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Inbox: He exudes an old-school mentality

Grown men make their own decisions

Outside linebackers coach Mike Smith
Outside linebackers coach Mike Smith

Kristian from Aarhus, Denmark

I often wake up on Sunday mornings knowing fully (and feeling saddened) that "today" is a day without Inbox. It's become my daily fix...can you post Sundays? Just once? Three questions? One? Please!? How 'bout a real short one? But I need it.

No you don't. You need help.

Erik from Boston, MA

Wes definitely had his sassy pants on in Thursday's Inbox.

He's not returning them, either. I saw him take the store tags off.

Dale from Kansas City, MO

There were a lot of mention about reviews in Wednesday's II, so I have an observation about it. I feel if the NFL truly wants to get the call right then what is called on the field should not affect anything. Give it to the replay official and let them decide what the call is. Otherwise it looks like they just want to defend the ref instead of a correct call. Just my opinion.

I've been saying for years the weight given to the call on the field is an anachronistic concept. I don't think it's consciously about trying to defend the original call, but in effect it does, and there's no reason to.

Jeffrey from Taylors, SC

Would teams tend to blitz the A-gap with a rookie center? Also how does a team handle a double blitz from the A-gap?

Teams might test a young center that way, sure, but clean communication of the protection call is as large a challenge as the blocking. The running back usually picks up the second guy.

Jason from Austin, TX

The Packers may have nine away games this season, but I'm hoping for 10 home games again this year.

Aren't we all.

Darren from Warrington, UK

Yesterday Jeff from Champlin mentioned the Packers having nine home games next year, but of course what he meant to say was eight home games and one in London.

That, too.

Fredrick from Bluffton, SC

What's the hang up about not giving us the possibilities with Aaron Rodgers? Trade him – what does the market say? He holds out and we let him sit out – what do we save in cap space? You guys give us the possibilities each year when we approach the playoffs – what needs to happen to get in. So what are the options with Rodgers? I would like to see him return, but if he sits out and we don't trade him there must be some value to the team. When is the best time to do this?

I don't know what the trade market says other than what other media outlets have gleaned, and the Packers have said they aren't trading him. He has a roughly $15M base salary that would not have to be paid (or count against the cap) if he doesn't play. If he is on the roster and does not report for training camp, the fine is $50K per day, plus a regular-season game check for each preseason game missed – fines that cannot be rescinded according to the latest CBA.

Douglas from Bloomington, IN

No offense to the Saints or Lions, but I think as long as we get DB back before Week 3 we should be okay. But I want him in the field before Bosa in Week 3 and Watt in Week 4.

The Packers won't base the David Bakhtiari return decision on matchups. It'll be based on his health.

Joe from Harrisburg, SD

OK, I get maybe Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard might want to show their solidarity to Aaron and/or maybe protect themselves from offseason injuries, but Equanimeous St. Brown and Devin Funchess? Are their agents nuts or do they think they've already made this team?

I don't get it either, frankly, but grown men make their own decisions, and no roster spot is won or lost in May. Gladdys from Rolling Meadows, IL, asked specifically about Funchess, given his last official NFL action of any kind (practice or game) was Sept. 8, 2019. It's a valid question, but he's obviously confident in where he is.

Sean from Chicago, IL

I am floored some fans want Richard Sherman still. He's four years older than Charles Woodson was when he signed with us, coming off major injuries two out of the last four years, and we just drafted Eric Stokes! Gute has put a lot of resources into the CB room and I think he's satisfied with it.

I don't know if I'd say satisfied, but creating even more cap difficulty at that position wouldn't make much sense to me.

Ned from Laguna Woods, CA

Why is the NFLPA trying to promote virtual offseason training rather than low-intensity in-person?

Because the union wants to get back as much of its offseason as possible, and established veterans benefit the least from OTAs. Also, last year proved the final product did not suffer when there was no on-field work until training camp, so they have evidence their preference does not hurt the game.

Dale from Lima, NY

I just watched the video with Coach Barry mic'd up. Gotta say, I love his intensity and his attention to details. He exudes encouragement. Kinda the opposite of the stereotypical drill sergeant. How does his coaching style compare to other Packers coaches? Are they essentially all part of the same culture? Or do their individual personalities show?

Some coaches are different on the field vs. in the classroom. Styles can vary. LaFleur is always emphasizing energy on the field, and it's clear that part of Barry's personality appeals to him.

Thomas from Harrisburg, PA

I absolutely love that the II remains strong as a daily dose of what's what with the Packers and, quite frankly, life through the offseason. In the life category, I loved Mike Smith's side comments on having "mean guys" in his room – reminded me of a tamer version of the Lions HC Dan Campbell's press conference exclaiming how tough and mean they're going to be under his watch. With emphasis on technique, footwork and speed, how important is it to be a "mean" linebacker these days?

Mike Smith is as entertaining as it gets on a Zoom call. He exudes an old-school mentality and is determined to instill it in his guys, which isn't about just using your skills to be a successful player, but maximizing on them to beat/defeat your opponent.

Matt from London, UK

A couple of pass-rush related comments: 1. Mike Smith is a treasure. 2. Going over defensive stats, I noticed that the Packers ranked a respectable 11th in sacks last season but only 29th in QB knockdowns and 26th in total QB pressures. Is there a way to explain the discrepancy there? It seems those three stats should be connected (the Steelers were No. 1 in all three).

The Packers' overall numbers were much better in 2019 than last year, and it speaks to the consistency of the pass rush. How steady is the pressure? The discrepancy indicates the Packers were able to finish a higher percentage of their pressures than most teams, which likely isn't sustainable year over year.

Evan from Durango, CO

Aside from Jim Mora (playoffs) and Allen Iverson (practice), what are some of your favorite athlete/coach press conference moments? "I'm just here so I don't get fined" is another classic.

"They are … who we thought they were! And we let 'em off the hook."

Scott from De Pere, WI

Each year there is usually talk around the "rookie wall" that players hit as the season progresses since there are more games in the NFL than college. This year will be really interesting in the fact that a fair amount of college players played a lot less games than normal. Even the schools that played a full season don't come close to a full regular season that is now going to be 17 games. What sort of effect might this have?

We shall see. Coaches will be watching the energy in the legs of their rookies as the year wears along, especially for those who play a lot of snaps in the three preseason games.

Jim from Mesquite, NV

Not a question, but just a suggestion. I have printed the Packer roster for reference, but it would be very useful if you would also print in in numerical order. That would make it easier to identify players.

If you're on the desktop site, you can click on the little number symbol at the top of the roster and it'll arrange as such.

Steve from Wauseon, OH

Since you are limited on your opportunities to view practice, have you tried binoculars from your second-story office to sneak a peek?

I'm still looking for the ones Wes uses in the press box. He's keeping them hidden. I can't understand why.

Geoffrey from Rosemount, MN

I'm curious to know why this offense is "QB-friendly." I'm pretty confident Aaron Rodgers can make any offense look QB-friendly. I'm not positive yet that Jordan Love or anyone else on this roster can make it look QB-friendly, except for Aaron Rodgers. Please explain, thanks.

So much of the passing game is built around the running game and play-action. That makes any QB's job easier. The other level Rodgers takes things to, aside from his HOF arm, stems from his abilities at the line of scrimmage to make adjustments on the fly.

Griffin from Belmont, NC

We have already covered Love missed a lot of offseason and preseason action last year. Does this put him farther behind than the incoming rookies that at least were able to see live action in college, or is being in an NFL system more valuable than college games?

Learning an NFL playbook is a huge first step, and I'm sure he got a taste for the speed of the NFL even in just limited camp and practice reps last year. It hasn't put him behind, just lengthened his acclimation period, in a sense.

HR from Las Vegas, NV

In response to Spoff stating, about Jordan Love, in the Wednesday II, "If he in any way, shape or form was going to be ready without all that, he wouldn't have been available at pick No. 26." I'd like to point out that Rodgers was touted as potentially being No. 1 overall...and then fell all the way to 24. I'd also like to point out that Tom Brady was picked 199 overall, and has seven SB titles to his name. To state that Love was available at 26 because he wasn't "ready" is just wrong.

What exactly is your point? That every evaluation and selection of a QB must be compared to when two Hall of Famers were drafted 15 and 21 years ago? Because the context of every draft's decisions and ramifications is the same? Because the game hasn't evolved since the turn of the century, at either the college or pro level? And that I'm somehow way off base to suggest if he'd been viewed as NFL-ready from the jump, without needing any OTAs, minicamps or preseason games as a rookie, he might have been drafted higher? Well, how could I be so obtuse?

Arthur from Eau Claire, WI

When I look at the Packers' starting backfield I am reminded of the Dolphins' backfield of Kiick and Csonka. I hope that the resemblance continues throughout the year.

That's going back a ways, but the body types match up somewhat. One-two backfield punches come in all shapes and sizes, and the Packers have had their share – Hornung-Taylor, Brockington-Lane, Bennett-Levens, Lacy-Starks, just to name a few. AJ Dillon gives this one another shape and size.

Johnny from Madison, WI

Did the Packers have any plays last season where the ball could be handed off to either Aaron Jones or Williams depending on what the defense was showing? Is that something that could be effective with the different skill sets of Jones and Dillon?

Most often, if Jones and Williams were in the backfield together, Jones motioned out to see how the defense reacted and a check was made if warranted. I could see similar probing in the plan with these two.

Douglas from Castle Rock, CO

For AJ Dillon to be a complementary back to Jones, he needs to be a complete back also. He needs to have teams respect his receiving and blocking skills. How are his hands looking as he comes out of the backfield? Can we consider him a credible threat to catch the ball?

He didn't do it much in college, but we saw glimpses last year he has the ability. It's a skill he must continue to refine.

Mike from Cascade, ID

Hi II, the pictures of AJ Dillon were impressive! His thighs stretch out his shorts the way some guys wear small T-shirts to show off their biceps. Is it too early to make comparisons with Earl Campbell? Campbell had 36-inch thighs, was 5-11 and 233 pounds of inertia!

One of my all-time favorites, and I don't think there's a legitimate comparison. Campbell was one of a kind to me. He AVERAGED 350 carries for 1,600 yards and 14 TDs over his first four seasons in the league. Think about that. There have been only three 350-carry seasons in the league in the last decade (Arian Foster 2012, DeMarco Murray 2014, Derrick Henry 2020), but for good reason. Campbell barely lasted four more years after his workhorse run, with only one of them resembling his first four.

Mark from Richardson, TX

Good morning Mike/Wes, II: Love the most recent three guys with Three Things. I love Larry's hat. Is he auditioning for the new Indiana Jones movie?

No, but I'm open to a Harrison Ford cameo on if he's ever in town.

Graydon from Menomonie, WI

How are you planning to spend your Memorial Day weekend?

With lots of family and hopefully catching some fish. Enjoy the holiday everybody. Happy Friday.