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Inbox: There’s no fear in the NFL

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Zach from Clarkfield, MN

"Inbox runs the world." Sounds like a good idea for another T-shirt.

Wes was rolling yesterday. He even dropped a “spitfire.”

Al from Green Bay, WI

Mike Pettine's defense kept Josh Allen off-balance all day. Looking to Detroit, can he throw some wrinkles at Stafford to throw him off, or is it simply about execution against a veteran QB?

As I mentioned in my mid-week chat, with Stafford it’s about throwing off his timing, and it’ll take disguised coverages, steady pressure, and disrupting routes to accomplish that. He will force the Packers to play a complete defensive game again, in more ways than one.

Donny from Green Bay, WI

The last holdout in Green Bay was CB Mike McKenzie under the Mike Sherman era. He held out until October of 2004 and was traded to New Orleans for QB J.T. O'Sullivan and a second-round pick. That was coincidentally also when Bob Harlan realized the coach and GM job was too much to handle as a dual role and proceeded to hire Ted Thompson. Thompson then drafted Aaron Rodgers and turned that second-round pick into the Nick Collins selection. Funny how things work out.

I was going to provide that history lesson, but I love it when the Inbox does the work for me.

Shawn from Kissimmee, FL

Through four weeks there have been 228 passing TDs, which breaks the record. The next closest was 205 passing TDs in 2013. Is this the product of September football and good weather or is this trend going to continue all season?

We’ve seen shootout games in domes and on dirt fields in the first month. I don’t see it slowing down, do you?

Spencer from Rockford, IL

What do you guys attribute to the slow (relatively) start for Jimmy Graham? I'm not worried about it. If I remember correctly, and I don't always, but it seemed in the past TEs started out slow in our offense, but their contributions offensively increased when the weather started getting colder and snowier.

I recall in 2016 that Jared Cook was starting to show more in Week 3 and promptly got hurt, delaying his full-fledged impact until late November. There’s an acclimation period, but I think Graham’s time is coming shortly.

Kevin from Louisville, KY

We need a fan vote on throwbacks next year. It's not even close. The ’50-’53 uni's with the green pants.

I might vote for them, too, but the Packers can’t design another throwback until 2020 at the earliest.

John from Evans, GA

I'm still not buying the keep-Jones-healthy argument to why he is not a feature back. I'm not seeing Graham or Adams on the sideline for drives because we are saving them for a late-season push. You could make the same argument about their health. I don't know why you guys won't acknowledge that Jones is the better back. I'll admit I prefer the skill set of Montgomery in the hurry-up but now that Jones is solid in pass support, why isn't he carrying the rock 20 times a game?

As my face gets bluer, I’ve said many times I think Jones is the most dynamic and explosive of the three backs. It’s not about that. Please, the game-day beatings taken by running backs and pass catchers don’t compare. I think Jones might eventually get 20 touches a game this season, and perhaps very soon, but he had 90 total as a rookie and dealt with injuries in both knees. He waved in his own substitute when he took a big hit submarining a blitzer on Sunday. Patience will be the virtue here.

Noah from Atlanta, GA

Hey guys, appreciative post here. Looking through the weekly power rankings (meaningless, I know), its odd seeing teams that have been so successful in recent years so low on those lists. Between the Cardinals, the 49ers, the Seahawks, the Cowboys, the Falcons, etc., it seems each team has had its moment in the sun, and subsequently come crashing back down to Earth. As bitter as Packer fans can be about not having more rings, we always have a shot. I love rooting for this team.

Not saying you are, but I’m certainly not counting out the Seahawks, Cowboys and Falcons one month in.

Tony from Lima, OH

Insiders, with all the overtime games this year, what would happen if the receiving team took the initial kickoff, had a 9:58 drive and kicked a FG as time ran out? Is that a win?

Yes. Game over.

Michael from Chicago, IL

It seemed like the last few years, the ideal framework of a team to “copy” was the Seattle Seahawks. Draft a solid QB and build a dominant defense around him. This league is about being one step ahead from the other 31 teams, and I can't help but wonder if Andy Reid is doing just that. Instead of building a dominant defense around a young QB, he drafted a QB with exceptional arm talent and built an offensive juggernaut that can handle those top defenses. Thoughts on this?

The Seahawks won a Super Bowl by holding a Hall of Fame quarterback to eight points. The Eagles won one by outscoring a Hall of Fame quarterback with 41. There’s no single way to get it done.

Wyatt from Grand Rapids, MI

For everyone (including myself) wondering about what Aaron Rodgers turned and smiled about, I read in some comments on Instagram that he had noticed the group of fans dressed like the Dalai Lama.

Big hitter, the Lama.

Jeff from Meridian, ID

With Cobb and Allison out, when do you suppose we might see some two-tight-end sets with Graham and Lewis as opposed to going with rookie wideouts? I thought the idea was that approach would give us run and pass ball-control capabilities ... or did I not understand our free-agent acquisitions?

It’s too early in the week to rule Cobb and Allison out just yet, but to your point, I could definitely see the Packers’ depth at tight end being called upon more extensively in both the run and pass games this week.

Phil from Marietta, GA

When a defensive lineman hits the QB's arm as he's releasing the ball, causing a fluttering incompletion, does the DL get credit for a pass defensed?

Yes, Mike Daniels got one against Buffalo.

Christopher from Hagerstown, MD

So, the NFL doubles down on yet ANOTHER terrible call, i.e. the Browns’ first-down reversal, pathetic. How does a football fan look past that? The so called "shield" is getting seriously tarnished.

Setting aside the “indisputable” part I mentioned Monday, that explanation from the league truly reached the point of absurdity for me. Are we really going so far as to overturn first-down spots like that when the chances of any precision with the original placement of the sideline marker before that series of downs began are virtually nil? The line to gain is inherently arbitrary to a certain degree anyway. Do we really know the Browns didn’t gain 10 yards? I’m all for replay to fix mistakes, but not to artificially make the imprecise appear precise. There should be a rule that if there’s no obvious question about the call within the first 15 seconds of looking at a replay, no more review, and the networks can’t show the replay anymore either, at least not in slo-mo. That reversal was a drastic overreach.

T from Waterloo, IA

I'm getting frustrated watching running backs use their head as a battering ram against defenders, even in the open field and no penalty gets called. Meanwhile, a linebacker looks down at his shoes and gets 15 yards. Will there ever be equality with this rule or will we be subjected to continued prejudice against defense?

I don’t have the energy for another rules debate today. Sorry. But let’s revisit after a few more games.

Steve from Green Bay, WI

Is there a patron god of pick-sixes? Maybe Hexofenes or something like that? He clearly favors Rodgers. Aaron has only thrown two in his entire career. I've seen two gimmes this year bounce off the DB's chest. Whoever has the altar to Hexofenes in your basement or garage, please keep up the good work.

It takes some luck to have a stat like that, but it’s not all luck. Rodgers providing two “opportunities” in a month’s time is just as rare.

Lori from Winona, MN

Aaron Rodgers took some snaps under center. Could you talk about what that means going forward for Green Bay’s offense and opposing defenses?

The more he’s under center, the more effective play-action can be, especially for downfield throws off of boots or keeps that give himself extra time and a clear throwing lane. You can run play-action out of the shotgun or pistol, but often it doesn’t draw as strong a reaction from the defense.

Tim from Spokane, WA

It seems our defense is starting to click and will only get better once we get King back. A lot of upside to our defense and I believe it'll be a force to be reckoned with. I have no doubt the offense will be running full steam ahead now that Rodgers is getting more practice time. Our opponents should be afraid. Be very afraid!

Just like there’s no crying in baseball, there’s no fear in the NFL. Surprises and unscouted looks dwindle in October and beyond. Everyone starts figuring out what their opponents do best and strive to take it away. Those who discover the proper balance between imposing their will and making adjustments find the most consistent success. Never believe anyone’s actually afraid of anyone else in this league.

Griffin from Naples, FL

Kyler Sackrell. Yeah?

You thought long and hard there.

Robert from Seattle, WA

Do you recall if Rodgers has ever had even close to as good a stretch of four games as Mahomes?

Plenty, depending on your point of comparison. Mahomes’ impressive numbers are as follows: 90-of-138, 65.2 percent, 1,200 yards, 14 TD, 0 INT, 126.5 rating. I crunched some numbers, and if we use passer rating as the barometer, Rodgers has enjoyed five stretches of four games in his career better than 126.5. They are: games 9-12 in 2010 (131.3), games 6-9 in 2011 (142.0), games 4-7 in 2012 (127.2), games 4-7 in 2014 (137.9), and games 9-12 also in 2014 (128.1). In four of those five runs, Rodgers’ completion percentage was higher than 65.2, and in three of them he topped 1,200 yards. The only stat for which I couldn’t find Rodgers matching or exceeding Mahomes is the 14-0 TDs/INTs. Rodgers’ ratios in the five stretches were, in order, 11-0, 14-1, 16-2, 13-0, 13-0.

Paul from Gorham, ME

Hi Insiders, when I open the recap of the game and choose Box Score, I see that Rodgers was 22/40 for 282 yards. Then if I look under Players, I see he was 22/40 for 298 yards. The difference was not running because he ran about 30 yards and which is also listed separately under “Rushing.” Why is there a difference between 282 and 298?

Sixteen lost yards in sacks. Those come off the team’s net passing yards, but not off the individual QB’s passing yards. To fend off another potential question, college football does it differently, counting sack yardage as rushing yardage. That’s not how it’s done in the NFL.

Elizabeth from Sylvania, OH

Assuming Rodgers is No. 1, who is No. 2 (or 3) in Ted Thompson's greatest draft picks? Give us your top five.

Without defining all the criteria, and not counting anyone without five years of experience in the NFL because their careers haven’t played out enough, I’ll do it this way. To me, his top five picks in the first two rounds, in the order they were selected, were Rodgers, Collins, Jennings, Nelson and Matthews. From the third round and later, I’ll say Crosby, Sitton, Lang, Daniels and Bakhtiari, though it’s really hard to leave Finley off the list.

Sara from St. Paul, MN

I’ve tried out some other Packer podcasts and shows – none of them are as good as you two! I appreciate the knowledge you both share, the pragmatic and logical approach you take to examining the game. Thanks to packers.com I’ve become a better fan of the game! Thanks all.

Very kind of you to say. To hear I’ve helped anyone become a better fan of the game is rewarding. I mean that in all sincerity.

Jon from Laramie, WY

Best defensive infielder in the game? Have you seen one Nolan Arenado?

I have, and he’s superb. But Baez is in a league of his own with the glove.

Aaron from Forest Grove, OR

OK Spoff, I’ll concede. Yelich is the MVP and hats off to the Brewers for an amazing run so far and for kicking the Cubs’ tails in a faux tiebreaker. I just don’t know how a guy who has 40 doubles, nine triples, 34 HRs, 111 RBIs, 20-plus stolen bases, and plays elite defense at three positions can be overlooked. Stats aren’t everything but I believe Baez is the only player EVER to accomplish that.

I don’t think he’s being overlooked at all. It’s one of those years. In 1941, Ted Williams hit .406, 47 points better than anyone else, and led the league with 37 homers, but didn’t win the MVP. Joe DiMaggio, with his 56-game hitting streak and league-best 125 RBIs, did. It happens.

Trevor from Carmel, NY

It boggles my mind how we go through this every year. Why do the fans want the team peaking in September? Why do they want every gadget, every secret weapon exposed and overused before the leaves have turned? Why do they expect perfection out of the gate? The players hold themselves to higher standards, and so they should... but c'mon folks, pace yourselves. Stop listening to the talking heads and worrying about your fantasy team. A win is a win. Just let the season play out.

As I always say, it’s a week-to-week league. That part never changes for me.

Curtis from Chaska, MN

The Vikings are not playing up to expectations after an NFC Championship loss, the Bears have come out of nowhere to lead the division, and the Packers have shut out an AFC East team. This season is resembling a certain previous season in our division. Hopefully it will end with the same result.

Leave it to the Inbox to find a new narrative every week. It’s a week-to-week Inbox.

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