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Inbox: There's a lot to be thankful for

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Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Family, friends, Wes's leftover turkey sandwich waiting to be stolen in the fridge, Spoff has a ton to be thankful for. But what should Packer fans collectively be most thankful for?

Meaningful December football. Good morning…and Happy Thanksgiving!

Josh from Denver, CO

Do you think fan expectations have been a year too early? In the preseason this was largely seen as more of a rebuilding year than a contending year, and while every year with Aaron Rodgers is still a contending year, it seems like the Packers could be better positioned in 2020.

For many fans, it didn't take long to go from "This is a rebuilding year" to "Make room for the Lombardi." The Packers have been one of the NFL's best stories in 2019 but the offseason moves they made were to ensure long-term success. Brian Gutekunst managed to do all of that without mortgaging the future. Don't take eight wins for granted because the past two years showed how difficult it is to win in this league. Win or lose, there's a lot to be thankful for this year.

Mark from Amarillo, TX

I have a feeling this team is going to come out Sunday and play extremely physical ball and win going away. I know a win is a win in the NFL, but wouldn't you be even a little disappointed if the Packers don't win the next three convincingly? At some point they need to gain some momentum heading towards January.

A win is a win at this level. If it's a dominant performance, that's the cherry on top. The 49ers looked perfect against Green Bay on Sunday – after two nail-biters against Arizona and an overtime letdown against Seattle. What does that tell you? Just win the games.

Doug from Eugene, OR

Hi II, thanks for an always thought-provoking column. Fans tend to hang on to the emotional elements of a bad showing. The players cannot afford the luxury of brooding. They are already way past Sunday's game. Knowing the players and personalities much better than we do, do you sense a tone of "Let's just get back to doing what we do best"? Or does it feel as though there's an urgency to "fix" things?

There is urgency to get this thing fixed but nobody is panicking. Whatever the outside sentiment, this is as headstrong and confident as any Packers team I've covered. As I've said time and time again, it's not confidence for the sake of confidence – it's real. When you're confident, you aren't afraid to critique. That's the message LaFleur is sending to his team.

Roland from Oconomowoc, WI

The Packers keep talking it is the little things that matter, yet this team despite showing signs of brilliance has not come close to putting together a full game of keeping disciplined. What do you think is holding this team back from doing that?

Because football is a very complicated game.

Michael from Berrien Spring, MI

No question. Just hoping for something a little extra to give thanks for this Thanksgiving season. Please let Baltimore and Seattle win this week!

Get your drumsticks ready because this is a big weekend in the NFL, especially as it relates to the Vikings. Besides the Week 16 matchup with Green Bay, Minnesota faces Detroit, the Chargers and Bears to finish the regular season – and three of those four come at home. The Packers need the Seahawks to give them some breathing room from the pesky Vikings.

Mark from Iron Mountain, WI

You say getting off to a fast start is essential. What good did a fast start against the 49ers do? Fifteen yards on the first two plays. Then?

Two plays for 15 yards is not a fast start. It's a first down.

Jack from Wauwatosa, WI

If there is any sense of the Packers looking past their next two opponents (NYG and Washington), they only have to look at what happened to the Duke Blue Devils against a university I never even heard of...they better not underestimate either team!

The Giants have lost seven straight. They're giving the ball away at a remarkable rate. Saquon Barkley has struggled over the past month, and New York could be without two of its top players (Golden Tate and Jabrill Peppers) due to injury. At the same time, New York has lost four of its last five by only one score. The Packers absolutely, positively, cannot look past the Giants. Do what you do and get the ball moving again.

Jeff from Clarksville, TN

Rashan Gary has the speed to play ILB. Why not get him more reps there? I mean imagine that coming at you downhill! Yikes!

Because he's not an inside linebacker. What makes Gary an intriguing pass-rushing prospect is his size and his speed. He can rotate inside like Za'Darius Smith but he's not an inside linebacker. League-wide, that position is getting smaller – not bigger.

Rod from Peoria, IL

II, despite great respect for the job you are doing, I think you ignored the question from Alan of LA regarding our poor special teams performance. The sight of multiple occasions when an opponent gunner leads two Packers' blockers down the field toward the punt receiver after five months' training screams for action. Yes, our blockers can be replaced. There are 53 guys on the roster and I'd bet they include four guys who can do it better. That would be accountability, wouldn't it?

You want blockers replaced? Well, Josh Jackson was active on Sunday, wasn't he? They used him as a gunner, too, did they not? So what do you want? Backups who haven't played all year becoming every-down players? Or better yet, cut players who have been on the roster for six months to pick up guys not currently on any of the 31 other NFL rosters? When you're an 8-3 team, there's no reason to react like a 3-8 team. That's a losing mentality. Get better and do it better.

Scott from Green Bay, WI

There is no need to change our roster. Our team will get faster in a hurry with better game planning that places players in more advantageous spots to make plays. We will also get faster if players are more mentally prepared and alert to anticipating and making plays. Additional benefit: probably fewer penalties.

Or that.

Tim from Marinette, WI

Has the coaching staff soured of Josh Jackson? Last year he had some mistakes, but it seemed he could play in this league. I was hoping to see him at safety so he could use his ball-hawking skills. Obviously I'm not a coach, just surprised that we haven't seen more of him this season.

I'm not a coach, either, but I still feel Jackson has a bright future in the NFL. His opportunities have been limited but he's a smart guy and doing everything possible to get on the field, whether it's offering to play safety or on special teams.

Mike from Granite City, IL

I did not see this being asked, if it was I missed it. Mason Crosby did not score any points because he had no opportunities vs. the 49ers. Has he had any other games in his career where he did not score because of the lack of opportunity?

It happened as recently as last year's regular-season finale against Detroit. I don't blame you for forgetting that, though.

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

Insiders, with five games left in the regular season, the Packers sign Yosh Nijman to active squad and Cody Conway to the practice squad. Where does the pool of players come from? Are they going from team to team throughout the season trying to stay in shape for tryouts, or are they packing groceries?

Nijman has been on Green Bay's practice squad all season. At 6-7, 314 pounds, the former Virginia Tech tackle was one of the team's more noteworthy undrafted signings last spring. As far as Conway, the Packers bring in free agents every Tuesday for workouts. They keep a rolodex of those players and often refer back to those visits when filling a spot on the practice squad.

Dale from Aurora, CO

Nijman is quite a physical specimen. What do you think his chances are to move into right tackle if Bulaga can't play?

You gotta pump the brakes a little bit on that one. Nijman is on the 53 because Cole Madison is out for the year. Matt LaFleur said they're keeping all options on the table, whether that's Alex Light starting if Bulaga can't go or maybe shuffling the offensive line up.

Tom from Iron River, WI

With narrow victories over the Vikings, Bears, Lions and most other wins highly contested, why do so many see the Packers as a sure playoff team?

Because Green Bay is one of five in a 16-team conference with more than six wins?

Tim from Lino Lakes, MN

I cannot remember having this much clarity in the NFC playoff picture with five games to go, as far as who's (likely) in. If you're a fan of one of the seven teams left with something to play for, you're excited for this next five weeks. Fans of the other nine NFC teams not so much. Does the league likes this higher level of excitement with fewer teams five weeks out, or do you think it is better to have more teams in the hunt as the last week or two approach?

Right. That's not to say the picture couldn't change over the next five weeks (See: Table, Run The), but it's unique for five teams to be two games ahead of the proverbial pack in Week 13. The Packers need to keep it that way.

Gary from Bear Valley, WI

Silver lining, Super Bowl is in Florida not on California. Go Pack Go!

That's good to hear.

Garrett from Spring, TX

With all this discussion about the next CBA, it reminds me of what I always thought about the last CBA: It led to McCarthy's demise. I always believed he was hugely affected – his QB school never really worked after it, and his "perfection of execution" offense seemed to get further and further behind the times. I always wondered if he could have won more Super Bowls if the practice time hadn't been cut so much. Any thoughts on that?

Maybe. Maybe not. Adaptation is inevitable – in practically every professional sport. Regardless of what happened with the CBA, practice times were eventually going to come down. Nowadays, teams are leaning more and more on not over-extending players. For example, if you're a kickboxer, you can kick a tree until the nerves in your leg die or you can be smart about how you train your kicks. I think the league has learned smarter is better than harder.

Derek from Lowell, IN

Great work fellas. Why does Geronimo Allison continue to get more snaps than other WRs when he's clearly struggling?

Allison is a veteran who does all the little things (blocking, route-running, etc.). He's also the only one who consistently plays the slot in "11" personnel.

Tiny from Ballston Lake, NY

Good Morning II. My best friend Ralph and I have been Packers fans for 50 years. This year we were both diagnosed with cancer, each with a different type. However, I was gifted two tickets to this week's game and nothing is going to stop us from being there. We want to make the most of it and would like to know about what time they would take the field for pregame warmups. It's normally a three-hour ride for us but with the weather and all I am trying to backwards plan our day so we don't miss a thing.

I'm sorry to hear that, Tiny. Our thoughts are with both of you. Doors open two hours before kickoffs (so about 11 a.m. ET). If you come in around then, there's usually players already on the field. Safe travels and take care.

Bryan from Madison, WI

Help me understand Lamar Jackson. Is he truly something the likes of which the league has never seen? Or is he the most recent iteration of a dual-threat QB? Neither? Both?

He's the total package – he can run, has a great arm, solid awareness and can throw from the pocket. Pat Shurmur had a line talking on Wednesday's conference call about how Aaron Rodgers is "a combination of everything that's good about a quarterback." I put Jackson in that same category. He's a phenomenal talent who makes the game fun.

Gregg from Victorville, CA

Hey guys, if the Packers win the Super Bowl this year, what are the chances the NFL will offer the commemorative film on videotape (specifically, VHS)? Thanks for reading.

Minimal.

Rick from Copper City, MI

"Are they really puffing out their chest for those dominating wins over Washington and Denver?" Wes, I gather you haven't met many Vikings fans...

Touché.

Thomas from Evansville, IN

Just curious, how exactly do they choose which teams will play in the Thanksgiving games each year?

I don't know but I'm thankful I haven't needed to spend it in a Detroit hotel the past six years.

Jeff from Victorville

Happy Thanksgiving Inboxers! Is there any chance the Inbox would allow an attachment to be added to our submissions? Sure would be nice to have an Inbox submission along with a picture to put a face to the name of the commenter. We're like family here and would be nice to actually see fellow Packer fans smiling face in green and gold. Make it happen.

We're not that type of family.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, I am very thankful for you, Mike, Larry and John. You keep us informed, educated, updated, and entertained, while providing group therapy sessions during non-victory weeks. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families.

And we're thankful for readers like Lori, Derek, Margeaux, Jon, Mark, Chun and everyone else who makes this column fun to write.

David from El Segundo, CA

Longtime reader, NOT first-time submitter, NOT first-time published, NEVER asked a No. 88 question, NOT banned (yet). I just have one quick thing...I was at the SF game with my wife and kids. It was difficult to watch, I feel fortunate and thankful we were able to attend together. Postgame, the 49er fans were shouting things at us, being antagonistic, incoherently drunk, which was disgusting. What I am very thankful for is being a fan of the best fan base in the NFL. Happy TG.

I'm sorry you had to experience that, David. I've always felt Packers fans are among the most courteous in all of sports regardless of the outcome. It sounds like 49ers fans have a thing or two to learn, or at least the ones you encountered. Have a great Thanksgiving.

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