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Inbox: That'll give defensive coordinators nightmares

The NFL’s loss seven years ago became the Packers’ gain

WR Davante Adams
WR Davante Adams

Robert from Verona, WI

COVID-19 has taken our sports from us, and now our movies too. It looks like "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" is being delayed until 2021. I'm terrified beyond the capacity for rational thought.

I just pinpoint things I'm looking forward to. Wrestlemania, the possibility of UFC 249, "The Last Dance" docuseries and the NFL Draft will get me through April. That's all I need at the moment. I don't need to climb the whole staircase. I just need a step. Good morning!

Justin from Milwaukee, WI

I'm just trying to be the one who gets picked to ask your thoughts on the new playoff structure. Personally, I hate it more than any rule change I can remember. I think the regular season and winning the division should matter. Half the league and half the division making the playoffs, with everyone but the No. 1 seed playing on "Wild Card" week, unquestionably devalues the regular season. What's your opinion?

You are the one. Congrats. I've taken quite a bit of time pondering this over the last month. I'm largely with you. I'm a traditionalist, by nature. As I said last month, however, this is what owners deemed necessary to help shorten the preseason and here we are. And winning the division still matters. In fact, it probably matters now more than ever because it guarantees a team at least one home game.

Joseph from Salt Lake City, UT

I understand that our society cheers for the underdog and that adding a seventh seed allows for a dramatic story to unfold...but doesn't it just strengthen the advantage of the No. 1 seed marching to the Super Bowl?

It sure does. Having the top seed is a massive advantage. You get to rest up while the other six teams in your conference rough each other up on Wild Card weekend.

Rick from Albuquerque, NM

Now that No. 2 seeds play, will more teams than usual rest nicked-up stars for the last game (or several games) to try to get healthy and even "pick" their opponents in the first round of the playoffs?

The final week of the regular season is going to be bonkers. So many teams should have a legitimate chance at that No. 7 seed with as much parity as there is in the NFL.

Joseph from Salt Lake City, UT


Now, that is pretty neat. I think we all can agree on that.

Timmy from Chicago, IL

Do offensive linemen prospects care about GMs drafting them to play a different position along the line? Do GMs care about a prospects' desire to stay in the same position they played during college? Just how easy/difficult is it to make a switch along the line?

I don't think it matters to most draft prospects. David Bakhtiari was prepared to play interior offensive line when he came out of Colorado in 2013. It's not always easy to switch positions but it must be done to find a job sometimes.

Dan from Toledo, OH

I find it is always fun to look back at a highly successful player's college scouting report. That being said do you have David Bakhtiari's lying around? Would love to see why an All-Pro tackle lasted so long, given the dearth of offensive linemen in the league.

It's incredible looking back on it. What scouts saw as weaknesses for Bakhtiari (not big enough, one-on-one pass-blocking, getting beaten off the edge and stiff back step) have all been strengths. He left early after Colorado had a terrible 1-11 year but I'm still surprised Bakhtiari wasn't more coveted given his college production and NFL bloodlines. Oh well, the league's loss seven years ago was the Packers' gain.

Paul from Ellensburg, WA

Hey fellas, all the discussion on drafting a "run-stuffing DL" got me wondering about Kingsley Keke. Is the team not as high on him after his rookie season as they were when we drafted him?

Spoff and I always answer with Jace Sternberger when people ask for a breakout candidate from last year's draft class, but the Packers' other Aggie should be included in that group, too. Kingsley came on late last year and should compete for a starting role in 2020.

Dan from Concord, NC

I know a lot of Packers fans are frustrated by the lack of big-name free-agent signings, but it seems to me that these are the type of signings the Patriots do every year. Sign guys who have done some good things earlier in their career but who come at a discount because of recent injuries. Sometimes you miss, sometimes you hit. But when you hit, you look brilliant. Is Brian Gutekunst setting himself up to be the new Bill Belichick?

A GM's job is to sign players who make sense for their team. That doesn't mean it has to be the biggest name. What I love about Belichick's approach is how many times a big-name Patriot signs elsewhere, doesn't work out and then returns to form again with New England.

Justin from Dekalb, IL

Wes, with everything going on, I'll never take watching preseason for granted again. With that being said, I'm really looking forward to the linebacker battles. I thought Ty Summers showed some good stuff last preseason and hopefully he matures into a solid player. I'm also excited to get Curtis Bolton back from injury. He was impressing me a lot before the bad luck. Also, haven't counted out Oren Burks if he can stay healthy and make the most of his chances. Do you think a high LB pick is a need over WR, OT, DL, or TE?

The answer depends on whether the Packers ideally want two inside linebackers on the field in nickel. If so, they could add another inside linebacker into the competition. If not, they may be better served to find a hybrid safety to compete with Raven Greene.

Robert from Katy, TX

Most concerning free-agent pickup by an NFC North team.

Michael Pierce in Mike Zimmer's defense.

Robert from Salem, WI

Of the remaining free agents (who were with the Packers), do you see them bringing any of them back and if so, who would be most likely?

Tramon Williams. I thought Williams played well last year but he's also 37 years old. He told ESPN last week he's in wait-and-see mode and that's where I stand on the matter, too. It comes down to what the Packers' plan is at nickel corner and where Tramon fits into those plans.

Dale from Kettering, OH

There seem to be two theories on how much teams will want to deal on draft day: 1) They haven't seen anybody in-person since the combine, so there will be no point to moving around, or 2) Teams will have to trust their boards more than usual, so if they know who they really want, it might be worth trying to find a team that didn't have the same ranking on a player and making an economical switch. Which theory do you guys favor?

I don't think it's going to be measurably different but I guess I'd favor the latter. My hypothesis is teams will go after players they really like (and are really educated on) this year. My biggest question, not that you're asking, is what teams do regarding a player like Tua Tagovailoa, a huge talent with huge questions without pro days and visits.

The Green Bay Packers team dining staff is continuing to work in support of critical workers and students in need during this difficult time.

Doughbert from Cairo, Egypt

Hey Mike and Wes and Mike and Spoff, let's break up the monotony. Can you tell us Insiders who your all-time starting lineup of favorite interviews is? You have to pick one player from each position group and it has to be someone you have interviewed directly. Side note: Spoff, can you give my wife, Carole, a shout-out? She thinks you're kind of a hunk! LOL. I'm not sure how I feel about that, but I kind of look like you, so I guess it's OK!

Good question. I'll go with Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones, Danny Vitale, Davante Adams, Allen Lazard, Marcedes Lewis, Justin McCray, T.J. Lang, Corey Linsley, Lucas Patrick, Bakhtiari, Kenny Clark, Ricky Jean-Francois, Chris Ringo, Andy Mulumba, Jayrone Elliott, Blake Martinez, Sam Barrington, Casey Hayward, Tramon Williams, Micah Hyde, Morgan Burnett, Mason Crosby, Tim Masthay and Rick Lovato. My returner would be Jeremy Ross. I'll leave the proposition for Spoff.

Scott from Lincoln City, OR

Wes, you said the Packers are fiscally responsible and not "one of those teams that have to cut good players because they can't afford them." Yet many good players have been "let go" in free agency because the price to retain them was deemed too high. Aside from the possible compensation pick, is there any difference? Also, if a team has an outstanding draft one year it's highly unlikely they'll be able to re-sign them all 3-5 years down the road.

There is a huge difference between affording the lamp and having your power turned off because you can't pay the utilities.

Andy from Kalamazoo, MI

Dear Insiders, thanks for helping keep us sane and connected during crazy and alienating times! I find Facetime pre-draft interview recordings super intriguing as potential historical artifacts. Who wouldn't want to see Rodgers-McCarthy or Brady-Belichick conversing for possibly the first time? Are these FaceTime interviews actually recorded? Might they at some point be publicly sharable? Have such interviews been recorded in the past?

I don't know how many FaceTime interviews are conducted on an annual basis but teams often record their interaction with players at the combine and during pre-draft visits. But that's confidential and privileged information. I agree it would be cool, though, to look back at videos 20 years from now if Joe Burrow becomes a Hall of Fame QB.

Alan from Madison, WI

I know there is a lot of buzz about Green Bay-area native, quarterback James Morgan, and the Packers taking him in the draft. How about western Wisconsin native and Iowa quarterback, Nate Stanley? He doesn't have the numbers Morgan had, but he was grinding against Big Ten teams every week with no real receivers to work with this past season.

I talked with Stanley a little in Indy. He is all business and played that way at Iowa. He's a field general. Morgan is a very confident and extroverted guy, so it doesn't surprise me to hear how he's impressed coaches and scouts in interviews.

Joe from Concord, CA

Hey Insiders! Last year, I traveled to Lambeau to watch them play against the Redskins. During pregame, Tim Boyle was out there playing catch (along with Jamaal Williams) with not only the kids, but the adults, as well. It was a small but significant gesture to him to be out there interacting with fans like that, and it's a rich memory that I now cherish. Do you have any good stories with/about QB2?

Tim Boyle stories. Man, you could fill an entire Inbox with Tim Boyle stories. Several longtime beat reporters have compared Tim to Matt Hasselbeck – just a fun-loving, personable dude who loves the game of football. My favorite story to date is when he purchased and wore the Aaron Rodgers jersey the day after Green Bay's remarkable comeback against the Chicago Bears in the 2018 opener. There were so many smiles in the locker room that day when Tim strolled in wearing that No. 12 jersey. Legendary.

Josh from Edmonton, Canada

This is the most public yet of my many humiliations. Love it. As a Canadian I watch the CFL closely, and Bo Levi Mitchell has torched the league in most passing stats the last seven years, with the exception of an injury-riddled 2019, and he's won two Grey Cups in that time with the Calgary Stampeders. He's garnered a bit of interest from NFL teams, but never enough for anyone to actually sign him. He's not a small guy so I don't know what gives.

I'm officially starting the "Get Bo Levi Mitchell to the NFL" hype machine. Somebody sign this dude.

Tyler from Stevens Point, WI

Hypothetically, if the highly touted WR draft class is as accurate, is it possible to see the overall dynamic of the game change? Has a position group ever had that kind of impact, where the game sees a quicker evolution?

Yeah, just look at that 1983 class of QBs you guys were talking about last week. If this receivers class is as good as everyone says it is, it could change how the game is played in 3-5 years. If there are a few Davante Adams, DeAndre Hopkins or Larry Fitzgeralds in this group, that'll give defensive coordinators nightmares over the next decade.

Thomas from Altoona, WI

Blake Martinez blames the system in Green Bay for misusing him. He's putting a lot of pressure on himself to prove that. He needs to stop running backs in their tracks instead of being pushed back three or four yards after making contact.

Many have asked for my thoughts on Martinez's comments to the New York media. It's quite simple. He'll have the opportunity to prove it next season, with the team he picked in free agency. That's it. Whatever happens will speak louder than any words we're saying.

Dan from Twin Lakes, WI

I can't help but wonder if the Chargers are planning to make a run at Tagovailoa. A premium RT like Bryan Bulaga would be a wonderful thing to have with a left-handed rookie QB. Your thoughts?

I like Tyrod Taylor and think he can assist this rebuild with the Chargers but my feeling is they have to take a QB in this draft. Maybe Tua is that guy, especially if he doesn't have to play right away.

Chris from West Allis, WI

You frequently speak of Packers players as being "the epitome of class" or "a consummate professional." I love being a fan of a team with so many standup guys, but it can't be universally true, can it? I don't want to get either of you in trouble so I'll simply ask this as a yes or no question: Have you covered a Packers player you would not describe that way?

Of course. But who hasn't? Do all of you like every person you work with or encounter? Heck no. That's life. I just like to point out players and coaches who went above and beyond in being cordial and professional with reporters. Geronimo Allison is one of those guys. All the best to him.

Mark from Sturgeon Bay, WI

Usually before a player is signed they have to pass a physical. How is that going to work now when you can't bring a player in? Or is that different for free agency? What happens if a guy does have an injury the signing team didn't know about?

Since neither free agents nor a team's medical personnel are allowed to travel, clubs can either wait until the restrictions have been lifted to bring players in or arrange for them to have medical exams conducted in the player's home city or at another nearby location by a third-party doctor. The Packers caught a small break with Christian Kirksey, who came in for a visit before this thing escalated and the NFL forced teams to close team facilities.

Dale from Prescott, WI

Wes, is it true the WWE is moving forward without crowds?

Correct. The same goes for All-Elite Wrestling, which is owned and operated by Jacksonville Jaguars co-owner Tony Khan. People laugh and snicker about pro wrestling but I promise you the sports world is watching how these organizations are presenting their product in venues without crowds. The WWE was ahead of the curve with streaming and a lot will be learned in the weeks and months ahead from how they present their content.

Ed from South Beloit, IL

Good morning Mr. Hodkiewicz, what do we know about Mr. Kuhn and Mr. McCarren? Are they and all of you staying healthy and well? Can't wait to see more of Larry's videos. Thank you all for keeping us entertained.

I'm pleased to report everyone is doing well. In fact, today's plan calls for Spoff, Larry and me to shoot a remote "Three Things" video so keep an eye open for that.

Rand from Hudson, WI

Insiders, does there need to be consensus between the two of you on a ban decision or do you act autonomously? For example, I could totally see Spoff banning a video gamer while Hod endorses it. Stay safe and all the best, thanks for the diversion from the craziness.

It's largely unspoken when Spoff and I ban people but there are a few we've done together in concert. That section is located in the golden wing of the II Hall of Fame.

Primo from Portland, OR

You know your licorice whips will be stale but you'll try them anyway, right?


Jennifer from Middleton, WI

I hate to give props to another outlet, but did you see the Scooter Magruder parody of NFL fans during free agency? ESPN shared it and I have watched it at least 10 times. The Cardinals/Texans part is almost enough to make up for no sports.

Ha. I enjoyed it thoroughly, especially the DeAndre Hopkins part. Fantastic. OK, Spoff is back tomorrow. Stay safe, everyone.