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This one's about the Packers

Home games are always vital


Andrew from West Allis, WI

Sorry to hear about Perry's hand, but I'm super-excited to see the cast-petting celebration as soon as he's cleared to play. What's your favorite player celebration and who did it?

Billy "White Shoes" Johnson with the funky chicken dance, followed by the splits and the behind-the-back fake throw. You can't beat it.

Daniel from Copenhagen, Denmark

It seems like the Inbox is still lingering on the Atlanta game. Let's really get on to Cincinnati. What is the key to winning this game? Is it just containing A.J. Green or is it something more?

It's the Packers playing like the Packers. This game isn't about the Bengals, it's about the Packers. That means containing the run, winning the turnover battle, and making more big plays than the opponent. That's McCarthy football.

Corey from Mooresville, NC

I know the Bengals offense hasn't been clicking as of late and with the new offensive coordinator. Do you see them trying to run the ball more against the Packers?

Yes. I've had that feeling all week, and McCarthy confirmed it on Thursday. There's no better way to rebuild a foundation for a struggling quarterback than to give him a running game, and the Bengals have three backs they can turn to.

Amanda from Villa Rica, GA

Every week I find myself getting more and more excited for game day as the days go by. This week is no exception. Now I know that it's only Week 3 and we play our best football in December, but how important is a win against the Bengals?

Very. As Rodgers said last week, and I agree with him, the path to a possible first-round bye and home field is to win all your home games and split on the road. That's a 12-4 mark and you let the chips fall. Every home game you lose gives you another one you have to make up on the road, which is difficult. When the Packers lost two of their first five at home last year, to the Cowboys and Colts, they were behind the 8-ball the rest of the way.

Mike from Middleton, WI

Upton Sinclair once quoted, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." Readers' questions often ask about the poor defense, year after year, (bailed out by the play of Aaron) yet you "guys" toe the company line. Are you at liberty to ever critique/question the Packer brass, or is your job dependent on not understanding the question?

Appreciate the insult. I'd like to think I provide a dose of realism the "fire everyone, bench everyone, cut everyone" crowd doesn't care to see. To address the here and now, personnel departments and coaches spend all spring and summer building their teams. That is the time for change. The Packers drafted King, Jones, Adams and Biegel. They brought in House, Brooks, Dial and Jean Francois. That's more change around here than normal, a reflection of how last season ended. But once the games start, you play with the hand you've got, and a draft-and-develop team will always count on growing and improving as a season progresses. You can't bail on your process two games in. As for the past, I've also tried to temper what I believe is a slightly unfair narrative about the defense being solely responsible for this team's annual postseason demise. The group on the field in the 2013 playoffs was a MASH unit. The 2014 defense intercepted four passes and kept Seattle out of the end zone for nearly 58 minutes, but the other two phases of the team let them down much of the day. In the 2015 playoffs, without the Hail Mary, everyone would have railed about how the injury-ravaged offense only put up a Rodgers-postseason-low 13 points in Arizona. I'm aware my thoughts aren't the whole story, but neither are those from readers who continually ask the questions you're referring to. It's about actually seeing the full picture. Alas, I digress. If you feel counterbalancing reactionary rants with reality-based perspective makes me an ignorant apologist, then why do you feign interest in what I have to say?

Don from Superior, WI

The Packers have proven that no matter what they do the rest of the season they are not able to beat the Falcons. They just don't have the talent on this roster to do it. We would need Matt Ryan and Julio Jones to have season-ending injuries and I don't want to sit around hoping for that. Can you tell me why I should watch when I know the Packers are going to fall just short of where they want to be again?


Sean from DeSoto, TX

I find it interesting that after losing several straight games to the Seahawks in the early-mid 2010s culminating in that loss in the 2014 NFC title game. Since then, the Packers have not lost to the Seahawks.

They've played them at home every time since then. The home team in Packers-Seahawks has won seven straight and 12 of the last 13 in the series. The home team in Packers-Falcons has won five straight. Yet people don't like to hear Rodgers talk about the importance of getting those teams at Lambeau.

Kevin from Bridgeton, NJ

I think everyone was a little skeptical with Montgomery being our full-time back before the season, however what's most impressed me is his physicality. I don't recall this trait last year as a runner, do you? Did he do any specialized training this year to get tougher, bigger and stronger?

We've written several stories detailing Montgomery's offseason work, but I think we started to see the physicality you mention in the games at Chicago and Dallas down the stretch last year.

Todd from Wauwatosa, WI

Do you think it's a coincidence that Bengals at Packers was scheduled this close to the 25th anniversary of Favre to Taylor?

Probably, but if CBS gives us a guest booth appearance by Kitrick Taylor on Sunday, I might be persuaded to think otherwise.

John from Mt. Prospect, IL

With Perry out, has Chris Odom practiced enough with the team to be on the active roster for Sunday's game?

Odom has been on the 46 each of the first two games, but he didn't play at all last week. Maybe we'll see him start rotating in some.

Joel from Omaha, NE

I miss Eddie Lacy. Yes, I miss having a power back, but really I miss Eddie as a member of the team. I wish things would've turned out differently.

He's missed in the locker room as well, and I always enjoyed interviewing him, but that's the nature of this business. I thought the national story this week about the vitriol he receives from fans was a sad commentary on our society in general and sports fans in particular, but what I don't understand is why he doesn't just cut himself off from social media. It's a tad hypocritical to be quoted saying things like "control what you can control" but then complain about all the social media hate. It's not worth it.

Benjamin from Burlington, VT

Important pretzel question: beer cheese or spicy brown mustard?

Gimme the cheese, any kind of cheese, and not just because Wes hates cheese.

Jamie from Brooklyn, NY

"Large humans on the outside" is my favorite of the week.

I can't count how many Rodgers media sessions I've listened to, but I don't recall him ever describing defensive ends that way. Here's to keeping it fresh.

Kurt from Jackson, WI

I'm a firm believer in men treated as men. Kaepernick is a man who has stood for what he thinks and feels about America. The 32 owners have stood for what they think and feel about having him on their team. What is wrong with that? Actions have consequences.

It is indeed a free country.

Matt from Madison, WI

It's been fun watching Kevin King get better and I believe he does deserve more playing time because of that. He made a comment the other day that rubbed me wrong when he said, "I didn't come here to sit on the bench, so..." You were drafted (you didn't come here on your own volition) and you'll play when coaches think you're ready to play. It was a very un-Packer thing to say. Have you ever had a moment like that when interviewing players?

Sure, but I take no exception to a comment like that. This is a cut-throat business with millions on the line for players. If they're out to prove they can play, my only reaction is, good.

Joe from Bloomington, IN

Speaking of rules flaws, the distinction between the 5- and 15-yard penalty for roughing the punter is insane. Why wouldn't Zook coach his players to go all out for the block if it's longer than about fourth-and-7, but teaching them to do it the "right" way?

As I said with the pick-play conspiracy theorists, it sounds like an awfully risky strategy to put your fate in the hands of an official's judgment when you don't have to.

William from Fork Union, VA

Do you see a true leader on our defense with so many different formations?

I believe the on-field leaders in terms of communication right now are Burnett and Clinton-Dix.

John from Jefferson, WI

Insiders, do we (collectively) really want a game devoid of referees, controlled by silicon, bits, and bytes? I understand the allure, but this may very well be a case of "be careful what you wish for." I, for one, would really prefer not to eliminate the human element that referees provide. I believe for every heartbreak of a missed call, that specific ball bounces my way enough to even the scales. It adds to the mystique of the game. Furthermore, I can look at the MLB and say I personally don't care for how technology has changed that game.

Several readers interpreted my replay take as a desire to eliminate the human element and maximize technology in the game. That was not my point. I would not mind in the slightest going back to the games I watched as a kid, with fewer camera angles, blurry not-so-super slo-mo, and controversial calls that gave the game the mystique you mention. But we're past the point of no return with the technology as it's presented to the TV viewer, which makes it a tremendous contradiction to not use said technology to have the rulings and results match up as correctly as possible to what everyone sees.

Garrett from Sioux Center, IA

Sign a guy, only play a week, release him, sign him two weeks later. Is that just a smidge of the behind-the-scenes chaos in Mr. Thompson's world?

All part of the gig.

Greg from Riverside, OH

Mike, now that he's back with the Packers, I've got to ask about something that's been bugging me (well, a little). I've seen him referred to as "Ricky Jean" and also as "Jean Francois," as in a hyphenated surname. Which is it?

Both. His last name is Jean Francois. Ricky Jean is a nickname.

Rex from Dillsboro, IN

At what point in the fourth quarter does the game clock stop when an offensive player steps out of bounds on his own?

Five minutes left or less. In the second quarter, it's only the final two minutes. Otherwise, the clock stops initially when the player goes out of bounds but restarts once the ball is set for play by the officials.

Matt from Verona, WI

I get a kick out of the "players must not be stretching enough" crowd. It's so simple! If only someone could just tell those coaches and trainers to have the players stretch more. Problem solved.

Huh. Never thought of that.

Chad from Tarpon Springs, FL

Should coaching tree be a factor for Hall of Fame induction?

I don't think a lack of one should keep any deserving coach out, but I'm OK with the existence of one boosting a coach's candidacy.

Derrick from Randolph, NJ

I think this year's defense is once again going to be predicated on turnovers more than anything else. Pack got a key turnover vs. Seattle and won. It wasn't there in Atlanta. Capers' D lives and dies by the turnover. With young players it might take a little while to get going, but I hope the turnovers start coming in bunches at the right time. It was a good recipe in 2010 and 2011 and just hasn't been replicated to the same degree. I think we have the guys up front to cause fumbles (Daniels, Matthews, Perry), but who are our ball hawks besides Ha Ha?

Another one must emerge. It would be a huge piece to the puzzle.

Kyle from Jonestown, PA

Do you guys listen to and read other non-Packer analysts' takes (Mike & Mike, Cowherd, Simms)? The consensus view of this team is a very poor roster riding No. 12. Without stating the obvious that this is the team you write for, what is your honest take on this team moving forward?

I know a few of them are currently injured, but I have a hard time believing proven veterans like Nelson, Bakhtiari, Bulaga, Daniels, Matthews, Perry and Clinton-Dix wouldn't be considered significant upgrades on a lot of other teams. If the roster is so bad Rodgers is the only reason the Packers win, those analysts must think Drew Brees, Eli Manning and Philip Rivers absolutely stink right now.

Deb from Camarillo, CA

Did you hear only 56,612 attended the Rams-Redskins game last Sunday at the LA Coliseum (holds 92,000)? Do you think we can turn the Coliseum into "Lambeau West" when we play the Rams in 2018?

That's why I think of the Packers' two LA games coming up the next two seasons, it'll be the one against the Chargers (in 2019 slated for the 30,000-seat soccer stadium) that gets moved to London. The league can sell a lot of tickets putting the Packers in the Coliseum.

Adam from Phoenix, AZ

Are you in favor of the NFL scheduling all its AFC vs. NFC games in the first four weeks of the season? I've heard this suggested before, and I'm starting to see the merit. These first two games were immense for the Packers, and it's like that all over the league. I know that Baltimore opened their season with two division games! With starters playing less and less in the preseason, these first few weeks are the new preseason, in my opinion. It would be better to wait on division and conference games until teams have found themselves.

I see your point, but there's something intriguing about the randomness that's part of the scheduling. The Falcons are playing a third straight NFC North team to open the year, and the Steelers are playing an NFC North opponent for the second consecutive week. How weird is that?

Josh from Denver, CO

So I know it's early in the season, but who should we want to win the Falcons-Lions game? I think it's better for Detroit to win because we get two cracks at beating them for first place.

My thoughts as well.

Mike from Fort Wayne, IN

"Dancing With The Stars" candidate – Elaine Benes or Beast Mode?

Happy Friday, everybody.

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