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Inbox: It sounds almost unstoppable

Talk about a whirlwind education

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QB Aaron Rodgers and RB Aaron Jones

John from Gaithersburg, MD

Hey Wes, I think we all have those aspects of our jobs that we dread doing. You both definitely have my sympathy for this long grind. Is there anything we questioners can do to make this a more manageable part of your day?

Simply bear with us if we have an off day. Yeah, it's me for a second straight column. Just a change-up, and Wes will take the column the rest of the week.

Dan from Cross Plains, WI

We have recently discussed plenty of the "silence the crowd" moments which have been great to reminisce. Now how about we go the other way and try recanting the biggest Lambeau roar? Any particular moments come to mind?

From recent years, Aaron Rodgers coming back out of the tunnel in the '14 finale vs. Detroit and the Hail Mary to Cobb to end the half of the '16 wild-card game vs. the Giants are my first thoughts.

Ben from Menomonee Falls, WI

Besides the Smith Bros., and Kenny Clark, who on defense will need to step up the most on D? My vote is for Christian Kirksey. He has big shoes to fill, but I feel like his athleticism will help with the run and in coverage.

He's as good a pick as any, but I'll go with Darnell Savage. I think his potential as a young, developing player is the one element that gives the secondary somewhat of an unknown ceiling.

Mike from Franksville, WI

In Week 17 of 1999, the Packers and Panthers were battling for the final playoff berth in the NFC. Due to all tiebreakers between the two being tied, it came down to who scored the most points against NFC teams. Despite having big leads in their Week 17 games, the Packers and Panthers kept trying to score in an effort to outpace each other. I have never seen anything like this. Are total points still a tiebreaker? Also, the Panthers beat Green Bay in '99, how did that not give them the edge?

Because it was a four-way tie amongst 8-8 teams for the final two playoff spots, so head-to-head results didn't apply. I remember that as well, and total points are still a tiebreaker, but way down the list. It may not have been as far down the list back in '99, I'm not sure. Regardless, the current tiebreaker protocol goes head-to-head, conference record, common games, strength of victory, strength of schedule, combined conference ranking in points scored/allowed, combined league ranking in points scored/allowed, net points in conference games, net points in all games, net touchdowns in all games, coin toss. Just once I want to see a playoff spot come down to a coin toss, just for the sake of it, don't you?

Michael from Goldvein, VA

Good morning II. Assuming we do have a season (abbreviated or otherwise) and players are given the option to opt out, what do you think the likelihood is that the same allowances will be made for coaching and officiating staffs? How might that impact the games?

The coaches don't have a union, so any provisions there would have to be up to the individual teams. I've heard there's talk of officials working out the logistics to handle games with five-man crews because of potential opt-outs and positive tests during the season.

Paul from New Richmond, WI

Hi guys. Can we address the elephant in the room? There has been discussion around it but not directly asking directly...that I've seen anyway. The NFL has spent a lot of money and effort in enhancing game-day experience catering specifically to the younger generation to maintain or pique their interest. They could lose this viewership they've gained if no fans are allowed to games as they'll find other things to entertain themselves. Will be hard to get them back. Your thoughts?

This season is a potential setback in that vein, sure, and maybe Wes can address this better, but I don't think pandemic-related diversions are simply going to overtake other interests temporarily taken away. If they were buying in, they'll want back in.

Tony from Kansas City, MO

You are reading a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book of the 2020 season. You get to the halfway point. If the Packers lead the league in rushing, go to page 33. If the Packers lead the league in rushing defense, go to page 97. Which do you choose?

The former. The Packers need to improve their run defense. I'm not ignoring that. But that unit doesn't need to lead the league, just get better. An Aaron Rodgers-led offense that's tops in the league in rushing … it sounds almost unstoppable.

Matt from Fort Worth, TX

If you could experience a game through the eyes and thoughts of one player on the field, who would you choose? I think QB is a great choice for obvious reasons, but I think I'd take Ervin or whoever ends up being the punt/kick returner.

If not the QB, I would choose a middle linebacker or safety – someone in charge of defensive decision-making. Talk about a whirlwind education. I feel there's so much I don't know about defensive strategy, pre-snap adjustments, and the like.

Dennis from Beavercreek, OH

All I can say is the Packers' first game has become very interesting with the decision to cancel all preseason games. It will be very difficult for the Vikings to have their rookies ready after ridding their team of their top three CBs and the first or second WR. I am so glad we will be playing them in Minneapolis that first game. Oh, it will help that there probably will be no fans. All I can say is PLAY BALL.

I know we've spent a lot of time this offseason talking about LaFleur's emphasis on the running game for Year 2, but given the Vikings' youth movement at corner, I'd be awfully tempted to attack those cover guys from the get-go in Week 1.

Thomas from Altoona, WI

The sad part of shortened seasons in the NBA and MLB is that whoever wins the championship will have to live with the stigma of it not being a true championship. Hopefully the NFL can have a full season and be able to avoid that.

The baseball season will carry an asterisk, whether literally or figuratively. But I don't think the sentiment will apply as heavily to basketball. Half the NBA teams make the playoffs anyway, and that's not changing. The postseason has long been a season unto itself – 16 wins to take the title. I think the more interesting question is whether an all-neutral-court postseason will work better for the favorites or underdogs. We'll hopefully find out soon enough.

Mike from De Pere, WI

Does the opt out selection include any playoff games or will there be a separate opt in for playoffs?

My understanding is the opt-out provision will be irrevocable unless the player is traded.

Jacob from Mukwonago, WI

With a vastly different offseason training program and now, no preseason games, do you think there will be an increase in injuries this year? I saw somewhere that during the 2011 lockout season, there was an obvious increase in soft tissue injuries.

That's precisely why the players are pushing for a gradual ramp-up in training camp to full contact. As noted yesterday, the acclimation period when players report will be extensive.

Tom from Columbus, IN

I understand that the NFL and the NFLPA have come to terms on the preseason issue. I'm curious though about the proposed 80-man roster and the logic behind that. That surely hinders undrafted free agents' chances of getting looked at.

No doubt, but there's a lot to balance. For one, fewer players at practice means reduced health risk. Also, with no on-field offseason and a limited number of padded practices in camp following the ramp-up, there are only so many reps to go around, and teams have to get their front-line guys ready to play. They're going to need the reps more than a longshot rookie. It's a tough deal but it makes sense, big picture.

Kevin from Asbury Park, NJ

With no preseason games do you think the league will allow for more padded practices throughout the year as a substitution?

I don't see the players agreeing to that.

Corey from Bethlehem, PA

The storyline outside of our division I'm excited for is the fight for the AFC East now that Brady is gone. The other three teams must feel now's the time to assert themselves to the top. Only thing is Cam Newton throws a big wrench into those plans.

Buffalo was a playoff team a year ago and Josh Allen showed he belongs. Brian Flores proved he can coach, getting more wins out of a suspect Miami roster in 2019 than many thought anyone could. Sam Darnold appears to have the Jets' offense headed in the right direction. With Kansas City and Baltimore clear favorites in their respective divisions, along with Houston and Tennessee likely the class of the AFC South, the East is the most wide-open division in that conference. It's been a long time since that could be said.

Rod from Chugiak, AK

Yesterday receiver longevity was touched upon, bringing up Brown, Fitzgerald, and Davante Adams. With many great receivers superior speed and athleticism are core to their elite status; they fade when those attributes drop off. Eventually, Adams will decline there, too. However, it seems to me his heights are gained more by his genius at separation. Do you think this might translate into Fitzgerald-like longevity?

Perhaps, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. This will be Adams' seventh season, not even half of Fitzgerald's 16 going on 17. Desire to play will have a lot to do with it. When Nelson reached 10 years, Wes and I both envisioned him being an effective slot receiver for a long time, but when the Packers moved on, he soon decided he'd had enough. There's no telling Adams' mindset in that regard a few more years down the road.

Robert from Verona, WI

Have either of you ever had the pleasure of meeting Bob Uecker?

Yes, I met him once in the County Stadium press box when I was there to cover a Brewers home opener. In this line of work, you're not often caught starstruck and a tad speechless. But I was for just a couple of moments, meeting someone whose voice I'd listened to since I knew what a baseball was.

Nik from Powdersville, SC

Do the Brewers have a better chance with a shortened season? Seems like any team gets hot they can run away with a division. Will it change strategy? Pitchers on three days rest more often? Truly a year to play every day like it's a playoff game.

It promises to be entertaining. Only one more day until the opener. Can't wait. Happy Thursday.

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