Thu, 08 Dec 2022

Inbox: The season depends on it

Packers
23 Nov 2022, 17:12 GMT+10

The Packers are seeing the other side of the coin this yearWes Hodkiewicz

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Mike used the word "perspective" in an answer on Monday. The Lions have four wins as do the Packers. I imagine their fans have a different perspective. What is it other than Happy Thanksgiving that should be on the tip of our tongues?

"Good morning!" But no, it has been interesting reading the clips out of Detroit this week, especially after the announcement that Jameson Williams will start practicing. The Packers gotta get back to it. There's no time to feel sorry for themselves. There's plenty of other hungry teams playing catchup, too.

Nathan from Philadelphia, PA

Good morning, Wes! I am excited to attend my first NFL game in a few days here. Ryan from Santa Claus mentioned last week that the Commanders provided a blueprint for beating the Eagles. I agree they got lucky with some takeaways, but we could learn something from the other part of their gameplan: convert third downs, move the ball, and keep Jalen Hurts off the field. Who needs to step up for the Packers to win that kind of a game? Because I don't see us winning a shootout against these guys.

Everyone. Every player, coach and staffer wearing a "G" has to step up. The Packers didn't lose to Tennessee because of a specific phase, position, or player. They lost because the Titans played football better. Period. If you want to beat the most successful team in the NFL through the first 11 weeks of the regular season, then you have to play complementary football. No ifs, ands or buts. The season depends on it.

Frank from Lake Zurich, IL

OK, "backs against the wall" and "every game is like an elimination game" sounds like where the Packers are at. How does this actually impact preparation or execution as every week one should prepare to win with the right plan and mindset. Do they come out of the tunnel with a greater sense of urgency? Where do you see this desperation specifically impact what we see on the field?

It's not urgency or desperation. It's just acknowledging there is no safety net. It's just you and the tightrope...and your two feet are the only thing getting you to the other side. Nobody else's.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Weird stat: Christian Watson has more TD receptions in the last two games than any other rookie receiver has had all season. With that said, I believe it's best to temper expectations for the young wideout moving forward. There are hopefully more TD catches in Watson in the games ahead, but it will be enough if he simply helps his team get some wins! Let's start with this week at Philadelphia - a good team that has looked vulnerable the last couple weeks.

It's just great to see Watson healthy, stacking success and building momentum after a rough start on the injury front. It's good to keep expectations realistic but Watson looks every bit like the lengthy, fast playmaker we thought he was. We'll see which direction this season goes for Green Bay, but Watson and Romeo Doubs have given the Packers plenty to like about the future of the WR corps.

Bill from Bloomfield Hills, MI

With Jamaal Williams leading the league in TDs, something Aaron Jones has done as well, are they on track to be the best two RBs the Packers ever drafted in the same year, staying with GB or with exits? Even more kudos to the front office considering the rounds those two were picked in. When have we ever drafted two RBs in the same year, or even one period that had six-year careers and counting?

It might be, especially in my lifetime. I'd be interested to hear Spoff's take on this, too.

Byron from Santa Clara, CA

No question. Just a comment. As our season unravels Green Bay may get a chance to do something they haven't done for quite some time. Play spoiler. As fans we've been fortunate it's usually the other way around: Jan. 1 against Minnesota. GB wins, denying Minnesota a first-round bye. Dreaming's free.

We'll see where the chips fall over the next seven weeks. But with all due respect to the Vikings, because they are what their record says they are, I wasn't surprised at what happened Sunday. A talented Cowboys team played angry coming off the loss to Green Bay and that tree was ripe for the picking.

Lee from Sullivan, IN

What does the mini-bye look like for the players? Do they get extra days off? Go to practice but less physical and more mental? Does it change with how the team is doing? I imagine it is hard for the coaches to decide if the team needs to keep pounding through practice or have a couple days away to clear their heads.

The Packers were off this weekend, which I think was important to take a step back and recharge after a three-month gauntlet. As we said from the beginning, that late bye can be an opportunity or an obstacle. Last season, Green Bay survived that gauntlet to the December bye and captured the No. 1 seed. Unfortunately, the Packers are seeing the other side of the coin this year.

Bob from Port Saint Lucie, FL

After years of mediocrity, this was not the year to face both the NFC and AFC East teams. What looked easier this summer has been a group of rising teams all in the playoff race. Who do we get next year that may be turning around?

It really was a perfect storm as far as how the schedule broke down. Not only did the NFC East end up being far better than anyone expected, the Packers also had to face one of the league's most consistent performers, Tennessee, in that 17th game cross-over matchup that still makes no sense to me other than it beats picking an AFC opponent at random. The Packers have to be better than they've been, but the schedule-makers did them no favors.

Dennis from De Pere, WI

Has the green dot changed on defense over the last few weeks?

No, it's been all Quay Walker since De'Vondre Campbell's injury and the rookie keeps getting better.

Sal from Hailey, ID

Hi, Wes. Glad you're not headed for surgery. If you're Joe Barry, what are you emphasizing this week in practice, and what is your mantra for this game? I'm not sure our 11 on defense are playing at a high enough level that we can afford to lose one as a spy but containing Hurts is going to be key.

It's a huge challenge because of all the Eagles' weapons. Hurts is a human highlight, but Philly's offense is so much more than that. A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith are a great one-two punch, while Miles Sanders is an underrated running back. So, the Packers have to be careful spying Hurts too much. It's going to come down to the defensive front playing disciplined, maintaining gap integrity, and minimizing the explosive plays. The Packers can play blow for blow with the Eagles' offense. They have the talent. But they have to execute to do it.

Keith from Truro, Nova Scotia

Hi guys: Let's say the Pack win out from here. Of the following five teams (NYG, SF, Dallas, Wash, Seattle) which one do you think the Pack has the best chance to catch for a wild-card spot based on those teams' remaining schedules? I think the NYG have the toughest schedule.

First and foremost, the Packers need some wins before this even becomes a real conversation. But New York still has yet to face either the Commanders or Eagles. Throw in matchups with Dallas and Minnesota, the Giants have their work cut out for them down the stretch. San Francisco has a very interesting schedule but plays at home in five of the last seven weeks.

Mike from Tampa, FL

Guys, this has been a tough season and we all agree that we're success-spoiled. But we still love our Packers. My question is regarding Aaron Rodgers' accuracy. I think he has looked a little off all season and was wondering if you have noticed the same thing. In fairness to him, Rodgers' excellence and our expectations of his play are off the charts, but he just doesn't seem to be himself this season. Thoughts?

Rodgers admittedly has missed a few throws he usually makes but he's still completing passes at a higher clip than he did during his first year in LaFleur's offense in 2019. What's missing is the downfield opportunities. Rodgers' yards per pass attempt is under seven for the first time since 2015. To me, that's the canary in the coalmine for the offense because it measures efficiency and explosive passing plays.

Kevin from Savage, MN

When both the Badgers and Packers are underperforming expectations, it can make for a long football season. Thankfully, the win over Nebraska got Bucky bowl-eligible, even if it's the Lucky Charms Bowl vs. East Podunk State. It keeps a 20-year stretch of playing in bowls intact. Do you give any value to such streaks? Is there any value to a rare clunker of a year? Breaking the streak, but maybe resetting things for a better future? Thoughts appreciated. GPG!

Considering the state of Wisconsin football before Barry Alvarez's arrival, I don't think you can ever take such streaks for granted. Is there value in an occasional clunker? Perhaps. Losing is humbling and it can trigger a reset, but every season is a journey in itself.

Nik from Moore, SC

Tough to imagine a multi-billion-dollar industry can't afford 15 people to watch each game from NY and review plays. Is this too much of a "no brainer" for the league to implement?

The league has dragged its feet for decades on officiating - from the lockouts to fighting against full-time referees. I feel like we're now so far behind in terms of officiating the game at the level to which it's evolved. It is what it is, though.

Joe from Las Vegas, NV

Thanks for keeping us on a level keel. At which point do we start looking towards the draft? Next season, we have to start out strong and not take Game 1 as a mulligan. Do you feel that the long flight home from England had an effect on the team morale?

You have my permission, Joe...the day after the season ends. Until then, hold strong. It's easy enough to talk about the London trip but the Giants made it too and won two of their next three heading into their Week 9 bye.

Dar from Mansfield, TX

Wes, I don't like myself right now. I find myself tempted to open those clickbait articles about the 2023 draft and who might be available to the Packers. Am I starting to give up hope on this season? Or am I simply transferring that hope and thereby growing an ember for the future? I know I need to be a better example for my fellow Inboxers, but I'm not sure which direction to channel my enthusiasm, like many others here. I'm still thankful but just need a nudge.

Win or lose, contemplating the future is part of the fun of being a sports fan. However, there are only 17 guaranteed opportunities in this game and Sundays are indeed sacred. Whatever happens the next two months, I encourage fans to appreciate gamedays. Because soon enough, we'll be talking about rule changes and laser goal posts in the NFL offseason desert.

Troy from Bakersfield, CA

Thank you in advance for posting my rant. I have been a diehard Packers fan since 1965 and a longtime shareholder, as well. I have to say that a new low point as a fan may have been reached last Thursday. Wes called it "strange," and Rodgers call it "interesting." Well, I call it disgraceful. To boo our injured HOF quarterback at halftime when we are still in the game and fighting for our lives is shocking. After what "12" has given to all of us over so many seasons, the boos are so disappointing.

Again, I'm not gonna sit here and spew insults at Packers fans. After all, that's who pays my salary. I guess I just expected a little better at that point in the game.

Dennis from De Pere, WI

Is ML a Dapper Dan or a Fop man? We're in a tight spot.

It's taken way too long to get a good "O, Brother Where Art Thou?" reference in Inbox.

Kevin from Chemung, IL

OK, II nation, I'm trying everything I can think of to reverse the hex. Mismatch Packers socks, GPG boxers backwards, on my head, sitting on the cheesehead, jersey variations, etc. I thought I had it sorted with my No. 12 throwback jersey inside out during the second half of the Dallas game, but it failed Thursday. Short of shaving an eyebrow, what can I do to help my beloved team get their mojo back?

I'm the wrong guy to ask. Last week, I was begging Dean to write poems again to reverse fortunes.

Mark from Savannah, GA

Stay strong, Insiders. I don't know about you, but when I struggle to explain what I see happening on the field this year, I look for answers from that great American philosopher, Shane Falco. "Quicksand."

That's some deep stuff, Mark. Deep stuff.

Caleb from Knoxville, TN

Did you catch any of the other games this weekend? Any favorites?

I didn't watch a minute of football this weekend. I played with blocks, cars, and puzzles.

Barb from Independence, OR

Let's talk about winning. And perspective. We surprised our 15-year-old grandson with a trip to Lambeau for the Thursday night Titans game. We were able to witness his sense of awe the first time he felt the cold air hit his face walking into the bowl at Lambeau. A win over the Titans would have been nice, but the loss doesn't overshadow the memories we made with our daughter and grandson. Those are memories I will hold much longer than a W or L.

I hope you all had a wonderful time and a memorable experience, result notwithstanding.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

I think we all know what needs to happen over the next seven weeks. One win is not a winning streak, but it takes one win to start a winning streak. On to "The City of Brotherly Love."

Have a great Tuesday, folks.

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