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Dominant defenses are all the rage

Some unpredictability with Clay Matthews would be good


Jim from Bismarck, ND

Why so much emphasis on the first two games? What happened to one game at a time? I don't think the Vikings should be talked about until after the Jaguars game is done.

The unique nature of having back-to-back games on the road to start the season is what makes everyone lump them together. The Packers haven't started a season this way since Coolidge was president. Plus, you're dealing with the Jacksonville heat wave one week and an anxious crowd at a new stadium the next. It makes for an interesting challenge with upside. If you win both, you're rolling right into the season. Undoubtedly, you cannot look past the Jaguars, but I get why it's a storyline.

Kyle from Wauwatosa, WI

I remember wanting Green Bay's defense to be on the field back in the mid-'90s...sacks, INTs, big plays...the defense was incredibly fun to watch. I am getting the same kind of feel with this year's defense. The combo of being able to rush the passer with a multitude of guys and legitimate, budding superstars on the back end makes me think this defense is going to be very good and an awful lot of fun to watch. Am I too optimistic?

I don't think you're being too optimistic. The Packers seem to have similar hopes for this year's team. With ample depth in the secondary, Green Bay sought out to get bigger in the trenches during the draft and accomplished that with Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry. The return of Nick Perry and addition of Kyler Fackrell give the pass rush plenty of bite behind Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers, too.  It seems like dominant defenses are all the rage once again, especially the way Denver's defense caused chaos for quarterbacks last year.

Don from Roscoe, IL

Why would one ruin a perfectly good cookie with raisins? Wes, Mike – do you have better cookie tastes than our Vic?

I'm in agreement with you, Don. Nothing wastes a good oatmeal cookie or cinnamon bread like raisins. I can't stand them. Don't get the hype. I actually enjoyed a nice cinnamon bagel in the office today. I rejoiced when I found out it was unsullied.

Orv from Clarksville, VA

To Wes: My wife is from Warsaw, Poland. Where did your parents/grandparents come from in Poland and do you speak Polish?

Very little. My grandmother taught me how to count to 100. That's about it. Not much is known about my great grandfather and his origins. I'd love to know where his parents are buried but think that's been lost to time. My great grandmother's parents are buried near Warsaw, I believe.

John from New Richmond, WI

Like the new format. Any way a question can be picked on Friday and answered by all three? It would be interesting to read the three different perspectives.

I did this with a question someone asked Spoff last week. I'll try to occasionally follow-up if someone asks for my opinion in a Vic or Mike column.

Tim from La Crosse, WI

I may not be in the norm but I do not want to see Clay moved back to just an outside rusher. I think his most productive season was when he was an ILB and sort of roamed and picked his holes. I felt he was way more involved in the overall defense. Your thoughts?

I think the Packers need to be more unpredictable with Matthews, which can be accomplished by starting him outside and occasionally waving him inside. I'm also intrigued by the notion of him rushing opposite Peppers on a more consistent basis. Matthews has been playing a majority of his snaps inside in the nickel defense since the bye week in 2014. Putting pressure on the quarterback is the first and foremost responsibility of a zone-blitz defense. Keeping Matthews outside should help achieve that goal.

Aaron from Fort Wayne, IN

Mike/Wes, I'm interested to know your thoughts on Datone Jones. With making the switch to outside linebacker, does that help out with run defense, meaning that you would essentially have a pass rusher on the field that is bigger than your typical pass rusher and can take on/fight off blocks better and defend against the run in certain situations? Just a thought and curious to know yours!

I like the move for Datone. At 6-4, 285 pounds, he's not a natural five-technique defensive lineman like Dean Lowry (6-6, 296). He seems to fit the prototype for the elephant rushers that have grown in popularity in the Packers' defense in recent years. Plus, it's an opportunity for Jones to get on the field more on first and second downs. I agree, it's a move that should benefit the run defense and add depth to the edge rushers. I'm a fan of the move.

Levi from Orange City, IA

Hi Wes, I saw an article talking about who could be the third wide receiver. Who do you think is going to with be the starters?

In my mind, it's Davante Adams' job to lose. If he can put last year behind him, I think he has the talent and makeup to handle the No. 3 job without issue. That doesn't mean he won't have to work for it, though. Janis' and Abbrederis' late-season contributions warrant consideration, and Montgomery handled his own in Nelson's absence for the first six games. Let the games begin.

Richard from Madison, WI

Greg Jennings just announced his retirement after 10 years in the NFL, the best of them with the Packers. Reflections?

Great route-runner who had the unique ability of thriving regardless of whether he was on the boundary or in the slot. He didn't shy away from the big game, either. His performance in Super Bowl XLV went a long way in the Packers capturing their fourth Lombardi Trophy. I didn't cover the Packers in 2006, but I hear so often about how he looked the part from Day 1.

Dan from Waupun,

Hello guys, did the Packers improve at WR in the offseason? If Nelson goes down, do we have anybody with speed to fill in?

We already know Janis can run. By most accounts, rookie Trevor Davis can torch defensive backs, as well. You didn't need a rebuild. I think using a fifth-round pick on the position was an appropriate response. It builds depth and competition for the No. 3, 4, 5 positions.

Jennifer from Los Angeles, CA

Hi Mike and Wes, we have seen Aaron Rodgers do some incredible things over the years. It seems like he hits a new – often obscure – milestone each year. Games with no punts, two Hail Marys in a season, 500-plus passes at home without an interception, etc. Are there any obscure records or milestones you can see him achieving this season? It certainly looks like he will have the weapons to do something special.

This year, he'll actually hit the roof of Ford Field.

Greg from Perkasie, PA

The one weakness I see on defense is the lack of depth on the defensive line. Could teams potentially attack that weakness by using a run heavy attack against the Packers?


I see your point, but let's see the first few practices and preseason games first. The Packers already play 75 percent in their nickel packages, and Mike Daniels and Letroy Guion have shown they can handle heavy workloads. If Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry can contribute immediately, all the better. The defensive line is unproven, but the ceiling is high. If they need to stem the tide until Mike Pennel returns, the Packers also have Datone Jones to work into the rotation.**

Donny from Green Bay, WI

I like the way our team is set up. Potent offense puts up points (hopefully like 2014) and a very strong secondary and pass rush. The one thing that worries me is if we can't get a lead in each game early, are we going to get the ball run down our throats?

Most NFL teams will try to run the ball in the situations you describe, but I don't see the run defense as a huge weakness. Furthermore, it's not like the Packers have been dominant against the run, either. They were 21st in 2015, 23rd in 2014, 25th in 2013 and 17th in 2012, so maybe there's something to be said for some new blood on the defensive line.

Paul from Nevada City, CA

With age you will see the allure of pleated-front, unless you like the EARLY "beer-belly" look. Like what I see so far from you and Mike. Look forward to the new season.

Duly noted.

Kerry from Margate, NJ

Wes, are you going to ban people for stupid questions?

It's already started.

Trent from Green Bay, WI

Good day to the trifecta of "Insider Inbox"! Love your selection of LeRoy Butler as your favorite player and how you mention his great character. As the popularity of the NFL expands across the world, stars are given a voice of great influence. What NFL personnel do you guys believe provides the greatest positive influence? In the NFL? In the Packers' organization?

It starts with general managers in my estimation. They are the executive producers, responsible for hiring the actors, directors and screenwriters. I mean look at Ron Wolf. Fifteen years after his retirement, his impact is still being felt on the NFL. Five of his protégés – Ted Thompson, John Schneider, Reggie McKenzie, John Dorsey and Scot McCloughan – are running NFL front offices and doing quite well. They might not garner all the headlines, but the blueprint of a team's success starts with the GM. Thompson has preached the importance of hiring good people. That approach has translated to one of the most successful stretches in Packers' history.

Jordan from Ames, IA

I challenge Wes to a game of Madden.


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