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Inbox: It's a role he can hold down for a long time

When you’re in the mix, you’re never that far off

CB Jaire Alexander
CB Jaire Alexander

Bruce from New Canaan, CT

Spoff, your observations of Walter Payton got me thinking about a hypothetical. Heck, it is the offseason. What professional athlete, past or present, from another sport, would you like to see play football and at what position?

Pete Rose. Middle linebacker. Now there's an image to start your Friday. OK, so he'd need to add some size, but you get the idea.

Big from Rochester, NY

Since AR's first playoff appearance in 2009 we are a paltry 1-6 against NFC West teams in the playoffs. I've dubbed this the "West Coast Curse." What do they got on us?

Home field. Five of those six losses came on the road. At least the Packers got off the schneid in the win column this year by hosting Seattle. Green Bay is 9-2 in the Rodgers era in the postseason against non-NFC West teams, by the way.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

The losing team in the Super Bowl usually does not have a good record the next season. How does the team that loses in the NFC Championship Game fare?

Well, when you look at the last decade, it's a mixed bag, as expected. The 2010 Vikings went 6-10, the '11 Bears went 8-8, the '12 Niners reached the Super Bowl, the '13 Falcons went 4-12, the '14 Niners went 8-8, the '15 Packers went 10-6 and won a wild-card game, the '16 Cardinals went 7-8-1, the '17 Packers started 4-1 and dropped to 7-9 with Rodgers' injury, the '18 Vikings went 8-7-1, and the '19 Saints went 13-3 and bowed out in the wild-card round. So, of the last 10, only three reached the playoffs the following year and they chalked up a total of three postseason wins, one by the Packers.

Sachin from Sydney, Australia

What did you think of Andy Reid saying, "We will be back next year," in the victory parade? I get it he is confident with this win, but didn't he realize for KC to win this year so many things went their way? Like the first-round bye via the Dolphins winning against NE, some sort of luck in every playoff comeback, in the Super Bowl Jimmy G missing Sanders by a few yards, Kyle Shanahan totally not committing to runs, and so on. I know to win players need to perform, but for wins you need luck as well.

Every championship run of the last couple of decades includes some lucky breaks. Green Bay's nine years ago was no different. It's the nature of it now, with the parity in the league and the sheer volume of games that come down to the fourth quarter. It's why we watch.

Chris from Wausau, WI

I stopped reading II to watch the Super Bowl XLV highlights posted within it. My memory failed me and I didn't recall being up 21-3 at one point in that game. Then, late in the fourth quarter, we needed a long drive, up by only three, to run clock and eventually kick a field goal to extend the lead. That was followed by a defensive stop to seal the game. Am I the only one who sees a comparison between that game and many (if not most) of the 2019 wins? Maybe we aren't as far off as some think.

Or Tramon Williams slips in Philly and Michael Vick's pass to Riley Cooper ends the Packers' playoff run before it even gets started. When you're in the mix, you're never that far off, and when you're on top, you don't need binoculars to see those below.

Jeff from Kenosha, WI

Wait for the compensatory picks to be distributed? I must not understand how that works. With how active the Packers were in FA last year I didn't think they would be awarded any compensatory picks.

They won't be, but there's no way to know the Packers' actual pick numbers in Rounds 4-7 until the compensatory picks (which start at the end of Round 3) are dished out league-wide.

Bill from Menominee, MI

I know this isn't going to be a popular opinion but hear me out. With the current contracts in place, the Packers are as close to all-in as they've flirted with in many years. The talent is in place to make a run. Does it make sense to add a second- to third-tier veteran QB this season? If Rodgers were to be injured, the ship would have a chance to sail. Dalton, Mariota, Rivers, Hill, and a few other names come to mind.

At what cost? If that investment is going to prevent the team from getting the receiver or inside linebacker or defensive lineman in free agency needed to improve, I'm not making the sacrifice. No one can have it all.

Kyle from Appleton, WI

Good morning. Do you have an XFL team you are rooting for, or a specific player you are following? Thanks.

Sorry, but I'll use this to declare I won't be viewing a down of the XFL, so you'll have to get your XFL questions answered by Wes. It's nothing personal, but I have to disconnect from watching the game for a while every offseason. I'll be diving into basketball and baseball now for several months so I'm recharged for football again in 2020.

Nicholas from Portland, OR

Looks like Sternberger will be the Packers' most overhyped player going into next season. Guy made one play in garbage time and he's the next KittleGronk. Congratulations Inbox, you've heaped enormous pressure on a young prospect yet again.

I've been trying to temper the talk, though I do think Jace Sternberger shows a lot of promise. The Packers spent the 75th pick in the draft on him for a reason. But your point is well-taken. Everyone thought after the Arizona OT playoff loss four years ago Jeff Janis would be the next great receiver in the pipeline, but it didn't work out that way. We just have to wait and see.

Brian from Rockaway, NJ

Mike, in regards to your comments on Canton and the way that seven members are voted in annually, what are your thoughts on Cooperstown and needing 75% of the votes? 2013 saw nobody being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. What do you think the outrage would be if that system were implemented for football?

The summer Hall of Fame Game is built around the annual induction ceremonies, so they make sure there's an induction to go with the game (though not always the other way around … rimshot). You technically need 80% for Canton in the final vote, from a much smaller panel of 50 rather than around 400 in baseball, but they eliminated that last requirement this year as they pared the finalists down so they'd have a full modern-era class of five to add to the special centennial group of 15 to make an even 20 for 2020. As I said yesterday, it's about what's good for business, so I don't get too worked up about it. I have my issues with baseball's voting system, too, but those have more to do with individuals who have their own rules about not voting players in on the first ballot, which is asinine. One voter didn't vote for Derek Jeter, three didn't vote for Ken Griffey Jr., five for Tom Seaver, six for Nolan Ryan, eight for Cal Ripken Jr., nine for Hank Aaron, and the list goes on. Mariano Rivera is the only unanimous Hall of Famer in Cooperstown, and it took until last year for it to happen. That's absurd.

Nikhil from Washington, DC

Hello II, when might we be able to watch a football game in all-22 or from the Skycam? I'd rather watch a play develop ahead of me instead of only watching the line to see if the quarterback will get sacked. I feel like you miss too much of what's happening when you can't see the routes develop on a passing play, or see a defender coming out of the secondary to make a tackle on a run up the middle that gets to the second or third level.

I think eventually those options will be available to viewers on a regular basis (they are now occasionally in college football), but I'm not sure when. If the simulcasts can be coordinated so everyone gets the same replays, but perhaps their live-action view is different, then it might really catch on. But I don't know when the networks will reach that level of capability, or if they're interested in doing so.

Gary from Davenport, IA

The recent question about the '96 Packers made me think about how underrated that team was. They are one of only two teams since the merger to lead the league in most points scored and fewest points allowed. The other team was the '72 Dolphins. Wouldn't you say that's pretty good company?

Certainly, and I think the '96 Packers would be more revered in football history if the '97 Packers had completed the back-to-back.

John from Belleview, FL

All this talk about needing new receivers has me puzzled. Weren't the wideouts learning the new system just like Rodgers? Rodgers had a "subpar" year compared to his normal performance, with not much "hurry-up" offense available. Rather than start over with new receivers, won't the current crew get more "comfortable" and thus faster and more productive in ML's system?

Sure, but to bank entirely on that would be foolish given the results in 2019. After the bye week, with 10 games under their belts, only one wide receiver other than Adams had more than three catches in a game the rest of the season, including playoffs. Lazard did it twice (five catches in Week 16, four in Week 17). That was it. The rest was token help. The production wasn't there when the adjustments to the new system should have diminished.

Bill from Bloomfield Hills, MI

Jaire, as one of our defensive stars, seemed to have gotten lost in all the discussion of the new FAs and rookies and our guys who some feel were disappointing. Could you give an objective summary of his season, how much growth he had this year and what it bodes for the future?

Jaire Alexander was without question the team's top corner, and it's a role he can hold down for a long time. The way he bounced back from the Dallas game showed his maturity. He broke up a team-high 23 passes, an impressive number given the times QBs were staying away from him. Yes, he took some chances here and there and got beat, but I think he learned reliability is the foundation for bigger plays to come. I felt the Packers had a true No. 1 corner for the first time since Sam Shields went down in Week 1 of 2016 in Jacksonville.

Derek from Sheboygan, WI

With all the talk of needing to look toward the quarterback position in the first round of the 2020 draft, do you think the Packers will look for a quarterback at this stage?

No. I still say it's too soon. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Brian from Maple Grove, MN

Hey II, so the Packers' goal was to add speed the last couple years but now it seems that our "speed" is not fast enough? How do we catch up?

Upgrade at more spots. The Packers have gotten a lot faster at defensive back and running back the last couple of years. Now the receiver, tight end and inside linebacker positions need more.

Ben from Pensacola, FL

So last offseason before the draft, four needs were filled, and that allowed Gutey to pick what he and his team felt was the best available player. The four important picks – Rashan Gary, Darnell Savage, Sternberger, and Elgton Jenkins – and this year picking at a much later position than last year sets them able to again pick the best available player. The four FA pickups and those four draft choices will also really be in GB's future runs.

Teams can keep moving forward if they aren't constantly backtracking to compensate for mistakes.

Matt from Waunakee, WI

Hi Mike, thanks for the "Ball Four" referral. I enjoyed the read.

It's a classic. I'm trying something new with my reading this list offseason – fiction. Taking a crack at the original Robert Ludlum "Bourne" series. I've never been able to get enough of the movies, so I'm thinking this is a new avenue.

Chris from New Canaan, CT

The cart can go before the horse. It depends entirely on which way you want the cart to go...

Are you related to Bruce, or do you know him? Your town is only 20,000 folks, so I've always wondered. Happy Friday.

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