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Inbox: The Packers did it once. Now the goal is to do it again

The more receivers win their routes, the better the results for the offense

LB Quay Walker
LB Quay Walker

Bob from Grand Rapids, MI

Wow, just reading all the potential paths to various playoff destinations made my head hurt. I can't imagine having to write such an article and not getting a migraine. Thanks for all you do for us!

Mike's brain works in ways mine does not. I suppose that's the Northwestern education at work. As always, PTP is a fantastic read for anyone with questions about what to watch for this weekend.

Michael from Winfield, IL

Path to the playoffs: 1) Beat da Bears. 2) Minnesota and Seattle lose, and either New Orleans or Tampa Bay lose. Just beat da Bears, beat da Bears, beat da Bears.

That's a simpler way to look at it and the only outcome the Packers are focused on.

Jason from Austin, TX

Mike, your transformation to Vic-dom (Vic-tory?) is complete! The prom line was one of my favorites! Anyways, I think we're going to get a highly motivated Bears team who seems to have rallied around wanting the front office to keep Justin Fields next season. What a better way to get that message across than to beat the Packers in Lambeau and knock them out of the playoffs. No one on that team is packing it in already. Nice, long drives would be a great way to cool that offense down. What do you think?

I agree. This is the ultimate dress rehearsal for the 2024 Chicago Bears. The locker room clearly believes in Fields, but the Bears once again are holding the No. 1 draft choice. They kicked the can down the road and wound up in the same spot one year later. How Fields performs on Sunday likely will factor into that difficult decision Ryan Poles is preparing to make.

Al from Green Bay, WI

The Bears are second in rushing yards/game, but only 27th in passing. Yet DJ Moore has 1,300 receiving yards. Pick your poison. Contain the Chicago rushing attack or limit Moore's impact? How do you play it?

By doing what the Packers did Week 1. Fields gained a few yards with his feet, but Green Bay took the ball away and contained the Bears' skill-position playmakers. Juice Herbert had 27 yards on nine carries and Moore finished with just 25 yards on two catches. Chicago will get some yards, but the Packers' defense must ensure those don't turn into points.

Roger from Eau Claire, WI

A lot of talk regarding Jordan Love's maturation. Rightly so. But I am wondering if you can tell me the comparison in recorded receiver drops from the first half of the season compared to the second. It seems, to my untrained eye, receivers weren't as aggressive with the catch early on and now all of the receivers, including Bo Melton, believe the ball in the air is their ball and take it.

You're right. It's not just Love. This is a vastly improved football team. The young receivers were put in a tough spot when Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson dealt with hamstring injuries during the first month of the year, but that unit learned from that experience and have attacked the ball more in the second half of the year. I also think that competition has brought out the best in guys such as Melton and Malik Heath, who have jumped at their opportunities.

Mark from Greenville, SC

Good morning. Once again, WYMM was a great view! Doubling down on my comment/question from Monday, about how open the receivers were, WYMM really showed how true this was. On the TD pass to Jayden Reed, every receiver on the field was wide open for an easy throw. Love threw a dart to Reed. The future is truly bright for this offense!

The more receivers win their routes, the better the results for the offense. I think back to Ben Sims' first career touchdown last month against Kansas City. Tucker Kraft was open in the back of the end zone and another receiver I think was free on the opposite side of the field.

Christopher from Sun Prairie, WI

What is tight end Luke Musgrave's status for Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears?

Musgrave was practicing in shorts on a 34-degree Wednesday. Make of that what you will, but the rookie tight end continues to make progress. We'll see whether it's enough for him to be active on Sunday.

Venny from Montgomery, AL

The Packers likely have a mental edge over the Bears, given their recent history. Which event would have a greater impact on the Bears' psyche: the Bears receiving the ball to start the game and going three-and-out or the Packers receiving the ball and scoring on their first drive? I would think the Packers scoring right away on their improved defense would prompt a few, "here we go again," in a few of the Bears players' minds.

I think the same. Chicago has not allowed a point in the first quarter in its last six games. Green Bay scoring a touchdown out of the gate would be problematic for the Bears' psyche.

Patrick from Oronoco, MN

Hello II. Was Jaire Alexander allowed to practice last week after his suspension was announced? If so, did his shoulder limit him in practices?

Alexander was not with the team last week but was a full participant on Wednesday. It sounds like Alexander is in a good place with his shoulder after not having any setbacks with it in Carolina. He told the media Wednesday he's ready to move forward from everything that's happened, and things are in a good place between the two-time All-Pro and the Packers. Onward and upward.

Malcolm from La Habra, CA

Just a comment. Play No. 5 in WYMM…After the protection is adjusted, Big E points right at the blitzer. Protection is perfect.

The offensive line is playing great and a big reason for the galvanization of this offense. I love how Elgton Jenkins has taken ownership of that room following David Bakhtiari's season-ending knee injury. It reminds me a lot of the leadership role Dave absorbed after Bryan Bulaga left in 2019.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, in the same week J-Love is named NFC Offensive Player of the Week, Bears cornerback Tyrique Stevenson is NFC Defensive Player with two picks, four pass breakups and five tackles against the Falcons. How do the Packers effectively nullify Stevenson's impact on the game?

Love needs to play like the NFC's best offensive player in Week 18 and protect the football. The Bears have a good thing going right now with how they're defending the run and taking the ball away. Stevenson has been a real find for Chicago's secondary. Aaron Jones needs to be that sparkplug again for the offense and Love's gotta be smart with the football for four quarters.

Greg from Perkasie, PA

Mike's WYMM for the defense was fun to review. It felt like that was the first game all season where the defense mixed up and disguised what they were doing throughout the game and the results were promising. It was the type of defensive performance I had been hoping to see all season. Am I wrong in thinking that this game was an outlier for the season when it comes to mixing up and disguising defensive calls and pressures?

The defense didn't play well for most of December, but it also was much better than I think many give it credit for through the first three months of the season. Like I talked about last week, the Packers needed to generate some takeaways. They got two in the first half and the offense turned them into touchdowns. That has been the winning formula for the Packers this season, beginning with the opener in Chicago.

Dale from Holopaw, FL

Hi guys, I think a key player in this game could be Lukas Van Ness with his speed and playing pretty solid of late. Could he be that player that shadows Fields?

I don't think Lukas Van Ness would shadow Fields like an inside linebacker would, but he certainly flashed in the opener against the Bears. What I've found most impressive about Van Ness' game this year is his ability to accelerate into the sack/tackle. He has an extra gear there most NFL defenders do not and I think it's what's gonna separate him as a pass rusher in years to come.

John from Jupiter, FL

Morning Wes. What did you see from the defense Sunday night that would give you hope it will continue and was not just a good game against a team with QB issues? Thanks.

Aggression, physicality, and variation. I just think it was a very good gameplan for that opponent and honestly it reminded me a lot of how the defense played in the opener in Chicago. The defense earned an early turnover on downs and kept fighting for takeaways. The Packers did it once. Now the goal is to do it again.

James from Clearwater, FL

There's another one for the II T-shirt…WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR…THE PROM?

It was a good, biting line from Spoff, but there's a spoonful of truth in it. Plus, it's not like that was the only time Melton was W I D E open.

Mark from Vienna, VA

Just a thought. The defense is going to have to do a better job of staying in their assigned lanes and not over-rushing particularly by the center of the line or Justin Fields will have a field day.

Correct. Again, the Tommy DeVito film doesn't just evaporate. It's out there and Fields is playing with confidence right now. Just like how I talked about the Packers being a better team today than they were earlier this season, the same can be said about the Bears. This will be a good football game.

Thomas from Cedar Rapids, IA

Coach appoints Mikwes Spoffkiewicz captain, and he wins the coin toss. Assuming he doesn't say, "We want the defense on the field first," does he take the ball or defer? Most weeks I know the answer but do recent events change his mind?

Spoffkiewicz replies, "We want the ball and we're gonna…try really hard."

Sherman from Eureka, CA

Wes: You wrote after 14 games I believe how Jayden Reed surpassed Packers Hall of Famer Billy Howton for the second-most receptions in a season by a Packers rookie. But don't you have to put this in perspective? Howton set his record in 1952 during a 12-game season. Not only that but he also led the league with 1,231 receiving yards that year averaging 102.3 yards a game and scoring 13 touchdowns.

Context is critical for every statistical achievement. I know Ahman Green surpassing Jim Taylor for career rushing yards was viewed under a similar lens, but the game evolves, and records are broken. The important thing is to not forget those who came before you and Howton is a player who'll be revered forever in Packers history.

The Green Bay Packers held practice at Clarke Hinkle Field on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024.

Tim from Macon, MO

Hey there, you two and your great crew! I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your “Packers Unscripted” segment on Tuesday. They're all good but that one was really good! You two get along so well that it's a joy to watch! Keep up the great work and rest assured that you and crew are appreciated more than you know by us Packer Backers!

The fact that was one of the longest "Unscripted" episodes we've ever done and I didn't even realize it certainly speaks to that. Truthfully, I wasn't a huge fan of doing the show when we were obligated to film five days a week. Twice a week? It's one of my favorite things I do here. Mike is a big reason for that.

Bob from Melbourne, Australia

Of the many coincidences relating to having a surging divisional opponent stand in our way once again, the one that sticks most in my craw is that Seattle will likely again be the beneficiary if we don't make it. Where does Seattle rank for you in the pantheon of emotionally driven bugbear potential?

Honestly, it's not high on the list for me. Maybe while Russell Wilson was there, but not so much now. To each their own, though.

Cary from Sioux Falls, SD

Not a question Wes, just wanted to point out another reason why I like Jordan Love so much. In the postgame interview Sunday night, Love was asked if he had a New Year's resolution. He said he wants to learn how to shuffle cards! He needs to learn when he plays Uno! He seems like such a genuine down-to-earth guy.

It was a very accurate reflection of Love. The honesty in his voice when he said that was the icing on the cake for me.

Paul from Hewitt, WI

Did Larry replace Ken Bowman at center in the 1973 season? As a young fan, I remember Bowman wearing a chain device connecting his arm to his torso in order to keep his shoulder from dislocating and after he retired the device was in the Packers Hall of Fame. RIP Ken Bowman.

One year later in 1974. Bowman started all 14 games in what ended up being his final NFL season.

Doug from Neenah, WI

Good morning, Wes. Last week, there were lots of divisional games on the schedule. This final weekend looks to be 100%. Are the NFL schedule makers instructed to plot out the season like this?

That's been the way the NFL has done it the last 13-14 years and it's led to a high degree of drama.

Caleb from Knoxville, TN

Which game this weekend intrigues you more: Texans-Colts, or Dolphins-Bills?

Bills-Dolphins. Buffalo isn't in quite yet but could really catapult itself into contention with a win over Miami. Meanwhile, the Dolphins have some questions to answer after being run out of Baltimore.

Dennis from Seal Beach, CA

More than 50 years as a devoted Packers fan and I just booked my first Lambeau trip for Sunday's game. What should I be most excited for (other than the "V"), in my first Lambeau experience?

Memories, Dennis. Your submission warms my heart. I hope it's everything you've dreamed this day to be.

Mike from Baraboo, WI

If the Packers can beat the Bears on Sunday, won't it be a wild ride if they face Dallas in the first round of the playoffs?

I look forward to talking about that scenario…if it actually happens. For now, it's a one-game playoff against the surging Chicago Bears. There is no tomorrow unless the Packers earn it. Have a good Thursday.

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