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Inbox: There's no magic date

It’s a handful of plays here and there

WR Romeo Doubs
WR Romeo Doubs

Andrew from Burke, VA

Will the Spoff Crocs be an extra-cheesy yellow?

Ha, I don't even own a pair. I think I'll bring my sandals, though, because it might be my last chance to wear them this year. At least until Christmas in Miami.

Steve from Kansas City, MO

The only real question in my mind is whether the OL is ready for TB's front seven.

This game will be won in the trenches on both sides, there's no doubt in my mind about that. I know it's Aaron Rodgers vs. Brady, and they'll both do their thing, but I've never felt in the previous four matchups between these two that the game was actually less about the quarterbacks.

Jim from St. Paul, MN

Mike, in response to Cliff from Kentville, I'd like to say this. It is certainly not Brady vs. Rodgers as if they were facing off in a boxing match. But they are both in charge of their own offenses, and the QB who performs better will usually prevail, providing their defense or special teams aren't disastrous. Brady has usually shown to perform better than the opposing QB, including his history against Rodgers-led teams. In this regard, it is a fair Brady vs. Rodgers media comparison.

It's the nature of the beast, and it's entirely possible the game will come down to one (or both) of them leading late-game drives for points. Barring that, though, I won't be surprised if the main postgame storylines are focused elsewhere.

Paul from Ledgeview, WI

Mike why is the NFL such a week-to-week league? Is that more prevalent in the first quarter of the season as teams struggle to find their identity?

Not for me. It's prevalent for four months. There's so much talent across the league, and other than some teams having an elite-level QB and others not, it's spread pretty darn evenly. Same with the coaching talent, as far as schemes, X's and O's, etc., so there's no telling when one team will be clicking and another won't. It all creates a very thin margin across the board. By season's end, there isn't much difference between a 6-11 team and an 11-6 one. It's a handful plays here and there that went one team's way and not another's.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Which 0-2 team is most likely to make the playoffs and which 2-0 team is least likely to make it?

I hope I don't regret saying this in a couple of weeks, but I'd rate the Giants as the least likely 2-0 team to get in, though if they win Monday night against the Cowboys there will be a lot of buzz about Big Blue. On the flip side, it's tough to choose between the Bengals and Titans. So strange last year's AFC champion and top seed both have yet to win a game.

John from Livermore, CA

OK, so the season is off and running. It's early yet, but what is standing out to you so far as a surprise?

Jacksonville leading the league in turnover differential at plus-5.

Jeff from Grandville, MI

When I can't see the Packers on TV I watch Red Zone which is outstanding. One thing I have noticed already is the number of people getting really wiped out along the sidelines. Do you ever get sideline passes during any games you aren't working? Seems like it would be a very different viewing experience. I've never been fortunate enough to do that.

During any games I'm not working? That's a new one. Kidding aside, I would love to watch an entire NFL game from the sideline sometime. Earlier in my time here I was down on the field occasionally (and very briefly, to grab photo/video cards, for example), so I've gotten a sense of it. The game definitely feels different down there.

Jeff from Woodridge, IL

I don't understand the "special" things it takes to make some players good on special teams and others just taking up space (given roughly equivalent physical talent). The two special-teams aces signed in the offseason sure prove what it means to have special-teams stars (at least through two games). What I don't understand is what "it" is that they have/know/do that makes such a difference from a technique standpoint.

Desire and experience. They aren't just figuring out special teams, like a lot of draft picks coming out of college. They've been playing special teams for a long time and know what it takes to beat their man, execute their assignment, react to miscues, etc., amidst the organized chaos of punts and kickoffs at this level. They also want to be the best at what they do and dedicate themselves to film study and refining techniques just like players at other positions.

Steve from Middletown, KY

Good morning II. Over the last several years, I've noticed a lot of defenders throwing punches at the football. Spoff also mentioned this in his report of TB defense. Last week I saw one incident where a punch was thrown at the ball that missed and it look like a kidney shot. The runner even had to go out of the game for a few plays. While I get what they're trying to do, to me, it sometimes gets egregious. Tough game for tough guys?

Yup. When a defense has multiple guys swarming to the football, it allows one to take a punch at it because a teammate is there to secure the tackle. The defenses that are good at it know when to take the risk and when not to. The Packers' ball-security drills Thursday had the coaches wearing boxing gloves and taking their swings as guys ran by.

Jerome from Omaha, NE

During the preseason it seemed almost every story or II contained some comment about Rashan Gary being unstoppable. Yet it seems the preseason hype has not carried over so far into the regular season. What have you seen?

Two sacks, an additional tackle for loss, an additional QB hit. His career-high is 47 tackles and he's got nine through two games, putting him on pace for more than 70. I think he's off to a solid start. In real games, when up-front defenders start to impact too many plays, offenses adjust and devote more attention to them. That doesn't happen in training camp. Gary is a defender offenses target in key situations.

Rick from Trempealeau, WI

The first two weeks are a microcosm of the season. I hate to lose early games because you can't get them back but Mike has always maintained that if you stay within striking distance, it's all about who's hot at the end. I agree.

Last year, the Rams were 7-4 after losing to the Packers in late November, and the Bengals were 7-6 after an overtime loss to San Francisco in early December. In 2020, the Bucs were 7-5 when they hit their late bye week. In 2019, the Chiefs were 6-5 in mid-November. In 2018, the Patriots were 9-5 in mid-December. I'll stop now.

Jim from Eau Claire, WI

Jaylen Waddle (11 catches, 171 yds, two TDs) and Tyreek Hill (11 receptions, 190 yds, two TDs) became the first receiving duo in the Super Bowl era and second in NFL history to each have 170 or more receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns in the same game. The only other time it happened came in 1942 when Green Bay's Don Hutson and Andy Uram pulled it off. I have heard of Don Hutson but what can you tell us about Andy Uram? I thought he was a running back.

That's a better question for Cliff. I do know Uram was a back, and I've seen his name in the Packers record book. His 97-yard touchdown run against the Chicago Cardinals on Oct. 8, 1939, stood as the longest rush in franchise history for 64 years, until Ahman Green broke off the 98-yarder against the Broncos on Dec. 28, 2003.

Mandy from Durham, NC

The Packers' latest injury report had four WRs working out some injury or illness. Cause for concern?

It's a bit disconcerting to say the least, but we'll see what their statuses are on today's final injury report. We may be waiting until 90 minutes before kickoff to find out on a couple of guys.

Kyle from Pittsburgh, PA

I'd love to ask our QB this question: "Third-and-goal from the 8, down by four. Eleven seconds left; who do you want in there for your skill-position players?" But I'd like to ask it in Week 3 and again in Week 16. It seems like at some point, athleticism and measurables of someone like Christian Watson will overcome lack of experience. All things remaining equal, when do you think Rodgers' answer would change?

There's no magic date. It's all dependent on how they produce when called upon, and particularly on plays where we won't see the little things – like route adjustments or being the hot receiver and doing what the QB is counting on.

Junior from Town of Wilson, WI

Money Mason Crosby looks old and is old (38) and yet still has a strong leg…most kickoffs hit the end zone. While accuracy and consistency is important as well as being able to kick in Green Bay winter weather, what do you think his realistic range is? If it comes down to needing a game-winner can he hit a 50-plus yarder? In 2020 he hit a 57-yarder…does he still have that in the leg?

I don't know what Crosby generally considers his range now, but if he weren't still capable of hitting from 50-plus in normal conditions, I think the Packers would have another kicker on the roster. Whether his range on a given day is, say, 52 or 57 is determined during warm-ups.

Ummy from Two Rivers, WI

Bring back the creamsicle unis?

I believe the Buccaneers have announced those will be back in their uniform rotation in 2023. But having seen the Packers lose an absolutely brutal game down there back in 2009 with Tampa Bay wearing those, I'll be fine never seeing them again.

Aaron from Brooklyn, NY

Just my two cents on favorite play of the game as a guy who got to attend his first game at Lambeau on Sunday. I've been to games at a few other stadiums and I've heard all my life that games are just different at Lambeau. I finally understood what that meant when Douglas tackled Mooney four yards behind the line of scrimmage. That play felt like it really pulled the crowd into it and I've never experienced anything quite like that before.

That was the next snap after Preston Smith sack, so the crowd was already feeling it and then Rasul Douglas provided another jolt. Football is the only sport I can think of where crowd eruptions at times can be louder for a defense than an offense.

George from North Mankato, MN

Hey Mike, any surefire first-ballot Hall of Famers on the list? I think Joe Thomas deserves the honor but don't think the rest have proved enough to gain the honor.

Joe Thomas for sure. Among the other first-time eligible players, I think Darrelle Revis, Dwight Freeney, Jahri Evans and maybe even James Harrison have a good chance to get in at some point. But Thomas is the only first-ballot guy.

Dylan from Cary, NC

Is Yosh Nijman the most underappreciated Packer in recent memory?

He ranks right up there on the impressive list of undrafted offensive linemen who have made names for themselves here in the past decade (Don Barclay, Evan Smith, Lane Taylor, Lucas Patrick). He doesn't have as many starts as those other guys, but the demands of playing left tackle add to his status.

Brian from Moncks Corner, SC

The heat index in Tampa will be around 105 degrees during the game this Sunday, which is about 40 degrees higher than GB. Long drives will have an exponential toll. For this reason alone, with the teams being relatively equal, wouldn't this game be decided by whether the Pack can get a lead and stop the run early? Otherwise, won't the D get steamed over in the second half? Excuse the math.

I don't think you can build a lead and just try to hang on in conditions like these. You have to be able to go four full quarters, which means rotating defensive linemen to keep them fresh, and making sure DBs and 'backers get their breathers, which could factor into special-teams deployment for this game.

Joseph from Chapin, SC

Hey guys, I think I have a problem. Each morning at 8 a.m. CT I log into and keep refreshing the web browser until the latest Inbox pops up. What's wrong with me?

It's called the Inbox itch. Kramer's got a balm.

Ben from Pensacola, FL

I'll be rooting for DET, personally. Maybe others could argue, but I've found that Lions fans are much easier to get along with than CHI or MIN fans. They haven't had a lot going for 'em since Megatron retired, and then they watched their QB go win a SB with someone else. I would be happy to see DET take second in the division, with MIN in third and CHI bringing up the bottom of the division, but maybe I'm projecting and too annoyed with CHI/MIN.

I'm pulling for the Lions due to the simple fact that the Vikings beat the Packers and Green Bay hasn't played Detroit yet. But that aside, just beat the Bucs.

Dan from Marshfield, WI

I don't know about you but I'm tired of hearing how good Tampa is. I'm hoping the players and staff aren't listening to all the naysayers. The Packers need to go down there, punch them in the mouth, win the game, take their lunch and come back to Green Bay.

All righty then. Happy Friday.