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Inbox: They simply have to

4 min read
Inbox: They simply have to

Eric from Stevens Point, WI

Gents, I know they don’t hand out crowns until the end of the year, but this week kind of feels like one of those turning points that you look back on after a successful season. Do you feel it or is it just a Week 5 key matchup?

It’s a big game for two teams trying to avoid a losing streak after a hot start. A turning point? Too early for that I think, even later in retrospect, but maybe. What I do know is the difference between 4-1 and 3-2 will feel significant for both teams.

Looking forward to a good game this weekend. What matchup intrigues you most?

It’s not a matchup as much as an imperative for Green Bay. With all the focus on Zeke and the run defense, the Packers have to find a way to run the ball in this game themselves. They simply have to.

The Cowboys have a few players on defense who can disrupt things. Who is the player to neutralize if GB wants to run the ball efficiently? And, what’s the status on Bulaga?

Bulaga has practiced the last two days, so that’s a great sign. Linebacker Jaylon Smith is the defender who makes this Dallas defense go, in my opinion, and fellow linebacker Leighton Vander Esch isn’t far behind. The Packers’ linemen have to be swift off their combo blocks up front to get to the needed blocks on the second level.

Statham from Pineview, GA

I think it’s safe to say that our offense is completely different without Adams on the field, as seen in the two red-zone trips against the Eagles. Adams gets well-deserved extra attention every snap he plays, more times than not leaving other receivers with huge opportunities. What does the Packers’ offense have to do in order to win without Adams on the field Sunday, if he cannot go?

I’m harping on running the ball because if you can run the ball, you can run play-action, and play-action is an equal-opportunity way to throw the ball, meaning it doesn’t require Pro Bowl receivers to be effective.

With Williams wounded, would you say the fullback position is Vitale important this week?

Would the NFL consider a roster exemption for concussion protocol players, similar to the MLB? If a player is in the protocol, they don’t count against the 53. Bring up a practice squad player for a week or two? I know there are independent doctors clearing them, but it would put less stress on getting players back with his replacement able to play without cutting or IR’ing someone else. Truly let their heads heal.

I’m always wary of changing injury rules because of the possibility of abuse, but I think the league should absolutely consider this. With independent doctors involved in the protocol, it would be very difficult for teams to abuse such a system. It’s a worthwhile idea.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Aaron Rodgers: “First and foremost I have confidence in myself.” There is a leader. Telling his team that he expects his play to raise the level of play of those around him. No excuses, just high-level execution.

The truly elite players never shy away from responsibility, which includes elevating the play of others.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

Trading players, and especially in-season trading of players, is rare in the NFL but seems to be getting more traction recently including the trade window now going eight weeks into the season. With the inordinate number of teams that are winless and having new coaches, is there potential to have a robust trade market this year?

I think it’s a distinct possibility. It’ll all depend on how struggling teams view the rest of their season and if cap savings for the future becomes a priority.

When will hurdling be banned from the NFL? How many injuries need to happen before the safety commission steps in? It’s one thing if the defender is on the ground. If the player tries jumping over a player that’s standing up, there’s a high chance of injury for the jumper or the defender (insert Nick Collins reference). The Lions’ rookie TE got injured when he tried to jump over the defender, who promptly threw him to the ground.

I don’t have a response. I just thought I’d give you the floor.

Zak from Huntington Beach, CA

Is it commonplace for quarterbacks to use audibles that don’t actually change the play originally called in the huddle, purely as a means to confuse or distract the defense? Decoy calls? How often does this happen?

All the time. Every week, quarterbacks have dummy calls and real calls. If every call or signal meant a change, the defense would just change along with it to mess up the plans.

A close loss like that feels horrible particularly because we could not cash in twice at the end. How easy is it for the players, mainly rookies, to move on? How good is Coach LaFleur in this regard?

Much better than fans, trust me. They have to be. There’s a saying in football that you can’t let one missed opportunity beat you twice. If you don’t live by that, you don’t last.

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