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Pressure is the great equalizer

Is points allowed more important than total yards when judging a defense?


Nathan from San Diego, CA

Dear Insiders, are you surprised by the lack of attention national sports media has given to Ty Montgomery this past week? With due respect to Adams, I feel like Montgomery pulled off one of the more impressive offensive performances of the season.

It's difficult for me to judge what exactly the national pulse is on Montgomery, but I'm sure the Packers have no issue with their dynamic receiver staying under the radar for now. They knew what they had in Montgomery from the start. The success the Packers are having with the second-year receiver isn't by accident.

Geoffrey from Apple Valley, MN

Not that I have any answer to Julio, but it is possible that he can be contained. Obviously the guy is capable of a 300-yard game. I believe our D-line and LBs can make an impact on the guy who has to get the ball to Julio, Matt Ryan. Your thoughts on pressure to Ryan being a turning point in Atlanta's offense? Thanks.

You hit it right on the head. Pressure is the great equalizer. The more uncomfortable you can make a quarterback, the better your chances are of containing a passing game. It won't be easy against the Falcons, though. Atlanta has gone to great lengths over the past few years to protect Matt Ryan. We'll see what happens with Clay Matthews, but the Packers have the pass-rush to do the job.

Bob from Colby, KS

In sports they talk about getting back to the basics when things are out of whack. Is that what the Packers did against the Bears? If so, was it a putting together of everyone's head, coaches and AR?

It was the culmination of many factors, but communication certainly played into the offense's success whether it was Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers making adjustments or a receiver like Davante Adams**being vocal about possible matchups**the offense could exploit. I don't know if it was as simple as getting back to basics, but the offense was successful in reverting back to some of its previous strengths.

Jennifer from Milwaukee, WI

Hello, why don't the Packers have a defensive end on the Pro Bowl ballot?

I went to to investigate this myself. I'm guessing it's because the Packers don't have a true "DE." However, you can vote for the Packers' starting defensive linemen, Mike Daniels and Letroy Guion, in the defensive tackle section. I'm sure Big Mike would appreciate your vote. Clay Matthews, Nick Perry and Julius Peppers can all be found at OLB.**Vote early. Vote often.*** *

Josh from Virginia Beach, VA

When teams have a shot to win the Super Bowl, they improve the roster. Why haven't we traded for a cornerback?

It goes both ways, but your argument seems more geared toward MLB than the NFL. Sure, a few teams will swing midseason deals here and there, but typically even the front-runners don't start dropping high-round draft picks to acquire players in-season. Why haven't the Packers made a move at cornerback? They have confidence in the young players they've developed to fill the void, especially since it's not easy for a veteran to step onto a roster during the season and immediately contribute. I remember everyone wanted Thompson to trade for Vernon Davis last year. Denver eventually did and he was met by a steep learning curve.

Nate from Pueblo, CO

Any word on how our new RBs can pick up blitzes and block? McCarthy places a lot of importance on that. Do you think learning the blocking responsibilities to protect Rodgers is a bigger concern right now for the team than the RBs actually running?

It's so hard to tell because neither was in camp with the Packers. What I can say is the Packers place a premium on a running back's ability to pass-protect. It's an absolute requirement if you're going to share the backfield with Aaron Rodgers. That was the first thing Ty Montgomery talked about when asked this week about the transition to running back. Davis (5-11, 227) definitely has the necessary size to hold up to blitzing linebackers and defensive backs.

Sam from Nashville, TN

Why do we measure defensive success by yards instead of points? Nothing matters more than points.

Absolutely. That's why I don't think you can judge the NFL's top defense based only on yardage, which doesn't take into account red-zone defense and the difference between giving up a touchdown or just a field goal. A good friend of mine and fellow writer wrote a great column about this two years ago. His argument was the best way to calculate a defense's success is to add together a team's ranking of total yards and points, and reorder teams based on which teams have the lowest totals.

Ronald from Tama, IA

With Jared Cook being out and not much production coming out of TE spot, why not move Ty Montgomery to TE for some plays?

Maybe if Ted stumbles upon a cloning machine. Otherwise, Montgomery is busy playing two other positions. Regardless, his frame (6-0, 216) doesn't exactly scream tight end.

Jerry from Wilmington, NC

Why so much anxiety about tie scores in the NFL? If both teams can't get it done in 75 minutes then they deserve a tie. Plus, it adds so much drama and intrigue during the game and in the standings afterwards. Isn't that what we want?

I don't have a problem with it. It's a necessary compromise for no longer having a true sudden death overtime. At the same time, you can't play all night. You have to keep player safety in mind. If 75 minutes don't provide a clear winner, then neither team deserves the W.

Charlie from Tokyo, Japan

I just read Abby was waived from IR and then it listed his career stats as a Packer. Does that mean he is a FA now, does he just have to clear waivers before he can go on IR, or something else?

Abbrederis is subject to waivers because he has fewer than four accrued NFL seasons. If he clears, then he'll become a free agent. Abbrederis' season with the Packers was over when the Packers placed him on injured reserve, but now he'll have a chance to play elsewhere this season. He was a pleasure to cover and a true professional. The story I wrote this summer on his**connection with his bike kid**will go down as one of my all-time favorites. I wish Jared all the best in his future endeavors.

Lisa from Edison, NJ

My question is if both Shields and Lacy get taken off IR, can they both play in playoff games? I know it can only be one or the other in regular season.

The same rules apply for the playoffs. You only get one activation per NFL season.

Randy from Des Moines, IA

What do you see as the future for a guy like Jason Spriggs? There are two starting tackles on the team that don't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. Does he transition to guard eventually and compete with Lane Taylor?

The Packers have six guys on their 53-man roster who played left tackle in college, so college positions don't really have much bearing on where someone lines up in the pros. I don't know what the future holds for Spriggs, but this past year proved you can never have too many capable offensive linemen. They're essential to the offense's rhythm and success.

Steve from Beaver Dam, WI

Do you think there will be a time when the NFL takes the next step in regards to IR and will allow all injured reserve players to return as long as they sit out a minimum of eight weeks? I understand the reasoning behind limiting who can return. But, I would think the salary cap would make it difficult for teams to cheat the system by stashing players.

The designated-to-return rule was a terrific idea and addition in 2012. This year's adjustment to no longer force teams to designate a player to return at the time he's placed on injured reserve was the logical alteration. To me, what you outlined seems like a reasonable next step, but I don't know how all that works with the CBA and salary cap.

Greg from Columbus, MT

Your answer regarding Cleveland having a higher waiver order than the Packers made me wonder how that is determined and where one can find the order. Can you help with that?

After the first three games, the waiver wire is determined by the inverse order of NFL teams' win-loss record. As Michael said, the Cleveland Browns (0-7) currently have top waiver priority in the league.

Allan from Lincoln, DE

Is Ty Montgomery a good start in fantasy this week? It lists him as questionable.

He's been dealing with an illness this week, but otherwise there's no injury to speak of. I'm guessing he'll be a safe start.

Dylan from Fairfield, CA

How much does a running back have to change his own style of play to fit a new offensive line on a new team? Does he have to make reads any differently?

It's a combination of both. The running backs have to learn how their running style fits into the scheme, while the offensive line has to pick up on what a running back's tendencies are. That's one reason I was so impressed with Montgomery's performance against the Bears. The offensive line gave him the proper holes and he displayed a lot of patience to break a few big gains.

Chase from Fort Huachuca, AZ

So much for the Jags being a team on the rise?

It's a shame. I watched most of the game on Thursday night and couldn't help but feel bad for Gus Bradley. I've enjoyed talking to him at the NFL owners meetings the past two years. I found him to be very engaging and personable. It's just a reminder of how difficult it is to win in the NFL and to breed a winning culture. The talent is there in Jacksonville. Unfortunately, the victories are not.

Lyle from Oregon, OH

Don't the guys that are complaining that we "only beat a 1-5 team" understand the Packers/Bears rivalry? These teams play each other twice a year, every year. They know each other inside and out. It never seems to matter which team is playing hot, when these two teams play it usually turns into a grinding, gritting game. With a few exceptions of course. I'll enjoy the win, knowing that at any moment a sub-par team can show up and punch you in the mouth. I don't envy you Insiders. I would hate to see if we lost. Good luck.


Herb from St Paul, MN

Gentlemen, do either of you have plans to participate in the comments section sometime in the future?

I can't speak for Spoff, but I'll definitely try to have more of a presence in the comments section during the offseason. Right now, I'm just trying to keep my head above water with everything else Mike and I do.

Pete from Wausau, WI

Wes, way to channel your inner "Vic!" I'm proud of you not to mention that was hilarious. Any Vic-like stories you can share from covering the game, a good memory?

I didn't get to hang out with Vic as much as Mike did working so close with him, but I always enjoyed his stories. He has a vast knowledge bank when it comes to the history of the NFL. He also does a spot-on Vito Stellino impersonation.

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