Insider Inbox


Every offseason is filled with tough calls

Posted Feb 23, 2018

There's a need for speed in today's NFL

Rick from San Francisco, CA

There are some good candidates for the Packers' biggest rivalries. One that I believe almost got to that status is with the Niners. It was 1990 and the Niners had lost three games in a row. In the parking lot at work, I saw a guy cursing the Niners and scraping his Niners bumper sticker off the car. A year after winning the Super Bowl. I thought “Wow, this guy would never make it as a Packer fan.” That started many years of tight games and the start of the rise of the Packers. They really, really did not like the Packers. For three years the Packers upset the Niners, twice in SF. Then SF got payback with the Owens catch. If the Niners had remained a solid team it could have gotten nasty.

The Packers got the better of San Francisco during the mid-’90s, which was a nice preamble to the rivalry Green Bay and San Francisco had in the early 2010s. I was captivated during each of those games all the way up to the Packers writing the final chapter in the feud with a decisive win over San Francisco in 2015. Oh, and by the way, Rice fumbled. Good morning.

Bill from Houston, TX

Is a team's draft board primarily just a list of players ranked in order, or do they usually view it sorted by position? Do they predict how the draft will go in order to anticipate possibilities for who will be available for them or to spot trade possibilities? Does every team create its own tool for draft planning or is there a commercially available database system for managing a player draft?

Teams prepare for different scenarios of what things might look like when they go on the clock. Their scouts will assign grades to players and project where they might be drafted. A good example would be Ron Wolf saying last year Donald Driver (with a fourth-round grade) was the highest player on Green Bay’s board when the Packers selected him in the seventh round (213th overall) in 1999.

Dan from Houston, TX

Ted Thompson might not have the seventh-round picks Ron Wolf did, but Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, and Lane Taylor are an awfully good set of undrafted players.

To me, Thompson’s legacy is drafting Aaron Rodgers and Nick Collins with his first two picks, signing Charles Woodson, persevering through the Favre fiasco and his track record with unheralded prospects. The Packers don’t win the Super Bowl without Williams and Shields.

Dale from Owatonna, MN

Had we won the Arizona Cardinals game, featuring two Hail Mary’s, wouldn't people be talking about how great a seventh-round pick Jeff Janis is?

People already should be talking about how great a seventh-round pick Jeff Janis is. It’s the seventh round for crying out loud. Anyone who’s in the league for two years is a plus. Janis is one of the best gunners in the NFL. I’d say that’s good return on a small investment.

Ken from Wolcott, CT

How is it that Fred Carr is in the Packers HOF but his No. 53 is still being used? I thought once you’re in the HOF, your number can no longer be used by that team.

If a selection into the Hall of Fame was all that was needed for a jersey to be retired, the Packers would be well into the 100s by now when issuing numbers. This isn’t Chicago.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

What combine event do you enjoy most?

The bench press has become a fun event to watch now that it’s in front of fans. It creates a nice atmosphere inside the convention center. Overall, I enjoy the changes the NFL Scouting Combine has made to its structure.

Brad from Minneapolis, MN

Hey Insiders, if you were to make a playbook, which side would you choose, offense or defense and why? Thanks guys, keep up the good work!

Easy. Offense. I mean, who didn’t simulate the defensive possessions in “Madden”? I think most fans find offense to be the most exciting part of the game. That’s not to mention how difficult it is for defensive coordinators to be popular in a league where everything is tailored toward the offense.

Dave from Franklin, WI

I see some fans think a team signing free agents is going "all-in" which makes me wonder, what would happen if all 32 teams went all-in the same year?

The “dead money” would skyrocket when 80 percent of the league started going “all-out” every November.

Joe from East Brunswick, NJ

I watched tape of Aaron Rodgers in college and his throwing seemed so mechanical. I even saw it in his game play in his first preseason. Aaron's throwing style now is so much different and a beautiful thing to watch. Do you know what led to such profound change in his technique? Maybe learning three years under Brett Favre helped change it a lot. I don't know if Aaron would be the quarterback he is now if it wasn't for those years as a backup.

I think the credit is divided among Rodgers, Mike McCarthy and Tom Clements. Yes, Rodgers had ample time to transition into the pros, but it’s ultimately up to him and the coaches to get the most out of that rare opportunity. The NFL lacks for patience, so it isn’t easy for a first-round pick to get the chance to sit back and learn for three seasons. Rodgers did and he was ready when his number was called.

Thomas from Park Falls, WI

Hey guys, isn't it a no brainer for GB if still available? Vita Vea, 6-5, 340 pounds, out of Washington. They haven't had a "true" 3-4 NT-type player since B.J. Raji retired. Isn't that the most important/key position of the 3-4 defense that gets overlooked?

It used to be before it became a sub-package league. The defensive player of the year is a guy scouts knocked for being “too small” four years ago. That’s not to say a 340-pound defensive tackle can’t be successful, but he has to be able to do more than just stop the run. Can you play all three downs or not?

Reed from York, PA

In response to Zach from Clarkfield's question yesterday and your response, I think Joe Thomas has been great in pass coverage from the ILB position. Go back and watch the film. He jumped off the screen last year when healthy.

Thomas and Blake Martinez certainly can do the job. It’s just a matter of speed. There’s a need for speed in today’s NFL with all these hybrid tight ends, slot receivers and pass-catching backs. Josh Jones runs in the 4.4s. That’s a game-changer when paired with proper technique.

Lincoln from Eau Claire, WI

I'm not for "statement signings.” As has been echoed here before, a GM who follows the advice of his fan base will soon be sitting in the stands with them. You'd be lucky to draft one game-ready TE this year, let alone three. If he becomes available, Jimmy Graham would be an immense get for the Packers.

Here’s the pickle most NFL teams find themselves in when it comes to tight end. It’s very rare for a rookie to enter the league and immediately set the world on fire. It just doesn’t happen very often at that position. However, there’s also risk in signing a veteran free agent (cough, Martellus Bennett, cough). If I’m the Packers, I sign a mid-level veteran (or re-sign Richard Rodgers) and draft a tight end in the middle rounds to develop.

Matthew from Allentown, PA

Considering the current state of the Packers’ defense, can GB afford to let a talented, experienced veteran asset like Morgan Burnett just walk out the door? Plus, he’s only 29 years young. GB drafted him, developed him, and now they keep him, right?

This is the toughest call Brian Gutekunst will have to make in regards to the Packers’ own free agents this offseason. Burnett is versatile on the field and the ultimate professional in the locker room. Still, the cap is the cap and you can’t sign everyone. That’s the burden of the GM. Every offseason is filled with tough calls.

Paul from Manitowoc, WI

Let’s settle this. If a “top-five player” drops to 14th, he is literally not a top-five player. That honor goes to the first five picks. I’m sorry, but what you’re projected to be, and what you become, are often two different things. Wes is right, in my humble opinion.

My point was you can’t draft on auto-pilot. If a player drops, it’s important to ask why he’s dropping. Aaron Rodgers and Dan Marino obviously should’ve been top-five picks. Heck, Rodgers should have been the top pick. Those are only two cases, but what about Brady Quinn, Matt Leinart and Jimmy Clausen?

Tom from Columbus, GA

Mike answered a question on which NFL season he liked the best, and his answer troubled me. It was Sundays September-January. Has he completely given up hope on a Super Bowl? It is played in February.

The Super Bowl is its own season.

Matt from Holbrook, MA

The Packers need cornerbacks. Will Mike Pettine make an offer to Malcolm Butler? Butler is young, has Super Bowl experience, and played on a team with a winning work ethic and winning record. He could fill an important role in the locker room. Leadership on what it takes to win.

Well, Pettine isn’t the one holding the checkbook. That’s Gutekunst. Butler was durable and productive in his four seasons with the Patriots. Given Butler’s age (he turns 28 next week), my guess is he’ll command a big payday somewhere regardless of what happened during the Super Bowl. Green Bay is in good standing with its cap, but there are consequences to slinging around the kind of money it might take to sign Butler.

Brian from Montclair, NJ

Don't you think getting Alex Smith early could also be dangerous because we don't have tape on him in Washington? Or do you think Pettine has enough to watch of the team and player to avoid the potential shock?

Smith is dangerous because he’s Alex Smith. He’s one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the last 25 years. The Packers have seen him four times. They know what they’re getting.

Mark from Houghton, MI

I love our hurry-up offense, but does that negatively affect our defense? They don't get much rest if the offense flames out right away.

Only if you go three-and-out. That’s why getting that initial first down is so important.

Jeff from Green Bay, WI

It seems like using trades of picks for players was the one facet of talent acquisition that evaded Thompson, and that Gutekunst might be referring to when alluding to aggressiveness. I don't advocate that philosophy, but when talent is available it makes good sense to go after players finishing rookie contracts with proven performance. Do you ever see sign-and-trade deals in the NFL, or do teams always want to negotiate their own contract terms with a traded player?

Draft choices are the currency of the NFL. They’re critical for building the future of a franchise. Sometimes it makes sense (San Francisco and Jimmy Garoppolo), but nothing is guaranteed. Thank the heavens there are no sign-and-trades in the NFL. It ruined the NBA for me.

David from Hesperia, CA

It was reported that Green Bay will have the toughest schedule in 2018 based on their opponents’ 2017 win-loss record. How does that work out? Was there not all this talk about how the Packers would have a "third-place schedule" and Minnesota would have a "first-place schedule" in 2018?

Yes, but the Packers’ third-place schedule includes Atlanta. The schedule rotation also means Green Bay will face the NFC West (LA Rams, Seattle) and AFC East (New England) next season. As it stands, the Packers will see five of the 12 playoff teams in 2018.

Dave from Philadelphia, PA

To respond to Ben from Lannon, WI, player effort comes from coaching. Hearing chatter about your coach is no excuse to stop playing hard. After all, players are still fighting for jobs next year. If only you could have heard the plethora of Eagles fans who hated the Pederson hire, deemed him a "Reid clone," and still wanted him fired as late as six weeks into this past season. Coaching is everything in the NFL and it's hard not to agree with Mike who said, "I’m not sure I want those same players on my professional football team anymore."

There are three levels to this in my eyes – do it for your coaches (or supervisors), do it for your teammates (or colleagues) and do it for yourself. If you can’t meet those standards – in any walk of life – find something else to do. Life is too short.

Joseph from East Moline, IL

What was your interview process like with the Packers and on a scale of 1-10, how nervous were you?

Probably 0.5, but I also had a job at the time. If I was unemployed, it probably would have been 14.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

I agree it can be a short-term advantage for one game if the Dolphins come to Lambeau in December, but what about the long-term advantage of the Packers traveling to Miami in December and soaking up some much needed sun rays for a few days? I know I could use that these days.

The first thing I do when the schedule comes out every year is look what road games fall in December. That’s why I was downtrodden when I found out Jacksonville was the opener two years ago.

Brad from Sarasota, FL

I have a friend who’s curious if I can ask a question for a friend?

Tell your friend your question for your friend is welcome. We run a friend-friendly Inbox here.


blog comments powered by Disqus
Insider Inbox

Join writers as they answer the fans' questions in Insider Inbox.

Do you have a question? Your question could be posted on

* Required Field