Tue, 31 Jan 2023

Inbox: That's the bottom line

Packers
01 Dec 2022, 17:12 GMT+10

Even getting into the discussion would be pretty impressiveMike Spofford

Andrew from Knoxville, TN

So can we expect a Prospect Primer on Johnny Przybylski from Little Chute?

Of the endless Johnny P. follow-ups submitted, this was the best. Great effort by all. And yeah, the video crew is on it.

Brandon from Summerville, SC

Well, the schedule-makers were right after all in regard to the game for the winningest record. It's just 11 weeks later than we all expected. It wouldn't feel right if it's anyone but 12 out there to get it for us though...

Funny how things work out sometimes. But Aaron Rodgers is planning to play.

Dan from Algonquin, IL

Hi Mike, the Bears are not unlike the Eagles on offense in that they have a dangerous running QB and a solid RB tandem. The biggest difference is Hurts is a better passer than Fields. Should the Packers dare Fields to beat them with his arm and trust the DBs? What's the best scheme to accomplish this? Load the box and have Quay Walker as the spy?

We'll see if De'Vondre Campbell is back this week because he could be another spy option. I don't care schematically how you accomplish it, but you have to make Fields throw the ball (assuming he's healthy enough to play). That's the bottom line. Make him throw it.

Chuck from Richfield, WI

Every team has tough seasons. Ask the Lions. The Pack won four games respectively in each of the past 17 years since 1954 (1971, 1988, 2005, YTD). Let's break the "cicada curse" vs. Bears this week for our fifth win and become the winningest all-time NFL franchise! I noticed that rookies named McGee, Brockington, Sharpe, Rodgers and Collins played on those aforementioned teams. Am I wrong to envision that Mr. Watson has that kind of potential?

Glad to hear we can blame the cicadas at least. The Packers have had 14 rookies make the PFWA All-Rookie Team since Collins in '05, but only two have been offensive perimeter players - Greg Jennings ('06) and Eddie Lacy ('13). Given how his season started and all the missed playing time along the way, even getting into the discussion would be pretty impressive for Watson.

Matt from Gastonia, NC

Mike White! Now that was funny!

Wes was rather proud of that one.

Keith from Dodgeville, WI

How does Fields compare to the speed of Jalen Hurts?

Fields is much faster and shiftier than Hurts. Not as powerful, but no less difficult to corral.

Tom from Cambridge, MA

For me, one of the bright spots of the season has been watching Quay Walker play spy. His combination of discipline (Bills game notwithstanding), reaction time and closing speed truly bode well for his future. In Philly it seemed almost like he wasn't there. Was he not spying on Hurts, did he have an off night or is Hurts really *that* hard to stop?

I think for Walker that game was emblematic of what has been an up-and-down rookie season, more up than down. To me, it looked like he took some poor angles and lost track of his tackling fundamentals (he wasn't alone there). What I like best about Walker is when he's had some rough moments, he's bounced back right away the next week. I look for that again.

Greg from Conway, SC

Greetings Spoff, is Larry stealing your homework?

Ha, I wasn't at all surprised my WYMM and his Rock Report focused on the kickoff returns. They're fun to watch and break down. Also in our positions, let's just say having fun watching special-teams film hasn't been common in recent years.

Michael from Thomson, IL

Rasul Douglas has had a forgettable season so far with ill-timed penalties and poor coverage. Was last year just a flash in the pan for him?

I think a "flash in the pan" narrative is a tad harsh for a guy who had five interceptions his first two years in the league and double-digit pass breakups twice in his first three seasons. That said, I'm sure he'd like to avoid that potential label from Packers fans by playing better down the stretch here, and moving forward eventually prove 2021 wasn't his career year. Regardless, I see him as a key piece to the future of this defense, in some capacity.

Sean from Cortland, NY

With Christian Watson's recent success I've been dying to see him and Doubs work together. Any update to Romeo's status?

Haven't heard anything lately on Romeo Doubs. He hasn't returned to practice yet. He has missed three games and wasn't placed on IR, which would have been a four-game minimum, so we'll see. I think we're all looking forward to seeing those two rookie receivers on the field at the same time.

Donna from New Auburn, WI

I understand that Aaron Rodgers is the reigning two-time MVP, and I appreciate the effort he has shown by playing through his injuries. Both he and Coach LaFleur have stated he will play against the Bears. What concerns me is the week of practice. Too many days of "did not practice" and "limited practice" hurts the team. I know Aaron Rodgers can get by with abbreviated practice but our young receivers need that practice with AR. Yes, they practice with Jordan Love but are they getting cheated?

The situation is not ideal, but the only young receiver with the first unit right now is Watson, who's made obvious progress. Rodgers also missed some Wednesday practices when Doubs was still out there, and his progress was evident as well. Collectively, injuries across the board have played a factor in the offense not getting where it needs to be sooner. That said, I think it's worth noting since the disaster in Detroit (my words), the offense has scored 30-plus points twice (including the 10 put up by Love) and had only one bad quarter - the fourth vs. Tennessee - when plays were there but a few Rodgers throws were off. Can they keep it going even as Rodgers deals with a new injury? We'll find out.

Curt from Algonquin, IL

If I can have one last word on the Philly game, am I the only one that sees a parallel to the 2007 Week 13 game in Dallas? Aaron Rodgers got a lot more playing time then than Jordan Love did this past weekend, but I came out of both games thinking the heir apparent to the future first-ballot Hall of Famer showed poise and ability.

I agree Love showed plenty of promise, but I'm not going to compare 6-for-9 over two late-game series with 18-for-26 when taking over in the second quarter. I think that's a bit much, though if it goes down in history in that fashion, what matters is how beneficial that would be to the franchise.

Tom from Saugus, CA

This is no knock on Jordan Love as I was impressed with his performance like many others, but it appeared that he might have had the opportunity to pick up yardage and first downs by running instead of throwing on a few plays. Was he perhaps told to play it safe and avoid any possible injury with Rodgers already sidelined? GPG!

I don't think that was it. On that last drive, it was about scoring as quickly as possible to preserve as much time and the Packers' three timeouts, so they could use them on defense if they didn't recover the onside kick (which is how it played out). He wasn't getting running lanes to the end zone, so throwing downfield was the priority.

Brent from Delano, MN

Mike, I have recently been writing in complaining about Joe Barry and both you and Wes have not only not posted my questions but you have not posted anyone's questions or comments that have been specifically critical to Joe Barry. I am trying to take a different approach and ask why? It has been evident that the defensive side of the ball has not been prepared for most of the games this season. This is on the coach! You may mention a specific breakdown but won't address the coach. Why?

Because to say the players aren't prepared would be an assumption and a blanket statement on my part. I don't know that they're not prepared adequately because I don't get to observe preparation. Criticism in this forum will always be skewed toward player performance, because that's what I can see. I can't see coaching, game-planning, play-calling, etc., so posting a bunch of comments ripping a coach isn't appropriate nor defensible. There are plenty of other forums where you can find that opportunity if you desire. Now, all that said, do I think there are some issues with preparation and scheme? Of course. LaFleur hasn't denied that either. But how much is that versus the players simply not doing their jobs as they've been trained to do them? I have no idea. Again, I don't get to sit in on meetings and watch practices. Though I'm no expert, I've been reviewing game film long enough to know I'm seeing players do things no coach would ever teach. Yet ultimately, I'm perfectly aware it's a coaching staff's job to get the best out of the players in a results-oriented business. That's why I said Monday there's plenty of blame to go around, and we'll find out in the offseason where leadership feels most of the blame and accountability should lie. The decisions that are made in the final analysis will tell us.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Mike, Wes wrote "not enough hats flying to the ball" in an answer yesterday. A few times once Hurts cleared the line of scrimmage and made one man miss in space he seemed to have no one near him for 25 yards. Were those caused by blown assignments, great schemes by the Philly OC or just unfortunate circumstance?

Great question, and it's one I addressed on the latest "Unscripted," because when one missed tackle results in a rupture, that's not sound defense. My best guesses are defenders being unable to get off blocks and DBs getting drawn downfield by receivers, eliminating their ability to help on scrambles.

Taylor from Lubbock, TX

I know it's been mentioned a little last couple days about Philly's drive at the end of the first half. Even in the moment, I thought it was a poor decision to start taking timeouts. Mostly with the fact we had come back from the early hole and were getting the ball first in the second half. There was not enough time and they were not pinned back deep enough, I thought. Did ML address that drive, thought process?

He hasn't been asked about it. On Monday, he expressed obvious frustration at the missed tackle on third-and-14 that turned a likely fourth-and-6 into fourth-and-1. One could argue that play changed the game more than any other from the Packers' perspective.

Brian from Trego, WI

Noting that injuries, bad play and scheme all contributed to the losses this year, I couldn't help but feel that bad officiating on critical plays also played a major role in the loss column. It seems that in almost every game when the Packers had a scoring or "chunk" play, there lay the yellow flag. Many like the TD negated against the Eagles for a picture-perfect pancake block, or Tonyan's TD negated due to "O" pass interference were backbreakers given all the other struggles. What say you?

I don't disagree, but it's "all the other struggles" that don't allow you to be resilient enough to overcome the tough breaks, which all teams get from time to time. The Packers did overcome the pancake-holding to still score in Philly, but they settled for a field goal after the Tonyan OPI in Buffalo, and the defense couldn't bounce back from the sack-killing flags in London. "All the other" stuff builds a team's margin for error, and this team has dealt with an ultra-slim one all season.

David from Janesville, WI

Inboxers, how can anyone be surprised after how this season has gone that an offensive breakthrough would correlate with a defensive breakdown? Inconsistency has been the constant. The bright side of this is that if you can do it right once, you can do it right most of the time. The roster is capable if frustratingly unpredictable. It's likely too late for this season, but it isn't burn the place down and start over. Heck, even the most important position on the team has two legit players.

All true. That's why the offseason decisions in various areas might be more interesting than they've been in a while around here.

Brian from Urbana, IL

Gentlemen, in this life, we gotta take what we can get. Vic's December friend is TECHNICALLY here. We are not mathematically eliminated. Let's enjoy it!

Playing games always beats the offseason.

Johnny from Madison, WI

If there's no math allowed in the Inbox, can the Packers ever truly be mathematically eliminated?

Happy Wednesday.

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