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There's nothing like Lambeau on gamedays

Defense has the pieces to be a championship-caliber unit


Bill from Raleigh, NC

The only bad defense we played against the Giants was against their TEs. They got four catches for 64 yards and dropped a wide-open long reception that might have been a touchdown. We face Jason Witten this week who is a great receiving TE. Was it a matter of the Giants WRs demanding so much attention that we had to leave someone else open, or did we blow the coverages? On one play, it looked like our ILB was cheating towards the line instead of dropping back in coverage. I've heard Prescott is an effective dink-and-dunk passer (and runner). How do we stop Witten, Dez Bryant, and their running game all at the same time?

The Packers probably won't be able to play as much two-shell defense as they did with the Giants since they'll have to defend against Elliott and the run. So it'll be incumbent on the cornerbacks to win their one-on-one matchups and use proper technique when in zone coverage. The Cowboys have a lot of receiving weapons you have to stop. The key to victory is pressuring Prescott, not allowing him to squirm free of the pocket and limiting the downfield production.

Jon from Eden Prairie, MN

I don't think he'll make the mistake of underestimating him, but you have to believe Dom Capers plans on baptizing Dak Prescott in a full array of blitzes that a rookie QB might not be prepared for. Granted, that's only if the Pack stops Ezekiel Elliott consistently.

That's usually been the blueprint for facing a rookie quarterback. As you said, it's going to come down to how well the Packers are able to defend against Elliott and the Cowboys' run game. If Elliott is held in check, I'd expect Capers to throw some new looks at Elliott and really test the rookie.

Itai from Johannesburg, South Africa

I find it interesting that we, Packers fans, are so focused on the relative struggles of the offense. Recent Super Bowl winners have been built on dominant defenses and functional offenses. The fact that we have a two-time MVP winning quarterback puts us in an extremely advantageous position if the defense keeps performing at its current level. While I have hope that the offense will eventually become good, our defense will keep us in games and put us in a situation to make the playoffs. What is your opinion?

The ceiling is really high for this defense. We've talked a lot about the front seven, but I thought Sunday's game really showed you how much talent the Packers have in their secondary. All the pieces are there for this defense be a championship-caliber unit.

Ian from Saint Paul, MN

Mike Daniels has put together over a season's worth of all-pro level play but doesn't seem to get a ton of run in the national media. The only explanation that makes sense is his name. Mike Daniels just doesn't sound very cool. It's up to the Inbox community to think up something good. I've been thinking on it all afternoon and have come up blank. Do you have any suggestions?

I've always liked Mike Diesel, which was his nickname back at Iowa. It sums him up pretty well. I don't know why Daniels doesn't get the national notoriety others receive, but I imagine it has something to do with the nature of his position. He's played a big role in the Packers' run defense so far this season, but it's not easy for defensive tackles in a 3-4 to jump off a stat sheet. Seven tackles and a sack in four games doesn't properly illustrate how valuable he's been to the defense.

Chris from Menomonee Falls, WI

Perhaps it's not so much fantasy football as a whole, but rather the player projections that lead people to expect FULL CONSISTENCY. How can you possibly project a certain point total for players with any degree of accuracy? Similarly, how can you predict the Packers' season entirely with any degree of accuracy? Enjoy the ride.

There is no enjoying the ride, Chris. The Packers need to win every game by 50 and every play must work 100 percent of the time on offense, defense and special teams.

Eric from Madison, WI

First-time writer here, but I frequently read what other questions fans have. I've noticed a trend of panicking about the offense, and I don't understand it! Sunday against the Giants, our offense was everything I wanted. We dominated time of possession, ran effectively, seemed less predictable with play-calling, and our receivers made plays when it counted. I feel like some people expect us to blow out every team, and if we don't put up 28 points or more, there's a question about our play-calling, personnel packages, etc. The other team is paid a similar outrageous amount of money to stop us from doing those things, so why can't we be happy with a competitive game, which still clearly shows we were the superior team? I wanna make mistakes now and learn from them, so we don't make mistakes in Week 16 when it means something.

All great points, but that's just not how a lot of folks operate. They want to be mad about something and the game of football gives you a lot of targets to point fingers at. It was the same thing in 2014 when the Packers were blowing away everyone at home before halftime. The only questions fans were asking me during our online chats was why the defense gave up so many yards?

Jeff from Verona, WI

One game further on, and as you suggest, the narrative evolves. With an outstanding effort from Gunter and Hyde,  notwithstanding some high throws by Manning, it appears we may plugged some back-end concerns. Will this be sustainable come December? Winter is coming...

The secondary's performance definitely bodes well for the remainder of the year. The Packers have a lot of confidence in LaDarius Gunter. They wouldn't have let Casey Hayward walk and not draft a cornerback if they didn't feel comfortable with him being the next man up on the perimeter. He's a big, physical cornerback who isn't afraid to mix it up.

Jim from McLean, VA

I think Jordy has had an astounding comeback so far. I'm not looking for perfection, but were there a couple dropped passes against the Giants that he normally catches?

I think that's why Nelson was disappointed after the game. Those are passes he fully expects to catch. Nelson traditionally is so sure-handed that I wouldn't worry too much about one game. While Nelson might not have had his best game, Randall Cobb really stepped up when the Packers needed him. That's what you want to see.

The Packers practiced in the Don Hutson Center on a rainy Wednesday afternoon in Green Bay. Photos by Evan Siegle,

Bill from Ringle, WI

Insiders, the TV broadcaster commented on the Packers' center making a good "reach block," saying it was hard to do well. Can you expand on this?

You're referring to JC Tretter's reach block on Giants defensive tackle Damon Harrison on a run play that led to a nice gain for Eddie Lacy. In the simplest terms, it just means Tretter is taking on Harrison in a one-on-one situation and needs to quickly get to the outside shoulder of the defender to open the lane for the ball carrier. It's on Tretter to make sure he stays low to get leverage, takes the proper angle and gets the first step on the lineman to open the lane for Lacy.

Tim from Asuncion, Paraguay

Can the Packers bring anybody up from the injured reserve this year?

Yes. The NFL changed the designated-to-return rules this year, so now the Packers have the option of bringing back one player from injured reserve after he's been out for at least eight weeks. They previously had to designate a player the moment he was placed on injured reserve.

Steve from Inverness, IL

After four games our punter is 30th out of 32. And you think he can return to form by working through it? What form? In Kansas City he averaged 45 yards while the opponent averaged 55! The weather hasn't even been a factor yet, just wait until it gets cold. Field position due to poor punting WILL cost us a game. Call it the way it is not the way your employer wants it to be called = journalism.

You're the dude with the most transactions in your fantasy league, aren't you?

Steve from Inverness, IL

P.S. Did you notice where Schum finished last season while punting in Tampa (warm-weather place)? Second to last! And TT picked him over Masthay? As journalists, you have to look into these things and ask why. And then let us know.

Thanks for the reminder that Tampa has a warm-weather climate. I would've been lost without that.

Rick from Los Angeles, CA

On the "scrum play," there was a Packers lineman at the front of the pile, facing toward the Packers' backfield. He grabbed a Giants defender, who was also facing the backfield, around the waist with two hands and pulled him. Is this permitted in a scrum situation? Why wouldn't this be a holding penalty?

It's funny you mentioned that. T.J. Lang was the player you're referring to. He said after the game that he wasn't sure whether that was permitted, but it must have been. It was fairly obvious and no flags were thrown.

Paul from Middleton, WI

What about "Riptide" as a nickname?

I'm kind of partial to "The Big Ripkowski."

Dustin from Eau Claire, WI

This isn't a team-specific question, but could a college football player drop out of college and essentially become a "street" free agent during the season?

No. He'd have to go through either the NFL Draft or supplemental draft.

Deniz from Munich, Germany

Hey Insiders, I will be watching the game vs. the Colts live at Lambeau. Since I'm from Germany and it's my first (and, let's face it, somewhat likely my only) time in Green Bay I wanted to ask for any suggestions about the game and the town. I love your work, keep it up!

That's awesome to hear. As someone who was born and raised in Green Bay, there's nothing like Lambeau Field on gamedays. There are tons of cool things to do near the stadium whether it's the Hall of Fame, 1919 Kitchen and Tap or the Tundra Tailgate Zone. I think it's also fun to just walk around the area. It's an incredibly lively atmosphere that really stands out in an otherwise small community. I hope you have a fantastic time.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Is Mike Pennel a full participant this week?

Yes. He and cornerback Demetri Goodson both practiced on Wednesday. The Packers have the week to determine how they want to proceed with both players.

Mark from Dodgeville, MI

Rodgers' yards per attempt is pushing toward a career low in that category, yet, despite not throwing downfield, he is last in the league in completion percentage at 56.1. With the abundance of high percentage throws creating divots, the deep game non-existent, and this being a trend going back nearly a full season, why does the incessant optimism continue to flow (from this site and elsewhere)? Seems like a duck is a duck and hope is a waking dream, although I hope I am wrong.

Have you noticed some of the quarterback play around the NFL right now? It's a hard position that few have mastered. I understand the impossibly high standards people have set for QB1, but the reality is I'm not going to start panicking about the quarterback play in Green Bay until Rodgers is throwing five interceptions in a game and the Packers are losing by 30. If you're a Packer fan, you're in the game every Sunday. Why is that not good enough?

Gordon from Viroqua, WI

Wes, I agree with Heather, just slow down and breathe. You'll do fine.

Thank you Gordon, though breathing isn't my strong suit.

Kall from Denver, CO

Biff, I noticed the website, Twitter account and other aspects of the teams social media have switched over to the throwback logo and helmet. Will the Packers be donning the throwback uniforms this week against the Cowboys?

That's correct. It'll be throwback weekend here at Lambeau. I'm going to try to get Spoff to agree to wear 1937 reporter attire with me to Sunday's game.

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