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Inbox: This game was there for the taking

A lot of results elsewhere went Green Bay’s way

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QB Jordan Love

Chris from New Richmond, IN

If I'm only this disappointed in the Packers like this once every eight games, then I can be content. They really could and should have won this one, but it is a week-to-week league, right?

This game was there for the taking. There's no denying that, and it's a shame to waste such a tremendous defensive effort. But you can't win when only one of three phases shows up. That's a losing formula every Sunday.

Bill form Raleigh, NC

Hi II, ML tried to deflect the lack of a winning game plan against the blitzes away from JL, but everyone knew what the Chiefs would do: Try to contain the running game and force JL to make bad decisions under pressure. It worked perfectly. Even some of JL's completions should not have been thrown. No one can say what kind of QB that JL will become, but it was a bad start.

It was, and Jordan Love wasn't good enough. Not even close. But I didn't take LaFleur's comments as just another typical falling on the sword, which is why I focused on them in my editorial. He really and truly believes he let his young QB down. He talked about not protecting well enough (which I understood to refer to both the protection calls and execution) and about having too many longer-developing routes that didn't give Love enough options to deliver the ball quickly. LaFleur knew exactly what the Chiefs were going to do and his QB didn't have the answers for it. That is on the plan and therefore on the coach.

Nate from Naples, FL

With Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon averaging about 5 yards per carry on just 20 attempts, why do you think they asked Jordan Love to throw the ball 34 times?

I think LaFleur is asking himself that same question today. From my seat, he seemed hell-bent on making the Chiefs pay for being aggressive at the line of scrimmage and playing only one safety deep. He wanted that one play to loosen things up. Probably wanted it too much.

Tom from Highland Village, TX

Hi Mike. First, I don't think one start is fair to judge a QB's future. However, I have a question I hope you will answer. How much can accuracy and arm strength be improved in a second-year pro? I attended a practice on Aug. 10, and had those two concerns about Jordan Love. Today he threw many inaccurate passes, but I only noticed a couple throws where arm strength was an issue. Are we just spoiled or can these shortcomings be significantly improved over time by a young QB?

Love's accuracy on several throws was subpar. I don't expect him in his first NFL start with blitzers in his face to throw spot-on go-balls on the one-on-ones down the sideline. That's not realistic. But there were other, simpler and easier throws that just have to be more on target. Those are the plays, and gains, that can keep you out of difficult third-down situations, when a Spagnuolo-coordinated defense is going to send the house. That said, when Love had protection, he produced. I do think accuracy can be improved, and when the game settles down and slows down for him, the muscle memory should kick in. As for arm strength, I don't believe this is an issue with Love. I've seen him let it rip on the practice field and the arm is there. When his throws don't have the proper zip, in my opinion it's because he's not stepping into them and/or just not throwing confidently.

Kate from Ravena, NY

Obviously, Kansas City is one of the hardest places for a visiting team to play, let alone for a young QB to make his first NFL start. If this game had been played in Lambeau, would that have made a big enough difference for Love to get a win? Or were his problems not the type of thing that a home-field advantage could fix?

Not all of them. I suspect home field would have helped with the pass protection more than anything, because the guys up front could have communicated better against all those third-down blitzes, and without free runners in his face Love should have been able to convert a few more third downs.

Chris from Upland, CA

II, I have lost trust in our special teams.

It's an inexcusable performance. The field-goal operation was a mess with the snaps, holds and protection. Punt return almost had a second disaster. The Packers just needed the special teams to do its job and the offensive uptick late might have been enough to pull this game out. Special teams was the culprit in, effectively, nine points going the wrong way in a game lost by six. That's tough to swallow.

Tyson from Mililani, HI

Just looking at Love's stat line while holding the Chiefs to 13 points, I would've assumed we won that game. Very unfortunate that special teams was one of the spotlights, again. Is this the D we've been looking for or was that also a result of KC's recent struggles? Combination of both?

The Chiefs still aren't the Chiefs, but the Packers deserve plenty of credit for keeping it that way, especially losing Stokes during warmups and then Clark during the game. After the first drive, I thought the defense was outstanding. They hit hard and covered well. Green Bay benefited from two key dropped passes on third downs in the third quarter, but Mahomes and that offense never looked comfortable. That last third-and-10 was really unfortunate, but Mahomes made a Mahomes play when the Chiefs absolutely needed one.

Brock from West Lafayette, IN

Good morning! No question. Just an appreciation for the hit Krys Barnes laid at the goal line. That was some great football.

That play epitomized what this defense is all about right now. You have to love the way it fights.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Why do coaches hide behind their play card when calling a play? Is lip reading that much of a problem? Does the opposing team even have time to relay information to the players on the field if they do read the opposing coach's play selection?

It's not really about guarding against anything in-game. It's more about what future opponents might pick up from lip-reading play calls and then seeing the play that's run.

Rich from Dunwoody, GA

In the fourth quarter, on first-and-10 from the GB 47, the Packers declined an offside penalty that would have given them first-and-5 at the KC 48 and instead accepted a 3-yard pass interference penalty that gave them a first-and-10 at the 50. Why?

I have no idea. I was wondering the same thing at the time.

The Green Bay Packers faced the Kansas City Chiefs in a Week 9 matchup on Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021.

David from Madison, WI

Sorry Spoff, turns out we didn't want to hear what Aaron Rodgers had to say.

The reaction to Rodgers' soliloquy was predictably polarizing. I'm not going to get into his personal choices and approach to the issue. I will mention a couple of things, though. First, I thought Rodgers raised worthwhile discussion points regarding the NFL's protocols and the rationale and motivation behind them. But the time for the discussion was in the spring and summer, when the league's and union's medical experts were putting together the protocols, not several months after the union agreed to them. Second, color me curious, but when Rodgers carefully chose his words on Aug. 26, I'd like to know whether his status appeal to the league had been decided by then, or if it was still pending. Unless I missed it, that didn't seem clear Friday. I'd just like to fully understand his headspace in that moment.

Dave from Germantown, TN

Mike and Wes, maybe I shouldn't assume but I assume the two of you are vaccinated. How do you feel about having shared the media room with an unvaccinated Aaron Rodgers over the first eight games of the season?

By rule, Wes and I are vaccinated and masked in order to be in the media auditorium. I also haven't been within 15 feet of him at any point during his appearances, and I've had no other contact with him (or any other players for that matter). Personally, I have no problem with how things have been conducted.

Rick from Cedarburg, WI

What is the potential fallout/penalties that could be given the Packers for Rodgers not following COVID protocols on Packers/NFL premises for unvaccinated players, and as well, what is the potential fallout for Rodgers not following the NFL protocol for unvaccinated players (e.g., not attending private parties, not masking up on NFL facilities, etc.)?

So far in the pandemic era (that sounds so strange to say, but I don't know how else to say it), protocol violations to my knowledge have resulted in fines for players, and in fines as well as docked late-round draft picks for clubs.

Matthew from Sheboygan, WI

After humbly eschewing the title of "scholar or academic," Wes wrote, "My guiding light often times has been empathy. I pray for grace every night and settle for humility." Indeed, those are not the words of a scholar or academic, but of a wise, caring, and vulnerable human being whose writing I am grateful to be able to read each week. Thank you, Wes and Mike, for the lights you shine during trying times in our Packers community.

This was one of many comments appreciating Wes's calming words, which I wanted to acknowledge as well. I often say Wes helps keep me young. He also helps me keep faith in humanity.

Nick from Prescott, WI

I really liked how the defense played overall. Do we finally have two legit ILBs with De'Vondre Campbell and Barnes? Campbell just got defensive player of the month and Barnes was crushing guys everywhere. I cannot remember when we had two ILBs we could count on.

This is indisputably the Packers' best pair at that position since Nick Barnett and A.J. Hawk, followed by Desmond Bishop and Hawk, in the 2009-10 seasons.

Nathan from New York, NY

In the McCarthy era, the Packers used to practice on Saturday instead of Friday. Will the Packers do the same this week if Rodgers can't return until Saturday?

I doubt LaFleur would change the routine of the entire team. Players and coaches are creatures of habit.

Isaac from Columbia, TN

Call me a hopeless optimist if you want, but after that game I believe the Packers have plenty to be excited about the rest of the way.

I agree, but this game was also a reminder of how effectively a top-of-the-line QB like Rodgers can cover up offensive problems and dictate how defenses play you.

Carolyn from Minneapolis, MN

More of a comment, but after our loss today and the other upsets, I looked at the division, conference and entire league standings, and we haven't lost a thing. The defense kept us in the game the entire time, and we showed flashes at the end. Aaron should be back sooner than later, so I'd say R-E-L-A-X! No harm, no foul!

A lot of results elsewhere went Green Bay's way. Hats off to the Cardinals for getting a road division win with their backup QB, leaving them as the only one-loss team in the entire league now. When you look around at what happened – the Cowboys getting blown out at home, the Bills losing at Jacksonville, the Raiders falling to the Giants, the Vikings dropping another close one, the Rams getting drilled by the Henry-less Titans – it makes a very frustrating loss easier to take, even if it was a big missed opportunity.

Ron from Sun Lakes, AZ

No question just a mighty HI HO to the defense. Great job gentlemen. On to next week.

I really hope we're going to see this defense at full strength for the stretch run.

Tyler from Cedar Falls, ID

Offense: sparks visible. Defense: on fire. Special teams: dumpster fire. What do we need to sacrifice to the Football Gods to let us have great play in all three phases?

Anybody got any of Jobu's rum? Happy Monday.

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