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Inbox: He’d have to be considered

Former Packers CB Charles Woodson
Former Packers CB Charles Woodson

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Mike, how can we help you through this Dead Zone, Wes-less week of II? Brilliant, insightful questions? Humor? Sarcasm? Movie references? A free lunch?

All of the above, please.

Kyle from Osceola, WI

Is there anything that screams "dead zone" more than a feature story about an athletic trainer? Haha. All kidding aside, that was a really nice piece. Pepper Burruss seems like a heck of a guy. Thanks for sharing.

Thanks for reading. The timing of it wasn’t for the dead zone specifically, but because Pepper’s on-field duties are now officially over, with minicamp done. I really enjoyed interviewing him and hope I gave people a chance to know someone who’s been very highly regarded in league circles for a long, long time. I remember more than a decade ago before I went to the scouting combine for the first time, Pepper gave me a very detailed rundown of how the combine came to be what it is, which helped me understand why the medical checks remain the most important element to the whole event, regardless of what’s covered in the media.

Cindy from Oshkosh, WI

Mike, your reference to the Packers not beating the Cowboys on the way to the Super Bowl reminded me how disappointed I was that it was the Panthers who came to Lambeau for the NFC Championship Game. They were the better team and it was a great game. It made the 1997 meeting with the Cowboys sweeter. After a 45-17 victory I will always remember Michael Irvin at his locker telling the reporter that he hadn't had that big of a beatdown since his father gave it to him. How times change.

Carolina’s upset of Dallas in the ’96 playoffs signaled the end of a dynasty, and Green Bay’s blowout in ’97 confirmed it. The loss dropped the Cowboys to 6-6 and started a five-game losing streak to end that season as they missed the playoffs for the first time in seven years. I covered that game, and Deion’s pick-six in the second quarter actually gave the Cowboys a 10-7 lead. That moment might’ve been their last hurrah.

Josh from Melbourne, Australia

I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment of player skirmishes during preseason. Do you know if any players have done themselves an injury during a fracas, especially punching a helmet?

Yes, one for sure since I’ve been here, but I can’t for the life of me remember who it was.

Todd from Brighton, MI

Will the Packers face back-to-back rookie quarterbacks when they take on the Giants and Redskins late in the year? It isn’t who you play, but when you play them, right?

True, but there’s no way to know in June if New York and Washington will be turning their offenses over to the rookies in December. Manning and Keenum, respectively, will probably start Week 1 and go from there.

Ken from Cuyahoga Falls, OH

How do punt returners and kick returners practice? How do the coaches know if a player has what it takes to be a returner? If there is tape from college or a former NFL team, they can study that. However, if they have never done it what do they look for in practice? Do they have them field punts/kickoffs at full speed in practice?

Yes, all the time. They’ll do everything full speed in practice except tackling, though with young players the most important reps are in the preseason games. Either way, it’s one of those things you can tell who’s got a natural aptitude for it and who doesn’t.

Paul from Shoreview, MN

Is there another division in the NFL that will be as competitive as the NFC North? Seems like there is the potential for three really good teams to emerge in 2019.

I’d put the AFC North, NFC West and NFC South in the same category.

Jake from Shoreview, MN

In your opinion, which road game is "THE" road game to attend this year?

Kansas City.

Forrest from Greenbow, AL

A while back I read an article about how Bill Belichick compared his punter to a golfer needing various clubs (driver, wedge, etc.) to put the ball in the right spot. Do you see JK Scott being able to do a better job in those situations this coming season?

That’ll be enough movie stars in the Inbox, but I think Scott has all those clubs in his bag. He’s mentioned in multiple interviews he got worn down physically last season, and provided he manages the grind better in his second year, all his clubs will become more effective.

Dennis from Wisconsin Rapids, WI

One of the things I've always enjoyed is how Rodgers gets "free plays" by catching the opponent’s defense with 12 men on the field. Would I be correct in assuming LaFleur's scheme won't change that potential?

It depends how much no-huddle they run.

Brad from Denver, CO

Mike or Wes, after reading the Inbox/Ask Vic for several years now I've noticed that posts regularly refer to the Packers as “we” or “our,” etc., when discussing the team. In your experience does this possessive sense seem more prevalent to fans of the Packers or is it common league-wide?

It’s everywhere, and it’s more prevalent with positive comments than negative ones, naturally.

Paul from Minneapolis, MN

With the Bears celebrating their 100th anniversary, several interesting stories are out about their history. This includes a story about Charles Bidwell of the Cards helping the Bears, similar to how George Halas helped the early Packers. Are there any modern-day examples of how current owners cooperate for the good of the league, or is that a bygone era?

It’s all built in now. The TV contracts are negotiated nationally, visiting teams get a percentage of the gate, the revenue sharing pool helps teams that can’t generate as much from their stadiums, etc.

Guilherme from Lins, Brazil

Regarding the idea of an NFL team for the last 25 years, how many Packers in your list?

I haven’t given it much thought. Favre and Rodgers would have to be considered, as would Reggie White, Charles Woodson and Julius Peppers. I’d have to study the landscape a lot more to know if guys like Jordy Nelson or Clay Matthews would belong.

Joe from Dundee, IL

Mike, you mentioned your 2.5 baseball tools. May I guess that those were hitting, but not for power, accurate throwing, and something else? No offense to you, but I do not see you as a speed demon, so not a base stealer.

Of the five tools (run, throw, field, hit and hit for power), I actually could run back in the day. My freshman year in college I clocked a 3.9 home to first. I could also field and hit a bit, so that’s why I gave myself 2½ tools. But I had little power, and my arm, while accurate, was not the strongest. Pretty typical profile for a D-III, non-scholarship player.

JR from East Moline, IL

In your opinion, what are the top five NFL teams of all time, or at least in your lifetime? I don't mean overall, I mean singular-season teams. You can only name an organization once.

For my lifetime, I’m not going to count the ’72 Dolphins because I was born after that season started. Two teams that immediately come to mind are the ’96 Packers and ’85 Bears. I’d have to study which Steelers team from the ’70s, 49ers team from the ’80s and Cowboys team from the ’90s to pick, and whether or not any of the Patriots teams from the last two decades would bump any of the others off my list.

Jeff from Mesa, AZ

After sitting on the bench for three years watching Favre, Aaron figured out that it is better to take a sack than to throw an interception. Wonder what Brett’s career would have been like if the same light went on?

Don’t kid yourself. The guy threw 29 picks in his 14th year as an NFL starting QB, and 22 more in his 17th year. I’m not saying that to rip on a Hall of Famer. I’m just saying Favre was Favre. Whenever the light went on, he shut it off voluntarily.

Brock from Albany, NY

Hey guys, with all this talk of how monstrous Danny Vitale is, I gotta ask. If he makes the team again, is he the first guy off the bus this year?

Something tells me he’s been given that role before.

Jeff from Green Bay, WI

On paper, using 2018 stats, this defense is markedly improved and should compete on third down and in the red zone similar to 2010 and 2014 defenses for this team and give them a legitimate shot at the playoffs and beyond. Without knowing what injuries the preseason will bring, are there any positions on defense that can ill-afford the loss of a starter, more than others, that would take away or severely damage those hopes for 2019?

I’ve continued to say I think this defense needs Alexander and King on the field together as its top two corners to play its best. I’d also say Martinez would be difficult to replace right now.

Shawn from St. Peter, MN

Hey guys, I hear of reports that Detroit is employing three-TE sets as well as focusing on a "ground-and-pound" approach with their offense. With the Packers' focus on increasing speed and versatility on defense, is this coming at the expense of size and power? If so, is this something we should be watching for as we near our regular-season games with the Lions?

I don’t believe the Packers sacrificed size and power at all. The Smiths and Gary are all faster than Nick Perry and bigger than Clay Matthews.

Joe from Milwaukee, WI

For individual defensive statistics, if player X gets credit for half a sack, does there have to be another defensive player who gets credit for the other half? Is there any way only one defensive player would get credit for half a sack on a play? Also, is half a sack the lowest amount of credit a player can get? There is no third of a sack, correct?

Correct. If a sack is credited to the defense, it either goes to one player, or is split between two, each getting a half sack. The only other option is to award a team sack but not credit it to any individual(s). This might happen if a QB preparing to throw fumbles the ball on his own without being contacted, or if he runs out of bounds at or behind the line of scrimmage with no defensive player near enough to be considered pressuring him.

Amy from Bayport, MN

Top of the morning to you, Mike. What is your take on the report that Rodgers wants more freedom at the line of scrimmage than what is given in MLF’s offense? I personally never gave much credence to the reports of the “dysfunctional” relationship with McCarthy. However, Rodgers rarely (if ever) makes a comment without considering its effect on those who may be listening. Do you see a strategy behind making a public comment like this at the start of the offseason?

I think your characterization of “wanting more … than what is given” is presumptuous because, no offense to an MVP in Matt Ryan, but a Hall of Fame QB has never run this system before to my knowledge. I think there’s a balance that needs to be struck between what Rodgers can do at the line and what the system is designed to do for the offense, and it’s going to be a work in progress finding that balance. LaFleur doesn’t want to stifle Rodgers, but Rodgers also has to let the offense work for him. I think the possibilities are exciting, even if the road will have some bumps along the way.

Joshua from Houston, TX

I don't think Rivers deserves the HOF due to the lack of impact he's made in the league, but then again I also don't think Eli deserves it because of his lack of regular-season statistics compared to other players of his time. I think there will probably be too many players from this generation making the HOF, though.

Your last point might be the most important one. Vic always used to say the selection committee’s job isn’t to let people in, it’s to keep them out. That’s a tad extreme, but he had a point. There’s a maximum of five modern-era candidates who can earn induction in any given year, but it seems a given the max is reached each year now.

Blaine from Fennimore, WI

What is your go-to tailgate food? Burger? Brats?

Definitely brats. Whenever possible.

Dan from Cross Plains, WI

Spoff, what is your thinking when you decided to use indeed vs. indubitably? Are you just trying to throw us off or what?

Occasionally. Happy Tuesday.

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