Sun, 24 Jan 2021

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving memory?  Wes Hodkiewicz

Colton from Pleasant View, UT

We can all agree it's been a bizarre year and I am grateful the NFL season is still going forward. What are you most thankful for within the Packers organization?

A job? Haha. It's funny. I went back Wednesday and looked at my Thanksgiving Inbox last year. The headline was, "There's a lot to be thankful for." If only I'd known what was to come over the next 12 months. That's a nifty cliche we use every November but the reality is this year has taught me a real lesson about counting blessings. So there's even more to be thankful for this year - my family, their health...and the job that helps keep food in my kid's belly.

Richard from Racine, WI

Good morning! What does the Thanksgiving Day schedule look like for the team? How are you guys spending this unique pandemic Thanksgiving?

Unique is one way to put it. It's a standard workday for the Packers, albeit condensed. They have morning meetings and then padded practice. They'll be excused shortly after lunch, though players can't really do much given the COVID protocols. Adrian Amos and Kenny Clark also are the lucky ones who get to talk to us (the media), so I'm sure they're jacked about that. I'll be at Lambeau until the early afternoon but then I'm going to grill steaks with the family. My wife isn't a turkey person.

Mike from Franksville, WI

Beyond being thankful for health and family this year, I'm sure everyone reading here is also thankful for their favorite football team. What is your earliest memory of Packers fandom? Your favorite moment following the team? Your favorite player growing up?

I've mentioned this before but my first memory is the Packers losing to the Patriots in 1994, when Green Bay missed the extra point and lost 17-16. My favorite moment following the team was Desmond Howard's touchdown in Super Bowl XXXI and my favorite player was LeRoy Butler (Can you tell?).

Al from Green Bay, WI

Happy Thanksgiving! I'm very much looking forward to the Bears game. With the Packers receivers, running backs, and tight ends healthy now, I am expecting a strong game on offense. My question: Can the Packers' O-line win the battle for the line of scrimmage against this Chicago front?

I don't want to be too simplistic about this game but I really do feel like the outcome comes down to how many points the Packers can score on the Bears' defense - which starts up front. Corey Linsley not practicing Wednesday is less than ideal but that also affords Elgton Jenkins more opportunities to prep for a potential start at center. If Green Bay can move the ball against this front, it stands a good chance at taking eight wins into the month of December.

Tom from Douglassville, PA

I know a lot's been said about Marquez Valdes-Scantling, just want to add my two cents. We need to be supportive. I can remember lots of people calling for the Packers to get rid of Davante Adams in his younger days because of all the dropped balls he had.

I put this stat out there on social media. Some liked it and some didn't but it's true: MVS has 89 catches for 1,551 yards and eight touchdowns in two-plus seasons. The other eight receivers the Packers have drafted in the fifth round over the last 30 years have combined for 111 catches for 1,556 yards and 11 TDs. All I'm trying to do is remind everyone MVS has already exceeded expectations and outperformed his contemporaries. He was a real find three years ago, but look at the glass as you see fit.

Dwight from Brooklyn, NY

Not a question, but an observation of thanks in the spirit of Thanksgiving. I got to thinking about teams who were fortunate enough to have back-to-back HOF-caliber quarterbacks like what we have in Favre and Aaron Rodgers. The only team that comes to mind is the 49ers with Montana and Young. I did the math (and feel free to correct my numbers) and when you total the consecutive (not overlap) years, Montana/Young was 23 years. With Favre/Rodgers it's 29 years and counting! Sweet Baby Jesus!

Nearly 30 years of not having to worry who the quarterback was going to be every summer. What a luxury.

Nate from Stanwood, WA

There was a comment about MVS having Davante as a role model/teacher and Davante learning from Jones/Driver/Nelson. Made me wonder how deep the Packers WR lineage goes? Was there ever a clean break? Is the Packers "mentorship" culture more common or uncommon among teams?

As much as we talk about the QB lineage in Green Bay, there's also something to be said about Packers receivers. The current manifestation probably begins around the time the Packers drafted James Jones and Jordy Nelson in 2007 and 2008, respectively. That created a foundation, with Donald Driver and Greg Jennings already in place, that has stretched to this day. Nelson, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams have all carried that torch since then. That culture has helped even more under-the-radar prospects such as Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard to emerge.

Brian from San Francisco, CA

Good morning Insiders, on the 14-yard pass to Aaron Jones in the first half, it looked to me like Jones got driven into the turf in a way that could have drawn a flag. When Lazard came over to help Jones up, he gave the Colts DB a little shove, and then got a little shove in return. Adams came over and added his own shove on the DB. I loved seeing them stand up for their teammate. That was one sign that the Packers came to the contest with more juice. Hope it continues!

Just another sign of a healthy culture. If someone is gonna rough up your little brother, you better stand up for him. Otherwise, it's gonna keep happening.

Ben from New Windsor, NY

Good morning, fellas. It seems like the offense runs much better when Jones is on the field. I see between targets and carries, it's generally split right around two-to-one in favor of Jones, but why does Jamaal Williams tend to get more chances on third downs? We've seen Jones bulldoze his way through a stacked goal line, and he also has reliable hands. Not taking anything away from Williams, but has he shown himself to be more reliable in those situations and we just aren't realizing it? Have a great day!

The Packers have faith in both Jones and Williams to be on the field in third-down or goal-line situations, but Williams tends to be the back in two-minute. I think that has to do with his pass-catching ability and blocking acumen.

Mike from Algoma, WI

Hi Wes. Just wanted to say how much I appreciated Mike's explanation of FOX's inaccurate description of Robert Tonyan being "wide open" in the end zone on the third-and-goal play. II insights are incredibly helpful to us.

Spoff said it better than I ever could, but I'll also throw in what Rodgers said Tuesday on Pat McAfee's show - Tonyan might have been "open" but he wasn't "NFL open." NFL DBs are some of the fastest humans on the planet. The window is rarely wide open. It's up to Rodgers to make the most of slight cracks. That's a bang-bang play.

Scotty from Lombard, IL

Insiders, Sunday's game against the Bears is a very dangerous game for us. Why? Cordarrelle Patterson out of the backfield, and returning kicks and punts, and a playmaking scoring defense. The Packers have shown weaknesses in special teams, stopping the big play on third down, and turning over the ball in recent weeks. I do not think it is realistic to expect Rodgers to throw three to four touchdown passes every week, especially against a strong defense like the Bears. Your thoughts, please.

Patterson is great, but I'm more nervous about him on returns than his presence in the backfield. He is dangerous in open space but his carrying the ball seems to be more out of emergency than scheme. I think that's part of the reason he's only averaging 2.9 yards per carry with his longest run going for 14 yards. It's the returning David Montgomery who presents bigger challenges for this defense because of his ability to run between the tackles and still catch the ball in space.

Paul from Los Angeles, CA

What happened to AJ Dillon? Last I heard he was on the COVID list. Is he still recovering? I don't see him on the roster.

Matt LaFleur said Wednesday that Dillon has "been in the building, but he hasn't passed all the steps to get cleared." Don't ask me what that means, but Dillon is at least that far along in the process.

Alan from Los Angeles, CA

When will Rashan Gary play more snaps ahead of Preston Smith? It is obvious that Preston's play this year has markedly deteriorated and Gary seems to be coming on. Why is there so much seeming resistance to making a change at the position when the merit between the two players seems so obvious? Thanks for your good work.

I don't think it has to be a one-for-one thing but certainly the Packers want to get Gary on the field more with how he's been playing. He's right around 43% this season, while both Smiths are hovering over 80% this year.

James from Peterborough, ON

Does Rodgers do the team a disservice when he states his preference for playing in domes as he did before the Indy game? Is not cold weather and playing the most meaningful games at Lambeau crucial to GB's identity and success?

I didn't take it to mean he prefers playing indoors over outdoors. Assuming we're both referring to the same comment, I took it more as he doesn't mind playing in domes and likes the atmosphere that's created with having fans in that environment. It wasn't a slight at Lambeau.

Dennis from De Pere, WI

Outside of the two-minute drill or 12 defensive men on the field, do the Packers ever go to a quick play, just to keep the defenders off-guard?

Not unless the situation calls for no-huddle because it's so hard to catch a team "off-guard" when you're not changing personnel. The reason why those "12 men on the field" scenarios work so well is because Rodgers is catching the defense in a line change. If personnel is the same, most defenses are sophisticated enough to quickly assemble.

Toua from Milwaukee, WI

Wes, with what I just saw on Sunday and your story about Elgton Jenkins' versatility, would it be out of the realm of normal to pay this man more than the traditional left tackle? I mean the guy can play any opposition on the line without skipping a beat.

The Packers are another 1½ years away from having to worry about that, but Jenkins really looks like a 10-year NFL starter. He's a special talent.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

How important is Corey Linsley when it comes to catching teams offsides or with 12 on the field?

Huge. I know Linsley downplays his importance in the play, but it doesn't work unless he recognizes when Rodgers is calling for the ball and getting it to him with the free play still intact.

Susan from Oak Creek, WI

What do you think the odds are that Charles Woodson will be selected to the Hall of Fame?

Favorable, especially after Rodgers drops the line, "He's the most talented person I've ever played with" like he did Wednesday. Woodson has first-ballot Hall of Famer written all over his resume. It would be great if Butler gets in, too.

Brad from Milwaukie, OR

Good morning gentlemen and Happy Thanksgiving. With Charles Woodson and Peyton Manning both being a lock as first-ballot HOFers can we expect to get a rematch HOF game next year but with a better paint job than our last one?

I'll be OK if I never cover another Hall of Fame game. That night in Cleveland four years ago was the longest week of my life.

Alex from Baltimore, MD

Why do you say Megatron is a lock for first year? This is the pass-happy rules era and he didn't play very long. He belongs in the HoVG, along with Sharpe unfortunately who also had too short of a career.

Spoff covered all of Calvin Johnson's NFL career, while I got the last five seasons. I'm telling you, having watched him in-person a half dozen times, he's also a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Megatron changed the game; the best of his era.

Darrell from Shawano, WI

Packers need to get better at third-and-1 and fourth-and-1 to be a better team.

No lies detected.

Craig from Sheboygan, WI

Is it too early to talk draft? Obviously, the Packers will upgrade D-line and linebackers to stop the run. Do you see any other areas that could be improved upon?

Yes, it is too early to talk draft.

Dave from East Burke, VT

Thinking maybe the mid-day chat didn't happen? Kept trying to enter.

We experienced some technical difficulties with the platform. Our apologies for the inconvenience. We'll be back next week.

Sean from Helena, MT

Good morning, Wes! My favorite call at the line this weekend was in the Dallas-Minnesota game. About 5:05 left in the third quarter, Kirk "Dirt" Cousins called out, "Sunday, Sunday, SunDAY!" Are you excited about bringing your little one to monster truck days in the future?

I love it. That's a fantastic call. And yes, it would be great to bring him to monster trucks...someday.

Ryan from Noblesville, WI

Wes, you about made me choke on my lunch in laughter yesterday with your response "Can't. It's past the trade deadline." There wasn't a more perfect way to respond. I miss Vic's responses but you're doing an outstanding job filling his shoes. Keep up the good work and making us laugh.

Appreciate you.

Michael from Morrison, IL

Mike/Wes, let's step away from football for a minute. What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving memories?

My Grandma Mary - the only grandparent I still have - used to make an exceptional Thanksgiving dinner. We'd fill up, watch the noon game and then play football in my grandparents' backyard at halftime. I always played running back because I was so little. Their clothesline was the field-goal crossbar. I'll hold onto those memories until the day I die.

Spencer from Crystal Lake, IL

Happy Thanksgiving, Michael and Weston. May your turkey be tasty and your pie be pumpkin. Thank you both for what you do, stay safe and enjoy some football!

And I wish the same to all of you. Happy Thanksgiving.

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