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There are two sides to it

Posted Jan 20, 2018

The safety issues are still in their infancy, really


Jim from Houston, TX

I’m driving up to Dallas for the draft this year. I’ve been a few times to AT&T Stadium and for some weird reason there’s something fortuitous about that place.

I like the way you think.

Ryan from Menomonie, WI

When looking to acquire players through the draft or free agency, do teams talk to an ex-teammate of said player to get info?

If the player is out of the league, perhaps, otherwise I’m not sure it’s allowed. More often, players will talk to players on said teams.

Paul from Farnborough, UK

You will probably shoot me down for this Spoff, but when it comes to playoff time, why not have a schedule of the sixth NFC team going to the third AFC team and the normal seeding matchups with normal tiebreaker rules in effect? At least there would be a possibility of a Packers vs. Bears or Vikings Super Bowl with the stronger conference coming out on top. Which same conference teams would you have liked to have seen in the Super Bowl itself?

You’d have to change the entire regular-season scheduling formula for your playoff idea to make any sense. Playing 12 of your 16 regular-season games against your own conference and then playing elimination games against the other conference would make for an incoherent system, in my view. I understand the intrigue, and the desire for the stronger conference to prevail and prove it, but I think it’s best left well alone.

Kabir from Ponte Vedra, FL

The point-after counts in point-score differential for regular-season games to help break ties in selecting playoff berths. Because the defense could potentially score two points, in a one- or two-point game, the PAT potentially matters even in playoff games. Obviously in a walk-off TD win, a victory formation kneel-down is likely. But the rule is simple enough if it’s understood.

I think the prevailing sentiment is to give the scoring team the option to kick it or skip it, if the point might matter in a tiebreaker. I’d be fine with that.

Dan from Naperville, IL

How did Ian Rapoport become an “NFL Insider”? Why or how does he get more info than others?

Agents, mostly. The reporters who break all the signing, hiring, etc., news are very connected in the agent world.

Adam from Rochester, NY

I can't believe this is Gene Steratore's first Super Bowl. I still think he is the best in the NFL. Do you think with player safety they will look not only at making officials full-time but also keep the referees who worked together all year continue to in the playoffs? I know each official is graded but shouldn't they be graded as a team?

There are two sides to it. The argument for continuity is valid. But I wouldn’t want a sub-par back judge or line judge on a given crew to prevent the best guys at other positions, especially referee, from getting postseason assignments.

Paul from Milwaukee, WI

Insiders, have you guys heard any whispers or coffee-machine talk on how any of the players are viewing the changes in the front office? Is there excitement? Caution? Or is it just a mysterious guessing game as to how the players will receive the new coaching staff?

The players are gone, so there are no whispers to pick up on. There hasn’t been any media access since two days after the Detroit game, before anything happened. The social media chatter has been pretty much non-existent as well. We’ll get a sense of the vibe when players return for workouts in mid-April.

George from North Mankato, MN

Your answer about Harrison Smith should reinforce with Packer Nation the difficulty we have had in replacing Nick Collins and Sam Shields. I hope we don’t lose Morgan Burnett this year. He reminds me of all those players, as well as Charles Woodson.

With all due respect to Burnett, whose value is significant and whom I greatly appreciate on a personal level, I don’t rank his game with the other players you mention. That said, I hope he’s back, too, for a lot of reasons. It’ll be up to Pettine to see where/how Burnett would fit in his defense and the price he’ll command.

Jonny from Owatonna, MN

Do you see Rodgers being the Comeback Player of the Year next season?

He didn’t win it the year after his last broken collarbone. He won the MVP instead.

Jessi from Sterling, KS

Because we need breaks from the offseason "if" fever, I'm going to go for a more personal question that doesn't have a "what if" scenario. Spoff, when coming to work for the Packers organization, what was your moment where you felt like a little fish in a big pond?

My first day, back in June 2006. It was the day after Bob Harlan’s intended successor as president and CEO, John Jones, had gone to the hospital for emergency heart surgery. Very quickly, I wasn’t even a little fish. More like a gill. The unfortunate incident changed the career path of a good man in Jones and ultimately led to Mark Murphy succeeding Harlan a year and a half later.

Kent from Lewiston, ID

Hi guys, what impact do you think having a sub-.500 season in the bank will have on prime-time games in 2018?

Zilch.

John from Crivitz, WI

If the Vikings get to the Super Bowl, they'll be playing in familiar surroundings, but the reality is that most of the seats are already spoken for and there won't be the level of fan support from a noise perspective that they get for a typical home game. Surely the NFL won't allow that annoying horn to be in play during the game. I would imagine their opponent would have a real problem with that.

I agree on the horn, but on the tickets you’re forgetting about the secondary market, where the disinterested with access will make a killing selling to Minnesota fans for boffo bucks. Interestingly, I read that if the Vikings make it, their opponent will actually get more tickets than it normally would. Three major allotments go to the two teams playing and the host team. If the Vikings are in, apparently the host team allotment will be split between the two teams as well.

PJ from Minneapolis, MN

This game is a lot simpler than everyone is making it. Where money is allocated on a team is arbitrary. As it pertains to salary-cap management, the most successful teams are always the ones who have the most players playing above their pay grade. It's not as tangible as “Moneyball” makes it, but you can usually use the eye test to see if someone is playing above or below their salary. For the Vikings, they are getting stellar play from their relatively cheap WRs, very cheap (relatively speaking) O-line, but their linebackers (Kendricks and Barr), arguably the best in the league, are making only $1.5M and $4M, respectively. They struck big on a lot of young players that fit inside the cap and are taking advantage of a window of opportunity. Just as simple as that. They won't have that privilege for long.

A lot depends on how they draft, and this spring they’ll have their lowest pick since 2010. When you can replace the (eventual) departing high-priced players with good draft picks, and maintain a high level of QB play, you can stay in contention for an extended period. I’ve always liked McCarthy’s oft-repeated mantra that the biggest challenge in this league is handling success, and that challenge hits you on a number of fronts. No team in the NFC North aside from the Packers has made the playoffs in consecutive years this decade. I think the Vikings are built to contend for a while, but they will have their challenges.

Will from Arlington, VA

Here's a quick note regarding possibly opening the season in Minnesota if they were to win the Super Bowl – we are in New England next year, too. It seems like a strong possibility that we will open the season on the road at the Super Bowl champs if either of those two win.

All right, then.

Jay from Wilmington, NC

I agree with Jon, but I'll add to it. Minnesota at Green Bay, Week 17 for the division!

I’ll take that.

Craig from Laramie, WY

The Washington Post had an article yesterday on a recent CTE-TBI study that is really disturbing. It goes way beyond the already troubling concussion concerns to show that serious progressive brain disease can develop independently of the presence of a concussion. I expect player safety issues are going to continue to have an increasingly profound effect on the type of game (if any at all) we'll be watching in years to come. Has it come down to mitigating the risks and taking their chances in order for players to maybe grab the brass ring, or will public outcry kill the game?

I expect the safety regulations to continue to evolve, and their effect on the game will be increasingly profound, I agree. The public’s views are evolving as well, so I suspect it’ll be a constantly moving target for some time. Relative to the entire history of the league, these issues are still in their infancy, when you think about it. The public outcry is good, because it means people care, and I think it’ll help save the sport more than kill it.

Richard from Madison, WI

I've long contended that football, for all its physicality, is by far the most cerebral of the major team sports. It's the only one where everyone stops to THINK before every play, and almost all the players are college graduates. In your experience, have the Packers ever drafted anyone who had all the physical tools to succeed in the NFL but was just too damn dumb to make the team? No need to name names, but a general description of the circumstances would be interesting.

The most appropriate story I can tell was from a game I covered when a young defensive player was making his first NFL start as an injury substitute, and he had a terrible day. Amidst the group of reporters around his locker after the game, I could tell from his responses he had no idea how poorly he had played. He wasn’t just giving the usual, “I’ll have to look at the film,” or “I have a lot to clean up.” He was genuinely clueless about his own awful performance, and I knew right then he was in for a rude awakening in the film room the next morning, and he had no future. He was off the team by midseason, and I never saw his name resurface.

Andy from Tomahawk, WI

Do you think the fact that Gutekunst was hired over Ball for the GM job is a reason Murphy has them both reporting directly to him? Some people would not be thrilled to be reporting to a guy who just beat them out for a promotion.

It has more to do with the delineation of duties. Ball’s promotion gave him the Executive VP title that fits the work he was already doing under Thompson, and doing well. The reporting structure frees Gutekunst from having to provide oversight of issues that aren’t related to roster building and management. It makes a lot of sense.

Kerry from Margate City, NJ

Jimmy can't block.

As soon as I exposed the Jimmy-mania in the Inbox the other side brought it, and good.

Jon from Winona, MN

Loved the Seinfeld reference to "the Jimmy." Coincidentally, the actor who played Jimmy, Anthony Starke, is my uncle.

So Jimmy has a relative.

Patrick from Fort Collins, CO

Every team has classy players. The self-touting "we're the class of the NFL" attitude of some and the endless whining of others is nauseating. Wisconsin recruits classy players and Alabama recruits talent. Favre wasn't classy, he was edgy. He had a drug addiction problem and other personal issues throughout his career. Prioritize talent and if the player is classy too, well, shucks that's great, but classiness doesn't win championships.

I’m not for acquiring talent that brings obvious problems, so you strike a balance, but the haughtier-than-thou wears me out, too.

Tom from Minneapolis, MN

As a Packer fan living in Minneapolis, it's draining hearing all the Viking talk. If the Vikings win it all, I will forever put an asterisk* next to this season because they didn't have to beat the Goliath that is Aaron Rodgers. Is that selfish of me? They climbed the mountain without having to overcome their largest obstacle. What are your thoughts?

As I said before, the hard part for me is they’ve taken advantage of circumstances they created in a way that doesn’t sit well.

Joe from Pittsburgh, PA

As we wind down another season, which team do you think over/underachieved this year? I say the Rams and Raiders.

Those are solid choices. Jaguars and Bills for over and Cowboys and Buccaneers for under also come to mind.

Trevor from Arvada, CO

Has any host Super Bowl team/city made it as far as the Vikings? In other words, has one team ever been one step away from a home Super Bowl?

Nope. According to a piece I read on CBSsports.com, no team hosting a Super Bowl has ever made it to a conference title game until now. Only seven times has a Super Bowl host made the playoffs in the same year (four times it was the Dolphins, dating back to 1970), and those teams went 2-7 in postseason play. The Vikings are the first to even get a first-round bye.

John from Superior, WI

How much do you believe playoff experience will factor into the games this weekend? Tom Brady has more Super Bowl wins than the rest of the playoff field's quarterbacks have playoff wins. Combined.

It won’t mean diddly in the NFC game with Keenum vs. Foles and very few players (Minnesota’s Brian Robison and Philly’s LeGarrette Blount might be the only ones) who have reached this stage of the postseason before. Brady’s playoff experience is obviously a huge factor against the Jaguars. It’ll all come down to how much pressure Jacksonville can generate with its four-man front. It’s how the Giants beat the Patriots twice in the Super Bowl, and how the Dolphins knocked them off, convincingly, in that late-season Monday night game a month ago. Enjoy the conference title games, everybody.


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