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Packers chased Falcons out of their game plan


Alex from Minneapolis, MN

I'm curious to see what your thoughts are on the Green Bay defense. It seems as though no one wants to give it credit where credit is due. and ESPN both seemed to give all the credit to Aaron Rodgers for the comeback win last night. While he definitely stepped up big in the second half for us, I would say that even bigger was the fact that our defense stepped up huge to hold the Falcons to only a two-score lead for the offense with several three-and-outs and making some big plays. I don't know what else people want the defense to do besides get a couple of more sacks?

I'm starting to feel like one of Pavlov's dogs. The last couple of weeks, readers were angry at me for not being concerned about the pass-defense. So now it's when is the defense going to get the credit it's due? Let me put it this way: Who's concerned about the pass-defense today? You know, a lot of people would've saved themselves a lot of angst if they hadn't spent so much time worrying about the pass-defense and just trusted the fact that the defense is being coached by Dom Capers and that means success was soon to follow. It's real simple: Capers doesn't coach bad defenses. That's all any of us needed to know. What are we going to worry about this week?

Jim from Omaha, NE

What did the Packers do differently with the defense after Atlanta scored their two early touchdowns? It sure seemed to work.

Mike McCarthy said they tightened the running lanes. I don't know if he was speaking literally or figuratively, but either way it means the Packers concentrated on stopping the run. The effects are obvious: Michael Turner got 10 carries in the first half; he got six carries in the second half. The Packers chased the Falcons out of their ball-control game plan. I thought the Falcons' last possession of the first half was somewhat of a turning point. I thought that was the point at which they abandoned the run. Why did they do that? Well, maybe they sensed the Packers were "tightening" the running lanes, or maybe they felt Aaron Rodgers hot on their trail and got a little panicky to score points.

Anthony from Artesia, CA

Aaron Rodgers never seems to get upset when things are looking bad. Is it still too early to believe in an undefeated season?

Yes, I think it's too early to think that way. Beyond that, I don't understand the need to think that way. What does it accomplish except to produce unnecessary anxiety? Enjoy the season as it unfolds. There's no need to fast-forward.

Mike from Bridgeport, CT

"The autumn wind is a Raider, pillaging just for fun. He'll knock you 'round and upside down, and laugh when he's conquered and won." Just win, baby. Any good Al Davis stories you can share, please?

He was a central figure in my life because he was the dominant figure from a period early in my sportswriting career that left me with as many scars as it did fond memories. The Steelers-Raiders "Holy Wars" of the '70s were too real. A part of me loved them, and a bigger part of me hated me for loving them. I think of them in dark moments. They changed me.

Tom from Windsor, CA

As a fan, I never like seeing my Packers down in a game, and luckily for me I haven't had to deal with that much for the past year or so. With that being said, do comeback victories help rally a team moreso than a blowout win?

I think you know the answer to that question. Adversity tests a team's mettle. Chuck Noll liked to say it fires the steel. I've heard other coaches say adversity galvanizes a team. It tests its unity, its bond. Is there any quit in anybody? Who shall lead us through this storm? The Packers have a few major personalities, Aaron Rodgers and Charles Woodson immediately come to mind, that are so accomplished and esteemed at their craft that they engender in their teammates calm and confidence that if they just focus on doing their job, Rodgers and Woodson will lead the team to safe harbor. It's a wonderful feeling. Strong families have that feeling; they believe in their mothers and fathers. Mike McCarthy is a real family man and he has a noticeable pride for overcoming adversity. He revels in it. He loves to talk about it in press conferences. Maybe even moreso than from Rodgers and Woodson, the Packers draw their calm and confidence from their coach. I think we need to start considering that possibility.

Fred from Warrenton, VA

Being a loyal Packers fan, should I be cheering for the Lions or the Bears to win on Monday night?

You should cheer for the Bears, of course. Don't you want sole possession of first place in the NFC North? Plus, the Packers have already won in Chicago. As difficult as it might be to cheer for the Bears, sometimes you just have to put logic ahead of emotion.

Bob from Fort Davis, TX

On the fair-catch rule, is there a time limit on raising the arm?

There is no time limit. It's a judgment call; the official has to believe the returner made a valid fair-catch signal and the only verbiage in the rulebook regarding a time limit is "while the kick is in flight." I don't think that was the issue last night. It was never really explained. I think the officials, after huddling, decided the signal was a little on the late side by a returner who had consistently shown a reluctance to signal for a fair catch, and that the bump that ensued wasn't worth 15 yards. I think they applied the no-harm-no-foul rule. I could be wrong but that's what I got out of it.

David from Arlington, VA

Regarding the pink accessories that all teams wear in support of breast cancer awareness and research, do the players get to choose which pink accessories they will be wearing or are the accessories assigned by the team's equipment staff or the NFL?

David, I want you to imagine walking up to a 300-pound man as he's preparing to play a football game and telling him he has to wear pink.

Jacob from Portland, OR

The Packers are getting a lot of hype, but it is by the same personalities that said the Falcons needed to get a lead and then control the game tempo to beat the Packers. So, will they swallow their pride and add another dimension to the praise with this comeback victory?

Huh? You lost me on this one, Jacob. Please, tell me what you wanted me to write in analysis of this game, before and after. I'm dying to hear it.

Damone from San Jose, CA

With another injury to a starter and Newhouse's switch to left tackle successful last night, is it safe to say Ted Thompson is the best GM in the NFL at finding quality depth?

I think that's a fair statement, but finding talent is one half of the equation. The Packers are a draft AND develop football team. Thompson drafts them, McCarthy develops them. You gotta do both to accumulate depth.

Griffin from West Bend, WI

The way Russell Wilson is playing in Wisconsin's pro-style offense, do you see teams considering taking him in the second round of the draft? I don't see why not to take him that high.

The only knock on him is a lack of size. It'll likely lower his draft stock.

Jake from Appleton, WI

I always thought to myself, "If I played in the NFL and I was on a team I loved and we were at the top of our game, I would take less money to stay at the end of my contract if they wanted to keep me instead of going to another team for more money." At what point do players think this way?

Players at the ends of their careers that are really rooted to the town in which they've spent either most or all of their career will, on occasion, think that way. They might have business interests that make it more lucrative to take less money and stay than to get more money and leave. It's happened, but it's the exception, not the rule. These men play a very dangerous game for a brief period in their lives. To a degree, they're all independent contractors and their talent and the work they've put into developing and sustaining it is their investment and all of us want to maximize our investments.

Jordan from Milwaukee, WI

You mentioned Alabama being a powerhouse that would make NFL coaches blush; do you think they, or any other college team would stand a chance against any team in the NFL right now?

No. There isn't a team in college football that wouldn't struggle to score against an NFL team. The gap between college and pro football is enormous.

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