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Inbox: It's an experience business

There’s value in every rep a young player takes in the spring

QB Jordan Love

Dar from Mansfield, TX

Let me encourage readers that some of the most innovative Inbox ideas (e.g., laser goalposts) have come during the offseason and/or dead zone, so everyone keep your game sharp and standards high! That said, Wes, you are the Tuesday Inbox bartender and I've got a delicious idea. As one of our first specials, how would you feel about Taco Tuesday?

I'm strongly in favor of it. Don't believe me? When my family was gone in California, I literally had my own "Taco Tuesday" night. For real. It was just me, our cat Joan, and two pounds of perfectly seasoned hamburger meat.

John from Jupiter, FL

Morning Wes. If Jordan Love gets as much work as possible with the anticipation Aaron Rodgers won't be back and then he comes in last-minute, what does that do to the psyche of Jordan Love? Thanks.

Nothing. He's a 22-year-old quarterback. It's not as if those reps this offseason are lost if Love isn't starting in Week 1. It's an experience business. Any experience Love gains today is going to benefit him tomorrow. There's value in every rep a young player takes in the spring, especially in Love's seat in the QB room.

Vinny from Arlington, VA

Another A. Rodgers question: Did Amari Rodgers play any outside WR or did he play exclusively in the slot from the practices you attended? Thank you.

The Packers used him as a traditional slot receiver, which wasn't surprising. Under LaFleur, the Packers tend to let incoming rookies start at their "home base," so to speak, and build from there. Rodgers did some jet motions, too.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Is Amari Rodgers a front-runner for the punt return job?

Yes. It won't just be handed to him but Rodgers was by far the most comfortable guy back there during OTAs.

Michael from Hammond, WI

Do you think Eric Stokes will beat out Kevin King for the starting cornerback position?

Historically, the Packers haven't started many rookie corners in Week 1. Jarrett Bush started over Casey Hayward in 2012, Hayward and Sam Shields were ahead of Damarious Randall in 2015 and Tramon Williams started ahead of Jaire Alexander in 2018 (though Josh Jackson did start on the perimeter in nickel that day). The aforementioned rookies all cracked the starting lineup in short order but it wasn't right away. Stokes will start when the Packers feel he's ready to start. Until then, his focus needs to be on developing his first-round talent. Nothing more, nothing less.

Nic from London, UK

When you say ML's offense is predicated on play-action and emphasizing the run game, does that mean that the run game is used to open up the deep ball? In other words, if the run game isn't working, does it eliminate a portion of the offense or restrict you to short and intermediate passes, or is it reductive to say it affects the passing game in such a direct manner?

To an extent but it's not that simple. The run game is a catalyst in Mike Shanahan's West Coast offense – the system his son Kyle, Gary Kubiak, Matt LaFleur and Sean McVay were all schooled in. It's not that the whole operation shuts down if you can't run the ball, but the offense runs smoother when you can. The ground game gets the defense moving. It challenges their conditioning and forces them to think more. And the more a defense has to think, the slower it is to react to what's happening on the field. There's a reason Aaron Jones was the Packers' "home-run hitter" in the fourth quarter last year. While the run game is the battering ram breaking through the floodgates, the Packers can still scale the wall for entry, too, if necessary. That's how you become the league's highest-scoring offense.

Blake from Orlando, FL

A lot of hype surrounding our top three pass rushers in Za'Darius Smith, Preston Smith, and Rashan Gary. Who do you expect to emerge to be the fourth?

While Oren Burks is back with the inside linebackers again, the Packers still have two returning outside rushers from last year's 53 in Randy Ramsey and Jonathan Garvin. I, for one, thought Ramsey had a nice spring. He was in the backfield quite a bit in team 11-on-11 and has the perfect frame for coverage teams. It's a wide-open competition, though, with practice-squad holdovers Delontae Scott and Tipa Galeai, and undrafted rookie Carlo Kemp also competing.

Shane from Trenton, TX

Is the D-line the weak link this year or do you think they got tons better this offseason?

It would be idealistic to say the D-line got "tons" better after only adding fifth-round pick T.J. Slaton. However, I think most of the issues the D-line experienced last year can be calmed by Kenny Clark staying healthy and Kingsley Keke's growth. Dean Lowry was back to his old self by the end of last season and Tyler Lancaster is a good hand as a rotational guy. The Packers have some horses in the trenches. They just gotta keep 'em healthy…and hope Slaton can contribute at some point this year.

Robert from Salem, MA

Do you foresee the Packers grabbing any remaining free agents that are still available?

Barring injury, no. The Packers got the veteran inside linebacker they wanted in De'Vondre Campbell and made sure to get him into camp before the summer break. I don't see them bringing in anyone else at this juncture unless it's necessary.

Robert from Verona, WI

Parting ways with players is part of the business, but what player or players were the most difficult for you to see go? As a fan, I generally find it easier to see a player leave if they're getting paid big money because you can be happy for them. It's a bit harder when a player isn't likely to catch on elsewhere or when you feel like the team let them go too early. Two of the toughest for me were Jordy Nelson and Charles Woodson – I thought they had more to contribute as members of the Packers.

On a personal level, it was Micah Hyde and Jayrone Elliott. I connected with both guys back in my newspaper days and value those relationships to this day. Professionally…Julius Peppers. I'm not a scout and I'm usually wrong more than I am right, but I still felt like there was some stuff left in the basement when Peppers went back to Carolina in 2017. It's a young man's game but there's always a few veterans out there who defy logic. Peppers did just that for 16 years.

Neil from Tunbridge Wells, England

Have there been any occasions that, despite all your preparation and practice, you've struggled with someone's name when interviewing them?

Yes, but I'm drawing a blank on good examples. But it's totally happened. I'll keep thinking.

TK from Grafton, WI

Do you think a fan's attitude toward the Packers reflects his or her general outlook on life? Pessimistic, optimistic, wearing green and gold glasses, drinking the kool-aid, etc.? I do.

I could see how someone's outlook on the Packers shines through to other aspects of their life. My old friend, Pete Dougherty, has a saying about how an individual approaches basketball often translates to how that person lives their life. I can't speak to the overarching nature of that statement, but it definitely applies to me – a sweaty try-hard who may not be the most talented player/person but isn't afraid to outwork everyone.

Jeff from Eveleth, MN

Did you enjoy the U.S. Open? I realized that I just like saying the name Jon Rahm.

Please see my previous answer regarding golf last week.

Stan from (I'm not publishing this fake town in), FL

Nice try, Ted from Kiewicz, NV. I thought it sounded strange, so I googled it. Can't find any town or village in Nevada with that name listed. Wes/Mike: Do you guys check out locations where question-askers are from, before publishing their locations?

I always do. In this case, however, I didn't want to admit Kiewicz doesn't actually exist because I want to believe it does. I want to believe!

Michael from Weston, Ontario

I was checking out your infographic on Packers jerseys, the 1922-1924 jersey would be a whole lotta fun. Any update on the third jersey? Or is it still on double-secret probation?

I have nothing to add to what Spoff wrote yesterday, but please Michael, tell me more about Weston, Ontario. Sounds like a lovely place.

Kyle from West Valley City, UT

Hey Wes, this Ainsworth Spofford business came up from a question I asked after the playoffs ended in 2019. I don't recall if you ever answered it yourself, though. So here it is again for you! Care to share an interesting fact about yourself?

I'm very proud of my ancestry, which I've researched heavily over the past 10 years. My favorite branch of my genealogy is my great grandfather on my mother's side, Casimir, who grew up as an indentured servant in Russian-partitioned Poland. He came to the United States prior to World War I and worked in the Chicago mills for two years to earn enough money to bring my great grandmother, Josephine, to the U.S. Together, they earned enough to move their young family to Pulaski, where farmland was a penny an acre. I often think about how the totality of those difficult, life-changing decisions is why I'm here today.

Ben from Menomonee Falls, WI

Not a question, more of a comment. I really appreciate the Inbox's philosophy on waiting to convey information until it becomes official (and having a no math policy). I also really like the culture you guys have created with in the II. The Inbox is almost like a family. Honestly it's really about the people! Like Lori from Brookfield, the poem guy, and all the crazies who comment down below. Not once have I ever been offended by anything posted here. Thanks, and keep up the great work guys!

If you can't tell by now, I'm a relationship person. I have a hard time getting invested into something if there's no relationship (or why) behind it. So, I thoroughly appreciate the folks I've met through Inbox over the years (Keith from Landover sends us a $25 priority shipping box filled with Girl Scout cookies every year for crying out loud) as well as the personalities that have flourished in this forum. That's why I'm so excited for Outsider Inbox IV in two weeks. It's your time to shine.

Andy from Verona, WI

I know this is a bit late, but I hope the two of you had a wonderful Father's Day!

Thank you so much, Andy. I did. There's nothing better than being a father. It's the most gratifying thing I could ever do in this life.

Katherine from Milwaukee, WI

Which running backs will make the final roster?

Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon and…oops, looks like I reached my word limit.


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