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The long season requires adjustments and growth

Players move on quickly because they have to


Doug from Pewaukee, WI

I haven't seen or heard anything regarding the scheduling conflict between the Packers-Giants game and the Presidential debate both airing Sunday night.

The conflict has been in the news as far back as August, but NBC has no plans to change its broadcast plans for Sunday night's game.

Andy from Omro, WI

Do you think Falcons fans are worried about their team peaking too early?

Well, they started out 5-0 last year and then fell apart, losing seven of their next eight. Players and coaches learn from experiences like that. I don't think it's about peaking too early. It's about being able to adjust throughout the year as other teams adjust to you, because it's such a long season. That's why growth and improvement of young players is so important. Teams that can do all that avoid the losing streaks that take them out of contention, and then it comes down to playing well when it matters.

Rafe from Brentwood, TN

FWIW, from rugby terminology, when there is a big pile of bodies and the ball-carrier is in the middle, that's technically a "maul," not a scrum. If the ball were on the ground, it would be a scrum.

When I was a kid, the UW-Platteville rugby team practiced on an open field a couple of blocks from my house. They had some, uh, entertaining post-practice chants I could hear from my driveway that were not intended for my young ears.

Mike from Kalamazoo, MI

Hey guys, can you let the fans that say we need a new front office/coaching staff know that in the last eight seasons there have been eight different Super Bowl champions? If "being successful" means multiple Super Bowl titles since 2009, all 32 front offices should be fired. Just make the playoffs and it's a crapshoot from there. And no team has made the playoffs as many times as the Packers in the last seven years.

New England is also on a seven-year streak, but your point is well-taken. Those who know me know I subscribe to the "crapshoot" theory of the playoffs, be it football or baseball. You get there and take your chances.

Jim from McLean, VA

Can anyone beat the Vikings when they are at home?

It's going to be a tough order. Their remaining home opponents are Houston, Detroit, Arizona, Dallas, Indianapolis, and Chicago. If the Cardinals get back on track, either they or the Cowboys would appear to have the best chances to win there, at this point.

Mace from Plano, TX

Are the Vikings the real deal? I see them as a serious threat that's getting better weekly, with Bradford at the helm.

We've already said plenty about their defense. A special-teams TD was huge at Carolina. Their offense is nothing spectacular, but it's efficient and mistake-free. Minnesota's only turnover in four games occurred when Cobb stripped the Vikings defender of the ball after he had recovered Green Bay's original fumble. No one on their offense has turned the ball over. They're plus-10 in turnover margin, by far the best in the league.

Tuomas from Turku, Finland

I have a question regarding the suspensions. Am I correct that some players may stay with the team and be part of the meetings, etc., but in some cases a player cannot be any part of the team during suspensions? What is the rule there?

Suspended players can be around the team facility and use it for personal workouts, etc. The rule was changed a few years ago. Previously, suspended players couldn't be on team property at all for the length of their suspension. They still aren't allowed to participate in any team activities, though, which would include meetings and practice.

Brennan from Platteville, WI

Who has the bounce-back game this week, Odell or Damarious?

Both are certainly plenty motivated. To answer your question, the one who's less concerned about the past will likely have more success putting it behind him.

Briar from Madison, WI

What do you think the biggest difference is between the Packers and the Vikings?

Three points.

Brian from Maple Grove, WI

A few weeks ago Randall proclaimed he was one of the best CBs in the league. Since then he got lit up by the Vikings and Detroit but after receiving self-scout feedback, his comments seem to deflect responsibility for poor performance. What really raised my eyebrows was his comment that he perhaps should prepare more for receivers who were not elite. Do you see a problem looming with his attitude?

I don't recall the self-proclamation you mention, but I also don't see an attitude problem. I interpreted his comments to mean he's seen his mistakes and believes he'll correct them, while other plays are just the way the game goes sometimes. He also**revealed he’s more banged up than anyone let on**. If he's realizing he needs to prepare more, that doesn't surprise me. I've heard guys like Charles Woodson, Al Harris and Tramon Williams discuss how far they were into their careers before they really learned what it took to prepare. His confidence for a player who hasn't played well lately may turn some off, but I don't know how you play that position any other way. If a cover guy can't shrug off struggles and believe in himself, he's as good as doomed.

Mike from North Hudson, WI

Coming out of the bye week, what are the top three areas that you would like to see progress in?

On defense, reducing big plays allowed and generating more turnovers. On offense, continuing to fine-tune the quick, timing routes.

Ryan from Madison, WI

Mike/Wes, the Ravens elected to go for two in the third quarter and failed. The Raiders went on to beat the Ravens, 28-27. Why hasn't Harbaugh's decision gained more attention from the media?

It's certainly fodder for those who believe, like me, that until the clock is under 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter, it's too early to go for two in a one-score game. But I can see the temptation, down 14-12 with 2:41 left in the third and having trailed all day, to want to take a shot at tying things up. There was also no way to know a game with that scoring pace would suddenly produce 29 total points in the fourth quarter. A lot of crazy stuff happened after that. When it was all said and done, the Ravens had first down at midfield with 1:02 left and one timeout, needing maybe 10-15 more yards for a shot at the winning field goal, and couldn't get it done.

Matt from Clarkston, MI

What was your greatest challenge and best experience while working with Vic?

My greatest challenge was writing fast enough for him, because he always wanted stories done, like, immediately. But I'm glad he pushed me, because I know I'm faster and more efficient now than before. The best experience was doing a rather impromptu "Countdown to Seattle" video series leading up to the '14 NFC title game. It was a blast, and I'd love for Wes and me to be able to use "Packers Unscripted" for a similar purpose at some point.

Jim from Rochester, MN

Boys, the Packers would like us to think they care about the fans, so why don't they get rid of the stupid aluminum benches and upgrade to real seats? I know they would lose a lot of seats, but the high school benches are ridiculous.

How exactly would the removal of thousands of season-ticket holders' seats show that the organization cares about its fans?

Kevin from Bloomfield, NJ

Odell Beckham Jr. seems to let corners get in his head easily and it causes him to implode. Do you see any of the Packers' corners getting in his head?

I would hope the focus of Green Bay's corners is on routes, scheme, fundamentals and execution, not mind games. The Vikings weren't winning the battle because they got into his head. They got into his head because they were winning the battle.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

The prevailing mood in Wisconsin depends on how the Packers fare in that week's game. Victory equals happiness. Defeat equals the depths of despair. Do the players react this way? Are they as emotionally invested? Or, are they able to surf the emotional tide on a professional, more objective level?

Players are just as emotionally invested, if not moreso, at the time of the game. They just move on more quickly than the fans, win or lose, because they have to.

Dan from Long Beach, CA

Insiders, I tuned in to Saints/Chargers highlights for feel-good John Kuhn memories, but left feeling terrible for Chargers fans. Have you ever seen a team lose in heartbreaking fashion with such consistency? If just one play had gone differently in each of their losses, they'd be 4-0.

Welcome to the NFL. It's why we watch.

Marty from Cuenca, Ecuador

Hey guys, Vic had an interesting comment the other day regarding the Steelers' run game and pulling O-linemen. He suggested that defenses have gotten better at sussing out zone-blocking schemes, forcing offenses to get their O-linemen out in space more. Do you see this as a trend? Have you noticed the Packers employing these kinds of changes?

The Packers have been pulling linemen and calling power-type runs here and there for the last few years now. I don't know the mix ratio, but the Packers haven't been a pure zone-blocking team for a while. That's quite the word, sussing. I need to use it more.

Neil from Thunder Bay, Canada

Hey Spoff, I was just watching the Rangers/Devils hockey game and it reminded of the Seinfeld episode when Puddy went to the playoff game in the Devils paint. He'd make a good Packers fan.

Puddy would be not nearly winsome enough for Vic. Just to close the loop on last Saturday's column, after receiving nearly a dozen highly qualified suggestions for the fourth Mount Rushmore episode of Seinfeld, I'm going with "The Marine Biologist." Thanks to everyone for all the laughs.

Andrew from Huxley, IA

Hi, Mike. Do you take the time to read what other writers/sites are writing about the Packers? I find that there is little overlap between different sites. Is this intentional?

I read a lot of coverage from the other beat writers I see around here every day. While some stories are naturally covered by everyone, it's always our goal to try to provide something different along the way. That's been a goal of mine since I got here in 2006, and I hope we've succeeded more often than not.

Bill from Manitowoc, WI

Three games into the season is not a great sample size, but given the play to this point what is your impression of this 2016 version of the Packers?

They have an offense that is just starting to find itself and could really hit its stride this month. They also have established a foundation on defense up front that should serve them well. A major challenge will be dealing with the injuries that will inevitably crop up during a stretch of 13 games without a week off.

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