those of us that expressed our thoughts that Aaron Jones was being criminally underused last year? The Inbox to put it politely was very dismissive of this viewpoint.

I would posit Jones was not utilized enough previously as a receiver, particularly last year, but as far as his overall workload, I wouldn't call it being "criminally underused." Look at the injuries and games missed his first two seasons. His body wasn't ready for the long NFL grind, and the previous coaching staff was properly being careful. Player development isn't just a reference to skill. He's in a different place in terms of physical maturity now, and the new staff is maximizing on it.

Brian from Russia, OH

Longtime Insider Inbox reader, but have never asked a question before. What is your typical process for pulling the column together? I imagine it starts with some sort of read through of the questions followed by developing common themes to allow the column to have some type of flow. Being an engineer, the first thing I would do is pull together a spreadsheet and create a Pareto chart.

I pretty much stick with two keyboard commands – delete and copy/paste.

Deb from Green Bay, WI

Who was flexed out of the Sunday night game?

Seahawks at Eagles, which I think could serve as a nice break for Seattle. They're coming off a bye, get to knock that game out, and return home much earlier from a cross-country jaunt, earning an even longer break before hosting Minnesota on a Monday night.

Jason from Lake View, NY

The success so far of A. Jones and Jamaal Williams really shouldn't be all that surprising. All you have to do is look back at what M. LaFleur did in Tennessee when he was OC there to see that he loves to utilize running backs in all parts of the offensive game plan. What surprises me is how quickly the two of them picked up the new offense. Is this quick development more on coaching or talent or a mix of both? I am thinking both but was curious on your opinion.

It's definitely a mix of both, as well as their smarts to adapt to the new scheme. They've also earned a lot of trust by delivering when called upon, which is a player-coach connection that builds on itself.

John from Topeka, KS

Maybe instead of adding yet another official tasked with managing a grossly overweight rulebook it would make more sense to add a judge or two in the booth tasked entirely with safety-related plays and penalties. The stripes on the ground could be relieved of that responsibility, and asked only to officiate the game play itself. If the booth has to ring down to assess a penalty, so be it.

You're draining some of the blue out of my face.

Matt from Dallas, TX

Mike, are you also looking forward to New York and those Via Della Pace leftovers from the mini-fridge in Wes's room? I too have used the "lost my room key" trick at the front desk.

Ha, this crowd is too much. I may have to experience the cuisine first-hand if Wes is willing to drag me along.

Jeremiah from South Bend, IN

Tomorrow I leave for Manitowoc, WI, to see family before moving back to Denver, CO. I left there two years ago after mental health battles left me with nothing but resilience and family. Reading II was one of the few things I had for structure while facing my adversity; hearing how the Pack supported Madison was encouraging to say the least. I am extremely grateful for this community and both of you, Mike and Wes. Overcoming is its own reward. Courage forged in the fires of life lasts. Go Pack Go.

It's humbling to think we, and by that I mean this entire II community, could serve as a personal blessing in a time of trial. I appreciate a message that keeps us grounded as everyone gets excited for this Packers stretch run. All the best to you moving forward, Jeremiah. Happy Monday.