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There's an advantage to not showing your cards

Posted Jan 30, 2018

The more you know, the less you have to think


Tom from La Crosse, WI

We have all heard about the pedigree of the defenses Pettine has put on the field. What can you tell us about the makeup of those defenses and what made them so dynamic? Do we have the players on our current roster to be as successful as those in Pettine's past?

Pettine had Darrelle Revis, David Harris, Antonio Cromartie all in their prime, but what impressed me the most is how his defenses got the most out of the likes of Jim Leonhard, Jason Taylor and Bart Scott at different stages of their careers. The Jets didn’t have a dominant pass rusher, but they were effective. They played team football.

Wayne from Green Bay, WI

I like the Pettine hiring a lot, but I want to remind fans who are overly excited about it, players not plays. Pettine had Revis, perhaps the top shutdown corner since Deion Sanders, along with Cromartie, who was no slouch, either.

With how good Revis was at his peak, I think people sometimes forget how good Cromartie was during his four seasons in New York. He only missed one game during that stretch, too.

Lee from Marshfield, WI

Wes, I disagree with your response to Jack from Indianapolis, IN, on the defensive turnaround. 2009 we drafted B.J. and Clay. Players not plays in the scheme. X’s and O’s don’t move, players move.

Maybe, but there’s no question Charles Woodson took his game to another level during his first two seasons in Capers’ defense. He was a Pro Bowler in 2008. He was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2009. It was a perfect fit.

Tom from Westfield, MA

Has anyone asked whether Pettine plans to be in the box or on the sideline during games?

I didn’t get a chance to ask during his news conference, but it appears he coached from the sideline in Buffalo. I promise to ask the next time we have access to Pettine.

Timmy from Chicago, IL

If a corner and edge rusher grade out the same at the top of our board on draft day, would Pettine's philosophy suggest he would prefer the corner?

I don’t know what Pettine would prefer or Gutekunst’s thoughts on the matter, but Pettine’s defenses have been known for stellar cornerback play and an all-hands-on-deck approach to pass rush.

Roger from Indianapolis, IN

Do teams develop two boards for potential players? One for the draft with top choices on it, the other sort of a hidden UDFA board anticipating who will not be drafted but still worth a look later?

The Packers keep a rolodex of possible college free agents. Occasionally, the Packers may even draft a player (Jeff Janis and Devante Mays) off that list to ensure they get their guy. To help build that board, Green Bay will bring in up to two dozen possible UDFAs for pre-draft visits to get to know those players more.

Dan from Golden, CO

In your response to Logan from Chippewa Falls, I took it as the Packers have been serviceable when it comes to stopping the run; however, Coach Pettine knows the struggles they've had with stopping the pass and that's going to be a huge focus for him so there is defensive balance. It's like peanut butter and jelly to me.

Exactly. I didn’t take Pettine’s words to mean we’re going to take stopping the run for granted. Teams simply have to place an emphasis on pass defense or they’re going to get beat…and fast.

Tim from Mesa, AZ

Wes, looking at Mike Pettine's coaching career, he has never been on a team with a QB near the caliber of Aaron Rodgers. Do you think being able to use Rodgers as a resource will help Pettine's defensive schemes and play-calling?

Without question practicing each day against one of the best to ever do it is going to help a defensive coordinator find areas to improve. At the same time, game-day Rodgers is a huge resource. He’s the ultimate ace in the hole.

Tristan from Washington DC

While TT was GM he used most, if not all, of his pre-draft visits on prospects that would likely go undrafted as sort of a recruiting trip. The Packers were also picking toward the end of the draft so top prospects likely wouldn't be where the Packers were drafting. Now that they're drafting at 14, do you think they'll still use the pre-draft visits as recruitment or do you think they might invite some "name" players since they might actually be available?

I’m not sure. One reason the Packers didn’t bring in many “name” players under Ted Thompson is the team does most of the interviews and medical checks at the NFL Scouting Combine. They’ll also use those pre-draft visits to check up on players, too. My hunch is Gutekunst will keep similar counsel, but we’ll have to see. I can’t tell you how many first-round picks the Packers have used on players who had no idea Green Bay was interested. There’s an advantage to not showing your cards.

Zach from Clarkfield, MN

Do the Packers' scouts have assigned regions and/or specialties?

Yes.

Keith from Lincoln, IL

In the book, “Run to Win,” by Donald T. Phillips, Bart Starr is quoted as saying, “[Lombardi] prepared us beautifully for every eventuality. That, more than encouragement, was what built up my self-confidence. Thanks to Coach Lombardi, I knew – I was positive – that I would never face a situation I wasn’t equipped to handle.” Is that level of preparation, and the resulting self-confidence, possible in today’s game?

Absolutely. I edited down your question a bit, but you raised a good point – all the information available in today’s game further enhances player preparation. You don’t have as much time to master the playbook and scheme as 10 years ago, but it’s still possible. The more you know, the less you have to think on the field.

David from Hesperia, CA

I know there are a lot of Packer fans in Europe that were hoping the Packers vs. Rams game would be moved to London. But trust me there are plenty of Packer fans in Southern California that are happy the NFL did not make that move. Not to mention the players on the Packers’ roster with SoCal roots. The last time the Packers made the trip to SoCal was back in 2011 at San Diego. There are going to be plenty of Green Bay fans ready to fill up the Coliseum in anticipation of the Packers’ first visit to LA in decades.

I’m geeked about it, too. Who knows if the Packers will ever have a chance to play in the Coliseum again? Probably not. I initially thought it was a no-brainer to push the Rams game to London, but overlooked the fact the Coliseum can hold 90,000. That could be a sellout given how well Packers fans travel.

Josh from Denver, CO

Our road games look pretty interesting next year. As a fan, if you could only go to two, which would you choose? Right now I'm leaning towards Gillette Stadium and CenturyLink Field.

Gillette Stadium and CenturyLink are great for entirely different reasons. I love Gillette being in the middle of nowhere, with Patriots Place attached. CenturyLink is cool because Seattle is so awesome and it’s right next door to Safeco, which is one of my favorites.

TJ from Bismarck, ND

I know you aren't an orthopedic surgeon, but could you provide some more details on the type of procedure Kevin King had on his injured shoulder?

King told reporters last month that he underwent labrum surgery with the renowned Dr. James Andrews.

Charles from Omaha, NE

Insiders, what is your Super Bowl ring of sports journalism? Where, if you had an article published there, could you die happy?

Getting an article published in my hometown newspaper was a dream come true. I didn’t think it could get better than that until the first time I received a push alert to one of my stories on packers.com. I mean, seriously, how cool is that? I’ve never had my sights set on working for SI or ESPN. Green Bay is my home. I met my wife here. I had my son here. My immediate family lives within an hour radius of each other. My Super Bowl ring is working in the area I grew up in. How could it not be?

Mark from Austin, TX

Considering pass rusher is still the consensus No. 1 need, how bad does the passing on T.J. Watt look now?

You’re not going to get me to bite on this. You’re drawing conclusions from the first 10 minutes of the movie. Watt had a fine rookie season, though I’ll add three of his seven sacks came against Cleveland.

Curtis from Sparta, WI

I remain perplexed by the GM's decision to cut Taysom Hill from the initial 53 last year. With the benefit of hindsight, how many players do you think should have been cut before Hill? I'm not interested in names, just a number.

Hindsight says Hill should’ve been on the roster. That’s obvious for any player who gets claimed off waivers. However, NFL teams aren’t psychics. They have to do what’s best for them in the moment. Hill was a pro in Green Bay. I wish him nothing but the best and will be interested to see how his career unfolds.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

I'm curious what the Browns do with the first and fourth picks in the draft. Considering they've lacked a long-term franchise QB for seemingly more than half a century, would it be crazy for Dorsey to take QBs with both picks? It might set up a healthy competition and double their chance to get it right. Has there ever been a case of a team taking two quarterbacks in the first round?

That would be unprecedented. While that might be overkill, I believe the Browns absolutely have to take a QB at either No. 1 or No. 4. Cleveland missed on Tim Couch in 1999, but it’s a travesty the Browns haven’t taken another quarterback in the top 20 since then. If it’s me, I’m drafting a QB until I find my guy.

Thomas from Alpharetta, GA

While reading player bios for the Super Bowl, I see Danny Amendola was a practice-squad player for almost two years before making the Rams’ active roster. I’m curious, do practice-squad seasons accrue toward pension and other things impacted by years of service?

They do not. I believe you need to be on the active roster for three games to gain an accrued season.

Mark from Tijeras, NM

All teams have a 53-man roster and they all get paid. Please explain to me the logic then of only allowing 46 to be active on game day.

It makes for a level playing field. Injuries are going to happen and you have to keep spots open to account for that. How fair would it be if one team has access to 53 players and the other only has 46? This arrangement allows injured players to recover without the pressure of going on IR.

Mark from West Bend, WI

It seems Insiders have been focusing on only two types of player acquisitions, the draft and free agency. Yet it seems you have been hinting at a third, the trade. Ajayi for a fourth, Garoppolo for a second, or even further back Favre for a first. With the potential of 12 picks this year, do you see this as another way of getting veteran depth or possibly moving up in earlier rounds to get players the Packers have targeted?

I’d say it’s more likely the Packers use the extra picks to move up in the draft than acquire a veteran player, but you never know.

Joshua from Eagle River, AK

It seems like I’ve been reading that a lot of fans think the Vikings missed some kind of window or something. In my opinion, they were the one team that I thought got better the second their season ended. While they will most definitely have one of those three QBs back, they will also have a guy named Dalvin Cook back that was looking like a game-changer for that team before his injury. I would never compare his worth to Rodgers, but I would say that while they didn’t have to play us with Rodgers twice, we still haven’t had to play them with Cook and they beat us twice already. They will still have the same D and potentially a stronger threat at offense pairing Cook and the running game with Thielen, Diggs and Rudolph. Do you agree?

Minnesota is going to be difficult to deal with. I’m just curious how they handle that QB situation. It’s a huge decision Rick Spielman, Mike Zimmer and the Vikings have to make and one that likely will be tied directly to their Super Bowl chances in 2018.

Travis from Superior, WI

Can a defense win the Super Bowl on its own with three defensive touchdowns?

Sure. As long as the opponent doesn’t score more than three themselves.

Tim from Marshall, MI

The receiver demonstrates control of the ball for one second or more and/or takes two steps with the ball secured. What's so hard about that?

You’d be surprised. I think the evolution of replay review and uber-HD cameras have allowed us to overanalyze every aspect of the game. If you have a gripe, all you have to do is Google the play and re-watch it 100 times. We didn’t have that unlimited access to video 10 or 20 years ago.

George from Hutchinson, MN

Have I become too jaded when the mention of a draft prospect's injury history is brought up? I cringe at the thought of Mr. G possibly drafting such rookies. I know there must be some flexibility in there, but I ain't just feeling it. What's your take on the matter?

I get why injury history can make fans cringe, but don’t overthink it. For example, Jaylon Smith and Myles Jack were downgraded in the pre-draft process due to injury concerns. Smith played in all 16 games this past season for Dallas, while Jack hasn’t missed a game in two years.

Scott from Kingsport, TN

What do you think of Tiger Woods’ comeback?

I’ve seen this movie before.

Jeremy from Maryville, IL

Can we just let them play flag football at the Pro Bowl? I feel if everyone going into the weekend knew that it was going to be flag football, it would still be entertaining.

I don’t hate this idea.

Eric from Champaign, IL

Dr. Rosen...Dr Rosen Rosen. Just giving you a bird’s eye view, Wes.

Which reminds me I need to pop in “Fletch” tonight.


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