Stephen from Chicago, IL
Dear Football Abby: Talking football with family and friends who not only don't take the time to understand the cap even a little bit but, in some cases, choose to act like it doesn't exist at all can be frustrating. Am I wrong to feel this way? Are they right to just pretend it doesn't it exist? What do you do when encountering friends, family or, God forbid, other sports journalists that act as if the cap and cap management is nothing of importance when discussing professional football?
What do I do? Hit delete.
Todd from Sandy, UT
Any good company, organization or team must allow its employees opportunities to grow, advance, seek career moves when presented. That said, how concerning is it that so many key, young talented assistant coaches are moving on now? To me, it signals they know something fans do not as the team transitions into the 2022 season. Thoughts?
Not at all. Success has its pitfalls. Hackett got a chance to be a head coach. Getsy got a chance to be an offensive coordinator calling plays, which he wasn't going to get in Green Bay with LaFleur as play-caller. LaFleur has only one offensive coordinator position, which went to Stenavich, so Outten got that title somewhere else. It's just the nature of the business, and coaches have to strike while the iron is hot. Another opportunity is never guaranteed.
Aaron from Phoenix, AZ
All the coaching changes have been dizzying. I have no idea what impact it has on AR12's decision, but from a pure coaching quality standpoint, this seems to speak volumes about the success ML and his staff have had, and how popular this offensive system is. Everyone wants to drink this juice. Hopefully, AR12 isn't thirsty for a change in flavor. Just thinking about 2019, it would take him time to acclimate to a new system and fully master it. At 38, is that what he wants now?
I think that's one of many factors he'll be considering. I said back in 2019 upon LaFleur's hiring that working to master a new offense might be just the challenge Aaron Rodgers needs to re-energize him and maximize his talents as the latter portion of his career arrives. Two MVPs after a year of transition has proven that to be true. Three years later it's a different calculation, although another system change might not be as wholesale or drastic as the last one.
Christopher from Frederick, MD
"What are you going to do to push this team over the edge?" Can we get Mr. Gary a "C" for his chest next year, please?
That could be in his future at some point, but the most important thing is what he said himself – that taking on a greater leadership role, defined or not, won't change how he goes about his business.
Jacob from Greenfield, WI
What are your thoughts on two different head coaches alleging that they were offered money to lose games over the course of the season?
It's alarming and disturbing, and the allegations need to be investigated thoroughly. I would think the league's other owners would not want their brethren incentivizing tanking. The integrity of the sport and its competition means everything to its long-term viability, which directly correlates to the value of the owners' franchises. Controversial calls by officials and the now accepted league association with gambling might create integrity questions here and there, but this is much, much bigger.
Scott from Sauk City, WI
No mentions of the Brian Flores suit? This seems like the most egregious example of "just checking the box" in years. And why in the world would you tell Bill Belichick who you're going to hire while you're still "interviewing" candidates? You all seemed as shocked as I was that the Dolphins let him go, but the news coming out makes the shock a little less shocking. Paying a head coach to lose? Sheesh.
Just to clarify, I had finished Wednesday's column before the news of the suit had broken and all the responses had been issued, so I apologize for being a day late (and probably a dollar short for many of you, but what else is new). There's a lot to unpack in this lawsuit and it's going to take some time, but it appears it'll be time well spent. I'm not sure, though, why the league would issue a statement saying the claims are "without merit" before even looking into them. That bothers me as well.
Dave from Germantown, TN
Mike answered my question on the rarity of two overall No. 1 draft picks opposing each other in the Super Bowl. Here is a follow-up. Both Stafford and Burrows have losing records as a regular-season starting QB. Has this ever happened before in Super bowl history?
Not to my knowledge. I thought Kerry Collins vs. Trent Dilfer might fit the bill, but alas, Dilfer finished his career 58-55, and was above .500 at the time he won that Super Bowl with Baltimore.
Mike from St. Louis Park, MN
I've been holding my breath for about a week now over the Jim Harbaugh to the Vikings news...I can exhale now. Whew! Not going to elaborate on this guy but sure am glad he's not coaching in our division or league.
I give the Vikings credit for exploring all options, but based on the scuttlebutt about the culture when Zimmer was let go, I didn't see how Harbaugh would fit what they're supposedly looking for. But will they ultimately regret passing up the opportunity to get him? Time will tell.
Scott from Albertville, MN
Have the Packers ever had the worst record for a season in football?
In the league? Only twice, the two years before Lombardi's arrival. Their 1-10-1 mark in 1958 was the NFL's worst, and their 3-9 record in '57 tied for the worst with the Chicago Cardinals.
Lee from Sullivan, IN
So the Rams are the visiting team in their own stadium for the Super Bowl. Will they have to use the visiting locker room?
I believe they are using their own locker room and the Bengals are using the Chargers' locker room.
Mike from St. Louis, MO
In a salary-capped league, who is the more valuable player: A proven, Hall of Fame talent who costs millions and performs exceptionally as expected? Or a free agent, signed for league minimum, who plays like a star?
The former can provide the foundation for a perennial contender. The latter can help put that contender over the top.
Shilo from Murietta, CA
The execution on special teams was the problem at the end, not the talent or lack thereof. Ten men on the field for the final field goal is a coaching issue. The personal protector not helping from the inside out on the blocked punt is a coaching issue. Not blocking the edge rushers from the inside out on the blocked field goal is a coaching issue. Those are fundamental, middle school-level mistakes made by NFL players on the same team; this was a coaching issue, not talent!
From the outside, that would appear to be the case, and you'll get absolutely no argument on the 10-men miscue. To play devil's advocate on the others, since we aren't on the inside, it's entirely possible those players were coached and told exactly what to do and how, and they simply didn't do the job properly, which would indicate they don't belong in those positions. While that also points to a coaching issue, it's a talent problem as well. As I said the other day, ultimately if the message isn't getting through, a new messenger is required. But that's not all that's needed to fix the Packers' deficiencies.
Evan from Appleton, WI
Per my research, the Packers have not finished above 16th in ST rankings since 2014. This is not a blip on the radar but a systemic problem (a la Bears QBs). Does the team look for the best of the best regarding ST coaches, spare no expense at the cost for hiring, and allow the new coach more freedom with hiring staff and suggesting players? It's time to end this continued trend of mediocrity and try something different.
LaFleur's words a week ago Monday would seem to indicate a full examination of all options and approaches is coming.
Bill from Wilmington, DE
Mike, I think the world of Mason Crosby and appreciate his career with GB. That being said, is it time to consider a younger kicker with a bigger leg to help special teams getting the ball deeper in the end zone on kickoffs? I would think that would help our coverage units.
If the Packers decide to move on from Crosby, I don't think it'll be because of his leg, but rather due to his salary.
Brad from Nampa, ID
Good morning II, with the Football Team officially changing their name to the Washington Commanders, does that mean they will now be playing on W.C. Fields? Asking for a friend.
Please show yourself out. Did anyone else see that team crest they developed? It indicates their three Super Bowl titles by the year in which the Super Bowl was played (January of whenever), not the year of the season itself. Nobody else in the NFL does that. I don't get it.
Daniel from Horsholm, Denmark
I'm amazed by Evan McPherson. Prior to the playoffs, my enduring memory of him was missing multiple potential game-winning kicks against the Packers. Such a performance has ended many other kickers' careers. Now, he seems to be the surest and most confident player on the Bengals (next to Burrow). Do you have any idea as to how kickers work to improve their mental strength?
I suspect they all have their own methods. You knew McPherson was going to be fine when after that wild Packers-Bengals finish, he wasn't sitting on the bench with his head in his hands. Wes and I have talked about how he was on the field joking with Crosby, as if to say, "Can you believe how crazy that was?" He's a different breed, which can help in that line of work.
Cameron from Grovetown, GA
Morning Mike. Can you offer me any optimism for the baseball season? Talks barely seem underway and we are now in February.
Sorry, but it's not looking good right now. Almost no way spring training starts on time, which puts an on-time start to the regular season in jeopardy. Though with at least a shortened spring training, they could make roster concessions early on to allow for more pitchers while they get their arms stretched out.
Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL
Has there been any word on how Elgton Jenkins is doing? How many years are left before he can become a free agent?
We've received no reports on Jenkins' rehab/recovery. He is entering the final year of his rookie contract in 2022.
Doug from Neenah, WI
Good morning, Mike. Did you notice an abnormal amount of defensive pass interference calls not being made during the playoff games? It looked like the DBs were allowed to get away with obstructing the receivers' inside shoulders/arms so they were forced to attempt one-handed catches. Is that a function of the officiating crews or a memo from NFL HQ to let them play? Thanks.
I don't think there was any memo. I do think the better officials (who are assigned to the divisional and championship rounds) give DBs the benefit of the doubt as long as they have their head turned and know where the ball is. If they're in position, playing the ball and some contact happens to restrict a receiver's arm, they'll let it go, which I think is fair. It seemed a lot of potential unsportsmanlike/taunting/other conduct fouls were allowed to slide, too (though not all), because the officials wanted the players, not themselves, to decide the games.
Derek from Evans, CO
I'm confused. Everywhere I read (including insider inbox) says that the Packers should get a fourth-round compensatory pick for losing Corey Linsley. Now I've heard that formula is made up of a player's new contract and accolades. So Corey Linsley became the highest-paid NFL center last year, made the Pro Bowl, and was also voted second-team All-Pro. Shouldn't Green Bay get a third-round compensatory pick for losing someone with that many accolades?
The average annual pay in the contract is largely the determining factor. Nothing else matters much. And the APY is compared to all the free-agent contracts signed across the league last year, not by position.
Dar from Mansfield, TX
I'm a bit concerned that if the Rams win the Super Bowl, the "all-in" crowd here will be clamoring for Gutey and Russ Ball to break the bank even further, despite the fact that this past season proved the Packers weren't guaranteed another championship just by going into salary-cap jail. You're still of the mind that it's better to have a chance each and every year, right? Maybe we can ask Dan from Twin Lakes to help bounce a few folks if things get too loud in here?
That's the other reason I'm pulling for the Bengals. A Rams victory would make a lot of people think their tactics are the best and the only ones worth pursuing, even if there are mountains of evidence to the contrary over the past few decades. As Brad from Denver and others point out, "the Manning-led Omaha Broncos" (good line, Brad) pulled it off and have now missed the playoffs six straight years. To steal another reader's line (Kyle from Osceola, WI), the "perennial bite at the playoff apple" will always be more appealing to me.
John from Lomita, CA
Now we enter the silly season. Will he? Won't he? Where will he go? Here there, everywhere, nowhere? Who stays, who goes? All this bologna about the whichiness of the why. It makes my brain hurt. Gonna scroll on by.
"It's here, it's there, it's every-(bleepin')-where. Click bait … click bait." Happy Friday.