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Inbox: He's a perfect fit for this offense, and vice versa

The next month is just the start of the journey

TE Robert Tonyan

Shannon from Ovilla, TX

Not only are we doing math in the Inbox now we are doing incorrect math. "90% evaluation and the other half luck" from Wes. I smell a set up on this one. How about some geometry and we get Yelich a share of Packers stock to complete the state MVP triangle of ownership in another team?

And we're off, so we might as well get going.

Steve from Cedar Falls, IA

Was it just me or do we have a helmet problem? I can't ever remember so many helmets coming off in a game. Someone will get hurt!

Speaking of off, yeah, that's a weird one. I have no idea what the deal is there.

Jim from Chetek, WI

I know it's "just the preseason," but do these clunkers concern you at all? Downright bad special teams, porous defense, and an offense that couldn't win the big downs. Winning is a habit. So is losing. Can the team break the habit? Will they?

My only concern regarding the topics you raised is the special teams. The rest was developmental time for players on both sides of the ball and little else mattered. The starters will establish their own habits when they play.

John from Livermore, CA

What surprised you the most about this year's preseason?

How many fans apparently care about the final scores.

Donald from Swaledale, IA

What do you think of J's play in the preseason? Does he have a starting QB talent?

Yes, he does. Will he maximize it and make it work? Time will tell. In my view, he's a QB with a lot of talent and a lot to learn. Going against the Bills' starting defense and paying for his mistakes was invaluable in the learning phase. It's too bad he missed the practices and game against the Jets, but Saturday was important experience, good and bad, for Jordan Love.

Jeff from Montclair, VA

Longtime reader and submitter. Hopefully first-time questioner. Does Mason Crosby punting mean anything regarding JK Scott? Has Mason ever punted before? Maybe I missed an explanation, but I got stuck watching the Bills' feed. Thanks.

LaFleur said after the game Scott was having trouble with cramps in the heat, so Crosby took the last punt. He hadn't punted in a game since one attempt his senior year at Colorado, in 2006.

Ron from Waukesha, WI

Spoff: We saw two completely different coaching philosophies on display Saturday. One that saw value in continuing to evaluate players before the roster cuts and to preserve the health of the starters, and the other philosophy that saw value in winning a meaningless game by playing starters for an extended period of the game even with a 17-game season looming on the horizon. New school versus old school. Which is the better approach?

The Packers had joint practices against the Jets that pitted the first units against one another for two days. The Bills didn't hold any joint practices. I think that produced the difference in the preseason-game approaches, even though the Bills didn't face opposing first units.

Jan from Cumberland, WI

I know Coach LaFleur has experimented having other coaches call the offensive plays. Has he decided to give up the play-calling this season?

Not at all. He was just expanding their horizons.

Bob from Cortez, CO

Is the last draft board handy during cut-downs? All the research and speculations on other teams' needs seem to come into play again. Also, about the signing order, if you're No. 3 in choosing, is that for every player released or only your first choice?

You're No. 3 for any player you want. Teams keep all their scouting reports, prior research, etc., and build on it as they go.

Jim from Midlothian, VA

Follow-up to Aaron from Scottsdale RE: going from 90-53. If many of the decisions are "razor thin," do you know what if any input the head coach and position coaches have in the final decisions? I would hope the head coach and the special teams coach in particular have input since in some respects they are the ones who ultimately experience the biggest effect from the razor thin decisions.

Gutekunst seeks their input, along with that of his scouts and other personnel execs. It's always a collaborative effort. But the final decisions are his.

Brooks from Moore, OK

There used to be a section on the website that listed all of the player transactions. I cannot find it. Does it still exist?

Norm from La Crosse, WI

Who will be the kick returner for 2021?

Looks like Kylin Hill, though I think the Packers are going to take touchbacks and just start on the 25 as often as possible.

Gordon from Newport Beach, CA

Packers made a big jump last year and led the league in third-down conversion rate. What do you think this was attributed to and could it get even better this year?

It'll be difficult to improve, as with many of the offensive accomplishments from last year. But first and foremost they stayed out of a lot of third-and-longs because the running game was effective, and the negative plays (sacks, penalties) were kept to a minimum. I think they also had a much better idea of what they do well in this offense (compared to 2019) and kept the third-down plan focused on those concepts.

Jeff from Eveleth, MN

In my years of watching the Packers, the best back I've seen at always moving forward and falling forward when being tackled was Eddie Lacy. He never gave up ground. Do you think AJ Dillon has the same potential?

He has that ability, as well as far more open-field speed.

Dana from Eau Claire, WI

It's hard not to get excited about the season listening to Aaron Rodgers talk about how he feels and the talent around him on offense. How big a test is New Orleans going to be without Brees and with a new defense that we really haven't seen yet on the field together?

The Superdome is always a big test, but the Saints have a bigger change with their offense to adjust to than the Packers do with their defense, in my opinion.

Robert from Saginaw, MI

Mike, if Hurricane Ida should prevent the Saints from hosting the opening game in New Orleans, would that game most likely be held in Dallas?

After Katrina in 2005, the Saints moved their headquarters to San Antonio and played some home games there. So we'll see. Right now I'm just praying folks stay safe down there.

Terrance from Sun Prairie, WI

What player will be the biggest surprise this year?

I think Royce Newman already qualifies if he's starting in Week 1.

Rick from Caledonia, WI

Who is your best underrated undrafted candidate to make the final roster based on training camp performance?

Jack Heflin, if they keep six defensive linemen, or if the number is five and they feel he beat out Tyler Lancaster.

Margo from Solvang, CA

Hi Mike! In looking at the pictures from practice, I noticed the offense always seems to wear white jerseys in practice while the defense always seems to wear green. Is that just tradition or is there a reason?

It's been that way here for as long as I can remember. I'm not aware of any specific reason aside from tradition.

Mark from Westminster, CO

Good morning, Mike. Everyone knows Robert Tonyan caught a TD every five catches last year, so I decided to watch his highlights. What I didn't really notice last year is how great a route-runner Tonyan is. Almost all his catches had massive amounts of defender separation by NFL standards. He knows exactly where the holes will be in the defense. The more I watched his highlights, the more I came away with a feeling that 11 TDs is not going to be an anomaly season during his career. He's really good!

He's a perfect fit for this offense, and vice versa. Plus, the best QB in the game trusts the heck out of him. That became even more evident in camp this summer.

Kevin from Indianapolis, IN

Is there an Inbox term for when you ask a question and you read the Inbox the next day only to see someone else asked your same question in a much more insightful or eloquent way? Asking for a friend.

That requires a basketball analogy. It's called getting In-boxed out.

Scott from Albertville, MN

How many of the coaches on the coaching staff also were players in the NFL?

Jerry Gray, Mike Smith, Rayna Stewart, Ruvell Martin and Chris Gizzi all played in the league, while Adam Stenavich, Luke Butkus, Jerry Montgomery and Luke Getsy were on NFL offseason rosters and/or practice squads. Pretty much all the rest played some level of college football.

Dale from Prescott, WI

Any significant injuries in the game which will affect the final 53 roster?

Not to my knowledge. It's more various lingering injuries from training camp that will have an impact.

Connor from Murray, UT

Going from 80 to 53 yes seems very challenging. To put it in better perspective there is a 16-player practice squad which will me a majority of not all players currently on the roster. So the cut is 80 to 69 so Gute is only cutting 11 players potentially.

True, though it won't be exactly that depending on waiver claims coming and going.

Matt from Tinley Park, IL

Hello Mike and Wes, is Malik Taylor capable of being a slot receiver? I know it was only preseason but he seemed very versatile and made several contested catches. Thank you for this column.

I wouldn't rule it out, but there's no question Taylor did everything he could over three preseason games to make the team. You never know how these things are going to fall, but he was a steady, reliable performer all the way through.

Sean from Cortland, NY

Who do you feel locked themselves onto the 53 vs. the Bills?

I'm not going to consider anyone on the bubble suddenly a lock, but I will say if Isaiah McDuffie makes the 53, he did it with his performance in Buffalo. He missed the early portions of camp, including the first preseason game, due to injury. Then he was up and down in the second game, from what I could tell. But he came to play Saturday and was a presence. He made someone take notice.

Michael from Portland, OR

With an interior starting lineup possibly with two rookies (Josh Myers, Royce Newman) and a part-time second-year player (Runyan), I would imagine NO "testing" that group. What would GB do to protect against that and would that limit their playbook? Would that possibly favor Lucas Patrick getting the nod? Assignment assuredness would be a big deal.

If they feel there's a combination of linemen that would limit the playbook, they'll go another direction, if that's what you're asking. The best five is the best five, which encompasses a multitude of considerations. That's what LaFleur is after.

Tim from Charlotte, NC

Just remember the final 53 is never the final 53. In fact the 53 going to New Orleans will most certainly have a player or two that are not currently on the roster of 80.

Also remember eight players on the game-day 46 for the conference title game last January were not on the initial 53.

Susan from Oak Creek, WI

On a scale of 0-10 how hopeful should I be for this season?

Be as hopeful as you want to be, but understand it's a long road and a really tough schedule. It's about chalking up wins (however they're earned), making progress, staying healthy, and then hopefully peaking at the right time. This next month is just the start of the journey.

Steve from Phoenix, AZ

Not a question. I really liked Evan Siegle's shot of Rodgers and Bakhtiari walking in together. Smart call putting it in black and white. Awesome vibe.

It's photo No. 3 in this gallery for anyone who missed it.

Bruce from Appleton, WI

With the starters not playing any preseason games how do you think they will look for the start of the season?

Healthy. Happy Monday.


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