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Inbox: For this offense to be at its best, it still needs him at his best

Tough lessons will be learned

RB Aaron Jones
RB Aaron Jones

Jim from Eau Claire, WI

If Stan from Jupiter had left off the FL, would that have been the first submission from another planet? Welcome back, Spoff.

Metaphorically speaking, no, not at all.

Thomas from Madison, WI

Let's compare apples to orangutans. After my competitive sports career ended (the end of high school) I remember feeling bored or antsy watching from the stands. How excited is JL10 is to finally play ball again!? Three years is such a long time to miss something you love.

One of my best friends and high school baseball teammates still plays in an adult league in Chicago. I envy his ability to stay committed, in shape and competitive all these years.

Evan from Durango, CO

The reigning Kings in the North had a negative point differential and they absolutely gutted their defense. However, I still see overly confident Vikings fans claiming they're a 12-plus win team. The additions (Davenport, Murphy, Lowry, Cine) do not equal the losses (Z, Kendricks, Tomlinson, Peterson, Sullivan, Dantzler). How does a bad defense from a year ago improve if they get rid of all their talent? If Hunter gets traded they won't even have a D-line.

I applaud the Vikings for recognizing their shortcomings, acknowledging they weren't good enough defensively, and turning the page. There is no quick fix, but 17 games is a long time for any reconstructed unit to come together, especially in a division that is entirely up for grabs.

Al from Green Bay, WI

In Wes's Countdown to Camp (a great read, by the way) he referenced Zeke Elliott and Dalvin Cook being cut casualties by their respective teams. In my view, Zeke doesn't have much tread left on his tires. While Cook is still dangerous, I believe his best days are behind him. Neither back represents a good financial value. On the other hand, Aaron Jones has shown no sign of decline. Is this the stage in his career where having a good running mate (Williams then AJ Dillon) is paying off for him?

There's some merit to that. Jones has never been overused or abused, in part due to the injury issues earlier in his career, and the Packers have enjoyed viable alternatives. But for this offense to be at its best, it still needs him at his best, regardless of QB. While I agree with you on Zeke, I believe somebody is going to benefit from a motivated Cook, whose price will eventually come down and he'll be out to prove something. He needs to stay healthy, that's always been his caveat, but Cook has 600 fewer career carries – more than two seasons' worth – compared to Zeke.

As a shameless plug, I'd encourage everybody to gear up for training camp by reading the Countdown to Camp roster series. Wes handled all the offensive positions this week, and I've got the defensive positions coming next week.

Paul from Ledgeview, WI

Mike, I see six RBs and a FB on the roster currently. Given your inclination towards three RBs on the 53, what's the over/under for RBs on the practice squad? Is this a make-or-break year for Tyler Goodson or Patrick Taylor? If a FB makes the 53, does that impact the TEs most directly?

With practice squads remaining at 16, I could see multiple running backs in that group as immediate call-ups in a pinch. It's probably make-or-break for either Goodson or Taylor, because the Packers are likely to give a rookie draft pick like Lew Nichols a chance to stick around in some fashion. Roster decisions at fullback and tight end will influence one another.

Josh from Napoleon, OH

According to my math and research, which could be wrong, selecting a left tackle that shows promise during their rookie campaign only happens once every nine years.

In the fourth round, no less.

Patrick from Murfreesboro, TN

The punting game last season was better than the previous year's disaster, but still ranked low league-wide. Flipping the field could be particularly valuable this year. I'm intrigued by the younger, stronger leg in camp, especially since his placement stats look good, too. What's your outlook on that training camp battle?

I suspect it'll be very difficult to unseat the incumbent O'Donnell, but I like the fact the Packers are taking a look at a young prospect who has a chance to get his feet wet in an NFL camp/preseason and learn from a seasoned vet.

Joe from Pittsburgh, PA

I see the Bears opener in Chicago a bigger challenge than usual. Now that their perennial boogie man is safely in New York, it has to feel like they're no longer fighting with one arm tied behind their back, and their desire for revenge will be high. I personally feel this game will be a good measuring stick for both teams.

I don't think any accurate or significant conclusions will be drawn from the game either way, but whatever the outcome, I expect the "ownership" jokes on fan signs, in media headlines, and everywhere else to be out in full force.

Erik from Mansfield, TX

In reference to the "avoidable mistakes," I've always thought of it as the difference between mental and physical mistakes. A receiver who tries to bring in a tough catch but accidentally knocks it up in the air causing an interception is different from the one who runs the wrong route, leading to a pick. Same result on the play, but one gets you coached up and encouraged, the other can get you benched or lose the trust of your QB.

A valid and meaningful distinction, for sure.

TK from Grafton, WI

Can a player make the 53 STRICTLY as a special-teamer? With very little "value" at any position on offense or defense?

I assume you mean aside from kicker, punter or long snapper. The answer is yes, but it's rare. There are only so many spots on the active game-day roster, and if the personnel department and/or coaches feel a player would be a true liability when forced to take the field on offense or defense, it would be very difficult to keep him around.

John from Ramstein, Germany

Hi, great column. It is nice to have Packers content available during the dead zone. I know the Packers got good draft compensation from the Jets in next year's draft for trading Aaron Rodgers. In addition to that pick, which additional pick(s) might the Packers receive (via compensatory picks) for the other free agents that have been signed by the Jets? By my count, the Packers receive four picks next year courtesy of 12's trade and the other FAs.

The most recent analysis I saw had the Packers receiving either a fourth- or fifth-round pick for Allen Lazard, but that's it as far as the players signed by the Jets. Green Bay also is projected to get sixth-rounders for Jarran Reed and Dean Lowry, and it appears the contract signed by Robert Tonyan will just miss the cutoff for a seventh-rounder.

John from McHenry, IL

Does anyone agree that the Packers can have a winning season if Love can protect the ball? The ground game is above average, receivers are talented and will eventually improve their routes, and the O-line and defense are above average. Love can pass and run, but previous games show him to be somewhat careless with passes into coverage. Do you agree that should be the primary mission in camp?

I think the primary mission needs to be Love getting as comfortable as he can running the offense, being challenged in different ways by the defense, and revealing to LaFleur & Co. what he does well and not so well so they can build game plans accordingly. Tough lessons will be learned when it comes to turnovers. Those are inevitable. But if he spends all of training camp hyper-focused on protecting the ball, there's risk of stunting his growth. Rodgers threw three interceptions in a game three times in his first 24 NFL starts, and then didn't do it again for eight years.

George from North Mankato, MN

Good morning Mike, I was wondering if you and Wes ever get to participate in the tailgating scene at away games? If so, what stadiums do it best? What's your favorite dish?

I wish we could, but no. Once we arrive at the stadium – home or away – we're in work mode. Comes with the territory.

Gary from Davenport, IA

Mike, I believe you went to Northwestern University for your master's degree so I'd like your opinion on the hazing scandal that recently hit the football program. Could anything like that possibly happen in the NFL today? I remember Vic telling a story about the Steelers forcing the rookies to sing their alma mater's fight song (or something like that) until Mean Joe Greene refused to do so. That sounds pretty innocent compared to the news out of Northwestern.

Nobody's launching investigations over singing fight songs or carrying older guys' pads after practice. That's the difference between rites of passage and hazing. It saddens me to hear what's happened at Northwestern and to a player/coach who did so much for the school and the program. But the administration had no choice, and frankly looks really bad for changing course based on information it had, but wasn't public until the school newspaper kept after the story and exposed details the university preferred to keep under wraps. Kudos to the student journalists, not so much the grown-ups running the show. I fear for the future of Northwestern football, which was already struggling to compete in this newfangled NIL era. Since winning the Big Ten West in the Covid-shortened 2020 season, the Wildcats have won only four games, two of those non-conference, and now they're trying to build a new $800M stadium amidst a major black eye. Can the program come back from this? I don't know.

Chas from Modena, WI

After the All-Star break what Brew Crew player or players do you feel will make the biggest impact towards getting into the playoffs?

Brandon Woodruff is at the top of my list. Rowdy Tellez bouncing back in the second half is right behind.

John from Topeka, KS

"Respounden"? Is the Dead Zone the right way to dig into the etymology of that one, or is this so far off the map the monks are sketching dragons?

Only midweek and here we are. Happy Wednesday.

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