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Inbox: They've taken different paths to contention

This is a green-and-golden opportunity to right that wrong with LeRoy Butler

RB AJ Dillon
RB AJ Dillon

Daniel from Allen, TX

Is there going to be a Turkey Day II?

I looked at my calendar and saw I don't have any PTO scheduled until February. So, I guess so.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, I am so grateful for you and Mike, for your great columns, and for the Packers who brought us all together. While there is so much for which to be thankful, my heart, thoughts, prayers, and hands reach out to the those who are hurting, suffering, and in need. Happy Thanksgiving to you and the Inbox family.

You made my day, Lori. We're thankful for football and each one of you who positively contributes to this Inbox community. Let's take a few questions and carve this turkey.

Timothy from Cameron, WI

With all the injuries the team has endured this year, the team has an 8-3 record. Doesn't this just reflect how great Aaron Rodgers is? I'm certainly thankful he's on our team. He's truly the only player the team can't do without.

If you need a reminder of Rodgers' wizardry, and toughness, check out Larry’s “Rock Report” from earlier this week. He was exceptional in the red zone against the Vikings.

Michael from Berrien Springs, MI

No matter the odds, I never bet against the Pack, but with all the injuries, this week is going to be tough. To me, it may come down to just being "quick." Quick decisions by Aaron Rodgers to quell that Rams pass rush. Quick decisions by the RBs to see and hit the open gaps. Quick get-off by the D-line to get to Matthew Stafford. The Rams come in rested. We come in badly beat up. Matt LaFleur and the gang need to come up with something...quick.

The narrative is going to be whatever the narrative is going to be heading into this game, but it's not like the Rams exactly rolled into the bye with momentum. They scored 26 total points in the losses to Tennessee and San Francisco. The Packers need to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and respond Sunday. Because Minnesota isn't the threat. As much respect as I paid them last week, the Vikings still are 5-5. The Rams and Cardinals are the hunters right now. Green Bay knocked off one last month and Sunday is its chance at the other.

Paul from Los Angeles, CA

As much as I look forward to the battle in the trenches of this upcoming game, I also look at it as a battle of ideologies. Draft-and-develop versus leverage the future and give up future draft picks for known talent. Are there two teams further apart on the spectrum than these two?

They've taken different paths to contention, but that's the beauty of the league. As much as we talk about the Rams trading away future assets, Les Snead built this team. He had the guts to draft Aaron Donald when others said he was too small. Snead found Cooper Kupp and traded for a generational talent like Jalen Ramsey. Like my grandma used to say, there's more than one way to skin a potato.

Greg from Perkasie, PA

This feels like a very huge game given the loss to the Vikings and at a very unfortunate time with all the injuries and the bye week next week. How hard do you think it is for a team to focus on just this game at this moment?

It's not hard. It's what they do.

Anthony from Auburn, WA

Thank you for always providing us with factual information rather than slimy disinformation.

I don't want to do any mudslinging. I grew up in newspapers and pull for them every day. But that Wall Street Journal story left a lot to be desired. Original reporting is one thing. But aggregating what Rodgers said on "The Pat McAfee Show" and presenting it the way WSJ did is regrettable. That's not the industry I was brought up in.

Karen from South Beloit, IL

Just as I'm recovering from his fiancée's description of AR12's "feet, ahem," we're all treated to a photo of his ACTUAL bare foot amid even more COVID drama. Can you think of another team with more entertainment value this year? ANY year?

Entertainment is one way to put it. Listen, I went nearly 10 years on the Packers without seeing Aaron Rodgers' feet. I look forward to building a new streak.

Nic from London, UK

How do our DBs improve at tracking footballs? There are still gaps, but overall, our coverage and tackling are improved. However, we remain poor with the football in the air. Kevin King and Darnell Savage both struggled with this in big moments last year, and Eric Stokes seems to be following their lead. Pass defense is tough but c'mon, 50:50 and even 70:30 balls can't be complete every time. QBs throw semi-prayers against us on third down and it works, it's like a bail out for their offense!

They're tracking the ball fine. The Packers have 42 passes defensed and rank eighth in the NFL with 11 interceptions. But there's still more out there for them. You can emphasize and practice taking the ball away all you want but ultimately the player must execute in that split-second. The Packers had a few balls bounce their way late this season. On Sunday, it didn't. On to the next one.

Nathan from Waterloo, WI

Are NFL teams allowed to advocate or campaign for past players' HOF worthiness? It seems there are several Packers that have been looked over and could use some help going forward, maybe most notably LeRoy Butler.

Thanks for reading.

Mike from Franksville, WI

Time for us to continue banging the drum for LeRoy Butler's induction into the Hall of Fame! Of the first-year nominees, I really only see DeMarcus Ware getting in this year. With a hypothetically open field, do you think this will be the year where we see the call for a lot of guys who have waited, like Butler, Tony Boselli, Darren Woodson, and others?

I sure hope this is the year. Enough with the games. The guy deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. He belongs in Canton and this is a green-and-golden opportunity to right that wrong. I agree with your assessment of the first-year guys and even then, I don't think I'd categorize Ware as a first-ballot HOFer. I look at Butler, Zach Thomas and Boselli (under the Terrell Davis rule) as three who should definitely get in. I'd also put in one of the defensive linemen among Jared Allen, Richard Seymour or Ware.

Ross from Hudson, WI

Last season the offense seemed much crisper and much more attacking than this season. How do the stats compare, and why does it feel different this year? Is it as simple as injuries? Is Bak that much of a difference-maker that is starts there?

The offense just hasn't been able to get into the same kind of groove this year. The Packers are saying all the right things as it relates to the roster but they've played all season without their franchise left tackle. David Bakhtiari is the best in the business in pass protection but he doesn't get nearly enough credit for what he adds in the run game. I think there's a trickle-down effect there. What's more, Davante Adams, Aaron Jones, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Allen Lazard and Rodgers have all missed time and dealt with injuries.

Molly from Brentwood, MO

Is Aaron Jones' relationship with AJ Dillon as solid as it was with Jamaal Williams? I just miss watching them together.

Jones has a great relationship with Dillon but theirs is more like big brother/little brother. Jones and Williams were like twins. They had different personalities but both are really selfless people, which made the arrangement work. But Dillon fit right in with that room last year.

Kasey from Fort Leavenworth, KS

How is Aaron feeling going into the game against the Rams?

I'm sure he's felt better but it's part of the job. Rodgers was playing on a badly injured toe last week and still went off for 385 yards and four touchdowns.

Mike from Cottage Grove, MN

What do you think is the biggest difference facing Stafford as QB for the Rams compared to when he was with the Lions?

The weapons. Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham Jr. are bona-fide Pro Bowlers, and I am high on Van Jefferson. I loved that pick for the Rams. Losing Cam Akers and Robert Woods hurts. It definitely takes some gunpowder out of the barrel but Sean McVay is brilliant. I just think it's a better foundation on which to build for Stafford.

Jake from Regina, Canada

At the risk of over-simplification, I believe this Rams game comes down to which team is mentally tougher. I predict the Pack's secondary unit will set up camp in OBJ's head, and will lead to similar frustrations as DK. On the opposite side of the ball, we have seen Elgton Jenkins get in Donald's head on numerous occasions to cause frustrated outbursts worthy of penalty. I believe our man best suited to goading the perennial all-pro into penalties will be the mullet-man himself, big ol' Royce Newman.

I've heard a lot of panic in the column about not having Jenkins with Aaron Donald coming into town. A quick news flash – Donald wasn't going to be Jenkins' assignment even if he was healthy. It was going to be on Jon Runyan, Lucas Patrick and Newman to neutralize Donald regardless of Jenkins' injury. Green Bay needs to protect the football and take what LA gives the offense, especially on the ground.

Shannon from Ovilla, TX

Do you see the offense using a game plan similar to the San Francisco game plan with Jenkins out? Quick passes to beat the Rams' great defensive front. Happy Thanksgiving!

We talk a lot about quick passes but it's not just dink-and-dunk for 60 minutes. It's about finding a rhythm. That's the key. Production breeds confidence and confidence breeds points.

Dan from Morehead City, NC

When people talk about replacing Mason Crosby because of a rough spell, all I can think of is the Bears replacing Robbie Gould after a rough stretch. Look how well that worked out for them. Since we face him this week, how has he been doing?

This was the example I used for years when it came to teams making a change at kicker, especially in-season. It took the Bears a good five years to finally replace Gould (but he's with the 49ers, not the Rams).

Bil from Stateline, NV

"I enjoyed the call from Olsen and Kevin Burkhardt. They didn't beat dead horses, and I found them to be steady and easy to listen to." The only complaint I would lodge would be, I could have done without being reminded throughout the broadcast of what an engaging and likable young man Justin Jefferson is. Olsen must have given his opinion half a dozen times. Fine, we get it, you like the kid. Tell us once and get on with the analysis.

That's everybody, though, Bil. FOX did that during the pregame, too.

William from Newburgh, IN

Just an observation, any press is good press and there is no incentive for the NFL to upgrade the officiating. Any business would love you talking about their product all week, and the perceived negativism is subjective as for every bad call there are fans that liked the call as it benefited their team. Had a successful travel basketball team and told my team to not put yourself in a position the refs can affect the outcome of the game. Just getting one of those TOs overcomes the officials.

All press is good press…until, ya know, the wrong team ends up in the Super Bowl.

Joel from Shawano, WI

I pray and hope that Everson Griffen can find some help and support for the struggles he faces. Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.

Mental health is so important and days like yesterday remind us all to keep family and friends in mind, especially this time of the year. I don't know Everson Griffen or what he's going through, but I hope he gets the help he needs.

Blayne from Blaine, MN

I'd like to throw another candidate into the discussion of (unrealized) great seasons. Uncle Rico. Talk about a hot arm...He could throw a football over a mountain. If coach would have only put him in in the fourth quarter, they would have won state. He would be sitting in a hot tub with his soulmate right now. What could have been...Anyone up for a game of tetherball?

Right on…Right on…

Caleb from Knoxville, TN

Why did the Packers stop playing the Lions every other Thanksgiving? I've wondered for a few years now.

I'm not sure why, but I appreciate it. I'd much rather spend Thanksgiving with my family than Spoff at the Dearborn PF Chang's.

Richard from Madison, WI

Happy Thanksgiving. Answer five questions, then go home. We'll understand.

You hear that, Spoff?

Dar from Mansfield, TX

In 1620, a group of 102 souls set sail for the New World on a repurposed merchant ship, all seeking a better life. Their journey didn't end as planned, just as many of ours don't. Yet the following fall, 53 survivors joined together with neighbors for a small harvest gathering, celebrating the simplest of blessings: life, food, and friends. On the 400th anniversary of that gathering, let me say how thankful I am for you two and this Inbox community. May we each see the blessings all around us.

And we're thankful for you, as well.

Jordan from Virginia Beach, VA

As I mentioned in September, I had spine surgery this year and I am looking forward to full clearance on my birthday next Wednesday. We are having a very small Thanksgiving this year with no extended family coming over. That means I hope my family in the Inbox will join me and my pops for football, food and drinks from afar. My girlfriend's Cowboys game will be the main course. Eat, drink, cheer (doesn't have to be for the Cowboys) and be merry! She will be wearing green and gold come Sunday!

Enjoy it, Jordan! Eat hearty and rest up.

Lori from Heredia, Costa Rica

Weston, should raisins be included in the stuffing? I say yes.

Heavens no. There is no raisin-based dish that wouldn't be improved by using cranberries instead.

Bret from Hertel, WI

Dear Wes, Mike's favorite Thanksgiving dish was green bean casserole, truly a classic. I love my mother-in-law's yams-with-marshmallows dessert during dinner. What is your favorite Turkey Day dish? Thankful for God, family and all the joys this year! Wishing you and all the Insiders a Happy Thanksgiving!

I am basic when it comes to Thanksgiving – turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing and cranberries.

Richard from Menasha, WI

Is it dressing or stuffing in your family?

Stuffing. I wish all of you the happiest of Thanksgivings. Be sure to keep your feet off the table.