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Inbox: He's exactly what this defense needed

The visiting locker room at Ford Field has housed a lot of great Packers memories

S Adrian Amos
S Adrian Amos

Mike from Algoma, WI

Hi Wes. Hope the day off from II allowed you to get unbroken (the all capitals response to Tim from Charlotte was hilarious).

Wes Hodkiewicz? Yeah, Wes is still broken but he was able to participate in Saturday's Inbox. He'll be listed as limited on the injury report when it's released this afternoon. Good morning!

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, what is your favorite memory of the 2019 season?

The visiting locker room at Ford Field has housed a lot of great Packers memories – Aaron Rodgers' Hail Mary pass to Richard Rodgers, the completion of "Run the Table" in 2016 and again during the comeback last month to clinch the No. 2 seed. From Mason Crosby's redemption to Jared Veldheer coming out of nowhere to finish the game at right tackle, that postgame locker room was special. It served as the exclamation point on a special season.

Aaron from Herndon, VA

Regarding Adrian Amos: The goal, in my opinion, was to stabilize a pass defense that routinely got gashed over the past several seasons. Last season, their passer rating against was 100.9, good for 28th in the league (fifth worst). This season it was 82.8, fifth best. The pieces brought in needed to complement each other and deliver improvement. That is exactly what happened, so mission accomplished. The keys to that turnaround included Kevin King's health and adding Darnell Savage and Amos. The secondary is on the rise!

Adrian Amos was a tremendous signing, in my estimation. He's exactly what this defense needed – a reliable, durable and selfless veteran who commanded the secondary. He also played out of position for half the year after Raven Greene went down. He was an interception or two away from a Pro Bowl season.

Jim from Tempe, AZ

Hello II. Regarding Matt LaFleur's desire to incorporate more up-tempo offense next season, I think one of the major advantages it provides is forcing the defense into a static personnel group, thus emphasizing Rodgers' ability to read and decipher similar coverages. When the D is gassed and forced to make a substitution, a free play or five free yards for too many men on the field are a nice gift. This was something MM routinely exploited during his tenure.

That's where I think the personnel part of this comes into play. The more comfortable skill-position players are with the offense, the faster the Packers can get back to the line of scrimmage. One thing San Francisco did that impressed me was going no-huddle with multiple back and tight end formations. It doesn't have to be three- or four-receiver sets.

Packers LB Za'Darius Smith, WR Davante Adams and DL Kenny Clark signed autographs after Thursday's Pro Bowl practice.

Matt from Manhattan, KS

I've had a handful of questions kicking around for a month that I figured would be better to hold for the offseason. Sadly, that means they're good to use now. Outside of Rodgers, which player currently on the roster has the best chance of making the Hall of Fame if they keep up their level of production for a decent amount of time (say 10 total years, including years already played)? Who would have to kick it up just one or two notches?

As it stands right now, it has to be David Bakhtiari. Whether it amounts to the Hall of Fame or not, I also think Davante Adams has a legitimate chance at being the best Packers receiver of the Rodgers era. He's the total package. Adams possesses an elite skill set that could allow him to perform well into his 30s as long as he stays healthy.

Jake from Kaukauna, WI

Do you think Rodgers will be able to play until he's 40? I've read he takes good care of his body, but is it reasonable to expect that? I just can't imagine being Eli Manning this year, to be benched for his young replacement. Difficult situation to be in for him and the team. A two-time Super Bowl MVP, four-time Pro Bowler and former offensive player of the year quarterback being benched.

Since 2014, I've felt Rodgers can play into his 40s because of how well he adjusted to the calf injury. When he needed to be a pocket quarterback, Rodgers could be one. I'm confident he'll continue to evolve and adapt his game with time just like Brett Favre and Tom Brady did. The problem for Manning was the Giants simply haven't won enough over the last eight years. They needed to go a different route.

Kevin from Indianapolis, IN

With run defense being an issue at various times throughout the season, most notably against SF, one name I surprisingly haven't heard much is Kingsley Keke. Do you see him being able to make a significant contribution in run defense next year?

Keke played more and more as the year went on. At 6-3, 288, he's not built like a traditional base defender but I think you'll see him play a bigger role in the rotation in Year 2.

Sten from Cranston, RI

Why did our defense continue to play so many downs with just two down linemen for most of the game, even though we were getting gashed to death by the Niners' running game?

The Packers actually ran mostly base defense but it didn't really matter. Green Bay struggled to find answers for San Francisco regardless of whether it was in the 3-4-4 base, 3-3-5 base, nickel, hybrid nickel or dime.

David from Minneapolis, MN

Despite the criticism of how the defense played against the 49ers, I don't believe the Packers make the playoffs if not for the defensive performances during the regular season. A well-oiled offense would also make this defense better. Turn a couple of the long drives into scores and not turning the ball over on a couple of others would have made it a different ballgame.

As much as we talk about the offensive transition under Matt LaFleur this year, it surprises me how nobody mentions how different the defense looked in Mike Pettine's second year. There was a significant shift in personnel but the good news is almost every starter on defense is under contract for 2020.

Bill from Raleigh, NC

I think we do much better against the 49ers in Lambeau. It's not about the fans or the noise ... it's about the field. My impression is that fast tracks are more of an advantage to fast teams, and Lambeau would have slowed them down a bit. Enough to make a lot more tackles near the line of scrimmage? I don't know. I know the best team won, but I think the game played at Lambeau would have been competitive.

It was loud at Levi's Stadium this year but Lambeau also was rocking for most of this year. I don't know if location changes the outcome but there's no doubt in my mind that the game would have been different in Green Bay.

Charles from Omaha, NE

Before the season started, there was significant discussion about having preseason games for starters since they do not seem to matter and there is always a risk of injury. Why do people not feel the same about the Pro Bowl?

Because the contact in the Pro Bowl is on par with my 10-year-old nephew's swim meets. I've seen more competitive periods in training camp. And anyone who isn't 100-percent healthy often sits out. Disaster could always strike – just ask Tyler Eifert – but the Pro Bowl is played at quarter-speed.

Jim from Fond du Lac, WI

During the offseason, can players stay in GB and use the facilities and have contact with coaches? Or have workout contact with each other and coaches in a nicer climate?

Players under contract are allowed to use team facilities to train, but coach instruction is prohibited until the start of the offseason program. Most will travel to work out at other facilities around the country, though.

Evan from Middleton, WI

If we assume Rodgers only has a few years left to play, should we be targeting players who are more ready to contribute right away vs. drafting someone with more upside? Especially in the first couple rounds. I had this conversation with a friend of mine last night and I was curious what your thoughts on it are.

I don't think you really don't know until you know with most prospects, especially outside of the top 10. Jaire Alexander, Darnell Savage and Kenny Clark entered the league at around 20 and 21 years old and all three had no problem stepping in right away. It's all about fit and feel.

David from Janesville, WI

Insiders – an offseason question I've been waiting to ask. Kabion Ento came into camp last year and they converted the receiver to cornerback. He had good size and speed but would obviously be a project. Generally we don't hear much about practice-squad players during the year (unless they go from DE to TE). Were you guys able to witness anything on his development?

It's tough to spot development in practice-squad players during the season. They're often on scout team and we're only able to see a small portion of practice. Ento is an intriguing prospect, though. I'm interested to see his growth as a cornerback at rookie minicamp in a few months.

Kevin from Hermansville, MI

Simply a comment: Blake Martinez is what a Green Bay Packer looks like in the dictionary by definition of his whole persona. Sure hope our defensive captain stays in the helmet with the green sticker!

Whatever people say, Martinez was a pro's pro over the past four years – both in the locker room and in his dealings with the media. He also plays arguably the most difficult position in the NFL right now. I'd argue three-down linebackers are about as scarce right now as franchise quarterbacks.

Joe from Rapid City, SD

Have the Packers ever used the "franchise" tag on a player, and do you see them possibly using it on anyone? Thank you.

It hasn't happened in a decade. Ryan Pickett was the last player to receive the tag, in February 2010. It wasn't a big issue since the two sides agreed to an extension a couple weeks later.

Scott from Hayward, WI

In this era of one stealing a coach from another team at the end of the season, just how problematic does it get for the Vikings losing their offensive coordinator? Or is this something the management sees coming way in advance and already has a plan B ready?

Not as problematic as you might think for Minnesota. Gary Kubiak was already on staff and assisted Kevin Stefanski with the offense this past season. I imagine it'll be as smooth a transition as it could be.

Rob from Muskego, WI

With how quickly the players packed up their lockers after the game Sunday, do they not go through film review like they would with all other games during the season?

That's correct. There may be concepts or film the coaches look to revisit with the team in the spring, but players are free to go once their team is eliminated. That's a CBA thing.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Is it a K-incidence that arguably the best TEs in football are playing in the Super Bowl? I will see myself out.

I appreciate the joke Margeaux but I believe there is some truth in there, as well. A lot was made of the Packers' issues defending tight ends this year. However, these new-age tight ends such as George Kittle and Travis Kelce are a problem for the entire NFL. I don't think it's a K-incidence at all they're vital members of the league's most dynamic offenses.

Tyler from Green Bay, WI

What are your thoughts on the play where Shanahan told the official that Kittle was going to be held? If I remember correctly, the initial contact on that play was Kittle's hand on Will Redmond's helmet.

Good coaching. It also didn't matter. That side judge wasn't the only one to throw a flag on the play.

Dan from Morehead City, NC

How many draft picks do we have this year? I keep reading conflicting numbers, nine or 10. The difference seems to be the conditional pick from Tennessee. So what's the real story?

The Packers have 10 picks after trading Ty Montgomery to Baltimore, Trevor Davis to Oakland and Reggie Gilbert to Tennessee. They also have the option to swap seventh-rounders with Cleveland from the Justin McCray trade.

Mike from New Orleans, LA

With the new PAT rules, well not new-new but you get me, could a team line up for the kick and then run a fake? If so would that result in two points or, since they had "declared" they were kicking, is only one point available to them? I'm sure it would catch most teams off-guard. Has any team tried this to your knowledge? Thanks.

You can run a two-point fake but it's now a one-down play from the 23-yard line once the ball is snapped to the holder…not a very high-percentage play, if you ask me.

Daniel from Castle Rock, CO

For those wondering who Rodgers' heir apparent is going to be, assuming Rodgers does in fact play until he's 40, the next QB could very well be a junior or senior in high school. Think about that.

It reminds me of what my father used to say to me in the early 2000s when I'd ask who will someday succeed Brett Favre. He looked me straight in the eye and said: "Son, he's currently at Butte Community College."

Tim from Lino Lakes, MN

Is it particularly quiet around 1265 these days? Does the sudden loss of buzz and energy make it difficult to come into work?

No. This is my job. It isn't a hobby. Spoff and I are in here, shooting "Unscripted" at the same time every Monday regardless of the outcome.

Ryan from Littleton, CO

Mike, please tell me you dropped your keyboard like a "mic drop" after answering "Mostly Air" Mike from Atlanta's question. If not, totally cool. I dropped my phone just in case. Maybe he should just become a Falcons fan. Or maybe he was until Green Bay started winning this year...hmmm...

He did. I heard the bang of the keyboard against the carpet as he walked off.

Dan from Kenosha, WI

Wes, please tell Spoff he made my day with his response to Mike from Atlanta. The "they didn't beat anyone" chorus was going to make my head explode. It's not our fault we had to play the NFC Least. This was an odd year. Six teams won at least 12 games. A 13-win team played on wild-card weekend. Not a lot of winners to play week in and week out. Play your schedule, grab a first-round bye, and hope for that elusive No. 1 seed. Is it next year yet?

I'm glad Spoff answered Mike because he's long since been on my banned list. You can't win with some people…even when you win.