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Inbox: He'll continue to be a high-impact player

All of that will carry some weight

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LB Rashan Gary

Bil from Stateline, NV

With robots calling balls and strikes, can the laser goalposts we've been hearing so much about be far off?

Oh boy.

Bob from Rome, NY

Gentlemen: Were you as surprised as I was that the Bengals did not put a tight end in to block to help Burrow out? Or did their roster makeup not allow them to? Thank you.

I think a lot is being questioned regarding the Bengals' pass protection plan for that game, and rightly so.

Russ from Henrico, VA

So the brass thinks they can keep Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams and the key players together while staring down a $50 million dollar hole. If they pull that off will Russ Ball be canonized or burned as a witch?

No one said it would be easy, but as we've been saying all along (and Mark Murphy reiterated in his latest MT5), the Packers have a plan. I'm sure Russ Ball has been working on contingencies upon contingencies since doing all the restructures last year. All we can do is wait and see what happens.

Ingrid from Superior, WI

Why is it that if a team releases a player, they save "X" amount on the salary cap, but that savings is even more after June 1?

Because if the release occurs (or is designated as) after June 1, the dead money on the cap can be divided into the current year and the following year. The more dead money pushed out, the greater the cap savings in the year the player is released, and the rest of the cap charges come due the next year.

Will from Glendale, AZ

When is the deadline to decide on fifth-year options? Rashan Gary seems like a no-brainer to exercise but Darnell Savage might be a close call.

May 2.

Mike from Toronto, Canada

As I understand it, Rashan Gary was a top defender in terms of QB pressures, but tied for 18th in sacks. Pressures are good and can certainly lead to mistakes and turnovers, but sacks result in tackles for loss every time. What does Rashan Gary need to do to finish off the QB more often?

Well, it's not as though he whiffed on a bunch of sacks he had in his grasp. Sometimes the QBs get the ball out. Other times his aggressiveness works against him and they can find an opening to bolt the pocket. The Packers also faced a ton of mobile/running QBs this past season (Winston, Fields twice, Heinicke, Murray, Mahomes, Wilson, Huntley). If he keeps affecting QBs the way he did in 2021, he'll continue to be a high-impact player. I'll take a hurried incompletion on third down over a sack on first or second down any day.

Richard from Madison, WI

We were informed during the Super Bowl telecast that Rams offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth is now the oldest player in the NFL. How close are Aaron Rodgers and Mason Crosby to that spot? Who's ahead of them?

Rodgers is 38, and the following players (who have not yet retired, to my knowledge) were all 39 this past season: Offensive tackle Jason Peters, punters Dustin Colquitt, Andy Lee and Sam Koch, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, and kicker Robbie Gould.

Check out photos of Green Bay Packers CB Kevin King from the 2021 season.

Aaron from Brooklyn, NY

Am I the only person who doesn't get why so many people think it's a foregone conclusion that Roethlisberger will be a first-ballot HOFer? He's never been named All-Pro and as far as I could find he's never received even a single MVP vote. His six Pro Bowls have been more than doubled by Manning, Brady, and Brees. He's had a good career and probably deserves a spot in Canton, but he doesn't seem that impressive if you compare him to his contemporaries.

Some of the accolades don't match up to the guys you mention, but he took his team to the playoffs 12 times in 18 seasons, reached three Super Bowls and won two of them. Other than 2019, when he played just two games, he had only one season with a losing record as a starting QB (2006, 7-8). I'd be stunned if he's not in on the first ballot.

John from Charlottesville, VA

All of this talk about first-ballot HOFers in five years. One name not mentioned is Adrian Peterson. He was on a roster in Seattle this year and it may be his last year. If all of the players hinting at retirement retire there may not be enough slots available for all of the players who should get in on the first try.

Interesting, indeed.

William from Newburgh, IN

There are a few Packers deserving a HOF induction but one who I feel is the most deserving is Gale Gillingham. Do you think because he is remembered as part of the '70s Pack that his two championships are forgotten? I have read several accounts that he may be the best Packer offensive lineman of the Lombardi years. What are your thoughts?

Many readers have mentioned the late Gillingham, and I've heard several folks call him the best Packers lineman they've seen, including Cliff and Larry, who'd know better than I would. Cliff considers him the greatest lineman in Packers history, which is really saying something. Curiously, he never even made it to the semifinalist stage in the regular selection process. I don't know what went into that, but I'm sure Lombardi-era fatigue was part of it (though all of his All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors came after that), and Larry has said Gillingham was never going to play the politics/publicity game. Will he ever get consideration again? I don't know.

Dwight from Brooklyn, NY

Regarding Craig from Appleton's question about Stafford's Hall of Fame credentials, I would add to your response this: nor does two Super Bowl wins and a Super Bowl MVP nod – Jim Plunkett.

For sure. I had forgotten about Plunkett winning the MVP in Super Bowl XV. For some reason I thought it was Kenny King until I saw your note and looked it up.

Cameron from Grovetown, GA

I agree that one Super Bowl does not a Hall of Famer make. I hope voters agree with that sentiment, too. What about two Super Bowls? I can't believe a QB like Eli is a Hall of Famer with a career .500 record, but he has not just two Super Bowls, he was MVP for both. Any thoughts on Eli's future in Canton?

I think the arguments/discussions surrounding Eli Manning will be rather fascinating when the time comes. Plunkett had a .500 regular-season record, too. But Eli did make four Pro Bowls, and his two Super Bowl triumphs were over Tom Brady and the Patriots, including one over an undefeated team. All of that will carry some weight. Color me intrigued.

Nate from West Salem, WI

Hey Spoff, I'm thinking I missed the news and can't find who they made run game coordinator. Is it Ben Sirmans? Thanks.

There hasn't been one named. Until further notice, I'm assuming that remains Adam Stenavich's purview. There isn't one on defense because it's considered Joe Barry's responsibility.

Jack from Black Mountain, NC

It looks like a couple of quality hires for special teams coaches. But for big decisions like whether to use starting players from other positions on special teams, can the special teams coaches decide this, or is that a head coach decision?

That's ultimately up to the head coach, but LaFleur certainly indicated those discussions will be had this coming year.

Dar from Mansfield, TX

Spoff, you yesterday mentioned that the Super Bowl teams were among the least penalized, and further that the Packers were the least penalized in 2021. Conclusion for me: Good teams play clean ball. But to take that idea further, what percentage of those Packers penalties occurred on special teams? In your mind, was that as large a factor in the ST's poor performance as previous years?

No. Penalties on special teams were a huge issue at the tail end of the McCarthy era, but since LaFleur arrived, they've been reasonable under both Mennenga and Drayton – 13 in 2019, six in '20 and 11 this past season. From 2015-18, the numbers were 22, 18, 23 and 26.

Erich from Sheboygan, WI

As much as we all love Favre and Rodgers the only time either of them won a Super Bowl is when they had a top defense playing at an elite level.

True, but both also let some prime chances get away with the defense playing pretty darn well – Favre in 2007 and Rodgers most recently.

Matt from Waunakee, WI

I can't help but wonder how the last two seasons pan out without the injury to David Bakhtiari. Do you recall one injury affecting two postseasons like this?

Not off the top of my head.

Matt from St. Paul, MN

Counterpoint: I think AR is largely responsible for playoff losses. Our three best teams post-2010 were undoubtedly 2014, 2020, and 2021. In 2014, the last three drives were two three-and-outs and then an (admittedly) clutch FG. In 2020, our fourth-quarter offense put up two straight three-and-outs followed by the notorious FG. And then we all remember the two straight fourth-quarter three-and-outs last month. Of course there's plenty of blame to go around, but what I just recapped is unacceptable for a four-time MVP QB.

I'll grant you some of that, but not all. Because in '14, the first three-and-out was due to Quarless dropping an easy third-down pass to move the sticks, and the second started with Lacy losing 4 yards on a first-down run (and the Packers were still up two scores then, with Rodgers playing on one leg). In '20, the two three-and-outs following Alexander's picks were on the heels of consecutive TD drives that got the Packers back in it from down 18. I see your point, but the circumstances in the other two were vastly different than last month.

Doug from Neenah, WI

Good morning. Are you noticing the similarities between the Packers' recent season and what the Badgers basketball team is experiencing? There have been lots of close games with the Wisconsin team winning almost all of them. The strong W-L record gives the impression of dominance but in reality, neither team rarely wins by lopsided scores. Both are capable of losing to an "underdog" team as well.

It's been a blast following the Badgers hoops team, especially when they were predicted to finish 10th in the Big Ten but now are in the hunt for the league title. And yes, they've won a bunch of close games, which shows they've performed well at crunch time, but they're also as vulnerable as anybody else when the season reaches win-or-go-home time.

Gary from Davenport, IA

I saw Nielson's top 10 metered markets for the Super Bowl and unsurprisingly, Cincinnati had the best ratings. I was surprised to see Detroit at No. 2, though it's obvious why they were watching. LA did not make the top 10. What do think about a market with no recent success caring more about their former quarterback than the market with the championship team caring about that team?

I think it's further proof the NFL got along just fine for two decades without LA and didn't need to go back there, let alone put two teams there. But I'm not a business tycoon.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Sure, the Lions traded away the guy proven to be a Super Bowl-winning QB. But from their vantage point, the Lions acquired significant draft capital, and the future is brighter having made the trade. True or false?

It all depends on what they do with those picks. As noted yesterday, they had 19 draft picks in the top 50 over a decade's time following their selection of Stafford, and all it got them was three one-and-done playoff appearances. Detroit fans are done with projections. The future only starts looking bright when they start winning more games. Brad Holmes and Dan Campbell would be lionized (I'll see myself out) if they can get that done.

Jake from Appleton, WI

Would you prefer to see the Super Bowl played on Saturday? I know I would.

I addressed this as well as a bunch of other topics in my Mid-Week Chat yesterday, in case you missed it and aren't sick of me yet. Happy Thursday.

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