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It's not easy to be in Super Bowl hunt every season

The 2010 Packers were NFL's best team when it mattered most


Rob from Edmonton, Alberta

Wes, I believe that Spoff was equal to your Tuesday's answers yesterday. Are you feeling any pressure? I believe you both have established your own identity. Please keep up the excellent work.

I feel no pressure whatsoever. I'm not Mike Spofford. I'm Wes Hodkiewicz and I'm going to be the best Wes Hodkiewicz I can be. My goal is to control what I can control and let the words take care of the rest. Let's get started.

Matt from Lakewood, CO

I can't help but see the similarities between this season and 2010. With nine players on IR by the beginning of November, I remember sitting at 3-3 and thinking there was no way the season wouldn't fall apart. Watching that team rally around each other against the adversity and dominate the playoffs was one of the most exciting seasons I've ever experienced. Now, I'm just looking forward to enjoying the rest of this ride!

Every season is different, but obviously the 2010 campaign was a testament to a team that came together and thrived despite injuries. The Packers weren't always the best team in the NFL that season, but they were when it mattered most. Veterans, rookies and late-season additions all came together down the stretch to complete one of the most impressive playoff runs in NFL history.

Brian from Superior, WI

Guys, why the heck does anyone question Ripkowski's ability to run the ball? After all, he is a running back right?

Well, he only ran the ball six times at Oklahoma. He was a blocking fullback in college, so it's really the first time we've been able to see what he can do carrying the ball.

Dick from Greensboro, NC

More of a comment about the blitz query. At the end of the game, risk is necessary. GB wasn't stopping Atlanta, but allowed them to methodically score and leave no time on the clock. Had the blitz resulted in a touchdown, Rodgers could have had 1-1½ minutes to position for a field goal. Prevent defense usually fails.

I get what you're saying, but Atlanta still has to score a touchdown and the Packers' red-zone defense has been pretty good for most of the season. I think Capers and the coaches had confidence the defense could get the stop. They're not going to wave a white flag and ask Rodgers to score again. The defense did what it felt was necessary to attempt to stop Atlanta.

Bob from Eugene, OR

On Davis' big return, Joe Thomas blocks a player out of bounds and blocks him from coming back onto the field, even contacting him out of bounds. Is that legal? Apparently so, since there were no flags?

Yes, a defender can block a gunner into the bleachers if he wants to. It's incumbent on the gunner to battle through it and get back into the field of play. Otherwise, he could get penalized for not coming back in bounds in a timely fashion.

Paul from Farnborough, UK

I find it hard to believe that Rodgers is being criticized for being off with a few throws. It takes two to make a completion and if the receiver isn't where he should be or not on the same page as Rodgers, then you're bound to get incompletions. The way he extends plays and serenely creates time and space for himself is a class above most QBs. I, for one, was proud of everyone on that football team Sunday afternoon.

Everyone expects Rodgers to make every throw. That's just what happens when you've played at the level he has for so long. I think it sometimes numbs people to the fact this game is incredibly difficult. Rodgers' ability to scramble is his greatest strength and something that can strain a defense for 60 minutes. No, the Packers didn't get the win on Sunday, but Rodgers and the offense quietly seem to be gelling despite all the injuries. Also, terrific use of serenely in that question.

Spencer from Oconomowoc, WI

Will fans ever be happy? I remember a lot of seasons ending at Week 17 while I was growing up...a lot of fans are already worrying about playoffs. We're not allowed to talk about that in our house until the Pack is locked in. Are we all just spoiled?

That's all I'm saying – people forget the doldrums the Packers fell into for the better part of two decades. It's so difficult to create a foundation that keeps you in the title hunt every year. Look at San Francisco and some of these other teams that compete for a Super Bowl one year and then fall back. It's not easy to duplicate what Thompson and McCarthy have built. Enjoy the process.

Alexander from Gardnerville, NV

Look, I know he's a fifth round pick but, do you think that Trevor Davis can form into a successful, productive, starting receiver for the Packers by the end of his contract?

He has three catches for 24 yards and a touchdown in his career, so let's give it a little more time before we start making projections. I'll say this – he's off to a good start. He's smart and his speed is legit.

Tim from La Crosse, WI

If Coach really wants to keep balance in the offense, can we do that with the RBs we currently have playing?

They're going to have to. Jim Taylor isn't walking through that door (though he might still be able to go for a buck-and-a-half). If Ty Montgomery is cleared to return, he has everything you want in a playmaker from the backfield. Don Jackson is only going to get better with more experience and James Starks should be back sometime in the coming weeks. There's plenty to work with in the backfield.

Adam from North Bay, Ontario

How about some love for Kentrell Brice? That huge goal-line stop on the running back was amazing. He had a 10-yard buildup and Brice stood his ground and shut him down. That got me out of my seat!

I think I've made it very clear in this space how much I respect Brice's game. I can see why the Packers were high on him as a UDFA. He's fast, smart and hits hard. He has a lot to learn, but there are a lot of tools there for Darren Perry to develop.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

After seeing Kirk Cousins throw a very anemic Hail Mary recently, I have new appreciation for the two Hail Mary throws by Aaron Rodgers last season. AR made them look so easy.

It's incredible how easy Rodgers makes throwing a deep ball look. Remember that 66-yard pass interference penalty on Trevor Davis? Rodgers threw that ball 70 yards rolling against his body. His arm strength is second to none.

Tom from Orlando, FL

Jared Cook remains on the injured list. Sounds like TT didn't do his due diligence on the guy's overall health.

What did he miss? Cook hadn't missed a game in three years before injuring his ankle. Injuries happen.

Brett from Omro, WI

The Packers seem to be improving and are getting ready to peak at the right time. Would you say the same about the Vikings?

That's the thing about the NFL. It's a week-to-week league, and teams constantly are rising and falling. You'll be hard-pressed to find a team that feels it's playing its best football right now. There's always something you need to work on. The Vikings are at a crossroads. I'll be interested to see how they respond with Pat Shurmur taking over.

Steve from Pembine, WI

Regarding our next opponent, what is your opinion of Andrew Luck and the Colts? Are they wasting Luck's prime?

There are probably 10 quarterbacks I believe qualify as true "franchise" quarterbacks and Luck is obviously one of them. The tough thing is there's only one Lombardi Trophy. So naturally whenever those nine or 10 "franchise" quarterbacks don't win the Super Bowl, pundits will say their respective team is "wasting their prime." The Colts' biggest issue is protecting Luck, who's already taken 31 sacks this year. That's just too many hits. Other than that, it's hard for me to say any team is wasting any player's prime. Maybe Joe Thomas in Cleveland.

Eric from Green Bay, WI

Maybe you guys are getting the reputation as "homers" because of the overly negative tone of many of the emailers. The NFC is a crapshoot now minus Dallas, now that the Vikes have come back down to earth. Let's enjoy some football and stop complaining!

You can go back and re-read some of my chats and Q&As during my time at the Press-Gazette. My tone really hasn't changed. I'm a realist. There's plenty of time for analysis once the season is over, but I've watched enough football to understand how fluid the game is. You can't get too high or too low because things very rarely stay the same.

Jerry from Wilmington, NC

Do you think a coach like Dom Capers overthinks things sometimes? Or is that a good thing?

I think Dom is a lot smarter than me. Honestly I don't know how to answer your question, Jerry. There's a lot of factors that go into calling a defense. In general, I've always been a fan of OLB schemes like Capers'. Speed kills.

Dylan from Lake in the Hills, IL

Favorite food on Thanksgiving?

Turkey and gravy.

Todd from Saint Paul, MN

Wes, dude, seriously? Your mom still does your laundry? Does she cut your meat still too?

Thanks for listening to the podcast! She doesn't usually do my laundry, but did me a solid because I didn't have time with the Atlanta trip. She also made a very nice stew (and I cut my own meat).

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

What should the Packers change to start winning the turnover battle?

Protect the football…and maybe their socks.

Michael from Manitowoc, WI

Why in Lombardi's name does MM keep going with those short, sideline 2-3 yard passes? It seems to me that with Allison, Davis and Janis they have the speed to actually create separation. Don't get me wrong. I love my Packers but Rodgers seems to always seek out Jordy and Cobb and Adams. We have other options and it would be nice to see them utilized. I have been a Packer fan since pre-1960, and I saw those losing years and never want to see them again. I am not satisfied with only playing for the playoffs.

There is a lot happening in this comment. First, the Packers are using the short passes to help make up for the lack of Lacy and Starks in early-down situations. As Spoff often says, "There's nothing wrong with a 4- or 5-yard pass on first down." It's just as good as a run. I actually like the way they've used those short stop routes to help establish rhythm. Nobody is ONLY playing for the playoffs here, but you need to make the playoffs before you can win a Super Bowl. Baby steps, Mike.

Tim from Madison, WI

Can we talk about the Packers' scouting department and GM? The first six draft picks from 2016 are contributing and have shown real promise, along with a jar on the shelf in Kyle Murphy.

Not too shabby, huh? I think you have to also give the Packers' front office credit for standing by a lot of their recent picks, as well. Just take a look at someone like Nick Perry, who's shown glimpses of stardom for so many years and now is finally getting a chance to be healthy and make a difference. Drafting a player is one thing, but the development process is so important.

Darrell from Goldsboro, NC

Mike/Wes, the other day someone asked about, "What was the best game you ever saw?" For me, it's Patriots vs. Packers at Lambeau in Week 13 of the 2014 season. Best game, EVER.

I don't know if it was the "best game" I ever saw, but the Packers' 37-36 comeback win over Dallas in December 2013 was pretty sick.

Sean from Milwaukee, WI

Wes, I read the Insider Inbox every day but I still have no idea how to pronounce your last name.

You can imagine how telemarketers must have felt when they called my house or Delta flight attendants when they wish me "a nice flight, Mr. Hahhh…Mr. H." I actually say it differently than my father, who uses the Polish pronunciation of "Hod-Kay-Vitch." I pronounce it phonetically "Hod-Kuh-Wits."

John from Dublin, Ireland

Is it too early to think of next year's draft (I know TT is)? I'm thinking the top TE in the draft if he's available at pick 32! I see what you did there.


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