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Inbox: They do not fold

Playoff seeding is the only power ranking that matters

CB Tramon Williams
CB Tramon Williams

Allen from Birmingham, AL

Mike, is it tough to keep that green-screen backdrop showing the Packers' studio from blowing over in the Barbados breezes?

"Packers Unscripted: Barbados." Has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? Good morning!

Jerry from Lancaster, CA

Mike, a great article on Daryn Colledge. Moving from a hard-as-nails football player to a potentially life-or-death career in the military makes him a HERO in my book. In the all-voluntary military at this time, it is about one in 10 that serve this country. Congratulations and thank you Daryn for your work in the trenches of both the NFL and the Army National Guard.

If you haven't checked it out already, please take a few moments to read Spoff's story on the former Packers offensive lineman. It's an inspiring piece and a true testament to Colledge's courage, sacrifice and character.

David from Oak Hills, CA

I was excited to see the Packers vs. Niners game being flexed to Sunday night. It's great to see this rivalry being renewed! I would say the NFL agrees.

"Football Talk with Wayne Mausser" host Wayne Mausser called this weeks ago. I didn't want to believe it at first because I'm not keen on getting back to Green Bay at 5 a.m., but flexing the game makes sense. There are so many storylines, beginning with Matt LaFleur and all his ties to San Francisco's coaching staff. It's going to be fun.

Carl from Sussex, WI

I've been watching the Pack and NFL for 50-plus years. While the evolution in player size, strength, and straight-line speed continues to amaze, the most startling physical aspect to me is reaction time. A play can change so fast, but players "recognize, analyze, and exercise" within milliseconds; sometimes it's nearly beyond belief. Tramon Williams' INT off of Adrian Amos' deflection is an example. I assume the Packers test for reaction time? If so, who is the "quickest" Packer?

The first player who comes to mind is Aaron Jones and not just because of his fast-twitch muscle fiber. What sticks with me is how quickly his brain communicates to his feet – when to hit the hole, when to cut and when to accelerate into the second level. Jones is ridiculous. As Vic Fangio said earlier this year, it's incredible that guy was a fifth-round pick.

Robert from Salem, WI

It seems Aaron Rodgers has been looking a little more towards Jimmy Graham as an option. Do you think it is a matter of them getting comfortable with each other, getting comfortable with the offense, primary or secondary targets not getting open, or something else?

Rodgers and Graham have been comfortable with each other for a while. It's no different than Rodgers and Marcedes Lewis. It's about creating opportunities for the tight ends and executing at the right time. That 48-yard play against the Panthers was the brainchild of Matt LaFleur, Nathaniel Hackett and Luke Getsy. The Packers got the coverage they wanted and dialed it up.

Jim from Bluffton, SC

Is Allen Lazard our No. 2 or No. 3 WR? How good can he become? Are there any other undrafted WRs that have had All-Pro careers?

You can throw whatever number you want on Lazard, but the first-year receiver has earned the opportunity to play with the starting offense. Rodgers has shown a lot of faith in Lazard, which speaks volumes to the receiver's preparation and upside. I can't think of any recent undrafted receivers who have risen to All-Pro, but that's not what the Packers need him to be right now. They need continued production.

James from Charlottesville, VA

Great win for the Pack on Sunday! And in the snow, no less! It feels like a rarity to see the Pack pick up a win without a Rodgers TD through the air. My question is how many times have the Packers been victorious without AR12 throwing a TD?

I had Green Bay at 7-6 (including playoffs) in games Rodgers started and finished. This offense is more than Aaron Rodgers' arm and that should excite fans. Historically, those have been the Green Bay teams that have played well into the New Year.

Mark from Bettendorf, IA

So the 49ers get an extra three hours' rest for the big game in two weeks? Why do Packers' opponents get all the breaks?

Because it's the Packers. Networks want Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in prime time as much as possible. I don't think it's as much of a disadvantage going into the 49ers game as it is a challenge going to New York the following weekend.

Bill from Menominee, MI

I couldn't help but stay up to watch the 49ers-Seahawks game. After each team had multiple possessions in OT, I honestly thought the best and most deserved outcome for both teams and the entire NFC would have been the tie. Both teams did enough to get there, but neither team put it all together when it mattered most. That half-win would've drawn a lot of playoff-picture attention.

Spoff hit it on the head in a post-Unscripted discussion we had. I have no problem passing on first down but the decision to pass again on second down left me scratching my head, especially since the 49ers were a run-based offense missing their top two receiving targets. Kill 40 seconds off the clock and roll the dice on third down. Don't give Russell Wilson time to beat you.

Marty from Grafton, WI

I agree with Mike, the MNF game was one the most enjoyable Packer or non-Packer games I've ever watched. I read an article criticizing the game as sloppy for all the turnovers. I felt most of the turnovers were hard fought and well-earned turnovers. I didn't get the impression of a sloppy game. How did you view the game?

The most memorable games are rarely the most disciplined affairs. They typically are the ones where both teams make mistakes but one does something extra special to prevail. Seattle and San Francisco had all the dramatic elements football fans crave.

Adam from Bloomington, MN

Which of the three backs should we be the most concerned about?

They all present challenges but Tevin Coleman always has struck me as a really tough out. The Packers have played him twice before, with Coleman rushing 16 times for 87 yards. Kyle Shanahan will cycle all three in. You can't let them establish an early rhythm.

Aaron from Santa Cruz, CA

The Packers' defense has three interceptions in their opponents' end zone, and a fumble out of the end zone for a change of possession. Not all turnovers are created equal. I understand this defense is giving up yards, but it is very opportunistic. What else about the defense tells you that it is championship-caliber?

They do not fold. Their confidence doesn't waver. One big reason it's so important for the Packers to cut down on the explosive plays is because of how many ball hawks Green Bay has in the secondary. The longer you make the offense travel, the more opportunities there are for a takeaway.

Kevin from Holmen, WI

I saw John Kuhn on TV last night (Packers Live) and he stated the NFL changed the rule this year and it's now legal to pull a runner into the end zone. What's the truth?

You can push the ball carrier forward, but you're not allowed to pull them. Rule 12-1-4a states "no offensive player may lift a runner to his feet or pull him in any direction at any time." However, the play is rarely flagged. Football Zebras, citing Quirky Research, say the last time a foul was called came in a divisional playoff game between the Chiefs and Bills in 1991.

Bob from Rossford, OH

Great WYMM! It was mentioned briefly, but did we see Geronimo Allison block a corner 15-FREAKING yards down the field? "Where were you taking him?" "To the bus coach. It was time for him to go home."

Spoff and I discussed this on Monday. Geronimo Allison is an underrated blocker. I said Allen Lazard had the best build but Allison is very technically proficient. He never stops looking for work.

David from La Crosse, WI

Insiders, would you say at this point the Packers' defensive identity is a red-zone/goal-line defense?

Resiliency. You have to beat someone who never quits.

Bob from St. Louis, MO

There is no doubt that the officiating has been shaky. I think a big part of the problem, though, is the color commentators trying to channel Madden. They seem to take very close calls and dwell on them frame-by-frame to nitpick and stir controversy. Just replay it once and move on. Piling on a questionable (not blatantly wrong) call just whips up the hate for the officials. Sticking a sock in the commentators' mouth would solve some of the problems.

The tricky thing is commentators have to stall until the call on the field is announced. That's why networks started hiring former officials. They wanted to be more educated on breaking down calls in that void. There are three jobs I'd never do – sales, telemarketing and NFL officiating.

Kevin from Orlando, FL

What do you think is the reason for Oren Burks' lack of snaps on defense? Even with his injury he was expected to have a big role in the defense once he came back. He's athletic enough to cover TEs and is physical from what I've seen in stopping the run. What gives?

Burks is kind of caught between two worlds right now. Mike Pettine likes using safeties in the box of his sub-packages and B.J. Goodson is entrenched right now next to Blake Martinez in the base. The Packers only played four snaps of traditional nickel against Carolina, which led to Burks only playing a handful of defensive snaps.

Martin from Darien, WI

I don't put too much stock in weekly power rankings, but are the Packers being disrespected a little bit? I see them listed at No. 6 or 7 in quite a few rankings. I even heard Wayne Larrivee on the radio this morning saying the Packers are the fourth-best team in the NFC behind SF, NO, and Seattle. It seems like an 8-2 record with a HOF QB at the helm doesn't get as much respect as it used to.

The Packers aren't concerned with where pundits have them slotted. If the playoffs started today, Green Bay would be the No. 2 seed in the NFC. The focus now is being No. 1. At the end of the day, playoff seeding is the only power ranking that matters.

Jason from Austin, TX

I think it's great that Rodgers is plugging Aaron Jones into the MVP conversation. I think it's well deserved with the season he's having. However, I don't think there's any way he'd win over CMC. If you remove Aaron Jones from the Packers' offense, the Packers probably wouldn't be 8-2, but they might be 6-4 or 7-3 and still have a great offense. If you remove CMC from Carolina they'd be 1-8, if they're lucky. I guess it depends on how you define MVP but CMC is Carolina's offense this season.

Maybe, but what happens if McCaffrey has 2,000-plus yards and 20-plus touchdowns on an 8-8 team? It becomes the old Zack Greinke/Felix Hernandez argument: Can a starting pitcher win the Cy Young on a non-playoff team? The NFL MVP is almost always tied to a contender.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Sixteen of the NFL teams have already used at least two men at quarterback this season. How much of the self-scout is devoted to keeping "12" healthy?

Aaron Rodgers is the king of the mountain. It's everyone's job to keep him there. Some self-scout will include evaluating what the offensive front is doing, but keeping Rodgers healthy is a year-round emphasis.

Jamie from Sydney, Australia

Hey guys, love your work. How's Equanimeous St. Brown going in his recovery and is he able to return this year, or have the Packers used both designated to returns this year?

St. Brown seemed to be doing well the last time I saw him in Green Bay, but he is not able to return this year since the Packers placed him on injured reserve during the cut to 53. He'll be back in 2020.

Isaac from Columbia, TN

The question by Patrick from Inver Grove Heights paved the way for a question I have been saving for the bye week: Have the players or coaching staff commented at all on the effect (positive or negative) of the joint practices in the offseason? We heard a lot about them when they are happening. I haven't heard anything since.

The Packers are 8-2, the Texans are 6-3, and both teams are at the top of their respective divisions. I haven't followed up on that with players but you can't argue with the results.

Michael from Chanhassen, MN

This last weekend was one of the best if not the best weekend of games for me I have had as a fan. Being a Gopher fan, Saturday's win over PSU was the best game I have been to as a season ticketholder (I have seen my share of bad football over the years), but it's still second to the snow-globe game at Lambeau! That was surreal.

It made for a great atmosphere. The crowd was a lot of fun and kept that energy until the bitter end.

Jesse from Oshkosh, WI

What do the Packers have to do to win this weekend?

Relax, though a Vikings and/or 49ers loss would also help.

Daniel from Rothschild, WI

Getting tired of the league moving game times. Hard to schedule football get-togethers when you don't know when the game will be, especially when you live 150 miles away from the party. Please make the NFL stop this. Don't make me come up there.

I sympathize with you. Ma Hod opted against going to the Carolina game after it was flexed from noon to 3:25 p.m. Those three hours make a difference in northeast Wisconsin after daylight savings time. The good news is it probably won't affect the Packers' two remaining home games.

Bruce from Green Bay, WI

Good morning. When you hit the road to cover Packer games what type of entertainment do you look forward to? I know on my travels I look forward to the different ethnic or cultural cuisines first, then whatever my wife enjoys, never any disputes as my wife is also a chef. How about your wife, Wes, is she able to join you on your travels?

I love to eat more than I do travel. My silver lining on road trips is finding a good dinner joint. I'm counting down the days to New York because a good friend of mine, Giovanni Bartocci, runs this amazing Italian restaurant, "Via Della Pace," which has me salivating as I write this. My wife has never joined me on a road trip. We've talked about it but it never came to fruition. Maybe someday.

Dennis from Beavercreek, OH

Here is something to ponder over the bye week. I believe the officiating will be better next season as it will be 2020.

I am dead inside.

George from Hutchinson, MN

Just got back from Barbados. Thought I saw Mike wearing a large fruit hat while dancing the Samba past my table. He tried to snatch my fruit bowl for his head-dress. Think he won first place.

Spoff gonna Spoff.

Eric from Green Bay, WI

As soon as Aaron Rodgers made his way into the MVP conversation, he and the Packers laid an egg in LA. Now, the conversation is beginning to turn to home-field advantage throughout the playoffs leading into a game where the 49ers appeared weak, but were really actually injured more than anything. This journey has been amazing. It is fun to speculate what could be but that's going to create expectations. Just beat SF.

It's a week-to-week league. Do your 1/11 and the rest takes care of itself. Make 1/11 = 1-0. Stitch that on a pillow.