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The Packers will be better for what happened

Posted Jan 1, 2018

The final AFC playoff spot was the drama of Week 17


Tom from New York, NY

Last season, I left the season sad after the loss to the Falcons. This season, I’m leaving the season sad and angry. What are your thoughts?

The disappointment is over. Work on the new season begins today. I’ve been saying change is coming. McCarthy, understandably, didn’t address such questions after the game. We could hear from him as soon as Wednesday, but he hasn’t scheduled his season-ending news conference yet. Let’s see what’s in store, and how the Packers embark on the type of offseason that hasn’t been experienced for nine years. Happy New Year, everybody.

Zac from Madison, WI

Well, that was underwhelming bordering on pathetic.

That was essentially a preseason lineup with a few starters sprinkled in against another team’s first string for four quarters. It was rather predictable. It should have been closer but the two early turnovers nullified the chance for the Packers to stay competitive.

Howie from Saint Ignace, MI

Montgomery was the starter when the season began. Jones played great after Montgomery was injured, and Williams really stepped up when Jones went down. The next-man-up process has worked wonderfully at the running back position but my question is, who is "The Man" next season when all three are healthy?

I think Jones is the most talented and explosive back, and if he can prove trustworthy in pass protection, I see him as the No. 1 next season. I love Montgomery’s versatility as a potential line-up-wherever weapon in the offense, and Williams can do the dirty work, as well as anything else that’s asked. Having multiple viable options is key, and the Packers should have that next season.

Graeme from Tucson, AZ

It's been a great playoff run over the past eight years – we really have been very fortunate – but seeing what has happened to the team over this season without Aaron Rodgers I do worry for the future.

I don’t understand this mentality, which has permeated the Inbox. Many of the players who took the field the last two weeks won’t be handed jobs in 2018, they’ll be competing for them from Day 1 of the offseason program in April. Anyone who believes the Packers team we saw end this season is going to have much resemblance to the one that begins next season is being willfully ignorant. Roster turnover is a given in the NFL, and the Packers might have more of it than normal. The Packers will be better for what happened this season. Just look at 2008 and where things went from there.

Andrew from Valparaiso, IN

I'm really hoping that two-point conversion up 20-plus isn't forgotten next season.

I couldn’t care less.

Graeme from Sunderland, UK

Mike, Happy New Year to you and Wes. Looking at the team this year I feel that we have a lot of really good solid players on both sides of the ball, but we were just lacking the real star-quality impact players that could really turn a game. On offense we know that a healthy Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams can be those players, but I am struggling to see who can fill that role on defense. While Matthews is still a very good player I feel we need the type of player he used to be. It would be very difficult to find that type of player in free agency because other teams will be doing all they can to hang on to that kind of talent. That makes this draft possibly one of the most important in recent history. With the opportunity to pick higher we really can't afford to swing and miss. Do you feel the same sense of urgency as I do?

I believe that’s what I’ve been saying for the last two weeks. Picking 14th, the Packers have a huge opportunity. They need to find the next Matthews. They also could use the next Nelson, who remember was picked when Driver, Jennings and Jones were all on the roster. Corners and big guys always need to be stockpiled. Draft picks like King, Josh Jones, Williams and Aaron Jones need to make the same type of second-year leap we saw from Clark and Martinez. Others need to make the strides Damarious Randall did in Year 3 (this year) and Lane Taylor did in Year 4 (last year), respectively. Rosters either elevate themselves or are elevated from the outside. The teams that do both are the ones that go from missing the playoffs to getting right back in.

Talon from Calgary, Canada

The Bills and Chargers both finished the season at 9-7. The Chargers beat the Bills earlier this season. Shouldn't the Chargers have a tiebreaker over the Bills and have the last AFC wild card spot? If not why?

It was a four-way tie at 9-7 amongst the Ravens, Titans, Chargers and Bills for two wild-card spots in the AFC. The conference record tiebreaker got the Titans in at 8-4 and eliminated the Chargers, who were 6-6. That left the Bills and Ravens for one spot and got Buffalo off the hook for its 30-point loss to Los Angeles. Between the Bills and Ravens, both 7-5 in conference, it came down to strength of victory, which went to Buffalo, whose wins over Atlanta and Kansas City were better than any wins on Baltimore’s ledger. In what turned out to be the only real drama of Week 17, all the Ravens had to do was stop fourth-and-12 from the 49 to make the playoffs. Instead, they gave up a TD pass to a team with its head coach presumably on the way out, putting the Bills in the playoffs for the first time this century. Never let it be said this league isn’t crazy.

Eric from Kenosha, WI

Wow, so not one of those B1G teams was worthy of the so-called playoff, huh?

It was a heckuva bowl season for the Big Ten, but when the best team in your league has two losses, one of them by 30-plus points to an above-average but not elite team, it’s going to irreparably damage your ranking, especially when the committee has other options. Second straight year the Big Ten was shut out of the playoff for basically the same reason. Iowa 55, Ohio State 24. Michigan 49, Penn State 10. Not all losses are treated equally in the NCAA.

Derek from Arlington, WI

While watching the Badger game Saturday night a question came to mind. We got beat for what would have probably been a long touchdown pass, but instead we grabbed ahold of the receiver and took the 15-yard penalty. Miami had to settle for a field goal. My question is, do you like the college or pro rule better regarding pass interference? I tend to favor the college rule because many times pass interference can be ticky-tack and very questionable and can alter games in a huge way based on the big chunks of yardage they oftentimes lead to.

I’m fine with the difference between the college and pro rules. If you went to strictly the 15-yard penalty in the NFL, you’d need a “flagrant” designation that would allow for the spot foul on a deep throw, or pro corners would grab even more than they do now. I don’t see the league making the rule more complicated.

Matt from Hartford, WI

Are we at a point that if a highly touted quarterback falls to us in the first round, will the Packers invest in that player, ala Favre-Rodgers transition?

In the first round? No, not with Rodgers stating he plans to play until he’s 40 or more. I’d make a pick third round or later, or sign a veteran, to compete with Hundley for the No. 2 spot next season.

Patrick from Tampa, FL

Mike, your top two priorities are now settled. Good call and what I think will be great deals when we see what transpires in free agency. What next? Rodgers or Burnett? It sure looks like TT is setting himself up to focus on the draft where I expect edge rusher to be top priority. I am so thrilled thus far I have almost already gotten over the disappointing season. Can’t wait to see what’s next.

I think the Rodgers extension has to be next.

Mike from St. Louis, MO

Do you think that the Packers can get deal done for Aaron Rodgers?

Indubitably.

Phil from Marietta, GA

I realize there has been a lot of talk of the Packers needing/taking an edge rusher. In your opinion, is edge rusher a position that can, more easily than others on defense, make an early impact transitioning from college to the NFL?

It depends on the scheme the player is coming from, the scheme he’ll be asked to play, and his measurables. A lot of pure defensive ends in college 4-3’s, for example, are 250 pounds and can get after quarterbacks, but it’s difficult to play 4-3 end in the NFL at that size, so a transition is needed to get bigger or play outside linebacker. That’s why the perfect fits, the 4-3 end or 3-4 outside ’backer, are often drafted high, and why the Packers traded up for Matthews back in ’09.

George from Hutchinson, MN

Do you see a reduction of prime-time, nationally televised night games featuring the Packers being reduced in the 2018 season due to their record?

With a healthy Rodgers, not at all.

Scott from Los Angeles, CA

First, congratulations to Davante Adams, the extension is much-deserved. Where does this leave Cobb and Nelson? I cannot imagine the team can/will keep all three guys if it will cost over $30 million next year to do so. Does Randall lose out because of the chemistry between Rodgers and Nelson, or is Jordy the odd man out because of his age (five years older than Randall)?

I don’t have a crystal ball on this one, but signing Adams and Linsley early should allow for lower cap numbers for them in 2018 than if they had re-upped after the season. Depending on what those cap numbers are, and if one or both of the veteran receivers is open to restructuring, who knows? I’m not ruling anything out.

Doug from Eugene, OR

I feel one of the great things that came from this season is that the character element in our players never broke down or wavered during the struggles. No sniping, no locker-room rumors, no Ian Rapaport special reports on NFL.com about dissension. Do you feel that this portends well for the future, that this team retained a positive chemistry through a humbling, disappointing year?

The locker room stuck together last year as well, through an ugly four-game losing streak that dropped the team to 4-6 and put the season on the brink. In both instances, it’s a testament to McCarthy’s leadership, the culture he’s created and demanded, and the respect the veteran players show as well as receive.

Mariano from Cerritos, CA

I was talking with some friends about the Packers’ best seasons under McCarthy (2010 aside). The three times they lost the NFC Championship Game and the 15-1 season they would have faced a New England team in the Super Bowl. Which of those four matchups would we have had the best chance?

Without a doubt, 2014. It was McCarthy’s best, most complete team of those that fell short.

Matt from Appleton, WI

Spoff, interested in your thoughts on a play from Purdue’s bowl game. With less than a minute left in the first half they got the ball back and took the field in the “victory” formation like they would take a knee and run out the half. They proceeded to run a trick play handoff for big yardage and got a FG as time expired in the half. It didn’t sit right with me. The defense is asked to honor the gentleman’s agreement of a kneel-down formation, and the offense takes advantage when they come slowly out of their stance and barely engage. If the defense fired out hard and the offense took a knee, the D would be called out for cheap shots. Felt totally different than something like a fake spike. Did you see it, and what do you think?

Bush league, and bad for the game.

James from Clarkston, MI

Hello Insiders, I was re-watching the highlights from the 2010 NFC Championship Game and the analysts mentioned that when Caleb Hanie was brought in to play, he was the “emergency quarterback.” This person said that the other two quarterbacks (Jay Cutler and Todd Collins) were no longer eligible to come back and play. Since when has this been a rule? I have never heard of this scenario ever happening before.

The next season, in 2011, the NFL abolished the “third quarterback” rule and expanded game-day active rosters from 45 to 46 players, so it’s never come up since. Prior to that, in reducing the game-day active list from 53 to 45, one player could be designated the “third QB,” who could enter the game in an emergency, but if he did so before the fourth quarter, the two active QBs were ineligible to return to the game.

Rob from Hollywood, FL

Hey Mike, be fair, not all young fans are entitled loonies and vice versa. I was born in '95 so have only known Favre and Rodgers, but I appreciate what I've had. I've been saying to my brother how my best fan years are most likely happening/behind me. The only reason I'm all upset by this season is I missed out on a season of AR, because who knows what the next 25 years of my Packers life will be like once he does eventually hang it up. In the meantime, I'm pumped for the continuing development of good young running backs as well as King, Jones, Biegel, Clark, Lowry, Martinez, and Ryan, picking lower than 20, having around 11 picks, re-signing Davante, and having another season with the best QB in the game.

My words the other day were “it creates a sense of entitlement.” I should have said “it can create.” You have my apology.

Glen from Leesburg, VA

Not a question, just a comment. The season is over, thankfully. Time to make some changes and move onto making this team better in 2018. Happy New Year everyone!

Next season up.


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