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Inbox: That's worth monitoring

The current state of the position doesn’t even compare


Joseph from Salt Lake City, UT

Favorite piece of little known Packers trivia. Go!

In what stadium did the Packers play their first NFL postseason game? I'll put the answer later in the column.

Jim from Fairview Heights, IL

With the Redskins having that devastating running game, is this the week we go heavy in the box and finally get an extended look at Oren Burks? I would love to see nothing more than us stopping the running game and making that rookie QB try to beat us!

The Packers' best inside linebacker duo against the run is Blake Martinez and B.J. Goodson. The more interesting question is how Pettine wants to play up front on run downs. Do the Packers go true base with three down linemen and two outside 'backers, and if so, how often? That's worth monitoring.

Drew from Rogers City, MI

I feel for Ron Rivera. After going through a very similar situation last season in Green Bay, I feel like well-respected, successful, Super Bowl-appearing coaches should be given the courtesy of finishing their season. I feel their organizations owe them I wrong?

If the organization has made the decision, it's better for both parties to move on. The team can get a jump on the search process without doing so behind someone's back, and the coach gets his breather to prepare for other interviews if he wants to coach again right away. It's a cruel part of the business, but the "courteous" way you prefer helps no one.

Vince from Puyallup, WA

Historically it seems that the teams who begin to peak during the last quarter of the regular season are able to ride that momentum through the playoffs. The Packers were a great example of that during their Super Bowl run back in 2010, even as a wild card team. What teams do you currently see either hitting their peak or on the verge of their peak and being able to use that towards a strong push in the playoffs?

Ask me again on Dec. 24.

Jean from St. Louis, MO

I bought tickets to potentially my first game at Lambeau! I say "potentially" because they are playoff tickets. When I told my family I had purchased them, the phrase that came to mind was "optimism, not expectations" for a home playoff game. After hearing it throughout the course of the preseason, it's safe to say expectations have increased since then. How do you think optimism and expectations will continue to change over the last quarter of the season?

See above.

Jeff from Hagerstown, MD

Nice of the Redskins and Bears to get their acts together right before we play them, right? And to top it off, the Bears get some extra prep time as well. Sigh...

It's always about when you play 'em, isn't it? Trubisky's running the ball again and that defense might be getting Akiem Hicks back. The Bears are determined to fight.

Shane from Caledonia, IL

Cowboys win is feeling less impressive and Bears game is feeling little tougher. Buckle up, gonna be interesting!

Dallas is just a mess right now. Again, when you play 'em. Two straight Thursday games followed similar scripts. Great opening drive, then the offense falls flat while the defense jumps offside on third downs and the kicker misses field goals and/or hits kickoffs out of bounds. Not a good recipe. The NFC East looks like a race to seven wins.

Andrew from Edgewood, IA

4,800 Newtons of force is a lot. But it's nothing compared to 1.21 jigawatts.

Now that's my kind of science.

Mike from St. Louis, MO

I was very surprised to see No. 66 missing from the NFL 100 All-Time Team.

There are 326 individuals enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Take out coaches and other contributors, and factor in current players or recent retirees who could make the list, and there are far more Hall of Famers who won't be on that team than who will be on it.

Nik from Powdersville, SC

Just a southern observation...five seconds into the Lambeau snow shoveling video, there is a dude wearing shorts while shoveling. This guy deserves a beer. Mark that down as something that will never be seen in the South.

He probably downed at least one before he grabbed the shovel. Up here that's called liquid insulation.

Scott from Hayward, WI

I wonder if a Lambeau Field volunteer shoveler were to fall and get injured (wink wink), would they be taken into the Packers training room for first aid treatment, or slid down the long slide, carted out, and dumped in the parking lot only to hear, "Next man up"?

Either way, it gets listed on the injury report as "limited participation."

Ben from Dallas, TX

What do y'all think about people calling for Kevin King to be cut? I understand he's had his moments where he has gotten beat this year...that being said I think the fact he is in the top 10 for the entire league in both pass breakups and interceptions is a pretty good sign. Talented young corner who is exactly that, young. Given his injuries, he might have some growing pains but is still a lot better than what we have had in recent years. Maybe people will never get over T.J. Watt. Thoughts?

I won't argue the Watt frustration. There's enough evidence now, the emotions over the missed opportunity are justified. But I said it Monday and I'll say it again – King is living the life of an NFL corner. He's finally playing regularly, so he should be better for it in the long run. The Packers' No. 1 boundary corner in their last postseason game was LaDarius Gunter, an admirable fighter who gave everything he had, but he played only five more games in the NFL after the NFC title game in Atlanta. The Packers' current state at the position doesn't even compare.

Blake from Longwood, FL

Am I crazy to think Za'Darius Smith  should be in consideration for Defensive Player of the Year? I think you have to look past the sacks with him and how he impacts the game. It seems to me he is hurrying the QB on every pass play and is consistently making plays in the backfield and chasing down RBs sideline to sideline. He is undoubtedly the best player on the Packers' defense in my opinion and I think he is worthy to be in consideration for Defensive Player of the Year.

I don't think you're crazy, but it doesn't help Smith's chances that the Packers don't have one of the top defenses in the league overall. New England's Stephon Gilmore and San Francisco's Nick Bosa are much more highly touted candidates, and deservedly so, but also partly due to the defenses on which they play. That's just how it is. If Z keeps doing what he's doing and Green Bay's defense rediscovers its September form down the stretch, then we're having a different conversation.

Zachary from Pulaski, WI

I love the "Packers Unscripted" podcast. Although, compared to other football/sorts podcast, it's really short. I was wondering why episodes are only 20-25 minutes, rather than 30-60?

Well, it started as a half-hour local cable TV show, meaning 22 minutes on air. So we've stayed around that length. We also have a lot of other work to do every day.

Tom from La Crosse, WI

I used to be a Mason Crosby critic until he kicked two 50-yard FGs to win a playoff game in Dallas years back. How many GWFGs has Mason had since then compared to how many missed?

I went back through Crosby's entire career to find all the opportunities that would fall under last-minute/second game-tying, go-ahead, or game-winning field goals. I won't guarantee I didn't overlook one, but I have him for 11 makes and seven misses, with one of the misses being blocked. The makes were: '07 v. Philadelphia, '11 at Giants, '13 v. Minnesota (2), '14 playoffs at Seattle, '16 at Chicago, '16 playoffs at Dallas (2), '17 v. Cincinnati, '18 vs. San Francisco, '19 vs. Detroit. The misses were: '08 at Minnesota, '08 at Chicago (blocked), '10 at Washington, '12 at Indianapolis, '15 vs. Detroit, '18 vs. Minnesota, '18 vs. Arizona.

Brady from Eagle River, AK

Three of the four remaining regular-season games start at 9 a.m. here. That's rough.

Sorry, but I'm not complaining.

Kevin from Jacksonville, NC

So, Aaron Rodgers just recently said that he sees the 18th hole and is about to make a turn...or something to that effect. Has he said anything to you all about possible retirement coming up in the near future? If so, how do the Packers plan to get someone into the position and groom them and get Rodgers to mentor?

Rodgers is under contract for four more seasons after this one, and I believe he has every intention of playing out that contract, at a minimum. I've maintained all along it doesn't make sense to invest the draft pick necessary to find the successor until you're at a point where that successor will actually be playing on his first contract (in Year 3 or 4), not still sitting. That will allow you to make an informed decision about the second contract, not a wild guess as to whether or not he really is the next guy.

Bill from Negaunee, MI

With all the talk of the Packers ST returners and the dismal ranking, why doesn't the blocking get more criticism? If they block correctly (number in front of jersey, not back) and hold the block, the returner would have a chance of a nice return. The returner can only gain if the tackles are accounted for. Block and you succeed.

The change at returner does not exonerate the blocking. The Packers saw an opportunity to upgrade at return man and took it, but that wasn't a concession the blocking is fine. On punts, one gunner shouldn't be able to beat two jammers as regularly as it's happened.

Jim from Woodbury, MN

Do you think the Packers will finish with positive punt return yardage? That's one of the oddest stats I've ever come across.

All it's going to take is one decent return to change the stats and the outlook.

Sean from Vancouver, WA

My girlfriend and I are attending the game on Dec 15. I was planning on proposing, but Lambeau doesn't seem to offer anything special for that. Any ideas on where I can do it? I haven't been to Green Bay in 12 years.

Oh, wow. The stadium tour will take you right down the tunnel to the edge of the field, so if you're OK making a public spectacle of it in front of a whole tour group, that's an option. Or you could go to the top of the sledding hill across the street with Lambeau in the background. I wouldn't suggest hiding the ring in a bowl of Kroll's chili, though. I've heard bad stories. Good luck.

Brian from New Port Richey, FL

At the beginning of the year, Coach LaFleur stressed a quicker tempo and a rhythm to the offense. Yet we seem to struggle in that regard. Is it because LaFleur lost the battle to Rodgers, or are they just not accomplishing what they set out to do?

LaFleur talked about this last week, that some of his play calls are too verbose. I also think he's still getting accustomed to working with a quarterback who studies the defense at the line of scrimmage as much as Rodgers does. He mentioned the tempo issue being a top priority for offseason study, but there isn't time for a major overhaul to the process now.

Miranda from Rochester, NY

You guys should publish a monthly updated banned list to see if we're on it, therefore we know if submitting anything is futile.

Uncertainty has its charms.

Paul from Ellensburg, WA

Hey fellas, obvious question time. How long does it typically take a punt/kick returner to adapt to a new system? Can they just jump right in or does it take a few weeks?

Returners with experience have seen almost any blocking scheme because there aren't that many. They get a feel for looking through a different-colored facemask and seeing different-colored jerseys on their side, and the rest is instinct.

Tony from Southington, CT

Two OLB with 10-plus sacks, two CB in top 10 in passes defended, MLB that leads the league in tackles. So how can we be in the bottom third of the league in every major statistical category?

Big plays allowed. This defense has been gashed for a big play far too often, and because of that, opponents game plan to take their shots.

Paul from Rockford, IL

What is the No. 1 thing our D needs to do in order to be playoff-ready?

Reduce the problem above if at all possible.

Steve from Wauseon, OH

Will Ana still be an intern after the Big Ten title game?

I couldn't tell you. We haven't spoken for over a month.

Jason from Austin, TX

This last quarter of the season has the potential to have intense playoff scenarios. There's a chance an 11-5 team misses the playoffs, but a 7-9 team wins their division and gets a home game. Crazy.

Indeed, but with four games left, I'd expect nothing less. As each week passes, the various possibilities will diminish greatly.

Chase from Fort Leonard Wood, MO

I know, I know, go 1-0 each week, but I can't help but playing with ESPN's playoff machine. Best I can tell if SF beats NO this week, we control our own destiny to the No. 2 seed. Am I missing something?

Nope. Just beat the Redskins.

Brian from Chiba, Japan

If the Rams can manage to win out despite their impossibly difficult remaining schedule, it appears a Packers win in Week 16 would knock the Vikings out of the wild-card spot. It's an unlikely scenario but still fun to think about.

Again, just beat the Redskins, the Boston version of which the Packers beat in their first postseason contest, the 1936 NFL title game, at the Polo Grounds in New York.

Dylan from Belgrade, MT

In response to teams getting a bye, the last non top-two seed to make the Super Bowl was the 2012 Ravens.

And they needed a miracle 70-yard touchdown pass in the last half-minute just to get the divisional-round game to OT. It's gone in cycles or spurts since the current playoff format was instituted in 1990. From 1990-98, only two of 18 Super Bowl participants did not have a first-round bye. From 2005-12, seven of 16 didn't. Huge change. Since the '12 Ravens, it has swung back the other way.

Josh from Fargo, ND

Everyone is talking about the importance of a No. 1 or No. 2 seed. So I did some digging. In the past 30 years, the No. 1 or No. 2 seed from either the AFC or NFC makes the Super Bowl 78% of the time (47/60) … and the winner has been a No. 1 or No. 2 seed 70% of the time (21/30). With that, I look forward to the Path to the Playoffs so I know who to cheer for.

Whom. Happy Friday.