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Inbox: You're in, now make it count

The fast start is only as good as the Packers’ next game

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LB Krys Barnes

Scott from Seattle, WA

I appreciate the correction between watt and lumen. I moved to Seattle last year and people here talk about the daily lumen count since it's so dark all winter. Maybe the key to home-field advantage against the Seahawks is to make the Lambeau lights brighter?

Of course I started something with my flippant watt comment.

Chun from El Monte, CA

Accountability is key this year, not just on the field but off the field to stay COVID-free. Not sure how ML is doing it but he has the team in sync.

The Packers developed a plan in the spring for how they were going to attack this thing and have been ahead of the game from the start. I thought Matt LaFleur's blueprint for a virtual offseason program was perfect and the team made the most out of its abbreviated training camp. The Packers preached accountability to their players and it's allowed them to get off on the right foot – but that fast start is only as good as their next game. They can't let their guard down.

Paul from LaPorte, IN

How in the world did Krys Barnes slip through the draft cracks? The play where he tipped the pass, although still completed, was unreal. It's very early, but he looks like a keeper.

For some reason, inside linebacker is one of the positions that sometimes gets overlooked. I'll say this – I remember talking to Barnes in May and thinking to myself, "Man, there's something special about this guy." Every year, there are dozens of guys who don't get their name called and then go on to have long and successful NFL careers. Drafted or undrafted, none of that matters anymore. You're in, now make it count.

Zach from Washington, UT

With Christian Kirksey out on IR, who has been the best replacement for him so far?

Ty Summers and Barnes have stepped up. The Packers actually used both of them as the communicator against the Falcons, so it'll be interesting to see how they proceed at Tampa Bay. Barnes exited with a shoulder injury against Atlanta, so we'll have to see how that checks out after the bye. Kamal Martin could be back in the mix here, too, in the next month or so.

Jack from Deerfield, IL

How will the Packers use tight end Robert Tonyan to help fill in the roles of our injured receivers?

By doing what they did Monday night – using multiple-TE packages and motion. The emphasis the Falcons placed on shutting down Green Bay's run game created more one-on-one opportunities for Tonyan and Jamaal Williams. As I wrote Wednesday, Tonyan has really come into his own. He'll make you pay if you don't respect his game.

Sal from Toms River, NJ

We've seen Aaron Rodgers really try to get his young guys involved in the offense. Do you believe Jace Sternberger is going to be a featured weapon soon or do you see 12 sticking with Tonyan?

I say it over and over, but tight ends need time to develop. Even Tonyan still has room to grow and he's in his third season now in Green Bay. All it takes is one broken shoelace for any of these young guys to get on the field, so Sternberger and John Lovett need to stay ready with Josiah Deguara out and Marcedes Lewis dealing with a knee injury.

Jack from Black Mountain, NC

Have any Packers tight ends other than Tonyan scored three touchdowns in one game?

Keith Jackson and Jermichael Finley.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

A quarter of the season complete and 4-0. Four different and obvious offensive game ball winners. We've neglected the one guy that could have/should have been our guy each week. Aaron Rodgers is the overwhelming MVP at the quarter pole in my book. To this point, his QB play rivals the best four-game stretch of his career. But I'd also mention one other guy that deserves mention for most valuable: Matt LaFleur. Opponent-specific game plans that have brought the beast in the MVPs each week. Thoughts?

LaFleur should've been NFL Coach of the Year last year. I still don't know how he wasn't. It's been cool to see LaFleur, the play-caller, and Rodgers, the conductor, grow together over the past year. There will be adversity at some point this season. There always is. But Rodgers and LaFleur have built a foundation for success that makes you believe this offense is the real deal and the Packers are who their record says they are.

Brandon from South Bend, IN

Green Bay wasn't able to meet with Snacks before he signed with the Seahawks. Are there any other big-name free agents Green Bay is looking at to possibly sign?

Names aren't what win championships. Finding the right players for your team wins championships. And that guy might be Billy Winn. The 31-year-old veteran played well the past two games and could be in line for a permanent call-up at some point. I'm expecting Kenny Clark to be back soon, so I don't see any need for a "big name" signing considering how well Tyler Lancaster and Kingsley Keke played going into the bye.

Christopher from Oshkosh, WI

One of the players that nobody is talking about from Monday is Tyler Lancaster. I thought he had just as good a game as Jaire Alexander and Za'Darius Smith, albeit a bit more quietly. You could argue the run defense was improved due in large part to his play. Do you see him playing a big role on the defense after Kenny Clark returns?

We haven't had a chance to talk with Lancaster lately but he sure looks a lot more confident to me this season, especially at one-technique nose tackle. I believe Spoff is putting together one more "What You Might've Missed" on Lancaster for next Tuesday, and I for one, am excited to check it out.

Geoffrey from Rosemount, MN

I was very big on the Jaire Alexander-Kevin King tandem this offseason saying they would be top five. Would you say they are there after the quarter point of the season?

I haven't thought too much about it but Alexander and King are certainly up there with the best tandems in the league right now. Hopefully, King's quad isn't too big of an issue.

Scott from Helena, MT

In regards to the Aaron Rodgers' hard count, there appears to be inconsistency on when the play is allowed to proceed. I've also noticed the calls vary with other quarterbacks. Sometimes, there is a stoppage of play when there is no unimpeded path to the QB. Is this a difference in referees?

It depends on the official's initial gut reaction but what they're looking for is if the rusher has a free path to the QB. If he's running full speed at Rodgers, they're gonna call it off.

Ryan from Staten Island, NY

How much does having Rodgers use the hard count in practice help the defense avoid getting drawn offsides in games? I believe they got Smith one time, but I also noticed a few times where Matt Ryan was trying to use the hard count and not a single defensive player even flinched.

Indubitably. Imagine repping against that hard count three or four times a week. That'll jolt your reaction time and muscle memory.

JR from East Moline, IL

During the Falcons game, there were three or four times when I was certain David Bakhtiari had committed a false start just based on how ahead of everyone he was off the snap, but in replays you could see he was just noticeably faster than everyone. So that was impressive.

A lot of people overlook the fact Bakhtiari is as quick and athletic as he is strong and powerful. He's the total package.

Jeff from Eau Claire, WI

Still no fans in the stands. Any comments?

Wisconsin had a record 3,132 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday. That's it. That's the comment.

Estillac from Belém, Brazil.

What can the Packers learn from TNF yesterday?

The Bears may not be pretty, but they are gritty.

Thomas from Appleton, WI

What did last night's game tell you about what it will take for the Packers to beat the Buccaneers?

Discipline. The Buccaneers had way too many penalties Thursday night and then couldn't close the Bears out when they got the ball back before the two-minute warning. Tampa still is dangerous and I really like Ronald Jones in that backfield, but the Bucs' inconsistency is confounding. To go up 13-0 and then lose that way makes for a bitter pill to swallow.

Jeff from Agat, Guam

Wanted to chime in with others to say how beautifully touching and moving Wes's story was on the Crosbys. Good stuff. For a question, any matchups you find particularly interesting this weekend?

There aren't many must-see matchups for me this weekend, though it will be interesting to see if Minnesota can avoid a 1-4 start by dispatching the undefeated Seahawks on their own soil. The game between Dallas and the New York Giants also has way more implications than a contest between two teams with one combined win has any business having.

Al from Green Bay, WI

My assessment of the NFC North at the quarter pole: The Vikings have underperformed, especially on D. The Lions are competitive and are about what we would have expected. The Bears have a better record than they should, given poor QB play. The Packers are atop the division and deservedly so. Your thoughts?

It's what I expected. I thought the Packers would be sitting pretty if they won three of their first four and here they are at 4-0 with two division wins.

Bill from Wilmington, DE

Wes, obviously it is early in the season, but is there a team(s) I should be rooting for this weekend to help out the Pack?

I'm with Spoff on this one – as strange as it sounds, it would behoove Green Bay for the Vikings to pull the upset. Besides that, if you're a Packers fan, I'd say you're screaming, "Go AFC!" on Sunday.

Sue from Tomah, WI

Cherry Starr's reaction to seeing Steve Skipper's painting "Forever Bart" was so moving. You could tell how touched she was. That painting is beyond words. What a tremendous talent Mr. Skipper has been blessed with.

Very cool stuff.

Joseph from Salt Lake City, UT

Do you guys watch any of the games over the bye week? Or do you normally take it off too?

I usually don't watch much football during the bye week. We don't get many full weekends with our families in the fall, so I like to make the most of my time off.

Dale from Lima, NY

If you could say just one thing to Packers players during this bye-week lull, what would it be? Go celebrate, you've earned it? Stay safe, stay healthy? We need to improve our tackling, go tackle someone? Let's look ahead to going 1-0 against the Buccaneers? Something else?

"Season 2 of 'Cobra Kai' is now on Netflix."

Kurtis from Madison, WI

If Spoff got himself ejected on Thursday for unwriterly conduct (egregious pun on the response, 15-word penalty, automatic next question answered?), who is the next man up? An undrafted free-agent intern-to-become-superstar, or is Wes going to have to ride out the rest of the week's Inboxes on his own?

If one of us goes down, everything falls on the other. If the other goes down, then get ready for a lot of press releases and videos.

Clifford from Brockport, NY

Being that this is a bye week, I have a non-football question for you. With hockey now over and the NBA about to be, how do they proceed into their next season that is basically now?

I think Adam Silver has said the goal is for teams to move back into their home cities to play a standard season with limited fan attendance. I think that's the right way to go. It would be difficult to ask players to remain in a bubble for an 82-game schedule that spans six months.

Dex from Madison, WI

All right. That's enough. Wes says guys "put a lot of good things on film." Now Mike follows up with "the film doesn't lie my friend." Film? In the 21st century? Tape? In this decade? More likely digital video, am I right? Which is it gentlemen?

It's like they say, "The film don't lie when guys put a lot of good things on it."

Margo from Solvang, CA

Hi Wes! So sometimes there's an answer in the II that's really funny, like Mike mentioning he would make sure you were "illuminated." I find myself wanting to press a "Like" button on that response. Any way you can make that happen?

I wish, Margo. Maybe on the next NFL site update.

Jim from Tucson, AZ

In 2021, Jamaal Williams is a receiver. It solves our receiver problem – he's good. It solves our running back problem – both Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon get adequate reps. It allows us to use our high draft picks for the big guys. Rather than seeing myself out, I'll take a bow.

Please bow your way to the nearest exit, Jim.

Nicole from Brockport, NY

Hi Wes and Spoff, no real question, just a note of thanks and appreciation. Your coverage is such a ray of light in this time, and I truly appreciate all of the hard work that you both put into everything throughout the year. Being a teacher, I so look forward to reading all your daily Inbox and various articles at the end of some very long work days! We're very fortunate to be cheering for the Packers organization (coaches, players, media alike), what amazing people.

You're the best, Nicole. Thank you. It's been a long week…and I really just want sleep…which is what I'm going to go do now. Have a great Friday, folks.

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