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Inbox: That illustrates their full value

There’s too much at stake

LB Kristian Welch
LB Kristian Welch

Dennis from Parrish, FL

I also speak fluent "Fletch"! Does Spoff drive an "OldsmoBuick"?

No, but I've always wanted occasion to tell someone my car just hit a water buffalo.

Joe from Swansea, IL

So glad Big Dog gets another walk around the block.

Me, too. I didn't get to know him as well as Wes did when he was here, but I have so much respect for that dude.

Darren from Wakefield, MI

We talk a lot about how big a jump it is from college to the pros for players. What about coaches? As a college coach/coordinator you are lucky to have one player who is pro-caliber on the team. Is it a jump for them too or is it all ball bearings nowadays?

In the pros, it's all ball. No recruiting duties, no other distractions. But there's a shift from being given respect deferentially, to having to earn it with professional athletes.

Shannon from Ovilla, TX

Wes mentioned he likes AT&T as one of his favorite stadiums. I enjoy it too living here in the middle of Cowboy territory. Jerry may have built it but the Packers own it. So much fun to needle the locals about it too. Does winning so often at AT&T make it better than a place like Pittsburgh where the Pack always struggles?

There are certainly a ton of great memories at that venue in Arlington, but when I saw that question one of my first reactions was Pittsburgh's Heinz Field/Acrisure Stadium is the only one in the league that remotely reminds me of Lambeau. It just has a vibe.

Luke from Port Alsworth, AK

Follow-up question: For all those coming back from injury, if everyone came back to their full strength, who would make the biggest impact on the team and why?

Wes and I discussed that very topic, among several others, on our latest "Unscripted." Check it out.

Kyle from Imus, Philippines

You keep bringing up "quality of the product" and "quality of the games" with regard to an 18-game schedule. Yet the league doesn't seem to care about that when they continue to shove Thursday nights (one prep day, MAYBE, for the visiting team, two for the home team). Anyone concerned about low-quality product should first propose scrapping Thursday night games.

No argument here, but it'll never happen. Just more toothpaste out of the tube.

Jeff from Montclair, VA

In response to Greg from Perkasie, PA, Hod stated that "'Run the table'" was the most fun I've had on the Packers' beat." So I gotta ask, what's the worst time to cover the Packers? Weekly after a loss? The Dead Zone?

Broader picture, the worst stretch was following "Run the table." The '17 (beginning with Game 6) and '18 seasons were rather forgettable and very little fun.

Damien from Perth, Australia

Do players get told if they face an uphill battle to make the 53, and does each player know what role within the 53 they are fighting for? Like for example, can Kristian Welch fight for a starting linebacker spot, or does he know he's a special-teams player?

A guy like Welch knows special teams is his forte, but he has to prove himself as a capable reserve linebacker able to step in when needed or it's difficult to justify a roster spot. Everybody (outside of specialists and backup QBs) on the 90-man roster who's not a starter is competing for two spots on the depth chart – one on a given side of the ball, the other on special teams. That illustrates their full value.

Jake from Decatur, GA

As a fan only since the Crosby era, this offseason is the first time I've taken a serious interest in the kicking competition. I still think it's Anders Carlson's to lose, though. Sure, the Packers' success last year shortens his slack some, and certainly anyone could win. But I also can't shake the feeling Gutey brought in Joseph in part just because of the message it sends. The nature of the position makes a kicking competition a conspicuous reminder that the whole team's slack is shorter now.

As I said last week on "Unscripted," I believe the Packers would love nothing more than for Carlson to establish a level of consistency that makes him Green Bay's kicker for the next dozen years or so. But when you're a contender, that's not a position the brass can just wait on to come around. There's too much at stake.

George from North Mankato, MN

Darren Walker's retirement announcement should be another reminder of how effective BG has been with construction of the current roster. ATMR (wcbw), the Giants gave up a third-round pick to acquire him for one season. Tucker Kraft will be around for a while. What do you think has been one of BG's unsung moves?

As they say, sometimes the best moves are the ones you don't make. In that vein, I'd put not making the trade for Khalil Mack at roster-cutdown time in 2018 on the list. One of many picks the Bears surrendered to get him was their first-rounder in 2020. I have no idea where the 2024 Packers would be had they not had their first-rounder four years ago.

Jim from Mundelein, IL

It looks as if Gutey's strategy is to fill a room and let the talent rise. That strategy has worked with the WR room, the OL room; maybe the DL will be another success. Do you think this strategy also has the benefit of avoiding expensive second contracts for any but QB1?

Having up-and-coming talent in the pipeline ready to step in allows a team to focus its second contracts on the true difference-makers, the players who would leave a legitimate void if they departed. In other words, it's not about avoiding second contracts per se, but avoiding overpaying for average NFL ability.

Adrian from Oregon City, OR

We've all seen the stories on how the Packers "wasted" Aaron Rodgers' prime years, never making it back to the Super Bowl. The quandary: If you pay QB1 like an MVP, how do you pay the other stars? Jordan Love will be paid, but the winning window is now, while the other key players are on their rookie contracts. How do you keep the window open long term?

See above. The Packers have to be judicious in doling out big deals, and make the right calls there. More often than not, if a big-money contract becomes a regret for a reason other than injuries, it's because the state of the roster at a particular position forced the team into doing something it probably shouldn't have. That's not why that lazy narrative about the Rodgers years exists, however. That exists due to some tough breaks, injury and otherwise, and some bad football in big moments.

Joe from Pittsburgh, PA

Do you think Bill Belichick will ever coach again? It's amazing how the much-touted G.O.A.T of head coaches is not getting any phone calls. Or does the game pass everybody by eventually even the greats? It happened with Landry, Shula and Noll. For the record, who is the oldest active NFL coach?

The current oldest active NFL head coach is Andy Reid. I'm not ruling out Belichick coaching again until he says he's officially done. I don't think the game has passed him by, but every coach needs a quarterback, or at a minimum a staff that can develop one. If a coach doesn't have that, it's very difficult to win. Full stop.

Matt from Fort Worth, TX

With the general understanding that college is churning out a lot of very talented receivers, why do you think DBs tend to be harder to find? Do you that it's that much harder of a position, perhaps being a WR is more flashy and inspiring for kids, or maybe due to WRs earning more money? Would love to hear your thoughts.

At the younger levels, better athletes are likely to gravitate toward receiver before corner, for the glory and glamor. Not all, but most. There's also a mentality required to succeed at corner that's less abundant – knowing you're going to be attacked, you're fighting rules geared toward the opponent, you're going to get beat, and you have to forget it when it happens, instantly.

David from San Antonio, TX

Hey Mike, long offseason, but I'm bored and was wondering if you noticed something that caught my eye last year. Carrington Valentine doesn't just play through the whistle. Sometimes he plays through the kicking net and first row. Love the dog in him, but I wouldn't be surprised if he has an ill-timed penalty next season. Have you noticed this or is the sample size too small?

Valentine definitely plays on the edge, and it has served him well as a young, rather unheralded player fighting and finding his way. Thus far I believe he's channeled it properly, and he must continue to do so. Will he cross the line at some point? Maybe. But for now I want that edge he plays with to stay sharp.

David from Gwinn, MI

For player stats, do QB sacks also count as hits and hurries? Do sacks count as tackles, interceptions also count as pass deflections?

Sacks do not count as hits or hurries, but they do count as tackles. Interceptions count as passes defensed.

Bill from San Antonio, TX

Would you please refresh my route tree terminology? A "post" is to the inside of the field, correct? What is the term for an outside route, a "corner"?

Correct on both counts when the receiver's break is made at an angle. If it's a 90-degree cut, then it's just an "in" or "out."

John from Beloit, OH

Will the Packers practice with the Browns the week of their first preseason game?

That is not in the works, to my knowledge.

Caleb from Knoxville, TN

Heard a crazy metric in Kay Adams' interview with Keisean Nixon. Nixon is now one of only four returners in NFL history to be named back-to-back All-Pro at returner – and two of the other three are Cordarelle Patterson (Vikings) and Devin Hester (Bears). How wild is it that three out of four are NFC Northers?

For the record, Patterson's back-to-back All-Pro years came with the Bears (2019-20). He was also a two-time All-Pro with the Vikings, but not in consecutive years (2013, '16).

James from Appleton, WI

Different times, different players, but I can't help thinking Jeff Hafley is going to give us a glimpse of what might have been if Jim Leonhard had said yes. Where would you put that decision in the Packers' pantheon of woulda, coulda, shoulda?

I don't know. I think when we analyze the various eras it's important to remember the best post-XLV defensive performance in the playoffs came under Barry with the Packers owning the No. 1 seed and they still lost. That's the woulda, coulda, shoulda that bothers me more.

Michael from Baraboo, WI

Which side of the ball do you predict will make the bigger leap, the offense or the defense?

The offense will be hard-pressed to improve on how it performed from Thanksgiving on last season, so the easy answer is the defense, whose ugly three-game stretch in December prompted the major change.

Andy from Wisconsin Rapids, WI

Outsider Inbox idea – Have you (or anybody you know) ever competed with a Packer or professional athlete on the playing field? How did it turn out? For example, my little brother played high school football with Vince Biegel. A former coworker played against Jordan Zimmerman (MLB pitcher) during college summer league baseball.

No big names for me. I do recall the one time I felt overmatched in my college baseball career, though. We were playing in Florida over spring break and saw lots of scouts with radar guns in the stands. Hard-throwing lefty with a really sharp slider. I decided first time up to take until strike one. First pitch was the heater, high and outside. Second pitch was the slider, which looked dynamite until it dove down and in and almost hit my back foot. I couldn't tell the difference between the two out of his hand. I was up 2-0 in the count and knew my goose was cooked.

Mike from Winchester, TN

Hi II community, a whole lot of anticipation for the upcoming season and well earned. A ton of expectation for the new defense, and it should be fun to watch it gel. As for Love, he made a great progression last season and surprised a lot of the "expert opinionators." If he makes 50% of those advances this season I'd be elated. The Packers are not flying under anyone's radar this season and I think they like it that way.

I don't think they care whose radar they're on, if anyone's. If I'm right, that'll go a long way toward minimizing potential distractions.

Mike from Rosholt, WI

Your "Dodgeball" reference first made me think of the Daffy Duck Robin Hood Looney Tunes cartoon: "Ho! Ha ha! Guard! Turn! Parry! Dodge! Spin! Ha! Thrust! Sproing!"

I'm debating whether I really want to say we need more Looney Tunes in the Inbox. Happy Wednesday.

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