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Inbox: This past year taught you something about the man

The Packers’ offense on Sunday was the personification of efficiency

G Lane Taylor

Ken from New York, NY

Monday's postgame Insiders Inbox was like chicken soup for my mind and spirit.

So I guess that means I'm doing the dishes then.

Elliot from Hopkins, MN

The offense just felt different, but it seemed like at the beginning of the game they were focusing on making everything simple and not getting into a third-and-long situation, while trying to set up home-run looks for later in the game.

It was a masterclass by Matt LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers in setting up a defense with a barrage of jabs early and then throwing timely haymakers in the second half. I wrote last week how the offense is looking how it's supposed to look and Sunday's win over Minnesota was a perfect reflection of that. The offense was smart, unpredictable and efficient. Rodgers got in a groove early, drawing the Vikings offside on the third play of the game, and demonstrated great downfield accuracy in the second half. In the end, it was the first time in franchise history the Packers scored more than 40 points, had more than 500 total yards of offense and 30-plus first downs without a turnover (according to Elias). It was the personification of efficiency.

Daniel from Allen, TX

Overall, a real solid performance by the offense against an always well-prepared Zimmer D. One negative stat. Boyle's rushing numbers...uugghh!

Well, besides that.

Jared from Rigby, ID

Insiders, I'm not a football expert. I don't know if we have great or poor receivers. But here is what I see on the highlight reel: Receivers making contested catches. Fighting for the ball and coming down with it. I'm more and more inclined to trust the coaching staff. How do you feel the receiving group did as a whole Sunday?

This receiving corps is better than it gets credit for. Davante Adams, Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling each had more than 80 total yards and a touchdown Sunday, and all three made their share of difficult catches to do it. Looking at Lazard specifically, I made a comment during the game about how he's a vacuum whenever Rodgers targets him. The ball finds its way to his hands.

Steve from Kansas City, MO

I hope the separation Lazard and MVS were getting was not just due to going against rookie DBs. Time will tell, but if they continue to get separation like this, it's going to be a very good year for Rodgers. Not so worried about MVS' drops, as I remember Nelson had a few before he became a stud. Are you?

Not at all. James Jones had his share of early drops, too, before becoming one of Rodgers' most reliable targets. MVS will be fine. The Packers have to keep working on building on the positives with Valdes-Scantling because the offense is undeniably more dynamic when he's on the field.

Hal from Lanesboro, MN

Such tough news about Lane Taylor . Great guy, had a terrific camp, and now another season lost. Is it time to call Jared Veldheer?

You can't help but feel sick about it. As someone who's covered Taylor's career for seven years, you knew the player but this past year taught you something about the man. Here's a guy who battled Elgton Jenkins last year to keep his starting job, even rotating with the rookie for a time. Taylor didn't raise a fuss about it. He just kept working. Taylor then suffers the biceps injury and restructures his deal to stay in Green Bay this year. He returns in July and has as good a training camp as any offensive lineman on the roster and was rewarded by reclaiming a starting job. Like LaFleur said, your heart goes out to him. I can't imagine the disappointment Taylor must feel. For the Packers, the silver lining is they have several options at right guard – it just won't be Taylor moving forward and that's too bad.

Michael from Dover, PA

Does anyone have more fun playing than Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones ?

The answer is no.

Alex from Duluth, MN

Seems like we have a four-headed monster at running back. Can we call it a hydra? Would love to see the T-shirts. In all seriousness though, No. 33 showing again why he's the real deal with that zero-hesitation, lighting-quick cutback for the touchdown.

Adams said it best Sunday night – Aaron Jones is just so unconventional. He's built like a scat-back but he wears down a defense like a 240-pound bulldozer. That's what fluttered through my head when he broke off that 15-yard gain in the second half. LaFleur aimed to marry the run and the pass better this season. Well, the honeymoon is off to a pretty good start.

Matt from Hawthorne, NJ

Wow. Not sure if the 2010 adjustment was a factor at all, but Rodgers looked like his former MVP self. I realize it's only one game, but hopefully this quiets the "Rodgers is declining fast" takes I kept seeing for the past two years...thanks for the coverage on Sunday. Here's to hoping you guys can get back to the normal game-day routine soon.

I loved how Rodgers attacked the middle of the field and mixed in the underneath routes with uncorking a few deep balls. More than anything, his timing and accuracy were impeccable. As far as our operation, I miss our old routine but honestly Sunday went better than expected.

Josh from Melbourne, Australia

How telling do you think it will be for the Packers season playing two tough away games (Vikings and Saints) with no fans emphasizing home-field advantage?

*Extremely telling. U.S. Bank and the Superdome are the loudest and most difficult NFL stadiums to play in. It's huge for the Packers to play both games in empty venues. *

Jack from Moweaqua, IL

Why did those end-around plays work so well? We had at least three big gains during the game. And hats off to our O-line. They played outstanding, especially Jon Runyan and Rick Wagner having to come in unexpectedly.

Good play-calling and more importantly solid blocking from skill-position players. Josiah Deguara wiped out two Vikings on the 19-yard pickup by Lazard, while Lazard and Jace Sternberger did a great job creating lanes on practically every Tyler Ervin run outside the hashes.

Mark from Oak Harbor, OH

Great victory on Sunday with a lot to like, especially AR 12 looking like he did during his MVP years. The big area of concern is the defense. Our best defense was our offense holding the ball for over 41 minutes. Help me feel better about a defense that gave up over 30 points in just over 18 minutes. We can't expect the offense to do this every week. Not complaining, a win is a win, but the defense looked very similar to last year. Did you guys see anything that jumped out to you on D?

The second quarter was how it was supposed to look – steady pressure and guys playing loose. In the second half, however, the Vikings had to switch to their no-huddle and the Packers had a tough time matching that tempo. I feel like it comes down to those first two downs and stopping the run. Because when Green Bay gets it to third-and-7 or longer, good things happen. That didn't happen enough in Minnesota.

Venny from Montgomery, AL

Do you think Kenny Clark's absence in the second half contributed heavily to what we saw on defense during the last half of the game? It may also be an adjustment period as there were eight teams in 14 games that scored more than 30 points.

It certainly didn't help matters.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, what surprised you most about Sunday's game?

How good the rookies looked. It says a lot about Deguara that he started and played 24 snaps in his first NFL game. AJ Dillon had a couple nice runs. Then, you have sixth-round pick Jon Runyan come off the bench in the fourth quarter to play important snaps at right guard for an injured Taylor. And how about Krys Barnes? He was the first undrafted rookie linebacker to start for the Packers since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970…and he had six tackles (two for a loss) in 15 snaps. Not too shabby.

David from Janesville, WI

Congratulations to Tae for tying the Packers' record for receptions in a game. Wes listed the top five games, Don Hutson had two and Davante Adams had three. With the way Rodgers spreads the ball around it was a little surprising. I guess I expected Sharpe to be up there from the days he was one of the first guys to hit 100 receptions. What was Sharpe's most prolific day?

If we're just talking catches, he had a career-high 11 for 160 yards against the Giants in 1992. But Sharpe had so many legendary performances throughout his career, including two four-touchdown games. Sharpe sustained his neck injury against Atlanta in Week 16 of the 1994 season but what I'll always remember is how he still played the following week against Tampa Bay. He caught nine passes for 132 yards and three touchdowns in what turned out to be his final NFL game.


Phil from Portland, OR

One thing I noticed this weekend after watching a handful of games is that everyone seemed to be pretty locked in and looked good. As a player, I imagine most of them are coming into the season as fresh and injury-free as they ever have. Do you think that all the full-pad practices, the preseason games (with extra travel) and summer team workouts have a negative effect on health with little real impact on the quality of play?

It's one game. As Spoff wrote Monday, we still have a way to go with this thing. That being said, Rodgers mentioned several times how fresh he felt and compared the offseason to 2011. Maybe he was onto something.

Roshan from Brooklyn, NY

The more I think about the safety by Jaire Alexander, the more I am blown away. Alexander called his own blitz because he thought it was a run. He was wrong about the run, but didn't miss a beat and ran straight to the QB. If Alexander didn't blitz, the Packers would have been caught with Conklin uncovered on a corner route and Thielen streaking down field essentially uncovered also. One split-second decision totally altered the game.

There was a line I remember hearing this offseason about if you're going do something wrong, make sure you do it fast. Alexander wasn't supposed to come on the blitz but he reacted instinctually. Since he didn't skip a beat, Alexander was able to make a game-changing play. You don't want to chase those plays every week but there's nothing wrong with a happy accident every now and then.

Frank from Wake Forest, NC

Alexander had the first sack, first safety and first INT in the first game of the season. Has any other player accomplished this feat?

I think Gil Brandt said like five others have done it since the turn of the century. The more you know, I guess.

Robert from Birchwood, WI

Did either Oren Burks or Ty Summers play on defense?

Burks played three snaps of nickel.

Brandon from Pleasant Prairie, WI

I know the Saints' game is a couple weeks away, but how would you compare Dalvin Cook to Alvin Kamara? To me, it seems like going from the frying pan into the fire for the Packers' defense.

It's like comparing a migraine to a tension headache. They're one in the same. Kamara probably takes it up another level or two with how much Sean Payton uses him in the passing game. But before we start talking about Kamara, the Packers have to address Adrian Peterson for the 124th time. The fact is this early stretch is going to be a challenge for the defense, especially in the wake of Kenny Clark's groin injury.

Tyler from Stevens Point, WI

Last year, the two wins over the Lions combined for a difference of only four points. In 2018, we were swept by the Lions, albeit with a completely different team and coaching staff. But they have given us a run for our money, nonetheless. I know the Packers won't take them lightly, but what should fans know about this matchup to avoid being overconfident?

I expect the Packers will see one of two teams at Lambeau Field – a dejected and downtrodden Lions team coming off a disappointing loss or a very hungry club with high expectations for this season. I'd wager the latter shows up Sunday. Green Bay will have to be ready for Detroit's best, especially with how solid Matthew Stafford has been against the Packers the past two years.

Jesse from Bonita Springs, FL

According to the Vikings' radio announcers the Packers' defense was tired in the second half. They were tired because they just got up from a nap and forgot it was game day. I also heard, "The Packers are up 29-10 now and there's not a fan left in the seats." I would suggest listening to their play-by-play of the second half for anyone needing a few good laughs. They even mentioned Johnny Blood and Wayne Larrivee putting a dagger in. It was classic.

I gotta say that line about the 29-10 score made me chuckle.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Although I understand it's silence I strangely was looking forward to hearing the horn. In response to Lori from Brookfield asking about masking the Gjallarhorn to prevent Covid particulates, hate to burst anyone's bubble but the "blowing of the horn" is fake. The sound is 100% electronic. It was borrowed from the 2005 movie, "War of the Worlds."

Oh really? I thought they found it at Big Lots and said to themselves, "Oh, we got room for this at the new place!"

Thomas from Appleton, WI

How about Washington leading its division and San Fran being alone on the bottom of the NFC West? I'll be rooting for Ron Rivera this year.

How emotional was that postgame speech by Rivera? It tugs at your heartstrings. As for San Fran, I have a feeling the 49ers will be back. But Arizona is nobody's underdog. The Cards are going to be a nuisance in that division.

Paula from Apple Valley, MN

Aren't NFL coaches required to wear masks on the sidelines? Watching Sean McVay wear his mask below his chin for most of, if not the entire, game Sunday night was not a good look.

Yes. And I think that contributed to Troy Vincent's letter to NFL personnel on Monday.

George from Hutchinson, MN

My thanks go out to you Insider dudes for keeping it real for the past six months. My own glass in regards to the NFL COVID fallout seemed to be filled as half empty. It's good to be wrong! As Stephen King once coined the phrase, "Hope is a good thing, sometimes the best of things, and a good thing never dies."

Stephen King doesn't get enough credit for that phrase. At least in this column. Have a great Tuesday, folks.