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Inbox: Sometimes all it takes is one big play

It’s which side makes the plays when they matter most


Jonnie from Garden City, MI

Gents, I've taken some time trying to analyze one player on one play. It's a tough job! On the touchdown to Graham, I was most impressed by how he used his body against the defender. He didn't use his hands to push off, nor did he initiate contact. He gave a subtle juke to the outside, and the defender bit, leaving the middle of the field open, but only because he couldn't get around Jimmy. Does it feel like the field is tilting? I don't think Rodgers has had that big of a target before.

Not one with Graham's hands.

Sean from Glen Ellyn, IL

Hey Insiders! What do you think the chances are for former long snapper Brett Goode to make it to the Packers Hall of Fame? I know long snapper isn't a glamorous position, but he was a consistently excellent one and always seemed to find his way back to Green Bay when we were desperate.

No offense to Goode, who has been one of my favorites in the locker room over the years, but if the Packers HOF committee is going to consider a long snapper, it would have to put Rob Davis in first. He played the position flawlessly for 11 years, was a special-teams captain and a union player rep during part of that time, and spent a handful of post-retirement years as the team's director of player development. It was neat to see Rob again when he came back this summer to present Ryan Longwell at his induction.

Bob from Sydney, Australia

Regarding letting the QB just spike the ball, can he do it halfway through a sack attempt to try and save the negative yardage? When does a sack-forced-fumble just become a "spike"? Sounds like the tuck rule all over again, except a few times a game. If a QB can't spike the ball halfway through a sack, then what determines a genuine sack attempt compared to a glancing hit?

*The spike would have to occur before any contact. If the ball is not out of his hand by the time a defender hits him, so it goes. *

The Packers continued practice ahead of Friday's preseason matchup with the Oakland Raiders.

Matthias from Hartford, WI

If a "spike" occurs in the end zone, what happens?

Just like anywhere else (in this hypothetical world), incomplete pass. You're not going to get the QBs to spike the ball if it means they're actually taking a sack. They're going to try to get away, and that's where this byzantine maze of rules comes in. Can't hit him low, can't hit him high, can't put too much body weight on him, can't blow in his ear. Enough. But look, I don't have all the answers here, I just think a more radical idea would be worth looking into.

Jeff from South Grafton, MA

Watching the Monday night game, there's already been a couple of using-the-helmet-to-initiate-contact penalties. I think a lot of the confusion could be eliminated if they added crown of the helmet to the language. If you're looking at the ground when you initiate contact, you're using your helmet. If you're looking at the player you're tackling, you're not using your helmet and it would be almost impossible to be penalized. See what you hit.

Crown of the helmet used to be in the language. That's what was changed to make the rule broader. They're trying to get the players to have their eyes up all the time. There's now a report out the league is going to send another "teaching video" regarding the new rule to all teams and officials when the preseason ends. We'll see if it comes with any tweaks to the language in the rule.

Adam from Weston, WI

With this new helmet rule being controversial, wouldn't it be smart if the league treated it like a turnover and/or touchdown and had the refs review it on replay?

If the controversy over the rule continues to grow, it may come to that, but the league is trying to avoid that because it would only lead to more potential penalties being subject to replay review.

Joel from Green Lake, WI

Didn't know "bass-ackwards" was a WI thing. Our high school football coach was Fuzzy Thurston''s father-in-law, and one of his favorite sayings was: "If you're not playing slow and you're not playing fast, you're playing half-fast.''


Steven from Silver Spring, MD

AR12's quote, "This is a partnership," certainly lends credence to the reports that he is seeking a percentage of the cap vs. a fixed salary. This would absolutely be a game-altering contract and would put him in a historical category all his own across not just football but all of sports. Given that he is investing as an owner in the Bucks and other sports franchises it certainly seems that he has that perception of himself and his value. After last year it would be difficult to argue otherwise.

I don't know one way or the other about the percentage of the cap issue specifically, but I think the comment speaks to Rodgers' desire to be paid what the market says he's worth while not damaging the Packers' cap flexibility at any given time, which is exactly what his current deal accomplished over its first few years.

Jeff from Racine, WI

There are several people in camp we simply know will not make the 53. When cut-downs happen, half of them will be "who?" and the other half will be "that makes sense." At this stage in camp, what does it hurt to cut a few here and there? I would think it would step up the efforts of the remaining questionables, especially at contested positions like WR and TE. Thoughts?

You realize injuries are part of this game, right?

Sam from Iowa City, IA

I have seen LeShun Daniels play a lot of football. He is a guy that can get you a tough yard in an important situation and is as strong as an ox. In your opinion, what does he have to do over the next two weeks to make the 53?

Prove to be exactly what you said he is at this level, not just in the Big Ten, and offer something on special teams as well.

Josh from Oshkosh, WI

Does it seem as though fans are starting to come around to watching preseason games more for roster evaluation rather than exhibition games?

I think so, except much like many casual observers, they fixate on the standout plays, good or bad, to pick their own roster. It's important to remember the decision-makers are evaluating every play of every player, which is why, while I feel I've been doing this long enough to have a good idea of who's making the team, I never pretend to know it all.

Dave from Osceola, WI

Hey guys, is there anyone on the team that you feel like us as fans are overreacting to? As in we're making too much out of a good or bad camp/preseason?

I think there's too much angst over the backup offensive tackles. As I noted earlier, in real games coaches will scheme to help players if and when necessary. More important, Murphy, Spriggs and Bell all have proven they can play in regular-season games. Two of them are coming off major injuries and the other is a veteran learning a new offense. Even Rodgers said they just have to get their confidence back from when they've done it before. Will the Packers' offensive line be as good if Bakhtiari or Bulaga has to miss any time? Of course not. One guy is a two-time All-Pro and the other has played at a Pro Bowl level. No one has reserves of that caliber ready to step in. But the whole unit won't collapse.

Jay from Land O'Lakes, FL

Guys, it is ironic but as the NFL rules evolve to provide new advantages to the offensive side, the importance of the defensive side of each team could be the difference-maker. With high-powered offenses that can exert their will on most defenses, the difference-makers will be on defense. Be it the corner who knocks down the last TD pass or the DL who sacks the QB at the end, the defensive difference-makers are the ones that may determine advancing in the playoffs or not. You agree?

So many games come down to crunch time, it's which side makes the plays when they matter most. That's what the game is built on, and a defense can be highly impactful, overall stats aside, if it makes big plays at important times. The most recent Super Bowl is the perfect example.

Paul from St. Paul, MN

Hi Spoff, sitting on I-94 waiting for the tow truck, so I thought I would send you a question. When the stats show that a player has two sacks and two QB hits, does it mean that the player hit the QB twice and the hits were both sacks, or did the player hit the QB four times? Also, do you play Strat-O-Matic baseball?

Stay safe. Statistically, sacks and QB hits are neither wholly repetitive nor mutually exclusive. A sack can include a QB hit but can also occur without one when a defender runs the QB out of bounds, or makes him slide, at or behind the line of scrimmage. And a QB hit can occur when a legal hit is delivered after the ball is thrown. I played Strat-O-Matic as a kid but haven't engaged in the game since high school. We had a lot of fun, though. We'd force ourselves to pick teams that were not postseason qualifiers. I won a lot of games with the '85 Mets.

Brian from Edgerton, WI

I have a question about RPOs as they relate to the line. Since blocking downfield on a pass is a penalty, does the line always pass block on an RPO? If so, doesn't that affect the chances of a successful run, or do the refs just ignore the ineligible player downfield on RPOs?

If the pass in the run-pass option is just a quick, horizontal throw, the line is run blocking and the ball is out so fast there's no concern for being illegally downfield. If the RPO could lead to a slower-developing dropback, the line is likely pass blocking at the snap and the QB might hand it off based on how one or two defenders react at the mesh point.

Jimi from Boulder, CO

V from Cross Plains question got me thinking. If the defensive headset shuts off with the game clock, at what point do they lose communication in Foxboro?

Good one.

Brad from Tinley Park, IL

Guys, I know people are skeptical of J'Mon Moore because he has not flashed yet, but I don't think it was a mistake drafting him. His "drops" in the games I've seen would have been really tough catches. He had the nice slant route called back against Pittsburgh and he looked so fast on that play. I think he will be one of those guys that will step it up in the regular season after a questionable preseason. Do you feel the same?

I liked what Rodgers said on Tuesday, that he just needs to make one big play. Sometimes that's all it takes for a receiver to relax and find his mojo.

Mike from Lyons, OH

Who holds the record for most touchdown receptions over their first four years with the Packers? Davante may have only had four over his first two, but having 22 the past two seasons has to put him close to the top, right?

Antonio Freeman had 36 in his first four years and Don Hutson had 30. I believe those are the top two marks in team history.

Jason from Austin, TX

What game will Lambeau start chanting "Reggie, Reggie," and not for Reggie White?

I love what Gilbert's doing as much as the next guy, but it sounds like the hype train needs a brake job.

Turbo from Green Bay, WI

Just a comment on Nick Collins. I was always wondering how he closed the gap on every pass and run. I did some checking and found out he ran a 4.30 in the 40. I think that the QB never thought a safety could run that fast. So many of his picks were like he came out of nowhere.

It was the most underrated yet vital part of his game.

Michael from Winchester, VA

I was disappointed in Joshua Jackson last Thursday. He jumped and scored a pick-six, but then it looked like he completely failed to Lambeau Leap. Is this just something the TV coverage missed, or did he not make the attempt? If the latter, who takes him aside and sets that straight? I'm thinking Tramon Williams is a likely candidate; he didn't disappoint on his first-quarter opportunity.

Jackson said he was going to wait for a regular-season game. I kinda like that.

Scotty from Lombard, IL

Hi Insiders, could the team keep four tight ends and no fullbacks?

I wouldn't rule it out.

Kyle from Osceola, WI

Interesting point about the waiver wire and it being a good sign for the roster if one or two of our guys get claimed. Where exactly do the Packers sit in the waiver order? May it also be inferred that because the Pack is higher in the order that the guys on the roster bubble face a slightly higher level of competition for practice-squad spots than they might have in recent years?

Waiver order is the same as draft order this time of year, so the Packers are 14th. The competition to which you refer is actually for roster spots, because waiver claims must be placed on the 53.

Keith from Annawan, IL

When will the Packers announce what game or games they might wear their throwback uniforms?

Buffalo, Week 4.

Dave from Minneapolis, MN

After perusing the Monday Inbox, I have a question regarding the roster. Say a train leaves Milwaukee traveling northeast with a high-effort conductor and a high-talent, sketchy-effort coal shoveler. At the same time a trolley car steered by a backup QB pulls out of Bay Beach and has to choose between running over 3-5 WR prospects or trading all of next year's draft for Khalil Mack. Who makes the final 53? The wind is blowing west. And will Kumerow switch to punter when his number changes?

Make it a great Wednesday, everyone.