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Inbox: There's still a lot to discover about this team

That’s the beauty of an NFL locker room

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Team Huddle

Bil from Stateline, NV

Pace yourself, Mike. You'll be sigh-ed out before the bye week. You don't want to peak too early in the season.

Duly noted.

Stephen from Menomonee Falls, WI

New haircut looks good!

Shorter than I intended, but so it goes. In about a week or two it'll look like what I had in mind.

Ron from Trempealeau, WI

I know blocking is more his role, but I'd like to see Big Dog get a pass or two thrown his way.

Patience. LaFleur and Rodgers will pick their spots.

Tom from New Braunfels, TX

I am always on edge when facing a Belichick-coached team. He seems to thrive with the adversity that injuries provide, and he wants to prove to everyone that his coaching overcomes a lack of players. At the same time, I think this is a game that exemplifies the box lunch and hard hat analogy. Win the battle of the lines and win the game. Time of possession in our favor with long steady drives gets it done. Let the big boys eat!

What you describe is never a wrong answer for how to try to win a football game. The question is whether that's enough. In this case, I think it will be.

Frogger from Marinette, WI

What do you think is the No. 1 thing Belichick wants to take away? Second?

Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. I'd guess he'll start there, individually and when they're on the field together, and build his plan around that.

Matt from Waunakee, WI

How has Brian Hoyer played against the Packers in the past? I think I have a bad memory but I can't remember.

Hoyer has started only one game against the Packers in his career, in 2016 for the Bears at Lambeau. He was knocked out of the game in the first half with an injury and the Packers leading, 3-0. Matt Barkley replaced him and the Packers won, 26-10.

Mike from Wilson, WI

Do the coaches take into consideration who the opponent is the following week when there's an injury? For example, with Jaire Alexander, do they not rush him if he was healthy enough to play seeing they're playing a backup quarterback?

For the most part, I'd say no on consideration, though this situation with a fresh injury to the opposing team's QB is a little unusual. Maybe it creeps into the thought process just a tad, but the best decision is the one made looking at the player alone and keeping the long haul in mind regardless.

Bob from Bella Vista, AR

Do you think the Raiders regret not keeping Rich B. as their head coach? Their loss, our gain.

That's all that matters now.

Steven from McCordsville, IN

I was intrigued by Spoff's response regarding the decision to "rush the punter versus setting up a return." The reply suggested that it is solely Bisaccia's decision on "calling the play." Do you have any insights on how much "authority" the ST coach is given in calling plays? Does he alone determine most kickoff/punt strategies? I'd have to image that something like a fake punt would be something he couldn't call without ML's blessing...? Thanks!

There's constant communication, so to a certain extent there's blessing given for any call. But generally speaking, in garden-variety situations, the ST coach is empowered and entrusted. Outside the norm, like a fake, is absolutely coming from the head coach.

Rohan from Champlin, MN

Re: going for blocks v. setting up coverage on punts inside your own 5, I will forever be in the "go for block" camp simply because we, as a society, deserve the comedy that comes with the Butt Punt.

Who knew that team medical staffs would need a proctologist on call.

Neal from Chicago, IL

Social media posts disparaged Amari Rodgers for calling a fair catch when he appeared to have a cushion of over 15 yards. Does the ST coach ever mandate his unit to make a fair catch to ensure against a penalty or a fumble during the return?

Sure, and I've seen a lot of folks asking about that return in the fourth quarter last week. While I agree I've seen Rodgers call some fair catches a bit early, Bisaccia confirmed that one was essentially premeditated based on the game situation. Some moments call for a take-no-chances approach.

Carl from Wisconsin Rapids, WI

I think if there was a holding and safety on the punt that was called running into the kicker, we would have taken the two points and the ball back. In that type of defensive game, a guarantee of being up two scores would have bigger than a possible three or TD. Field position tends to be good after a safety punt also.

Maybe true, but I don't think it's a slam-dunk decision when you're just 30 yards from the end zone in such a defensive battle. It at least would've given me pause. Moreover, after the aforementioned, ahem, punt-safety in the Buffalo-Miami game, Morstead boomed a 73-yarder on the free kick that the Bills only returned to their 23, so good field position is not automatic.

Sean from San Diego, CA

Last year it was on defense, this year it has been on special teams. Gutey is beginning to look like a genius when it comes to free agency. This seems like a case of preparation meeting luck. How does Gutey keep going to the FA slot machine and coming up with triple 7's?

I don't know if I'd go that far, but the results are somewhat a reflection of the 24-7-365 mentality with regard to roster building. If a signing doesn't work as well as hoped and the cap allows you to move on quickly and try again to improve a position (first Kirksey, then Campbell; Bojorquez/O'Donnell), you do it.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Last year in the NFC the early-season darlings of the national media were the Cardinals. This year it's the Eagles. Any thoughts on why the Eagles' fire will continue to burn when the Cardinals did not? Or maybe the league will wait for GB in Week 12 to extinguish the flames and start a late-season spiral.

There's a long way to go right now, and there'll be a long way to go yet after Week 12. The Packers will still have five games remaining, most teams will have six.

The Green Bay Packers held practice at Clarke Hinkle Field on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022.

Jason from Austin, TX

Insiders, while our defense has been superb, I'm surprised by the lack of takeaways. Specifically, interceptions. Last season we had 18 interceptions in 17 games. So far, we have one pick in three games which puts us on pace for only six interceptions for the season. There's a ton of season left so this will likely change, but do you think these numbers reflect the QBs we've faced, or the defense not feeling the need to take risks by cutting off routes?

Well, the coverages were a mess in Minneapolis, Chicago attempted only 11 passes, and then the Packers faced Brady. That's about all I've got for you.

Aaron from Phoenix, AZ

I find it interesting to consider that the playbook over the course of a season evolves as opposing teams scout looks put on film. The fact is, you have to win enough games to make the postseason. But you also have to keep teams guessing as the season progresses to be ascending at the end. I read an article about the inefficiency of the "Pony" package thus far, with AR12 indicating they have only "scratched the surface." Does ML gradually unleash those plays at a purposefully restrained rate?

You pretty much answered your own question, and you can't try everything all at once, anyway. There are only so many snaps in a given game.

Kevin from Park City, UT

What is your opinion on our three backup edge players? Kingsley Enagbare, Tipa Galeai and Jonathan Garvin? It seems they are all getting snaps but has anyone started to stand out in your opinion? It's hard to see the other things they do on TV as we usually are always watching the pass rush and miss paying attention to them on other plays. Who do you think is the third man up after Smith and Gary?

It's still early in the season, but from what I've seen, I think Garvin is the best run defender of the three, Enagbare the most natural pass rusher, and Galeai the best special-teamer. But those thoughts could change because they're all young players.

Matthew from La Crosse, WI

Hey Mike/Wes, do any returning players from last year look like they are ready to make a big jump this season?

As far as the Year 2 guys, there's a lot to like so far from what we've seen of Eric Stokes, Josh Myers and Royce Newman. Stay tuned.

Eric from Omaha, NE

Watching Romeo Doubs's locker room interviews he reminds me a lot of another Packer, Jaire Alexander. Humble confidence, focus on team contributions, always looking forward, and seemingly reserved yet emotive on the field. We often talk about like positions mentoring people but I can't help but feel Romeo has taken a lot of 23's approach. What say you?

Those two are about as different as they come personality-wise, if you ask me, but that's the beauty of an NFL locker room. Guys can buy in, in their own way.

Hannes from Glendale, WI

Why are so many people trying to find a spot for Yosh Nijman other than left tackle? Having a capable backup for David Bakhtiari seems pretty valuable to me. As for Yosh who can become a free agent after this season, being perceived as a potential starter at this position seems to be a good thing, too.

You're very much in tune with my take.

Russ from Henrico, VA

Could we please stop trying to figure the best five OL? This will most assuredly anger the injury gods.

Another take with which I don't disagree.

Curt from Locust Grove, GA

If we could go back to each player's draft year, now knowing what they would become, which Packers not drafted in the first round do you think would be in a redraft?

Bakhtiari and Jenkins for sure, probably Campbell and maybe even Jones.

John from Livermore, CA

With three weeks down, what are your thoughts on the early-season surprise for Packers.

I knew Pat O'Donnell was a solid punter, but I didn't expect him to be this good.

Erik from Mansfield, TX

For the people worried about a defensive blueprint to beat the Pack, isn't this the perfect example of "players, not plays"? There's only one other pair of inside linebackers as frighteningly good as the Bucs', and they practice at Ray Nitschke Field.

I wouldn't want to shortchange San Francisco's pair of Warner and Greenlaw in any discussion, and New Orleans has Davis plus the up-and-coming Werner. So there are a handful of dynamic duos. But point taken. Not every receiving corps can just conjure up a Justin Jefferson-like impact on the game plan and the game itself, either. It's why every week is a new one in this league.

Joe from Phoenix, AZ

Hello Insiders. In regards to the question of whether players prefer playing in 95 degrees or 10 degrees, I would guess that the big uglies on both sides of the ball, the O-line and D-line, would prefer the 10 degrees.

I wouldn't be so sure. All that heavy contact in the trenches feels different in the bitter cold.

Richard from Menasha, WI

Mike, does your long walk to the stadium on game days require you to walk across Ridge Rd.? I thought I saw you crossing before the Packers-Bears game. I tried shouting a hello but it was loud, or perhaps it wasn't you.

It does, and as I neared that area for the home opener, I did hear someone shouting, "Wes! Hey Wes!" I did not acknowledge, but now I'm wondering, perhaps you'd had a few, Richard?

Alex from Eau Claire, WI

Your WYMM kind of shook me this week. On that two-point diagram, you laid out shapes to designate assignments … and it's clear, us casual fans are not watching the same game the players are seeing.

I talked about that play multiple times in my Mid-Week Chat. It was also fascinating to hear Douglas in the locker room this week describe how the coverage wasn't quite played as intended, but they still made it work in the heat of the moment. Wild stuff.

James from Willand, UK

Hey, at least you guys are going to get more beer for your dollar when you visit here.

So we got that goin' for us, which is nice.

Paul from Franklin, WI

Good morning II, even though we came out with a win in Tampa, I still feel like this team has not yet found its true identity. Yes, we're clicking on a few things and starting to get some of our main pieces back, but I don't think we know what type of team we are yet. Am I wrong to think so? Asking for myself.

I don't get hung up on identities regardless, but I think there's still a lot to discover about this team. It's just getting started.

Paul from Lindenwold, NJ

I think Coach LaFleur has just given you a new answer to all of the what-if questions about future opponents and scheduling with, "You look ahead in this league, you get your [butt] whipped."

He used 11 words. I prefer just four. To each his own. Happy Friday.

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