Mike from Cibolo, TX
And the task is infinitely taller than it was four years ago, but with the same non-existent margin for error. Hang on, folks.
Vern from Slinger, WI
So Rodgers gets medically cleared on 12-12. I love it when a plan comes together...
The wait is finally over. For Rodgers. For the Packers. For Packer Nation. The Packers will have their best player on the field once again on Sunday. Now it’s time to play their best football.
Eric from St. Paul, MN
Packer Nation, isn't it better having Carolina not know? Wouldn't we all rather have that defense have to game plan against two very different QBs as a bit of compensation for whatever rust Rodgers may have?
It doesn’t matter. I guarantee you the Panthers were going all-in preparing for Rodgers, whether they found out for sure or not. You don’t step into the batter’s box against Aroldis Chapman thinking off-speed. You look fastball and adjust.
Joyce from River Falls, WI
Aaron Rodgers' collarbone is breaking the internet!
It can’t handle fourth-and-8 from the 48 again. Not a chance.
Paul from Farnborough, UK
Dear Wes/Spoff, we all seem to think that the return of Rodgers will cure all ills. Just how difficult will it be for him to hit the ground running so to speak? He hasn't played a game for quite some time.
Full-game conditioning is my only real concern, but having run the scout team last week, and taking all the first-team reps this week, I think he’ll be plenty sharp. Rodgers can’t stop the run, tackle Newton on the read-option, nor cover McCaffrey, Funchess and Olsen, though. If the Packers really are going to make a run, it’s going to take everybody.
Shadow from Eagle Point, IN
If the Packers are down by two touchdowns starting the fourth quarter, at what point do they consider putting in Brett Hundley?
Christine from Wichita, KS
Does the reward outweigh the risk?
That’s why multiple medical experts were involved in the decision. If the best player in the game is cleared to play, and there’s something to play for, he plays.
Jessi from Sterling, KS
Curious what you guys would have said to us this week if we were dealing with a Packers loss. Did you have any mental preparations for that scenario?
Mental preparation for the Inbox isn’t a sometime thing. It’s an all-the-time thing.
Lucas from Morgantown, WV
Another winter, another secondary devastated by injury. Do we have the depth this year to stop the pass?
The most common non-Rodgers question in the Inbox. To be clobbered by injuries at the same position, cornerback, two years in a row is really unfortunate. The difference I see this year is the Packers have enough healthy options they don’t need to play with banged-up guys. Some of those healthy options are very inexperienced, though. If the Packers can stay alive until House is able to return, the picture will change at least a little.
Michael from Salt Lake City, UT
I grew up around Philadelphia. I have been to many games ranging from extreme lows (fourth-and-26) to extreme highs (2010 wild-card game). I have had my cheesehead ripped off, beer poured on my head, hot dogs thrown at me, and even death threats yelled my way. I never thought I would feel this way, but I feel horrible for Carson Wentz and all the Philly faithful. What is the most devastating injury to a team you have seen shattering Super Bowl chances?
This feels like a repeat of last year in Oakland. I thought the Raiders had the best chance to dethrone the Patriots in the AFC, and then Derek Carr went down.
Rob from Hollywood, FL
With Wentz out (I genuinely feel for Eagles fans), is there any chance Antonio Brown can become the first WR to win MVP? How much does having the game's best RB hurt the game's best WR's chances?
Excellent questions. I think Brown has to be in the conversation, Bell or no Bell. Brown is 11 receptions and 276 yards clear of any other receiver this year, and he’s only two TDs shy of the league lead. If he actually gets the 500 yards he needs over these last three weeks to hit 2,000, the talk will get much louder.
Jason from Winnipeg, Manitoba
Wes talked about how Spriggs is benefiting from playing one position and getting comfortable. It seems the defense has players that play different positions all the time (cross-training). Would those players develop more if they were in the same position as well?
In many cases, yes, and I think we were seeing that with Randall and Jones in the secondary until more injuries hit. I think both players took the confidence they built by focusing for a while on one role – Randall in the slot, Jones at hybrid linebacker – and have carried that over to other duties now late in the season.
Milan from New York, NY
Randall has been a shutdown corner the last two games, has he not? Next season the same fans that were saying he is a bust will be pleading to re-sign him, Davante redux.
Given the current state of the cornerback room, the Packers need Randall to be a leader.
Chad from Minot, WI
Why do you guys think we didn't use Aaron Jones basically at all during the Browns game? Since he is healthy and got a TD on his only play the game before, I thought for sure they'd run a 1-2 committee with both of them. No hate on Williams, he's doing awesome, but still just wondering what you guys think.
I think the plan was to use Jones more, and he got the call on the botched fourth-and-1 in the third quarter. But the next time the Packers had the ball, it was 21-7, and McCarthy decided to spread it out the rest of the game. Williams was obviously the back who had taken all the practice reps in those packages.
Matthew from Stockholm, WI
Hi Insiders, Jamaal Williams reminds me of another dual-threat Packers RB with an infectious smile: Edgar Bennett.
I’ll have to ask EB about his dance moves.
John from Colonial Beach, VA
Does Devin Hester have a strong enough case to be Hall of Fame worthy?
I think so. He was the best at what he did for an extended period of time, and no one was even close to him. I don’t think there should be much debate, frankly.
Milton from Midland, MI
Hey Spoff, do you communicate with The Rock to discuss what will be on your segments of WYMM? It seems that both of you talk about the same topics.
No, we don’t talk about it. We do our own thing, and this year there has been far more overlap than in previous seasons. Humbly I submit it means maybe I’m finally doing something right after all these years.
Paul from Cumming, GA
I can't believe that you Insiders are so upbeat about the Packers' last two OT victories. Don't you realize that these close games with bad opponents will harm the team's standing with the Playoff Committee?
Outstanding post. You just made my day.
Jon from Minneapolis, MN
He still needs a lot of improvements, but two things have impressed me the last two weeks with Hundley. 1) He’s not backpedaling/running backwards and taking sacks for 10 or more yards. He’s actually learning how to manipulate a pocket. And 2) he’s hitting check-downs which are keeping drives alive. Jamaal Williams and the Packers’ offense are definitely benefiting. What are you most impressed with in Hundley’s development?
I wrote my editorial right after the Chicago game about what he accomplished in the fourth quarter for a reason, and he proved the clutch plays were no fluke. Also, after the turnover-fest against Baltimore, when he made an early mistake and kept trying to atone for it, he played the last three games with just one interception and no fumbles. That showed his maturity as much as anything, especially in games young QBs like Winston and Kizer made careless, killer miscues.
Brett from Omro, WI
After such success using the read-option against the Bucs, I was expecting the Packers to use it against the Browns. I don't remember it being used at all. Did that surprise you?
It was called a few times, but Hundley either handed off or dropped back to throw off the fake. He just never tucked it and ran, which I thought he would try at least once.
Randy from Colleyville, TX
Great pieces on Longwell and Tauscher. I grew up in Rudolph, Wis., and my mother is from Auburndale. People in that part of the state talk about Mark as a conquering hero. He made Central Wisconsin famous. Glad Ryan "saw the light" and talks about GB in such a refreshing light since he went to the competition for a few years. Great work, thank you for sharing the thoughts.
Congrats to both on their upcoming Packers HOF induction. It was fun to catch up with them on the conference call. Tauscher’s story as a homegrown player is a great one, and the best man in my wedding went to Auburndale High, even playing on the offensive line, so I’m partial. The Packers’ stability at kicker over the years, with Longwell between Jacke and Crosby, has been remarkable. Other than 2006, the Packers’ kicker has been one of those three dating back to 1989.
Nathan from Oconomowoc, WI
I was in the bathroom for the coin toss. My buddy told me we won it and made me look like a fool in the Inbox! Thanks for not giving a HOF induction.
You’re lucky it was Wes’s day. Brett from Lakewood, CO, and his poor math must have distracted him.
PJ from Minneapolis, MN
I think there should be a new rule that allows a team that gets charged with a delay-of-game penalty to sacrifice a down in order to reset and run the game clock. This is basically the long-handed version of letting teams who have essentially won the game and are going into victory formation to skip having to snap the ball and let dirty players like Michael Bennett have one last shot at intentionally hurting one of your offensive linemen. Do you think the NFL will give this consideration in the offseason? It's basically like the intentional walk rule in baseball.
No, but I think the NFL should have sent a message that certain players must learn to lose with class. How does what happened at the end of Super Bowl XLIX not enter the equation here?
Mark from Missoula, MT
Sounds like Zach Miller's leg will return to normal. I can't even imagine going through that. Whether Run the Table 2.0 happens or not, hopefully we all gain a little more perspective about the difficulties of playing this game.
Let’s hope Ryan Shazier gets back to some kind of normal eventually, too.
Kyle from Los Angeles, CA
If you watch the postgame press conference, McCarthy refers to the Browns’ defense as a "he" instead of a "they" on multiple occasions, which shows that he thinks of the game as one of "me [McCarthy] vs. him [defensive coordinator]" instead of "us [Packers offense] vs. them [opponent's defense]."
I noticed that as well, and since McCarthy doesn’t talk like that all the time, it could depend on the opposing play-caller. It prompted me to look up how many times he has faced off against a defense coordinated by Gregg Williams. Last Sunday was his sixth as head coach of the Packers, with Williams the opposing play-caller for five different teams in that span (Browns in ’17, Rams in ’15 and ’12, Saints in ’11, Jaguars in ’08, Redskins in ’07). If you include McCarthy’s years in San Francisco and New Orleans, there were two prior matchups as well, the first coming in 2001 with Williams as head coach in Buffalo. For two guys who have never been in the same division at the same time, that’s a lot of matchups and a long history.
Freddie from West Valley City, UT
As a lifetime (non-superstitious) Cubs fan, Cleveland's loss struck a nerve. Not to take anything from the Pack, but some teams look afraid of winning, and consistently find a way to lose. Hopefully John Dorsey can pull a Theo Epstein, and right the ship.
Dorsey was one of my favorite guys here in Green Bay. I wish him the best. NFL football is always better when teams with rich histories are good.
Mark from Bettendorf, IA
Guys, on a replay of the interception by Jones from the end zone, you could see Randall and Burnett seemed to "mug" their receivers as the ball was floating in the air. Did the refs swallow their whistles on that one?
With Kizer’s arm getting hit as he threw, pass interference was essentially off the table, even if not by rule because Matthews didn’t touch the ball. Randall’s contact on Gordon looked before the pass, though, to which I’ll refer you to my mini-lecture from last week on the capricious nature of NFL outcomes.
Fred from Belleville, MI
I have been hearing the term “empty pressure” lately. What exactly is that?
Without getting into all the variations, it’s a blitz that leaves no safety help deep. The pressure call empties the middle of the field.
Adam from Gainesville, FL
During the game, we saw Rodgers talking to the backup quarterback who was holding a clipboard and writing stuff down. What is the purpose of the clipboard and what is he writing down?
He’s charting all the offensive plays – down-and-distance, personnel group, formation, play call, result. The data is then matched up to the all-22 film, so all the plays can be sorted in any way a coach or player wants to view them.
Scott from Hayward, WI
Are you concerned about Packer Nation having depression issues if we get soundly defeated by one, if not two of our remaining opponents with Aaron? I worry many Packer fans forgot all the complaints they had about our about pass protection, pass coverage, pass rush, pass blocking, and pitiful tackling before Rodgers was injured. I know he's good, but I doubt he can make all of those problems go away. Are Packer fans expecting way too much?
Phrased that way, yes. Expectations can only diminish enjoyment and set up disappointment. Hope and excitement aren’t the same in my book.
Brett from Boonsboro, MD
I know we have to take care of business the next three weeks, but nobody, and I mean nobody, keeps the Fat Lady off the stage like No. 12! She doesn’t even warm up anymore...
See what I mean?
Russell from Shorewood, WI
The most obvious path to the playoffs for the Packers is if the Rams beat the Seahawks in Week 15 and the Saints beat the Falcons in Week 16, in addition to the Packers winning out. Then the Packers would control their own destiny against Detroit in Week 17.
Yes, because that would mean the Atlanta-Carolina game in Week 17 would help the Packers either way. I like that scenario, but hey, just beat the Panthers.
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