Wed, 07 Dec 2022

Inbox: His power and explosiveness were astounding

Packers
22 Nov 2022, 17:12 GMT+10

That’s what a week-to-week league looks likeMike Spofford

Bryce from Lorain, OH

Help! I've been looking for the reset button, but I can't find it.

I was looking all weekend, too, but all I found was beer instead. Good beer, I might add.

Bob from Eau Claire, WI

Watching the Vikings...it could be worse.

Something wrong with 8-2? What did I miss here? Oh yeah, that Jumbotron hoax. Well, they're still 8-2.

Kirk C from Minneapolis, MN

I thought you guys said the Cowboys were beatable?!

Good one.

Al from Green Bay, WI

As I watch the Cowboys destroy the Vikings, two questions come to mind: 1) The Packers beat this Dallas team? 2) The Vikings were 8-1 before this game? Is this what parity looks like?

It's what a week-to-week league looks like, and it's further proof how profoundly disappointing it was the Packers couldn't build on what they did last Sunday.

Estillac from Belem, Brazil

Vikings' season looks more and more like the first one with ML as Packers' head coach!

True.

Bob from Green Bay, WI

This is the time of year I start looking for the teams that are getting hot. Detroit is catching my attention. Minnesota is doing what I expect being a 50-year-plus fan of the game (choke). What other teams are catching your eye?

Don't write off the Vikings. They had a rough day. Now it's about how they respond on a short week. What an impressive win by the Lions. They've won three straight to inject some intrigue and enthusiasm into their Thanksgiving date with Buffalo. But I still like the Bills even after they gagged away that game to Minnesota. They dealt with difficult circumstances all week, fell behind the Browns 10-3, and then dominated. The Ravens have won four in a row to arrive on my "watch-out" radar, and if the 49ers win tonight, I'll feel the same way about them. The Bengals have won four of five and their matchup with the Titans next week has my attention. The winner there makes a statement. Commander Heinicke remains worth monitoring. And oh yeah, the Chiefs are still the Chiefs, because Mahomes is the best crunch-time QB in the game today.

Clutch from Elgin, IL

We still love our Packers regardless, but where do we go from here?

To the film room to study the Eagles, and to the practice field to fix what's wrong. All of these other "where do we go/what do we do?" questions are not for right now.

Anthony from Auburn, WA

Congrats to Cordarrelle Patterson for setting the NFL record for kickoff return touchdowns. With all of the rule changes, this has almost become a lost art. Who is the best Packers kickoff returner during your time covering the team?

Jordy Nelson in 2009 and Randall Cobb in 2011-12 come to mind. I remember the last year at the Metrodome (2013), watching Patterson take the opening kickoff the distance against the Packers. His power and explosiveness were astounding, and he was just a rookie.

Vince from Auburn, WA

We've heard the same narrative all season - "We need to play complementary football." In your opinion, which NFC and AFC team is playing the best complementary football thus far?

I wish I had a great answer for you, but without watching other teams' games on a regular basis, it's impossible for me to tell. Complementary football is about controlling the flow of the game. When one side of the ball does something positive, can the other side capitalize? When something bad happens, can another phase stem the negative tide? Ultimately, the teams that are best at it over 17 games are the ones that win the most, because so many games hinge on just a handful of plays.

Carl from Tomah, WI

Follow up on this answer, "Certainly it's reviewable, and that's New York chiming in on a high-impact call that is obviously wrong on an immediate look at the replay. That doesn't happen a lot, but it does seem to happen more often during primetime games when New York only has one game to watch." So you're saying video review and when it's used can change based on the game time? That's nonsensical.

Maybe, but I think it's exactly what's happening. I've seen "New York assistance" brought into play far more often during night games than on Sunday afternoons, when a bunch of games are going on at once.

Beto from Gills Rock, WI

Week after week we see the same story, "defenders simply not doing their job." Where is the disconnect? Are the coaches expecting too much from the players? Are the players not capable of grasping the scheme? P.S. "A little of both" is not an answer.

I think if the answer were known, the problems wouldn't persist 11 games into the season. As I said the other day, the coverage breakdowns last Thursday were reminiscent of Week 1 at Minnesota. Disconnect is the right word. Something has gotten lost in translation for the bulk of the season. Your guess as to why is as good as mine.

Marty from New Orleans, LA

It's been your position that a main issue is that players aren't executing to their potential. The coaching staff and GM have largely been absolved for the results of the season. But as coaches, it is their job to get the players ready to perform well. If the coaches cannot get the players in sync on the field, then the coaches are the ones who are ultimately accountable. Likewise, it is the GM who ultimately assembled this staff and team. And as Harry S Truman once said: "The Buck Stops Here."

You're absolutely right, except the coaching staff is not the GM's purview with this team. That aside, this is an oversimplification, but here's how I break it down. When it comes to individual games, I tend to say it's on the players to execute, which is why this column the day after a game is going to lean that way. But I'm not absolving the coaches, because if the players aren't executing, it's on the coaches in subsequent games to make sure they do and get better results. They get a lot of cracks at this, and ultimately everyone should be evaluated on the full body of work. So for me, there's little-picture and big-picture thinking involved, but in the game-to-game rat race that is this league, I admittedly don't think big picture as much, because the focus is on the why of the previous one and the how of the next one. Biggest picture? It's on the front office to find the right players and the head coach to hire the right coaches.

Tom from Wildwood, FL

On the three long pass plays that were preventable in LaFleur's view, who were the Packer defenders that blew the coverage? If he or Spoff doesn't want to call them out by name, can we at least know if it was the same defender?

Based on LaFleur's description and what I saw when I reviewed the film, I believe it was the same defender on two of the three if not all three. But I can't be certain because I'm not privy to all the coverage rules and responsibilities. It's also not appropriate for me to name names if the head coach doesn't. LaFleur's final comment in that story from Friday - "making sure we have the right people in the game" - was telling to me. Stay tuned.

Jack from Black Mountain, NC

I am as frustrated and incredulous as other contributors to II, as well as the coaching staff and players. But this is a professional sport, and it is difficult for any team in any sport to stay on top year after year. Parity develops, new schemes are developed, new players develop into stars. How much of this season's record is due to Packers' inconsistency and how much due to the other factors listed?

If the Packers were playing well with most of the losses coming down to a final possession and/or just not catching the right break here or there, then I might shrug the shoulders and chalk it up to all that other stuff. But this team was built to have the defense provide a backbone while the offense went through a significant transition and the special teams improved. The offensive transition remains incomplete due to injuries and uncertainty on the line and at receiver, the defense hasn't consistently provided that backbone, and the special teams, while more fundamentally sound, have still had too many negative plays.

Jim from Cadott, WI

Hindsight, but we should have sat Aaron Rodgers after he injured his thumb. We lost any way. Should have taken the bye after London. As my wife said, "At least we are not Ram fans." Love that woman!

Hindsight indeed. LaFleur admitted there are regrets now about not taking the bye after London. But I understand the rationale at the time. The team wasn't given the option to "take your bye after London or it'll be in Week 14." Nobody knew when it would be, and taking it Week 6 would've meant 12 straight games without a break heading into (potentially) the playoffs. There was also no control over the mini-bye not coming until Week 11, another stroke of tough luck in my mind. As for Rodgers' thumb, when he first injured it, the belief was it would slowly improve weekly, so playing through it shouldn't produce any ill effects. But it hasn't improved and the injury keeps getting knocked back to square one, according to what Rodgers said a couple weeks ago. If everyone knew in advance exactly how things would play out, decisions would be easy. That's why it's called hindsight.

Terry from Colorado Springs, CO

Is this the worst Packers team since the '80s?

C'mon man. The 2005 team went 4-12, and then the '06 team was 4-8 before it strung some wins together. That 8-20 run was with a HOF QB, too. Things can get off-kilter. It happens.

David from Cable, WI

And our success has us fans thinking the whole process is much easier than it really is.

Reminders of reality provide perspective.

Chris from New Canaan, CT

The season started off the rails in the second half in London v. NYG. Yes, that's the game when AR12 injured his thumb but so far, the impact of that injury has been largely dismissed. Is there something about that trip to London that infected the team in a bad way that has not been reported? We look for answers all the time, we seek the truth, tend to over analyze but Occam's Razor always rules. The simple answer is the right answer. IMO, London changed things in a meaningful way ...

Christian Watson exited that game with a hamstring injury, which I believe stunted potential progress on offense. The defense suffered through an awful stretch of five consecutive possessions allowing scores, the second straight week with a bad streak that became a regular occurrence and the downfall of the unit. Amari Rodgers' fumble in that game (which the Packers recovered) did not lead to a change in duties until two lost fumbles later. And yes, the impact of Aaron Rodgers' thumb injury has been undersold, for competitive reasons. In my opinion it has affected his consistency. That's my best summary of London, whoever's razor we're analyzing.

Larry from Carney, MI

Since Week 4 have the Inbox submissions been increasing, decreasing or steady? I wouldn't want you to run out of work. I'm here for you.

We get more submissions in the 48 hours after a loss than in an entire week after a win.

Bob from Bella Vista, AR

All things considered, is this the most difficult period over the years that you guys have had to deal with in your job?

The stretch run in 2008 was tough, and this column didn't even exist then. The middle portion of '17 was tough. Most of '18 was tough. Tough times are tough times. I don't care to compare.

Ed from Windsor, CO

The Pack did not lose Sunday. Hope the team got some rest, resiliency.

That's the idea. Now it must be put to good use.

Jake from Saskatoon, Canada

Mike. Wes. I am wondering if you and the readers can take a moment to keep my father, Pete, in your thoughts and prayers. Unfortunately, he has just been told that his cancer has come back, and his timeline is not looking great. The Packers are one of our main topics to chat about while I am finishing up my degree in a different city, and it would mean a lot to both him and myself to know that Packer Nation is behind us. Thank you.

All the best to you, your father and your family, Jake. I hope you, and all in this community, have a great Thanksgiving week.

Joseph from Vermillion, SD

How about we go 1-0 this week and then go from there? No point in anything else.

Happy Monday.

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