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Continuity is the key to consistency

The future looks bright on the defensive line


Josh from Milwaukee, WI

Which of this past year's rookies do you think is most likely to make the second-year jump?

There are several worthy candidates, but I like what I saw from Kenny Clark down the stretch. He's incredibly strong for a defensive lineman who just turned 21 in October. He's only going to get better as he gains more experience in the system. What excites me the most about his game is you can see him being a pretty well-rounded defensive tackle who's able to stop the run and collapse the pocket. When you factor in what Dean Lowry did late in the season, the future looks bright on the defensive line.

Al from Chardon, OH

With his first name Geronimo, how can you guys refer to him as "Allison"?

It's traditional for writers to refer to individuals by his or her last name on second reference, but I think "G-Mo" already has taken off among the fan base.

Dan from Atlanta, GA

In your honest opinion, is there anything you don't think Ty Montgomery can do for the Packers at RB? I'm not sure he can be the power runner we need.

Montgomery has all the tools you want to see in a running back. I thought he looked pretty good running between the tackles and showed he could stretch runs to the sideline. He averaged more than 15 touches a game down the stretch. I don't think workload is an issue. The next step for him is probably in pass protection, which should come easier with a full offseason program in the backfield.

Beau from Lancaster, PA

Do you think fans should say "we" when talking about the Packers? I think fans should say "they" not "we." I am as die-hard as the next guy, but I am not on the field, lifting weights, going through offseason workouts, etc.

I have no problem with fans saying "we" when identifying their favorite team because you are a part of it. Sure, you might not be one of the players on the game-day roster, but fans are an important part of the equation. I think the Packers always have been in tune with the fact that the game is only as big as fans make it.

Zac from Madison, WI

We talk a lot about the draft-and-develop philosophy, for obvious reasons, but I'm clueless about other philosophies. As a grad student, theory interests me, so I wondered what else was out there and what managing a team under that philosophy looks like?

I see it as two things on opposite ends of a spectrum, like run versus pass in an offensive philosophy. You probably see this more deliberately in Major League Baseball with big-spending teams and small markets. What I find interesting in the NFL is nearly every new GM talks about the importance of draft and develop in his introductory news conference. You don't hear many say, "We're going to spend as much money as it takes to win it all." I think you have to draft well to succeed in this league. That's the baseline in my mind.

Chris from Lexington, KY

Where does continuity of the team come into the conversation regarding signing free agents from other teams? I feel it's a big reason to take care of your own first.

I think it's important. The example I like to use is the 2001-02 Milwaukee Bucks. They were coming off a remarkable run to the Eastern Conference finals. Before the next year, they signed Anthony Mason and cut Scott Williams in an attempt to get over the hump. Instead, Milwaukee fell back to .500 and hasn't won a playoff series since. Mason was the better player on paper, but Williams was the better fit. I always use that as a caution for anyone who suggests signing the best name on the open market is the key to a championship. Continuity is the key to consistency in my book.

Chris from Staten Island, NY

Two words for TT...Calais Campbell!

Never mind.

Joe from Pittsburgh, PA

Excluding the long-overlooked Jerry Kramer and of course Charles Woodson, who do you think the next Packer to have a realistic shot at Canton will be? I lean towards LeRoy Butler.

LeRoy Butler should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I feel as strongly about that as I do anything else in the realm of professional sports. You can't tell me there wasn't more than one Hall of Famer on that Super Bowl XXXI defense. If the case against him is that he "only" played 12 years in the NFL, that's a weak argument. I'll put his resume up against any of the safeties who have been finalists in recent years.

Bob from Cortez, CO

Isn't the downside of draft and develop the injury bug? Too many critical positions have to be filled by promising but inexperienced players.

I'd actually argue the exact opposite. Injuries are going to happen and you need your reserves to step up when called upon. In the salary-cap era, however, it's difficult to have another fifth- or sixth-year veteran waiting in the wings. It's often going to be a player working on a rookie contract that has to step into a starting role. If you do end up plugging in a veteran off the bench, there's typically a reason he isn't already starting elsewhere in the NFL.

Todd from Winona, MN

I saved this for the offseason in hopes it would get answered. I was at a game last year and the people sitting behind me were talking about how the home team has a competitive advantage with the tunnels they use to get to the field. They said the tunnels at Lambeau were constructed to the minimum dimensions allowable for the visiting team. And this gives the Packers a competitive advantage. I have never heard this before and could find nothing on it, let alone how this would give the home team an advantage.

I've never heard that. It is a small opening, but I don't think there's a tangible advantage other than maybe testing the opposing team's patience a little bit.

Matt from Newark, DE

Last season it was the wide receivers who struggled. This year it was the cornerbacks. Both were the deepest positions going into the season. Is the lesson to add talent everywhere because you can't predict where you'll need it?

You can't have enough options at those positions that require three or four players on the field at a given time. It's pretty tough to prepare for what the Packers endured at cornerback, but they hit it on the head with how they handled the receivers this year. They had a lot of receivers to get on the field and they ended up needing all of them in the end.

William from Milwaukee, WI

Were any of the injuries in NFC Championship significant? Hyde, Brice, Taylor, etc.?

It's my understanding those guys came out of the game OK. Mike McCarthy said during his final news conference that right tackle Bryan Bulaga also was not diagnosed with a concussion after being evaluated near the end of the game.

Mark from West Bend, WI

Is it true that Geronimo Allison is a restricted free agent?

No. First, he has a contract for 2017. Second, restricted free agents are players with three accrued seasons (e.g., Jayrone Elliott).

Brett from Denver, CO

I was one of the readers who followed up on the comments about the Giants' spending spree. As such, can I claim credit for an "Insider Inbox" submission with my friends? Partial credit? I need to know how this works.

Chuck Norris just gave you a thumbs-up.

Dan from Kewanee, IL

The next time the Packers play the Falcons, I hope they don't forget the Falcons coach contemplating going for a field goal with the big lead they had late in the game.

I still don't understand what Quinn was thinking there.

Andy from Boston, MA

As an Insider can you educate us on the outlook of the practice-squad guys? Can OL Patrick become the next Lane Taylor? How did DL Price progress?

I don't really have a good feel for Patrick after he had to play the entire preseason with a club on his hand. However, the Packers thought enough of his progress to keep him on the practice squad the entire season. Guard is a position that lends itself to potential diamonds in the rough. He'll have another chance to prove himself this offseason. Price was one of the team's top undrafted free agents out of UTSA. He split the season between the practice squad and a four-game stint on the active roster. You can't coach size. Price certainly has it at 6-3, 318.

DB Micah Hyde appeared in all 16 games of the regular season, racking up 58 tackles, nine passes defensed, three interceptions, two fumble recoveries, and a sack. Photos by Evan Siegle and Matt Becker,

Ronald from Tama, IA

OK guys, you are the Packers GM. Tell us how your draft would be this year?

Probably poor.

Doug from Union Grove, WI

Is either Mike or Wes going to be in the media room for the announcement of the Packers Fan Hall of Fame recipient on the 14th?

I'm going to be there.

Al from Phoenix, AZ

If one has ever watched a soap opera, they know that it's the person going on and on and on and never ever saying anything meaningful! Like most of your Inbox.

I've never watched soap operas since I work the day shift. I'll consult my grandmother, though.

Luke from Dorchester, England

I can't remember who it was who coined the term "soap opera talking head" in this column, but maybe they should write the definition on a piece of paper and keep it in a sealed envelope on his person at all times. He can then send it in to the Insiders at the end of the offseason?

And then talk to Al.

Andrew from Sun Prairie, WI

Lucy only charges five cents, but you guys are free. Maybe that's why you get to receive all our angst. It's a service to society.

Spoff and I do what we can to give back.

Vincent from Boston, MA

Insiders, I'm not sure if you are aware of the tragedy that has befallen Mark Lee, a regular on this site. We have all been agonizing with him, as you can see in the comments section. We are all hardcore Packers fans, but there comes a time, and this is one of them, where we all recognize, it's only a game. It would be a shame for this site to march on towards the next season without pausing for a moment here to recognize what has happened to our forum community.

We're very sorry to hear that. The Inbox's thoughts go out to Mark and his loved ones. I hope everyone can take a minute to pause, reflect and hug their loved ones a little tighter this weekend.

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