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Inbox: The ceiling is high for what this team can accomplish

John Madden was one of the true pillars of the NFL

T Yosh Nijman celebrates with teammates during the Week 16 matchup vs. Browns
T Yosh Nijman celebrates with teammates during the Week 16 matchup vs. Browns

Jamie from Manchester, United Kingdom

Did the quick Black Fox jump over the lazy Dog?

As much as readers come to this column for some insight on the team, there isn't an Inbox that goes by that I don't learn something myself.

Jeff from Belton, TX

Is there any word yet on if anyone will be coming back to get game action before the playoffs? Like David Bakhtiari, Jaire Alexander, Za'Darius Smith and others who are injured?

Yes, and we're purposely keeping it from you because Spoff and I enjoy getting besieged by that same question over…and over…and over…and over…and over…and…

Bruce from Appleton, WI

How would you rank Aaron Rodgers this year for MVP?

Top two, not two.

Krista from Garrettsville, OH

In response to Steven from Messel, Germany, according to ESPN it took Brett Favre 255 games (253 starts) to reach 442 touchdown passes. It took Aaron Rodgers 211 games (204 starts) to reach the same milestone.

Like I was saying…top two, not two.

Patrick from Murfreesboro, TN

John Madden's broadcasting career was unparalleled, and his coaching career was legendary. Head coach at age 32, highest winning percentage ever (among those with at least 100 wins), seven AFC Championship Game appearances (including five consecutive) in eight playoff seasons, and of course, winning Super Bowl XI. Setbacks fueled his appreciation of high points. Through it all his passion for the game was contagious, and his love for the people in it was both heartwarming and inspiring. Your favorite memories?

This one is emotional for me because I was fortunate enough to be part of the generation who knew Madden both as a commentator and brand ambassador for one of the most recognizable video-game franchises ever. I still have vivid memories of Pat Summerall and John Madden calling Super Bowl XXXI but some of my favorite memories as a child are of playing "Madden." When you're 9 years old, there's just nothing cooler than having John Madden call your game. I view him as one of the true pillars of the NFL. He was a Hall of Fame head coach but his lifelong promotion of the NFL went a long way to growing the sport's popularity.

Steve from Marinette, WI

What a truly unique person and personality John Madden was! He had a rare ability to really understand the game, and also be able to explain it in layman's terms. His fanbase ranged in age from kids playing Madden to viewers of all ages. John also added humor to his telecasts. And who could forget the Madden bus, or the turducken! We will miss this legend.

I didn't know what Turducken was until Madden opened my eyes to its magnificence.

Julian from Gastonia, NC

Most of the premier Packer players that are not able to play are down because of injuries rather than COVID. Of course, all teams have injuries, but this year the Packers have been hit particularly hard as we know. Ironically, it may be COVID outbreaks on our opponents that will actually leaven the Packers' chances as the team attempts to secure a Super Bowl. This is probably the most unpredictable NFL season, perhaps since WWII. From week to week, we just don't know until kickoff.

That was never truer than in the lead-up to last week's game where I think there were three separate news releases on players who were being added to the reserve/COVID-19 list. This year's Super Bowl could very well be decided by adaptability. Fortunately for the Packers, they're well-schooled in it.

Jeffrey from Taylors, SC

Not worried about it, but the reality has to be considered. How do the Packers keep Rasul Douglas and De'Vondre Campbell next year? I bet the salary cap people are considering it.

Douglas and Campbell have earned solid pay days for how they've performed this year, but I don't want to get into all this until after the season. What I will say is the decisions begin with No. 12 and No. 17. The Packers have to figure out those two pieces to a very complicated offseason puzzle and build out the roster from there.

Tom from Emerado, ND

We are into Day 1 with the temperatures below zero (minus-27 last night). We will not see above zero until Sunday. Would the league postpone a game if outdoors it was minus-27 degrees? Player safety?

It would take a lot to change/move a game, but the league might need to consider it if it were minus-27 Fahrenheit.

Mark from Seattle, WA

Hi, is Dalvin Cook one of the best three running backs in the league?

When healthy, absolutely.

Steven from Sauk Rapids, MN

Regardless of what the outcomes are for the early games on Sunday there is only one outcome needed from the Packers. A victory keeps them in the driver's seat for the top seed and all but buries the playoff hopes of the Vikings. Keeping them out should be motivation enough, that's not a team I would want to face again in the playoffs. They have shown all year they can play with anyone and a play here or there and their record is completely different. Just beat the Vikings.

Leaguewide, the only game that should matter to the Packers takes place Sunday night at Lambeau Field. You swept the vaunted NFC West. You swept the AFC North. The only thing standing between the Packers and the No. 1 seed in the playoffs is their own division rivals. Every playoff run starts with taking care of business in the NFC North.

Bill from Raleigh, NC

Hi II, Nathan from Philadelphia said old-school coaches learned "defense wins championships." It's still true. The 2007 Patriots scored more than 130 points beyond all other teams on way to a 16-0 regular season. The end result was no ring. We lost the NFCCG last year, in part, because our OL pass protection couldn't hold off the Tampa DL. Our defense is going to write the final 2021 story, just like it has during the regular season.

I think the Packers' playoff history in the Rodgers era would reflect that, as well. The ceiling is high for what this team can accomplish and it has a well-built defense that can help it get there if it cleans up a few loose ends over the next couple weeks.

Bill from Clive, IA

Greetings, II! Yosh Nijman has filled in so well for Bak, it makes me wonder...can you see him getting cross-trained at right tackle as well as left, in order to be able to start at either, depending on injuries and offseason roster moves?

Mayhap. To this point, Adam Stenavich has preferred to just train Yosh Nijman at left tackle but maybe the coaching staff will opt to put more on his plate next year with a half season of starts under his belt. The main thing is Nijman is under contract for next year.

Bob from Cortez , CO

With two games left in the season, will we see teams releasing players that could add to our roster? If so, are they on this year's cap?

Doubtful. The only thing to keep an eye on is which practice-squad veterans are not signed by their current team to futures deals. That's how the Packers were able to sign Jared Veldheer and Tramon Williams last year. To the best of my knowledge, I don't think the NFL closed that loophole.

Eric from Mequon, WI

Besides wins, what do you want to see out of this team as they ramp up for the playoffs? What can they do over the next two weeks for the Insiders to feel like we're ready to win that trophy?

Nah, that's you guys. I don't care about style points. Aaron Jones could rush for 300 yards Sunday. What does that have to do with playing Tampa Bay in January? You ask what gives me confidence this team can win a trophy? They've won 12 of their first 15 despite not having a Hall of Fame left tackle and their two best defensive players.

Joe from Ormond Beach, FL

In most years, having a bye is beneficial if you're playing well. Since the Packers are having challenges in several areas, and definitely not hot, maybe it would be beneficial getting the second seed and building momentum. Thoughts?

Definitely not hot? They've won four games in a row. Doubtless there is no scenario in which a first-round bye wouldn't benefit this team. If the week of rest isn't enough to entice you, then Aaron Rodgers' toe should do the trick. The guy could very well be the NFL MVP for the second year in a row.

Matt from Kolesin, Poland

Hi! On Wednesday Mike wrote: "…following close wins over Philly, Detroit and Carolina" – we won those by: 14, 7, 8 points. Yeah, we felt like we underperformed then, but if those were close games how should we call the last ones? Two last games of 2020 season were very good. We were sure we approached playoffs in good, if not optimal, shape. I hope we get these vibes against Vikings and Lions.

Maybe I'm looking at the glass half full, but my two cents are the recent close wins should put some fire in the Packers' bellies. If style points really are necessary, these next two opponents should provide that "momentum" Joe seeks.

Dan from Edgerton, WI

Are Aaron and Davante Adams the Godfathers of the back-shoulder throw? It wasn't too long ago it was called a poorly thrown ball the receiver came back and caught.

If we're throwing out the term "Godfather," then I think it has to be Rodgers and Jordy Nelson. Those two perfected it when Adams was still a young player. So, maybe they're the "Godfather II"? The sequel that was even better than the first Academy Award winner.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, a number of very good Packers receivers have gone to other teams and not distinguished themselves. Would "17" be successful with a quarterback other than "12"?

Without question. Adams has had big games without Rodgers during his career. When paired with the right QB, Adams would put up monster numbers in most NFL cities.

Bill from Urbana, IL

Thanks guys for all your help and sharing your knowledge. My question is do we have a backup punter? If so, who is it? We've been up to some very, very cold games so we understand what the weather will be like this weekend. So, stay warm.

Mason Crosby filled in when JK Scott tweaked his leg during the preseason, but the Packers will have a more concrete plan for Sunday. Corey Bojorquez reportedly could be cleared in time, too. It's something to monitor this week.

The Green Bay Packers held practice on Clarke Hinkle Field on Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021.

Gary from Davenport, IA

One thing struck me after seeing the photo of John Madden being carried off the field after the Raiders won the Super Bowl. It was daylight. Do you recall seeing a Super Bowl that ended or even began during the daylight hours, Wes?

Not in my lifetime. The shift to evening hours began in the late '70s. The closest I remember there being some sun was Super Bowl XXX at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.

Andy from Kalamazoo, MI

Dear Insiders, Rasul Douglas and Kevin King both grab a receiver's jersey on third-and-long, on what looks to be the same route, same part of the field, roughly same time of the game, on a game-deciding drive. King gets flagged and Tampa goes to the SB; Douglas doesn't and the Pack stays on track for homefield advantage. What does that say to you about success in this league?

All jersey tugs are not created equal. While King's grab was more noticeable, there was a significant difference in how both games were officiated. Clete Blakeman's crew lost control of the NFC title game. I'll go to the retirement home saying that. Whatever you think of how Sunday's game ended, Alex Kemp and his team were consistent.

Ray from Phoenix, AZ

If we go get a player for the return game from the practice squad of another team, do the Packers negotiate a new contract with that player? Is the other team compensated at all?

If you sign a player off another team's practice squad, that player is guaranteed three weeks of active-roster salary. If a team cuts the player within three games, the previous team can reclaim their rights. At least, that's how it used to work.

Rob from Knoxville , TN

Since you don't go to away games, is there a stadium that you miss and is there one where you are glad you don't have to visit. Thanks and Go Pack Go!

There are so many. AT&T Stadium and Mercedes-Benz in Atlanta are true architectural marvels. I hated not being able to go to NRG last year, which is the only longstanding NFL stadium I haven't been to yet. I'm totally fine if I never go to FedEx Field again, though.

Dennis from Beavercreek, OH

Just an observation here. I read that the NFL warned Brady for throwing his tablet. I have never seen any warnings coming from the NFL about players throwing their helmets. I would think the helmet is more important than the tablet. Your thoughts and Happy New Year.

They warned him about throwing the tablet? Like they strenuously object to it? Seriously, what are they gonna do? Take away his screen time?

Sue from Tomah, WI

In the opening sequence of Wednesday's Remix: Week 16, who is wearing the Grinch cleats? I love them! GPG Beat the Vikings!

Marcedes Lewis. He borrowed them from Spoff.

Dar from Mansfield, TX

Wes, it's your final published Inbox before 2022. Do you have any New Year's resolutions? If there's anything (or, perhaps, three things?) you're trying to target in the year ahead, I thought we Inboxers might be able to help with accountability.

Use all my PTO this year.