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Inbox: The cumulative effect should be an ineffective performance

It’s all part of the game within the game

LBs Krys Barnes, Rashan Gary and DL Kenny Clark
LBs Krys Barnes, Rashan Gary and DL Kenny Clark

Randy from Ooltewah, TN

Good morning, II. A Dead-Zone reminder, while we were disappointed to not win a playoff game (or 2 or 3) last year, our last play-off win was 529 days ago. For the Vikings, it's 906 days, the Bears won one 4,182 days ago, and the Lions hold the longest drought in the NFL at 11,133 days and counting. Was our beloved Wes even alive then?

In January of 1992? Yes he was, but I don't think he'd been out of diapers long.

Alex from Kitchener, Canada

Hi Mike/Wes, hope the dead zone is treating you well! My question is about the actual payment schedules for players, if you are privy to that info. Are the players paid only during the regular season, or do they get a paycheck every week/two weeks like the rest of us? For the veterans who have made quite a lot already I'm sure it doesn't matter, but for rookies or players just entering the league I would think it could be hard to adjust to no income for over half the year. Thanks for all you do!

For a long, long time, players were paid their entire salary in 17 weekly installments during the regular season. The only pay they received in the offseason were for bonuses, incentives, stipends, etc. The latest CBA that took effect last season stretched out the salary payments over twice as long a period, so now players get roughly half their salary during the season and half outside the regular season.

Eric from Manitowoc, WI

Following up on the question from Mike in San Antonio...most visiting teams (all of them?) stay at the same hotel in Appleton. Are there other cities that have a single hotel or resort that most teams use year in and year out, or is our area different due to the smaller size? Do the Packers use the same hotel year after year in most places?

This market is definitely different in that regard. In my experience traveling with the team, there have been some cities where we've stayed at the same place every time, others cities where we've moved around. It can depend on a given hotel's schedule or whether the leaders of the football operation were satisfied with what the hotel was able to provide for the team.

H.R. from Henderson, NV

To add to Mike from San Antonio, I'm curious as to how players pay for travel during the pre- and regular season. Guys like AR12 can afford anything, but what about that last guy on the roster, or the UDFA who barely made the team? Eight away games, and now the international travel? Flights, hotels, meals. How is that taken care of? Do guys have a travel budget built into their contracts? Does the team take one for, well, the team?

The team pays for all travel expenses. The players are only responsible for any personal incidentals at the hotel and any costs incurred (Uber rides, movie tickets, etc.) during their free time. The players also get a pre-game meal at the hotel, food on the flight(s), and per diem for any other meals.

Matt from Waunakee, WI

Doesn't the assistant to the traveling secretary really run the show?

Nicely done.

Keith from Fishers, IN

Dead Zone rule question. In basketball there is a horn/buzzer that sounds indicating a shot clock violation. It's easy to hear, and there's no question as to whether a player got a shot off in time. Would you favor a horn (as long as it's not that Vikings horn) that sounds when the play clock hits zero? I don't like the extra second (sometimes more) that QBs get from officials having to watch the clock and the center. 40 seconds should be 40 seconds. Is there a reason that a horn wouldn't work?

Perhaps crowd noise. But basketball's idea of the clock lighting up when it hits zero would probably help improve the accuracy and consistency of those calls.

Mike from Las Vegas, NV

Dead zone = OT rule changes … I know they just changed so this is just for fun. Baseball now starts extra innings with a runner on second. I did not like it at first, but it has kind of grown on me. The point is to get the game over faster. I think that should be the main goal of football too, especially with the physicality. So my question is, what is the runner on second base in baseball extra innings equivalent to in football overtime?

Starting the OT possession on the offense's 40-yard line?

Sam from Germantown, WI

Good morning Mike and/or Wes. Can most, if not all, guards play the left and right equally well? If so, how do the coaches decide who goes on the left and who goes on the right? If not, what makes a player better at one side or the other?

How hard the adjustment is for any guard probably depends on how long he's been entrenched at one spot without playing the other side. I remember Josh Sitton talking about how it wasn't easy switching from right to left, but he settled in quickly enough and made All-Pro for the first time in '13, his first year at left guard. I think the coaches make the decision based, at least partly, on the pairing with the tackle on that side, their collective skill sets, etc. Ironically, the decision to switch Sitton and T.J. Lang in '13, if I recall correctly, was to keep Bryan Bulaga and Sitton working side by side, as Bulaga was flipping over to left tackle that year. But he blew out his knee on Family Night, David Bakhtiari stepped in as a rookie, and the rest is history. Sitton stayed on the left (and Lang on the right) anyway, and Bulaga returned to the right side in '14 when he was healthy again and stayed there.

Ben from Pensacola, FL

Good job with the story on Quay Walker. I'm just excited for this ILB room because of the possibilities (and mainly depth). I still very much like Krys Barnes – and think he's good enough to be a starter calling the shots on several other teams in the league. Might there be a package with all three of them on the field? Part of me thinks that sacrifices too much in the secondary or on the DL.

You answered your own question. It's hard for me to envision three inside 'backers on the field together unless it's a goal-line situation and/or the offense goes with three tight ends.

Michael from Santa Cruz, CA

Is it better to force the QB to get the ball out earlier or hang onto it longer than he'd like? Recent conventional wisdom would say the former. I respectfully submit the right answer is now the latter. The ball out early can lead to occasional panic picks, but more typically incompletions. Hanging on too long (due to superior coverage) leads to (strip) sacks and occasional panic picks. Pass rush is needed, but I think a deep and well-rounded secondary has now surpassed it in importance.

I guess I don't really give the choice much thought. Disrupting the QB's rhythm, however it's accomplished, is the goal over the long haul. Whether he has to release the ball earlier at times, or hold onto it longer at others, the cumulative effect should be an ineffective performance, and it's very difficult to win in this league with an ineffective QB. Rush and coverage always go hand-in-hand to me, and those elements working in concert make life difficult for the offense and, yes, hopefully can produce turnovers.

Tony from Chanhassen, MN

How has Jarran Reed bounced around so much? High draft picks that provide results don't usually struggle to find steady employment. Hasn't found quite the right defense? Teams he has been on struggle to find cap room?

I don't know if five years in Seattle followed by one in Kansas City and now a move to Green Bay counts as "bouncing around so much." But the COVID-era cap situation has certainly had an impact on some veteran players finding long-term contracts to their liking. If they aren't in line for a big signing bonus or any guaranteed money beyond the first year, a one-year deal gives them the most control over their career.

Team photographer Evan Siegle shares his favorite photos from the 2021 Green Bay Packers season.

CJ from Marshfield, WI

Mike, love your work! When Rasul Douglas was originally signed by GB, I was concerned his 4.59 40 time might translate into getting beat deep. On some of his INTs he jumped the routes hard, so I kept expecting him to get burned deep at some point despite his successes, but I don't recall him getting toasted. He was amazing. Of course, 40 time isn't everything. What did you see on film? Do you expect to see teams testing him deep more this season?

There's certainly a larger body of his work in Green Bay's defense for opponents to study now than last year. They'll look at the routes he jumped and try to use that against him. But Douglas is no fool. He knows receivers will make adjustments and he'll keep himself up to speed on how they're attacking him. It's all part of the game within the game.

Grant from Banora Point, Australia

Good morning, if Green Bay had won all our NFC Championship games which Super Bowls would we have won in your opinion?

Who knows? Based on how the NFC title games went, the Packers would've been hard-pressed to beat the Patriots in '16 or the Chiefs in '19. But win or lose, I think Favre vs. an undefeated Brady in '07, Aaron Rodgers vs. Brady in '14 and/or Rodgers vs. Mahomes in '20 would've all been dynamite Super Bowls to watch.

Chris from Phoenix, AZ

Hey Mike and Wes! If Matt LaFleur wins 11 games this season, will he be the fastest HC to reach 50 wins? It seems like he will at least be the youngest, for sure. I'm not one to speculate whether the team will win 11 games or not, but given recent history, it seems possible. Thanks, and happy upcoming 4th!

He will not be the youngest because Sean McVay got to 50 wins at age 35. I believe the fastest to 50 (regular season) was George Seifert, who did it in 62 games. So the Packers would have to win 11 of their first 12 games this season for LaFleur to do it in 61.

Bob from Fredericksburg, VA

Hey guys, longtime reader first-time asker. I know it may be a typical "dead zone" question, but since the departure of MVS, who are the fastest players on the roster?

My best guesses would be (not sure of the order) Eric Stokes, Christian Watson, Darnell Savage and Jaire Alexander.

Ken from Dallas, TX

What do you think are Matt LaFleur's biggest strengths as a coach?

Consistency and honesty. I think he's as steady and straightforward with his team behind closed doors as he is with the media in the public. He keeps it real and doesn't waver. That makes for a successful leader of men.

Jodi from Grand Rapids, MI

This is not a rebuilding dead zone; it is a reloading dead zone.

That's as good a transition as any to provide the second set of six questions for Wes's Outsider Inbox.

7. Name three Packers players/coaches/personnel executives, present or past, with whom you'd like to have dinner.

8. What is your all-time favorite nickname for a Packers player?

9. Choose a position and name the top three Packers all-time. (Keep in mind, your chances of being posted are likely higher for a more obscure position).

10. What is your favorite NFL/Packers book?

11. What's the most unusual setting in which you've watched a Packers game?

12. Who is your pick for the 2022 Insider Inbox MVP?

Have fun. And with that, I'll be signing off for a while. Wes is writing Saturday's column, compiling next week's OI, and then handling the first week of II's return to its usual form, while I take the 2022 Packers Yearbook to the finish line and make sure it gets to the printer on time (and try to catch a few Brewers games along the way). Take care and we'll talk again soon. Happy July and Happy Friday.