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There's always room for hybrid players

Posted Feb 16, 2017

The 2016 season produced several truly incredible moments

Tyler from Milwaukee, WI

Hey Wes, just wanted to give another big congratulations to my father's cousin (my second cousin) Frank Lamping on becoming a member of the Packers Hall of Fame yesterday. I'm so happy for him, and it couldn't have happened to a better man. Congrats to all the finalists, as well.

I had a blast covering the event on Tuesday. You could tell Frank is very special to so many people. He has an absolutely infectious personality. You feel like you’ve known him for years after talking for only a few minutes. There were so many worthy candidates. I just hope everyone enjoyed the day.

Tom the History Major from Wentzville, MO

Matty's wrong. 400,000 HS football players played in 1960 when there were 14 teams. Now, 1,080,000 HS football players play when the NFL has 32 teams. This means that in 1960 there were 28,571 HS player per NFL team and today there are 33,750 HS players per NFL team. Basing the math on sheer population is not the correct denominator for the equation.

That’s interesting. It really is something how the league has grown over the last 50 years. I believe Lombardi and Belichick would’ve succeeded in each other’s era, but it’s a compelling discussion with all the factors in play.

Brian from South Lake Tahoe, CA

I love games which end on the last play, where the winning team storms the field and piles all over each other. I was privileged to attend the 1984 Cal-Stanford game that ended with "The Play." Packers fans have been blessed by two such games in the past two years (2015 in Detroit and 2017 in Dallas). This is why we watch football and love the Packers.

If you’re a Packers fan, you’ve definitely got your money’s worth this season. The 2016 season produced several truly incredible moments when you consider Randall Cobb’s Hail Mary, Jordy Nelson’s catch against Chicago, and Jared Cook’s sideline grab in Dallas. It also doesn’t get any better – or more dramatic – than Mason Crosby’s two game-winning kicks.

Eric from Ames, IA

The questions about RBs and Ezekiel Elliott got me thinking. If I were an NFL GM, I'd consider always "going against the grain" when building my team. Sure, the current NFL rules encourage the pass, but Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys' dominant offensive line show that a power running game can still be successful. Especially when you consider most defensive schemes and personnel decisions are designed to get after elite QBs and defend the pass, a powerful running game is -- in some ways -- unprepared for. What do you think of that team-building strategy?

Five years ago, I started to think you could put any running back behind a capable offensive line and he’d pick up 4.3 yards per carry. Eddie Lacy changed that perspective for me. You could see the difference he made during his first two seasons. He brought something entirely new to the offense and the Packers were better for it. The Cowboys have one of the best offensive lines in football and Elliott was an excellent addition to what they’d already established in the run game. There’s a lot to be said for controlling the clock and winning the field-position battle. It wears on an opponent and gives your own defense a much-needed breather.

Ross from Newmarket, Ontario

I'm not so sure we actually missed out on the Lacy-Montgomery one-two punch last year due to Lacy's injury. In fact, without Lacy (and Starks) getting injured, we might not have had the chance to try Montgomery in the backfield at all. I'm hoping Lacy and the Packers can reach an agreement to bring him back so we get the chance to see how they can complement each other.

I still believe Montgomery would’ve had a chance to show what he could do in the backfield. We probably wouldn’t have seen him there as much if Lacy and Starks stayed healthy, but that wrinkle was going to be a part of the offense’s plan. His conversion to running back started before Lacy and Starks went down. Their injuries just sped things forward.

Brian from Ludington, MI

Wes, are the days of finding a KGB or Bryce Paup on your roster long gone? If we have one hiding in the ranks, who do you think it might be?

I don’t think so. There are late-round and undrafted pass-rushers making plays across the league. Neither of those guys you described jumped out as rookies. KGB actually spent time on the practice squad before getting his big break. Who will that next guy be for Green Bay? We’ll have to watch and see. The Packers have some young prospects. I thought Dean Lowry and Kyler Fackrell flashed pass-rush ability this year.

Dan from Long Beach, CA

The Eagles got a first- and fourth-round pick in exchange for Sam Bradford, and the Patriots could probably get something close to that for Jimmy Garoppolo if they choose to trade him. Those are terrific returns on investment. Is it worthwhile to stockpile promising QBs regardless of who is already on the roster, because there will always be at least a couple teams desperately needing a starter?

Young backup quarterbacks can have great value. The best not only provide a stable reserve behind the starter, but also a possible trade chip down the road. Ron Wolf was excellent at turning mid- and late-round prospects such as Mark Brunell, Aaron Brooks and Matt Hasselbeck into future compensation. New England is in a good situation with a Super Bowl-winning quarterback and a backup who’s generating a lot of buzz around the league.

Brian from Champaign, IL

Hey Wes, where is Brett Hundley in his development at McCarthy QB College?

That progress restarts this spring, but Hundley told Spoff during last month’s final locker room that he felt he made serious strides in the offense this year. The ankle injury was an unfortunate curveball in the preseason, but Hundley was still in every meeting from beginning to end. Never discount the value of sharing a position room with Aaron Rodgers. Those mental reps and studying sessions will benefit Hundley in the long run. I’m sure he’s excited to get back on the field this summer.

Jay from Land O Lakes, FL

Based upon the success of defensive backs from the SEC (see Ha Ha Clinton-Dix), I would lean toward drafting Teez Tabor (FL) or Marion Humphrey (Bama) in first round as No. 1 cornerbacks. We got lucky that Ha Ha was still around in that draft, but I don't think we will get Teez or Marion at No. 29...would you move up in draft to get these great players?

You just want Ha Ha and Teez in the same secondary, don’t you? Outside of trading back into the first round to take Clay Matthews in 2009, Thompson has yet to trade up from his original spot in the first round to take a player during his 11 years as general manager.

Mark from Naperville, IL

A few comments/responses from Wednesday's Insider Inbox about running back seemed to ignore Christine Michael. Is he no longer on the team? With an entire offseason and training camp with the Packers, I'm excited/anxious to see what he can do. He showed some flash the few times he was in games.

Like Lacy, Michael is an unrestricted free agent this offseason. He had his moments in nine games. Thompson and the personnel department have to decide whether Michael will be a part of team’s plans for backfield.

Brandon from Oshkosh, WI

I saw a replay of Edelman's catch in the Super Bowl and thought the DB should have went for a hit on Edelman instead of the ball. Based on what I see, he easily could have wrapped up Edelman after the ball was tipped. Do you think he wanted the pick or just natural instincts on the Big Stage?

It’s a tough call because so much of it is reaction and timing. I understand what he was trying to do. If you can’t snag it, you bat the ball up and hope one of your fellow defensive backs comes down with it. In this instance, it fell into Edelman’s hands. It’s just one of those crazy plays.

Tyler from Dallas, TX

I've grown sick of the OT suggestions as well, but can't help but throw in my two cents: the home team is first to possess (increasing home field advantage), and starts with the ball on their own 10 - maybe even 5. Any score ends it. Potentially quick, and high risk for both teams.

There were at least six comments in the Inbox starting with “I’m sick of the overtime debate, but…” I love it.

Ryan from Wichita, KS

Wes, I'm sorry but I have to ask about OT. What if we kept the rules the same except if the offense doesn't score any points on the first possession, the team on defense wins? It speeds up OT, gives some of the power back to the defense and evens out the "going for it on fourth down" disparity.

That’s a new idea, but I don’t think it would fly. The NFL is all about scoring.

Amir from Milwaukee, WI

Which defensive players in this year's draft have caught your attention, Wes?

T.J. Watt. No, no, I’m not saying the Packers are going to draft him. I have no earthly idea who it will be, but he has a great story and I loved watching him play at Wisconsin last fall. I’ll be following him at the NFL Scouting Combine and excited to see how his career unfolds at the next level. He obviously has a big name, but I also find his frame (6-5, 243) to be really intriguing for a pass-rusher.

Paul from Milwaukee, WI

With the Packers setting the stage on multiple position type players such as Micah Hyde and Ty Montgomery, are colleges going to start molding potential star players into learning different positions to make them much more marketable or does this attribute only work in Green Bay and the way players are coached/developed?

Most schools move freshmen and sophomores because they don’t always know where they’ll fit into their scheme when they first arrive on campus. I covered current Badgers fullback Alec Ingold at the Press-Gazette. At first, he was going to go to Northern Illinois as a quarterback before Paul Chryst offered him (both at Pittsburgh and later Wisconsin). Ingold started at linebacker before moving to fullback. T.J. Watt originally was a walk-on tight end before moving to outside linebacker. Can versatility be taught? I think to a certain extent, but there’s also something to be said for guys who can just do it all. I think those type of players have worked in Green Bay because the system is flexible enough to accommodate their style. There’s always room for hybrid players in this system.

Scott from Hamlin, NY

I think more important than fairness in overtime is the thought that the winner of the game comes down to a coin toss. More often than not both defenses are gassed and the offense can walk down the field.

This is at the heart of the issue. I don’t disagree the Falcons’ defense was worn out by the time overtime started in the Super Bowl. What about if they used the current rules in the regular season, but let each team possess the ball in the playoffs? Would that be an acceptable compromise?

John from Big Lake, MN

Regarding overtime rules: Why not just eliminate the part of the rule that says “unless the 1st team possessing the ball scores a touchdown?” Just make it so that each team is allowed to have the ball at least once, then sudden death from there.

As I said before, I don’t think you’re not accomplishing anything with this. Team A scores a touchdown and Team B matches it, but Team A is still in position to win the game without Team B touching the ball. The possession ratio is still two-to-one. You’re extending the game for no reason.

Luke from Madison, WI

How about this: college-style overtime except both sets of offenses and defenses are on the field at the same time on opposite ends of the field? Then there wouldn't have to be any coin toss at all.

Now that’s an idea and probably an absolute headache for anybody inside the stadium or at home to follow.

Gregory from Saint Helens, OR

We need to sign the premier shutdown corner so that under the unfair OT rules we can be as great as they use to be. Or something like that.

That pretty much ties all the major topics from this past week into one tidy, 26-word sentence. Are we done here?

Jennifer from Milwaukee, WI

Hi guys, if a player has been with a team for four years, but sat a whole year because of a preseason injury, does that year count in the accrued four years?

Yes, ma’am. One example would be Don Barclay, who missed his third NFL season due to a knee injury.

Tom from Madison, WI

What are your Favorite Things!? I think Vic and the Insiders should do something similar to what the Rock did for his Favorite Things! I never laughed so hard in my life! It was awesome!

Larry’s ‘School of the Rock’ debuts on Broadway later this fall. That video was a riot.

David from Athens, AL

What is one of your favorite, away game, places to dine?

Tossup between either Old Ebbits Grill in Washington D.C. or 101 Ocean in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Tom from New York, NY

Hey Mike. You should have a solo spinoff podcast all about rookies. You can call it, “The Young and the Wesless.”

Wow.

Mark from Missoula, MT

I have an idea to make the Pro Bowl more interesting. It's doubtful we'd see it viable in our lifetime, but if there is a corporation that could generate a large profit from it; it's the NFL. I'm talking, of course, having the Pro Bowl played on the moon. Build a dome, and the low gravity would change the physics of the game and theoretically make it safer. Obviously, a moon colony to give tourists a place to spend money would be necessary.

I think we’re done here.

 
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