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Inbox: A chaotic and embarrassing scene might've occurred

Depth at a position can change dramatically and suddenly

49ers RB Christian McCaffrey
49ers RB Christian McCaffrey

Terry from Green Bay, WI

The Packers have started the search for a new president/CEO. Is Mike Spofford on the list of candidates?

Ha. I'm just relieved every time I return from vacation when my badge still gets me in the building.

Gary from Davenport, IA

Mike, just to set the record straight, I was the first one to use the phrase "according to my research (which could be wrong)" in this forum. The question was submitted a couple of years ago and Wes simply replied to it by saying that the phrase should be on a T-shirt. I have no plans to trademark the phrase but I had no idea that it would become so commonly used. I will give you credit for the shorthand version, though.

My apologies, and I should've said I "co-opted" the phrase because I knew I didn't coin it, but I was just typing without fully thinking. My bad. I like it so much I only wish I'd come up with it, and I've used it so often it feels like mine. Someone else offered the shorthand first as well, which I've also conveniently stolen.

George from North Mankato, MN

I hope you both enjoyed the long weekend granted to you by the Packers. I only checked for new content a few times. What do you make of the 49ers players stating they were unaware of the new OT rules for the Super Bowl?

When I heard that, I wondered whether a chaotic and embarrassing scene might've occurred had the Niners scored a TD on their opening OT drive. Or if the Chiefs had let the clock run out, would Niners players have thought they'd won? Did the fans in the stands actually read the video board if they didn't know the new rules? What about the guy controlling the confetti cannons? Yikes.

Mark from Bristol, UK

So the team we beat in the regular season wins the Super Bowl and the team that only just beat us in the playoffs loses the final. Such are the vagaries of the league. If ever "play your best football at the end of the season" needed highlighting, this was it.

I try to highlight it every year, if not every week during the season.

Brian from Sugar Land, TX

Who was the MVP of the Super Bowl? Patrick Mahomes got the trophy, but wasn't the real MVP Leo Chenal, who blocked that PAT and forced that fumble ending the 49ers' initial drive that looked destined for the end zone? What's a defensive player got to do to win Super Bowl MVP?

More than that. Chenal came up big, which was cool to see from a former Badger, and nine Super Bowls have featured defensive MVPs. But c'mon, man. The last three times the Chiefs had the ball, Mahomes drove them 69, 64 and 75 yards for two tying field goals and the game-winning touchdown, with none of the yards via defensive penalty. On those drives, he converted on third-and-10 (13 yards to Kelce), third-and-2 (7 yards to McKinnon), third-and-7 (22 yards to Kelce), fourth-and-1 (his own 8-yard run), third-and-6 (13 yards to Rice), and third-and-1 (his own 19-yard run). He was the best, most impactful player on the field with the game on the line, no debate.

Dan from Minneapolis, MN

Ron Wolf did great things for the Packers. But looking back, missing out on Andy Reid as Mike Holmgren's replacement still hurts. Reid was Holmgren's assistant head coach in 1998 when he departed for Seattle. No offense to Ray Rhodes and Mike Sherman, but what might have been. A lot of talent has traveled through Green Bay since the 1990s. Think the Chiefs can do what no other team has done in the Super Bowl era, and earn the three-peat next season?

The odds are certainly stacked against them, especially with so many high-level QBs in the AFC. Mahomes beat Allen and Jackson on the road in this year's playoffs, which is why I consider it his most impressive run to a title yet. But all it takes is one not-so-great day, or a superb day by the other guy, and you get bounced. Lots of folks have lamented all the three-peat references not mentioning Green Bay's '65-67 run that included the first two Super Bowls. I've come to adopt Cliff's very specific language declaring the Packers the only team to win three straight championships under a playoff format, as '65 did include a playoff contest prior to the NFL title game. No one's going to change the preferred, simple way to talk about Super Bowls, but hope that helps.

Jeff from Dorr, MI

On the Kyle Juszczyk play, was I the only one waiting for Romo to bring up a certain play from the past since he was the quarterback? Bet he was thinking it.

Had to be, and CBS rules analyst Gene Steratore had to be, too. He was the referee in the Dez Bryant game.

Tim from Olathe, KS

Insiders, was it ever more evident the three things we need to do to win a Super Bowl? First, a reliable kicker. Butker is a rock of consistency at any distance. Two, a creative DC who picks his spots. Spags is a master of disguise. Three, a QB that is a threat to run. Not Lamar Jackson, but a threat. We have everything else.

The Packers are working on Nos. 1 and 2. I believe they have No. 3.

David from Oak Hills, CA

Now that the 2023 season is in the rearview mirror, it's never too early to look forward to the 2024 season. The Chiefs play the following opponents at Arrowhead: Denver, LV, LAC, Baltimore, Cincinnati, New Orleans, TB and Houston. Who do you believe will be the team to face KC to kick off the 2024 season?

I'm guessing it's either the Chargers and Harbaugh's return to the NFL, or the Ravens for an AFC title game rematch.

Marty from Plymouth, WI

During the Super Bowl, what was with all the black-clad "extra officials" charging onto the field whenever there was even the slightest bit of pushing and shoving going on? I've never seen anything like that in any game before.

There were extra officials on the sidelines during the postseason, to communicate with coaches and monitor activity. Their presence seemed even more beefed up in the Super Bowl. It's not a bad thing when emotions are running hottest, and I suspect it's here to stay.

CJ from Marshfield, WI

Mike, I agree the SB was well officiated overall; however, I don't know if I agree with your take on the illegal man downfield no-call. Using similar logic, the horse-collar (runner was not brought to the ground/no player safety danger) and intentional grounding (looked like a bad call with a WR in the area) plays should have also been no-calls. The refs should not have impacted the game on those plays in my opinion. Thoughts?

I thought both of those were good calls. It's specifically in the horse-collar rule language that the player does not have to be brought to the ground. If his knees buckle on the attempted illegal tackle, which is what happened to Purdy, it's a foul. On the intentional grounding, it was clear the ball was being thrown away, not targeted toward anyone in the area, and it didn't get back to the line of scrimmage.

John from Jupiter, FL

When do the Packers actually start to fill in the draft day big board?

It's a constant work in progress, but the first close-to-complete version gets put together, I believe, between the college all-star games and the combine. Then after the combine, pre-draft visits, etc., it gets adjusted and finalized.

Bryan from Madison, WI

After driving ourselves crazy trying to pinpoint the reason for the lack of consistency on defense, I found it interesting that when Gutey was asked about how the hiring of Hafley would impact roster decisions, he hinted that he felt inconsistent play in the secondary was a big (if not the main) driver this year. No other position group was called out. Obviously it is not just the secondary, but it was refreshing to get that nugget...almost like a bit of closure.

I found that interesting as well. Given one of the defense's biggest inconsistencies was vs. the run (200-plus rushing yards allowed four times), I took Gutey's comment to mean the uneven play in the secondary, namely tackling and pursuit, was a big contributor in his eyes to the run defense's rough games.

Dan from Appleton, WI

With the cap space issue the Packers are facing this offseason, what actions do the Packers need to take to ensure that they are in a good position come September?

The Packers will make most of their cap-related moves over the next month, before the start of free agency in mid-March. A handful of veteran, expensive contracts will be dealt with by then.

Steve from Cedar Falls, IA

Aren't you glad we aren't in the predicament the Bears are in? A pretty good QB with not a lot of weapons to help him and the No. 1 pick that everyone seems to think is a can't-miss prospect. No matter what they do, the second guessers will be out in force.

Full force.

Matthew from La Pax, Mexico

The Preston Smith signing and his impact and consistent performance doesn't seem to get the attention it deserves (in my humble view). He seems to be a great locker room presence and has perhaps been the most consistent player on the defense, especially in light of all the coaching changes he has endured. He seemed undervalued in Washington also. Why does he not get the attention and accolades he seemingly deserves? Seems undervalued at a premium position in my view.

I don't think he's undervalued in terms of what he's paid. National recognition has been harder to come by at a flashy, stat-based position, but in this column and elsewhere I've often lauded Preston's consistency and reliability over his five seasons here.

Bruce from Jackson, WI

With our best receiving corps in years (Watson, Doubs, Reed, Wicks, Melton, Toure, DuBose, Heath, Pitts) including TEs (Musgrave, Kraft, Sims, Deguara, Davis, Wilson) is there an opportunity to package a couple players together for a position of need in a trade? Would that be something Gute & Associates would track during the season as far as other teams' injuries and needs? It's going to be hard to keep them all happy without a team in need poaching someone.

The personnel department monitors other teams' injuries and needs as part of due diligence, but some of those players you listed have no trade value when they can be picked up for nothing once released. As for those with trade value, depth at a position can change dramatically and suddenly in a couple of practice snaps in this league. I'm not hedging at those positions and risking regret.

Mark from De Pere, WI

I was wondering if you could answer a question I have about scouting. I know the Packers have a lot of scouts, but do certain scouts look mainly at defensive players while the others look at offensive players, or how does it work? Thank you!

Scouts are assigned a geographic region of the country, and then higher-ups within the personnel department follow up on players to provide additional reports, serve as cross-checkers, etc.

Patricia from Columbus, WI

Who do you want the Packers to draft in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft?

Whom do I want? A really good player who's not a quarterback, wide receiver, tight end or specialist.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Spoff, nice article on Rashan Gary! It's so easy for we fans to focus on stats. Sacks, forced fumbles, etc. But one of the things I love about football is that it is a team game. It's certainly true that Rashan's skill set helped his teammates. Flipping to the other side of the ball, who is the "Rashan Gary" of the receiver group that enables success for his teammates?

He's not in the receiver group. It's Aaron Jones and what his rushing production does to defenses and for the receivers.

Alan from Park Falls, WI

There has been a lot of talk about new DC Jeff Hafley running a 4.3. If true, wouldn't that make him faster than most of the players?

Please see yourself out.

Ricardo from Ventura, CA

In yet another exhibit of why you just want to get a ticket to the playoff dance. San Francisco went all in. On paper, that defense is legendary and the weapons around Purdy also littered with stars. No ring. I guess they have one more year with the current squad, but they'll have to pay the piper the following year. Football is cruel, but I give props to our organization for keeping us in the hunt year after year since the '90s. We've had our chances and look to have more coming up.

Happy Valentine's Day.

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