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Inbox: It's up to everyone to make the most of it

The tragedy about the climb for undrafted rookies is many don’t make it


Charlie from Cameron, NC

Would it be easier to disguise coverages on defense if Pettine uses a Dequoy? I'll show myself out.

This is gonna be a long Inbox day. Good morning!

Carolyn from Greenlawn, NY

Fun video interview with Aaron Jones. I love his enthusiasm and focus. I'm in favor of this forced virtual offseason team workout period. It strikes me that this pandemic may help separate the football players from the guys who play football. Too soon for silver linings?

Aaron Rodgers mentioned two weeks ago how the silver lining to the 2011 lockout was how many players reported healthy for training camp. Once guys got back into football shape, the season went relatively smoothly. That's what I hope happens in this particular instance. Players can't get together right now but they're still getting to know each other through Zoom meetings and building chemistry. It'll take time to get back into football shape but being in great physical condition is the first checkpoint. It seems like guys are taking the virtual offseason seriously and taking advantage of the slower pace. It's up to everyone to make the most out of it.

William from Newburgh, IN

Getting a little tired of the critics crying that we were lucky in winning 14 games. You are what your record says you are. Were the Patriots lucky to win five out of their six Super Bowls by a close margin? We beat NFL teams and some of them twice, which is very hard to do. We may not win as many games next year but will be a better team and more prepared for the playoffs.

It's way too tough to win in this league to start critiquing the manner in which a team won 14 of its 18 games. The last time I checked style points don't get you into the playoffs.

Dan from Toledo, OH

Can someone please explain why the Packers (plus-63 point differential, 8-1 in one-score games) are largely expected to regress this upcoming year, while the Seahawks (plus-7 point differential, 5-1 in one-score games) are expected to be a Super Bowl contender? Not to mention our division doesn't have a 49ers team in it.

Because people struggle to give respect to things they do not fully understand. I learned this last year with these so-called "analysts" and data experts who keep sprouting like dandelions in my backyard – each one more opinionated than the last. They've never been in a locker room. They've never asked a question of a coach or player. They just sit by their computers and cite such-and-such stat as evidence of their intellectual superiority. They, with their birth, have figured out everything there is to be determined about the game of football and that's the end of the discussion. So instead of appreciating the Packers' season for what was, they found reasons to diminish its value. And on a long enough timeline, they can say they were right all along because Green Bay didn't win the Super Bowl. But if that's the metric in which they're measuring their astute analysis, then the 31 teams that don't win it all are trash, right? Or maybe their opinion isn't worth the digital file it's saved on.

Randy from Ooltewah, TN

Great article on Marc-Antoine Dequoy. Now I am rooting for him to make the final 53. But you guys do your job so well, I'm rooting for all 90 guys on the roster to make the final 53. How can I resolve these feelings of angst?

If you haven't read Spoff's story on Dequoy yet, I'm giving everyone one last chance. It's well worth your time. Undrafted stories often hit the hardest. I know some folks here feel like I sympathize too much with those individuals but the reality is they're usually the most relatable – because most have been given nothing in life. I remember Gilbert Pena and Andy Mulumba were roommates in 2013, and both had amazing stories. Pena, who was 26 years old, stepped away from football for two years to take care of his ailing mother. Meanwhile, Mulumba immigrated from the Democratic Republic of Congo. I don't know how many of you have seen "Hotel Rwanda" but Andy saw some stuff as a kid that even today he prefers not to talk about. In the end, Mulumba made the team and Pena didn't. That's the tragedy about that massive uphill climb for UDFAs is many don't make it.

Ross from Roswell, GA

Gents, so what does your gut say? Do we play 16 regular-season games? Empty/half full/full stadiums?

While my gut doesn't speak, I say the NFL is playing 16 regular-season games until someone tells me differently. The second part of your question is better served for Mark Murphy's MT5 mailbag next Saturday.

Al from Green Bay, WI

I'm intrigued by training camp position battles. Which battles on either side of the ball are you looking toward with great anticipation?

Offensive line. Easily. Behind the presumptive starting five, Lucas Patrick, Lane Taylor, Alex Light and Yosh Nijman are all back. When you add in the three rookies the Packers drafted, that is going to be one knock-down, drag-out battle for jobs this summer.

Paul from New Richmond, WI

Hi II, just for a change of topic, how does one go thru an entire season without any version of a "no-huddle" offense. That was the reason given last season when our coach was asked. You have one of the best QBs in the league at running one so why wasn't this in the arsenal last season? Being this offseason is what it is, is there a chance this may be left out this season also?

No change of topic required. Matt LaFleur said himself he didn't get into the no-huddle as much as he wanted in Year 1 and it's already a focus for 2020.

Bill from Des Moines, IA

Coaches, players and writers talk about what a new player will add to "the room" for a given position. But what is "the room" actually like, physically? Like your high school homeroom? A small college lecture hall? A business conference room? How about something to help us visualize it? Pick a position and describe "the room" they're in?

Small college lecture hall – a few rows of theater seating with a computer and small desk for the coach in front. There's a whiteboard and a drop-down video screen.

Michael from Granite City, IL

It seems that several QBs for other teams are working out on their own with their receivers. This seems like a competitive edge issue. Has Aaron Rodgers been doing that with his receivers? Or does he have any plans to do that?

Rodgers said he's been throwing to pros in the LA area to prepare but didn't name names. As I've always said, I feel like throwing routes on air to teammates without coaches present is more for social media than anything else.

Tom from West Palm Beach, FL

Relative to other positions, do you think running backs have an "earning" issue, given their massive impact on games and the beatings their bodies take? If so, how would you fix it?

Yes. It's something the NFL and the NFLPA need to look into at some point. Obviously, the new collective bargaining agreement takes us through the 2020s, but it's becoming increasingly more difficult for running backs to earn a big contract – and continue to get paid on that contract. It can be done but it's more the exception than the rule right now.

Mark from Bettendorf, IA

Are they getting close to announcing the new helmets with Covid-19 "breathable" masks?

That's reportedly what they're working on.

Joshua from Houston, TX

It is strange seeing the Packers' defensive backs as a source of strength after years of weakness since Charles Woodson left.

I wouldn't call it strange. I felt like the secondary has been a strength for the defense several times over the last decade.

James from De Pere, WI

Hello II and thanks for all that you do. I'm just wondering about how coaching duties are delegated. Is there a specific coach who scouts other team's offensive plays that work well to incorporate into our playbook, or is that done by the HC and/or offensive coordinator?

It's a team effort. Every coach has a specialty. For example, Ben Sirmans might be in charge of the red-zone plays or third downs. They'll work independently to put together their plans, but the team's offensive quality control coaches and assistants also scan the league to find trends. At the end of the day, it's up to Matt LaFleur, Nathaniel Hackett, Mike Pettine and Shawn Mennenga to make the final decisions on what goes on the call sheet each week.

Dana from Eau Claire, WI

Who do you guys see winning the starting QB job for the Bears? Bring back Jay Cutler!

Nick Foles. I don't know if time is on the side of Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy right now. They can't wait on Mitchell Trubisky's development any longer. They need to win now.

Tucker from Belton, TX

What's really frustrating about all of the backlash to the Rooney Rule and other advancements is when people say, "Why don't we just let the best coach get the job, regardless of color?" How do people not realize that's precisely the reason for the rule? Coaches of color historically are not being given an equal opportunity to land a job they are equally qualified for.

Precisely. How Eric Bienemy is not an NFL head coach at this exact moment is beyond my comprehension.

Geoff from Omaha, NE

Which NFL quarterbacks, if any, could throw a Hail Mary from the 25-yard line? I'm guessing Rodgers, Mahomes, and maybe a couple others. Seems like it would be an extreme advantage in the event the league went to the fourth-and-15 rule.

That would need to be one hell of a throw to make it from the 25 to the end zone. As I wrote Tuesday, I think lateral plays would become more prevalent than fourth-and-15 Hail Marys.

David from San Antonio, TX

Am I the only one who finds this onside kick concept bizarre? Face it, the old rule was a loophole and it was interesting to be sure until safety issues were spotlighted. But why on earth are we trying to reward a team that is losing? It would be like letting an NBA team shoot a half-court shot as a bonus. Or giving the home team in baseball a fourth out in the ninth. Win by merit, not by gimmick.

I'm all for drama and competition but the team that's winning is winning for a reason. We have enough NFL games that come down to the wire every week. I don't see reason to synthesize more. Each team has 60 minutes to prove its point.

Lee from Leesburg, FL

Any new food items coming out for the new season?

We haven't gotten there yet, Lee. The organization is still working through a few things at the moment.

Daniel from Allen, TX

In a scenario where a team loses players to COVID, might the NFL expand the team's cap space to allow for signing players? Has there been any news on this? Or do you think the NFL will deal with that if it occurs? And thanks for your concern about my head. Turns out, it may have been a sinus thing.

Good to hear, Daniel. I'm not sure what the league would do. Maybe roster exemptions would be a possibility but I really don't know. Those are things the NFL and NFLPA will need to discuss prior to players returning. There are provisions in the CBA for the two sides to work together during times of crisis.

Steve from Palm Springs, FL

Good morning, Wes and Mike. Fourth-and-15 it might as well be fourth-and-99. What's new for next year, flag football?

Change is inevitable in this league. That being said, I also don't think you have to force it. The vote goes down today. It will pass or it'll get shot down. If it passes, I'm sure Spoff and I will spill plenty of ink on the topic over the next week and Dan's head will continue to throb.

Issac from Oxnard, CA

Dan is right, you guys can't tell me there aren't better questions than those. Do you think the Packers can close out the season on an eight-game win streak? Not hard at all, simple and to the point.

I'm already printing the "Re-run the table" shirts.

Ferdinand from Woodbury, MN

Lyle needs to stop hurting all our heads. Fourth-and-15 at the 25-yard line. False start. Fourth-and-20 from the 20-yard line. Play results in a first down, but offensive holding detected downfield at the 24-yard line. A 10-yard penalty from the spot of the foul – fourth-and-26 from the 14-yard line. Thanks a lot Lyle, that's two minutes wasted I'll never get back....

I'm blindly posting this with the hope everything is accurate and blissfully moving on with my day. I'm keeping my fingers crossed the topic will be dead by Saturday. Wait, what day is it again?


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