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Inbox: That’s the perfect way to describe them

DL Kingsley Keke
DL Kingsley Keke

Herb from Palm Desert, CA

Hi Insiders, complete this sentence for me: If their defense outperforms their offense this year, the Packers will...

…win a whole lot of football games. Good morning!

Troy from Westminster, CO

Not to rag on Gary from Hamilton but the rhetoric correlating “slow” starts to Aaron Rodgers’ preseason action time is so overblown. Statistically, September is as good as any other month for Rodgers, besides maybe October. Passer rating is 103.3, 65.9 completion percentage, TD:Int ratio - 81:19. I'm not sure what constitutes “slow,” but I don't think that's it. His two worst months are November and December. Maybe he isn't playing enough in September and October.

Players, at the zenith of their athletic prowess, spend months training, studying and practicing their schemes. You absolutely, positively cannot make an argument to me that two dozen extra reps in a preseason game against stale, vanilla defense translates to how fast a player and/or team start the regular season. At all. It takes 10,000 hours to make you an expert in a field, trade or specialization, right? Fifteen minutes in an exhibition game in Winnipeg is not going to make or break the Packers season – unless someone important gets injured. Deploy starters, accordingly.

Trent from Tupelo, MS

What are the expectations for Darnell Savage this year?

I’d be lying if I said they weren’t high. He is a first-round pick who likely will start as a rookie. I just hope fans exercise patience. Savage will have some growing pains. Remember this guy doesn’t turn 22 years old until later this month. That being said, Savage has a gift. Working alongside an even-keeled veteran like Adrian Amos should hasten Savage’s transition to the NFL.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Understanding no one has given up a yard yet, where does the defense rank league-wide on paper?

I guess that would put them in first place right now.

Ross from Hudson, WI

David Bakhtiari said in a recent interview he would like to catch a touchdown in the new offense, which got me thinking: Can any offensive lineman declare as eligible or does the declarer have to line up outside the tackles?

The starting five offensive linemen are not eligible to catch a touchdown, so Bakhtiari would have to declare eligible outside the tackles (like Jason Spriggs and Justin McCray occasionally did last year) in order to do so. Or recover a fumble.

Mike from Lancaster, NY

Looking at the practice squad from last year, which player do you think will make the active roster and make the biggest contribution this year?

I don’t know if I have a pick based on who finished last year on the practice squad. If we’re talking about ANY player who spent time on the Packers’ practice squad in 2018, then Tyler Lancaster is the answer. He has the tools to make him a capable rotational defensive lineman and a work ethic that could lead to a sustainable NFL career.

William from Newburgh, IN

I know Jared Goff is no Aaron Rodgers and Bill Belichick is a defensive guru but should we be concerned how easy an offense, similar to what I expect us to run, was so completely shut down? With an offseason for defensive coordinators to break down their schemes, should we temper our expectations somewhat? I am excited for the season to start but feel our offense will be a process that may take a number of games for all involved to feel comfortable and overcome what the defenses have in store.

I don’t think the scheme was the issue – it was the lack of adjustments the Rams made after the Patriots showed their hand. Either way, Matt LaFleur isn’t going to use a carbon-copy of Sean McVay’s scheme – the same way McVay doesn’t deploy a carbon-copy of the Shanahan offense. LaFleur is his own coach. His offense will be its own, as well.

Geoff from Beaver Dam, WI

My family and I were up that way about a month ago. What was the construction they were/are doing on the third floor of the Atrium?

They redid the third-floor balcony and added a bar. The drape actually came off that development like a week or two ago. It’ll be ready for the preseason opener against Houston.

Tim from Normal, IL

Insiders, since they keep stats for everything these days, why don’t they assign the same stats for OL as they do for defensive players only in reverse? You would have sacks allowed, QB hits allowed, and QB pressures allowed. If it cannot be reasonably assigned to any player, it would be deemed “team.”

Pro Football Focus tries, but there’s a lot subjectivity involved, particularly when it comes to the interior offensive line. We don’t know all the calls and assignments. The defensives stats that the NFL tracks – sacks, quarterback hits and tackles – are largely objective and undisputed.

Jeff from Green Bay, WI

Who would be your pick for a return of a player from free agency to the Packers before the start of the regular season? I liked Antonio Morrison last year for his physical play, but his price was too steep on his contract.

Ibraheim Campbell. I thought he played well last year before the knee injury and could add some depth at safety once cleared. Oren Burks was a third-round pick last year and projects as a future defensive starter, whereas Antonio Morrison was a plug-and-play, two-down linebacker. He also had an escalator in the fourth-year of his rookie contract based on playing time. Regardless, the Packers need to see what they have in Burks.

Donald from Imnaha, OR

Have you been following the loss of junior college football programs in the Southwest? Mike McCarthy played at Scottsdale, and I played at Eastern Arizona at the same time. Mike ended up moving on to Baker (He is in its Hall of Fame) and I went on to play at Culver-Stockton, so we played against each other for four years (Mike was TE, I was a DE/LB who played across from him). Both of us used JC football to lead to bachelor degrees. Without JC football, this poor guy would never have gone on to get his doctorate, and Mike would never have been the Packers’ head coach. The Arizona league (CC's: Glendale, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Eastern AZ, etc.,) have ended their football programs. Many semi-talented young men will not get a chance to improve their lots in life because JC football is not a 'money maker.' Makes me very sad. There is a marked decrease in kids participating in high school, and now the loss of JC football in the southwest. Lots of poor kids are losing opportunities. Thoughts?

I have been following what happened in the Southwest and it’s a shame. I got to know Ryan Felker, the now-former head coach at Mesa Community College, through my post-draft story on Damarious Randall four years ago. A father of two teenagers, Felker gave so many young men a second chance at football, and in some cases, life. I understand Randall is a polarizing figure in this column but we can all agree he’s an NFL-caliber talent. While some JUCO players like Randall become first-round picks, many more get associate degrees or matriculate to four-year institutions to get their bachelors. It opened doors for young men looking for an opportunity – and now that door is closed for some.

Look forward to the season with photos of Packers fans showing their pride.

Andrew from Shalimar, FL

It seems like the best special teams players are often listed as safeties and linebackers. Even with those positions becoming more blended with “hybrid” players, how would they usually be deployed on the field? Would the smaller, faster safeties stay more to the middle of the field with the larger, slower line backers forming the flanks or are they more mixed up with the hope of finding a mismatch?

Faster players such as cornerbacks, receivers and safeties typically flank and look to maintain outside leverage on the returner. The reason inside linebackers, tight ends and bigger safeties work so well inside is they are fast enough to get down the field, but also large enough to get off blocks and not get pancaked. That’s sort of an oversimplification, but that’s the most efficient way of explaining it.

Craig from Milwaukee, WI

Is Kevin King doing anything to try to stay healthy for this season? Is he eating better? Did he get a trainer?

I didn’t have a chance to talk to King this spring, but Spoff did for his Packers Yearbook story. King is healthy, focused and bent on making Year 3 count. I think we’ll see the best Kevin King when training camp begins July 25.

Don from Oak Park, IL

Is there any possibility Mason Crosby's game in Detroit last year was caused by "external influences?” I remember thinking that I never saw a ball move so much after the kick. Could the Lions have been cementing a home-field advantage with an "actively-induced environment"?

I think Crosby had a bad day at the office as we all do. The only difference is, in Crosby’s case, it happened in front of 60,000 people.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, with a new head coach and an untested playbook, do you currently consider the Packers an enigmatic team?

That’s the perfect way to describe them. They are an absolute enigma right now. I think that’s the first time we can say that in 13 years.

Justin from Hoboken, NJ

A quick shout out to all the Justins in Saturday’s Inbox. I struggled with my name as a child but grew to love the "Just Inside" jokes I could make with it. Some were just insane, some just inspirational. Are there names that are part of submissions to the Insider Inbox that make you chuckle or cheer, even if the questions aren't post-worthy?

Not really. Few are as clever as the commenter thinks they are. Mostly, they’re lame. I will use this question to give a shout out to Ryan from Fond du Lac, though. He had one of the funniest submissions Saturday morning that’ll never see the light of day in the column. Ryan, I hope you understand why it wasn’t posted, but please take a bow. That was great.

Darren from Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Wes finished Saturday’s II with three of II’s “Mount Rushmore” candidates - Derek from Eau Claire, WI, Dean from Leavenworth, IN and Lori from Brookfield, WI. Since we saw Brett from Green Bay, WI re-emerge in this summer’s OI, is Brett the fourth to rise atop Mount Rushmore if he returns with a vengeance?

That’s entirely up to Brett. Brett has become the Inbox’s B.J. Raji – Is he retired? Is he not retired? Will he ever comment again? (And please don’t ask me about Raji now).

Dan from Leland, NC

If – maybe I should say when – sensors are placed in footballs, will we have a new “era?” I can see the talking heads and social media loonies demeaning offensive stats that were accumulated “pre-sensor.”

Post-sensor NFL would become the new post-merger.

Tim from Hudson, WI

As an engineer, the spotting of the football could be done accurately. GPS chips would be located in both tips of the football where the leather forms a dimple anyway. A line connects two points so the orientation of the football can be determined on the field. Software could then fill in the football’s shape to determine forward progress. Go Pack!

There it is. See? It’s science.

Anders from Kinna, Sweden

Hey Insiders. Just thought I’d drop my two cents on the whole sensory ball discussion. First, I think the sensors should be attached inside the balls, one at each tip should be fine. Second, synchronizing the sensors with the whistles is a good idea, and should be done, but even if a play is blown dead, you’d be able to see after the fact how far up the ball was. The coolest thing would be to have it visible in real time. So a lead light on the field would light up at the sideline for every yard progressed, and the first-down marker could pop red as soon as the ball passes it. The same for crossing the end zone. Refs need only worry about whether catches are eligible, and when players are down. You could add sensors to knee pads and other player equipment, to help out with that too. I think it’s the way forward.

I’m so proud right now. Like a father watching his son pedal his bike without training wheels for the first time. I’m also on board for the indicator on the ball, signaling first downs.

Dave from Bono, IN

If we put sensors in the ball, what happens to their sensitivity when Tom Brady deflates them?

The ball would be equipped with a beeper if the air pressure falls beneath a certain threshold – like a smoke detector. I’ll have my people talk to the NFL’s people.

Trevor from Seattle, WA

It would be hard to deny that Megan Rapinoe is one of the most dominant athletes to ever play their sport. Also, shout out to Badger Alum Rose Lavelle!

Back-to-back world champions, baby! Sheer dominance. I'm not going to lie and say I know much about soccer, but Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and the rest of the U.S. Women’s National Team made believers out of us all. What a magical run.

Matt from Waukesha, WI

Wes, would you say you had more submissions for the Outsider Inbox than you get for a typical day during the offseason?

Compared to a typical July day, yes. It still doesn’t compare to in-season submissions, though.

John from Sheboygan, WI

Wow what a bunch of crap questions to have insiders answer. About four of them were worthy that I read the responses. The rest rank up there with asking what anyone likes to eat on a hotdog. Honestly who cares about a favorite game day meal etc., some will just make (stuff) up to get answered same is asking what you like to do in certain situations. I've been answered by both of you with real questions/answer and you published, I hope, because others actually cared to know the answer. This made an easy two days for Wes as few if any will care which he posted as responses.

It was Fourth of July weekend. Perhaps you could have done something else with your time. Just a thought. Also kids, this is an example of why you shouldn’t be writing in at 3:23 a.m.

Dan from Augusta, KS

Wait. You don’t have an office? Does Mike? I don’t know why but I had always pictured Vic in a windowless office down a dark hallway with a desk piled high with papers and an old typewriter collecting dust in a corner. A cubicle just doesn’t meet expectations. Please tell me Vic had an office and still has the keys or something like that.

You nailed it. Vic did write in a windowless office down a dark hallway. By contrast, Spoff and I are in cubicles that are straight out of “Office Space.” We are near a window, though. So we have that going for us…which is nice.

Bryce from Westcliffe, CO

The NFL Network is finally giving the Packers some love. Why has it taken so long?

It’s a long offseason. I don’t watch NFL Network, but I prophesy they’ve said a nice thing or two about the Giants over the past six months, too. Welcome back to the work week, everybody.

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