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Stay in it, and make the stretch run meaningful

Everyone feels differently if one play is made


Steve from Bullhead City, AZ

Insiders, okay, four wins, four losses. Now go out and win the second half of the season. The North can be won in the second half of the season.

Yes, it can. The Lions and Vikings both still have to play the Cowboys, and each other once more. The Packers just need to stay in it until the final two weeks.

Brooks from Oklahoma City, OK

I think too many of the players read the press clippings about how good they will be and continue underestimate opponents and make mental mistakes. There was no reason to lose to the Colts. The Packers do not seem to recognize a trap game when it is in front of them.

The only thing I would concur might have been underestimated was the Colts' kickoff-return unit. Other than that, I don't get the sense anything Indy did schematically was a surprise.

Randy from Green Bay, WI

I'm not sure if anyone else feels the way I do about throwing the ball 50 to 60 yards downfield on third-and-whatever-it-may-be, but it's getting ridiculous. Why not play for possession and go for the first down, as many times the check-down has been available, instead of trying to get it all at one time?

You're not alone, but Nelson and Janis were both open in the second quarter, so why not take the shots? It was early, 17-10 at the time. I think everyone feels differently if one of those plays is made. The deep one to a double-covered Nelson in the fourth quarter I didn't get, but the deep one to Adams that missed was on first down.

Lambeau Field hosted Sunday's Packers-Colts matchup. Photos by Evan Siegle,

Kevin from Carmel, IN

Why would a coach go for two after his team has just scored a TD to cut the lead to 12? My thinking is you don't go for two until you absolutely have to because if you kick the extra point to cut the lead to 11 you still have an option to kick a field goal to cut it to a one-possession game. If you fail on the two-point attempt, you lose that option.

Your thinking is the conventional way, and I was thinking the same thing in the press box. The less conventional but another valid way is to say, OK, if I'm going to use a field goal as one of three scores to come back from 18 down to tie, I'm going to need a two-pointer at some point. So, might as well try for it right away to find out if I get it, and then proceed accordingly.

Sean from Baltimore, MD

Not that far away? They're 9-11 in their last 20 games. They're miles away! Unless of course he's referring to next year's draft status and having a top-15 selection.

Every game in the NFL comes down to a few plays here or there. Nobody is ever really that far away, except maybe the Browns right now.

Tony from Appleton, WI

Them last two games are going to be huge, huh? Always comes down to Week 17 with the NFC North lately. I like a must-win Week 17 game to get them playoff ready! What do you think?

Thanks for the grammar flashback to my childhood. If Week 17 as a must-win to get playoff ready, you take it and see what happens. The Lions have been the best crunch-time performer in the division so far. I read that they've been trailing in the final 90 seconds of all five of their wins this season. That's incredible.

Dale from Valentine, NE

All these first-round draft picks spent on defenders and it still seems like we are always a Matthews hamstring injury away from being exposed on the defensive side of the ball. What happened to our championship-level defense that everyone was boasting about?

Next man up works fine for most players in this league.

Shane from Sanger, CA

Guys, I'm sorry for however this makes you feel, but I'm about to question your integrity. This whole safe, classy complimentary assessment of our opponents after losses just isn't fooling us anymore. Andrew Luck is a very good quarterback, who wasn't good enough to beat five out of his eight other opponents. Sam Bradford hasn't been as remarkable against anyone as he supposedly was against the Packers' defense. I get it, no one working in the Packers' media is going to say "bad defense" when they can blend in, not create a conflict and say "good opposing offense." I'm just having trouble taking anything in this crapshoot column serious when you're all afraid to be critical of all things Packers.

I've said this before and I'll say it again. If you're going to judge my entire body of work and critical analysis based solely on how I answer questions in this forum, that's your prerogative, but I don't think you're being very fair. I had to call a spade a spade**in the game recap story**I banged out right after the press conferences Sunday night, and I think I did. The failures were documented and commented upon. If I were to approach every avenue of expression the same way, every time, I fear I'd get pretty boring.

Andrew from Vancouver, Canada

Spoff, where did your loyalties lie in the Wisconsin vs. Northwestern game? As a Madison native who graduated from Northwestern, I'm often torn. I used to attend games at Ryan Field decked out in red and white, but the Badgers often blew it, despite being the overwhelming favorites. These days I just watch and see without rooting one way or the other.

I root for the Wildcats anytime they're not playing the Badgers. I've bled red since I can remember and one year of grad school didn't change that.

Andrew from Fullerton, CA

Am I being too optimistic in thinking by December we'll have Cobb, Cook, Clay, and Starks back? If we do, my "pinion" is we'll find our identity. Buckle up for the second half.

Maybe Randall, too.

Elise from Mufreesboro, TN

I'm going to my first Packers game in Nashville this weekend and have a legitimate fear they could lose to the Titans. I'm not sure if I could handle it, simply because I've seen the Titans struggle for so many years. Any words of wisdom to calm my fears? Can't wait to see this team I love so much in action for the first time!

Don't fear a loss. Don't pray for a win. Expect nothing more than to be entertained, and you'll be able to enjoy a victory or handle a defeat.

Trevor from Hartland, WI

I think too much parity is also hurting ratings. Sports are best when it's David vs. Goliath, or the lovable losers finally pull through. By design, the NFL has a lot of pretty evenly matched teams with few outliers on either end. Good for local fan bases, bad for national interest.

I don't think putting Sunday's Dallas vs. Cleveland game in prime time was going to solve the ratings issue. But I see your point about parity, as it pertains to the first half of the season. That's why with the current confluence of factors, I'm waiting for a stretch run full of meaningful games – a key goal in the parity pantheon – to see if the nation's attention is grabbed.

Cynthia from Phoenix, AZ

Why didn't the Vikings trade for an upgraded offensive lineman?

They had already traded significant draft capital for Bradford, so I'm not sure what they had to offer if they'd been able to find a trade partner, and I doubt they'd have been able to find an NFC team willing to be that partner.

Hayden from Palmerston North, New Zealand

Rodgers and a couple of other players were talking about a "lack of juice" as they put it. Where were the senior players when they noticed this so called lack of juice? Daniels can go off in the showers but not on the sideline?

A sideline rant might have made you feel better, but it wouldn't have helped anyone play better. I think that was McCarthy's message on Monday, when he**changed his tune about the so-called lack of energy**.

Nick from Charlotte, NC

This three-game road stretch is the second-most important three-game stretch of the season (second to the last three games). What does this team need to do to come out ahead after a tough three-game road stretch?

Win this week. That's all that matters right now.

Jackson from Rothschild, WI

Insiders, each writer keeps saying that we should wait until December to watch the Packers play their best football. These players are being paid exorbitant amounts of money to play a child's game. Shouldn't they be playing their best football all the time, barring injury?

Let me know when barring injury kicks in.

Jeff from Brooklyn, WI

At this point the Packers' arrow is pointing due south. If they don't make the playoffs, which it's looking like this year, what changes need to be made to right the ship?

What? Over? Did you say over? Nothing is over until we decide it is. Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?

Bob from Baraboo, WI

I'm not normally one to criticize play-calling, but I hope you can explain something to me. Ty Montgomery starts off the game with two runs for 28 yards. He doesn't touch the ball again for nearly 21 minutes, at which point he breaks off for 17 more yards. I understand he's listed as a receiver, but when you have a guy running it like he did against a bad rush defense, why don't they give him the flipping ball?

McCarthy confirmed on Monday that Montgomery was on a rep count coming off the missed game due to his illness. I thought it was pretty obvious watching the game, but no one is going to announce that in advance to the opposition. He had 91 yards from scrimmage on 10 touches. Right now he's one of many "moving parts" on offense. He needs to be healthy enough to be a regular part.

Keith from Columbia, SC

Could Cook's impending return be enough to help us start beating man-to-man coverage?

When fully healthy, he's not an easy matchup, but given his limited playing time in this offense, expectations should be tempered.

Dana from Reno, NV

Taking it one game at a time and "doing your job" seems more relevant than ever. No excuses.

Coach McCarthy likes the phrase "detail your work." It means the same thing.

John from Madison, AL

The television ratings for NFL games are spiraling down this season. The league blames the election coverage but the fans blame it on Colin Kaepernick and other players for kneeling during the national anthem, calling it disrespectful. I say both situations are to blame but what do you say and can the NFL rebound from all this next year?

When this election is (mercifully) over and we get to Thanksgiving and December football, and then the postseason, I expect the ratings to be there. If not, then the league will have to really dive into it.

Kurt from Woodland Park, CO

Where is Mike McCarthy with taking responsibility for the team's performance? Aaron Rodgers said there was no energy yesterday. Shouldn't the head coach be taking responsibility for the lack of motivation?

A professional football player should never need a coach for his primary source of motivation.

Kyle from Marshfield, WI

Hey Insiders, obviously I'm not as aware of the entire in-game situation as the coaches and players, but was there a specific reason as to why Kyler Fackrell was in coverage on the third-and-10 conversion on the Colts' last drive? I feel as if the only scenario in which he would be on the field is to rush the passer. Was it simply a personnel mix-up?

The Packers sent a five-man rush, blitzing two safeties (Clinton-Dix and Brice) and dropping Fackrell off the line into coverage. It's designed to confuse the pass protection unit regarding who's rushing and who's not, and it worked, as the Colts had six protectors but Clinton-Dix still came free. But he missed Luck, and Doyle beat Fackrell with a head fake to the outside and a cut back in.

Dan from St. Louis, MO

The Packers lost the game in all three phases. It was very frustrating seeing our special teams play the way they did yesterday when they have been pretty steady all season. I wonder how the game would have gone if they had just kicked the ball through the end zone on the opening kickoff.

Rodgers suggested the start of the game threw everyone's psyche off-kilter. The Packers have to learn a lesson from that. The previous two times a kickoff return went the distance against Green Bay in a meaningful situation, it was a momentary blip. Patterson went 109 yards on the opening kickoff at the Metrodome in 2013, and the Packers won, 44-31. Weems went 102 yards to give the Falcons a 14-7 lead in the 2010 playoffs, and the Packers won, 48-21. To me, because I'm somewhat insulated from the "energy" factor in the glassed-in press box, the biggest sign the Packers let Todman's opening return bother them is he almost got them again.

Chris from Bozeman, MT

Hey guys, no question, just a thought. I get the frustration many Packers fans are expressing. It's when frustration gives way to anger that I have a hard time understanding. I think this fan base struggles mightily with the idea of competition. Football is a GAME. Sometimes I think the best thing for us as fans is more of the same until we wake up.

On that note, please vote today.

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