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Inbox: There's a ton for the Packers to overcome

It can just as easily turn the other way

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Tampa Bay ILB Lavonte David

Thomas from Cedar Rapids, IA

What is the over/under on broken Surface Pros in Tampa?

The storylines for this week are just getting started, aren't they?

Jeff from Indian Lake, NY

What's the weather look like in Tampa this weekend? Make sure Wes stays hydrated Mike. Can't have the Hod cramping up on us!

High 80s on Saturday and Sunday. I'll make sure Wes gets to the bus.

Eric from Mequon, WI

Talk about a tale of two weeks. The Packers looked terrible Week 1 and solid in Week 2. Minnesota looked like a favorite to win the North in Week 1 and Week 2 they looked like they won't even make the playoffs. Was it overpreparation of the Packer game that may have hurt them here?

Ever heard the expression it's a week-to-week league? I feel like I have to say it more and more every year.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

After years of frustration and what I was seeing in the preseason I'm thrilled the Packers held their own on special teams through the first two games. I'm hoping by the second half of the season we are consistently winning special teams. Is that reasonable going forward?

That's the target. Progress is being made. That's all anyone can ask for at this early stage.

Bill from Fort Worth, TX

As special teams' taking the field hopefully continues its trend away from the cotton-pinching event it's been in recent years, are we seeing more starters on the blocking and coverage units? I thought I saw Douglas in the mix after a kickoff, but I didn't know if I was mistaken, or that he just hustled out there as part of the defense.

Rasul Douglas is on the kickoff team, as is Eric Stokes. They're the outermost guys on each side. Stokes is also a jammer on punt return, while Walker is on punt protection, and no starters are on kickoff return. Field goal and field-goal block are where the largest number of front-line names reside. Marcedes Lewis, Dean Lowry, Royce Newman, Yosh Nijman and Jon Runyan are on the FG protection unit, while FG block is almost all starters – Jaire Alexander, Stokes, Darnell Savage, Rashan Gary, Jarran Reed, Kenny Clark, Preston Smith, De'Vondre Campbell, Lowry and Adrian Amos, plus T.J. Slaton. That group was on the field for the Bears' lone PAT, so it wasn't some sort of cautionary/fake-prevention unit.

Kerry from Lakewood Ranch, FL

What a rare treat we have coming this Sunday in Tampa. Two future HOF QBs still playing at a high level facing off in a pivotable NFC game. The question is at a combined age of 83 years, AR 12 38 and TB 12 45, are they the oldest starting QBs to face off in an NFL game? Apologies for the math question.

Nope. Brady (43) and Drew Brees (42) were a combined 85 when they met in the NFC Divisional playoffs in January of 2021.

Aaron from Lawton, OK

Philly just reminded fans of why Cousins can be a killer to his teams just as often as he is a winner. By having Slay shadow Jefferson, you could see Cousins doubt his throws and even give in to two Slay picks that reeked of Cousins desperation. With a defensive weapon like Jaire, why not use him for at least part of the game on their best receiver to get in the head of whoever is throwing the ball?

It was obvious after the Packers' plan failed other opponents would take different approaches. Slay's first pick was on Jefferson, though, not Cousins. He bailed out on his route. I think the larger point than anything scheme-related, though, connects to your thought about desperation – the Vikings were playing from behind all night, and looked like a totally different team. That's something to monitor as the season unfolds.

Kenton from Rochester, MN

The Eagles seem to have found the key to stopping the Vikings' high-powered, Justin Jefferson-fueled offense: Man coverage on JJ with your best CB and then pressure Cousins in the pocket. Hmmm ... where have I heard that idea before? Seriously (although it's only one game), do you think the way the Eagles shut down the Vikings will persuade DC Barry to rethink the Packers' defensive strategy the next time they meet?

I think the way the Packers performed in Week 1 took care of that.

Jacob from West Allis, WI

Was that one of the better run-blocking performances you can recall from the Packers? I'm beyond impressed with how well blocks at the second level were set up and executed.

That's why I focused on it so much in my latest WYMM. It was impressive. The Bears' defense also isn't what it usually has been.

Andrew from Burke, VA

This probably sounds ridiculous since Brady is one of the best all-time, but could the TB game be a bit of a trap if their WRs are unable to go? Everyone talks up the pass game, but their defense is pretty darn good. I expect some serious trench warfare on both sides of the ball.

Tampa Bay's defense made life pretty difficult for the Saints, then it eventually overwhelmed them. And that was on the road. The story of this game will be the Buccaneers' defense – 13 points allowed in two games, with 10 sacks and six turnovers. Plus it's their home opener, the crowd, hot weather. There's a ton for the Packers to overcome that has nothing to do with Brady.

Dana from Eau Claire, WI

With Tampa's defense, do you see the Packers still relying heavily on the running game?

The Packers have to run the ball for their play-action to work, and this LaFleur/Rodgers passing game is most effective using play-action. This is not a straight drop-back offense.

Shane from Coralville, IA

Hi II, Tampa is known to have a salty run defense. I'm expecting a lot of packages with 28 and 33 on the field together mixed in with pre-snap motions. Some passes to the backs and a jet sweep to keep them honest. On paper this looks like a game that will be low scoring and won in the trenches. Where do you see the Packers creating mismatches or opportunities against a well-coached and speedy Tampa D?

If I knew how to do that, I think I could make a lot more money working on a different floor in this building. That said, I don't recall the Packers using much jet-motion action in the two meetings with Tampa back in the 2020 season. I'll be curious to see how prevalent it is this time.

John from Mount Vernon, IA

There is a benefit to those little push passes to the runner in motion for Mike from Toronto to consider. If there is an issue with the exchange and the ball is dropped the play is blown dead for an incomplete pass rather than being ruled a fumble. Fumbled handoffs in the NFL are rare, but we saw one Sunday night so we know they can happen.

Precisely, and you weren't the only reader to mention this.

Steve from Hurricane, UT

Have you heard how Robert Tonyan is doing? Does it look like his play count will keep rising?

He played 27 snaps against the Bears after playing 22 at Minnesota. His playing time to a certain degree will become game-plan dependent, with Lewis the offense's best run-blocking tight end, but all health signs look positive at this point.

Matt from Waunakee, WI

Hi Mike, good morning Packer fans. Any information how Allen Lazard and Elgton Jenkins came out of the game health-wise?

Nothing I've heard. Jenkins played every snap (68) and Lazard played the most of any perimeter player (55).

Arthur from Eau Claire, WI

Not chortling, just wondering. Did Davante Adams ever have a game with the Packers where he had two receptions for 12 yards?

His last game with just two receptions came in October of 2017 with Brett Hundley at quarterback.

Roger from Gillette, WY

I wonder why no one is saying anything about Preston Smith. He had a heck of a game and nothing is said. A good move keeping him, don't you think?

Wes and I talked quite a bit about Preston on our latest "Unscripted." He's now got five two-sack games with the Packers, seven multi-sack games if you count 1.5-sack totals.

Ralph from De Pere, WI

Is David Montgomery that good or is the Packers' run defense not so good?

Montgomery is a quality back in this league, but the Packers didn't tackle well Sunday night. On a few runs, a defender got out of position, but on many others they had the right fits for tackle opportunities and just didn't finish the play.

Jake from Decatur, GA

The rushing performance Sunday night has gotten a lot of deserved attention, but one thing I haven't seen a lot of commentary on specifically is GB's ability to run the ball in the red (gold) zone. Did you see that too? It was such an important part of the offense in 2020 that just kinda vanished last year.

It was a huge reason the red/gold zone offense was so efficient two years ago. Throwing windows are tighter in close, but being able to run the ball opens them up a bit.

Gary from Davenport, IA

Unlike Jeff from Wauwatosa, I'm not even close to unenthusiastic when it comes to the Packers beating the Bears. In the middle of the 1992 season, I was 30 years old and the Packers were 24 games behind the Bears in the rivalry. I never imagined I would live long enough for the Packers to lead the all-time series. Now they're up by nine games and on a 47-14 run. Fans should appreciate where we are and not take this for granted.

Especially knowing the Bears had a 15-3 run in the series beginning in 1983 before the turnaround you've detailed. The single biggest factor, bar none, has been the quarterback position. It can just as easily turn the other way if/when changes occur at that spot.

Mike from Grovetown, GA

My apologies if you answered this in the past, but why is it so difficult for a new defensive tackle to adjust to the NFL? I get that skill-position players need a lot of development, but other than bulking out and a few techniques, what else is there at DT? BTW, it was kind of funny watching Irv Smith drop that long bomb and listening to Viking fans say, "If only he caught that the game would have been different." Huh…really?

There are no plays off for defensive tackles in this league, so they have to figure out different ways to win, snap after snap. In college, stud interior D-linemen can stay in the game and catch a breather here and there because they're still good enough to beat their guy with bread-and-butter moves. Take a play off at this level, or let the other guy figure you out, and the whole defensive front is compromised.

Dennis from Seal Beach, CA

That blinding light and seismic thud was the Vikings crashing back to earth Monday night. So much for crowning a new champ by Week 2. I'm struck by the emotional swings teams go through week to week. How much does momentum and emotional energy factor into a team's performance?

I'm not a believer that emotional energy can win games for you, but if you're lacking it for whatever reason, it's almost certain to show up in your play. As for momentum, it swings within games all the time, sometimes wildly. To the extent it can be established in some fashion over multiple weeks, the teams that handle the in-game swings better, over time, don't get as rattled and never feel it's far from their grasp.

Chris from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Only six teams undefeated through two weeks. Parity at its finest.

And only five are 0-2.

Bryce from Kenosha, WI

"The entire NFC North at 1-1 after two games sounds about right to me." – Mike Spofford, Sept. 16, 2022.

What's that saying about blind squirrels?

Chuck from Sun Prairie, WI

Two weeks in and the North is all 1's. Buckle up for a wild ride.

What caught my eye when looking at the NFL standings after two weeks also jumped out to Humberto of Pagosa Springs, CO. Of the six teams that are 2-0, five of them are coming up on the Packers' regular-season schedule, and none of those games is at Lambeau. Buckle up indeed.

Keith from La Pine, OR

All week-to-week worries aside, didn't we arrive at the same location as last year? One bad loss, one division win, and a tough team on the road? Go Pack go.

Happy Wednesday.

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