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Inbox: If a team doesn't have one, opponents know

Decisions like that don’t have to be made

DL Kenny Clark
DL Kenny Clark

Jason from Austin, TX

Going forward, whenever a reader complains about the questions you picked to answer, you just need to say that these were the worst questions, until you read all the other ones.


Jeff from Montclair, VA

Always love reading Cliff's history lessons. I really found his response to the question about the '77 Packers’ offensive woes to be interesting, since I think that was the first year 11-year-old me ever went to a game. Can you ask Larry to comment on Cliff's contention that there's an active "coverup" by players of that era in placing blame? Or would he steal more than your lunch?

I'm not accusing Larry of anything, thank you very much.

Tom from Columbus, NJ

A stat that really stuck out to me is that in '22 Josh Jacobs had 1K rushing yards on first down alone. Let that sink in. For a team that wants to run a lot of play-action, I think that is going to benefit us exponentially. Especially help ML will the play calling and J Love to continue to elevate his game. What are your thoughts?

I hadn't heard that stat. If accurate, that's astounding, and production like that absolutely would impact the play-action game. Seeing that stat made me ask how the Raiders went 6-11 in '22, and upon looking it up discovered they lost eight games (8!) by five points or less, or in OT. Mercy.

Mike from Novato, CA

I'll go you one better on the impact of Bak's injury. I think with him in the lineup, we probably beat SF the next season. Five sacks, two from Bosa, and I think Bak would have handled him better. I'll also wonder why they didn't play Yosh Nijman in both games. Vs TB, I get that they wanted to go with the "experienced" Wagner/Turner, but that seemed to be weakening two positions on the line. Against SF, Yosh had already faced the 49ers, and done quite well. Oh well.

Yeah, it looked promising to get Bakhtiari back for the '21 playoffs, until it wasn't. Those lineup decisions were tough calls in both instances. Hindsight, etc. So it goes.

Dan from Grayslake, IL

Mike, regarding your response to Ethan from La Crosse, your recollection of play details from past games is uncanny. Does that just come naturally to you or do you get a little help from film review? I'm guessing the former, which makes many of your responses even more impressive.

Memories get rather engrained once I've written about the events once or twice, especially when they're so significant. I double-check the details whenever I can before publishing, though, and will adjust appropriately if I didn't have it quite right.

Mike from Cascade, ID

Hi Mike, the general consensus is that Hafley will employ a 4-3 base with a single high safety. Do you think that this has any impact on players they consider drafting, ones with experience in this type of scheme? Also, enjoy your well-deserved time off, hope you have some cool activities planned.

I don't think they're overly hung up on scheme as far as the draft. As mentioned yesterday, Gutey has talked about interchangeability with three positions in the nickel secondary. A good off-ball linebacker should be able to play any of those three spots behind the line. And the Packers always leaned toward size with their 3-4 edge rushers (Gary 277, Preston 265, LVN 272) rather than the slighter, speed-oriented types, so those guys are still stout edges in a 4-3 anyway.

Bruce from Jackson, WI

Mike, I've tried to make this point in the past so you probably don't agree. I don't think having interchangeable players at all positions is the best idea. In the trenches yes … in the defensive backfield not so much. Gutey said he wanted a bigger, hard-hitting body at the safety position yet he's now looking for interchangeable safety/slot corners? Remember, "Jack of all trade, master of none." I'd rather have another JA then an Owens/Ford/Valentine or Ballentine.

Of course everyone would love an elite talent like Alexander at every position. That's the goal but it's not reality. Injuries happen and adjustments must be made. If players can't play multiple spots, the drop-off digging into the bench might be too great. If your third safety is a much better defender than your backup nickel corner, it makes sense for at least one of your top two safeties to be able to play the slot if the best guy there goes down.

Brandon from Summerville, SC

We haven't seen McKinney play a down yet, but with his contract details the organization is obviously hoping for him to have a major impact on our defense. We've had some solid safety play over the years by players like Amos and Burnett, but does he appear to have the skillset to potentially be our best safety since Collins?

That appears to be the projection. By contrast, five years ago, Amos' contract ran around $9M APY, and McKinney's is almost double. That's more than natural NFL inflation.

Paul from Green Bay, WI

Guys! My Gramma shared this years ago and in this period of draft and free agency signings and costs, I thought you might enjoy it. My grandfather, Paul Miller, was a hot ticket coming out of S. Dakota State in 1936. He was a Jackrabbit tailback, earning All-American status his senior year. He was first called by Curly to play for the Pack but George Halas wasn't far behind. The two legends went back and forth before Lambeau's offer of $5/game more was too rich for the Bears. Amazing.

Speaking of inflation …

Tim from Charlotte, NC

I thought I had a fairly decent grasp of how the salary cap works. I have to admit though, De'Vondre Campbell's post-June 1 release and how the numbers are split confuses me. Previously, I thought the post-June 1 designation simply allowed the team to split the residual dead money 50/50 versus taking it all on in the current year. From what I read now though, the Packers will take on $3.657M in dead money this year and $7.971M next. Can you please explain?

The bonus proration from Campbell's original five-year contract carried through 2026 on the cap (plus some additional money was pushed out via restructure). If it's not a post-June 1 cut, all three remaining years of proration accelerate to the '24 cap. With the post-June 1, the Packers can take the originally scheduled proration for '24, and then both '25 and '26 are combined on the '25 cap. The dead money is closer to 50/50 when only two years of bonus proration remain. In this case, it was three.

Tony from Chanhassen, MN

While the Packers have gone through a few defensive coordinators recently, this feels like the first one who brought on his own people. I'm intrigued to see how that plays out.

Me, too.

Mike from Niles, IL

I know gambling is illegal here, but are we likely to have Kenny Clark still with us in 2025?

I sure hope so. The Packers will need to extend him, but he won't come cheap with where the defensive tackle market has risen to this offseason. That's one of the toughest positions to find durable, reliable, difference-making guys, which is why they're getting paid so much. If a team doesn't have one, opponents know and game plan accordingly.

Green Bay's new RB Josh Jacobs steps out to see Lambeau Field for the first time as a Packers player.

Cliff from Alexandria, VA

Mike, I seem to recall one of the knocks against Love before he was QB1 was that he was interception prone. However, he protected the ball very well last season, last play aside. In your opinion, was the early analysis wrong, or did Love just do a good job correcting one of his "weaknesses" last season?

It's been well-documented his 17 INTs that final year at Utah State resulted from losing all the offensive talent around him and the coaching/system change. He's admitted himself he was trying to do too much that year, because it was on him to make something happen to win games for a 7-6 team. The year before, he threw 32 TD passes with six picks running a far more established offense as Utah State went 11-2.

Scott from Sauk City, WI

Mike, thanks for the great answer regarding Gute's courage in decision-making. If you think about it, the way he makes these decisions makes him a perfect Packer, and should foster the community he's trying to build from the top down. He leads the team by putting the team first, ahead of his own popularity or job security. In a "win-now-or-else" job, putting the team first can't be easy. Drafting players that do the same? That's how you win. Does he have any interest in a new career as my boss?

There's an old saying that circulates anytime a GM whose team has struggled makes an incredibly gutsy, high-risk move. If it works out, great. If it doesn't, he won't be around to deal with the fallout. Plenty of GMs are forced to try to save their own jobs. When you believe in your process and have sustained success, decisions like that don't have to be made.

Eric from Green Bay, WI

I know we didn't get the 1-2 Super Bowls in Rodgers' final years we probably should've. And we can't predict the future. But one thing is for certain, Gutey just put on a masterclass in going for it, transitioning to the future, and not destroying the cap in the process. The Saints are STILL trying to dig out of the Drew Brees years and making their future cap years worse. The man hasn't played in four seasons! Gutey just moved on from every vet on the team and the cap is healthy. Well done!

Get the quarterback position right and it smooths out the rest of the landscape.

Darrel from Pueblo, CO

II, Gute seems to have a lot of football knowledge and understanding. Did he play in college or the NFL to be able to become a GM?

He played two years at UW-La Crosse before a shoulder injury cut his career short and he became a student assistant coach. He grew up around football because his dad, John Gutekunst, was a college coach, including a seven-year stint as the head coach at Minnesota during Gutey's junior high and high school years.

Mike from New Orleans, LA

ATMY (WCBW) over the last four free agency periods the Packers have lost 12 players to NFC North rivals: '24 - A. Jones (Min), J. Owens (Chi); '23 - D. Lowry (Min), R. Tonyan & M. Lewis (Chi); '22 - Z. Smith & C. Sullivan (Min), L. Patrick & E. St. Brown (Chi); '21 - J. Williams & T. Boyle (Det), P. Nickerson (Min) and only signed one; P. O'Donnell (from Chi). Seems BG knows a thing or two, huh?

All I can say is wow.

Steven from Las Vegas, NV

You never know when reading a Packer blog will hit home. Lifetime Packer fan. Week 16, Dec. 16, 1995, Packers vs Saints. I had to VCR the second half of the game to go on a blind date with the woman who became my wife of 24 years. She came over from the dark Bear side to become a Packer fan. We went to numerous Packer games over the years. She passed away Feb. 13, 2022, Super Bowl Sunday. Had not thought of Dec. 16, 1995, in a while. Thanks for the triggering that happy memory. GPG

That's a whole 'nother kind of wow.

Jim from Tempe, AZ

One of the best things about living in Tempe is that I get to hang out with Ben Oglivie. We both have two dogs and meet up at the same area to walk our dogs. I've been fortunate to work for sports teams for over 20 years and interact with athletes during that time. But to just hang out as two old guys walking their dogs, priceless.

Very cool. Next time you chat with Benji (I remember Uecker called him that), tell him I was at the game in '82 vs. Cleveland when he came up with runners on the corners (Robin on third, Gorman on first). He ripped a line drive right at the second baseman, who caught it, but then threw it away trying to double up Thomas. So Yount took off for home, and that throw sailed over the catcher's head, and with Thomas now rounding second to head for third, that subsequent throw went into left field, so two runs scored on three throwing errors off his line drive. To this day, still one of the wackiest plays I've ever seen at a big-league game. Nine-year-old me wanted to give Ben two RBIs on my scorecard, but alas …

Dave from Waterford, OH

The Packers now have only eight active players over the age of 26, and one player over the age of 28 (Preston, age 31). They have to be, if not the youngest, real close to being the youngest team in the NFL. Being that youthful, and that good already, they are in an amazing position going into the 2024 season.

And hopefully beyond.

Jackson from Wausau, WI

This baloney season is shaping up to be one of the best with the draft sweepstakes approaching, free agent mania, inferno hot takes, way too early predictions, and the classic subterfuge plays (or non-plays). When does it stop? Hopefully, you can get some spring crappie fishing in with all of this going on, Mike.

The fishing is already planned for late May. But first I'm about to disappear into the entertaining abyss known as March Madness. Wes is back Monday. Treat him well. Take care, everyone. Happy Friday.

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