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Inbox: It's part of a larger plan

It’s a different game in the middle of the field


Sam from Janesville, WI

I've never gotten goosebumps from reading II before, but I did yesterday from Mat from Christchurch. We can talk until we're blue about what the needs are in the draft and who the Packers should target, but in the grand scheme, none of it matters. Football is a pleasant distraction, but what truly matters is those we love. Never should we be distracted from that.

Sure puts life in perspective, doesn't it? Good morning!

Lincoln from Eau Claire, WI

Hey Wes, the question about how the buzz around the Packers' four March free-agent signings might be different if they were in-house extensions got me thinking. How much cheaper would they have been to retain if they were drafted as Packers versus signing away from the other 31 teams on the open market? We'll never know but another feather in the hat of drafting and developing young players, I'd guess.

The price goes up once free agency is on the horizon. One thing I feel the Packers, Ted Thompson, Russ Ball and now Brian Gutekunst don't get enough credit for is the extensions they've worked on with homegrown players prior to free agency. More often than not, the agreements have benefitted both parties. Looking at how much some of these free agents are netting, I think fans can feel fortunate the Packers took care of Davante Adams when they did.

Bob from Lexington, SC

I'm tired of reading articles that say Adrian Amos is just above average, and not worth the money; because he has few interceptions and blocked passes. I keep remembering one of the early articles that basically said, "The stats you have to look at with him is that he is always in the right place, so few passes are made his way; and that he almost never gives up a first down or TD." I'll take that over a guy who makes interceptions but is usually not where he should be. What do you think?

Exactly. This isn't fantasy football. NFL teams look for players who fit their system. You think Jim Leonhard had the success he did in Mike Pettine's defense because he was the best athlete who made the most turnovers? No, he contributed to one Top 10 defense after another by being an intelligent player who did his job. Pettine and Gutekunst know what they're doing. It's part of a larger plan.

Tom from Fairfield, CT

What are the attributes most desirable in a slot receiver that are different than attributes most desirable for a wide receiver? What are the reasons for the difference?

Short-area quickness is paramount for slot receivers. It's not that those traits don't translate to the perimeter, but it's a different game in the middle of the field. Getting the first step on defensive backs or coverage linebackers is what the best slot guys do to gain separation and move the chains.

Lenny from Frankfurt, Germany

I read we added another special teams coach this year. Why didn't we have three coaches the years before? Or asked differently: what's the downside of having three coaches in that area? Keep up the good work so I can keep reading these nuggets of yours every day before I go to bed!

There's some nuance to this. While the Packers haven't had a quality control coach for special teams before, they have had a third assistant helping that unit over the years. Heck, I think Mike McCarthy even helped out after giving up play-calling in 2015. Joe Whitt Jr. helped out on returns. The difference is they have three designated assistants this year.

JR from East Moline, IL

Favorite Clay play? Faking like he was going to help up Palmer.


Dan from Rothschild, WI

With all the FA movement, I guess you really are better off just rooting for a team rather than individual players. Otherwise it's just heartbreak, year after year.

If you think this is heartbreak, try being a Giants fan right now. You just lost Odell Beckham Jr. and Landon Collins in their prime. At least, Packers fans got 18 combined seasons out of Matthews and Randall Cobb. Those two contributed to a lot of success.

Max from Ingolstadt, Deutschland

It sure is fun watching Trevor Davis as a returner, but why hasn't he been used as a receiver more? And do you think that might change?

Davis is supremely talented. We all know that after watching what he's done as a returner. He would have had a chance for a larger role on offense had it not been for all of the lingering hamstring injuries. Davis just needs to get back, get healthy and earn trust in the offense.

Terry from Tomah. WI

If the Packers have a chance to draft a game-breaking receiver, why wouldn't you draft one in the first round if the position need is there? Depending on the first-round draft position in the next few years, we may not have the same opportunity. I'm glad you're not making the draft decisions for the Pack.

First, is receiver a primary position of need for Green Bay or a luxury? Honest question. OK, let's say it is. I love how some assume taking a receiver in the top 15 guarantees a perennial Pro Bowler. I'm sure the teams that drafted Corey Coleman, Kevin White, Tavon Austin and Justin Blackmon were expecting game-breaking receivers, too.

Bob from Sydney, Australia

Hi gents. My pick for the first round is a big guy on either side of the line. Neither are really immediate needs, but Mike Daniels and Bryan Bulaga are free agents in 2020. These spots normally take time to develop, so both picks might not start right away. Is that a problem for Gute and the organization given a fan base (myself included) that seem to be in a 'win-now' mindset?

I think you could draft a big man in the first round and still be in 'win-now' mode. I know quite a few fans who would be happy to wind up with Ed Oliver when the dust settles.

Josh from Oshkosh, WI

"Signing veterans guarantees nothing. I wrote a few months ago about how there are 20 journeyman QBs out there for every Foles." So you're telling me I shouldn't hold my breath on Green Bay signing a former Super Bowl MVP to back up Rodgers?

I now know how teachers must feel when their kids master a new concept and then ace the semester exam. I'm so proud, Josh.

Larry from Carney, MI

Some teammates become close friends over years of playing together. Since visiting teams leave soon after a game is over, have you ever seen or heard of former teammates getting together the night before a game?

If time allows, but teams usually have meetings. It's more common for guys to get together before and after games. Last August, I enjoyed Jordy Nelson popping over by the Packers' locker room after the preseason game in Oakland. Heck, I even got a slap on the chest.

Geoff from Omaha, NE

Do you think it is an advantage or disadvantage to have $100 million in cap space? Obviously, I realize everyone would love to have $100 million in cap space, but the only way you get it is if you haven't been retaining high-quality talent on your roster for years. Just curious as to whether you think saving up your pennies is better than spending them as you go.

I actually think it's a disadvantage because that much cap space typically means two things. First, you probably haven't developed enough in-house talent worthy of extensions. That's a problem. There also is a spending floor teams must meet over a three-year period, which can result in overpaying for free agents.

Brian from Menominee, MI

Am I in the vast minority that's fine with a roughly 4 percent chance at recovering an onside kick? I've never been a fan of the onside kick as it seems to give a team that's not playing well and down multiple scores too large a chance to come back. I think the new rule fixed the real issue.

Maybe, though I think everyone can agree there's not as much drama anymore. As you said, however, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Jim from Prairie du Chien, WI

Clearly the change made to the on-side kick last year took a lot away from the game. NFL overthink? Can you name one injury that you recall happening on an on-side kick?

The changes to on-side attempts were just a byproduct of the NFL making changes to the standard kickoff. That's where this all started, but the trailer has to go with the truck.

Dan from Rice Lake, WI

Although a skeptic at first, kudos to the NFL for the extra point rule change. But please bring back a real on-side kick. Will they? Won't they? It adds immeasurably to the end of some games. And while we're at it, eliminate the DH rule for baseball and return coaching to the equation. Sorry, confessions of a dinosaur.

You really went from 0 to 60 on me, Dan.

Matt from De Pere, WI

I am not a fan of the fourth-and-15 proposal. Success rates would differ tremendously among teams based on the caliber of their quarterback. Offense and defense already have substantial influence on a game's outcome. Whatever happens with the onside kick, I think it should remain a special-teams play. When will we know the outcome of the proposed rule change?

Next week.

Mel from Eau Claire, WI

Wes, 12, 4, and 17? Maybe a little soon to predict 17. Isn't 52 the obvious response?

I guess I misinterpreted the question. I read "this era" as what was to come, not what has already happened. But yes, 12, 52 and 87 are at the top of my list of the 2010s.

Robin from Kenosha, WI

I was never big on the Ty Montgomery jersey number questions, but I liked the question the other day about how player's jerseys become part of team history. Are there any (non-retired) jersey numbers that you strongly associate with one particular Packer? No matter who is wearing it, my brain always shouts "Driver!" whenever No. 80 makes a catch.

No. 93 with Gilbert Brown and No. 36 for LeRoy Butler are the first two that come to mind for me. And, of course, Howard Green's No. 95.

Rusty from Hickory, NC

I, too, will miss Matthews and Cobb, but that's the way football is, has been, and will be. There just aren't that many Bart Starrs and Donald Drivers out there and with football, like everything else, becoming more a dollar-oriented business, I imagine rosters will change with ever-increasing speed. Heck, even Favre and Lombardi moved on. I truly wish Holmgren had stayed a bit longer as it seems he knew how to control Favre and I think a few more Lombardis would be in the trophy case now.

I used to feel the same way about Holmgren, but as I've gotten older, I've started to feel that era ended how it needed to. That was an aging roster and there's no guarantee the Packers still wouldn't have taken a step back in 1999 and 2000. In the end, everything worked out for the best.

Jim from McLean, VA

There's a good chance the Packers could face both Cobb and Matthews in the playoffs next year. Have any previous free agent departures come back to sting the Packers in the post-season?

I sat in my chair and thought about this question for 10 hard minutes. I couldn't come up with any Kit Kellers for ya in Green Bay. Let me know if you guys can.

Charlie from Cameron, NC

Wes, don't be so modest! Earlier this year, I proposed Packers Perks putting an autographed photo of you, Mike, and Larry doing 'Three Things' up for auction. I think you'd be surprised by the amount of the winning bid, especially if you're holding a microphone. When will this happen? Man caves everywhere want to — no, they need to know!

I can't remember if I told this story before in Inbox or not. I was signing a Packers helmet for one of our departing interns when I noticed the only autograph on it at the time was Larry's. Talk about reducing the value of Packers memorabilia with a few simple strokes of a Sharpie.

Trevor from Carmel, NY

I made Dave Zastudil into a 75 backup QB in Madden 07. It's all about getting the punters that have strong arms and then just work on their accuracy. There is hope, Wes. I know you have it in you.

This reminded me of my proudest 'Madden' accomplishment – leveling up Ryan Leaf to like 77 or 79.

Zach from Appleton, FL

Caught that 'American Psycho' reference with videotape.

I was positive nobody would get that reference…and relief washes over me in an awesome way.

Kenny from Wautoma, WI

I have offered up a number of questions to II in the past, but never get in print. I have tried the funny angle, draft questions and even tried the Lori from Brookfield approach of simple but inquisitive questions but to no avail. Would I stand a better chance if l said I was from some place exotic like Costa Rica, Honolulu or Paris? Obviously, Wautoma just ain't cutting it.

I've been to Wautoma. It's plenty exotic enough to be published in Inbox. Have a great Friday, everyone.