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Inbox: They're called investments for a reason

Just win…and learn

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T Dennis Kelly

Jon from Arlington, TX

The Inbox had basketball analogies, toothpaste metaphors, a Biblical reference, and "A Few Good Men" creative play with words. What more could we ask for?

A cleaning service for my desk, evidently.

Paul from LaPorte, IN

Happy belated birthday Wes. If you ask me, you and Mike should get a photo gallery like the players, only more pictures. At the desk, doing "Unscripted," or "Three Things" with Larry. I hear from you or see you guys seven days a week, not once or twice like the coaches or players. Plus, I would have known it was your birthday. You boys are pretty essential to me at the home, thanks.

I tried coaxing someone into making me a birthday graphic. Nobody was interested. Maybe I'll beg them next year.

Darryl from Glen Carbon, IL

Just beat the Colts. I mean, the Ravens, who used to be the Browns.

At least, we're clear on the goals for this week.

Jonnie from Garden City, MI

Good morning! With all due respect to Dean, as bad as the ST play was on Sunday, it is not likely to become a lingering memory due to the win. I would point to several games where ST play had a distinct negative impact on the game, which resulted in losses, such as the final 3:52 in '14, or Crosby's inexplicable misses in Detroit in '18. I trust the coaching will work things out. On to the Ravens!

As Adrian Amos and a few other veterans tweeted after the game, the Packers are thankful to be able to learn from a win rather than a loss. Green Bay remains in the driver's seat in the NFC and has four more weeks to build momentum before the playoffs. Just win and learn.

Bob from Chandler, AZ

I'd be interested to see how many games have been missed by Packer starters this season and how that compares to the Ravens since they have been dealing with many injuries as well. Also, curious as to where they both stand in relation to the rest of the league. Thanks and keep up the great work!

There are metrics that tally games lost due to injury, but the reality is it's Week 15. Every team is hurt to a certain degree.

Bill from Lancaster, PA

I hear coaches talking about the coverage teams staying in their lanes. That doesn't make sense to me because one good block in the lane the returner is in and it would be a touchdown. The other defenders in their lanes would be out of position to make the tackle, I can see assigning the outside guys to stay outside and keep the returner from getting past them, but shouldn't everyone else be heading to the lane the returner is using?

The notion of staying in your lane follows the same ideology as gang-tackling on defense. If each gunner stays in his lane, that reduces the gaps the returner can run through. So, even if a gunner gets blocked, he creates an obstacle for the returner that could force him to put on the brakes or prohibit him from getting north-and-out.

Pat from Kennesaw, GA

I'm not sure I understand why people want Aaron Rodgers to sit Week 18 and jeopardize the No. 1 seed. Wouldn't sitting the bye week after getting No. 1 the same amount of time off? Or is that too much math?

Nobody sits. Nobody quits. Not until the No. 1 seed hay is in the barn.

Daniel from Los Angeles, CA

As it stands, despite missing out on three initial seasons, Rodgers is six seasons of stats behind Brady. At the current rate, if he averages 30 TDs per season, which is child's play for him, Rodgers would be able to surpass Tom Brady's TD record as long as he plays to whatever age Brady retires at. That's incredible and I really hope Aaron intends to do just that.

I don't even look at the age anymore with those two. A few years ago, I raised a Rocky Maivia eyebrow when Brady was talking about his desire to play to 45 and now begin to wonder if 50 is possible for him. With how well Rodgers treats his body, I think he could easily follow in that path.

Greg from Marquette, MI

Love, love, love the "A Few Good Men" reference! It absolutely made my day. That said, I think Lamar Jackson's ankle sprain is going to lead to some new looks from Baltimore. It will not be the same film for the Pack to review. This is going to be an interesting matchup.

Jackson can beat teams in a variety of ways and John Harbaugh is crafty. The only people who know exactly what Jackson can and can't do right now are inside the Ravens' facility. I expect a creative, workable plan for Jackson to execute. The Packers need to be ready for anything.

Michael from Dover, PA

Somewhat lost in the shuffle of the rash of injuries is Gutey's ability to use a crystal ball. Case in point is Dennis Kelly. At the time it seemed like a curious move to add a guy who was a 17-game starter elsewhere then leave him on the bench. Now it makes perfect sense. Some kudos thrown his way seem in order.

They're called investments for a reason, right? Based on how the past few seasons have played out, signing Dennis Kelly on the eve of training camp was a wise investment on Green Bay's part. In an instant, he's playing critical snaps for a contender midway through December.

Barry from Aberdeen, SD

Will the defense have a "spy" for Lamar Jackson? Or is that too simple of a plan? He's so quick who would you see using in that role?

That's where De'Vondre Campbell has been valuable this year. Because Campbell can spy the quarterback naturally without shedding any other responsibilities (e.g. Clay Matthews in the past). That's especially true if Krys Barnes is on the field in a nickel look. The Packers have had ample practice against scrambling quarterbacks. Jackson presents new challenges but there's also a lot of film on him now.

Eric from York, PA

Morning Wes, I've been to about eight Packers games in person, have only seen them win once, at Baltimore in 2013. I'm headed back again this Sunday to a hopeful victory. With Harbaugh a defensive-minded coach, what does the O-line and Aaron Rodgers have to game plan for to win the game? Conversely, if Lamar doesn't play, what does Joe Barry do with his defense against the Ravens' backup? Thanks and have a great day!

Harbaugh epitomizes what it means to be an NFL head coach. Much like Bill Belichick, Harbaugh is a special-teams coach by trade but is involved in every phase of the game. Like Cleveland did last week, I think the Packers need to start fast against the Ravens and assert their dominance. If Jackson can't go, Tyler Huntley is a capable backup with a similar playstyle. Regardless of who starts at QB, the Packers' defense has to keep the takeaways coming.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Yes, players and coaches have to do the "one game at a time" thing. Not so for Insiders. The Packers will likely need to win out to secure the top seed in the NFC, and they will be favorites in each of the next four games. Forced to pick one, which of these games makes you the most uneasy?

It sort of defeats the purpose of your question but it's probably this one coming up. I know the Browns beat the Ravens last week but Baltimore is a tough team to plan for. Their scheme, on both sides of the ball, is not easy to replicate.

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2022 Pro Bowl Vote

It's time to cast your votes for the 2022 Pro Bowl!

Dean from Ottawa, IL

It seemed like several of Mason Crosby's kickoffs did not make it to the end zone. I wonder was it real windy, or maybe he isn't 100% injury-wise or am I off-base? Thank you. Your analysis is very much appreciated.

It's also that time of the year in Wisconsin. As the temperature drops, so too will the distance on field goals, punts and kickoffs. It's the nature of the winter beast.

Kirsten from Madison, WI

What's your stance on booing? If you've said, I couldn't find it. I'm torn. My heart says you always stand by your team. But the part of me that spends $700 or more to watch a game in person with my family says, "The fans are paying to be entertained. If the team isn't keeping up its end of the deal, then the fans have the right to voice their displeasure." I never boo. But I have sat in stony silence when the announcer implores the crowd to cheer in the middle of a dismal game.

To be honest, I'm better with booing than the inexplicable "Go Pack Go!" chants that popped up with the offense on the field Sunday night. Booing isn't great but it's also not detrimental. Cheering in the red/gold zone is problematic.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, can we give a shoutout to Aaron Rodgers for asking Coach to allow Kurt Benkert to take the final kneel-downs in the Bears game? That class act will yield a lifetime of great memories for Kurt Benkert and his family.

Here's to you, Mr. Rodgers.

Jon from Kingsford, MI

Did Kurt Benkert keep the ball after the last play?

I believe so. It takes a lot of mental toughness and fortitude to do what Benkert has done, going four years without playing in a meaningful game. He was rewarded for all his little victories on Sunday.

Andrew from Minneapolis, MN

How often does a first-round bye backfire in your estimation? Does having a week off (especially in the winter) send players into hibernation or is it really the advantage we hope it is? Home-field advantage is huge but so is momentum. How will the coaching staff make sure players stay in top football shape with two weeks off in the cold weather?

The Packers lost by five points to the eventual Super Bowl champion, so I don't know if I'd be so bold as far as to say the first-round bye backfired. Also, there were 9,000 fans in the stands, not 78,000. Losing Bakhtiari didn't help, either.

Sue from Three Lakes, WI

I just watched the show about James Campen. A must watch for Packers fans. I remember being upset when he was let go as a coach. Thought he would be very difficult to replace yet we certainly have done it and then some. He is such an emotional guy. Do you have a favorite Campy story?

What's funny is everyone in the building probably has 20 stories about James Campen and two or three you can actually share. My favorite memory was James' last day here after a very difficult 2018 season. As he was packing his things up, Campy made the rounds to say goodbye to the folks on our floor. He was wearing a T-shirt of one of our IT guys, Joe Reuter, who races cars here in the area. I mean, who does that? It was emotional when Campy left because it wasn't just another player or coach leaving. It was a friend and colleague, and that's what makes James Campen special. He made you feel like just another coworker. Recently, I caught some (mostly) playful flack for how often I tweet and talk about James, but frankly we need more people like him – not just in this building but society. People who leave their ego at the door, wear their heart on their sleeve and live each day for what it is. Because this story ends the same way for all of us. So, it doesn't matter how much money you make or the power you attain. It's who do you take with you on your journey?

Josh from Newhall, CA

All this talk about young QBs, INTs and Favre got me wondering…would a young Brett survive in today's game? The expectations for young QBs have changed so much that I think all those INTs he threw would cost him his job pretty quickly today. People forget that even in his time, there were a lot of voices calling for him to be benched in his second and third year with the team until Holmgren basically told him they would either sink or swim together. Thoughts?

Favre would have adapted like all quarterbacks have adapted over the past 25 years. I mean, Favre kind of did when you look back at his 2009 season with the Minnesota Vikings. There is such a heavy emphasis on protecting the football that wasn't there in the early '90s. When Favre threw 13 interceptions in 1996 and '97, that was considered low for any elite quarterback. It's a different game now.

Lambeau Field hosted a Sunday night matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears on Dec. 12, 2021.

Roger from McGrath, AK

We noted Rasul Douglas' jump in play due to his improved film study after Jerry Gray coached him on it. To absorb it a student, athlete, or any learner needs to be prepared with varying amounts of experience first before we see a second-year style jump. I've had my own leaps to a new plateau in understanding with flying and technical writing, in particular. Have you, Wes, made marked improvements in your field as well?

I hope so. I feel like I have. As I've said before, Mike is by far the best editor I've had. No BS. It's not just Mike's knowledge of proper English and grammar but also the clarity with which he can explain the rules. I'm a much better writer today than I was five years ago because of him, just like I was a much better writer in 2016 than I was in '11. The day I stop striving for improvement is the day I retire.

Jeff from Athens, WI

Not a question here, more of a comment. Spoff could never play Stephen A. Spoff has integrity, knowledge and a likeable writing style that readers can relate to. I wish I could say the same for Mr. Smith, but I would be lying.

Is this Jeff from Athens or Kevin from Brooklyn?

Jon from Bangalor, India

Mad props to the Bears for not indulging in any cheap shots. In some way they would have been "entitled" to it after all the "ownership" comments.

Thankfully, Tony La Russa is the White Sox's manager and not the Bears' head coach. But seriously, remember what I said about not every disagreement must end in divorce? Not every slight must result in retribution. Rodgers said a few words. Robert Quinn did a belt. Let bygones be bygones and move onto the next one.

Dick from Four Oaks, NC

I saw an article on the ESPN app about Jared Veldheer cooking meals for grade school kids in Michigan. Just another example of the many good things players (present and retired) are doing to make people's lives a little bit better. If you can, please provide a link for your readers. Hope it provides a nice, warm feeling or two. Thanks!

I enjoyed Veldheer for the very short time I covered him. He seemed like a guy who knew he could still play but also was ready for that next step in life.

Mike from Cottage Grove, MN

Mike or Wes, what goes through your head when yet another person asks, "Are the Packers going to win against…" other than "sheeez" or "delete"?

"What's my word count?"

Robert from Verona, WI

Wes, do you consider the items on your desk to be junk, or priceless knickknacks/tchotchkes that you're lovingly curating for future generations?

It's a medley of junk, programs, coffee cups and honestly a few gifts we've received. I'll clean it up once the season ends…or that cleaning person arrives.

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