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Inbox: That served him well

Every season is its own entity

QB Jordan Love
QB Jordan Love

Josh from Seattle, WA

Can you please help us readers and submitters by offering your perspective as II overlords on what type of questions you find no interest in answering during the offseason? It would help me a lot to know, for example, that you hate playing armchair hypothetical GM, because you are a reporter, not a fortune teller.

I hate playing armchair hypothetical GM, because I am a reporter, not a fortune teller.

Joe from Wausau, WI

The last two years the Packers have been in a must-win situation in Week 18 just to make the playoffs. The reason being long losing streaks in the middle of the season. You think there's anything in particular they need to focus on so they respond better to a loss? ML's first three years here they did respond well.

You're right, the Packers never lost back-to-back games under LaFleur until '22, and the losing streaks the last two years had a huge impact on the season. But I chalk up last year's to, at least in part, Rodgers playing with a broken thumb. This year, the overall youth and injuries at key spots (RB, LT, CB) were big factors. Just more evidence that every season is its own entity.

Steve from Plover, WI

How on god's green earth is Matt LaFleur not a top-five finalist for AP coach of the year?

Most likely because the Packers were 6-8 on an ugly two-game losing streak (or 7-8 with a shaky win over the league's worst team) at the time a lot of voters were most strongly considering their choices, and nothing in the playoffs counts. Not saying it's fair or right, but it's reality.

Mike from Ames, IA

While we're ranking playoff drama I have to ask – do the Packers have the record for most playoff overtime games? Before Anders Carlson's kick Saturday I was already thinking about this possibly being their seventh OT appearance in the last 21 years. That's not normal, right?

According to my research (which could be wrong), there have been a total of 38 NFL postseason games that have gone into overtime, and the Packers have participated in a league-high seven of them, beginning with the '65 Western Conference playoff. After Green Bay's seven, the Chiefs, Steelers and Colts (Baltimore/Indy) have five each, while the Giants, Seahawks and Oilers/Titans have four apiece.

Erik from Anchorage, AK

I'd offer Fritz Shurmur as one of the most influential assistant coaches in Packers history to pair with Tom Clements. Could we be at another pivotal hire as ML needs a new coordinator to bring the defense up another level?

Given where this offense might be headed, I think that's the only way to look at it.

Richard from Greenwich, NY

Hi Insiders, defensive scheme is one thing, but regardless of basic scheme, the ability of a DC to take away what an opponent does best would seem to be a high priority in the DC hire.

Limit is probably more realistic than take away, without compromising the rest of the unit. But bigger picture, I think the word you're looking for is adaptability.

Stephen from Menomonee Falls, WI

Mike mentioned "heading into '09 with a new defensive coordinator and two first-round draft picks on that side of the ball … " With a new DC coming in 2024, do you see a similar strategy drafting certain types of players to fit a new scheme?

Not necessarily, but we'll see. When free agency and the draft get here, I'm expecting the Packers' biggest defensive needs to be safety, depth at cornerback and edge rusher, and possibly inside linebacker. I don't know if you're drafting for scheme there so much as the best possible players for the new coordinator to incorporate.

Steve from Plover, WI

Of the free agents, who's on your list of "gotta re-sign him" players?

The top of the list for me is Keisean Nixon, because his varied skillset appears the most difficult to replace.

Dave from Germantown, TN

I just read an article that blamed Carlson's missed field goal on a poor snap which Whelan was unable to put in the right position. I know the whole kicking game is a team effort. However, are the Packers going to bring in some competition at long snapper? Didn't the Packers actually use a draft pick on a long snapper a couple of years ago?

They did, and Hunter Bradley (seventh round, 2018) lasted 3½ seasons but didn't prove to be a long-term answer. It was a poor snap on the final missed kick, but I thought Whelan did a great job getting it down. I do expect competition at long snapper.

Joshua from Philadelphia, PA

All this talk about INTs lately, mostly not fun ones, let's all take a moment to remember Raji's pick-six. What an incredible moment! I hope he's doing well.

Indeed, for all the missed INTs in the playoffs on the Packers' ledger, there's no escaping that the Super Bowl run 13 years ago featured eight (!) INTs in four postseason games – Tramon (3), Shields (2), Raji, Collins, Bush – including three TD returns.

Steve from Appleton, WI

I have been following the NFL for a long time. However, I can't recall when there have been so many good, promising young quarterbacks in the league to go along with star veterans. There is Love, Herbert, Tua, Purdy, Burrows, Allen and other youngsters. Veterans include Mahomes, Jackson, Cousins, Stafford, and a guy who used to play here. It seems that the league is flush with a lot of QB talent right now. Are college quarterbacks better prepared, or is this just a peak in the cycle?

I guess we'll find out when we see how Williams and Maye do as rookies next year. I'd add Stroud, Lawrence and Hurts to your young group, along with Prescott, Goff and maybe Mayfield to the vets. You're right, it's an impressive collection. It's not just the manufactured parity that gives so many teams a chance to win a title right now, it's the number of high-quality QBs spread across the league.

Dave from Crossville, TN

I feel Jaire Alexander was just thanking the loyal fans on his Instagram post. I'd be shocked if they traded him. From what I've read it seems like the suspension incident is now water under the bridge. Top CBs are hard to find and one off year doesn't make them expendable in my opinion. I know you both shy away from clickbait stuff which is admirable. I'd still like to hear your thoughts on it if you don't mind.

I agree it sounds like the suspension is water under the bridge, and to me the only thing "off" about Alexander's year was his health. Plus, the Packers have cap-deferred so much of the money they've already paid him it would seem financially prohibitive for him not to be on the team next season.

Theresa from Sylvania, OH

After the loss on Saturday, I heard a lot of fans discussing where this loss ranked in the realm of "terrible Packers playoff losses." Color me green and gold, but I prefer to think about which game this season was my favorite to watch and the positive memory I'll take forward. I loved (pun fully intended) that first play from scrimmage in Detroit where Jordan Love goes deep to Christian Watson. What was your favorite game or play this season?

My favorite game was definitely Thanksgiving in Detroit, for the hope and strides it represented. My favorite play was the blitz-beating TD to Wicks in Dallas.

Ryan from Bloomer, WI

Mike, you said you were going to wait to give your overall thoughts on Jordan Love's first-year performance until the conclusion of the season. While it seems pretty obvious to everybody what the answer to that is, could you officially share your press box analysis for II nation as promised? Oh, and I hope you and Wes get some well-deserved R&R time soon. You guys have earned it after this rollercoaster of a season. Cheers!

It took him a little longer to settle in than I expected, but then once progress was evident and the arrow was clearly pointing up, it skyrocketed beyond anything I envisioned. He showed during the early struggles he wasn't going to get flustered or rattled, and that served him well. What I didn't expect was the command at the line of scrimmage down the stretch and the fearlessness to make some of the throws he made.

Spyros from Athens, Greece

Methinks JL has more of a gunslinger in him that we believe; some of his throws, even the wow ones, are throws your average QB would avoid. I can't wait for next season, because I firmly (or strenuously if you prefer) believe that the way to win it all is by constantly being close.

That's how I've always felt as well. Contend consistently, and hope things fall into place while you get a few breaks one year. But you can't strenuously believe. You can only strenuously object. That's how it works.

Dennis from De Pere, WI

There was talk about comparing Jordan Love to Brett Favre. The last offensive play of the season had Favre written all over it.

Correct, and as I mentioned on our final "Unscripted," it's the play he must learn from the most and one I expect to motivate him to no end moving forward.

Tom from Rochester, NY

Gronk was on the Kay Adams show yesterday talking about Andrews maybe playing for the Ravens and having that Likely kid also at TE. Gronk said having two No. 1 type of TEs on your team and using a 12 formation is the toughest challenge for a defense. I'm thinking we will see a lot of Kraft and Musgrave on the field next year. Going be hard to get all those WRs snaps if Gronk is right. Does ML share his belief and do you see that being our staple on offense?

I do, against certain teams depending on the game plan anyways. LaFleur is very studious and intentional about attacking opponents in particular ways. I could see 12 personnel as a major part of the game plan one week and more of a minor option the next.

Bruce from Lakewood, CO

First off, thanks, Wes, for the Frost reference. Which leads me to the topic of treating persistent hamstring injuries. Is there any Packers player whose offseason treatment is more important than Christian Watson? He's such a special talent when healthy.

It sounds like there is a plan in place for a lot of testing and studying of Watson's body to get to the root of the problem. It's imperative this get resolved for him to have a career that matches his capability.

Dave from Huntsville, AL

According to my research, which could be wrong, we get the No. 9 pick in round 2 from the Jets and No. 28 in round 3 from the Bills. The fifth-to-third round swap with Buffalo moves us up about 69 spots. Hopefully there are a couple gems at the 41st and 91st picks.

Having five picks in the top 100 provides the opportunity for a significant haul of young talent and/or excessive flexibility to move around the board and maximize value.

Pete from Caledonia, MI

I invite all "I'm rooting for the Lions" warm and fuzzies to come live in Michigan. Lions fans have zero kind words for the Pack. Find one that rooted for GB, in any game, unless it directly helped Detroit…I'll wait. They are rivals for a reason.

Point taken. Division rival or playoff nemesis. Two bad choices for Packers fans.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Four teams remain. The Ravens appear to be the strongest of this group. Which among the remaining teams has the best shot at taking them down?

I'd say the Chiefs. But I'm expecting a Ravens-49ers Super Bowl, and unlike 11 years ago, when I thought the Niners were the better team and the Ravens pulled an upset, the shoe might be on the other foot this time.

Keith from Bakersfield, CA

The NFL season is down to the best of the best. We're all disappointed to not be playing Detroit in the NFCCG, but when our team surveys the cream of the NFL crop, I hope it gives them the confidence that they are right there. They beat two of the remaining teams, and only lost to SF on errors they know they can fix. Knowing you can beat the best has to be motivating, no?

I would imagine so.

Jessi from Sterling, KS

Truly, thanks for hanging in there with us as this fan base processes the 2023 highs and lows. I know it comes with the job, but appreciate that you and Wes do it with excellence, grace, and honesty. What will this first weekend without Packer football hold for you?

I'm gonna catch the Badgers basketball game tonight with some co-workers, the Bucks game Saturday night with my son, and then settle in Sunday to watch football. I'll be opening the laptop at some point Sunday night to write Monday morning's column, so send in your thoughts and observations on the conference title games.

Mike from Cascade, ID

Hi II, at the end of the 2022 season, I watched Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb walking to the locker room with their arms around each other. I had a horrible feeling that we were watching the end of an era, coupled with a very uncertain future. At the end of the game on Saturday, I had the opposite view.

Happy Friday.

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