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Inbox: That’s what you look for

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Dave from Comer, GA

In Wes's II for Saturday he said "Iron sharpens iron." No, no, no. Iron dulls iron. Steel sharpens iron, carborundum stone can sharpen iron, ceramic sharpens iron, heck, even cardboard can sharpen iron if you know how to use it, but iron will dull iron every time.

I’m sorry, but “Cardboard sharpens iron” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. Good morning!

Margo from Chicago, IL

And why do we have a losing record, Wes?

Because the wins just didn’t come this season, Margo. So you dust yourself off and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Jeff from Athens, WI

In response to Peter from Eagan, MN, many people were saying Drew Brees would never be "the man" again in New Orleans and look at him this season. Never underestimate the ability and desire in a top-tier veteran QB in the NFL.

There are few absolutes in this game whether it’s individual players or teams, and what happens one season – positive or negative – doesn’t necessarily hold true the next. Just look at the Eagles and Jaguars this season, or Philip Rivers. At 37, he’s having the best statistical season of his career and is on pace for his first passer rating of more than 100 since 2013. Yes, 2018 has been a down year for the Packers and a challenging year for Aaron Rodgers, but the sun will come out in 2019.

Evan from Durango, CO

With GB eliminated, I think I’ll be rooting for the Chargers the rest of the way. Do you think Philip Rivers belongs in the HOF? I think he punches his ticket with a Super Bowl victory. But in all fairness, he belongs in either way.

I do.

Kevin from Woodbury, MN

Once the season is over (officially), I'm most interested in hearing the truth about Rodgers’ knee injury. Other than Week 1, he's been on the injury report every week, even when a full participant. Maybe I'm naive, but I'm hoping the truth will reveal an "a-ha" moment that explains his below (his) normal play this year. Beyond that, I think that the sloppy play and missed tackles that have plagued us all year can be fixed with experience and increased discipline.

Rodgers suggested he’ll talk about it once the season is over, but it’s obviously a minor miracle in my mind he’s started all 14 games. Win or lose, he left it all out on the field in 2018.

Scott from Bristol, WI

Not so much a question but an observation. Rodgers injures his knee in the first game of the season and didn't seem right this year. Missed throws he usually makes, overthrows, underthrows, missing targets and throwaways. Being one that has a knee injury, I have a different take on this year. I think that when Rodgers goes to throw at times his knee barks back at him which throws his timing off and affects the throw. I believe that this is something the offseason will remedy itself. GPG

I’m going to hold onto my thoughts about Rodgers and the possible effect of the knee injury until we know more. However, I will point out how quickly fans and media were to write off Davante Adams when he was dealing with the ankle injury in 2015. Rodgers is pretty much an open book when it comes to his performance and psyche. There are two more chapters left to be written, but I’m sure he’ll let everyone read the epilogue here.

Josh from Oshkosh, WI

I'm going to cheer for some stats now – 13 receptions for 205 yards are within reach for Adams. A less likely target is six touchdowns and zero interceptions from Rodgers. 29/2 would be a nice nugget to end the season on.

To me, Adams’ chase for the franchise record in receptions and receiving yards is the most compelling storyline of the final two weeks of the season. Adams said at the beginning of the year that last year was “only the beginning” and he’s proven it every single week.

Pete from Stoke, UK

I know the team and Rodgers want to play out the season, but isn’t time to see what we have in the backup QBs? I am not suggesting they play a whole game, but maybe start the first and third and AR plays second and fourth, or if we are well ahead in the last games bring them in to finish those games.

Rodgers knows when he should be playing and when he shouldn’t. Just look at how the Packers handled the final two games after the loss in Carolina last year. My thought is you either play your franchise quarterback or you don’t. There’s no reason to platoon. Now if the Packers want to start Rodgers these next two games and give DeShone Kizer opportunities late depending on how things are going, that’s a different story.

David from Janesville, WI

I'm not in the crowd that wants to rest Rodgers. Two games gaining more familiarity with young guys (MVS, St. Brown, Kumerow, Tonyan) would be valuable. Does that value get significantly diminished if the new staff installs an entirely new offense? Or does that chemistry transcend scheme?

Any experience is good experience, especially with Rodgers under center. I could see those reps not carrying as much currency if the Packers were set to welcome both a new coach and quarterback next year, but any snaps taken with Rodgers are valuable. The best way to get on the same page with QB1 is to play with him.

Bryan from Wauwatosa, WI

Given all the injuries and tough game situations this defense has been in all season I'm really impressed with the job Mike Pettine has done. You've mentioned new head coaches typically make wholesale changes to the staff. With the Packers' front-office reporting structure, could Murphy or Gutekunst have a voice in the matter? It would likely take a CEO-like or offensive-minded candidate for it to happen, but it seems Pettine has earned the opportunity to stay.

I have a lot of respect for the job Pettine has done given how many injuries the Packers have endured on defense. My guess is the next head coach will have full autonomy when building his staff, but that individual surely will either know or hear about the job Pettine did this past season.

Justin from Los Angeles, CA

So, looking forward, other than the budding stars/draft picks, which of the late additions that the team brought in for a cup of coffee do you think merit consideration for a longer look? Ibraheim Campbell? Tyler Lancaster? Has anyone popped for you guys from this constant churn at the bottom of the roster?

Lancaster probably tops the list. I liked him as an undrafted free agent last summer and he checks all the boxes for a nose tackle in Mike Pettine’s defense. Lancaster is strong enough to get off blocks and generate push inside, but also athletic enough to glide down the line on stretch plays.

Aaron from Watertown, WI

Wow! I agree, let’s have another offseason like 2006. I did not realize that all of those big things happened that year. It set us up for great things.

I tip my cap to Brian Gutekunst for how active he’s been in shaping the roster, but feel one of the misconceptions about Ted Thompson is he neglected to do the same during his time as GM. That couldn’t be further from the case. Yes, Thompson took a pretty firm draft-and-develop approach late in his tenure, but he shuffled the deck quite a bit during those first three years.

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers signed autographs and took pictures with members of Big Brothers Big Sisters, PALS and CASA and children diagnosed with cancer at the event Monday night.

Bruce from Arbor Vitae, WI

Trying to be as objective as I can, for next season I see this team needing to address both the offensive and defensive lines, edge rushers, tight end, perhaps a wideout, and safety. In addition, we may need to add another running back and cornerback due to injury. How can that possibly be done in one year?

Because you’re making one of the biggest mistakes people make when projecting the future – neglecting to consider the improvement of young players already on the roster. The Packers have work to do this offseason, but I don’t think it’s as drastic as you may think.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, Jake Kumerow caught a pass, JK Scott prevented a touchdown, Mason Crosby made all his kicks, and Jamaal Williams ran for some nice yards after Aaron Jones was injured.

If Crosby manages to still make 80 percent of his kicks this year despite that Lions game, it has to go down as one of the most resilient seasons for a kicker in team history.

Justin from Brookfield, CT

How about Fadol Brown? Not only did he blow up the fake punt, did you see him bust through the line and essentially force the fumble on the wildcat trick play? Two big-time plays from a little-known player. I want to see more of him.

Impressive. Not just his plays, either. It just says a lot he’s been active in both games since the Packers claimed him off waivers from the Raiders. Brown showed good natural instincts in Chicago and did a solid job filling in against the run. He has my attention.

Aumed from Moorhead, MN

Insiders, the Packers are now in a division where they face the likes of Danielle Hunter and Khalil Mack twice a season, not to mention the other significant pass rushers on those players' respective teams. While I understand many would prefer going defensive with the top 15 pick, I would favor a lineman. I think the game Sunday would favor my point. Also, just look at how much of a difference Q. Nelson has made for Andrew Luck. Absolute game-changer. Thoughts?

As long as Rodgers has been an MVP quarterback, the NFC North has been investing in pass rushers to pressure him. Are Hunter and Mack studs? Absolutely. Have the Packers dealt with stud pass rushers before? Absolutely. You guys know my stance on projecting draft picks, particularly in December. We’ll see what April brings.

Trevor from Milwaukee, WI

Will the Packers re-sign Muhammad Wilkerson? At the beginning of the year he, Daniels, and Clark were a force.

No idea. There’s a lot to be determined between now and the second week of March. However, I agree to your second point. That defensive front had everything it needed to be special. Dean Lowry’s playing time Sunday (53 of 60 snaps) speaks to how banged-up the Packers are on the line right now. It’s just a shame we didn’t get to see what those four could have accomplished together over the course of a 16-game season.

Jake from Albuquerque, NM

When was the last time the Packers failed to win a road game? Just beat the Jets for our last chance for a road win this year. The way I see the last two games, guys are playing for a roster spot next year.

It hasn’t happened since the switch to a 16-game schedule in 1978. Before then, I believe the last time it occurred was 1958. There are several young players on this roster who are hungry to prove themselves. It would be great to see the Tonyans, Lancasters, Browns and Kumerows get a chance to show they should be in the conversation for bigger roles next season.

Joe from Klamath Falls, OR

Every week I read this Insider segment and every week I "hear the same excuse." Why, as a sports writer who obviously knows football, don't you just state the obvious? You don't lose because of injuries, they lose because players don't perform at professional levels in execution of blocking, tackling and "passion," and preparation during the week. Attitude from the leaders is a key. Watch the huddle preparation and the team getting set. Snaps are made at 1-2 seconds remaining. Why? Attitude.

You sure it’s not adjustments?

David from Cable, WI

Seems like a lot of people want to follow the Jon Gruden/Oakland model and start over. I hate the idea. Is there a point where fans would prefer a rebuild and the lowered expectations it brings rather than try to win?

With all due respect to the Raiders, I don’t know if you can say with a straight face “a lot of people want to follow the Jon Gruden/Oakland model.” That’s not the vibe I’m getting on social media.

Craig from Cedar Rapids, IA

What happened to Oren Burks this year? He was the new player I was most excited to see play. Does he need to get stronger or just learn the plays better?

Since September, the one position where the Packers have stayed healthy has been inside linebacker. Burks hurt his shoulder in Oakland and missed a month, which led to the Packers trading for Antonio Morrison, who has settled in nicely to those base/nickel run packages next to Blake Martinez. Mike Pettine also has used a lot of dime packages with six defensive backs, limiting Burks’ snaps in pass nickel. Like Martinez before him, Burks just needs to remain patient. His time will come.

Matt from Waterford, WI

Wes, please note: Ketchup on a hot dog is good! Root beer can really hit the spot sometimes. Is this the reason for tempered expectations?

Absolutely on all three counts. This isn’t college football. Parity leads to unpredictability.

John from Madison, WI

I miss Jay Cutler. We always had a chance with him... :)

Dom Capers had a lot of memorable moments throughout his coaching career, but his defense was never more effective than when the Packers were playing Cutler.

Packers LB Clay Matthews, DL Mike Daniels and T David Bakhtiari signed autographs for donations to the Salvation Army Monday night in the Lambeau Field Atrium.

Dick from Four Oaks, NC

OK, so the uprights on the goal posts are going to be lasers, right? What happens when the ball hits the laser? Is it automatically no good? Sometimes, a bonk goes through. Sometimes, it doesn’t. How’s the laser to tell?

By blowing the ball to smithereens, Dick.

Brad from Quinton, VA

With the road struggles this year, I have a sick feeling our friend the schedule maker will test us early next season. I see them putting us on the road for the first two and maybe three out of the first four. Any thoughts?

None.

Jim from Lima, OH

As tough as this season has been, I'm thrilled for my friends who've lived and died, and died and died with the Browns. Those fans can tell you about frustration. My hats off to you both for recognizing the Browns’ talent and how close they were to changing directions. They're an exciting team to watch. And remember it ain’t about how hard ya hit it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!

Nicely done, Rock. Kudos to the Browns and their fan base getting a chance to taste victory again. I have quite a few friends from the Cleveland area who are relishing this year.

Ken from New York, NY

Now that the Packers have been eliminated, my current prediction for the NFC Championship is the Saints and Rams. My reasoning is that it wouldn't bother me to see those teams make it that far.

If the Saints get to stay home, watch out.

Josh from Lakeville, MN

Tough schedule being in NY on Dec. 23, but any special plans for Christmas for you guys? Favorite traditions? Hope you get some well-deserved time with family and have a Merry Christmas!

My wife and I spend Christmas Eve with my parents and Christmas Day with her family. With Christmas falling on a Tuesday (usually an off day for players), I have my fingers crossed for a half day.

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