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Inbox: He truly was an unsung hero of the 2023 team

It’s the no-brainer of no-brainers

T Rasheed Walker
T Rasheed Walker

Steve from Wabasha, MN

I thought there was no math in the Inbox. Wes is bringing up the transitive property? How 'bout if Spoff says no math in the Inbox and Wes starts including math rules then Spoff gets Wes's per diem.


Robert from Hastings, MN

Should the Packers sign a veteran receiver or just stick with the receiving group they have?

More comedy to start our day, I hope?

Brian from Pleasant Prairie, WI

I like your "reverse touchback" rule with one change: The offense doesn't get rewarded with a first down, they still have a loss of down like any other fumble out of bounds. If its fourth down and they fumble through the end zone, defense ball at the 20. I think we're onto something and I expect the competition committee to be calling one of us this offseason.

I'm not holding my breath, but I appreciate the large swath of you who altered my rule proposal. I clearly didn't think through the "what down" part of the application. Productive adjustment. I love it when the Inbox works together.

John from Byron, MN

In regards to the fumble through the end zone, I could live with the reverse touchback idea. But here's my rationale for no change. As a defense you are defending your home. Your territory. If an opponent is careless enough to lose the ball in our house and don't reclaim it themselves, they don't deserve to get it handed back. Plus, the offense gets the benefit of the doubt for the entire field, any ball fumbled out of bounds goes right back to them, they even get the unearned yards if gained.

For the record, the ball is returned to the spot of the fumble if it goes out of bounds in the field of play. The offense only gains "fumble yards" if it recovers the fumble, and only the fumbler can recover for additional yards in late-game situations. But to your original point, I totally see that "our house" argument. I do. It's the most important part of the field, and it's why I've gone back and forth whether changing the rule is necessary.

John from East Setauket, NY

What Packer player most surprised you in the quality of their play this year?

In terms of a level of progress and development I didn't see coming, my answer is Rasheed Walker. For playing a premier position, essentially redshirting as a rookie, and getting thrown into the fire in Week 2, he truly was an unsung hero of the 2023 team.

Richard from Caledonia, WI

Who do you believe was the Packers' most valuable player on defense this season?

I lean toward Kenny Clark, whether or not he was selected for the Pro Bowl. Glad to see him get the recognition regardless.

Luke from Appleton, WI

I am glad this year's great Chiefs defense is being mentioned when talking about Mahomes' potential GOAT status. Brady also benefitted from great defenses to win those Super Bowls. The QBs don't win the games by themselves. Imagine if Rodgers had great defenses to work with after 2010. Now the Packers need to do for Jordan Love what has been done for Mahomes and Brady.

The irony will never be lost on me that Rodgers' final playoff loss with the Packers featured the best Green Bay defensive performance of his postseason career.

Gregg from Arlington Heights, IL

For me, Mahomes' comment after their victory was the most telling. He said his teammates "knew how to win." So, the $64,000 question: How long will it take for our Packers to learn how to win? If we are fortunate, and if we have the right players, their learning process will be fun to watch.

That's why getting postseason experience was so beneficial for this crew. You don't win playoff games via blowout, like in Dallas, very often. You have to be able to win them in crunch time, and it can be a different animal.

Randall from Manasquan, NJ

It's not like I wanted either team to win but it was entertaining. Which is worse for Detroit fans, never getting there or losing in that fashion? Ugh.

Any true fan would always rather have the chance.

Jeffrey from Eveleth, MN

What a brutal game. You get right up, almost to the top of the mountain, only to get knocked all the way back down with 31 other teams to start over. I don't know how these guys do it.

Their paychecks have a lot to do with it.

Keith from Bakersfield, CA

Watching the Lions feels like Romeo handing Roy McAvoy ball after ball as he stubbornly knocks each one into the drink, rather than take the safe shot for the easy win. The Lions got where they are playing like scrappy underdogs who needed high-risk plays and trickery (like that fake punt on Thanksgiving) to beat better teams. They're not the inferior team anymore. Can DC evolve his style?

I don't expect Campbell to change. I get what you're saying, but he's built into that team's culture to rarely (if ever) capitulate for any reason, and his fourth-down tendencies reflect that. I just think being situationally blind, as he appeared to be Sunday, reduces other avenues available to win games.

Joe from Swansea, IL

You'll never convince me the Lions' drops, lost fumble, failure to down the football, etc., were not the direct result of the foolhardy decisions by Dan Campbell (rhymes with gamble). They were tight because they saw their coach squander a chance to make it a three-score game again. All that aggression may work when you're facing the Chargers and Saints in midseason, but not in a game facing the conference's best team.

I wholeheartedly agree. That's why I brought up the insistence on winning games "your way" on Monday. It's misguided with so much on the line.

Chris from Deerfield, IL

Why does everyone assume that had Detroit attempted the two FG that they would've been made? Yesterday, Wes referenced taking the points. This can't be assumed.

You're right, the lengths of those two field goals (46, 48) are no given, and Badgley's percentages weren't great from those distances. But fourth-and-2 or 3 is also not fourth-and-1 (or less), which are different decisions, at least to me. In that area of the field, a conversion likely still leaves you 20-plus yards from a TD. In my book, the reward is not worth the risk and passing up the chance for points in those particular situations. Not even close, really.

Jim from Denver, CO

I agree that there seems to be quite a few good young and experienced quarterbacks right now. But I've always thought one of the most interesting things about the NFL is that there are never 32 teams with first-string talent at the game's most important position. That makes some teams desperate and desperate teams often do desperate things. Agree?

Tale as old as time in this league.

Andy from Lancaster, PA

Monday, you said "(Love) had nine gotta-have-it drives in crunch time, and he came through four times," which got me thinking; What is the expected win rate? Not necessarily game-winning situations, but crunch-time drives where you must get at least a field goal? I would think 50% would be considered pretty good.

It's not bad, but it's also not an accident Love was 50/50 in the regular season and the Packers finished 9-8. There's often a correlation. A little strange in this case because one of Love's successes was against the Giants and the Packers still lost the game, but you get my point.

Jim from Tempe, AZ

Thanks a lot Mike, I thought we weren't to speak of the game from 2015. With no game for two weeks let's talk a little offseason. What are the pros and cons of getting a long-term, high-cap contract done with Love this offseason versus waiting until next year?

There's no need to let Love get any closer to free agency. He checked all the boxes, and then some. He provided everything that could've been asked from a first-year starter at QB, and more. If the Packers make him wait and play on a cheap, well-under-market deal in 2024, what message does that send to him, and to the entire locker room? This is the no-brainer of no-brainers.

Derek from Sheboygan, WI

I believe that the selection of the new defensive coordinator is the most important and pivotal decision of ML's career. What say you?

I say let's not ask our questions that way (please). Your premise may be a bit dramatic, but it ranks up there.

Patrick from Forest Lake, MN

Longtime reader, first-time question asker. If you're selecting the next DC of the GBP, what coaching background traits other than statistics are you looking at? Would you factor in likeability or team ties such as past playing/coaching experience, or are you basing it off of cold, hard facts? I'll take your answer off the air. God bless and GPG.

I'm no hiring manager, but general statistics are probably the last thing I'm looking at. Those can be influenced by so many factors other than the coach. Leadership qualities are paramount, especially for a DC under an offensive head coach. He has to command that side of the ball in all respects. Scheme-wise, I'm not hung up on any particular X's and O's necessarily, but I want a system that can adapt to circumstances, and has the flexibility to slow down an opponent's top weapon without compromising the rest of the unit. When I think of the last two years, two games that really stand out to me were the losses to the Titans in '22 and the Bucs in '23. The Packers held Derrick Henry to 3.1 yards per carry on 28 attempts, but Ryan Tannehill threw for 333 yards on just 22 completions, more than 15 per catch. Clamping down on a stud runner to get gashed by the pass doesn't do any good. Then they limited Mike Evans to four catches for 57 yards while Baker Mayfield still threw for 381, four TDs and a max rating.

Brandon from Phoenix, AZ

Hello! Any sense what a coaching interview entails in the NFL?


Mike from Catonsville, MD

Gronk said and you seemed to agree, 12 personnel is the most difficult for D's to handle. What makes it so?

If both tight ends are good blockers as well as downfield passing threats, the defense has to decide how it wants to match up. Extra linebackers in the box can help defend the run but won't cover downfield as well. Extra DBs to cover with the tight ends downfield makes for a lighter box to run against. It's pick your poison.

Venny from Montgomery, AL

In regards to rookie TEs, is it possible that we look back on the 2023 rookie classes as one of the best ever? It's still way too early, but the output from the two Packers TEs, Sam LaPorta, Dalton Kincaid, and Likely from Baltimore looks promising.

Likely was drafted in '22, so he's not in the same rookie class. It'll be interesting to see how it shakes out. When I look back at previous rookie TE classes, the groups from 2016-18 catch my eye. Hunter Henry, Austin Hooper and Tyler Higbee from '16; O.J. Howard, Evan Engram, David Njoku, Gerald Everett and George Kittle from '17; and Mike Gesicki, Dallas Goedert, Mark Andrews and Dalton Schultz from '18.

Noble from Washburn, WI

I don't agree with the Love/Favre comparison. It feels like most of Love's INTs came under the pressure of fourth-quarter desperation, whereas Favre generally played off-script and loose. Would you agree that Love has the potential to reel it in and keep his TD/INT closer to Rodgers than Favre?

It's not a blanket comparison, and the answer to your question is absolutely. Love only threw one INT over nine games prior to the playoff loss. ATMR (wcbw), the lowest INT total for Favre over any nine-game stretch in his career was four, in the first nine games of 2002. Then as soon as that run ended he threw seven INTs in his next two games.

Jeff from Columbus, OH

I haven't seen to many statements by people commending Tom Clements for his work that helped get Jordan Love to this point. Do you guys also agree he played a pivotal role in getting him to his status or am I delusional?

If you haven't seen such statements, you must not read this column very regularly.

Doug from Eugene, OR

Gentlemen, always appreciate you two and the II. If I may extend the appreciation of Aaron Jones, my favorite moment of the season was after Jones went down, seeing Watson and others brush off their lapels and signal first down. That was my Mike Ditka "We became a team today" moment. Looking back at the season, did y'all have a specific moment where the broader uncertainties about this young team became reassurance?

I'll reiterate Wes's thoughts about the KC game. Alexander and Jones were inactive (as they were for the Lions game on Thanksgiving), and the Packers charged ahead and proved they could rise to the occasion more than once. That said a lot.

Brian from Sugar Land, TX

Optimistic view: No team I saw in the "Final Four" Sunday struck me as scary good. One game was decided by coaching errors, the other by player fatuity. Green Bay defeated two of the four this past season, and well could have been playing Sunday. The team can play with anyone. Next season offers opportunity and promise. "We must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures." – Shakespeare

Happy Wednesday, and oh, I've got the conn the rest of this week. Talk to you again tomorrow.

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