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Inbox: The Packers got it done when they had to

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Jonnie from Garden City, MI

The last couple of years, games like last night would have ended much differently. There's definitely something special going on in Green Bay this year. How would you define this team's identity to this point in the season?

This group finds a way. They’ve also been the better team in the fourth quarter in six of eight games now. That’ll go a long way.

Kirsten from Madison, WI

Here's what I'm loving about this team: Every week, someone's a star – and it's never the star from the last week's game. Maybe it's the Smith Bros., or Davante Adams. No Davante? OK, Allen Lazard, you're up. Aaron Rodgers, let's go for perfection. OK, now let's roll on over to Aaron Jones, see how he does. And all the while, the David Bakhtiaris of the team keep killing it. The Packers have a full arsenal.

It’s a combination of the players believing in each other to the extent someone, somehow will come through, and no one wanting to be left out of the action, either. Guys who have a quiet game or two eventually show up.

Kristen from Surprise, AZ

I just can't get over how enjoyable this team is. With an off-season spent not knowing what to expect, I feel like we get more pleasant surprises every week, and it's a great feeling. Go Pack Go!

The reader from Surprise likes her surprises. Imagine that.

Curt from Oronoco, MN

Wow. Guaranteed to have a better record than last year, only halfway in. Are you not entertained?

I know a lot of folks thought that game would be different after the 14-0 start, but that’s not the NFL, especially not against a team that was in the AFC title game last year. Mahomes wasn’t the only reason they got there.

Aaron from Forest Grove, OR

The MVP of that game was Jones, hands down. Effective in both the run and pass game. I thought his blocking was equally impressive. He is a star. And I’m glad he’s ours.

The creative ways he’s being used make him really fun to watch. It makes me wonder if we haven’t seen all the ways yet.

Laird from Yelm, WA

How long do we have Aaron Jones under contract for?

Jones is in the third year of his four-year rookie deal.

Jacob from Superior, WI

What was going on with all the missed tackles? And how are TEs still getting wide open against the Pack? Frustrating that we couldn’t easily put away a team with a lot of backups playing led by Matt Moore. Grateful for the W but nervous to think what that team at full strength could’ve done.

The Packers didn’t tackle well and I talked all week about that being a key against skill players like Kansas City’s. Kelce made the one big play for a touchdown, clearly on a coverage bust, but other than that I thought the defense did OK against him. I thought the Packers would generate more consistent pressure against Moore with the Chiefs down a couple of starting linemen. Moore looked way too comfortable on a couple of those third-down conversions in the second quarter, and that’s when you could tell he was settling in.

Ryan from Minneapolis, MN

Insiders, the biggest standout to me last night was the offense effectively running out the last five minutes of clock starting on the 2-yard line. What did they do to seal the deal on the game?

They won at the point of attack, plain and simple. I was expecting to see that kind of success running the ball most of the night, but the Packers got it done when they had to. I’m really interested to check the film for how that series of runs was blocked. The Chiefs got no one in the backfield that entire sequence from what I recall.

Jake from Athens, GA

I was tearing my hair out all game over the lack of run plays, but when they needed to run it at the end, boy, they ran it. What a perfect finish to a gritty game.

Bent from Raleigh, NC

Two questions if I may. First, why were we playing so much zone defense? Second, what adjustments did you notice that were made on defense after halftime to right the ship?

Playing zone is a way to prevent big plays against speed, because otherwise one guy gets beat and it’s off to the races. Almost all of the Chiefs’ explosive plays resulted from missed tackles, so I don’t fault the strategy. I can’t speak to the adjustments without studying further, but with the naked eye I saw faster reactions to where the ball was going. Andy Reid schemed up lot of exotic stuff for his offense and I think the Packers started to read some tendencies better as the game went on.

Jaquaveon from Goldsboro, NC

Will the Packers’ schedule (lopsided with home games to start, a lot of road games to finish) impact them negatively or positively?

I mentioned after Week 1 I thought it would be beneficial to have a home-heavy early schedule so the offense could work through a lot of issues without the added challenge of crowd noise. I think it paid off.

Eric from Reedsburg, WI

What are your takeaways from the NFC games this week?

The Saints have their commander back, the 49ers are here for the long haul, and the quarterbacks for the Vikings, Lions and Seahawks are all playing really, really well. The Bears have to turn it around soon or they’re in danger of sliding into irrelevancy in 2019.

Ryan from Prescott, AZ

II, a “what would you have done” question. If you were Anthony Lynn, would you have gone for it on the fourth-and-a-foot? If they get the first down the game is over (the Bears only had one timeout and 1:33 left on the clock). Aren’t those odds better than punting and hoping your defense stops them?

I would have done what Lynn did. There’s certainly an argument for going for the win on offense, but the Chargers’ defense had stopped the Bears on three straight possessions and I’m sure that factored into Lynn’s thinking.

Tom from Yardley, PA

Matt from Plover, WI: Surely, I can't be the first fan to feel this way. Do you think the NFL may start losing fans due to continued officiating controversy? “No.” Clearly, too soon to tell for sure but I know lots of longtime fans who have simply stopped watching games going back to last year. The next couple of years will be interesting. There was a time when I never thought baseball would ever lose fans and their attendance woes and waning fan base are now well documented.

The ratings do not suggest the NFL is losing fans over the officiating controversies. Anything else is just anecdotal.

Jessi from Sterling, KS

"Shoot, I thought he was looking at me the whole time." Great line from Jamaal. At least Jamaal was looking at him. It worked!

I’ll admit, from high up in the press box where we can supposedly see everything, I didn’t see Williams at all on that play until he was diving for the ball. Unreal how that turned into a touchdown.

Joel from Sand Springs, OK

Insiders, I had a great weekend off this week and reading your articles it made me stop and wonder when you actually get time off. There’s a game Sunday, II every other day and a podcast Monday-Friday. Do you ever get a break with the family?

The bye weekend. Two more games to go.

Lior from Philadelphia, PA

Can you talk about the relationship between personnel groups and formations? For example does each receiver have a specific role in each formation, or, say can the same receiver play different positions in the same formation or play call? Is the position each receiver will play called in the huddle each play, or is it fixed based on the play call?

A three-receiver personnel group, for example, has three receiver positions – X, Y and Z. Players know which of the three positions is their responsibility for each play call in that personnel group. But because injuries happen and things must be adjusted, they best know everything so the coaches aren’t making wholesale changes when one guy goes down.

Howie from Saint Ignace, MI

Up to now what has been the most positive and impactful influence Coach LaFleur has had on the team during his brief tenure?

The win column.

Jerry from Stevens Point, WI

Bulaga is having another great season. Does he have any statistic career milestones worth mentioning?

This year’s opener was his 100th career regular-season game, and the Dallas game was his 100th career regular-season start. I always think that’s a heck of a number for a guy in the trenches to reach. Hopefully his hand injury from Sunday night is nothing significant.

Rick from Milwaukee, WI

Another hard-fought team win. Amos is having a great year while flying under the radar. He is the glue that holds the defense together.

He’s very rarely in the wrong place, and he’s a sound tackler. Reliability is a meaningful ability.

Nathan from Dubuque, IA

If the refs call a touchdown and then review it as being short, why the 10-second runoff if there isn’t much time left in the game? It’s not the offense’s fault that the refs called a touchdown. What is the thinking with this rule?

With a running clock, more time would have elapsed had the initial call been made correctly, so the 10-second runoff represents the minimum amount of time it would have taken to get another snap off. If a team has a timeout left, it can elect to use it rather than lose the 10 seconds.

Chris from Oskaloosa, IA

Joel from Mosinee asked why college officiating was so much better than the NFL and one of Mike's answers was that the college replay system was better. I typically only watch the Packers and Hawkeyes with the occasional exception, so my ability to compare the two is fairly limited. In your opinion, what are the major differences and what makes the college replay system more effective?

It has a replay official who can stop the game anytime to look at something dubious or questionable. The college game is more interested in getting more calls right than having coaches officiate and manage challenges.

Drew from Rogers, MI

Is there a running back duo better than Jones and Williams right now?

Nothing against the Packers’ tandem, but the pair just across the Mississippi River in purple is pretty good, too. I think Green Bay’s duo is a little more versatile.

Dan from Toledo, OH

Can the Insider Inbox ban things outside of the Insider Inbox? Like say, the Vikings’ uniforms from Thursday's game?

I’ve seen worse.

Graeme from Tucson, AZ

That was a gutsy win for sure. What a drive in the third quarter. Also, am I right in thinking that there wasn’t a single pass interference call on either side? That’s a refreshing change! Happy Monday.

I was happy to see before the game it was Bill Vinovich’s crew. That group ranks last in the league in flags per game. The only thing wrong with the long third-quarter drive was it didn’t end in a touchdown. Rodgers said his helmet communicator went out fairly early in the drive, and that was a factor in the delay of game and the timeout being used in the red zone. I thought the Packers were in their best rhythm of the night before the delay of game.

Joe from Cedar Grove, WI

I'm trying to temper my expectations, but this season is starting to feel a little special. A five-plus minute clock-killing drive to end the game on the road in the loudest stadium in the NFL? Sure...easy enough. This single drive speaks volumes for the resiliency of this team.

I think resolve is a good word, too. That’s a dig-deep situation, your veteran right tackle is out of the game, and you haven’t really run the ball all that well in the game. Looked like Rodgers had a key check at the line on the initial third-and-2 as well with the crowd in full-throat. His smarts are invaluable in a lot of places, but especially there.

TJ from Phoenix, AZ

A lot after the game about Rodgers and Aaron Jones, deservedly so. However, I saw two plays by lesser known players that really swung the game. Tyler Lancaster’s forced fumble and subsequent recovery was a tectonic shift that may have registered on the Richter scale. Chandon Sullivan’s pass break-up on Kelce was perfection. Probably the best play of the game not receiving a replay. It’s great how this team gets significant contributions from all levels. Can Chandon and Tyler get some love?

Absolutely. The timing of those plays couldn’t have worked out better for the Packers. Two undrafted players to boot.

David from Hales Corners, WI

Davante Adams injuring his toe might be the best thing that could've happened to this team. Love seeing Aaron spread the ball around and LaFleur scheming with other players. Just sayin’.

There’s a lot of credit to share for the Packers being 4-0 without Adams, and his absence is undoubtedly making this team better for the long haul. Different players have responded at different times, and that’ll serve the Packers well as the games get bigger.

Oscar from Sherman Oaks, CA

Is anyone gonna mention Wes’s Twitter profile picture? Anyone? Really?

Be my guest. Happy Monday.

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