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Inbox: It wasn't just a deal about players and picks

There’s a danger with that mentality

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QB Jared Goff

Rob from Wilmington, NC

Knowlton!

It's also the name of a small township in central Wisconsin, but that's not important right now.

Dan from Morehead City, NC

Has Coach LaFleur made any mention of the new DC and STC and their freedom with their staff hires? The more turnover in the whole staff there is, the longer is will take for the defense and special teams to jell I believe. A new coordinator may want his own coaches though to put his best stamp on the team, with a longer learning curve, but maybe a better result. Which way does the team appear to be leaning?

I'm not expecting any major overhaul with position coaches. LaFleur likely would have made many of those decisions already.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

The ST have had notable struggles under both the previous ST coordinators, yet the new ST coach was an assistant under both of those tenures. I think fans have quite a bit of trepidation that we are engaging a coach who was part of these past seasons of struggle. What makes ML think that this will be an upgrade and not a continuation of the current process?

As I mentioned on "Unscripted," that's a natural question to ask, and I think LaFleur's decision here is an indication of the leadership potential he sees in Drayton that a young, rising coach hasn't yet had the power to use. For those wondering why he didn't step forward more when things were going south, I would surmise he was respecting the chain of command. His college playing career, bachelor's and master's degrees, and start of his coaching career were all at The Citadel.

Mike from South Range, WI

Continued poor special-teams play has led to another change in ST coordinator. Improved coaching should improve players' execution; however, a man whose opinion I value has suggested poor ST play can reflect the quality of players in the lower half of the roster. That would seem to point to poor player acquisition, the responsibility of the GM. Both factors may be involved, but do you have a perspective on which might have had a bigger influence in our Packers?

Valid question. It's definitely some of both. A lot of NFL players didn't play special teams in college. They have to be taught how to do it well. Some guys buy in and really establish themselves. Others never get there. That's why I previously referenced the right mix of coaching and personnel.

Tyler from Cross Plains, WI

Since Dom Capers and through Mike Pettine (McCarthy holdover) the Packers were classified as a "3-4" defensive team. I'm assuming that scheme decision comes from the head coach since he hires the DC, but do you have any insight as to what scheme Matt LaFleur prefers to run on defense? Could you see him making a switch and adding another DT next to Kenny Clark and putting the Smiths/Rashan Gary in a three-point stance on the line?

LaFleur's comments Monday told me his vision is more about how he wants his team to play defense than what it runs, and he's going to find a coordinator who fits that vision and let him run what he feels best suits Green Bay's talent.

Ethan from La Crosse, WI

Can we talk briefly about home-field advantage? Because we spent a lot of time during the season talking about it, and it hasn't been addressed yet. Will we also spend all of next season talking about how important it is to earn it? The location of the game is irrelevant, and I hope we remember that next season. They just need to get to the NFC Championship and finally win it, wherever the game is played.

I agree with your last sentence, but it's naïve to say the location of the game is irrelevant. Having been in attendance at Seattle, Atlanta and San Francisco, I witnessed how difficult it was to get anything back on track once the game started to go sideways. Two Sundays ago, it wasn't as cold as preferred, nor was it a full house, but I do believe playing at home helped the Packers right the ship after a rough stretch and provided a better chance. They just didn't finish the deal.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Pardon me for taking a jab at the dead horse, but I find it interesting that LaFleur said it's a different conversation from the 5-yard line. Do you see it as that thin of a line between kick it and go for it?

That's exactly why I brought it up in the column the morning after the game.

Greg from Princeton, MN

Was Davante Adams as wide open as the TV made him look on the free play that went to Dominique Dafney? They made it look like it would have been an easy TD.

He was more open than Dafney, but the deep safety on Adams' side of the field had not abandoned his post until Aaron Rodgers turned his body to look the other way. The Packers scored a TD on the drive anyway. I think folks have to let this one go.

Anthony from Wausau, WI

How many times does management need to fail to make the Super Bowl before you consider their strategy to be a failure? Over the past 30 years, despite having 10 seasons of first- or second-team All-Pro QB play, the Packers have only made three Super Bowls. Your belief that management has found the correct balance between "win now" and "build for the future" contradicts the results of the past decade.

Your belief that management could have gotten the Packers to the Super Bowl a different way contradicts the reality that no one in a front office can help a player, even a Pro Bowler or All-Pro, make a play when it has to be made in the most important games and moments.

Nikolai from Greenbush, WI

When you say BG's draft picks didn't affect the outcome of the apocalyptic loss to Tampa, you are not being aboveboard with your readers. Regardless of how anyone else interprets it, the players, especially the quarterback, viewed the draft as not only insulting, but a clear message that the team was not in it to win now. The actions of leaders make a difference. In some way shape or form, those actions will be reflected on the field.

I promised not to rant this week, so I'm trying to follow you here. Your argument is the players were so insulted by the draft that the best record in the NFC was less than their true capability? I'll remind you that even an undefeated regular season still would have required them to win the NFC title game at home. Or are you saying their disgust with the front office, which did bring in Tavon Austin, Damon Harrison, Jared Veldheer and Tramon Williams down the stretch, was so pent up it ultimately was reflected in the failures against the Buccaneers? When professional athletes on both sides are giving all they have for a shot at a title? Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Moving on.

Dave from Lake Zurich, IL

After what happened in the championship game I would think a cornerback would be a prime need for the Packers.

That would be my anticipation as well.

Andrew from Wheaton, IL

How many draft picks do the Packers have this year?

If they get the three compensatory picks as anticipated, they'll have 10 going into the draft.

Paul from Northglenn, CO

What is the highest allowed compensatory pick awarded? Is there a limit to the amount of picks awarded in any given year? Is there a specific time frame they can be traded?

The highest compensatory pick is No. 97, the first pick after the third round. The league awards a total of 32 each year, but it's not predetermined how many are awarded at the end of each round 3-7. They can be traded anytime, including when on the clock.

Dennis from Appleton, WI

When will NFL 2021 compensatory draft picks be announced?

In recent years, those have been made official in late February, around the normal scouting combine time.

Dar from Mansfield, TX

Spoff, a side note to the Matt Stafford trade: He will be reunited in LA with his former high school pitching mate, Clayton Kershaw. Can you imagine a 16-year-old Spoff having to face those two big arms in back-to-back games? What would be your approach in the batter's box?

Drop a bunt down the third-base line? I could run pretty well back in my day.

Ryan from Noblesville, IN

The Texans are wanting two first-rounders, two second-rounders, and two young defensive players for a Watson trade. What has Watson achieved that the Texans think they can warrant that demand? Crazy things already happening this offseason.

He'll turn just 26 around Week 1 of 2021 and he's got a career triple-digit passer rating to his credit, plus three games of postseason experience. Whether Houston can get what it's asking for a player everyone knows wants out is another question, but the asking price is not crazy.

Nathan from Philadelphia, PA

I do think Stafford is better than Goff, but two first-round picks, really? Can you help us make sense of this trade?

Part of the reason the Lions got two first-round picks is they were willing to take on Goff's contract. It wasn't just a deal about players and picks.

Collin from Kirkwood, MO

I'm curious to hear opinions on what the Packers have in Jordan Love. By the way, this is coming from one of the biggest Aaron Rodgers fans on Earth. I believe AR is the best QB to ever play and he can be elite for many more years. This makes me even more curious on the plan. Those with access have had full year of up-close, on-field, evaluation of Love. There is a beat on his potential. Would you be willing to answer if you are excited, unsure, or uneasy about Love's potential to be a star?

The truth is I don't have an answer. We saw a couple dozen practices in training camp. That's it. No OTAs. No preseason games. No one in the media got to see any 11-on-11 work after camp, as is SOP. All I can say is we'll see what 2021 brings.

Rick from Millersburg, PA

Just curious, what's the largest deficit Aaron Rodgers has brought us back from, regular or postseason?

20 points, twice – the Hail Mary game in Detroit in '15, and the '18 opener vs. Chicago. Both contests started 20-0. He also has an 18-point comeback in Week 2 of '14 vs. the Jets (21-3), and he's had several from 14 down. In the '09 playoffs at Arizona, the deficit was 21 (31-10) and he rallied the Packers to tie (twice) but lost in OT.

Brendan from Mount Clemens, MI

I can't remember if it was Mike or Wes who mentioned it, but I was surprised to hear your opinion(s) that Aaron Jones would be your highest-priority pending FA to bring back; I figured it would be Corey Linsley, who played absolutely lights out at center. I certainly think they could be a 1A/1B situation, but would you prioritize AJ Dillon over Corey because centers are "easier" to replace than a game-breaking RB?

It absolutely is splitting hairs, but I put Jones first because I think his skills are a special fit for LaFleur's system, and this offense is at its best with multiple running backs producing. Trust me, I don't want Linsley to go anywhere. He's an All-Pro and the best of pros. And I'm not selling Dillon or Jamaal Williams short. But if Elgton Jenkins can play center and Jon Runyan can step in at guard, I think there's less potential drop-off overall than if a truly singular weapon like Jones departs.

Andrew from Placentia, CA

I don't know how many more times I can read fans complaining that the Packers are "wasting" the Rodgers years. Making it to four NFC title games in seven years is not "wasting." Look no further than my favorite baseball team, just a city over, that has had Mike Trout for almost a decade. In that time they've made one playoff appearance with an 0-3 record. I'm sorry, after zero October wins with Trout, I can't see the Packers as "wasting the Rodgers years," as some geniuses say.

Everyone would like the Packers to have accomplished more to this point, but "maximizing" and "wasting" are simply the polar opposites, not the only choices in the final analysis, and we are not yet at the final analysis.

Robert from Harris, MN

A lot has always been made of Rodgers' mindset (a place by the way only he resides). Early on it was "a chip on his shoulder." This past season it has been what can best be described as his "happy place." Although his mindset is his own and quite frankly his own business, if I were to wish one for him in the upcoming season it would be one of "unfinished business." I think it would suit him well and I believe lead to an entertaining season.

There's a danger with that mentality, though. Focusing on the "finish" from the start can get in the way of setting up the best opportunity to finish. Rodgers talked a lot this past season about enjoying the journey. I believe he'll take the same approach. It's a good way to keep a perspective that doesn't have you hung up on disappointing endings.

Paul from Franklin, WI

Hello Wes/Spoff, now that Aaron Rodgers had an MVP type year and is likely to win the award, what can Matt LaFleur do next year to challenge his starting QB and introduce new concepts and plays to have AR12 perform at or above that MVP level?

You focus on what he did best and then see how many variations can be built from those concepts that stay within the framework of the offense. Which perhaps can create even more "stuff" that looks just like what they already run, but is different and will force defenses to adjust.

Josh from Milwaukee, WI

A lot of fans seem to be nervous about the difficult decisions awaiting the Packers with the likely lowered salary cap. Thankfully, it seems as though at least 75% of the league is in the same, or a worse, situation. The other 25% seem to be at least one or two years away in a state of rebuild. I'm not worried. There's nothing wrong with thinking our scouts and execs will succeed again, is there?

I fully expect the Packers to remain contenders. If that is indeed the case, then it'll come down to the team's health, how it's playing during the stretch run, and doing what it takes when it matters most. I know it's a boring answer everyone's heard before, but I say it because I believe it's the truth.

Matt from Delavan, WI

I'm just here so I don't get fined.

We needed one of those during Super Bowl week. Happy Wednesday.

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