On the first Saturday of every month, Mark will write about a topic of interest to Packers fans and the organization, and then answer five fan questions. Fans are encouraged to email Mark with their name and hometown at:MurphyTakes5@packers.com.
The Packers have the youngest team in the league this year. Going into the season with such a young team, I thought that we would have ups and downs. That has certainly been the case through the first four games.
In the opener with the Bears, we started fairly slowly but finished strong for our most convincing win of the season. At Atlanta, we played good football for the first three quarters, and were in control of the game. Unfortunately, we hit a brick wall in the fourth quarter and the Falcons were able to pull away for the win.
Our home opener against the Saints was the exact opposite of the Falcons game. We had trouble doing anything on offense for the first three quarters and trailed 17-0. The defense played well against the Saints – only giving up 10 points (the Saints returned a punt for a touchdown). The offense came to life in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Saints 18-0. Jordan Love made a number of big plays with both his arm and his legs to propel us to the win. I know that many of our fans questioned why we went for two points after our first touchdown. Data analytics informs us that if you are successful on the two-point conversion in that situation, your chances of winning go up considerably. Also, if you don't make it, and you score another touchdown, you can go for two. If you make it, it will be the same as if you kicked two extra points. The odds of being successful on two-point conversions are roughly 50%. It was an aggressive move by Matt LaFleur that certainly paid off.
In the Lions game, we got off to another slow start. We showed some life in the second half but weren't able to complete the comeback. The Lions look to be a very much improved team. They are extremely physical and controlled the line of scrimmage on both offense and defense. When we play them on Thanksgiving, it will be a good test to see how much our young team has improved.
Now, on to your questions.
Jim from Milwaukee
I noticed that the screened fence in Titletown between the TitletownTech building and the U.S. Venture Center is down. What are your plans for this area? I was surprised by the size of the area.
You're right, Jim, the fencing just came down. We are going to pave the area and use it for parking for the next few years. We have a need for parking in Titletown, particularly with the draft coming here in April 2025. Long-term, though, we plan to develop this area.
Tim from Hudson
I hope you are moving around better soon. I know you didn't injure your leg jumping around at the end of the Saints game (what a finish!), as I saw you walking slowly with a cane pregame. I looked but didn't see you on the injury report. Would you share what ails you? I hope you are able to partake in the Las Vegas festivities. I'm writing this after the Lions game. Just one game. I can't wait for the rest of the season to unfold! Go Pack GO!
You're very observant, Tim. I have an arthritic hip and will have hip replacement surgery soon. I did not injure my hip during my football career, although I'm sure my eight years playing in the NFL didn't help. I did, however, play full-court basketball three days a week into my 50s. I'm sure that, along with many years of jogging, caused some issues. I'm anxious to have the surgery – hopefully with a good result. Thanks.
John from Jersey City
What are your thoughts on the Eagles' push play that they use in short-yardage situations? It seems to be unstoppable.
It certainly does seem automatic when the Eagles run it, John. That is not the case for other teams, although it is still a high-percentage play. I don't think the play is good for the game, though. There is really no skill involved and the risk of injury is fairly high. There used to be a rule against aiding the runner, but it was hard to officiate. Now, they allow pushing the runner forward, but not pulling him. I think fans would rather see traditional plays in short-yardage and goal-line situations.
Stephen V. from Palos Park, IL
Thank you, Mark, I had a great birthday, and to cap off the week seeing the Packers beat the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. I would like to ask how the NFL defines easy and hard schedules, when they pretty much have the same teams in the same division pretty much play the same teams, and ones that aren't in the same division or even conference. I know that teams play on the same place schedule that they finished the previous schedule in, as this season the Packers are playing on a third-place schedule and they will face a couple of teams that also finished last season in third place. The Packers have on their season schedule both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs, both teams that the Chicago Bears played already, and we don't see both teams until December long after we had our Thanksgiving Day dinners. And in October both the Bears and Packers will play the Broncos, with the Bears playing them first.
The theory behind NFL scheduling is that the worst teams from the past season should have the easiest schedules. The problem is that teams often improve from year to year. For our schedule this year, only three games are based on where we finished last year – the Giants, Rams and Steelers. We all finished third in our divisions last year. Otherwise, every team in the NFC North plays six division games, four games against the NFC South, and four against the AFC North.
Greg H. from Toluca, IL
First off, congrats on getting the draft to Green Bay! It will be so exciting to see the draft live...and best of all for you, being held before your retirement. My question: read about players being released with injury settlements, how does that work? Is the amount something that is just agreed upon, does the team and players' union have a chart? Does it differ between a player of practice squad and say a player at level of an Aaron Rodgers? Thank you for your time, it is greatly appreciated!
Thanks, Greg. We are very excited about hosting the NFL Draft and the tremendous impact it will have on Green Bay and the entire state. And yes, it will be my swan song. Regarding injury settlements, they are typically negotiated by the club (in our case, Russ Ball) and the player's agent. It is normally a player who was injured in training camp, and that we do not want to keep on the 53-man roster or the practice squad. The key issues are when the injury occurred and how long it will take before the player is able to play (estimated by our team physician and/or a doctor that the player decides to see).