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Inbox: That's a significant change

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RB Aaron Jones

Chad from Town of Middleton, WI

I didn't realize there was going to be an expansion team in Ishpeming. Any news on a team name, mascot, or scheduling ramifications? I'm thinking it's the first domino to fall in creating five teams per division and an 18-game season.

Ishpeming's time came and went. The Packers played up there in the inaugural 1919 season and won, 33-0.

Mike from Marquette, MI

Hey Mike! Loved the answer Tuesday about short road trips. But just to clarify, although Ishpeming is a short trip, it is to another time zone (Eastern). Thanks for the great work!

Did I ever tell this crowd how Vic never wanted to change his watch when we crossed time zones on road trips? Drove me nuts.

Don from Boise, ID

Warmed my heart to read your reply to Daniel about to 2010 loss to Patriots. I remember the must win against da Bears to finish that season, and the awesome playoff run that followed including beating da Bears again in the NFC Championship, but had forgotten how dire things were just one week before Christmas. Goes to show you how important it is that you never give up. Has there ever been such a strong finish that turned things around 180 before or since?

It wasn't a strong finish by any means, but the team that taught me to never consider a playoff qualifier an afterthought was the 2008 Arizona Cardinals. They won a bad NFC West to get in, and in Week 16 they got thumped 47-7 in the snow at New England (the Matt Cassel year at QB for the Patriots, remember). That was their fourth loss in their last five games to fall to 8-7. They were locked into the No. 4 seed in the NFC heading into Week 17. But that thrashing in Foxboro suddenly became their last loss until the Super Bowl, and they came within a tip-toeing Santonio Holmes from winning it all.

Steve from Saint Charles, MO

Who the heck is Chism, wearing No. 6 in Tuesday's photo of the WR group? The name is not on the team website rosters of Tuesday and the number is listed as a QB named Kurt Benkert. I know that with all the draftees and FAs it's hard to keep up, but his height showed up LARGE in the photo, and how can us fans play the "guess the 53" game without even knowing the candidates?

That photo was taken during rookie minicamp, and No. 6 was Keke Chism, an undrafted receiver from Missouri brought in for a tryout who was not signed. QB Kurt Benkert still has No. 6.

Al from Green Bay, WI

The question has been asked why teams would be required to kick off their season against a division rival. At a rock concert, the band typically starts the show with one of their biggest hits. Without knowing anything about the NFL thought process, I would speculate that they want to open with a splash, bringing the Day 1 excitement to a fever pitch. Yes? No? Do you have a different theory?

That's certainly part of it. Packers-Vikings is one of five division games on the Week 1 slate. Personally, I think there's enough excitement for everyone's opener that the league doesn't need to burn an important division game that early to generate attention. But I don't run a multi-billion-dollar business, I just cover one.

Mark from Rock Falls, IL

Good morning II, with so much game and practice film on Davante do you think the coaches may use it as a training guide? To say, see how he is getting off the line.

I don't think Adams' releases off the line are teachable necessarily or there'd be a lot of copycats out there. He has an innate ability with his footwork and timing that sets him apart.

Zachary from Las Animas, CO

I have heard that Jaire Alexander will make 31 million dollars this year, but his cap hit is only around 7 million dollars. Can you explain how this works?

Alexander was on the books to play under the fifth-year option on his rookie contract at $13M. His new contract is a four-year extension that pays him a $30M signing bonus and a $1M salary for 2022. For cap purposes, the signing bonus is spread out over five years (this year plus the four added), so it counts $6M per year against the cap. That plus the $1M salary gives him a $7M cap figure for 2022, a cap savings of $6M for the Packers this year.

Matt from Oshkosh, WI

How is JA's shoulder doing?

The new contract would appear to be a strong indication there are no concerns.

Michael from Pound, WI

Good morning Gents, how valuable to an organization's future is it to show youngins on the roster that if you play good you get paid good? Sometimes signing your own free agents without being scared of paying up for a position would or should inspire rookies and UDFAs to play hard I would think. Let alone showing how much the organization believes in all their homegrown recruits. The organization will get some good, hard, bargain play on those first contracts. GPG.

It certainly doesn't hurt, and the Packers have made it part of their MO to take care of their own. But in an ultra-competitive, cut-throat business like this one, that individual motivation has to come from within first for any of the rest to matter.

Mark from Rochester, MN

I believe former Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer stated that cornerback is one of the toughest positions to transition from college to the pros, which could be something to do with the rules in college.

I'm sure there's truth to that. There's no such penalty as illegal contact in college. But again, adjusting to that comes down to the individual player. Can he break what might be old habits that need to be broken? Does he have the skills to play by the NFL's rules? Part of the scouting process in my book.

Sonia from Fairbanks, AK

Just a comment. You two might want to pack a cooler of walleye and bluegill and a jug of cooking oil for your trip to London. It is anticipated that a third of the UK fish-and-chips shops will close this year since Russia supplies 40% of the cod and half the sunflower oil comes from Ukraine. I'm sure one of those II fans from the UK could turn the ingredients into a British tailgate experience.

Duly noted. Wes and I will have to petition Red and the equipment crew for some space in the cargo hold, but that's gonna cost us a lot more fish.

Jim from Joliet, IL

We're from the Chicago area and we would definitely want to get two tickets for the game in Miami on Christmas Day. Is there any chance that game could be flexed to a different time or day?

Nope. That game at Miami is locked in for 1 p.m. ET on Christmas.

Mike from Las Vegas, NV

The Packers were predictable with Adams in the lineup as the undisputed primary target for Aaron Rodgers. Nevertheless, they were almost unstoppable. When Adams was out they were unpredictable but not for a long enough string of games to have become predictable. That will now be possible, only with less developed talent at WR in Adams' stead. What advantages do you envision with the current circumstance?

No one knows yet. We have to see how the ground game develops and how LaFleur and Rodgers use it, how a veteran like Sammy Watkins gets incorporated into the offense, how the rookie receivers progress and what they prove to do best, whether the jet-motion action returns more prominently, how the two-back sets with Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon on the field together are deployed, all those things. As I continue to say, it's going to be an evolution, and I don't anticipate the Packers' offense in September being necessarily the same one we'll see in December.

Sam from Harlan, IA

Mike, if the Packers came to you and said you had to pick one position group to coach through the season, where do you feel you would be the best fit? Asked another way, which group do you think you can analyze best on film and have a (small to no) chance of passing on some knowledge?

Ha, emphasis on the no. I would fit best in the back row with my mouth shut and my ears open.

Matt from Kolesin, Poland

Hi! After all the talks about WR room, the time for improving defense has come. We all know that on paper we have solid top 10, maybe even top five defense. On paper. Nothing more we can say until the season starts. We forgot about our main offensive problem in 2021 – lack of inside-20 efficiency. What do you think was the cause? O-line rotations? Lack of Robert Tonyan? Bad play selection? With all the question marks emerging in our WR corps, it bothers me more than ever entering the new season.

I said it during the season and after the season, so I'll say it again. I think the drop in red-zone efficiency (from an otherworldly success rate in 2020) stemmed from not running the ball as well. The more effectively a team can run the ball, the more the offense is dictating how the defense must play it, not the other way around. I don't have specific red-zone rushing numbers, but overall, the Packers' average per carry dropped from 4.8 in 2020 to 4.2 last year. Whatever the reasons – injuries up front, missed opportunities, commitment, etc. – that's a significant change, and I think the falloff made it harder to finish drives.

Subhadeep from Middletown, CT

So you are saying we can't give the playoff spots based on the schedule release? We have to play 17 games to decide that ... eh?

Funny how that works.

Logan from Dublin, GA

What game we most excited for?

Week 1, but it can take its time getting here. I want to enjoy my spring and summer first. Happy Wednesday.

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