Tue, 06 Dec 2022

Inbox: They're real game-changers

Packers
28 Sep 2022, 18:12 GMT+10

The Packers’ defense and special teams got the job doneWes Hodkiewicz

Steve from Lake Stevens, WA

Not to add any depth to the Inbox, but, as observers, isn't it fascinating how two seconds of one play can have such a dramatic influence on the outcome of a 60-minute game or even on a 17-game season?

That's true in football and in life. Or, as a great philosopher put it, "If you had one shot, or one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted. One moment. Would you capture it or just let it slip? ...Yo."

Nate from New Lisbon, WI

One of the most encouraging things I saw (or didn't see) was no finger-pointing on the offense and no frustration shown by the defense after having to pick up all the slack. Each phase helped the other when they were down, and I feel like that builds a ton of trust within the team.

I think the defense kind of enjoyed it. That group embraced having to contain Leonard Fournette, Tom Brady and the rest of Tampa Bay's offense for four quarters. As Kenny Clark said, these typically aren't the type of games Green Bay has won during the Aaron Rodgers era. But defense and special teams got the job done.

Gardner from Circle Pines, MN

There is nothing like an old-fashioned "slobber knocker" kind of win on the road against a high-quality team. I for one think that goes further in bringing a team together than a 42-10 blowout win. It makes me believe this team can win in any environment. What, if anything, do you take from a win like this one against the Bucs?

My takeaway was special teams are more than just kickers, punters and returners - and that a disciplined and well-coached unit can help win you a football game. There was no room for error and Rich Bisaccia's guys didn't waver.

Matt from Omaha, NE

All else held equal, I'd take two successful scoring drives to start the game over one successful scoring drive to end the game. The end of the game could have been much less stressful and could have just as easily been a lot more stressful. I'll take the win.

Hey, I called for a fast start and the Packers came through. My bad for not adding "...and sustaining that early momentum" to the end of the contract.

Grant from Janesville, WI

What was David Bakhtiari's snap count? Also, it seems like whenever Quay Walker or De'Vondre Campbell make a play, the other is usually close behind. They both have so much range and great instincts.

Bakhtiari played 35 snaps in Tampa, but the more important thing is he was able to stick to the plan and didn't miss any of the series he alternated with Yosh Nijman. That was huge. As far as Campbell and Walker are concerned, it's wild watching this defense playing almost exclusively in nickel in pass situations. One of the reasons it's taken Keisean Nixon so long to get on the field is because the Packers rarely pivot out of nickel with Campbell and Walker. They're real game-changers.

Ron from Mitchell, SD

So happy to see David back out on the field playing! You could see the joy on his face during his postgame presser. Feel bad for Yosh Nijman though as he has done such an admirable job filling in for Bakh.

Yosh is a pro's pro and a perfect teammate. Based on Bakhtiari's comments, you can tell how much Nijman's teammates respect and appreciate him. We'll see what next week holds but Nijman will be ready for anything.

Dale from Prescott, WI

Is it possible we'll see a platoon at LT for a couple more games?

You're just gonna have to wait and see. Matt LaFleur admitted the Packers haven't figured everything out yet. Nijman has played well enough to be in the conversation for a starting role. But the question becomes do you upset the apple cart at the other four positions to make that happen?

Josh from Seattle, WA

If Sammy Watkins can make a full recovery from his hamstring injury, then it will be a blessing in disguise for the Packers because Romeo Doubs will get way more action early to build trust and confidence, and then Watkins will be fresher when the playoffs roll around. I think Yosh deserves to be the sixth man on the O-line no matter who could go down, just slide Elgton around and put Yosh in if anyone misses time. Any other injury-related thought from you guys?

As Spoff discussed, Nixon battled hard. I'm not sure how Pro Football Focus graded his performance (nor do I care), but I thought Nixon balled out. He played well in the slot, while fulfilling his special-teams responsibilities. It sounds like Jaire Alexander shouldn't miss too much time, but Sunday showed how deep Green Bay is at cornerback.

Kyle from Leesburg, VA

Ugly game. I love the defensive grind, especially since we know that "12" will get his side figured out and rolling. Simul vincimus!

You need to keep in mind the opposition, too. Tampa gave up just a total of 13 points in their first two games, while the 214 yards the Packers registered in the first half were one yard shy of what Dallas and New Orleans combined for against the Bucs. Green Bay has work to do on offense, but it got the fast start it needed against one of the NFL's most difficult defensive puzzles to solve.

Al from Green Bay, WI

After the Bears game, Coach LaFleur commented that the Packers don't win that game without Elgton Jenkins. Complete the following sentence: Excluding Aaron Rodgers, the Packers don't win that game without _ on offense and_ on defense.

Romeo Doubs on offense and Campbell on defense.

Tom from New Braunfels, TX

Very impressed with Romeo as I am sure we all were. His eighth catch across the middle was a bullet from Aaron and he reached out and just sucked that ball into his hands just after coming out of his break. I think that ball goes by a lot of receivers, think Nolan Ryan fastball. Eight throws, eight catches. I hope his routes were what were expected on the films, because Aaron needs to believe in this kid. He is special, I think.

I didn't realize until after the game Doubs caught all eight passes that were thrown to him. Doubs told reporters last week he was ready if Watkins and Christian Watson weren't available and the young man was. I also like when those low-key players in the locker room come unglued during a big play. You could feel what that opportunity meant to him.

Anthony from Sturgeon Bay, WI

Leadership can take many forms and Randall Cobb checks all the boxes. Do you share my opinion that this receiver corps could become one of the best in the NFL by the end of the season? It just seems to have the perfect blend of high-end veteran talent and massive amounts of untapped potential?

That's a lofty goal considering there are some pretty good receiver rooms out there, but the Packers are much deeper at wideout than people were giving them credit for. Watkins, Watson, Allen Lazard, Cobb and Doubs all bring something different to the offense. It's a long season. Hopefully, we get to see those five together again at some point.

Sven from Giessen, Germany

Have the Buccaneers just given everyone a blueprint how to shut down our offense?

By having the best defense in football? Then, I guess maybe.

Michael from Pound, WI

Gents, the passing game seemed a bit more in sync this week with a lot of room for improvement, but they are improving. The run game was about what you would expect going against the TB front. AJ Dillon has looked a bit off the last couple weeks, like he has been running past the cutback lane or seeing it late. Is it the blocking, the type of running plays called, he's just in a little funk or a bit of everything? Definitely not expecting 100 yards a game, but something looks off.

I don't know about that. That's a tough defensive front to run against, but I liked how Green Bay kept chopping. I talked with Aaron Nagler about that very thing last week - just keep grinding and creating third-and-manageables. The path to the first two scoring drives was paved by the offense going 5-of-5 on third downs to start the game. Tampa got away from its running game after Leonard Fournette was quiet early and the pass game suffered because of it.

Scott from Norwalk, CT

Morning Mike/Wes! Maybe I need to see from another angle, because no one else it is talking about it, but it sure looked like Robert Tonyan was interfered with (and even turned away) on that interception. Rodgers doesn't often throw the ball into an empty area just aching to be intercepted. His expression after that play was much closer to, "What the heck? Where's the PI flag," than it was to, "Why didn't Bobby run the right route?" Any thoughts?

It looked like Lavonte David turned Tonyan around as the Packers' tight end broke on his route. Going back to the 2020 NFC Championship Game, we've obviously seen how physical Tampa plays in coverage. It is what it is.

Jack from Chicago, IL

Who else recently circled the Eagles matchup? I know it's a long way off, but they look really good.

We still have a long way to go between now and then, but the schedule-makers made good use of Green Bay's primetime matchups: Buffalo and Philadelphia on Sunday Night Football, and the Los Angeles Rams on Monday in December. Those are all must-see games on paper.

JR from Silvis, IL

On whether Lazard was feeling the heat or playing sick, the camera definitely caught him puke on the sideline right after his TD on the second drive. For anyone wondering, he was apparently drinking orange Gatorade.

I talked with Allen after the game about it. He said the heat and drastic shift in weather might have been the culprit but it also happened to him after he scored on his deep post against the New York Giants a few years ago. "Luckily, we're heading into fall and winter, and the sun won't be as prominent the back half of the season. So, hopefully we won't have too many issues with that. It's just the game. Gotta love it." With that, I'm moving on and never thinking about that video again.

Hap from Graham, WA

Gents: Isn't it nice that "special teams" are no longer a four-letter word? Rich B's fingerprints are becoming visible. GPG.

Sunday was the Packers' best showing on special teams in as long as I can remember - and the unit keeps getting better. Pat O'Donnell was sensational, in concert with flyers Rudy Ford, Nixon and Shemar Jean-Charles. The Buccaneers' average starting field position was the 20-yard line. With how well the defense was playing, that's all the Packers needed to control the tempo of that game.

Isaac from Columbia, TN

I watched highlights of the Bills-Dolphins game. I am convinced playing in heat is a different kind of football. Just do whatever it takes to survive.

I've only covered one game in Miami - that dramatic 2014 affair that ended with the Andrew Quarless TD. With a game-time temperature of 86, I remember walking into the visiting locker room and being blown away by how drained the Packers looked, especially the offensive linemen. Those matchups test a player's will. The Packers were ready and handled their business in South Florida.

Ben from Minneapolis, MN

Gentlemen, how do you think the injury status of Mac Jones will impact the preparation for the Packers as they prepare to take on New England on Sunday?

All I know is what I've seen, and the photos/videos don't look great. The Packers will be ready for everything. Whether Jones is sidelined or not, I'm sure New England will want to run the football.

Josh from Nicholasville, KY

Any idea what Rodgers saw on the jumbotron on the last touchdown pass?

Like LaFleur said, that's a question for Aaron. I'm sure the topic will be broached today on McAfee.

Dan from Algonquin, IL

Hi Mike, I'm extremely happy we got the win. A couple questions. First, is there a punt defense called a "safe" rush, meaning, don't go anywhere near the punter? Second, having three timeouts at your disposal is often the key to scoring late in a half. The value of a TO increases as the game progresses. On first or second downs, you can make up five yards from a delay of game penalty on the ensuing play(s), but you can never get back a timeout that you may need at the very end, right? Treat them like gold.

That's at discretion of the head coach and his special teams coordinator. As far as timeouts go, I view first-half timeouts like coupons and second-half timeouts as gift certificates. They're all valuable but there's little question the second half is where you gotta treat timeouts like your most prized possession.

Dan from Rice Lake, WI

Death to the Pro Bowl! There is a god.

To the people who care about this, I'm happy for you.

Brian from Twain Harte, CA

You often make reference to this being a week-to-week league. This year it looks more like a quarter-to-quarter league. Your thoughts?

There's a timeless cliche about taking it one play at a time. That's how that game was won.

Rick from Trempealeau, WI

Long day I bet, though could've been longer if it was SNF. What time were you wheels down back home?

It wasn't too bad. I was in bed by midnight.

Jim from St Pete Beach, FL

Mike and Wes, you and the Packers got out of town after a great W just in time. Evacuations are underway. I'll be bunking at my hospital the next few nights. The reason there was an attendance record Sunday is that they added a bunch of seats to the south end zone since last season.

We're thinking of you and all our Inbox family in Florida these next few days. Stay safe, Jim.

John from Celebration, FL

To both Wes and Mike, meeting both of you at the Packers pep rally in Tampa was truly a great time and pleasure. Thank you to Mark Murphy (also there and a class act) and the whole organization for such a great event that was so much fun. We appreciate all of you and I hope these rallies continue. Nothing like Packers fans traveling into enemy territory together, and we couldn't have asked for more when it came to the game. I think the stadium was 50-50...Go Pack!

There definitely were a few "Go Pack Go" chants breaking out. The pep rally was unreal. Rebecca and the Packers Everywhere folks did a phenomenal job putting on the event. It was amazing getting to meet you, Dar and so many others. The memories indeed make us rich. Have a great Tuesday.

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