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It would write itself

Packers will have to withstand a major surge


Corey from Kings Park, NY

In the NFC Championship, there was no Jordy, or Bennett. Atlanta had Kyle Shanahan. I see two different teams, so can we expect a different outcome?

I'm expecting a different game, and I don't expect one team to win by 20-plus. Nelson did play, bravely. Burnett was dealing with a bad leg that forced him to exit in Dallas the prior week, and Adams had turned an ankle against the Cowboys. Green Bay has some injury questions on the offensive line right now, but by and large, the two teams are much closer to equal strength health-wise.

John from Flanders, NJ

We all know how depleted the defensive backfield was in the championship game last year, but is it worse to go to Atlanta with what seems a totally banged-up offensive line?

It's not ideal and would certainly add to Green Bay's challenge. I get the feeling we may not know the actual state of the unit until about 90 minutes before kickoff Sunday night when the inactive list is turned in.

Brett from Omro, WI

What is your opinion on the lack of attendance in San Fran and L.A. for opening weekend?

NFL tickets aren't cheap, and fans need a good reason to spend that kind of money. The Rams did everything they could in Week 1 to generate more interest. If they win, the fans will be there. If they don't, there are plenty of other ways to spend entertainment dollars in markets like that.

Brett from West Des Moines, IA

Insiders, 50/50 balls were mentioned in reference to Allison's progress as a receiver. My question is, with Rodgers as QB, is there such a thing as a 50/50 ball? Maybe a Hail Mary, and even those tend to go to a Packers receiver.

Good point. Rodgers doesn't really throw a 50/50 ball, because he rarely throws a pass that a defender has a realistic chance to intercept. He also trusts his receivers in those jump-ball situations to do what it takes to win, or at least not lose.

Ben from Chicago, IL

Since "Nitro" is key to the Packers' defense this year, who is Morgan Burnett's backup in that scheme?

Josh Jones. I said right after the draft the selection of Jones reinforced the thoughts McCarthy expressed at the combine about expanding the use of the hybrid safety/linebacker. Regarding game plans, he always talks about never being one injury away from having to scrap a primary personnel group. Drafting Jones allows "Nitro" to be a primary.

Daniel from Oak Ridge, TN

Insiders, do you see the effectiveness of the "Nitro" defense being lessened considerably the more they use it? Obviously the first game set the tone and showed how effective it can be, but will adding another game of film each week to opposing offenses make it easier to game plan against? I still think it will be effective, but possibly less so as time goes on.

At some point, opposing offenses will try to run the Packers out of it with their ground game. Maybe Atlanta will try Sunday with Freeman. It's a nickel defense with a light six-man box. It's attractive to run against. Seattle couldn't, but others will be more successful, and the Packers will have to adjust accordingly.

Jacob from Port Huron, MI

Who on defense is wearing the communication piece in their helmet?

I believe it's Morgan Burnett.

Justin from Muleshoe, TX

Do I remember correctly that Davon House shadowed Julio Jones in '14 and did a good job of limiting their playmaker? Do you think that is the matchup we will see on Sunday?

The Packers turned to House late in Jones' monster '14 game and he made a couple of key plays down the stretch, unfortunately getting injured on one of them. I don't know what the Packers' game plan is against Jones, but I think**it starts with House**.

Ryan from Santee, CA

What is the best matchup you're looking forward to seeing? Matthews cousins, House vs. Jones, Nelson vs. Trufant? Mine is the Matthews matchup. It takes me back to fighting with my brother.

Ty Montgomery vs. Deion Jones, in both the run and pass games. I think those two are going to be seeing a lot of each other.

Tom from Holmen, WI

We play the Falcons in a brand new stadium this week. What is the magnitude of home-field advantage when opening a new stadium? I mean, not only have the Packers never played a game there, but neither have the Falcons.

Atlanta played preseason games there, but it's about the atmosphere. Fans are always jazzed for an opener, and for a new stadium even more so. I imagine the Falcons are raising some sort of NFC champions banner before the game, too. The Packers will have to withstand a major surge from the Falcons at some point in this game, maybe right away. Whenever it comes, Green Bay has to survive it, limit the damage and settle everything back down.

Conor from Kouts, IN

Kenny Clark is a player many fans and coaches are expecting to make a jump here in Year 2. What impressed you most about his play in Week 1?

His power at the point of attack.

Donald from Durham, NC

Can you give your perspective on the percent chances for each of the Packers' nominees for the HOF to be inducted and why?

I'm pretty much in agreement with Wes that Butler may have the best chance, especially now that Kenny Easley has gotten in via the senior committee. I think Easley's inclusion makes a stronger argument for Butler than Terrell Davis' does for Sharpe, because Davis' candidacy was so postseason-based. As far as coaches go, I think there's a case for Holmgren, but he's not getting in before Jimmy Johnson or Dan Reeves. And no offense to Driver, who's one of my all-time favorites, but realistically his odds are the longest. All that said, I don't expect any of the Packers' modern-era nominees to get in this year, because the list of first-time nominees who will get serious consideration is impressive (Brian Urlacher, Randy Moss, Ray Lewis, Steve Hutchinson), plus you have Terrell Owens as the top holdover finalist from a year ago. The modern-era class can have a max of five. It might be those five I just listed.

Greg from Bordentown, NJ

Spoff, just watched an NFL Films video about reporters and their unpublished stories from Super Bowl LI. Reminded me of Wes's story of throwing out his laptop when a game turned around. For a Packers victory this weekend, what do you think the lede would be?

What a difference eight months can make. It would write itself. I hope I get to use it.

Steve from Roselle, IL

Knowing how competitive Rodgers is, any added motivation for him to outperform last year's MVP, particularly when many considered Rodgers for the honor?

No. Rodgers knows he has to outperform the other quarterback every week to give the Packers the best chance to win. That doesn't change this week, whether or not Ryan won the MVP last year.

Jim from Middleton, WI

Just a question on my question. If I don't see a response to my question the day I submit it, should I assume the question will not get answered, or might you possibly be pondering a clever response and I'll see it show up days later?

Occasionally, there is method to the Inbox madness.

Josh from Pullman, WA

Mike, you very confidently said the team watches film in "all the above" way. Do you ever get into the team meeting room to hear them break down film, or listen to a McCarthy speech?

I've never broken down film with a player or coach, though I'd love to sometime if the opportunity arises. I've heard some of McCarthy's postgame speeches in the locker room over the years. The most memorable one was on Sept. 28, 2008, the final day of baseball's regular season. The Brewers had to beat the Cubs to get the wild-card spot and make the playoffs for the first time in 26 years. I had been following the game online in the press box, and it was tied 1-1 going to the eighth when the Packers' game ended and I had to rush downstairs. It was an ugly loss at Tampa, so before the rest of the media was let in, I slipped into the training room, adjacent to the locker room, to get my stuff packed up and ready to leave after interviews. While McCarthy was verbally taking out some frustrations in front of the team, I got a text from my wife that said "Braun HR!" I kept my head down and quietly smiled. I think I was the only happy human in the locker room at that moment.

Michael from Winfield, IL

If Green Bay wanted to sign another team's practice-squad player to their 53, would that player or the Packers need to notify that team during negotiations or only after a deal was struck?

Unless his client just desperately wants out, the agent is going to tell his current team that another team has extended an offer to sign him. The current team then will decide if it wants to make room on its 53, or offer to boost his practice-squad pay to at or near the active-roster minimum. It's ultimately the player's decision.

Gary from Davenport, IA

Why don't teams simply hold the Packers' receivers when there's an apparent too-many-men-on-the-field or an offside call? It would prevent the long pass play and be declined because as we learned on Sunday, first-and-5 is better than first-and-10.

But if it's third-and-more-than-5, the offside or 12-men call is not an automatic first down. Defensive holding or illegal contact would be.

Joe from Granger, IN

Jordy described Geronimo as having speed, but I thought his combine times were quite slow. How does he compare on the field with the other wideouts?

Allison looked visibly faster and more explosive in camp this year compared to his rookie season. I'd bet he could beat his combine time now.

Sergio from Winnipeg, Manitoba

Spoff, with his release, is Francois subject to waivers or is he just a street free agent because he's a veteran? If he's a veteran, is there a chance that the Packers may have offered him something to stay close and potentially be available if they need him again? I understand that he would obviously want to get paid to play somewhere else, but if the Packers expect this to be a short-term issue at tackle, can they re-sign him later with an added bonus?

As a vested veteran, Francois became a free agent upon release, and he's entitled to his full salary for 2017 because he was on the Week 1 roster. That obligation would be offset by another contract he might sign for this year, with the Packers or anyone else.

Aaron from Fort McMurray, Canada

Brett from Boonsboro's comment really bugged me. To say Romo is a "September-only QB" is a huge insult to one of the best quarterbacks of the last decade. I don't like the Cowboys but I respect good players, and it's always upset me that Tony has never gotten the respect he clearly deserves.

I have a lot of respect for Romo, too, but reputations aren't always fair. He won only one playoff game in his first eight years as a starter, and he lost multiple December games when the Cowboys had chances to get in the playoffs. That's all some people are going to remember.

Jeff from Green Bay, WI

Hi Mike, Akiem Hicks showed the Packers how to disrupt Matt Ryan and beat the Falcons. It has to start in the trenches with getting pressure in the middle and forcing him off his spot when trying the throw. Daniels, Clark, and Lowry better bring the heat on Sunday night, or it will be a long plane ride home.

From what I heard, Atlanta's lone new starter up front, guard Wes Schweitzer, had a rough debut. I would expect he'll improve, and the Falcons will adjust as needed.

Nate from Amherst, WI

Jordy had one of his early catches, something simple, and I turned to my friends and said, "He's so good. He's at the level that years from now we're going to tell people, 'We got to see him play.'"

He's a privilege to cover, and he's an even better person than he is a player. I know that's an overused phrase, but in Nelson's case, it's actually true.

Greg from Brooklyn Park, MN

Is there a Packer DB that can bait Ryan into a pick-six Sunday night? It was the turning point with Tramon in the playoffs.

I don't think anybody's going to bait a QB with seven more years of experience since then, and an MVP to boot. But Ryan almost threw one to Gunter on the final drive in the October game last year. If he makes a mistake, the Packers have to snag it.

Adam from Wausau, WI

If we motion 88 out with the linebacker, could we simultaneously motion 18 into the backfield to run against a lighter box?

Maybe. I'm sure it's in the playbook, but I have no idea if/when we'll see it.

Fabrice from Nancy, France

Hey Insiders, my three parrots are named Wes, Spoff and Vic. Can you give the first two a shout-out? The last one has escaped from the cage.

I don't even know what to say, but when I laugh that hard and can't even conjure a response, it gets posted.

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