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Inbox: More teaching than testing

Get rolling earlier, and keep rolling longer

Defensive backs coach Ryan Downard
Defensive backs coach Ryan Downard

Al from Green Bay, WI

OK Mike, I'll bite. How many of those "5 questions" were answered (in full or in part) during yesterday's session?

I tried to provide my best rundown right here.

TK from Grafton, WI

Are the coaches "teaching" during OTAs? Or are they "testing" to see if the players have learned it?

Definitely more teaching than testing at this stage. It shifts in training camp.

Dave from Lake Zurich, IL

NHL teams play 2-4 games a week. There was no mention of the league in the travel comment and answer. I think it's safe to say hockey isn't exactly easy on the body.

Very true.

Gavin from Albuquerque, NM

My response to Matt from Highland Park would be this: The wild card was added to allow teams who have the best record but couldn't win their division to have a chance to prove they should have a chance at the playoffs. The wild-card round is there for those wild-card teams to force those low-percentage division winners to prove they belong in the playoffs. We should never let that opportunity overthrow the division winners.

Couldn't agree more. Division rivals play 14 of their 17 games against the same opponents. No other opponents for comparative purposes come close to that. The scheduling formula is pretty good at determining the best of that particular quartet of teams. To alter the playoff qualifications without altering the scheduling formula would be grossly unfair to all involved, and the NFL isn't doing away with its divisional structure anytime soon. When it comes to the playoffs, it still comes down to who's playing their best at the right time anyway.

John from Topeka, KS

In what I sincerely hope is borne out always as a tongue-in-cheek comment: All Matt from Highland Park needs to do is wait. Eventually the playoff field will expand so far there will be multiple sub-.500 teams in every playoff, and we'll all just get used to it.

Goodness I hope not, but I've already resigned myself to a 16-team playoff with no byes coming soon enough. I don't know when, but it'll happen, and it'll bother me.

Chase from Carmichael, CA

What are the different ways Hafley could be more aggressive with this defense? We know teams that blitz a lot get countered with quick plays, and that teams that hit receivers at the line are countered with extending the play or by running. It seems like we have the personnel that could do both, unless that puts too much on a defense's stamina. Anything else we should watch for?

The point of attack in the trenches. From what we've been told, the guys up front are tasked with getting in the backfield, and the linebackers are being counted on to use their speed to shoot gaps and chase the ball. I'm not assuming the "aggressive" tag to this defense necessarily means more blitzing.

Brian from Chicago, IL

There has been a lot of discussion about the new defensive scheme and the benefits and costs of the attacking defensive front, largely focused on the benefits piece and the assumption that it will be disruptive to the offense, lead to more three-and-outs, more turnovers, etc. I think those discussions go past the real issue which is "will it actually lead to more pressure and disruption?" Every team wants disruption, but it isn't that simple. Will they actually succeed in their efforts is key.

Also true. If the D-linemen are penetrating one gap rather than reaction to two gaps, they still have a man to beat. I still think the larger question is where and how does this style of defense leave you vulnerable? If it didn't have holes, everybody would play this way. Not everybody does. In the end it comes down to playing a style you believe fits your players best, because that will help produce their best performance. I think that's what's behind this change more than anything.

Mike from Niles, IL

"Hopefully, Hadley has the key to unlock the unit's full potential." He will not need a key nor a magic wand. What he must do is recognize his best players' abilities, and devise a system that maximizes these abilities (and does not waste them). His system may change slightly from week to week, depending on the strengths of the opposing offense. He may, perhaps, even add a measure of quality to the unit's potential, making all the Packer faithful (including bandwagon joiners) happy.

That, too.

Roger from West Bend, WI

So I like many others, am excited for the new look Packer defense. It should be fun to watch and see how it shakes out. We have all heard of the sophomore jinx so many key offensive players will face and that could have a huge effect on our new "D" and our expectations. My question is do you think Coach LaFleur knowing this makes a concentrated effort to keep last year's offense rolling?

Why would he go about it any other way, regardless of what's going on with the defense? The way the offense performed from Thanksgiving on (minus the one dud vs. the Giants) will be difficult to replicate, but that's the goal. Get rolling earlier, and keep rolling longer.

Eric from Fuquay Varina, NC

It seems that when there is a new offense or OC that people expect a learning curve and results will take time. But when a new defensive scheme or a new DC comes along people have the expectation that impact (and positive results) will be immediate. I would have expected either would have similar learning and results timelines. Is there a reason that new defensive schemes have a more immediate impact of which I am not aware, or is it just unrealistic expectations?

I don't think the contrast in perception has to do with offense vs. defense per se, unless one of the changes on offense is at quarterback, and to a young, developing one. That's where a learning curve is always expected. Otherwise, I think the expectations generally are a reflection of how much youth lies on the side of the ball going through the transition.

Gary from Chippewa Falls, WI

The quarterback contracts are changing every year. Do you think the per year average will be less important than the guaranteed money? At this point, there is no hurry for a quarterback to sign.

The guaranteed money is always what's most important, because either the deal gets redone before it reaches the tail end anyway, or the team decides to move on. APY is an easily digestible way to rank them when comparing the contracts across the board, but the guaranteed money is still what matters most – and the biggest reason negotiations get protracted.

Jason from Austin, TX

Speaking of QB contracts, as much as I can't stand the 49ers for what they've done to us in the playoffs over the years, I'll be very curious how they handle their QB situation when it eventually comes time to pay up. I appreciate it when teams zig while others zag in the NFL, so I'd be even more so appreciative if they doubled down and bolstered an already very skilled roster instead of spending one-fourth of their cap on the QB position. Do you think they (or any other team) would do that?

If they believe they can win a championship with Brock Purdy, which they very well could have last year, then they'll pay him. If for some reason they don't, I don't see them starting from scratch at QB voluntarily, if that's what you're asking.

George from North Mankato, MN

The NFL grants you the option to change one Packers away game to a home game at Lambeau. To do this, you must shift a current home game and send the Pack on the road. Which games do you pick and why?

I'd swap two of the West Coast games. Move Seattle here, because that's always a really, really tough place to play, and move the Arizona game down there, because plenty of Packers fans in the desert would show up for it.

Mark from Madison, WI

Being that the playbooks are now tablets, when a player switches positions from QB to WR for example does he turn in his QB tablet and get a WR tablet or does he just download that part of the offense? Or are there offense tablets and defense tablets?

Any needed materials are made available if not uploaded to the tablets themselves.

Michael from Portage, MI

Off subject maybe, but, what do you think the odds are on an NFL expansion? I've been watching the UFL and two of the best teams are St. Louis and Birmingham, two cities without a franchise. St. Louis seems to fill the stadium for every home game, and the feeling in St. Louis is they got a raw deal with two teams leaving to go west.

I could see the NFL expanding again at some point, but I have no idea on the timeline. Any cities selected won't have much to do with UFL enthusiasm, though. It'll be about which ones are ponying up taxpayer dollars for fancy new stadiums.

Rick from Caledonia, WI

What is the largest attendance number for a Packers game at Lambeau Field?

78,526 on Nov. 15, 2015, vs. Detroit.

Dwight from Brooklyn, NY

I've got a question about the scout team. Since by definition they must mimic the playing style of the next opponent (lots of playbooks there), do the coaches run a simplified version based on tape study that reveals tendencies (marking the most used plays thereof) as well as including game-impact standout plays. I guess I sound dumb asking this, but I'm curious about the criteria/process.

Tendencies and common plays are studied and implemented into the scouting report and practice plan. They also look at what plays are run against the types of packages/formations the Packers often, or plan to, employ and have the scout team run those, too.

Tom from Highland Village, TX

Follow up to Craig from Monday. I was privileged to fly several team charters, from 2006-17. Red Sox, Falcons, 49ers, GS Warriors, and the Packers. But ATMM(emory), WCBW, back in the winter of '89-90, I flew the SA Spurs on a COMMERCIAL flight from PHX-SLC at 6 a.m. This is after they played the night before. They were then connecting to another flight to SEA to play that night. Imagine a 7-foot man in an airline seat. I called my parents from SLC and advised them to bet the farm on SEA. Spurs won!

And yet again it's proven why gambling remains illegal at Bushwood.

Bil from Stateline, NV

Hey, Mike. I just received a batch of frozen crappies from a friend. It's been forever since I've had crappie and my mom used to be the one to cook them. As I recall she just rolled them in flour and pan fried them. Do you have a favorite crappie recipe or is it just flour and fry?

That's pretty much it for me.

Tom from Tapiola, MI

Any chance we'll see Larry in a clown costume?

Don't hold your breath.

Grant from Green Bay, WI

The amount of concerned questions you receive about the NFL shifting to streaming is a little funny, right? Netflix first started streaming content 17 years ago, so to those under 50, it sounds like someone complaining about how smartphones are supplanting PCs. I mean, I get it. Paying for multiple subscriptions isn't fun. But change is the foundation of a free economy. Wake me when games are moved to TikTok.

What's TikTok? Happy Wednesday.

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