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Specialists are a strange business

Posted May 16, 2017

Is there a sleeper team in the NFC?


Joe from Asbury, IA

Vic, Spoff, and Biff all suffer non-football-related injuries. What is each injury and how did it happen?

Mine would no doubt be on the racquetball court. I get in the way of the ball a lot. For Wes, definitely basketball. He’d close out too hard on a shorter guy shooting a 3 and get accused of being a dirty player. With Vic, I could see a bicycle wipeout, him getting up, dusting himself off and muttering, “It’s a tough ride for tough guys.”

Jay from Camp Casey, South Korea

Insiders, I see Jamaal Williams getting tons of press. But the Devante Mays pick really got my interest. Looking at his pro day, he had a better broad and vertical jump than Joe Mixon with comparable speed. After watching his highlights, he runs with a ton of power as well. Do you see him as much of a breakout candidate as I do?

Time will tell, but I love Mays’ story and it was a treat to write it. To those who read it yesterday and sent along a kind word, thanks.

Reggie from Summit, AR

Matt from Fort Collins asked about Clay Matthews’ “elite” status. I submit that the answer was in the question. If all you remember is double- and triple-teams, and injuries, that means Clay is drawing a disproportionate amount of attention. This should free up others to make plays. There is more than one way to be elite.

I know what I see from the press box, and that’s more activity and creativity in the defensive front seven when Matthews is on the field. The defense never looks the same, nor as effective, without a healthy Matthews, and he was never himself after the shoulder injury last year.

Tim from Madison, WI

In regards to free agency, I have always wondered why teams with healthy caps don’t overpay for high-end players for one year (like Alshon Jeffrey) with the intent to let them leave the next year in free agency. This doesn’t damage the cap long-term and you get a compensatory draft pick, not to mention one season of good play.

Truly high-end players aren’t in the market for one-year deals. They’re looking for a big signing bonus and other chunks of guaranteed money that require long-term contracts for cap purposes.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Mike, on Saturday Wes answered a question on rookie and veteran minimum salaries. In part, the basis for this question was the status of Brett Goode. As I understand Wes’s answer, as a 10-year vet Goode’s salary would be $1 million, but he would only count $615K against the cap. It seems like LS is a position you only notice when they screw up and his snaps seem to be right on. Any thoughts on why the Packers decided to move on? Is there more to the position than meets the eye?

I’m not sure the Packers have moved on. They have Goode’s number if they need to call him, and it appears they’re going to give Derek Hart from James Madison a chance to take all the reps in OTAs and show everything he’s got. Yes, they risk losing Goode to another team in the interim, but the personnel department must feel there are enough solid options out there should Hart not work out and Goode sign elsewhere. Jake Schum wasn’t on the roster at this time last year, either. Specialists are a strange business.

Jon from Eden Prairie, MN

I love when one of the Insiders answers a particularly scathing comment/question with “OK.” I always picture a matador simply sidestepping out of the way of a charging bull. Keep it up guys! Toro!

It’s even more humorous to me when the scathing critique isn’t addressed to any one of the three of us, as though we’re all the same person. Like a bull with a blindfold on.

Randy from Bayfield, WI

There’s usually a team that comes out of nowhere. Who in the NFC do you think that could be this season?

I wouldn’t say they’re coming out of nowhere, but if I were to pick an NFC team to end a playoff drought in 2017, I’d go with Tampa Bay. They’re close. Real close, and I think that early December game at Lambeau Field is going to be bigger than many thought when the schedule was first announced.

Blaine from Bagley, WI

Don’t forget that rookie players at “loaded” positions have a chance of making the roster because even loaded positions are not immune to injury bugs.

Indeed. You’re only two snaps away from a loaded position getting light.

Paul from Farnborough, UK

Dear Wes/Mike, due to the scheduling, games against certain teams tend to be few and far between. You’ll probably shout me down for this, but why doesn’t the league find a way of mixing up the divisions each year? I’m getting a bit bored of whipping Chicago every season, so the Pack and Vikes could go win with Dallas and Philly one year and with the Saints and Falcons the following year, etc. I haven’t exactly thought this through, but it seems like a brilliant idea.

It’s all about the rivalries. They have those across the pond, right? Familiarity breeds contempt. There isn’t a single Green Bay fan from the ’80s who’s “bored” with Packers-Bears results over the past quarter century, I guarantee you.

Jay from Land O’Lakes, FL

Hi guys, which of the rookies impresses you the most in person in terms of their physical presence, their speed, and their agility?

There’s a lot to like at first glance with Kevin King, Jamaal Williams, and DeAngelo Yancey, in terms of their build for their respective positions, but if I were to single out one rookie for the physical presence you mention, it’d be Josh Jones.

Jan from Hannover, Germany

The new ZERO1 helmet could make the game a bit safer. Can a team force their players to wear a special helmet? Or is it up to the player?

It’s up to the player to choose from the helmets approved by the league.

Tom from Eichstatt, Germany

With all this talk about what will change in the next CBA, can you let us know when the next CBA meeting will take place?

The 2011 CBA is a 10-year agreement. Negotiations for it began in early 2010 and weren’t finalized until the summer of 2011, just as training camps were to begin. From that, perhaps negotiations on the next one could start in 2019, but certainly by 2020 when the league enters the final year of the current deal.

Michael from Goldvein, VA

Really Wes, “Bull Durham” over “Major League,” filmed in Milwaukee? Have you ever been to the Safe House, where the great bar scenes were shot? You must not be a wild thing.

I was at a Brewers game in high school once and they put an announcement on the scoreboard inviting fans to stay after the game to be part of the filming for “Major League.” I’ve always regretted I wasn’t able to stay.

Bill from Iowa City, IA

I know it’s early, but what position group seems to have the best depth? How about the thinnest?

The quality of the Packers’ depth stands out the most to me at receiver, offensive line, and safety. The position with the least amount of proven performers, right now, is outside linebacker, and its young depth appears to have taken an offseason hit given the reports of Vince Biegel’s foot surgery.

Bill from Iowa City, IA

Hi, do you think Biegel’s foot injury pushes Thompson to bring in a veteran free agent on the edge?

It could depend on the projected recovery time. Biegel hurt the foot last year at Wisconsin. The Packers weren’t naïve to this possibility.

Tom from Chesterfield, VA

We have an intriguing mix of veterans and youngsters vying for the starting RG spot. Who do you think has the inside track? I think Evans is just insurance, kinda like Jeff Saturday.

I think the job is Evans’ to lose, and if someone like Barclay or Amichia unexpectedly beats out a six-time Pro Bowler, the Packers will be better for it.

Zach from Delevan, WI

As far as enjoying a season for what it is, last year’s was an emotional nail-biter. Championships rule the day, but I’d take last year’s ride over a 14-2 season where a lot of games are blowouts. As fans from afar, we form attachments to these players and their struggles and triumphs. I can’t remember watching the last six games of any other season with as much anxious thrill as a storybook ending unfolded. I wouldn’t trade it for a statistically better season. My only regret is in the three years we had Peppers, we couldn’t get him a ring. How do the Insiders feel about this?

Going from 4-6 to one of the last four standing will go down as the most memorable non-title run I’ve witnessed. I remember all the playoff exits – it’s just how I’m wired, especially the dramatic, last-second types – but I’ll remember more of what led up to the final game of 2016 than any other year.

Richard from Madison, WI

When Eddie Lacy returns to Lambeau wearing day-glo green, what I’d LIKE to see is a huge, thunderous ovation for him during player introductions and then have him stuffed for negative yardage during the game. Sadly, I don’t think either will actually occur. Shouldn’t Packer fans have learned some equanimity from Brett Favre’s sour departure and subsequent sweet return?

C’mon, let’s not discuss Lacy’s return in the same vein as Favre’s. That’s absurd. I just hope Mike Daniels is a captain in Week 1 and Lacy gets to come out for the coin toss for Seattle. Daniels’ stare-down of Adrian Peterson in Minneapolis last year was legendary, and if he does that to Eddie, no way Lacy keeps a straight face.

Eric from Greenville, WI

I saw mention of Brice’s hit on Beasley, bigger game, bigger stage, but I remember a hit on a RB a few weeks earlier at the goal line. I think it was against the Lions and he absolutely stoned a RB with a head of steam at about the 1-yard line. I’ve looked and can’t find a highlight. Any chance you can dig one up for me? BTW, I love Brice and I think he’s going to achieve big things for our team. I think he’s on the field a lot more than people think with Burnett down in the box.

I couldn’t find the highlight either, but it was against Falcons RB Terron Ward back in Week 8. The Packers then stopped Atlanta on both first- and second-and-goal from the 1, and almost forced the field goal. Might have been the play of the game with one more stop.

Kelly from Kaneohe, HI

I think at least one UDFA makes the team: Justin Vogel. Have you had a chance to watch him yet?

Not yet, but I suspect we’ll see him in at least one of the OTAs open to the media coming up.

Chad from Port Douglas, Australia

Hi Insiders. Has there ever been a year where a team had players win both offensive and defensive rookie of the year?

I believe it’s only happened in the first year of the official AP award, 1967. Detroit’s Mel Farr (RB) and Lem Barney (DB) were the winners.

Greg from Hamilton, Ontario

How would you describe the difference in coaching from the college level to the pros?

I’ve always liked McCarthy’s description of coaching – teach and demand. It’s required at any level. The rest, or the difference, is more about rules and regulations.

Colin from Lansdale, PA

Alright Spoff, so we know you love a good beer, but what about a glass of wine?

Uh, no. My wife is the wine drinker.

Lester from Plymouth, MN

To all the Packer fans in Detroit and Chicago, thank you for what you endure and for representing our shared passion. My question: Is subtly needling rival division team fans clever or classless?

Any needling by Packers fans is clever. Just ask them.

Derrick from Randolph, NJ

Tom Brady was recently interviewed for being on the cover of Madden this year. Apparently when he plays vs. his son, he likes to pick the Packers because he “likes that offense.” I know it’s just a video game, but I still think it’s a sign of acknowledgement about what the Pack have going for them on that side of the ball.

I am not a Madden player nor fan, but I’d tune in to see Rodgers as the ’07 Patriots vs. Brady as the ’11 Packers, given what those offenses did.

Charlie from Racine, WI

So, the Broncos are taking the season tickets away from “fans” who have consistently re-sold their tickets on the secondary markets. Is it time for the Packers to do this? I say, “Yes!” It’s time that those of us who are on the waiting list and would actually use them got the opportunity to attend Packers games on a consistent basis.

Boy, this is a tough one. I don’t have a problem with clubs making their own rules, but I think the rules should be communicated in advance. Of course, that would make it easy to avoid being penalized, yet is it right for the teams/league to profit from the NFL Ticket Exchange program and then punish the fans who apparently use it too much? I have no idea if the Packers would ever consider this. That’s a decision so far above my pay grade my neck hurts. In any event, this story is just getting started, and I have some thinking to do.


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