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Inbox: That's what leaders do

It’s not about copying another city’s blueprint – it’s developing your own

S Xavier McKinney & CB Jaire Alexander
S Xavier McKinney & CB Jaire Alexander

Jim from Whitmore Lake, MI

Good morning. On the Total Packers video, Xavier McKinney really impressed me when he said "Adding three more guys to the safety room is an exciting thing...helping them to learn the game...seeing those guys and seeing what their tape is like..." I've never heard of one player checking other players' "tape." I always thought that watching tape is the coaches' job. So, is it normal for one player to watch tape on another player in order to help them to be a better player?

That's what leaders do. Whenever the Packers sign a big-name free agent, it seems the player's on-field performance is what fills most of the column inches. But when making those sizeable investments, the person is just as important. Green Bay has signed several high-character veterans over the years, and by all accounts, it got another one in Xavier McKinney. For McKinney being only 24, he's demonstrated a lot of maturity in understanding his role in helping develop the young safeties in his room.

George from Kennebunkport, ME

Deception is frequently used in defensive schemes to hinder a QB's ability to "read" coverages or alignment. QBs frequently use the entire play clock, searching for the slightest hint. The past few years we have not seen much disguise in the Packers' defensive schemes. How much do you think that will change under Jeff Hafley? Does a single-high safety offer the potential for unexpected blitzes?

It can, especially if you have a physical strong safety and quick linebackers. I can't paint you a vivid picture of how the defense is going to look this year, but the comparisons to San Francisco, Houston and the New York Jets caught my attention – not because of the scheme but the playstyle. Those defenses get after the quarterback whether the coordinator is sending an extra blitzer or not. That's where Hafley is trying to get the Packers – playing with tenacity.

Joe from Liberty Township, OH

It's pretty clear Brian Gutekunst wanted an OT with his first pick. We can debate whether he wanted to move up for another OT, but he got the versatility and athleticism he wanted with Jordan Morgan. Then he gets the first LB off the board and the second safety. But Tyler Nubin's low RAS eliminated him for the Packers that early in the draft, so Javon Bullard was clearly their top safety. Top OT at 25, then top LB and top safety on their board. That's a pretty successful draft with their first three picks.

The Packers paired the best available players with areas they needed to strengthen. Based on drafts, that's a winning formula for this football team.

Terry from EL Paso, TX

With the NFL schedule soon to be released, I was thinking how come it seems like every year the Packers have one of the toughest scheduled in the NFL? Even when the Packers had not so great seasons, this is the case. Should not the Lions have a harder one and the teams with better records then Green Bay?

Difficulty is a relative term, but the Packers and Lions have the same schedule with the exception of the three games in which they are paired against teams that finished in the same spot in their division the previous season. This year, that's which NFC divisions the North isn't playing and one rotating AFC division. As the runner-up in the NFC North, Green Bay drew New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Miami. As the North champ, Detroit gets defending division champion Tampa Bay, Dallas, and Buffalo…and that's how the cookie crumbles.

Jim from Spicewood, TX

After this year's draft, there is a lot of talk about the Packers' depth and competition at every position. But it seems we are light on defensive linemen, especially switching to a 4-3 defense. We didn't draft any and I count just five DL on the current roster. What am I missing?

You may be a bit off on your count, Jim. While it's true Green Bay didn't draft any defensive linemen, position coach Jason Rebrovich is leading a room of 16 at the moment. With the absorption of the edge rushers, I'd argue the Packers have more than enough on the defensive front to get the job done.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

The use of "12 personnel" has been rising across the league and the Packers led with a 33% usage last season. Seems like a good time to have two great TEs and a strong four-man rotation in that room. Your thoughts?

LaFleur has been ahead of the curve with tight end deployment for years. While Marcedes Lewis and Robert Tonyan both did a great job for the offense, the Packers doubling down on Day 2 last spring netted them a pair of ascending tight ends in Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft whose talents complement each other well. Again, the key is getting them out there at the same time.

David from Janesville, WI

Gents – some discussion recently about how a veteran quarterback could be a benefit to a young starter, but the cap wouldn't allow it last year. With having just completed his playing career, would Sean Mannion be able to take on some of that role?

Yep…which is part of the reason I asked Tom Clements about Mannion last week. He's played a lot of football and served as the understudy to several Pro Bowl quarterbacks. Mannion also is in the advantageous position of learning from one of the best QB coaches to ever do it.

Al from Green Bay, WI

If you were one of the Packers ' rookie offensive linemen, which of the veterans would you want to mentor you from Day 1?

On the current team? Elgton Jenkins, who's the longest-tenured player on the offensive side of the ball and played every position across the O-line. All-time? David Bakhtiari, who grew from a fourth-round pick to a five-time All-Pro. Some of you may have seen my lighthearted Instagram videos where I kick slide. Well, my fascination with that aspect of the game started with Bakhtiari. There is no offensive lineman I enjoyed watching more during my time on the Packers' beat than David. It was like watching Rembrandt paint. His pass-blocking was pure poetry. I hope we get to see it again.

Dennis from De Pere, WI

If the new defense is more aggressive up front, would that put more pressure on our backfield, but hopefully only for a short period of time?

There's give and take with everything, but the Packers hope a confident, disciplined defense and good coverage plan will prevent big plays. Whatever way you slice it, I stand in agreement Green Bay needed to switch things up on defense and it has.

James from Chippewa Falls, WI

Our new defense sounds like it is going to be an aggressive, attacking defense. As a defensive player, I would love that. Do you get the same vibe from our players?

The rookies are definitely onboard. Kenny Clark and McKinney, too. We'll hear from the rest of the defense next week.

Gene from Greenville, WI

For the upcoming draft, what percentage does the NFL control the event and how much input does the Packer organization really have?

I don't know the exact breakdown but the league handles most of it. It's an NFL event hosted in Green Bay.

Bruce from Appleton, WI

How do you like the new kickoff returns the NFL will try this year?

I'm in favor of turning over every stone in the field to help save the play.

Arthur from Eau Claire, WI

The MVS draft position win/loss discussion was fun. What position was "The Janis" drafted? I know his career didn't last all that long, so was he a bust? It seemed he had a full bandwagon while he was here.

We perseverate so much on Jeff Janis, the wide receiver, that we often forget Janis was a pretty darn good special-teamer. His straight-line speed translated well to punt coverage and kickoff return. For a seventh-round pick, I'd say the Packers got their monies' worth.

Irene from Price County, WI

Referencing Steve from Cedar Rapids, as another over 70-year-old fan (hope you are over 70, Steve), I too would not pay extra to watch a streamed game. The Packers are blessed with many years of play-by-play announcers which can be – and are – relied on for all we really need to follow the action. And a great website for additional information that is actually fact-based and not talking-heads hype.

I understand the plight of far-flung Packers fans and respect how each of you choose to consume your Packers football. However, the reality is streaming is inevitable in some form or fashion. That's just the direction this thing is headed.

Caleb from Knoxville, TN

Which of Hafley's previous coaching stops, NFL or college, intrigues you the most?

Ohio State. He helped turn around the Buckeyes' defense before earning his opportunity at Boston College. I think that's also the most applicable example of what we might see this season in Green Bay.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, I have been having a wonderful (and educational) time watching some breakdowns of the plays the Packers' offense ran against the Cowboys in the NFC Wild Card game. Who is the designated play designer?

LaFleur deserves far more credit than he'll ever accept, but it does take a village to develop a playbook and game plan. LaFleur and Jordan Love were nothing short of brilliant in Dallas.

Sam from La Mesa, CA

Are the Packers truly committed to Josh Myers at center as they say, or is that smoke? Rasheed Walker was very good at left tackle over the final six games and if Jordan Morgan supplants him, it makes sense to me that Walker might go to RT and that would allow Zach Tom to move to C. I can't see Walker becomes a reserve and Myers plays. What say you?

Josh Myers is the center. Now, he'll have to perform in training camp like everyone else, including yours truly, but Josh Myers is the center.

James from Peterborough – Nogojiwanong, Canada

A follow-up to Curtis, Out There in California: I will believe in a new Packer defense when it makes a stop holding a narrow lead or in a tie during the fourth quarter of an elimination game. Until then color me dubious. Pack teams have leaned on spectacular offense for too long.

That's not unreasonable. The football field is the proving ground.

Yotam from Atlit, Israel

Ashton from Dallas, TX, reminded everyone that it's been 10 games since GB lost to the Bears. I will want to remind everyone that at some point we will lose to them. I don't know if it will be this year or next, but it will happen. Hope people won't be outraged at this because that's how it works. Oh, and I don't envy you on II duty the day after. Keep up the good work!

I know the day will come when Chicago beats Green Bay again and have but two simple requests – Packers fans don't fall prey to outrage in defeat, and Bears fans don't raise a banner for victory. I have more confidence in the former than the latter.

Steve from Bloomington, IL

Flip side of the question from Ashton of Dallas, are there any current Bears players who, as a Bear, have beaten the Packers?

ATMR (WCBW)…Patrick Scales is the only one. The long snapper.

Caroline from Olympia, WA

Which kicker do we go with?

The one who puts it through those two yellow sticks the most consistently.

Vinny from Arlington, VA

Do you ever feel like the personnel staff likes to mess with you? They re-signed CB Corey Ballentine to rejoin CB Carrington Valentine in the defensive backfield. Then they drafted another Jordan to the offense with Jordan now tasked with blocking for Jordan. Both Jordans were drafted in the first round and the only offensive players drafted in a decade. Apparently, Brian Gutekunst won't select you as an offensive player if your name isn't Jordan. They had two DB Anthony Johnsons on the roster until recently...

Nobody has struggled more with Ballentine and Valentine than I have. My tongue only recently became unwound.

Mike from Ames, IA

Submitting this as a logic question, not a math question, I swear. When I saw that 750,000-ish number for draft attendance in Detroit, I assumed that was counting everyone who entered each day, which probably includes dozens of thousands of people coming to all three days. Kind of like WWE reporting 130,000-ish for two nights of Wrestlemania, even though a massive percentage came to both nights. Am I off-base with this?

Right. It's not like there are 250,000 new people coming to each day of the draft. Again, the NFL Draft in Green Bay will be different than it was in Detroit just like Detroit's was different from Kansas City. It's not about copying another city's blueprint – it's developing your own.

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