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Inbox: The signs are there

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Benjamin from Burlington, VT

Is having your back against the rope better or worse than having your back against the wall?

The rope has some give, right?

Jim from McLean, VA

Mike, first of all, thanks for making the effort to give us real-time updates during the game for those who can't watch live. It's actually more stressful to experience the game that way than watching! Second, thanks for the comic relief when things were going down to the wire: "One official threw his hat because he had already thrown his flag. Love it when that happens." Classic.

Thanks for the plug for our new in-game live blog. It’s been fun so far. I take the same approach to it as I do to my job in general. I just try to inform and entertain.

Steve from Flagstaff, AZ

As the adage goes, just because a team is winless doesn't mean it will be an easy out. I see Denver and Von Miller possibly having a big day as motivation to get that first W. Besides Miller, who on Denver's D do the Packers need to keep an eye out for? I still think the Packers will get the win and again it is the Packers’ D who will get a fumble recovery or cause Flacco to throw an INT which is instrumental in that W.

Talent plus desperation always equals dangerous for me, and the 0-2 Broncos have talent. Wolfe and Chubb add a lot to Miller’s pass rush and Harris Jr. is a high-caliber corner. Callahan is stepping up from the nickel role in Chicago to a starter for Denver, but he knows Fangio’s system inside and out. Their defense gave up one long run to Patterson last week, but otherwise statistically they held the Bears down as much as the Packers did. They just didn’t get any turnovers.

Jason from Austin, TX

"The Broncos’ offense has only scored 30 points in two games." HA! I can't believe they've only scored 30 points. That's so low. At least the Packers have scored...31 points.

Denver racked up a lot more yards and first downs against Chicago than Green Bay did, but as I said Monday, I believe the signs are there for the Packers’ offense.

Mark from Iron Mountain, MI

Just a thought. Things you may not catch watching on TV. I was booing the decision to take the 15-yard penalty on the extra-point attempt and not on the kickoff. Couldn't tell that the Vikings were looking to go for two to make it a field-goal game. You could say it was one of the things I might have missed.

I missed it, too, but good thing LaFleur didn’t. If the Vikings get it to 21-18 and all else continues as it did, does Cousins have a different mentality in goal-to-go? We’ll never know.

Patrick from Colorado Springs, CO

Packers Everywhere pep rally – I thought we were slated to have a home pep rally for the Raiders game, but can’t find confirmation or any mention of it anymore. Is it a go? And are those pep rallies kid-friendly? Thanks.

There is one planned for the home Raiders game, and more info will be coming next month. Yes, they are kid-friendly.

Bob from Nolensville, TN

Is there any franchise that the Packers have a cumulative losing record against? By franchises I mean to combine the Rams (LA & St. Louis) or the Raiders (LA & Oakland), but not Houston (Oilers & Texans), since their names have changed.

Looking at regular-season games only, the Packers have a losing record against Buffalo (5-8), Cincinnati (6-7), Kansas City (3-7-1), the Rams (45-46-2), Miami (5-10), New England (5-6), the N.Y. Jets (5-8), and the Houston/Tennessee Oilers/Titans (5-7). The last one is combined as far as the team records are concerned because it’s the same franchise, regardless of the nickname change.

Jake from West Allis, WI

Spoff, the Packers started out on fire against Minnesota going up 21-0. Then, we coasted through the rest of the game minus a couple bad breaks on that side of the ball. Is this due to the talented Vikings defense tightening up and adjusting, or could it be that the offense of Green Bay had a drop in the level of efficiency/execution once they got past the first 20 or so scripted plays? Either way, they look to be headed in the right direction on that side of the ball.

I agree wholeheartedly with your concluding sentiment. I mentioned on Monday’s “Unscripted” that early possessions, especially in early-season games, can feature a lot of “pencil-whipping” (one of Vic’s favorite phrases), and the Packers definitely caught the Vikings off-guard in the first quarter. Minnesota did adjust and tighten up, but the Allison fumble and botched third/fourth down sequence both took points off the board. The Packers’ running game was productive all day and various Vikings DBs made some great plays on the ball to take away what would have been big completions. The struggle to score was a different struggle from Week 1.

Lowell from Tuscola, IL

Two queries. Could you identify any adjustments the Vikings’ D made to stymie the Packers’ fast start? Or was it just ebb and flow between two good teams? Should there have been a clock runoff on the Vikings’ offensive penalty (OPI) inside of 30 seconds?

At the end of the first half? Runoffs are for pre-snap fouls that stop the clock in the last two minutes when the clock would otherwise be running, such as a false start. Post-snap penalties, such as OPI, don’t require a runoff. To your first question, some of it was ebb and flow. It wasn’t just one thing, but several things, both sides. The Vikings stuck with a safety (Kearse) as their nickel DB rather than rotating him with a corner way down their depth chart. From my glance through the film, they also seemed to not bite as hard on play-action as the game went on, which in part explains how the Packers were able to keep running the ball so well. But maybe the Packers weren’t selling the play-action as effectively compared to earlier, which affected the passing game. In addition to the plays by Minnesota’s DBs, Adams was running wide open down the middle of the field on the play Graham got the OPI but Rodgers never looked his way, and the wheel route to Jones down the sideline was underthrown just a tad. Stuff happens.

Phil from Butternuts, NY

We are just a bunch of sports fans “standing and cheering and yelling for your clothes to beat the clothes from another city.” Isn't it fun?

Packers fans’ obsession with the team’s uniforms takes Seinfeld’s “rooting for laundry” routine to another level.

Mark from Newcastle, UK

Two very welcome and needed victories against two very good football rivals of ours. But I believe Matt LaFleur has twice mentioned his “get back on track” plays. At the risk of ridicule, if these plays are some of our most effective and efficient for getting first downs, why aren’t these used more often? Is it just because they are more “vanilla”?

I think his reference there is to plays in long-yardage situations that are designed to give you a chance and/or manage the situation, not necessarily get the first down. Such as, on second-and-20, something to put you in third-and-10. Or, when the Packers faced third-and-28 from their own 4, something positive to give your punter some room.

Paul from Manitowoc, WI

Wes’s response to Zach from IN got me wondering, can any player on the field, or coach on the sideline, call a timeout? Or is it just designated people?

Any player on the field can call timeout, but only the head coach can on the sideline, unless it’s communicated to the officials pregame that someone else has the authority.

David from Florence, AZ

Rumor has it Miami is going to tank and it kind of looks that way with all the talent departing. Doesn’t matter either way. I am curious if you think there a sure-fire HOF quarterback coming out next year?

I’d never call anyone a sure-fire HOFer who’s never taken an NFL snap. Never. The QBs from ’Bama, Oregon and Georgia are considered the top prospects for next year’s draft, but I don’t think any of them will generate the buzz that Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence is going to in 2021.

Paul from Johannesburg, South Africa

I hated to see Raven Greene being taken off on the cart. I was really pulling for him to have an impactful year. Under the current IR rules is he eligible to return later in the season or is he out until next year?

That’s a tough break for Greene, who appeared to have found his niche. He’s eligible to return to practice in six weeks and to games in eight weeks if he’s healthy and the Packers choose to use one of their two IR designations on him.

Ed from South Beloit, IL

Good morning Mike, not a question but a comment on the WYMM piece from yesterday. The last "tape" you showed with Aaron Jones picking up Harrison Smith and sticking with him was fantastic! The call on the radio featured a classic Larry McCarren "WHOAA!"

I had a feeling Larry loved that block.

David from Appleton, WI

Been on the season-ticket waiting list for Lambeau Field for 30-plus years. I was sickened by the number of Minnesota fans in the stands on Sunday. While I want to honor the populace who supported the Packers in the lean years (1950s, 1970s, 1980s), it appears there are a number who are no longer attending the games and giving the visiting fans a chance to cheer their team in our house. How do the Packers change this trend and let those on the list get a chance in their lifetime?

Great question. In a free-market society, there’s no satisfactory answer. I get all the comments about season-ticket holders needing to sell some games to pay for the rest, because it’s an expensive commitment, and a high-demand game provides the highest return. But it’s still disappointing a new coach’s home opener didn’t have greater value for season-ticket holders, especially coming off the big Week 1 win. As others pointed out, the secondary market also has allowed an entire legion of Packers fans to get to Lambeau Field when they otherwise couldn’t. At the crux of it is technology making it infinitely easier for fans to buy tickets to any game, anywhere, for a price. On the whole, this benefits the Packers on the road but hurts them at home. The tradeoff must be accepted, I suppose.

Taylor from Hull, IA

I think the biggest argument against playing division rivals right away has to be how the officials are concerned about new rules or new points of emphasis. Last year we had to deal with the roughing-the-passer nonsense and this year we are seeing some ticky-tack OPIs and the new challenge rules that go with it. If the division still means something to the NFL then they should want the best product available for those games. The refs should get it figured out before the division games start.

A valid stance.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

I was surprised by the level of the celebration on the sideline and in the locker room the last two weeks, especially in Chicago. It's the type of celebration you see late season in a tight division or playoff races. The enthusiasm and joy are great and genuine but still surprising for Weeks 1 and 2. I hope they stay there all season through the highs and lows. Are you seeing it and to what do you attribute the heightened level of joy this early in the season?

On the current roster, 39 of the 53 players are in their fourth (or fewer) NFL seasons. If they’ve been in Green Bay, that means their only real taste of success was the run to the NFC title game as rookies, or no playoff appearances at all. Of the other 14 veterans, four are the new free agents who came on board this year, plus two tight ends who arrived a year ago. Combine that roster makeup with a first-time head coach, and the enthusiasm seems natural to me. It’s also a sign they believe they might have something here.

Nick from White Bear Township, MN

In reaction to the Bradley Chubb play: I think if players can be fined after the fact for penalties NOT called, then players should get a bonus check from the NFL if they get called for some nonsense.

Good one.

Roger from Little Chicago, IL

It was great to see us running the ball, but what happened to our tight ends in the passing game? Zero catches for what was to be another staple in this offense.

The Vikings were thin at corner, with really nobody behind the two starters. They were playing a safety at nickel, so the better matchups were with the receivers and running backs. I think the approach made sense.

Ralph from Monchengladbach, Germany

Dalvin Cook's stats for Sunday look good. Is that one long run distorting that statistic or did he really cause problems for the defense, despite everyone "knowing" that the Vikings would use him as much as possible?

Take away his 75-yard run and he still had 116 yards from scrimmage on 22 touches. He’s steadily productive as well as scary. He’s really, really good.

Mike from Madison, WI

We've seen what this defense is capable of, but what would you like to see from them this weekend to show that they are still improving?

Minimize the explosive plays. The Bears had no gain longer than 27 yards. The Vikings had four of 30-plus, and three of them produced their three scores. So far, when this defense makes an offense sustain a long drive, it’s proving to be tough to score against.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Yes, I know you have to win no matter who you play but really, could New England's first three games be scripted any better?

How about Seattle’s? The Bengals’ rookie coach gets sent to one of the league’s toughest venues for his debut, then Roethlisberger exits in Pittsburgh, and now the Seahawks get the Saints’ first game without Brees.

Scott from Green Bay, WI

Comment, not question. You called it camaraderie. I call it trust. A lot of the defensive deception is happening at or just before the snap. The execution has been excellent. Mistakes are down. Big plays by the defense are up. I see a defensive unit that isn't looking around to see who made the mistake. Their obvious trust in each other makes them fun to watch.

I think the two elements go hand in hand.

Jim from Tomahawk, WI

Are the Packers now the best team in the NFC North until proven otherwise?

They have earned the target on their backs. Will they still have it when the two division rematches arrive in December? Lotta football to be played. Happy Wednesday.

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