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Inbox: It set up everything else

Context is everything

Packers running backs AJ Dillon and Aaron Jones
Packers running backs AJ Dillon and Aaron Jones

Joe from Little Black, WI

Family Night Aug. 5th. When will we know if it gets flexed?

Good one.

Brent from Paris, Ontario

Good morning, hope you are well. Now that we know how the jerseys work when a player requests a number change, can you tell us who pays for the jerseys when a player is traded?

If a player is traded, released, or signed as a free agent with another team, he is not on the hook for any jersey costs.

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

Insiders, a follow-up to Vinnie from Alexandria's question about media access to OTAs. Does the team or the league determine how much access the media has to OTAs? Is there a league minimum or maximum mandate on how much access the media does get?

It's up to the team. There may be certain minimum requirements but I'd be guessing at the details.

Mike from Baraboo, WI

What changes in the Packers' defensive scheme should we expect to see this season?

I have no idea if they're making any schematic changes, and if they are, neither Matt LaFleur nor Joe Barry is going to announce them to the world.

James from Appleton, WI

On many jet sweeps, Aaron Rodgers was in the shotgun and pushed a foot-long pass to the sweeper going by. Do the coaches prefer having the QB under center on jet sweeps and is that how we'll see Jordan Love handling jet sweeps?

I could see both formations being used.

Bryan from Madison, WI

One thing I am excited to watch over the next several years is how Gutey builds the roster as the enormous weight of paying Rodgers is purged from the books. I wonder if things will be approached differently when they have more breathing room?

Not paying a QB top dollar will certainly give the GM more freedom in how he builds the team. That said, if Love is good enough to deserve top dollar down the road, Gutey won't be complaining.

Glen from Bellevue, WI

National reporters have had a field day with Romeo Doubs commenting that he doesn't see much difference between Love and Rodgers. The NFL Network also used a graphic to show how few NFL games the entire roster of WRs have played. They basically insinuated that they're incapable of having a successful year with the passing game. It seems that the WR room might be enjoying the challenge and could use this as a rallying cry? I suggest the "Young Guns" moniker if they come out blazing!

I've seen Doubs' "exact same thing" comment regarding Rodgers/Love getting a lot of attention. Maybe I'm just spiffballing here, but since Doubs played with Rodgers only one year and saw him throw 26 TDs with 12 INTs for a 91.1 passer rating, perhaps he sees Rodgers' 2022 season as realistic for Love to duplicate in 2023? That's how I would interpret the thought, not having been present for the actual interview. It seems many others are having fun ripping Doubs for supposedly saying Love's career can be the "exact same thing" as Rodgers'. Context is everything. I prefer to give players the benefit of the doubt in that regard if I don't know for sure.

Marc from Holmen, WI

The other thing that makes Steve Young's situation different and not comparable is that he started a full year at Tampa Bay. Granted a terrible team, but he had a ton of regular-season reps prior to assuming the starting role in SF.

Plus two years with the L.A. Express in the USFL before that.

TK from Grafton, WI

You are starting an expansion team. With your first pick, you have to choose between (an in their prime version of) Lawrence Taylor and Deion Sanders. Which guy is your choice, and why?

Taylor. An offensive game plan to limit a cornerback's impact doesn't require as many compromises schematically as one to limit a pass rusher's.

Ron from Roscoe, IL

Do you think it would be better for Jordan Love's development to have a superior defense that keeps the score low (allowing him to be under less personal pressure to perform), or to have more games where he needs to "put the offense on his back" and score a lot of points? I would think the strong defense would allow him more time to grow in confidence and let the game come to him for a long future although some people perform better under stress.

I think a strong defense would make the Packers a better team. I also think Love is going to have to find different ways to win games, and whether the Packers are scoring (or giving up) a lot of points (or not), plenty of games will come down to Love needing to direct a scoring drive or two in crunch time. What he does in the first 55 minutes of games will constitute most of his stats. What he does in the last five minutes of games will factor considerably in the wins and losses.

Jeff from Indian Lake, NY

Rashan Gary has yet to sign an extension, correct? I'm looking at this as a matter of when not if. From the Packers' perspective they must want to keep him long term and therefore his health/return to form is paramount. Could Rashan hypothetically be pushing to get back on the field sooner rather than later in order to prove he's "back" and command a better contract with more guaranteed money? Would the Packers brass/training staff even let him if he wasn't fully healthy?

I see the Packers handling this very similarly to how they handled Jenkins last year. He was coming off an ACL heading into the final year of his rookie contract (in Gary's case, the fifth-year option), and when he proved he was back to his old self, they worked out an extension before the end of the regular season. It was never about pushing to get back sooner or taking any risks.

Riley from Waukesha, WI

I heard on the radio this morning that the NFL is having a hard time finding a team for "Hard Knocks" this year for reasons I was unable to hear as I had to go into work. I can't remember – are the Packers eligible this year? I know they'll have to do it sooner or later but I don't know if they're exempt this year or not.

The Packers can't be compelled to appear on "Hard Knocks" because they've made a playoff appearance within the past two seasons. The other exemptions are for first-year head coaches and teams that appeared on the show within the last 10 years. There are only four teams in 2023 for whom none of the caveats apply – the Jets, Bears, Saints and Commanders – but the league has not made a decision yet.

Grey from Waterloo, IA

Last year's team was worst in the league in converting goal-to-go opportunities. Why did that happen, and why won't it happen again this year? Makes for a long, frustrating season.

I believe the Packers' goal-to-go struggles last year were rooted in their inability to run the ball in the red zone. When they posted the best red-zone conversion percentage in a generation a couple years back, they ran the ball down there at will and it set up everything else. I'm sure the absence of Adams on the perimeter helped defenses defend the run better in close last year, but regardless, the Packers have to find more efficiency running the ball in the red zone for the rest to follow.

Kemp from Richmond, VA

What are your thoughts on replacing the three preseason games with joint practices? Serves to protect QBs and it gives viewers a pretty cool look at position battles in drills and scrimmages, etc. Instead of seeing almost exclusively backups, you'd get a look at the entire roster, from top to bottom.

In theory that sounds good, but when you say "viewers" if you mean television broadcasts, that won't work. As soon as you introduce TV to joint practices, coaches would dramatically scale back anything they'd be putting on film for others to see and the workouts would lose their value.

Herbert from Palm Desert, CA

Hi guys, okay, you've piqued my interest. Who is a player who didn't look like he belonged until the pads went on and then suddenly he was noticed every day? I am a sucker for those kind of stories.

The ones that come to mind most for me over the years are the undrafted offensive linemen. Guys like Don Barclay, Evan Smith, Lane Taylor and Lucas Patrick. In the spring, you'd have never thought they'd make the team, let alone eventually become starters. On defense, Erik Walden and Tyler Lancaster fit that bill somewhat, too.

Paul from Northglenn, CO

Outside of the obvious (size, speed, hands), what attributes and characteristics allow a TE to progress rapidly at the pro level?

Smarts and opportunity.

Ken from Greybull, WY

More of a comment about the hurdling question. It's not that difficult to enforce and has been a rule in high school football for many years. If the defender is on his feet and the ball carrier attempts to go over him, it is hurdling, and a penalty. If the defender is on his knee or knees, or laying on the ground, it is legal to go over him. It is a good rule for player safety. GO PACK!

Appreciate the follow-up, which others shared as well. That works for me.

Adrian from Chula Vista, CA

Outside of the obvious (Wisconsin), what state submits the most questions to II? What country is second to the U.S. in submitting questions? Sorry for the math involved in your response.

We don't track it and our intern has way more important things to do. Without any lists in front of me, I'd suspect the No. 2 state for submissions would come from the group of Minnesota, Illinois, California or Florida. The No. 2 country is definitely the UK. Hands down. After that, I have no idea.

Brianna from Northglenn, CO

With the amount of national TV exposure for the Packers post AR12, it appears even in transition Green Bay possesses a lot of fan appeal. What are the major contributors to that appeal?

Mainly it's how widespread the fan base is, as illustrated in this column daily and with the Q/A just posted above. The last three decades of notable success and iconic players have built a fan base that's everywhere, and the league knows it.

Jeff from Los Feliz, CA

Hi Mike, a little off topic here, but I read in the Inbox that you keep score when you attend Brewer games. My question is, if the official scorekeeper scores a play differently than you do, would you change it or leave it the way you scored the play?

I go by what's official, not my own view. Without full access to replays, it's difficult to make those close calls anyway.

Joshua from Bellingham, WA

C'mon, no love for the Scottsdale CC Fighting Artichokes, Amarillo Sod Poodles or the Hartford Yard Goats?

I never should've answered that question.

Zak from Huntington Beach, CA

Carolina Disco Turkeys? Thanks, Wes, now I'm picturing a line of turkeys in bell-bottom jeans marching back out of a meat processing plant after a power outage shuts down the production line, all singing "Stayin' Alive."

Now I am, too. Happy Wednesday.

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