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Inbox: They followed his lead

QB Aaron Rodgers
QB Aaron Rodgers

Erik from Sisters, OR

Looks like this week the most important defensive stat was red zone, holding Detroit to FGs was huge. Third-down defense was dang good too, though. It was nice to see the defense head right back out after the fumbled punt return with no fall-off; they handled that emotional swing well. Who's your unsung hero from the last game?

Molly Crosby. Good morning!

Darrell from Richmond, VA

So the "Legend" of Aaron Rodgers is back?

I thought Rodgers was magnificent Monday night. His 90.0 passer rating doesn’t tell the whole story. How about how Rodgers rallied and stayed the course in spite of six dropped passes, one of which would have been a 33-yard TD and another by the end zone? He told the guys on the sideline they got this and pressed forward. That touchdown to Allen Lazard was as precise a throw as you’ll see in this league. They followed his lead.

Joshua from Pineville, LA

Another week, another example of AR12's leadership. I loved last week's piece on former UDFA/PS player Lucas Patrick. This week it's Lazard. The best leaders trust their teammates, and it's clear AR trusts these two guys who are "barely" on the team.

So what you’re saying is there’s more to being a leader than what fits into a 10-second video clip on social media that talking heads and pundits can manipulate and fill TV time with for two-hours-a-day, five-days-a-week? Brilliant!

Marc from Dollard des Ormeaux, Quebec

Longtime Packer fan, first time with an II question. Common sense says there is a learning curve and many new coaches may not be as strong with the in-game and halftime adjustments when compared to the top guys with experience. Many factors are certainly involved but it seems as though the coaches, especially on offence, are doing a better job at this over the last couple of games. With the Insider perspective, is Coach LaFleur ahead of the curve?

I really think all the attention on LaFleur’s offense has led to his actual stewardship of the team being somewhat overlooked. It’s not easy being a first-year coach and setting a clear vision for the entire team. LaFleur did that from Day 1 and he’s shown a willingness to adapt. I think we’ve seen constant progress with in-game adjustments on both offense and defense over the first six games.

Casey from Minneapolis, MN

To Ross from Hudson, no, you most certainly are not the only one with a smile on your face when Marcedes makes a catch! I am thrilled the front office brought him back this year. He seems like a great guy on and off the field.

As LaFleur said, Marcedes Lewis is a pro’s pro. I thought that spoke volumes when he was the first to come give Darrius Shepherd a hug after the rookie’s fumble. He’s also having a really good year after dropping 10 pounds in the offseason. Those two 25-yard catches were critical, especially the second one that sparked the seven-play, 79-yard drive that led to Lazard’s 35-yard touchdown.

Tim from Rochester, MN

The best Packer WRs have all had a common trait: they attack the ball. With Davante out, our young WRs have seemed soft until Lazard stepped up. The thing I enjoyed most was his aggressiveness, attacking the ball and challenging the DB physically. He was not to be denied. Well done, young man.

And when you go 6-5, 227, there’s a lot not to deny. I made this comment on “Unscripted” and I want to mention it again in this space – everyone wants to compare the physical traits of receivers, which is fine. But mentally, Lazard reminds me a lot of a young Davante Adams – humble, but ultra-confident in his abilities.

Kevin from Grand Rapids, MI

With Allen Lazard only 10 pounds lighter than Robert Tonyan, have the Packers ever, or would they ever consider running him as a TE to get him more snaps?

A few teams checked in with Lazard about whether he’d be open to moving to tight end leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft. He was open to doing whatever it took to make a team, but he’s solely a receiver in Green Bay. He made a series of changes with his body over the summer to ensure that.

Mike from Buckeye, AZ

So does Mason Crosby now get the credit for the “Lambeau Lift,” or has someone else already taken his approach?

Works for me. As an aside, Bryan Bulaga’s reaction was great when we informed him Crosby received an assist on his first-ever leap.

Gerry from Lyon, France

Am I the only one who noticed that Scott went in for a very clean (and unassisted!) Lambeau Leap right next to Crosby? Vive the punter!

He’s 6-foot-6 and the son of one of the greatest pole vaulters in Wisconsin state history. Scott better be able to clear a 6-foot wall.

Sean from San Diego, CA

I've heard a lot of grumbling during the game and after about how the Pack ended the first and second half. They were playing to win not score "fantasy" points. Go Pack Go!

I loved Jamaal Williams’ reply in the postgame locker room to this question: “Look, I’m waiting on somebody to say, ‘Hey you should’ve scored to get me my points.’ I’m going to be like, ‘Well, I want the dub more than your points.’ So sorry.”

Gordy from Plymouth, WI

The Lions wanted to let Williams score and let him run right past some defenders. Would they have been allowed to grab Williams before he went down and then pull him into the end zone thereby allowing a TD?

I don’t know about pulling but they could’ve pushed him. That was one of the big things the coaches and Rodgers were reminding Williams about. I was kind of surprised Jarrad Davis didn’t try to push him after abandoning his middle gap. Regardless, Williams was smart and made the right call.

Jon from Minneapolis, MN

I just wanted to give a shout-out to Dean Lowry, who I thought played lights out in the run game. I know he was getting a lot of one-on-ones due to the Smiths and Kenny, but he handled his business and consistently beat his man. Great team D.

Seriously, how good was Dean Lowry Monday night? That was his best game of the year, in my opinion. He was like a man possessed in the trenches. The Packers’ run defense knew it needed a stout performance against Detroit to not only win but also put the Philadelphia game behind it. Lowry, Kenny Clark and the rest brought it from start to finish.

Paul from De Pere, WI

Has Kevin King been a slow starter throughout his career? As goes King, so goes our D early in games. The good news is King and our D seem to get better as the game goes along.

It’s hard to say everything that went into those first plays of the opening two series without talking to Mike Pettine, but I’ve never thought of King to be a slow starter. He finished the way needed to, though. As I’ve been saying, the defense is better when King’s on the field.

Glen from Leesburg, VA

Wow, what a great win, and a division one at that. One play that really stood out to me was the interception Rodgers threw. The reason it stood out to me was the way Elgton Jenkins hustled his tail off to run down the DB from Detroit. He didn't make the tackle, but he certainly cut him off and allowed the rest of the team to get back to minimize the gain. If Jenkins isn't on the all-rookie team, that would be a crime.

There were several individuals who made hustle plays against the Lions to pull that victory, including Jenkins. Another one that sticks out to me is Jaire Alexander chasing down Kenny Golladay on the first play of the game. Stopping them from scoring a touchdown there and eventually settling for a field goal was critical.

Blaine from Fennimore, WI

Unsung hero of the game is the entire defense. It may have given up two big plays early in the game but holding the Lions to five field goals was crucial to staying in the game.

Three keys to the defense’s overall performance – stopping the run to create third-and-favorable situations, getting after Matthew Stafford on third downs and not crumbling in the face of adversity.

Griffin from Belmont, NC

The Smiths came in and changed the culture and expectations for this defense. From the outside, it looks like they did it correctly and included the entire defense with all their camaraderie. Could you see it being a negative if a team brought in two big free agents that became friends but kept mostly to themselves, even if they were just as dominant? Is football a big enough team sport that other players will naturally gravitate to the great players even if they came from another team?

Every team and situation is different. Jared Cook and Jahri Evans weren’t the loudest guys but they fit in well with the locker room. I just feel like Za’Darius and Preston are the right guys at the right time for the right defense. They’ve been successful thus far and want to take everyone along for the ride. It doesn’t matter if you play offense, defense or special teams.

Keith from Bakersfield, CA

Looks like Oren Burks only played five snaps Monday night. Are they easing him back in, or did he suffer a setback?

There was no setback for Burks. The Packers played a lot of traditional base against Detroit and B.J. Goodson is still the guy next to Blake Martinez in that package.

Max from Milwaukee, WI

How tough is the Packers’ schedule? Not only do they play in one of the tougher divisions, but they also get teams coming off of byes two weeks in a row.

It’s funny how it works out, but all that matters right now is the Raiders.

Mike from Verona, WI

Two receivers got their opportunity Monday night against the Lions. One looked like the moment wasn't too big for him and stepped up and other receiver/returner looked the moment was too big. It must be one of the hardest things to predict for the coaches and personnel department. Here's to Darrius Shepherd getting another opportunity.

It was a tough night for Shepherd, but Rodgers and LaFleur each propped the rookie up after the game. The Packers won. That’s the important thing. Shepherd will be back.

Rachel from Rhinelander, WI

What is the rule when a defensive player grabs a linesman’s jersey under his chin and pushes? Is that legal or is the neck in play?

The NFL said Monday the second illegal hands to the face on Trey Flowers shouldn’t have been called, but I still argue he needed to adjust his rush. It’s no different than Kenny Clark dealing with those defensive holding calls in recent weeks. Right or wrong, Flowers already had been flagged once, so it was plausible the officials were going to look for that again. I feel like Flowers flew too close to the sun when he put his hands near David Bakhtiari’s head-and-neck area the second time and the officials threw the flag. Was it the call incorrect? Troy Vincent says yes but it was the call nevertheless. Right or wrong, the call is the call.

Mike from Jasper, CA

I believe Kenny Clark was called for holding against the Bears and I was wondering if Flowers should have been called for holding and not hands to the face. He had a good grab of the collar of the shoulder pads. You don't hear about D holding at the line of scrimmage very often, but is it allowed?

As I told Kuhn after the game, I was very surprised to see them call hands to the face against Flowers with everything that’s going on in the trenches. At the same time, his hands were up and the human eye doesn’t register a thousand frames per second. Whatever it was, it was enough for the flag to come out.

Donny from Green Bay, WI

My only referee comment is that they seem to be erring on the side of calling a turnover or touchdown so that it can be automatically reviewed. The problem then lies in the fact they need clear evidence to overturn what is probably the wrong call to begin with but may not have an appropriate video angle to do so. If they're going to use replay to bail themselves out, I think they need to officiate with the call on the field having no merit in the video-replay decision.

Funny how I don’t hear anyone in Lower Michigan crowing about that referee decision, huh? As Spoff noticed, Clete Blakeman didn’t even talk with the other official – he just changed his call despite the fact he had the better angle. It is what it is.

Kyle from Salt Lake City, UT

I'm not complaining that we won, but can we give some credit to the Lions where it is due? I was very impressed with Matt Patricia at the podium after such a demoralizing loss. I gained a lot of respect for him and how he handled himself with such aplomb, and refused to place blame anywhere but himself. It was reminiscent of McCarthy after a certain Seahawks game.

Patricia was very classy. The Lions had multiple chances to put this game away early, but struggled to move the ball and put points on the board after the opening three drives. If you don’t stomp out an opponent at this level, that team is going to hang around. When the game is close, there are occasionally some random-number-generator factors that decide these outcomes.

Jake from Lansing, MI

II, thank you for all your work! Quick question: During the Dallas game, Rodgers' mobility was a huge asset so I'm wondering how did the Lions successfully address that? He didn't seem to be able to escape the pocket.

The Lions rushed three and keep a spy (and sometimes two) underneath over sending an occasional blitzer. I found that strategy to be perplexing, especially with the Packers missing their big-play target in Adams, but that’s the way they do it. They attacked Patrick Mahomes the same way two weeks ago. Rodgers was blitzed only four times on 41 dropbacks, according to Pro Football Focus.

Bob from Oshkosh, WI

Refs can only call what they see at the angle they saw it. They get criticized just as much for non-calls as they do wrong calls, so how do you win? Detroit lost because you can't beat a good team in their own stadium by field-goaling them to death.

Correct. There were two keys to the game – the Packers’ three turnovers and the Lions’ inability to finish drives. You also could never pay me enough to become an NFL official.

Ethan from Iowa City, IA

The AFC only has seven teams at or above .500. The NFC has 11. What do you think the biggest factor is when it comes to the difference in success between the teams of each conference?

One conference has good football teams and the other has not-too-good football teams right now.

Patrick from Valrico, FL

I feel for the Lions team and fans for feeling the refs stole a victory from them. I’ve been on the other side plenty of times as have they. It’s not like it’s a conspiracy against them. Bad calls are made every game. Can you imagine if we were to go back and review penalties or missed calls from a few games prior to all the camera angles and replay? I imagine it could be real ugly.

Sure, but I also don’t recall Minnesotans sending any sympathy cards to Brown County after that Mummer’s farce last year at Lambeau.

Erik from Penfield, NY

Good morning! I just want to say well done to the stadium attendance, cheering and being loud on defense. The well-executed “Go Pack Go” on a third down in the fourth quarter gave me goosebumps, along with the well-done “Star Spangled Banner.”

And more importantly – and I hope I don’t jinx anything here – we’ve successfully navigated the first half of the regular-season home schedule without a single appearance of the wave.

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