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Inbox: Green Bay and football are synonymous with one another

Rashan Gary and Lukas Van Ness are cut from the same cloth in terms of work ethic and drive

QB Jordan Love
QB Jordan Love

Stella from Roxbury, CT

Wes, it's not a ''gutsy" call, it's a "Gutey" call.

Some might say Gutey is the new gutsy. Since Spoff is hightailing it down to Indianapolis to speak with Brian Gutekunst at the NFL Scouting Combine, I'm here to answer today's Inbox. Let's have some fun.

Brian from Chaska, MN

Rashan Gary learned at the feet of Preston Smith and Za'Darius Smith. That recipe worked. Lukas Van Ness is learning at the feet of Preston Smith and Rashan Gary. Both prospects were known to be extremely talented, yet very young and raw coming out of college. Does one student remind you of the other in terms of their learning style and general approach? Which one of these players has the highest ceiling?

Gary and Van Ness play the position differently, but they have many of the same intangibles. The two also are cut from the same cloth in terms of work ethic and drive. Gary and Van Ness are elite physical specimens, but their relentless approach to improvement is what's turning potential into production. I couldn't tell you who has the higher ceiling but I'm eager to watch it all unfold.

Gary from Corvallis, OR

These are such encouraging days for the Pack. Have never in 60-plus years seen such talent at the receiver and running back positions. With a 4-3 base defense forthcoming, the Packers need help at inside linebacker. Quay Walker doesn't seem to be strong enough to play off of blocks. Lukas Van Ness doesn't seem to have the quick burst agility to be a premier pass rusher. However, Lukas ran a 4.58 and is very strong. Would he not be a terrific inside linebacker in a 4-3?

I disagree with your assessment of Van Ness' pass rush game. In time, I think his burst and closing speed will become hallmarks of his game. Van Ness may move around the front next season, but he's not coming off the line of scrimmage like an off-ball linebacker. This isn't Clay Matthews we're talking about here. At 6-foot-5, 272 pounds, Van Ness is a completely different type of pass rusher.

Derek from Sheboygan, WI

It seems we may have a new culture coming to Green Bay on the defensive side of the ball and that is refreshing.

Jeff Hafley seems like the new breed of coach – a smart and innovative strategist who also brings that juice players feed off of. This is a reset for Green Bay's defense, and I think players will respond well to it. Learning about Hafley and the staff he's assembling, you can't help but get excited.

Joe from Bozeman, MT

One press conference and it's already been determined that the Packers have the greatest defensive coordinator since Buddy Ryan. I prefer to wait until a few games into the regular season to see if the defense can finally stop the run, pressure the QB and tackle better.

Success is ultimately determined on the grass, but coaches still need to "sell" what they're preaching. If Hafley's introductory news conference was any indication of how he conducts meetings, I have a feeling guys will run through cinderblock walls for that man this season. Hafley has that kind of presence about him.

Paul from Ledgeview, WI

Coach Hafley referred to GB as the mecca of football. Is that a real thing in the NFL today? Would players concur? Does the reality of life in Green Bay influence the type of player that Gutey will draft?

Hafley articulated something I've contended for a long time. Maybe some other NFL cities would disagree about the mecca moniker, but I believe that to be true. Football is the center of this city's universe. I don't think any other place can claim that. The Packers are also second to none when it comes to history and staying true to that tradition. Green Bay and football are synonymous with one another. That's a part of the reason the NFL Draft is coming here next year. To the last part of your question, it doesn't matter if you're living in Green Bay or New York City – good people are good people, and Gutekunst and his team are among the best in the business at finding good people.

Steven from San Diego, CA

Can the Packers keep their core strength while improving on needs and stay within the cap?

100%. Gutekunst should be able to do anything he wants this offseason, but the key is keeping one eye on the future. The Packers have a few decisions to make on free agents and will face many more over the next two or three years.

Shannon from Ovilla, TX

$30 million! How does that help the Packers? Jordan Love contract? Keeping David Bakhtiari? Free-agency spending? What's the best spending of the extra money?

This is what I'm talking about. The Packers have a few more dollars to spend this offseason, but so does the rest of the NFL. Just because the bonus hits the bank account doesn't mean you have to spend it all immediately. What's more, Love isn't eligible for an extension until at least May because of the two-year deal he struck with Green Bay last spring.

Te from Fort Myers, FL

While there are lots of rules and options to administering the salary cap, does every dollar paid to a player eventually have to be included in the cap?


Caleb from Knoxville, TN

Which of our new coaches intrigues you the most?

It has to be Anthony Campanile. How could it not be after watching those "Hard Knocks" clips? We're still waiting on the finalization of the coaching staff, but Hafley's comments Thursday provide a good window into what Campanile brings to the table. I enjoyed hearing Campanile's backstory and how this partnership with Hafley has been more than a decade in the making. He also quoted Vince Lombardi. So, he has that going for him…

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Coach LaFleur said he wants the defense to be fast and physical and attack the ball. He also wants the defense "to be a little more vision-based on the back end." What does that mean?

LaFleur explained that to mean vision to the quarterback because that's where the ball is at the snap. It can be tougher to track the ball when a DB's back is to the QB and "playing a real matchy" scheme. That's not to say the Packers are gonna be ultra-aggressive at the line of scrimmage and play zone behind that every snap, but ideally there will be more eyes tracking the ball in the secondary.

Etienne from St Joachim de Tourelle, Canada

Good morning II. Could you see the Packers drafting a fullback in this year's draft? It's been a while since we haven't had a John Kuhn-effect on this team.

But what is a fullback nowadays? The Packers used Josiah Deguara in that role the past four years, though his listed position was tight end. If Deguara isn't re-signed, it's possible they search for another hybrid in this year's draft. The last time Green Bay actually drafted a fullback was nearly a decade ago (Aaron Ripkowski in 2015). Your guess is as good as mine when the next will be.

Bruce from Jackson, WI

Wes, I'm hoping to follow up on your response regarding Jones' usage. We expect our best OL to play every offensive snap in the trenches but will limit our top back to 10 or 11 carries? Who's to say an injury doesn't occur because a back isn't up to game speed from under-utilization? Is 15 or 16 carries really unrealistic? Over the last three seasons, the top 10 rushers have averaged 256 carries per season (15 carries per game). Even with Jones averaging two or three rec/game, what a waste.

To me, it's apples and orangutans (to steal a Spoff-ism). Offensive line and running back are two entirely different positions. It's unquestionably grueling to play O-line, but running backs are asked to run as fast as possible and crash into defenders every time they touch the ball. The job is as challenging from a cardiovascular standpoint as it is physically demanding. While it's not unrealistic to expect 15-16 carries from a back, one must also acknowledge the ever-present danger of injury. That's why coaches often take the high side of caution when it comes to utilizing a premier running back as a bell cow.

Scott from Sauk City, WI

It's obviously the "season of subterfuge" now. But I'm wondering if it ever happens (is it allowed?) where teams at the very, very, very top of the draft board start declaring their intentions either in public, or to one another? So, let's say Washington wants Marvin Harrison Jr. Instead of offering to trade picks, they call up Chicago to ask what they're going to do with No. 1. Chicago says they want Caleb Williams, so Washington doesn't offer a trade. But if Chicago says they want Harrison, then Washington offers a trade?

That almost never happens. Information is valuable in the NFL. You don't give it away for free. I remember that report a few years ago – I believe it was when San Francisco traded with Miami to draft Trey Lance – the team didn't tip its hand as to whom it intended to select even after the trade was executed. I don't believe Carolina did it either when it pulled off the trade with Chicago.

Jim from De Pere, WI

Greetings Spoff and Wes, thank you for all you do with II. Looking back at the Marcus Peters horse-collar tackle of Christian Watson to prevent a TD, do you think the NFL will change the penalty in situations where a player is going to score to limit the risk of player injury from this type of illegal tackle? Example, award Watson the TD and apply the penalty yardage on the ensuing kickoff.

The NFL will never start "awarding" touchdowns, but I think it should consider making a foul that blatant and dangerous an automatic ejection. Otherwise, I can see no other alternative to prevent an egregious player-safety infraction like that. Within the current ruleset, Peters did what he had to do with no significant deterrent.

Jeffery from Brooklyn, WI

Hey Wes and Mike, if Watson finds the miracle cure for his soft-tissue issue, will he share with the team doctor so the rest of the clan can follow suit?

Absolutely. The research is intended to help Watson, but it's also not player specific. Soft-tissue injuries are bigger than that.

Richard from Madison, WI

Wes, today you referred to the "QB room." I've also seen references to the "OL room," "DB room," "TE room," and so on. Are these literal rooms set aside somewhere deep in the bowels of Lambeau Field for those particular positions? What does one of them look like? Whiteboards, projectors, comfy chairs, free coffee, what? Are there secret passwords to get in?

Correct. There are smaller positional rooms outside the primary team meeting room. That's where most of the installations and corrections take place. They're cozy rooms, equipped with nice chairs…and yes, free coffee.

Carl from Sheboygan, WI

Good morning II. Just watched the story about Steve McMichael on ESPN. Mongo was diagnosed with ALS a few years ago, and today is just a shell of the wrecking ball we were used to seeing control the middle of the defensive line for the Bears back in the '80s. While I've never personally known anyone with ALS, what a horrible disease. He was elected to the HOF recently, and deservedly so. God willing, Mongo will be at the HOF induction ceremony (this summer). Godspeed No. 76!

I don't remember Steve McMichael, the All-Pro defensive lineman. I was too young to even remember his season in Green Bay. To me, Mongo was a horseman. My memories of McMichael came from watching him with Ric Flair and Arn Anderson in World Championship Wrestling. Tall, tan, and confident, Mongo was a natural heel. I remember being so upset as a child when he cheated to beat Reggie White in 1997. Blasphemy! Looking back at it now, I appreciate how good McMichael was at entertaining. As I learned more about his playing career, I now see how he did the same thing with the Chicago Bears. I thank him for all the memories he gave me and continue to pray for him and his family.

Dusty from Pardeeville, WI

Has there ever been a Packers media member inducted to the Packers HOF? I'd love to see Vic Ketchman in there for one. He made me see and think about this team, and the game, in ways I never would have otherwise.

Lee Remmel is in the Packers Hall of Fame, though he also was a longtime dignitary of the organization. My vote would be for Cliff Christl, whom I'd offer is the most influential scribe to ever work the Packers beat. Through his exhaustive efforts as team historian, Cliff encapsulated the franchise's 100-year history into a four-volume set that will outlive us all.

Bill from Brooklyn Park, MN

Rod Gardner, a 2001 first-round WR pick for Washington, will be appearing on "The Amazing Race" with his wife, Leticia. In late 2005, he played two games for the Packers (four total receptions, all for first downs, but no TDs). Any memories?

Neither of us were here at the time…but all the best to Rod and Mrs. Gardner!

George from Olympia, WA

Who is our first draft pick?

According to my guy Tanner Ward…Ennis Rakestraw Jr. You heard it here first (maybe).

Jake from Decatur, GA

A few weeks ago, I voted (via an unposted II submission, the solemnest of all proceedings) that you guys have Saturdays off in the offseason. I'm glad the people up top are finally starting to listen to me! Now, what's a guy gotta do to win a Super Bowl around here?

Simply have Jake from Decatur, GA, request one? Have a great week everybody.

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