Skip to main content
Powered by

Inbox: This game has him written all over it

They’ve done it before, they can do it again

DL Kenny Clark
DL Kenny Clark

John from Madison, WI

"Hover" Kraft? Mike, kindly escort Wes to the nearest exit.

Already did.

Mark from Deerfield, IL

I started watching the Packers in the '60s. Lombardi was, is and will always be a legend. However, he did not originate, "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing." That was Henry Russell "Red" Sanders, head coach of UCLA in the 1950s. Some say he used the quote as far back as the '30s. He also said when asked about beating rival USC, "It's not life or death. It's more important than that." Quite a character.

Rivalry quotes are the best. Like when Woody Hayes was asked after his Ohio State team blew out Michigan why he went for two after a touchdown late in the game. "Because I couldn't go for three." And we wonder sometimes why fans lack perspective. Ha.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

I suppose a poorly ranking scoring defense and a higher-ranking yardage defense could point to a field position deficit for that defense.

And ranking second-to-last in red-zone TD percentage.

Jeremy from West Allis, WI

According to my memory, which could be wrong, a team's defensive points allowed per game includes points surrendered by the offense and special teams. Unfair, but that's just the way it is. In concert with turnovers, could that be another reason why Carolina does not allow many yards but their "defense" gives up a lot of points? Have the Panthers succumbed to lot of defensive and special teams touchdowns this season?

Opponents have three pick-sixes vs. Young and two fumble-return TDs against them, yes. Those account for five of their 43 touchdowns surrendered.

Brian from Trego, WI

After being saddled with the high salary cap hit during the Favre/Rodgers eras, we will only get one year with Jordan Love under his rookie deal to take advantage of cap room to pay other top talent before we are right back to paying a QB top dollar. Do teams that hit on a QB like Brock Purdy who will be playing under a rookie deal for four years have a huge advantage in building a SB contender?

I think there's no denying that, but the advantage is always short-lived, and a non-first-rounder like Purdy will be looking to negotiate an extension after three years, when he's first eligible. It also guarantees nothing in a league with so many variables. I remember thinking back in 2016 the Cowboys were all set with their franchise QB (Prescott) and workhorse RB (Elliott) on rookie contracts for a few years, and they never even made it to an NFC Championship Game, let alone a Super Bowl. They won a grand total of one playoff game before both those guys had to be paid.

Matt from Kula, HI

Larry speaks the truth: "The trenches matter. Always have. Always will." Any defense that doesn't emphasize stopping the run violates this truth.

And those that struggle stopping the run will have difficulty staying sound in other areas over the long haul.

Tom from Two Rivers, WI

Who is your pick for most improved player, and who is your rookie of the year for the Packers? I think those are two very difficult choices.

My most improved player from last year to this would probably be Rasheed Walker, with Zach Tom and Devonte Wyatt in the running as well. My rookie of the year thus far is Jayden Reed, though Dontayvion Wicks and Tucker Kraft could change my mind over these last three weeks.

Kerry from Canyon Lake, TX

If you have a beef take it to the person it's with, right? I don't get posting it for the whole world to see, then saying you don't want to talk about it. Do you agree?

To each his own. I'll live and let live.

Mark from De Pere, WI

I think Walker is really starting to look the part at left tackle. Do you think his play changes how the Packers look at the 2024 draft or would they still consider an OT with that first-round pick?

I know I put a moratorium on draft questions, but I'm answering this one. I agree Walker has come along quite nicely, but depending how the draft falls, if the opportunity is there to get one of the top tackles coming out, I can't see the Packers passing that up.

Sandy from Green Bay, WI

When decisions are made regarding contract extensions/new contracts for returning players for next season, will it be a consideration to retain some of the veteran players not only for their on-field production potential, but also to serve as locker room leaders, mentors, and teachers to the large number of first- and second-year players? I have heard countless times how this Packers team is the youngest in the league and experiencing growing pains. It seems like veteran leadership could help.

There's got to be a balance. You don't want to keep veterans around who aren't going to help you enough on the field, because then they're just taking snaps from the young players who need them to grow. But if they're still productive players who can show the way as much on the field as off, that's the best of both worlds. Real experience is still gained only one way, though, and it's not through film sessions and conversations. All the leadership and mentorship in the world won't teach young players more than just playing the game at this level will.

Kerry from Lakewood Ranch, FL

The most disappointing stat this season in my opinion is the fact seven of the eight losses this season have been to teams who don't have a winning record. Conversely they have two wins over division leaders. Is this the proverbial playing to the level of your competition?

I don't believe in that. It's part of the week-to-week nature of the NFL, as well as the "not whom you play but when you play 'em" context. Last year the Packers beat three teams that went to the playoffs and lost to four teams that didn't.

Dan from Algonquin, IL

Hi Mike, NFL offenses often say, "We love to have long drives of 12-15 plays that wears out a defense, chews up clock, and keeps the opposing offense off the field." NFL defenses often say, "We want to avoid giving up explosive plays and force the opponent to execute long scoring drives against us." How can both sides be happy when a long TD drive occurs? Seems like the offense is the big winner when it happens, except with the defense is protecting a three-score lead in the fourth quarter. Thoughts?

The defensive perspective is to avoid explosives to give more opportunity to get off the field (another third down) and more opportunity for the offense to make a mistake that short-circuits the drive (penalty, turnover). Explosives are difficult to recover from defensively and create instant momentum offensively.

Andy from Green Bay, WI

I know there has been a lot of speculation regarding the DC in Green Bay, but my opinion is it's the philosophy that has to go. Dated. Ineffective. Dead. Vic Fangio is the only one running his defense at an above-average level (13th by DVOA). Teams looking to emulate are struggling: Rams (21st), Eagles (22nd), Panthers (27th), Chargers (28th), and the Pack (29th). I know ML knows … we are all excited to see the response in Carolina. Go Pack Go!

That's a one-year snapshot of several teams, some of whose defenses I believe have ranked higher within the last couple of years (including GB's), though I don't have those lists in front of me. But overall, I think your point has validity.

Erik from Mansfield, TX

I think part of the reason for all the angst when we all knew this would be a "growing pains" year is that we've been so pleasantly surprised by the offense. If the defense was playing consistently, even league average, but the offense was sputtering, it would match our worries. But for the offense to be top 10 and the defense bottom 10 after all the investment in it, we weren't mentally prepared for that as a fanbase. It's confusing and worrying.

Your first scenario is pretty much where the Packers were through September and October. Detroit and Minnesota were rough games defensively, plus one bad quarter in Atlanta; otherwise plenty of opportunity to win, but the offense was indeed sputtering. When the offense found itself, the hope was the defense could stay relatively steady, and it did for a while but has fallen off lately. Confusing and distressing, yes, but the only thing to do is keep fighting.

Jay from Altoona, WI

The Packers' defense has only managed six interceptions thus far. While there are three games to go, that is down quite a bit from even the last two years (17 and 18). Are the lack of interceptions just another symptom of a struggling defense, or do you attribute it to something else? For the record, the Titans have the fewest interceptions with four, while the Packers are tied for second worst with the Eagles and the Commanders.

We saw the Packers drop plenty of INT chances in the first half of the season. Since then, the chances have dried up. One way to create them is to generate some doubt in a QB's mind as to what coverage you're in by mixing things up, disguising, etc. Just by the eye test, the last two weeks DeVito and Mayfield played with no hesitation, which suggests they weren't questioning what the Packers were in on any given snap.

Johan from Evansville, IN

If Bryce Young wins NFC Offensive Player of the Week next week, there's going to be a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency. Is there one player in particular you have a hunch about during this upcoming game that will prevent the Insider Inbox from turning into the nuthouse?

Too late as far as the nuthouse goes. Kenny Clark. This game has him written all over it the way the Panthers have allowed interior pressure this season.

Chris from South Bend, IN

Poor performances from the Packers' defensive unit are stacking up with Joe Barry taking much of the blame. Justified or not, one more real stinker and our DC is unlikely to see Week 18. The question for me is how the players respond. In team sports you play for one another. Are the players going to rise up and play hard for Joe on Sunday? Or are they content to mail in another ho-hum effort and wait for a 2024 coaching reset?

We're about to find out.

Doug from Woodington, OH

This is an intriguing upcoming game for the Green Bay defense. There's been a lot of multi-angled hard chatter this week following its TB performance. What do you think the unit is capable of this week? Also, what do you think the coaches will be looking for from individual defensive players throughout the final three regular-season games?

I know I just mentioned Clark, but they aren't looking for individuals to stand out so much as for the entire unit to play together, communicate, be where they're supposed to be, and trust one another. Passing off receivers in different coverage zones with the right timing and smoothness, rallying to the ball to make gang tackles, staying disciplined with regard to assignments, rush lanes, etc. They've done it before, they can do it again.

Don from Seattle, WA

I've heard some lamenting that GB's lack of a 1,000-yard receiver is a problem, I disagree. Between our tight ends, receivers, and running backs the Packers have quickly developed a group of players that can be counted on to make plays, and with experience, they will get better individually and as a group. Jordan Love will end the year at/near 4,000 yards without leaning on one premier player. I view this as a strength and would appreciate hearing your views.

I agree. LaFleur and Love aren't seeing/feeling the need to force-feed anybody, and they're letting the young talent progress naturally. With no ceiling or strictly defined roles, everybody stays hungry. The fact the Packers haven't had a 100-yard receiving performance this year also keeps gaining traction. I know 100 is a nice number, but if it's lowered to 80 receiving yards, the Packers have had eight such performances by five different players (two each by Watson, Reed and Wicks; one each by Jones and Doubs). That's fine by me.

Rick from Trempealeau, WI

Just a follow-up to Wes's comment about not missing (as) much if you don't attend/watch a loss, or at least a brutal loss. Has there ever been a game that the Packers lost, but you felt like you wouldn't have wanted to miss THAT game for the world?

Both playoff losses in Arizona ('09, '15). Heartbreakers, but absolute classics I'll remember forever.

Terry from Green Bay, WI

Good morning Mike. You do a great job on the game day blog but that has to be hard to pull off – watching the action, reading the submissions, and typing the plays and your comments. Would you rather do what you do now or would you prefer to do radio or TV? Do you see that in your future?

I'd love to give it a try sometime. Way back in my younger years, I always dreamed of doing baseball radio play-by-play like Bob Uecker, but I confess my broadcast training is pretty minimal to take something like that on now. As challenging as it is, I've come to enjoy the blog for the fan interaction part of it. The comments come in fast and furious, and I only have a chance to glance at so many, let alone post and respond to a few. But that's an element to "live" work that's not part of any broadcast. In the nonstop madness of the blog, I miss plenty of TV replays, so I always appreciate glancing at the comments to see what fans saw on those to help augment the conversation.

Tom from Wauwatosa, WI

Mike, let Wes know it is not "full consistency" that is desired Sunday. It is "FULL CONSISTENCY." Let's not ignore our Inbox (and predecessor) history.

He was taught as a child not to yell. Happy Friday.

Insider Inbox

Insider Inbox

Join writers as they answer the fans' questions in Insider Inbox