Inbox: All have additional steps they can take

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Ryan from Westfield, IN

I love the work you guys do, and the class with which you do it. Is it a bad thing that every time I read a supercharged negative comment I have to double-check the sender and pray it’s not my dad?

Hope everyone enjoyed the holiday. Thanks for my first real hearty laugh of the new year.

Jacob from Tacoma, WA

Keep the questions long, I read these at work and need to kill time.

Now I’ve had two.

Matt from Weston, WI

I have a question regarding how the draft order is determined when the overall record is a tie. I read the Bills and Broncos had some confusion over who picks first, it came down to strength of schedule. Isn’t strength of schedule determined before the current season opens based on the previous year’s records? Is that right or am I missing something?

For draft order, strength of schedule is based on the records of the teams you played to compile the record you have. The stronger strength of schedule gets the later pick.

Ian from Kirkwhelpington, England

As the 2018 season progressed, injuries meant our team got younger and more inexperienced. With 10 draft picks and no doubt a couple of UDFAs, do we need to sign/re-sign some experience to help the youth?

You want a balanced roster in that regard, no doubt. As injuries pile up, any team is going to get younger. The cap doesn’t allow for veteran backups everywhere. I thought the Packers began 2018 with more veterans sprinkled throughout the depth chart than they’d had in recent years.

Joe from Dover-Foxcroft, ME

I know everyone is excited about the draft, but how realistic is it to expect first-year draftees to be impact players right away? I know we got some good first-year production from last year's corps, but we also got first-year inconsistencies. It still has to be draft and develop – with an emphasis on develop – around a solid nucleus of veterans, including not downward-spiraling free agents. Your take?

How well that comes together will depend, in part, on the draft picks heading into their third and fourth years going from “developing” to “more developed.” Players from the ’16-’17 drafts like Clark, Fackrell, Martinez, Lowry, King, Williams, Jones, etc., all have additional steps they can take to transition into the solid nucleus of veterans you mentioned.

The Green Bay Packers cleaned out their lockers at Lambeau Field on Monday.

Andy from Verona, WI

How much do you feel being a longtime backup to a legendary quarterback and being on the offensive headset during countless games has helped Doug Pederson and Frank Reich become successful head coaches? Any other quarterbacks come to mind who were in similar situations? Also, do you believe the probability of Coach Pettine remaining on the Packers staff changes a lot based on whether the new head coach is an offensive coach versus being a defensive coach?

Interesting point on Pederson and Reich. Hadn’t thought of it that way, but I’m sure that background doesn’t hurt. Gary Kubiak won a Super Bowl as a head coach, too. As to your Pettine question, my gut says yes.

Jennifer from Middleton, WI

Hi Mike, just putting this out to the football gods: I hope with the new HC we don’t see 100 percent change in support staff and retain some assistant coach talent. I came to really respect Pettine and would love to see what he could do without the injury plague. Others such as Joe Whitt Jr. and James Campen are always so impressive in their press conferences and are clearly the real deal. Perhaps it’s an unrealistic request...I tend to dislike change for the uncertainty. Here’s to change as possibility.

It’ll all be up to the new head coach. When McCarthy arrived in 2006, he kept some coaches who had worked under Mike Sherman, such as Campen, Joe Philbin and Edgar Bennett. Wholesale changeover and partial retention are both possibilities.

Dean from Orlando, FL

So, January is coaching search, February is current Packers free-agent decisions, March is free-agent decisions, and April is draft. You guys have enough to do?

The term offseason is a misnomer in the NFL.

Tim from Marinette, WI

I see a lot of coaches being listed but none listed are Ken Whisenhunt, OC of the Chargers. Why do you think that is? He helped develop a young Big Ben, revitalized Kurt Warner later in his career, and is doing the same with Phillip Rivers in LA. I know his tenure with the Titans was rough, and he wasn't a fan of the Mariota pick at QB. But his track record with vets in the twilight of their careers is superb.

Whether in connection with the Packers or any other team, I agree and have been a little surprised all is silent regarding Whisenhunt. But the brief tenure in Tennessee was pretty ugly. There’s no way around that.

John from Little Rock, AR

I just read a stat that blew my mind: After Week 10, five of the 12 eventual playoff teams had a losing record, at 4-5. They went a combined 29-6 the rest of the way. Is there a better illustration of getting hot and riding it into the playoffs?

That’s incredible. The long grind is going to favor teams that steadily ascend. You can certainly lose a playoff spot in September in October, but it’s more difficult to win one that early.

Ben from Indianapolis, IN

Insiders, I am so ANGRY! I loved Mike Mayock's mock drafts and draft analysis. What am I to do now?!

This is one of the more curious hires I’ve seen in my time covering the NFL. No offense to Mayock, who I think is an excellent draft analyst, but the Raiders shoved a pretty good GM out the door in Reggie McKenzie to go this route. We’ll see how it works out.

Julian from Gastonia, NC

All the talk on national media seems to be about a new breed of offensive minds as the hot head coaching prospects. Are you intrigued by the Pack's interest in guys who are experienced playing in the pits? Both Dan Campbell and Mike Munchak have this background and could be a wonderful fit for this blue-collar team and community. What are thoughts about either these two as prospects to lead the Packers?

I like the fact that the Packers appear to be exploring all types and styles of leaders in their search for the right fit. I get the sense Murphy and Gutekunst have gone into this with minds wide open.

Mike from Glenwood, IL

How much upward mobility do the Packers realistically have at 12 with the best they can hope from the Saints pick being at 28? Do they have the ammo to get to No. 6 or 7 or does the chart only allow them to move up like two slots?

According to most draft trade charts, packaging pick 12 with something between 28 and 32 can get you into the top five, should Gutekunst want to explore such options.

Sebastian from Erlangen, Germany

Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins, Jimmy Garoppolo, Matt Stafford and Derek Carr. These are the top six QB salaries for 2018 and beyond. All six are watching the playoffs from home. I am interested your professional sports writer’s opinion.

Well, playoff QBs Brady, Brees, Wilson, Rivers and Luck aren’t getting paid peanuts. If you’re hinting at the success of teams who have started over with young, underpaid QBs, I would argue that over time, the list of teams that fail to find the right, young QB is much longer than those who hit on it. If you have a proven guy, your chances of winning are better than if you move on and dive into the draft just so you can spend more money on other positions.

Dayv from Hustisford, WI

The best consecutive QBs in history: Montana to Young, Favre to Rodgers, Manning to Luck...Will Flacco to Lamar Jackson make it onto that list?

Did you just draw a parallel among Flacco and three of the greatest QBs of all-time? Worthy of the first ban of 2019, but I’ll be nice.

Brandon from Stockton, IL

What do you think is the biggest position needing to be addressed in the draft?

I want to see how the roster looks in April first.

View the best views of Sunday's Week 17 Packers-Lions game.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

ST has become a favorite topic. What a capstone to see the Lions kicker throw a TD pass. When I wrote you guys about punters last week I was debating to include kickers in the conversation but decided, “What could a kicker really do from scrimmage?” Microcosm of the Packers ST in my own thinking it turns out. Too much orthodoxy, too much standardization when everyone else was (and is) innovating. 2019 ST must do more than just reduce mistakes. Need to get in the left lane or fall behind.

Need to walk before you can run. An innovative play or two isn’t going to make up for the penalties and other miscues if those aren’t squared away first.

Al from Green Bay, WI

A silver lining after a season full of dark clouds: There will be some highly entertaining playoff games this weekend and beyond, and Packers fans can watch for pure entertainment value without the emotional drama of years past. Which playoff games are you most looking forward to viewing?

I’m with Wes on the Eagles-Bears game this weekend, but the other three are all intriguing rematches. Chargers and Ravens just played, while the Seahawks and Cowboys are both vastly different teams than when they met back in Week 3. In the bigger picture, if there’s one playoff matchup I want to see this month, I think it’s the Bears defense going up against that Saints offense, which would have to be in the NFC title game based on the seeding. But a lot can happen between now and then.

Cindy from Oshkosh, WI

I'm with you, Mike. As much as I wanted to watch the Vikings-Bears, I couldn't stay away from the Browns-Ravens. The drama at the end with the Steelers watching was incredible. Cheers to the Browns who have a better record than our Packers! I think the Ravens are a huge under-the-radar team. Do they have a chance against the rest of the AFC? I'm thinking of picking them in my work playoff pool.

Beating the Chargers again so soon will be a tall order, but I put nothing past that Ravens defense. They had the Chiefs beat at Arrowhead not long ago, until the crazy fourth-and-9 throw from Mahomes to Hill. Back in October, they were also up 17-7 on the Saints after three quarters, and that was before they turned to Jackson at QB. The AFC feels wide open to me. Maybe the Ravens are the second coming of the 2012 Niners. Think about it. How ironic would that be?

Bryan from Oshkosh, WI

I can’t stand when people say to forget bad games or seasons. A season like we just had shouldn’t be forgotten, it should be remembered for all-time as how things can look when we get wayward and complacent, a reminder of despair so we can truly respect the joys when they return. The same was said after the 2014 NFC Championship. I for one will never forget this season, and I hope nobody else does either. How else can we fix the problems if we simply choose to forget they ever happened?

I think in a colloquial sense there’s a difference between “forgetting” and ignoring, just as there’s a difference between processing and dwelling. A fan’s approach need not be the same as an organization’s, but there’s a healthy middle ground both should find.

Dan from Wausau, WI

Two thoughts I have. One, I feel sorry for any Packers fan who spent his or her hard-earned money on the Detroit game. Two, the current state of affairs and Rodgers’ window reminds me of a line from a song in “Smokey and the Bandit” – We’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there.

Summoning the ghost of Burt Reynolds already, are we?

Jamie from Melbourne, Australia

Gentlemen, what a year! While the on-field performance was less than memorable, the II performance seemed to have it all. Has anyone considered a “Pro Bowl” type of release for II where the best submissions of the year are collated into one article? “Fluffing the passer,” NFL front office drinking games and referee mathematics stand out to me. Thanks again for your grit and determination.

If anyone would like to compile some more favorites to add to your worthy list, we can spend a few days early in 2019 reminiscing. But please don’t make Wes bare his teeth again.

Russ from Henrico, VA

Fast search or slow process. Offensive genius, defensive guy or mastermind. I don't care. Just pick a guy that's going to get a street named after him.

That’s pretty good.

Bill from Brooklyn Park, MN

And so ends the First Century. Commence Century Two.

Wisconsin’s state motto is “Forward,” after all.

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