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Inbox: It'll hinge on putting together all the lessons learned

They never solved those issues

CB Eric Stokes
CB Eric Stokes

Matt from Waunakee, WI

People Magazine leaves me off the sexiest man alive list again. Now II leaves me off their MVP final four. What's next?

A resetting of personal priorities?

Kerry from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Could you see Lambeau Field hosting an annual big-time college football game before the NFL season starts similar to what AT&T Stadium and Mercedes-Benz Stadium host every year?

Annually, no, not on a natural grass field when that game would fall between the preseason and regular season. When Lambeau hosted Wisconsin vs. LSU in 2016, the last two games of the preseason and first two of the regular season were both on the road, so all the field prep/use was manageable. I'm sure the team will seek similar scheduling accommodations for Wisconsin vs. Notre Dame in 2026.

Zak from Huntington Beach, CA

Is the playing surface on the practice fields identical to the grass in Lambeau? I know the stadium has the heating elements and drainage/etc., which the practice fields likely do not share, but does it feel the same when you walk on them? I was wondering if they have different surfaces on each field so the players have an easier time adapting to the variety of surfaces they'll play on throughout the season.

The practice fields are the same, for consistency purposes, and have/had similar heating and drainage, except the indoor one (Hutson Center), obviously. When Nitschke Field was redone to put bleachers in a while back, heating elements were added under one end of it. When Hinkle Field was redone within the last couple of years, heating was added underneath the entire surface and the partial heating was removed from Nitschke.

Benjamin from Evergreen Park, IL

It seems to me in our microwave society that the fan base has really written off Eric Stokes based on his second-year campaign. Performance was part of it, but injuries were a bigger part. He came on to the scene so strong, he covered Chase well in that Bengals game two years ago. Do you envision fire and passion in his comeback?

I don't anticipate any lack of energy from Stokes when he gets back on the field, but his performance won't be based on fire and passion. It'll hinge on putting together all the lessons learned, good and bad, over his first 1½ years in this league before getting hurt. He's a talented, athletic young man who still has it all in front of him.

William from Rosedale, IN

Although all professional football players are physically amazing individuals, we often make note of the ones who have chiseled muscle mass. Yet who is a player that physically was more "normal" but due to heart and desire, achieved on the field?

Well, I'll preface this by saying offensive linemen aren't "normal" size. But Corey Linsley would never win a body-building contest, yet he might've been the strongest guy in his position group when he played here. That dude could kill it in the weight room, and it showed on the field, but you'd never know it by looking at him.

Jodi from Grand Rapids, WI

Do you know how much I know about Jordan Love's personal views on potentially controversial topics? Nothing.

A clean slate in more ways than one.

Shaun from Bayside, WI

What do you feel the RB position will turn into the next 5-10 years? Every year we see RBs with large contracts getting cut and more RB by committees being taken up by teams. Will RBs start to take less money (Aaron Jones) to play longer? Do you see fewer premier athletes choosing RB as their position in college knowing the short career it has become?

Taking less money to play longer has already begun. As far as the positions premier athletes choose, maybe, but I could see that going in cycles somewhat, too. Because just as the storyline on the death of premier running backs in the draft is taking hold, when none were chosen in the first round in 2022, suddenly two were picked in the top 12 selections in April.

Dana from Eau Claire, WI

There have been some articles and talking heads writing about the Packers having a "soft" defense. Now I would never call a professional football player soft because I don't believe that's possible, however, there are a lot of defenses which seem much more aggressive than the Packers have been the last few years. How does a defense develop this mindset, confidence or the "mean streak" that gives them a tough reputation?

I think it's mostly based on the results a defense produces when it gets aggressive. If a defense can shift from read-and-react to attack mode and not get gashed for big plays – which is how offenses make defenses pay for being overly aggressive – then it can stay in that mode without having to revert to "softer" play. Provide faith that aggression is productive rather than risky and a defense will adopt the mindset. Easier said than done in a QB-driven league.

Jace from Eagle, ID

Getting back to the red-zone efficiency the Packers had in 2020, a big reason for the offense's success was Aaron Jones. I don't have the stats in front of me, but in the 2022 season it seemed like AJ Dillon was taking a majority of the snaps inside the 5-10 yard lines. I understand ML's reasoning for getting a power back (like Dillon) in the game for short-yardage situations, but Jones seems to have much more success near the goal line. Something they need to get back to.

Jones has proven to be the more dynamic player. But hearing Dillon talk this spring about how disappointed he was in his production last season has me wondering what we might see from him this year. Love is going to need both guys in short yardage, red zone, all of it.

Christopher from Stratford upon Avon, UK

Does strengthening the run defense always result in a focus in the secondary of man-to-man?

Not at all.

Joe from Kewaunee, WI

Regarding Ray from Marquette's question on playbooks, when my sons played in high school, they ran a dumb-downed version of the West Coast offense. They had about 100 plays in their offensive playbook. They would add plays in depending on the opponent each week. I would think an NFL playbook would be unlimited as it grows with personnel and abilities.

Very true, though offseasons are also spent on paring back the playbook and taking out concepts that didn't work, weren't used much, etc. Otherwise any rookie or new acquisition has no chance to get up to speed in one spring/summer.

Bob from Grand Rapids, MI

Trying to narrow down Raymond from Marquette's question: What is your best estimate of the number of potential offensive plays chosen for a particular game? Do you think variations on these chosen plays might be added mid-game if the defense shows a certain proclivity?

Yes to the latter. Coaches adjust and react to that all the time, but they prefer the base concept they're building on to be one they've repped in practice that week (or very recently). McCarthy always used to say they'd take enough into a game to play a doubleheader, though I think he cut that back later in his tenure. So that puts my best guess at a game plan including anywhere from maybe 75-100 total plays. Again, it's tough to know how to actually count them all when the game plan is broken up into so many segments/situations – normal d/d, third down, red zone, goal-to-go, short yardage, backed up, get back on track (or long d/d, such as after a penalty or sack). In a normal week, coaches put in about a 16-hour day on Tuesdays building the game plan so they can present it to the players in Wednesday meetings.

Jeffery from Brooklyn, WI

Hey guys, it's getting close to the pads going on. Which rookie are you most excited to see in them?

Dan from Inver Grove Heights, MN

When it comes to devastating losses, there's the objective, like the various crushing playoff defeats, but also the subjective. I grew up a Packers fan in Chicago through the '70s and '80s. I was a newlywed in a huge family of serious Bears fan in-laws when, on Dec 7, 1980, the Packers lost 61-7. OK, Walter Payton did a lot of the damage, but we gave up three passing TDs to Vince Evans for crying out loud. Longest afternoon of my life.

That Bears team finished 7-9, too. Chicago didn't get good until '84, and as dominant a streak as the Bears had in the rivalry there pre-Favre, a number of those games were actually pretty close. That game in '80 was a real outlier, including the 57-degree temps at Soldier Field in early December.

Venny from Montgomery, AL

While the playoff game against the Bucs in 2020 was very disappointing, I would contend that last year's season finale against the Lions was more disappointing. Probably not top five all time, but it's close. Home game coming off a big win against the Vikes, playing against the worst defense in the league, statistically speaking, the defense largely played well and special teams was solid. I was more dumbfounded by the results of that game than many other previous losses.

Can't say I was. Disappointed, absolutely. Dumbfounded? Nope. Even during the late four-game winning streak, the Packers were still having all kinds of trouble in red-zone and goal-to-go, particularly in the Chicago and Miami victories. They never solved those issues and it eventually cost 'em again.

Monty from Velva, ND

In answering Joshua from Milwaukee, Mike said the college game functions fine without illegal contact. To take that a step further, is there any chance that PI not be a spot foul? I don't see college DBs purposefully dragging down WRs when they get beat.

This has come up a lot, and the bottom line is the league loves offense, which is why the illegal contact and DPI spot-foul rules exist. The latter encourages deep shots, which promote scoring and create drama. I think the league would rather live with significant but questionable calls resulting in big gains than open the door to the opportunity for rules subversion, even if it would be rare. This is what I find funny, though. In a basic sense, if the logic behind DPI as a spot foul is that the receiver would've caught the pass and gained the yardage, then should OPI result in an interception? Ha, could you imagine?

Benjamin from Holly Springs, NC

I'm hearing rumblings of the Jets possibly being on "Hard Knocks" this year. What do you think the chances of that are to happen?

It has felt inevitable for a while now, as previously discussed. The inevitable has just been delayed.

Bruce from Menomonee Falls, WI

Regarding the question from Nathan from Philadelphia, I recognize you're not interested in what video stats might motivate Jordan. But maybe leaving that out there's still a decent question in there. One (or both?) of you have mentioned that you just want to see improvement through the year for JL10 (learning from his mistakes) to consider his first year a success. Any idea what he is aiming for to consider the year a success? Super Bowl? Playoffs? A winning record? Something else?

I haven't heard him get asked that question, but players almost never reveal individual goals or targets anyway. There's no benefit to putting those out there for public consumption. Whether or not he considers his first season a success, and why or why not, is a question I'm sure he'll be asked after it's over. Not before it begins.

Jeff from Janesville, WI

At least we have you fine folks to keep us entertained through the dead zone.

And that entertainment is now turned over to Wes for the next week or so. Enjoy your annual Outsider Inbox, folks. Here's a quick update from Wes in the meantime: Thank you for all the submissions to Outsider Inbox. The response has been sensational to this year's questions, especially the first one about your favorite pieces of memorabilia. So much so that we're going to split the submissions to that question between the first day of Outsider Inbox (Monday, July 3) and the last (Saturday, July 8).

Marty from Rancho Cordova, CA

I've been troubled by something and I'd like to ask for clarification. If I submit a bad joke for the Outsider Inbox, do I then see myself out through the in door, or in through the out door?

Happy Friday.

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