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Inbox: They'll fight to the end

The better teams start reducing the really glaring errors this time of year

Detroit Lions running back Adrian Peterson (28) runs in for a fourth quarter touchdown over Chicago Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson (33) during an NFL football game in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020.
Detroit Lions running back Adrian Peterson (28) runs in for a fourth quarter touchdown over Chicago Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson (33) during an NFL football game in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020.

Joe from Monroe, WI

After some of the events recently in the NFL, I keep hearing fans claim that they could do better. I obviously know they couldn't, but it got me wondering. If you had to do one of the following in an NFL game, what would you choose: A) run a quick slant and try to catch a bullet from Favre in tight coverage, B) play QB in an obvious passing down with Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers coming off the edge, or C) get a handoff on a run up the middle against Nitschke and the Packers of the '60s?

D) Sit in the press box to write about Wes trying all of these things.

Chris from Milwaukee, WI

It just occurred to me that the Bears and the Lions, the last-place teams in the NFC North, have records which equal those of the first-place teams in the NFC East. Based on the most recent results, however, I'd rather play the Bears and Lions than the Giants or Washington.

Not long ago, everyone was laughing at the NFC East. Now the division just got wins over Seattle and Pittsburgh. I also take nothing for granted against the Lions with a new coach and what they pulled off in Chicago. They were down 10 with 4:33 left and the ball on their own 4-yard line, yet they found a way to win. They'll fight to the end, and at 5-7 with a seventh playoff spot, they're not out of it.

JVC from Chandler, AZ

This week's edition of WYMM is otherworldly! What fantastic plays, and great execution by a team that looks to be having a lot of fun. That last play (Aaron Jones' run) should win the ESPY for Play of the Year! Thank you so much, Spoff, for your analysis here. You have helped me "level up" my fandom for this team.

With the first play I highlighted, the 24-yard completion to Davante Adams at the end of the first quarter, my head was spinning trying to keep track of everything going on. It was mind-boggling. That was the longest written explanation I've ever produced for a single WYMM play.

Matt from Minneapolis, MN

Mike, not a question, but there was a lot to digest on WYMM for Jones' long TD run. But what got me smiling was seeing Aaron Rodgers just busting downfield, head on a swivel looking for someone to block. Not to disparage any other year of his, but wow, does he seem all in this year.

Larry did a great Rock Report on the big run, too. I think your comment on Rodgers – mentioned by a bevy of readers who watched the play as well – echoes what JVC said above, that this team is having a lot of fun out there.

Grant from Charlotte, NC

They say football is a game of inches but from watching the 77-yard run by Jones it seems also a game of seconds. That gap that he bursts through opens and closes so quickly. Too quickly and he might plow into Lucas Patrick or David Bakhtiari. A little slower and could have been tackled by Riley for a modest gain. Sure fun to watch.

Timing is everything, and burst through the hole is everything else.

Adilson from Rotterdam, Netherlands

Wow, Marcedes Lewis totally Lucas'd that LB in that last play in WYMM. (Did I use that right?)

I think so.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

As amazing and important as Aaron Jones' 77-yard run was, tough-yardage runs earlier in the game were also things of beauty. Has anyone else commented on that?

In the live blog during the game I recall writing several times how Jones kept making something out of nothing, bouncing off the pile and finding some yards. His balance is truly remarkable at times. Also, when I took another look at his run where the facemask call was missed, it was all blocked up and the crease was there. Without the facemask, that one might've gone to the house, too.

Anderson from Twin Cities, MN

Good morning! Has the dynamic between Preston Smith and Za'Darius Smith changed this year? Or, is it a matter of where the media is focusing the attention? Last season we were repeatedly told about the closeness between the two; they would only conduct interviews together, etc. This year...all seems to be very quiet on the Smith front. What's the inside scoop?

Both are still chatting with the media regularly, but the attempts to have them together on Zoom calls early in the season didn't work well, so their sessions have just been separate.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Hopefully JK Scott never records another tackle or missed tackle in his whole career.

That would be the preference, yes.

Donna from Oak Creek, WI

What do you see as the biggest hurdle the Packers will face in these last four games?

Avoiding the frustrating, inexcusable or potential killer mistakes, because you won't always overcome them. During the 4-0 start, we saw multiple failed fourth-and-ones and a screen pass rupture into a 52-yard TD. But the Packers survived them. In the second quarter of the season, we saw a pick-six, a blocked punt, a failed onside recovery, and a 50-yard TD on a screen pass. The Packers went 2-2. In the most recent four games, we saw two punt-return TDs, a fumbled snap, a fumbled kickoff, an overtime fumble, and a fourth-and-18 TD. The Packers went 3-1. You get the idea. Nobody plays perfectly clean football, and good teams overcome their flubs more often than not. But the better teams start reducing the really glaring errors this time of year.

Dennis from Toledo, OH

Mike or Wes, regarding the milestone ball taken out of play for Aaron Rodgers' 400th TD pass, is it possible or allowable for that ball to be put in play say the time comes around for Rodgers to hit on his 500th TD pass and be a multiple milestone ball?

Why on earth would anyone even consider that?

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

Alex Smith was 6-2 including a win over GB in 2018 to start his time in WAS. Then had a horrific injury and the interim 26 months happened. Now he is starting again and WAS is 3-1 with him as a starter including a three-game win streak. Think about everything that went down in between. Does any of it happen or come to light if the team is winning games and contending?

And now I'm supposed to question the universe, too?

Ed from Minneapolis, MN

I see that Pittsburgh finally lost. Do you happen to know if the '72 Dolphin players still raise a glass when the last NFL team loses during a season? And do you know how many of those gents are still with us?

I don't have the list in front of me, but Hall of Famer Larry Csonka took to Twitter with a celebratory cigar.

John from New York, NY

In Monday night's Washington-Pittsburgh game, in the last minute of the first half Washington is out of timeouts, Alex Smith is sacked with around 20 seconds left bringing up fourth down, Smith runs off the field with the ball and the seconds are ticking away as the FG team runs on. Time runs out but refs decide to put 7 seconds back on clock as they were trying to get the kicking ball. FG is good. I thought only timeouts, two-minute warnings and injuries could stop the clock. Not a kicking ball request.

The officials shouldn't have stopped the clock. For a run-on field goal, they don't switch the ball, and teams are supposed to know that. If the kicking team in whatever way is causing a delay in getting a ball spotted – in this case Smith, nefariously or not, absconding with the ball to force another one to be found – they should get no relief and the clock should have expired.

Greg from Long Beach, CA

Is anything stranger than real life? Focus on the game in front of you, or you might lose to the football team. I can't help but wonder if all the energy spent complaining about the schedule didn't hurt Pittsburgh? Neither here nor there but I don't worry about LaFleur lamenting the hand he's dealt; and that's its own blessing.

To be fair, the Steelers were playing on a Monday after playing on a Wednesday, through no fault of their own, against a team that had been resting since Thanksgiving. That's a tough spot for any team, and the epitome of the COVID machinations. But if they spent any energy griping about it, that's on them.

Jason from Baraboo, WI

Between Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones, Davante Adams, David Bakhtiari, Corey Linsley, Za'Darius Smith, Kenny Clark, and Jaire Alexander, you have seven players that either are, or deserve to be, the highest-paid player at their respective positions. Tough decisions to make going forward, but we have the front office to figure it out. I don't envy them.

I don't know about highest paid for every one of those guys, but among the highest paid at their positions, sure. It's better than having the opposite problem.

Garrett from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Did I see Rodgers smelling salts on the sideline on Sunday? Is this an old habit or a new one?

Folks mentioned that in the live blog, too. I don't think that's new. Maybe I should try it before the next postgame Inbox.

Doug from Lombard, IL

It appears that there's confusion between MVP and Offensive Player of the Year (OPOY) even among those who vote. They both could be the same player but not necessarily, such as in 2011. You take Mahomes out and I believe KC still wins a lot of games, but not so much in GB if AR is out. I think AR is clearly the MVP this year to date and, statistically, a strong candidate for OPY. Your thoughts?

Over the last decade, four times those awards have gone to different players, including both times Rodgers won MVP. I don't think Adams should be overlooked for OPOY. Michael Thomas won it last year, the first receiver to get it since Jerry Rice. But it would be difficult for both awards to go to players on the same offense. There's still 25% of the season to be played. Let's see what unfolds.

Take a look at Packers players' 'My Cause My Cleats' shoes from Sunday's game against the Eagles.

Shaun from Bayside, WI

If I'm not wrong, I don't think the regular season NFL MVP has won the Super Bowl in a long time. So I say let Mahomes win the MVP to guarantee the Packers beat them in the Super Bowl.

It is pretty remarkable that the last MVP to win the Super Bowl the same year was Kurt Warner back in 1999. Nobody this century. From 1989-99, seven of the MVPs did win the Super Bowl in the same year.

Thomas from Cedar Rapids, IA

I swear I heard some barking after Marcedes' TD catch a few weeks back. I tried to listen for it after his long play but there was too much background noise. Are my ears deceiving me or is that becoming a thing when "Big Dog" makes a play? Have you heard it?

Oh yes, it's a thing.

Markus from Aurora, CO

Insiders, what I've learned from II? 100% consistency will never happen, but the Pack is in the driver's seat (in the division and NFC). Yes, we are behind the Saints, but the dice will fall the way they will fall, and we'll roll with it. What say you?

That's a healthy attitude to take.

Jeffrey from Sioux Falls, SD

After the Eagles game, I was very curious to see the interaction between Rodgers and Wentz. I was impressed that Rodgers seemed to be counseling the young QB. Wentz had his head down as if he was being coached and encouraged. Wentz took it all in. They stayed together a lot longer than the usual run-in after the game. I would have loved to have been a "fly in the helmet" to hear that conversation, especially the words spoken by Rodgers. Your thoughts?

I wonder, too, but I can appreciate both players' likely desire to keep the conversation private. It was a professional and empathetic gesture from a quarterback who looks at the position as a fraternity to another who has, aside from times of injury, probably hit rock bottom. For a sometimes superhuman, Rodgers is very human.

Steven from Balsam Lake, WI

Hi Mike, Wes, and rest of the Inbox! Two years ago I attended the Packers Everywhere pep rally in Minneapolis before the Packers visited U.S. Bank Stadium. I ended up meeting a terrific woman at that event. That woman and I just became engaged this past weekend. Thank you to the Green Bay Packers for changing my life for the better and giving me the opportunity to meet my future wife! Just thought I'd share our story!

Congratulations, and thanks for making my day. Happy Wednesday.