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Inbox: They just have to capitalize

Could history repeat itself this Sunday in D.C.?  

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LB Rashan Gary

Greg from Marquette, MI

Mike/Wes, ending the column on Friday with three motivational posts sans response was a really great move! I played hockey for many years when I was younger and I always remember before a game when we were warming up that the team just had a "feel" that we were going to win, minds clear and mistakes minimal. Those games were always loose and fun, almost relaxing. I get what Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur are saying. Sometimes putting the pressure on takes the loose feeling away and causes mental errors.

I enjoyed that, as well. Listen, everyone understands the urgency of the moment. The Packers know their backs are against the wall in a way they haven't been during the LaFleur era. But in order to play their best, they need to be loose. Or, like a good friend of mine used to say, "It's a very simple game. You throw the ball. You catch the ball. You (kick) the ball. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. Sometimes it rains." Think about that…Good morning!

Tyler from Stetsonville, WI

Which player or players have the biggest impact to make the postgame column a celebratory victory this Sunday?

Well, Sunday is National Tight Ends Day. If memory serves, Tonyan had a pretty big performance on the last one against Washington, catching four passes for 63 yards and a touchdown. Could history repeat itself this Sunday in D.C.?

Caleb from Knoxville, TN

If the Packers win Sunday, what's one stat the Packers will beat Washington in?

Takeaways.

Jeff from Muskego, WI

What will it take to beat Washington this week?

Meeting physicality with physicality. If the Packers win up front, they win this game. Offensively, it's going to be crucial to keep the Commanders' defensive line at bay, give Rodgers time and allow the backs to work. Defensively, the Packers have to be smart with how they pursue Taylor Heinicke. But if the defensive front stays disciplined, there's going to be opportunities to take away the football. They just have to capitalize.

Dan from Algonquin, IL

Hi Wes, this game is set up to be a big one for our defense. The Commanders typically start slowly on offense, are a poor running team, our defense is very good against the pass, and our front seven is certainly capable of getting to the QB. I think this is the game where the defense clocks in four good quarters and forces a couple turnovers. Do you envision a statement game for our defense?

Aside from generating a takeaway, last week could not have started any better for the Packers. They got stops and forced three-and-outs. In Washington, the Packers need that start and a better finish. The Commanders' weapons must be respected but they don't threaten Green Bay's defense the same way the Giants and Jets did. Washington has scored the fourth-fewest points this season, possesses the 24th-ranked rushing offense and is minus-five in turnover differential. The Packers need to prove those statistics correct Sunday.

Dar from Mansfield, TX

Wes, we've seen a jet-lag week followed by a Jets-lag week. I'm going to predict there is no "Commanders coma" in the Packers this Sunday. The dachshund and I have been "playing loose" all week and we expect the team to follow suit. Who is/are your impact player(s) to watch for?

While I already said Tonyan on offense, I think this is a game where Rasul Douglas will step up for the defense. The Packers need a takeaway. I can think of no better individual to secure it than last year's team leader in INTs.

Kole from Walnut Creek, CA

Who's the emotional leader of the defense? Outside of Ja, it appears most of the defense have very even-keeled demeanors. While I'm not advocating for a bunch of fake "rah-rah" guys, it consistently feels like there's an opportunity for the defense to play with more juice and excitement. What's your take?

That part is not a problem. The Packers have every type of leader a team could want. Jaire, Adrian Amos, De'Vondre Campbell and Kenny Clark may not be yellers, but they are passionate and balanced veterans who demand accountability. Douglas and Keisean Nixon are more vocal enforcers, and Rashan Gary and Preston Smith can do a little of everything. Maybe that doesn't reach the ears of fans, but the Packers have plenty of veterans to turn to.

Spencer from Hampshire, IL

I agree with Mike that a big game from Aaron Jones would be a huge factor in a victory, and maybe providing energy and hope moving forward, but let's not forget there's two guys who decide to give him the ball, ML and AR12. At 5.8 yards per carry, it's surprising he only has 70 carries. Why have they not used this star playmaker more?

I like the term Mike used to describe Jones' potential impact: game-changing performance. I think he's due for one. Jones is only averaging 14.5 touches and 11.7 carries per game this season. There's a lot that goes into that, but I expect to see plenty of No. 33 on Sunday. He's the Packers' best offensive playmaker. They know he needs the ball.

Brandon from Imperial, MO

Good morning, I know you're probably being bombarded with trade questions after Christian McCaffrey being dealt to the 49ers, but do you think it's feasible for BG to go out and find a trade partner to help shore up the WR room? I'm not sure what cap space we have left and I'm not a "all-in" kinda person, but it seems like help needs to be on the way unlike traditional thinking this time of year. You've got some teams that are going to be obvious sellers and I think BG needs to take advantage to get help.

That's not to say it won't happen. That just hasn't been the Packers' way for the past 17 years, to move future draft capital for a "rent-a-player." A lot of fans are howling for D.J. Moore, but Carolina reportedly isn't fielding calls on the wideout. It's OK to root for those kinds of trades but just don't let it consume you. Look at it as a possibility, not a probability and your blood pressure will thank you for it.

Jeffery from Brooklyn, WI

Hey guys, no trades for this regime, must be totally confident the players already here can perform better than they have the first six games, fingers crossed!

I think a big part of it is we haven't even really been able to see this receiving corps at full strength yet. When everyone is healthy, the Packers have a full room with Allen Lazard, Sammy Watkins, Randall Cobb, and the rookies. Depending on how the season goes, maybe the Packers get involved in the OBJ discussion. But right now, I feel the best path is investing in your young talent and allowing them to grow.

Mutt from Blaine, MN

Everyone talks about moving Elgton Jenkins back inside. My question is what if he doesn't want to? There has to be a lot of conversation with coaches and players I would think. And being a player seeking a new contract, I wonder if he'd rather try to prove he's a quality RT for a better payday. It isn't as easy as a coach telling a player to do something different at the pro level is it?

I don't know how many of you have ever met Elgton Jenkins, but I promise you that isn't an issue. He's one of the most easygoing humans I've ever met. Jenkins is going to play wherever the Packers ask him to. That's been his M.O. since his rookie year.

Nathan from Philadelphia, PA

I'm fascinated to see what the starting OL is on Sunday. I like the "best five guys" principle, but it seems like none of our best five guys at the moment are good at right tackle. (I'm sure Bakhtiari could do it, but you don't sign a guy to that contract to play anywhere but LT.) What's your guess as to what, if anything, they change this week?

I think there will be changes, but your guess is as good as mine as to what the starting five will look like. At some point, I'd like to see Yosh Nijman get a look at right tackle to determine if he could be a long-term fit there. But we also must recognize he's spent the past year playing on the left side in David Bakhtiari's stead.

The Green Bay Packers held practice at Clarke Hinkle Field on Friday, Oct. 21, 2022.

Ryan from Baldwin, WI

Hi Wes, how many Packer fans do you expect in Washington this Sunday? I recall seeing a picture from the Commanders training camp and the fandom wasn't very good. At least a 50/50 split?

I'd expect to see plenty of green-and-gold jerseys but it can go both ways at FedExField. There have been times where Packers fans have reigned supreme and others where the Commanders' base is loudly cheering for their team.

Mike from Woodlands, TX

Reading how consistent NFL kickers have been over the last few seasons got me thinking. It seems like college kickers rarely make a field goal more than 45 yards and are very inconsistent while NFL kickers can consistently hit from anywhere up to 50 yards or more. Is the disparity just because the kickers that make it to the NFL are the best of the best? Do coaching and full-time training help? Is it something else?

Having a strong leg is a prerequisite. Mason Crosby was a two-time All-American at Colorado before the Packers drafted him in 2007. From there, it's mostly mental. Kickers have to master the craft while also handling the extreme pressure that comes with the gig. I forget which Baltimore player said this but I remember someone making a joking remark a few years ago about the simplicity of Justin Tucker's Monday through Friday – but acknowledging he wants absolutely nothing to do with his job on Sundays.

Tom from San Antonio, TX

Hey guys, as always, enjoy your work. Have you ever seen the loss of one player (non-QB) throw an entire offense into disarray?

As the first 1½ months of the 2022 have shown, the New York Giants are a completely different team when Saquon Barkley is healthy. Their resurgence is his resurgence. Closer to home, I also felt like Jordy Nelson's knee injury in 2015 changed the complexion of Green Bay's offense.

James from Burlington, WI

Will Doubs be an All-Star?

Hey now.

Kerry from Lakewood Ranch, FL

If there was ever a year in the NFC to just get in the tournament this looks like the year. Haven't seen a team yet that screams Super Bowl favorite.

That's why you just gotta keep collecting Ws.

Scott from Hayward, WI

Lots of us fans obviously enjoy submitting to the Inbox to brag, complain, or cheer, or just testing fate to see if we can actually get published. We all probably wonder our odds of getting a question published. How many questions do you average each day? Is this like winning the lottery, or more like playing church bingo?

I'm telling you the last few weeks have been insane, especially after games. We could publish entire Inboxes with just the "Why don't you ever publish me" entries alone.

Mike from Charlotte, NC

There are some people that might let a football game wreck their week, but most of us here post our comments and move on with our day regardless of the tone of said comments. I know I do. I've got a garage I'm building myself to get ready for inspection, and a job hunt to get out of a crummy job that have much greater concern. Angst for the Packers' performance? That's mere entertainment. You guys do a good job absorbing it. :)

Thanks for being part of our Inbox community, Mike. All the best in your job search. I hope you find the rewarding job opportunity you seek.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Buckle up Green and Gold. Time to turn the tables. "Pugna Interminabilitatem."

Gunga, Galunga to you, too, Dean.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Come Monday morning, this team is either going to have a winning record or a losing one. Either way, there will be a lot of work left to do, but that's next week's problem. Show up, be present, do your job and win the gosh darn football game.

Clear eyes. Full hearts. Beat the Commanders. Enjoy the game, folks.

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