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Inbox: They have everything they need

Adversity brings out the best in Matt LaFleur’s teams

WR Allen Lazard
WR Allen Lazard

Brian from Charlottesville, VA

Start the list for next year's Outsiders Inbox: "How do you Inbox?"

I'm in…as long as the second question asks readers to: "Please use 'Inbox' as a verb."

Richard from Menasha, WI

Which position group do you expect to see the greatest improvement this week?

The defensive backs. That's a proud unit hungry to put the Minnesota game behind them. I think the secondary comes out swinging against Chicago.

Ben from Pensacola, FL

Patrick Peterson can joke all he wants about not being warmed up for that (so what were you doing during team warmups? Is that chortling?). But despite that, the first play, and even on that reverse, Christian Watson's speed comes as advertised. Not sure how that ranks with MVS's (don't like the comparison game) but when he gets the jitters out and can develop good hands, other secondaries watch out because he is a burner.

Watson is a talent. You could immediately see it in practice after he returned from the knee injury. I also was impressed by how he handled himself after the drop in Minnesota. He stayed poised and was confident in his post-game scrum. Watson may not have gotten his fairytale beginning but we still have the rest of the book to go.

Mike from Cascade, ID

Hi II, with all the focus on Watson's missed pass, I feel what is being overlooked was his move on the DB that got him that open. It looked pretty smooth on the replays that I've seen. I hope he gets another shot at one soon. Wondering if Aaron Rodgers is flinging him any deep balls in practice this week.

Again, if Watson puts that drop behind him, I think the bigger takeaway from that play is how evident the playmaking ability is in the young receiver. That's not a one-and-done situation. Watson has the tools to leave a lot of capable cornerbacks in his dust.

Nathan from Philadelphia, PA

What of having only two running backs active? I love seeing AJ and A.J. on the field together, but would they have to scrap that package if (heaven forbid) either of them got hurt? Does this mean that "8" and "18" are RB numbers now too (like the number that shall not be mentioned)?

There are two parts to this. The first is that's a package for Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. If either party isn't available on a given week, I doubt that "Pony" package will be high on the call sheet. If something (heaven forbid) happens in a game, Amari Rodgers is available and schooled in the assignments as the emergency option. As far as the gameday roster, some weeks the Packers will have a RB3 and others they won't. It's a week-to-week process.

Bill from Menominee, MI

If the plan is to get the running backs more involved against Chicago, it's going to rely on having more situations suited for that. The first half of the game it was constantly third-and-7-plus yards to go. Those aren't ideal run calls.

Sure, but I don't know if those third-and-long situations were a byproduct of the run game. There were some first-down sacks and incompletions, too.

Leroy from Portage, WI



James from Asheville, NC

On the plus side, the Packers managed to avoid the major injuries that hit so many teams in Week 1. Other than Quay Walker and Krys Barnes (neither of which appear to be long term) how did we fare?

It looks promising. Walker and Keisean Nixon both practiced Wednesday. Lazard also returned. David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins were doing individuals during the portion open to the media.

Nick from Des Moines, IA

How long hypothetically would Green Bay go on with poor WR production, before looking at signing guys like Odell Beckham or Will Fuller?

I don't get fans' fascination with Fuller and isn't it a foregone conclusion Beckham is headed back to the Rams once he's healthy? Regardless, the Packers have plenty of talent already within these walls. Build for the future. Don't play in the past. If guys stay healthy, they have everything they need.

Bill from Wilmington, DE

Wes, do you feel Big Bob will play more snaps versus the Bears?

Assuming there are no setbacks this week, I think so.

Jeff from Ely, MN

Hello Wes, probably a question that's come up before but if the official roster is capped at 53, why does the NFL only allow 47 to dress for each game? Additionally, if a PS player is brought up for a game, I assume they have to dress, which then means someone else on the 53 doesn't? Seems like if NFL wants quality and competitive football, they'd allow all 53 to dress to compensate for any injuries that occur. Am I missing something here?

I sarcastically answered this last month, but I'll try to give a more direct response while still using my same analogy. Think of the 6-8 scratches from the gameday roster as the "bench" of your fantasy football team. They're available for depth, for both development purposes and injury. By only allowing 47 (or 48, if you have eight offensive linemen active) players on gameday, it creates a level playing field and affords teams time to let players heal properly from injury.

Steve from New Lenox, IL

I sure hope the Packers use the running game a ton more against the Bears. What's the offensive game plan against the Bears' defense, who looked quite good against the 49ers?

Protect the football, win up front and create explosive opportunities downfield. San Francisco ran the ball OK but didn't fare well enough in the other two areas.

Steve from Middletown, KY

Good morning. ML said he that he had already predetermined that he was going to go for the TD inside the 3-yard line. Any chance he was clearing the air with AR? Recent memory from a few years ago in the NFC playoffs tells me ML wanted to give AR a chance to go it. Will this possibly make a difference in his decision next time?

No, that had nothing to do with it. It goes back to what Spoff told me in the press box Sunday – when you're that close to the end zone, you gotta go for it. You can't be kicking 19-yard field goals. The Packers need to score. If the offense doesn't, then it's up to the defense to make sure the Vikings are punting out of their own end zone.

Dan from Algonquin, IL

Hi Wes, of the Bears' running backs, Jai Herbert seemed much more effective than David Montgomery last Sunday. I think Montgomery just had a bad game, so they may have a two-headed monster in the backfield, and Fields has wheels, too. What do the Packers need to do to stop this Bears' trio from being successful on the ground, and dare Fields to challenge our DBs instead?

Play disciplined and fill gaps. Personally, Montgomery has always frightened me more in the pass game. As long as defenders are closing to the ball, Green Bay should be fine.

Chuck from Horicon, WI

I really don't like zone defense as there is always a soft spot to find and sit, but in the case of Justin Jefferson last weekend is there such a thing as playing man-to-man on one person and having zone on the rest of the backfield? More pressure on the QB sure makes a zone look a lot better!

Both Spoff and I have relayed what the coaches are saying. Jerry Gray echoed those comments on Wednesday evening. It's something we'll have to continue to monitor. But for a defense that was dominant throughout training camp, including the joint practices with New Orleans, you can't throw out the baby with the bathwater after one rough outing.

Drew from Tucson, AZ

Hi Wes, it doesn't sound like that A. Rodgers to A. Rodgers connection is going to be happening anytime soon. Too many mental errors?

I felt like Rodgers had a good camp, but he's only one season and one game into this thing, too. At the moment, Rodgers is on special teams – like Randall Cobb, Lazard and so many receivers before him. You have to earn opportunities on offense. The good news is it's a week-to-week league. There's always time to prove yourself.

Andy from Wisconsin Rapids, WI

Wes, is it surprising to you to hear the O-line seems to be the group making mental mistakes? Before Jon Runyan went down, four of the five played significant snaps last year, and Jake Hanson is in his third season. This combination had been one of the main lineups all training camp (and the only group to play in the preseason, for that crowd), so I didn't expect it to be that position group.

Those are just the growing pains associated with having a young offensive line. Keep in mind, Yosh Nijman was the most experienced player who started Sunday. This isn't 2014 when David Bakhtiari, Josh Sitton, Corey Linsley and T.J. Lang didn't miss a start, and Bryan Bulaga missed one game. It's going to take some time. Getting David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins back here at some point would be huge for that young interior.

Bob from Freeport, IL

With Caleb Jones signed to the 53 and seeing his good results in the preseason, would we see him at LT and Yosh Nijman moving to the RT spot?

Baby steps, Bobby. The Packers had an open roster spot available and chose to use it on the 6-foot-9 undrafted rookie who nearly made the roster coming out of camp. Jones is on the 53 but still has work to do. Meanwhile, the Packers have the option to elevate Ray Wilborn from the practice squad if they need an extra inside linebacker for Sunday.

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

Insiders, with the injuries to Dak Prescott and T.J. Watt and our own players, who decides if a player goes on IR – the coach or the GM?

The doctors and trainers offer their input first. The player may get a second opinion, too. Once all that information is weighed and a timeline is set, then the GM makes the call on IR.

Dale from Prescott, WI

Have the Packers lost two regular-season games in row under ML?

Not during the same season, no. Technically, they now have lost two straight regular-season games (Week 18 of 2021 and Week 1 of 2022), though nonconcurrent. I do like how LaFleur handles setbacks. Adversity brings out of the best in Matt LaFleur's teams.

The Green Bay Packers held practice at Clarke Hinkle Field on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022.

Charlie from Kalispell, MT

Maybe I missed the conversation during the week but how did the special teams grade out?

Special teams did fine. As LaFleur said, the protection got a little leaky on the punt team. Other than that, it was a quality start.

James from De Pere, WI

If Jack Coco gets hurt during a game, which player would assume his long-snapping duties?

My guess would be Tipa Galeai.

Paul from Ledgeview, WI

Wes do you think signing Mike Brown was based on a positional need for depth, or intrigue in his ability/potential?

It's rolodex season. The Packers had an opening on the practice squad and are bringing in a prospect for a closer look.

Bret from Hertel, WI

Dear Wes, Tuesday night my wife and I had the honor of listening to Cliff Christl at the Packers HOF event about the Bears and Packers rivalry. He mentioned how the Packers traveled to Chicago with a positive enthusiasm that impressed the Bears. The game revenue was king. NY and Chicago made more money playing the Packers than any other team and the Packers were aided financially as well. He talked about Verne Lewellen and others. Do you ever get to talk football with Mr. Christl?

I wish I would've known. I would have come and said hello. Every minute I get to talk Packers football with Cliff is a treat. It transports me back to college, where I am the eager-beaver student and Cliff is the wise professor. The man has built a monumental legacy of accuracy and integrity. Also, a big congrats to Cliff for receiving the book of merit award from the Wisconsin Historical Society Board of Curators today for his work on "The Greatest Story in Sports."

Christina from Madison, WI

Will there be fewer podcasts now because the season has started?

Actually, there should be more. While "Packers Unscripted" remains two days a week, Taylor Rogers' regionally acclaimed "Packers POV" series will be starting soon.

Bill from Greer, SC

As strange as it may seem, I've been keeping an Insider Hall of Fame journal for about 12 years now. Tuesday's response to Jeff from Wentzville, MO, made the cut. "Once upon a midnight dreary" was precious. It's this kind of humor and candor that keep me reading day in and day out.

When I was a young boy, I looked to my father and said, "Someday, papa, I will make Bill from Greer's Insider Inbox Hall of Fame journal and you will be proud." It took 34 years, but here I am living the dream.

Markus from Aurora, CO

Mike and Wes, much has been said for and against whether the starters should have played time in preseason to get them ready for regular season. In either case, the Week 1 game is a reminder to everyone that the season has now started, and it's time to review what went wrong (and what went right), to learn from it, and to focus on the next opponent up. Beat da Bears!

We're onto Chicaco (sic).