Tue, 24 May 2022

Inbox: This team is as tested as any

Packers
15 Jan 2022, 17:12 GMT+10

The stats themselves indicate the game is drastically different Mike Spofford

Greg from Long Beach, CA

Just beat the bye.

Gambling is illegal at Bushwood, but my money is on the Packers advancing past this weekend.

Matt from Chicago, IL

For Noble from Washburn saying he was last published twice in the column in 2010. Was there even a column in 2010? I thought Vic didn't show up until after that.

He didn't. I think Noble got his websites, or his years, mixed up.

Jennifer from Middleton, WI

I watched "Hard Knocks" covering the Colts' shocking and heartbreaking loss. If I may steal a Spoffism ... Mercy. I hope our guys all watch that episode. I can't imagine better motivation for the playoffs than to picture yourself sitting in a final team meeting like that. Frank Reich's "a scar on our football soul" made me flash to 2011, 2014, 2020 in particular. It's now 1:44 a.m. and I'm still awake thinking about this episode. Please oh please, no more scars.

In Monday's column I said I've never recalled such a stunning loss in a win-to-get-in game, and today I'll say I've never seen an owner prompted to issue a statement to his fan base following a regular-season defeat. That game will live in infamy until the Colts get their next playoff berth.

Gray from Ten Mile, TN

3-0 and we all get a new hat.

Sitting atop the cabinet along the back of my cubicle is every hat the team has earned since I've been here. When I added the 11th hat to the collection a few weeks ago, all I could think about was how cool it would be to make room for two more.

Ben from Pensacola, FL

In regards to a comment made in Mike's Mid-Week Chat about the stripes' calls being a factor, I think GB has done a lot in this season so far of not blinking in that situation and still coming out victorious. They were battle-tested going into the playoffs last year, but this year more so. Much more so.

Based on the schedule it fought through, this team is as tested as any for what lies ahead. The slate looked tough from the start of the season and it played out that way, with six opponents making the playoffs this year, and the Packers going 5-1 in those games (5-0 with Rodgers).

Anna from Buffalo, NY

If we lose any of our assistant coaches to another team before the postseason is over, do they immediately join the new team and leave the Packers, possibly missing games? Or can they finish out the season with the Packers, then join their new team?

It's usually up to the coach who gets hired. He can choose which way to handle it.

Scott from Sussex, WI

Call me an antidisestablishmentarianist if you'd like, but I don't get some of the Black Monday firings. Some very successful coaches and smart people are leaving the division. Where do you think Nagy and Zimmer go from here?

Great question. I don't see either getting another head coaching opportunity relatively quickly, a la McCarthy, who had accomplished so much more. If they want to stay in the game, maybe both go back to the coordinator ranks at some point here and see what develops.

Wesley from Kingsland, GA

Mike, I gotta say: I love "Packers Unscripted." From unexpected sneezes, mics that need tightening, and remembering to get in your "sponsorship business," it truly is unscripted. I love it! Keep up the amazing work. Is there anything you remember from doing this that really makes you chuckle?

If you've never seen a WesHod mini-rant, it's worth the price of the subscription. In all seriousness, though, after one of those, I love spending the next couple of episodes trying to push his buttons again.

Eric from Mequon, WI

Insiders ... Listening to Aikman criticize QB play this year I looked up his stats. Surprisingly he is way down the list in many categories. Young and Kelly don't have great stats either. Could these guys get the gold jacket in today's NFL? It's not like they played so long ago that the game is drastically different.

C'mon, man. The stats themselves indicate the game is drastically different. In 1995 when Brett Favre won his first MVP, not a single QB had a 100 passer rating. Favre was tops at 99.5. That rating would be ninth in the league in 2021, just ahead of Jimmy Garoppolo. Are you saying Favre's not a HOFer? I'm sure Aikman, Young and Kelly would've loved to play in an era with hypersensitivity to protecting QBs in the pocket and receivers downfield. I can't even imagine what their numbers would be today.

Clyde from Iron Mountain, MI

The team could have most of its starting players back on the field for the first playoff game. Am I correct in thinking this will be the most since the first game of the season? We all know how that turned out. Could this be a beware of what you wish for moment?

You're still worried about Week 1? If that's a serious question, I can't help you.

Andrew from Placentia, CA

Hello, a lot of fans seemed worried about the D. I see a run D that has held RBs to 88 yards on 32 carries the last two weeks. I see a pass D that's about to get Za'Darius Smith, Kingsley Keke, Jaire Alexander, and De'Vondre Campbell back. Am I being too optimistic by not losing sleep over the defense?

LaFleur has been harping on the defense playing disciplined, assignment-sound football, and he's exactly right. The talent is there on that side of the ball to get the job done if the players are dialed into what they have to do, not necessarily what they'd like to do.

Ralph from Naples, FL

Whoa! Whitney Mercilus is practicing (Thursday). I didn't see that coming, did you?

Nope. That was a head-sewn-to-the-carpet moment. Possibly having both Z and Mercilus as part-time outside 'backers is as big if not a bigger potential defensive boost than Alexander being back in the mix in the secondary.

Bill from Clive, IA

Gents, what sort of access do you have to practices in the playoffs? More? Less?

The same as the regular season. We get to see the early individual drills but then must exit before any 11-on-11 or group install periods begin.

Jeff from Vandenberg SFB, CA

Looking at the 2022 opponents, I found it an interesting quirk the farthest west the Packers will travel is Minnesota. Not sure if that means anything, but still.

It's happened before. When the full-division matchups are the AFC East and NFC East in the same season, and the placement pairing from the NFC West is coming to Lambeau, the Packers can reside east of the Mississippi for all but one game just across it.

Toby from Kingsford, MI

I've been hoping to see the Packers play in London. What's the chance that will happen in 2022 since it would have to be an away game?

It won't necessarily be an away game anymore. Any team with nine home games, as the Packers do in 2022, is now subject to having a game moved overseas.

Dave from Germantown, TN

With the playoffs coming through Lambeau Field and the likelihood that running the ball will be essential how do the other six playoff teams rank in the running statistics?

Here are the NFC playoff field's league rankings in rushing yards per game for 2021: 1. Eagles, 7. 49ers, 9. Cowboys 10. Cardinals, 18. Packers, 25. Rams, 26. Buccaneers.

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

G'morning, With the season over and the playoffs about to start I am looking at potential draft positions. according to my calculations Packers will get either No. 30 with the best season record, No. 31 as Super Bowl loser, or No. 32 as Super Bowl winner. Am I correct?

Nope. The Packers' potential draft positions are 28 (if they lose in the divisional round), 30 (if they lose in the conference title game), 31 or 32.

Sean from San Diego, CA

Seeing how hard it is to get our star players up to game speed, makes me even more impressed with the bottom of the roster and practice-squad players who are called up and relied on in a moment's notice. It can be difficult to keep up with the changing bottom of the roster, but there have to be so many great stories about these players. Has it been harder for you to get to know these players without access to the locker room?

It's been pretty much impossible, but nobody's fault. Just circumstances everyone hopes will change for the better at some point.

Herb from Palm Desert, CA

Hi fellas, I'd like to get your thoughts on how extraordinarily aggressive coaches seem to be on fourth down this year. Analytics seem to support many of the decisions, but what I don't understand is those same analytics say the team that wins the turnover battle wins the game more than 80% of the time. Isn't failing to convert on fourth down, especially in your own territory, the same as a turnover?

Ding ding ding! Look, the fourth-down analytics crowd lost me for good when I saw that LaFleur's decision on Christmas Day - to punt on fourth-and-6 from his own 42 with 2:14 left and a two-point lead - was ranked as one of the 10 worst fourth-down calls of the season. Say what? If taking that risk, when needing 6 yards for the first down while failure would've meant the Browns didn't need to gain a first down to try a go-ahead field goal in the final two minutes, is considered a bad decision, then I'm not interested in the supposed good ones.

Caleb from Knoxville, TN

What's the best non-Packers playoff game you've ever seen, and why?

I've never attended one that didn't involve the Packers. From watching on TV, it's the 1981 AFC Divisional playoff, San Diego at Miami. That'll always be the greatest postseason game ever, to me. If you don't know anything about that game, Google it. Watching it made me fall in love with the drama of football.

Matt from Fort Worth, TX

Which NFC and AFC games are you most looking forward to watching this week?

I hit on that in my live chat earlier this week.

Ricky Lee from Lampson, WI

Is this the year it could happen? I doubt it has, but have the 2, 3 and 4 seeds all ever lost in the first round? I think the ingredients are all there for it to happen this year. Philly is probably the least likely to pull off an upset, but very well could. LA and AZ are even and the 49rs are coming on strong at the right time. What say you boyz?

Well, three wild-card games per conference began just last year. But I can tell you only once in the last six years, and twice in the last nine, have the NFC home teams posted a sweep in the first round. The odds have been pretty good at least one NFC road team will win.

Mike from Glenwood, IL

Do you feel there is a "Goldilocks Zone" as far as weather goes to maximize home-field advantage? My theory is that at a certain temp, maybe single digits, it's just too cold and both sides are miserable, and maybe above 28 everyone has experienced it.

I hear what you're getting at. I'll say 11 degrees. That was the coldest kickoff temp this season, on Jan. 2, and the Packers still scored 37 points.

Austin from Woodstock, IL

Insiders, it seems like there is a lot of angst about who we will play in the next round and who would be bad matchups. What are the things that are going to make people nervous to head to the Frozen Tundra to play the No. 1 seed?

Mainly two. Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams.

Matt from Philadelphia, PA

What Packer do you think will be an unsung hero during the playoffs? Someone like James Starks in 2010 when he rushed for over 300 yards in the playoffs to help the Pack win the Super Bowl.

I'll pick one from each phase. Wes chose Josiah Deguara so I'll cast a vote for Randall Cobb on offense. I definitely think David Moore has a chance to bust a big return and change the flow of a game. And Eric Stokes has just one interception as a rookie, but I see him getting chances for more.

Mike from Baraboo, WI

It seems like the national media is not backing the Pack, even though the Packers have the best odds of winning the Super Bowl. Why do you think this is the case?

I honestly couldn't care less.

Phil from Marietta, GA

Can we please put this "Rest vs. Rust" discussion to bed? Here are some facts. A team on a bye has NEVER been eliminated from the Super Bowl tournament in the first round. But lower seeds have quite often knocked out higher-seeded teams. (GB in 2010 serves as one fine example, or perhaps as three fine examples.) And a team on a bye has NEVER suffered an in-game injury this weekend, for pretty obvious reasons. We're on to Round 2 of the playoffs. There are 12 teams playing this weekend that would LOVE to say that right now.

Amen.

Steve from Ankeny, IA

I love to watch the Packers play, typically standing and yelling at the TV most of the game, but I am looking forward to this coming weekend. Sitting on the couch, sipping a beverage and watching football with no pressure. Just doesn't sound too bad to me for one weekend!

Sign me up. Happy Friday.

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