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There's something special brewing in that backfield

Posted Mar 20, 2018

Sometimes you're the hammer, sometimes you're the nail


Robert from Valrico, FL

A bit curt and pointed with our responses yesterday, eh, Wes? Cold a bit worse than you’re letting on, eh? I love your humor and edge. Get sick more. That was an awesome column. I kid. About getting sick, not the Inbox.

I feel much better, so not sure what that means for today’s column. Either way, we’re off and running. Good morning!

Thomas from Fond du Lac, WI

We seem to have too many receivers and not enough tight ends. Do you think it's possible for Michael Clark to put on enough good weight to become a tight end?

I am dead inside.

Matt from Oshkosh, WI

I loved the “When will the Packers get a real running back?” question. Williams and Jones looked like the real deal last year. I was at the Tampa Bay game, and every time Jones lined up, we were ready for fireworks. I wouldn’t be upset if someone else comes in via the draft or free agency, but between those two and Ty (who has turned in several amazing performances lined up in the backfield), I actually think the RB position as it stands only adds to the “pick your poison” offense the Packers love to run and what our RBs can do both in the running game and in the open field on screens and check-downs.

Just look at the money the 49ers and Lions have thrown at running backs this offseason and tell me the Packers aren’t in good standing with their backfield right now. They have two legitimate prospects in Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, and a Swiss-army knife in Ty Montgomery. If they add another in the draft or college free agency, all the better. There’s something special brewing in that backfield. If those guys can stay healthy, I expect big things in 2018.

John from Weatherford, TX

You said Jimmy Graham checks all the boxes but everything I hear about him says he's not a blocker and doesn't pretend to be. How will Joe and Mike twist the offense to make up for Graham's inability or lack of interest in blocking? Or do they limit his play in obvious running situations?

Graham is what he is as a football player at this point, but I think he fits better in this offense than a traditional in-line tight end like Martellus Bennett did. Regardless of what happened with Bennett off the field, he never looked comfortable on it in Green Bay. The Packers’ offense and Graham should complement each other nicely. That being said, Green Bay probably could use another tight end, preferably one with a blocking pedigree.

Joe from Cincinnati, OH

Bashaud Breeland failed his physical with the Panthers due to a non-football injury so his offer voided and he's a free agent again. What are the rules for players passing/failing a physical as it pertains to free agents? Does the CBA require they pass before signing a contract?

It depends on the team. One team may fail a player on a physical and another might pass him the next day. We all know the story of Ron Wolf telling the Packers’ team doctors to pass Brett Favre after having concerns about his hip. I’m sure Richard Sherman couldn’t “pass” a physical today, but the 49ers will waive that because they know what they’re getting with his Achilles injury.

Jeremy from Garden Prairie, IL

It's been said many places that Jimmy Graham's not an in-line blocker, that for the most part he's a slot receiver. Is that true? I think this is why John from Hudson, WI asked the question he did. I don't think anyone expects Michael Clark to become an in-line blocker. What's the difference between a "pass-catching" TE and a WR with exceptional size? I think that answer would help us fans understand more. Thank you.

Good question. The lines continue to get blurred with how prevalent spread offenses have become, but I think the difference with Graham and Clark is where they fit naturally in the system. That’s the difference with Ty Montgomery – he can fit naturally, at his size and weight, at running back or receiver. There is a 40 pound difference between Graham and Clark. Players move differently at those sizes. Graham may not be the most accomplished blocker, but he is a tight end. It’s not a stretch for him to line up off-tackle or as an H-back. Asking Clark to do that would be ill-advised.

Geoff from Omaha, NE

Do scouts only evaluate players on a particular side of the ball or do they evaluate anyone with a pulse?

Pretty much anyone with a pulse.

Paul from Wittenberg, WI

I am really looking forward to this year's draft. Which position and player would you most like to see the Packers go after in this draft?

I’m interested to see what Brian Gutekunst has in store for the perimeter – receiver and cornerback.

Greg from Whippany, NJ

Please explain why that offer sheet was offered to Mr. Fuller?

Because the Packers have a fever…and the only thing that’s going to cure it is more cornerbacks.

Connor from Ramsey, MN

I have been very interested in guys like Ross Cockrell, Brice McCain, William Gay, E.J Gaines, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Which one do you think is most likely to suit up for Green Bay next year?

I’m still going to say one of the cornerbacks with ties to the Packers makes the most sense, but DRC is the best of the bunch you named. Cockrell doesn’t have DRC’s resume, but probably has the best mix of potential (still only 26) and size.

John from Flanders, NJ

Feel better Wes! With the CBs that are on the team at this moment, what’s left in free agency and whomever we acquire in the draft, can we field a top 15 pass defense?

I don’t think that’s an unreasonable goal. The Packers went from last in pass defense in 2011 to 11th the following year with Tramon Williams getting healthy, Sam Shields stepping up and Casey Hayward coming on board. Assuming Kevin King’s shoulder heals properly, this secondary is one good addition away from being back in the thick of things.

Jeremy from Green Bay, WI

I think you missed the point of Gary From Fitchburg's question. He asked what the value is in trading a needed CB for Kizer. Won't Kizer be a free agent before Rodgers’ career is seemingly done?

I think the Packers were looking to make a change and found a prospect they liked in return. Simple as that.

James from Durango, CO

 I hope you are feeling better. I know fans are panicking about cornerback, but at this point I say why not sign Darrelle Revis? He has previous experience with our new defensive coordinator, so he knows his system. He could mentor any new guys we add to the team. He should not cost that much.

This is the first time I recall seeing Revis’ name come up this offseason. He’ll be 33 in July. Everyone ages differently, but it seemed his play left something to be desired last year in Kansas City.

James from Great Cacapon, WI

I am a big Packers fan and I want to know why don't the Packers trade for Earl Thomas or Patrick Peterson?

The same reason I’m still driving around in a 2007 Grand Prix. I can’t afford the luxury of a Mercedes Benz. However, I also don’t need one to get where I need to be. Both Thomas and Peterson are great players, but they’re going to command a king’s ransom – both to acquire and then to sign long-term.

Dan from Tempe, AZ

Please do this... "I seriously want to do an Inbox post sometime this offseason where I just post old messages from fans complaining about Hayward and Hyde when they were on the roster.” I find it hilarious how fans say one thing and then the same person something completely opposite the next.

I love Casey Hayward, both as a person and a player, but it’s ridiculous to keep using his success with the Chargers as an indictment of the Packers. I never heard the Texans’ fan base criticizing their team for letting Tramon Williams go in 2006. That’s the NFL. Sometimes you’re the hammer, sometimes you’re the nail. It’s all risk and reward.

Dave from Eugene, OR

Wes, I believe your ability to count may have been adversely affected by dehydration/flu. I believe there are 99 available numbers for NFL players, not 100. 1-99 only. 0 and 00 are no longer eligible numbers. Who was the best NFL player to have ever worn 0 or 00, have any teams retired those numbers, and does it matter since they are no longer eligible numbers?

Wow. Good point. I was sleeping at the keyboard. Nobody has ever worn No. 0 for the Packers. Jim Otto is probably the best to wear ‘0’ or ’00.’ The last person to do it from what I could find was Bryan Cox during the 2001 preseason with the Patriots.

Chris from New Canaan, CT

A beloved former Packer returns to Lambeau Field and finds paydirt. Would it be bad form to do the Lambeau Leap? Is the Leap sacred and reserved for rostered Packers only? I would be fine with it, but what say you, Wes? By the way, sorry you're not feeling well, but as I like to say, "Sometimes, you gotta play hurt ..."

I think it would be bad form. There is something sacred about the Lambeau Leap. When pondering this question, I asked myself what would Jordy Nelson do? I bet he hands the ball back to the official and heads to the sideline.

Danny from New Berlin, WI

Is it possible to disagree with the organization over the release of Jordy Nelson based on intelligence, logic and common sense or are all who oppose his cutting just "grieving, emotional, heartbroken" Packer fans? And what does that make Oakland?

You absolutely can make an objective argument against cutting Jordy Nelson. After all, he is only one year removed from being the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year. Brian Gutekunst said himself Nelson still has something left. The Packers felt the need to make a change at receiver and so did Oakland in cutting Michael Crabtree to sign Nelson. That’s the ebb and flow of the NFL.

Bryan from Moorpark, CA

I see a lot of talk about moving up in the draft, how about moving back. What if Ridley is available at 14 and we get an offer from Baltimore to move up, what does the trade value chart say we could get in return?

Depending on how desperate Baltimore is to move up, maybe the Ravens’ first- and third-rounder for the Packers’ first and late fourth. That’s just spiffballing.

Ethan from La Crosse, WI

I read an ESPN article talking about the CBA expiring in 2020, and how some league rules regarding free agents, as well as salary cap, will change that year. Wouldn't that be incentive enough to get a deal on the next CBA done before even having to worry about that?

Deadlines spur action. Negotiation is the distant cousin of procrastination.

Roger from Indianapolis, IN

Who really determines a player's asking price--the player or the agent? What if a player had a chance to play in his home town and would settle for less money to be at home?

Agents typically will draw up comparisons between their client and players with similar production, age, etc. to set their market. I heard last year one of the starting points for Hyde’s deal with the Bills was Morgan Burnett’s with the Packers. At the end of the day, it’s entirely up to the player. It’s his career, after all.

Jeff from Waunakee, WI

So I wonder if the big money that the Vikings are giving to Curt Cousins, in part is meant to meddle with the Packers’ salary cap as they know Aaron Rodgers is up for a contract extension and will most likely demand more big money. How might this affect the Packers and can the Packers afford that kind of a hit to the salary cap and not lose extending other player's contract next season?

Curt Cousins. Jeff, you made my day. The price of quarterbacks is going up across the league. Rodgers’ contract won’t be an outlier. It’ll be the continuation of many lucrative deals. Once the Packers set the market, the rest of the league will follow suit just like it did with the Ravens and Joe Flacco in 2013.

Mike from West Bend, WI

Love what you write, it keeps me on my toes. Henrique had a good point. Do NFL teams ever have scouts looking at other countries for athletes?

You need an extensive background in American football to be proficient at it. That’s not to say someone couldn’t learn the sport and be good at it, but it’s difficult to play at the highest level without years of experience. A majority of NFL teams limit their scouting to North America and maybe Australia because other countries don’t have feeder systems like baseball and basketball cultivating talent.

Lon from Black River Falls, WI

How is a college player like Jack Cichy evaluated by the pros?

These are the most challenging calls scouts have to make because there isn’t much film to go off of with Cichy, who missed his redshirt-senior year and played only 24 college games. Wherever he lands, it’ll be important to get healthy and show what he has during training camp.

Isaiah from North Carolina, WI

Why did you cut him bring him back right now he was in a Super Bowl 2010? GET HIM BACK!

Who are you referring to? Howard Green?

Joseph from East Moline, IL

The two teams I like both had exciting finishes on Saturday, but which ending did you like better: Loyola or Michigan? The deep, buzzer beating three from a freshman was pretty awesome, but I’d have to say the bounce-in mid-range for the upset has the edge.

Loyola…because Porter Moser is a boss.

Jennifer from Middleton, WI

There is a difference between witty sarcasm and shaming. So Andy from Appleton doesn’t read every day? You don’t know his life. Just delete it if you don’t like his question. Yes, I see the irony that I’m shaming you but you invoke it. That guy asked an innocent question. It’s not the first time and it’s tedious. You can be provocative without being a (jerk).

OK.

Venny from Montgomery, AL

I actually enjoy the smart-assed responses. They give the column edge. Keep contain, baby!

OK.

Tristan from Durham, NC

Have you guys ever considered posting a FAQ to give people something else to ignore before asking the questions anyway?

I literally laughed out loud at this, Tristan.

LeeAnn from Corydon, IN

Hope you're feeling better today Wes. Considering it's the 'offseason' it's been difficult to get questions published in the inbox. I can only assume you have a lot of questions to go through every day. Typically how many questions are waiting for you when you open the inbox this time of year? Thank you.

I last deleted my Inbox questions last Tuesday. I have more than 1,400 in there as of this morning.

Mike from Fort Wayne, IN

Wes - Hope you’re feeling sprightlier today after toughing it out yesterday. Do you think your name is up on McCarthy’s chart concerning availability? If so, you’ve shown him you’re a gamer!

I just didn’t want Duke Bobber to put one of the interns in and have them steal my spot. I ain’t no Wally Pipp.


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