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Inbox: The Packers are searching for that moment

Teams have to stay ahead of the sticks in this league

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CBs Rasul Douglas, Jaire Alexander, LB Kingsley Enagbare & DL Kenny Clark

Mike from West Bend, WI

Hey Insiders, I can't recall seeing a game that was so all over the place in every facet. So many dropped passes, a defensive TD, inept penalties from both players and refs, a shuffled OL playing well, a normally calm coach losing it and a college trick play. Something has got to change for the better if we are going to get to the dance and help isn't on the way, it seems.

It was one of the more bizarre, all-around games I've covered. I thought about that on the plane ride home and all the way until I went to bed. It's a difficult game to make heads or tails of.

John from Jupiter, FL

Morning Wes. I truly respect your expert and experienced opinions so I would like your thoughts on the drops. Is it a lack of execution? Lack of fundamentals? Loss of concentration? They are drive-killers and really should not be happening to this extent. Thanks.

It's mental. There's a reason receivers make these phenomenal catches but then Mike Evans drops an "easy" deep ball while having 10 yards of separation. Aaron Jones touched on drops after the game, too. It's that instantaneous feeling of a receiver knowing, "OK, I have the catch" and allowing your eyes to look up field before securing the ball. Like Spoff said, it comes down to basic execution.

Patrick from Folly Beach, SC

Of course, David Bakhtiari is our best LT when healthy. Yet I thought that Zach Tom and the reshuffled line did well against a tough front. Do you see something like that happening again? Perhaps Tom becoming the backup at LT and the line remains the same as it was against Washington?

Tom deserves a lot of credit. It's not easy to come to the stadium and be told you'll be making your first NFL start as the blindside protector for a future Hall of Fame quarterback. He was up to the challenge. The Packers gave Tom some help, but the rookie also made some good one-on-one blocks. Green Bay doesn't want to keep shuffling the O-line if it doesn't have to. I'd expect this is the direction Green Bay will continue to move in, with Tom spelling Bakhtiari at left tackle.

Rich from Fargo, ND

Twelve rushing attempts for Green Bay versus 38 rushing attempts for Washington. You would feel like the Packers should be a "control the ball" type of squad right now. Blocking up front has been shaky, but the guy behind them is still a slasher with the ball in his hands.

It wasn't enough but that number also was skewed by how many times the statisticians in Washington ruled a toss/pitch to Jones as a pass play. That's how he wound up with a career-high nine receptions.

Christopher from Gallatin, TN

As my dad used to say, "If they (DBs) could catch, they'd be playing WR," but I feel like our secondary is going to want extra time with the JUGS machine this week. So many missed opportunities in a strong defensive half.

As much as the offense struggled, the dropped INTs (and Rasul Douglas' fumble recovery for a touchdown getting called back) were the most difficult part of Sunday's loss. Because any of those plays could have been that play, a dagger play. It not only might have been enough to singlehandedly beat Washington but also could've been the fuel injection the Packers' offense needed to get into rhythm. All three phases have been inconsistent, and the results reflect that.

Brian from Rochester, MN

I'm sure there's lots of negativity, so I'll bring some genuine positivity. 1) Kingsley Enagbare looks like he is ascending fast and figuring it out...which will be important if Rashan Gary is out. 2) Preston Smith is playing at a very high level, which is getting lost with the team underperforming. 3) The O-line looked pretty solid against a very strong Wash front. This team isn't what we thought they were, but there is reason to see some hope. Maybe. What positives did you take away?

Aaron Jones can still make plays even when all eyes are on him. Pro Football Focus had him down for six forced missed tackles on eight carries in Washington.

Doug from Eugene, OR

Hello gentlemen. Perspective is interesting. Having attended nine funerals and delivering two eulogies over the last three years I feel more like an observer than the engaged fanatic I once conspicuously was. That said, in the research of personality profiles of exceptional athletes, they've found two universal traits – confidence and positivity. Short-term confidence can waver a tad with performance and outcome, but positivity mustn't. Do you sense any wavering in the psyche of this group?

I don't, especially after being in the locker room on Monday. I think AJ Dillon termed it "relentless positivity." Jon Runyan wasn't as bombastic but extremely steady and level-headed about where the Packers are. Yes, Green Bay is off the pace in this marathon, but we still have a lot of miles to go in this 17-game race.

Kary from Sheboygan, WI

Maybe the first play of the season DID describe what the Packers are this year – tantalizingly close, but someone is always dropping the ball!

And the same thing on defense. I talked on Saturday about needing to capitalize. The Packers didn't do enough of that to win.

Joe from Swansea, IL

With so much to be done, where do they start? What's the first thing that needs fixing? What's next?

Third downs. You can't go 0-for-6 on the money down and expect to consistently win. A part of that was a barrage of negative-yardage plays on first down, both penalties and negative gains. Teams have to stay ahead of the sticks in this league and the Packers were too far behind them Sunday.

Cary from Sioux Falls, SD

Wes, on Sunday night, Tony Dungy said he thinks Aaron Rodgers doesn't trust his offensive line and doesn't trust his receivers. Do you think that's a valid take on the Packers' offensive woes?

I was watching the halftime show when Dungy said that and still am not entirely sure what he meant by all that, especially the offensive line piece. I don't recall Rodgers scrambling out of the pocket due to pressure and he wasn't sacked. I'm not going to put myself into Rodgers' head as far as the trust deal with the receivers. He's spoken on that enough over the past three months.

Scott from Carlisle, PA

What is your assessment of Quay Walker thus far? I see him tackling and being near a tackle constantly. His pass coverage seems decent also. Heard a popular sports channel knocking him for a couple of blown coverage plays in the Jets game, which can happen to a seasoned pro also.

He's a talented rookie. As you'd expect, Walker has had some mental errors, but his athleticism stands out the most. He played sideline-to-sideline in Washington en route to a career-high 13 tackles and two quarterback hits.

Bruce from Travelers Rest, SC

Spoff, you wrote this reminds you of 2016. I hope the better parallel, at least for this week, is 2012. The Packers had won the SB two years before and were coming off a 15-win season. Expectations were sky high, and they started off the year playing bad ball. They were headed to Houston to play the Texans, an elite team that year, on Sunday night. It looked bleak, except the Packers not only got the win, but they also thoroughly outplayed the Texans. I'll settle for the W this week.

In this league, anything can happen. As I wrote after the game, the Packers' locker room still believes regardless of the outside perception. As Marcedes Lewis said, there's one way to turn this thing around and that's to work at it – and that process continues this week.

Ben from Pensacola, FL

The part that really bugged me about the call on Eric Stokes during the second defensive TD was that, for what I could make out on the replay, the receiver grabbed Stokes first, and "21" was reacting to that grab/shove. I like that as a no-call. It puts the defense right back on the field after two STs plays, but I felt like they'd have been riding on higher momentum after that. But what do I know?

I've written and deleted my response to this approximately 12 times. In the end, I'm going with "I have no comment on the game Clay Martin's crew officiated." Thank you.

Mark from Carmel, IN

During the final play of the Washington game what was the flag thrown for? I need to know if it would have wiped out what could have been another miracle finish. I'm still in disbelief that the best arm on the field failed to get a pass across the gridiron to what appeared to be a wide-open man...that would have been an epic finish!

Yosh Nijman was flagged for a blindside block, I guess. Again, I got nothing on the officiating.

Dan from Augusta, KS

Is there an explanation why the refs called illegal contact on what should have been the second defensive score but did not make the same call when there was more contact against Sammy Watkins on the overthrown pass? The explanation from the refs on the fumble was there was contact while the passer was still in the pocket, but Rodgers was clearly in the pocket when he overthrew Watkins. I know it's an area of emphasis, but it seems inconsistent enforcement of the rule.

During one of their 147 group huddles Sunday, the officials congregated and ruled the pass to Watkins wasn't catchable. That's why there was no penalty for defensive pass interference. There's also no such thing as illegal contact once the ball has left the QB's hand.

Dan from Honeoye Falls, NY

Looking at the positive side of things, it sure was nice sitting with the dog on the front porch in the October sun on a 73 degree fall day in Western NY, sipping whiskey and listening to Wayne and Larry call the game from my laptop while following along with Mike's blog. Thanks for all you guys and the whole AV crew do to bring us closer to the team and the game. Wayne and Larry mentioned multiple times how bad the sightlines were from their booth; is that a common theme from that stadium?

FedExField is perhaps the toughest draw in the NFL for radio announcers. I was in the booth for the pregame show and couldn't see the entire field from where I was standing. It's not only in the corner of an end zone but also low.

Fred from Shorewood, WI

Over the last few weeks, we've heard both QB12 and Coach Matt state that the team is making too many mistakes and that these need to be corrected. This raises the question in my mind as to what they're calling a mistake. Are the mistakes they're referring to mental, such as not knowing whom to block, or physical such as not executing the block? These have different remedies: clarify the assignment or change the personnel.

The Packers are trying both but there's so much that goes into the anatomy of a play. It's 11 players working in unison within the scheme the Packers have spent months developing. The quarterback's timing, offensive line's blocking and receivers' routes all have to be consistently aligned. The sweater falls apart when the thread gets unwoven and too many times this season the Packers have been out of alignment.

Tim from Wilton, CT

With much of the blame for the Packers' demise being on the loss of Davante Adams – I don't hear much said about another receiver that got away, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who is doing very well (almost 17 yards a catch) for the Chiefs while Davante is only netting less than 14 yards a catch. Bringing in Sammy Watkins and some rookies to replace both Adams and Valdes-Scantling looks less than wise in retrospect. And the Packers and No. 12 are paying the price.

I literally talked about MVS last week. Getting Watkins back helps the deep-ball threat, but he was on a rep count this week. Christian Watson could really help there, too.

Jesus from El Paso, TX

I love the juxtaposition of players (presumably) being fired up to prove themselves against a top team in prime time and having to use that intensity to practice something as mundane as fundamentals. Do you expect to prescribe to have the same internal focus as last week, or will the big-time opponent force the team to look outward more?

Maybe both? This Bills game was going to be a big one regardless of whether the Packers were 7-0 or 3-4. Facing Buffalo on the road is a major litmus test for Green Bay but also one a Packers team with Super Bowl aspirations expected to win coming into the year. They can't let this three-game skid dissuade them. The Packers let a major opportunity slip through their fingertips and now they must get one back against an even more challenging opponent.

Joe from Swansea, IL

Tell me I'm crazy, but is playing better as a team more important than getting a win, however unlikely, in Buffalo Sunday? If the Pack are to right the ship and still contend for a playoff spot, doesn't that start with their own play, whether or not it results in a W? Nobody outside 1265 will give them much of a chance Sunday, I say, so get your own play in order and see what results.

The Packers lost in Washington in 2016 but also found their rhythm (and Jared Cook) in the process. The following week, Davante Adams made one of the biggest plays of his career and Green Bay started its run with a 27-13 win over Philadelphia. Every season has its turning point, when a team determines which direction its season is going to go. The Packers are searching for that moment.

David from Oak Hills, CA

The narrative in the media is that we will see what this Packers team is made of in these upcoming weeks and how they handle adversity. I guess the same can be said of this fan base which has been spoiled for decades.

Everyone handles adversity differently. I know for a fact I'm not always the most patient individual when things go awry. Hopefully, the Packers can calm the waters in Buffalo. They've been on a three-game winning streak as recently as last month. It has happened before.

Craig from Johnson City, TN

Teams have been 3-4 and still made the playoffs (e.g. San Diego 1992). They just need to win at home and win the division games on the road to get to 10 wins. Looking at last year, that gets you in. If the team can do that, they'll be on a roll going into the playoffs. If they can't, they don't deserve to be in. While I think it's important to have a good showing in Buffalo, I don't think that a win is essential. The team just needs to get back its mojo. I still believe. GPG.

For sure, and overall playoff statistics probably need to be thrown out the window with seven qualifiers now in each conference. But the Packers need win No. 4 before we start talking about playoff spots.

Phil from Oshkosh, WI

Good idea! Why don't you publish a one-day, all "Why don't you ever publish me?" themed Inbox? No answers, just a long, acrimonious scroll through irate rant land. Might be highly entertaining!

Maybe we can do it as the finale to Outsider Inbox 2023.

Gary from Middleton, WI

The ship is listing badly, and the winds and storms of November will soon be upon us. I have every confidence that the captain and crew will come together collectively and devise a plan to right the ship and avoid another Edmund Fitzgerald-type ending.

They have to. There's no other choice. Welcome to a new week, everyone.

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