Skip to main content
Powered by

Inbox: Anyone learns just by keeping their eyes open

No one is running and hiding

LB Preston Smith
LB Preston Smith

Ummy from Two Rivers, WI

Just so all your readers know, sauerkraut is better two days old.

Alrighty then.

Bill from Ocala, FL

Mike, in your response to Gary from Hope Mills you said you'd go out in a blaze of glory. Wouldn't it rather be a glaze of blurry?

Something like that.

John from McHenry, IL

Is Rashan Gary going to practice when training camp opens or is he still in recovery mode?

We don't know and in all likelihood won't find out until July 26.

Phillip from Wonder Lake, IL

When practicing with other teams, how do you keep play calls simple without the other team learning your call codes?

The other team isn't hearing what's being called in the huddle. They'll hear the verbal checks, dummy calls, etc., at the line of scrimmage, but it's standard practice to change those up regularly throughout a season anyway.

Kerry from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Would you agree a good defense and a solid kicking game mean more in the NFC because of the QB disparity between the two conferences?

In a pending Super Bowl matchup, of course. In terms of getting to the Super Bowl, a lot will still hinge on which QB plays better, unless the disparity in defense and kicking game is significant.

Jeff from Montclair, VA

I'm always in awe of the history behind the team and Lambeau Field. There's nothing like it in the sports world. As a museum/history pro, I appreciate the team and Hall of Fame's efforts to inculcate the fandom via the museum and art throughout Lambeau. I LOVE that the players have to walk over bricks from the original stadium when they enter the bowl. When players or non-team staff report for duty, are they given any history lessons to let them know just how special a place they are in?

You can feel it when you walk into this building. If you don't, you don't have a pulse. In the team facility, there are reminders everywhere – lists and graphics of championship years and division title years, sketches of Hall of Famers, framed jerseys of retired numbers, photo collages of the stadium's most significant games … rookies get a little history lesson during their orientation weekend, but anyone learns just by keeping their eyes open around here.

Josh from Long Beach, CA

ML likes to have multiple plays run out of one formation while defenses try to give as many different looks as possible. Do you foresee defenses getting to a point where they, too, try to streamline their looks and instead focus on multiple calls out of one formation? Or is that already a thing but just not talked about as much? Thanks.

Defenses do that all the time, but because defensive formation is often dictated by offensive formation, the defensive wrinkle is based more on using the same personnel group to match up with an offense's personnel, and then throwing a change-up.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Are there any other quarterbacks from Cal that played for NFC North teams besides Jared Goff? I vaguely remember someone but can't put my finger on it.

NFC North? No. But if you want to dig back, Rich Campbell played for the Packers in the early '80s and Joe Kapp played for the Vikings in the late '60s.

Dave from Middletown, CT

Which is bigger, the second-year leap of a player such as Christian Watson or the second-year leap, so to speak, of the opposing defenses that now know they need to plan for that player?

The former either overcomes the latter, or vice versa.

Scott from La Crosse, WI

I understand Josiah Deguara doesn't have a lot of numbers, but I wonder if it was more a reflection of trust with Rodgers instead of skill in the system. Seems like he was targeted a much higher percentage with Jordan Love in game situations. Do you think he will have a much bigger impact this year with his knowledge of the system and familiarity with Love? The critics have all but written him off for the season.

We shall see. I won't speak to Rodgers' trust or lack thereof, but I would chalk it up more to opportunity and role. That said, Deguara's opportunity this season could be bigger than it's ever been, particularly early on, while the rookies are figuring things out.

Bill from Carbondale, IL

I recently read a comment by Alex Smith in which he said it is better for a quarterback entering the league to begin his career with an offensive head coach. I tend to agree with that belief. Wondering if you think it matters one way or the other?

I do think it helps, but it's not the be-all, end-all. Flacco and Jackson found their way under John Harbaugh. Brady had Belichick. Roethlisberger had Cowher and then Tomlin. Allen has McDermott. None of those head coaches came from the offensive side. But it's certainly benefited Mahomes, Burrow, Rodgers, Favre and others. If I were a young QB, I'd want my head coach to be an offensive guy because then you're that much more connected to the top of the leadership pyramid. But I also believe elite players eventually find their way regardless.

Chris from Chicago, IL

Most content I've read suggests Jon Runyan is the top candidate for RG while RT is up between Zach Tom and Yosh Nijman. If we were to take PFF rankings as gospel it would suggest Runyan is the lowest ranking of the three. I'd love to see ZT at RG with YN at RT during preseason. Does that seem possible to you as well?

It's reasonable enough to not rule out, but based on observations from OTAs and minicamp, that wasn't a lineup combination getting a direct look.

Phil from Madison, WI

Lots of questions about bench-press reps recently. Likely a very low rep count would be as damaging as a poor 40 time, but are you aware of any players who had successful careers after a poor bench-press showing? Anybody who couldn't do one? Or can a player get away with refusing to do that test?

Players will skip it if they're dealing with or recovering from an injury. Wisconsin native Jared Abbrederis did just four reps – the Badgers program was known to not emphasize the bench in its weight training – and he played three years in the NFL (two with Packers, one with Lions).

Bill from Clive, IA

Greetings, editors. How many non-padded practices are there to start camp? Will we see pads on in Week 1, or will that wait until Week 2?

If I recall correctly from last year, they practiced three days without pads, and then one day with shoulder pads, before the full pads went on.

Paul from Ledgeview, WI

Mike, expanding on the comments from Tom from Newville (is there a sister city), and your earlier comments re: Love – are teams playing not to lose for 55 minutes which is resulting in one-possession games? Is the reality of the current game driving us to this style? Ultimately it's about quality football for me, regardless.

The reality of the current game is so many teams are so evenly matched, if one team gets up by a couple of scores, it's difficult to keep them down. They're going to rise up and fight back because they're capable of doing so, and falling behind by 14 or 20 points is just a bad stretch that doesn't typically define a team. It's hard to win a game in the first three quarters, but you certainly can lose it. If you know you're in for a 60-minute battle, stay in the game and then outplay the opponent down the stretch, when it's most important to take command, because there isn't time remaining for the aforementioned rally.

Dan from Golden Valley, MN

Spoff, you will get to see both the classic Falcons and Oilers uniforms worn this season. The Falcons have designated it to be a regularly worn alternate (dumping their gradient home jersey), and Tennessee is doing a one date throw-back this season (uniform reveal on 7/23).

I have to think this is a make-or-break year for Joe Barry and his staff with seven first-round picks on defense. What do you think is the front-office minimum expectation for the defense this year? Thank you.

Cool to hear on the uniforms. I'm not going to speculate on any specific thresholds for the defense, but as I've said since we heard from Brian Gutekunst on draft weekend, the front office has made it clear the expectations for the unit are very high. No one is running and hiding from that.

Dale from Prescott, WI

Mike, glad to hear you're not a fan of the .200 hitters on a roster and waiting for the long ball to win ya the game. I believe the .300 hitter today is .400 hitter from years past. Bring at least a little small ball back to baseball, or has analytics taken over baseball completely?

The fact that infield shifts had to be regulated by the league, without a team trying to design a lineup to beat shifts and play the game differently than everyone else – thereby perhaps forcing opponents to rethink shifts on their own – answers your question.

Brad from Oshkosh, WI

Follow up on the response to Hank from CO, check out episode 4 of "Quarterback" on Netflix. It increases your appreciation for what NFL quarterbacks have to learn, and the amount they're relied on to do for their teams, even Kirk Cousins.

Great series overall, but that episode in particular should be rather eye-opening for any football fan.

Bruce from Travelers Rest, SC

I would venture that even more important than close games to keep TV audiences watching is fantasy football. I am always amazed how engaged my three sons, all in their 20s, are in games involving teams they care not a whit about, but which do carry fantasy implications.

True that. I played fantasy football for three years in my 20s and quit, never to go back, because it changed the way I watched and reacted to the game, not for the better.

Ron from Mitchell, SD

I agree with Tom from Newville, PA, regarding dynasties and rivalries. The characters and personalities in those days were the identities of their teams. Times change. Free agency allowed the players to get more of their fair share. Fans changed. Younger fans want to be entertained and prefer instant gratification, rather than watch dynasties in the making. For those of us who are older, traditional fans, our cheese has been moved. How we react is up to us. GPG!


Ed from Windsor, CO

Two more weeks of dread (not dead, stole that from a Saturday post) zone but it still seems like a long way till September. Just enjoy the summer.

Not much of it left for us in this business, but I plan to. Happy Monday.

Insider Inbox

Insider Inbox

Join writers as they answer the fans' questions in Insider Inbox