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Inbox: It would be a good sign

A team’s chemistry isn’t really discovered until adversity strikes

QB Aaron Rodgers
QB Aaron Rodgers

Bill from Bloomfield Hills, MI

Are there any topics the readers seem to be neglecting lately? Please feel free to consider this question your opportunity enlighten us all accordingly.

Neglect anything? The Inbox? Never.

Brian from Pleasant Prairie, WI

I like the suits too but understand the marketing dilemma. I have a solution: Coaches and sideline staff wear suits during the throwback game when the players wear the "old style" uniforms. The whole stadium could be themed for the throwback – have the jumbo screen in b&w for effect, unless there is a questionable call against/in favor of the Packers of course!

Several readers have mentioned going with the suits for a throwback game. I'd be on board with that.

Timmy from Chicago, IL

After practice Wednesday, my cousin and I stood on the corner to watch the "parade" of Packers players as they drove across the street. Many, including Aaron Rodgers, took the time to wave back to us. Jaire Alexander could not have stopped the car any faster to jump out and sign my cousin's "23" jersey. It meant the world to him. Jaire is going to be a very special player.

It's getting very easy to root for him.

Moosh from Long Island, NY

"Two shutdown corners." That comment made me smirk with excitement.

Careful. But as much as the revamped pass rush at outside linebacker will be key to Pettine's defense progressing (I have a **story on that** posting later this morning), I still maintain for the entire unit to be at its very best, Alexander and King need to be on the field together as much as possible.

Elliot from Minneapolis, MN

Do you foresee the biggest jump coming from Alexander from Year 1 to Year 2 is becoming a leader in the locker room? Are there other players you believe that will also take on a leadership-type role this season?

I get the feeling Alexander is a natural leader, so he'll grow into the role at some point. As far as other new leaders, I think Za'Darius Smith is in position to become an important one.

John from Winnipeg, Manitoba

My wife and I, originally from Wisconsin, have lived in Winnipeg for over 50 years and have been diehard Packer fans for over 65! We see in the local paper that the third preseason game here with the Raiders has been confirmed (a few details to work out yet). Any word yet from your end? We are getting very excited!

Nothing official from here. Yet.

David from Coeur d'Alene, ID

I wonder, do you think we might see a bronze statue of Mr. Starr at Lambeau sometime in the future? Very deserving.

There already are two. One is across the street in front of the Resch Center. The other is along the Packers Heritage Trail, a project to which Cliff Christl devoted a ton of time and effort.

Don from Denver, CO

Hey guys, Spoff's piece on the relationship between Davante Adams and Matt LaFleur got my attention. I wonder if LaFleur, knowing that the weight of leadership falls to the QB – but also knowing that his superstar QB isn't a natural leader – is purposefully finding ways to shift some of that responsibility. There's no substitute for a general at QB, but leaning more on Adams to lead his teammates seems like a smart strategy. Thoughts?

I disagree with your assertion about Rodgers, but I agree Adams taking on more leadership responsibility is a positive. Having different types of leaders around the locker room is healthy with a new offense being installed. Bulaga and Bakhtiari have their own style of leadership as well. But getting back to Adams, I don't think it's intentional on LaFleur's part. I think there's been a natural progression for Adams over the last two years with the successive departures of Nelson and Cobb, and he hasn't forced it. That helps leadership work.

Max from Troy, MO

Thanks for the piece on Davante and his approach to all the change this offseason. I chuckled a bit at his jersey number story. After everything we've heard this week, I have to imagine Starr handled that with just as much class and humility as could be.


Jason from Des Plaines, IL

"The hardest thing to drop was gummy bears." I'm not a big candy guy, so the hardest thing for me to drop would be chipotle. What's your guilty pleasure food?

I eat all kinds of unhealthy things and don't feel guilty at all, unless I eat too much of something. In moderation, no second thoughts.

Marin from West Lawn, PA

Would Matt LaFleur continue to have Aaron Rodgers go with a quick count to catch the defense with too many men on the field?

In certain situations, sure. One thing we saw at practice on Wednesday, which Larry pointed out in "Three Things," was the offense bolting out of the huddle for a quick snap to catch the defense before it gets set.

Ian from Louisville, KY

There's been so much talk about Rodgers and LaFleur this offseason and rightfully so. How much input does a guy like Aaron Rodgers have in a first-time coach creating his playbook? Are there times where the coach is creating and calling plays and the QB looks at him and says, "That kind of play doesn't work in this league/with this personnel"? I'm sure there is dialogue but I'm curious as to how much of a first-time coach's offensive philosophy develops from a veteran QB's experience.

LaFleur is going to get a feel for what types of plays and concepts Rodgers likes best and feels most comfortable running. They have to find those calls to "hang your hat on" together, and part of that is learning the personnel he has at his disposal. But LaFleur has his philosophy and he knows what works in this league. He has coached an offensive rookie of the year at QB and an MVP quarterback on a Super Bowl team. He has called plays for an offense that dealt with injuries at QB and other key positions and came one win from a playoff spot. He's not standing in the front of the meeting room in May asking, "Hey Aaron, do you think this will work?"

Matt from East Troy, WI

Gents, many of the readers read II during lunch. What do you read at lunch?

Their questions.

Jeff from Green Bay, WI

As for ILB, thumper/thinker are not mutually exclusive as every player needs both attributes to play the position. I was only asking which attribute the coaching staff leans on more when making depth-chart decisions. My money is on the guy who is more solid with assignments, even if the athletic side of things isn't as intriguing.

I hear what you're saying, but if by depth-chart decision you mean starter or most playing time, I think the strengths of the surrounding pieces factor in. If you mean further down the depth chart with roster cuts, it usually comes down to whether there's perceived upside to any current deficiencies.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

When Pettine took over last year, one of the keys to success frequently mentioned was the importance of having people play roles that they play best. But then last week he stated the most important concept on defense is to block pre-snap identification by QBs by having players be multiple and play different roles. These two concepts seem to contradict each other.

I think they're a reflection of changing priorities in Year 2 vs. Year 1 of the system. The better the players know it, the more they might be able to do. Pettine also knows his players better now, though there are several new additions in 2019. But having only a portion of the players learning a new scheme, as opposed to everyone, makes a difference in the approach for a coach.

Sean from Suamico, WI

I know it's still early, but any word on if the Packers will have a decal on their helmet or a patch on their jersey this season to honor Bart Starr?

Nothing yet. This is just me spiffballing, but with the NFL's 100 patch already on everybody's jersey this year, I think a helmet sticker would be the better way to go.

Dave from Lake Mills, WI

Less of a question, more of an observation. In seeing the interviews with most of the players, it strikes me how upbeat they are, and centered on the team. The chemistry seems fantastic. I especially liked what Jamaal Williams said about winning, and just doing what they ask you to do, etc. (tough to choose, but I think he's my new favorite Packer). That attitude and the apparent chemistry will take them far, in my opinion.

This is the time of year the chemistry starts to form. The days are not as long as the regular season, so there's time to spend together away from the facility. But every team is upbeat with chemistry when it hasn't lost a game. A team's chemistry isn't really discovered until adversity strikes, which it will.

Scott from Kissimmee, FL

Tell the truth, are either of you old enough to know what a rolodex is, or were the history books called upon!

You're too kind.

Rich from Grand Rapids, MI

Can you walk us through the timing for your game-day articles? For example, if you have primary responsibility for the game summary, as opposed to a "news and notes" or "locker room interview" type story, how much is written as the game is going on? How far along is the article at halftime of the game? Do you go back and change tone as the flow of the game or momentum changes? It might be fun for your loyal II readers to watch it being drafted live during a preseason game.

It doesn't happen quite like that. We don't really work ahead on our postgame stories because we're too busy to do so. During the game, while Wes is assisting the social media team with on-the-fly updates, I'm writing a running story of the nuts and bolts as they happen, essentially a drive-by-drive, score-by-score rundown. It gets posted at the end of every quarter, and it's topped off with a quick-hitting summary of team records, stats, etc., as soon as the final clock hits zero. After the game, I go to the press conferences of the head coach and quarterback, and Wes goes to the locker room, and we write from scratch. I put together the "Game Recap" and "Editorial" with relevant comments/quotes as quickly as I can, while Wes does the same with the "Locker Room Report" and "Game Notes." We've developed an efficient routine, just as Vic and I did when the roles were reversed. The real challenge is with the road games. We want the "Game Recap" with coach/QB comments to go up as soon as possible, which means getting it written on the bus ride from the stadium to the airport, otherwise we're waiting until we get above 10,000 feet for the airline WiFi to kick in to get it posted. That time gap feels like an eternity in the gotta-have-it-now online world. It's stressful, and uncomfortable writing on a bus, but I love the challenge.

Julius from Providence, RI

Now that there have been two OTAs open to the public, I wanted to hear if Kingsley Keke is living up to expectations. Does he look like a 288-pound lineman without pads?

He does indeed.

Richard from Farmington Hills, MI

Mike, your listing of the players in 1958 brought to mind the contribution that Jack Vainisi made to the Pack. He had a hand in selecting most, if not all, of those players and was a key component to the team's success under Lombardi. He died much too early and does not get the recognition he deserves.

We've discussed Vainisi in this forum before. A couple of weeks ago, we had our annual all-organization meeting, and we were shown a portion of the team's "100 Seasons" documentary (which is coming out this fall). The segment we saw covered the 1950s, and I was thrilled to see Vainisi get his due in the piece.

Gary from Grass Valley, CA

Last year Coach LaFleur's team had 454 rushing attempts to only 437 pass attempts vs. the Packers' 333 rushes to 640 pass attempts. Would it be fair to assume Rodgers may have 100 fewer passing attempts this year?

It would be a good sign, frankly. Rodgers had 597 pass attempts last year, and had he not exited early in Week 17, he almost certainly would have set a new career high, topping his 610 from 2016. For reference, in his MVP years, Rodgers attempted 502 passes in 2011 (in 15 games) and 520 in 2014.

Jeff from Wentzville, MO

I most enjoy the goalposts as did Ken from NY, but for a different reason. Not the fans tearing them down, but for the close proximity they were to the actual end zone. In what year did that change?


Robert from Salem, WI

How do you foresee the return game shaping up and who can we expect to be doing the returns?

No way to tell right now. Shawn Mennenga said last week they were going to try out several different potential returners. They are jobs that appear there for the taking in training camp and the preseason.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, are you the special guest who reads the bedtime story at the Packers Pajama Party?

I couldn't wait another day for Wes to find this one. Too funny, and a wonderful way to end my week. Happy Friday.