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Inbox: Culture is paramount

The Packers are in good hands

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Chris from New Canaan, CT

Insiders, thank you for publishing on Christmas Day. Just got back from the Garden where we saw MKE beat NYK; a satisfying win. MKE is a well-balanced team and it was a fun to watch (BTW, not quite like the experience at LAR with the stadium overwhelmingly Packers fans, but plenty of Bucks fans were at MSG). So, Wes, if you're writing on Christmas Day, does that make you Cratchit and Spoff Scrooge?

Wes finished the Christmas morning Inbox in advance the day before, and I got up well before the sun to write this one. We did our best to give ourselves holiday time. Hope everyone had a great Christmas. I've got to get to a Bucks game once the football season is over.

Rod from Chugiak, AK

Show me one deriding the Pack for not phoning it in and I'll show you one who's never succeeded in a mano-a-mano sport. Twice a state freestyle wrestling champ, my ego was so on the line I could never have "wrestled to lose." Pride charges football's game-within-a-game, man-to-man combat every play. As well, film is being produced. Individual effort is starkly evident for the whole league to scrutinize. Players value roster spots and contracts light years more than their team's draft position.

Couldn't agree more. Culture within an organization is paramount. Joe Philbin, who may or may not be in charge of that culture going forward, made that abundantly and eloquently clear on Monday.

Gary from Davenport, IA

I was also at the game in '92 when Sharpe broke the NFL catch record. In '92, had the Vikings lost to the Packers, there would have been a rematch the following week. By beating the Packers, they faced (and lost to) Washington, the defending Super Bowl champion. Similarly, the Bears will probably face the defending champs if they win and will likely have a rematch if they lose. Coincidentally, both defending champs won titles in Minneapolis. How do you see that game playing out?

I've felt since the Vikings beat the Packers a month ago they were going to find their way to the No. 6 seed. So I'll stick to that for now, but it wouldn't shock me if the Bears went into Minneapolis and opened the door for the Eagles. The Vikings had everything to play for last week in Detroit and came out flatter than flat, falling behind 9-0 and needing a halftime Hail Mary to wake up. They're a tough team to figure out.

A.J. from Brisbane, Australia

Good to see Jake Kumerow not dive into the end zone!

Fool me once …

Patsi from Riverside, CA

What is the status on Randall Cobb? It would be wonderful if he could share the final game with his teammates, and possibly bookend the season with a great touchdown reception like the one he opened the season with in Game 1 against Chicago. We have really missed watching him play in so many games this season. Here's hoping to have him back as a central part of the offense again.

We'll see what this week brings. The fact that he traveled with the team and was on the sideline last Sunday would seem to indicate he wasn't far from clearing the concussion protocol.

Sean from Boulder, CO

In response to Monday's query regarding Aaron's rushing touchdowns, the most in a game by a quarterback is four. Bobby Douglass accomplished the feat on Nov. 4, 1973, against none other than our Green Bay Packers.

Thanks.

Mike from Mount Prospect, IL

Gentlemen, every season there's one game you win that you should lose and one game you lose that you should win. Jets fans are bemoaning Sunday's loss as Packer fans still talk about the Vikings tie and Bears fans regret their opening game. The NFL has created a league wherein fans are constantly wondering and arguing "what if?" as so many games come down to one or two plays. It's the reason I believe almost any team can rise next year. Now, if we could reduce the influence of the zebras...

Good luck with that. Two of your three examples hinged on officiating calls. But your larger point is entirely valid.

Ryan from Hartland, WI

Who is the season MVP?

Has to be Davante Adams.

Jason from La Crescent, MN

It's not often a player gets a chance to beat a teammate's/former teammate's record. Must be a special moment for both Adams and Nelson considering they went to battle together.

Whether Adams tops 1,519 or not, I'm sure one of the first messages he'll get postgame Sunday will be from Nelson.

George from Hutchinson, MN

In 2016, Davante Adams was close to being considered not a starter. Then, the last two years, he becomes a Pro Bowl type of player. What player has mimicked that same upward type of ascension in the ranks? I have Martinez and Clark in mind, but have decided on Martinez. Hard call to make though.

Actually, I think Adams' career has mirrored Nelson's in that regard, but for different reasons. Injuries in 2015 slowed up Adams and he didn't really break out until Year 3. With Nelson, it was the deep receiving corps with Jennings, Driver and Jones all in front of him. The injury to Driver in the Super Bowl gave Nelson an opportunity that night, and then in 2011 (Year 4 for him) he took off.

Ben from Pensacola, FL

I was never really a part of the group that wanted to bench Williams and solely go with Aaron Jones. Sunday's game did show why. To me they are both very special impact players (with lots of potential moving forward) and really fun to watch. His TD run exemplified who he is as a player: tenacious.

I've always liked the 1-2 punch idea, and Jones' injury history dictates the Packers will have to monitor his workload as next season unfolds as well. It's the reality they'll be dealing with, and it's not necessarily a bad one with Williams in the equation.

Andy from Baraboo, WI

On a punt or field goal/extra point the center is uncovered. First, what is the rule on that? Second, when it becomes a fake punt is he no longer protected?

The rule is anyone lining up over the long snapper must be a full yard off the ball, and the long snapper is protected from contact to the head or neck area. This rule actually has been in place for several years. The contact part was made a point of emphasis by the league this year. Some have asked if this creates an unfair advantage on a fake punt. I don't think so. The punt team has an up back and the punter; the return team has the returner. So the return team always has an extra body at the line of scrimmage if it wants. If the punt team wants to shift and get up under center to run a sneak, the center ceases to be a long snapper and loses the protection.

Kevin from Rockton, IL

Let's not fuss too much about wins now affecting draft position next April. A couple of draft positions here and there is unlikely to make any significant difference (x2) in the first round; the teams are pretty locked down on whom they covet by then. 1) Win against the Lions to continue the team development. 2) Select the new head coach and staff. 3) Worry about the draft.

That's where my mind is.

Michael from Hammond, IN

What do you see as the Packers' most urgent need in the upcoming draft?

Better players than the other teams are drafting.

Shel from New York, NY

I think we can run the table. N'est-ce-pas? OK it's a small table, but still...

Got a road win before 2018 was over. Consecutive wins before the curtains fall on the season would be nice, too.

George from Olympia, WA

With all the build-up going on in Green Bay, is there any consideration going into bidding on having the draft selection held there anytime in the future?

Mark Murphy has gone on record indicating the Packers will apply to host the draft sometime next decade after Brown County replaces the old arena across the street from the stadium with a new expo center. An updated venue there will make the whole Lambeau Field "complex," so to speak, more attractive to the league.

Perry from Ishpeming, MI

I listened to OT on the radio and Wayne and Larry had the best compliments to both the Packers and the Jets for giving it their all. Wayne said these guys get paid to play 16 games if they're healthy. What are your thoughts on college players skipping bowl games to not get injured? Didn't they get a scholarship to play football and get an education? Isn't that enough to play out the season?

When I hear about a college player skipping a bowl game (and bowl prep), what I hear is a player actually taking a break, and I don't blame him. From summer camp beginning in late July through a bowl game in late December/early January to the combine less than two months later to pro days and the draft and rookie minicamp and OTAs and rookie symposium and training camp and then 20 games (including preseason) plus maybe more … it's a 17- to 18-month grind like no other in their athletic careers, and at one of the most important times, no less. I don't begrudge a kid trying to give himself a breather, to let his body wind down before cranking it up again for the pre-draft process. Is it good for college football? No, of course not.

Dan from Kenosha, WI

Insiders, just curious, have we had more special-teams fumbles this this year than any before? How much does the absence of Davis factor into that?

I don't have the turnover stats in front of me, but I think not having a consistent specialist on returns has affected those units.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

Much has been said of Gute using FA more this offseason but doesn't a new HC change the equation? FA is traditionally a reaction to a gap identified from the prior year's system. Even though the new HC will be here in January they cannot really know the roster before it all kicks off in March can they? Don't we run a high risk of swing/miss if we make a splash signing on offense when the HC might end up needing/running something totally different based on April-August prep work?

The new head coach's first job will be to learn his personnel pronto, so he can provide valued input into the free-agent process. If he has a plan and vision, he'll know what and who he wants and needs.

Andy from Walpole, MA

Is it too early to assess the rookie receivers? Moore has definitely had a disappointing season, to the point where he might even turn out be a bust. MVS started strong but then disappeared. St. Brown, my early favorite, is finishing the season strong after a slow start. Despite the concussion he might be the best of the three. Reminds me a bit of last year's running backs.

I'm not about to label a fourth-round pick a bust as a rookie. I'm willing to wait. MVS's game Sunday (five catches, 75 yards, a couple of key PI's) shows he hasn't disappeared after a lull in his season. EQ brought a different presence for the first time, which was good to see. It is reminiscent of the running backs in that the position was in glaring need of restocking, and the Packers took multiple late-round bites at the apple after going different directions in the early rounds. It helps to have extra picks to do so, which the Packers have again in 2019.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

How difficult is it going to be to find the right coach and players to leave this season of mediocrity behind us? It ain't gonna be easy. Odds are against us.

Mark Murphy hired a coach who brought consistent respectability to a Northwestern football program for the first time in my lifetime. Brian Gutekunst was raised by a football coach. I think the Packers are in good hands here.

James from Asheville, NC

The Packers, Panthers, and Falcons are NFC perennials not making the playoffs. An anomaly, one-year swoon, or an example of the type of parity the NFL seems to want? How quickly things change!

Of the four teams that played for the conference titles last season, two won't be in the postseason this year, and one is going to be eliminated on the final weekend. The NFL loves it this way.

Tony from Eau Claire, WI

Only in the Insider Inbox will you read someone referring to a Pro Bowl, two-time NFL MVP, Super Bowl champion and MVP, and three-time All-Pro as "The Grinch" to our 2019 season while also alluding to some mythical high draft pick as the savior. By the way, where is this mythical first-round draft tree that grows legends in excess? I would assume it lies somewhere near the fields of zero-risk free agents and the pastures of perfect game plans.

Nicely done. Happy day after Christmas, everyone.

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