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Inbox: He pretty much came out of nowhere

It’s a difficult standard to reach

Former CB Tramon Williams
Former CB Tramon Williams

Matt from Fort Worth, TX

"As usual, nobody listened to me." There's your next II shirt…

True in more ways than you know.

Tony from River Falls, WI

For the Super Bowl, do you watch casually or do you find yourself analyzing things like when you're covering a Packers game?

The latter. Occupational hazard. It's how my brain works whenever I'm watching a sporting event, on TV or in person.

Sean from Springfield, OR

I watched about 10 minutes of the Pro Bowl activities. I think I'd rather watch tailgaters play cornhole in the Lambeau Field parking lot.

I didn't watch a single second of it. I hope everyone had a good time.

Tony from Davenport, IA

If there is one football player or athlete you wish you could have seen play, who would it be?

Football player, Johnny Unitas. Athlete in any sport, Wayne Gretzky.

Matt from Waunakee, WI

Hi Mike, you're the Bears GM. What do you do with the first pick? Draft the best quarterback in the draft or do you have faith Fields will become elite? Trade the first pick for multiple picks to build the roster. I think it's the most intriguing decision of the offseason. Let's hope the Bears get it wrong.

I'd want to continue building around Fields and trade the No. 1 pick for the best package of picks I could get.

Jeff from Indian Lake, NY

Last week's Inbox reminded me of an annual Packers tradition, Spoff's PTO! Will we get our answer on QB1 when Mike is kicking back with a beer and a good book on a sandy beach? Maybe the beach isn't his style, substitute that with a brat. Beers, books, brats and breaking news. Sign me up!

My first extended break of the offseason begins on Feb. 17. So if you're looking for a 10-day window on the QB1 news, it starts there.

Vinny from Arlington, VA

For those of us that have no interest in the teams in the Super Bowl or the game itself, what is the next important date Packer fans should have circled on their calendar? Thank you.

Aside from the above, March 15 is an important date. That's the start of the new league year when all teams must be in compliance with the salary cap. The free-agent negotiating window opens two days prior to that as well.

Mike from Downers Grove, IL

Being outside the GB viewing area, I'm still lucky to get to see almost every game here in Chicago. Everyone can see that Rodgers had a down year, and injuries played a role. But my observation is that an overwhelming preponderance of his passes did not hit receivers in stride…even on ones that were caught. This was especially true on touch passes, close to the line of scrimmage. Receivers were tripping over themselves trying to locate and gather the ball. Lots of YAC lost. Is that correctable?


Clem from La Crosse, WI

How much do the college all-star games affect a player's draft status? Are pro scouts influenced by these games? If so it seems a bit unfair since some of these players could have played their last game in mid-November of last year. Hard to see how they could be in "football shape." Have the combine or metrics like RAS made these games meaningless?

It's not the games themselves but the week of practices the scouts focus on. The competition and evaluation is in the drills more so than the game itself. In fact, a lot of scouts who spend a week at these all-star events leave town before the game and just watch the film of it later.

Michael from Pound, WI

Gents, there's been lots of GOAT talk lately. To me the QB position is a culmination of attributes that every athlete/person has, it's just who uses those attributes the best. Fans seem to only recognizes QBs as the best when their strongest attribute is what the fan appreciates more. Dan Marino best passer I've seen, Lamar Jackson best running QB I've seen, Patrick Mahomes best contortionist throwing the ball I've seen, and Tom Brady best game-day general I've seen. I appreciate them all.

Lynn Dickey, best deep ball thrower I've seen.

Corey from Richland, WA

It seems to me what is universally missing from the offseason equation used to calculate how good a team will be next year, how close they may be to competing for the big prize, or what positions require an infusion of talent, is sustained performance of others. This season alone shows the shortcomings in the assumption stars will continue to perform as such. Is it not mentioned because it is so difficult to predict? Are there metrics that indicate an impending drop-off to the coaching staff?

There are no such metrics. The game film tells the story on every player. Sustained performance over time is the mark of a true pro, but it's a difficult standard to reach. The best players in this league last a long time with an undefined "prime," because it can't really be pinpointed.

Blake from Itasca, IL

We have a solid group of core special teamers on this roster. How much do you see the front office doubling down on the position group this offseason given we are now two years removed from the worst of special-teams woes? Is this a group that is culpable to salary cap considerations or do you see us investing in Kei and his coverage unit?

All the veteran additions on special teams for 2022, except punter Pat O'Donnell, are pending free agents, with Keisean Nixon at the top of the list. I don't expect the Packers to be able to bring them all back. That's not realistic. But I don't see them starting all over again, either.

Randy from Ooltewah, TN

With injuries as prevalent as they are in the game of football, will we start to see less money tied up in a few highly paid players on a roster, or will the $50 million quarterbacks of today be the $60 million quarterbacks of tomorrow?

The latter.

Kent from Homosassa, FL

With the discussion of an emergency third quarterback being available but not part of the active roster count, am I correct that back when this was in effect some years ago that if No. 3 was put into the game, No. 1 and No. 2 could not return?

Correct. I've read several submissions on both sides of this the last few days, with several readers saying it should be up to teams to use a game-day roster spot for a third QB, and if they don't, that's the risk they're taking. I'm becoming inclined to agree.

Reed from Myrtle Beach, SC

A follow-up to Craig from Johnson City, TN's question about trades. How about a "deal" being agreed to before June 1 but then "officially" reported post-June 1? Too shady? Any examples come to mind? Thanks.

Teams have worked out trades before the start of the new league year in mid-March and then executed them when allowed. The Rams and Lions did that with the Matthew Stafford trade. But both teams were restricted by the date in that case. I've never heard of one team helping out another team's cap situation by agreeing to a trade and holding off on executing it until after June 1.

Jeff from Vanenberg SFB, CA

I try to ignore the NFL gossip, but with all the chatter about Aaron Rodgers going to the Raiders, I just think it's nonsense. I can't believe there's any chance the Packers trade Rodgers to a team they'll play in 2023. Do you?

As an AFC team, I wouldn't rule it out. Thompson managed to avoid it with Favre back in '08 when the Jets swooped in as another suitor aside from the Bucs, who were on the schedule in '09. But the Bucs were also an NFC team so the incentive to go another direction was greater.

Joshua from Milwaukee, WI

Even to my admittedly untrained eye, Jordan Love looked much more polished this year. Beyond his stat line, which was inflated by one long TD pass, he just looked more comfortable and mechanically sound than he did against KC in 2021. No telling what his future holds, but he undeniably has improved.

I thought one word change in Brian Gutekunst's last two end-of-season news conferences was telling. Last year, he said Love "needs to play." This year he said he's "ready to play." Those are two very different statements.

Check out photos of Jaire Alexander and Elgton Jenkins during the NFL Flag football game on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023.

Terry from Mechanicsville, NY

Thanks for answering my question about instant replay speed. I disagree with your response that the networks aren't going to be told what to do. So if they put a camera with a super-sensitive mic on the coaches or players to hear the plays that are going to called it wouldn't be a problem? Nothing could be done, really!

The league has control over the networks to the extent they can't do anything to blatantly create a strategic advantage for one team over another. How replays are shown does not qualify.

Jessi from Sterling, KS

In rebuttal to Greg from OH with Roman numerals for the Super Bowl, my defense is that it makes something set apart. It automatically makes you stop and think. And in a day and age where more and more smart devices take our thinking from us, let's stay sharp people and give our minds a brain cramp. It's actually healthy for us as we age! Okay, that's my rant for the day.

Point taken.

John from Belleview, FL

Doug brought up the rule changes to protect the QB. So often you hear complaints about the rule. Few people seem to understand the intent, which is to keep the marquee players on the field. KC is coming to GB next year. Who doesn't want to see Mahomes play? When GB travels to other stadia, those folks want to see AR play. Nobody pays to see the backups! It's important for the revenue stream and the parity in the league to keep the starting QBs on the field of play.

Nobody's denying that, because it makes all the sense in the world. What doesn't is the league's cavalier attitude toward properly enforcing those rules and getting the calls right, which can have such a big impact on game outcomes.

Mike from Niles, IL

Don't know why so many are antagonistic toward mock drafts. I read them, not to see who the Packers might draft, but to find out who the best players are, so I can look up information on them, and to determine which players are unlikely to be available when the Pack drafts. The mockers have a much better handle on these issues than I do.

I glance at mock drafts – though not until after the combine – to see who's projected to be taken around the slot owned by the Packers. Taking a large enough sample size, the information is useful.

George from North Mankato, MN

In your opinion, which Packer has had the biggest second-year leap? Has anyone ever shocked you with the strides they have made from one season to the next?

Three players who come to mind in my time here whose second-year leaps stood out were Tramon Williams, David Bakhtiari and Kenny Clark. Bakhtiari physically changed his body. Clark became such a workhorse. Williams was the only one who shocked me, to answer your question, because he pretty much came out of nowhere as an undrafted, late-season addition to the practice squad in '06 who suddenly was playing nickel corner and returning kicks in '07.

Brett from Pasadena, CA

Mike, it seems with the amount of references to "Vic" that many Inboxers have been reading the column since he started it many years ago. It also seems most appreciated his ability to communicate his overall knowledge, not only football but life in general. Since you were able to work with him for a few years could you let your readers know what were the most memorable teachings he provided you in not only football acumen but also life lessons and writing for a professional sports franchise.

Regarding the game of football, two words of Vic's have always stuck with me and that I'm always mindful of in my analysis: human confrontation. As for the writing side of things, he always stressed to not get bogged down in the minutiae and to never lose sight of the big picture. That perspective has served me well.

Jeff from Puyallup, WA

Mike, just wondering if you have ever had a "fan" moment in your travels/work life, where you couldn't believe you were actually meeting someone?

Nothing comes to mind in my work life. Once you've been inside a professional sports locker room, you're just focused on your job. In grad school while training to enter this business, I got the opportunity to meet David Brinkley, Christine Brennan and Mike Wilbon. Those were pretty special moments for me.

Matt from Des Moines, IA

The offseason came upon us way too early this year. Are we there yet?

Happy Monday.

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