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Is the back-shoulder throw coming back?

Lots of discussion of officiating


Eric from Goodhue, MN

Looking ahead to Washington, how does the defense go about stopping Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis? After watching Delanie Walker, those two have me nervous.

Reed is a tough matchup, and the speed of Crowder and Jackson (if he plays) might also dictate the need for safety help. The four-man rush has to make the ball come out quickly, and the pass-catchers need to be tackled. The missed tackles turned Walker's solid day into a game-changing one.

Michael from Winchester, VA

Insiders, I don't envy you the Inbox you face this week, but I'm ready to turn the page. I'll be in D.C. for Sunday's game. What do I need to watch for if the Packers are to win this game?

It's time for the Packers to start a game off right and play with a lead. Change the script.

Ryan from Alexandria, VA

Insiders, why are Rodgers and his receivers never on the same page?

I didn't see that nearly as much this past game. I saw a steady dose of the back-shoulder throw, mostly to Nelson but also to Adams. I hope it continues, because when defenders are worried about the back-shoulder, it can change things.

Chuck from Madison, WI

I still have faith, if they win out and capture the division they are in. If they lose out, they're not drafting at the bottom of the round next year and on to another season. I think a healthy Jared Cook, James Starks and Clay Matthews will help point the arrow back up.

I do, too, I just hope it's not too late.

Jon from Alexandria, VA

Hey Wes, I can relate to panicking on an Envi Sci exam. The course was supposed to be an easy A, but I didn't study (or attend class) and wound up with a B-minus. Why? Because, among other awful answers, I said that meteorology is "the study of meteors." Preparation and diligence are the correct answers when faced with a task. Panic won't help anyone do their best work.

I wonder how many kids these days sign up for ecology and botany because they think they're tech classes?

Matt from East Lansing, MI

Being a fan of Michigan State and Packers football has definitely tested my ability to achieve perspective. My girlfriend, who is from Denmark and progressively understanding football, has helped shed light on the process late in the game against Tennessee: "Isn't this the time they need our support the most?" This is necessarily true, especially with the Packers holding their own destiny with the division race in front of them. I hope to take her to her first football game when everything will be on the line in Detroit this January.

I love it when foreigners point out our flaws in such simple terms.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

How many wins will the NFC North champion have and will it be outright or go to a tiebreaker?

I think two teams are going to finish tied at 9-7, but what do I know? The Lions were 1-3, the Vikings were 5-0, and now they're tied. I wouldn't have predicted that, either.

Paul from Farnborough, UK

Do you think it will be the NFC North that sends a non-deserving team to the playoffs this season with a negative or 8-8 record while better teams miss out?

I don't think any team that wins its division is "non-deserving." The schedule is set up to play 14 of 16 games against all the same teams as your division opponents. Three years ago, the Packers were 8-7-1 and came within a walk-off field goal of beating the defending NFC champs. It doesn't matter how you get invited to the party, it's how you dance to the music when you get there.

Tom from Chicago, IL

I'm not going to pretend that I, nor anybody else outside of the players and coaches, know what is going on in the locker room. My question is how can you tell when a head coach has lost his team and they just quit responding and playing for him?

When they act like they don't care. It's the same with a fan base. If they're not happy, a franchise would rather have angry fans than apathetic ones.

Jeff from Green Bay, WI

The last two games the momentum swings away from this team by allowing a kickoff return and a 75-yard run on first touches by the opponent. Avoiding those plays changes the outcome of most games and changes the landscape in the playoff picture.

Those plays are best avoided, yes, but what we've been told the last two weeks is the Packers didn't handle those situations well. Last week, Rodgers said the team needs to be "mentally tougher" after a play like the 99-yard kickoff return. On Monday, we heard Capers saying the 75-yard run affected the defense for the next few series. A better response to the rough moments would change the landscape, too.

Phil from Marietta, GA

I know Mike Daniels plays with passion and that's one of his strengths. But can't he channel that in a way to avoid silly penalties like the one he had in Tennessee? I would have thought he'd have learned after the huge penalty he took in the 2014 NFC Championship game. Great job at Packers Everywhere in Nashville, BTW. I was there.

Glad you could make it. Everyone seemed to take exception last week when I said there was a good reason McCarthy backtracked on the "energy" comments, because emotion doesn't fix everything. It doesn't.

Bill from Seattle, WA

I agree it is a week-to-week league, but we have players who are injured for many weeks and can't seem to get healthy. This is a problem we have had for several years. What's the fix? Patriots and Seattle don't seem to suffer as much from this as the Packers. Why?

Everyone wants a reason for all the injuries. The Packers were one of the healthiest teams in the league in 2014. They are one of the most injured this year. I have no idea why.

Seth from Superior, WI

I keep hearing of a problem between Rodgers and McCarthy based on each of their postgame press conference comments the last two weeks. I didn't find anything wrong with either of their comments. I don't see evidence of a rift. Am I being naïve or is this something that the media is making up? Do you guys see any signs of a dissension?

I haven't interpreted either one's remarks as taking shots at the other, as some have suggested. I don't expect everything to be hunky-dory when things aren't going well, though, and neither McCarthy nor Rodgers has ever said their interactions are conflict-free, even in good times. It's a grown man's business.

Braden from Brookfield, WI

I'm a little confused on the Trevor Davis fumble during the punt. My understanding is all turnovers and scoring plays are reviewed, so how was the contact not called and the Packers not given the ball? In no way am I saying the refs blew the game for the Pack, but that was one of the most awkwardly officiated games I've ever seen. I actually had to walk away from the TV when the main ref couldn't even tell us what the penalties were.

As I said**in my chat yesterday**, I don't think fair-catch interference falls under the purview of replay. For those interested in further discussion of officiating, the next several posts hit on a number of angles dominating the Inbox.

Dennis from Naples, FL

I watched Titans game again last night. The two biggest things I noticed were penalties. I am not saying that these two calls would have changed the game at all. The call against Fackrell for pulling people off the pile and the roughing call on Clinton-Dix when his hip hit Mariota on a play where he clearly pulled up really stick out. Neither was a penalty. What is your opinion?

The Fackrell call was publicized as a point of emphasis this year; players can't be pulling others off a pile. It was an obvious call. The call on Clinton-Dix was ridiculous. It was a designed read-option running play. I don't think it's fair to the defense to let a quarterback turn himself into a running back and still have all the protections of a passer. A scrambling QB is a different animal. The defense needs to be given the benefit of the doubt as long as contact on a late slide on a designed run isn't egregious. Clinton-Dix could have taken his head off and didn't. Penalizing a guy for that doesn't help the NFL's cause.

Mike from Bella Vista, AR

The NFL has become paralyzed. They have succumbed to the fear of media scrutiny and the fear of being criticized. Reduce the ticky-tack rules, go with the calls as judged on the field, realize that there may be some missed calls occasionally and accept them as part of the game. While chasing perfection, the NFL has gotten mired in boring.

Beginning with "go" until the end of that sentence, you're being incredibly naïve if you think the fans are going to be on board with that. The lack of acceptance of missed calls is why replay came about in the first place. The league had to try to ensure as best it could that the results of its games were just.

Mike from Las Vegas, NV

I thought the call on the late hit against Rodgers in the end zone was interesting. Normally they call a penalty on the retaliation, but this time they called it on the instigator and said that set off the melee that occurred. I think that was the right call.

It was, but I didn't see anybody throw a flag until well after the melee began. The absence of an immediate response to what they saw didn't inspire confidence.

Nick from Los Angeles, CA

Sure, we all know that Vic doesn't care for soccer. But watching Triplette pause the game every other play reminded me of some of the things I love about soccer. Four officials cover the entire field, whatever the ref calls is the end of the discussion, no replay. Refs can call the game by feel (letting players play or enforcing fouls to keep things from getting too chippy). Are we too jaded by information overload that we'd never be able to go back to just trusting the official to make the right call?

The only thing, and I mean only thing, Vic would like about soccer is the size of its rulebook.

Tyler from De Pere, WI

It is interesting to hear the different philosophies of replay. Spoff and Vic seem to be on different wavelengths with the topic. I am on the fence myself. Of course we want the accurate call all the time, but there is absolutely something to be said for what replay takes away from a game (baseball managers don't get irate and charge the field anymore), and the penalty witch hunt Vic has described.

All valid points. Vic covered the game in the '70s, when the TV technology wasn't as advanced, and games were broadcast with less than a handful of cameras. It was all simpler then. The networks aren't going to go backwards with how they present the game to the TV viewer, so the league (all sports leagues, really) must incorporate the technology to fix what everyone sees at home, or no one will believe the results have merit, and then a true ratings crisis will emerge.

Jerry from Wilmington, NC

When Coach McCarthy states, "We had some things go wrong communication-wise," is that code for saying the younger players don't understand Capers' scheme?

No. It means the proper call wasn't communicated to the entire defense in time, or a pre-snap check on the field didn't reach everybody. Either way, it leads to breakdowns. They shouldn't happen like that in the ninth game, but they did.

Nick from Charlotte, NC

Bold prediction: Final game of the season will be for the North and a playoff berth. Loser calls it a season and misses the postseason. If my prediction comes true, I like our chances.

If the three-game stretch of division games to end the season is meaningful, I like the Packers' chances, too. The first part is the hard part right now. One step at a time.

Brad from Mounds View, MN

So I listened to McCarthy and his press conference on Monday and it shed a lot of light for me on why he may not be the coach this team needs, and it revolves around accountability. McCarthy said in so many words that players will not be benched for poor performance, because he is into player development, not results. I can't imagine Parcells and Lombardi just saying it's OK if you keep missing tackles or missing assignments, we'll just look at the film next week and fix it. Jobs are or should be on the line. These players have no fear of poor play, since they get to play no matter how bad they perform. Am I reading what McCarthy is saying correctly? I haven't seen any benchings.

You got out of that press conference what you wanted to hear. I'm not sure how, but you did.

David from Dunedin, FL

Many are calling for change for the sake of change, not realizing what we have. I heard something from MM's press conference that makes me hope he stays many more years. "You have to stay in tune with the now. People outside the room don't feel good about the now. Personally I enjoy these moments." Now that's a coach I want to play for.

Brad would prefer to be on another team.

Bert from Lewiston, MT

Mike McCarthy said there's so much more to our football team than just our star players. What does that mean exactly?

It means he believes the players in the locker room have the talent to do the job, and thinking about when the stars are going to return from injury won't help them do it.

Matt from Bloomington, IN

At the game it felt like Packer fans made up 40-50 percent of the fans in attendance. Is that consistent with what you saw from the press box? I think it would've been a blast had the team given us something to cheer about.

My estimate was 30-40 percent. It's a shame the team didn't reward the show of support.

Kent from Pella, IA

I was excited about starting the game on offense to set the tone for the day. When the Packers come out and start a game with two runs from an injured, struggling back and a tentative, off-the-mark check-down throw from a formerly dominant quarterback, it feels like a concession. That first series sent the message that "we won't be dangerous today."

It wasn't a check-down. It was an in cut off the hip of a receiver running a deeper route, and it was wide open for a first down. Make the play. Don't confuse results with intent.

Pat from Collierville, TN

You are in the Packer facility every day. What do you see as positives and negatives with this team? Do the positives outweigh the negatives?

Not right now. The negatives currently outweigh the positives by 25 percent. The positives have a chance to even things out this week.

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