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They've had extra time to think about it

There's a subtle but significant flaw in the current replay system


Bob from Rossford, OH

Biff and Spoff, forget the tweaked hamstrings, the stingers and the concussed. I am concerned about you two. With the plot twists of the season, the hot-cold (perceived) play, what are you two doing to avoid the injury bug? Carpal tunnel. Paper cuts. Writers' cramps. All painful injuries known to take out even the best writers. Who is the next reporter up?

Help is not on the way. That's why I play racquetball twice a week. If I can take that kind of abuse from my friends, I know I can handle this. But thanks for your concern.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Mike, do you think the fact that Aaron Rodgers has never beaten the Bengals adds extra motivation or is this something he hasn't noticed and doesn't pay attention to?

I don't think it adds any extra motivation, but I'm sure he'd like to chalk the last one off his list, and I'm virtually certain he's aware of it. Four years ago before the Bengals game, I wrote my "One Last Look" column on Cincinnati being one of four teams (at the time) Rodgers hadn't beaten. After the usual media session at Rodgers' locker that week, the subject didn't come up (which I was happy about, because then I knew no one else was writing the same piece I was), so I asked him in passing when I saw him later if he knew the four teams he hadn't beaten. He had to stop and think briefly, but it took him all of 10 seconds to name them.

Dale from Kettering, OH

Dalton seems to be having trouble getting the ball past the front seven – a lot of batted balls and near-misses. What will Cincinnati do to try to get the Packers' hands down? What will the Packers do to counter?

If what you say is true, the offensive linemen might be coached to stay engaged, even if a pass rusher is backing off. A fully engaged rusher will have a hard time getting a hand in the passing lane, even if it's free. The response is to use the blocker's aggressiveness to get him off-balance.

David from Philadelphia, PA

Anything can happen, but there is no reason the Packers/fans should be in a position to worry about losing to a struggling Bengals team coming to Lambeau with a new offensive coordinator. The team hasn't even scored a TD. Yet, here we are.

Never underestimate a motivated professional athlete. The Bengals got rid of a high-level coach. The players know they could be next, and they've had extra time to think about it.

Daryl from St. Louis, IL

Do you think King will see more action against A.J. this weekend?

I don't see why not.

Mohammed from Teaneck, NJ

I observed during Sunday's game that Rodgers went to Bennett numerous times, and because they were out of sync, it caused drives to stall. Give them a few games to get clicking and they will be a force to reckon with.

It took Cook until Week 3 last year to look fully comfortable with Rodgers and the offense, and then he unfortunately got hurt. I'm willing to be patient.

Grant from West Allis, WI

Guys, I'm not a "fire everyone" fan, but I don't get the positivity. The Packers are injured (as usual), the defense doesn't look much improved and the quarterback needs to shoulder the load of all the shortcomings (as usual). We've seen how this script ends. And it doesn't end in February.

The Packers lost, on the road, to the team that is clearly the best in the NFC right now, if not the entire league. They can see the gap that must be closed. Let's see if they can close it. Yes, none of the last six seasons has ended in February, but scripts that end short of the ultimate aren't all the same. At least not to me. No one reads the same book over and over again if they don't like the ending, yet you're still paying attention.

David from Marana, AZ

I think we can run the table :-)

Now that's a book I would read again.

Darren from Kingston, Ontario

The fumble-TD got me thinking. Are we one or two years from using GPS or similar technology to determine the location of the football at all times? Such technology would have been able to unequivocally determine whether or not that was a forward pass, allowing the correct call to be made. The referees have an incredibly demanding job to do, yet in 2017 the technology exists to aid them in making the right calls.

I wouldn't rule it out. It's probably a question of when, not if.

Steven from Montclair, NJ

The commentators for Sunday night's game brought up an interesting point. Since the referees tend to let a potential fumble play out, instead of blowing it dead, it lends an advantage to the defense because it requires a challenge to overturn. Without clear evidence, the play will stand as called. Do you see an unfair advantage there?

Yes. I think it's a subtle but significant flaw in the current replay system given the now automatic review of turnovers (a good rule, in my view). It sounds great in theory to let it play out while believing the replay system will fix it if it's wrong. But the call on the field continues to carry excessive weight, with the language of the replay rule still requiring "indisputable video evidence" for a reversal. As I said on "Unscripted," if the officials are predisposed to let plays like that go, why should the call on the field have the import it does? It can skew the final judgment. I think the video of Rodgers' throw showed the ball most likely went forward a couple of inches from his release point, but it wasn't conclusive, therefore the call on the field "stands." It doesn't smell right. If a play is being reviewed, why not make the best ruling based on the video, regardless of the original call? With all the angles available these days, there's no way an official on the field sees a close call better than the current technology, which wasn't as extensive when the replay rules were originally written. OK, sorry for the mini-lecture, but thanks for indulging me.

Joe from Milwaukee, WI

Allowing the defense to play on is giving them one card in a deck that is already stacked against them, and I am predicting that the Green Bay defense will benefit from this down the road with some big splash play.

Duly noted.

Derek from Olney, IL

I admit that I am one of the people looking at T.J. Watt thinking that should've been our pick. But that "am" turned into a "was" on Sunday night. I was very impressed with the way Kevin King played. Great coverage, pass breakups, and a high percentage of finishing his tackles. I think we got what we needed with King. Excited to watch him keep growing.

**Me, too.**And I'm also excited to see what Vince Biegel might bring to the table in the season's second half.

Dan from Milwaukee, WI

I wonder why no one seems to be complaining that we passed on David Njoku, Reuben Foster, or Ryan Ramczyk.

The draft is as much a crapshoot as the playoffs. No one will ever convince me otherwise. That's why "when in doubt, get more picks" is never a bad strategy.

Keith from San Antonio, TX

Adding to what Jerry asked, I went to the Jaguars-Falcons preseason game, in which the stadium was far less full of fans than it was Monday. At halftime I went to buy food and drink and it took around 45 minutes. As I was watching Monday, I was chuckling, thinking, all the fans are still stuck in line!

They want to take advantage of the cheap concessions, a nice gesture by the Falcons as they recoup stadium costs with their new ticket prices. I got tickets for friends that were three rows from the roof in the corner of the end zone, and the face value was higher than my wife's bowl seats on the 25-yard line at Lambeau.

Chris from Eau Claire, WI

Before the season started, I expected the Packers to start 0-2, but was still expecting them to see the playoffs. With Seattle and Atlanta games finished, who are the toughest teams left on the schedule?

The other day I mentioned the upcoming back-to-back road games at Dallas and Minnesota. But it's really shaping up to be quite a gauntlet for the Packers after Thanksgiving. Five of the final six are Steelers, Bucs, Panthers, Vikings and Lions. The Packers will have to earn everything they get this year. But now I'm breaking my own rule. Just beat the Bengals.

Mike from Superior, WI

Did you say Mike Diesel? Maybe my eyes are failing or it truly is too early in the morning for you. Just kidding! Have a great day!

Best nickname in the Packers' locker room.

Jay from Arlington Heights, IL

Last year the Packers got absolutely demolished by Dallas at home in Week 6, and went on to beat them on the road in the playoffs. I hate to argue with 12, but I think come season's end the Packers can beat anyone, anywhere, if the young players continue to grow.

A truly enjoyable aspect of covering McCarthy's teams is he gets them to play their best football late in the season, which always gives them a shot. The only times I haven't felt that way were in 2008, when the defense was falling apart, and when late-season injuries to key personnel have required major adjustments, like in 2015. The Packers are never the same team in December that they are in September, and it's almost always for the better.

Scott from Hamlin, NY

What do we say about a healthy Randall and Rollins now? "Excuses are tools of the incompetent which create monuments of nothingness."

Everyone expected more Sunday night, themselves included, but I'm not giving up on them two games into the season, if that's what you're asking.

Darrell from Goldsboro, NC

What do you guys think of the embarrassing call by the officials, when Aaron Rodgers had 12 men on the field? Thought the refs did everything to "hamstring" the Packers.

There's no reason for an officiating crew to get caught off-guard by that in a Green Bay game.

Paul from Channing, MI

Hi. I don't remember hearing Ha Ha's name. Was he in the mix, and did he make a difference? Just wondering what you saw?

The Packers kept Clinton-Dix back as a single-high safety much of the night, out of respect for Atlanta's running game. As a counter, the Falcons like to run routes that cross deep downfield, making the single safety choose where to help and giving Ryan an easy read. You could see on those plays the impact of losing Daniels, because deep crossers need time to develop, and a consistent push inside gets the QB off the spot and prevents him from setting his feet.

Todd from Rochester, NY

I'm gonna say it, I think Mike Daniels has replaced Clay Matthews as the most important player on defense.

This was sent in before Sunday's game, and in the haze of minimal sleep, I forgot to include it in Monday's Inbox. You may be right.

Josh from Pullman, WA

We really missed Mike D. on Sunday, and with the release of RJF our D-line is super thin. Is Adams practicing yet? We could really use his pass rush up the middle, especially since Lowry's improvement is wiped out by his ankle injury.

I wouldn't say Lowry's improvement is wiped out, but missing time will always slow progress with younger players. Adams has been practicing on a limited basis. We'll keep an eye on the injury report to see when he gets upgraded to full participant.

Jake from Lake Grove, NY

What have you seen from Kenny Clark? It seems he has been fairly quiet, and with Mike Daniels potentially not able to play this Sunday, I believe we will be needing more of him.

Clark wasn't as impactful as in Week 1, but Atlanta's interior front, centered by a top-flight veteran in Alex Mack, is much tougher than Seattle's. If Daniels has to sit out, Clark will need to win when he's single-blocked and command a double-team to help his teammates. He was drafted in the first round to be that type of player.

Bigglesnort from Albuquerque, NM

Bennett penalty: That wasn't a pick, it was a scratch!

Nicely done.

Gary from Wrightwood, CA

With the emphasis this year on refs "watching out" for pick plays, what do think the chances are that defenses are being coached to look out for opportunities to run into offensive players creating a pick penalty? I personally don't like the idea of annual penalty emphasis because of the advantages it creates.

Sounds like a risky defensive strategy to me, but you're not the only conspiracy theorist I heard from in the Inbox.

Dennis from Rhinelander, WI

In regards to the "pick-play penalty," I believe it was a back judge who threw the flag. Being a referee myself, so many times it's about the angle that you have which will result in a call or no call.

Of course it is, and when the rule allows contact within a yard of the line of scrimmage, the back judge shouldn't be allowed to make that call, because he has no angle to verify a violation. No way anyone but a side judge should be making that call.

John from Sun Prairie, WI

One more question about Atlanta, and then we're on to Cincinnati. Is McCarthy planning on sending in tape of the pick play to the NFL for explanation/review?

Without a doubt. But we won't hear the league's response from McCarthy, because that's not the coach's way, and by respecting the process he keeps that line of communication open with the league.

Ingrid from Superior, WI

I read an article that Elliott has been released from the Cowboys. It also said the Packers would lose the conditional draft pick the Cowboys gave them for Elliott. So we didn't get anything for him? Please explain, thanks.

The conditions of such a trade usually require the traded player to play in a certain number of games for his new team. If he doesn't, no conditional draft pick.

Richard from Madison, WI

"They're just hapless rants, so you get nothing. You lose! Good day, sir!" You've been wanting to do that for a while, haven't you?

Only Wes would blast somebody with a reference that addresses his target as "sir."

Josh from Ozark, MO

Wes, Willy Wonka, really? OK, "The suspense is terrible, I hope it lasts." That's football for me. I can feel my blood pressure spike during pivotal moments, I scream like an idiot at the TV, and I can't wait for next week to do it again. And my greatest hope is that I get to be a nervous wreck come February. The ups and downs are why we watch, why we care. If it were too easy, it wouldn't be as much fun.


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