Sat, 02 Dec 2023

Inbox: It starts at home

19 Nov 2023, 17:12 GMT+10

It’s no secret where Justin Herbert wants to go with the football Wes Hodkiewicz

Richard from Menasha, WI

I was a little disappointed that this week's headline for "Unscripted" wasn't "Challenging the Chargers" or something of the sort. No alliteration. What's up?

Not an "Amped up" guy, huh? Well, I tried to sneak "Supercharged Showdown on Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!" in there, but Spoff caught it.

Adam from Rapid City, SD

I know a lot goes into how many touches a player gets per game. However, with the production Dontayvion Wicks has shown, I'd like to see him get a few more routes. He seems to have a pretty good rapport with Jordan Love. What are your guys' thoughts on this?

I am a huge fan of Wicks. He looks like a real find in the fifth round for Green Bay. Wicks has good size, route-running and field awareness. He's also stepped up every time the Packers have needed him this year. Rookies like that make a team better.

Linda from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Good morning, Wes. I see that both Ja and Quay are again listed as limited participation on Thursday's injury report. Although that is an upgrade for Ja from earlier in the week, they are both at the same level as they were last week. Do you think that they have a better chance to play this week?

Both are questionable, but this would be an ideal game for the Packers to have Jaire Alexander available. Keenan Allen not only is one of the best receivers out there, but he's also the Plan A, B and C in the Chargers' passing game with Mike Williams and Josh Palmer on injured reserve. Allen has more than three times as many receptions as any other Chargers player. It's no secret where Justin Herbert wants to go with the football and defenses still have a hard time stopping him.

Kevin from Pleasant Prairie, WI

Hi Mike: In case you get asked for the keys to the Chargers game, here are some you might consider: 1) Chargers' pass defense is weak. If the Packers' offensive line plays inspired football, this could lead to a big day for Jordan Love. 2) Hold onto the football! The Chargers lead the league in fumble takeaways. 3) Keisean Nixon provides a spark on special teams. This would bring the Lambeau crowd to its feet.

The key for me is turning production into points and stopping LA's rushing offense. Austin Ekeler is dangerous in space, but the Chargers haven't run the ball particularly well this season. Herbert and Allen will make their plays, but the Packers can't allow them easy third-and-short scenarios. That makes for a long day at the office.

Jodi from Grand Rapids, WI

From what unrelated position group might the next Deebo Samuel be discovered in terms of body type, skill set, etc.?

Cornerback. I'm still holding out hope for a couple more Keisean Nixon touches this season.

Dave from Mazomanie, WI

Hey fellas, I hope this finds you well and the haters aren't berating you too badly. While Lukas Van Ness hasn't flashed like some may have hoped, I have been noticing that LVN is starting to show up more during games. It's always fun to see growth from young players no matter the team's record. Take care gentlemen and thank you for your hard work!

Pass rushers are judged by their sacks and pressures, but it speaks volumes the Packers feel confident enough in Van Ness' ability to set an edge to play a 22-year-old rookie on first and second down. To date, Van Ness has played almost as many run downs as he has passing plays. He's just gotta keep working at it, but the athleticism and pass-rush instincts are there. You can see it.

Mike from New Orleans, LA

I love Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon, but the confusion when I see a poster mention "AJ" has not abated.

And that's not even including cornerback-turned-safety Anthony Johnson Jr. and cornerback-still-cornerback Anthony Johnson.

Alex from Lucketts, VA

Bryan Bulaga. Iowa.

When an NFL team drafts a tackle in the first round, it always hopes to get a 10-year starter from the investment. That's exactly what the Packers got in Bryan Bulaga, who provided a decade of stability at right tackle. He overcame two ACL tears to make 111 regular-season starts for the Packers.

Kevin from Westminster, CO

Could this be the get-right game for GB? It seemed close last week. One game where everything clicks is what this team needs to finish strong this season.

Slap whatever label you want on the game, but you gotta take care of business at Lambeau - especially after already dropping two road games to the AFC West. If Green Bay is gonna mount a rally here, it starts at home.

Mark from Vienna, VA

Do we make another porous defense (ranked 31st) look like a top-five defense this week?

Statistics bore out in Pittsburgh. Last week, the Packers made the Steelers' 28th-ranked total defense look like the top-five red-zone defense that it is with turnovers and missed opportunities. Green Bay can't let that happen again once it gets inside the 20 this Sunday.

Ned from Laguna Woods, CA

While a lot of justifiable criticism has been leveled at Joe Barry's defensive schemes, all the missed tackles would seem to indicate that the defenders were in the right places but were just not good enough to tackle effectively. Any insights?

Defense is a vegetable medley, not potato soup. Preparation, gap integrity and tackling are all integrally important to stopping the run. When those factors are aligned, you get performances like the Packers had against Minnesota and the LA Rams. When things are out of whack, the Steelers gash your defense for 200 yards. This week, Green Bay needs a better plan and execution. Defeating Herbert is challenging enough without allowing Ekeler and Joshua Kelley to run at will.

Matt from Waunakee, WV

On this date in 1940, the Green Bay Packers became the first team to travel to an away game via airplane.

It's a cool story and an iconic moment in NFL legend and lore. But every time someone mentions it, I always think of how the Packers traveled to Hawaii for an exhibition game in 1932. It took five days for the team to cross the Pacific. Curly Lambeau was unafraid of travel, that's for sure.

Tim from Macon, MO

Good morning to you two and your crew. Am I mistaken (as I am a lot) but wasn't Joe Lombardi the offensive coordinator of the Chargers? I see Kellen Moore is now. Do you all know where Lombardi is now? Many thanks to you two and crew! Have a blessed, safe and Happy Thanksgiving! And like I always "Love" to say JUST BACK THE PACK!

Joe is now Denver's offensive coordinator after reuniting with Sean Payton this offseason. It's Lombardi's third time working for Payton, with a two-year stint as Detroit's OC sandwiched between a 10-year run in New Orleans.

Jeremy from Tel Aviv, Israel

The Eagles just released Bernard Williams, an offensive tackle who has been suspended by the NFL since 1995 and is now 51 years old. Curious if you have any insight into how he's remained on their books for so long, and what changed now?

These procedural transactions happen every once in a great while. If you remember, the Steelers released Jerome Bettis off their reserve/retired list nine years into his retirement in 2014. The Packers did similar housekeeping in 2015, cutting a handful of players off reserve/retired and reserve/military.

Keith from Truro, NS, Canada

I'm here watching the Cincinnati/Baltimore game and a Ravens player caught a pass and ran in for a TD. But at the 1-yard line, he did a somersault into the end zone and in doing so, he landed with one foot in and one foot out. How is that a legal TD?

Because Nelson Agholor already caught the ball 30 yards earlier. Getting both feet down in in the end zone only applies to the process of the catch. Once possession is established, the ball just needs to break the plane of the end zone for it to count as a touchdown.

Bill from Clive, IA

Naturally, you are always wearing team apparel (as you should), but are you offered guidance on what items to choose from the vast array in the Packers Pro Shop? Are there certain featured items each new season? Can you wear some old favorites? Do you donate last year's wardrobe? Are you given a Pro Shop tab to spend down each year? Curious minds want to know!

No tab, but we get clothes a couple times each season. I've worked here long enough now that some of the early polos and shirts have since made their way to St. Vincent de Paul, but most still reside in my closet.

Neil from Tunbridge Wells, UK

Have you ever not recognized a player when out and about?

I don't know.

Tom from West Palm Beach, FL

This is the first year I can remember the NFL playing a game the Friday after Thanksgiving. I'd imagine the early Thursday game in Detroit is far preferable to a Friday away game.

Indubitably. With any luck, the turkey and gravy will still be warm at Casa de Hod when we fly back to Green Bay.

Jeffrey from Eveleth, MN

Well, deer season has been as frustrating as the Packers' season so far. As a great man once said (my late father), time to go back to the shack and do something we're good at.

I'm not a hunter, but Pa Hod is probably reading today's column in his deer stand in Northern Wisconsin. I want to wish a quick happy birthday to the O.G. Stay safe, pops.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Here we are again on the verge of Packers Sunday. And it's a very winnable game. Reasons to believe: 1) The friendly confines of Lambeau Field - in the cold - against a warm-weather team. 2) The offense is making progress as displayed last week, and they are facing a vulnerable defense. 3) Despite the talent on the Chargers team, they have underachieved this year. May this game be no exception! GPG!

It could be colder, but the Packers still need to use the 40-degree temps and northeastern Wisconsin fall to their advantage.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Last week encouraging signs aplenty but once again at crunch time, if and but

Questions linger and still searching for answers

Now a stiff test for the defense while the offense is tasked with keeping up

Keep your focus and find your answers, Green and Gold

*This is a big one for the Packers. Enjoy the game, folks. *

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