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Inbox: Vikings are going to leave it all out there

Don’t get beat the same way

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RB Dalvin Cook

Keith from Lincoln, IL

Wes said the Vikings "scare" him. They are a team who could have a different record with a few more breaks, but each team makes their own breaks, right? Remember the U.S. Bank Stadium motto, "SKOL in the first quarter, taillights in the fourth!"

One of the all-timers in the history of this forum. Thanks for bringing it back.

Scott from Grovetown, GA

Greetings. The schedule has us playing a divisional foe this upcoming week. It can probably be said they have underperformed from expectations, so what does is the first order of business for the Pack to do to vanquish this NFC North rival?

To not give a second thought to the Vikings' expectations or any of that meaningless stuff in mid-November. As alluded to above, they're 4-5 with three walk-off losses, so they're nearly 7-2. They've also won a couple at the gun, so they do know how to pull games out. Overall, this is a team that's been in a lot of close ones and hardened by crunch time. Be prepared for a full 60 minutes against these guys.

Stephen from Greenfield, WI

No question just this: We can be sure the Vikings will bring the kitchen sink to the game on Sunday, they're desperate. Take no prisoners! GPG!

The Vikings are going to leave it all out there. They'll either be 4½ games back in the division or 2½ after this one. It's make-or-break, and while they want to carve out a path to the North title, the Packers can relegate them to the wild-card race.

Lyle from St. Louis, MO

Do you think MIN will attempt to mask their intentions on defense?

Assuming this isn't some sort of pandemic joke, I'm not sure after all these years facing Rodgers if Zimmer and Co. can really disguise anything to the extent it'll fool him.

Kyle from Waunakee, WI

On MN, in prior years the talk track was that MN goes as Dalvin Cook goes. How does the story read for the first edition of 2021 MN vs. GB?

Wes brought up Justin Jefferson yesterday and rightly so. He's turning into a game-breaker, and he has accounted for nearly one-third of Kirk Cousins' passing yards. But it still starts with Cook for me. Matt LaFleur is 13-1 in division games. The one was when Cook had 226 total yards (163 rushing, 63 receiving) and four touchdowns. If the Vikings are going to beat you again, don't get beat the same way.

Julian from Gastonia, NC

I really enjoy low-scoring games because every play seems magnified in importance as points are so hard to come by. Also, I believe it's a better look for a victorious team to win a low-scoring game then a very high-scoring game. Does anyone remember a Lambeau game many years ago when the Packers defeated the Eagles 6-3, or the Packers defeating the Jets in 2010 (Super Bowl year) 9-0? Those were fascinating football games. In the '70s the Pack lost a game to the Vikings, 3-0.

LaFleur's line after the game about winning in different ways caught my ear, because there's tremendous value in knowing a game doesn't have to follow a particular script for your team to feel good about its chances. The Packers are confident they have what it takes in various scenarios and situations.

Kati from Oshkosh, WI

I feel like the vertical passing game has diminished this season. Even with the potent running attack and 83 and 17 in the lineup, there were very few shot play attempts Sunday. Was that something that Seattle was doing defensively or are there other issues going on?

Seattle plays its two safeties deep most of the time, and one of those two is Jamal Adams. I remember thinking John Schneider was crazy for giving up two first-round picks for him, but after reviewing the film from Sunday, I can totally see why. Incredible player.

Mike from Baraboo, WI

Credit to the Packers for keeping AJ Dillon and letting Jamaal Williams leave via free agency. Not only can Dillon punish defenders with his power runs, but he has the ability to terrorize undersized cornerbacks when he catches passes in the flat. Glad to hear that Jones will only be out a couple of weeks. Our running game can take over a game!

It was never a matter of whether they were keeping Dillon. He was a second-round pick and the Packers were going to try to capitalize on that investment. He was the hedge against knowing cap-wise it wouldn't work to give both Jones and Williams second contracts. Now he's going to be the bell cow for a game or two. He's ready for this.

Pete from Chippewa Falls, WI

Is it mental for Mason Crosby at this point? I get that it would be great if the snap was perfect and the hold was perfect with the laces away from the kick. But I watch college and NFL games all weekend and everyone is making kicks at a higher percentage than Crosby. It can't just be the fault of the long snapper and the holder. Doesn't Crosby need to stop worrying about the laces and just kick the damn ball? He's going Ray Finkle on the team.

Easy now. LaFleur said Monday the timing of the operation was off, with Crosby starting to lean forward too soon, before the snap. That's like a hitter looking for 95 mph heat and getting the split-finger. Not impossible to square up, but a lot harder. The protection was shored up, so that has to continue. Clearly, they've still got kinks to work out. Everyone's making kicks at a higher percentage than Crosby because their operations are smoother. He missed two field goals total over two full seasons (2019-20). Get it worked out and the kicks will start going through.

Steve from Colorado Springs, CO

"His car doesn't have rear-view mirrors." "60 Minutes," a long time ago, did a story on the Lamborghini Countach ("Holy cow" in Italian). When the driver had to back the car into a spot, the driver opened the door and leaned out to back up. I believe it was Mike Wallace who asked about the rear-view mirror being unusable, because of the small rear window. The driver responded, "At 140 miles per hour, it's not what's behind you that matters." Keep pushing the gas and never look back.

I gotta start using "Countach" in the live blog. Somebody hold me to it.

Mike from Austin, TX

In the world of racing, there is an axiom that "you have to know when to go slow to go fast." A Rock Report showed Kevin King braking (breaking?) down to get a good angle and waiting for help while he corralled a receiver after the catch. This seems to have caught on with some of the younger guys although a few are still figuring it out. Is this the teaching of Jerry Gray? Or great film study? Tackling is just better this year.

Joe from Wausau asked about the genesis of the defense's improved tackling, too. I think it mostly comes down to improved positioning and angles. Those concepts under Barry have taken hold across the board, and I don't doubt Gray's tutelage in the secondary has reinforced them.

Tony from Chanhassen, MN

With all the recent praise flying around for Joe Barry, let's not forget that the defense's turnaround took place the week Jerry Gray led the defense. Last year's team was one DB away from the Super Bowl. It was then gifted with an upgraded DB in the draft and a Pro Bowl ILB. Not overlooking how well this defense is playing under Barry, I think Gray deserves way more credit than he is getting. Gray's unit is the strength of the defense in my opinion.

C'mon now, the turnaround began in the second half vs. Detroit in Week 2, didn't it? But to your larger point, Gray's group has dealt with the most significant injuries but has remained the backbone of the entire unit, to his great credit, but also thanks to a steady pass rush in key situations that sped up QBs' timing. Now it's Mike Smith's edge rushers dealing with a heaping pile of adversity, and the secondary might have to do its part to help out the pass rush. They always work hand in hand.

Chris from Milwaukee, WI

In the pre-draft chatter before his selection, the only negative I heard about drafting Rashan Gary was a single report that he might be vulnerable to a really serious injury to one of his shoulders. I don't recall hearing anything after that. Do you recall hearing the same report? If so, was the injury to his arm on the same side as this rumored weakness? I hope he is not out long as he has developed into a key player on defense with the drive to become really great.

Gary injured a shoulder his last year at Michigan, and I recall the Packers being very careful with that shoulder his rookie year. But it hasn't come up since. I don't know if this current elbow injury is to the same arm.

Geoff from Omaha, NE

Good morning! Is the Rams game now the single most important game remaining on the schedule?

No. Not when the Packers will have five more after that, and the Rams six more.

Tucker from Belton, TX

Wes said this was "the best statistical defense he's covered," which seems to imply that he might have another defense he covered that he thinks was better overall. Any thoughts on which defense that might be?

The 2014 unit in the second half of the season, after Clay Matthews moved inside, was the best one here since XLV. Following the switch, it allowed more than 21 points only once until the playoff loss. But its overall stats didn't measure up because of the rough games early. Time will tell where this defense ends up when it's all said and done.

Lambeau Field welcomed fans for the Week 10 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021.

Jake from Lansing, MI

Mike, thanks so much for your WYMM work. Looking at these clips again reminded me of two burning questions I had during the game. 1. Is it me or does Billy Turner appear to jump a fraction too soon? I feel he's going to get called sometime for his timing. 2. Can we acknowledge that Rodgers was off on several throws? Blame it on rust or whatnot, but some of these throws could have gone a long way if he's on target.

I wondered the same about Turner, especially after reviewing the film. But that was the first game this year I can recall noticing anything like that with him, so we'll see. Regarding Aaron Rodgers, I'm not sure how you define "several throws" out of 37, but it was more than we usually see him miss, yes, and understandably so. Short to Lazard deep middle, low to Davante Adams on the in-breaker, high to Jones on the check-down in the flat. The missed screen in WYMM was a tough angle with the pressure, so it was a little off but still catchable. The INT was just a bad decision. He put a laser right on Allen Lazard on the deep over route against tight coverage early in the second half, evidence the magic can be summoned at any moment. He'll have his first real, full-speed practices this week since Oct. 20-22, so he'll reset his normal prep routine.

Gary from Anamosa, IA

So Pete Carroll says Seahawks got "cheated" by officials – he should know right? Doesn't he have an honorary degree in that subject from USC?

Which he topped off with a knighthood just shy of nine years and two months ago, but the emphasis in "simultaneous possession" (thanks to David from Riverwoods, IL, for that one) has been rescinded.

Chad from Middleton, WI

I just read a comment on a fan site about someone hoping all of the injured players are back in time for the playoffs. That got me thinking, with the way everyone on the team has been stepping up when called on to replace injured players and gelling as individual units, at what point does it make sense to not throw a Jaire Alexander or a David Bakhtiari back in the game after they've been nursing injuries for most of the season? Would they be gradually worked back into the game plan?

When your best players are healthy, they play, as long as there's something to be gained from winning.

Greg from Perkasie, PA

Not a direct Packers question, but I am curious. What got the two of you into sports writing? Whatever it was, I'm happy that it guided you to where you are now because I genuinely enjoy reading your words on the game, and sometimes life, multiple times a week.

Very simply, I got into sports writing because sports were my passion above all else growing up, but I learned soon enough that the non-scholarship college level was my playing peak. Combine that with an English professor for a father and, I guess, voila.

Jordan from Virginia Beach, VA

We got a lot of help this week with the Bucs and the two NFC West powerhouses losing. We already beat the Cardinals so if we can take care of business in the division and beat the Rams we could easily get that playoff bye. We need to get healthy but have control of our own destiny. I am excited to watch 12, the running game and this suffocating defense make a run to bring the Lombardi Trophy home to Titletown. But it starts this week…just beat the Vikings.

Happy Wednesday.

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