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Inbox: They're up against it

The Packers have options

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Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson

Warren from Conway, SC

Simple post-press conference statement following the loss: Could have, would have, should have.

Following any loss. But this is one tough crowd to get to move on. Questions about the Seahawks were practically non-existent as I sat down to write the column yesterday afternoon.

Bob from Abilene, TX

I am glad that the Bears lost but I hate the way they lost. If the officials were truly going to throw the flag for taunting (which as an official I thought was questionable to begin with), then the wing official on the Steelers' sideline should have been the one to throw it – not Corrente. And the hip check that he gave was completely intentional. So, after years of respect for Corrente, that all went away last night and he should be penalized by the league for it. What say you?

I don't know what the hip check was all about, but Corrente obviously was over-officiating that game, from the highly questionable low block call that wiped out a Bears TD to the late taunting flag. The best officials are the ones who don't over-officiate. They only make the calls that have a material impact on the play, or in the case of dead-ball fouls, the egregious conduct that can't be ignored. That said, and as much as I think the taunting call on Marsh was ridiculous, I have zero sympathy for players who do anything that makes an official even think about throwing a flag when taunting was elevated to a point of emphasis this year. When Rashan Gary sacked Mahomes on Sunday, he stood up and double-flexed in celebration as Mahomes was picking himself up off the ground right in front of him. Gary wasn't taunting a soul, but I could see an official construing that as such. I bet Corrente would have. Just don't tempt them. Period. It's so not worth it.

John from Mercer, PA

I feel like this year is the most I have ever seen broadcasters openly disagree with (bad) calls by officials. Is this recency bias or do you agree?

I agree. Vic said years ago the NFL rule book was becoming way too complicated. When I started writing this column, I followed up with the notion the complication of the rules makes it much, much harder for officials to get the calls right in real time. The progress to this point has been steady and inevitable, in my view.

Walter from Rome, NY

It would be awesome to see a game between PIT vs. GB in their current throwback jerseys. Because damn both are so beautiful.

That was a huge missed opportunity this season. Fingers crossed for the Packers' trip to Heinz Field in 2025?

Simon from Mequon, WI

What is the main thing you think Jordan Love needs to work on? Pocket poise? Passing accuracy?

After reviewing the film, I'd say his delivery and accuracy when he isn't stepping up in the pocket and letting it rip. I thought he missed Davante Adams a couple of times when he was on the run and couldn't set his feet, but the throws didn't look too difficult. He also threw the flutterball from outside the pocket that Randall Cobb managed to catch. A couple of quick throws from the pocket, with different footwork and/or arm angles, also weren't quite on target. As for poise, I thought for the most part he stood in there to make throws under pressure, and got out when he needed to.

Mike from Grovetown, GA

I was ripping JL in a chat with my brother-in-law (a Viking fan). He pointed out that Packer fans are spoiled with back-to-back HOFers, and can't objectively evaluate QBs anymore. I hadn't given that much thought, but could this be true?

It's easy to lose sight of how difficult it is to play the position given what's been witnessed here over the last three decades.

Greg from Perkasie, PA

How would people be viewing Love's first start if Mason Crosby hits those two field goals and a muffed punt gifting KC three points doesn't happen? He most likely walks out with a win while leading three scoring drives, albeit only one touchdown, but still enough to win the game.

It's a team game. Always is. I made the point on "Unscripted" that if the Packers have three or six points on the board early, you wonder how that might affect Love's confidence and the Chiefs' approach on defense. Nothing happens in a vacuum.

Norm from Barron, WI

I read in one of numerous posts that unvaccinated players aren't supposed to fly on the team plane. I never hear about it, can you shed some light?

I believe that stipulation was in the original league protocols when they were first announced, but that changed before the season started.

Jay from Altoona, WI

Unless I am mistaken, a player on the PUP list must be added to the active roster within three weeks of returning to practice or else said player must be placed on season-ending injured reserve. What happens if the Packers decide that David Bakhtiari not yet ready to play? Do they add him to the active roster in the hopes that he would be available in the near future? If they would do this, would they be required to keep Bahktiari on the active roster for the rest of the year barring some new injury?

Yes and yes. LaFleur indicated Monday there's been no discussion of shutting Bakhtiari down for the year. I would expect him to be activated this week, and we'll wait to see when he's available to play.

Matt from Cottage Grove, WI

What will the starting offensive line look like once D-Bakh returns?

That's what everyone's wondering, and the only thing I'll guarantee you is LaFleur won't announce his plans in advance, just like he told no one Yosh Nijman was starting at left tackle when Elgton Jenkins was out. I could see Jenkins going to left guard or center, with other potential shuffling, while any one of Jon Runyan, Lucas Patrick or Royce Newman would become the sixth man. The Packers have options.

Ethan from La Crosse, WI

I think it's fine if people want to hold LaFleur's words against him. But, it comes with a caveat. They also need to hold his 33-8 regular season against him, too. LaFleur is a smart enough coach to realize that if you're not improving, you're falling behind. Recognizing you weren't good enough, and acknowledging that fact publicly, is an important step in improving.

Absolutely. There are many cliches in this game that LaFleur doesn't just say but by which he steadfastly lives and coaches. One is to play your five best linemen. Another is you're only as good as your last game, and he applies that to his team as well as himself. He looks big picture in the offseason, not in the heat of the grind.

John from Jupiter, FL

We all know how bad the special teams played. My question is why halfway through a season is it still such a mess?

I wish I had a good answer for you. I'm not going to sit here and pretend I know how to fix it all. We've seen personnel changes that have worked (punter) and not worked, so far (snapper, FG protection). Sunday's decisions would tell you the Packers are committed to their rookie punt returner and are willing to work through mistakes for a long-term payoff they believe is coming. We've seen minimal penalties on special teams so at least a portion of the coaching is taking hold. That's the extent of the analysis I can give you, as unsatisfying as that is, but everyone involved knows improvement is required across the board.

Keone from Honolulu, HI

Almost every time we play Seattle, particularly when they're desperate, they usually have some really good trick plays. How does special teams prepare for these?

Stay in tune with assignments, and read keys. But trick plays take a back seat to what the Packers should expect to be a highly motivated and energized Seattle team visiting Lambeau Field on Sunday. The Seahawks are rested from a bye and getting their QB back. Also, they're up against it with five losses already and a remaining schedule that includes two games with the Cardinals and one with the Rams. They're going to play the Packers like their season depends on a victory.

Bones from Ripon, WI

I've heard to be cleared for the Seahawks game, Aaron Rodgers needs only to feel like his symptoms are better and get an independent doctor to say he's good to go. That can't be all there is though, right? Won't he have to have two negative test results 24 hours apart, too?

There's a multi-day health and exercise protocol the player must go through to be cleared, but he can begin that prior to when he's eligible to come off the COVID list. I believe the team's physician can clear him, it doesn't have to be an independent doctor. As for the two negative tests, that doesn't apply here. That's a stipulation in the protocol only for vaccinated players, giving them a chance to return prior to the otherwise mandatory 10-day absence for a positive test.

Joseph from Salt Lake City, UT

What a week to try and come up with a game plan! At least last week they knew Rodgers was out, this week it's still touch-and-go. Is ML approaching the plan assuming Rodgers will play?

LaFleur and his assistants are coming up with the best way to attack Seattle's defense. From that foundation, there may be variations that fit Rodgers better than Love and vice versa.

Dan from Cross Plains, WI

Will the practices be recorded so Rodgers can watch the game plan in action? Or is that a bit too much and all of the game-planning for him will be done via Zoom meetings?

The Packers record all their practices, and Rodgers would have access to that video if he desires.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

While a veteran football fan I learned or maybe focused on something I hadn't considered before last week's game. That on a play-action play, the defense can tackle the RB out of the backfield and eliminate him as a pass-catching option. As heavily as our offense is now relying on RBs out of the backfield I will be paying more attention to this. I will assume it is any player who fakes a handoff is fair game, correct? How "complete" does the fake have to be to qualify?

It would appear any fake would subject the back to getting legally tackled. I wasn't aware of that rule, either, but it would certainly make me think twice about designing any play-action pass where the back is the primary target (such as a screen).

Caleb from Knoxville, TN

Our defense is playing spectacular football right now. What can they further hone to get even better?

Just don't let the turnover opportunities get away. Kevin King played a really solid first game back, but if he catches that pick he had a shot at, the Chiefs have three fewer points.

Sean from San Diego, CA

The first month of the season feels like what preseason football used to be like, except the games count, and it seems to take almost half the season before defenses start to really come together. We are at the point of the season where we are getting a real feel for the identity of defenses. With all that said, this is the most excited I have been for the Packers' defense in a long time. Do you think quality play from the inside linebacker is what has been missing in previous years?

That position is certainly part of it, but I'd qualify the comment to say what's been missing in the past has been highly impactful play at inside linebacker, and a pair of reliable players at that position, not just one. The other area in which I've seen a ton of progress this year has been the communication and assignment-assuredness with coverages. Guys are going to get open sometimes, find holes in zones, whatever. It's part of the deal. But since the first month of the season, open targets have rarely been due to coverage mix-ups or the secondary lacking coordination. The film of late has shown a pretty smooth operation in the back end.

Jake from Round Rock, TX

It's been eight straight years of losing on the same weekend the clocks change. I guess when the schedule comes out I know what I'm rooting for.

Duly noted.

David from Appleton, WI

Hello Insiders! Have you become immunized to all the Aaron Rodgers questions yet?

Not bad. I did chuckle. Happy Wednesday.

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