Hello Wisconsin: When You Crush the Vikings, Everything is Jolly Good

The Packers crush the Vikings, Jolly Good is in stores(?!), and looking ahead to the Lions.

There are few things better than a convincing victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

The Packers’ offense absolutely shredded the Vikings’ defense. Their constantly shifting offensive line held up just fine to the Vikings’ neutered pass rush, and Aaron Rodgers mercilessly tortured the young Vikings cornerbacks all day long. It was a vintage performance from Rodgers in a new-look offense in which all pieces involved seem to appear much more comfortable in year two.

To start today’s column, I gotta give some praise to Matt LaFleur.

The Packers only punted once on the day, right near the beginning of the second half. For the entire rest of the day, the offense moved the ball up and down the field at will. It took a bit to iron out the kinks with regard to actually finishing off drives with touchdowns, but soon enough the Packers couldn’t be kept out of the endzone. 

A big part of this success, beyond just excellent execution from the players, was Matt LaFleur’s game plan and playcalling. There were a few things I absolutely loved: the playcalling rhythm and tempo, the aggressiveness LaFleur kept all game long, and the wide variety of formations and personnel packages. On the first drive alone, the Packers seemed to get practically the entire depth chart involved.

LaFleur has already shown himself to be an excellent leader capable of pushing exactly the right buttons with his players. Now it appears as though he’s also growing more comfortable as a playcaller and gameday coach.

A long way to go this season, but LaFleur’s offense passed its first test with flying colors.

Forget grape crush; gimme that Jolly Good

The Packers easily dispatched the Vikings, just as I predicted they would in last week’s column. Fittingly, Aaron Rodgers was spotted drinking a purple beverage on the sidelines, a callback to his postgame “grape crush” trolling of the Vikings several years back:

But putting aside the grape crush for a moment, I was alerted to something on gameday of which I had been completely unaware until now… Jolly Good is back in stores.

Thanks to Andy Herman, I am now aware that Jolly Good soda, a Wisconsin staple, can be purchased once again at your local Woodman’s. See for yourself:

Now, I hadn’t seen Jolly Good soda for YEARS. The last I heard, it was dead and gone, a vestige of Wisconsin’s past, confined only to my childhood memories of sitting at the kid’s table (a folding card table) at family dinners at holiday gatherings with my siblings and cousins and sipping down as much of the grape or ginger ale editions of the regional treat as I could stomach.

So, needless to say, when I saw Andy’s tweet I had to do some investigation for myself. And, sure enough, it’s been back for a couple years now, and somehow I missed it. I feel cheated.

An October 2018 story in the Sheboygan Press tells the tale of Jolly Good better than I could. But the key points:

  • Jolly Good, a Wisconsin soda staple, went out of production in 2007 after about 40 years of operation.

  • Conversations about a comeback began in 2013.

  • By 2015, the business was back in operation, with sodas available in limited quantities on shelves within the year. 

  • Production and availability has slowly expanded since, to the point where now you can find it at large supermarkets in most areas of the state.

The Sheboygan Press story provides some great history of the brand. Highly recommend checking it out. And now I will be looking for some of my favorite old flavors upon my next trip to Woodman’s.

Josiah Deguara an early contender for Packers’ most impactful rookie

There’s a whole lot of football ahead of the Packers this season, but you have to like what you saw out of some of the Packers’ rookie contributors this week.

Jon Runyan, Jr. looked like a rock in fill-in duty at right guard, where he was not expected to have to take any snaps at all this week. 

AJ Dillon posed a striking figure in limited action, ran right into contact for a nice six-yard pickup on his first carry and plowed through a hole for eight yards on his second. He even served as a nice decoy for a Tyler Ervin end-around late in the game. Looking forward to seeing him get more involved.

But it was Josiah Deguara who garnered the most attention of the Packers’ rookies this week, and for good reason. He was used heavily by LaFleur in a wide variety of personnel packages, getting most of his action as a blocker but also seeing some reps in the passing game. 

He looked so good that at one point I couldn’t help myself but to poke some fun at his draft-day detractors:

So far, Josiah Deguara has had a significantly larger impact on this game than Justin Jefferson. Just sayin'...

— Tim Backes (@timbackes) September 13, 2020

Here’s also where I’m obligated to put in the video of Deguara taking out two Vikings with a single block, springing Allen Lazard for a first-down end around carry:
 

Deguara looked eager to get in there and make contact, and looks to be a highly versatile piece for this offense to play with. He perfectly fits what LaFleur wants to do with this team. Can’t wait to see how he continues to develop, and the creative ways in which LaFleur will get him involved with the offense each week.

Wisconsin Beer of the Week

Milwaukee’s craft beer scene has really exploded over the last five or six years, and one of the many new faces on the scene in that time is Third Space Brewing Company. The brewery quickly integrated itself into the local culture, getting its beers into Miller Park and the Bradley Center/Fiserv Forum, and it’s spread its distribution all over southeast Wisconsin and beyond.

While it’s mostly known for its flagships like Happy Place, Unite the Clans and Acres Edge, it’s also been putting out a variety of special releases that have been quite good.

This one is Fjord Explorer, a Kveik IPA (the word Kveik means “yeast” in Norwegian, and the beer uses the Kveik strain of yeast). It comes in at a fairly potent 8.3 ABV, but keeps a relatively low IBU for a higher-alcohol IPA at just 30 IBU. This makes it a really crisp, refreshing IPA that has a pleasantly hoppy taste without too much bitterness. There are definitely some hints of citrus-like flavors that made it a perfect late-summer release. 

If you’re ever in the Milwaukee area, the Third Space brewery and taphouse is worth a visit. It’s down in the Menomonee Valley in an old converted warehouse. All of their brewing equipment is exposed out in the open, and they’ve got plenty of tap selections and games on hand. There are also usually food trucks in the parking lot area. Worth a look!

 

Uh… defense?

One of my season-long predictions for this season was that I expected the Packers to improve both their offensive and defensive rankings for the season.

Offense is off to a great start. Defense… yeesh, not so much.

Now, a lot of the yards the Packers allowed came after the Packers’ offense had the game well in hand, but that’s beside the point. The Packers’ defense really let the Vikings hang around, and while they never got to within a score after halftime, it was still a bit concerning seeing how quickly and easily the Vikings were able to put together scoring drives in what wasn’t quite yet “garbage time.”

The biggest area of concern continues to be the Packers’ run defense, and if Kenny Clark has to miss any extended amount of time the Packers are utterly screwed in that area. Still, even with Clark, the Packers are playing nearly the exact same personnel they played when they got repeatedly gashed by the run in 2019. 

My guess is the Packers bring up dline assistance from the practice squad sooner than later as a way of shoring up that run defense a bit, but really they needed to take more concrete action in the offseason to address that area of their defense, because I’m not certain there’s enough they can do schematically to resolve this obvious weakness. 

If it were me sitting in the GM’s chair, I’d be placing a (second?) call to Snacks Harrison as soon as possible.

Around the NFC North

As always, it’s time to take a brief look at what the rest of the NFC North accomplished (or failed to accomplish) over the weekend’s action.

The Chicago Bears narrowly avoided an embarrassing week one loss to Detroit, managing to overcome a 23-6 fourth quarter deficit thanks to some late game heroics by… Mitch Trubisky? The Lions seem to be the one team against whom Trubisky plays like an actual NFL quarterback, so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, but it was still quite a feat to mount such a comeback. The Bears take on the Giants at home in week two, and I honestly have no idea what to expect out of that one.

The Detroit Lions have become absolute masters at fourth-quarter collapses, and the art of failure in general. In 33 games with Matt Patricia as head coach, the Lions now have given up a whopping 11(!) fourth quarter leads. That means the Lions blow a fourth quarter lead in one out of every three games with Patricia at head coach. That is impressively awful. I’m not sure what it will take for the Lions to finally separate themselves from this sloppy, ultra-lite version of an ultra-lite Bill Belichick, but the Lions are going absolutely nowhere as long as Patricia is around. 

The Minnesota Vikings have some soul-searching to do. They’re awful at the cornerback position, and weren’t able to get anything going in the pass rush without Danielle Hunter, even against a makeshift and battered Packers offensive line. On offense, the passing game was mostly ineffective without departed Stefon Diggs until the Packers’ defense essentially stopped caring and started playing soft prevent ball (albeit far too soon in the second half), and they still have a subpar offensive line to worry about. They resembled nothing of the tough, gritty team that they’re purported to be under Mike Zimmer, who’s in his seventh year now with the franchise. If this team fails to get back to the postseason in 2020, it may be time to go in a different direction.

Packer football is back, but the arts in Wisconsin have a ways to go

It was such a great feeling this last week finally getting some NFL football again for the first time in what feels like years. The pre-COVID times are almost another lifetime at this point. For at least a little bit, there was some semblance of normalcy.

But one of my other greatest passions, theater and the performing arts, is still on hold, and it’s going to be a while before things to back to “normal,” if they ever do.

One of the many hats I wear in my life is that of performing arts professional. I’ve been a musician nearly my entire life, and have spent a lot of time around the stage as an actor and director around Milwaukee, and I cannot emphasize enough how strange and devastating it is to see all these theaters still closed. Many of my friends who work in the performing arts as their primary source of income are still in limbo with their careers, and have had difficult times finding sustainable work of any sort during the unemployment crisis brought on by the pandemic.

It heartened me to see that Milwaukee’s wonderful Skylight Music Theater is preparing to open back up (with restrictions) for an abbreviated and adjusted 2020-2021 season. But there are so many institutions that have had to remain closed entirely, or are attempting to navigate a virtual performance space that is nowhere near as satisfying. The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, the nationally renowned American Players Theater in Spring Green… not to mention all the small regional and community theaters and high school/youth performing groups.

The holiday season is not too far off, so if you miss spending an evening out taking in a live performance and you’re in a giving spirit this year, I’d encourage finding a way to support these artistic institutions so they are capable of making a comeback when it is safe to do so. They are so sorely missed.

Week two quick forecast

Look, normally I’d say the Lions are going to play the Packers close and make it a tough, frustrating game. That’s been their M.O. for the last several years, and it was kind of what I expected about this team going into this year.

But the Lions are already massively shorthanded in the secondary due to injuries, and don’t have nearly the same level of talent at the linebacker position that the Vikings do. We all saw what happened when Aaron Rodgers got to play against an inexperienced secondary in Minnesota. Now he gets to do the same against an injury-depleted Lions unit.

Matt Stafford will make some plays, and Kenny Golladay has had success against this defense, but ultimately with the Packers’ offense looking like a juggernaut after week one and having the significant matchup advantage in week two, it’s hard for me to pick anything other than another easy breezy Packer W.

Packers 34, Lions 20

 

__________________________

Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

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Comments (36)

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mnbadger's picture

September 17, 2020 at 06:38 am

Great read all around. As a young diabetic in the 70's, diet Jolly Good flavors were one of the few treats available that were enjoyable. TAB!?
This week Pack 26-24 with Mason Crosby once again providing the winner late. GPG

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Lare's picture

September 17, 2020 at 06:43 am

"My guess is the Packers bring up Daylon Mack sooner than later as a way of shoring up that run defense a bit"

It doesn't look like that is going to happen.

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TimBackes's picture

September 17, 2020 at 07:10 am

Ope, that's what I get for submitting for publication a day and a half early. Will edit. Thanks!

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PackfanNY's picture

September 17, 2020 at 09:05 am

The day Mack was signed you would have thought the Packers signed a stalwart nose tackle instead of a guy who had been cut 2 or three times. One guy thought he was this year’s Howard Green. Mack was let go in less than a week.

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PatrickGB's picture

September 17, 2020 at 01:59 pm

I was not exactly on the Mack bandwagon but I was hoping that Mack would help. My point was that he was a cheaper version of Harrison. Apparently he is not. Best to churn the very bottom of the roster and see who can contribute. I am always looking for new Packers to cheer for.

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Lphill's picture

September 17, 2020 at 07:12 am

The defense is a concern right now,can’t rush Clark back we will need him healthy for the Saints, but why sign Wynn who hadn’t played in 3 years?

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PatrickGB's picture

September 17, 2020 at 02:00 pm

I guess that something of the same can be said about Kirksey.

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Bearmeat's picture

September 17, 2020 at 08:00 am

I am a professional trumpet player and my wife is a professional singer. We both "used to" teach private lessons as well. I am also a university professor.

Not having any arts SUCKS. Our income in our desired fields has gone down 60% since March, and with terminal degrees for both of us, we are better off than most! Of course, we are getting no help from the government(s), local, state or (especially) federal. Bastards.

And management boards and local municipalities are doing NOTHING to mitigate not having arts. What about 25% occupancy? Outdoor shows? Monetized live streams? Unimaginative idiots.

Idiotic. This Covid crap is not going to be solved by a vaccine... just yesterday the CDC said it'll be late 2021 before we can go back to "normal." Artists NEED help, or we NEED to be allowed to work, or there won't be any arts left. I have MANY professional trumpet player friends who are literally selling their instruments so they can eat. Total bullshit.

I say this while teaching Zoom lessons at my college - which are nowhere near as effective for the students. UGH.

Sorry for the politics. I'm sure this will go off like a ton of bricks here.

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Leatherhead's picture

September 17, 2020 at 08:38 am

And why wont vaccines be a solution? They work for polio, smallpox, measles......people take flu vaccines during the season. Pfizer has spent over $1 billion developing the vaccine.....because it won’t work? That makes little sense

And the government has no obligation to bail you out. Go deliver pizzas if you need money. I’m doing consulting work and 2020 has been a good year for me, but I’d deliver pizzas before I expected a handout from anybody.

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Bearmeat's picture

September 17, 2020 at 09:17 am

https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewsolender/2020/09/16/despite-trump-cla...

And don't judge me. Perhaps we're doing exactly what you describe.

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Leatherhead's picture

September 17, 2020 at 11:10 am

That’s what the CDC guy says. His opinion isn’t the only one that counts. Other knowledgeable people have a different opinion. But none of them has said “a vaccine won’t work” unless they have a political stake in this.

50,000,000 tested.
Over 85% negative.
800,000 hospitalized, mostly elderly.

That’s 0.242% of Americans who have been sick enough to require a hospital. If you’re under 65, the percentage is much smaller.

There has been a tremendous overreaction to this virus.

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sbransbottom's picture

September 17, 2020 at 12:18 pm

I would imagine that if the government starts shutting businesses down, they in fact are obligated to help. That's just my humble opinion.

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Leatherhead's picture

September 17, 2020 at 02:16 pm

Technically, the government has no authority to shut down businesses. We let them do that because we were afraid.

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Guam's picture

September 17, 2020 at 08:43 am

Venting allowed Bearmeat - these are very tough times. COVID-19 has disrupted many, many lives and not just due to illness. The medical professionals at UW Hospital all believe one or more vaccines will be widely available in Q1 of next year. Won't return everything to normal immediately, but it will be a good start.

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Bearmeat's picture

September 17, 2020 at 10:45 am

Thanks. And yes, I realize it will get better with a vaccine. But I do worry about the efficacy of said miracle drug and the fact that 40% ish of the population here isn't convinced they'll take it. If we get less than 50% of people to get inoculated, the vaccine won't really put a big dent in the disease for a long time.

What I"d like to see is better mitigation - thinking outside the box using the current market. Getting as close to normal as we can without seeing hospitals overrun AND government support. But say that on Facebook and you get murdered for hating Grandma, or being a shill for the deep state... becuz that crosses both team red's and team blue's lines in the sand - (which are arbitrary btw).

Barf. Rant over.

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Guam's picture

September 17, 2020 at 09:43 am

You hit on the medical professional's biggest concern - surveys show too many people don't plan to get the vaccine when it becomes available. Absolutely idiotic, but that is what will delay the full recovery until late 2021. People will either be vaccinated or have had the disease by then (reaching herd immunity the hard way).

Better mitigation would be great but then I watch our ridiculous university students have parties and outings without masks or social spacing and see our COVID-19 infection rates spike. Not sure we are smart enough to do better mitigation.......

My turn to rant I guess.

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Guam's picture

September 17, 2020 at 09:46 am

Double post.

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Bearmeat's picture

September 17, 2020 at 10:41 am

you were doubly right, so it's ok. ;)

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Leatherhead's picture

September 17, 2020 at 11:46 am

Guam.....look at the sidelines. Some are masked, some aren’t. Some wear their mask correctly, others don’t. I saw a leading politician pull their mask down, rub their nose, and then pull their mask up.

If you want the vaccine, fine.. if you want to wear a mask, fine. But it’s wrong to force people to do something against their will. Over 98% of us will either not get sick or will not require a hospital. These arbitrary restrictions shouldn’t be continued.

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Guam's picture

September 17, 2020 at 04:45 pm

LH: Societies always have rules - criminal behavior laws, traffic laws, unwritten rules about personal behavior; etc. etc. The rules generally provide freedom within the constraint of not harming others. With a pandemic, you can make a pretty good case that masks and vaccines are about protecting people from being harmed by the bad behavior of others. Not at all convinced these are arbitrary restrictions given the current circumstances - seems more like just good common sense (and temporary) restrictions.

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jannes bjornson's picture

September 17, 2020 at 09:09 pm

During the 1918-19 flu pandemic if people chose not to comply with the mask requirements, they were arrested.
It was aUnited effort that finally got results. Sars-Cov 2 is nothing to take lightly. Sars Cov-1 is more deadly and they have been trying to figure that strain out since 2002.

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sbransbottom's picture

September 17, 2020 at 12:15 pm

I agree with you completely Guam, however, I must say it isn't exactly fair to ask "kids" (college age students" to act like adults. the universities themselves should have done more to protect everyone. Along with the businesses around these college towns. I live near WVU and the bars and clubs around the college are really to blame for what has happened there. They were even locking their doors to keep the health department out from checking to see if they were following guidelines. The fire marshals, and then the gov. finally shut them down again. They had a chance to make some money but were idiotic and greedy and now its a disaster.

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Guam's picture

September 17, 2020 at 04:50 pm

Sbransbottom: If they are over 18 and can vote for elected officials and serve in our country's military (and die for our country) , I am not sure they should be treated like "kids" anymore. I know they are not full blown adults yet, but they are close enough to show better judgement than having COVID-19 parties or crowding into bars. I think they should be just as accountable as the bar owners and others who were abetting this bad behavior.

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Lare's picture

September 17, 2020 at 02:19 pm

As you say, many will choose not to get vaccinated just as we see many people refusing to wear a facemask. Unfortunately this will drag the illness and resulting restrictions forward for years.

As my grandpa always used to say "You can put a man on the moon but you can't fix stupid".

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Leatherhead's picture

September 17, 2020 at 03:39 pm

The price of having freedom of choice is that people will invariably make bad choices. I’ll take the freedom.

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Lare's picture

September 17, 2020 at 04:25 pm

True, but unfortunately in this case bad choices have already killed over 200,000 people. At what point do you take away the option of bad choices before killing 200,000 more?

We have speed limits and thousands of other laws, rules, regulations, ordinances and restrictions to help protect human lives. At what point do we allow people to use freedom of choice to decide what laws & requirements they're going to follow (and which ones they're not) and what lives they're going to let die?

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Leatherhead's picture

September 17, 2020 at 05:52 pm

200,000, almost all of them already sick with something else. Cheeseburgers kill more people. Tobacco. Alcohol.

You have no right to force me to do something so that you’ll feel safer.

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jannes bjornson's picture

September 17, 2020 at 09:15 pm

There is little sufficient Evidence to show any herd immunity with this virus, Infected humans that have recovered have also been susceptible to re-infection. The basis of Virology and vaccine development, regardless of the profit-motive usually is a drawn out process to field a reliable vaccine/vaccine combos to deal with the multifaceted nature of this virus. Science over Sorcery is the path forward.

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jannes bjornson's picture

September 17, 2020 at 09:02 pm

The Art of the Steal with some of this PPP grift going on and the redcoats stalling the second stimulus package.
Definitely feel for the Humanities, they mentor our souls.

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PackfanNY's picture

September 18, 2020 at 10:27 am

No apology necessary Bearmeat. Really sorry to hear you are having a tough time. Many of us out here share that pain, brother. Not sure where you are at but in NY they are strangling the small business guys. I know Aaron Nagler mentions Kettle of Fish is really struggling. That is just a microcosm of just 1/10th of the pain here. I won’t get into the “politics” but ALL of government seems deaf to the suffering and weight of some of these measures.

All I can offer is empathy and hopefully we can get back to normal. The cure is having a much worse affect than the problem. Hopefully, some Packers football can take your mind off the troubles for a few hours. Hang in there.

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Razer's picture

September 17, 2020 at 08:42 am

Grew up on the north shores of Lake Superior, where you were either a Vikings or a Packer fan. That was the broadcast offering for NFL games. Needless to say, I chose well. Beating the Vikings twice was the season objective SO starting the season off with a solid punch in the Viking's face is particularly sweet. I won't get too high on this team yet because it will be a struggle on defense and our O-line is only one game in and patching. Still, if Rodgers plays well and the offense keeps evolving, we may not need a defense. 18:44 good God!

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murf7777's picture

September 17, 2020 at 09:38 am

Looks like Gutey found gems in Deguara and Runyan. DeGuara especially showed he has great potential. He started the game with a great block on the first play. I guess he didn’t provide Rodgers any weapons thou!

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Rudedawg67's picture

September 17, 2020 at 12:10 pm

Addressing the defense, why would you get rid of a young player with lots of talent and potential like Daylon Mack and sign a 31 year old vet who hasn’t played football since 2016 and has a history of being injured? Mack ‘s strength was stuffing the run so I don’t get it.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

September 17, 2020 at 01:43 pm

Most everything the Pack management has done in last couple years has been spot on. Why question?

Most everyone here believed when MM was canned it would take a minimum of 3 years to obtain the talent to once again compete.

Why...only they know but there must be good reasons and with their success I'm not going to question many decisions. Just Win Baby...Just Win!!!

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jannes bjornson's picture

September 17, 2020 at 09:18 pm

Ask the four or five other teams that moved Mack out of their rosters the same question. Gutekunst should have made a solid offer to Benito Jones as a prime candidate to back Clark. He signed with Miami coming out of Ol' Miss. 2020.

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Rudedawg67's picture

September 18, 2020 at 11:07 am

Well it was only with three teams and Detroit and the New York Giants didn’t even give me a chance to get on the practice field. He might’ve stuck with the ravens this year but an injury kept him off the 80 man roster with the COVID stuff going on. But the potential is there just like it is with Benito Jones. I would’ve kept either one of those guys over Bill Winn.

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