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Inbox: There's a lot to learn from right now

Defensive dominance is more than just speed and athleticism – it’s execution

Head Coach Matt LaFleur
Head Coach Matt LaFleur

Harry from Chandler, AZ

How was the trip back? Quiet?

Not at all. Evan Siegle snores. Good morning!

Robert from Harris, MN

Man, I hate to have it start this early but R-E-L-A-X.

I reserve R-E-L-A-X for games that matter in the win-loss column. This is more like C-H-I-L-L. It's totally fine to be disappointed – that's a normal emotion – but there was some serious vitriol getting spewed in the Insider Darkbox. I've seen good teams have bad preseasons and bad teams have great ones. It all depends on what you learn and how it's applied to Week 1. There's a lot to learn from right now and two more opportunities for this team to build momentum.

Tim from La Crosse, WI

With the late scratch on Aaron Rodgers, does this put a wrinkle in Matt LaFleur's preseason plans? It seems every year Rodgers says it's going to take some time for the offense to get going, and with this being a new offense, I would think getting Rodgers on the field in an actual game would be very important.

I don't think it throws a wrench into anything, other than possibly deciding if Rodgers will play in Canada. Originally, I thought Thursday night might be a one-and-done for him this preseason.

Rick from Sterling, CO

While I understand what you say about the ILB position being less important in today's NFL, don't forget that it was only five years ago that we were able to turn our season around (at least defensively) only after moving our best player inside.

Those were the pre-hybrid safety days. When Clay Matthews moved back to outside linebacker in 2016, the Packers moved Morgan Burnett into the box. While inside linebacker is still a key position, defensive backs have changed the NFL landscape a bit. Raven Greene, Josh Jones and Ibraheim Campbell all factor into that depth, as well.

Rod from Ephrata, PA

Could the emphasis on creating turnovers be some of the cause of missed tackles?

Mike Pettine wants turnovers AND tackles. It's a two-part emphasis. The problem is the Packers are only getting one of them at the moment. We'll see how the defense responds, but I'm guessing it'll be a point of emphasis in practice.

Kyle from Ooltewah, TN

Granted tackling is a concern. However, the speed on defense has been evident, as well. If you can place yourself in the right position, the rest will take care of itself – eventually. I wish there were two more preseason games to iron this out – hey, wait there are :). BTW - T. Brown made a nice tackle along the sideline on B. Martinez.

Defensive dominance is more than just speed and athleticism – it's execution. Fortunately, the defense gets another shot next week in Winnipeg…and it won't be against the likes of Lamar Jackson and Joe Webb.

Steve from Middletown, KY

One rushing first down is telling, especially since it's been a focus. OK, I get that the top two RBs didn't play and the top two fullbacks didn't play, but Carson was going with the ones on offense. Was it more the blocking or that he didn't hit the hole fast enough? Still think the running game will greatly improve, but can the starting RBs be game ready for the punishment of Week 1?

This was a major opportunity for the backup running backs and nothing really blew me away other than Darrin Hall's 28-yard carry (that was very well blocked and executed). Dexter Williams is a natural, instinctive runner but the drops have been an issue recently. Tra Carson is the more all-around back, but has only picked up 24 yards on 14 carries so far.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, what can ML and AR learn about "Offense 1" by watching it run plays during a game without "QB1"?

It needs RB 1A and RB 1B. Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams are the face of this run game, and you can see how vital they both are going to be to the long-term success of this offense. Still, a third option needs to emerge.

Lois from St. Francis, SD

How do you establish a run game and balanced offense with only 18 run attempts?

It's tough determining a line of demarcation for balancing the run and pass when Green Bay wasn't getting anywhere on the ground. The Packers only gained 27 yards on 17 carries besides Hall's 28-yarder. We'll see if the tide can turn with Jones presumably back next week.

Israel from West Allis, WI

GB's new focus (rushing) didn't quite match Baltimore's strength (front seven), but it also looked like receivers were getting open. As underwhelming as the offense looked last night, it sure seems that an elite passer would be able to move the ball with the offense and force the Ravens to adjust, opening up the run game. Obviously ML is focused on the run game – and I'm glad – but it seems like "12" gives you leverage and would dramatically affect GB's ability to dictate. Am I too optimistic, here?

It wasn't perfect. There were a few drops, but overall I felt it was a winning performance for the receivers. Darrius Shepherd, Geronimo Allison, Jake Kumerow and Robert Tonyan each had moments. Shepherd also did a nice job of getting open on a deep ball that could have been a TD, but the throw was slightly off. Crossers and slants are great, but it's those type of plays that'll allow him to stick.

David from Philadelphia, PA

Seems unfair DeShone Kizer needs to learn a new offense again. How much do you think that's hindered his development? If memory serves correctly, he had to learn a new one almost every year he's been in the league.

I've always felt the cream eventually rises to the top (e.g. Alex Smith) as long as a quarterback doesn't suffer a career-altering injury in his formidable years. Still, it's not an ideal way to start an NFL career. These next two weeks are critical for Kizer to show consistency and progress.

Bill from Wilmington, DE

Wes, I didn't get to watch the game. How much did our new free agents play and how did they look?

I thought Za'Darius Smith was the most impactful guy in the starting defense. He came within an eyelash of sacking Jackson and had several powerful rushes. Adrian Amos looked fine and had that funny single-legged tackle of Nick Boyle after the tight end tried to hurdle him.

Bruce from Green Bay, WI

What is the word with our tight ends? I've heard positive talk about Robert Tonyan, Jimmy Graham and Jace Sternberger and then nothing. Is Lewis going to make the roster? How many tight ends will GB keep? There are a couple fullbacks worth mention. I wonder if GB will keep two fullbacks and four tight ends or one fullback and five tight ends. Is that crazy talk? With ML's background how many tight ends and fullbacks are normal on the roster?

It's possible the Packers keep five total tight ends/fullbacks, especially with what Tonyan and Danny Vitale (if healthy) offer on special teams. I think you have to pencil in Sternberger, too, on the roster as a rookie third-round pick.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Between now and Sept. 5 about 1,000 players will hit the waiver wire, including many veterans that could fill key backup roles. When a team claims a veteran off waivers, do they automatically inherit his current salary or is that subject to negotiation?

Any player with fewer than four accrued seasons is subject to waivers. The rest are released outright and free to sign anywhere (e.g. Josh Sitton and Chicago in 2016).

Mike from Augusta, GA

The last time I recall the Packers having a great run defense was with Gilbert Brown. I notice not too many teams use a behemoth NT anymore. Is there still a spot for players like that?

I don't want to say there's no place for those kind of nose tackles anymore, but the league is trending more towards defensive linemen in that 300-310 range. It was telling Montravius Adams dipped down to 298 after playing last year around 310-315. There's a need for speed…at every position.

Mike from Madison, WI

With Oren Burks going down do you see the Packers making a trade or other pickups at inside linebacker as it was already a not very experienced area other than Martinez?

I'd stand pat unless someone interesting comes available on cut-down day. I think they're in a better situation now with Curtis Bolton and Ty Summers competing for that spot than they were a year ago when they had to trade for Antonio Morrison.

Erik from Denmark, WI

Is there a years or longevity limit when players would be ineligible to be put on the practice squad?

Players have three years of practice-squad eligibility, with six weeks on a practice squad counting towards one year of that eligibility. Personally, I believe all players should have unlimited eligibility until they're vested veterans. There's no reason to graduate players out of the process (like Dillon Day last year) if they haven't "made it."  

Scott from Hamlin, NY

With all that's been said about Rashan Gary on this site, I'm surprised he's not playing in the preseason.

Like I said before the preseason, practice is important but the playing field is the proving ground. Gary just needs to keep working on getting it all to translate. The Packers have a lot of confidence in the young man. He's going to be a staple in that pass-rushing dime package.

Jake from Athens, GA

Are the waiver rules the same for a player like Kumerow who's been around so long even though he hasn't really accrued four seasons? On a related note, do you think if Kumerow were playing like he is, but 22 instead of 27, he'd pretty much be a lock for the 53?

To say on the "couldn't care less" train, I couldn't care less how old he is. There were years the Packers leaned on a 22-year-old when a 27 would have sufficed. When you factor in what Kumerow provides on special teams, an underrated aspect of his game, I think he's putting himself on this football team. That's how my scorecard reads.

Paul from De Pere, WI

The II jinx hit Kumerow last night. Let's hope that is the last time we ever see drop and Kumerow in the same sentence!

We've already reprimanded Spofford.

Tim from Upland, CA

Is a WR "penalized" by a coach for not catching a ball when the WR knows he's being put in a compromising position by doing so, or is he given "kudos" for not subjecting himself to injury? From the angle I saw, Kumerow saw the hit No. 32 was about to lay on him, had he caught that ball he dropped. Does dropping the ball out of fear of the hit go against him, or does it not matter all that much in the grand scheme of things?

The receiver's job is to catch the ball regardless of the circumstances, so I'm sure Kumerow wants that one back. At least, we now know Kumerow isn't a robot. He's been remarkably consistent in his two-plus years in Green Bay.

David from San Diego, CA

Much longer than two weeks in a row. Deja Vu Packerland. Low third-down conversions, too many penalties and so many missed tackles.

And two of those three third-down conversions were completions in long situations. You have to win the early downs. The Packers didn't do nearly enough of that.

Nic from London, UK

This is purely a speculative question. I know not everyone can be the SB champ, all teams are competing to win and I should neither draw conclusions from preseason nor set expectations for the season now. However, would missing the playoffs for a third consecutive season be considered a failure because we have a generational talent or should we count ourselves lucky the streak hasn't yet hit 10? Where's the line between tempered expectation and absence of critical thought and accountability?

I want to couch this by saying I believe the Packers have a team capable of contending in 2019, but also wouldn't press the panic button if everything doesn't come into focus right away for three reasons – New. Orleans. Saints. Future Hall of Famer Drew Brees quarterbacked the Saints to three consecutive 7-9 seasons in the final quarter of his NFL career. They've since been on the precipice of the Super Bowl the past two seasons. Turnarounds can take time.

Jonathan from Muenster, Germany

Has James from Charlottesville never heard of Don Hutson? I think he was a pretty solid No. 1 receiver.

That one was a head-scratcher for me. Jonathan from Germany has even heard of Don Hutson for crying out loud.

Nash from Beit Shemesh, Israel

This week's game was my first ever football game and was super excited to see Aaron Rodgers play. Unfortunately, I didn't get to but was still an incredible experience. Ain't nothing like football.

My apologies, Nash. Hopefully, you get another chance to see him play live someday.

Christopher from Marina Del Rey, CA

Well, looks like backup QB is pretty solid...for the Ravens. Joe Callahan!

Do you mean the long completion or the botched snaps on back-to-back plays that ended the drive? I like Joe a lot, but be smarter with your snark.

Marty from Combined Locks, WI

Kickoff rules used to require the returner, or someone from the receiving team to catch or down the ball in the end zone. The ball was considered live until it was downed and could be recovered by the kicking team for a TD. In today's NFL, the returners let the ball go and even if the ball does not go out of the end zone the play is called dead. My question is when did this live ball rule change?

Two years ago, I believe.

Burns from Delafield, WI

With Rodgers speaking on ways to get the fans more engaged, I couldn't help but be reminded how bad packer fans are at home sometimes, particularly Gold Package fans. What can be done about getting fans to stop doing the wave or shouting when our offense is playing or getting them to make noise on third down for the other team? I feel like the Packers organization has tried to speak on this, but to no avail.

I'm doing my best here, Burns. I don't care if you've never attended a football game in your life and pulled your Packers ticket out of a box of Cracker Jacks – my hope, when it's all said and done, is for a fan to see the wave coming while the offense is on the field and think to his or herself, "What would Wes do here?"

Shawn from Blaine, MN

A comment in Friday's II implied that JK Scott's growth as a punter would really be about how he performs in November and beyond. Since I expect our offense to be better this year thus JK seeing less action, standing idle on the sideline in November and December (and hopefully January) at Lambeau could freeze a guy. Ask him to stop shaving ASAP, so he has three or four whiskers to help him stay warm come winter!

Duly noted.

Steven from Charleston, WV

I've nearly quit reading any other site but here. There's just too much negativity and hate, from writers and "fans" alike. You guys are never too negative and also never that "blinded fan," if you will. You state facts and are pretty unbiased and basically refuse to make any kind of prediction, whether it be who makes the 53 or what our record is going to be. I truly appreciate that. It's an even keel that I am sure isn't easy to maintain and it keeps me level as well. So, thank you!

Spoff and I are either level-headed or hard-headed…or maybe just headed.


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