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Inbox: Timing is everything

Some equilibrium must be found


Joshua from Mankato, MN

Great win.

Much-needed win.

Joe from Asbury, IA

Why must they insist on making things more difficult than they should be?

Because they aren't playing their best football yet. At least that's the way I'm choosing to look at it.

Will from Glendale, AZ

Anybody else catch that TV shot of McCarthy taking off his headset and smiling right before Crosby hit the game winning kick? In Mason we trust.

He's the definition of a true pro.

Les from Las Vegas, NV

How did the crowd after Crosby's first PAT sound live? Aaron said at first he wondered if it was sarcastic. Watching on TV it just seemed happy.

I agree with Rodgers. The way it sounded at the very first moment I wondered, but then the volume and duration of it made it seem genuinely supportive.

Jason from New Hampton, IA

Did the 49ers have a different style game plan this week than what they had shown in past games? It seemed like the defense was guessing for a large part of the game and started to figure it out at the end of the game...which was very timely.

Prior to Monday night, I saw a 49ers offense that threw a lot of screen passes and short stuff. They attacked deep downfield much more than I thought they would, but in retrospect it shouldn't have surprised me. It goes back to what Joe Whitt Jr. said after the Minnesota game, when the secondary gave up a big shot play for a long touchdown. Once that's on film, you're going to get challenged that way until you prove you can stop it. Washington and Detroit hit big plays over the top, too. The Packers will keep getting tested. It's the nature of the league.

Evan from Lolo, MT

Wes called it.

What a time for Kevin King's first NFL interception. That was an incredibly difficult play in one-on-one coverage with no help, and King played it perfectly. As I tweeted at the time, I was stunned the 49ers didn't run the ball there on third-and-3, 1:13 to go, timeouts to spare, Packers without any. I didn't understand why they were in such a hurry, but they wanted to take another deep shot, and this time the Packers made the play.

Jake from Slayton, MN

If the defense is going to be lights out for one quarter of the game, it might as well be the fourth quarter. What a time to step up.

Again, timing is everything.

Aumed from Moorhead, MN

Can we just take a moment and appreciate the adjustments Mike Pettine has made with this defense in the second half this season? Excluding the Vikings game, the defense has given up 6, 7, 0, 7, and 6 points in the second half of games. To me that's incredible, but how can they turn that into a full-game effort?

That's the million-dollar question on the defensive side of the ball. Some inconsistency with the new coordinator and scheme is not shocking, but six games in the wild up-and-down swings are continuing. Some equilibrium must be found. One bad half can and probably will get you beat against a lot of the upcoming foes on the schedule.

Dan from Minneapolis, MN

I feel like the opposing defense is like a starting pitcher and 12 is like a batter. With each at bat/drive, he feels out the pitcher/defense. And by the end of the game, he's zoned in. And there's no bullpen for defenses.

He almost didn't get the last ups he needed, but man, what a treat it is to listen to Rodgers describe how he orchestrates a final drive like that. If you haven't already, I urge everyone to either watch his postgame press conference or **read my editorial**. He's got a beautiful mind.

Dustin from Onalaska, WI

Coach McCarthy emphasized being more disciplined during the past week and I believe overall there were less penalties. But there was still the abhorrent unnecessary roughness near the end of the game that could have been a disaster. How do you coach against that? I know these guys are pros and you would think they'd "get it." Hope you guys can relax during the bye.

Given the situation, the late hit on the kickoff return costs a team the game probably eight out of 10 times. The Packers dodged a bullet there. It would appear to me there's an opportunity for another player to earn playing time.

Eric from Oshkosh, WI

I really enjoyed the Bears, Dolphins win! For the Bears, a team with an expected top-ranked defense, they gave up a 43-yard TD and a 75-yard TD in the fourth. Then in OT allowed an 85-yard drive (that should have ended the game) plus a 30-yard drive with less than two minutes remaining. I seem to remember a similar collapse for the Packers against the Vikings. Is it wrong that I enjoyed this one about as much as I disliked the other?

Fourth-quarter defense in the Florida heat is no joke. I was stunned the Bears stopped the Dolphins late after the Cohen fumble, and then both teams kept giving the game away. I'd say that was the craziest game so far of 2018, but it's getting hard to rank them.

Jason from Central Valley, UT

In response to the bat-breaking question. That was probably the reason Bo Jackson was my favorite when I was a kid, plus the playing two sports. You should watch some of the videos online of him breaking his bats. There's one he just pulls the bat over his helmet and snaps it like a toothpick.

Bo knows toothpicks.

Dave from Bolingbroke, IL

Talk about making the most of your opportunities as a rookie MVS goes over 100 yards and St. Brown only had one target for one catch but what a catch it was on that final drive.

Rodgers said after the game he feels a lot better about the depth at receiver now than he did six weeks ago, and he wouldn't say that if he didn't mean it. For St. Brown to catch that back-shoulder throw without having had a ball thrown his way all night is about as clutch as it gets.

Joe from Huntsville, AL

On the subject of letter-writing, I wrote to Mike Holmgren in 1996 with a package of hand-drawn plays I thought would work really well (I was 8, and had been playing lots of Madden). Someone in the organization – let's go ahead and assume it was Holmgren himself – promptly wrote back to thank me for the plays and promised to use them next season to win Super Bowl XXXI. The letter, along with a newspaper front page from the day after the win, are still hanging up in my old room back home.

I think I've heard at least a dozen similar stories from the Holmgren years. Someone was really going out of his/her way to make a bunch of young fans' days back then.

Paul from Los Angeles, CA

When was the last time the Packers had three receivers with 100-plus yards in a game?

It's only happened one other time, in 1980 (Paul Coffman, Eddie Lee Ivery, Aundra Thompson).

Randy from Ooltewah, TN

A pivotal play in the Wisconsin-Michigan game is a roughing-the-snapper penalty. Unlikely that Wisconsin wins this game anyway, but really? What I saw didn't look flag-worthy. Just more follyrot from the officials.

That rule has been around for a while now. It's pretty clear-cut the long snapper can't be touched. To touch him at all is the follyrot. Might be the most avoidable penalty on the books.

Jim from Eau Claire, WI

Since Aaron Rodgers is a captain for the 49ers game, whose responsibility will it be to photobomb the picture?

It usually falls on the backup QB(s).

Tyler from Fargo, ND

It seemed like the offense put itself in a lot of third-and-10-or-longer situations. I thought this happened because it seemed like the run was somewhat abandoned and missed throws or failed trick plays didn't get positive yardage. What is your take on why they seemed to always be in a hole?

I think you summed it up pretty well. The 49ers mugged a lot of blitz looks which are tough to run against, but the offense still needs to find better balance. Ball-control offense can help pull the defense out of a bad stretch sooner, too, but it's all easier said than done.

Kevin from Onalaska, WI

Hey guys, in Monday's Inbox, the question about RBs who rarely fumble came up. My first thought was of Edgar Bennett. The mudder who never fumbles is what my bro called him. Not sure of his stats, but what do you say?

You weren't the only one to bring up EB. I looked up his numbers. Including playoffs, Bennett fumbled 12 times in 1,593 touches, or once every 132.75 times he got his hands on the ball. That's pretty impressive.

Ernie from Fairfax, VA

Why isn't Jim Taylor's No. 31 number retired?

Where do you draw the line? There are 12 players from the Lombardi era in Canton. You can't retire them all. I think it's rather fitting one on each side of the ball has his number retired – Starr and Nitschke.

Mike from Mercer, WI

Hi guys, one of my favorite lines when people talked about comparing Jim Brown and Jim Taylor was, "Jim Brown would give his leg to a tackler and then take it away from him. Jim Taylor would give a tackler his leg and then drive it through him." My question is will the Packers do anything special this year to honor Jim Taylor before a game or at halftime?

I always heard that saying as a comparison of Gale Sayers and Brown, with Sayers the former and Brown the latter.

Steve from Cottage Grove, WI

That game had the drama and highlights that make it worthy of a Lego re-creation. How can we request it?

It sounds like one is in the works. Stay tuned.

Mutt from Blaine, MN

Hey Insiders, when a player is fined and the money goes to charity, does the player claim the tax deduction?

Either he does or the league does, I would think. I'm not sure which.

Mike from Gilbert, AZ

I recently read a response from one of you stating you hate when your "character" is criticized for the vanilla answers you give instead of providing a clear-cut answer. The reason fans will continue to be annoyed with your responses is provided perfectly in your response to a 9-year-old girl's simple question of "do you think the Packers will make the playoffs?" Seems like a pretty easy one to answer (either yes or no) but once again long vanilla answer provided. Hope to get more someday.

You want me to predict the future with yes or no answers, yet you hope for more someday. OK, got it.

David from Fairmont, WV

Why was Ty Montgomery's touchdown considered a run and not a reception?

Because the pass was backwards. Cool red-zone wrinkle the Packers threw in this week. Maybe they'll run something different out of that diamond formation later on this year.

Rick from Kenosha, WI

Just a thought regarding officials allowing a play to finish out and then the ruling on the field becoming the primary call. Why not allow the officiating crew to initiate a replay? They know when they haven't had a good look and when replay would provide a better call. This way there would be no ruling on the field that would take priority over the review, officials can still allow a play to finish, and there will be fewer bad calls that affect the outcome of the game.

I still want a call on the field. I just don't think that call necessarily has to carry extra weight in the review process. It might be only a matter of time before the college system of almost exclusively booth-initiated reviews takes over anyway.

Jimi from Boulder, CO

Batting down a pass at the line of scrimmage feels like such an underrated impact play. Nick Perry seems to have a knack for it. Who was the last Packer to bat down three passes in game? Johnny Jolly? And how about Blake and his tackles for a loss or no gain?! Plenty to clean up, but tons to be excited about this defense.

You're probably right on Jolly. Martinez continues to impress me the way he chases to the sideline. But the Packers have to cut down on the explosive plays. They're just too difficult to recover from. Of the 290 yards allowed in the first half, 183 came on six plays. Only two big plays, for 35 yards, allowed in the second half. Limiting big plays is as important as making them.

Ian from Minneapolis, MN

The last few weeks have been entertaining, but at the same time have felt like a slog. The rookie wideouts now have a few games of experience under their collective belt and Rodgers' knee gets a full week's healing time. If the Packers can re-insert Cobb, Allison and Alexander into the lineup as well as finding some snaps for Breeland, how different can this team look?

I'd like to think it can find a relatively elevated level of play it can maintain and get off the roller coaster. We haven't seen Breeland play yet, but the other three you mentioned are high-impact players whose return to the lineup is significant.

Jessi from Sterling, KS

Thanks for your late-night (early-morning) articles you two! I look forward to them so much I keep refreshing my phone waiting. I know you two don't get a "bye," but do you get to take an extra breath with a break in the schedule?

Wes is taking his second, well-deserved week of family leave over the bye, so I'll be doing Inbox every day for a while, though I might write a few columns remotely, if you know what I mean.

Laura from Brown Deer, WI

What a night for Wisconsin sports teams. Wow!

They don't get much better. Now it has to lead to more for both squads.

Brad from Tinley Park, IL

I like our record 3-2-1. It feels like a countdown to something big.

We'll find out, because the Packers are getting their opportunities to make something big happen in the coming weeks.