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Inbox: That's why we're all here

That final stretch will define the Packers’ season

QB Aaron Rodgers
QB Aaron Rodgers

Kent from Homosassa, FL

Could you please educate your readers as to when and to whom within the Packer administration the Packers' schedule is revealed by the NFL? How is it communicated internally? When does it reach your Inbox? Thanks for your good work.

Roger calls Spoff, who runs to the top of the south end zone and puts out his bat signal that only certain members of the Packers organization can interpret. Good morning!

John from Los Angeles, CA

If you're the Packers, you must be pretty happy with this schedule, right? No road trips longer than two weeks, two of the three short weeks are home games, and only one coast-to-coast trip. Chiefs, Chargers, Panthers seem to be the only scary stretch!

This is one of the more favorable schedules I can remember the Packers having during my time on the beat. The biggest thing is that Week 11 bye. That's a welcome first. They also get a chance to build some momentum at home early in the season. The 56-day stretch with only one home game and the back-to-back road division games to end the season will be a challenge.

Jeff from Brooklyn, WI

Five out of eight home games in the first half really doesn't help a cold-weather team. This is usually the Packers' advantage having cold home games late in the season, so how do you like the schedule?

True, but Rodgers typically plays well in domes and has a good track record in San Francisco. For the Packers diehards, they still get two December games at home and another cold-weather contest in New York. The only real oddity is the back-to-back dome games to close the regular season. That's new.

Alyssa from Plover WI

It seems a bit rough to have three division games to end the season. What are your thoughts?

As Spoff astutely surmised in **his analysis Wednesday evening**, that final stretch of NFC North games will define the Packers' season. That's the pathway to a division title and the playoffs. It'll be important for the Packers to hold serve at home against Chicago in Week 15 and finally get that "W" at U.S. Bank Stadium the following week. It won't be easy, but it can be done.

Zak from Huntington Beach, CA

The first thing that jumped out at me about the schedule is having two Thursday games and two Monday games, with the schedule gods smiling upon us by not having to even change time zones on a short week. So we have that going for us, which is nice.

It's unprecedented having two Thursday night games in the first four weeks, but I kind of like it. Everyone loves playing in the opener, and knocking out the Thursday night game in Week 4 isn't a bad thing, especially coming off a home game.

Jim from Prairie du Chien, WI

Five night games this year. That speaks volumes for the REAL America's team. Have the Packers ever had that many in a season? Has any team had more than five scheduled in a season?

The Packers have had five prime-time games more often than not during my time on the beat. It's the perfect recipe for networks – one of the country's most popular teams and one of the best QBs to ever lace 'em up. Teams could be asked to play more than five night games if they either play in the NFL opener or get flexed in Week 17.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Consider for a moment the various "seasons" within a year. We all know about the preseason, the regular season, and the postseason. But then we have the seasons of free agency followed by the draft, then OTAs and training camp. As a writer covering the team, which of these are the most exciting?

Postseason. That's why we're all here. It doesn't get any better than walking into an NFL stadium for a playoff game. It's not Game 1 of a seven-game series or a best-two-out-of-three tournament – it's win or go home. The stakes couldn't possibly be higher, which is why I feel the NFL and NCAA basketball have the best postseasons. Drama at its finest.

Mitch from Bettendorf, IA

October 27th! Prime-time game at KC! Who's coming with me, man!?

Rodgers. Mahomes. Get your popcorn ready, people.

John from Milwaukee, WI

Hey guys, excited to see the schedule drop. One thing I immediately noticed was the rematch against the 49ers. Do you think the schedulers were happy to get to have another crack at Jimmy Garoppolo against Aaron Rodgers? I was sad to miss that matchup last season.

It's going to be a fun game. Garappolo is an exciting player, but the matchup I'm most looking forward to is Matt LaFleur matching wits with Kyle Shanahan and one of LaFleur's best friends, Robert Saleh, who is the 49ers' defensive coordinator.

Justin from Ivins, UT

I was relieved to see we had a later bye this year. Unsure why but I've always assumed that was better. Any correlation to past Super Bowl champs having an early vs. a late bye week?

I asked myself the same question after seeing the Packers finally received a Week 11 bye and looked back at a few of the recent Super Bowl champions. The 2013 Seahawks had a Week 12 bye, the 2014 Patriots had a Week 10 bye, the 2015 Broncos had their bye in Week 7, the 2016 Patriots had a Week 9 bye, the 2017 Eagles had a Week 10 bye and the 2018 Patriots had a Week 11 bye. The Packers also had a Week 10 bye when they won their last Super Bowl, so make of that what you will. It does appear somewhat favorable.

Dennis from Peoria Heights, IL

I personally love the Week 11 bye. I'm sure there will be injuries and that seems like the perfect week to get healthy before a strong last-quarter push for the playoffs. Go Pack Go!

I personally was pulling for a Week 7 bye. I have tickets to "Hamilton" on the day of the Raiders game. I guess my wife and mother-in-law will be enjoying that one without me.

Lynn from Somers, WI

That Pac-man video had me laughing hysterically! Kudos to whoever came up with that idea and made it happen. Make it the website's homepage for a while, like a Google doodle. Focusing on the schedule itself, I know what I, as a fan, focused on. And I heard the two of you celebrate the lack of a Thanksgiving game. But from a coach's perspective, what do you think LaFleur is noticing? Might he already be planning how to manage practices during the tough weeks or adjust the team's travel schedule?

I'm not going to speak for LaFleur, but first-year head coach Wes Hodkiewicz would be staring at those first two months. You don't get five swings at the bat at your own place very often. That's a crucial slate of games. You know what they say – make hay while the sky ain't snowing…or something.

Steve from Green Bay, WI

With the Packers adding talent in FA and the upcoming draft it is an exciting time of the year. If the four recent FA signings were put into the 2019 draft and knowing what type of players they are, what round do each of them get drafted in next week ?

They'd probably all be first- or second-round picks. The funny thing about re-drafts is 256-player classes are never as deep as you might think.

Bob from Racine, WI

In the period for which you've been writing for the Pack, do you recall any player drafted by any team who refused to go to that team? What would be the ramifications for the player and the team if such an event happened?

It's happened a few times. There was John Elway and Jim Kelly in 1983, and Bo Jackson in 1986. But the most recent example I could think of was Eli Manning in 2004. The Chargers had some tough negotiations with Joey Bosa, but he eventually signed and reported.

Craig from Milwaukee, WI

What are your thoughts on if the Packers will trade up or down in the draft?

As I've said all along, I'm cool with Brian Gutekunst moving up if there's a player he cannot live without. At the same time, I'm more interested in how things look when No. 12 goes on the clock. I still think two QBs come off the board before then and a top 10 talent falls into the Packers' lap.

Ron from Kimberly, WI

Do college coaches contact a team (or teams) about a player they think might be getting overlooked in the draft process?

Without question. It's a scout's job to cultivate those relationships and find diamonds in the rough. The Packers didn't sign Tim Boyle last year because of his passer rating. They brought him in because of his talent.

Joe from Liberty Township, OH

Lots of angst over the Packers hosting Drew Lock but I see it as due diligence. If he's truly the BAP when the Packers pick at either No. 12 or 30, it's a big risk to pass on him. Just ask Cowboys fans about passing on a QB the front office viewed as BAP when their pick came up in the third round in 1979. They still had 37-year-old Roger Staubach, Danny White, and Glenn Carano. So they passed on the QB for TE Doug Cobie. Six picks later, the 49ers drafted Joe Montana.

There's a big, big difference, though, between taking a QB in the third round as opposed to using one of your two first-rounders on one. Gutekunst is performing his due diligence. We'll see where the draft takes us, but I'm keeping this in the "baloney" drawer until proven otherwise.

Bob from Cortez, CO

When will "Four Things" start?

We're going to stick to the "Three Things" format for the time being, with Spoff and me platooning with Larry and John. Larry, John and I shot **a video after the schedule was announced last night**. The cast will be a bit more fluid in the future, but the goal right now is to get John in the mix.

Jon from Collinsville, IL

Can John Kuhn PLEASE respond to questions in the Insider Inbox? Responding to questions at least once a week would be OK as a start.

You'll hear no complaints from me.

Mark from Sturgeon Bay, WI

Regarding cap space avail and extending contracts for vets, how much space does a team keep in order to sign replacements for injuries? Also, isn't there a point where someone on the final 53 at the start of the season has his salary guaranteed, giving the team less flexibility in staying under the cap?

Most teams in good standing keep around $7-8 million available. That keeps most teams above that 90-percent minimum rule over a three-year period. There's also flexibility to carry cap space over if nothing develops.

David from Janesville, WI

I don't recall what your best hit rate was with Prospect Primer candidates the Packers have drafted, but if you could pick up the pace and spit out another 300 or so by next Thursday I think you can beat it.

Now, that wouldn't be nearly as fun. But it is pretty cool looking back and seeing a Primer on a guy like Davante Adams who went on to become a two-time Pro Bowler.

David from Mexico

What would you think if our GM decided to trade the 12th and 30th pick with maybe the Cardinals for the first pick or the 49ers for the second pick and selected Nick Bosa? Is he really a once-in-a-lifetime talent? Maybe a future leader on the team? Love for everyone!

I think that would be a really, really good trade for the Packers and a really, really bad trade for the Cards or 49ers. I'm sure Jake Kumerow would approve, though.

Steve from Middletown, KY

To follow up the question on GMs selecting player/position in a pattern, I remember the Lions more than a few years ago trying their best to find a WR. Seems like they took at least three receivers for three straight years that were all 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds. My son in law is from Bay City and a big Lions guy. Every time I mention this when the Lions are on the clock, that they should take a WR, he still gets a little agitated. Do you remember this?

You raise a good question: would it be worth it striking out on Charles Rogers, Roy Williams and Mike Williams if it meant eventually landing Calvin Johnson?

Eric from Goodhue, MN

The Vikings are in a horrible cap position and it has been reported about some of their players taking pay cuts to stay with the team. How does the NFLPA react to these sorts of things happening? From the union perspective, wouldn't you advise the players to take a chance on the open market and enhance their earning potential in order to continually increase the earnings of all players?

There are ways to make these contracts worthwhile, but it obviously isn't great. High-profile players often feel they have a responsibility to get the most out of negotiations. It's why you'll notice David Bakhtiari congratulating every offensive lineman who signs a record-setting deal. A rising tide lifts all ships.

Danny from Torrance, CA

When getting ready for draft day, I just kick back and watch who the Packers pick. I've been around the block too many times to get all excited and worried like a lot of folks do. I know you're keeping track of everything, but do you get a chance to digest what is going on during the draft or do you get all wound up in the proceedings?

There is no time to get wrapped up in what's going on other than keeping tabs on who has come off the board. Whatever free time I have is spent wiping mayo off sandwiches in media dining.

Ty from Rock Island, IL

A buddy and I were talking the other day about how much a draft lottery (like the NBA) would affect the NFL. Not saying I'm a fan of it, but it's interesting to think about, and what could happen year to year.

I think the lottery works well for the NBA because rosters are smaller and there's a pretty substantial drop-off in talent by the time the 14th pick rolls around. That's not the case in the NFL. Rosters are larger and there are more positions to choose from. There also isn't always a consensus No. 1 or even top five for that matter.

Barb from Salt Lake City, UT

Love the column; first-time question. To get my football fix around draft time, I watch "Draft Day" with Kevin Costner. On a scale of one to 10, how realistic is it (let's assume 10 as on-the-money realistic)?

Minus-2. It would be minus-3 if not for the pushy owner bringing some semblance of reality to the film.

Chuck from Sun Prairie, WI

Do you feel like Insiders has lived the same day over and over again? How happy will you be when Groundhog Day ends on April 25?

Watch out for that first pick, it's a doozy.