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Inbox: Knowledge will be the starting point

Things could change faster than you think


Joe from Bozeman, MT

Missed the "Closing Time" reference, eh? Maybe I'll finally get a question posted by being snooty!

Well, another lyric in that song is "one last call for alcohol, so finish your whiskey or beer." Maybe Wes doesn't listen to those types of tunes.

Trevor from Carmel, NY

What are you looking forward to over these next four games? I'm not ready to close up shop; life is too short and the offseason is too long to do that. Personally, a think a nice sweep of the Bears would be a great Christmas present.

I just want to see the Packers' offense look like it should for more than one or two possessions at a time. I also want the defense to get its best cover guys back on the field and see how they match up with the Falcons' perimeter weapons. An absence of flags on special teams would also be nice.

Joshua from Barcelona, Spain

I didn't see an editorial from the Arizona game. Any particular reason why Mike didn't post one?

Thanks for your interest. Right after I finished the game recap, we got word of the announcement that was forthcoming. I usually like the editorial to have a bigger-picture theme, but with the news about to break, none of the postgame comments collected were relevant to the new big picture, and nothing else felt appropriate in the moment.

Phil from Plymouth, MN

Insiders, did Philbin call the offensive plays when he was in Miami, or is Sunday's game going to be his first stint?

He did not call plays for the Dolphins. He called them occasionally in the preseason for McCarthy, at the Pro Bowl, and, I believe, during the '11 Flynn finale vs. Detroit. I have no doubt he'll be up to the task.

Michael from Savage, MN

In response to Daniel from Appleton, you could have used the golf analogy (a sport which AR loves to play) for the record AR has against the NFC West, "Drive for show and putt for dough"!

In Rodgers' defense, only one of his five playoff losses against the NFC West was at home, and three of the road ones were in overtime. But I didn't realize until Wes mentioned the stat that Rodgers is 0-5 in the postseason against that division and 9-2 against everybody else. That's just odd.

Phil from Marietta, GA

Hi Mike, in Monday's II you said, "Packer fans can be different, but not that different." We've heard Vic's "winsome" description enough times. In what ways would you say Packer fans are different from those in other cities? I probably won't get a twofer, but here goes. We see your deep interest in the Brewers reflected in your writing. When you watch those games, do you do so as a sportswriter, or as a fan?

The biggest thing that's different to me about Packers fans is the intensity of their desire to connect personally with the players, or almost anyone involved with the team for that matter. As for baseball, I allow myself to get wrapped up as a fan, but I'm always piecing together a game story in my head as I watch or as it concludes – what the key moments were, how they influenced the outcome, what questions to ask postgame. It's just how I'm wired.

Kais from El Paso, TX

Welp, looks like the Pack will have the high and low first-round picks we all thought they would four months ago. Not quite the way we thought it would happen, though.

I think if you look back at the Sept. 10 Inbox, I was not buying the Saints' loss as a foreboding for their season. But no, I did not foresee this for the Packers after observing Rodgers move around on that knee in Week 2.

Mariano from Cerritos, CA

I would like us to reflect on a couple of McCarthy moments. He wanted to run the ball better and said, "Put it big letters, we will run the ball better." The Packers did. It was the same when we started slow, and he made sure we got off to a better start the next year. I always took him at his word, which is why this year it was so hard to believe.

He fixed the slow starts to games after the bye week, but then with multiple opportunities to win, the Packers couldn't close the deal. Sometimes there's too much to fix in one season.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

Philbin mentioned the expectations to be accountable/professional. Given that the team is preparing for next year, logic would dictate the team allow the backup QB they traded valuable assets for to use this time to the team's future advantage. If the team and the future is the focus, having AR play effectively preseason games contradicts the team focus. Why isn't the professional viewpoint to sit AR and properly prepare the backup QB? Why isn't the accountable viewpoint for AR to defer?

Because Gutekunst needs to find out if the roster he assembled is capable of playing better with different leadership and a mini-fresh start. He can't determine that if Rodgers and other veterans are sitting out like it's preseason. That knowledge will be one of the starting points for his offseason approach to personnel. And there's also …

Josh from Oshkosh, WI

I can't quite wrap my head around fans wanting Rodgers to sit the rest of the season. When I go to a Packers game, I'm expecting it to be the best possible entertainment for my money. Watching a future Hall of Famer, even if playoffs are more than a longshot, is always worth watching. You never know what kind of game you'll see. I don't mean disrespect to Kizer, but I don't want to see him play while 12 is on the sideline.

…that this is professional football.

Terry from Rothschild, WI

Is Joe Philbin the only head coach to come from the McCarthy coaching "tree"? Did McCarthy take a different approach with his assistants as compared to Holmgren who seemed to have many up-and-comers that became head coaches?

Ben McAdoo is the other. McCarthy often cross-trained his coaches at different positions and with different responsibilities to further their careers. He started doing that when few if any others were.

Randy from Mukwonago, WI

How do the rules work when looking for a head coach? I understand the Packers cannot talk to anyone that is going to the playoffs, but if a coach that they're interested in is with a team that may or may not be going to the playoffs, can they by rule talk to them about the head coaching job?

An assistant coach with another team who is not under contract for 2019 can be contacted as soon as his team's final game is played. If the coach is under contract, permission must be requested, but a coach cannot be blocked from interviewing for a position that would be a promotion. An assistant coach in the playoffs can be contacted, with permission, during the bye week if his team has the bye, after a wild-card win but before the divisional game, and/or during the off week leading up to the Super Bowl. The Rooney Rule requiring an interview with at least one minority candidate must also be satisfied.

Mike from Mount Prospect, IL

Gentlemen, I'm a big fan of Mike McCarthy, but agree with the organization's decision. He won me over with his grace and aplomb following the Fail Mary game, and that has not faded. In addition to his coaching acumen, he is the kind of man who stands as an example to other men. Yes, it's his time to go, but he left an imprint. Give me 3-4 words to describe Coach McCarthy during your time covering the Packers.

Leader, competitive, steadfast, genuine.

Mitchell from Edmond, OK

I understand firing head coaches who haven't sustained success is the nature of the NFL. However, looking at some of the tough playoff loses during McCarthy's tenure (NYG '07, AZ '09, SF '13, SEA '14, AZ '15, and ATL '16) it's clear all of these games, except ATL, came down to a few key plays the Packers didn't make. I believe it was the players' execution that lost these games. Maybe the firing had to do more with this season and last, but I'm not convinced McCarthy deserved to go. Thoughts?

You get the record you deserve in this league. The rest is just the nature of the business. In my reflections on the McCarthy era on yesterday's "Unscripted," I neglected to mention another element of his coaching record I'll always remember. In 18 career playoff games, only three times could it be said the other team just flat-out beat his squad – '11 Giants, '12 49ers, '16 Falcons. The other 15, he either won or had his team right there in the biggest games. Yes, the heartbreaks were multiple and at times devastating, but given the last two NFL postseasons alone have seen 10 other games (aside from the '16 NFC Championship) decided by multiple scores, I think that says a lot.

Keith from Truro, Canada

Hi Mike, tell me if I have this figured out correctly. If Washington, Philadelphia, and Carolina lose twice and Chicago loses three times and the Pack win their last four then the Pack are in the playoffs? The Bears have to play the Rams and Vikings on the road and if GB can beat them in Chicago, we're in.

Your scenario is correct, as far as I can tell, but that's a lot of dominoes, which is why I'm not interested in setting them up. I also addressed this, among other popular topics, in **my mid-week chat**.

Mike from Somerset, WI

We don't look anything like the Rams, Chiefs, or Saints. They look fast and explosive. The Packers cupboard is not bare, but the personnel department not been in a draft position to load it with young, explosive Pro Bowlers found at the top of each round. A draft in low teens or better can change things in a hurry. Whether it's drafting or free agency, we probably need more than one draft to get back to a 2014 caliber team. The problem we are in is the result of draft parity. It's how it works.

Let's say just for kicks the Packers are picking 13th in April. That means three selections in the top 45 of this upcoming draft, without trades. Things could change faster than you think. Neither Wolf nor Thompson ever got to select three of the top 45 players in a draft.

Fearn from Rolling Meadows, IL

Hey Mike, we drafted Jennings, Jones, Jordy and Finley with second/third-round picks in a three-year span. Then drafted Cobb with a second three years later, even with Driver still on the team. Our offense was really good because of that. This WR/TE group won't be fixed by one season's worth of late-round picks. We should be looking at another high-round WR/TE in the 2019 draft (and probably for years to come). Becoming complacent with late-round fillers has depleted the talent level at the position.

I don't think it was complacency, I think it was the constant need to address and re-address the defense. The Packers will have plenty to tend to in this draft, including the offensive perimeter.

Gretchen from Dousman, WI

It's so difficult when two talented people I admire can't work together. Leaves me feeling rather empty.

I don't know the details behind the McCarthy-Rodgers relationship. I know McCarthy said many times conflict is good. Rodgers spoke of regular give-and-take. I think for a long time that dynamic between two stars in their profession made them both better, and by extension the team better, but perhaps as a productive force it eventually reaches its shelf life.

Roland from Oconomowoc, WI

One thing caught my ear during Rodgers' postgame interview, that he stressed he hates losing more than he loves winning. I feel his pain, but on further reflection the statement really started bothering me. Surrounding yourself with people who love winning and are willing to do what it takes breeds winning. People who fear losing often become losers. Am I overthinking this or has Rodgers' ego grown so big his fear of making a mistake and losing breeds a losing attitude?

It sounds to me like you're confusing hate for losing with fear of losing. Two very different things.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

My initial reaction to a head coaching change is that it will be 3-5 years before the Packers will be a playoff team again. Please give me examples of a new head coach taking a non-playoff team to the playoffs in the first year.

Over the last five years, there have been nine. 2013: Chip Kelly, Eagles; Mike McCoy, Chargers; Andy Reid, Chiefs. 2014: Jim Caldwell, Lions. 2016: Adam Gase, Dolphins; Ben McAdoo, Giants. 2017: Sean McDermott, Bills; Sean McVay, Rams; Doug Marrone, Jaguars (who finished last two games of '16 as interim). And then of course there's Doug Pederson, who won a Super Bowl with the Eagles in Year 2.

Jonnie from Garden City, MI

Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. What's the good word?

Christmas is here in 20 days. Happy Wednesday, everyone.