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Inbox: Winnable games need to be won

This team has to write a different script

Green Bay Packers at Denver Broncos
Green Bay Packers at Denver Broncos

Matt from La Crosse, WI

It only counts as "growing pains" if growth is happening. Without growth, it's just pain.

True that.

Josh from Newhall, CA

OK, talk me off the ledge here. I've been sensible and patient watching the team this year, but I can't express how disheartening it was to see, not the loss, but what seemed like absolutely no change to the pre-bye struggles at all. I'm honestly hoping I missed something you can point out; some improvement somewhere. That one was tough to take.

It was, and honestly I don't think I have much for you. These last two games were practically carbon copies to me. Terrible first half that digs a hole, a comeback that provides a chance, and then miscues that short-circuit the final drive. This team has to write a different script.

David from San Antonio, TX

Well, the good news is outside of the Detroit game we have lost three games by a combined seven points.

Is that supposed to make anyone feel better? Winnable games need to be won. You're not going to win them all, but the Packers are 1-3 when it comes to getting it done at crunch time with legitimate opportunities to do so. That won't cut it.

Jeremy from Webster, NY

We just lost to arguably the worst team in the league. I'm not advocating panic, but can we admit there are some deep and serious issues with this team?

Who's saying there aren't? I don't think my column after the Vegas game was any rosier than this version.

Dale from Prescott, WI

Staying the course, being patient, but Love seems to be underthrowing the long ball and behind the receivers on a lot of routes. Is that what you're seeing?

I thought Love missed more makeable throws in this game than the others, even though he only had 10 incompletions. Deep balls will be hit or miss. I just accept that. In other games, catchable passes, or possible contested catches, weren't hauled in. That wasn't the case Sunday.

Greg from Johnson City, TN

Look, I'm just as disappointed as everyone else today because that's a game we could've won. What I'm more concerned about is that it seems like Love has plateaued and this is just what he is. There is still a lot of football to be played but I just see his arrow pointing sideways right now. End of my brief rant.

While it's natural to anticipate visible progress in every game, and it's disappointing when not seen, that's not reality at the most complex position in sports. I agree the last few games have looked much the same, but I'm not going to say "this is just what he is" after six contests. His arrow may look sideways right now, but I'm confident he will take more steps forward and get it pointing up again.

Mike from Danville, KY

I don't get it, a buck 52 left, only need a 3 and Love heaves up a Hail Mary with double coverage for no reason. Why?

Valid question, though I wouldn't call it a Hail Mary. Love didn't see the other safety, who came from the back side. It wasn't really double coverage, the ball just hung up long enough for it to look like that. Anyway, LaFleur regretted the play call. He did say there were other options on the play, but if the deep route is a primary then there's a decent chance that's where the QB is going to go. If he doesn't want that risk built in, he has to call a different play, which is what I believe he meant with his explanation after the game.

John from Rhinelander, WI

What the hell is going on out there?

Heard/saw that in the live blog a lot, too.

Tim from Greensboro, NC

"4. The defense had its share of letdowns at inopportune times, too." Seriously Mike! What is the D supposed to do? Throw a shutout every week? Only give up 10, 13, 16? This is a lame point. The other team is going to make some plays. It is time for us to make A play!

Hey, on balance the defense played well enough to win again, I'll admit. But I thought this outing was far more disappointing than the Vegas one. That drive at the end of the first half – 50 yards in 32 seconds. Way too easy. The TD pass was a piece of cake, uncontested on a coverage bust. The final drive was 41 yards with one measly third-and-1 to (maybe) get off the field before the Broncos were in range. Little resistance in big spots. I didn't see the Broncos making great plays, except the diving Sutton catch on the opening drive. No turnovers, one sack – for zero yards on the last play before the winning field goal. The defense needs to make a play at some point, too.

Scott from Reno, NV

Here is what I see: 1. Constant slow starts – can't wait until second half to start moving. 2. Young players equal penalties and mistakes that dig holes. 3. A lot of young talent that doesn't quit but will be frustratingly inconsistent as they grow up in real time. I am surprisingly sanguine about it all. Obviously we are playing for 2024 and beyond and I am OK with that too. I've either achieved peace or apathy and I'm not sure which.

I'll reiterate what I said after the Vegas game. At some point the young players can't stay young. Six games is half a college season. If I were a coach, I wouldn't have the patience for this, but we can all be thankful I'm not running the show. And the biggest penalty of the game was committed by a Pro Bowler. That was not a youthful mistake.

Steve from Phoenix, AZ

Ugh, these injuries are exasperating. When five out of the eight highest-paid players on the team can't stay off the injury report, you've found your identity.

It certainly needs to change sooner than later, but I don't know if it will.

Joe from Eau Claire, WI

AJ Dillon looked more shifty than I ever recall him looking in the past. He seemed like he made some changes over the bye and came ready to play. Do you have any insight as to what made for such a noticeable change?

I thought he took that step forward before the bye in Vegas and continued the trend in Denver. He looks to me like he's no longer hesitating, just trusting his read and his power to get something done. The last two games, Dillon has been the running back this offense needs him to be.

Shannon from Ovilla, TX

For all the talk of how the running game was going to help Love and all the jars on the shelf it sure seems like those jars aren't holding up. Is it time to shuffle the line?

If that were on the radar I think it would've been done over the bye week.

Dennis from De Pere, WI

It felt like a lot of the passes in the first half completed behind the line of scrimmage. They didn't look like outlet passes. Are they just trying to create completions early in the game?

That appeared to be the plan. It wasn't effective.

Mark from Deerfield, IL

I know you don't watch the TV coverage, but I hope you can explain this. On the Doubs TD, Steratore said it should have been an interception because they both had hands on the ball and the defender had two feet down before Doubs. I have never heard that before have you?

Nope, and Steratore – who is one of my all-time favorites – was flat-out wrong. He gave the TV audience a bum steer. Referee Alex Kemp was interviewed by a PFWA pool reporter after the game who asked specifically about the defender's feet being on the ground first. Kemp responded that had no bearing on the ruling. The call was correct, and confirmed by New York.

Roger from Eau Claire, WI

While losing is obviously disappointing, it is more disappointing that after a mini bye and full bye we do not see any improvement. At least, I don't. What should we hang on to for hope as the season wears on?

I agree with your sentiment, and I can only imagine the emotions of the players and coaches who are trying to figure this out and get it going the right way. You hang onto every game being another chance to play and perform better. Lotta season left. Lotta football left. Nobody's happy with where this team is. It's taken a team effort to get here, and only a team effort will change it. The players and coaches care, I know that.

Shilo from Wildomar, CA

Same Shilo, but I moved about five minutes north! That stat about the Lions winning one playoff game since 1957 (at least it was against the Cowboys!) is the reason why I still can't take them seriously until they win a playoff game. They had a handful of one-and-dones 10-15 years ago, but even then I didn't take them seriously. You always need some battle scars from the playoffs, and a playoff win or two in recent years, before you can be it a true Super Bowl contender, in my opinion.

The Ravens sure put the brakes on that runaway train leaving Detroit.

Dan from Rothschild, WI

"Since their '57 title and subsequent Layne trade, the Lions have qualified for the postseason a dozen times, but they're 1-12 in playoff games (0-11 on the road)." 1+12=13. Can't believe no one caught that yet.

News flash, Dan: If you win a playoff game, you get another one the following week. So two of the 13 games were played in one postseason. Hence, 12 appearances, 13 games. You're welcome.

Doc from Berea, KY

I appreciate the team's desire to win, but "winning," the record, and the standings can be distractive. It's been a looong time since I played any football, but there are things I remember about it that make it the game that it is. 1. When the other guys have the ball, go after it full steam. 2. When you have the ball, fight like a maniac to move it forward. 3. Knock the other guys on their can with every legal opportunity. Winning tends to happen when you do these things, GPG.

I'll pass that along. I'm sure the brass will find that helpful. Novel prescription there, Doc.

Joshua from Milwaukee, WI

In response to Mike's comment: "The league also is doing a better job with quick fixes not requiring challenges when an error is obvious." We've forgotten obvious errors are the ONLY ones replay should correct. Irrefutable evidence is the standard, not super-duper slo-mo zoom shots to see if a ball moved half a millimeter a hundredth of a second before a WR's foot came down. Replay was a tool of kings. Civilized. Strategic. Now it's a total (expletive) mystery. I hate it. Can it be fixed?

I think the proper context is this: Obvious errors WERE the only ones replay was intended to correct, until advanced video technology began revealing increasing minutiae to all the viewers at home, altering the standard perceptions and interpretations of the action. That world we're in is not changing because the networks are paying billions to broadcast the games, so they're going to use technology to maximize the viewer experience. Therefore, it's become an ongoing battle to get the results on the field to match what the viewer sees at home, and it's an effort that must continue, or a credibility issue eventually will become untenable. Baseball is dealing with the same thing re: balls and strikes.

Eric from Kenosha, WI

Yikes. People lament a missed field goal, but rarely is a kicking game perfect for a whole season. If your offense and defense are so unreliable you need a perfect kicker, you've got big problems.

Carlson was going to miss eventually. Like everyone, I just wish he'd gotten another shot at the end. That could've meant a lot for this team.

Sandy from Green Bay, WI

Do fans have longer memories regarding losses, missed opportunities, botched plays? It seems players have to learn how to learn from mistakes and move on, hopefully with ideas how to grow from experiences, while we fans dwell on events going back years and even decades, that continue to shape how we perceive current games.

Very well put. I find a lot of fans tend to be either trapped in the past or a prisoner of the moment. Neither is all that constructive, frankly, especially if the perspective is too narrow.

Nate from Centennial, CO

OK so, after all that … what now?

Get back to work. There's nothing else to do. The rest of the league doesn't care about the Packers' injuries or missed opportunities or regrets. They just see 2-4 and the mistakes on film they'll look to keep exploiting. The Packers have to clean up their game and keep after it. Yeah, that's a broken record, but it's true.

Scott from Sauk City, WI

Even having no expectations, watching that game simply wasn't enjoyable. We were treated to (another) abysmal half of football, followed by 25 minutes of pretty good success, only to fail in both phases with the game on the line. It was bad football, simply put. Is it as painful for you to watch, or does having to work the game and write about it dull the pain somewhat?

It isn't as much fun to live blog, write about, and answer questions from fans after losses compared to wins, if that's what you're asking. But I don't skimp on the effort regardless of result. At a minimum, I owe that to all readers, and that won't change. Try to make it a happy Monday, everybody.

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