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Packers will have to earn it

Start turning around the turnover ratio this week


Rob from Edmonton, Alberta

Spoff, Wes was on fire with his responses Tuesday. Might have been his best overall effort to date. I believe you'll really need to step up today to match his production.

I'll do my best. I used all my mental energy giving Wes a therapy session.

Michael from Virginia Beach, VA

Besides getting players back healthy, what do the Packers need to win against the Colts?

The Packers need to start winning the turnover battle. McCarthy and Capers keep talking about it. Get that turned in the right direction at home before the three-game road swing.

Taylor from Des Moines, IA

Hey guys, while I'm happy with the way the offense is playing, I can't help but notice. We have only beaten one team with a winning record. While I am grateful for those wins it does concern me. I know you're going to say we have lost to three of the top competitors in the NFC, but those tough games were the games we won in 2014. I know new season, new team, but if we're going to succeed we need to be able to beat the top teams, not come up short.

Five of the Packers' nine remaining opponents are currently above .500, and it wouldn't surprise me if the Lions make it six in Week 17. There's plenty of proving ground left. The Packers will have to earn it.

Green Bay went on the road to face the Atlanta Falcons in Week 8. Photos by Evan Siegle,

Jason from Toronto, ON

Mike, we all have to agree that Matt Ryan had an incredible game. His accuracy and ball placement rivaled even Aaron. I watched our secondary as close as I could and found them in generally good position and contesting throws. So I don't feel bad about getting beat by an incredible performance. What other great QB performances stand out to you from games you've covered?

I remember playoff ones more than others. Rodgers in Atlanta in 2010 and Kurt Warner against the Packers the year before stand out the most. Just for kicks, I plugged the combined stats from those two performances into the passer rating calculator and it spit out 150.3.

Scott from Los Angeles, CA

Given the score and way both offenses were playing, why not just let Atlanta score and get the ball back with more time? As a spectator, it seemed an obvious choice to give your team a better chance of winning the game.

I just don't understand this line of thinking. When should the Packers have conceded? On second down from the 23? On third down from the 14? Those were the two plays before the TD pass from the 11. I get it if they're on the 1- or 2-yard line, but how can a coach stand up in front of his defense the rest of the year with any command or credibility if he tells them to just give up with 15 or 20 yards to defend? That's not a coach I'd want to play for.

Gregg from Brookeville, MD

Packers need to tighten up their clock management. If they would have spent a timeout or two on the Falcons' final drive, Aaron Rodgers would have had more than a minute to drive for a final field goal, rather than 31 seconds. That sort of thing happens way too often with this team, and attention to those kinds of details often decides if you win or lose.

I've seen this plenty, too, and I don't always agree with Vic, but he was spot-on with this one Monday. If the Falcons are burning time to kick a go-ahead field goal, that's one thing. But, with the offense needing a TD, if the defense calls its timeouts and then commits a pass interference or holding penalty on third or fourth down, you've not only given them a fresh set of downs but more time to work with, too. The strategy employed was sound.

Dylan from Lake in the Hills, IL

I'm starting to think you don't answer my questions 'cause I'm from Illinois.

No, that's not it.

Jay from Arlington Heights, IL

The punting, kicking, coverage units, run defense, run offense, pass defense, and pass offense have all shown up at least once this year. Can they put it all together in time for December?

That would be the hope and the plan.

Andrew from Grand Cayman

Hi, Mike. "Hodkiewicz Hedgehogs"? The Biff Bisons would be snappier.

I like the tongue-twister. It's the more challenging approach.

Matt from Fairfield, CA

In watching the game this weekend, there were a couple of plays that really hit home the "winning your one-on-one" philosophy that Vic is so fond of. The biggest one that comes to mind was Adams' catch on second-and-21 from the backfield. Had the defender been able to make the tackle (as he did on a similar play later in the game) it would have been a negligible gain and given us a third-and-20. Adams simply beat the one guy that had a chance, and ended up getting a first down out of the play. It's amazing how the little things like that can make such a difference.

The game is about matchups. If your coach or quarterback likes your matchup, make him right.

Marshall from Neenah, WI

Watching practice or a game, what is something you've seen in person that wowed you from an athleticism perspective? Wes and Mike, I'm sure you guys are both studs, but I'm thinking players on this one.

Flattery will get you nowhere, but I don't know if I've ever seen a more impossible throw, athletically speaking, than Rodgers' Hail Mary in Arizona last January. What he pulled off on that play defied body physics or kinetics or whatever. Speaking of Arizona, Larry Fitzgerald had a play here at Lambeau in 2012. He caught a short pass and just bulled his way down the field, barely breaking stride despite repeated shots from defenders. Through sheer power and will, he lunged across the goal line with guys hanging on him for a 31-yard touchdown. The game will always reveal who the true superhumans are. I've seen countless other examples.

Chris from Fort Bragg, NC

With the Vikings losing to a divisional opponent on Monday night, doesn't that mean the Packers now control their own destiny?

Yes, if you're into those sorts of declarations with nine games left.

Jeff from Woodland Hills, CA

After seeing the punt return again in the WYMM post, you make mention of the block by Thomas. Should he have been called for a penalty for not allowing the player to re-enter the field of play? He makes two blocks while the player is out of bounds.

He could have been flagged according to the letter of the law, but the call would be unnecessary roughness, and it was borderline (pun intended), not egregious, as far as Thomas himself actually going out of bounds to throw the blocks.

Peter from Eagan, MN

I have not seen any comments regarding Trevor Davis' footwork on the TD and sideline catches. The speed is impressive but I really liked how he came back for the ball and kept both feet in bounds. Did you see what I saw? Or should I not be impressed?

You wrote in shortly before these posts went up, but I highlighted one of Davis' sideline grabs in WYMM, and Wes hit on him in our**“Player on the Rise” feature**.

Aaron from Seattle, WA

Was the two-point play from the Falcons game a read-option? It looked that way to me.

Yup. Another thing defenses have to prepare for now.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Why did the Packers go for two in the last game? How did that help? (It was a great play.)

That late in the game, there was no difference between being up four points or five, so you go up six and at least make them kick the PAT to beat you.

Greg from Columbus, MT

Regarding the Falcons' last drive, I wondered about just blitzing heavily in an effort to stop them, which had been difficult to do so far. If the Falcons get a big play and score, the Packers get the ball back with time enough to win. Too much like going all in?

I see your point, but yes, the gamble got too big. Capers tried the blitz on the third play of the drive, a look the Packers hadn't shown much in the game. It startled Ryan and he made a bad throw that**almost became a Gunter pick-six**. At that point the element of surprise was gone, and Capers' thinking was probably that the odds of an accomplished QB like Ryan burning a blitz he's ready for, given the state of Green Bay's secondary, had gone up considerably.

Andy from Fort Collins, CO

Tell me if this makes any sense. If the Packers can survive the middle portion of the season as a pass-heavy team, it makes them much more dangerous at the end of the season if Lacy can get healthy because they will, essentially, have the ability to be two different teams: a pass-happy, five-wide team that we've seen the past two weeks, and a balanced attack with a clock-eating pounder in Lacy. My thought is that if the Packers can learn to win without Lacy, then if he comes back, look out.

Makes sense. Starks could fill the pounder role, too, if he gets healthy, and Montgomery/Cobb in the backfield becomes another package to dial up as well.

Greg from Perkasie, PA

Pretty much the only thing that didn't go the Packers' way this week was the last three minutes of their game. Too bad they couldn't take advantage of the Vikings, Lions, Seahawks, Cardinals and Eagles losing.

Or, it wasn't necessarily a bad week to lose.

Josh from Milwaukee, WI

What's Jared Cook's timetable for return looking like?

Still unknown. McCarthy said the other day he took a "big step" in his rehab last week, but he didn't guarantee he'd be back on the practice field this week.

David from Appleton, WI

I have a question regarding the ties. Is it a half win and half loss, or does the game "not count" and you go with the win-loss record without the tie?

It's a half win, half loss, so a team with a 6-3-1 record, for example, has a .650 winning percentage. It used to be the latter, though. Prior to 1972, ties didn't count and only wins and losses were used to determine winning percentage.

Greg from Marquette, MI

Why do we always snap the ball with less than five seconds on the play clock? I think it gives the defense an advantage.

Rodgers likes to use as much time as he can to survey the defense and make a check at the line, or get the defense to tip its hand.

Stephen from Bradenton, FL

Just an observation. Enjoy your work Insiders and that of Vic. However, you often get a rap for not being objective and for being biased and "homers." Gotta say it is sometimes exposed as such. All three of you went a bit over the top on the trade getting Knile Davis from KC. Look at some of the stuff you wrote about him. All along I'm thinking the guy is third-string on an average team. Now he has been released. Thoughts, comments?

I don't recall saying anything about Davis other than remembering from preseason action he was a speed back, and I was excited to see what he could do. We don't get to see practice in the regular season, so I only saw what you saw in the games. He was this team's first trade acquisition in six years, so if in that sense the coverage was "over the top," fair enough, but, speaking only for myself, I believe my published thoughts were more "let's see" than hype train.

Mack from Chicago, IL

I saw a lot of single-high safety from the Falcons' defense on Sunday. My question is, given the lack of a healthy backfield and without Cobb and Montgomery as well, why did they play that way? Is there another reason to play single-high safety besides stopping the run?

If the offense goes five wide, or four wide with a receiver in the backfield, it's hard to keep two safeties deep and not be either light on the pass rush or vulnerable underneath. It's a numbers game.

Tom from New York, NY

Since there is more tape on the Vikings' new players now that their injury carousel has (mostly) stopped, has the league finally figured them out? Did the Philadelphia Eagles discover the exhaust port in the Death Star?

I would argue the Packers showed the Vikings' vulnerability up front on offense in Week 2, battering Bradford around. The difference was Bradford made some incredibly pinpoint throws under tremendous pressure. Go back and**look at those two TD passes**to Rudolph and Diggs. If he was going to keep playing like that, he was headed for league MVP honors. It's hard to be that good every week when under siege.

Phil from Marietta, GA

Mike, you quoted McCarthy as saying about Rodgers, "I can't complement him enough." Given the fans' outcry urging the Packers to go after free agents, your use of complement instead of compliment made me laugh.

Ha. You weren't the only one to notice, but it was an innocent, hasty mistake I have since corrected. I dig the appreciation of grammar humor.

Marc from Hartford, VT

Hey Insiders, I saw that Carl Spackler was at the Cubs game the other night. Who is the best celebrity you guys have seen at Lambeau?

Who needs to look for celebrities? I sat next to Vic for five years.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Every team drafts from the same pool, hires the best coach they can find and wants to win as bad as the next team. The difference between a 5-1 record and 1-5 record could be as slim as four plays. Agonizing week to week doesn't change the fact that a team needs only to gain access to the crapshoot and get hot. Here's to 9-13 straight weeks of watching meaningful football games.

Here, here.

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