Inbox: It makes an ending more memorable

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Sebastian from Erlangen, Germany

Insiders, I am excited to watch four of the top offenses in the league duke it out this weekend. Which remaining defense would you say sticks out the most?

Saints. I think they’ve been the most complete team in the league all season.

Roger from Onalaska, WI

Which remaining team would you describe as peaking the most?

That’s a tough one, because I thought all four winning teams took their games to another level last weekend. The first three came out of the gates throwing haymakers and dominating. New Orleans dominated after taking the first couple of punches.

Nick from London, UK

Why would you ever publish questions about positive Packers streaks (Corey Linsley's consecutive starts, Rodgers' INT-free pass attempts, D-Bak's All-Pro run...)? You're tempting fate! You should only discuss negative streaks in a public forum to reverse-jinx them into ending. Suitable candidates include winless road record, consecutive seasons with a Rodgers injury, number of games featuring a ST blunder, etc.

Don’t worry. My offseason project is to turn Wes’s cube into Pedro Cerrano’s locker when he goes on vacation.

Adam from Wausau, WI

Even if we don't sign one free agent, is this already the most exciting offseason in the last decade?

Certainly the most intriguing one since 2008.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Why do some of the smartest football minds on the planet make poor clock management choices? With 2:18 left in the NO-Philly game, the Eagles were driving and inside the NO 30-yard line. After a running play, Foles inexplicably rushed the team to the line of scrimmage to get off one more play before the two-minute warning. That was their last play of the game because NO made the pick. Never mind the result. Why rush to run a play in that situation? Score too soon and Brees beats you anyway.

I didn’t understand the hurry either, unless they wanted to keep the Saints in a certain personnel package for one more play, and it was a good play. But I think that’s one thing that makes Rodgers the two-minute master. He knows how to put the team in position and drain the clock to eliminate the opponent’s opportunity to respond.

Mike from Pleasant Prairie, WI

The Packers need to retool some positions this year and at the same time learn a new offensive system. With all of the moving parts can they win the division?

Isn’t that what the Bears just did?

Chris from Golden Valley, MN

After Mason Crosby had a slump year in 2012 the Packers rallied around him and his production has been very good since. Would you anticipate the Bears to do the same with Cody Parkey?

I’m not getting that sense.

Kyle from West Valley City, UT

Here's an offseason question for you...Care to share an interesting fact about yourself?

My last name is etched in a stairwell at the Library of Congress. I’m a direct descendant of Ainsworth Rand Spofford. Go ahead and Google him. He was a journalist, too, getting back to that tempting fate thing.

Ruben from Santander, Spain

Do you think a perceived abundance, or lack, of any given position or group will have an impact in how free agency is approached? Or BAP should be also common procedure in the market regardless?

BAP is a draft-specific strategy. Price tags in free agency are always influenced by supply and demand at a given position.

Matt from Albany, NY

What are your thoughts on switching Josh Jackson to safety? I hear a lot of people saying this would make sense. He’s a ball hawk but not really great at press coverage...he tends to grab a lot of receivers.

I wouldn’t rule anything out, but I see a lot of upside to Jackson at corner, and corners are harder to find than safeties. I guess we’ll see.

Jeff from Vandenberg AFB, CA

I've been meaning to ask this for a while, what do you think about the college kickoff rule where the player can call for a fair catch and it is an automatic touchback? Do you think the NFL would/should adopt it?

I think the NFL has accomplished what it wanted to from a player-safety standpoint with the new kickoff rules it instituted, so I don’t foresee adopting that portion of the college rule. But if such a change would be traded for allowing players on the kickoff team to line up more than a yard off the ball again, so onside kicks aren’t a less-than-10-percent proposition anymore, I could go for it.

Amy from Bayport, MN

Greg from Sydney got me wondering about playbooks. If I’m not mistaken, they are now tablets. Teams are always trying to get a competitive edge. Some are willing to resort to less than ethical means. How long do you think it will be before we have “Cybergate”? In this digital age, could someone potentially hack into an organization’s network and steal information?

It happened a few years ago in Major League Baseball. Who knows.

Tina from Brooklyn, NY

Looking back to last week when all the news was breaking about LaFleur, how upset were you that you guys couldn't write anything about the hiring at all until it was official? Competing news outlets got multiple stories in before you could even mention anything. As old newspaper guys, that had to be demoralizing to be hamstrung by your employer and get scooped by all of your colleagues. Be honest.

The organization’s position is to not have any news posted on the team website until it’s official. That way it’s impossible to ever publish a headline that would have to be retracted. As journalists, we wish we could do more, but I can respect that.

Jeremiah from Madison, WI

So we're looking for a new offensive line coach. I hear a coach for a team which allowed the fewest sacks this year is newly available.

I would expect Dave DeGuglielmo to be in fairly high demand.

Dan from Indianapolis, IN

After watching the Eagles' last-minute comeback drive end on an interception, I wondered how often this happens, especially in the playoffs. There seems to be no dagger as painful and abrupt. The team attempting the comeback is passing on almost 100 percent of plays, and my memory sure seems to recall this happening often.

It certainly makes an ending more memorable, and that may have a bearing on your perception. Such endings defined the Packers’ last run to a title. Collins vs. Chicago in Week 17, Williams at Philly in the wild-card round, Shields at Chicago for the NFC title. And a Super Bowl ended on a goal-line pick not long ago.

Kevin from Van Nuys, CA

I have no issue with the fact the Patriots got to play at home. The real issue is the NFL gave a West Coast team an early start time for a critical playoff game. There was a study published by Football Outsiders in 2016 using 374 games from 2001 to 2015. It shows home teams win 57.2 percent of the time. In games where a West Coast team travels for an early game against an East Coast team, the East Coast team wins 64.4 percent of the time. Seems the NFL should consider this when scheduling games.

The Chargers had actually won the last four times, dating back to December of last year, they played a road game with a 10 a.m. PT start, including the previous week in the wild-card round at Baltimore. But doing it back-to-back was a tall order, no doubt.

Andrew from Manassas, VA

The draft is still pretty far out, but when will we start seeing some Prospect Primers?

Not until after we get back from the scouting combine in early March.

Take a look back and celebrate the anniversary of Super Bowl I where the Packers defeated the Chiefs, 35-10.

John from Clintonville, WI

I've seen some discussion about what will constitute a "successful" first season under Coach LaFleur. For me it's easy: Make the playoffs. Anything less would fall short of "successful." In today's NFL if you get into the dance who knows what can happen, right? With parity being the factor it is, and the fact that the Packers have "The Man" at QB, the playoffs should be the baseline standard, even in Year 1. Anything less (like 8-8 in 2006) is just a moral victory in my book.

I tend to agree. I will say that 8-8 in 2006 was definitely progress coming off 4-12, but this team didn’t bottom out to that extent. Given the Packers have been eliminated from playoff contention in Week 15 each of the last two years, I’ll say a win-to-get-in scenario in Week 17 would constitute a move forward, but it would be a major letdown not to capitalize, of course.

Bruce from Green Bay, WI

Looking at pictures of the Packers’ Super Bowl victories I noticed the opposing teams had the players’ names on the back of their jerseys but Green Bay did not. Do you know when the Packers started to put their names on or when it became the league norm to do so?

It became league-mandated with the 1970 merger, I believe.

Scott from Las Vegas, NV

Since you watched the playoff games on your TV this past week, how much different is it to you vs. being at the stadium? For me, it’s the never-ending commercials and breaks that seem to last forever when watching on TV to the point where we record the game and watch it afterwards so we can fast forward through the never-ending stops.

When I watch games at home, I have something to read at my side and turn to it the moment a commercial comes on. I’ve gotten a lot of reading done the last two weekends.

Nathan from Knoxville, TN

A lot of fans want to trade one or both draft picks. However, it seems like three picks in the top 50 could be very valuable this year considering these picks will be under contract until Rodgers is 39, maybe 40, if the fifth-year option is used on first-round players. Plus the salary cap hit would be lower for the three than one Brown.

Pretty much my thoughts as well. For my money, I anticipate the Packers having too many roster needs (starting lineup and depth) to be packaging picks for one expensive player.

Andrew from Dayton, OH

Why in the world would we need to get Antonio Brown? I don't have the stats in front of me but isn't Davante Adams just as productive, if not more, since he entered the league? Even with Brett Hundley as his quarterback for the better part of a season? For Pete's sake … whomever Pete is.

Whoever Pete is.

Adam from Rochester, NY

I remember thinking after Week 1 the Saints’ draft pick would be pretty high. Now that it isn't, I actually think there is value in a late-round pick with teams wanting to jump back into the first round to get an extra year out of their pick. What do you think?

You’re suggesting the Packers might trade that pick at the bottom of the first round for a second-rounder and an extra third or fourth? Wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest, but it all depends on what the draft board looks like when the time comes. The board will look different to the Packers in that moment than it does to other teams. Its beauty is always in the eye of the beholder.

Michael from Hartland, WI

If you were in Kyler Murray's shoes, would you choose baseball or football?

Baseball’s always been the game I love, so it would be an easy call for me. He needs to pick the sport he loves the most, because chances for success are greater and for regrets are lesser doing something you love.

Andy from Tomah, WI

What happens to the remaining portion of coaches’ contracts when they are released before the contracts expire? Does it matter or change if they are picked up by another team?

They are owed the salary remaining on their contract from their original team, but if they get another job, any pay from the new team offsets what the original team owes. That’s a bit of an oversimplification, but the general idea.

Cody from Thunder Bay, Canada

I was wondering, what would happen (when the new stadium opens) if the Chargers and Rams, or Giants and Jets were both hosting conference championships in the same year? How could that possibly work?

Interesting. I suspect the league would either move one of the conference title games to Saturday night or Monday night. At MetLife in Jersey, you could maybe play both on the same day, the first at 1 p.m. ET and the other at 8:30 p.m. ET. It would be extremely difficult to stay within “normal” TV time slots in LA, though.

Andrew from Simi Valley, CA

I saw that the Eagles and Jaguars have negative cap space. How can that be?

Presumably that’s a projection of 2019 commitments. They have until the first day of the new league year, 4 p.m. ET on March 13, to have their top 51 contracts under the cap.

Aaron from Dallas, TX

There’s been lots of talk that “stack a team with talent while you have a young, talented and cheap QB” is the next hot NFL trend. Has anyone taken note that the hypothesis will have its best comparisons on the field Sunday?

Indeed, and if it’s a split decision, I guess the ultimate test will be in the Super Bowl, right? It’s nice for conversation, but I don’t really look at it that way anyhow. The fact that the league’s last four standing feature two young QBs and two well-compensated vets tells you there’s more than one way to get there.

Betty from Cedar Rapids, IA

Would Brees vs. Brady be the oldest dueling pair of QBs in Super Bowl history granted NE and NO win this weekend?

Yes, and the winner would be the oldest QB to win a Super Bowl. Brady is 41, Brees turned 40 yesterday. Peyton Manning won a Super Bowl at 39.

Anthony from Green Bay, WI

What do you think the Packers will be looking to get out of the next draft?

Good players.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

Spoff, complacency was identified by players, administrators and others in the team approach. Does it change your theory of “just get into the playoffs?” I really feel that mantra is exactly where this team approach had been and is why the long-term sclerosis creeped in. Combined with the lack of wild-card team advancement there is a clear trend that each year has a few “it” teams. Winning a mediocre division or keeping a .500 record is not the indicator of success it once was.

I don’t like to make sweeping generalizations with a buzzword like complacency. Was it in-season or offseason? More players, coaches or front office? Maybe a little everywhere, sure, but I don’t think the entire organization was in some kind of malaise for the last five years, if that’s what you’re suggesting. Perhaps “run the table” in 2016 convinced too many there would always be a way into the postseason. I could buy that’s where the creep you speak of began, or took too firm a hold. But my get-in-and-roll-the-dice mantra is more from the fan perspective, honestly, because only one team is going to win it all anyway. That approach from me is to counter those who prefer to “load up” a supposed championship team to go for all the marbles. It takes too much future sacrifice, with no guarantee given so much can (and usually will) happen along the way. I’d always prefer to build a solid team, be an annual playoff contender, and take my chances multiple times than let it ride on one big gamble. That’s where I’m coming from.

Matt from Wauconda, IL

What’s your favorite thing to cover in cheese?

Macaroni.

Jeremiah from Oelwein, IA

I'd expect a missed “Shawshank Redemption” reference from Wes but not from you Mike. For shame Mike, for shame...

Indeed. No way Wes would have missed it, and I shouldn’t have either. Note to self: Avoid writing Monday morning’s Inbox in a bleary-eyed state. Wait, is that even possible?

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