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Inbox: It was one heck of a ride

The Packers enter 2021 in an advantageous position

QB Aaron Rodgers and G Elgton Jenkins

Mark from Richardson, TX

Good Morning II. I just wanted to say kudos to Mike for your Clark W. Griswold like response to Jesus from Mesa, AZ, when he found out he got a jelly-of-the-month club bonus instead of the normal Christmas bonus. I like the well-balanced approach from yourself and Hod. All of us die-hards wanted the Packers to win. They just didn't do enough to win. Enjoy you weekend.

After I threw out a "Hallelujah" to start Thursday's Inbox, Spoff and Jesus really took things to another level.

Mike from Mesa, AZ

Wes/Spoff, I've been an avid reader since the Vic days, but haven't submitted anything in several years. I read Mike's response to Jesus from AZ this morning and couldn't help but crack a smile, as I imagined Mike pounding away at his keyboard writing the most thorough retort I've seen in quite a while! We need to remember it's OK to have different opinions. I just wanted to thank you both for sharing your opinions in the Inbox, as well as on "Packers Unscripted!"

I knew it was gonna be a good column as soon as Spoff shouted over to me, "Wes, I'm letting some guy have it in Inbox tomorrow." He didn't disappoint. Now, we just need someone to come down from IT to repair Spoff's keyboard.

Grey from Lambertville, NJ

Mike's answer to Jesus from Mesa was a bullseye. I get so tired of the "team stooge" accusations from narrow-minded, angry fans. I am sure you must get even more annoyed by it. I applaud your patience and thank you and Wes profusely for the great work you do, and the education and pleasure you bring to so many of us. I hope you don't let the occasional pea brain get to you. By the way, I once had to fire someone at work named Jesus. It gets a laugh.

I'm not going to lie. I stood up from my computer and cheered loudly after reading Spoff's retort. It was the perfect way to start my Friday. And Jesus, feel free to go elsewhere if you have a problem with our responses. But I'll tell you this – this column is one of the few (credible) spaces where fans can voice their opinion in a meaningful way without screaming into the void. We hear you. We're listening. Be respectful.

Peder from Muskegon, MI

Good morning, responding to Mike's fantastic response to Jesus and the "all-in gang". One thing I've realized through my years is how much luck plays into the outcomes in life. People think success is 100% due to hard work and good choices, and failure is due to the opposite. Not true. Case in point, what caused David Bakhtiari's knee injury? My understanding is it was a non-contact injury…Bad luck! Or Aaron Rodgers recovering AJ Dillon's fumble against the Rams? Good luck! Luck or chance is always in play.

All you can do is train and prepare your football team to the best of your ability and let the chips fall where they may at this level. The Packers overcame a lot to get to the NFC title game, with Bakhtiari's injury being the greatest setback of all. But they still believed. It was a disappointing end to a very satisfying season…which is what has made this ending so difficult for many to reconcile.

Gary from Cross Plains, WI

Some folks just don't get what "going for it" means. Drafting for a perceived need or signing a bunch of high-profile free agents can 1) not pan out if the players don't produce and 2) prevent you from "going for it" in future years because you unnecessarily tied up resources in the wrong places. You draft who you see as the best long-term and cherry pick a supplement here or there for the short-term. Some may still not pan out, but you're solid enough to always be in the hunt. Rant on!

It's easier to look back and speak confidently about what has happened than it is to see into the future and project what a team is going to be. That's the balance a general manager must strike. Are the Packers perfect? No, but their batting average is pretty darn high. And they enter 2021 in an advantageous position, a spot most of the league can only dream about.

Curt from Oronoco, MN

I'm really stumped by the "go for it" talk. What does that even mean? How often is any team "one or two" players away from a guaranteed Super Bowl, and simultaneously those one or two players are actually out there and available within the cap? Not to mention, the years of cap misery that would collectively cost, regardless of outcome. It would be pretty depressing to think that a Super Bowl win is the only result that would mark a season as a success. Thirty-one teams miss the mark every year.

Allow me to translate…It means, "My team lost and I need someone or something to blame." It's kinda funny, though. The last time the Packers won a Super Bowl, they didn't sign a single unrestricted free agent and drafted a backup tackle with their first-round pick. They did claim Howard Green and Erik Walden off waivers, though. Oh, and traded for Anthony Smith.

Gary from Benevides, Brazil

Wow, Jesus brought a pencil to a keyboard fight. This loss was so much like the 2014 loss because if any one of about 20 plays had gone differently or even typically, the result could have been completely different. There was one issue in Mike's "rant" that I have been wondering about but seriously doubt there is any way you can know. With so many run/pass options that are called, how much of the "abandoned the run blame" belongs to the coach and how much belongs to the QB?

You're right. There is no way to know that. LaFleur is the first to say the buck stops with him on play-calling but so much is dictated by what the Packers are seeing in the heat of battle. Certainly, the offense didn't hit the target with 53 drop-backs and 16 designed runs.

Dale from Norwich, England

Hi II, just wondered what your opinion is with Green Bay parting ways with Mike Pettine? I know a lot of mistakes have been made (especially in the championship game), but improvements were starting to be seen regarding stopping the run which was our biggest problem. Do you think he should have been given another season? Love you guys, by the way!

I see both sides of the argument and probably would've understood either way. Obviously, we'll see what LaFleur has to say about it on Monday but Pettine's oversight of the defense helped provide important stability between the Mike McCarthy and LaFleur Eras. There's no question the defense made some big strides this year but there's probably also something to be said for LaFleur being able to hire his own defensive coordinator at this point. There's a lot of young talent in this defense. I'll be very curious to see who LaFleur tabs to set the vision now for 2021.

Mike from Mebane, NC

The point was made about taking special teams seriously. With a new special-teams coach, we can only hope. It should be near and dear to our mind given our history with Desmond Howard. What are your expectations for the new coach to see if we are taking ST seriously?

Explosive plays and trickery are fun, but the Packers need to get back to basics on special teams. They have shore up their coverage units, and figure out what was going wrong on these field-goal and punt blocks this year. Good special-team units don't force big plays into existence. Instead, they do all the little things right and capitalize on the opposition's mistakes. Once that happens, we can get back to talking about returning touchdowns and pulling off fancy fakes.

Dave from Roswell, GA

I'm probably going to get banned for saying this but GB ultimately lost this game in the trenches. Tampa's OL and DL were dominating. Rodgers played a whale of a game, while under constant pressure. If Tom Brady were under that kind of pressure, he would have folded like a house of cards and been screaming at his offensive line.

You're not going to get banned for pointing out Rodgers was sacked five times and pressured on 16 of his drop-backs. Those are the facts. But again, there isn't one single reason for losing in the NFL. It was a lack of execution in all three phases that ousted the Packers from the playoffs. That's it. The pressure on Rodgers was a part of that.

James from Appleton, WI

I finally understand that playing in the cold is like playing at high altitude. You may not feel it at first but it wears on you. That's why getting the ball twice on interceptions and going three-and-out both times was so shocking. The Bucs were down and needed to be knocked out. All I can think of is the Packers kept trying to deliver that KO in big plays when a flurry of steady plays would do. Did the Packers just get caught up in the moment?

Yes, but it wasn't cold Sunday. It was a beautiful January day in Green Bay. When I stepped outside on Thursday and saw 0-degrees on the thermometer, I immediately thought to myself, 'Oh, now you decided to be Wisconsin." I don't think the Packers were caught up in the moment. It's a game of moves and countermoves. The Bucs played the board better.

Brandon from Margate, FL

One of the "off-season moves" that I'm most interested in is seeing how Devin Funchess fits into the offense. Many fans who were clamoring for GB to draft a WR in the first round forget that GB got a guy that they truly believed could be a No. 2 receiver to Davante Adams' No. 1. If Marquez Valdes-Scantling continues to catch the football like he did on Sunday, Adams plays like he did this year and Allen Lazard can stay healthy, this receiving corps could be very dangerous. Not to mention Big Robert Tonyan!

And after watching the second year of Matt LaFleur's offense, the more I'm convinced Funchess was a great fit for it. We'll see what the offseason holds.

Vince from Flagstaff, AZ

I think that this is the year to accumulate as many draft picks as possible. With decreased number of college games, changes in combine testing, and player interview opportunities, I feel like the draft is more of a gamble than in years past. Having more darts to throw is never bad, but now more than ever. What are your thoughts and what might this year's compensatory picks look like?

The Packers should be receiving three compensatory picks here after losing Bryan Bulaga, Blake Martinez and Kyler Fackrell. OverTheCap's compensatory cancellation chart has them getting a fourth-, fifth- and sixth-round pick.

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

Bill from Bloomfield Hills, MI

The idea of replacing our QB through the draft has some history. Ron Wolf had a good decent record with Matt Hasselback, Mark Brunell, Ty Detmer and Aaron Brooks not using high picks. Ted hit the jackpot with Rodgers and Matt Flynn did a yeoman's job at least as our backup guy. But since, the few, lower-round picks made have been disappointing. My perspective on Jordan Love has changed a bit. We have lacked a backup QB for years now that could assuredly keep us in a playoff race, do you see him as answering that hole?

What we don't know, and may never know, is how many players the Packers had left on their draft board when they moved up to take Love. There's a chance, like Rodgers in 2005, Love was the last guy with a comparable grade on the board. Either way, the Packers felt Love gave them the best value at No. 26 and Green Bay now has its most talented QB room since the era you described.

Blake from Marion, IA

Good morning II. All this talk about the salary cap and The Pack not being able to pay everyone with a lowered cap this coming season doesn't carry much weight. All teams have a lowered cap. We may not be able to pay Aaron Jones and Corey Linsley (and others) top dollar, but neither can other teams. Players may have to adjust their expectations, and or sign short-term deals in hopes of the league's financial rebound. Am I way off in my thinking? Go Pack Go!

This is also a good time to mention there's still a lot we don't know about the 2021 salary cap. That has yet to be finalized. Once it is, all 32 teams will know what type of game board the league will playing on. Until then, you're playing "Monopoly" without the dice.

Dylan from Cary, NC

When do the salary-cap numbers for next year become official?

The NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported the approval of last year's cap on March 15, right before the start of the new league year and unrestricted free agency.

Shaun from Cottage Grove, WI

With the season over, do any of the players call Green Bay home during the offseason? Or do they all try to "get away" for a while?

I was texting with a couple guys earlier this week – many planned to stick around for a few days before heading home this weekend. There are a few players who maintain a year-round residence in Green Bay, though.

Nick from Inglewood, CA

Is there any possibility we would be in the talks for the Deshaun Watson trade?

How about we let Rodgers win the award for the NFL's Most Valuable Player before we start with the Watson talk?

Tony from Grapevine, TX

Is it too much to ask to have Rodgers end his career the way John Elway did in Denver in his late 30s? I keep having visions of Rodgers going to back-to-back Super Bowls at 38 and 39, winning both to add to his legacy, and then riding off into the sunset as the champion we all know that he already is.

Elway got the perfect sendoff. He's one of the few. But I've been saying this for the last six years – I have full confidence Rodgers can play well into his 40s with his natural arm talent. At 37 years old, Rodgers has made the necessary adjustments to his game to maintain his standard of play.

Mike from Chamberlain, SD

Will there be more fans in the stadium next year?

I sure hope so. It sounds like the two playoff games were a success with fans being on their best behavior. People understood what privilege it was to be among the roughly 8,000 and acted accordingly. It was a special atmosphere.

Andy from Columbus, TX

I am hoping there is someone out there who would research this: What is Green Bay's record compared to other organizations from Brett Favre's first start through last weekend. I would venture a guess that it would be a fairly positive result. I was very disappointed last Sunday, but it sure has been nice to have a good chance to win in most games for many years.

I don't have the research department to compare to the rest of the NFL but the Packers are 292-167-2 since Favre's first start on Sept. 27, 1992. That ain't bad.

Venny from Montgomery, AL

I love it when you guys clap back on a misguided II writer. Are you guys considering getting a laser-etched frame for your No. 88 jersey?

No. As cool as that would be, I don't want to diminish the value of these jerseys. They're two-of-a-kind.

John from St Albert, Canada

Will "88" be retired, or is it still too early in INSIDERINBOX's career to tell? I will shut the door on my way out. Oh, and someone broke the frog. You might want to fix that.

I'll be sure to send a bill postmarked for Urbana, IL.

Drew from Vincennes, IN

YES, MIKE. GO OFF. I think Linsley called Wes a "bad dude" in his interview, but I'm a little more afraid of Mike right now. Thanks for all your work this season. You're both bad dudes in my book.

Friday proved once again that Spoff isn't the kind of dude you want to meet in a dark alley when he has a pencil in one hand and a laptop in the other. If you see that guy sauntering out in public, cross the street.

Mark from Ocala, FL

It goes without saying good morning. After a fabulous season of Green Bay Packers football and the weekly Insiders Inbox, the blogs, the photos, all the Packers information provided by the Insider Inbox and the weekly anticipation and excitement for the same, I now find the real loss is the end of the season. Thanks to the players, coaches, scouts, all the administration and operation staff, and the Insider Inbox, Spoff and Hod, Cliff and MM along with all the submitters. An awesome YEAR!

It was one heck of a ride. Unfortunately, the more fun you have, the harder it is to disembark once it's over.

Mario from Kettleman City, CA

I don't mind the rants on Insider Inbox, but how about less poetry in 2021?

You got it!

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

A heck of a ride,

A beautiful mystery,

The future is now.

And so, continues the circle of football life.