Inbox: Take a deep breath

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Ray from Clark, NJ

What was that?

The end.

Thomas from Dunkerton, IA

Sigh.

Take a deep breath. There’s no need to look back any longer.

Bill from Brooklyn Park, MN

If ever a season could be summarized in a single game, this game was it.

I wouldn’t say it summarized the season, but it certainly ended a down year about as low as you can get.

Bob from Racine, WI

Pretty embarrassing. What did you learn about the Packers from this last game?

It confirmed the roster will look significantly different come next July.

Chris from La Crosse, WI

I won't take pleasure in anyone losing their jobs this offseason, but it was very clear, from the booing in the stadium to my couch at home, sweeping changes are coming on and off the roster. What qualities do new additions need to possess for the team to be successful next year?

Not to be glib, but they need to be better than the other guys. That’s what this game comes down to. Either you’re getting better or getting worse, and the Packers have obviously been on a backslide the past couple of years. It’s time to start getting better.

Dale from Prescott, WI

Yikes! Now that was ugly in all phases of the game. Thinking when Adams was deactivated it kinda took the wind out of their sails. Everyone wanted to see those records broken. Time to hit the reset button and move on to 2019. Thank God! I’m drained...

Can’t help but feel bad for Adams, that he didn’t get to finish out his fantastic season with a franchise record or two. It sounds like the players were aware earlier in the week he wasn’t likely to play, so no emotional excuse for that performance, not that it should have mattered.

Lisa from Arlington Heights, IL

Not that we need another reason for the Packers to be better next year, but dear God let’s not have to listen to those announcers ever again.

From what I’m hearing, it sounds like I need to watch the TV copy of this game.

Andy from Avondale, AZ

Usually when a player is in a contract year, they have a monster season to earn their desired contract. For a team where pretty much everyone is trying to get/keep a job, are you surprised by the complete lack of energy that all aspects of the team showed today or is this the best they've got? Antonio Morrison is the only player besides maybe Fackrell that looked like they were playing for something today. The rest were completely underwhelming.

Underwhelming is an overwhelming understatement.

Brandon from River Falls, WI

No energy on either side of the ball. Missed tackles, dropped passes. What happened to finishing strong?

It got Week 16 confused with Game 16.

Jenn from Peoria, IL

As ugly as that was, it feels oddly apropos of this season. After all of the crazy roughing the passer calls in the beginning of the season in the name of safety, how is knocking Rodgers’ helmet off of him with a sack NOT a penalty? I know it wouldn't have made a difference in the outcome of the game but I am completely flabbergasted by the rule now. I really thought that would be an automatic.

My face can’t get any bluer.

Andrew from Shalimar, FL

You guys are some of the most patient people ever. I’ve read you answering the some of the same questions numerous times over the years so I’m sure you’ve read all of them umpteen times more. Thanks for doing what you do and making this hands down the best mailbag-type community around. You’re like the rugs that tie it all together.

Or that get stomped on with impunity, but it comes with the territory.

Lambeau Field hosted the 2018 regular-season finale between the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions.

William from Savannah, GA

Mismanagement, pure and simple. 1) There was no need to redo Rogers' contract early. 2) There was nothing to be gained by putting our top asset at risk in meaningless games. So now we have a once-premier QB with more accumulated wear and tear and declining physical skills. But we do have a feel-good moment with a winner over the J-E-T-S, Jets on the road that probably cost us 3-5 places in the draft order. But alas, you won't print this. Journalistic integrity? You hold your manhood cheap.

So you’d rather have the quarterback, whose name you should learn to spell, enter his contract year, which gives him the power to keep the franchise in limbo regarding the game’s most important position, which could force the immediate use of a high draft pick on a possible QB of the future instead of elsewhere to fortify the roster to help win now? Got it. Cry about the four spots in the draft order occupied by teams with 6-10 records all you want. It was important for the Packers to give Philbin a fair shot at the head job, and they did that. If questioning my manhood is what makes you feel better after a season like this, I feel bad for you. I really do.

Craig from Elkton, MD

I feel for ya man. It's going to be tough sledding in the Inbox.

There’s really not much to say about this game. It was awful. There’s no need to dwell on it. It’s an ugly footnote in what will go down as a transition year.

George from North Mankato, MN

I hope one question that is asked of any potential head coach candidate is their plan to address our shortcomings on special teams. This, to me, was the biggest letdown of the season. It didn’t seem to matter who was on the field, we looked lost and unsure of responsibilities. How can such a season-long failure be explained?

Explaining it is a waste of time. Fixing it is all that matters, and the next head coach will have to.

Bob from New Britain, CT

Guys, I can't remember the last time the Lions beat us twice in the same season. And the only time I recall Detroit ever shutting us out at home was the game their QB, Greg Landry, had this impossibly long run on a quarterback sneak! That must have been way back in the early ’70s. Do you have any stats on either of these occurrences?

I wrote in my “One Last Look” column on Saturday that if the Lions won, they’d have back-to-back season sweeps of the Packers for the first time since 1982-83, and for only the second time since the mid-’50s. And yes, Detroit’s last shutout of the Packers at Lambeau Field was the game with Landry’s 76-yard sneak in 1970.

Joe from Yorkville, IL

I like Scott from Hayward’s idea about half-the-distance penalties except I would not make it a choice. The offense would be backed up half the distance and then the balance of the normal penalty yardage would be added to the distance required for the first down. Probably too much math for the refs. No similar remedy for the defensive half-the-distance penalties but most of those carry automatic first downs.

The general sentiment in the Inbox is in favor of the idea, and as outlined here, I could get on board. The only downside I see is teams backed up getting in such a poor field-position/down-and-distance situation they would just give up, run a draw play or two and punt. Unless the game were on the line, no one would take any chances against a stacked deck, so it wouldn’t necessarily make the game more entertaining. Not sure if that should trump the overriding fairness issue, but it’s an interesting discussion. “Probably too much math for the refs” might be one of my favorite lines of the year.

Tracy from Sioux Falls, SD

While I understand the point of tacking on yards to get the first and a 1-yard penalty seems like an inadequate punishment, don't forget a penalty in the end zone is a safety.

True enough.

Steve from Middletown, KY

Mike, the playoffs are set up perfectly. You want in, win enough in the regular season. However, the NFL seems to adapt quickly. The only way I could see a change happen is if the popularity started to decline. It's a money issue, even though they have plenty. Again only if ratings fall, put four more teams in to keep fans watching and going to the games.

Which puts us back to catering to the casual fans, the tale as old as time. Totally get where you’re coming from. The drama of Bengals-Steelers and Browns-Ravens to decide a playoff spot was pretty good, wasn’t it?

Trevor from Carmel, NY

Amen to reserving judgement at the risk of looking like a fool. I remember at age 11 going on and on to my dad about how Brunell needed to be starting over Favre. I also remember complaining on a message board around '01 about our WRs and specifically saying Driver would be better served walking away and training for the Olympics. It's fun to admit now because I was a kid who missed big-time and I learned from it. Here's hoping all the young bloggers with their hot takes will do the same.

It’s usually best to check your natural fan instincts at the door. Back in April, when I saw Lewis Brinson hit two homers against the Brewers, I remember wondering for the most milli of milliseconds whether they’d regret trading him for Christian Yelich. I slapped myself before he finished rounding the bases the second time.

Herb from Albuquerque, NM

I have been reading all these stories on Pat Fitzgerald from Northwestern. I can't see how a college coach from a second-tier program is all of a sudden going to turn the Packers into a Super Bowl team. What say you?

I said from the beginning I expected the Packers to explore any and all avenues to find the right head coach. That’s what they’re doing.

Michael from Minocqua, WI

I like reading but not a lot, so if we could keep questions/comments and responses shorter, that would be nice.

OK.

Dayv from Hustisford, WI

Did Jacksonville's window already close or do they have enough depth and youth to make another run within the next few years?

They need a quarterback, otherwise their window was last year when AFC South rivals Indy and Houston didn’t have theirs.

Nicholas from Portland, OR

A lot of our higher-paid players either under-performed or ended up on IR this season. Call it bad decisions, bad luck, or whatever you want, I think this explains our woeful season. If you're the GM, what next step do you take here? How do you base your decisions on who to cut and who to give another chance to?

That’s why GMs get paid the big bucks, but I think it’d be a mistake to chalk this season up to injuries. I don’t expect Gutekunst to do that.

Andy from Clive, IA

Can we go back to painting “Packers” in the end zones? Team lost its identity because they didn’t know who they were.

After the constant comments and questions all year long about the 100th season’s end zones, I had to include this. A sense of humor is never a bad thing.

Phil from Marietta, GA

There are obviously some fans of Insider Inbox who are addicted. Personally, I could quit reading anytime I wanted to, but I just don't want to yet. So...what's the publishing schedule during the offseason? (Asking for those friends with an II monkey on their backs.)

Still six days a week. Nothing’s going to change in that regard, except when I take a week off, Wes will handle the whole week, and vice versa.

Paul from Clarkston, WA

I'm glad it ended this way. Absolutely nothing positive to take away from this season as a team. The roster is sub-par, coaching has been atrocious, and the effort has been lackluster. No reason to end positively what has been a constant negative. I hope this feeling resonates deeply within the players and staff. It has been an embarrassing season. Time to go to work to avoid it next year.

I’ll take firm exception to “nothing” and questioning effort over the bulk of the year. That’s a bit extreme for me. But otherwise I’ll concede you have every reason to feel the way you feel.

Jeremiah from Madison, WI

I know it was ultimately a concern of his long-term health, but don't you wish they could have put Adams in for two quick snaps and low-risk/low-reward catches? Though I suppose you could argue it just cheapens the accomplishment.

That’s exactly what it would have done.

John from Long Valley, NJ

With 2018, wrapping up this Sunday, can you list all the players whose contract expires after Sunday’s game? My son and I have been discussing this fact, I believe there are significant numbers and names this year. Am I correct? I realize it is too early to discuss re-signing. Thanks in advance and Happy New Year to you and your family.

Much appreciated. The Packers have 11 players headed for unrestricted free agency: Matthews, Cobb, Lewis, Kendricks, Breeland, Ryan, House, Pleasant, Campbell, Bell, Wilkerson. They also have three restricted free agents: Allison, Brice, Vitale.

Lyle from Oregon, OH

Vikings break AR12 collarbone...Bears hurt his knee...Lions ripped his head off...It appears that after nearly a decade of Rodgers dominating them, our division has decided to take its toll on him.

A rough way to think about the roughest stretch of a Hall of Famer’s career.

Dan from Toledo, OH

Although the Packers missed the playoffs, they interestingly factored prominently into this picture. Their Week 1 comeback stole a bye from the Bears, and their Week 2 tie kept the Vikings home. Crazy how our most important games were Weeks 1 and 2 and we didn’t even know it.

I think we knew they’d be important, just not in the way everyone hoped. I’ll admit I didn’t mind watching the Vikings not make the playoffs on Sunday.

Craig from Sheboygan, WI

Do you know who the Packers will play next year?

Six division games, plus everyone in the NFC East and AFC West, plus the third-place teams in the NFC West and South, which are San Francisco and Carolina. The home-away outline is right here.

Dave from Huntsville, AL

So, who looks good for the 12th pick?

Hopefully another immediate, high-impact player, like the 18th pick was this past year.

Mark from Williams Bay, WI

Two straight losing seasons. Been there. Done that. Remember better. Remember worse. On to Season 101. Go Brewers.

And Badgers. And Bucks.

Jeff from Madison, WI

Another long cold Wisconsin winter is upon us.

But one that’s going to have plenty of Packers news over the next few months. Sit tight, folks. A new era is upon us.

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