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Letters To LeRoy Butler


Looking at the 3-4 Packers record it's a bit disappointing, but do you think it's a little too early to say that the playoffs already seem out of reach? - Mike (Fargo, ND)

Mike, that's a good question. You sound like a dedicated fan who is ready to stick behind his team, win, lose or draw, and I appreciate that.

To answer your question, no, the playoffs are not out of reach. But let's be honest, the Packers have dug a hole so deep there's no daylight. With games at Minnesota and Tampa Bay, plus a Monday night game against the Eagles, the schedule doesn't exactly get easier from here. So if the Packers want to be a playoff team, they have to play like one.

There isn't much room for error, but I don't think it's out of the question that the Packers can put together a winning streak and get back into this thing. To do that, the Packers have to take it game by game, starting with Minnesota.

I think GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman will have them ready.

Hey LeRoy, what are the Packers coaches going to work on most during the bye week? How much time are the players going to get off, and how many are going to stay in Green Bay to work on improving? It's great to have you back with the Pack. - Mark (Oshkosh, WI)

Whether you have a 3-4 record or a 7-0 record, one of the important parts of the bye week is to rest up. The season is so long and each week is so tough you just have to take some time to relax and get healthy. The Packers are at work Monday through Wednesday this week, but will take Thursday through Sunday off, then get back at it.

The theme of this week and next week should be fundamentals, because the Packers have had plenty of opportunities to make big plays this season, but they haven't made enough of them.

Playing with Brett Favre for as many years as you did, do you think this thumb injury will affect his playing? We've heard from him that it won't affect him, but what else is he going to say? As a player, what are your thoughts? - Cody (Ontario, Canada)

Sure, I think it might affect him. After all, you're looking at the thumb on his throwing hand. If you grab a football, think about not being able to use your thumb when you hold and throw the ball.

If Brett throws the ball 50 times on a game day, even if it doesn't get hit, it's going to get sore.

But if there's one person who can overcome all of that it's Brett Favre. Throughout his career he's had numerous injuries, but he has always played through them and has always been one of the best in the game.

I would never, ever doubt Brett Favre. But you've got to be smart, and if I'm Doug Pederson, I'm ready at all times.

LeRoy, it's great to hear from you every week, we all love your views on each game. My question is, how can the Packers defense put more pressure on the opposing quarterbacks? They are just getting way too much time in the pocket to complete pass after pass. Thanks. - Clay (Salt Lake City)

The Packers could do a number of things. They could run stunts, where one guy runs underneath and another guy attacks on the outside on deeper passing plays. They could blitz on shorter passing plays. But in the end, whether it's the defensive linemen or blitzing linebackers and defensive backs, they have to start winning more 1-on-1 match-ups.

I felt sorry for Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila last week because he had to go up against Orlando Pace, who is one of the greatest tackles in the game. That's a tough 1-on-1 match-up, but he's not the only guy trying to get to the quarterback.

No matter what the scheme is, the players have to get it done.

I noticed a striking inability for Ahman Green to run the ball successfully against the Rams, even though he's been running it so well in all the previous games this season. Why can a running game work so well one week and so poorly the next? Did the O-line not make the gaps, or was Ahman not seeing them? - Brandon (Las Vegas, NV)

I think a few things happened last weekend. First, after three-straight 100-yard games, you can bet the Rams entered the game focusing on Ahman Green. They gave the Packers some different looks, and they flashed a lot of speed.

There were a few times Green was inches away from breaking through for some long runs, but he just didn't quite get there. The Packers offensive line, which has been outstanding all season, had one of their tougher games.

One of the things the Rams did well was to chase down the play from behind. In hindsight, the Packers needed to find a way to cut that guy and get him down on ground. But that's easy to say now.

In this case I think you have to credit the Rams and assume that the Packers will adjust and get the running game back on track very soon.

Leroy, first I would just like to say that I admired you as a football player, and I still admire you as a columnist. My question is this: Of all the upcoming teams that Green Bay has to face, which do you think will be the toughest to beat, and what will the Pack have to do in order to beat them? - Mark (Hemet, CA)

I'm not sure it gets any tougher for the Packers than their next game. The Vikings are looking good, and the Packers have always had trouble in the Metrodome. You'll have to wait for my breakdown the day before the game for all of my thoughts, but in general the Packers need to contain Randy Moss, stop the run, pressure the quarterback, avoid turnovers and keep the crowd out of it.

There seems to be a lack of intensity sometimes when these guys are playing. Is it because some of the guys are young, or maybe the coaching? It doesn't seem the play on offense and defense is as intense or creative as it needs to be, especially on defense? - Steve (Tempe, AZ)

This was sort of addressed in a previous Ask LeRoy Q&A, but I don't think intensity is the problem. First of all, when things go well, players look intense. When things don't go well, there's not much to celebrate.

I think almost every NFL player has intensity. However, intensity and momentum are two different things. Maybe that's what you're detecting, because after the punt bounced off of Al Harris in the first quarter last weekend, the Packers never really had the edge in terms of momentum.

That's another way that turnovers can kill a team. If the Packers can stop beating themselves on both offense and defense, I think things will turn around.

And I don't think there's any problem with the creativity or the schemes. Plays and schemes are designed to give players opportunities. The Packers have had those, they just need to follow through. And I think they will.

How do you think the Packers can improve on defense - Michael (Colfax, CA)

Well, I think they can do a number of things to try and turn the defense around. They could mix and match with the personnel groups. They could switch in and out of different defensive schemes. They could take more chances and just bet the house more often.

They might try all of those things. But, again, no matter who is on the field or how you line up, you have to execute the plays. Otherwise it doesn't matter.

*LeRoy Butler played 12 seasons for the Green Bay Packers, helping them to two Super Bowls and earning NFL All-Decade Honors for the 1990s, before retiring in July 2002.

Every Monday you can come to to ask LeRoy questions that he will answer along with his Tuesday column.

Butler's autobiography, 'The LeRoy Butler Story ... From Wheelchair to the Lambeau Leap,' is available on his website,*

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