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Inbox: Those two losses will stick in the craw

They have to believe in what you’re offering

Packers at Lions
Packers at Lions

Clipton from Pasadena, CA

Mike, we're sorry about the discomfort you and David Bakhtiari experienced with your surgeries, but as the doyen of Insider grammar you've now demonstrated your ability to elevate the level of Inbox discourse from the very first question through the appendices.

My stomach feels ill again.

Darcy from Geneseo, IL

What does the team do the during the bye week?

Chill. The players' job is to get their bodies back for the final push. The coaches have self-scout and other film review assignments they're charged with, but they're working on those from home.

Richard from Madison, WI

Baker Mayfield had been WAIVED?

And his next game will be at Lambeau Field.

David from Cable, WI

Last week it was NO at TB. Last night it was Raiders at Rams. I am sick of improbable comebacks. Mainly because the same team was totally incompetent for the first 50 minutes.

More than 50, actually. But Jerry Tillery swatting the ball out of Mayfield's hands for a personal foul ranks right up there with Dennis Allen calling a single-high defense on second-and-20 with a 13-point lead. Every improbable comeback requires something galactically stupid to make it possible.

Barton from Tulum, Mexico

Hola amigos! Great to hear RB Aaron Jones is the Packers' candidate for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award! Love his dedication to the Packers and, of course, his sombrero. Has any Packer in history had more than Jones' 64 touchdowns (incl. playoffs) in their first six seasons?

According to my research (which could be wrong), the only one with more is Jim Taylor, who had 67. Ahman Green also had 64 in his first six seasons with the Packers (not first six in the league). Here are the others I found who had at least 50 including playoffs: Antonio Freeman (58), Greg Jennings (54), Davante Adams (50) and Paul Hornung (50, incl. his TD passes).

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Top of the morning Mike! The play of interior defensive linemen is hard to notice watching on TV. Has Devonte Wyatt's play picked up of late?

A lot of folks asking about Wyatt. He only played nine snaps at Chicago after getting 20 at Philly, but it's not as though anyone had a good game up front out there. He made a solid play on that late third-down run by Montgomery on Sunday, and he's had other building-block moments like that this season. There's no overstating how important this upcoming offseason will be for him.

Michael from Winchester, VA

I was excited to see Cliff Christl's write-up of William Henderson, an unsung hero of the Favre era. If it weren't for Mike Alstott putting up big stats in Tampa Bay (as opposed to Henderson's role that didn't generate such stats), I believe Henderson would have been to several more Pro Bowls. Equal talent and skill, different roles. Christl writes that Henderson was fourth in regular-season games played when he retired. Who has passed him since and where does Henderson rank now?

He's now seventh. Driver, Crosby and Rodgers have all since passed him on the list.

Roger from McGrath, AK

Bye week question for you, Mike. Which safety related penalties do you think should be reviewable? Helmet-to-helmet hits on a defenseless player come to mind first, but crackback blocks, horse-collar tackles, clipping, facemask, low hits on the QB, late hits, hits out of bounds, roughing the punter, hits after the whistle, and probably others are also safety-related.

Mostly the newer ones, like defenseless player, extra QB protections, horse collars, and now the blindside blocks, because I've seen flatter angles get flagged that shouldn't have been, in my view. The only older one I might include would be facemasks, because the officials miss those a lot. The other old-school fouls you list there don't need to be.

Lar from Milwaukee, WI

With all the talk about the Bucs' last drive and possibly lack of penalties, do you think the NFL will ever change the penalty for PI from a spot foul, to 15 yards like college football? Those PI, spot-foul penalties can be absolute game-changers, and this would level the playing field a bit. Thoughts?

No. The pros would figure out how to just take a DPI when beat deep, or simply see what they can get away with and take their chances, rather than allow a big gain. That would be worse for the game.

Jeff from Ogden, UT

For the third week in a row we've seen defenses take bad angles on Christian Watson. When I watch him run he doesn't look like he has the afterburners on. This guy has got some sneaky jets.

I'm still not convinced we've seen him hit his top speed.

Darren from Oklahoma City, OK

Some of us older folks got the donkeys flying reference. Will you give some examples of the finer points of route running pertaining to C-dub?

I'm no coach, but you can see on film he's still learning how to deal with contact in the first five yards, how to set up a move, how to not telegraph his route, how to maintain leverage for a throwing lane, etc. Those are finer points all young receivers have to learn because it's so much harder to get open in the NFL. In Watson's case, his speed is his best asset, and he uses it prodigiously. But once he figures out how to make the DBs think he's at top speed before he actually kicks it in, and his QB knows exactly what he's doing, look out.

Greg from Perkasie, PA

Looking at this win against the Bears, I can't help but to be extra disappointed in the losses to Washington and Detroit. Imagine how much different the outlook of the season would be if even just one of those games were won.

That's what I've been saying, and why I mentioned those two games specifically a week or so ago. Those two losses will stick in the craw no matter what happens this last month.

Ray from Weeki Wachee, FL

Though not quite the same as last year's pickups of Rasul Douglas and De'Vondre Campbell, don't you think this years "Watergate Duo" of Keisean Nixon and Rudy Ford have been a significant addition? What is their contract status? They certainly look like the kind of players you'd like to keep around.

Both players are scheduled to become free agents in 2023, and I would think the Packers would strongly consider keeping both around. "Watergate Duo." Ha, I like that.

Elliot from Weldon, CA

I see Watson and Romeo Doubs becoming No. 1 and 2 on next year's receiving chart. Furthermore, I'm hoping that Samori Toure shows further development the remainder of this season. Of the three rookies, who is best suited to play the slot? I also see Sammy Watkins moving on and Randall Cobb retiring. Do you see Allen Lazard being paid as a No. 1 receiver next year?

Lazard will not be getting No. 1 receiver money but I think he's in line for a decent next contract from somebody. I think all three of the rookies could play the slot, and I'm pretty sure all of them have at some point already. I wouldn't get too hung up on it.

David from Machesney Park, IL

Hey Mike, you stated, "and embedded in the investment is a team's commitment to finding out if its projection is accurate." Have you ever witnessed the Packers or another team fail to uphold this commitment, possibly by letting a player go too early? I can think of a few former Packers who went on to do well with other teams. Of course, money plays a role but I was curious of your thoughts on this.

Money always plays a role when it comes to a second contract. I was referring to that initial investment in the draft pick. While there are examples of Packers selections who didn't see the end of their first contracts and went on to productive careers elsewhere (Breno Giacomini, fifth round '08; Lawrence Guy, seventh round '11), it doesn't happen often in Green Bay.

John from Stevens Point, WI

Beyond Christian Watson, which young player of those drafted in the past few years has the brightest future?

I'm not saying this for the sake of raising eyebrows, but because my own curiosity is simply through the roof. If I were to pick one player from the last three draft classes other than Watson, it might be Jordan Love.

Matt from Fitchburg, WI

Regarding Watson's return sparking the offense, what does that say about coaching and scheme when a single WR going down causes the entire offense to fall apart? I get that losing top talent can hurt, but unless it's the QB or maybe left tackle, I don't think it should hurt that much. It seems even more strange when thinking about it from the context of LaFleur's game plan hinging on a rookie WR. Maybe I'm being harsh, but with all the talk of Watson being the lynch pin this is the converse.

To be fair, as important as Watson has become, it wasn't just his absence offensively that was a hindrance. The other receivers were in and out of the lineup, and the offensive line was constantly in flux. There was zero continuity week to week, and when Watson did come back, then Doubs went down. The offense struggling to find itself hasn't been just about one player, though it's become clear this offense as currently constructed can't be at its best without him.

Ron from Waukesha, WI

Spoff: At 5-8 we are who we are. But why did it take so long to arrive at our starting offensive line of Bak-Jenkins-Myers-Runyan-Yosh?

Health. If everyone had been full-go in July, the Packers would have lined up that way for the first practice of training camp.

Paul from Ledgeview, WI

Mike, you mentioned in your chat the failure of our offense to capitalize when the defense did its share. Spot on. This certainly has been a year when games where all three phases played well have been few and far between. Complementary football is key. That to me has been the story of the season. The revolving door on preferred starter availability resulted in really inconsistent performances early on. Now the team seems to be settling in, but it may be too little too late.

That's my fear, and the closing schedule following what everyone was hoping was the turnaround victory over Dallas (Tennessee, Philly, Miami, Minnesota) is/has been infinitely more difficult than the run-the-table slate in '16.

Gary from Tompkinsville, KY

What has happened to the pass rush?

Its best player was lost for the season in Detroit, five games ago.

Eric from Kenosha, WI

Great answer from Mike about recent playoff history, but with one amendment. The 2012 bye week was ultimately stolen from Green Bay by the infamous Fail Mary crew. I also did not realize Rodgers had played with four top 10 defenses. Could you please tell us what years those were?

Based on the metric points per drive allowed, Rodgers played with a top 10 scoring defense in 2009 (8th), 2010 (2nd), 2015 (10th) and 2019 (10th). For what it's worth, two of those defenses ('09, '19) absolutely fell apart in the playoff game that eliminated the Packers.

James from Farmington, NM

Spoff, I respectfully disagree that the Packers lost to the superior team in 2016. In the regular season, GB only lost by one stinking point to the Falcons. The result of the first few drives caused the momentum to go crazy. Crosby missed an easy kick and Rip fumbled. The Falcons capitalized and that was it. Plus, it did not help that Capers played a ridiculous zone coverage that turned every passing play into a ridiculous gain in YAC yards.

Julio Jones played the first meeting with a bum wheel and had just three catches for 29 yards. He was healthy in January and the Packers had no way to match up. Nine catches, 180 yards, two TDs, and Green Bay was sunk. You're right the Packers had chances to stay in that game early, but the Falcons put 44 points on the board in the first 48 minutes. The Packers weren't staying with them that day even with 10 points on their first two drives.

Chase from Citrus Heights, CA

In Wednesday's chat, someone claimed that a 50% postseason win percentage wasn't very good. The best record for a HC with at least four playoff appearances and no NFL or Super Bowl titles is 11-8 by Marv Levy (0.579). Dan Reeves 11-9, John Fox 8-7, and Norv Turner 4-4 round out the list all time. 61 of 69 championship coaches have winning records. Only seven of them have better than 60% wins with minimum four appearances. Belichick is NOT the standard. Let's see how ML's career develops.

Thank you.

Tom from Burlington, WI

Howdy Inbox, more of an offseason question, but with the bye I'm hoping it sneaks through. Should Jim Leonhard make his way to the NFL as a DC, what would be the primary challenges in making that switch?

Playbook volume is a major change from the college ranks, but that wouldn't be an issue for someone like Leonhard who played a decade in the league. The biggest challenge for any coach making the transition is getting buy-in from a group of pros who don't suffer fools gladly, and who will see through anything that doesn't appear genuine. Professionals want two things from their coaches – the ability to help their careers and to help win games – and they have to believe in what you're offering.

Graydon from Menomonie, WI

How does your workload change during a bye week? Any big plans for your weekend off?

Mostly Christmas decorating and shopping, probably. I'll still be cracking open the laptop Sunday night to write a Monday Inbox, so send me your observations on the Week 14 games and we can talk about other teams for a day.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Mike, pick your "must watch" game from Week 14 with the Packers on bye. For me it's Minnesota at Detroit. I think we'll learn more about both teams watching what is promising to be a hard-fought game.

It's definitely Vikings-Lions. I'm not sure I'll be able to watch it start to finish, but I plan to catch what I can.

Mike from Lake Villa, IL

Hey Mike! Why didn't you just tell Frogger from Marinette to "Kiss my grits!"

I should've.

Scott from Salem, OR

Oddly enough, I can picture Vic Tayback and Vic Ketchman having the same reaction to soccer.

Good one.

Gardner from Circle Pines, MN

The Inbox Warriors! Has a nice ring to it, don't you think?

Whatever works. Happy Friday.

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