1. We can't talk about the Packers without mentioning our formerly loved, then reviled defensive end Julius Peppers. How has he been for the Packers this season?
Entering the season, many like myself expected Peppers to apply pressure on a somewhat regular basis and provide badly needed balance to offenses keying in on Clay Matthews. Instead, Peppers has stepped into the primary pass rusher role with Matthews serving as more of a multi-purpose defender.
Despite his size, his age, and his lack of experience with the outside linebacker position, Peppers transition has gone very smoothly. He ranks third among 3-4 outside linebackers in total pressures as measured by Pro Football Focus, while also providing steady pass rush when the Packers shift into a 4-3 variant. In some ways, playing in space has allowed him to better showcase his athleticism, as this pick six against the Vikings. There, you can see Peppers outrunning Jerick McKinnon, a tailback who ran a 4.41 40-yard dash at this year's combine.
Peppers certainly isn't the same caliber of player he was with Carolina or even Chicago just a few years ago, but he still impacts games in a significant way.
2. Aaron Rodgers has been unbelievable this season. Is this year just an extension of what you've seen in the past from him, or has something changed?
While in no way trying to diminish his performance this season, Aaron Rodgers actually hasn't played as well as in prior years. 2014 began with several mixed to poor games from Rodgers, who set a career high for underthrown incompletions against the Jets in Week 2 while nearly matched that mark a week later.
Rodgers' performance has recovered since then, as shown by his incredible 10:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio over the past three weeks. He made all manner of spectacular plays during last week's comeback win over the Dolphins, including this beauty to Jordy Nelson on fourth down and the Dan Marino-esque fake spike play.
That said, when grading the season as a whole, Rodgers still has areas to improve. That may sound ridiculous to some, but the best quarterback in the league has a higher set of standards than others.
3. Eddie Lacy hasn't exactly been struggling, but he hasn't broken out and dominated the way many predicted pre-season. What do you attribute this to?
The main catalyst for the downturn in Eddie Lacy's production has been the group blocking for him. While the offensive line gets a pass for its overall quality pass protection, it hasn't opened up a ton of holes for Lacy outside of the Vikings game. Too often, he can be seen running into the backs of his own guys and forced to spin out to a waiting tackler. Until the offensive line starts pushing people in the ground game, it's hard to see Lacy taking off.
However, some of the blame does fall on Lacy himself. Just this past weekend, he could be seen running away from the occasional hole the line opened and towards the outside. That's not his game. Lacy is a between-the-tackles, power back that is at his best moving straight ahead with his shoulders squared up. Position coach Sam Gash has hinted at this publicly as well. Perhaps Lacy will correct himself if and when the offensive line gets its act together, but that remains to be seen.
4. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is a player many Panthers fans coveted in the draft. How has he played for Green Bay so far?
Though technically not the starter, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has earned the trust of the coaching staff and been given a major role in the defense. Though six weeks, he has played 292 snaps, nearly 50 more than official starter Micah Hyde. Over the past three games, Clinton-Dix has established himself as the secondary's best tackler, making several tough hits that prevented huge gains for opponents. He's also flashed some of his playmaking ability from Alabama, recording an interception and a sack already this season.
Still, Clinton-Dix has his weaknesses. When playing in the box in single-high safety looks, he's struggled against the run. Given how much the Packers like to interchange their safeties, improvement in that area is crucial for the defense to play to its potential.
5. If you could take one player from the Panthers and put them on the Packers, who would it be and why?
The answer is Luke Kuechly. Not only is he the best player on the Panthers' defense, but he fits the Packers' biggest hole - inside linebacker. Having a sideline-to-sideline athlete who plays with discipline could transform Green Bay's defense. It would also be great fun to see Dom Capers scheme for Kuechly blitzes.
Huge thanks to Jason B. Hirschhorn of Acme Packing Company for sitting down with us. You can check out my answers to their questions at 11 a.m.