Presented by

Inbox: There's a lot to be said for what he's brought

The Packers know what they’re in for against Russell Wilson

211111-insider-inbox-2560
Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry

Greg from Glen Ellyn, IL

Wes, how are the new glasses?

I can see clearly now the (scratches) are gone. I can't wait to debut them on "Packers Unscripted" later today.

Matt from Albert Lea, MN

Have you had any questions about OBJ to the Packers yet?

Oh, just a few.

Izzi from Raleigh, NC

Hey guys, your thoughts on the merits of potentially signing Odell Beckham Jr.? Given OBJ's recent history and declining skills, normally I'd say he's not worth the distraction. But maybe a little distraction wouldn't be the worst thing for us right now.

I've done a complete 180 on this over the past three years. Not that I wanted the Packers to sign Antonio Brown last year – I was very much the opposite – but you saw what Brown added to the Bucs once he landed in Tampa Bay. I could see OBJ adding that type of value to Green Bay's offense. Everybody wants to make this about how he'll fit in the locker room, but there's only one real way to find out. Plus, he's never been on a perennial contender like the Packers. OBJ has a good relationship with Davante Adams and certainly the respect of Aaron Rodgers. If he's accepting of the role the Packers present to him, then I say go for it. I'm on all-in.

Chuck from Lonepine, MT

OBJ? Does anyone remember Andre "Bad Moon" Rison? Let's do it!

Don't think that didn't cross my mind Wednesday.

Ross from Hudson, WI

I see this as an early turning point for this team. Huge off-field distraction, this can go one of two ways: 1) It gets in everybody's head and stays there creating a disjointed team and a divided locker room. 2) They rise up, joined in the brotherhood of football, and move with one singular purpose. My question is, will Matt LaFleur or Aaron Rodgers be the deciding factor as to which way this thing tips?

I definitely lean towards the latter. Whatever the public perception is right now, I don't see the locker room falling apart over this ordeal. Rodgers' teammates and coaches are still behind him. On Tuesday, Rodgers took full responsibility for what he said on Pat McAfee's show regarding who felt misled by his comments in August. He understands there will be some who won't forgive him and respects that decision, but now that the NFL has completed its review, Rodgers' focus needs to be on getting healthy and back on the field.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

In prior seasons going back several DCs, when a CB was lost our secondary would collapse. Now we are missing our two preferred starters (one of which is All-Pro) and we are still playing winning defense. Is this just better luck with the fill-in players or is there something more systemic that is happening this year? It suggests that our defensive quality can be sustainable beyond the current players who might change over year to year.

Under Jerry Gray's tutelage, the Packers have committed to developing this young core of Jaire Alexander, Kevin King and Chandon Sullivan. When the injuries piled up, Green Bay was fortunate enough to find Rasul Douglas on the open market. I also think Joe Barry probably doesn't get enough credit for how he took a good defense and made it better with the installation of his scheme. As De'Vondre Campbell said a couple weeks ago, Barry lets linebackers be linebackers and defensive backs be defensive backs. There's a lot to be said for what he's brought to Green Bay.

Dave from Comer, GA

Someone asked what the defense could do to improve. I have noticed that opponents' opening drives have not been our strong point. Of nine opening drives against our defense, we have given up one field goal, five touchdowns, and forced three punts; 67% of the time they score and 55% of the time it's a TD. A fast start isn't just good advice for the offense.

Of course. The defense isn't a finished product, especially with Jaire Alexander and Za'Darius Smith still out of the lineup. What I like about this year's unit is it's continually improved. The Packers got out to a slow start in 2014, moved Clay Matthews inside and then were one of the best defenses in all of football down the stretch. This year's defense is already playing well, which makes you wonder how high the ceiling is if they can get some of these All-Pros back.

Bruce from Appleton, WI

How would you rate Jordan Love on his first start?

It's difficult to draw too much of an assessment with all the pressure Love faced but I thought he played fine. He started to look more like himself in the fourth quarter, which is what you want to see.

Martin from Evansville, IN

Who has been the most impressive rookie up to this point?

Eric Stokes.

Steve from Ankeny, IA

If there was a "group" MVP, I think that would go to the Packers' offensive line. The number of injuries and rotation of men to different positions is remarkable. Watching them play against other teams with their starters intact, and still playing as well or better is a statement to the coaches and each of our players. Bravo!

And they're one step closer to welcoming back David Bakhtiari, too, after the five-time All-Pro was activated off the physically unable to perform list Wednesday. Elgton Jenkins and Yosh Nijman played their tails off at left tackle. They deserve a pat on the back for this 7-2 start Green Bay is off to.

Jeff from Lake Forest, CA

Hidy-ho, Wes! I was thinking about Bakh and when he'll be back. It's funny now there was so much will he/won't he talk leading up to Week 1, and now we're still wondering if he'll play Week 10. Is this a situation of knowing they had the six-week PUP time and three-week activation window to buy him more time, or was it all gamesmanship to keep NO off the trail for Week 1? If there was no PUP, would he have been activated and playing sooner?

I don't think anyone was saying Bakhtiari would be ready for Week 1. Spoff and I certainly weren't. The question I had at the time was whether the Packers would place him on the 53-man roster and leave him there until he was ready to play again. I didn't realize how complicated the medical side of things was, though. Listen, you can't run a marathon without training. These past few weeks have been about preparing Bakhtiari for football again, not just rehab.

Sal from Hailey, ID

I'm trying not to stress about who will be under center on Sunday, but it's tough. Playing the Seahawks makes me apprehensive enough as it is. Knowing Russ, he's not going to let anything get in the way of scrambling and making plays. What's one key to stopping him?

Not to keep going back to the Kyler Murray game last month but that was good preparation for Wilson, who is surgical when he extends plays with his feet. Green Bay has played Wilson seven times before and Barry shared a division with him for several years, so the Packers know what they're in for. This game will be won up front with defensive line and edge rushers being smart with their rush lanes and playing disciplined football. And tackling. The defense has to tackle.

Chase from Fort Leonard Wood, MO

Good morning team. Is anyone else worried about this Seahawks game? Outside the building there is a lot of noise with COVID, OBJ, Love's performance... Inside the building they have the unknown at QB, massive injuries on the defensive side of the ball, and special teams looking to improve to only being a dumpster fire. It is a lot to navigate. At least it's a home game. Thanks.

The Packers are saying and doing all the right things this week. Is it possible to eliminate all the noise? No, but their focus is set firmly on the Seahawks. LaFleur talked on Wednesday about how hungry Seattle is going to be, especially with Wilson back in the fold and one of the most unique one-two receiving combos in the game with Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf.

Darren from Wakefield, MI

For all the woulda, shoulda, coulda... remember that if ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we'd all have a Merry Christmas. Assuming Rodgers plays, do you see any chance of "rust" or miscues for both Rodgers and Wilson being they were away for a bit, or are they too seasoned to have any of that?

As long as his health is in order, I don't expect any rust on Rodgers. Wilson is a bit more of a mystery. Not only because he missed three games but also the nature of his finger injury on his throwing hand.

Dave from Sparta, WI

Continuing the conversation about tackling a running back after a fake handoff, was this a rule change for 2021? Seemingly, this could be an effective way to eliminate a potential receiver out of the backfield. But could it also be an effective decoy eliminating a potential tackler when the ball goes to a different player out of the backfield?

It happens every week across the NFL, especially on read-options. The difference here is the play-action doesn't often result in a quick pass or screen to that same running back carrying out the fake. Under normal circumstances, I don't think Aaron Jones is the hot read. Kansas City's pressure blew that play up.

Chuck from Gold Canyon, AZ

Good morning Wes. With Allen Lazard having also been fined for failing to follow COVID protocol as an unvaccinated player, can you explain why he was only placed on the reserve list for six days versus the 10-day requirement for unvaccinated players? Did the NFL in their investigation find that he had not been vaccinated?

Lazard had to miss five days because he was a close contact of Davante Adams. As Rodgers said last week on McAfee, Lazard never tested positive, adhered to all the protocols and was allowed to return to the team after five days.

Ed from Tucson, AZ

Just a quick insight into COVID testing which may or may not be widely known (something I learned when a relative caught COVID). Once you have the virus you can test positive for weeks, or even months, but you are not considered contagious after two weeks (or perhaps more recent guidance is 10 days). Therefore, it makes sense that AR should not need a negative test before he is allowed to play.

I believe that is why the NFL uses the 10-day guideline for unvaccinated players to return to the facility, but like Rodgers said, there are some other hurdles he'll need to clear before getting the green light to play.

Juan from Miami, FL

Did you guys see on the missed field-goal attempt that the laces of the football were on the left side as Mason Crosby's foot made contact? I was taught that the laces needed to be in front. Of course, you can see the holder trying to spin the ball, however, not in time. Is the snap too slow getting to the holder or is the holder not handling the snap correctly with not enough time to spin the laces to the front? The laces were on the left and Crosby missed it to the left.

These are fair questions about the field-goal operation, but without being able to talk to Mason Crosby, we'll have to wait until today to hear what Maurice Drayton has to say about it. Obviously, something was off between Steven Wirtel and Corey Bojorquez getting that ball down.

Steve from Wigan, UK

Do you think all our injuries have had an effect on our special-teams play? Players who would normally only be playing special teams have been promoted to more prominent roles on offense or defense and maybe not as in tune with the ST playbook as they should be?

Sure, but that's the case every year. If injuries happen, special teams always feel the trickle-down effect. Just like offense and defense, the next-man-up mentality applies to special teams, as well.

Marty from Plymouth, WI

Not a question, but a comment. The nomination for Salute to Service of Chris Gizzi charging onto Lambeau Field with the American flag is something that those in attendance will never forget. I recall some sense of nervousness prior to the game that night, but that gesture reminded everyone that as a nation, we'd be fine.

When it's all said and done, Gizzi will hold a special place in Packers history. He courageously served his country and then returned to the team's strength and conditioning staff in 2014. Gizzi also has had a profound impact on that locker room, so it's great to see him get that recognition.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

A quick reminder that it is all still very much out there for the Packers. That needs to be the focus as they try to avoid a losing streak for the first time in the LaFleur era.

It's not what's lost. It's what's learned. And the Packers have done a whole lotta learning during the LaFleur era.

Mike from Charlotte, NC

I think the NFL's biggest flaw in its rule-making is it seems overly reliant on the same group(s) of people to solve the problem. While those people are very important as experts on the game, they are not experts at solving these problems. That requires a separate set of expertise, and they need that guidance. They're throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. You need to have some owners, coaches, referees, and players in that room with an independent consulting facilitator.

We need to take ego and emotion out of officiating. In my opinion, there's been way too much of it the past two years. That being said, New York isn't doing the referees any favors. There are so many subjective calls officials are asked to make in an instant. So, why are we emphasizing the one (taunting) that 90% of unbiased observers can agree on? As Rodgers said last year, you know taunting when you see it. Don't overthink it. What Cassius Marsh did on Monday night was not taunting. If it was, it's the first time in NFL history a player taunted a hapless punter coming on the field on fourth down. We need emphases geared towards making the game safer and better – not a half-baked resolution to a problem that doesn't even exist.

Ruth from Peshtigo, WI

It's fascinating that Coach LaFleur's hair never seems to change length. So, I have to ask, how often does Coach get his haircut?

We write Inbox 312 days a year. It's questions like these that ensure no two columns are ever the same. It is an interesting inquiry that I have never asked…and probably won't. Haha.

Jeffrey from Eveleth , MN

Hey fellas. Do either of you two get a chance to go deer hunting or does your schedule just not allow it? Random thoughts from my deer stand.

No. I leave all that for my dad. He shoots the deer. I eat the stew.

Bob from Rome, NY

Hey, who's Walter? He's stealing my Rome, NY space. Almost as bad as getting your lunch stolen. Get off my lawn! LOL!

You and Walter might need to meet down at the John F. Kennedy Civic Arena and handle this mano a mano.

Patrice from Fond du Lac, WI

What would Coach Matt like to see in the next draft?

The Packers picking at No. 32.

Christine from Yuma, AZ

Not gonna lie, I was interested to see how well Love could play. But time to get serious and get that No. 1 seed.

Sunday was like a rest stop. It's time to grab some chips from the vending machine and get back on I-55.

Advertising