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A blessing in disguise?

Plus thoughts on potential breakout players


Bart from La Crosse, WI

Who are your picks, one on offense and one on defense, to have breakout years?

I reserve the right to change my mind after training camp, but I'm going with big guys. On offense, I see**more recognition coming**Lane Taylor's way. On defense, Kenny Clark.

Mark from Cape Coral, FL

How accurate is the article I just read that claims Beau Sandland is "significantly" faster and a better blocker than Richard Rodgers?

Faster? I can see that. But blocking? It isn't Rodgers' best attribute, but I don't know how someone could make that claim about Sandland when he's never played an NFL game. I'll be curious if he gets his chance.

John from Carson City, NV

"Found it at roughly the 3-minute mark in these highlights." Where can we find "these highlights?" home page, "Video" drop-down menu, "Video channels" drop-down menu, "Game highlights." Or just**click here**. Then select the month and year of the game you want to find. There are very few, if any, games missing from the last decade.

Rick from San Francisco, CA

I always appreciate it when your responses to "blue sky" comments like, "If we'd drafted Barry Sanders instead of Tony Mandarich...we would have won our division for years," that the ultimate results were by far greater. My dad used to call wistful "if only" statements as pulling the string. You can't change one thing in the past and assume everything else that's gone well would still have happened the way it did. I remember the Mandarich selection and resulting angst in not taking Sanders. The ensuing disaster had to be a big part in Ron Wolf not only joining the Packers in 1991 (after not pursuing the position in 1987), but in Bob Harlan giving Wolf 100 percent control over football operations, which the Packers wouldn't give to previous GMs. We all know where the team went from there. Can you think of any other bad decisions that were seemingly disastrous for the Packers in the short term that ended up creating a much larger benefit for the team?

In my time here, it's not a decision, but an outcome I always reflect upon – the shootout loss in the '09 wild-card round at Arizona. Had the Packers won that game, they'd have headed to "bounty-hunting" New Orleans, and I shudder to think what might have happened to Rodgers after seeing what that Saints defense did to Warner and Favre in the ensuing playoff weeks. On top of that, I think the gut-wrenching loss in the desert fueled Rodgers and the veterans for the 2010 playoff run. I've always looked at that loss as a blessing in disguise, as tough as it was to stomach at the time. It's going to be part of the "alternate universe" Packers history book I might write sometime.

Bill from Iowa City, IA

We are three years out from the 2014 draft. That looks like a winner with four starters: Clinton-Dix, Adams, R. Rodgers, Linsley. Plus, there were a couple other contributors: Goodson and Janis. Can we begin to expect such drafts to become more common as Ted and Co. continue to refine their drafting approach?

Every year is different, every draft is different. On balance, the approach hasn't changed much, in my opinion. Some years are better than others. That's the draft. A really bad year can set a team back, and a really good one can put a team over the top. No one's got this thing licked.

Jim from Maple Grove, MN

To follow up with Dan from Littleton, CO, Favre not only laid hits, he was called at least once for unnecessary roughness! How many QBs in the modern era have been flagged for that?

Jameis Winston got one last year for Tampa Bay when he head-butted a Dallas player. If that had been a penalty in Favre's era, he'd have racked up a lot more flags I think.

Lee from Marshfield, WI

Why does the AFC not have the team turnover the NFC does? Since 2000 the NFC has had 12 different teams in the SB while the AFC has had seven different teams. Why is the league parity only in the NFC?

Regular-season parity and playoff parity are two different animals, and it usually comes down to the quarterbacks. In the last decade, the AFC playoffs have been dominated by Brady, Manning and Roethlisberger, with Flacco sneaking into the Super Bowl one year. Carr is the guy who could enter the picture now. In the NFC, more standout QBs have risen up to contend – Warner, Brees, Rodgers, Manning, Kaepernick, Wilson, Newton, Ryan, and now Prescott is in the equation. The length of the lists just isn't comparable.

Eric from Los Angeles, CA

"I would love to see the Packers and the Raiders play this season." I see what you did there, Mike.

Subtle as a train wreck.

Jim from Pleasant Hill, CA

Thanks for the highlights from the Dallas playoff game. They literally gave me shivers, which were most welcome on a 100-plus degree day. Which game in the Rodgers/Favre era always makes you break out in goosebumps?

Limiting Favre to games I actually covered, I'll go with the Denver overtime Monday nighter in '07. For Rodgers, I'll take the '13 finale in Chicago.

Dan from Ottawa, Canada

Michael from Wausau, WI, wrote "The QB salary cap balance seems difficult to maintain given the overinflated QB market. How can someone maintain a balanced roster when such a high percentage of the cap pays for a quarterback?" Now ask those teams without an elite QB (and the contract to goes with it) how many would take the challenge of finding balance and I'm guessing everyone would happily take it.


Jimmy from New Richmond, WI

Hey Spoff! I was going through some of the older news articles (thanks to your video from the 2008 Saints game), and was curious, who was the one who wrote these original articles on dating back to July 1997? There is no name at the top like the articles you guys post now, and I was wondering who started with the articles. Keep up the stellar work my friend!

I don't know much about the history of the website before my arrival, except that various part-timers, interns, and free-lancers were charged with producing written material. I was hired as the first full-time writer for in 2006, but 11 years later, the site is nothing like it was. Change is constant.

Tom from Raleigh, NC

In the spirit of dead time before training camp, and the importance of having "The Man," who was the worst QB to win a Super Bowl? Broadway Joe completed less than 50 percent of his passes and threw more picks than TDs en route to victory in SB III. Remembered for guaranteed victory. Who is your pick?

I take nothing away from a Super Bowl champion, but if I were to pick who stands out as the least-accomplished of the winning QBs in my lifetime, two come to mind – Jeff Hostetler and Brad Johnson.

Marty from Grafton, WI

Scott from Palatine, IL, raised an interesting question yesterday. While I agree Charles Woodson's number would not be retired in Green Bay, it makes me wonder why? He played a year longer here than Reggie White, they both will be Hall of Famers, and they both were integral parts in winning a Super Bowl here. So why shouldn't his number be retired?

White's overall influence and impact was greater, in that he's still the biggest free-agent signing of all-time, league-wide, and he chose Green Bay at the dawn of free agency when the place was considered a wasteland where careers go to die. White helped changed the perception of Green Bay and its place on the NFL map.

Tony from River Falls, WI

You have built a functional time travel machine and can travel back in time to see any NFL game of the past. Which game do you visit?

The "Immaculate Reception" game, and I want to be the hot dog guy in the press box.

Paul from Udhailiyah, Saudi Arabia

Regarding Mike's response about who a third statue should represent, without Bob Harlan, no Ron Wolf.

Several mentioned Harlan, and while I cherish every opportunity I've had over the years to have a conversation with Bob, Wolf had an infinitely greater impact on the team on the field. In that way, he fits in better with the other statues, Lambeau and Lombardi.

Ken from Milwaukee, WI

This comment is for Spoff. When someone asks a question, even hypothetically, don't post the question and then reply that you honestly don't care. You could have just skipped it and moved on to the next question if you didn't like it or if you didn't care for it, but honestly,  what was the point in posting the question? Just to show that you're ignorant? Because that's how I see it. "Honestly."

Pre-emptive strikes against certain topics in an overflowing Inbox are occasionally necessary for efficiency. And sanity. Honestly.

Jesse from Bismarck, ND

I figured out what I love about Cliff's articles. He does not have to worry about a player/coach/GM being mad at him. He is in a position where getting the history truthful is more important than being nice.

Back in his day, Cliff was never concerned with anyone being mad at him as a beat reporter either. I've never worked with someone so dogged in his pursuit of accuracy.

Scott from Boring, OR

I agree with Vic. The Vikings are the Packers' biggest rival. It happened somewhere between the creation of the Cowboys dynasty via the Herschel Walker trade, the T.J. Rubley play, the Randy Moss mooning incident and the signing of Brett Favre. My question is should I have used the Oxford comma in this instance?

It's optional, voluntary, and at your discretion.

Matt from Verona, WI

By all accounts, John Dorsey seems like a standup guy, but he's also largely responsible for a bunch of contract misfires and the Chiefs' current cap bind. Seems like a compelling reason to dump a GM to me.

Three playoff appearances in four years. Three in 15 before his arrival. Not pushing the cap limits doesn't appear to have been working too well.

Eddie from Jollyville, TX

Did the Chiefs get tired of winning?

Vic will be with you Monday morning. Mike's not done yet for the week.

Jeriah from Las Cruces, NM

Is it just me, or does DeAngelo Yancey look exactly like a younger James Jones?

Very similar body type, yeah.

Tim from Charlotte, NC

Regarding retired numbers, it's odd that Jim Taylor's No. 31 is still in circulation in Green Bay, yet retired by New Orleans after finishing his career with one season playing for the expansion Saints. Maybe not retired by two teams, rather retired by the wrong team?

Louisiana native, starred at LSU, came home to finish a Hall of Fame career by helping to start up an expansion team. I get it.

Chris from Minneapolis, MN

Most players are much bigger than we imagined when you see them up close. Can you recall any past or present players that surprised you with being more compact than imagined?

DuJuan Harris. I've never seen a 5-7 guy carry 200-plus pounds so impressively.

Jamie from Rhinelander, WI

Not a question, but a comment on Rodgers' greatest throw. He's had a ton of them, but the one to Adams last year against Philly was phenomenal. The one where it went between the defenders arms right into Adams'. That's one I'll never forget. Pinpoint accuracy.

Georgia Dome, 2010 regular season, down 17-10, fourth-and-goal from the 10 with a minute left. Thom Brennaman called it a "missile," and it's always been my favorite, even though the Packers eventually lost the game

Andrew from San Diego, CA

Hey, Mike. How did you develop your own writing style? It seems tough to be advanced but still easy to read, and you do a great job.

Thanks for the kind words. I've never really thought about it. I guess I just focus on the treatment the story or topic at hand deserves, and I try to match the two as best I can.

Jack from Bowmanville, Canada

Hey, Mike. Going back to the questions about playoff expansion, the NHL and NBA have succeeded with their 16-team format, despite each only having 30 teams in the league. In recent basketball history, the No. 8 seed gets obliterated 10 times out of 10 because of the "super teams" and all. However, we just saw in the NHL playoffs that a No. 8 seed can surprise everyone and make a serious run for the gold. The Nashville Predators certainly proved that. Never mind that it's over the 50 percent mark for the league, but maybe a 16-team playoff in the NFL could bring out some underdogs and create some more intrigue. Does that change your mind at all?

Nope. Have a good weekend, everybody.

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