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Inbox: The eye test said yes

That’s otherworldly

QB Jordan Love
QB Jordan Love

Stephen from Winchester, VA

Does Cliff get an intern? If so, can that person be designated to become the official Ask Vic/Insider Inbox historian? A quick bio on Vic and why it was started. Some stats and fun facts about running jokes and references. Most importantly, the rules of which the first should be "You don't talk about the rules of the Inbox."

But the esoteric nature of it all is part of the charm, isn't it? Those who feel a little lost at first hang around long enough and eventually catch up. Any kind of tell-all would just denigrate their achievement.

Tim from Olathe, KS

Mike, I attended the Chiefs celebration Wednesday. For two hours I slapped hands, hugged, and even danced with countless strangers. I was moving around a lot, and it was not wild, raucous, or out of control anywhere. Police were everywhere. Everyone was enjoying beautiful KC, a great place to live. We are as a collective both embarrassed and in mourning. I do not know what else to say.

I don't either, because part of my reaction when I woke up Thursday morning was being thankful it wasn't worse from a casualty standpoint, and that alone was a perspective that made me uncomfortable, in that it's the only way I can try to process these horrific events.

Gregg from Arlington Heights, IL

Please, Mike, never forget Shula.

I botched that. I had roughed out that answer, got distracted, and forgot to go back to it. I meant to flush out the two tiers better, to include more pre-Super Bowl coaches and others who overlapped into the Super Bowl era. Paul Brown also belongs in the first tier, along with Shula, while there are arguments to be made where others like Tom Landry and Curly Lambeau fit. I wasn't going to parse it and come up with definitive lists regardless, but my point was Andy Reid is solidly in the second tier now, among the all-time greats. Thanks to all for keeping me on my toes.

Jimmy from Plover, WI

We should probably also note that even though Reid had someone yelling in his face, he didn't respond by yelling back. Sometimes the response to someone's actions can teach us just as much as what their punishment could have been.

True that.

Arn from Kenosha, WI

Excluding QB, who would have the most Super Bowl rings? Gronk?

Nope. Charles Haley has five, three with the Cowboys and two with the Niners. Gronk is one of a boatload of guys with four.

Tom from Blaine, WA

Should the parity question focus more on the bottom half of the league? A team with a HOF quarterback is going to be consistently above average most of the time. Maybe the real test of league parity is how easily/quickly a team can improve rather than how long a great team remains great.

That's part of it. There's also this: Less than a month before the Packers came within an eyelash of advancing to the NFC title game, they came within an eyelash of losing to the team with the worst record in the league.

Jim from Tempe, AZ

The narrative the Packers are set at WR/TE and have no need to draft any feels shortsighted. CW9 is constantly hurt. Romeo Doubs, Jayden Reed and Dontayvion Wicks look like long-term players. Look how often the TEs were injured and the offense often needs two on the field at a time. With only four-year rookie deals the number of guys all becoming a FA at the same will dictate having to move on from some of them. Improving the bottom of the roster is also important for future years. Keep the pipeline flowing.

Valid points. I was answering the question(s) from the perspective of the early rounds of the draft, given the roster has far more acute needs in plenty of other places. While it would not surprise me if the Packers didn't draft a receiver or tight end at all this spring, it also wouldn't startle me if they used a Day 3 pick at one spot or both.

Brian from Maple Grove, MN

How much do you think Gutey takes into account players set to graduate from their initial contracts and drafting their replacements or potential replacements a year or two early? I know Josh Myers and Eric Stokes for instance will be free agents after this year and we can't pay everyone.

Also valid.

Phil from Madison, WI

I've always wondered about the strategy of deferring in hopes of back-to-back possessions at halftime, so I did a little research. For the 19 games (38 halves) the Packers played this year I looked at who got the last significant possession of the half. Significance was a personal judgment, so it is fair to quibble, but the kicking and receiving teams each got last possession 19 times – totally random. Are the coaches outsmarting themselves when they could be trying to jump out to an early lead?

I think the decision often comes down to whether a coach has an offensive concept/play he wants to hit the opponent with right away, and therefore wants to take the ball. Or if he'd rather probe and experiment early knowing that by the end of the first half/beginning of the second he'll have a better feel for what can succeed, so he wants to defer for that shot at the double-up.

Mike from Gig Harbor, WA

As of now, it appears that three of the Packers' five starting offensive linemen for 2024 (Walker, Tom and Rhyan) will have come from the same draft. And none were drafted in the first two rounds. Has that ever happened before?

If it has, I couldn't find it. The closest is probably the '06 draft with Colledge, Spitz and Moll, but Colledge was a second-rounder. Going back through the Wolf/Sherman/Thompson drafts, I found two other examples of two (eventual) projected starters from the same draft taken in the third round or later, but not three. There was Bakhtiari and Tretter, both fourths, in '13, and Flanagan (third) and Rivera (sixth) in '96.

Jose from Las Vegas, NV

It seems to me that Patrick Mahomes' career is turning out to be what some of us thought Aaron Rodgers' career would look like.

Sure, a lot of folks thought Rodgers' five-year window including the XLV title would look like Mahomes' current five-year run, but life and football don't work like that for everybody. After winning it all in '10, the Packers turned the ball over four times and allowed a halftime Hail Mary when they were 15-1 in '11, lost out on a first-round bye in the regular-season finale in '12, lost Rodgers for half the season when they were 5-2 in '13, and fell apart in the game that shan't be discussed in '14. So it goes. Mahomes has won seven postseason games in a row decided by one score, and is 8-2 in his career in such games. That's otherworldly. For the record, Brady was 16-8 in one-score postseason games.

Shane from Saxon, WI

Good morning. Was Steve Wilks fired because of the three Patrick Mahomes drives you mentioned Wednesday morning?

I don't think so, though those certainly didn't help his cause. As I noted in Tuesday's column, Mahomes had an answer at crunch time for every blitz Wilks sent at him, like he knew when they were coming. Predictability with the game on the line is a terrible look for a DC. It's still a curious move when the Niners' D held Mahomes to 19 points in the first 60 minutes, but there must've been ongoing questions in Shanahan's mind as to the big-picture fit, whether it be philosophy or something else.

Craig from Sussex, WI

What teams do you feel will make the playoffs next year that were not so good last year? LA Chargers, New Orleans Saints come to mind.

I look at the teams with promising/established QB situations who failed to make the playoffs this past year, which for me puts the Chargers, Bengals and Jaguars at the top of the list, along with the Jets.

Kerry from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Top to bottom, do you think the NFC North is the best division in the NFC going into the offseason?

I think the NFC North has a top two as strong as any division in football. But top to bottom? I'll need to see what the Vikings and Bears do at quarterback first.

Robert from Sparks, NV

What do you guys think about massive trades for the No. 1 pick? Personally, I'm starting to love the way Brian Gutekunst wheels and deals – occasionally trading up, but more frequently trading down to acquire extra picks. Last year's Panthers-Bears trade is a perfect example of what not to do. The Panthers sent three first-round picks, two second-round picks and DJ Moore to the Bears to get their QB, and still finished last. If they don't make that deal, they select Caleb Williams on April 25.

And they could've taken Stroud, too. We'll find out over the next couple of years if it was just the wrong situation and environment for Young, or if they really took the wrong guy.

Peter from Union City, MI

JL was fantastic against pressure and blitzes this year. D's probably thought they could rattle a first-year QB and that left a lot of wide open targets for him to hit. I could see defenses next year holding back and testing Love's accuracy. Did Love improve his accuracy during his hot stretch, especially down the field?

The eye test said yes. The overall numbers said this: In the first nine games of '23, Love completed less than 60% of his passes seven times. Over the last 10 games, including playoffs, that number dropped to zero, with only two games under 64% and four at 72% or higher.

Perry from Ishpeming, MI

Great article on Sheed Walker. I submitted a statement after the Pack drafted him that he was the real deal and a seventh-round steal. I hope the young man can shore up the LT position. If No. 69 comes back healthy at 32 years old, is there an open competition? And one more thing, GO PACK GO!

All I know with David Bakhtiari is he won't be carrying his current $40M cap hit in '24. Walker's emergence, along with the draft capital at Gutey's disposal, obviously can make moving on from the five-time All-Pro more palatable should they feel that's best.

Jeffrey from Taylors, SC

Do teams research and set up draft-day trades prior to the draft? Trade 29th pick in second and sixth rounds to team X for 16th pick in the second round, as an example?

They explore trade possibilities and potential partners ahead of time, but beyond the first couple of picks in the first round, almost all trades happen in the moment because they hinge on what the board looks like at any particular juncture.

Josh from Seattle, WA

Coaches always talk about putting the best five OL out there. Do you look at the defensive box the same? As in when you need to have a full box it doesn't matter if it's a 4-3, 3-4, or 5-2 just put your best seven physical, attacking defenders in the box against their running offense. In fact, I think it helps a defense to be able to move their playmakers around and present different looks the same way an offense would move a star skill player around to create matchups.

Moving around to play the matchup game is always part of it. Every team does that to a certain extent. I get what you're saying about the seven-man box, but it's not quite that simple. Guys in that group still must be able to react to any routes the running backs and tight ends might run, or anyplace they might shift to in the formation.

Grant from Janesville, WI

For some reason, bringing up NaVorro Bowman made me remember Desmond Bishop. I thought Bishop would wind up being an all-time great Packers LB, but he only had two full starting seasons. What are some of your memories of Bishop?

It was really cool to see Dez again at the SF pep rally. It'd been a long time. Everyone remembers his fumble recovery in the Super Bowl of course. My most lasting memory comes from his first career start, late in the 2008 season. A minute to go, tied with the Texans, their ball near midfield. Houston TE Owen Daniels catches a short crosser and turns it into a 27-yard gain to set up a walk-off field goal. I was in the locker room right after the game, before interviews started, and Bishop was just beside himself. I can't recall if he was in coverage on Daniels or missed a tackle, but he looked like a guy who was going to tear his locker out of the wall. Mad beyond mad, blaming himself for the loss, and probably wondering if his first NFL start was his last. That did not turn out to be the case, but his career got short-circuited by the worst possible hamstring injury in the 2012 preseason opener in San Diego. Required surgery, cost him that whole season. He never played for the Packers again and started just one more game in his career (2013 for Minnesota) over his final two years in the league.

Patrick from Sun Prairie, WI

Who/m/mst do you think will make the biggest second-year jump this offseason? I think Emanuel Wilson might be the one.

Whomst? That's a new one. Wilson is certainly a candidate in a crowded field. It could be any of the dozen returning members of the draft class, honestly, or another '23 undrafted rookie like Malik Heath, Ben Sims or Brenton Cox Jr.. I always like to answer this question by adjusting the phrasing, and asking whose second-year jump would benefit the 2024 Packers the most? I think that's Anders Carlson.

Todd from Owasso, OK

We'd have a much more impressive record beating the eventual Super Bowl champion if some other teams in our division would finally win one.

Ha. Point taken. But be careful what you wish for.

Caleb from Knoxville, TN

What time's the game this weekend?

With that, I'm out all next week and Weston is back in the saddle. Treat him well. Take care, everybody. Happy Friday.

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