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Packers are building foundation of a good defense

Lions will spread the ball around on offense


David from Lake Bluff, IL

When it comes to pointing out and addressing what is clearly troubling the production of the offense, namely Rodgers' poor play as evidenced by holding the ball too long and missing open targets, the Insiders are zero for two. Vic, coward. Wes, coward. How about you, Spoff? Are you going to openly discuss his obvious decline in play or continue the "efficiency" and "rhythm" double talk?

And here we go. So, me saying Rodgers' best days are behind him will make you feel better? Whatever. I'll confess 2011 may not be repeatable, but this is the same guy who won the league MVP in 2014, and just eight months ago he nearly won a playoff game on the road with only one receiver who had ever caught a postseason pass. The second half of last season wasn't pretty, and most recently he had a bad night, against a top-flight defense, in a tough environment. He's not playing as well as he needs to, and he owned up to it after Sunday's game. "We had a chance to win and I turned it over twice." "I left it too far inside" on the last pass. For those questioning his accountability, leadership, and attitude, I'm not buying it, and I'm not going to announce his "decline" at age 32, as though his 115.9 passer rating through six games last year is somehow a forever bygone era. Can I guarantee he'll get back to that? Of course not. It's a game played by humans. But I'd be a fool to write him off, and it's not accurate to lay all the blame for the current struggles at his feet. If that makes me a coward, so be it. I call it being a realist.

Andrew from Oklahoma City, OK

I imagine there is a lot of frustration in the Inbox, and quite possibly a lot directed at Rodgers. When he and the offense watch the tape, what will they be frustrated at the most?

A couple of open receivers not seen. A couple of off-target throws. A holding call on second-and-1. Giving away the first down on a third-down reception. A wide open middle of the field on third down that nobody ran to, leading to a sack. There's plenty to go around. The real shame is that 198 yards of offense in the second half against a darn good defense produced only seven points.

Kyle from Eau Claire, WI

I took an interesting bit from McCarthy's interview when he said they know what kind of football they have to play to win the games when they really count. I take that as they know what they have and are trying to get to the point where they play playoff-style football all year as opposed to relying on throwing the ball all over and putting up points early in the year. I like the strategy.

He's coaching to win a championship. You just have to make sure you win enough games before December and January roll around, and I'm confident the Packers will.

Frank from Wake Forest, NC

If the Packers win the toss, I would like to see them take the opening kickoff and establish the offense with an opening TD drive. Don't defer, set the tempo right out of the gate. You?

The defense is the strength of the team right now. Set the tempo with that unit, get the crowd into the game with a big early third down, and get some field position out of the stop. I can see your line of thinking, too. Both approaches easier said than done, of course.

Samuel from Oskaloosa, IA

Before the game against the Vikings, everyone was worrying about the defensive front. It actually was the DBs that need work. Randall got exposed. Do you think the Lions will have the same success as the Vikings did?

I look for a bounce-back game from Randall, but the Packers could be thin in the secondary if Shields remains out and Burnett can't go. Stafford's early approach without Megatron has been, as expected, to spread the ball around. Through two games, the Lions already have six guys with at least five receptions (three WRs, two RBs, one TE), and four of them have caught a TD pass. The Lions will see the film and make the Packers shore up where they've been vulnerable.

Cindy from Los Angeles, CA

Hi guys, the announcers on MNF said this year offensive coordinators can talk to QBs from the press box. Are these conversations private from the media?

They meant, or should have said, coaches' box. Those rooms are separate from the actual press box.

Jon from Seattle, WA

I see in the news that the Seahawks were fined $400K, plus other penalties, for excessive contact during OTA practices. When a team is fined like this who gets the money? Is it redistributed back to the owners?

I believe fines for player discipline are passed on to various NFL charities. I would imagine the same goes here.

Austin from Galesville, WI

Ninety-five percent of the offensive snaps had a combination of only Jordy, Cobb, and Adams at WR. If the offense is not moving the ball all first half, why wouldn't there be a consideration to get Montgomery, Abbrederis, or Davis off the bench and get a spark?

If the coaches believe it's a personnel problem, they have no shortage of options. All the receivers you mention, plus Janis when he's healthy, bring different skill sets to the table. If they want a change-up, they can throw one. The bye week is quickly approaching, too.

Chris from Victor, ID

I assume that Aaron Rodgers checks out of running plays McCarthy has called into passing plays a few times a game, and perhaps vice versa (but not as often). Yet McCarthy always owns it when they don't run the ball enough. How can the coach ensure he gets the balance he really wants on offense?

Call a run without a pass check in it, I suppose, but is it counterproductive to take Rodgers' mind, and his ability to get the offense into the best play, out of the equation? There are multiple balancing acts involved here.

Josh from Sheboygan, WI

Here is what I love about this league. The Rams get dominated by the Niners in Week 1. One week later, the Niners get dismantled by the Panthers and the Rams squeak out a win over Seattle, an annual Super Bowl contender. Every week is different. Every week there's drama. And we aren't even close to December yet!

The Jaguars give the Packers everything they've got, fly across the country to San Diego, and go down 35-0 after three quarters. Never put too much stock in a single result in this league. Every game has its own set of circumstances.

Carl from Port Washington, WI

I was just thinking about the performances by the Seahawks over their first two games. Might their fans be panicking more than many of us?

Nobody panics like Packers fans. They're the best at everything.

Kevin from Chicago, IL

Looks like that "Damarious Island" stuff was premature.

So is the "this is 2015 all over again" stuff.

Tony from Menasha, WI

Every time I see Jordy's touchdown catch against the Vikings, my eyes always go right to Cobb at the start of the play. Lined up, almost in a tight end type spot, he immediately throws a cut block to the man across the line from him. I believe he was a huge part in selling the run on that play. The block didn't seem to get any mention. Am I thinking about this too much?

Not at all. You're actually studying the full execution of the play, rather than just seeing the result. Carry that over to when plays fail, and the frequency with which you question the play-calling will inevitably be reduced.

Steve from Alexandria, VA

At what point in the season do you expect to see back-to-back 30-point games from our offense? I'm confident it's coming; the question is when.

I predict it'll happen in a span of five days next month.

James from Orangeville, IL

On a blocked punt, why can't the punting team recover the ball? Wouldn't it be the same thing as a muffed punt?

It's only a live ball if it stays behind the line of scrimmage, or if the receiving team touches it beyond the line of scrimmage. If the ball is live, the kicking team must still gain the first down to keep the ball.

Hansen from Waukesha, WI

The window for a Super Bowl has officially closed. Rodgers isn't the player he used to be, and the Vikings are now the team on top in the NFC North.

So glad that got settled. In two weeks, no less.

Zach from Indianapolis, IN

I know the Vikings are a great team. That being said, when Peterson is a complete non-factor and the Vikings only score 17 points, it really emphasizes how poorly the Green Bay offense is continuing to perform, regardless of the defense across from it. What is the light at the end of the tunnel?

Four straight home games. More opportunity for checks at the line of scrimmage. Better environment for up-tempo, no-huddle. Let's not write the book on the offense before it has even played a home game.

Jason from Menomonee Falls, WI

I'm sure the wheels are coming off the wagon. Starting on the road, back-to-back, against two teams that both have multiple levels of motivation, isn't 1-1 an acceptable start? I saw a lot out of the front seven that has me excited. I very well could see this team's identity stemming from that group.

Me, too. No. 1 in the league in run defense, plus seven sacks and 14 QB hits in two games. That's a strong early foundation for a good defense.

Robert from Tulsa, OK

Is Rogers loosing confidence?

No, but I've now learned the Inbox is a great place for me to start loosing my marbels after a loss. That said, I'm going to leave the Minnesota discussion there and encourage anyone who wants to hear more from me on that game to check out my**chat transcript**from yesterday. I'm also going to get back to a few leftover issues from the last time I did the column.

Dave from Lake Zurich, IL

In hockey the puck must completely cross the goal line in order for a goal to occur. I'm assuming your reader in Sweden was also referring to soccer.

Has Vic been gone that long already? Of course the reader was referring to soccer and hockey. Aren't those the two sports Vic has disparaged more than any other in this space? If no one found my feigned ignorance of those sports humorous, then my bad. I blew a perfect set-up.

Rob from Eden Prairie, MN

Who decides whether a timeout is a 30-second timeout or not? If it's up to the officials, it seems like the team that gets a 30 is getting short-changed.

I'm pretty sure that's based on the TV ad schedule.

Lynn from Kenosha, WI

I am wondering about game balls. Who decides the winners? When are they awarded? Are they actually given a ball? Do they inscribe anything on them? And where can we go to find out who won them?

They're awarded by the coaches and we find out about them only if McCarthy tells us, or if he's asked specifically about them (which is not usually a high priority in a press conference). The players get a ball with special printing on one or more of the panels commemorating the game date, final score, and perhaps individual accomplishments.

Brandon from Wausau, WI

Hey Mike, referring to the comment about the concussion protocol somehow putting a premium on dirty plays, I would suspect that most players find that kind of talk absurd and insulting. While I am sure there are outsiders who think this way, don't we all want to be the best with no strings attached? To be the best, you have to beat the best.

I totally agree, but you said it yourself, most players. All it takes is one Charles Martin. After watching that Bengals-Steelers playoff game last year, I take nothing for granted. For those who have suggested the league would take highly punitive measures if this ever became an issue, I think that's obvious, but I hope we don't ever have to find out.

Michael from Alameda, CA

Here's a twist to overtime that would increase the excitement immensely. If the first team gets points, either by a field goal or touchdown and extra point, the other team gets the ball for one drive. The caveat would be that they could not go for a tie. They must score a TD if the other team made a field goal, or a TD and two-point conversion if the other team had scored seven points. Also, if the first team made a two-point conversion, the game would be over. Just think of all the possible action this would add to overtime. Sounds fun to me.

That's a wild idea. I'd have to think through all the implications more thoroughly, but on its face, what I like most about your proposal is how it might change the coin toss. It wouldn't be patently obvious for the winner whether to take the ball first or second, as it currently is in both the NFL and college rules for different reasons.

Jim from Manteca, CA

We have instrumentation that can measure things on the moon or movement of the San Andreas fault 10 miles down within millimeters, but for America's most popular sport, which involves millions of dollars in revenues, we make critical measurements with two sticks and a chain?

We love the dramatic moment, no matter how manufactured.

Tom from Estero, FL

Hey Insiders, I'm really impressed with the quantity and quality of your reporting. Guess you guys put in some pretty long hours. Makes me want to puke when I read these dipsticks dissing your work. We are lucky to have you.

Kind of you to say, thanks. We love the dipsticks, too.

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