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The way this season has gone ...

Posted Jan 31, 2018

The league still has to answer the ultimate question


Paul from Beaver Dam, WI

If LeGarrette Blount wins the Super Bowl with the Eagles, would he be the first player to win back-to-back Super Bowls on different teams?

Nope. Deion Sanders and Ken Norton Jr. have done it with the Cowboys and 49ers, not in the same order. Blount, along with Eagles defensive end Chris Long, could become the third and fourth, and the first two to do it by beating their first Super Bowl team in the second Super Bowl.

Al from Green Bay, WI

We already know the Super Bowl will feature a controversial play that will help to determine the victor. If you were to guess, would that play involve pass interference, a "catch," or an illegal block on special teams?

The way this season has gone, it might be one of those reach-for-the-pylon-fumble-touchback plays.

George from North Mankato, MN

Do you think the Alex Smith trade to Washington will have an effect on the Packers’ free agency or draft strategy? Cleveland could pick up Kirk Cousins and start stocking up with their high draft picks if they don’t feel “the Man” is available in this draft.

Everyone will be watching now whether Dorsey will bring Cousins to Cleveland or if he’s going to draft a QB. The top of the draft is going to shift based on where Cousins lands. Whoever spends the money on Cousins in free agency also might not be in play for other free agents, except for the Browns, who have a boatload of cap space. Those are the tangential effects on the Packers, but I don’t think they’ll impact strategy at all.

James from Durango, CO

Hey Spoff, are the Chiefs banking too much of their future on one regular-season game? Furthermore, are the Redskins jumping the gun on the extension for Smith before they see him play in their system?

Kansas City drafted Mahomes where it did to be the QB of the future. The future is now, and to get a promising young cornerback as well as a third-round draft pick is a bonus in the transition. Washington believes in Smith succeeding in its system and/or adjusting the system as necessary to fit him or it wouldn’t be making this deal. The Redskins aren’t interested in just repeating the franchise-tag business down the road with another QB, and I don’t blame them.

Tom from Dunkerton, IA

Had the Packers drafted T.J. Watt, I'm guessing Mark from Austin's question would be: "Considering corner is still the consensus No. 1 need, how bad does drafting T.J. Watt look now?" As Ricky Nelson sang, you can't please everyone so you got to please yourself.

I said right after the draft last spring the King-Biegel vs. Watt analysis would be multiple years in the making. The rush to judgment is far too tempting for some.

Chris from New Canaan, CT

Here's an inconsistency in rules that should be addressed. A "catch" must "survive the ground," even in the end zone. Why is it then that on a running play, if the ball simply breaks the plane it's ruled a TD, irrespective of whether the RB "survives the ground" or fails to retain possession once the magic plane is broken? Entirely inconsistent, in my opinion.

You’re not alone, but you’re focusing on the wrong thing. It’s not inconsistent to say a runner already has established possession of the ball, while a pass catcher still must do so. There needs to be a distinction or we’re really lost. The inconsistency is in the application of when a pass catcher has established possession to become a runner, and if there are times that has happened to an extent that “surviving the ground” is not necessary. But super slo-mo distorts the perception and the time element, creating an “eye of the beholder” feel to every call. I don’t know what the answer is, but I go back to the question the league ultimately must answer – does it want the call on the field to carry any weight and therefore stick to the “indisputable evidence” language to overturn rulings, or does it want to simply make calls by looking at replays and applying best judgment? I think the gray area the league has waded into by not definitively answering that question has created the bulk of the inconsistencies, not just with the catch rule.

Zach from Clarkfield, MN

I recently saw an interview with the commissioner where he said that a couple years back during a meeting with top wide receivers and owners, one of the WRs stated that "Fans want catches . . . " What are your thoughts on that?

I think fans want players to decide the game, not officials or replays.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Which element of the Patriots’ game poses the biggest challenge for the Eagles?

Well, there’s a guy for New England who has won five Super Bowls and will have his hands on the ball every offensive snap, so I’ll go with him.

Joycel from River Falls, WI

I noticed yesterday that the Patriots landed in Minnesota in their own branded jet. Do all of the other teams have one of these? Do the Packers?

No, New England is the only NFL team to have purchased its own plane, and it did so not long ago. I’m sure other owners will talk to Robert Kraft about the investment and see if they want to follow suit.

Jerome from Midland, MI

Here we go, the one day the media act like schmucks, where it is all about them, not the players. We should rename this day as, "National Stupid Question Day"!

I realized very quickly at my first “Super Bowl Media Day” 20 years ago in San Diego that the event was far more about the media covering the media, which does not interest me in the slightest. The circus has only gotten larger since.

Julian from Las Cruces, NM

How would you evaluate Davon House's first year back with the Packers?

Unfulfilled due to injury, which was unfortunately a similar story to his first four years with the team.

Jeremy from Lethbridge, Canada

At which game could Spoff beat all the other Mikes in the Packers organization?

I’d take my chances at racquetball.

Terry from Springfield, MO

Guys, I am sure you’ve answered this before but I don’t recall ever seeing it. Why doesn’t the NFL move the Super Bowl to Saturday night? It would be so beneficial to the fan having Sunday as a recovery or travel day. With the week off between the conference championships it wouldn’t have an effect on the teams. It certainly wouldn’t lose anything having it on a Saturday as all other events would schedule around the NFL.

I thought at some point the league might consider it, until the Saturday night NFL Honors show was born a few years ago, with the Hall of Fame and big award announcements. I think the league likes that as a Saturday night lead-in to the Sunday game and is going to keep it that way.

Rishit from Clarington, Ontario

Do you expect anyone to jump to Pro Bowl status this year for the Packers?

If I had to pick one guy, I’d say Kenny Clark.

Eric from Goodhue, MN

Living in Minnesota, I have heard a lot about the conduct of Eagles fans at the NFC title game. My question is how common is this? I have been to a couple of away games and have some great experiences and others not so much. How prevalent is fan hostility to other fans?

Philadelphia is notoriously one of the worst places to visit as an opposing fan. It’s no secret, and I’d bet the current generation feels a twisted obligation to uphold the reputation. I’ve heard a ton of disturbing stories about Minnesota fans going to that game, and it’s really too bad. As one of my friends emailed me the other day, “Who cares who someone roots for? We’re all fans.”

Chris from Calgary, Alberta

Since Wes brought up the XFL fair-catch rule, I'm curious of your opinion on the CFL rule for punt returns. "No player from the kicking team, except the kicker or any player who was behind him when he kicked the ball, may approach within 5 yards of the ball until it has been touched by an opponent. If they do, a ‘no yards’ penalty is called against the kicking team. Penalties for ‘no yards’ calls vary depending on whether the ball made contact with the ground or not. The penalty is 5 yards if the ball has bounced and 15 if the ball is caught in the air." It insures there's a return, which is generally exciting, and slows down the kicking team a fraction, preventing returners from getting annihilated the instant they catch it.

I wasn’t aware of this CFL rule. It makes sense from a safety standpoint, but if I’m understanding it correctly, it would penalize the kicking team for downing a ball the return team never touched. I’m not sure I like that. You could never pin a team inside the 5-yard line then.

Rick from Boyd, WI

When can we expect to start seeing Prospect Primers?

Not until March, after we get back from the combine.

Toby from Newington, CT

I consider the Inbox to be written by reporters. Reporters report on what has happened. When will people stop asking you to prognosticate ad nauseam on what will happen? You'd think they'd learn by now based on the large number of "We'll see what the season brings" or "The next few games will tell us" responses. It's like people want the story written before anything happens.

Reading the actual news is a small fraction of the media consumer’s activity now. It’s the age in which we live. I have no problem with people asking for my take on things, but I appreciate those who have clearly consumed the news first before asking, because the entire conversation is more informed.

Rocco from Green Bay, WI

What's the offseason schedule for “Unscripted”? I miss listening to Spoff describe proximities in relation to seating arrangements while I'm at work.

Right now we’re doing two shows per week, which air on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with the podcasts getting posted Wednesdays and Fridays.

Luke from Dorchester, England

With the offensive playbook being rewritten, when's the earliest the players are allowed to look at the new playbook and start learning it?

The players can’t work with coaches until after the first two weeks of offseason workouts, which are limited to strength and conditioning. But I would surmise they could start digesting the new playbook on their own during those two weeks beginning in mid-April.

Kyle from Osceola, WI

I caved and finally peeked at some of the pre-draft coverage. I'll say this: I'm encouraged that eight of the 13 picks currently ahead of us are controlled by teams with quarterback needs.

They’re picking in those positions for a reason.

Steve from Middletown, KY

How long do you think it will take Pettine to feel confident with the players we have or to get the players he wants on his side of the ball? How hard do the DC and OC politic for certain players or positions?

As has been mentioned in recent days, Thompson certainly set up Capers for a quick turnaround on defense by drafting Raji and making the trade up for Matthews, but the offense didn’t have the long-term needs then it does now. I expect this draft to take a more balanced approach given the state of the roster.

Richard from Madison, WI

Will the physical setup of the Packers' draft-day boiler room remain the same as it was under Ted Thompson? Or aren't people allowed in there unless they're part of the decision team?

I would imagine the overall setup will remain the same. I don’t expect Gutekunst to have some radical new way to build the draft board or anything like that. But certain people will be sitting in different chairs, literally and figuratively.

Kevin from Stallis, WI

Since us Packer fans aren’t used to this whole free-agency thing, can you explain the timeline for the salary cap? Can a team go crazy to start free agency, then restructure contracts or release players before a certain date, or do they have to be under the cap for the entire year?

Once the new league year begins in mid-March, which is when free agency opens, teams have to be cap compliant, and any signings that would put them over the cap require a corresponding move (in advance or simultaneously) to offset any cap issues.

Mark from Byron, IL

As we get close to Super Bowl Sunday, the greatness that is the New England Patriots continues to take center stage. Brady might very well be the GOAT, as of now, but AR's legacy isn't over, yet, either. He may have a couple more championships in him. That being said (grudgingly I might add) when it comes to coaches, Lombardi did not need failed opportunities before his greatness was realized. He came out of the box best and I'm not sure that will ever change.

Lombardi lost his first title game, in 1960 to the Eagles, and told his team they would not lose another championship game on his watch. The Packers didn’t, going 9-1 in the postseason in his tenure. The Eagles are now trying to win that first title since beating Lombardi.

Ed from Wisconsin Rapids, WI

Hey Insiders, I would not be surprised if outside of NE the majority of NFL fans would root for the Eagles in this David-and-Goliath Super Bowl. Brady et al have enough rings. Think so?

I’d expect that to be the general consensus amongst NFL fans. As a kid, I remember rooting for Jaworski’s Eagles against the Raiders in Super Bowl XV. Then to see the McNabb Eagles finally get there after four straight NFC title games, only to lose again. Doug Pederson is a great story and reason enough to root for Philly, despite the misgivings about the city’s fans.

Benjamin from Bear, DE

In your expert opinion were the Packers' issues on defense more Capers/system-related or simply the players weren't good enough? Also, what can we realistically expect to see improve with the new DC?

The depth wasn’t good enough when the front-line players went down, and the constant shuffling due to injuries left the unit without the necessary continuity to execute at the level required.

Gary from Davenport, IA

When Wes brought up the last Packer trip to SoCal in 2011, I remember Philip Rivers had to use the silent count. I can see Goff doing the same thing this fall.

Wouldn’t shock me in the slightest.


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