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Timing and continuity is an every-down thing

Posted May 11, 2018

The WR situation might be the most unpredictable element to this year's roster


Daniel from Castle Rock, CO

Morning Insiders! A lot of talk has gone into our pass defense next year, but with the front four we have, how will the run defense look? I think a lot of that is being overlooked and there's a chance it can be very, very good.

I don’t think it’s being overlooked. I think the expectation is the Packers will be difficult to run against.

Jeff from Minocqua, WI

On Dec. 2, 2012, I saw Adrian Peterson dominate the Green Bay Packers. The Packers won, but only because the Vikings didn't hand the ball to Peterson a few more times. He is a man among boys. He can still play, and teach. Where do you see him ending up?

Canton.

Mark from Wheaton, IL

While I love the aggressiveness of Gutekunst so far, it should be recognized that he has been able to be so bold because of all the picks Thompson accumulated through free agency and the keeping of a healthy salary cap. Couple of nice parting gifts there that the guy will never bring up to anyone.

A dozen picks and the team’s best draft position in nine years. There are worse ways to start, and I think Gutekunst’s activity in the draft emphasized his knowledge of the opportunity he had going in and his desire to maximize on it.

Kenton from Rochester, MN

Insiders, there's been a lot of chatter on the CB situation. Like who is going to make the biggest impact and where so-and-so might play. But haven't heard anything about Quinten Rollins lately. I know he had some injuries last year, but shouldn't he be healthy now and be factoring into the equation?

We won’t know until OTAs start in another 10 days or so, when we see who’s on the field and get updates from the head coach. The road back from an Achilles injury can be a long one. We just have to wait and see.

Troy from Austin, MN

How do I get one of those sweet skull-and-crossbones T-shirts?

Sign a contract.

Jeff from Kenosha, WI

Hi guys, the Packer defense got killed last year by the screen pass. Do you think that puts a premium on the development of Burks?

Sure, but it puts just as big a premium on recognition, reaction, getting off blocks and a lot of other defensive fundamentals that were lacking on those plays last year.

Luke from Lake Delton, WI

Let's be real, we're probably gonna meet the Saints in the playoffs and I guarantee the draft pick will be the last thing on everyone's minds.

Works for me.

Dan from Grand Rapids, MI

Insiders, I’m not sure if you follow hockey or not, but how impressive is it that in their inaugural season the Las Vegas Golden Knights (an expansion team!) is in the final four and has a real chance at a championship? I remember how terrible the Houston Texans were in their first few years and it seems hard to believe an expansion team is already this good.

Back in the mid-1990s, the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars shocked everyone, not just in the NFL, by making it to their respective conference championship games in their second season (1996). I never thought we’d see something equivalent or better, but hats off to the Golden Knights.

Junior from Syracuse, NY

Watched some CFL games and one rule I love over the NFL is on punt returns, where the returner is given a 5-yard safe area where no defenders can be when the ball is caught. There is always a football play because of this. Much more exciting than the lame fair catch. You think NFL could ever go for that rule change? Would you?

I like it, but I don’t see the NFL changing the rule unless player safety were to dictate it.

John from New York, NY

With so much depth in our secondary now, do you think we can drop seven into coverage and rush four against pass-heavy teams like the Falcons? The Giants did this when they had their Super Bowl runs but had a really good pass rush. Was wondering if it could be accomplished with a really good secondary with not as strong pass rush.

I don’t think the depth in the secondary has anything to do with the strategy. If you can get home with four, generate pressure, speed up the QB’s time clock, etc., you do it, because seven in coverage is an advantage. If you can’t get it done with four, you have to get more creative or the play lasts too long for the coverage to hold up. Blitzing because you want to and because you have to are two very different things.

Lynn from Somers, WI

Regarding the discussion on maintaining continuity on the offensive line to establish cohesiveness, can you talk a bit about the defensive line? I often hear how they need to substitute for fresh bodies. What about their cohesiveness? What is different?

The difference is how often defensive linemen are working together versus separately. It helps defensive linemen to get their timing down on stunts up front and other schematic calls, but a greater majority of the time they have individual assignments on a play and must do that job. For offensive linemen, timing and continuity is an every-down thing, not an occasional thing.

Gully from Maple, WI

When asked about situational substitution for offensive line you mentioned cohesiveness as important. If a lineman is injured, when is it more disruptive to cohesiveness to switch a starter from his normal position then to simply substitute a backup player to the position of need?

Ideally, when one starter goes down, the other four can stay in their regular spots. But if you’re substituting a significantly lesser player in order to do that, rather than subbing in the best possible player and moving one of the starters to accommodate, the unit could suffer. It’s case by case.

Chris from Appleton, WI

Hi guys. I know a lot is being made of the WR/CB competitions this year. But, don't sleep on the RB competition. I think we all understand the Packers will need all three of their top guys at some point during the season, but you still have three RBs with starting experience as well as another draft pick waiting in the wings all vying for that first snap of the regular season. I'm excited to see what they can do.

I felt last season ended with each of the rookie running backs needing to improve a key facet of his game. For Williams, it’s explosive plays. For Jones, pass protection. For Mays, ball security. Montgomery needs to stay healthy, and if he does, the top 1-2 punch could be determined by which younger back improves the most in his key area.

Ron from Tama, IA

Guys, with all the receivers on the team which one do you think will make a surprise impact this coming season?

I can’t answer that until I see who actually makes the team, and which receivers are going to make the team might be the most unpredictable element to this year’s roster right now.

Brandon from Appleton, WI

What is the highest number of receivers that you could see the Packers possibly keeping?

The highest number is seven, which they’ve done before, but I think six is more realistic.

Bill from Hillsville, VA

Hey Spoff, your choice of the Giants for NFC surprise team seemed rather flippant. With Saquon Barkley opening up their offense, I fully expect to see them in the playoffs this season. You heard it here first...

It was off the top of my head, but not without some thought. A back like Barkley can change any offense, and if the Giants’ top receivers stay healthy, that’ll help Manning. It’s asking a lot of a new head coach to take a team from 3-13 to the postseason in the same division as the Super Bowl champs, though.

Denny from Alexandria, VA

Spoff, the surprise team? The Seahawks, but not for the direction your choice (the Giants) implies.

They didn’t make the playoffs last year, they have key pieces to replace on defense, and they’re in a division featuring two of the league’s rising teams. This will be a very interesting year in Seattle.

Jon from Bath, England

Hi Insiders. Let’s play the GM game. Which two players (one offense, one defense) would you pick to build your new franchise around? In previous years, Vic selected A-Rod/JPP and Andrew Luck/Patrick Petersen (if I recall correctly).

OK, I’ll play along. How about Carson Wentz and Khalil Mack?

Joshua from Appleton, WI

I am still mad that Trump killed the USFL. We could be watching spring/summer football. I would have to say my favorite was the New Jersey Generals because Herschel Walker was so fun to watch.

ESPN’s “30 for 30” film on the USFL was a great piece. It’s easy to forget guys like Walker, Jim Kelly, Steve Young, Reggie White and Anthony Carter all played in the USFL. You wonder what would have happened had the league stuck to the spring/summer and not pushed to compete with the NFL in the fall.

Steve from Milwaukee, WI

May I suggest that fantasy football has increased interest in the NFL Draft beyond mere interest in the next hot QB? I think by participating in their own drafts, fans have come to appreciate the intricacy, strategy, and spectacle of the drafts of their favorite teams.

I’ll buy that.

Mark from Aiea, HI

Aloha from Hawaii! Quick question...we always hear about “halftime adjustments” but what do they look like as they happen in the locker room? Halftime is such a short period of time for the players, how does a meaningful adjustment happen so quickly?

I think “halftime adjustments” is an overrated concept at the pro level. They’re making in-game adjustments all the time. It’s constant. There’s so much communication between coaches and players once a unit (offense or defense) comes to the sideline, if they can change something, they’re not waiting until halftime.

LeeAnn from Corydon, IN

Insiders I keep seeing the term off-ball linebacker. I'm not sure what that means specifically. Can you enlighten me?

It’s just a reference to where they line up at the snap. Linebackers who are edge rushers are usually on the line of scrimmage. Other linebackers start a few yards off the ball.

Ben from Fort Worth, TX

Given the first-round talent of Alexander, and given the plethora of D-back injuries the last few years, why add more injury risk by making Alexander return punts? Let a speedy, more expendable receiver do that.

I don’t know if I like the term expendable, but that’s why I said the other day it comes down to workload. The potential for fatigue injuries has to be considered along with the contact/collision risk.

Mike from Fort Wayne, IN

Is there a player that you think the fans will adopt as the next "Jeff Janis has all the talent, but why isn't he playing more” mantra?

Armchair coaches? Never.

Joe from Richmond, VA

Are there any plays specifically designed for AR to scamper out of the pocket and throw on the run while the play breaks down? Countless successful plays have occurred with AR over the years in this scenario, wondering if this is ever intentional.

So you’re asking if the Packers ever design a play to break down? Well, then it would be unfolding by design, which means it’s not really breaking down, so the intent would be … to give me a headache?

Hunter from Stevens Point, WI

I think this year a few great teams will be left out of the playoffs for the NFC. Just think, the NFC has the Packers, Eagles, Vikings, 49ers, Saints, Panthers, Falcons, Cowboys, Rams, Lions, and I think the Giants, Bears, and Redskins will be much better. So some great teams will miss the playoffs either way. I hope it’s not us.

Some good teams could miss the playoffs, no doubt. The great ones should all get in.

Mike from Oshkosh, WI

Hi, Insiders. If the Pack had been able to land Kyle Fuller in FA, do you feel it would have changed how the first two picks in the draft had gone? Would GB have maybe pushed harder at landing an edge player?

Couldn’t tell you, but it’s a somewhat pointless exercise. If the Packers had landed Fuller, would they still have signed Williams and/or House? What would the Bears have done in free agency and the draft? The variables are numerous.

Bill from Kansas City, MO

Do you think that the Packers did not draft an outside linebacker/pass-rush specialist because Reggie Gilbert convinced them with his performance at the end of last season that he was the answer, or at least a good part of the answer?

I think the Packers believe in Gilbert (I have a story on him going up later today), but I also think they would have drafted an edge rusher sooner than the final round had the board fallen differently.

Scott from Onalaska, WI

What!? No intern for you guys? You should ask Packer management if you can set up some sort of crowdfunding account so as to be able to hire one. Then you guys can have someone to wait on you and do crappy intern-like jobs. I'd pitch in some money.

But I like stealing Wes’s lunch all by myself.

Brenton from Burlington, IA

With only a few months until football starts, what do think is the most surprising thing that has happened so far this offseason?

That I got my mom’s Mother’s Day card in the mail on time? Now I just have to remember the phone call. Do what you can to make Sunday special for any moms you know. Best to all.


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