Confessions of a Polluted Mindset 2020 - Packers Breeze Through the Bye

The Weekly Packers Brain Drain from Jersey Al.

Covid: According to Matt LaFleur, the Packers got through the bye week without any positive Covid tests, a real testament to their maturity and sense of responsibility considering what is going on in Wisconsin right now, 

Base Concepts: Last week, I was effusive in my praise of Matt LaFleur and his "non-McCarthyness." More precisely, his propensity for tailoring the offensive game plan to the opponent as opposed to just "running our offense." In last week's "Packs What She Said" podcast here on CHTV, our own Dusty Evely expanded on that and give a great discourse on how LaFleur has featured certain base concepts in each of the first four games. It's right near the top of the podcast, Give it a listen and then stick around for the rest of the pod with Maggie, Perri and Dusty. Really good stuff.

Adams and Clark: Despite what they are saying, there is little doubt the Packers planned from the start to sit both players until after the bye where the Tampa Bay Bucs await. Tampa's defense is physical and has playmakers at all three levels; defensive line, linebacker and secondary. They have linebackers that are capable of covering the Packers' running backs, so getting trusted target Davante Adams back will be huge for the Packers offense in this game. Getting Kenny Clark back will, simply put, make everyone on the Packers front seven better.

Confidence:  In 2019, I never felt as confidant going into games week after week as I have this year. A lot more doubt seemed to creep into my mind before each 2019 game - even later in the season after they were well into a 13-3 season. This year has been so different for me. Even the first game, despite not having seen this team on the field, I was absolutely sure that they would beat the Vikings - the team most pundits were picking to win the NFC North (talk about disrespecting the Packers, BTW). While I try to be optimistic, I am above all, a realist. This year, my reality is I expect them to win and am not looking as much for reasons why they might not. It feels good.

Billy Turner: I've really been surprised by the play of Billy Turner at right tackle. I worried big-time about him getting beat on the edge in pass protection but it hasn't been an issue. I'll temper that by saying he hasn't faced a rusher with an elite getoff yet, but luckily there aren't a lot of them to go around.

Corey Linsley: Can you say "contract year?" Every game Linsley is filling up his virtual briefcase with more future dollars thanks to play like this:

 

Aaron Rodgers is in Elite Company: 

 

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"Jersey Al" Bracco is the Editor-In-Chief, part owner and wearer of many hats for CheeseheadTV.com and PackersTalk.com. He is also a recovering Mason Crosby truther.  Follow Al on twitter at @JerseyalGBP

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Comments (48)

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

October 14, 2020 at 06:46 am

"a real testament to their maturity and sense of responsibility considering what is going on in Wisconsin right now"

I wonder if in some odd way the horrible numbers right now actually helped the Packers stay safe. Basically it's clear you can not get away with any breaches of the protocol right now and since the hospitals are filling up it's a bad time to get sick with anything serious.

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mrtundra's picture

October 14, 2020 at 08:11 am

Especially when the brunt of the virus is hitting the area around Green Bay, the hardest. Stay safe! GO PACK, GO!

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

October 14, 2020 at 09:14 am

I've been getting calls from my friends around the country to make sure I am staying safe.

I am blessed with 5 acres and I have little reason to leave. I feel for people with small spaces and nowhere to go outside right now.

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Spock's picture

October 14, 2020 at 06:47 am

Al, your "confessions" articles are among my favorites. I feel the same way you do; this year I EXPECT the Packers to win and haven't felt any "worries" for any games. Great stuff you've highlighted. GPG

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NickPerry's picture

October 14, 2020 at 07:17 am

Really like this by Al mostly because it's a lot of the same things I've been thinking about regarding the Packers. I was concerned about COVID and how the Packers would fare coming out of their Bye week. Lets have another day or two of no positives and I'll feel even better.

Confidence... I can be a superstitious fan, at least last year my superstitions were running wild. For example after that week one win last season I wore the same pair of shorts, boxers, and slingshot while watching the game (YES I washed them after each game). When I would turn my phone off before each game I'd put in in the same exact spot, face down (yes it matters), and of course I would find a spot in my living room to watch the Packers and not move until something bad happened. IT WAS RIDICULOUS!! But I did it all the same each and every week.

This year not so much. Now I have switched my the area of my home where I watch the game, now up in my loft opposed to the living room. I still leave my phone in the same spot as I did week one but that's it. I KNOW the Packers are going to kick ass this year and it hasn't mattered yet who they've played.

THIS is a different Packers team. Everyone is on the same page, MLF has called some of the best games I've ever seen from a Packers play caller, and AR is making EVERYWHERE he plays Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood.

Adams and Clark...NOW it's going to get fun!!

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jlc1's picture

October 14, 2020 at 08:06 am

That's all some pretty good work Nick. Keep it up.

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Tundraboy's picture

October 14, 2020 at 09:46 am

Yeah I'm ridiculously superstitious as well. But boy how refreshing this year is. I couldn't agree with you more . Enjoy

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stockholder's picture

October 14, 2020 at 07:11 am

Nice Tape on Linsley. I wouldn't be surprised if he was signed again. GreenBay has to have a good center. Linsley was a steal. Turner is doing a good job. Adams and Clark, Yes we need them. It's Time they earn their Salary. I hate it when High price players sit. Confidence: Yes, mine went sky high when I saw #12 play. I only hope he stays young! I must admit I thought MM got a raw deal from the press. But watching LeFluer, he has my vote for coach of the year. Nice replacement Murphy. Covid?, Stay safe WI.

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Bearmeat's picture

October 14, 2020 at 09:42 am

No way Linsley is re-signed. They drafted two interior linemen and re-signed a depth piece to prepare for his departure.

Jones is a harder case, but I'm still thinking both Williams and Jones leave in the offseason.

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mnbadger's picture

October 14, 2020 at 07:35 am

Great article from start to finish. Totally agree that this year I'm confident vs cautiously optimistic last year. If you're a Packer fan you have to love the ROCK. Poor guy played on mediocre at best teams, never really sniffing the SB. I'm sure his blood is green above the belt and gold below. Him and Tauscher are the best analysts in titletown. GPG

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PeteK's picture

October 14, 2020 at 07:38 am

All of this with some major injuries. However, I still worry a bit about the run blocking from the aforementioned linemen. Turner often has a TE shadow and Linsley does not get the consistent push. Bak, King, and Jones will be bigger priorities so don't know if we can afford Linsley.

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Coldworld's picture

October 14, 2020 at 08:24 am

I don’t see any way we can keep Linsley unless we fail to keep others. The question when balancing cap in a situation like this resolves around marginal value. No matter how good a player is, how much of a step down is the next man up, and how does that compare with other positions?

Patrick has done pretty well as a guard. How much of a difference would he, for example be and the line be with Runyon at guard? Obviously there are permutations with Jenkins, Hansen, Stepaniak etc., but taking the Patrick/Runyon option, the step down seems minimal compared to LT, CB, RB etc. Obviously if we can’t sign Bakh, Jones, King etc. then the calculation may change, just think it’s unlikely to justify the cost of retaining Linsley, sadly. Football is a game if replacement and the O line is an area where we do have talent in the middle.

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Leatherhead's picture

October 14, 2020 at 08:45 am

We have about $5 million in cap space. We’re not going to be able to keep these guys.

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Lphill's picture

October 14, 2020 at 08:15 am

Any news on Gary? The way to beat Brady is with pressure .

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Coldworld's picture

October 14, 2020 at 08:25 am

He appears to have practiced. Only Ervin and King were out SS far as I know.

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SwedeBayPacker's picture

October 14, 2020 at 08:31 am

Hope for the best, expect the worst.

Not with this team, Go Pack Go.

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RCPackerFan's picture

October 14, 2020 at 08:44 am

Covid:
This was really news thus far.

Base Concepts:
I do like how LaFleur runs his system but really tries to attack the weakness of the defense. I like how in each game a different person was the main focal point. One week its Adams, next its Jones, next its Lazard, next its Tonyan.

Adams and Clark:
The Packers offense will be more challenged this week then they have been the first 3 weeks. Tampa has a really good defense. Getting Adams back will help a lot! Clark will add a major boost to the front. If Gary can play also, that adds another level to the defensive front.

Confidence:
The difference is mostly in how Rodgers has been playing! He has been so damn good this year. Last year he missed so many throws for whatever reason. Or his throws were just off. This year though he has been on fire! He has hit everything. Deep underneath, everything. Add his ability and add LaFleur's style of offense and its a great pairing!!!

Billy Turner:
I was the same way. I was nervous about him playing RT. Hopefully he holds up throughout the whole season. He has looked good so far.

Corey Linsley: I'm afraid that like Bulaga last year Linsley will be playing his last year in GB. Packers will have options at OC however, they won't be as good as what Linsley has been.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

October 14, 2020 at 08:54 am

Bulaga was released in part due to injury concerns and with good reason he's out for the Chargers with injury now. Linsley is younger, aside from coming back too early from an injury early on in his career has been healthy. Linsley's problem is the amount and quality of talent GB has to sign or replace at the end of the year. If GB can't afford Jones and Bahktiari than Linsley and King could get a contract for the right price. Glad I don't have to make those decisions.

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Minniman's picture

October 14, 2020 at 09:34 pm

This coming offseason is going to be a rare one.

There’s a bunch of teams projected to be over the cap already.

There’s also a bunch of quality guys on a number of teams who will be free Agents.

In agreeing with coldworld’s point above - that the gap between the starter and the backup may well decide the fate of the starter.

To that point, some guys (like say Preston Smith and Christian Kirksey - who have circa $14M in cap saving between them) may be cap casualties to free up space to retain starters without a viable successor........ there’s Bakh and/or Jones re-signed (depending on deal and structure).

Agree, I don’t envy Gute or Ball this year

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Bure9620's picture

October 15, 2020 at 07:00 am

His contact expired and he became a UFA, Bulaga was not released

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DavidEbert's picture

October 14, 2020 at 09:05 am

Cool update.

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ricky's picture

October 14, 2020 at 09:05 am

A few thoughts. First, has Kirksey been "Pipped"? Right now, Summers and Barnes are filling in for him very nicely, with Kamal Martin expected back soon. Also, per PFF, Kirksey is ranked 77th out of 84 LBers. Ouch. Second, there was considerable worry about the OL during the off season. Not anymore. Major kudos to Adam Stenavich in revitalizing this unit, with no apparent fall off with the "next man up." Rodgers is obviously playing at an insane level right now. I guess the Packers giving him a little "Love" lit a fire under him. And of course, the Vulcan mind meld between LaFleur and Rodgers has produced outstanding results so far. Meanwhile, the Bears are 4-1, and some are laughing, saying they're barely winning and aren't as good as their record. The same thing that was said about the Packers last year. The two games between these bitter rivals could be crucial to winning the division title.

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flackcatcher's picture

October 14, 2020 at 09:30 am

Nick Foles has the ability to make plays if he is in the right system and scheme. Looks like he is. Only question is can the Bears O line keep him clean. If they can, Foles has the ability to elevate his offensive teammates play. The Bears just became THAT team for the Packers. Again. Nuts...

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Since'61's picture

October 14, 2020 at 09:09 am

Al - another excellent article. Like yourself and others here I have been feeling and thinking much of the same especially in terms of confidence. I’m looking forward to seeing what MLF can come up with after a bye week to prepare.

On defense I would like to see more pressure on opposing QBs, especially playing against Brady this week. I’d also like to see us come up with a few turnovers. Our defense is getting the job done but it would be great to see Rodgers and the offense work with a short field a little more often.

Linsley has been very solid this season as has the rest of the OL. I would like to see them execute a bit better in short yardage and in the Red Zone. Hopefully this is an area they have worked on during the bye.

Having said that this team looks better on both sides of the ball than the Packers have in years, probably since 2014. Tampa is a challenge because they have a good defense but they haven’t played against our offense yet. I think the return of Adams and Clark tilts the field towards us with their fresh legs for this game. If Gary is ready to go it tilts a little more because of his speed.
I’m also hoping that we get to see some of Barnes and Martin playing together at ILB.

12 straight weeks of games ahead. Long road. Go Pack Go!
Thanks, Since ‘61

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BradHTX's picture

October 14, 2020 at 09:32 am

“12 straight weeks of games ahead.“

Then a week’s break, and three weeks of games after!

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Packer_Fan's picture

October 14, 2020 at 09:09 am

Comments. For the virus, each player has to take responsibility to avoid being infected. The club can help and the player leaders can too, but it is up to the individual. Set your sight on what is important, here going for the Super Bowl, so don't mess up.

The Bucs defense will be a good test on how the offense will do in the post season against better defenses.

Regarding Rodgers. Perhaps the adjustment he made from 2011 has had a big effect. So no issue there. And the scheme has helped. But over the last four or five years, Rodgers was throwing the ball away. A lot. I just think that promotes inaccuracy and a willingness to bail on a play. This year, Rodgers is throwing much more in rhythm, and willing to take the short passes to reduce the 3rd and long. Success promotes more success. For Rodgers and for the whole team.

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PeteK's picture

October 14, 2020 at 09:48 am

I agree, he's been more patient and taking what the D is giving.

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flackcatcher's picture

October 14, 2020 at 09:23 am

Every team has weakness, so far teams have not been able to exploit the Packer's in both lines and at ILB. That is a testament to the scheme on both sides of the ball, and the player's ability to play within the scheme. Corona-19: On average it takes two weeks for reports to show up in the system. So any public report is at least 21 days in the past. Still, Al's point is important. There is a sense of maturity in this Packers team that was missing in the past. While it takes a bit of luck to miss superspreader's, all one has to do is look at some of the other teams that got infected to know why that happened. Tampa Bay: The contrast between coaches couldn't be more different. Green Bay plays very in control, while Tampa plays at times beyond the whistle. I'm looking forward to seeing what Pettine does with his defense with a week off. Great post Al.

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JerseyAl's picture

October 14, 2020 at 10:43 am

You're right about the time it takes for test numbers to be included in publicly available data. However, what you got from LaFleur was real-time "inside information" without having to wait for the data to be processed through the system. It's safe to feel good about it.

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flackcatcher's picture

October 14, 2020 at 04:51 pm

The willingness of the Packer organization to share data via Lafleur presser was surprising. This is private medical data after all. Speaks volumes about how the players feels...

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Bearmeat's picture

October 14, 2020 at 09:55 am

The pundits were right to expect regression from the 2019 version of the Packers. This, however, is a better team. The "lucky" breaks have not gone our way, but the "skill" things have been better. If we can get some more pressures, turnovers, and get a little better in the RZ, watch out.

This teams only real personnel problem, within our scheme, is run stopping. At some point, that's going to have to improve, or it will come home to roost against good teams in January. Otherwise, yeah. We're a SB threat. WOOOO!

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dobber's picture

October 14, 2020 at 10:48 am

It's a far more efficient team offensively. The defense is really not any better, statistically (yes, better in yards, but poorer in points), but this team holds the ball and scores points. If you do that, you're going to win a lot of games.

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Leatherhead's picture

October 14, 2020 at 01:32 pm

Why was the expectation of regression correct? Who did the Packers lose? Was there ever a possibility that some of the young players from last year might be better this year?

I certainly didn’t think we’d be worse. But then again, I’m not a pundit, I’m just a guy who spent over 50 years playing, coaching, and watching.

Offensively, we have basically the same guys as last season. Defensively, we’ve played good defense on the vast majority of snaps but we’ve had a few letdowns. We were 9th in scoring defense last year, and that’s about where we’re going to end up this year.

See, if you start with the assumption that the GM knows what he’s doing and doesn’t have garbage on his roster then there’s no reason to believe we’ll be worse.

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Bearmeat's picture

October 14, 2020 at 01:52 pm

I'm not going 10 rounds with you again, LH. Ancient history. If you're really curious: Google "Packers 2020 regression candidates." Football Outsiders, ESPN, PFF... all will tell you plenty.

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Leatherhead's picture

October 14, 2020 at 01:57 pm

Not curious. I’ll do my own thinking and make up my own mind. I thought all the negativity concerning the Packers, from you and others, wasn’t warranted. I still don’t.

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Bure9620's picture

October 15, 2020 at 07:03 am

The primary regression candidate is A Jones, he is just as good as before....the only way his production regresses is by less snaps ceded to JW or Dillon

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flackcatcher's picture

October 15, 2020 at 10:18 am

Well, the only thing that has regressed is my hairline... :-)

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CoachDino's picture

October 14, 2020 at 05:44 pm

IMO. it all depends on how you define regression. I had no doubt the Packers would be a better team this year for a myriad of reasons. #1 being the 2nd year in a new scheme and all that brings. #2 Is the development of players along with finding Lazard midway through. There's more but we all know them.

If it's defined by record, I am in total agreement with the "experts" 13-3 is a tough record to repeat for a team that is good but in my opinion still had some question marks. IMO they are way ahead of the learning curve and should only get better with time.

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CoachDino's picture

October 14, 2020 at 05:44 pm

IMO. it all depends on how you define regression. I had no doubt the Packers would be a better team this year for a myriad of reasons. #1 being the 2nd year in a new scheme and all that brings. #2 Is the development of players along with finding Lazard midway through. There's more but we all know them.

If it's defined by record, I am in total agreement with the "experts" 13-3 is a tough record to repeat for a team that is good but in my opinion still had some question marks. IMO they are way ahead of the learning curve and should only get better with time.

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Qoojo's picture

October 14, 2020 at 10:53 am

Two weeks in a row where this series has been pollution free.

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JohnnyLogan's picture

October 14, 2020 at 11:11 am

The offense has been sensational and will likely stay that way, which makes the defense the real key to the SB. There are three outstanding players on Defense; Z, Clarke, and Jaire, and the rest are average at best. King is good at times but also he's the one other teams attack, often successfully. The two safeties have the potential to be better than they've been but at the moment are just ok. P. Smith has disappeared, Lancaster has played better lately but he should be a backup, and those around here touting Gary should wait until he actually plays well on a regular basis. I don't have high hopes for him as I think he's a tweener; on the edge he has one pass rush move, in line he's too small to do much damage, dropping back into coverage he's stiff. Where we all seem to have the most hope at present is at ILB. Barnes has been the biggest surprise this year, Summers has been adequate and we're excited to see what Martin brings. If Martin and Barnes turn out well and we find a big ugly to play alongside Clarke, this can become a really good D. The question then becomes Pettine. Is he Capers redux, or can he be better if Savage, Martin, Barnes, and even Gary suddenly blossom?

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PeteK's picture

October 14, 2020 at 11:23 am

Keke is starting to resemble a solid DT.

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CoachDino's picture

October 14, 2020 at 05:55 pm

My nature as a Packer fan with a coach mentality is to always stick up for my team yet be well aware of the weaknesses.

It's weird as I have more angst this year due to expectations. I'm still not sold on the right side of the line and wouldn't be surprised to see Wagner end up at RT in the future. I think Al was spot on, Turner has be adequate but he hasn't faced the elite pass rushers. BB did such a fantastic job last year against some of the best in the business. My hope is the quick release in 2020 will really help hide any deficiencies at RT.

Just a thought, not saying they should. Move jenkins to center and bring in you two you guards, who are big boys, to fill in for the loss of Lindsey. Sucks losing great players yet all teams do and we have a front office that has shown the ability to do succession planning and cap management.

Tampa is going to be a real tough test. They are a well rounded team with an elite QB and a better D IMO than the Pack.

Can't wait, should be a great game. Lets Go Pack

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Minniman's picture

October 14, 2020 at 11:30 pm

Al, you missed one potential headline:

Packers d-line health regime: No bye week “snacks”!

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HighPlainsDrifter's picture

October 15, 2020 at 03:52 am

AR's renewed ability to convert 3rd downs inspires a lot of confidence. It feels like four or five seasons ago. Having a quarterback you can count on to convert 3rd downs makes it much easier to call potential chunk plays on 1st and 2nd downs.

Watching AR play every week continues to make watching other QBs (other than Mahomes) a somewhat frustrating task. AR simply operates on a superior level. You expect a completion almost every time the ball leaves AR's hand. No other QB inspires such confidence.

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dobber's picture

October 15, 2020 at 08:05 am

I think you hit on a key point, and that's that ARod has embraced the idea of playing chess with opposing defenses more this season than last. He still does get those chunk plays you allude to, but he moves the chains in-between and threatens defenses enough in the short zones with run/dumpoff/flat-pass calls to keep the safeties honest. It's been fun to watch this season.

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JohnnyLogan's picture

October 15, 2020 at 02:06 pm

That's absolutely true, I've never felt that way about another QB, when Rodgers releases the ball I expect a completion.

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Michael Nault's picture

October 17, 2020 at 12:19 pm

Another good reason we can't sign these players is that the cap is going to be 20 million less than expected. That is from Gutes mouth. But so will every team.

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