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Inbox: That's all part of the crystal-ball business

There’s always a fine line

2023 NFL Scouting Combine
2023 NFL Scouting Combine

Bil from Stateline, NV

We've been deceived! We've been told over and over there is no gambling at Bushwood and now we find out that it has been going on surreptitiously since at least 2016! Oh, the shame! It's "Copacetic-gate"! With that disclosure, Wes really sliced it into the woods!

I give the kid the keys to the car for two days and this is what I come back to …

George from Olympia, WA

What's our X factor we need this year?

The ability to punch it in. In my mind, red-zone/goal-to-go failures cost the Packers three wins last season – the Giants game in London, and the two Detroit games. That was the difference between 8-9 and 11-6.

Richard from Caledonia, WI

GOOD MORNING! Love your work, very informative and interesting insights… It sounded like GM Gutekunst suggested in an interview that two safeties may be moving on. Which safeties are not likely to return next season? Any obvious draft picks or free agents?

Adrian Amos and Rudy Ford are both headed toward free agency, and that's not to say both won't be back, but Gutekunst certainly has pointed to safety as a roster need. As Wes noted late last week, there's a lot to sort out in the secondary, such as where the best spots are for Darnell Savage and Rasul Douglas moving forward. I'm very much in wait-and-see mode with that position group.

Cami from Jupiter, FL

Reading between the lines BG made, are you surprised Amos probably won't be back? I know we can't have everyone but if he's no longer in Green Bay I'll definitely be bummed. I feel he has embodied what it means to be a Packer. How would you grade his FA signing and time here?

Amos did exactly what the Packers needed him to for four years – provide a reliable, stabilizing presence for a mostly young secondary. He's rarely out of position nor makes a mental mistake, and seven interceptions in four years more than doubled his total from the same length tenure in Chicago. A quiet, humble leader. I'm sure he's still got something left, but turning 30 next month he's also looking for one last substantial payday, which could make it difficult for the Packers to retain him. We shall see.

Spike from Crescent City, FL

Will the Packers be hosting another team during their training camp this year? If yes, do we know who it will be and when they will be here? PS: I miss the good old days of the Cheese League.

I haven't heard anything regarding another team visiting here in August, but this regime has sought out those opportunities and may do so again. Stay tuned.

Nathan from New York, NY

I saw in Evan Siegle's latest article that when a team has eight home games, the offensive players are introduced in four of the games, and the defensive players in the other four. With the addition of a 17th game to the regular season, who gets the player introductions for the ninth home game?

We'll have to find out in 2024.

Bob from Titletown, WI

Bad year for Bobby Tonyan to hit free agency...did you see the 40 times for this draft class of!

For well over a decade now, the college game has been churning out wide receivers left and right, every year, and that trend not surprisingly is carrying over to the pass-catching tight ends in more recent years. There are a lot of explosive athletes out there, and everyone's looking for the next Travis Kelce, George Kittle or Darren Waller.

Josh from Long Beach, CA

The more I see from Darnell Washington, the more he becomes my draft favorite. With his work on the sled at the combine and him modeling his game after Big Dog, I have to believe he's becoming a favorite of ML and Gutey as well. What are the chances we get him in round 2?

Who knows? Some analysts have Washington rated as the No. 2 tight end between Notre Dame's Mayer and Utah's Kincaid. He put on a show at the combine and might have moved himself up into the first round. But honestly, there's no telling.

Paula from Apple Valley, MN

I was looking at the combine pictures of current Packers. Do the numbers on their singlets indicate their ranking in that position?

No. They're just numbered alphabetically by position.

Mark from Canton, GA

Do you see the Packers perhaps nabbing Nolan Smith? And if they do, and I'm sure this would not be the only reason, but do you see some advantageous cohesiveness to having perhaps four starters on the Packers' D that all played together at the same college, albeit an only brief time all four were on the same field together?

I think college teammates benefit from the reunion more off the field, helping one another through their transition to the NFL. I don't see much on-field benefit. It's a faster, different game at this level.

Check out photos of defensive backs and specialists working out at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on Friday, March 3, 2023.

Joe from Bozeman, MT

Mason Crosby could end up in the top five for career points with another two years like 2022-23. He will pass some great kickers along the way as he is currently No. 11. Let's hope we get to see him do that as a Packer.

I'll second that motion. It'll be interesting to see who finishes his career with more points – Crosby or Robbie Gould, who came into the league two years earlier but is just 43 points ahead of Crosby.

Ray from Phoenix, AZ

With all I am reading, it does not appear Rashan Gary will be ready for the start of the season. If that is true, wouldn't edge rusher become the Packers' No. 1 need? Are there any affordable edge rushers on the FA market? As for the draft, your thoughts on Lukas Van Ness?

I don't know how you rank the needs, but edge rusher is certainly a priority this offseason. I thought the Packers needed to do more at the position last year and didn't address it until the fifth round of the draft. In free agency, proven edge rushers often aren't "affordable" to teams in a cap crunch. They command top dollar (see: 2019, Green Bay, a couple guys named Smith).

Matt from Havana, IL

Mike Sherman: More wins than Buddy Ryan, Herm Edwards, and Mike Martz. A higher winning percentage than Ditka, Parcells, Holmgren, Shanahan, Pete Carroll and Jimmy Johnson. It seems to me that Mike should have had another chance somewhere. A true players' coach who was willing to aggressively confront an intimidating Warren Sapp on his players' behalf. What am I missing about this?

Good question. I wasn't in this position when Sherman was here, but everything I've heard from those who knew him touted him as a good man and good coach. From afar, I always thought Sherman the GM let down Sherman the head coach in terms of personnel moves, and then when he was relieved of his GM duties, a 4-12 season with a HOF QB and otherwise subpar roster, mostly of his own doing, was a really bad look. After his stint as the head coach at Texas A&M, when he got back into the NFL with the Dolphins as offensive coordinator, he played a big part in Miami using the No. 8 overall pick on QB Ryan Tannehill, whom he coached at A&M. Tannehill's rough go of it there didn't help Sherman's chances of getting another crack at a head job.

Ellen from Muskego, WI

Just wondering who the man is that stands near the head coach during the games. He was always behind Mike McCarthy and now stands behind Matt LaFleur. He seems to direct the head coach to the opposing head coach right after the games. I particularly noticed how happy he was to greet Mike McCarthy last season when he came back as the Cowboys head coach.

That would be Doug Collins, the team's director of security. His tenure with the team dates back to the Sherman era.

Robert from Saginaw, MI

Mike, one more question concerning the share of ticket sales to visiting teams. Is it correct that visiting teams only get a cut of general seat sales and the home team retains all sales from premium seats and luxury box sales?

That's my understanding, yes.

Bill from Nashville, IL

Another "going for it on fourth down" question. Those making the decision always reference the analytics. Do the analytics simply calculate the probability of success/failure? Or does it take into account the ramifications of not succeeding? I've seen some take the risk with what seems like no consideration of failure (Lane Kiffin). Thanks.

Analytics look at win/loss probabilities based on certain decisions and the success/failure of those decisions. Call me old-school, but the part of the game analytics can't account for in my opinion is the shift in momentum to the other team if it gets the best of you in a key moment. The game is played by humans. Analytics are just numbers.

Dana from Eau Claire, WI

With the defense being so up and down last season, what is the biggest change they could make to stabilize better performances? Are they just overall lacking playmakers?

There's always a fine line defensively between forcing the action and trying too hard. I think the times the defense got in trouble last year, guys were trying too hard to make a play and it compromised their responsibilities and the effectiveness of the unit as a whole. They have to believe in what they're doing and believe in the guy next to them, and the opportunities to make plays will present themselves. That's what we saw during the late four-game winning streak with all the turnovers.

Bob from Emmaus, PA

The combine is an opportunity for rookies to display the talent that will get them into the door of a professional team. The key to success for a rookie appears to be the ability to adapt to the professional practices, atmosphere and games. An example is Samori Toure, encouraged by a callout by Aaron Rodgers to step up his practice regimen to take advantage of his talent. How do the scouts determine if a player has the ability to adapt or can this ability be learned?

That's all part of the crystal-ball business that scouting is. If it could be definitively determined, fewer draft picks would fail to make it and undrafted players almost never would.

James from Appleton, WI

Do the scouts talk to college coaches about how their players accept instruction? Would a coach even respond if the answer didn't put the player in a positive light? I mean, citing the number of their players who reach the NFL could be a good recruiting tool for coaches, so they would have an incentive to shade the truth. So, I guess not. Good talk!

Again, that's another part of scouting that requires relationships – getting to know college coaches (head or assistant) who will tell the truth about their players, not just talk them up. Scouts rely on solid sources like that.

Blake from Itasca, IL

Given a choice, would you rather draft a thumper or ball-hawk type safety?

In this day and age, give me the ball hawk every time. A couple decades ago I might've leaned the other way.

Reed from Kansas City, MO

I've always disliked that Woody Hayes quote. When you run the ball, you can gain yards, you can lose yards, or you can fumble. It's the same ratio of good to bad.

You, Richard from Madison and Jeff from Hagerstown all made it clear you're not fans of three yards and a cloud of dust.

Jeffery from Brooklyn, WI

Hey guys, the excitement of the upcoming season has a little more intensity this year. Coming off a losing season don't happen often in GB, so what are you guys most excited to see happen?

The '22 draft class start to look like the long-term core of a highly competitive team. Well, that and Wes finding the Holy Grail of root beers somewhere on a road trip. Happy Monday.

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