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Inbox: They always believe

There’s never a dull moment at Ford Field


Ken from New York, NY

Ya know, I understand why the Packers can benefit from the bye week, but I think I'm the one who needs the bye week to recuperate from a season of shattered nerves.

By the time Mason Crosby's kick sailed in, I was completely spent keeping up with the ebb and flow of the game. I can't imagine what fans were feeling. There's never a dull moment at Ford Field. Good morning!

Robert from Salem, WI

What positives would you take from the Lions game, aside from the victory and the No. 2 seeding?


Wayne from Williamsburg, VA

Am I wrong, or does this team have the same "feel" to it that the 2010 team had in the locker room going into the playoffs?

I said something very similar to one of my colleagues this past week. While the 2010 and 2019 teams are two completely different teams – and the '19 version is much healthier – they share similar swagger and energy. An undefeatable mindset that there's no deficit too large to overcome for this team. They believe. They always believe.

Craig from Wink, TX

I guess we've known the identity of the team since the fifth game of the year. It doesn't matter how we win. Just win.

This team finds a way to win more than any other Packers squad I've covered. You have to beat them for 60 minutes or it'll find a way to claw back. Green Bay must dissect what happened in the first half against Detroit and make certain it doesn't happen again on Jan. 12. The margin for error gets much narrower once the postseason begins.

John from Peoria, IL

What have we learned about Matt LaFleur after one regular season?

He's a leader of men. There were seven new head coaches in the NFL this season and LaFleur is the only one leading his team into the postseason. You don't have that kind of success without knowing your players and what motivates them.

Sam from Sun Prairie, WI

Hi Spoff and Wes, Preston Smith has been solid all year long but hasn't had as many splash plays the second half of the season. In watching the replays, it seemed like he was getting double-teamed on most plays. Why do you think this is the case instead of Za'Darius Smith?

That's probably a small side effect of moving Za'Darius inside more. Now, it's Preston who's getting the extra attention outside. I doubt either Smith cares at this point as long as the defense is playing well and team is winning.

Trevor from Carmel, NY

How 'bout that Jaire Alexander? At the time, the devil on my shoulder let out a deep groan. The angel on the other side told me what a heads-up play it was. Talk about an underrated play that saved the game. He catches that ball, it's game.

A smart and heads-up play by Alexander accepting the lesser of two evil outcomes. Some players might have given up on the play once Alexander started falling, but instead he tripped up Chris Lacy and lived to play another down. Because Alexander is confident you won't beat him again. Sure, the Lions scored three points on the drive but it wasn't a touchdown – and that helped the Packers win the game.

JR from East Moline, IL

I thought that penalty on Alexander for tackling the ball carrier was very bad. I don't know the technicalities of the rule or what it is called, but all I saw was a smaller defender do what he had to do to get someone on the ground. I didn't see a body slam or excessive force, or anything. To me, it looked like Jaire let go once he got him going on the way to the ground.

I understood the reason behind the flag because the NFL has put an emphasis on eliminating "suplex" tackles. However, I felt like the refs were incorrect in ruling, "After the play was over…" The only thing later than that flag was the whistle. I don't know about you guys but I didn't hear a whistle until Danny Amendola was in the air.

Jim from Portsmouth, NH

Many times on artificial turf, one sees the release of "dark matter" as a player drags or skids his foot across the field. What is this stuff? The first of 268 photos displayed in Insider Inbox clearly shows this.

It's called "crumb rubber." It's typically made up of ground up tires.

Steve from Davenport, IA

Aaron Rodgers had a lot of near misses on Sunday. Is that easily correctable in practice?

I loved the tweet Dan Orlovsky sent out Sunday night about the eight "absolutely insane/elite/ridiculous" throws" Rodgers made on Sunday. Did he miss a few along the way? Absolutely, but they're also correctable – stepping into a throw here and timing his release there. In crunch time, he led his team to victory.

Ashley from Chicago, IL

During this bye week, how much work – if any – are the players and coaches allowed to do?

I'm pretty sure the only rule is you can't have players practice on four consecutive days. Teams are also allowed to conduct one padded practice a week during the postseason. The rest is up to the coach's discretion. The Packers have given the players off on Tuesday and Wednesday. They'll then run two "quick" practices on Thursday and Friday, according to LaFleur.

Connor from Boca Raton, FL

Getting fooled on the famous "Philly Special" two weeks in a row is enough for me. Keeping an eye on the QB in those situations has to be a focus going forward as teams have seen it work twice now. I know the Saints would love to get Taysom Hill in that situation.

Fool me once, right? The Packers need to stay on high alert for that the rest of the postseason. Whether they play the Saints or not, that's on film for everyone to see. It was a good call by Darrell Bevell.

Tom from Gurnee, IL

Packers went 2-0 against the Lions this year and in 120 minutes of football led for zero seconds. Has this ever happened before in a season?

It has only happened once before. The San Francisco 49ers beat the New Orleans Saints twice in the span of three weeks despite never leading in either game. I love your mall, by the way.

Mark from West Des Moines, IA

What was your favorite play from the Packers' game against the Lions?

The fourth-and-1 fade to Davante Adams from the Detroit 31 with 5 minutes, 57 seconds remaining. There is no higher percentage short-yardage play than Aaron Rodgers throwing a quick out to Adams, especially after Aaron Jones was stopped on third-and-short.

Bill from Raleigh, NC

Hi Wes, one of the fans at the Raleigh Packers bar turned to me after the interception and she said, "Why was Blake Martinez playing safety on that play?" I had nothing. Why was Blake so far downfield? Does he need to change his number?

Martinez was asked this same question in the locker room Sunday night. His reply: "We were in a type of Cover 2. It was just a certain thing we've been working on lately, letting a guy, once they over-flood to one side of the field, I can drop back and then read off the quarterback."

Robert from Verona, WI

Sometimes it's difficult to know if players have a long career ahead of them, or if they're just good enough to make the roster now but won't last. There have been a lot of question marks around the receiver position, but it seems that Allen Lazard is growing into a player with a lot ahead of him. Do you agree?

The game isn't too big for Lazard. That, paired with his natural talent, is going to keep the former Iowa State standout in the league for a long time. As Lazard said a couple weeks ago, he's thrived at every level of football he's ever played. So why would it be a surprise he's finding success now in Green Bay?

Jim from Marietta, GA

Can you speculate on the impact Milt Hendrickson has had this year? Thanks!

I get the feeling it was significant. Not only did Hendrickson provide valuable insight into Smith's time in Baltimore, but he's also one of the most respected talent evaluators in the NFL right now.

Mark from West Bend, WI

Once Lucas Patrick entered the game, it was interesting that Aaron Rodgers came under center and they ran a couple plays right off his backside. He also put a couple smiles on my face in a stressful game. The catch of Aaron Jones on the sideline should count as a Lambeau Leap at Ford Field, and the turf monster at the 47-yard line on the Jones screen pass was priceless. Oh to be in the O-line film room today. He played an awesome game getting thrown in the fire, extension well-deserved.

I thought Patrick was exceptional in relief of Corey Linsley. Spoff will have more on his performance during his "What You Might've Missed" column later today. A starting guard at Duke, Patrick picked up the center position in Green Bay and has become a reliable top reserve at all three interior positions. That's a skill.

Steve from Kansas City, MO

I normally don't pay much attention to individual awards, but I just heard a discussion for Coach of the Year and our HC wasn't in the discussion! A first-year coach leads a non-playoff team to improve to 13 wins and a second seed and is ignored? What's up with that?

I hope LaFleur and Brian Gutekunst are both considered to be honored for their respective awards. I always felt it was a travesty Mike McCarthy wasn't the NFL Coach of the Year in 2007, 2011 or 2014. LaFleur has led one of the biggest turnarounds in the NFL this year. I think it has to be between LaFleur and Kyle Shanahan.

Steve from Colorado Springs, CO

The regular season is over and looking back there were a couple of things that I didn't expect. I was surprised with the Ravens' dominance and the Niners going from the bottom to the top in one season. What two things surprised you over the season?

The Packers' turnaround and the Chargers' regression.

Dennis from Batavia, IL

How many on the current roster (and assuming Raven Greene makes it 53 again) have never been in the NFL playoffs before?

I think it's around 30 players on the active roster who haven't been to the playoffs yet. It's definitely more than half the team.

Charlie from Cameron, NC

I had to listen to this game. Wayne Larrivee said it in the fourth quarter during the comeback, "I don't think Detroit has enough to hold off this Packers comeback." In essence, good teams will find a way to win. Did you see 33's shirt at the airport thanking Barr for the motivation? I had to pause the video, do a screen capture and zoom in. Also, who poses the biggest problems for the Pack on the 12th? It's gotta be NO, right?

There's no question the Saints are formidable but I like the Packers' chances in a night game at Lambeau Field.

Dave from Roswell, GA

So why isn't the 49ers game in Lambeau next year?

That's how the rotation works. The NFC North plays at the NFC West in 2020. That means the North champion (Green Bay) plays the West champion (San Francisco).

Rachel from Chicago, IL

What do you think the chances are that MN plays GB in GB for the NFC Championship Game?

Never say never but they appear remote. That would require the Vikings winning both inside the Superdome and at Levi's Stadium in back-to-back weeks.

Nic from London, UK

Does it matter we only beat two winning teams? You get there how you get there and don't pick your schedule (we did beat a lot of 8-8's, 7-9's) but I think the big question for most of us is can we actually beat a really good team? We shall see...

The Packers had three wins over winning teams (Minnesota twice and Kansas City). You know who else had three wins over winning teams? New Orleans.

Joshua from Houston, TX

So the ideal playoff situation is the Vikings and Eagles win and not just because they are underdogs?

If the Saints chose to exit the playoffs next weekend, I don't think anyone in the NFC would be upset about it.

Dave from East Burke, VT

So the yellow brick road goes through San Francisco. What did the Pack learn from the first visit that could help?

The lesson is you come at the king, you best not miss. If you give Kyle Shanahan an inch, he'll take 10 yards. If you don't move the ball early on Robert Saleh's defense, it's going to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. The 49ers aren't infallible, but they are tough to beat. Just ask the Seahawks.

Todd from Brighton, MI

Truly a game of inches, eh?

Maybe even centimeters.

George from Vancouver, BC

While I am thrilled over GBs first-round bye, I am still in shock over the officiating on the 49ers-Seahawks game. I can only imagine the outrage of Seahawks fans for the blatant PI non-call at the end of the game. Can you try to explain to knowledgeable fans how the NFL officiating machinery could ignore that?

I cannot recall a time in professional sports when a rule has been added, and by the end of the year, it's just simply being ignored. I lost five minutes of my life watching New York review the incomplete pass against Chicago for absolutely no reason, but we're going to overlook that. If nothing else, review the play for optics.

Joe from Las Vegas, NV

You probably received this question before but whose jacket did AR have on at the postgame interview?

It was a coat Billy Turner designed for Rodgers, based on his Instagram post.

Ryan from Chicago, IL

Win ugly all the way to the Super Bowl!

They don't hand out different versions of the Lombardi Trophy to commemorate which team had the cleanest road to the Super Bowl. They're all the same and equally beautiful. See you guys in 2020.