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Like it or not, fundamentals do matter

Stopping the run with two safeties deep changes everything


Matt from Cumberland, RI

As a diehard Packer fan who was born and raised in the heart of New England, the only thing to say in the current situation is, "We're on to Chicago."

As I wrote late Sunday night**in my editorial**, there is no other choice.

Tim from St. Louis, MO

Reports are that Lacy will be out for multiple weeks as will Starks. Bold move by TT that he usually doesn't make, but while Knile Davis should keep defenses honest, it looks like Aaron Rodgers will have to shoulder this offense for the near future. Maybe this is what he needed to shake his slump?

Mike McCarthy addresses the media at 10:15 a.m. today, and we'll see what he has to say about Lacy at that time. We will have an immediate update on the site.

Severo from Wahiawa, HI

I kind of laugh at all these people that put a team loss on just one person. In the meantime, what do you expect Thursday from the Packers?

A win.

Jay from Minneapolis, MN

Rodgers is mortal. I'm over it. Tell me about the Bears. How do we stack up against them in 2016?

The Bears are struggling to run the ball consistently, though rookie Jordan Howard has given them a spark at times. I look for the Packers' run defense to return to form. Chicago's roster is banged-up like Green Bay's, but the Bears' rebuilding defense is coming around. The fourth quarter has been the unit's Achilles' heel the past two weeks. Brian Hoyer isn't making a lot of mistakes at QB (zero INTs, one lost fumble), spreading the ball around to whoever's healthy, but he's not converting enough scoring chances into touchdowns. I expect him to attack the Packers' young corners.

Lindsay from Elgin, SC

Hello Insiders. Just curious as to how long you believe it will take Knile Davis to pick up our offense and be productive? I think it will be a great addition.

He'll have to learn the playbook in bits and pieces, probably week by week via each particular game plan. Usually in these situations, coaches give a player a package of plays to learn for a game and expand on his knowledge from there. It would be quite a story if he's out there right away Thursday night and makes a play.

Sean from Austin, TX

Hey Insiders, I'm really excited about Knile Davis. I think he is a perfect complement speed back to Eddie Lacy's power. I watched him play all that time at Arkansas and he hasn't really gotten to show his talent yet in the NFL in a crowded backfield in Kansas City.

Davis had**a couple of good lines yesterday**. He feels like he's "off the range" and he's been "drafted again." I'm interested to see what a young guy with a new lease on his career can bring.

Joe from Asbury, IA

I see Shields is on IR designated to return. I thought Linsley was already holding the IR designated-to-return spot? Teams can have multiple designated-for-return players?

Different situations, and a ton of questions about all this I'm going to cover here. Linsley was on PUP, not IR. He practiced for the first time on Tuesday and now the Packers have a 21-day window in which to put him on the active roster so he's eligible to play this season. Shields is on IR but has not been designated to return because the player no longer has to be designated in advance. Shields will be eligible to return to practice in six weeks, and play in a game in eight weeks, if he's healthy and the Packers choose to use their one return from IR on him. The six-week/eight-week time frame is not retroactive to when he got hurt. It started yesterday. Shields posted on social media that he's looking forward to returning this season. I hope that covered everything.

Jerry from Wilmington, NC

What a heartbreak in Badgerland.

No doubt. Played their hearts out again. You have to love the grit that team shows. If they can get up off the mat one more time, they can get rolling, run the table and get into the Big Ten title game as long as Nebraska loses at Columbus. Then they get a rematch vs. either Michigan or Ohio State. That would be fun to watch.

Ben from Chicago, IL

I'm disappointed about Joe Callahan being picked up by the Saints. Is that the last the Packers have seen of him on their team? Is there anything the team could have done to cloak their interest in him, e.g., be less effusive about him in media interviews?

I think the Packers were disappointed, too, but regarding the future, you never know. Last year, tight end Mitchell Henry was claimed on waivers by Denver but then was back in Green Bay on the practice squad five weeks later and took another crack at the roster this year. To your other question, it's not about the interviews. What Callahan did in the preseason was on film for every team to see.

Rick from San Francisco, CA

I realize that football is a business and these are young men that can have short careers and need to make as much money as possible. However, (and I'll only use one of those), the Packers drafted Perry early, didn't cut him and sat through all of his injuries. Does someone like Perry give the Packers a hometown discount, or take a smaller mega-deal out of loyalty to the team that gave him the chance to cash in?

The only way the Packers get Perry for less than market value is if he wants to be with Green Bay more than any other team. That's it, that's all. Rarely does sentiment mix with business.

Nicholas from Asheville, NC

So if you're out of timeouts you can still call one and give up just 5 yards? That's a joke!

The NFL instituted the penalty just this past offseason. Previously, there was no penalty if the officials huddled after a timeout and determined the defense had none left. I could not find anything in my quick research to determine whether the officials can, or are supposed to, ignore the timeout signal in that instance.

Eric from Neenah, WI

Off-target throws and dropped passes are killing this offense. How do they fix it?

Throw it better and catch it better.

Ralph from Farrell, PA

It drives me crazy when coaches in any pro sport start talking about the poor execution of the "basics" and "fundamentals." These guys are supposed to be professional athletes. If they don't know or understand the basics by this point in their careers then they probably never will.

They know and understand the basics. It's about executing them better than the other guy on a given day. The team that blocks better, tackles better, and holds onto the ball better wins the game 99 times out of 100. Footwork, for example, is a fundamental that applies to every position on every play. The QB's drop, the RB's course, the DB's backpedal, the lineman's or linebacker's first step. I could go on and on. Any lapse in footwork and the other guy likely beats you, and that's just one fundamental. The spectacular plays that make the highlights might be about superior athleticism or amazing talent or creative scheme, but the rest of the plays succeed or fail largely based on whose fundamentals are better. It's always there on the film.

Nathan from Phoenix, AZ

I don't like to blame people for honest mistakes, but on how many different plays have we had a defender fall down? What's up with that?

I can't say for sure, but Ralph doesn't want to hear the coaches say it has to do with a fundamental like footwork.

Tim from St. Louis, MO

Glad it's a short week?


Laci from Grapevine, TX

I would just like a quick and realistic answer for my pea brain. What is wrong with Rodgers?

I don't know. If I did I wouldn't be sitting here answering questions from … OK, I'll resist finishing that joke at your expense, but thanks for the opportunity.

Jeff from Miami, FL

Insiders, us fans need to refocus on the big picture. With the top three cornerbacks out most of the game, I don't see how the safeties can come up to help with the run. And if you can't stop the Dallas run attack, it's going to be a long day. First, let's get back all of our top defenders and then we can assess where we are as a team.

If you can stop the run with two safeties deep, as the Packers did against the Giants with the cornerback depth stressed, it changes everything. The Packers' offense dealt with that all of 2012.

D.J. from Denver, CO

Insiders, Vic has always said we have "The Man" and he tilts the field. Lately it is obvious to all Packer fans that No. 12 is clearly not the same player that we have seen in the past. When are you going to acknowledge that fact and call it as you see it?

I'm getting a little tired of this. Various stories we've written have recognized that Rodgers is not playing well. Maybe it's not hammered on every day in this column to your liking, or you want us to rip him and take pot-shots at every opportunity. Why belabor it? He needs to play better, and has said so himself. I guess that's why I haven't harped on it because I figure Rodgers' acknowledgement of his own shortcomings, which I've quoted multiple times in postgame stories and elsewhere, would mean more to the fans than anything I might have to say about him. I guess I'll say thanks. I didn't realize I was held in such high regard.

Nick from State College, PA

When Aaron Rodgers is your team's biggest concern, you have to still be feeling good.

Wondering if a player can do it again is a better proposition than wondering if a player can do it.

Blake from Dallas, TX

Hi. Probably not the only one asking this. Can you explain the "team sack"?

When Prescott, on a pass play, fumbled on his own behind the line of scrimmage and did not throw the ball, statistically that's a sack. But since no Green Bay player tackled Prescott or forced the fumble, the sack isn't credited to an individual, only to the team.

Richard from Madison, WI

Should we watch the "color-rush" game on a black-and-white TV set?

I kind of like that idea.

Jordan from Janesville, WI

Well, the special teams seemed to perform admirably. I am happy to some good returns from Montgomery. What was your opinion of the special teams last Sunday? Big fan of the column by the way.

Lost in the frustration of defeat was the most impactful game by the Packers' special teams this season. They pinned a punt on the 3, returned a punt 25 yards, and brought back a kickoff 40 yards. Both returns had a chance to go, too. It's a start. Now it must continue.

Chris from Minneapolis, MN

What are the craziest fixes for the offense that you see in your Inbox? I hope you're getting more than the boring calls for more screens, more Janis/Abby, more Spider 2 Y Banana. How about Cobb as wildcat QB? Mike Daniels as fullback? Clay Matthews at TE? Let's go crazy.

Dude, it's Spider Y 2 Banana. C'mon now.

Matt from Fort Myers, FL

One person on offense could be the spark that starts the fire, and I don't think it needs to be Rodgers. You've all said Eddie Lacy needs big games, but I think one of our receivers needs to step up and have a breakout game. Cobb was close, but that's been about it. Ty can be that guy, and I don't think he's far off.

McCarthy said flat-out on Monday he needs to get the ball to Montgomery and Cobb more.

Chris from Mandan, ND

Wasn't Beasley's touchdown catch the same as Dez Bryant's non-touchdown catch?

Basically, yes, and if the rule "clarification" from this past offseason had been made two years prior, the Dez play would have been ruled a catch as well.

Liner from Des Moines, IA

What we struggle to accept is a perceived overestimation of Packer talent from the players and coaches. It's like they think they can flip a switch and it will be 2011 again. I am grateful to have Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, they have been the best at what they do and provided a ton of excitement and entertainment. But now I implore them to please get over themselves and start approaching games like the underdogs they now are.

If players and coaches don't expect to win in this league, they won't.

Cid from Menasha, WI

They've got a short week, a lot of injuries, and some obvious problems. What's the first thing the coaches attack? And what does the team need to hear right now?

The team needs to hear the plan to beat the Bears, and each (healthy) player needs to see how he can help the cause. Then it's go beat your man.

Michael from Elizabethtown, KY

I'm a big fan of Brett Favre, but I think we all agree he shouldn't be invited back to Lambeau for a while. Both times have been dreadful. He's just been bad mojo for this team ever since he left.

Next man up!

Josh from Brandon, MS

I admit to being an armchair coach, even though I start with the mindset to not be. Do you have any tips for staying calm when watching a game as frustrating as Sunday's?

Understand the coaches know more than you could ever pretend to, the players don't enjoy frustration and failure any more than you do, and the other guys get paid, too.

Cameron from Neenah, WI

What do you think about Odell Beckham and his little affair with the net?

If I were the net I'd file for a restraining order.

Scott from Green Bay, WI

I don't know if it was an especially unusual weekend of games, but I saw quite a few head-scratching calls and no-calls around the NFL. Some were in really game-changing situations. Can you tell me how the teams and the NFL handle highly questionable calls and no-calls? For example, can a team ask for an explanation? Does the NFL ever admit to a team that it made the wrong call/no-call?

Teams send in video of calls/plays they dispute and ask for an explanation. They often get it, and if the team keeps the league's response private, the league appreciates it.

Mark from Bettendorf, IA

Guys, as a kid I had a much better perspective of sports. I realized when my team lost, they weren't the better team that day. Then I looked forward to the next week. The 24/7 coverage today has reduced my enjoyment of the game. Help me find that perspective again.

I'll let Chris try.

Chris from Chico, CA

I spent my Sunday trying to watch football while working as a deputy in a jail. A week ago I booked in a woman who attacked two guys with a machete. As the ball was turned over for the third time I thought to myself, "At least I didn't get chopped up by a machete." Reading this column and working in a jail has taught me perspective.

So you've got that going for you, which is nice.

Shane from Jefferson City, MO

It wasn't a fun game to watch but everyone is entirely too disheartened. We've lost to two very good football teams. I'm actually enjoying this narrative. Just when it seems all is lost (according to some), who will be the heroes that save us? Count me in. This is football at its finest, friends.

They've been shown what it looks like by the (so far) best teams. They aren't naïve to that. Their challenge is laid before them. They don't need to be heroes to accept a challenge.

Andrew from Fullerton, CA

When are you guys going to update Vic's picture to make it more appropriate to retirement? Maybe Hawaiian shirt? Clemson jersey? Just a picture of Flip and Flop?

I like the Flip and Flop image, with Vic's feet showing his hidden Steelers ankle tattoo.

Aaron from Lawton, OK

I don't fully understand the fan reactions on the site. Close wins against Jacksonville, Detroit, and New York weren't appreciated and instead the focus is on how "bad" the Packers were in their two losses to teams that are a combined 10-1. Even though I hate Minnesota and Dallas more than any of the other NFL squads, I remember how frustrating the middle of 2010 was before the team got healthy, gained momentum in season-ending games that mattered, and then dominated the playoffs to win it all. Don't you think a healthy secondary, 60-minute Lacy, and confident QB couldn't replicate that performance?

Yes. Or no. Wait … ah, jeez, double-negative questions get me every time.

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