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It's about taking it one game at a time

Who should you root for on Thanksgiving?


Tully from West Point, NY

Insiders, who should we root for in the Lions-Vikings game on Thursday? I would think maybe Detroit because we can sweep the season series against them.

Spoff and I had a discussion about this on Packers Unscripted this week. If the Vikings lose, it'll mark their fifth loss in the past six games. If the Lions lose, it would disrupt the momentum after winning five of their last six. If I had to pick one, I guess I'd say the Lions because their strength of schedule is a little more treacherous (26-24) than Minnesota (22-28) in the final five games of the season. The Packers face both in the final two weeks of the season but need help to get them back within a game of whoever prevails.

Ryan from Madison, WI

Wes, I'll admit I've been over dramatic the last four weeks when it comes to the Packers' losses. After looking at Detroit's schedule, however, there remains a chance. Beat Philly on the road, beat Houston at home and win out in the division and we set ourselves up for a playoff spot. If the Pack can prevent themselves from falling behind early in games like they have done the previous four weeks, they have a chance to win five of their last six.

There isn't a game left on the Packers' schedule that I don't think is winnable. This team has showed glimpses of greatness at times this season. They've already beaten two teams – Detroit and the New York Giants – that are in the heat of the NFC playoff picture. It just hasn't done it consistently enough. The road ahead won't be easy, but it's far from a dead end. To get where the Packers want to go, all you can do is take it one game at a time and see where it brings you.

Joe from Milwaukee, WI

Vic made a comment about if we didn't have to use the safeties to help stop the run or with the blitz they could help with the deep thrown balls. What happened to the No. 1-ranked run defense?

Big plays. The Packers did a phenomenal job of limiting them earlier this season before hitting a rough patch in recent weeks. The only two gains of more than 40 yards they have allowed came in the first quarter against Tennessee (DeMarco Murray's 75-yard touchdown run) and in the fourth quarter in Washington (Robert Kelley's 66-yard gain). The Packers did a solid job of defending the run outside those two breakaways, but it's those plays that will drop you down the rankings. The good news for the Packers is they still rank sixth (91.1 yards per contest).

Dave from Sparta, WI

Was there a "big play" in Sunday Night's game that could, or should, have been the turning point for the Packers?

As Mike McCarthy said earlier this week, there were opportunities for the Packers to turn good plays into great ones. I think of what might have happened if you could turn Perry's sack into a fumble or Julius Peppers' pass deflection into a pick. It often comes down to being in the right place at the right time, but it just seems like the ball hasn't bounced Green Bay's way this year. At the same time, big plays come in bunches. If you stay true to your fundamentals, the defense is designed to create opportunities.

Jeff from Puyallup from WA

Observation here: adversity is abounding, I for one will not call for heads to roll, players to be benched or throwing in the towel. We root for The Green Bay Packers! Titletown! Rough stretch the last few games but we are NOT out of the division and that's what we it and we're in! Why is there so much pessimism?

People want to win. It's the same reason I get upset if my rec-league basketball team gets beat. Everyone is competitive to a certain degree and an individual's passion for a team can take many forms. I prefer to channel passion into positivity rather than pessimism, but to each their own.

Matt from Verona, WI

Everyone seems to be fine with Lane Taylor now.

If I had a nickel for every question I've received regarding Lane Taylor since Week 2, I'd need to get a second job to pay the mortgage. That's just the way you like it when it comes to the offensive line.

Patrick from Murfreesboro, TN

I'm grasping for optimism, so Christine Michael curiosity abounds. What is his best asset? How would you describe his running style? Can he catch and/or pick up the blitz?

He's a fast dude who has some explosiveness to his game. He tested through the roof at the NFL Scouting Combine and carries a build (5-10, 225) that stands up to contact. I don't know much about his pass-pro tendencies, but he seems like a natural runner. My only question is, how quickly can he pick up the offense?

Jon from Eden Prairie, MN

Greetings, Insiders. I read an article that lambasted TT for his work in a draft-and-develop system, stating that his abhorrence of free agency and bringing in outside talent is the main cause behind the Packers' slump. While I don't agree with the author in the slightest, what would you say in Thompson's defense or perhaps in concurrence with the article?

*At some point, I want someone to take me to this magical place I often read about where all-pro free agents and high-profile players are cheaply available. The Packers have managed their cap responsibly and rewarded those they've developed. I'd argue the players they've re-signed in recent years – David Bakhtiari, Mike Daniels, Randall Cobb and Bryan Bulaga – would've been among the best on the open market, but re-signing marquee players doesn't make headlines. The only thing people are interested in every March is who's going where and for how much? This isn't a long-drive competition. To succeed in the NFL, you need to navigate 72 challenging holes and come out on top. Is free agency an outlet to improve your team? Absolutely, but it's not the catch-all everyone makes it out to be. *

Donn from Lomira, WI

The whiners are out in force. Most are young people who have known nothing but success over 20-plus years by the Pack. I hope the Pack can deliver and win the division, but if not I am still proud of this team battling like crazy against tough times with all the injuries. Stand tall and accept the fact that you get knocked down, you get yourself back up and keep trying. If we don't make the playoffs be thankful enough for now that they kept fighting.

Win or lose, this team keeps fighting. Say what you want about the outcome the past month, but the Packers haven't given up. If you haven't noticed that over the past month, then you haven't been watching.

Christian from Dover, NH

What has to happen in these next six games for the Packers to make a playoff appearance? Will considering the things that happen with Lions and Vikings affect the outcome?

It's not really a secret what the Packers need to do better. The defense needs to limit the big plays, force a few turnovers and get off the field on third downs. Offensively, the biggest thing missing is starting faster. The Packers actually did a fairly good job scoring on their opening possession earlier in the season. Simply put, they need to put everything together.

John from Big Lake, MN

As I watched the Monday night game (Raiders-Texans), I see two teams who are very well-matched. I can't help thinking that the Packers are as good as either of these teams, the difference being that we can't seem to put together a complete game. The first half of the season, we played well on defense, but poor on offense. The second half, so far, has been the exact opposite, with a good enough offense but poor defense. I really think if we can get both squads to bring their "A" game, we can beat the Eagles. Am I being unrealistic?

You're seeing what I see and that's probably been the most frustrating part of how things have unfolded. The issue has been getting all three phases on the same page in the same game. This is a challenging time for the defense, but the potential to go on a run is still there if it can get healthy.

Chris from Ottawa, Canada

Insiders, with your experience in press conferences, do you have any secrets to framing challenging questions so that coaches answer without dismissing or avoiding the subject?

My philosophy always has been to let the subject tell the story. I've never gone into an interview trying to plant words in someone else's mouth. My goal is to get their feelings on a particular topic, analyze it for factuality and present their perspective. I try not to ask many yes or no questions, or leave an obvious out by refuting the premise of my question, but I'm also not trying to solicit a "Got you!" quote, either.

John from Grand Forks, ND

Thanks for staying strong guys, it has to be a tough Inbox every day. Everyone is saying Clay is back, but was he going 100 percent? He looked like a guy who is not fully healed but really wants to play. A 50-percent Clay is better than most any day but just a thought.

I can only go off what I see and that's Matthews playing 56 of 68 defensive snaps (82 percent) against Washington. That would seem to indicate he was in good enough shape to play a pretty extensive role. Assuming he didn't suffer any setbacks, I'd expect him to make more of an impact in his second game back.

Zak from Chicago, IL

I was trying to keep my eyes open for Carl Bradford. Really liked him coming out of the draft and got excited by his play in the preseason. I don't think he played a ton against Washington. Did I miss anything? How'd he look? Do you think we'll be seeing more of him as the season goes on?

I respect how Bradford has handled his first two-plus NFL seasons. It's not easy to do what he's done in basically redshirting his rookie season, switching positions, getting cut twice and finally working his way to the active roster. He could be in for more work depending on the health of Blake Martinez and Jake Ryan. If he gets the call, he needs to make the most of it.

Braden from Aurora, CO

Wes, did Vic really move, or did Mike actually lock him in his office and not allow him to come out? Mike seems a little spiteful with his remarks in remembering the "good ole days." By the way, has anyone gone into his office yet? Maybe you should see if Vic is in there, and try to find the "thing."

I ventured into Vic's office soon after I started here to take a phone call and didn't see him. I recently noticed it's now been locked, though. If there is, in fact, a "thing" in there, it's staying put for the foreseeable future.

Matt from Winfield, IL

Whether or not the Packers climb back into the playoff picture, there has to be some benefit in the playing time for young guys with all the injuries. Is there anyone standing out as improving with their added playing time?

I've felt Davante Adams, Ty Montgomery and Jake Ryan have made the biggest strides when it comes to second- and third-year players. I like what I saw from Jason Spriggs on Sunday. He's not a natural guard, but there's a lot of ability in that 6-foot-6, 301-pound frame. He made it work.

Garrett from New Berlin, WI

Wes and Mike, you've mentioned before that this column was Vic's soul. It was how he connected with fans, shared his stories, and related to those who wrote in. What is this column to each of you?

At its best, it's a really cool avenue to connect with the heart of a passionate fan base who's remarkably loyal to our website and this particular space. At its worst, well, I keep the aspirin nearby.

Nathan from San Diego, CA

What are fans able to do during times of difficulty to help their team? From a psychological perspective, it seems as though knowing the fans have your back win or lose would help keep you motivated.

Agreed. So make sure you stand up and cheer when the Packers return to Lambeau Field next week. Support the cause.

Jackson from Evansville, IN

In the NBA, when a team isn't in contention for a title, they play their youth to give them experience and rest their veterans to protect them from injury. The result is a terrible record, which in turn rewards them excellent picks in the draft. We're clearly not contenders this year, so why not adopt this philosophy to greatly improve next year's team?

That would be like the Brewers benching everyone in June when they're four games out of first place in the Central. There's still a lot of football left to be played. Plus, the young players already are getting a lot of playing time with all the injuries the Packers have had.

Joe from Bloomington, IN

Mike, isn't that a bit dangerous, calling out your family and friends right before Thanksgiving?

I don't know if you guys knew this already, but Mike's middle name is "Dangerous."

Mike from Lakewood, WA

Any chance of Green Bay getting an indoor stadium like Minnesota? Then we can host a Super Bowl someday.

Good luck with that.

Rick from Alexandria, VA

OK guys, we Packers fans need something to smile about and maybe a laugh or two. What we need is an episode of Three Things You Need to Know with Larry, Mike and Wes!

Eureka! That's it! You know you've found something when you take the stage at the Nashville pep rally and someone immediately shouts "Biff!"

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