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All the options are at his disposal

Posted May 9, 2018

T-minus exactly four months from today


Spencer from Rockford, IL

I love the subtle banter between you two column writers, Spoff and Wes. Makes for a more interesting read to add that level of narrative. Seems like you guys really enjoy what you do!

Except when we oversleep. Here we go …

Eddy from Durban, South Africa

Hi guys, is there any particular reason why we signed undrafted free agents ahead of our first three draft picks? Are they still being evaluated?

No, it’s just a matter of those salary slots based on draft position taking shape and the deals will get done. Since the 2011 CBA, the Packers have experienced zero issues with contracts for draft picks.

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

Do you think we will ever get to situational substitution on the offensive line like there is at almost every other position?

No, for a couple of reasons. Continuity amongst a group of players is more important on the offensive line than with any other position group, and unless game-day rosters are expanded beyond 46, there isn’t room to have more than seven or maybe eight active on Sundays.

Christopher from Echo Park, CA

Until the first kickoff, isn't it all just prognostical speculationism?

Is that what you say when you don’t say baloney?

Greg from Franklin, WI

I'm a homer and follow the local sports teams, but I enjoy greatness. I've got Bonds, B. Sanders, James, and Jordan as my transcendent athletes that I'll watch outside my wheelhouse. Side note, Rodgers is that special and on my team. Who makes you stand in awe?

The dominant athletes I see in person are the most memorable, but I won’t bore you with the football ones. I still recall in high school, watching Roger Clemens (long before he got all big and buff) dispatch the Brewers at County Stadium in a little over two hours. We were sitting in the left-center field bleachers, more than 400 feet from home plate, and as he finished his two-hitter in the ninth inning you could still clearly hear his fastball popping the catcher’s mitt. I also was fortunate enough once to see Jaromir Jagr in a playoff game. All I can say is every time his blades hit the ice for a shift, the game felt different. Those are the guys who leave me in awe.

Dayv from Hustisford, WI

With all our young versatile linemen, do you see a return ever of the U-71 package?

The Packers have used the extra lineman as a tight end here and there over the last several years. It’s been called “jumbo” and other names. The U-71 was so named because it started in the Sherman era with Kevin Barry as the extra lineman, and he wore No. 71.

Tracy from Sioux Falls, SD

The reason the long snapper doesn't hold for Crosby is that he doesn't want to change his number.

Of course.

Mike from Somerset, WI

Who takes the biggest jump on offense and defense for second-year players? I choose Montravius Adams and Aaron Jones.

Solid picks. To select the second-year jumps I think would benefit the team the most, I’ll go with Vince Biegel and Justin McCray (which is cheating a little, because McCray wasn’t a rookie last year, but he’s now a second-year player based on active-roster service time).

Tom from Minneapolis, MN

So, what's your first impressions on the Brewer season?

Hanging in there despite an early run of injuries. The offense has been a disappointment, frankly, and it will need to pick up the starting pitching more often going forward. The bullpen has been incredible, even without its closer. But if you can’t beat the Cubs, who have won seven of eight meetings so far, contending will be even more difficult.

Marty from Rexford, MT

I'm so happy with two great cornerbacks, a herd of fast wide receivers, a Packer fan who knows how to punt, and a couple of first-round picks next year. I'm willing to complain, but I need help. Any suggestions?

Sit in this chair for a day.

Jay from Land O’Lakes, FL

Guys, it has been somewhat glossed over how explosive Jaire Alexander may be as a punt returner. We haven't had enough big plays from special teams the past couple years, I think that may change. You agree?

That may depend on his workload on defense. There will be a lot to sort out.

Jeff from Green Bay, WI

Dom Capers only ever had success with his defense when the turnover ratio was plus-10 or greater. Can Mike Pettine succeed without huge numbers of turnovers and gambling with blitzes and jumping routes, or is his M.O. more about getting pressure with four rushers and getting off the field on third down with sound tackling?

Every defense would love to succeed with the latter, because then the other stuff becomes a bonus. But when you can’t, the other stuff becomes what you rely upon.

Randy from Bayfield, WI

Insiders, who will be a surprise team in the NFC this year?

Well, I swung and missed on the Buccaneers last year, and the 49ers are too obvious a choice, so … the Giants?

Eric from Oshkosh, WI

The possibility of a game won or lost based on a kickoff going through the uprights – a play the receiving team has no opportunity to defend against – would be terrible. Way too gimmicky. Sounds like something the XFL or WWE would do.

Totally.

Mark from Portland, OR

Burning offseason question for Spoff: Wes admitted to the faux pas of introducing Mark Murphy as "Mike." As a fellow "Mark" I can tell you it's about 50/50 whether I'll get called Mark or Mike. Is it that way for "Mikes"?

Totally.

Matt from Hayward, WI

How many times last season were we talking about the pass rush being a half-second late? I would think that a little tighter coverage could be the difference in that becoming a sack, rather than a near-miss.

Many are saying this, and I agree, but the bigger question is how many times was that half-second-late rush a blitz, or a straight four-man pressure? I shouldn’t have to spell out which will make the greater difference.

Jeremiah from Denver, CO

Every year there are a handful of players who show they clearly belong once they get on the practice field, regardless of draft status. Does this show in OTAs? Have you noticed any of our new guys fitting in this category?

A lot of guys look like they belong at this stage. It winnows down when the pads go on this summer.

Eric from Greenville, WI

I have no idea Spoff's 40 time, but the speed and efficiency he displayed scaling the steps in Lambeau Field on Saturday amazed me. I saw him round the corner and grabbed my phone for my paparazzi-style photo, and by the time I got him in my screen, he was cresting the top. I was lucky to catch the back of his head.

I like it when the escalators are clear so I can walk and ride simultaneously. Huge time saver.

Jacob from Garner, IA

How many decades will it take the Packers to be better than the Vikings?

C’mon now.

Mike from Mount Prospect, IL

Gentlemen, I respect the professional tone in your work. I'm wondering, way down deep, do you sometimes root a little extra for some players to make the team or to get on the field? Or maybe down deep you hope a fan will step up his game and hone his diction and syntax a bit to make the Insider Inbox cut?

Yes on all counts, because we owe it to ourselves to be human. But regardless of results, it doesn’t change how we do our jobs. We owe that to our readers and viewers.

John from Evans, GA

Wes, I just want to say that your story on Byrd was a breath of fresh air. With the conclusion of the draft and the dehumanizing aspects of regulating an individual’s worth to numbers like height, weight, and 40-yard dash time, this story could not have come at a better time. Regardless of Byrd's physical measurements it seems heart is possibly his greatest attribute and one that cannot be measured.

If you haven’t read it, you must. A tremendous piece of work by the Weston.

Jeremy from Lethbridge, Canada

Mike, I came across a stat that gave me pause. Per the NFL, Larry Fitzgerald has only had 28 drops on 2,042 career targets. By comparison, Calvin Johnson had 60 (on just 1,312 targets), with most high-volume receivers dropping six or seven per year. Even sure-handed Jordy Nelson has had 27 so far (on 836 targets). How do you account for one player being such an outlier? Is Fitzgerald just that physically talented, or is there something more to the story?

Regular readers know how much I admire Fitzgerald. He falls into the category of a man among boys on the field for me. He’s played with a Hall of Fame quarterback (Kurt Warner) for only four-plus seasons of his 14 in the NFL. He’s the Jerry Rice of this generation, without Joe Montana and Steve Young to always get him the ball.

Greyson from Southlake, TX

Do you envision Ha Ha having a bounce back year, and if so, what needs to change from last year?

When he spoke with the media on the first day of the offseason program, I heard a very motivated player who acknowledged he didn’t have his best season. He reiterated those thoughts last week when his “Top 100” ranking came out, and he also sounded fired up about Pettine’s defense. That’s as good a start as any.

Mathias from Lancaster, PA

I'm getting dumber by the minute listening to "Average Joe" claim that Rodgers should take less money so the team can be better. Is this not analogous to an employer saying there's new equipment to make your job easier but you'll be purchasing it yourself over the next 3-5 years? I don't think Joe goes for that and neither should/would No. 12.

I think I’m getting my computer and phone upgraded later this year. Wait, are you saying I should take a closer look at my paycheck?

Derek from Phoenix, AZ

Hey guys! I'm married now, so I'm not right very often these days. I did however make the prediction last season that Blake Martinez would lead the team in tackles and he did, by far. Who does your wife think will lead the team in tackles this year? Oops, I meant, who do YOU think?

Martinez is the safe choice. He’ll likely be on the field the most of the inside linebackers.

Steve from Milwaukee, WI

To what extent do you believe fantasy football has influenced the casual fan’s enthusiasm for the draft?

It’s definitely a factor. There’s some intrigue in trying to figure out when it’s the right time to draft that young quarterback for your fantasy team.

Brandon from River Falls, WI

The depth on the defensive line, in the secondary, the prospects on special teams and the speed at WR may result in the most talented team in Green Bay since the mid-’90s. I haven't been this excited, this early, EVER! Time to meter expectations.

T-minus exactly four months from today.

Debby from Houston, TX

What makes AR most dangerous outside of the pocket? Just his accuracy on the move? What changes when he’s outside the pocket? For some reason when he’s outside I’m more confident in his success than inside. It sounds like opponents are, too.

Once the play breaks down, everyone is making it up as they go. Rodgers’ combination of field awareness, arm strength and accuracy – along with the threat of running the ball himself – tilts the advantage his way outside the pocket because nothing is predictable. All the options are at his disposal.

Adam from San Jose, CA

What do you guys miss most about Vic?

Our good, old-fashioned workplace debates. I can’t find enough things to argue about with Wes.


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