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Inbox: They stayed in it all the way to the end

The straightest path to a division title is to win division games

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Detroit Lions QB Jared Goff

Glenn from Mechanicsville, VA

If "winning is the only thing" and everyone recognized the Bucs had a big advantage dealing with the heat, why didn't Packer management get the team to Tampa in time to acclimate?

And once again we're off, so we might as well get going.

Bob from Grand Rapids, MI

OK, time to turn the page. What of this new Lions team might the Packers have the most success in exploiting, on either side of the ball?

Detroit's defense is still very much a work in progress. The 49ers were around 400 yards by the end of the third quarter, and the Lions have now lost their top cornerback, Jeff Okudah, for the season to an Achilles injury. On offense, the Lions aren't very dynamic at receiver, but tight end T.J. Hockenson was their best weapon in the passing game in Week 1 (8-97-1), and the Packers allowed two TD passes to a tight end, so beware there. With Swift and Williams, they'll also run the ball until the Packers stop it, given what's on film.

Tom from Blaine, WA

Any thoughts on how the Lions looked in Week 1?

My biggest observation was they didn't give up, which says something about the mentality their new head coach has instilled. They were down 41-17, got the ball with just 5:45 left in the game, and came within 24 yards of a potential tying touchdown. They stayed in it all the way to the end.

Scott from Fairfax, VA

Do you feel Rodgers not being at camp for OTAs and other team events/workouts hindered his development and preparedness for this first game? He seemed somewhat out of synch and not in command of the game from an offensive perspective as the main man and QB. Thanks for the honest opinion.

No, that wasn't it. He looked as good in training camp as he ever has. He had a bad game. He's had them before. He's bounced back from them before. He'll do so again.

Charlene from Plover, WI

Would the Packers ever try using both QBs like SF is doing?

I highly doubt it.

Chad from Raleigh, NC

We already knew Elgton Jenkins could play every position on the O-line at a high level, but after watching him make those two tackles on Aaron Rodgers' two interceptions, I don't think it's a stretch to say he could play every position on the D-line as well if he practiced at it.

I wouldn't doubt it.

Tony from Bronxville, NY

Hey guys, how would you evaluate the play of the two rookie linemen? Thanks.

As expected for a debut in the trenches. They held their own, but they both have a few plays they'd like back.

Bill from Wilmington, DE

Hi Mike, the game was not on TV in my market and they weren't showing anything I really wanted to see on RedZone. Did GB abandon the run too soon in your opinion, regardless of the score, it was 17-3 at half?

Yes and no. On the second drive, LaFleur regretted the keep-pass call on first down after AJ Dillon ran twice for 12 yards, but if Rodgers throws it away and doesn't take a sack, you can still run it on second-and-10. Hard to run on second-and-21. After the first INT early third, the defense got a stop and it was still 17-3 with the offense backed up on its own 5. The first two snaps were pass plays (the second creating an illegal shift penalty) before a run on second-and-12 and then the deep-shot INT. Those were the instances they maybe could've been more committed.

Alyssa from Plover, WI

What do the Packers need to do to bounce back?

Offensively, it's do what you did well last year – be effective running the ball to set up play-action, and stay efficient on third down and in the red zone. All of that was a mess in Week 1. Defensively, they have to take advantage of any opportunities that present themselves. They had a third-and-8, fourth-and-7, and fourth-and-goal on those two long TD drives in the first half. Stop any one of those three plays and the game looks and feels different.

Jim from Eau Claire, WI

Did either of you get a chance to watch Peyton and Eli on MNF? If so, what did you think?

I did not, and regrettably considering all the chatter I'm hearing about it. I'll have to tune in Week 3.

Dan from Wausau, WI

If anything, the loss will cause the Packers to tune out the noise surrounding why it happened and have singular focus on Detroit, sort of us-against-the-world mentality.

I don't think we've reached the us-against-the-world stage already, but tuning out the noise? Absolutely.

Roger from McGrath, AK

Mike, did you see something else in our run defense that prompted your question to Krys Barnes and did he answer how you thought he might?

I saw running plays, when the defense had just one inside linebacker on the second level, where it appeared that 'backer wasn't sure which gap to fill and perhaps hesitated or chose the wrong one. But I'm not an expert in Barry's scheme, so I don't know if I interpreted what I saw correctly, and it's unprofessional to ask a question in a way that could come off as accusatory, especially when you're fishing. So I kept the question general, and Barnes responded in kind, not providing any specifics. It was worth a shot.

Joe from Wausau, WI

I believe the Packers used 11 personnel on about 80% of offensive plays against the Saints. Tight ends had 67 snaps between them on 57 plays. That seems more Mike McCarthy offense than Matt LaFleur offense. Do you see that changing this week?

Yes.

Charlie from Mount Joy, PA

Hi Mike and Wes, no question but want to congratulate Wes for his statement, "We're on a mission from Vince." That would make a fantastic T- shirt. Thanks for a laugh on an otherwise gloomy week.

That's the Inbox line of the year so far for me, particularly since "The Blues Brothers" came out well before Wes was born, yet he was all over it.

Jordan from Appleton, WI

We've seen this same pattern in more than a few losses the last couple seasons. Every time, they say the same stuff; stuff like "low energy," "overconfident," "dared us to run the ball," "we abandoned the run," "challenged our receivers," and yet the pattern continues the next time they run into the same problems no matter the amount of times they say they'll fix it. How many times do they have to lose in the same way in order to actually put their words into action and win these games?

The NFL is a constant battle to be at your best every week, and LaFleur is 28-9 as a head coach. As I mentioned Monday, the number of blowout losses among those nine is a head-scratcher for a team that far more often than not is prepared to win games and does so. I don't have an answer for you. Some point to the common thread of the routs coming on long road trips, but over '19 and '20, the Packers also won at Dallas, New Orleans, Houston and San Francisco (1 of 3). The periodic recurrence of games like this is the biggest mystery to me for a coach and team that've been so successful.

Doug from Neenah, WI

Good morning, Mike. An optimist with a glass half-full will see the Packers can move into first place in the NFC North division with a win over Detroit. A pessimist with a glass half-empty will fear an 0-2 start means sitting in last place and a lost season if they lose to the Lions. What do you think? By the way, George Carlin would say the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

I like that. It also accurately describes the excess discussion over a team's prospects in mid-September, but I digress. It's vitally important for the Packers to win Monday night not because a loss would drop them to 0-2, but because they're facing a division opponent. The straightest path to a division title is to win division games.

Ryan from Baldwin, WI

Insiders, for the most part, I thought injured players didn't travel with the team. Instead, stayed back with the training staff and rehabbed. I could have sworn I saw 69 on the sidelines Sunday in Jacksonville. Any idea why he might be their exception?

It's a case-by-case basis. Most of the training staff travels with the team, and if the member of the training staff who's conducting an individual's rehab workouts wants to supervise every single one, they'll rehab on the road together.

Jeff from Farmington, IL

It seems every time a team uses the two-high shell defense Rodgers struggles. Why is that? Why don't more teams use this defense as it seems to frustrate him? Thanks for all you do and love the column!

The Packers faced plenty of two-high looks last year designed to double Adams and/or take away the big play. They also rushed for 132.4 yards per game, their most ever with Rodgers playing a full season.

Jacob from West Allis, WI

It is often talked about how teams can suffer from a "Super Bowl hangover" the next year after playing in the big game. Could the Packers possibly have suffered from an NFC Championship hangover Week 1? If so, I'm hoping a packed Lambeau Field Monday night will act as a Gatorade and a greasy meal.

The hangover theory doesn't fit when you look at Week 1 last season, but I could've used a greasy meal when I finished writing Inbox on Sunday night.

Richard from Canton, GA

Did you get the chance to see Matt Stafford play at all? He looked very at home with the Rams. I think this is the year he gets a playoff victory under his belt.

I only saw bits and pieces from that game, but McVay is counting on Stafford to take his offense to another level. It's going to be very interesting to see who emerges in that NFC West. Talk about a loaded division.

Robert from Saginaw, MI

I have a friend who is a Ravens fan. I don't know which loss is tougher. The Packers getting blown out, or the Ravens giving up a 14-point lead to lose in overtime. Either way, they both count the same.

Fourteen-point leads are nothing in the NFL, especially early. It's giving up 38 yards in 30 seconds to set up the tying field goal when the other team has no timeouts that's the killer.

Casey from Frisco, TX

In 2003, the Pats had preseason drama with the release of Lawyer Milloy, who then signed with the Bills, who blew NE out 31-0 in Week 1 leading to "the team is in disarray/season is lost" chatter. Pats won the SB. In 2014, the Pats lost Week 1, squeaked by weak teams in Weeks 2 and 3, and got blown out by the Chiefs in Week 4, leading to chatter about how Brady was finished and no longer had drive. Pats won the SB. It's safe to say the world has not yet ended for the '21 Packers, yes?

They're on to Cincinnati. I mean, Detroit.

Brett from Plover, WI

Can they turn around a bad performance quick enough for Monday?

That's the most time you get in this league, aside from an actual bye week or losing on a Thursday night. They have to make it count. Happy Wednesday.

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