Skip to main content
Powered by

There are no overnight solutions in the NFL

Packers' overlooked run defense epitomizes beauty of football


Nate from Highlands Ranch, CO

Guys, there are plenty of things to point the finger at when the offense struggles like it has. Us fans love to blame things like play-calling or personnel because we think we understand those things to be correctable. I think it just comes down to execution as many of the players have stated, BUT, how then do you coach for better execution? It seems the guys need a fire lit under them.

I never got the feeling this summer that the Packers didn't have a fire lit under them. They know what's on the line. You're talking about a team that's exited the playoffs in heartbreaking fashion in each of the past two seasons. The need for playmaking is obvious, but Sunday night was a prime example of what Mike McCarthy was talking about regarding the importance of fundamentals. For all its issues against the Vikings, Green Bay could have won this game if it holds onto the football.

Nick from Lake Mills, WI

Would you rather look slow and sluggish to start the first few games and have everyone healthy, or start fast and be undefeated, only to not look sharp come December? The Packers have 14 more games to get into a groove. The Xmas eve game will still decide the North.

You obviously don't want to start slow, but you make a good point about the importance of peaking in December rather than September. That's what Mike McCarthy is emphasizing with his approach this year. It's about setting a vision for how you want to play and working toward that goal. Are they there yet? No, but the 2016 season has just started. Everyone wants immediate answers, but there are no overnight solutions in the NFL.

John from Deerfield, IL

Stefon Diggs accounts for nearly two-thirds of the Viking offense. I think a healthy Sam Shields cuts that production down at least to some extent, and would tilt the game in our favor. Do you agree?

Agreed. Dom Capers was right last year when he said the Packers are a different defense with Sam Shields on the field. He not only can match any receiver in the NFL, but also doesn't require over-the-top help from a safety very often. If the receiver gets behind him, his recovery speed helps him catch back up to the play. Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins have bright futures, but it's a tall task taking the field without No. 37. I implore those who are down on the second-year cornerbacks to remember how long it took for Shields to blossom into a legitimate starter in this defense.

Pat from West Bend, WI

How much of the offense's sluggish start do you think is a direct result of the starters not playing in preseason games? Practice is one thing, but real game situations is another and many starters missed out on that by not playing in the preseason.

I'll say 1.2 percent. It's just not worth risking a veteran for the sake of getting a few in-game reps. What's the reward? What can be gained in a preseason game that you can't get from practice each day? If he stays healthy, Rodgers is going to get 500-plus attempts throughout the course of the season. What's the use of another 10 or 15 meaningless throws for a 12th-year quarterback? It's a convenient argument.

Steve from St. Joseph, IL

Aaron Rodgers is a smart runner and usually always gains yards when he does but doesn't run enough. How come?

Running is risky. Quarterbacks have to pick their spots with 220-pound safeties converging at full speed. There's also the risk of a fumble since they're not natural ball-carriers. Running always has been a tool in Rodgers' arsenal, but he's never going to be Michael Vick.

Maggie from Kenosha, WI

Insiders, what's your take on the TE situation? Cook is designed to be explosive, but I don't want to get away from Richard Rodgers, either. He seems to have some of the steadiest hands on the team, and he tied for most touchdowns last season. What do you think?

Cook is the more explosive option and I've been impressed by his blocking ability so far. Richard Rodgers looks improved after overhauling his diet this offseason in an effort to increase his speed and quickness. He still has a ways to go as a blocker, but I've never doubted his hands. He only has three catches for 47 yards in two games, but they've all been dandies. I expect the Packers to function much better in their two tight-end packages over the course of the season.

John from Denton, TX

Insiders, do you feel like Aaron is trying to win the game on technicalities rather than making plays? It feels like he is so caught up in trying to outsmart his opponents that he's forgetting he won a ring by being the better player.

I don't feel that way. Rodgers is holding onto the football, keeping his eyes downfield and looking for something to develop. That's always been his game. I'm stating the obvious, but the chances of a penalty flag getting thrown increase in lockstep with how long a play lasts. So I think your initial question is just a byproduct of everything. Also, he won a Super Bowl by being a pretty smart player, too.

Jacob from Houston, TX

If there's one positive to take away from the first two weeks, doesn't it have to be the run defense?

That's really the beautiful thing about football. I don't know how many questions and comments we got into the Inbox this past month inquiring about whether the Packers will bring in a veteran defensive lineman. That group certainly has held up its end of the bargain so far with Mike Daniels developing into an absolute stud. He was unblockable against the Vikings. The young inside linebackers have been fast and decisive, as well. It's a good start with Mike Pennel missing the first four games.

Brenda from Maryland Heights, MO

Down 10-7, offense obviously struggling, why not kick the field goal? That cost us the game.

I'm not much of a gambler, so I likely would've sent Mason Crosby out for the chip shot with the struggles the offense has had deep inside the red zone. At the same time, I haven't received any job offers from NFL general managers lately. All writers and Monday morning quarterbacks have the luxury of hindsight. If the Packers score a touchdown on that series, we're talking about how bold McCarthy was to stick with his offense. He liked how things were developing for the offense on the series. Right or wrong, that's why he tried it.

Evan from Rochester, NY

At the risk of sounding like an armchair coach, I think our offense is relying too much on the big play. Where are the dink and dunk passes that earn the deep shots? Our run game hasn't been terrible so that helps. But we should walk before we run.

There's something to be said for safe and steady, but you need a few deep connections to keep defenses honest. That's what the Packers did so well in 2011 and 2012 when defensive coordinators were regularly keeping two safeties back. As basic as it sounds, everything comes down to first downs for the Packers. This offense seems to live off of momentum. When it's not there, it throws everything off.

Mark from Madison, WI

Why does it seem that the Packers play their corners with a 5-yard cushion? Opponent receivers almost always have room to run after the catch. The Packer receivers are covered like white on rice.

It really depends on what coverage you're in. The Packers typically are a press-man team, but Capers will drop into zone if an offense is facing third-and-long to protect the first down. The Packers' pass-rush call also will affect what coverage the cornerbacks are playing, too. Outside of that, it's difficult to get a gauge on what Green Bay is thinking on a down-by-down basis.

The Packers faced the Vikings in a Week 2 showdown at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday Night Football. Photos by Evan Siegle,

Brendan from Tokyo, Japan

Oh, no! Aaron Rodgers' streak of games without a 100-passer rating has reached 14, including playoffs. Is there anything meaningful to this statement, or is it just something to talk about until next Sunday?

It's probably a little of both. Passer rating usually is a good reflection of tempo and efficiency, which is an area the Packers' offense has struggled with lately. Rodgers has set such a high precedent for his playstyle that we've all grown accustomed to seeing him pick apart defenses. When it doesn't happen, all the pundits automatically pull out their stats-and-info packet. It's definitely noteworthy that it's spanned 14 games, but numbers are what you make them.

Ron from Waukesha, WI

Guys, it looks like Rodgers is continuing his decline that started last year. I say trade him, maybe get a second-round pick and start Hundley. Or is it too late for this year?

One week after Rodgers makes a throw no other NFL quarterback can make on the 29-yard touchdown to Davante Adams and now we're trading a future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback in the prime of his career for a second-round pick? I'd take that deal if I'm any of the other 31 teams in the NFL.

Cindy from Los Angeles, CA

Hey guys, how concerning is Letroy Guion's injury with Mike Pennel still serving his suspension?

It certainly doesn't help matters, but the run defense has been the most consistent facet of the Packers' defense so far. Mike Daniels is on a mission and Kenny Clark looked the part in relief of Guion. If Guion misses any time, Datone Jones, Christian Ringo and rookie Dean Lowry probably will have to assume bigger roles on the defensive front. It would be a challenge, but not a deal-breaker.

Jesse from Waukesha, WI

Although that final drive ended the game, I can't stop thinking of how fast and powerful Martinez drove through the line. I think the Packers picked up a very special player.

I like the direction the Packers went with their inside linebackers. Jake Ryan, Joe Thomas and Martinez will have their rookie moments, but Green Bay just seems so much faster at that position than it was two or three years ago. We often focus a lot on the line when it comes to run defense, but inside linebackers play a pivotal role in stopping backs.

Justin from Athens, GA

I don't recall seeing Lacy in the fourth, or at least shortly after his 12-yard gain. Everything OK?

I think everything is OK with Lacy. McCarthy talked at length on Monday about needing to get him more carries. The Packers will use either Lacy or Starks in two-minute situations, but my guess is they wanted to stick with Starks given how often they were taking to the air during the comeback. It's hard to blame them given how successful Starks was in those situations last year.

Carl from Hayward, WI

Do you think the Packers under-use Eddie Lacy? Throughout his career, including 2015 and the early part of this season, he has averaged over four yards a carry. Why don't the Packers utilize him more, especially in short-yardage situations? In a game like Sunday night's, where Rodgers was struggling and facing constant pressure, why not rely on the run?

It sounds like McCarthy agrees with you based on his comments Monday. The Packers want to get Lacy and Starks more involved in the offense, but it's an interesting plight they face. It's only natural to keep passing the ball when you want to get Rodgers and the receivers into a rhythm. It really comes down to finding the right balance, having success on first down and creating manageable down-and-distance.

Ted from Bruce, WI

How can Bradford come in, with barely a week of practice, and tear the Packers to pieces and A-Rod who has been here for years can't do anything? Is it play design? Play-calling? Or is A-Rod on the downside of his career?

I love how everyone keeps acting like Bradford is an undrafted rookie from William & Mary. The guy can play when he's healthy. The Packers hit him 10 times and he still stood tall in the pocket. That's a credit to him, but I don't see how it relates to what's going on with the Packers and Rodgers. Different teams, different personnel, different situations.

Matt from Mundelein, IL

Can we please see more Ty Montgomery? He can provide the explosive plays the Pack needs and I would much rather see him lined up in the backfield than Cobb, as he is built more like a running back. Too much talent to sitting on the sidelines.

The Packers have packages drawn up for Montgomery, but it's not exactly easy to get on the field when you're backing up Randall Cobb. Give it time. I think you'll see Montgomery get opportunities throughout the course of the year.

Christopher from Winston Salem, NC

How many times should a DB get burnt before he's replaced? If Lacy fumbles twice he's done for the day.

Five times. I believe you're allowed a sixth burn if the game goes to overtime, though.

Paul from Manitowoc, WI

It's fantasy football Vic, that's why people just can't watch the game. Yesterday my 13-year-old son wanted Crosby to score all of the points because he's on his fantasy team and Eric Decker "went off" on him. He'd root for Cutler if he had him, and could get him 20 points. And he's a Packer fan.

Tell your son I feel his pain. Eric Decker "went off" on me, too.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.