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It's up to the players to open up the playbook

The best fan stories are the ones you don't hear about


Anthony from Baraboo, WI

Good morning, Mike. Are the Patriots suffering from the Super Bowl hangover? Or did the Chiefs just put the league on notice?

Neither. That was two darn good teams, and an entertaining game hinged on four plays – the two fourth-and-short stops by the Chiefs' defensive front, and the two pinpoint deep throws by Alex Smith. The only thing I'm "on notice" about is that rookie running back from Toledo. Wow.

Mike from Algoma, WI

Awesome start to the new season. Too bad that some of the injuries seemed to stem from not being in "football" shape. Are teams being a little too conservative now in the preseason?

There's a tradeoff, and it's why September isn't the NFL's best product. Preseason risks aside, the counter-argument asks whether players are more vulnerable to fatigue injuries in December if they push their bodies to peak too early. I don't know the answer, but I know four months of this is a marathon.

Jared from Ucon, ID

Somebody mentioned they hope Daniels tackles Lacy for a loss. I hope Daniels talks so much trash that Lacy giggles the whole game.

It's not hard to make Lacy laugh, and I say that in the most complimentary way.

Eric from Fuquay Varina, NC

I read Luke from Oconomowoc imply he couldn't wear his Eddie Lacy jersey anymore. C'mon, wear that Packers jersey of Eddie Lacy with pride! He was awesome and we appreciate his efforts for Green Bay. We shouldn't toss players to the curb just because they end up on a different team based on someone's (theirs or the team's) business decision.

I hope the fans give Lacy a respectful reception. I know his last two seasons didn't live up to the promise of his first two, but I remember interviewing him after his rookie year for a feature in the Packers Yearbook. When he told me everything he went through each week in order to continue playing on a really bad ankle, my admiration for his toughness was cemented. He had every reason to shut it down in '13, with Rodgers out, and he put the offense on his back, with one good wheel. That's the season of his I'll remember most.

Greg from Danbury, CT

Not a lot of Inbox chortling over our depth this year. I think the fans remember how the football gods reacted last year. #LessonLearned

Depth is as necessary in the NFL as it is fleeting.

Ron from Louisville, KY

Spoff, I really enjoyed your article on Martellus and Michael Bennett. Well done.

Thanks. My goal was to convey Martellus' thoughts and feelings as directly and succinctly as possible. To me, as I said on "Unscripted," it doesn't matter what your views are on the issues at hand, when you witness an individual publicly processing his emotions over a loved one's ordeal like this, it makes it more real. It's a human moment that would give anyone pause.

Steve from Tosa, WI

Mike, this is directed at your cohort Wes. "The important thing is to stay calm." Are you kidding me? Who watches football to stay calm? If I want calm, I'll watch golf! Does Aaron Rodgers want calm in Lambeau this Sunday? Was I supposed to be calm during the fourth-and-26? Should I have taken it easy when Bostick blew the onside? Conversely, should I have been even-keel for Raji's pick-six or yawned during Cook's sideline grab? We are fans, Wes. Fans. We don't want no stinking calm. We want excitement! And the lows we feel are directly proportional to the highs we feel! Stay calm. Sheesh!

Somebody needs to put "We don't want no stinking calm" on a T-shirt and send it to Wes. Love the enthusiasm. In Wes's defense, I think he was talking about the postgame reaction to the end result. In the moment, heck yeah, it's about getting fired up in one way or another. I'd expect nothing less. But when the dust settles and the tally goes into one of two columns, it's time to take a deep breath and realize it's a long season. The Packers aren't going to the Super Bowl if they win Sunday, and they aren't the worst team in the NFC if they lose. But no matter how much that's preached, plenty of fans will overreact for several days. We're just trying to be pre-emptive, but resistance is (probably) futile.

Nate from La Crosse, WI

How many snaps can we expect to see from Brooks and Dial?

I think Brooks could play quite a bit. I would expect a more minimal workload from Dial, whose first practice with the team was Thursday.

Tony from Rochester, IN

Yesterday, the list of cornerbacks with something to prove should have included Gunter. The trial by fire last season should help him in his playing time against our opponents' No. 2 and 3 WRs.

No question. Gunter is better for what he's been through. His position on the depth chart obviously has changed, but there will be no hesitation to go to him if the need arises.

Jake from Iron Mountain, MI

Hey Spoff, could you lend some perspective for a diehard fan who will have to miss viewing a few games this season? Very first game, for which I am psyched, I have to miss because I need to pick up a loved one from the airport.

Even for Packers football, you cannot abandon people in the middle of an airport pickup. It's a binding social contract.

Nick from Arvada, CO

I've never advocated firing Coach Capers; this is not one of those questions/rants. But I would love to hear an Insider's perspective on how Capers has continued to innovate (or not) with the Packers' defense. What can a fan look for or look back on to see the effects (good or bad) Capers has had?

With the right pieces in place, Capers gets creative with his playmakers and gives them a chance to be difference-makers. That's how Charles Woodson won DPOY in '09 and Clay Matthews came two votes short in '10. Capers also saved a floundering run defense when he moved Matthews inside in '14, and he's now added the hybrid safety/linebacker to allow more matchup flexibility. But at the end of the day, as long as a standard front isn't getting gashed by the run, any coordinator's impact on a defense goes only as far as his four-man rush takes him. If a defense can consistently generate pressure with four, creativity can emerge. If he has to keep sending a fifth or sixth rusher just to hurry the quarterback, his hands are tied. It's up to the players to open up the playbook.

John from Houston, TX

My first Packers game was when James Jones caught that TD off of Richard Sherman. Should he be in the Packers Hall of Fame?

I think so.**Retiring with a top-12 franchise ranking**in catches, yards and TDs sounds pretty good to me, and he was a great community ambassador to boot. I hope he wears a hoodie under his suit for the induction ceremony.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Do the Packers have anything planned to celebrate Aaron Rodgers' 300th touchdown pass? Do you have a favorite James Jones story?

I would imagine he'll get to keep the ball. The best stat surrounding Rodgers' approach to 300 (he's at 297) is that he's only thrown 72 interceptions. The fewest INTs by any QB at the time of his 300th TD pass is 115 by Tom Brady. Regarding JJ, I have a favorite line: "The other guys get paid, too."

Joe from St. Charles, MO

Hi Mike and Wes, how is the mood amongst players and coaches in the week leading up to Game 1?

They're ready to go.

Luke from Oconomowoc, WI

I guess I have to be the one to bring up the elephant in the room. Neither of you two have experience with a postgame, Monday morning Insider Inbox.

I'm ready to go.

Patrick from Ashland, WI

Is it possible for fans to find out who is officiating this week's game? When does the Pack find out who their refs are?

They find out pretty early in the week. For Packers-Seahawks this week, it's John Parry's crew. Here's**the league rundown for Week 1**.

Joe from St. Charles, MO

Hi Mike and Wes, as sports writers, I understand you must remain somewhat detached in order to be objective while covering games. But, do you get a little nervous before or during critical moments in the game? As a fan, obviously I do.

Sure, and it's fun to feel those butterflies return at some point each season. It reminds you that you care. I just can't let it affect how I do my job. That would be unfair to you.

Mike from McFarland, WI

Ringo may be gone, but I hope the "Sideline Ringo Rush" still makes it into the playbook.

It's a high-risk, high-reward maneuver.

Shel from New York City, NY

What does it say when 32 teams passed on the chance to claim Dial, but two former Packers (Price and Ringo) who play the same position as Dial were quickly claimed?

Nothing. Dial is a vested veteran who wasn't subject to waivers. He became a free agent the moment the 49ers released him. Also, a vested veteran is guaranteed his full salary for the year if he's on a team's roster in Week 1. Not so for waiver claims. Apples and oranges financially.

Lisa from Plymouth, MN

I have gained a whole new appreciation for what players endure and how tough it is to "make it." Back in May, you wrote an article about Devante Mays so he has kind of been on my radar. If the Taffs were on "cloud nine" when Devante made the draft, I can't imagine what it was like in their household when Devante called them on Saturday. Hopefully, the green and gold plants are still holding their own in the Taffs' garden and maybe, just maybe, if we all listen closely, we can hear "Mama J's" message to Devante becoming the message for the entire team and all of the fans: "Believe Big!" It's a great way to start the season!

I got to meet and chat with Coach Taff and his wife when they came to visit during training camp. Wonderful people. Coach Taff also left me a nice voicemail earlier this week. Apparently my story prompted some fans who live near Lambeau to open their house to the Taffs for their weeklong stay, and others to reach out to Mays to help him get settled in Green Bay. My favorite fan stories are ones like those.

Mark from Houghton, MI

My wife, concerned about keeping Rodgers healthy through the regular season, asked me why the Packers don't keep Aaron in a red jersey?!? I'll let you give her the answer.

Because it wouldn't matter?

Aaron from Fort Wayne, IN

The "Rock Report" video ("It's a Keeper") was great as always. I noticed however while the pass to Geronimo was being thrown, Janis had just done what looked like the stop in a stop-and-go type route. As soon as he did, the defender seemed to lose his feet because of biting so hard on the fake. I know it may not be top-notch competition, but I think it just goes to show his route-running has been growing and maybe a day will come when he's not just a solid special-teams contributor!

Sounds like you're auditioning your own "What You Might've Missed" segment. Don't steal my gig, now. It returns next week.

Chad from Tarpon Springs, FL

When I worked at the golf course as a bag boy, we held the power. We were the most important people. Mike and Wes, do you guys hold the power?

Gunga galunga only goes so far.

Terry from Junction City, WI

Is there going to be a ceremonial "the (baloney) stops now" uttered in the press box as an homage to the Ol' Sinter Plant Rat?

I'm sending him a text when the kicker raises his hand.

Charlie from Bozeman, MT

There was some early-season chatter about Capers' new personnel package "Nitro." Playing Seattle this week, what situations should we look to see the "Nitro" defense out on the field vs. Wilson and Co.?

It will depend on the Seahawks' personnel packages. I can see the Packers using it to get Burnett on Graham in certain situations, while the Seahawks could counter by trying to run against it with Lacy. Let the chess match begin.

Nathan from Denver, CO

I went to the Week 3 preseason game in Denver, and the two plays Pipkins gave up leading to the first Broncos TD were right in front of me. I watched him walk back to the bench, clearly upset, and not a single player or coach spoke with him. He sat on the bench alone, and I could only imagine what was going through his head at that time. Then I saw Davon House walk over and speak with him for a bit. At the time I thought it said the most about House, taking his time to help out a young guy who had possibly just punched his ticket out of Green Bay. Now I realize that moment probably says the most about Pipkins, and what he must have shown the coaching staff since those two plays to make this roster as one of two undrafted rookies this year. Never thought I would say this, but I'm going to miss the preseason.

I won't, because it's finally time for the real games, but I still like your story.

Eivind from Nordfjordeid, Norway

Hi, Mike. On May 26, Shawn from Fort Collins asked you a question about the impact of this year's rookie draft class. You said to revisit the question on Sept. 9. Now that time is here. Who do you think will play the most snaps by the end of the season?

Tough question. It's between King and Jones, and I expect both to have an impact. Both bring body types and physical tools different from their position mates, which is what makes their addition to the defense so intriguing. All health being equal, I think Williams plays the most of the rookie running backs. Vogel's confidence is**at its highest point right now**, so I'm curious to see if his game remains on the rise.

Jim from Maple Grove, MN

So, no Zeke Week 5. Should I be elated that the Cowboys will (supposedly) be easier to defeat, or disappointed that the Cowboys won't be at their best when they face the Packers, or should I even care?

You should care about Week 1.

Nick from Chicago, IL

The projections of firsts: Rushing TD – Aaron Jones. Receiving TD – Marty Bennett. Interception – Gunter. Fumble recovery – Nick Perry. And can I PLEASE get a "Just beat Seattle!"

You said it for me.

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