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It's taken a collective effort on offense

Linsley and Tretter give Packers ample depth at center


Tyler from Myrtle Beach, SC

I think hidden under last week's loss is just how unbelievable McCarthy's coaching has been. The weekly creativity of the offence over the past three games has been nothing short of amazing. How in the world do the Colts prepare to face the Packers' offense?

It's incredible what the Packers' offense has done given the circumstances. I mean think about it – you're missing your top two running backs, two of your top four receivers, and your starting tight end. That's a lot of adversity to overcome, and yet the Packers' offense is playing as well as it has all season. The credit goes to the coaching staff for finding areas to exploit in opposing defenses and to Aaron Rodgers making the most of the revolving personnel around him. It's taken a collective effort for the offense to thrive the past few weeks.

Travis from Atlanta, GA

I am frustrated by the comments about MM's "lack of innovation." I was in the Dome on Sunday and was blown away by how well the offense played and all the different packages we saw. Anyone who doesn't see that must have been watching a different game than I was.

A lot of readers wanted to see more five-receiver packages and spread concepts during the first month of the season. Well, I hope they've been watching the past few weeks. It's your prerogative as fans to have an opinion of what you're watching, but those who complained about the offense being stale or complacent clearly haven't been watching.

Randy Des Moines, IA

JC Tretter goes down and Corey Linsley returns to practice. How about that timing?

You hate to see it for Tretter. He's been a pro since he came to Green Bay and has played well through the first half of the season. The good news for the Packers is they have two centers who could start for a lot of teams in the NFL. I'm sure there will be some rust to shake off for Linsley, but Rodgers and the rest of the offensive line have built up two years of trust and familiarity with him.

Patrick from Milwaukee, WI

Hi Mike/Wes. Let me start by saying I'm a longtime reader of the column and like what you've both done with it in the wake of Vic's reduced workload. I read that Aaron Rodgers stated that one of the Falcons' defenders chose not to hit him on one of his rushes on Sunday, and that Rodgers basically thanked him for not doing so after the play. During Thursday night's game, a Buccaneer faltered with two defenders swarming him and they restrained themselves from hitting him. Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth commented that a similar exchange took place between the players. I understand coaching against a late-hit penalty, but Rodgers admitted he could have been hit legally and the Bucs' player was not yet down by contact. Is this type of defensive restraint commonplace in the NFL, or is it a result of Quinn emphasizing discipline?

I think it's defensive players acknowledging that an offensive player has surrendered and not taking an unnecessary cheap shot. If I'm remembering correctly the play you described, I think Rodgers was vulnerable on the jumping slide because he didn't immediately go to the ground. He kind of floated in the air, which could have left him vulnerable to a hit. I think it's just good sportsmanship since it's not like Rodgers is a threat to advance the ball farther.

Will from Eau Claire, WI

What is the football version of the Cubs 108-year drought? Cardinals, no NFL title since 1947, or Lions, no NFL title since 1957?

It's so hard to compare anything to the Cubs. That's a long time. My grandfather, born in 1923, was a lifelong Cubs fan and died 13 years before this year's championship team. I guess you'd have to say the Arizona Cardinals, but they still have a number of years ahead of them before that conversation is even relevant.

Andy from Verona, WI

Speaking of the Georgia logo, I was watching the Badger game last weekend with my 6-year old. When the Georgia logo appeared on the bottom line, my 6-year old asked, "Daddy, is that the Red Bay Packers?" I just smiled and nodded. Have a great weekend everyone!

It's funny you mention that. I used to think the same thing. When I was about your son's age, my world was only as large as Brown County.

Mike from Mount Prospect, IL

Wes, I'm a little disappointed you didn't channel your inner Nuke and pull out some clichés in response to Rob from Alberta. I was hoping for, "I'm just going to take it one day at a time."

I think I've reached my quota for Bull Durham references for at least another month. Stay tuned.

Matt from Minocqua, WI

What is a healthy Sam Shields' best attribute? Is it his unparalleled speed?

Yes. It's what separates Shields and allows him to stay with any receiver in the league. While he hasn't needed to lean on it as much in recent years, his recovery speed is also an asset if he's a few steps behind on a deep ball.

Chris from Attleboro Falls, MA

You may have covered this and I missed it, but several years ago after a particularly injury-plagued season, there was a concerted effort to focus on player health. I recall nutritional specialists being brought in, a focus on stretching, etc., all in an effort to prevent injuries, specifically, hamstring, groin, and other types of injuries that can be better managed (as opposed to sprained ankles, knee injuries, etc., where there's little that can be done to prevent). It seems we are running into a lot of those types of injuries and it's still early in the season. Are we not hearing about these programs anymore because they are just part of the process now (and we're getting unlucky) or were they eliminated and that could be part of the problem? Thank you.

The Packers have incorporated a lot of those programs and philosophies into their day-to-day training. They put a lot of resources into their strength and conditioning whether it's building their CRIC facility or hiring a director of performance nutrition, Adam Korzun, who's held in high regard by both players and the front office. They also switched up their practice schedule a few years ago and instituted a STAA program (soft tissue activation and application) to help avoid those type of muscle injuries. The Packers have spared no expense to stay on the cutting edge, but there's also an element of luck involved with avoiding injuries.

Jerry from Wilmington, NC

Is it best for coaches to put more plays on film so opposing teams have more to prep for, or to hold more plays back for the element of surprise at the appropriate times?

It's probably a mixture of both. The element of surprise probably had something to do with the impact Ty Montgomery was able to make in the backfield in the wake of Lacy's and Starks' injuries. At the same time, all the things the Packers have shown the past few weeks are things opposing coaches will have to plan for.

Justin from Stephenson, MI

I read that Dean Blandino and the NFL are exploring the opportunity for and eighth official for quarterback safety. When is it going to be too much? I understand that quarterbacks sell the tickets, but when are they going to put a flag on them?

If it's in the interest of player safety, I think it's worth looking at it.

Andrew from West Chester, PA

Could you do your best to describe the nuances of Dom Capers' defense and what sets it apart from the rest of the league?

I think it's how well the system has evolved and withstood the test of time. At its core, it's about forcing pressure with unpredictable blitz packages and getting the ball back to your offense through turnovers. The multitude of ways Capers can pressure a quarterback has been what's impressed me about his scheme, especially now with how prevalent nickel and dime sub-packages are. You never can be completely certain who is blitzing and who is dropping into coverage. I believe the concepts also translate to the success that the Packers have had historically with their red-zone defense.

Nathan from Phoenix, AZ

Hi, Insiders. Who do you think has been the best free agent signing so far this year? I'd argue Alex Mack in Atlanta. Matt Ryan isn't a scrambler, and their division is loaded with good interior D-Linemen. Mack fits in very well.

Mack was a great signing. It's helped solidify the Falcons' offensive line and Ryan is reaping the benefits from it. I also thought it was a savvy move for the Lions to bring in Marvin Jones Jr. You can't replace Calvin Johnson with one player, but he's a good piece to the puzzle.

Braden from Brookfield, WI

Can you let Mike know that these game-time decisions on players are really making it difficult for me to manage my fantasy football team? I'd appreciate a little more transparency when it comes to players.

You get the inactive list 90 minutes before kickoff. What more do you need? But I'll try to pass that along.

Brandon from Baldwin, WI

Oh, so it's not pronounced Hoodwinked, eh? As in the Chiefs Wes Hoodwinked TT into giving up a draft pick for a washed-up running back. I suppose you're going to tell me I say it wrong when I order a New Glarus Spofford Cow.

Conditional draft pick. Conditional.

Robert from Omaha, NE

A co-worker of mine is from Chicago and came to me after the Cubs won and stated that he didn't know what to do now that he was rooting for a championship team. Granted, he's much younger than I in his young 30s, but it sure puts the Packers' successes in perspective.

It's a good reminder of how difficult it can be to win a championship, which easily can be taken for granted when you've won 13 world championships since 1919. There were some really talented Cubs teams in those 108 years between titles, but sometimes the stars just need to align. On Wednesday night, they finally did for the Cubs.

John from Ann Arbor, MI

Biff! Love the humor you've been throwing into your Inbox replies recently. Just remember that we all run out of good jokes eventually. What I'm saying is, be sure to make jokes to make yourself laugh, not others. The day goes by easier when you aren't chasing the public's approval. Sincerely, that weird guy laughing to himself in the corner.

That's good advice, John. Enjoy your weekend everybody.

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