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Inbox: It was a great year…and a great lesson

The Hall of Fame has four more years to do right by LeRoy Butler

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WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR Davante Adams and QB Aaron Rodgers

Chad from Cornelius, NC

Tremendous rant Mike! No apologies needed from my viewpoint. On par with Clark W. Griswold or Mr. Blutarsky, whether on the guitar or after a beaten-up Otter showed up.

Hallelujah!

Bill from Wilmington, DE

Wes, I can't watch ESPN or NFL Network, because I can't re-live the loss or the BS I'll hear about Aaron Rodgers in championship games. Thanks to you and Mike for creating a forum to vent and recover from a devastating loss.

It's been a group therapy session for you and me both. It's weird spending six straight months of your life covering a team's every move and then it just ends. To your point, that's a problem I have with today's society and it goes well beyond sports. Few take the time necessary to understand something but everyone wants to state their opinion.

Steve from Ashland, WI

Mike, I get your frustration with fans questioning the organization's commitment to winning. Certainly, they want to win. The question is really more about method or approach. The Packers have been primarily draft-and-develop. Whereas a team like Tampa Bay obviously took a different approach this year. You don't sign a 42-year-old QB if you are looking to the future. Plus, they were willing to sign other veterans to supplement their roster. They are in the Super Bowl. Future is now.

The Buccaneers didn't sign a 42-year-old quarterback because of the present or future. They signed Tom Brady because Jameis Winston threw 30 picks last year and Brady was the best available option. You say the Packers have been primarily draft-and-develop? Then, what do you call signing Za'Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Adrian Amos, Billy Turner, Jimmy Graham, Tramon Williams, Marcedes Lewis, Christian Kirksey and Rick Wagner? This isn't "Super Market Sweep." It's the NFL and the bill always comes due. So spare me with this "They're not trying to win now" nonsense. They are, they have been.

Adam from Great Meadows, NJ

Something struck me yesterday. The Packers lost the 2014 NFC title game despite snagging four INTs. And they lost this year's NFC title game snagging three INTs. That is absolutely brutal. We all know the series of plays that cost us in 2014. This year it was the Will Redmond dropped INT, Hail Mary at the end of the half, Davante Adams drop, etc. It's just absolutely gut-wrenching. Both of those teams were extremely talented yet made so many crippling (uncharacteristic) mistakes in the biggest moments. Ugh.

Turnovers are an essential part of the game but they're only as valuable as the points and opportunities teams generate off them. In the two examples you provided, the Packers didn't capitalize the way they needed to. It's unfortunate this year considering how proficient Green Bay was at doing so in its first 17 games, especially in the gold zone. It was a great year…and a great lesson for everyone, players and coaches alike, who returns for 2021.

Gary from Davenport, IA

For those fans who are upset about losing too often in the NFC Championship game, you should think about what Lions' fans have gone through. They have one playoff win since 1957 and their last home playoff game was the loss to Green Bay when Sterling Sharpe caught the bomb from Brett Favre late in the game. We have nothing to complain about.

Good perspective and please don't forget that. We've been treated to countless movies over the last 30 years, two of which had perfect Hollywood endings. Be grateful you've experienced that because some folks haven't even gotten a two-minute trailer.

Robert from Chandler, AZ

Jaire Alexander always lines up on the left side of GB defense. His counterpart is always on the right. What is the reason for this? Do other teams do the same? Against a right-handed throwing quarterback, I wonder: Is this making the best use of Jaire?

A lot of factors go into the decision to match a cornerback against a particular player, but it's a perfectly reasonable question. Alexander is on the verge of becoming a big star in this league, I feel. How the Packers utilize his skills in their defense is something to keep an eye on moving forward.

James from Appleton, WI

Marquez Valdes-Scantling had a big game against the Bucs. He could be on the verge of becoming 1B to Davante Adams' 1A. If growing confidence takes care of those occasional drops, what does MVS need most to add to his game? Footwork? Route-running?

He's close. I thought Valdes-Scantling made a lot of improvements to his game this year. He was more precise in his routes and that led to earning more trust with Aaron Rodgers. I think he's at that same point James Jones was around 2010-11. MVS just needs to stay within himself and catch a few more of those deep balls. Once he does that, Valdes-Scantling will become a real problem for every defensive coordinator in the NFL.

Michelle from Ringgold, GA

What do you think is the biggest regret the Packers have this season?

Not telling David Bakhtiari to head home early on New Year's Eve. Every team that doesn't win it all will have questions, but I seriously wonder how far this run might have lasted for Green Bay if the best left tackle in the game plays four quarters against Tampa Bay.

John from Madison, WI

How many different combinations did we end up with on the offensive line this year?

I counted 12 if you take out the kneel-down combinations.

David from Oak Hills, CA

We have been so fortunate as Packer fans to have back-to-back HOF quarterbacks. When history looks back at the 20-plus years of Favre and Rodgers at the helm with the Packers, what one word will best describe this era of Packers football?

Greatness.

Duane from Oak Creek, WI

Do you think we'll have to hear about where Aaron Rodgers plays next season all offseason?

I sure hope not. Because I'd say the soon-to-be three-time NFL MVP has some unfinished business here.

Bob from Kennesaw, GA

Do you think the Packers will ever get really serious about special-teams play? It always seems to be treated like somewhat of an afterthought...

That's a fair assessment. The Packers have to take a long look in the mirror with that phase this offseason and try to pinpoint where it needs to improve. Because as Spoff said, there were too many times where everyone was holding their collective breath this year.

Elliot from Hopkins, MN

You have probably mentioned it before but how does restricted free agency work? Do the Packers wait for an offer to come through first and then match? Are there any limitations on number of years the contract can be?

Restricted contracts have three tiers: first-round tender, second-round tender, and right of first refusal. Each has a different value, with the first two requiring draft pick compensation if the player signs elsewhere. Regardless, the Packers can match any deal as long as they tender the player a contract. If they so choose, the Packers also could negotiate an extension with an RFA instead like they did with Lucas Patrick and Lane Taylor in the past.

H.R. from Las Vegas, NV

In Wednesday's Inbox, Mike ranted about teams and whether they load up to "go for the prize," and he made some pretty good points about it not being a guarantee no matter what you do. To prove this point, I'd like to point out Philadelphia's "Dream Team" in 2011, as well as every year Daniel Snyder spent way too much money in free agency to get "that one final piece." What the Packers have now is far better than anything they've had previously, and they are only going to get better.

The blessing and the curse for the Packers is they've consistently been one of the NFL's best teams for the past decade, but that doesn't guarantee a Super Bowl. Nothing guarantees a Super Bowl. Conversely, there have been a few teams that come out of nowhere to make a championship run and then revert to mediocrity.

Vince Lombardi, an offensive assistant of the New York Giants, was named the Packers' fifth head coach. Lombardi went on to win five NFL championships in Green Bay.

Maria from Hellertown, PA

To say I'm incensed that LeRoy Butler was denied his spot in Canton, yet again, would be a gross understatement. In an already painful week, did they really have to do that to LeRoy and Packers fans everywhere? Can you shed any light on why he didn't make the cut?

It just gets me angry thinking about it. I've grown tired of trying to argue common sense. If the Pro Football Hall of Fame voters wanted Steve Atwater over LeRoy Butler, whatever. But to not vote Butler in this year…ridiculous. The clock is ticking. The Hall of Fame has four more years to do right by LeRoy Butler. I traded text messages with LeRoy on Wednesday morning and wish I had his patience and resolve. He's just riding the waves, while I'm losing my cool on the beach.

Michael from Burnsville, MN

Any early free agency or draft targets that come to mind? Players or positions?

No.

Bipin from Las Vegas, NV

One of TB coach's message to the team was, "Attack, attack and attack." I have heard some other coaches say, "Win one-on-one battles." What would be your motivational message (in few words) to GB Packers (or other football team) if you were in charge of developing one?

Wes, looking at Larry, "Rock, someday when the team's up against it and the breaks are beating the boys. Ask them to go in there with all they got and win just one for the Biff."

Adam from Glens Falls, NY

What are the chances we get to see Tramon on the sidelines as a DB coach? His career (if this was it) must have unearthed lesson after lesson, and he seems like such an intelligent communicator. I know I always listened with a smile. Too bad he didn't play in the championship game, but I believe he has much more to offer than an interesting footnote.

I'm not sure whether coaching is something Williams wants to do once his playing career is over, but he would be good at it. He's a strong communicator and has seen everything there is to see on a football field.

Mike from St. Louis Park, MN

With the big game being played in Tampa this year, do you see this as an advantage to the Bucs? Are their season ticket holders even eligible to purchase tickets and attend?

It's a definite advantage. I don't know how much it'll change the outcome, though.

Keith from Bend, OR

I see improvement from 2019 to 2020; room for growth from the past three draft years and some of the best chemistry I have ever seen since the '60s. Besides the Patriots, who has ever had this much continued success?

New England, Green Bay, New Orleans and Seattle are the first four teams that come to mind when you ask that question. Those last three all have one Super Bowl win apiece. There can only be one and it's difficult to be that one. Kansas City and Tampa Bay each had magnificent years. But in 10 days, one team is going to experience the sweetest victory of the season, while the other locker room endures the hardest professional loss of their lives.

Patrick from East Dubuque, IL

With no in-person visits for the upcoming draft, besides Zoom and tapes of prospects, what tools will be used to determine if you want a player?

Some of the hay is already in the barn. Scouts have been working the phones to ask about players and watching games. As I mentioned before, pro days are going to be critical to the pre-draft process, whether it's the on-field work, testing or measurements.

View some of the best photos from the Packers-Buccaneers NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field on Jan. 24, 2021.

Pancho from Neshannock, PA

Was there ever a mention that grief counseling would be part of the job during your interview?

True story. I didn't know Vic wrote this column six days a week when I got hired. Had I known…well…I would've just been better prepared for what was ahead of me.

Dar from Mansfield, TX

Using my own experience as an example, I too would like to encourage Brandon from Middletown (and others) to keep writing in to II, even if they haven't gotten published. Last offseason I went over three months without a word getting printed, and when I did finally get a question published, I was gutted to see that I'd spelled my name wrong (Dat)! If MVS can overcome drops to become a key contributor, Brandon can too. Lori from Brookfield wasn't built in a day, ya know!

Great words to live by, Dat. Great words to live by.

Elliot from Newport, MN

Well, now that the season is over. Which player from the upcoming draft is going to wear No. 88?

Which reminds me, I wanted to say thanks to Jeremy Henry for sending Spoff and me custom No. 88 jerseys with "INSIDERINBOX" on the back (made by the Packers Pro Shop). For that reason alone, I think we should put a moratorium on anyone wearing No. 88 in 2021.

Neal from Ft Worth, TX

It's taken me four days of sulking to share my thoughts. We, as fans, react to heartbreaking losses in many ways. Some choose to dissect every play that didn't go our way, blame the officials, and second-guess the coaches. I choose to simply say thanks to the players, coaches and staff for giving us one helluva ride this year. A year of trials and tribulations that came up short of the goal but I couldn't have been prouder of this roster. Go Pack Go!

The great mystery continues.

Brian from Urbana, IL

All right Wes. You said no restructuring or firings in the Inbox. BUT YOU DIDN'T SAY ANYTHING ABOUT TRADES! So, would you rather have Rodgers go to Houston straight up for Deshaun Watson? Or send him to somebody like Vegas who'll give us a bunch of draft picks? Excuse me while I look for the door.

Be sure to lock it behind you and put the key beneath the frog.

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