Inbox: And then there was one

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Rexy from Eastbourne, England

The Packers have to be in line for London 2020 now surely?

A year ago, Spoff and I were saying the Packers surely will go overseas for the Chargers game in 2019. This came a year after I figured they’d go to London to play the Rams. So I’m not saying surely anymore. Good morning!

Max from Troy, MO

International games have been announced and the Packers aren’t on there. I know we don’t want to give up a home game (and I agree with that), but how does our recent success – or lack thereof – play into whether or not we’re selected as a “road” opponent for a London game?

The Packers’ brand is bigger than wins and losses in a particular season. I couldn’t tell you what Manchester United’s record is at the moment, but I know its reputation in the Premiership. It’s no different than the Yankees, Lakers, Duke men’s basketball, UConn women’s basketball or Alabama football. That “G” is one of the most marketable insignias in all of sports, and in this case, it complicates the international series.

Andrew from Stevens Point, WI

Since the Packers are the last team to play internationally, that makes us America's Team, right?

They’re certainly not England’s team.

Paul from London, England

Following the announcement of the 2019 NFL International Series, the Packers are now the only team in the NFL to not to have played abroad. Will we ever get the chance to see the Pack play on foreign soil?

And then there was one. If there’s still more money in it for the Chargers to play the game in a 27,000-seat stadium than going abroad, I don’t know which NFL team will be willing to host the Packers overseas. The Bears, Lions and Vikings never will want to give up a home game against a division rival, either. So I’m not sure what the next move is.

Mike from Manitowoc, WI

With the success of the Belichick-era Patriots, do you think the Lombardi Trophy is in jeopardy of being renamed the Belichick Trophy after he retires?

Lombardi’s legacy is bigger than just his wins and championships. He was a pioneer in the sport. The Lombardi Trophy honors that.

Take a look at photos of Packers WR Randall Cobb from the 2018 season.

Bryan from Moorpark, CA

I’m sure you get this question often, and I know two first-round picks are huge for us next year, but how far up does the draft chart say we can move by trading No. 12 and 30?

The combined value of the Packers’ two first-round picks is 1,820, according to most draft-value charts. The value of the Raiders’ fourth overall pick is 1,800. And before you say, “Well, make that trade!” I’ll also point out I have a Dave Cowens rookie card at home that Beckett says is worth $40. It currently has no bidders for $1.99 on eBay.

Jason from Austin, TX

In your opinion, how many hits does it take to make a good draft class for a GM? One Hall of Famer? One All-Pro? Two Pro Bowlers? Three stable starters? Where is the line between good draft class and bust?

You know it when you see it.

Mark from Sturgeon Bay, WI

I thought it was too early but I've seen other draft questions, so here goes. How does a team rank players with skill sets that don’t cross over? A receiver and a left tackle are completely different animals (other than being superb athletes) but a personnel department must give them grades in order to rank them. How does a fast, quick-twitch person with great hands compare with a guy with brute strength, no comparative speed but good footwork so you know which is the better prospect?

It’s all in the eye of the beholder. Teams rank players based on perceived value, like the Packers putting a first-round grade on Aaron Rodgers in 2005. There might be a handful of players at different positions who have the same grade. That’s when need sometimes can serve as a tiebreaker.

Bob from Sugar Camp, WI

Insiders, with the new coaching staff seemingly putting an emphasis on the run game, do you think they will be looking to bring back the fullback, either via the draft or FA? Keep up the great job you're doing!

I don’t know if LaFleur’s past offers any insight as to the future of the fullback position in Green Bay, other than neither the Rams nor Titans carried a fullback. The Packers finished the year with a fullback (Danny Vitale) and he’s still on the roster at this time.

Roger from Indianapolis, IN

Tony Romo seems to be the new John Madden in the booth with great insight and bubbling enthusiasm. Which Packer could you see making a smooth move to the booth after retiring?

I think Clay Matthews would be great at it if he chooses to go that route in his post-football career. He’s confident, witty, engaging and knowledgeable about the game.

Trevor from Seattle, WA

Tony Romo is my all-time favorite analyst, but I'd be willing to give that up if we hired him as a D-coordinator. He was reading the Patriots like a book! Truly impressive.

Loyal readers already know how I feel about Romo as a commentator. He’s great, but having an audience with players and coaches in Saturday production meetings doesn’t hurt as far as game-planning for Sunday.

Nic from London, UK

Mike nailed my thoughts exactly on Brady. The results massively influence the narrative surrounding him about being the GOAT (which he is) but dig a little deeper and he has often succeeded without playing all that well and failed while playing outstanding. Over the course of a season, having a QB1 is essential and the biggest building block, but on a game-by-game basis, do we overstate the direct responsibility QBs have for the outcome?

The greatest get it done in crunch time regardless of what happened in the previous 3½ quarters. Brady could have had five interceptions. The stats didn’t matter when he stepped onto the field in overtime. When the Patriots needed their franchise quarterback the most, Brady hopped in that phone booth and re-emerged as Tom Terrific one more time.

Jeff from Ogden, UT

And just exactly how difficult is it to line up on your side of the football?

Fatigue can make a lot of things difficult.

Rob from Edmonton, Alberta

Is Dee Ford colorblind? He must be if he didn't notice his hand was on the wrong side of the "blue line" when he got flagged for lining up in the neutral zone. Might be worth checking out.

It sounds like a problem a laser could fix.

Felix from Braunschweig, Germany

Well, we could have been a team that won against both Super Bowl participants at their home turf. Yes, due to our lack of execution we aren't. But I think that tells a lot about the potential within this squad. Next year could be fun with fresh talent and new play-calling.

That six-week stretch from the Rams game to the loss to Cardinals on Dec. 2 was just bizarre. The Packers went from playing the two eventual Super Bowl teams tough to losing to the team with the No. 1 pick, an opponent they should’ve easily walloped at home. That’s how thin the line is between winning and losing football.

Ryan from Sun Prairie, WI

After watching the conference championship games, which area do the Packers need to improve to be in the NFC Championship next year?

The Patriots and Rams impressed me with their tempo and ability to attack the middle of the field. Honestly, all four teams did a nice job of mixing their featured running backs into the passing game. That’s the way the league is trending.

Dylan from Bozeman, MT

I'm with everyone else on feeling bad for Saints and their fans but Jimmy Johnson said it 30 years ago. "I told ya! When you go to Notre Dame, don't put it in the refs’ hands." Keep overtime the way it is, let the refs ref, and if you want to win the game make a play.

It hurts. It’s unfortunate. It’s football. This shouldn’t surprise anybody, though. How many times did I say all of these questionable calls weren’t suddenly going to be rectified in the playoffs? It was bound to happen after all the regular-season controversy. The NFL is again going to have to take a long look in the mirror this offseason.

Todd from Manitowoc, WI

Yesterday you stated it will be hard to watch the wrong team playing the Patriots in the Super Bowl, however there are two wrong teams in it. If KC isn't offside on defense, it is in. With the non-call in the Saints game, any chance of having a ref in the booth radio down and make the correct call?

Again, do you remember what I said about discipline in Saturday’s Inbox? The Pats are perennially one of the league’s most disciplined teams. That counts for something. If the NFL chooses to go that route with replays, I think it would be helpful to have a spotter in the press box alert the field judge of a possible review and then let the league office handle things from there.

Dan from Toledo, OH

Insiders, I understand and fully agree with the outrage over the no-call. I also understand the NFL wanting to review pass interference penalties. However, a rule calling for review of DPI wouldn’t have solved what happened Sunday as the issue was lack of a flag. The NFL can and should make penalties challengeable, but they can’t possibly make a “no-call” reviewable can they?

It’s a tough spot for the officials. If you make all significant penalties reviewable within two minutes and all of overtime reviewable, it would encourage the side judge to throw the flag and take a look at it.

Ron from Tampa, FL

Do you guys think if the Saints receiver Lewis had stayed on the ground after the hit it may have prompted the officials to throw a flag?

I wonder. It couldn’t have hurt.

Dale from Owatonna, MN

Spoff was Spoff-on when he picked the Saints who win if the refs called pass interference and there was pass interference. I believe the way the defender was between the receiver and the ball, the likely outcome would have been incomplete pass without the interference. I am not sad about the Saints. Having been on that side too often, have a great offseason Saints fans with your righteous indignation and thanks for the draft pick!

The thing few are talking about is the fact the Saints stopped dominating. They blew out the Eagles on Nov. 18 and then played tight games against Dallas, Pittsburgh, Carolina, Atlanta, Philadelphia and LA. I’m not saying the Saints didn’t deserve to go to the Super Bowl, but these things happen in close games. You cannot leave any doubt.

Jeff from Kenosha, WI

I was paying close attention to the Rams’ offense on Sunday because I figured our offense will look a lot like it next year. McVay likes to group his receivers together and line them up close to the line of scrimmage. What is he trying to accomplish with these formations?

When they work, bunch formations are intended to create confusion off the line of scrimmage and test the defense’s stress points.

Alex from Helena, MT

I couldn't believe they kept Hogan's one-handed "catch" as a catch. The ball was bobbled on the way to the ground and hit the ground when he landed. I was positive that was going to be called incomplete. What am I missing? What is a catch?

Listen, I wasn’t joking about how the ball touching the receiver is now enough to constitute a catch. That wasn’t hyperbole. Your guess is as good as mine.

Sam from Harlan, IA

Are we done with the era of simplicity when there was something romantic about the human element of officiating games? I hate the idea of adding length to a football broadcast.

Do you wanna be home by dinner or determine the rightful victor of the game you’re paying for? It’s football. If three hours is too long for you, then watch three-minute cat videos on YouTube.

Dave from Lake Zurich, IL

Spoff, again, name one sport or league other than the NFL in which only one team has an opportunity to score. Saying the defense could've stopped the offense is irrelevant. Both teams should be given a chance on offense.

I used to agree with Spoff, but the game continues to stack the deck against the defense. After all, there’s a reason every team takes the ball in overtime besides Marty Mornhinweg. It’s a significant advantage obtained by chance. Are we playing football or roulette?

George from Pacific Grove, CA

Will the NFL change the overtime rules next season to ensure that both teams get at least one possession?

I don’t think so. My guess is the league concentrates its efforts on penalties this spring.

Domenick from Kenosha, WI

I don't see why blatant missed calls like the DPI in the Saints game have to lengthen the game very much. One official in the booth can easily spot a blatant call like that and send down a revision to the call. Everyone saw what happened there except the ref that was staring right at the play. That type of wrong call would not take much time to rectify.

The game is faster than it’s ever been, but the mechanics of officiating remain the same to a large extent. The missed DPI is terrible, but that’s just a bad call. I think the real issue for the NFL is the botched roughing-the-passer call on Tom Brady. The ref saw a motion, not a penalty. That scares me. In my estimation, quarterback-related penalties affected too many games this season.

Harry from De Pere, WI

"More replay" will be a highly debated topic and has the potential to significantly alter the game (again) and needs to be handled delicately. Assuming it becomes part of the challenge system, think of some ramifications. Offensive holding is arguably a "no-call" much more than it is called. If a team has a game-winning 70-yard TD pass, will the defense challenge hoping there is some sort of negligible hold to reverse the TD? Imagine the things we'd talk about that Monday, after that replay.

I’m not talking about ticky-tacky penalties. I’m talking about major spot-of-the-ball infractions and personal fouls. New York is already looking to see if a player should be DQ’d, right? Why not also check to make sure the call on the field was correct?

Packers WR Geronimo Allison celebrates his birthday on Jan. 18.

Al from Green Bay, WI

I'm still processing the drama from over seven hours of football on Sunday. What stands out is how absolutely random both outcomes were. It could have (arguably should have) been the Saints and Chiefs going to the Super Bowl. New Orleans fans must feel gutted as their window may be closing soon. At least KC has a world of hope with Mahomes in his infancy. Can Brees and company rebound?

The 2017-18 Saints remind me a lot of the 2010-11 Texas Rangers. An argument could be made they were the best teams in back-to-back seasons, but they came up short. The window is by no means closed for New Orleans, but the sand is passing through the hourglass for Brees.

Matt from De Pere, WI

Any former Packers besides Sam Shields to watch for in the big game?

New England defensive lineman Lawrence Guy was a seventh-round pick of the Packers in 2011. Former 2016 sixth-round pick Kyle Murphy also is a member of the Rams’ practice squad.

Tommy from Hugo, MN

Insider prediction please: If the Pats win the Super Bowl does Brady retire? If Brady retires, does Belichick retire, as well?

I’ll believe it when I see it. I think Brady plays until the wheels fall off.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, while there were a number of successful field goals made over the weekend, which one impressed you most?

Harrison Butker nailing the 39-yarder to force overtime. It’s a simple kick, but Butker would never live it down if he missed it.

Randy from Mukwonago, WI

Do you think sometimes the NFL welcomes the drama from the missed call in the Saints/Rams game? Look at all the talk about it. It keeps the public focused on their product.

Are we talking about it?

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