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Inbox: Kenny Clark can do it all at an elite level

Packers
02 Dec 2021, 17:12 GMT+10

It’s time to put some respect on Matt LaFleur’s name in the NFL Coach of the Year conversation Wes Hodkiewicz

Gordon from Newport Beach, CA

Is that bitter taste of the Vikings loss gone now?

This win was a pretty powerful elixir, especially with the Vikings losing to the San Francisco 49ers Sunday. The Packers are now 3½ games up on Minnesota with five games left to play for Green Bay. It's a good spot to be as the calendar flips to December.

David from Baileys Harbor, WI

If Matt LaFleur is not in the running for coach of the year, it will be an absolute shame. The entire staff should be held in high regard for the job they have done this year with all the injuries. Who else should be in the running this year? Shout out to AJ Dillon, Door County's new honorary mayor! See you for wings my friend! I didn't get the photo cred TV 26, by the way!

At this moment, Matt LaFleur is the NFL Coach of the Year. He has to be. Frankly, he should've already gotten it in 2019. I don't want to hear about "Oh, but he has Aaron Rodgers" or "Well, this team is so talented." The Packers have played most of this season without three of their top eight players and have lost four other starters since then. But despite all these injuries and outside distractions, LaFleur has kept the Packers locked in on the task at hand. Where there have been injuries, LaFleur and the coaches have developed and prepared the next men up at those positions. So, I don't want to hear about Bill Belichick or Kliff Kingsbury. It's time to put some respect on Matt LaFleur's name. Game. Set. Match. Thank you for your consideration.

David from Appleton, WI

Hello Insiders! The roster is full of replacement parts supporting key components. When one part needs refurbishment, another part is available. Does Brian Gutekunst get serious consideration for GM of the year?

That one, too. The Packers aren't here by accident, folks. It's taken shrewd front-office moves, innovative coaching and hungry players fulfilling their potential to get to 9-3.

Bill from Naples, FL

Wow, what a game. Matt LaFleur and the rest of the coaches have done an outstanding job each week with the players that are available. With the bye week upon us and COVID-19 issues still somewhat prevalent in our society, what protocols, if any, do the players have to follow during their earned time off?

Enjoying some badly needed R&R. Spoff and I both wrote at some point this offseason that this Week 13 bye presented a challenge and an opportunity. As daunting as 12 straight regular-season games can be, the final stretch sets up well for nine-win Green Bay with three of the last five at home.

Sean from Helena, MT

If the Bucs get Playoff Lenny, do we get Christmas Kenny? It is so fun to watch him turn it on in December!

The legend of Kenny Clark was built in the month of December. He has 73 tackles (12 for loss), 10 sacks and 14 quarterback hits in 20 December games. Those 10 sacks are double his next productive month (five sacks in 21 October games). Still, Clark is a player of all seasons and I wish he'd get more credit for that. The guy is an impressive pass-rushing defensive tackle but he very well might be the most well-rounded player at his position with how proficient he is against the run. Kenny Clark can do it all at an elite level.

Tom from Phoenix, AZ

Another great team effort and well-earned win. There were a lot of great plays in the game that stood out, but to me, Amos coming up in the box on fourth-and-1 to stop the run was the most satisfying. For a few seconds before the snap, I was yelling at the tube for him to plug the hole. He didn't disappoint. When I saw that running back flip (butt) over teacup and land on his head a half yard short of the first down, everything Vic talked about came full circle! Play that tape, please.

I regrettably didn't write more about that sequence after the game but it really did have a huge bearing on the outcome. Adrian Amos' stop was fantastic, but so was Clark setting up Amos' third-and-2 tackle by getting into the backfield as quickly as he did and halting any moment Darrell Henderson had.

Daniel from Allen, TX

"Nine healthy toes are greater than two broken ankles" - Kevin from Loves Park, IL. Great dig, and just part of the greatness of II.

Aaron Rodgers, a few days shy of his 38th birthday and still savvy as ever.

Bill from Somers, NY

I need two weeks to recover from the game as much as the Packers do. Jimmy Johnson predicted Rodgers repeating as MVP. If they run the table, it could happen. Do you agree?

He probably needs to be in the conversation, right? Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray and Joe Burrow all came back down to earth, while Rodgers' passer rating has steadily improved all season. You probably need to sneak Jonathan Taylor in there, too. He's breathed life back into the Indianapolis Colts' once-wayward season.

Ian from Cumbernauld, UK

Hi gents. It's amazing that AR can play at this level without practice. Have you ever heard of another team that can give their backup QB four weeks of first-team reps midseason?

That's the most astonishing thing about how well Rodgers is playing. He's doing all of this preparation mentally. Despite the nagging toe, Rodgers is still making plays with his feet and throwing the ball well against his body. I'm sure there are other examples of franchise QBs who didn't practice during the week due to injury, but this is something special.

Ronald from Panabo, Philippines

Insiders, with the extra game are there any Packer season records in jeopardy?

Despite missing a game with COVID, Davante Adams still has a shot at resetting his own single-season receptions (115) mark and breaking Jordy Nelson's record for single-season receiving yards (1,519). That's pretty much it.

Ross from Hudson, WI

AJ Dillon imposing his will for seven and eight yards after first contact is a thing of beauty, and not something Packer fans are used to seeing. With his battering, Aaron Jones' slicing, Aaron Rodgers' dicing, this offense seems to be finding and refining its identity: Hammer and Nails.

Call 'em whatever you want to call 'em, but Jones and Dillon are a formidable duo. Once this offense gets David Bakhtiari back, I'm excited to see what Green Bay can do on the ground as we enter the winter months.

Jim from Tucson, AZ

Other teams were willing to lose Randall Cobb, Rasul Douglas, Corey Bojorquez and De'Vondre Campbell before the season started. Is the pure talent level really that close in this game?

In some regard, yes. There are 2,000 active players in the NFL. This is the best of the absolute best. Culture, fit and superstars at key positions separate the good NFL teams from the bad ones. The Packers had a good base in place but the four players you mention have been missing pieces for this team at positions of need.

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

Insiders, the success of Rasul makes me wonder how many career practice-squad players can succeed given the opportunity?

There are more than 500 players on NFL practice squads, so it stands to reason a few out there are being overlooked. That being said, Douglas isn't your traditional practice-squad guy. He's a former third-round pick with a lot of NFL games under his belt. The changes the league made to expand veteran practice-squad eligibility is the only reason Douglas was there in the first place. I'm still happy they did it, though. Who knows if Douglas would still be in the league right now without the veteran-exemption rule.

Bob from Valencia, CA

What injured players do you think will be ready to play after the bye?

The healthy ones.

Alan from Richland, WA

Yosh Nijman is my pick for team MVP this year. He's completely shutting down the best edge rushers in the league. This is no "third-string" player. Will Green Bay be able to keep him after this season? He's going to draw huge interest from teams in need of a LT, which means almost all of them. I can't put into words how proud I am of Yosh.

I'll say the same thing about Nijman that I said about Elgton Jenkins. A lot of teams couldn't survive losing their five-time All-Pro left tackle for 12 games. As much as the Packers miss Bakhtiari, Jenkins and Nijman have made this look way easier than it should. That's also a testament to those two and the work Adam Stenavich and Luke Butkus have done developing their young offensive linemen.

Chris from Toronto, Canada

What creates more positive team juju: registering the ninth win going into their week off, or the combo robot routine between AJ Dillon and Yosh Nijman? So much fun to see Yosh play great and to be embraced by the team. That makes for a great locker room!

If a 6-foot-7, 314-pound offensive tackle doing the robot doesn't get you going, nothing will. Wins aren't enough when you have lofty goals. You need some positive vibes, too.

Andy from Verona, WI

If and when Jaire Alexander comes back, which of the three starting corners will he replace?

You guys love asking this question and rarely does it work out that way. Just look at Sunday with Kevin King being out with a hip/knee injury. If Jaire comes back and everyone is up, then that's a good problem for Joe Barry and Jerry Gray to have.

Thomas from Ovideo, FL

The Colts lost to the Bucs Sunday like the Packers lost to them last January. They abandoned their strengths conceding to the Bucs' strengths. The Packers beat the tough Rams defensive line Sunday because they kept running. Do you think that we will never again hear ML say he regrets abandoning the run? That seems to be a common theme to the few losses we've endured under ML.

It was coaching malpractice that Jonathan Taylor didn't have 20 carries vs Tom-pa Bay. He's their best player. Taylor should have 20-plus carries in every Colts game. Indianapolis just isn't good enough not to feed him. I agree wholeheartedly with your point on the Rams game. LA played Green Bay differently in two-minute situations than it did when the Packers were threatening the run. On a stat book, AJ Dillon and Aaron Jones combining for 92 yards on 30 carries won't impress you but it might have been why the Packers won the game. It certainly factored into GB nearly doubling LA in time of possession (39:40-Barbara Walters).

John from Charlottesville, VA

With the bye week coming so late in the season, is this the first time the coaches are able to self-scout? Do they make time during the season other than the bye week to self-scout and make adjustments?

It's not the first time the Packers have self-scouted this season but it's probably the first time they've had proper time to do it. Constantly reviewing tendencies is part of any NFL season but there isn't pressure for the coaches to prepare a game plan for players coming in the building tomorrow. They can sink their teeth into what they're putting on film.

Derek from San Jose, CA

Not a question but I see that the Packers hold the record for longest NFL streak without back-to-back losses according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Yeah, 81 games without back-to-back losses from 1938-45. You know what they say, it's hard to beat Don Hutson once. May God have mercy on your soul trying to beat him twice.

Chad from Wisconsin Rapids, WI

No sacks for Aaron Donald? I guess you could say he choked.

Not bad. Not great. But not bad, either. The Packers' O-line sure seems to get under that dude's skin, though. Jeez.

Kevin from Wilmington, NC

I had considered skipping the Rams game figuring GB didn't stand a chance with all the players out to injury on both sides of the ball. For a patchwork offensive line featuring newbies, they did great and I was glad I watched a very good game. Speaking of injuries, if the NFL truly wants to prevent them in kickoffs, then why don't they rule "take-out" blocks as illegal during onside kicks? Target the ball, not the players trying to field it ... same as a punt.

You won't hear an argument from me there. It's 2021. We can't have guys torpedoing into each other on those plays, even if it's not direct helmet-to-helmet contact. I'm just glad Darnell Savage appears to be OK.

Mark from Westminster, CO

Wes, the win was awesome, but one thing stands out to me. We had 20 more minutes of time of possession than the Rams and were a pick-six from this game being a nail biter. Does that concern you?

Not really. The Packers made their fair share of mistakes but the Rams made more. That was the difference. And it's not like Green Bay was playing down to the level of a two- or three-win team. LA is legit. It was a good, hard-fought win.

Margo from Solvang, CA

Hi guys! After a win, I like to go to the opponent's website to see what they're saying. I'm constantly amazed at how little content they provide. We are spoiled with you two! We get the Editorial, Drive of the Week, Locker Room Report, Game Recap, Game Notes, etc. Not to mention the Inbox, WYMM and the Mid-Week Chat. The Rams posted a game recap, and a cut-and-paste of postgame interviews - that's it. Thanks for all you do to keep us connected. Hope you can enjoy some well-earned PTO.

While I appreciate that, Margo, there are two parties to thank and neither of them are named "Wes" or "Spoff." It's really a credit to the Packers organization footing the bill for us writers and to good people like yourself who engage with our content. There isn't Wes or Spoff without all of you.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, Giannis has announced he will sell autographed basketball cards of his teammates to make money in case he ever goes broke. Do you have a similar backup plan using autographed football cards?

Ha. I retweeted that Monday and mentioned how I said something similar to my wife about my fallback plan. It didn't garner the same reaction as Giannis.

Braden from Denver, CO

Morning II, with a much-needed bye week finally here, it got me wondering: What does a bye week schedule look like for you? How about for the players and coaches?

I just wanna go line-dancing with my homies, bro. That's it.

Jacob from Ironwood, MI

Any chance Path to the Playoffs could start this week? Probably early, but with the bye week, it'd be nice to know who to root for/against.

"P2P" starts Friday. Set your calendars accordingly or have your dog remind you.

Sebastian from Erlangen, Germany

Wes, it's "Er spricht Deutsch." Sorry, I couldn't help myself. Should I see myself out the "Tür"?"

Ja wohl.

Steve from Ankeny, IA

The Packer Pro Shop might want to stock up on No. 29 Douglas jerseys for Christmas!

All I want for Christmas is Ruhhhh-soooooollllll. OK, I'm sorry. Sebastian, where's that Tür?

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