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Inbox: It'll emerge when the time comes

The right mix of traits helps produce the right mix of guys

Packers at Cardinals
Packers at Cardinals

Bob from Freeport, IL

A final goodbye to the "Dead Zone" when my expectations of nothing will soon turn into expectations of something!

So we got that goin' for us, which is nice.

Rex from Chetek, WI

Another note on Randy Duncan: He was highly regarded in both football and basketball for his high school, Des Moines (Iowa) Roosevelt. In the latter sport, he was an all-state guard in 1954 and led his team to the state championship game. However, Duncan and Roosevelt lost that game to the Muscatine Little Muskies. My father was the Muskies' coach.

Sounds like they weren't so "little" that day.

Dan from Allen, TX

As a follow up to Monty from Hazen, ND, and the Packers-Bears all-time wins, although it is true the Bears currently have one more win, they have also played 34 more games. The Packers also have the NFL's highest winning percentage all-time.

All righty then.

Andrew from Pella, IA

Please answer in order of confidence which of these you believe to be most likely? A) Aaron Rodgers wins third consecutive MVP, B) Derek from Eau Claire wins next II MVP, C) Davante Adams has more TDs than Packers WRs combined, D) II's meaningful playoff reporting of the team lasts longer than last year.

B, D, A, C.

David from Warman, Saskatchewan

Do you fellas ever follow ex-Packers who are now in the CFL? If not, I wanted to let you know that Jake Dolegala will be making a start for my Saskatchewan Roughriders on Sunday. Do you think Aaron might watch a few plays? It should be quite interesting as he is making his first pro start due to a Covid outbreak on the team. Let's get it Jake! GPG and Go Riders!

I admit I don't follow ex-Packers north of the border, but I will definitely check out the box score Monday morning.

Mike from Cottage Grove, MN

I live about 16 miles from the Vikings training center. Would it be in bad taste if I wore Packers gear to watch one of their practice sessions?

I dare you to take a notebook or tablet along with you, and then be constantly holding up your smartphone like you're videotaping everything.

Michael from Santa Cruz, CA

Do you expect the field goal/XP unit to rebound to a 90%-ish success rate this season? Of all the unknowns going into this season, this is the one where I just don't have a feel for what's coming. Mason Crosby has certainly earned equity/trust – and he has a track record of bouncing back after a subpar season – but if you look at the operation when he missed last season, bad snaps and bad holds do not stand out as the common denominator. Poor blocking was the most common theme IMHO.

Protection was the biggest issue, but the other areas were factors here and there, too. That's why veterans like Crosby always talk in terms of the entire operation – snap, hold, protection, kick. Everything has to be in sync or nothing is, and the same goes for coverage and return teams. The Packers' struggles the past couple years invited opponents to probe that much harder for weaknesses to exploit. The beast feeds on itself and the Packers must stop providing the bait.

Chris from New Canaan, CT

Each season has a game near the midway point (sorry about the Chicago airport reference) that defines the tone for the rest of the reason. It feels like the season is on a fulcrum; lose it and there's trouble, win it and there's confidence for the rest of the schedule. The fulcrum game last year, in my opinion, was @ ARZ which obviously ended well with Douglas' walk-off INT in the EZ. What early-season game are you paying attention to as a season-defining game? I like DAL @ GB and NE @ GB.

There's no way to call it in advance. Did anyone see Arizona being undefeated in late October last year? It'll emerge when the time comes.

Team photographer Evan Siegle shares his favorite photos from the 2021 Green Bay Packers season.

Kyle from Waunakee, WI

I'm not sure why, but my mind keeps returning to the Chiefs game last year. KC was struggling mightily on defense, then miss Rodgers, win a defensive game, and play better the rest of the year. If Rodgers had played and GB thumped KC, would KC have continued their slide or eventually recovered anyway? Do the Bills play someone else and beat Cincy to make a SB? Ripples. Not sure why I keep returning to that game. Is there any moment from last year your mind keeps replaying?

Plenty from the playoff game, obviously, but that's the nature of the beast. As for the Chiefs, they were in a rough patch when the Packers played them, and I believe a team that talented was going to work its way through it eventually, regardless. If Rodgers plays and wins that game, the playoff seeding in the AFC is almost certainly different, and who knows. But again, nature of the beast.

Pete from San Jacinto, CA

II, is there time set aside for AR to have dialog with the receivers regarding what he expects/looks for when he scrambles? This might help the new receivers establish a rapport with AR and get them more involved in the passing game. This would be important given the departure of Davante Adams and MVS.

There are meetings during training camp, conversations that take place in the hallway and on the sidelines during practice, lunch chats, text exchanges when watching film at odd hours. When Rodgers sees a young receiver who knows the offense and is ready to absorb more, communication opportunities exist.

Thomas from Cedar Rapids, IA

Another question for the No. 1 receiver pile. (This is where I pretend to know what I'm talking about.) If it's third-and-4, AR could take a quick drop, and with confidence turn and throw to Adams. He knew 'Tae would be there and probably be open. Now he may have to take a split second to actually make sure the guy is there and open. The NFL is not only a game of inches but a game of instants. Things change in an instant and trust can make all the difference. Accurate assumption?

Pretty much, and trust isn't built in an instant. It took time with Nelson, Cobb and Adams, too.

Vince from Green Bay, WI

Wonder if you would have the space in the column today to share Vic's thoughts on the soccer match tonight? Maybe a postgame breakdown?

Ha, good one. I sincerely hope the tens of thousands of soccer fans invading Lambeau Field have a blast and enjoy everything about the experience. But it must be said – if that scary, storm-filled flight back from Arizona after the last game Vic covered hadn't sent him into retirement, today most certainly would have.

Joe from Wausau, WI

Never thought I'd ask this but...given our changing climate conditions, does the league have a policy on how high the heat index can get before it's considered too dangerous to continue play?

There's no league regulation that I'm aware of. It's up to the individual clubs to monitor their own situations. I recall several years ago – I don't know if the Packers have anything more technologically updated now – when Red Batty and Pepper Burruss explained to me this black sensor on a tripod they'd set up next to the practice field on a hot day. It measured what they called the "black bulb temperature," which was the projected temperature inside a player's helmet. I don't know what guidelines they set or what was considered a danger zone, but they constantly monitored it anytime it got really hot and humid.

Kerry from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Has AR 12 ever had a season where he had more fumbles lost than interceptions?

2018. He had two interceptions and four lost fumbles. In 2019, he had four of each.

Andrew from Enon, OH

I've previously written in as Andrew from Aviano, Italy, and Shalimar, FL. It's great to have you two writers and this community of people as a constant. My question is, as player body types change over the years (LB for example) has the typical make up of special-teams coverage and return units also changed? Either in their ratio of one position group to another or the body type of the individuals?

I wouldn't think so. Special teams coaches like to have a mix of size and speed on their units. Those that aren't big better be able to run fast, yet those with some size can't be too slow either. But they're also looking for blocking and tackling skills, too. The right mix of traits helps produce the right mix of guys.

Isaac from Columbia, TN

Is the NFL going to turn into college football with all the alternate helmets?

I suspect there will be limitations in place.

Alex from Bethany, CT

Regarding the Eric from Holiday, FL, comments about enduring the physical grind of your job even if you don't love it, keep in mind that it's not just about maintaining the physical condition required to play the game – it's doing what it takes to beat out the players competing to take your place. Those who love the game and are committed to getting better are going to eventually beat out those who are doing it for the paycheck.

Bingo. Though I have to confess I shortchanged Eric a bit. He wrote back to point out all the times he's been hit by cars as a courier – 13 over a decade – so he deserves credit there. His gig is a tough game for tough guys, too.

Eric from Stramproy, Netherlands

Good morning, Mike. A lot of Erics in yesterday's inbox, so I thought I'd join in. You mentioned being interested in the one-on-ones in training camp. I can imagine some storylines "presenting" themselves (for a seasoned reporter such as you). But do you keep track of who is playing whom over the duration of training camp? For future references and/or follow-up articles? Thanks for all your work, it is greatly appreciated!

I don't track and chart all the matchups religiously, but you jot down notes and file away other mental ones. I'll never forget in 2013, watching a rookie offensive tackle on his first day in pads hold his own in a one-on-one rep against Clay Matthews. I generally guard against overhyping any single moment in camp, but I broke my own mold and talked to Bakhtiari that day because it made for a cool story. Little did I know at the time what I was onto.

Team photographer Evan Siegle shares his favorite photos from the 2021 Green Bay Packers season.

Lee from Grants, NM

Hi Mike, what are your thoughts on the Bears possibly building a domed stadium? I understand it's a revenue thing, but having three-fourths of the black-and-blue division playing indoors just doesn't seem right.

I think it's a terrible idea, and it sounds like the Bears aren't interested anyway.

Stephen from Cincinnati, OH

Talking about how tied Lambeau and Green Bay are, the rumors of the Bengals selling the naming rights to Paul Brown Stadium, that would leave Lambeau and Soldier Field as the only stadiums without corporate names. Do you even see a future where either team cashes that check or is the name too iconic?

If the Bears build their new stadium in the 'burbs, they're cashing a check on naming rights, I guarantee that. The team itself doesn't own or run Soldier Field, so it has no say currently. As I've mentioned before, the only time I recall any pressure to sell the naming rights to Lambeau was heading into the referendum for the stadium redevelopment more than two decades ago. The Packers were asking for $160 million in public funding and a naming rights deal would have reduced the taxpayer burden, but Bob Harlan held firm on not selling. I believe he surmised, correctly, that the final dollar figure was not the hang-up for those who didn't support the referendum. They were going to vote against it regardless, and selling the name might've only angered some who did support the project and damaged the franchise's legacy. So keeping the name Lambeau Field was best, and he was right.

Gretchen from Dousman, WI

Thanks for once again writing the “Countdown to Camp” articles. Having all of that information laid out concisely definitely nudges my aging brain to remember who's who. A great tune-up for fans – part of our own training camp for the upcoming fan season.

It's a worthwhile tune-up for the writers, too. A few more stories to go in that series and the whole roster will be covered.

Zack from Dayville, CT

Breaking out the cedilla on a Friday? That takes effort – or a quality spell check. Makes me think about tilde, umlaut, grave and circumflex. Any Packers that have used diacritic letters in their nameplate? Thank goodness training camp starts soon.

And how, but I'm going to enjoy my last days of freedom.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

We have scratched and clawed our way out of the dead zone and reached the baloney sandwich stand. Grab a bite and we will see you at the finish…I mean starting…line.

Wes will be with you the first couple of days next week, then we'll resume our regular rotation as the ball officially gets rolling. Have a great weekend, everybody.