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That final stretch sets up the second season

The defense needs to keep the turnovers coming


Andrew from Ettrick, WI

Ha Ha has preached this season to turn on the film and you'll see he's all over the field and recognizing what the offense is running. Has he been waiting for a rookie quarterback to make mistakes and show everyone that he's right? My expectation is for Ha Ha to show up big on Sunday.

This is probably my biggest storyline for Sunday's game in Cleveland – how the banged-up Packers' secondary handles DeShone Kizer, who has a new weapon available in Josh Gordon. Accuracy has been an issue for Kizer this year (52.5 percent, 15 interceptions). Green Bay's secondary will have chances. The defense needs to keep the takeaways coming.

Stephen from Berryville, VA

I'm sure the Browns' run defense is good, but could the numbers be skewed because of their secondary not being as good? Why bother running if the pass is working? Or to borrow a Hayden Frye colloquialism, are teams "scratching where it itches"?


It's not like the Browns have a bad pass defense. The issue is Cleveland hasn't taken the ball away enough (six interceptions on 387 attempts) through the air. Its 103.0 passer rating allowed to opposing quarterbacks is second-highest in the league behind only Oakland. That's a problem when you also have the league's lowest offensive passer rating (59.8). Cleveland's front is sound in its fundamentals and its middle linebackers don't miss many tackles. You still need to find yards on the ground, though.**

Tom from Emerado, ND

As comparison for Aaron Jones, I see Emmitt Smith with similar stature and build. His cut-jumps in the hole, the ability to reach the edge and burst to his top speed very similar. Does that seem close?

That's a Pro Football Hall of Fame running back who was a complete three-down back, but I see what you're saying with Jones' build. We'll see where it takes him.

Jim from New Richmond, WI

I knew we should've drafted Watt! ~ Kidding. I love watching Kevin King and his physicality. It was a bummer that he's on IR, but given the injury is he going to be eligible to make it back by training camp? I hope for the best (see Cam Newton shoulder surgery), but fear for the worst (see Andrew Luck shoulder injury). On to Cleveland.


The future is bright for King. It's remarkable what he did as a rookie without the use of his left shoulder for much of the season (remember he missed some time in training camp with it, too). As Joe Whitt Jr. said, "we really haven't seen the real Kevin King yet." Watch out if King can get right and play with more contact at the point of attack next season. **

Jonnie from Detroit, MI

We want to hear that there is hope, even if it is a slim chance at best, of making the playoffs. But we should also realize that there is no such thing as meaningless football in December. There is so much player development, team development, excitement, and opportunity to enjoy the game, win or lose. If it is a losing situation, watch the players grow from it. If it is a winning situation, watch the team grow from it. If there's a chance to make the playoffs, watch the team take advantage of the opportunity.


This final month of the season is critical for young players. It's where you see the fruits of a full season of work. Packers defensive line coach Mike Trgovac brought this up when discussing Kenny Clark's maturation and how far he's come as a pass-rusher from a year ago at this time until now. Clark and Dean Lowry are good examples of players who turned it up late last season. It's that final stretch sets up the second season. **

Tim from Denver, CO

Watching the color-rush games has me wondering, do you think they would ever do alternate helmet designs for a game?

I don't. At least, not a color-rush specific helmet. I don't think the NFL would go there and it would be a nightmare for equipment staffs. I know there were enough issues already with the Packers using alternate brown helmets during past throwback games.

Paul from Beaver Dam, WI

When a throw is described as "being on a rope," what does that mean?

Find a friend and take a rope in your garage. Have your friend hold one side and you grab the other, pull tightly. You'll notice the direct line between the two sides. There's no sag or wilting. That's throwing a ball on a rope. It's the shortest distance, thrown straight and accurately.

Jeremy from Lethbridge, Canada

Smith sitting out last week was Jacksonville's first missed game for a starting defender this season. Health creates continuity, and continuity is hard to beat when the other guys get paid, too. Makes you appreciate what the Packers have done these past few years given the severity of the injury bug. Hats off to them, and to you and Mike for reminding us to find perspective.

I don't follow the Jaguars religiously, so I'll have to take your word for it. Doug Marrone, his coaching staff and those players deserve credit for how it has helped lift Jacksonville back into the win column. There are always exceptions, but often times the healthiest teams are the ones left standing near the end of the season. It's no coincidence the healthiest Packers team over the last 10 years made it to the NFC Championship Game in 2014.

Tom from Ludlow, UK

My favorite thing about Mike Daniels' Mic'd Up is seeing Mike Trgovac next to him ignoring all Mike D's antics. Full-time job for those coaches out there.


And the poor man took a shot to his surgically repaired hip for his trouble. It's all love, though. Kudos to Daniels for giving the game program a shout-out. I know the editor. **

Toua from Milwaukee, WI

Cheering for the Vikings is like playing Prisoners' Dilemma. Do you cheer for the Vikings to lose (defect) or cheer them to win (cooperate) so the Packers have a shot at the playoffs. But first things first, beat the Browns.

Cheer for Minnesota this weekend against Carolina and do whatever you want for the Cincinnati and Chicago games. The Vikings need to beat the Panthers, though.

Andrew from Memphis, TN

John Dorsey named GM the same week we're playing the Browns. What are the odds, huh? Very happy to hear the news, as I am every time an ex-Packer does well for himself. I have to say that I don't think he is walking into as bad a spot as may be initially perceived. Y'all have extensively discussed the Browns' defense, and with Gordon back who knows how much higher Kizer's still undetermined ceiling can be. Though that division is ridiculously tough, with all of the swings at the draft this team has, I feel he is in a pretty good position to succeed. How do y'all think he will do?

Hiring John Dorsey is a game-changer for that organization. I liken it to when Oakland hired Reggie McKenzie a few years ago. The proof is in the pudding with Dorsey. He helped key a quick turnaround for Kansas City. While it's unlikely the Browns make a similar about-face, Dorsey is a builder like his scouting mentors. Cleveland needs a builder.

Ron from Wichita, KS

When a team changes GMs or VP of football operations, how big of a change on the field can the Packers see when they arrive in Cleveland on Sunday? By the way, Happy Holidays to you guys.


Same to you, Ron. I doubt the Packers will notice much change. Maybe if it was coaching-related. The Browns are what they are right now. They've said Hue Jackson will be back next season, so whatever changes Dorsey has in store for the organization probably won't come to light until well after the season. **

Fred from La Crosse, WI

I think Scott from Greensburg is on to something. I have always felt a coach's personality is reflected in the attitude and actions of the players. I umpired softball for many years. Those games were summer fun leagues. Sometimes a player would lose their cool. I found an effective way to communicate to a player was through the coach by letting them know to get control of his players or the coach would not be present for the remainder of the game.

Coaching, at any level, is as much about the Suzie's and Joe's as it is the X's and O's. You can be the greatest coach to ever walk the earth, but it won't matter if you don't know how to handle your team. A head coach needs to stay even-keeled through the highs and the lows. Look at the best in the business – McCarthy, Bill Belichick and Andy Reid – they don't let a win or loss flip their emotions. The game is bigger than one performance and requires constant self-evaluation.

Tim from Appleton, WI

Would appreciate your insights on Vince Biegel. Looks like a definite keeper to me in spite of some rookie mistakes. Would be interested in your thoughts on his entire, though short, body of work so far.

He has a lot of ability and a solid work ethic. Biegel didn't get any work on defense against the Buccaneers with Clay Matthews back, but he has the tools to be an effective pass rusher. He still has catching up to do after missing half the season with that foot injury, but he's learning.

Chase from Ludington, MI

As I watched highlights of the divisional win at Dallas last year, I began to appreciate the steady leg of Mason Crosby even more. Making those two pressure kicks of 50 more yards to close the game was remarkable. If you had to compare those kicks to putting for the win on the 18th green in a PGA Tour event, how long would the putts be to match the degree of difficulty? My estimate would be about a 15-footer.

I think that's a fair estimate inside AT&T Stadium. If it was outdoors, probably 20-25 feet depending on the weather and playing surface. Those two kicks undoubtedly are in the pantheon of Crosby's NFL career given everything that was at stake.

Chris from Racine, WI

Haven't kept up with Cleveland this year. Do you think it's possible that even though it's a home game for an 0-12 team that there may be a few Packer fans in attendance?


I'll definitely be crowd-watching when I get to FirstEnergy Stadium Sunday. It's a relatively short trip for Packers fans in Wisconsin and sounds like ticket prices are reasonable. **

Andrew from Huxley, IA

Howdy Hod, would you consider the Packers losing Sam Shields at the beginning of last year was just as paramount to the defense as losing Nick Collins?

It's hard to compare because both Shields and Collins were such important players on their respective teams. Their departure dealt heavy blows to the defense not only because of their Pro Bowl-level ability, but also how early their injuries occurred in the season. It required the Packers to make significant in-season adjustments with their personnel packages and dive early into their depth at both positions. It's unfortunate, especially with Collins only 28 at the time of his neck injury.

John from Jefferson, WI

Do you see partial suspensions, for a set number of plays or quarters, ever becoming part of on-field penalties in addition to yardage? If so, do you think that would help or hinder the situation?

Never say never, but never. That would have to be collectively bargained and there are hundreds of matters higher on that list. Plus, it would impact the game-day roster. Not seeing it.

Tim from Charlotte, NC

Will there be a Packers Everywhere rally in Charlotte next weekend?

Yes. We will be holding a pep rally at Whisky River, though I'm currently listed as questionable depending on the status of my child. You can find more details**here**.

Mike from Rochester, MN

Let's give some recognition to another Lambeau Leap poundage record that could have been – Gabe Wilkins (DT, 304 pounds) returns an interception against Tampa in '97 only to be tackled by the field-goal net before his attempt. I think a few teammates might have helped him jump in the stands after the debacle? Can we get Cliff to confirm?

*Hey, it ain't easy being a lineman. *

John from Winsted, CT

Spoff was asked a question yesterday about the stadium and answered with simply "Wi-Fi?" Thanks for the "Insider Info" Mike. I guess he couldn't be bothered to ask someone for the answer. Could you? I'm now interested to find out what the yellow boxes actually are.


Tony from Oak Lawn, IL

I know you are a big film buff. Are you going to see "The Disaster Artist"? Highly recommended if you are familiar with "The Room." Oh, hi Wes.

It's my most-anticipated movie of 2017. I'm anxiously waiting for it to drop in Green Bay. It's tearing me apart, Tony!

Lori from Heredia, Costa Rica

I like my oatmeal cookies with raisins and with chocolate chips. Even better, though, are oatmeal cookies with chocolate chips and dried cherries. Bonus points if the cherries are from Door County.

I approve this comment.

Kerry from Margate City, NJ

Can we ban Andrew from Canada for flagrant whining? There is no whining in the Inbox!

There is no whining in the Inbox? Have you read any of our coverage after a loss?

Mike from Somerset, WI

Four weeks left in the season, the Packers have three healthy receivers, a strong offensive line, and two explosive running backs. The defense has more sacks in the last four games than the previous nine. Besides some injuries, the secondary is creating turnovers. They are missing one piece to the puzzle, beating the Browns this week. The December friend is here and strong. Go Pack Go!

When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives. The journey continues Sunday.

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