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Inbox: His teams embrace both the challenge and the grind

The key to winning consistently is finding value where value presents itself


Dave from Waterford, WI

How did Jordan Love look at Family Night?

Like a leader…and his throws to Luke Musgrave and Christian Watson during two-minute were on the money.

James from Appleton, WI

Matt LaFleur has certainly demonstrated his strengths in management, planning and schemes, but with the recent influx of young players, do you see evidence that he's getting a fresh buzz from the teaching aspects of coaching?

LaFleur mentioned a couple weeks ago how this feels a lot like his first year in Green Bay. Obviously, the foundation is now firmly set in place, but LaFleur and his staff are tailoring their offense to a new leader in Jordan Love. As a football coach, LaFleur is energized by that endeavor. The best compliment I can pay the man is his teams embrace both the challenge and the grind. That all starts with MLF.

David from Janesville, WI

I've always had the impression (with no research to back it up) that the best defensive lines often seem to be littered with mid-round picks playing above their draft status. With T.J. Slaton, Colby Wooden and Karl Brooks maybe our young line will turn into one of these high-performing groups. We've heard good things from camp, are the preseason games the real test or will we have to wait until the games count to see what we have?

100%. The Packers have several first-round picks on defense, but it's the mid-to-late-round picks that put a team over the top. I always think of those Seattle defenses from the early 2010s: K.J. Wright was a fourth-round pick, Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor were taken in fifth, and Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane went in the sixth. The key to winning consistently is finding value where value presents itself. You can't buy the best team in this sport. You have to build it.

William from Palmdale, CA

II speaks a lot about players, how about the coaching staff and their grades? We have a relatively inexperienced TE and WR coaches and I thought letting Big Dog go was risky. Both starting TEs go to Da Bears, as well.

The coaches coach the players who are in the room. It doesn't matter if that's a rookie like Musgrave or an 18th-year veteran like Marcedes Lewis. Green Bay is counting on those young tight ends to play games and stay healthy. For Chicago, signing Lewis makes all the sense in the world. I'm actually surprised the Bears didn't do it sooner given Justin Fields and their run-heavy offense.

Al from Green Bay, WI

The exchange from center to QB must be 100% successful in the NFL. We've seen some botched exchanges in camp. Saturday night, the shotgun snap came to Love when he wasn't even looking. Question: When in shotgun or pistol formation, isn't the center supposed to be looking back at the QB?

We don't know exactly what happened, but everyone agrees that cannot happen. Just look at how two-minute played out. That's either a red-zone turnover or a defensive touchdown. Instead, LaFleur re-racked the period, and the offense went down and scored five plays later. The margin for error is THATNARROW at the game's highest level.

Glen from Leesburg, VA

While a new season always brings the fever and excitement of football, and everything we love about it, I can't help but think about the guys who are fighting for their livelihood. It's important to remember there is a human being under that jersey and not all of them are going to make an NFL roster. Your business has to be difficult as well, as you get to know these guys on a personal level and the next day, they are no longer in the locker room. It's got to be heartbreaking at times.

That is by far the most difficult part of this sport. I take solace today that there are more jobs available to players who don't make an NFL 53. Practice squads are now 16 players, and the USFL and XFL have joined the CFL as viable leagues for talent. But it's still every football player's dream to play in the NFL and undoubtedly that dream will end for some after final cuts are delivered to the league office in three weeks.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

How has Lukas Van Ness looked with pads on? Has he won any impressive one-on-ones?

He looks like a grown man in pads, that's for sure. I think one-on-ones have provided Van Ness with some valuable lessons on what it takes to win against NFL tackles. I don't keep official stats, but there's definitely been some learning opportunities.

Jeff from Indian Lake, NY

Malik Heath seems to be gaining some momentum. However, in my "expert" opinion Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, Jayden Reed, Samori Toure and Bo Melton would be ahead of him on the depth chart. I would imagine his path to the roster will be through teams. Has he been getting a lot of work with Bisaccia's unit?

Since the offseason program, Malik Heath has been that undrafted rookie receiver who has consistently flashed. But even after years of covering undrafted rookie receivers who flashed, I couldn't tell you what it all means. Heath definitely had a rapport with Danny Etling. I'll be curious to see whether he can build that same chemistry with Sean Clifford and Alex McGough.

Tim from Olathe, KS

Wes, yesterday Mike indicated Clifford is likely No. 2 mostly because he was drafted whereas McGough is low risk. I see McGough as the guy who can come into a game when our QB is injured and give us a chance to win. Clifford is a project. Very similar to Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien in 2013. How do you see it?

Personally, I felt Clifford has shown the most during the first two weeks of training camp. His competitive level has come as advertised. He's had some quite lively two-minute periods. But back to the original point, the stats are what they are. The Packers haven't cut many rookie draft picks since Brian Gutekunst took over in 2018. McGough would really need to impress in the preseason to overtake Clifford for that spot.

George from North Mankato, MN

I presume the decision to release Danny Etling was done Sunday to give him a chance to compete for a spot on another team's roster prior to cutdowns. How important do you think decisions like this are for those affected?

That's part of it. You want to be fair to the player. It has been difficult rotating in four QBs, especially with Love taking a full serving of No. 1 reps. Clifford was going to be here one way or another. If the Packers saw enough potential in McGough, it makes sense to cut Etling loose now. Also, it only dawned on me yesterday that Etling and McGough were drafted back-to-back in 2018. The seventh round started with New England selecting Etling at No. 219 and Seattle grabbing McGough at 220. Small world.

Erik from Mansfield, TX

My admittedly untrained eye watching film from Family Night…it looked like Love and LaFleur are placing an emphasis on passing into the middle of the field where we haven't seen a lot the past couple years. Is your eye telling you the same story? And if so, do you think that's indicative of where the offense is going to emphasize with a young QB and some serious speed in the young WR/TE groups?

That's what we've been hinting at since the NFL Draft. Jayden Reed and Musgrave are two guys whom the Packers are going to look to make plays in the middle of the field this year. They both sure did during Family Night.

Mike from St Louis Park, MN

Pack sign RB Nate McCrary. Is he a body to absorb training camp and preseason blows while protecting our top three for the season?

The Packers are short on running backs with Lew Nichols (shoulder) out. With Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon unlikely to play against Cincinnati, that leaves the Packers with just Patrick Taylor, Tyler Goodson and Emanuel Wilson available at the moment.

Kurt from Long Lake, WI

Hello Wes, I agree with your position on pessimism so I'm curious your thoughts regarding the recent banter coming from Rasul Douglas and Jaire Alexander towards the offense and QB1. Is it competitive driven or frustration?

Competitive. 100%. Douglas has a Ph.D. in smack talk and Alexander is getting there.

Heather from Burlington, WI

Will Aaron Jones stay healthy?

Always has. I have no reason to think he won't now. Jones has missed one game due to injury the past four years. The guy keeps himself in impeccable shape. I even remarked during practice last week how much explosivity there still is in Jones' game. It's rare, but some skill-position players' soft-tissue is built to last. Donald Driver was one of them.

Mike from San Francisco, CA

Say a prospect put on weight in college to fill a role but isn't up to NFL size. Do scouts expect the player to be able to do it again or do they worry they've already maxed out?

So much goes into that. Does the weight appear to slow him down? Is the player getting injured? How quickly does he shed the weight over the course of a season? It mostly comes down to a player passing the eye test and determining if that's his best weight/role.

Caleb from Knoxville, TN

Who's one underrated Bengals player we should be watching?

I really enjoy Trey Hendrickson's game. He's a stud, but I still feel like he doesn't get enough respect across the league. It's just like Geno Atkins. The guy was so much better than the average NFL fan ever knew.

John from Shorewood, WI

Mike Vrabel announced that Terrell Williams, the Titans assistant head coach/DL coach, will serve as head coach for their upcoming preseason game against the Bears. Which Packers coach would you be interested in seeing given a similar opportunity?

LaFleur does something similar, at least on the offensive side of the ball. Adam Stenavich, Nathaniel Hackett, Luke Getsy and Justin Outten have all called plays during the preseason here over the years. I'm sure some assistants again will be helping out in that area over the next three weeks. Who knows? Maybe Rich Bisaccia can even put that new assistant head coach title to work.

Dave from Peshtigo, WI

HR from Wausaukee's question about game film got me thinking, do players have access to all teams' film or just their team and next week's opponent? What about archived film? Could someone from another team watch Alexander to see what makes him better than the rest so they could try to copy his technique, or could Watson or Toure watch Sterling Sharpe's film to pick up what made him so good?

It's my understanding all players can get any All-22 film from NFL games uploaded to their iPads. I have no idea how far that goes back, though.

Neil from Tunbridge Wells, UK

Yet another player down with an ACL. Sorry any Vikings fans. Is the Packers' inside facility artificial turf or natural?

Artificial but the Packers are careful about what they do in there. During the season, they'll move outdoors for team periods, too.

Monty from Velva, ND

Have you ever wondered why Sean Payton is considered a genius and Mike McCarthy not? Both have similar track records with one Super Bowl, but McCarthy seems like a generally better person. McCarthy won 61% and Payton 63%. Both had HOF QBs. What am I missing? Not to mention, I'd rather have a beer with Mike!

Yes…and I'll leave it at that.

Rich from Southampton, UK

Reading MT5 during the weekend, I would respectfully disagree with part of Mark Murphy's reply to Ralph from Ellison Bay. Ralph doesn't have a completely empty glass. Ralph doesn't even own a glass. It's OK to be more uncertain about how the Packers will do this season. But looking at QB, WR, TE, DL and kicker, it looks to me like the Packers want to get any growing pains over with in one go. I'm OK with that. Such negativity is absurd. Why bother even being a fan if this is how it makes you feel?

I nearly fell over with the introductory line: "Dear Mark, I met you on the Fox River Trail once and we talked briefly." I thought that sort of thing only happened to Spoff. Fan however you wish to fan, but please keep one thing in mind – any comparison to past generations of Packers football before 1993 are foolhardy. Free agency changed everything. The Packers fell on hard times when they didn't draft well, couldn't sign their picks and nobody wanted to be traded here. In today's NFL, the top players are going to go wherever they can make the most money. Any argument that begins with the Packers are back to 1958 loses my attention. Every team in the NFL has a chance to rise and fall in any given year.

Marin from West Lawn, PA

Now since there's a single day for cutting players, how much more difficult will it be for the coaches to decide whom to keep (as opposed to having several cut down dates like last season)?

This is how it was done for a few years before the pandemic, too. I have no idea why the NFL went back to multiple cuts. That needs to stop, forever.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, did Young Hod attend Family Night? What impressed him most?

He did not, but maybe next year.

Kevin from Grand Rapids, MI

I'm wondering if and how you might be covering the joint practices this week?

We will be there. In fact, my next Inbox will be written from Cincinnati. You can expect the same type of camp coverage as we've had so far in Green Bay. Have a great Tuesday.

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