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Inbox: Right now, the Packers got the better end of it

It’s not some sexy, wholesale change

CB Kevin King, S Darnell Savage, CB Jaire Alexander

Tim from Lino Lakes, MN

To all the current and former members of our armed forces, my sincerest appreciation, salute, and standing ovation. Thank you.

Hope the holiday finds everyone safe and healthy.

Dave from Waterford, WI

Do you think the Packers will make any big changes defensively this year?

The biggest change I see based on Mike Pettine's comments on Friday is trying to lighten the workload of the Smiths and Kenny Clark. It doesn't sound like he wants those guys playing 80-plus percent of the snaps anymore, which would make sense. Other guys need to develop and be trusted to do more.

Kevin from Fond du Lac, WI

Should Rashan Gary be moved to DL so he can perhaps be a full-time starter?

Pettine's film review from last season showed Gary was one of the team's best outside linebackers when it came to setting the edge against the run. This is one area he can definitely take some snaps off the Smiths, whether he's officially listed as a starter or not.

Deanna from Madison, WI

Will Rashan Gary break out in Year 2?

It certainly appears he'll be given the opportunity to do so.

Brian from New Port Richey, FL

Provided the right tackle can hold up, I am optimistic that our offense will be very good this year. But after hearing Pettine's press conference in which he said that there would not be any major changes in the run defense that struggled mightily last year, I'm left scratching my head. I think our opponents will be much more committed to the run and not give up on it so easily like they did last year when they fell behind. Maybe I missed something Pettine said. What was your interpretation?

I heard him say the defense isn't changing its philosophy or approach. But regarding gap responsibility he suggested players simply need to be more cognizant when their assignment is expanded on a given play (he used the phrase "gap and a half" a few times), and second-level defenders must be better at reading and reacting to how the gaps can shift depending on the initial action up front. It's not some sexy, wholesale change, but Pettine is a firm believer that you get what you emphasize, and I think he implicitly acknowledged some of the core run-defense principles weren't emphasized enough. I agree teams are going to challenge the Packers on the ground and be more inclined to stick with it. I think Pettine knows this, too, even if other offenses aren't built like San Francisco's.

Richard from Racine, WI

Hey Insiders! Are you among those going to be allowed to go back to the office this week or are you continuing to work remotely?

Our department will still be working remotely for at least a couple more weeks.

David from Cable, WI

The greatest success Brady and Brees have had in recent years has been tied to a strong running game and a passing game that uses the running backs as receivers. Coach LaFleur's offense is taking the Packers in the same direction. And how can that be bad for an aging Aaron Rodgers?

I never said it was, but you must have the perimeter threats to keep the defense honest, which helps all the running back stuff work. The Patriots are an exception in so many ways, yet everyone could see their offense was not the same last year with only Edelman but no Gronk. The Saints had Thomas and also got 700 yards and nine TDs from Cook. The Packers haven't had a second option in the passing game, regardless of position, with that kind of production since 2016.

John from Provo, UT

Speaking of the Bill Belichick rule, it was so ironic to see Belichick's clock-burning strategy that he trolled the Jets with be used against him by Mike Vrabel in the Titans' upset of the Patriots. Can you think of other ironic football situations like that?

That was really something, by one of Belichick's former players no less. I have nothing off the top of my head but will keep thinking.

Ethan from Holly Springs, NC

Why do you think Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson haven't developed the same type of rivalry over the years that Brady and Manning have? Is it just the age difference?

Not really. It's hard for any QB rivalry to compare, frankly. Brady and Manning went head-to-head 17 times (versus eight for Rodgers and Wilson so far), including five times in the playoffs and four conference title games (versus two and one). Circumstances factored, too. Brady beat Manning the first six times they faced off, so a narrative developed that Manning couldn't beat him, similar to the one he endured in college at Tennessee when the Vols could never beat Florida. Rodgers-Wilson has been defined by just one circumstance – home field. The visiting QB has never won.

David from Los Angeles, CA

Hi Mike, in this day and age, what business makes major structural changes to their business model without asking their customers what they think? At least ask! This onside kick proposed change sounds extremely gimmicky and quite frankly, is likely to punish certain types of offenses (run-oriented), while favoring pass-happy mobile quarterbacks. Too gimmicky for my liking. If the owners were so smart, they wouldn't have gotten bullied into dropping the PI review after one season.

While I'm not in favor of the fourth-and-15 idea, and agree it's gimmicky, I don't think it qualifies as a major structural change to the business model.

Roger from Gillette, WY

All this talk about onside kicks they are dreaming up, some of it quite serious, sounds way too much like gimmicks to me. Couldn't they just declare an onside kick? Everyone knows it's coming anyway. Maybe limit the number of people on the receiving team able to be within a certain number of yards of the kick. Don't you think a team getting the ball on the 25, fourth-and-15, too many variables could alter the game that's been played for around 58 to 60 minutes way too much? Crazy.

If they don't want to allow teams to declare an onside-kick attempt and go back to the old rules, then they should just get rid of any mechanism to keep the ball after scoring. It would change the way teams have to strategize a comeback, which would be more interesting anyway. Down by 10 with five minutes and only one timeout left? Better kick a field goal by the three-minute mark so your defense has time to get a stop and get the ball back with enough time to score the TD. That sort of thing.

Dave from Rockford, IL

May I presume that a team will be able to kick an old-fashion onside kick at any time and not take a fourth-and-15 for a first down from the 25-yard line? I have not seen this mentioned anywhere.

I believe that's correct, but "old-fashioned" does not mean with the old alignment rules. It'll be with the current ones.

Todd from Loja, Ecuador

I have not seen the data, but instinctively it seems easier to convert a fourth-and-15 than to recover an onside kick under the old rules. Do you know the probabilities of successfully converting these two plays? It seems the league would want to align the odds as closely as possible. Would a fourth-and-20 better accomplish that?

I've seen reports indicating fourth-and-15 has been converted at roughly the same percentage (20-ish) as old-rule onside kicks. I absolutely despise the idea of a 5-yard defensive hold or illegal contact giving the offense an automatic first down and possession in this instance. It's maybe the biggest of many objections for me. One interesting twist I read, though, is the offense can't change its mind (like it can on PAT decisions) if it tries the fourth-and-15 and gets flagged for something. Which I think will at least make teams think twice about trying this except when they're desperate, because you're a quick flag from a backed-up fourth-and-20 or 25 with no recourse. But overall, I'm still against the idea.

Clipton from Pasadena, CA

I wanted to alert you gentlemen to a play by Deguara against UCLA I found on YouTube. His QB throws a pick at the goal line and the DB bolts up the field with a posse of blockers for an easy pick-six. Deguara suddenly appears out of nowhere at the top of the screen, outruns the DB and his blockers to make the tackle just beyond midfield. Not only amazing speed but great effort. Larry would love that play.

So did LaFleur. He actually showed it to the Packers in a team meeting last year, months before Deguara was drafted. He told the media about that on draft night.

Tom from New Berlin, WI

As I understand any team may offer a coach on another team a coordinator position. Am I correct? If I am does that include a team's current coordinator? If so, then a contract means nothing. Could you please clarify this for my mind.

A coordinator under contract can be blocked from interviewing for another coordinator position because it's not a promotion.

Caroline from Olympia, WA

If there were one piece missing, what would it be for us to be the NFC champion again?

Sorry, I never look at it that way. If the team is strong enough to make a playoff run, then it's usually a matter of several unquantifiables – putting together your best performance(s), a stroke of good fortune here or there, other things falling into place. To those who say, "But the 49ers dominated and were so clearly the NFC champion," I would reply that's the same team that came an inch or two from not even winning its own division (against a team the Packers beat rather impressively in the playoffs at home) and having to make that playoff run entirely on the road. Maybe the 49ers could have done it anyway, but there's no denying they benefited from the things that fell into place to get the No. 1 seed.

Dana from Monument, CO

Did Wes really not address the question of two NFC teams meeting in the Super Bowl? Or was that answer cryptic? Of course, the Packers and Cowboys can never meet in a Super Bowl, under the current structure of the playoffs allowing interconference playoff games. Can't see that happening.

I assume he was having some fun there.

Noah from Atlanta, GA

Has enough transpired to properly evaluate the Davenport trade? At the time I really wanted us to take him but you can't pass up on a first-round pick. Additionally, Jaire Alexander is a stud and Darnell Savage contributed heavily. How do they feel about him down in New Orleans?

From what I've seen Davenport is a strong young player whose arrow is still pointing up. He made the PFWA All-Rookie Team in 2018 and increased his sacks to six last year. But right now, the Packers got the better end of it, with two players who made All-Rookie (Alexander in '18, Savage in '19), and just in general, because they helped their defense more with those two additions than the single addition Davenport would have been.

Ralph from Elkhart Lake, WI

II, if the owners and the NFL wanted PI to be reviewed and the senior VP of officiating decided he didn't want it, why is he still the senior VP of officiating?

Some would call that the million-dollar question. In this case we should call it the million-dollar challenge flag.

Jeff from Sioux Falls, SD

Bob Harlan was outstanding for the Packers organization. Was he ever on the "hot seat" where the board considered relieving him of his duties? Did he have any controversial decisions?

I don't recall him ever being in jeopardy. I've said it before, I think the gutsiest decision he made was asking the Brown Co. taxpayers for stadium money in a referendum while refusing to sell the naming rights to Lambeau Field, which would have eased the tax burden. He believed reducing the dollar amount in the referendum wouldn't have fundamentally changed opinions/votes, and with the redeveloped stadium the Packers would find ways to stay on solid financial ground without naming rights money. He was proven correct on all counts.

Judi from Racine, WI

Ever since I was a little girl (almost 61 now) and received my first Sports Illustrated, I've been fascinated with sports photography. Evan Siegle and his work is one of my favorite things on packers.com. I'm a respiratory therapist by trade, but in another life I would so love to become a sports photographer! I especially love when fans are included. I scan each face to view their instantaneous reaction to the play. Thanks to the photography staff and shout-out to RT's on the front lines!

You have the floor.

Jim from Hainesville, IL

Don't remember this being mentioned in II before, so thought I would share. When John McCain was first interrogated as a POW in Vietnam in 1967 he, at one point, started naming members of his squad. He gave his tormentors the names of the Packers' offensive linemen! The reach of the Lombardi Packers never ceases to amaze. As a nod to the Memorial Day holiday, please remember those who gave all so that we could sit around in 2020 complaining about how bad it is staying at home, etc...

Happy Memorial Day, everyone.


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