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Inbox: There’s still plenty to learn

Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins
Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins

Rick from Kenosha, WI

First, we're talkin' 'bout practice, then playoffs?! Playoffs?! Where else but the II can you find a couple of all-time rants in one place!

Insider Inbox – melding your all-time favorite sports quotes together since 2016. Good morning!

Mike from Lompoc, CA

With the Packers’ new offense held to 10 points in a win and the Vikings putting up 28 on Atlanta, it seems the Packers have shown little of the new playbook and there's lots of film to watch on the Vikings. Do you see this as an advantage heading into Game 2?

Sure, you also have to remember the Packers are breaking down film of Kirk Cousins dropping back to pass a whopping 11 times. New coaches or not, there’s still plenty to learn about both of these teams.

James from Murfreesboro, TN

Do you think the Packers’ defense will continue to be this good all season?

It’s a long season and every top 10 defense has an off night. What matters is consistency and the ability to sustain that energy on a weekly basis. The Chicago game was a good start. This defense has 15 more chances to keep proving it’s the real deal.

Markus from Aurora, CO

Insiders, is a "fast and steady" offensive start against Minnesota (or most teams on the 2019 schedule) just a fan's pipe dream, or do you think we will see significant progress this coming week?

I think you’ll see progress, this week and in the weeks that follow. I still believe the parts are in place for the offense to get off to the “fast and steady” start you desire. It’s not a fever dream. Chicago and Minnesota are two of the toughest defenses the Packers are going to see all season, so my only advice is to not judge a book by its prologue.

Josh from Hackensack, NJ

Greetings, I was at the Jets-Packers in 2010. I watched the Tim Masthay show. Listening to the NBC announcers the importance of JK Scott was completely lost. He flipped field position, limited returns and then with the game on the line booms a 63-yarder in a huge spot. For the younger fans go back to the Packers-Broncos Super Bowl. A short kick set up the final touchdown.

This is why Scott was this week’s “Player on the Rise” and we put “Clutch punt caps career night for JK Scott” as the headline on the story. In a league with this much parity, special teams often can be the difference between a win and a loss. Fortunately for the Packers, Scott balled out and the punt team helped ice that win in Chicago.

The Packers practiced indoors as they prepared for the Vikings' visit to Lambeau Field for Week 2.

Kevin from Grand Rapids, MI

I'm wondering if Elgton Jenkins played any snaps vs. the Bears? With the competition so tight going into Game 1, will we see him work in some snaps moving forward or do the coaches prefer to go with just the starting five as long as all are healthy?

Once a decision is made, teams tend to stick with their starting five. They don’t rotate a guy in just to get him looks unless it’s a special package with six O-linemen. Jenkins played two snaps on field-goal protection. His job right now is to watch, learn and stay ready.

Chistow from Dallas, TX

"What You Might’ve Missed" for sure pointed out something I missed. Seeing that Rashan Gary only had six snaps doesn't show a lot of promise, but in the play he is featured on in WYMM, he flashed some incredible strength. It is pointed out that he knocks Kyle Long on his butt, but what wasn't pointed out is that right after that, he seemingly throws Charles Leno to the ground with a swipe of his arm. I watched that video 50 times with a smile on my face. That's some raw power.

Gary’s performance against the Bears reminded me a lot of Casey Hayward against the 49ers in 2012. The rookie didn’t play much, but from the snaps he did see, there was a lot to like. He’s playing behind two absolute studs right now, but his time will come.

Rob from Wilmington, NC

If our defense shows up against the Vikings like it did in Chicago, can we get Pettine a game ball please?

I’ll have my people talk to Matt LaFleur’s people.

Scott from New Orleans, LA

This week’s game versus the Vikings is very intriguing, especially in the trenches. The Packers’ offensive line and Vikings’ defensive line are relatively the same and know their competition well, while the Packers’ defensive line and Vikings’ offensive line have made considerable changes. What matchups along the front lines should we be watching?

Kenny Clark against Garrett Bradbury, the Vikings’ rookie first-round pick who started last week at center. Winning on the interior, on both sides of the ball, is going to be critical in this one.

Meagan from Mosinee, WI

Who will be your matchup to watch this Sunday and why?

Besides the one I just mentioned, it’s Davante Adams and Xavier Rhodes. That’s the matchup you put on the marquee. They’re both tacticians who take a lot of pride in their craft. I’m curious to see how Mike Zimmer approaches covering Adams as he moves around the field. There was one play last week where I think Chicago had three defensive backs on him.

Steve from Rockville, MD

What will be the Packers’ biggest test this season?

Since the NFL schedule was released in April, two things jumped right off the page – this early stretch against divisional opponents and the back-to-back road games against Kansas City and Los Angeles Chargers.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, besides getting the W this weekend, what would you most like to see the Packers accomplish?

I’d like to see the Packers establish the run right away against Minnesota. I think the three-and-outs early against the Bears were more a product of not being able to get into favorable third-and-short situations.

Sal from Hailey, ID

I've heard much made of the advantages Fangio will have going up against Mitchell Trubisky and CHI this week. Is the LaFleur-Cousins link just too old to have any influence on this game?

There’s obvious familiarity between the two but it’s been five years since LaFleur worked with Cousins. So I don’t know how much of an advantage that gives LaFleur besides having a good barometer of where Cousins has improved over that time.

Craig from Lehigh Acres, FL

If a team has great depth and healthy receivers, do you think they would change up their starters to throw off a defense? Especially early in the season. Like a defense is planning on these receivers and they don't play as much. Obviously No. 1 plays but what if 4 and 5 get the start over 2 and 3? Just curious.

Defensive coordinators prepare for anyone. Trevor Davis only played 17 snaps against the Bears but I’m sure Zimmer is still paying close attention to him. The area I think the Packers want to exploit this season is with their positional versatility and mixing up their skill-position players with a variety of personnel packages. You got a little taste of that last week with how many two-TE looks Green Bay showed the Bears.

John from Topeka, KS

I've got to agree with Wes on tie game results. While I agree that the Packers "should" have won the Vikings tie last year, would we rather have seen Minnesota somehow come out in protracted overtime and carry off a win, after all that preceded? The injustice of that game shouldn't be laid against the fact it ended in a tie, but the officiating. We’re not the Saints, however, so we'll get over it... right?

Should the Packers have won that game? Absolutely. That was a beautiful play by Jaire Alexander and a terrible call on Clay Matthews. However, that game also was more than that one play. In the end, it wasn’t enough to escape those “narrow margins” Spoff talked about last week. You are what your record says and the final result is what the scoreboard reads.

Tristan from Durham, NC

Leandro remembers the pass interference, but forgets that the Vikings missed every single field-goal attempt (two of which were in overtime), while the Packers failed on their game-clinching field-goal attempt and had a failed drive in OT. Both teams had multiple opportunities to win the game, and failed. I'm with Wes, the tie was deserved.

This, more or less, is what I was alluding to.

Michael from Berrien Springs, MT

For the past few years it seems the Vikings’ O-line was their weakness. I didn't see the game but it looks like they had no trouble running the ball. Are they much improved on the O-line or were the Falcons just not strong on their defense?

I think there are some nice young building blocks on that Minnesota offensive line. I also think Atlanta’s run defense was a mess in that game.

Phil from Marietta, GA

When home-field advantage is discussed, it comes down almost 100 percent to the noise with which the opposing offense has to cope. New Orleans, Seattle and Minnesota are a few of the loudest and therefore most difficult venues in which to play. Do you think the Packers' fans will step up into that top tier of stadiums (stadia?) for this crucial contest or will the “sit down, you're blocking my view” contingent win out?

I think an excited, energized fan base goes a long way in establishing home-field advantage. I consider the three you mentioned outliers. The Superdome traps noise, Seattle puts speakers behind the visiting team bench and U.S. Bank has speakers on the roof of the stadium among its other gimmicks. Yes, their fans have something to do with the environment but some of that is synthesized, too. I’ll just say this – if the Packers’ defense plays as well at home as it did in Chicago, people will get out of their seats. Whatever happens, just please don’t do the wave on offense.

Jeremy from Phoenix, AZ

Hey guys, so I keep seeing article after article basically saying that Lambeau Field no longer holds that intimidation factor, mainly due to fans’ lack of enthusiasm. Unfortunately I've never been to Lambeau so my opinion means nothing. However with all the recent gimmicks with the lights, foghorn, etc., there seems to be some truth behind all of the accusations that Lambeau Field has become, well, docile. I hope it's not true.

I don’t know what the outside narrative is, and honestly, I don’t care. There’s a lot on the line Sunday. With it being the home opener, I’m expecting the Lambeau Field crowd to be at its best.

Aaron from Des Moines, IA

How are the plane rides to games? Are they energetic messing around or quiet listening to headphones? What’s your favorite memory of a plane ride before or after a game? I imagine plane rides home vary significantly depending on the outcome of a game. I’ve just noticed every time they’re getting off a plane somewhere they all have headphones and no one’s really smiling or laughing.

It’s a business trip. That’s why you see so many serious faces upon arrival. It’s a complete 180 after road victories, though. The energy ramps up 10-fold. The liveliest flight I’ve been a part of was undoubtedly after the Packers beat the Cowboys in the NFC Divisional playoffs. It was buzzing.

David from San Francisco, CA

Pretty difficult to show the officials you’ve given yourself up, Mike, when you’re rolling around trying to secure the catch with two seconds left. The Texans defender blew it, in my opinion.

Spoff is correct but that doesn’t mean the Texans defender had to help them by touching him down. You already gave them eight yards with your coverage. It’s not like there was a huge risk in him popping back up with two seconds left.

Mark from St. Pete Beach, FL

Out of curiosity, do the Raiders get their two picks back since Brown was cut before the season started?

No. I think what you’re thinking of is how a team releasing an unrestricted free agent it signed affects the compensatory pick equation.

Amy from Bayport, MN

Hey there, Wes. I have to say Spoff was in top form yesterday. Great Jim Mora reference. One of the best press conference performances of all time. Did you see Delanie Walker throw a little shade at the Browns (and media) during his postgame locker interview with the great Dennis Green “they are who we thought they were” quote? The classics never go out of style.

I thought it was perfect. Not only because of how hyped the Browns were coming into the season, but also how everyone seems to be sleeping on the Titans. That was a good football team. The defense was suffocating, and if Marcus Mariota can stay healthy, the offense is tailored to his strengths.

Eric from Oshkosh, WI

"Handing both teams a loss in the case of a tie would force teams to play for the win in most cases." Matthew Stafford threw what should have been an interception (I believe it was deflected) with less than 30 seconds left in OT from his own 20-yard line. That play almost cost them the game, but it happened because they weren't going to run the clock out and settle for a tie. They were clearly trying to win, despite the unlikely situation. I don't think teams need motivation to win in OT.

So then what do you make of the Cardinals punting with a minute left? Say what you will but forcing them to go for it without the consolation prize would be an interesting twist.

Tim from Green Bay, WI

So what's your pick for "must try item" off the new menu?

Why did it take until 2019 until I’ve finally heard of a corn-brat?

Tony from Colorado Springs, CO

"Win more games than the Vikings, Bears and Lions." Actually, the way to win the division is to lose less games than the Vikings, Bears and Lions.

Thanks for clearing that up.

Gary from Davenport, IA

The injury situation for the Brewers reminded me of the 2010 Packers who somehow won the title despite having so many players out for the year. But now the Brewers are missing their "Rodgers." Is it too much to expect them to make the playoffs?

Good question. Wait another 24 hours and Spoff will have an answer for you Friday.

Luke from La Crosse, WI

Did you see that the Patriots don't play a playoff team from last year until November? Their first eight games involve one team with a winning record the year before (Steelers). This is the third consecutive year they've had the easiest schedule in the NFL (Washington Post). Parody? What parody? There's the Chiefs and Patriots and then there's the NFC meat grinder.

That’s a parody all right.

Lucas from Galesville, WI

*Parity, lol.

Too late.

Cindy from Los Angeles, CA

Hi Insiders, why don't specialists get to introduce themselves on SNF?

That’s a really good question. Instead, they just get cold French fries.

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