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Inbox: Joe Barry deserves a lot of credit for the job he did

Joe Burrow has lived up to the hype

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Defensive coordinator Joe Barry

Marty from Hudson, WI

With the way the Rams went all-in, does this change the draft-and-develop strategy at all?

Not for me. I certainly respect what the Rams have done – and it may win them a Super Bowl – but the bill is going to come due at some point with how they burned through draft capital. I'm not opposed to moving future assets to fill immediate needs in moderation, but I've never been one to mortgage the house for more lottery tickets. That's just me, though. Who knows? Maybe more teams will operate that way moving forward if the Rams win.

Mark from Sturgeon Bay, WI

With all due respect to those IIers who the Rams have proven that "all in" can work, I'm not sure it has yet. I don't think Packers (nor Rams) fans will be content with getting to the Super Bowl. If they win, that's a different story. Also, let's see how content fans of a team that wins the SB are when the same team misses the playoffs for several years because they gave away all their top draft picks and have cap issues.

If the Rams win it all, the other 13 playoff teams will be blamed for not being aggressive enough. If the Rams lose, then the pundits will talk about LA's plan failing. Either way, a narrative will be fed and someone will be complaining.

Robert from Verona, WI

Since I choose to believe that Aaron Rodgers will be back, and Brian Gutekunst and Russ Ball will keep most of the band together, can you remind us what our current draft pick situation looks like? I believe we have all seven of our normal picks in the 28th position of each round, correct? And possibly a couple of compensatory picks, as well?

The Packers traded their sixth-round pick to Houston for Randall Cobb before acquiring the Texans' seventh-rounder a month later for Ka'dar Hollman. OverTheCap estimates Green Bay will gain a fourth-round compensatory pick for losing Corey Linsley last March and a seventh for Jamaal Williams based on the net-loss formula. That would put the Packers at nine total selections.

Joe from Wausau, WI

Will Matt LaFleur wait to see who his starting QB will be in 2022 before choosing his quarterback coach?

No, it won't be that long. My guess is it'll be one of the next moves LaFleur makes now that the internal promotions have been announced.

Dale from Prescott, WI

When the season is over for the players, do they shut down for a few weeks before beginning an offseason workout regimen? I'm thinking they would need some mental and physical recovery time.

Yeah, most guys shut it down for a month and then get back to work in February. Mentally and physically, this is a pivotal time on the NFL calendar. It's as close to down time as you're going to get outside of late June and early July.

Matt from Cottage Grove, WI

How does Rodgers' decision to come or go impact the first three rounds of the Packers' upcoming draft?

It's a big part of it. Even with Aaron Rodgers showing promise, Ted Thompson still selected Brian Brohm in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft to help fortify the quarterback position for the post-Favre era. Thompson also used eight of his nine picks on players who played on offense in Green Bay. If Rodgers is back for 2022, there will be no need to hedge bets. It's go time. Until then, all we can do is wait.

Adilson from Rotterdam, Netherlands

To add to Mike's response to the question from Don from Riverton, UT: Joe Philbin was also an offensive line coach at the college level and in Green Bay before becoming the Packers offensive coordinator (and then head coach in Miami). He was one of the most respected and beloved coaches at 1265.

I think one thing that often gets overlooked is how NFL offensive line coaches develop the largest position group on the roster and usually serve as the run game coordinator whether it's in their title or not. I think those two things position them well to handle coordinating the entire offense. Philbin epitomized those ideals.

Jordan from Virginia Beach, VA

After assistants and coordinators being passed on year after year, we have seen quite a few move on to higher roles in other organizations with one becoming a head coach. What does this say about ML and his ability to coach coaches? Can we expect to see more turnover due to success, rather than failure, for years to come?

I think LaFleur has a good eye for spotting coaching talent and then trusting those individuals to get the job done. Adam Stenavich, Justin Outten and Luke Butkus were under-the-radar hires in 2019 and all three gained the respect of their position rooms. As I wrote on Tuesday, I think having a little changeover with the coaching staff is a positive thing for a team's long-term growth. Plus, coaches around the league will take notice of Green Bay's successes.

Jeffrey from Greenwood , MN

Was AJ Dillon playing on special teams throughout the year or was he forced in due to the ineptitude of the unit towards the end of the season? If the latter, that's one more grain of salt on the wound since that's where he got injured. His absence at the end and the Packers' inability to grind and run the clock was significant.

No, Dillon played teams for most of the year – just like Jamaal Williams before him. Dillon was a down-blocker on kickoff returns and often played guard on punt coverage. The No. 2 back typically has played on Green Bay's special-teams units, even during the Mike McCarthy era.

Norm from Barron, WI

Do you have any idea why returner David Moore was not active to return kicks and Shawn Davis, a good special-teams player, was not active for the SF game?

I think it was a gameday numbers crunch with Moore. With all due respect to Davis, he was a rookie who played nine special-teams snaps during one game for Green Bay. Davis may turn out to be a good special-teamer but it's not like the Packers benched Matthew Slater.

Lawrence from Milwaukee, WI

For all those wanting to play starters on special teams, the risk is obvious. For example, we spent all year salivating over Dillon snow plowing a California team in a playoff blizzard at Lambeau and then lost him on an inconsequential kick off. I mean, he was drafted specifically for that moment and was unavailable because of ST duties. Figure out how to get it done with the backups.

It might just be picking your spots. I think there's an argument to be made to having more established veterans on coverage units. Rasul Douglas, for example, made an impact in a short period of time on kickoff coverage the last few weeks of the year. It might also mean keeping around a few more Jarrett Bushes, Anthony Levines or Chris Banjos, too – veterans who may not be core offensive or defensive players but offer depth, experience and versatility in the third phase.

Bob from Pelican Lake , WI

Medically/physically, will David Bakhtiari ever be the player he once was?

My goodness, people. Yes. David tore his ACL. He didn't get hit by a train. I'm confident Bakhtiari will reset this offseason and hit the ground running this spring.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

I don't remember the last time I've seen a team that wins an overtime coin flip elect to kick off. Any idea when/if that has happened? Asking as a prelude to an idea on overtime that wouldn't make the decision "automatic." Trying to stay engaged while "the beautiful mystery plays out."

Marty Mornhinweg's decision to take wind over the football in 2002 against Chicago is the only instance I can remember of a coach/team not electing to receive in overtime.

Terry from Onalaska, WI

Insiders, the Washington Commanders, what do you think?

Mid.

Bob from Cortez, CO

Would Tom Brady have had the same career without Rob Gronkowski?

Brady won three Super Bowls, an MVP and was the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year all before the Pats drafted Gronk. So, I think he would've been OK.

Kent from Lewiston, ID

Happy Practice Friday! Now that I've come out of "My Burrow" on Groundhog Day since the end, is there any doubt that this is will be Joe Burrow's coming-out party?!

It's barely been two years since Burrow led LSU to an undefeated season and a national championship. If he wins a Super Bowl with the Cincinnati Bengals at just 25, Burrow will be catapulted into a different stratosphere when it comes to quarterback play. He's lived up to the hype.

Josh from Eagan, MN

I keep hearing this is the most entertaining playoffs in a long, long, time and I can't get the Eric Stokes' quote out of my head. I can't watch, it makes the mental torment worse.

I don't blame you. It has been highly entertaining, though.

Benjamin from Bear, DE

For the record I hate asking "next year" questions when like everyone else I thought this was the Packers' year. With that said, can the fans expect a jump in Year 2 of Joe Barry's defense along the lines we witnessed in the offense? I understand so much depends on De'Vondre Campbell's retuning but we can hope, can't we?

For sure. Joe Barry deserves a lot of credit for the job he did with the defense this year. I'm still in awe of what Barry, his coaches and those defensive players accomplished without Jaire Alexander and Za'Darius Smith for most of the season. There will be changes on defense next year but the Packers still have a core of young playmakers returning on that side of the ball.

Darren from Warrington, UK

Which of the Packers' 2022 home games do you feel would most likely be moved for an international game hopefully in London?

If it's going to be any Packers home game in 2022, I would think it's one of the New York teams. Dallas, New England, Tennessee and the Los Angeles Rams could all be primetime games. I don't see an NFC North game being played overseas.

David from Schoolcraft, MI

Hello II. Thanks for your grounded approach and response to all news and happenings Packers-related. With regard to the Brian Flores lawsuit, any idea why Eric Bieniemy hasn't interviewed for a HC position this year?

There's a lot to sort out with Flores' lawsuit but the claims are unsettling. We'll see what becomes of it, but I was very surprised to see Miami let Flores go last month, especially with the run the Dolphins went on midseason. That was stunning to see Flores get fired. Now, we'll wait and see what to make of all this smoke emitting from these embers.

Bob from Kennesaw, GA

I know Mike thinks we should all be rooting for the Bengals in the SB, but I just can't do it. I don't care about their past, present, or future. I've felt bad for Matt Stafford for so many years…such a good QB being stuck on a not-going-anywhere Lions team, his career slowly slipping away. How could any fan with no connection to the Bengals not want to see him finally get a SB ring? You see? There are powerful narratives going both ways…

I think that's the beauty in this year's Super Bowl. Yes, it would be cool to see the Bengals finally win a Super Bowl but LA has had to overcome its own obstacles, including its own stadium, to get to this point. I'll be pulling for the Rams but also won't be upset if Cincy gets it done.

Tyler from Cross Plains, WI

Not a question, but man, if the Detroit Lions could just find a Super Bowl-caliber QB like Matthew Stafford, they might finally be able to turn the franchise around!

The Stafford trade is a good two-way reminder of how big a difference a QB can make for a contender (in LA's case) and also how building a winning team is more than just who your quarterback is (in Detroit's case).

Michael from Berrien Springs, MI

Spoff: "...how can any football fan with no ties to the Rams not be rooting for the Bengals?" I will be very happy for the Bengals if they win, but I am rooting for Stafford...not necessarily the Rams. Burrow will hopefully have many playoff chances to come while Stafford lived through Lions purgatory (as well as all the family illness troubles) and has had precious few opportunities for his chance to cement a legacy.

That's where I stand on things. Burrow is building a legacy. Stafford, now 33, has the opportunity to rewrite his.

Nic from London, UK

Stafford has performed well and the Rams' SB appearance is merited, however, I'm not sure they are the poster child for "Win-now" all-ins people think. Stafford nearly fumbled the game away against the Bucs and then nearly threw it away against the 49ers. That he followed up each near catastrophe with clutch throws is a credit to his skill and mental toughness, but ultimately it was mere chance on those plays that prevented the Rams from being viewed as a failed experiment. Slim margins indeed.

Precisely. And his team picked him up when needed. That's what championship teams do.

Bob from Ocean View, DE

What benefits do you see of the Pack living rent-free in the heads of Bears management? I mean, sure, there's a lot of empty space in there but anything else?

Maybe worry about winning some football games first? Just a thought. I get that you're trying to send a message to the team, but I just don't get why all these incoming GMs and coaches need these bumper sticker slogans. You're running a football team, not a political campaign. Just play football.

Mark from Big Bear City, CA

Wes, I just wanted to say thanks for putting a smile on my face Tuesday with that line they spent draft picks like expiring grocery coupons. Was that just off the top of your head? That's a great line.

The bottom of my foot, actually.

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