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Offensive line is the thankless position

Posted Sep 16, 2017

Packers have the makings of a pick-your-poison defense

Jacob from Port Huron, MI

In your opinion, what needs to happen for the Packers to come away with a W against the Falcons?

Contain Freeman and get Ty Montgomery going. You know what you’re going to get with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, but Devonta Freeman can’t be overlooked. On the same token, I’d be looking to feed Montgomery in this game. Like Freeman, he can hurt a defense in a variety of ways.

Matthew from Brooklyn, NY

Shouldn't the “Nitro” package be better equipped to face the Falcons than the base because Morgan Burnett has the speed to handle the outside runs that the Falcons’ speedy backs favor?

Yes, but then it’s on Green Bay to defend the run with a lighter front. The Packers had the “Nitro” and traditional nickel defenses on their ready list against Seattle. However, Dom Capers stuck with “Nitro” throughout because of how well Green Bay defended the run in the package.

Trevor from Ellington, CT

What side of the ball do you think will be most efficient in this game?

The Packers were depleted at their offensive skill positions during both games in Atlanta last year. While the pieces are there for the defense to have a solid performance against the Falcons, I believe the offense will set the tone with a healthy Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams and Randall Cobb at Aaron Rodgers’ disposal.

Luke from Peoria, IL

If the defense is caught with 12 men on the field, why would the guy stay off? They are going to be penalized anyway, why not have an advantage?

Players – typically defensive linemen – are exerting their energy running to get off the field. Once they hit the sideline, there isn’t time to get back out and defend the play.

Kelly from Merrill, WI

Wes, Josey Wales is an awesome movie. My fav quotes, "Dyin’ ain’t much of a living, boy,” and the exchange, "When I get to likin’ someone, they ain’t around long." "I notice when you get to dislikin’ someone they ain’t around for long neither.” Which are your favorites?

Replicating my favorite scene from the movie, my dad used to wake me up for school with the line, “Chief, chief, I suppose that mangy, redbone hound got no place else to go, either. Well, might as well ride along with us. Hell, everybody else is.”

John from Fairbanks, AK

Even though I'm old enough, no one thinks I'm a chief, but finding out that Wes's favorite movie is the same as mine is helping me get past the loss of Vic. Does that "only for looking through" glass ball say whether this will be another low-scoring defensive battle, or will it be a case of the last one to score in an offensive struggle?

It warms my heart to see how many people love this movie, too. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. Points will be scored, but I think defense wins the game. Does that make sense?

Bob from Bloomington, IL

It seemed like Kenny Clark was a big part of the big stat line for Nick Perry and Mike Daniels versus the Seahawks, as many times he was taking on double-teams so Perry or Clark had one-on-ones. Was that part of Dom's scheme or just how the Seahawks planned it?

The Packers have the makings of a pick-your-poison defense. Even if the Packers only send four rushers after the quarterback, that still means you’re looking at two or three one-on-one battles. Clark was the unsung hero for the Packers against Seattle. He ate up double-teams and consistently pushed the pocket inside.

Joe from Bloomington, IN

If it's Bulaga and Murphy, who would you play at left tackle?

That’s a tough call since both have taken most reps during their NFL careers at right tackle. My guess is they’d try Murphy at left tackle first to avoid displacing Bulaga out of his natural position.

Jay from Land O Lakes, FL

Guys, OK, now we've seen a few games. Thus far which rookie has impressed you the most? Mine is Josh Jones. He’s a hitter and brings a brand new energy.

Jones’ speed looks good on special teams. That’s a good starting point until he gets an opportunity on defense. It was a sound investment on the Packers’ part considering how big a role Morgan Burnett and the “Nitro” package appear to be playing in Dom Capers’ defense this year.

Ross from Lviv, Ukraine

When the Vikes signed Datone Jones, that factored into upcoming free-agent draft compensation for the Packers. Now that they've cut him prior to the season, do the Packers still receive the benefit from that signing? If so, is it reduced from what it would have been had he contributed and performed at a high level?

The process of determining compensatory draft picks is hazy. While on-field performance is considered, the biggest factor is the average per year salary of the contract. Despite Jones’ release, they’ll still receive compensation. I believe the difference is negligible between what they would’ve netted had he produced in Minnesota. Casey Hayward was an All-Pro last year and it didn’t appear to improve the fifth-round pick Green Bay was awarded.

Barry from Hayward, WI

I keep seeing these questions about the "Nitro" package and I instantly think WWVS (What Would Vic Say), which would be “players, not plays.” Have we moved away from the principle that the Packers are using “Nitro" as a way to put the best players on the field?

The Packers studied some of the NFL’s top offenses this offseason and expanded upon “Nitro” to help keep up with those pass-heavy attacks. With speed increasing on both sides of the ball, you need defenders who can stick with those athletic playmakers. This game is still about players and getting the best 11 players on the field. This package helps accomplish those goals.

Chris from Hanover, Germany

I like the “Nitro” package, too. Now that a full game is on tape, I am curious how offensive coordinators will attack it. Has the package some history around the league?

There’s been game tape on the “Nitro” package for a year. There’s no trickery here. The Packers’ personnel simply executed it.

Jessi from Sterling, KS

At first when Kyle Murphy played Sunday, I felt like I was holding my breath with the lack of time and protection Aaron was getting. Then I have to agree with Larry that as he settled in you began to just see him mold into one of the guys. Do you think being on the O-line can feel like a "thankless" position?

It isn’t a thankless position – it’s the thankless position. Just look at how long it took for everyone to catch on to the level T.J. Lang was playing, myself included. Bryan Bulaga is arguably the best right tackle in the league, but it’s a tough spot to get attention for the right reasons. Murphy did his job against Seattle. He came in, didn’t let the situation get too big for him and made the position his own. It was a good first go-around for a young tackle against one of the league’s best defensive fronts.

Michael from Winona, MN

Looking at our current roster, which players might have caught Coach Lombardi's attention as far as playing with the most smarts, grit and heart?

In that order, I’ll say Aaron Rodgers, Mike Daniels and Jordy Nelson. Rodgers is always one step ahead, Daniels relishes doing the dirty work and Nelson showed what he was made of when he played with those broken ribs in the playoffs.

Mike from Fort Wayne, IN

The game this Sunday against the Falcons seems to have the same feel to it as last year’s NFC Championship Game, only this year we're banged up on the offensive side. I know you can't keep them all but do you feel JC Tretter should have been a higher priority considering how many positions he can play on the OL?

The Packers want to keep as many of their free agents as possible. They really liked Tretter, but at the same time, you couldn’t pay him what Cleveland did to be a utility backup.

Dan from Houston, TX

The last undrafted tackle from West Virginia worked out alright so far. Any chance Pankey is more ready than we think?

Pankey is a big guy with good functionality. It’s a massive jump to go from undrafted to playing, but it’s a transition Don Barclay made and he played better than he’s given credit for. With most offensive linemen, you don’t know what they can do until you see it. So we’ll see.

Bobby from New Orleans, LA

I see the Pack is hit hard by injury bug again! Why do the Packers seem to always have so many injured players? Training? Drafting injury-prone players? Too many players made of glass? What’s the reason?

It’s football. None of these guys are made of glass.

Kelly from Antigo, WI

Wes, do you think Aaron has ever looked over the defense in his pre-snap reads and uttered in a steely voice, “You boys gonna pull those pistols or whistle Dixie.” I like to think in my mind it's happened.

I don’t know if it’s ever happened, but I’d lose my mind if that sort of thing showed up on NFL Films. OK, that’s my last “Outlaw Josey Wales” reference, I swear.

Scott from Alys Beach, FL

This first three-game stretch is brutal – open with always-tough Seahawks, go to Atlanta to open a new stadium Sunday evening, then come back against a Bengals team who gets three extra days to prepare. Is it well-planned that the Pack opens the Vikes’ and Falcons’ stadiums or just luck of the draw?

Teams can put in requests for the schedule every year. If you recall, the Packers did that with the Thanksgiving game against the Bears when Brett Favre’s jersey was retired and then last year when Wisconsin was playing at Lambeau Field. It just so happens the Packers were tabbed two years in a row to open stadiums in Minnesota and Atlanta.

Kirkland from Killeen, TX

It's baffling to me that Scott Tolzien is struggling so mightily. It makes me wonder are systems really that important? He flourished with our Packers and is struggling (in my opinion) in a very weak division.

We’ll see how Brissett performs. Tolzien has limitations. I won’t argue that, but I’m not convinced he was placed in a position to succeed. Regardless, Brissett’s scrambling might fit better in dealing with that pocket.

Davy from Chetek, WI

Nice to see an article on ESPN about the un-Sergio himself. Would you say Tavecchio is the most popular non-Packer player of the Inbox?

Let me tell you about Giorgio Tavecchio. I talked to him the day after he signed with the Packers and the afternoon after he was released. He’s always the same guy. He’s a man who lives his life with positivity and treats people with the utmost respect. That’s what made covering the kicking competition in 2013 so difficult because both him and Crosby are terrific in dealing with the media.

Paul from Middleton, WI

I thought Charles Woodson retired the same year as Urlacher. When is he Hall eligible?

Woodson retired after the 2015 season. He’ll be eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2021, putting him on the ballot likely in September 2020.

Kevin from Baraboo, WI

I am sure that someone has pointed this out previously, but have you noticed how often the writer is named Brett? From Omro, Green Bay, Boonsboro, Des Moines, etc. I have two friends who named their sons after No. 4. I'd be curious as to how many are children born from the Favre era.

To branch off this question, I was watching my godson play flag football last Saturday and there was a kid – probably 7 years old or so – named Jordy on the other team. It’s not like Jordy is an uncommon name, but I pondered the same question. I don’t know the answer to your question, but I’m sure there are many named after Favre.

PJ from Franklin, WI

Why did they reuse Donald Driver's number on the shirt for another player? It seems like there are a lot more numbers to choose from than the one that great player of all-time had.

Sorry PJ. There are only so many numbers to choose from, especially in the 80s.

Dave from Madison, WI

If you're not a vested veteran and released after one game in the season, how much of your contract are you paid? Just the one game?

Bingo. Unless another NFL team claims your contract.

Zac from Port Washington, WI

Who rules?

O’Doyle?

Dan from Twin Lakes, WI

If the Packers win the coin toss on Sunday, would you expect them to defer or to take the opening kickoff? I understand the smarts behind deferring, but is this a case where grabbing an early lead might be more desirable? I also don't recall seeing teams defer on a regular basis until Mike McCarthy started doing so. Was he the first guy to realize the value in deferring or was it someone else?

I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I believe I started the trend in Madden NFL 2001. Enjoy the game.


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