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Inbox: The rookie plays with purpose

It’s now up to the Packers’ locker room to swing back

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Packers LB Quay Walker

Joshua from Bellingham, WA

A cathartic 24 hours later, I'm looking over the stats and somehow feeling better. In the end, we were only outgained by 50-ish yards and only gave up 23 points on the road to a good team. Only four teams won with less than 23 points, so maybe our defense wasn't as bad as I initially thought (Justin Jefferson aside). A couple made plays on offense (Christian Watson TD drop and the goal-line failure) and the result is entirely different. Am I just being too optimistic or are we better than we looked?

Too many big plays allowed and not enough gained. That was the story of this game.

Matt from Racine, WI

All game long, the narrative was the offense struggled without Davante. Do you think the bigger issue was not having "17" or having a banged-up OL?

I don't think it was either. As both LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers said, the Packers had their chances. If you want to isolate something, it was needing to get the ball more in the hands of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. Matt LaFleur reiterated Monday that 23 touches for those two were not good enough. Jones nearly averaged 10 yards per carry. The offense was at its best when those two were producing.

Kevin from Grand Rapids, MI

I have a concern. Because of two strong RBs, the new WRs, and a makeshift offensive line, I was expecting a run-dominated offense, especially Week 1 on the road. Yet, the Packers dropped back to pass 70% of the time despite gaining over 6.5 yards/rush. I understand the statement about needing to get AJ more touches, but I feel it goes deeper than that. Do you think the Packers will at least become a "more" run-oriented offense?

Green Bay fell behind early, so I understand why it favored the pass against Minnesota. The only time when I questioned why the Packers didn't press the ground game more came on the series after Dillon's touchdown. Because I felt like Green Bay had the Vikings reeling a little bit. Jones picked up a first down with a 5-yard run on second-and-1, but then Rodgers got sacked for a 9-yard loss. The Packers dropped back to pass on their next four plays.

Beckett from West Bend, WI

Is Justin Jefferson impossible to cover?

It's not impossible but you have to dot every i and cross every t against an opponent of that caliber. Or they'll hurt you – and Justin Jefferson did. The biggest change I noticed with the Vikings' offense under Kevin O'Connell was how much motioning they did, and Jefferson capitalized. The defense had its moments, but you can't give up five explosives to a budding superstar like Jefferson and expect to come out on top.

Jake from Sioux Falls, SD

I came away from the game with the impression that the Vikings had a methodical approach to their offense and the Packers appeared a bit panicked and reactionary. Would you agree? Furthermore, what needs to happen to execute in the red zone? Why was the "gold zone" of a couple seasons back so efficient and now we struggle this year and last?

The Vikings should look comfortable in that atmosphere, no? But separation, timing and physicality are the key to winning in the red zone, and the Packers didn't have enough of that Sunday. The offensive line needs to get push and receivers have to win short areas. The more that happens, the more options Rodgers has to execute.

Michael from Chanhassen, MN

Hey guys, looks like the "on paper" was made of real nice linen and strong but the "off paper" did not look as good.

It's disappointing but it's just one game. The response matters even more than the result.

Bil from Stateline, NV

With corners the likes of Jaire Alexander, Rasul Douglas and Eric Stokes, what's the big fear of being "locked" into man coverage?

Motioning and pre-snap adjustments. For example, one of the reasons the Packers use motions and misdirection is to get the defense to disclose its coverage, which Rodgers feasts on. There's a lot more the Packers could've done Sunday against Minnesota, but the answer isn't as simple as just play man defense for four quarters. Spoff wrote on Monday evening with LaFleur's explanation. I'm going to let that carry the day.

Jim from Rancho Cucamonga, CA

On the first offensive play of the new season, when the pass was not caught, were there any outward expressions from the press box?

Nothing crazy. I think I let out a "Dang." Not because Watson dropped it. More because I liked the call by Matt LaFleur and wanted to see the play-caller and quarterback rewarded for a great throw.

Wayne from Stevens Point, WI

Wow, what a start for the season! Did I read it correctly that Watson dropped 14% of his targets while in college? Does that mean he catches the next six? Or is this too much math? But really, how did Zach Tom do? I have been impressed with him from the get-go. We need a star or two on the line or it will be a long season.

I'm not sure about Watson but he said afterwards that's a ball he catches 99 times out of 100. It's a teachable moment. If Watson keeps his confidence, I'm not concerned. I thought Tom played well after Jon Runyan left with the concussion, all things considered. Tom isn't as big as Elgton Jenkins but has good hands and footwork, and a knack for keeping bulls in front him.

Joshua from Auburn, AL

Watson's a rookie. Do we remember how many game-changers Davante Adams dropped his first two years? Excellence takes development on the big stage. With no torn pecs or thumb surgeries, does anyone see a reason we can't just "Beat the Bears"?

It happened to James Jones and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, too. Short term, Sunday hurt. But I think it spoke volumes that the coaching staff felt Watson was ready to absorb a lion's share of Allen Lazard's snaps. He played just one fewer snap than Sammy Watkins, who led all Packers' skill-position players with 41 snaps.

Clay from Summerfield, FL

It appears that our running game and the offensive line do a pretty good job until we get inside the opponent's 10-yard line and especially inside the 3. In your opinion, does the opposing defense expect a run and their defensive line does not let our offensive line get good penetration? Or, in other words, do we really not have "road graders" when the ball is close to the goal line?

There's less field to defend, so defenses load up the box. Either way, the offensive front needs to get enough push to give the back a chance to grind it out. Everything was just off on that fourth-and-1 play.

Rick from Fawnskin, CA

With Allen Lazard out, wasn't the expectation that Amari Rodgers would play a larger role on offense? As I yelled at my TV, he was nowhere to be seen. Realistically, how will he be used this year?

Rodgers will have a role, but the Packers turned more to Watson and Romeo Doubs with Lazard unavailable. They ran some reversals, but I don't know if I saw any jet-sweep concepts. That's kind of been where Rodgers has fit so far.

Sully from Florissant, MO

You know what scares me? The fact that we did so well after Week 1 last year. I'm afraid that they will think "no biggie, look what happened last year" and not approach fixing the issues with as much energy as they did last year.

You can't take any opponent for granted after a performance like Sunday. The Packers gotta have their antennas up this week because the job doesn't get any easier. The Bears are hungry.

Brandon from Pleasant Prairie, WI

Quick two remarks. The officiating didn't seem bad, so that's good. Remember, this isn't the team of Adams, MVS, and maybe not Lazard again. Next week might be rough, too.

For my money, Bill Vinovich is the best referee in the NFL. I love the way he and his crew officiate games.

Rich from Grand Rapids, MI

What did you think of the defense against the run? For all of the hullabaloo about Jefferson's play, there is not a lot of praise being heaped on Dalvin Cook for his play Week 1. To my eye, it looked much improved, but I wasn't at the game.

The yards per carry were a little high but the Packers only allowed one gain on the ground of more than 15 yards. Where Cook hurt the Packers the most was on early downs. He put the Vikings in quite a few second-and-favorable situations. When Green Bay stopped him on first down, the defense usually was getting off the field.

Ben from Pensacola, FL

Minnesota fans saying they now own the division actually gives me chuckles. I know Jefferson went off, and I know there were some struggles left and right, but...new scheme (yes, descended from McVay but still looked different) on both sides of the ball, so very unscouted looks. You don't win or lose a division in one game, even if it's a divisional game. Eventually we'll figure it out. If we can have David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins next week and they return to form, that'll help buy the WRs more time.

It is what it is. I still like the Packers' chances in the NFC North this season. You gotta learn from this one and defend Lambeau Field against the Chicago Bears next Sunday.

Larry from Chubbuck, ID

Just beat the Bears. Looks like the key to that is keeping Fields in the pocket. Easier said than done. What do the Packers focus on this week to try to accomplish this?

Everything is predicated on containing Fields and making his day uncomfortable in the pocket. Again, Sunday's game at Soldier Field was a total quagmire. I don't know how much you can really learn about the Bears from that game other than mentally they were prepared to dig deep.

Ryan from Colfax, WI

I liked the league moving meaningful division games to the end of the season in order to get the best football experience. Did they also move them to the beginning of the season or is this year's schedule a fluke? With the current preseason mentality, it seems to all but guarantee that you won't get good football in some of the most important games. Mistakes were everywhere across the league.

It just worked out that way as far as the division games were concerned. Green Bay-Minnesota and New Orleans-Atlanta were the NFC's only Week 1 division matchups. Week 1 wasn't pretty but what do you expect? These teams have to survive 17 regular-season games now. Just look at the directions Green Bay and New Orleans went after last year's opener. In my mind, why would any team risk starters by playing in the preseason?

Jared from Rochester, MN

When will we know the status of Quay Walker? I assume that Krys Barnes is likely to be out awhile so losing Walker for an extended period wouldn't be great.

LaFleur delivered good news on both Walker and Barnes on Monday. Despite Barnes being carted off, the Packers believe the third-year linebacker avoided a significant ankle injury. Meanwhile, it sounds like Walker (shoulder) may have a chance to play against Chicago, and that would be big for the defense. The rookie plays with purpose. He's a heat-seeker. It wasn't perfect Sunday, but he was impactful. Walker finished with eight tackles on 38 defensive snaps.

Green Bay Packers photographer Evan Siegle documented the team's Week 1 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022.

Dave from Huntsville, AL

Down to two ILB. What does GM Wes do? Sign a street free agent, elevate someone from the PS, or move Carpenter in the box?

If it ever comes to that, Ray Wilborn is on the practice squad. He's been here two years and played most of the special teams in camp.

Jack from Black Mountain, NC

Week 1 is behind us, lots of things could be said. But looking at scores around the league, it looks like more parity this year (similar to what we saw in college games over the weekend). Do you think that four or five losses this year could still keep a team in playoff position?

Nearly half the league makes the playoffs now. Any team with a winning record is in contention for the postseason. I still subscribe to Mike McCarthy's philosophy – just get to 10 wins and then you can start pondering those things.

Jeff from Wentzville, MO

"...you have to make the plays that are there."

"The evolution begins."

My interpretation of this: It's one friggin' game. And "Quote the Spoffven, Evermore."

Once upon a midnight dreary, Dan from Antigo was chewing off my eary…

Kevin from Indianapolis, IN

OK, so we lost on the road to a highly motivated division rival with talent across the board. I care a heck of a lot more about the character of a team and how they respond to adversity. I'd rather find that out now than in the playoffs! Over the last three years, ML, his staff, and our veterans have earned our patience and trust.

You want to win as many of these division games as possible. But if I'm the Packers, I'd much rather win a meaningful game at home in January than a road matchup in September. Green Bay admittedly got punched in the mouth Sunday, but one big punch doesn't end a fight. Knockouts end fights. It's now up to the locker room to swing back.

Lane from Hurricane, UT

When I used to deliver babies, my motto was, "Don't drop the baby." And I never did.

I'm very happy for you, Lane.

Kevin from Bondurant, IA

I saw a Twitter remark that someone felt sorry for the Bears next weekend because they were going to play a very angry Aaron Rodgers. Nothing cleanses the soul like bouncing back and beating your longtime rival. Do you believe the Packers can correct the mistakes from this week and turn on the gas?

Yes…and the tank has plenty of propane. Happy Tuesday.

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