Inbox: Rashan Gary is the personification of relentless pressure

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Kyle Bursaw,

John from Jupiter, FL

Morning Wes. Gotta say I’m liking the excitement the youth on this team brings. Up and downs will be plenty but to me the future could be bright. Thoughts? Thanks.

Hey, sometimes there’s something to be said for being bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, including on this quick turnaround. As difficult as Thursday tilts can be, these young bucks should be equipped to handle it…or at the very least deal with it better than Spoff admittedly does.

Steve from Birchington, UK

What are the three things that need to happen in order for the Packers to win on Thursday night?

Detroit has playmakers in every phase, but I feel this game is about Green Bay handling its business. Control the tempo. Dictate the pace. The Packers didn’t do enough of those two things in either meeting with the Lions last year. Green Bay needs to start fast, run the ball well and protect the football for 60 minutes. In two first halves against the Lions last year, all the Packers had to show for it was three Mason Crosby field goals. This year, the Packers must find the end zone early, maintain and head into the long weekend 3-1.

Brock from Bugtussle, TN

II, do you think Joe Barry will keep the same DL rotation which they used on Sunday effectively against the Saints limiting them to 77 rushing yards?

The Packers went back to a heavy dose of Kenny Clark (51 of 61 snaps) and Preston Smith (43 snaps) up front but rotated the pieces around the veterans regularly. Nobody else played more than 28 snaps. That may be the formula. The trick is finding the right times to insert Clark and Smith, who are elite pass rushers but also Green Bay’s top two run-defenders.

Jeffrey from Eveleth, MN

Just one game in 23 days after tomorrow’s contest. That should get the hamstrings healed up.

With five questionable, we’ll see who can go tonight. Either way, you hope that 23-day window gives the Packers a chance to heal before playing 12 straight to end the 2023 season. There’s a tall mountain to scale after the Packers host Minnesota on Oct. 29.

Bret from Hertel, WI

Could the lack of a successful running game be combination of factors such as inexperienced tight ends, young wide receivers, O-line changes, digging too deep of a hole, and coaches favoring the pass and shotgun? Thanks!

I expected the run game to be a work in progress for the Packers because of all the turnover…and losing Aaron Jones didn’t help matters. I think the Packers’ offensive line has done yeoman’s work given the injuries. Shoot, Pro Football Focus graded Green Bay’s O-line as the NFL’s best through the first three weeks. The ingredients are there. It’s just perfecting the running recipe.

Zack from Oswego, NY

Sunday’s comeback win was as exciting a game as I can remember watching the Packers play in quite some time. Seeing all the young guys rally behind one another and pull it off was exhilarating. During your time at Green Bay, is it fair to say this is arguably the most exciting team we’ve had to watch?

Yes, in terms of not knowing what to expect. But those 2011 and 2014 teams were pretty fun to watch, too. The youthfulness of this team is special, though. Win or lose, this team keeps things in perspective.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, who will be the biggest thorn in the Lions’ paw?

Rashan Gary. Pass rushers are judged in all sorts of ways whether it’s sacks, hits, pressures, or takeaways. But to me, Gary is the personification of relentless pressure. Tonight, he could be the wrecking ball the defense needs to break through a stout but banged-up Detroit front.

Stephen from Menomonee Falls, WI

When talking about teams devoting more attention to Gary, is there a coach up in the box who reports down to the field to let position coaches know who’s coming in per play? I’m hearing something along the lines of, “Uh oh. ’52’ is coming on the field. Get that right tackle some help.” Thanks!

Probably, but you also tend to notice when there’s a wolf in your backyard. Gary needs to get more national respect, but NFL head coaches and offensive coordinators know who No. 52 is and the challenge he presents on the field.

Jim from Westland, MI

The Lions’ offensive line varies their run blocking from guards or tackles pulling, center going to the second level, to zone, outside or inside. It’s a heck of a challenge, especially with the play-action off that. Discipline for the defense will be paramount.

No doubt about it. In Dan Campbell’s third year at the helm, the Lions are very good at what they do offensively. The Packers must set the tone early with discipline and physicality.

Bruce from Lakewood, CO

Morning gentlemen: A quarterback interacts significantly with the head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. With a young quarterback, how do the various coaches make sure that their advice is consistent and not overwhelming? Who is responsible for what?

A lot of it comes from just being around Love the past few years and understanding his process. Matt LaFleur, Adam Stenavich, and Tom Clements know what works for Love. On the opposite end, Love also had a chance to study Aaron Rodgers’ routine the past three years and put his thumb on what he likes. Simply put, it’s all communication.

Nick from Plainwell, MI

Good morning, Insiders! Jared Goff seems to have found a second home in Detroit with how well he’s been playing. Do you think the Lions came out as winners in that trade with how he has played, or Matthew Stafford because he was able to win the Super Bowl?

I don’t think every trade needs a winner and loser. Sometimes it works out for both, and I think this is one of those cases. Stafford put the Rams over the top, while the Lions reset their roster with draft picks and a capable QB.

Joseph from Sioux Falls, SD

I read Jordan Love‘s intended air yards average is over 10. Throw it every time and he only needs a 33% completion percentage to march down the field. In no way am I suggesting such a game plan, but it’s an interesting way to think about it for those who are concerned about his percentage right now.

Statistics are obviously whatever you make them, but I like Love’s aggressiveness and he’s only going to get better the more he plays. While downfield throws obviously affect accuracy percentages, it also delivers a warning to defensive coordinators wanting to creep strong safeties into the box. On any given play, Love isn’t afraid to go deep.

Steve from Beaver Dam, WI

One of the major differences between Jordan Love’s first year and the previous two franchise quarterbacks is Aaron Rodgers had Donald Driver and Greg Jennings his first season as a starter while Brett Favre had Sterling Sharpe. In your opinion, is it better for Love’s growth to go through the growing pains with his young group of receivers? Or, if one had been available, would it have been better for him to have at least one established veteran playing that position this year.

That could be true, but it’s also a different game today. While Rodgers and Favre had established receivers to throw to on Day 1, the college game is producing 1,000-yard rookie receivers at breakneck speed. More and more receivers are coming into the league and making immediate impacts. Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs are doing a great job setting the temperature in that room, as well.

Joel from Paris, KY

What do you think is the reason for the multiple long misses on the throws to a wide-open Luke Musgrave?

Just Love and the rookie tight end getting on the same page, which they will in time. It’s easy to take for granted the role Musgrave is filling in this offense from Day 1. He currently leads all Green Bay skill-position players with 157 offensive snaps (83.1%) through three games. It isn’t always going to be perfect, but I am excited about the possibilities when Love and Musgrave start connecting on those passes.

Shannon from Ovilla, TX

I wanted the Packers to draft Brian Branch and then he was available at our pick and instead traded the pick to Detroit. What dimension does he bring to the Lions’ defense that Love needs to be aware of tonight?

You can’t draft them all, but you can take solace in the fact the Packers appear to have hit on two long-term offensive starters in Musgrave and Reed. Branch is quickly proving he should’ve been a first-round pick, though. The Lions can play him in the slot and the back end. He can play press man and cover in space. Love just needs to be cognizant of where Branch is and how quickly he can trigger to the ball.

Gary from Chippewa Falls, WI

Is there and over/under for Detroit trick plays?

1.5. You have to be ready for anything when play MCDC’s Lions.

Dean from Easley, SC

Does Miami root against Miami going undefeated 51 years later?

I like Miami a lot, but let’s pump the fins a little on 17-0. As Spoff alluded to, the Dolphins have their work cut out for them the next few weeks. Miami faces Buffalo, Philadelphia, and Kansas City before reaching its Week 10 bye. If the Dolphins get through that gauntlet, then maybe we can turn the key on the undefeated talk.

Michael from Berrien Springs, MI

Spoff: “…the game program, a project for which Wes devotes a lot of blood, sweat and tears.” Wow. I had no idea that, on top of heartfelt stories, Inbox duties, “Three Things,” weekly discussions with Mike, and who knows what else, Wes also does the game program. Hats off to Wes.

The Gameday program is a “labor of labor,” as I like to put it. Thankfully, I have an amazing coworker, Nicole Timm, who helps keep my head above water. I couldn’t do it without her. She helped Michael a ton with the Packers Yearbook, as well.

Darren from Wakefield, MI

Hi Wes. I know “it’s the next man up, “it’s not one player,” and “it’s a team sport,” etc., but the offense is just a different animal when Aaron Jones is in the lineup. Maybe I can use the “it’s players, not plays…”? Here’s to hope he’s on the field.

Absolutely. There is only one Aaron Jones and defenses play the Packers differently when he’s out there. It’s no different than when Davante Adams was here a few years ago. That’s also why Green Bay has been so cautious with Jones the past two weeks. The Packers are young, but they have big goals for the season and Jones’ availability and productivity are a key part of that.

Craig from Laramie, WY

After another late night at a Denver hospital, visiting a 19-year-old family friend who was just diagnosed with some as-yet-undetermined type of cancer, I was greatly comforted to read about the “Packers vs. Cancer” game. Sometimes football is an escape from real life for me, but this time football is helping me face real life. Please pray for Thaddeus.

I’m terribly sorry to hear that. We’ll be keeping Thaddeus in our thoughts and prayers.

Rod from Chugiak, AK

Once in a while, a Lego build illustrating some notable game drama gains exposure in Packers media, indicating there must be a significant number of bricksters among our fan base, and probably among Inboxers, as well. That following would no doubt be excited to learn that when Lego Masters Season 4 kicks off tonight, among contestants will be my eldest son Jordan, a lifelong Packers fanatic.

Let’s go, Jordan! Everyone here in the Inbox is cheering for you!

Jeffrey from Eveleth, MN

Guys, if the Packers’ defense allowed 70 points in a game, would you consider taking a mandatory three-day cooling off period for the Inbox?

I may have to call in sick for the first time since getting chicken pox in 2011.

Dennis from Rhinelander, WI

Good morning, Insiders. So, the Packers don’t play a game on the next three Sundays. What am I supposed to do?

Maybe check out a local pumpkin patch?

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

No time to celebrate or recover,

Opportunity knocks.

Win now and rest later,

We have a Lion to slay.

And kneecaps to bite.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Adversity, injuries, and self-inflicted wounds lead to

A nightmare three quarters of frustration and a four-quarter scoring drought

Then, a glorious fourth quarter snatches victory from the jaws of defeat

Now a quick turnaround and a clash that could set the tone for the NFC North

The Lions expect to wear the crown and they will not go gentle into the night

Defend the Hallowed Ground and fight for every inch Green Bay

Your path remains straight ahead, Green and Gold

First place in the NFC North is on the line tonight at Lambeau Field. With a win, the Packers make an emphatic statement that they’re still the team to beat in the black-and-blue division. It should be a fun one. Enjoy the game, folks.

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