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Inbox: Opportunity is the gateway to production

Former Packers WR James Jones

Thomas from Dunkerton, IA

I'm with you, Wes. I'm 6-foot-2 and would give up an exit row seat if someone offered to buy my in-flight beer.

Put it this way – I’d be sleeping on the couch indefinitely if I told my wife I turned down $1,500 to sit in a slightly less comfortable seat for a couple hours. Good morning!

Richard from Madison, WI

The question about Cam Newton and the airline seat reminded me of the time I was on a plane (operated by the beloved North Central Airlines of chocolate-chip cookie fame), and sitting in the middle of the peon-class section was none other than Vince Lombardi. I'm sure everyone else on the flight (intrastate within Wisconsin) recognized him, too, but he was poring over some paperwork, and not a person interrupted him for the entire hour-long flight. Respect!

What a different time, huh? I doubt there’s one active NFL coach who flies commercially these days.

Tim from Spokane, WA

Lately, there's been a lot of hype about Marquez Valdes-Scantling, which is great. But have we forgotten about Geronimo Allison? I love his scrappiness. He reminds me of Donald Driver. Based on what you've seen of GA is that a fair comparison?

If you’ve been following along, you know I haven’t forgotten about Allison. When he’s healthy, Allison can play. That comparison to Driver is a lofty one, but there are parallels with their backgrounds. You know what would really cement the similarities? If Allison copied the breakthrough season Driver had during his fourth season. He’s primed to.

John from Saint Charles, MN

Longtime reader, thanks for your hard work. Looking at our receiver group I think we have the potential to have a group very similar to the 2010 group. We had speed, pretty good hands and A-Rod able to choose who to throw to because more than one would be open. I understand the 2019 group is largely unproven but I believe we will be hard to defend. We have plenty of speed, good hands and a go-to guy with Davante. What are your thoughts on this comparison and 2019 forecast?

Opportunity is the gateway to production. To get one, you have to give another. Jordy Nelson had one catch for seven yards in the 2010 opener and then nine catches for 140 yards in the Super Bowl. Every successful receiver follows a similar path of development. The same could be said for James Jones, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams. Green Bay is now giving its young receiving corps that same opportunity to blossom.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Kyler Fackrell had double-digit sacks last year – as a backup, no less. Given the offseason additions at his position and the reality that Fackrell will again be a rotational player, what are realistic performance expectations from him this year?

I’m going to give the same answer I gave the last time someone asked this question – there’s a big misconception out there about how many snaps Kyler Fackrell played in 2018. He had 10½ sacks on 623 snaps, 58.6 percent of the defensive total and good for ninth on the defense. So it’s not like the Smiths or Rashan Gary are going to be cutting into Fackrell’s playing time. All those outside linebackers are going to get their shot.

Take a look at photos of Packers players celebrating one of the most common ways of greeting.

Ron from Waukesha, WI

What can be done differently this year to keep Rodgers healthy through all 16 games and the playoffs? As you may remember the season was almost over in the first quarter of game one against the Bears at Lambeau last year. That can’t happen again. The Packers go as Aaron Rodgers goes.

Green Bay signed one of the top right guards on the market and used its second-round pick on a versatile offensive lineman. What more do you want? An invisibility cloak?

Tom from Eugene, OR

Your answer to Mike from Somerset about Davante Adams' chances of catching 100 TD passes in his career reminded me that the Packers record (99) is still held by Don Hutson. Considering he retired 74 years ago, that's pretty remarkable. Can you think of any other major team records (for any team, in any sport) that have been held by the same person for so long?

When you dive into the history books, Hutson’s career numbers are mind-blowing. He was so far ahead of his time. There are so many records that’ll last forever – especially in MLB – but in keeping with the Packers, I don’t see anyone ever matching Curly Lambeau’s 31-year tenure as head coach or Brett Favre’s interceptions. The way the game is going Favre’s consecutive games played streak is probably safe, too.

Lane from Kihei, HI

In your opinion, who is the best receiver coming out of the backfield?

Jamaal Williams is the most natural, but I think Aaron Jones could be really dynamic, as well. My dark horse is Danny Vitale because of how much he did that at Northwestern. I think that gives him a good shot at the 53.

Björn from Basel, Switzerland

In your opinion, which five players have the biggest presence in the locker room thus far?

Rodgers, Tramon Williams, Adams, Jimmy Graham and Za'Darius Smith. The locker room stops for all five men.

Trea from Lewisville, TX

I don’t hear very much about Adrian Amos aside from him being paired with Darnell Savage as a dynamic duo, but how do you see Adrian Amos filling Clinton-Dix’s shoes in the safety position? Do you think Amos is the better football player in the end?

I’m not getting into this Amos vs. Clinton-Dix thing the Bears manifested. However, I do believe Amos fits the vision of Mike Pettine’s defense better. If you look at Pettine’s past defenses, Amos is his prototypical strong safety.

Calum from Ottawa, Ontario

Yesterday’s question about John Kuhn making the Hall of Fame got me wondering, have any modern-day fullbacks been inducted and can you think of any that have a realistic chance of making it?

I can’t think of any who have been enshrined recently. Larry Centers was one of the 102 modern-era nominees this past year, but I don’t think he’s been a semifinalist.

George from Hutchinson, MN

Why did the NFL remove the cut down to 75 players?

Because it didn’t make sense anymore, if it ever did. If there’s a game to have a 90-man roster, it’s the preseason finale when most starters are sitting. Plus, the early cut down was a bad look for players who were released.

Matt from Appleton, WI

How much grief will Wes get for not including The Rock in his all-time top five O-line? Will he have to hide from Larry for the foreseeable future?

Larry is one of the best centers to ever play for the Packers, but Jim Ringo is one of the best to play the position in NFL history. I think Larry will give me a pass.

Tom from Westfield, MA

No Frankie "Bag-of-doughnuts" Winters on your all time O-line?

Man, you guys really don’t remember Ringo, do you?

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

Regarding Chris from Woodbury’s question about OL who have succeeded elsewhere – Breno Giacomini also had a successful career in Seattle after leaving. JC Tretter has not missed a game starting for the Browns for the last two years, as well.

Giacomini is a good example, but I don’t think Tretter is applicable. Everyone knew how good he was – it’s just the Packers already had an established center in Corey Linsley. When Linsley was out, Tretter played well.

Tristan from Durham, NC

A nine-DB package should be a two dollar, because a five (dollar) is already taken by nickel. A 10-DB package is a 10 dollar, and 11 is the Ketchman Prevent.

You know what I call 11 DBs? Run.

Julian from Gastonia, NC

The national consensus on the Packers this year seems to be that there is no consensus. Some have them contending for a Super Bowl while others have them in the basement of the NFC North. This seems unusual, to say the least. Is there another team or teams that appear particularly difficult to gauge this coming season?

I think there are a lot of unknowns right now. I have no earthly idea how Seattle, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Carolina and Atlanta will do this year – and that’s just in the NFC.

Theologos from Athens, Greece

Wes, isn't it uncommon to play two preseason games against opponents that you will face in the regular season?

Yes and no. Yes, it is uncommon to play preseason games against regular-season opponents, but the Packers play Kansas City and Oakland almost every year in the preseason. So it’s not a surprise it worked out this way.

Matthias from Hartford, WI

Do you have any NFL player stories that should be brought to the silver screen? Personally I have three: Driver, Reggie White and Rocky Bleier.

Before I answer your question, when can we get Giannis’ story on a silver screen? Seriously, that’s the NBA’s “Blind Side.” Hello? Would someone like to make this movie? You can thank me later at the Academy Awards. As far as NFL, I would love to watch a movie about Tramon Williams.

Mitch from Baraboo, WI

John from Madison, AL asked about using technology to determine first downs. Tracking the location of a prolate spheroid seems easy enough. However, the system would have to be 'intelligent' enough to recognize when a ball carrier is down by contact and make determinations about forward progress. A human can easily tell the difference between a receiver coming back to the ball and his momentum carrying him out of bounds vs. being driven back by a defender. Fifty years? It seems less than certain.

Seeing what we’ve seen over the past 20 years, I don’t know how anyone could be so obtuse about how far technology will come 50 years from now. You think anyone back in 1969 thought we’d be FaceTiming, Twittering and Periscoping today?

Sean from Glen Ellyn, IL

Just to add my two cents to the technology discussion, I remember hearing a story of an offense with third-and-inches jumping offsides, then on the ensuing third-and-5 the defense jumped offsides and when the refs moved the ball back, they measured and the way the ball was placed gave the offense a first down. Also, Gene Steratore using his index card to determine a first down is one of the funniest moments I've seen watching football.

I’m still thumbing through the NFL officiating rulebook for the section pertaining to the use of an index card as the final arbitrator when it comes to determining a first down.

Ethan from La Crosse, WI

"So you can’t tell me the NFL won’t have technology available in the next 50 years that gives a precise indication where a ball should be placed." Sounds like an opportunity for more lasers. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Let the record show you guys went there – not me.

Tom from Draper, UT

Does Wes have performance incentives in his contract related to the 5k run? An injury clause?

No performance incentives, though I do have a split-salary clause if I’m injured and unable to cover games.

Kent from Appleton, WI

Dead-zone questions: Is Packers singular? When is it appropriate to drop the s: Packer vs. Packers fan, jersey, tickets, player, game, etc.?

I always spell Packers plural – Packers fans, Packers quarterback, Packers game, etc. The only instance I’ll use the singular form is if a player says “I’m happy to be a Green Bay Packer.”

Mike from Mount Prospect, IL

Gentlemen, is there a job offer that would tempt you to move on? More money? Different sport or better weather? Preferred family location? Or is packers.com a lifetime commitment?

I know there are some Inbox readers who hope it isn’t, but I have no clue what the future holds. My crystal ball was smashed years ago. If you asked me in 2012, I would’ve told you the Press-Gazette was a lifetime commitment. I can tell you this – I have zero plans on moving anytime soon. My mom is retired. My dad will be soon enough. My wife and I have too much family here to leave willingly.

Ben from Medford, WI

My mother is 66 years old and would dominate the Biebs in an MMA fight. Granted, she would also take down Tom Cruise because she is an amazingly strong woman; however, Tom beats Bieber every time. If you could disregard the time/space continuum, what MMA/UFC matchup would be you most like to see?

You know the biggest matchup we missed out on? Demovsky and that camera guy from 15 years ago. Ask Rob about that sometime. Otherwise, I’d settle for GSP and Anderson Silva.

Jeremiah from Monmouth, IL

"...but you also have a major misconception about how big our department is." I can picture Mike and Wes sitting across from each other at the Michael Scott Paper Company. Both muttering about the attitude and expectations of the Inbox, while toilets flush from above.

You’re not far off.

Darcy from Arcadia, WI

Hey laser lips, your momma was a snow blower!! I absolutely loved the Johnny 5 reference, brought me back to the day I watched that movie for the first time. I have not laughed that hard since dad died so thank you very much for that. I can picture CC kicking dirt and a large chunk of spit hitting J5 and his "eyebrows" lift up and he says, “Oh, right on the sensor!” Keep on keeping on!

I cannot tell you how happy I was somebody understood that reference in Thursday’s column.

Brandon from Baldwin, WI

I don't think I'd argue balls and strikes with Johnny 5, he's got a laser on his shoulder.

You better be careful what you say to him. On second thought, maybe we could pull in Johnny 5 as a moderator.

Kaden from Schofield, WI

Will there be fireworks at Family Night?

There sure will be – and lasers! Good questions today, everyone. Pat yourselves on the back and enjoy your Friday.

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