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Inbox: They had legitimate shots

CB Jaire Alexander
CB Jaire Alexander

Dave from Madison, WI

The Packers are the healthiest team at this point in the season. They must capitalize on that.

Indubitably.

Bill from Wilmington, DE

Mike, is "Big" Bob Tonyan expected back against SF? I think he could be a pleasant surprise if he is back and healthy.

We shall see. He’d been practicing the last couple of weeks before the bye but was never cleared to play. I would imagine the full week off did him some good.

Daniel from Atlanta, GA

I couldn't disagree more with Brett from Boonsboro. First of all, Vick was an excellent quarterback. HOF quality? No. But definitely a top 10 QB while he was playing. Cam is also a good quarterback who hadn't missed a ton of time due to injury before this season. Jackson has a chance to be better than both of them.

I would agree. Jackson has shown more production as a pocket passer much sooner than either Vick or Newton did, and let’s not forget Newton won an MVP in his fifth season.

Mike from Ames, IA

Is it just me, or have the Packers not had a defensive TD yet this season? Time to pull out the crystal ball. Who do you think gets the first one?

The Packers have had just one defensive TD in their last 30 games, dating back to December of 2017. In the Carolina game the plays by Adrian Amos and Jaire Alexander were close to pick-sixes. They had legitimate shots. Tramon Williams getting his first pick since returning to Green Bay could be a good sign, too. I’ll go with Alexander or Williams.

Tim from Fruita, CO

With all due respect to Craig from Brookfield, some of us grew up in the John Hadl, Randy Wright, etc., years and don't see that Green Bay has "historically" had great quarterback play. We've beaten the system for two QBs in a row – let’s not tempt the football gods.

When someone’s idea of “historically” only goes back to Favre, it makes me feel really old.

Kathleen from Fond du Lac, WI

Kudos for an entertaining and informative platform! I enjoy reading you guys every day! My question is, after watching the 49ers-Seahawks game where Garoppolo grew careless with his throws when lots of pressure came his way, whether the Packers plan to dial up more blitz packages than usual?

The Seahawks were able to get after Garoppolo because they shut down the run, and Garoppolo didn’t have Kittle or Sanders in that game. He got Sanders back last week, and now we’ll see about Kittle. Garoppolo had to beat the Cardinals when the ground game was going nowhere, and he did it, though Arizona did get two interceptions. He’s still young, but he’s also still improving. I don’t think there’s a “book” on how to beat him. You adjust as the game unfolds and then look for a key stop or turnover in a big moment.

Dana from Eau Claire, WI

What do you think happened to the Lions this year? It seems perpetually they have surges where their team is pretty good and they have hope for a decent season and then they fade. This seems to happen with or without Stafford or a change of coaches. What are your thoughts?

I think they can’t be expected to win with Jeff Driskel at quarterback and all the injuries they’ve dealt with at running back. Their season was full of winning close ones and losing close ones with Stafford, and I think he would have kept them in the hunt.

Craig from Milwaukee, WI

Still wish the return unit could help get better starting field position. They haven't done much this season again. Your thoughts?

Same as yours.

Doug from Union Grove, WI

For those out there who don't know, please remind us of the tiebreaker procedure if the Packers and Vikings split their two games, and end up tied for first at the end of the year.

Division record would be next, and the Vikings have a loss to the Bears on their ledger. After that, it’s common games, which in effect would be each team’s 14-game record, tossing out Minnesota’s results against Atlanta (win) and Seattle (TBA), and Green Bay’s against Carolina (win) and San Francisco (TBA). Then conference games.

Charlie from Cameron, NC

Gentlemen, look at the remaining opponents for the top seven or eight NFC teams. This whole thing is up for grabs. Grab your popcorn, or co-worker’s lunch, everybody. Do you think it’s more likely the cream will rise, or the meat will grind?

Either way, I don’t think anyone who makes the playoffs in the NFC won’t be battle-tested.

Geoff from Beaver Dam, WI

Great article about the scout team. Which coaches are responsible for getting those guys ready? Are they in the same film room as the starters or do they have a different weekly schedule all together?

They’re in the same film sessions with the same coaches as everybody else, because they still need to know the Packers’ game plan in case they’re called upon to play. The quality control coaches draw up a lot of the opponent plays and give them to regular scout-teamers to at least glance at before practice.

Chris from Casa Grande, AZ

Looking at the stats tab in the NFL app game center, the 49ers have us beat in every stat except offensive turnovers and offensive yards per play. How do the Packers go into the house of the seventh-ranked offense and second-ranked defense, and come away with the win?

You win the turnover battle and be better in the red zone on both sides of the ball. You also handle the momentum swings in what promises to be a tough road environment. This game is going to go back and forth, and you have to be mentally prepared for that.

Conrad from Arvada, CO

Remember in the mic'd up video of the 2016 NFCCG when Aaron turned to Jordy and said, "We need to get one of these at home"? Well, this game would be a huge step in that direction if they are able to get the victory. One week at a time, but you can't help but hope Aaron Rodgers gets to play an NFCCG at Lambeau in his career.

Win the NFC North first, and there’s a ton of work left to be done there. The Vikings played their November clunker, in the first half vs. Denver, but were still able to pull it out. Now that they’ve hit their bye, I expect the Vikings to be awfully tough the rest of the way.

Packers CB Jaire Alexander surprised the Green Bay Police Department and Fire Department with Kwik Trip coffee and donuts.

Dar from Mansfield, TX

“In my opinion, finding true gems is 90% skill and 50% good fortune.” I know there’s not supposed to be math in II, but I think that explains the Packers’ draft success. With our personnel department giving a full 140 percent compared to most opponents’ maximum 110 percent, that’s a fairly sizable advantage.

Something like that.

Collin from Kirkwood, MO

The Packers are fortunate to have two talented running backs. Both are productive, but one is special. This isn’t a knock on Jamaal Williams, talented in his own right, but at what point do the Packers treat Aaron Jones like one of the premier running backs in the league that he clearly is? As games intensify down the stretch, do you predict continued balance in the backfield, or expect the Packers to feed Jones more opportunities?

I expect LaFleur to keep defenses off-balance as necessary and to feed the back whose play style is the tougher matchup for the opponent that week, and/or who has the hot hand as the game evolves. There are elements of trial and probing in every game, no matter the preconceived notions and plans going in. I also agree with Aaron.

Aaron from Herndon, VA

Lots of experts and fans clamoring for Aaron Jones to be utilized at a higher clip, but it confuses me that those people aren't considering the fact that the workload split between him and Jamaal Williams actually is a major contributing factor to his productivity and efficiency. Were he to have played a higher number of snaps to this point, he may have worn down and possibly even been injured by now. Plus, Jamaal Williams is excellent as a No. 2 back. I love the AJ-JW combo!

I’m not dismissing Collin’s point, and things may very well trend that direction. But I also believe the Packers are looking at having more than six games left, so workload, freshness, etc., will still factor down the stretch.

Sandy from Green Bay, WI

Are coaches and players able to glean any helpful information about an opponent by watching the opponent's game being televised on network TV?

At the line of scrimmage, yes, but there’s a lot going on outside the standard TV camera view. They need the coaches’ film for that.

Gary from Wrightwood, CA

Don’t get me wrong, I am not condoning Garrett hitting a man with a helmet. I would just like to see Rudolph take responsibility for his actions in instigating and accelerating the incident.

I didn’t post all your submissions for space reasons, but you called Rudolph “the bush leaguer” in one of them, like he was asking for it. C’mon, man. There’s garden-variety escalation and then there’s this particular conclusion, which was something you just don’t do. Full stop. Rudolph overreacted to a rough takedown in a game that was over, and Garrett overreacted to Rudolph’s attempted retaliation. But if it stays garden-variety, and Garrett drops the helmet once he rips it off, and everybody yells and pushes and shoves for a while, everything’s fine except a few wallets are lighter. The “he started it” argument is so second grade.

Jeff from Chandler, AZ

ML has mentioned "cleaning up" the big-play issues on defense but it doesn't look to me like it has happened yet. Do you feel the Packers’ D can get back to the level we saw them play at in the first couple of games this year? I worry that the big chunk plays may hurt them down the stretch run.

They will if they don’t reduce them. Normally, if you’re not a suffocating, shutdown defense, making a team go the long way is how you get stops, because the opponent will make a mistake somewhere. The Packers have shown an ability to bounce back from a big play and hold the opponent to a field goal, or even get a turnover in the red zone. It’s a tough way to live, but I think with more assignment discipline and cleaner communication they can get back to making teams grind out drives.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

After looking as close to invincible as a team could, the 49ers over the previous three weeks have not been as dominant. Of course all three of those contests were division rivals as well. So any advanced stats indicating that SF is fading or regressing in some manner?

I don’t know how advanced this is, but the 49ers have allowed 25 points per game over their last three after allowing more than 17 points only once in their first seven contests. The pace they were on was nearly impossible to sustain.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

In the Vikings game, a penalty was called on the Vikings for covering up the center on a FG. It was clearly a bad call. The officials got together and discussed it, deciding to call a penalty. Zimmer and the crowd erupted and pointed at the big screen. The officials reconvened and decided it wasn't a penalty. I have to believe an official peeked up at the screen and changed his mind. Can the ref do that? If so, then all penalties should be subject to review. If not, then what gives?

Great question. That was a bizarre sequence. I wondered at the time if the Vikings player shifting over at the snap made contact with the snapper, which would be illegal because he’s a protected player, and the official(s) incorrectly saw/announced the flag as a formation penalty. Or, as you said, they peeked.

Mike from Marquette, MI

Review of pass interference. Aren't the "people in New York" who review these plays accountable to the NFL? It is their job to enforce the rules the NFL has. They aren't doing it. Shouldn't there be some consequences to that for the officials, rather than just the teams? Their refusal to enforce the rules should lead to some sort of discipline, even loss of their jobs. I don't like the attitude of "this rule has to be scrapped." Get rid of those that refuse to enforce the rule instead.

Preaching to the choir, Mike. But the command center in New York was already a fiasco the last few years before the PI rule change, so if that didn’t produce leadership turnover, I’m not confident this is going to.

Matthias from San Antonio, TX

Other than my disappointment in the Brewers not using the baby blue from the past, the new uniforms and logos are amazing! I really like the cream colored uniforms as the best one. Not many teams have figured out how to stop a tight end who runs like a wide receiver, so with yet another All-Pro tight end to play, what's more important, coverage or getting to JG fast?

I decided the one, minor thing I don’t like about the Brewers’ updated ball-in-glove logo is the ball being centered in the lower-case “b” now. After a discussion with Wes, we decided there was something kitschy about the previous off-center placement that spoke to me (probably explains a lot). Otherwise, kudos to the Brewers on a great new look. If Kittle is back, you have to change up looks and coverages on him, hopefully so Garoppolo can’t predetermine reads, but stopping the run is still the first priority.

Jeff from Eau Claire, WI

Do you think this week off is going to help or hinder the rest of the regular season?

The Packers needed the break. I saw a team running on close-to-empty after Halloween. The recharge should serve them well.

Ryan from Appleton, WI

What NFC team, do you believe, has the best shot at home-field advantage throughout the playoffs as things stand right now?

If the Packers win on Sunday, I think Green Bay’s chances are as good as anybody’s. If the Packers lose, then I think New Orleans.

Ren from Chicago, IL

Which is your favorite brat?

The one I cook myself. Happy Wednesday.

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