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Inbox: There is good reason to be encouraged

Clay Matthews and Aaron Kampman are a terrific Packers Hall of Fame pairing

TE Luke Musgrave

Keith from Oconto Falls, WI

Keith Jackson, Mark Chmura, Antonio Freeman, Jermichael Finley. These guys were great over the middle. It seemed like Aaron Rodgers was a much bigger fan of using the sidelines (ala fades and back shoulder). I am excited to see if Luke Musgrave and Jayden Reed can give some juice to the offense with some old-school West Coast timing slants and post throws and run-after-the-catch plays over the middle.

As I wrote in our game notes, the rookies stepped up in a big way against Pittsburgh. Reed, Musgrave, and Dontayvion Wicks all had 50 or more receiving yards. According to Elias, that's the first time a trio of Packers rookies has accomplished that in the same game. Their collective effort helped keep Green Bay's comeback hopes alive. Musgrave and Jordan Love were hitting on some of the downfield concepts they were unable to connect on earlier this season, while Reed and Wicks were finding holes in the secondary for explosive gains. Disappointment and discouragement are two very different things. While I get a loss is a loss to most, there is good reason to be encouraged.

Kevin from Pleasant Prairie, WI

Wes: I know no one likes moral victories, however my silver lining of this game was the play by Zach Tom. I thought he performed extremely well against a tough competitor. Nice job Sunday by No. 50!

Zach Tom played his butt off. I've been so impressed by everything Tom has done since he came in the building. It also feels like he's been matched with an elite passer every week, but he's always up to the task. It isn't easy to keep T.J. Watt at bay for 60 minutes – and he will make his plays – but Tom neutralized that force as well as any right tackle could…with a little help from his friends.

Mark from Big Bear City, CA

Good morning, Wes, I know this has been a popular topic about the lateral in the game. It just amazes me that most of the time the refs wait too long on some plays to blow the whistle when a runner is going backwards for three or four yards and then blow the whistle, and yet they blow it right away on a play in the backfield. C'mon MAN let it play out. Just very frustrating.

Who knows? New York can weigh in on any call these days. If the league didn't want to change it, I'm not gonna waste breath talking about an opportunity that didn't go the Packers' way…for whatever reason.

Barry from Green Bay, WI

Hello II! I'm so glad the offense seems to be starting to generate some consistency in the past couple of games. I just wish we could have pulled it out. On that note, if that proven lateral was blown dead why did Green Bay get charged a timeout? The proper call in that instance would have been a non-reviewable play due to the whistle. Seems like a double whammy to me. We could have used it on that last drive.

That's a question for Scott Novak, not Wes Hodkiewicz.

Tony from Southington, CT

Did you say the offense truly looked dangerous at times? Man, talk about homer blinders.

I don't know what to tell you, Anthony. The Packers had more explosive plays than any other game this season. In turn, explosive plays do present danger to the defense.

Matt from Madison, WI

Was the pass to Reed with 59 seconds left, Love's most impressive throw this season (so far)? Falling backwards and sideways, hits him in stride for a huge gain at crunch time.

Honestly, there were plenty to pick from in this game. The Reed touchdown pass was sick, too. Personally, my favorite Love throw was the 32-yard pass to Dontayvion Wicks. Love kept his eyes downfield, climbed the pocket and found Wicks in space to convert in third-and-long.

Steve from O'Fallon, MO

Pittsburgh rushes for 200 yards and Barry played an average of 4.8 DBs. You can't blame the front seven because there wasn't seven. When will we stop playing six-man fronts that are light in the box?

You know what you're getting with the Steelers. They have been running "11" personnel all season, but even more so since Diontae Johnson's return. As Matt LaFleur said on Monday, the Packers played base, penny and nickel against the Steelers' run calls. Even if Green Bay is in nickel, there still are four down linemen on the field – those outside linebackers are defensive ends in that scenario. But at the end of the day, the Packers needed to stop Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren and didn't get it done.

Doc from Berea, KY

I remember the 2010 season. The Packers had no realistic chance at even the playoffs. Then, everything suddenly seemed to go their way and, as the last seed, they took home their fourth Super Bowl title. This season seems bleak too, but they've played with many of their best (or most promising) players sidelined by injuries. A few healings, a couple of breaks, and this team could suddenly be scary. When is it probable that the current injuries will be healed?

When people bring up 2010, I always respond the same way – that team endured injuries but kept getting better. I don't know what the Packers' record will look like in Week 18, but I know what it can be on Thanksgiving if they make corrections and execute on Sunday at Lambeau. The Packers are getting healthier. Unfortunately, they just lost Quay Walker and Jaire Alexander at an inopportune time.

Chuck from Winthrop Harbor, IL

How could special teams let a defender go unblocked, no one was lined up in front of him?

Because football isn't nearly as simple as it appears, Chuck. To Josiah Deguara's credit, he took ownership for the missed block after the game.

Jim from St Pete Beach, FL

Hello Wes! I was unable to view the Pittsburgh game but listened to much of it. What adjustments, if any, did the D make after the first few drives during which they were steamrolled? Or was it simply improved execution?

Just tackling and getting off the field on third down. The defense forced three straight punts after the first three series, including a pair of three-and-outs. Two made field goals were the difference, though.

Bill from Raleigh, NC

Hi Wes, the pass to Aaron Jones where he didn't go out of bounds bothered me differently than it did others. If occurring in the first 59 minutes of the game, then it's okay having a checkdown option. In the last minute, when a touchdown is needed, it is not usually useful to make a horizontal checkdown pass. Either someone is open down the field or throw the ball away and try again on the next down. The play call should have been for A.J. to get open downfield or throw the ball away.

That's fair. Jones had to come a few steps back to the ball, which also kind of stopped forward momentum. I didn't see much opening up with the bunch formation the Packers ran to the right. But yes, sometimes making the best out of a bad situation is throwing the ball away or batting down a pass that's not going to go anywhere in a time-sensitive situation.

Mike from Allen, TX

Gentlemen, I couldn't see a very good angle on the third-and-15 play, the double lateral that Jones dropped (losing 5 yards in the process). The TV guys said Jones had a convoy in front of him and may have made the first down. What's you take on the play?

Like the checkdown, Jones had to peel back a bit for the ball, but it was set up similarly to how the Packers executed the play in Denver. If Jones catches it clean, I think he has a shot at threatening the line to gain.

Jaimito from Corona, CA

Two short ones: Do you think Love has superior athleticism, at least in comparison to other starting QBs? And do you think nine carries was sufficient enough for Dillon? Seems he could benefit from some more touches.

You're always searching for that sweet spot. Dillon is running the ball really well. The 40-yarder was expertly blocked and executed, but the Packers need both him and Jones to get where they want to go.

Preston from Tallahassee, FL

I am concerned by Christian Watson's lack of burst, lack of physicality, and his route-running (out and up ring a bell?) is not sharp. No. 9 is having a sophomore slump this team does not have the depth to endure, or he is just not healthy. Do you think this is something Brian Gutekunst can address with a free agent out there somewhere? I think this team desperately needs a veteran route runner to pair with Doubs, Reed, the TEs and RBs. TY Hilton, Marvin Jones, Jarvis Landry?

Christian Watson is going to be just fine. Save this response. And no, I don't want a free-agent receiver. My team is on the floor – eh, field.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

The process of learning to play all four quarters and how to finish when the game is on the line is proving elusive for this group. Through 10 weeks and nine games, they seemed a bit closer in Pittsburgh, BUT do you think they'll get there this season, and who needs to step up and lead the way?

The train is on the tracks, Dean, but you have to marry a strong start with the proper finish. This team has a lot of upside and ability, but veterans like Patrick Peterson prove just how valuable experience is in this league. You gotta keep choppin'.

David from Hilliard, OH

Good morning, Wes, I can't think of two more deserving players to be selected to the Packers HOF than Clay Matthews ad Aaron Kampman! Congratulations to both and thanks for the memories! Those of us who watched them play will never forget.

That definitely brought a much-needed smile to my face Monday. Matthews and Kampman going into the Packers Hall of Fame together is a terrific pairing. While only bound by one season, there were a lot of commonalities between the two. In Matthews' case, I assumed he'd get in immediately based on everything he did during his 10 seasons with the Packers. On a personal level, I had a blast covering him during his final seven seasons here. I look forward to that HOF banquet.

Tony from Chanhassen, MN

Packers HOF question. Congratulations to Matthews and Kampman on joining the Packers Hall of Fame. The juxtaposition of their enshrinement is interesting though. Why did it take so long for Kampman?

A byproduct of all this winning over the last 25 years is how tight the competition has become for guys to get into the Packers Hall of Fame. As Spoff wrote Monday, Kampman is incredibly deserving of the honor. He rose from a fifth-round longshot who wasn't even on the third-down depth chart to the face of the Packers' pass rush in the 2000s. Kampman's 2006 campaign remains one of the best seasons for a Packers defensive end in team history. It's almost mind-boggling to think of a defensive end in today's NFL finishing with both 113 tackles and 15½ sacks. Those are Aaron Donald/Maxx Crosby-type numbers.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Good morning, Wes! The Steeler game is over. I know it's early, but the clock keeps ticking. Does the Pack have enough offense to outscore the Chargers? Because it looks like they and the Lions are the best offensive teams we will see all year.

You have to score to win against the Chargers. I know that applies to every opponent, but LA has been held under 20 points only twice all season. Coincidentally, it lost both games. The Chargers are top eight in both total yards and scoring offense, even after missing Austin Ekeler for a few weeks earlier this season. It won't be easy, but the Packers have the homefield advantage. It's also just the second time LA has played on grass all season.

Larry from Fairfield, CT

Please explain why with 1 minute, 20 seconds left in the first half with two timeouts we sit on the ball?

Because the Packers only had 45 seconds left after Reed's first-down catch went for minus-5 yards. They also just went three-and-out and are getting the ball to start the third quarter. Does that seem like an opportune time to press your luck?

Roger from McGrath, AK

Patrick Taylor got signed to the 53 after three elevations from the practice squad and then released. Now, Innis Gaines got the same treatment. Is this just another episode of "As The Roster Churns" or is there more strategy than what we see on the surface? Maybe we can resign Thump to the practice squad if nobody picks him up? If so, does that mean he gets three more elevations?

I can't speak to the Packers' intentions, but I believe Gaines is again eligible to be elevated to the gameday roster three times if he clears waivers and re-signs to Green Bay's practice squad.

Hank from Centennial, CO

Lambeau Field has a hybrid natural/synthetic surface designed and installed by UK company SIS Pitches. Many soccer, rugby and cricket teams play on these surfaces, but Lambeau is the only one so far in American football. What led the Packers' management to become an outlier in this respect, and are they and the players satisfied with the surface?

I wrote about it five years ago. This story probably can answer your question better than an Inbox reply.

Scott from Wausau, WI

Young team. I get it. They will get more consistent as we go. My question is about Josh Allen vs. the Bengals. Allen commits a taunting penalty BEFORE he scores on a scramble, so why is the TD still good and yardage enforced on the kickoff? Shouldn't it be from the spot of the foul and no TD? Why not enforce a holding call on the KO? If the argument is the foul had no bearing on the play, there have been many a TD called back on penalties that had no bearing on the play. What gives?

Taunting penalties are enforced after the play is over. Unlike a holding penalty, "taunting" didn't give Allen advantage to score on the play.

Isaac from Butte, MT

I really enjoy reading the Insider Inbox every day! Keep up the great work. I know it's been a tough year so far, but they looked good this weekend and they need to hear it. I feel like they can beat the Chargers in Green Bay and that will make for a good game on Thanksgiving. What are your thoughts?

I think we're in line for some entertaining football games the next few weeks…and hopefully some more victories. Have a good Tuesday.

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