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Inbox: He's up there now

What’s behind it has to be solved

Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid
Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid

Dylan from Houston, TX

I believe the NFC South has three, rather than four, SB wins: Tampa Bay two, New Orleans one, Carolina zero (two appearances), Atlanta zero (two appearances).

You're right, my bad. For some reason, when I was tallying them up I put the St. Louis Rams' mark in the NFC South. Must've been the darkness retreat. The totals should be three for the NFC South and eight for the NFC West.

Josh from Adams, WI

In trying to explain to my wife during the Super Bowl why the old rule preventing "assisting" a rusher existed and why it should be reinstated, my most concise synopsis was this...the defense can't force a ball carrier backward for a loss of yards, so the offense shouldn't be allowed to push one forward for a gain.

It made sense. Imagine that.

Ron from Mitchell, SD

One more question about the field. I can't recall who said it but lost in all the pregame coverage, I heard one of the talking heads mention that they painted the field and it was slick. Is it possible that they applied green paint to the field, as appears to be done in some outdoor stadiums late season to make brown grass look green? Could that have been what caused the issue?

That seems to be the prevailing report. I've also heard it was a new, somewhat experimental surface. The NFL had played two previous Super Bowls in that stadium without a footing issue that I recall. Changing the process for prepping a field that had functioned just fine in the past was, um, galactically stupid.

Tabb from Houston, TX

Hi Spoff, a lot of DC talk in my circle: Joe Barry's defenses (DVOA) have finished 30th, 31st, 21st, 25th, 22nd, and last season was his best ever unit at 20th. The "eye test" has also left a lot to be desired, personally. I'm not the type to say fire this person or that, so I am genuinely asking, what are we missing in the so-called what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league? Thanks for any added insight, and appreciate the job y'all do!

I sat on this question and others like it for a while because there's a lot of angst, rightfully so, and I didn't want to rush the answer. So here goes. First, I'm not going to comment on Barry's pre-Green Bay history, because I didn't cover it. But what's missing from this Packers' defense is a level of consistency and reliability, and all the coaches have to figure out the reasons for it and the path to fix it. In 2021, the defense really struggled from Thanksgiving to Christmas, then turned it around and played lights out in the playoff loss. This past season there were dominant stretches within games against the Bucs, Jets, Commanders and Lions (first meeting), with some really ugly play mixed in, followed by brutal, extended letdowns against the Titans and Eagles before takeaways changed fortunes down the stretch. There will inevitably be ups and downs in this league, but a unit with that much talent should not have such wild swings in its play, within games and game-to-game, particularly when it was plenty healthy until Gary and Stokes went down in Week 9. What's behind it – the "never know what you're gonna get" aspect to this defense – has to be solved. I hear explanations in press conferences, such as needing to line up with urgency before the snap, or adjusting playstyle and calls situationally, and temporary improvements occur but don't stick. Are the coaches not getting what they emphasize, or are they not emphasizing certain things enough? Are there aspects to the scheme that don't fit, or aren't adapted to fit, the players? Are there players who don't buy into the system? I believe those questions speak to the consistency/reliability issues, and I don't know the answers. But they, and an approach that smooths out the rollercoaster, must be found this offseason.

Curt from Pine Island, MN

Does the play call dictate the order of progressions for the QB, or does he think about things and decide which route will be looked at first based on conditions?

Some of both.

Dave from Lakewood Ranch, FL

To me the only disappointing thing about the Super Bowl week was Roger Goodell proclaiming that officiating is as good as it's ever been. Talk about having your head in the sand.

This probably breaks the no math rule, but I would bet the number of officiating mistakes relative to the number of rules to enforce isn't any worse than it used to be. In fact, it probably is better, to support Goodell's point. The problem is how the rules keep piling up with minimal replay assistance and other remedies, as technology has become so adept at finding errors at which no one used to bat an eyelash.

Kenny from Tomah, WI

When the NFL debates officiating rule changes, such as a hip drop, is officials' input required as to how practically applying that rule change would be applied on the field?

Yes, but the difficulty of enforcement hasn't been known to stop many rule changes.

Kevin from New Milford, CT

Not a question but a comment. I watched the highlight video of Aaron Jones and he amazes me with his instincts for changing direction and reading blocks in the open field. It seems like time and time again, he's headed one direction and suddenly, he cuts back and splits defenders for another big chunk of yardage. We need to keep this guy.

Yup, and I expect the Packers to.

Richard from Racine, WI

What can you tell us all about the ESPN and NFL plans to "flex" more games for Monday Night Football? Have all the teams been involved in the planning or is this just being negotiated by NFL?

It looks like the league is heading in this direction, and the teams themselves won't have a say. If flex scheduling for Mondays is implemented, my best guess on the mechanics would be something like this … Well in advance – perhaps when the initial schedule is released – three games in a given week will be designated as possible Monday selections, and then the league will make its final choice 2-3 weeks ahead of time. I'm just spiffballing but I could see it formulated in that fashion, much the way the league picks the Saturday games late in the season. It would be a nightmare for the ticket-buying fans, but TV rules the sport. Has for a long time now.

Bob from Ocean View, DE

It takes quite a bit of planning for us out-of-towners to see our beloved Pack play. When will next year's schedule be finalized?

The schedule has dropped in mid-May in recent years.

Tom from Yardley, PA

Being a lifelong Packers fan living in the Philly area I've followed Andy Reid pretty closely. I thought he got a raw deal in Philly. One constant criticism while he was in Philly was his inability to make in-game adjustments. I find that interesting since his halftime adjustments in the SB were brilliant. The use of motion in the second half was genius. I guess old dogs can learn new tricks. Wondering where you see Reid in the conversation about the greatest coaches the game has seen.

He's up there now, and I'm not sure exactly where but he's a shoo-in for Canton at this point, I know that. Just to make one comparison, he doesn't have the Super Bowl appearances or titles Bill Belichick has (berths 9-4, titles 6-2), but he's taken two teams to the conference title game 10 times total to Belichick's 13 with one team.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Good to have you back, Mike. I was blown away by the class of James Bradberry. We constantly see athletes and coaches vociferously disputing obvious calls, unlike the Bradberry call in LVII which some would see as ticky-tack. His response was a breath of fresh air in a world balloon filled with the air of stale blame placing. Your thoughts?

Mine exactly.

Richard from Lac du Flambeau, WI

Hello Mike, what determines the home team for the Super Bowl? Alternate years? I like MLB's format with the All-Star Game, but that wouldn't be possible for the NFL. Thanks.

My understanding is the conferences alternate who wears home uniforms – NFC in even-numbered seasons, AFC in odd-numbered. When the Chiefs went to the Super Bowl back-to-back (2019-20), they ended up wearing red both years because the Buccaneers wore their "home" whites in Super Bowl LV.

Raymond from Marquette, MI

Hey Mike, my question for your consideration on the MVP award for the Super Bowls. I agree that Mahomes was deserving of the award. I, and several of my friends over the years have never accepted that Desmond Howard should have won the MVP award. What did he do? Ran a kickoff back for a TD and had several great punt returns. What did Brett Favre do? He ONLY threw two TD passes, ran for another, and threw for a two-point conversion. Your thoughts on what many think was a travesty...?

I can see the argument for Favre, but I wouldn't call it a travesty. I think it was a matter of a really good case existing for someone other than a QB to win the award. Howard had punt returns of 32 and 34 yards that set up 10 points and then took the kickoff to the house to seal the deal. I don't have a problem with the media voters recognizing the kind of performance that rarely happens on that stage.

Jim from Sioux Falls, SD

Mike, could it be debated that Jalen Hurts was the MVP of the Super Bowl? Without his arm and legs the Eagles had little offense, and their vaunted defense got zero sacks and was helpless in the second half. The fact KC needed a last-second field goal to win is a testament to Jalen's play. (A player on the losing team did win an MVP in Super Bowl V.)

I see where you're coming from, but Hurts' one mistake – a fumble he lost on his own that was returned for a TD – was just too costly. Without that, the Eagles are probably up at least 20 points at halftime and he is the MVP holding the trophy.

John from Belleview, FL

At age 27, Mahomes has just as many SB rings as Peyton Manning and Eli Manning, one more than Favre, one more than Rodgers, and two more than Dan Marino and Dan Fouts. WOW. I remember when Marino lost his Super Bowl, all the pundits were saying he would be playing in many more... That didn't happen. You've got to grab the ring when it is within reach.


John from Worthington, OH

Overuse of the "GOAT" references has diminished its original meaning. Which is a good thing, as there really isn't a true measure of who the "greatest" really is. I don't understand why we can't just leave it as he's "one of the greatest of all time." Perhaps it's because it wouldn't have a catchy acronym.

You mean OOT-GOAT doesn't quite work?

Joe from Swansea, IL

I'm sorry for Rich Bisaccia that he didn't get the Colts job, but happy for our special teams. Do you think this makes it more likely we can keep KN25 in the fold? Can we make room under the cap to make that happen, without hurting another part of the club?

I'm not certain of Bisaccia's contract status with the Packers, but hopefully he's indeed back. I personally believe Nixon should be Green Bay's No. 1 priority on its long list of pending free agents, and I foresee the Packers working hard to keep him. But this is also Nixon's chance to cash in, as a 25-year-old entering his fifth season and coming off an All-Pro selection. He got just a $25K signing bonus as an undrafted free agent from the Raiders in 2019, and he's made all of $3M over four years in the NFL, peanuts compared to others who've never been named All-Pro. He won't be giving any discounts for his services, nor should he.

Mary Ann from Black Mountain, NC

When will the Lambeau Field construction be completed, and what is included in this project?

The construction is an expansion of the team facility – new coaches' offices, a larger conditioning and rehab area – which will include an underground parking area for the players and coaches. The stadium is also getting new video boards. Everything is expected to be done by the start of training camp.

Dennis from Beavercreek, OH

So is the noise from the installation of the new video board disturbing your work?

Haven't heard a thing, yet. I told them to keep it down until Wes is back. Happy Wednesday.

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