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Inbox: What matters most is the trust inside these walls

Offensive production in one area aids the other

Head Coach Matt LaFleur, QB Jordan Love
Head Coach Matt LaFleur, QB Jordan Love

Ron from Spooner, WI

All that money generated by Titletown, etc., and the Packers are still in a boat that they need to pedal?

Based on the responses, I guess I'm the only one who likes pedal boats.

Richard from Caledonia, WI

Good morning. How would you best summarize the team's atmosphere as it prepares for Denver after the bye week?

To quote Rasul Douglas directly: "Chill." The Packers have a young but resilient locker room. Back-to-back losses heading into the bye were disappointing, but Sunday is a new opportunity. They all get that.

Howard from Appleton, WI

Related to Willie from Superior regarding screens: Is success there largely connected to the "continuity" issues with the OL?

It's part of it. I think about the synergy Ahman Green had with his offensive linemen when the Packers were shredding defenses with screens in the early 2000s or even what Eddie Lacy accomplished behind a recurring starting five in the early 2010s. The Packers have the athletes to be productive in the screen game. It's just a matter of getting everyone out there at the same time and building that chemistry.

Pierre from Vancouver, WA

Hey II! Mike, Wes, thank you for being all-time greats. There should be jerseys with your name on them! My question is about Emanuel Wilson. His standout preseason performance made me eager to have a glimpse of his abilities during the regular season. With Jones' unfortunate injury, Taylor (now released) seemed to receive the additional load. Now, after releasing Taylor and picking up James Robinson (exciting!), do you think Robinson will receive the additional work? Why not Wilson? Thanks!

Thanks to a submission last week, we unknowingly foreshadowed the Packers adding a veteran into the backfield mix. Robinson makes sense, especially as a veteran exemption on the practice squad. He's only 25 and hungry for an opportunity to show he's still the 1,000-yard back he was for Jacksonville in 2020. As we've talked about, Wilson has ability but is still rounding out his game at this level.

Glen from Leesburg, VA

If De'Vondre Campbell is a no-go for the Denver game, who will get the start alongside Quay Walker (assuming Walker is healthy)? I thought Eric Wilson played well against the Raiders, but I think Isaiah McDuffie is the normal backup at that position. Wilson showed some pop and played fundamentally sound football.

McDuffie has been in the defense longer than any other inside linebacker on the roster, which I think has contributed to him being that "next man up." However, the Packers have used Wilson and McDuffie in a platoon next to Walker when Campbell has been out. Wilson has been an every-down linebacker in the past and proven he has no problem jumping back in there at a moment's notice.

Paul from Ledgeview, WI

Did Patrick Taylor sign with some other team? The latest transactions do not include him. Did some other addition on ST make him expendable?

Taylor signed with New England's practice squad on Wednesday. I wish P.T. nothing but the best. He was wonderful to deal with in the locker room and a true professional on the field the past three years.

Tim from La Crosse, WI

I keep hearing people say we need to establish the run to open up the passing game. I think it's the complete opposite. Teams are daring us to throw deep, but the statistics show we don't do that very well. Not to say we aren't going to have some good runs, but I think overall the reason the run game is struggling is because we haven't put any fear in teams that we can throw downfield. The run game will open up once we show teams that we can hit receivers more consistently downfield.

Whether it's the chicken or the egg, teams must marry the run and the pass. Positive yards promote efficiency and production in one area aids the other. To your point, I think a healthy Christian Watson gives Green Bay a plethora of options. You can run him horizontally on sweeps or take the top of the defense vertically. The Packers haven't been able to dig too much into those concepts yet with Watson this season, but the possibilities are endless.

Jake from Regina, Canada

Obviously, every week we want Aaron Jones to be out there, but this matchup could lend itself to a dominant game by "33" if he can get healthy. The Broncos have a porous run D (better last week), and there is no way Alex Singleton can match up with Jones in the passing game, athletically. As Singleton is an ex-CFLer, I'm decently familiar with his game, and this game screams matchup nightmare for the Broncos.

It's obviously going to catch your eye anytime a team is allowing 172.3 rushing yards per game, but the Packers still have to earn those yards. Kansas City struggled to move the ball on the ground against Denver and it led to the Broncos staying within arms reach of the Chiefs throughout. Getting Jones back would help immensely in that effort, though.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Is Rashan Gary still on a pitch count?

Based on Joe Barry's comments Monday, it sounds like we're getting closer to full-go Gary. Now, it's not like he'll be out there on every snap but I'm guessing that snap percentage finally creeps over the 50% threshold again.

David from Fishers, IN

I'm honestly sick of all the talking heads getting on Jordan Love and the Packers. We all knew this year would not be like others and I remember back with transitioning to Favre and Rodgers – we just gotta take things in stride right now and enjoy the ride. Who knows if Love is going to be All-Pro like others? But let's at least let him do his best and develop. You guys do great job. Thanks!

Jared Goff was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week on Wednesday, which made me think of the journey he's been on since being the No. 1 pick in 2016. Goff went from an uninspiring rookie season to leading the Rams to the Super Bowl and being traded to Detroit. Meanwhile, Carson Wentz's career went the opposite direction – fast start and now out of football. We rush to conclusions on QBs every week. People can build whatever narratives they want about Love and the Packers. What matters most is the trust inside these walls.

H.R. from Henderson, NV

Mike's response to Chad from Town of Middleton talked about being unfair to defenses. You mean like how there are multiple defensive penalties that end in a first down, but only one offensive penalty that results in loss of down? Or receivers can initiate contact, but defenders doing so get flagged? Or defenders are allowed their space on the field, but if a receiver tries to go through them to catch a pass it's DPI? The game is already skewed against defenses unfairly.

It happens in every sport. There's a reason baseball outlawed the infield shift, and the NBA has a defensive three-second violation. Offense sells tickets.

Jerry from Wayne, IN

Understandably, most of the performance commentary goes to the offense, then defense. With no flashy returns (yet?), and two rookie booters, what's your assessment of the Pack's third phase: special teams?

Special teams have been fine outside of that allowed punt return for a touchdown. The unit played its best ball at the end of last season when the young players caught up to the veterans on the roster. I'm expecting the same this year. Anders Carlson has been sensational, though.

Chase from Carmichael, CA

I don't want to take anything away from the threat that the Broncos pose, but does the Broncos' performance thus far soften the impact of Nathaniel Hackett's time there on his resume? It seems like that team needed someone more like Sean Payton – a little meaner, and a lot more experience in the position – and even he is struggling to get into the win column.

I'm not gonna get into Hackett's tenure in Denver. I didn't watch any Broncos games last year other than a few highlights. It's 2023 now and the Packers must respect the threats Denver presents because there is talent on that team.

Mike from Baraboo, WI

At the end of the year, how will we evaluate if the year was a success or a letdown?

Letdown is a strong word but I'm looking for a promising ending. It's like the first season of a new TV show. Does it grip me? Does it make me feel like something better is on the horizon? Detroit is a great example. The Lions went from 3-13-1 to 9-8 to 5-1 during Dan Campbell's first three seasons and it felt like the Lions were building into something each offseason. That's where I'm looking for the Packers to be at the end of this year, regardless of record.

Dave from Waterford, OH

Wes, I think your statement, "Defenses no longer will be allowed to pressure the quarterback inside two minutes" is going to probably come true someday. Defensive players at the line of scrimmage, inside two minutes to play, will only be permitted to yell, "BOOGA!, BOOGA!" make armpit fart sounds, or jump up and down while doing the thumbs-in-the-ears hand waves!

Defense will turn into the "Psych out" in "BASEketball." Maybe throw the Kevin James meme on the jumbotron for an additional distraction?

Steve from Beaver Dam, WI

A top-tier receiver can make an otherwise average quarterback look like a star. And you only need to look to the 2022 Packers season to see how losing a top-tier receiver can bring even a Hall of Fame quarterback down to earth. Yet, come MVP voting time, those same receivers don't get any love. Why is that?

I hit on this last offseason but it's almost like the AP voters have shifted the NFL MVP to the "Best QB" award while the NFL Offensive Player of the Year honors the "Best skill-position player."

The Green Bay Packers held practice at Clarke Hinkle Field on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023.

Michael from Des Moines, IA

I don't remember the game but in 2007 Ryan Clark had significant injuries from playing in Denver due to high elevation impacting his sickle cell trait. What insights can you share about how RC's injury impacted how team medical staffs prepare for such a situation? Do they have a list of players that have the trait? Is there extra precaution that those players must take? Are there any other stadiums considered high elevation?

Estadio Azteca in Mexico is the only other stadium that would qualify as high elevation – and it's actually 2,000 feet higher than Mile High. Teams obviously know their players' medical history and can adjust accordingly. Chris Banjo is the only Packers player I know who carried the sickle-cell trait during my time on the beat, but it didn't preclude him from playing in Denver.

Shannon from Ovilla, TX

Lots of questions and comments about penalties in the II on Wednesday. Do some teams employ the "We are going to be physical every play" tactic daring officials to call a penalty every play? It seems like Tampa has used this strategy quite a bit the past few seasons and often with success.

That's a good question and there's definitely some credence to it. To me, New Orleans was one of those teams that like to test the water to see how far they can push it. Tampa Bay and San Francisco play physical, but I think their overall speed on defense enhances perceived contact.

Gary from Davenport, IA

Mike from Littleston, PA, commented that the end of the Buff-NYG game had the worst non-call he had ever seen. Did he miss the Fail Mary game at Seattle? That was the worst non-call on a penalty (OPI) at the end of a Packer game that I can remember. Do you recall any worse than that involving the Packers? The missed DPI in the NFC title game from a few years ago has to be the worst all-time though.

You know my stance here. I'll forever lament the missed defensive pass interference penalty committed against Allen Lazard in the 2020 NFC title game. I wouldn't put it in the same category as the 2018 NFC title game between New Orleans and the Los Angeles Rams, but Clete Blakeman and his crew adversely affected the complexion of that game between the Packers and Bucs. I won't forget it.

Scott from Tukwila, WA

Greetings Insiders. Too many penalties, too many no calls, too many shouldn't have been called – oh my! Will fans ever realize the men officiating are HUMAN and not ROBOTS? Oh, maybe it's time to switch. Use D.I. (Digital Intelligence – which I prefer to the common inaccurate moniker "A.I."), for officiating. I'm sure there is a way to make it possible. I mean if it's being used to write scripts then why not be used to officiate? Or am I being too innovative?

I could see it breaking like "Madden '05" where all the referees do is call random "clipping" penalties twice a game.

James from Asbury Park, NJ

The league feels like it has flipped on its head a little bit in recent years. New England, Tennessee, LA Rams, Minnesota, (and probably Green Bay right now) are all in the bottom half of the league while Cleveland, Houston, Jacksonville, and Detroit are all improving rapidly and playing good football. This league's parity is unparalleled and it's fun to watch.

Looking specifically at Detroit and Jacksonville, they both have made savvy personnel decisions. The Lions and Jaguars have drafted well but also augmented their roster with productive trades and free agents. The tide turns when you accomplish those things.

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