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A player's instincts go a long way

Where does the NFC North rank among the top divisions?


Jeff from Green Bay, WI

I've been watching a lot of videos lately of NFL "rankings" by position and am disappointed in seeing the Packers players on the lists, but never at the top. Do Rodgers, Nelson & Co. use the slights from these rankings as "rocket fuel" to prove the pundits wrong, or is it all irrelevant and just a matter of work ethic and pride?

They're true pros, and true pros know where their focus needs to be in order to perform their best.

Sean from Milwaukee, WI

With all of the questions about UDFA QBs coming to Green Bay, it got me thinking. Who wouldn't want the next Tony Romo or Kurt Warner on their roster?

Apparently not the Packers. They had Romo's agent on the phone right after the 2003 draft and no one in the room spoke up for him. Warner was in Green Bay very briefly in 1994 but was cut. It's a crazy business.

Blaine from Bagley, WI

If all goes well for Kuhn do you see Lambeau Field chanting "Kuuuuuhn" again when he comes on the field in a Saints jersey?

This was the Inbox question of the day, as far as frequency. I would expect nothing less.

Will from Rogers, AR

I remember the Dolphins game during the 2014 season where Rodgers pulled the fake spike to Adams, who ran out of bounds instead of going for the TD. Postgame interview, reporters asked him why he didn't go for the score and he said something along the lines of "maybe I'd score, but maybe I wouldn't, and then we'd be here asking why I didn't go out of bounds." Heads-up plays like this and the Montgomery tip-toe-OB return from last year make me think the Pack's coaching staff must be real thorough. Am I right?

The coaches do their jobs, but a player's instincts in the heat of the moment go a long way as well. It's a melding of the two.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

What is the most important thing for No. 12 to get out of the preseason?


Jamie from Rhinelander, WI

To follow up Matt from Hartford's question, I'd like to see Denver go back to the "D" with the Bronco inside of it. P.S. – I dislike the Broncos because of SB XXXII.

I loved that old Broncos helmet, too, but they'll never go back. They lost four Super Bowls in that helmet, and as soon as they switched, they won two in a row to send Elway off into the sunset.

Mike from Arlington Heights, IL

I believe the consensus is the one play to change from the 2014 season is the onside kick against Seattle. In the 2015 season it is the Larry Fitzgerald catch and run in OT. What one play do you wish you could change from last season? I say it is the Ripkowski fumble against Atlanta. It killed any momentum the Packers were beginning to generate.

That's as good a choice as any. I might be inclined to say the blindside block that wrecked Matthews' shoulder in Philly, because I felt Matthews' absence in the first game in Atlanta was a huge factor, and he wasn't really able to have an impact in the rematch either.

Matt from Eau Claire, WI

Hey Insiders, long-time reader, first-time questioner. Besides the obvious fact that an injury to Rodgers is critical, what other position should we keep in our prayers through the offseason, preseason, and regular season? Which other position on the team would a substantial injury throw the entire team off-balance?

I still say it's outside linebacker, with the one draft pick at the position, Biegel, already out until camp.

Jerry from Lancaster, CA

As a Packer fan for 60-plus years and a sports fan for just as long, I have learned that people such as TT and MM know more about judging football talent than me. I just sit back and watch, enjoy and appreciate as the talent produces. Easier on the blood pressure that way.

I've learned to never forget the human element and the role a bounce of the ball can play.

Jeff from Campobello, SC

William Henderson, one of my all-time favorite Packers. Amazing agility for a big guy. Any stories for us? Do tell!

My first year in this position was Henderson's last, so I didn't really get to know him very well. I do recall him dealing with a minor knee injury one week, and I asked if he thought it would affect his chances to play on Sunday. He looked at me like I was from another planet.

Brett from Green Bay, WI

Do you think the Packers would ever consider retiring a number for their fans/owners, similar to what the Seahawks did? If so, what number?

I'm not into ego boosts of that nature for the fans, but if the Packers were going to add a number to the Lambeau façade to represent them, I might suggest 360,920. That's how many stockholders there are.

Kenton from Rochester, MN

Hi Insiders, was watching an NFL video where two talking heads were arguing about who is the best receiver among Jarvis Landry, Larry Fitzgerald or Jordy Nelson. The one that picked Jordy Nelson was hotly disputed by the other analyst who said, "But he's catching passes from Aaron Rodgers," as if that made Jordy's accomplishments less remarkable. Do you think that assessment is fair? Would Jordy be a lesser player catching passes from a lesser QB? And is that type of thinking the reason Jordy's "Top 100" ranking wasn't higher?

That always factors into rankings and debates. Fair or unfair, it's part of the deal. As other readers have pointed out, Nelson and Rodgers elevate one another's games to some degree. Nothing wrong with that. As for the trio of receivers you mentioned, and no disrespect to Jordy, but Larry Fitzgerald might be the top receiver of this generation. In his prime, he was a man among boys on the field. He always looked to me like the Adrian Peterson of receivers, in terms of sheer power with the ball in his hands.

Dan from Rothschild, WI

Guys, speaking of Rodgers and Nelson, my favorite memory is from SB 45. Nelson drops a clearly catchable ball on a crossing route. Very next play, same play, excellent result. Tells me Rodgers trusts Nelson.

Implicitly. I recall that sequence vividly as well. Nelson might have turned in one of the all-time greatest Super Bowl performances if not for a couple of momentary lapses. If there's such a thing as redeeming oneself from nine for 140 and a TD in a Super Bowl triumph, here's hoping Nelson gets that chance.

Todd from Lake Balboa, CA

Hey, love for Pickle Barrell (which you know is no typo)? Seriously, though, I spent four summers working at the Shakespeare Festival at UW-P in the '80s and we thought we were celebrities, until the year the Bears arrived. Talk about a dose of humility. The circus of attention around an NFL team was something to behold, especially for the "hated" Bears on Wisconsin soil.

When you're a pre-teen and an ESPN satellite suddenly hovers over your sleepy little hometown, your world is never the same again. Loved the Shakespeare Festival, by the way. Great family friends founded it and made it dynamite. And the steak-n-cheese at Pickle Barrell was the go-to, always.

Bruce from Virginia Beach, VA

Hi guys! You answered a question about scouting but I have one more. Do certain scouts seek certain kinds, such as one scout looks for corners and safeties, another at running backs? Love the column.

Generally speaking, scouts' duties are divided up by geographical territory, and they live in their area. They come back to Green Bay at certain times of the year for personnel staff meetings, such as before the combine and draft.

Eric from St. Louis, MO

I really enjoyed the video NFL posted of all of Rodgers' 40-plus-yard TDs. However, one thing that stuck out to me was that three out of his last four such passes have been Hail Marys. That is only one "normal" long passing touchdown in the last 26 games. What needs to happen for the explosive passing game to return?

In the final 10 regular-season games last year, Rodgers failed to have a pass completion of at least 39 yards in only one contest, and he had a 32-yard TD in that game. Then in the postseason, he had 13 completions of 25-plus in three games. Sounds pretty explosive to me.

David from Green Bay, WI

Insiders, you're in the Super Bowl and you can choose any running back in NFL history in his prime to play that game for you. Who do you choose and why? My choice is Gale Sayers. His speed, balance, explosiveness and pass-catching ability are nearly unparalleled. He was a threat as a return man and was especially dangerous with the halfback option. He was more powerful than people realize, gaining over 1,000 yards a season after a devastating knee injury that was usually the death-knell for an athlete in that day. While I still consider Jim Brown the greatest running back in NFL history, for only one game and the impact he could have on it, give me the Kansas Comet.

Can't argue with that selection, nor with Brown, but when it comes to postseason backs, Marcus Allen always pops into my head. If I'm zone-blocking, give me Terrell Davis. My darkhorse pick would be Tony Dorsett. Smooth and explosive has always appealed to me, I guess because they look like they belong, especially on the biggest stage.

Tim from Lincoln, NE

I had a brilliant idea that solves all of the issues with post-touchdown celebrations. I say we do away with that stale ol' traditional PAT (it's causing its own share of issues anyway), and turn the post-TD celebration into the PAT. As soon as a touchdown is signaled by the official, the scoring team has a set amount of time, say 30 seconds, to perform a celebration. Then in "Dancing With The Stars" fashion, a panel of judges will deliberate and award the scoring team zero, 1, or 2 points. Of course there will need to be some rules to provide guidelines for what is allowed, and obviously replay presents some challenges, but I say let's take celebrating from outlawed to an integral part of the game! I say this in a satirical manner, but I can already hear a boardroom of NFL execs saying, "He might be on to something."

Or just, "He might be on something."

Dontrell from Compton, CA

One or two of you writers are old enough to know: Please educate our spoiled younger-than-40 fans on how great Sterling Sharpe was from 1989-94 when his career was cut short. I was on the radio in '93 and had a debate with Bob Kemp about Jerry Rice vs. Sterling Sharpe. And I made it a close call. Sterling was unstoppable by one DB.

A lot of receivers are. Rice often wasn't stopped by two. C'mon now, Sharpe was great, no doubt, but by '93 Rice already was headed for GOAT status. He was incomparable. With Sharpe, in my newspaper days, I remember doing a story after he had been retired for five years assessing his Hall of Fame candidacy and where he ranked all-time among Packers receivers. Multiple sources with far more football knowledge told me, injuries aside, Sharpe didn't measure up in talent and ability to Lofton. Cliff recently**addressed this in detail as well**. Sharpe was the most dynamic receiver the Packers had seen since Lofton, and maybe still is depending on opinions of Driver and where Nelson ends up, but Lofton was better, and Lofton was no Rice.

Jake from Greenville, NC

If people really want to give McCarthy and the staff some help with being more "like the Patriots," they can start by figuring out how to get us in a division with the Bills and Jets. The AFC West is currently the most competitive division in my opinion, but where would you rank the NFC North?

It's right up there, and it's been there for a while now. If my quick research is accurate, during the Packers' current eight-year postseason streak, the NFC North has produced seven of the NFC's 16 wild-card teams, far more than the West (four), South (three), and East (two). In the AFC, the North has produced eight of 16, followed by the West (four), East (three) and South (one).

Lisa from Plymouth, MN

Once again, a big thank you to Evan Siegle for doing the "Through the Lens: Photos of the year" series. I have really enjoyed reading Evan's perspective on his work, getting to re-live moments from last season, and studying the amazing photos. I hope we can see this type of series next off-season on The other day I was looking at the "Best photos from Packers OTAs" and had to laugh at the shot of Ty tying his shoelace. I was telling my parents about that photo and my dad suggested that next time, Evan should try for a picture of Ty tying a tie.

I'll do my best to get that on Evan's postgame list for 2017.

Theodore from St. Louis, MO

One of us lost one of his children. Pack To Reality, a regular in the comment section. Our hearts are with him and his family.

Thoughts and prayers from here as well.

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