Skip to main content
Powered by

Inbox: Success can take many forms

Development isn’t a straight line in the NFL


Eric from Cary, NC

I know we've talked about field goal uprights at length, but I felt the need to share my final tally for the few people who have a mild curiosity. The 2018 regular season ended with 37 field goals missed due to those pesky yellow bars! Here's to hoping they add some excitement in the playoffs as well.

Now just imagine if we had lasers. Tell me the 18-34 age demo wouldn't love that. Good morning!

Mark from Boring, OR

The Packers had a lot of in-season acquisitions, some of whom got an opportunity late in the season. Who are you exciting about for potential to contribute? Myself, I think Allen Lazard could be in the mix with other first-year receivers.

Lazard passes the eye test. At 6-foot-5, 227 pounds, he's the guy you want leading you out of the tunnel on game day if you know what I mean. He's a fun prospect to add to the mix this offseason. I'd like to see more of Kapri Bibbs and Fadol Brown, if everything works out.

Adam from Wausau, WI

What is the more important skill, hiring or firing?

One of the wisest individuals I know once told me hiring is the hardest thing an employer can do. It takes someone with a perfect blend of experience, foresight and a pinch of good fortune.

Walt from Skandia, MI

Of the 32 NFL teams, 12 made the playoffs, and eight fired their HC. That only leaves 12 non-playoff teams that kept their coaches, and some of them are first-year coaches getting a courtesy second season even though this year wasn't so good. Even coaches that almost made the playoffs like Zimmer and Tomlin are having to explain themselves. It really is a win-now league. I hope Mark Murphy and Brian Gutekunst hit a home run with their new guy.

That's the conundrum of the NFL. There are no feel-good-about-your-season bowl games. You either win it all or your fans question everything. This is why you guys hear me talk so much about how I don't feel fans fully appreciate the run of success the Packers were on from 2009-16. But, hey, that's the job. Nobody's crying about it or asking for sympathy. These coaches know what they're signing up for.

Andrew from Madison, WI

To piggyback off of what Russ from Henrico, VA, said regarding finding a coach that's going to get a street named after him, I've often wondered if Ray Rhodes had worked out, would his street have been named "Rhodes Road"? Has a nice ring to it...Anyways, I agree; the only thing I care about is that the new coach's strengths include being a great leader of men and a great evaluator of talent.

The point is valid – the coaching one, not Rhodes Road. Just look at Bill Belichick. All these years later, how many casuals could honestly tell you his coaching background? Yes, it's in vogue to hire QB and offensive gurus lately, but as history shows, success can take many forms.

Steve from Land O' Lakes, FL

I would like to see Muhammad Wilkerson re-signed to a new contract. I thought his playing was very solid throughout the year. I just don't know about the rest of the UFAs. Do you have one particular UFA that you would like to see re-signed?

It's too bad we didn't get to see everything Mike Pettine had planned with Wilkerson. The Packers barely scratched the surface with how they were going to play Wilkerson from what we saw in training camp. I'm not going to stump for any players, but I will say I came away impressed with what Bashaud Breeland did on short notice. He overcame a lot in 2018 to become an important player in Green Bay's defense.

John from Apopka, FL

I think the Packers need a defensive coordinator as their next head coach. Keep Joe Philbin as the offensive coordinator because he works well with Rodgers. The 3-4 defense just hasn't worked and they need to go back to the 4-3 defense. Your thoughts?

My thought is you need to get off the 3-4 vs. 4-3 thing.

Izak from Clare, MI

Hi Insiders. I think the response to Dayv from Hustisford about Flacco was unwarranted. While Flacco won't go down in NFL history as an all-time great, I think a team transition from a Super Bowl-winning quarterback to another, high-level quarterback is worth mentioning, especially if Lamar Jackson can win a Super Bowl. Anyone else name one? Packers, 49ers, anyone else?

We love Dayv. He's not getting banned, but I, too, raised an eyebrow. It's also not as uncommon as you think for a franchise to have back-to-back Super Bowl-winning QBs regardless of credentials. Washington won Super Bowls with Mark Rypien and Doug Williams. The Giants did it with Phil Simms and Jeff Hostetler. The Raiders had Ken Stabler and Jim Plunkett. It happens.

Jeff from Glendale, WI

If this has been asked and answered already, sorry, I missed it. When you have a player like Kevin King, lots of talent but brittle, how long do you give him? The secondary could be one of the best in the league if King and Jaire Alexander could stay healthy. I'm not saying they should move on already, but if King misses as many games next year as he did this year, does he get another?

You give him as much time as he needs. Development isn't a straight line. Just look at Casey Hayward and Kyler Fackrell. King has been solid when healthy and he's under contract for two more seasons at a reasonable second-round salary. It's not like we're talking about some overpriced veteran hurting your cap.

Greg from Knoxville, TN

I've heard a few national sports pundits say the Packers HC position is the least desirable of the current coaching openings. They single out Aaron Rodgers as the reason. They claim he wants to run the offense and pouts when he doesn't get his way. If they are right, how would a coach handle AR and keep his attitude from being a negative in the locker room and sideline? There seems to be enough prima donnas in the league. Is AR worth five more years if he brings that attitude to work?

You mean the attitude Rodgers showed before the game when he shared an emotional embrace with Randall Cobb? Or when he gave an emotional speech to the offense after being forced from a game that had no bearing on the win-loss column Sunday? If you don't want to coach a two-time MVP quarterback, then you probably should consider a different line of work.

John from Milwaukee, WI

At the risk of sounding like a bad fan of our Packers, I was curious if it'd be better for us in the long term if the Bears were able to make it to and even win a championship this year. I'd assume that if they win it all, their guys will need to be paid more as contracts are renewed, which could mean they can't retain as much of their talent on both ends. Should we be quietly rooting for the Bears?

I don't think it matters whether the Bears, Cowboys, Eagles, Rams or Ravens win championships or not. Rookie contracts still only last, at best, five years. If they perform in the regular season, those young QBs are going to want to get paid just like Andrew Luck, Joe Flacco and Russell Wilson before them.

Fans took in the gameday atmosphere at Lambeau Field and Titletown for the Packers Week 17 matchup with the Lions.

Jason from Austin, TX

The real Super Bowl contender this postseason has to be the Cowboys, right? Living in Texas, I heard all sorts of jokes after the Packers were officially eliminated from the playoffs. Behind each joke, however, was a sigh of relief. They know that this is their best chance to make it to the Super Bowl because they don't have to play Green Bay. I know that feeling all too well. It's the same one I had in 2016 when we didn't have to play the Seahawks. We all know how that ended, though.

If there was ever a year for the Cowboys to get on a run, this is it.

Craig from Cortland, NY

When players clean out their lockers at the end of the season, what stays with the team and what goes with players as personal items? What about the "team attire" players (and coaches for that matter) always wear? Are there any differences for players still under contract and those whose contracts are set to expire? Does the same hold true when players are released or traded midseason? And what becomes of those used articles?

Players pretty much keep everything regardless of contract status. Once players leave, those lockers are completely empty. During locker-room cleanout, the team provides bins, though, for any players who want to discard their cleats. The equipment staff then donates them to high school football programs and other charities.

Jackson from Rothschild, WI

So Davante Adams' health is paramount, but yet the Packers send out a banged-up Aaron Rodgers and he's injured even more. Makes sense.

Seriously, some of you are going to send me into early retirement with your inability to appreciate nuance. A year ago, the Packers shut down Rodgers because there was an increased risk of possible re-injury to his collarbone. You know why he played this year? Because the doctors felt there wasn't an increased risk of re-injury. That's why Rodgers played. Adams' situation is different because, believe it or not, not all injuries are created equal.

Mark from Cedarburg, WI

In response to Dan from Wausau regarding Sunday's game that he felt sorry for fans who wasted their money, I was at the game with my 89-year-old father and 31-year-old son. We are all lifelong Packer fans and the tickets were a Christmas gift from my son and his wife. He is a Captain in the Army stationed in Fort Benning, Ga., and we only get to see him once or twice a year. Sunday's game was the first time we had all three of us attend a game together and we had a wonderful time despite the result.

My dad said something very similar to me after the game Sunday – about how he and his friend had a great time in spite of the result. Sometimes the memories make themselves. I'm glad you all enjoyed yourselves.

Jerry from Eagle River, WI

If a head coach is hired w/no head coaching experience, why is he given all the authority to hire staff? Shouldn't the GM get involved and help in the process? I know if I had a team, I wouldn't want to start from scratch if the new head coach was a bust. Just seems like a system that needs tweaking!

You hire the coach and let the coach hire his staff. If I'm a prospective candidate who's never been a head coach before, I have a plan outlined about how I'd go about hiring a staff during my interview with the GM. That's essential. With how tight NFL coaching circles are, I have no doubt that new hire is better equipped to build his staff than the GM, whose primary task is handling player personnel.

Jer from Bismarck, ND

That OT win against the Jets cost us four picks in the 2019 draft from eighth down to 12th. Was it worth it?

You mean having the self-decency to play to win? I'd say that's worth it. Would you rather the Packers lost 13-16 games and picked from No. 1-5 every year? How did that work out for Cleveland the past two decades?

Al from Green Bay, WI

With four intriguing playoff games this weekend, I have a feeling we will see an upset or two. Each of the home teams are favorites, but I expect to see the Chargers getting past Baltimore. Care to call your shot?

The Ravens are one of the hottest teams in the league right now, but the Chargers actually have a better road record (7-1) than home (5-3) this season. I like LA, especially knowing its sense of urgency with Philip Rivers. That might be the extent of my upsets, though. As fun as the Nick Foles revival has been, the Bears are tough to beat at home.

Todd from Carson City, NV

I read the Packers re-signed all 10 players from the practice squad. Is this just standard operating procedure? Does it indicate the team believes all 10 players are better than others who might be available, or simply that they are all good enough to make the next roster of 90?

If you're good enough to finish the year on the 63-man roster, there's decent odds you'll wind up on the offseason 90.

Adam from Weston, WI

Just wondering your thoughts on Antonio Brown and the way he is acting. I thought the diva receivers were gone after Chad Johnson and TO. Especially when we got to see some great talent with no drama from Fitzgerald, Megatron, and Julio. But now it seems like the divas are coming back with OBJ and AB now acting out. I'm glad the Packers do not have to deal with that situation with Adams.

I'm not educated enough to speak directly on the situation with the Steelers and Brown, but I thought this exact same thing a few days ago in relation to Adams on Monday. There's no drama with Davante Adams. He does his job, strives to get better and is focused solely on being considered one of the best of his generation. You can't help but respect that mentality.

Packers QB DeShone Kizer celebrates his birthday on Jan. 3.

Rick from Shelbyville, IL

The Packers picked up Charles Woodson basically off the street after the Raiders cut him loose. With the Pack all he did was win a SB and Defensive Player of the Year. He has already said he is going in the Hall as a Raider. What is up?

The last I checked they don't put baseball caps on the Pro Football Hall of Fame busts in Canton.

Jacob from Ironwood, MI

I would love to know what type of questions/answers occur during some of the upcoming HC interviews. In my head I am imagining: Interviewer: Do you have a plan to get the Pack to the Super Bowl? Interviewee: Yes, I do. Interviewers: Well, what is it? Interviewee: nice try, but I'm not going to give you the whole plan, you hire me, and you get the plan. But fine, I'll give you part three of part two: Color-code said documents, TM.

Did you just trademark that idea? True story, though. Back when I oversaw the sports clerks at the Press-Gazette, one of my questions was always, "If we had to go to Milwaukee on assignment, would you rather drive or be the passenger." If the respondent said "passenger," I'd move on to the next applicant. Why? Because every great, bulldog reporter I ever worked with always wanted to drive. I'm sure Murphy and Gutekunst are asking these same introspective questions to possible candidates.

Jake from Athens, GA

One of the things I love about the Inbox is I learn just enough about the rest of the NFL reading it that I don't have to follow ESPN or any of the other soap opera talking heads. Mayock is now GM of the Raiders? That officially confirms my theory that he and Gruden are just placeholders to keep the fans interested and to build some buzz in Vegas while the franchise relocates. Does anyone really think they'll still be running the show in three years?

I don't see why not. The Raiders are paying Gruden a lot of money for a lot of years.

Cam from Springville, UT

How 'bout Giannis? An amazing athlete, as well as a Packers fan. If you aren't following the Bucks, it's a fun team to follow, especially without the Pack in the playoffs.

I endorse this message.

Sonia from Fairbanks, AK

Hi Wes, I believe your wife's birthday is coming up. Do you have a romantic gift in mind, like say a gas card?

I'm thinking something more from the heart this year. Tires.