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Inbox: The role is not to be discounted

LB Blake Martinez
LB Blake Martinez

Colin from Tripoli, WI

Guys, I can draw a comparison between our beloved Packers and Badgers. Both are coming off disappointing seasons. Both are committed to running the ball and getting all they can out of their defenses. Both are off to a great start and both face dangerous opponents from Michigan at home who I think are badly underrated. One couldn't ask for a better weekend of football coming up. Would you agree?

With a day off in between to soak in the rest of the action. Bring it on.

Lori from Green Bay, WI

Who will be the player to watch in the game this week?

Whoever’s assigned to Hockenson, and I don’t expect it to be one player all game.

Brian from Madison, WI

It seemed like the Packers sustained a lot of injuries against the Cowboys. How are things looking at this point in the week? What are the key areas to watch as we head into Monday?

Thursday was the first practice of the week, and Jamaal Williams, Corey Linsley, Kevin King and B.J. Goodson were all practicing. Davante Adams, Robert Tonyan, Tony Brown and Darnell Savage were not. How the Packers mix and match personnel in the defensive backfield, without Savage if he can’t go, is an area to watch.

Eric from St. Jacob, IL

Trap games can be real as teams allow expectations to influence their preparation and execution (see 15-1 season!). Sandwiched between the Cowboys and Chiefs, we get the Lions and Raiders. When the schedule came out, either of these games could have been labeled a trap game. Since both teams have been playing well, and both are coming off their bye weeks leading up to the game, have we avoided the trap-game mentality?

What mentality?

Theodore from St. Louis, MO

Cardinals putting up 10 runs in the first inning of an elimination playoff game got me thinking. What's the most points put up by the Pack in Q1 of a game? Any game, not just an elimination game?

The Packers scored 35 points against Cleveland in the first quarter on Nov. 12, 1967. It’s tied for the NFL record for the most points in the first quarter.

Dennis from Wisconsin Rapids, WI

The more I learn about the intricacies of an offense or defense, the more impressed I am with how intelligent most players are. There aren't many "dumb jocks" at this level, are there?

They might get here, but they don’t stay here.

Connor from Boca Raton, FL

Why is Blake Martinez not getting more hype around the league? Plays every snap and is one off the league lead in tackles.

The Packers are perfectly happy with what Martinez provides as the nerve center of the defense, to use Pettine’s phrase, and he has playmakers all around him. The role is not to be discounted. More national attention will come when Martinez is making more of those splash plays. He has one sack this year after five last year, but he hasn’t had an interception or forced or recovered a fumble since 2017. I’m not saying he should start chasing those plays, because I don’t think the Packers need him to, but that’s the reality when it comes to “hype.”

Phil from Brisbane, Australia

I do a fair bit of whining about the league and some of their more controversial decisions, but I wanted to try for balance in saying I think they made a good decision suspending Burfict. It may have been clear and obvious, but it still needed to be adjudicated correctly and they deserve some respect for that.

I still say it’s on the GMs to quit signing guys like that.

Larissa from Minneapolis, MN

The Patriots have been better than everyone else for 15 years and I think it disingenuous to pretend otherwise. However, a decade-plus of 3-6 divisional freebies per season does wonders for one's margin for error to clinch and for load management. I do think it's extended their contention window. I don't blame them, just disappointing that circumstance gives the already best team another little push. Kind of like when the Warriors signed KD thanks to a cap spike. Is this all just sour grapes?

Somewhat, but the circumstances are hard to ignore, and I’ll give a shout-out to Bruce from New Canaan, CT, for also recognizing how many bad decisions and other mistakes New England’s AFC East foes make because there’s so much pressure to compete with the Patriots. It becomes a vicious cycle and self-fulfilling prophecy of mediocrity. Your point about margin for error with regard to playoff positioning and home field is one I’ve been making about the Patriots for a long time. Last year’s AFC title game in Kansas City was just their third road playoff game since ’06. They had lost their previous two and four of their five postseason road games from ’05 through ’15. That’s why I said last winter this most recent Super Bowl title was one of their most impressive in my mind.

Chris from Eau Claire, WI

Who wins Sunday, Washington or Miami?

I’ll take Washington getting a sort of restart, but this is a big game for Miami.

Bruce from Green Bay, WI

Could you and Wes make it happen to be the commentator for Packer football? Even if it was online or radio, we could turn the volume off on the TV. To watch a Packer game and hear positive comments from both analysts would be fun, like Jim and Max in the day. You guys tell it the way it is, BOTH good and bad with interesting facts keeping it real. Please, is there a way to make it happen?

You’re too kind. But the trio of Wayne, Larry and John is as good as it gets on radio. Otherwise, I’d encourage you to log on to my live in-game blog on the website and/or follow Wes’s Twitter account during games. We’re constantly busy with keyboard commentary.

Kevin from Racine, WI

Do you know if newer players or coaches are told that Larry used to play for the Packers? Do you think there is a different camaraderie or openness between former players and current players in answering interview questions?

I think most if not all are aware, and I do think with all the media obligations they have, players enjoy interacting with a former player. They can make eye contact and truly understand the genesis of a particular question.

Josh from Milwaukee, WI

Shaq’s take on a basketball team is always that they need a dominant big man. Troy Aikman doesn’t want to admit Mahomes is great until he wins a championship. Now Ray Lewis says the Packers don’t have leadership on our defense? Great players see what they did well as an indication of greatness, and some struggle to understand there can be an evolution to the game. In Ray Lewis’s case, he doesn’t see his style of leadership and therefore doesn’t see a leader. I am not worried about his opinion.

Well said. Neither am I.

Mike from Ames, IA

I noticed looking at the official game stats that the only people listed as starters are the 22 guys on the field the first play of the game. This makes sense compared to the 12-13 guys announced in stadium and on TV, but it got me wondering – does actually being a starter on the field have any bearing on pay for anyone? Does it play into performance-based pay or incentives, or has being active on game day generally taken the place of that designation?

I’m not aware of contract incentives based on games started. Per-game roster bonuses are usually based on being on the game-day 46.

Jerry from Grantsburg, WI

After a slow start on offense, what I am enjoying about Rodgers and Co. is how they make something a point of emphasis and it improves immediately. They aren't there yet, but the fact they can announce to the world "this is what we're going to do" and there's improvement though the opponent is fully expecting, is quite encouraging. How many more weeks till they're firing on all cylinders, health permitting?

I don’t know. I guess I don’t look at it that way. To me, it’s a week-to-week league, and you have to be able to move the ball and score in different ways so you can do what it takes to win any given week. Offensively, we’ve seen them do what it takes to be productive the last two weeks after the defense carried much of the load the first three games. Opponents are always going to take something away.

The Green Bay Packers hit the practice field to prepare for Monday night's game against the Detroit Lions.

Nick from London, UK

Doggone it Mike, Wes has done it again. Posting questions that have jinx potential. We shouldn't mock the QB situation in CHI/MN/DET or imply any self-satisfied superiority until we're done playing them for the season lest they go off and have huge games against us. Is that so hard? Fortunately, Wes jumped on it and protected the team with a respectful answer that gave our opponent their due rather that responding to the bait by piling on Cousins. The Green Bay Packers' season thanks him.

A wise man once warned against chortling. It’s sound advice.

Eric from Bloomington, IN

In response to Tom from Raleigh's question about gunners seeing fair-catch signals, I feel like I've heard the TV mics pick up a ref yelling "FAIR! FAIR! FAIR!" after the signal is made more than a few times this year. In the interest of player safety, I feel like it would behoove the league to make it as obvious as possible that a fair-catch signal has been made; the refs yelling might be part of that.

Sounds reasonable to me. Other readers mentioned this as well. When I watch games on TV, usually the last thing my brain is tuned into is the sound, if I even have it on. So thanks for sharing.

Matt from Greensboro, NC

If the Packers were to invite a player in for a workout who is not on any team or practice squad, are they obligated to announce it? Or could it be on the down low?

Workouts are announced on the league-wide transaction wire. You can’t bring a practice-squad player from another team in for a workout, though. If you want him, you have to sign him to the 53.

Michael from Gresham, OR

We all see Aaron JonesAaron Jones as a shifty back with tremendous balance and ability to make defenders miss. If Davante is out for another game, wouldn't you think Coach should feature Jones much like the Panthers do McCaffrey or Saints do Kamara? I see him having similar skill sets to those guys. I would like to see more two-back sets as well and spread him wide to get that matchup on LBs.

I’m not sure what you’re asking. I thought that’s exactly what the Packers did in Dallas. He had seven catches for 75 yards and touched the ball 26 times on 65 offensive plays.

David from El Segundo, CA

Hi guys, I’ve worked in the extremely boring office environment for many years. When a job or role changes to where it becomes too much or overwhelming, usually an additional role is created for the overflow. Why has the NFL not given the clearly overwhelmed referees help by way of more of them on the field? Maybe specialized? This is not a ref problem, it’s a resource problem. Too much to watch equals too much to miss.

Preaching to the choir, my friend. Safety officials. Rather than on the field, though, I’d put them in the booth with access to replays.

Ben from Pensacola, FL

The thing that I like about our defense is that it never seems to give up. They press hard after the QB, and our pass defense gives chances for interceptions when the pass rush hurries the QB. In this league, the nature of the beast is that a good offense will do something. I think our D is able to grow down the line, and make more consistent stops without the turnovers (though could happen).

That lines up with my perspective at the moment, too.

Amy from Bayport, MN

It really irks me when pundits say Rodgers is not a good leader, and Mike’s great little piece on Lucas Patrick perfectly illustrates why. Anyone can give a big rah-rah speech on game day. It takes daily commitment to develop personal relationships with not only elite playmakers but the undrafted grinders. Rodgers’ words carry so much weight because he leads by example, earning respect with his hard work and dedication to excellence. These qualities are what make Rodgers an exceptional leader.

The whole point of the story to me, as I said on “Unscripted,” is that you have to understand all of a player’s interactions with his teammates, not just the ones caught on camera, to effectively comment on his leadership. Therefore, as Wes noted, the opinions in the locker room are the only ones that really matter.

Daniel from Rothschild, WI

Yim from Green Bay opened the box. Deep fried in beer batter is the only way to go.

It’s seasonal for me. Grilling out on a summer day, give me fresh and squeaky. In the chill by the fireplace, I’ll take deep fried.

Bill from Hillsville, VA

I'm not trying to get too far ahead of things, but having a bye before the Week 12 matchup with the 49ers is a true blessing. They are playing some serious football right now.

And some wondered if the only storyline that game would be the LaFleur-Shanahan connection. But no, we are not to get ahead of ourselves.

Justin from Waupun, WI

What do you think will be Green Bay’s biggest hurdle to make it to the Super Bowl?

Well, worrying about questions like this in October would be one of them.

Joel from Sand Springs, OK

Insiders, looking at the schedule to come, with the exception of the two other struggling NFC East teams and the Chargers (who are better than their record IMO) the Packers play division games (which are always hard) and teams currently 4-1 or better. I thought the beginning stretch was tough but the end is also uphill. The potential grind of this season has me excited because that can produce a team who knows how to do whatever it takes to win, which is what you want in January.

Just beat the Lions.

Paul from Phoenix, AZ

Where might influential alumni steer the college "likeness" policy? G. Lucas (USC): "I envision you as part of the Star Wars franchise." W. Buffet (Nebraska): "Your photo looks good on Berkshire-Hathaway stocks, have a few thousand shares." M. Spofford (Northwestern): "Indubitably, the II internship is unpaid, but you'll gain valuable experience editing reader submissions. And, there'll be a brown bag filled to the brim every day in the lunchroom fridge. Look for the sack labeled ‘Weston.’"

Nicely done. Happy Friday.

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