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Who will be the next to break out?


What's up, everybody? Welcome to the Saturday Insider Inbox. I know, I know, this is weird, but we're going to be doing things a little differently today after a package I received at Lambeau Field this week. Before we get into that, however, I need to take everyone on a trip down memory lane. Think of it as the "Previously on Insider Inbox" scene you might see at the beginning of your favorite TV show. Anyway, we're now going to hop in the Insider Inbox time machine and flash back to Sept. 7-8. Hold onto your hats.

Steve from Tosa, WI (Sept. 8, 2017)

Mike, this is directed at your cohort Wes. "The important thing is to stay calm." Are you kidding me? Who watches football to stay calm? If I want calm, I'll watch golf! Does Aaron Rodgers want calm in Lambeau this Sunday? Was I supposed to be calm during the fourth-and-26? Should I have taken it easy when Bostick blew the onside? Conversely, should I have been even-keel for Raji's pick-six or yawned during Cook's sideline grab? We are fans, Wes. Fans. We don't want no stinking calm. We want excitement! And the lows we feel are directly proportional to the highs we feel! Stay calm. Sheesh!

Somebody needs to put "We don't want no stinking calm" on a T-shirt and send it to Wes. Love the enthusiasm. In Wes's defense, I think he was talking about the postgame reaction to the end result…

Tom from Birmingham, MI (Sept. 10, 2017)

OK, where do I send the T-shirt?

1265 Lombardi Ave., care of Wes Hod.

Lo and behold, I check my mailbox Thursday to see I received a U.S. Postal Service package. In addition to paying the $13.60 postage, Tom printed and packaged three T-shirts and shipped them to Lambeau Field. Incredible. I tip my cap to you, sir. I always knew this community was special, but your continuous efforts and dedication warm my heart. I'll make sure to wear this at least twice a week. Now, let's get on with the show.

Bill from Raleigh, NC

Hi, guys. Yes, I am onto Cincinnati, but I have a question from the Atlanta game. If a QB throws the ball near the line of scrimmage, then replay can be used to determine whether he made a legal forward pass. I don't know if you saw the TV replay of the Atlanta game, but the announcers said, even if Bennett did make an illegal pick he was allowed to make such contact within one yard beyond the line of scrimmage. Further, they showed a new graphic on the play that showed clearly what was one yard from the line of scrimmage and Bennett was not near that line. Could the question of whether he was within one yard of the line of scrimmage have been reviewable?

You can't be on to Cincinnati if you're still in Atlanta. It sounds to me as like you're idling at a truck stop off I-75. Penalties aren't reviewable aside from illegal forward passes and 12 men on the field.

David from Janesville, WI

I was just wondering your opinion on the old stereotype of football players not being the sharpest knife in the drawer. When I watch players like Morgan Burnett or Ha Ha Clinton-Dix react to the offensive formation and realign the defense, or someone like Aaron Rodgers recall the exact sequence of a drive from nine years ago, or any other number of players needing to read and react accordingly, it looks an awful lot like some pretty sharp guys out there. Why the unfair evaluation by some?

I don't know why that misconception is out there. It's a thinking man's game. There have been many times where a player has had all the athletic gifts you could want, but doesn't quite have the mental side of the game down. Players like Rodgers, Clinton-Dix and Burnett succeed because of how they blend physical and mental strengths. That's how greatness happens.

Dom from Manchester, England

Do defenses realize when they are caught offside/have 12 men on the field? If so, why do the corners not intentionally hold our WRs at the line of scrimmage and not allow Rodgers to take a shot?

It depends on the situation. If it's second- or third-and-long, you'd give the offense an automatic first down if you hold the receiver. With how quickly everything happens, it's not easy to react once you're caught offside or with 12 players on the field. You're treading water at that point.

Jake from Loveland, CO

Because of three kids under the age of 6, this year I've given up fantasy football and narrowed all my football watching to Packers games only. So far it's been manageable, however one thing I'm missing is a sense of how our NFC rivals are doing. How do they look two weeks in? What do we need to know?

The Vikings looked good with Sam Bradford at quarterback and not so good without him. The Lions are again off to a fine start with Matthew Stafford running the show. Chicago is in a tough spot. Hardly anything went right for the Bears against Tampa Bay. Mike Glennon took a lot of heat last week, but people need to catch the football, too.

Keith from Bend, OR

The comments shared by Ricky Jean when he returned should be all you need as a Packer fan to know we have it very good here. He has had one offseason and preseason, six snaps, and one release, but was glad to get a chance to come back.

I'd heard in the past about how good Jean Francois is with the media in his previous stops, but I've still have come away impressed with how he conducts himself. He's articulate and sees the big picture. He wasn't bitter about the release – it's just business. The Packers had needs at other positions. That's the way the NFL works sometimes.

See photos of Packers wide receivers during their college careers. Photos by AP.

Ethan from La Crosse, WI

Really nice story on Jean Francois being re-signed so quickly after his release. He spoke about how special it is in Green Bay. Without having covered other teams to know the ins and outs, what makes the difference?

*The biggest differences I hear from the players who have left and returned are the state-of-the-arm facilities and locker-room chemistry. There's also something to be said for never having to deal with traffic on your way to work. *

John from Flanders, NJ

Wes, who was your first interview in the sports world that made you think, "Wow, I'm sitting down with…"? Thanks.

You mean other than Mike Spofford? I'd say ESPN's John Anderson. As a kid, I typically idolized sports media personalities more than athletes. I'm a nerd like that.

Dan from Saint Louis, MO

To those who don't like to hear Rodgers talk about the importance of getting playoff games at Lambeau, consider that the team everyone wants to be, the Patriots, have had 12 of 14 playoff games at home the last eight years (not including neutral-field Super Bowls), while the Packers have had just five of 15 at home during the same time frame. How could this not be a huge reason the Patriots have earned more hardware?

To me, there are three steps towards securing home-field advantage in the playoffs – win your home games, win your division games and grab a couple extra Ws on the road along the way. That's the blueprint. The season isn't over because of the loss in Atlanta. As the Carpenters said, "We've only just begun."

Jeff from Green Bay, WI

I really do appreciate the pragmatic approach to Packers media reporting that the Insider Inbox provides, along with all the supplemental articles and video on the website. This upcoming game reminds me of Week 10 in 2015 when the Lions promoted Jim Bob Cooter to OC at the bye week and unscouted looks gave the Packers a home loss they weren't anticipating. How does this Packers team prevent a repeat of history?

Stop the run, early and often. That limits the play sheet for the Bengals' new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. The more one-dimensional you make Cincinnati, the better.

Liam from Madison, WI

A reader submitted a question yesterday about Capers' living and dying by the turnover, which I agree with. However, the reader followed with, "Who are our ball-hawks, besides Ha Ha?" Ha Ha has always seemed like a solid player to me, but Nick Collins was a ball hawk. Tramon Williams and Charles Woodson were ball hawks. Ha Ha had five INTs last year, I believe two were tipped, and two were horribly overthrown.

Nick Collins had four interceptions through his first three NFL seasons. Clinton-Dix has eight during that span, but keep creating faulty comparisons. Clinton-Dix put himself in the right place to make the big play. That's what playmakers do. How can you fault him for that?

Paul from Park Falls, WI

I reviewed the injury reports for some other teams. Most have anywhere from 4-15 on the list, many with 8-9-plus. Boils down to depth and not excuses. Your thoughts?

Fans get focused on their own team and fail to see the other teams in the league dealing with comparable injury reports. That's football.

Mitch from Bettendorf, IA

Why must people admit defeat before the game is played? Is it so they can make it easier to accept it later?

*Some people love to be miserable. *

Richard from Madison, WI

Can't tell in print, only in audio, but is it Gene Francis or Zhan Franswa? (I was able to figure out the Ricky part on my own).

The latter. From what I've read, Jim Harbaugh is to blame for the confusion. I guess he pronounced it "Gene" constantly.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

I don't know if I read in Insider Inbox or elsewhere that 63 percent of the teams that start 0-2 make the playoffs. Beware of the Bungles becoming the Bengals right in front of our eyes! Do you agree?

While I agree you have to beware of Cincinnati, I think your number might be slightly flawed. I think it's like somewhere between 10-12 percent of teams that start 0-2 make the playoffs.

Jason from Huntington Beach, CA

Insiders, love your work! My question to you is why do you publish these so-called Packer fans' pessimistic comments to the extent of "we aren't good enough" or "we don't have the talent to beat...." or "fire whoever"? Why do you give them the idea that we value those kinds of opinions?

I can't speak for Mike, but I do it because otherwise they complain to us about only taking positive questions and never addressing their concerns.

View photos of Packers fans representing their colors for Green & Gold Friday, a fan engagement initiative aimed to ramp up the energy and enthusiasm of Packers fans as they get ready for every game.

Dan from Saskatoon, Canada

Who do you think is going to have a breakout game against the Bengals? I'm going to say on defense it'll be No. 52; on offense No. 17.

I'll say No. 88 running the ball on offense and No. 55 rushing the passer against his former team.

Evan from Appleton, WI

With temperatures on Sunday near 90 degrees, I would expect the strength and conditioning staff to pull out their "playbook" from last year in Jacksonville. What kind of experience do you think the staff gained from last year's opener?

I don't know about the staff – the trainers know their stuff – but I think the experience was eye-opening to a few players who never played in that kind of heat regularly.

Cody from Eagle River, WI

Recently started reading "Game of Shadows" based on your suggestion awhile back. Got any other recommendations?

"Living on the Black" and "The Yankee Years" are terrific reads if you're a baseball fan.

James from New Richmond, WI

You don't like cheese? I thought we were friends, but I don't know if I can associate with someone who doesn't like cheese. The cheeseheads are coming, Wes, so you better prepare, and pick the correct side.

Hate is a strong word. It's true – I don't eat raw cheese (other than occasionally mozzarella), but I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say I hate it. I still eat melted cheese on burgers, pizza and select types of Mexican food. Does that count?

Chad from Troy, MI

If Eddie Lacy were to be cut, would the Packers take a second look at him? Presumably for less money than he would have cost at the end of last season, would he be in consideration to be added to the backfield, or has the Eddie-in-GB ship sailed?

Covering this team has taught me to never say never. Remember Ryan Grant's return in 2012? At the same time, the Packers dedicated three draft picks to the position this year. I think they need to see what they have behind Ty Montgomery before entertaining any other transactions.

Mike from Stillwater, MN

I don't imagine this will make it into the Inbox but, WOW! What a comment by Spoff yesterday in response to Mike from Middleton. I've been reading this column ever since it started and I've never seen a better answer than that. It was almost better than an Aaron Rodgers Hail Mary!

It was an absolute walk-off. I couldn't have said it better if I tried.

Matt from De Pere, WI

Mike's response to Mike was well done. Are people really holding the defense responsible for Atlanta? Take away the fumble-six and the interception deep in Green Bay territory and the Daniels-less defense held the reigning NFC champs to 20 points on their brand new home turf. Seems like the expectation of some is for the opposition to never score a touchdown.

Bringing everything full circle, I want to recite what I said in the post that led to my new T-shirt collection. Hope springs eternal every Sunday in the NFL regardless of what happened a week ago. When it's all said and done, then you can sit down and sort out what it all meant.

Dick from Los Lunas, NM

Regarding your response to Mike from Middleton, a simple Vic "OK" would have been better.


Rod from Ephrata, PA

It's only Week 3 but should we root for Atlanta or Detroit?

Maybe a tie?

Kimm from Shakopee, MN

Wes, there's a couple of questions I've been meaning to ask lately, but after seeing Mike get railed on by another "fan" yesterday, I felt this comment to be a better fit. Since you run a nice clean site, I will paraphrase a line from the U2 song "Acrobat." "Don't let the 'jerks' grind you down." Have a great weekend!

And it's comment like this that keep me opening my email every day. Enjoy the game.

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