Inbox: The guy has legit superstar potential

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Sean from Helena, MT

So, I googled Ainsworth Rand Spofford...and someone has already updated the Wikipedia page. Wes, are you surprised?

I’d say I was surprised, but we’re talking about the same Packers fan base that took my misspelled tweet of Boar Martinez and made it Blake’s nickname on Pro Football Reference. Good morning!

David from Fairmont, WV

Davante Adams underrated. He should be in the NFL Top 30 players.

I hope the narrative changes in 2019 with Adams coming off a 111-catch, 1,386-yard season. I get he’s not an over-the-top personality, but what often gets overlooked is how personable and articulate Adams is. The guy has legit superstar potential, but Adams carries himself like any other guy in the office. We’ll see where he falls in the “Top 100” this year, but there’s no question Adams is everything an elite receiver should be.

Nick from Portland, OR

I love all the instant judgments around coaching decisions in Green Bay and all over the league. No one really knows how it’s going to click with their respective teams, how players/injuries will affect their plans, or how it will all work out. Can we maybe cease all the supposed “good hire” vs. “bad hire” chatter until we actually see what they put out on the field? Or is this just part of offseason sports?

The pundits need something to talk about in January, but making declarations on these decisions right now is foolhardy. Nobody knows. Maybe a few things can be gleaned from offseason tea leaves, but what matters most happens in the fall.

Keone from Honolulu, HI

I’m fancying the idea of Antonio Brown lining up opposite Davante Adams, Cobb in the slot.

I’m fancying the idea of not having to answer Antonio Brown questions anymore.

Jim from Rancho Cucamonga, CA

Wes, if Nathaniel Hackett is the offensive coordinator but Matt LaFleur will be calling the plays, does that make Nathaniel the assistant to the head coach?

That’s a decent “Office” drop-in, but I really was hoping for a “Network” reference or two. I guess I’ll settle for this.

A new marquee has been installed on top of the newest building at Titletown.

Scott from Kissimmee, FL

Did Joe Philbin get an interview or was it just thanks...but no thanks?

Philbin got an interview and was very much in consideration for the position. But Mark Murphy and Brian Gutekunst found their man. I don’t want to speak for Philbin, but I’m sure he gets it. He’s been around this game for a long time.

Mario from Montevideo, Uruguay

Hi Insiders, now that the HC, OC and DC have been hired, who interviews candidates for vacant assistant positions and how many people are involved in the decision-making and signings? How democratic is the process?

LaFleur still makes the final call, but Nathaniel Hackett and Mike Pettine will have input on position assistants. It’s why most head coaches hire their coordinators first.

Mike from Los Angeles, CA

True or false: Had the Packers signed LaFleur and Hackett last year, everyone would be losing their minds with the potential of that tandem featuring Aaron Rodgers?

As I plan to write in my upcoming profile on LaFleur, this is a guy who isn’t afraid to take chances. He could have lived fat and happy in LA, but LaFleur wanted the challenge of being an offensive play-caller. Give me that guy seven days a week and twice on Sunday. That’s the true sign of a leader.

Ross from Hudson, WI

Matt LaFleur will bring an all new offensive scheme to the Packers. Do you know if his general approach is particularly complex or is it basic formations with lots of variable plays from those formations?

Based on his initial news conference, it sounds like the latter.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

The more I learn about Matt LaFleur the more it sounds like protecting the QB and a strong, deep OL will be a top priority. We won't know the FA prospects for another month or two and I haven't seen anything that indicates this is a strong OL draft class. Would you be surprised if the Packers invest a couple high picks or multiple mid/late picks in linemen? Quality FA offensive linemen can and will be expensive. How do you see this playing out? Thanks Wes.

There are 11 offensive players on the field and nearly half are linemen. It only stands to reason NFL teams are going to invest resources into keeping that position provisioned. I don’t really get this notion offensive line wasn’t a priority under Ted Thompson. He drafted at least one in like 12 of his 13 drafts in Green Bay. There’s always room for more.

Aaron from Wheeling, IL

Players not plays, right? Young innovative coaches are all the rage but Andy Reid, Sean Payton, and Bill Belichick aren't running any new style of offense. Reid sat with Mahomes for six hours discussing his offensive scheme before they drafted him and Mahomes more than understood it all. Knowing how to run an offense and defense effectively with the right talent seems to outshine scheme.

Coaches have to do it all. It’s the plays, it’s the players and it’s understanding the human condition. That’s what makes the game beautiful. Coaches must identify and develop their quarterback. Reid, Payton and Belichick have mastered it, but I think up-and-comers such as Sean McVay, Kyle Shanahan and LaFleur understand that, as well.

Scott from Martinez, GA

Would the Packers’ draft board undergo any adjustments in consideration of what type of players would best suit the new coach’s approach?

Another reason the communication between the GM and head coach is vital. I don’t believe there will be any seismic changes with the draft board because of a coaching change, but there certainly will be discussion between Brian Gutekunst and LaFleur about potential targets in the coming months.

Brian from Sussex, WI

Lots of comments about the advantage having a defense going into its second year for a first-year head coach implementing a new offense. The team gets additional practice time this year to implement the new schemes, rightly so. What I haven't seen, or remember seeing, is any comments about what an advantage it will be for a second-year defense getting the additional practice time.

That’s spot-on. The month of April will be as important for Pettine as it will be for LaFleur. I’m not sure of the specifics of what can and cannot be coached in that early window of the offseason program (typically the first two weeks are strength and conditioning only), but that’s still a valuable time for Pettine as he looks to take another step with the defense.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

With the second year in a familiar system, growth of the promising rookie class and the potential to add an impact pass rusher through the draft, is the defense poised to make a big jump this offseason?

There is still work to be done, but if the 2017 draft class can make a jump similar to the one made by the 2016 group of Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, Blake Martinez and Kyler Fackrell, the Packers’ defense is going to be in the hunt.

Al from Green Bay, WI

The special teams’ struggles have been well-documented. What are the attributes of a great special teams coach? How do these attributes differ (if at all) from a defensive coordinator?

That’s an excellent question. Special teams coordinators need to get young players up to speed quickly and perfect fundamentals. If you can get all 11 special teams players on the same page, good things are going to happen. It’s a game of discipline and it must be accomplished in all three phases. Being a special teams coach is a thankless job, but it’s critical to establishing a championship team.

Rex from Laramie, WY

I can say from personal experience that being a coach’s son does not guarantee athletic success, but I’m intrigued by the fact that both coaches LaFleur and now Hackett are on the Packers’ staff. It’s too early to tell about others in Green Bay, but are there other head coaches and/or coordinators in the league that are the offspring of major college or pro coaches?

More than you realize. There are sons of former NFL coaches scattered throughout the entire NFL.

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

Regular-season final standings partially determines who a team plays the following year, but Super Bowl determines draft order? So a Super Bowl winner could play an “easier” schedule than their division winner the following year?

That’s what I’m telling ya. The Bears won the NFC North in 2010. The Packers won Super Bowl XLV. Green Bay picked 32nd overall, while Chicago played reigning NFC division winners Philadelphia and Seattle in 2011.

Craig from Elkton, MD

Thanks for putting the effort in. I'm a daily II reader and it is sometimes the highlight of my day. I have a non-draft or trade question I hope you can answer. How did the new "stitched" field hold up? It has an entire season (albeit a short season) of wear and tear on it now. Have the players or coaches or groundskeepers made any comments? Is it successful enough that other fields will get the same treatment when they need a refresh?

With the way the season played out, I wasn’t able to ask Mike McCarthy or anyone in a position of power about the field, but I heard no complaints. From my perspective, the field looked immaculate during the three December home games.

Markus from Aurora, CO

I am always impressed (even though I have no detailed insight, really) by the work the scouts, etc., must be doing behind the scenes year in and year out. While us fans think of NFL football mostly from July/August through December/January (and maybe first Sunday in February), I occasionally realize that when I enjoy regular-season football, the scouts are already working on the next year's prospects (college, upcoming pro free agents as well as potential front office vacancies). Any thoughts?

I appreciate and respect the crazy lifestyle of personnel people after getting to know scouts around the NFL the past seven years. It’s a who-you-know business and the responsibility of scouts to know everyone and everything.

Andrew from Falls Church, VA

Who first came up with the idea for II? Such a brilliant and novel idea! That individual deserves a Pulitzer in my eyes, or at the very least a Packers Hall of Fame nomination.

This column operated as “Ask Vic” through Vic’s retirement from packers.com in 2017. We had a brainstorming session for a new name and I threw out “Insiders Inbox,” pulling the idea from the “The Insiders” show I helped produce at the Press-Gazette. Anyway, we eventually trimmed it to Insider Inbox and the rest, as they say, is history.

Dylan from Stevens Point, WI

Would Mahomes-Goff be the youngest QB combo in a SB?

It would have to be up there.

Ryan from Bloomer, WI

Have the Packers ever used the franchise tag, and do you see a scenario where it would be worth a look for Gutekunst to use this offseason?

The Packers last used the franchise tag on Ryan Pickett in 2010. I don’t envision them using it this offseason.

Jason from Austin, TX

Would teams consider bringing in a player whose specialty was only kicking onside kicks? If they were so effective at kicking onside kicks that they could give you a 25 percent chance of success even with today's rules, would that be worth a roster spot?

Maybe if game-day rosters were expanded to 80 players. If expanded, I still think it’s more likely teams would create a starting special teams unit than use a spot on an onside kicking specialist.

Brett from Oshkosh, WI

If teams have to get their top 51 contracts under the cap by March 13, what about the last two spots? Could a team hypothetically be under the cap with the top 51 contracts and then barely bust over it with their smallest two?

Yes. It’s like the limbo. As long as you stay underneath the bar, you’re good to go.

Douglas from Overbrook, KS

Comparing LaFleur's introductory press conference and Adam Gase's, all I can say is I'm glad the Packers made the right decision. Just listening to the audio was fine, but those eyes. Have you ever experienced a press conference like that?

I can’t help you.

Geoff from Beaver Dam, WI

Are there three locker rooms at MetLife and the new LA stadium? Does each home team have their own personalized locker room or do the guys need to bring all their tchotchkes home after each game?

I’m not sure about LA, but the Giants and Jets have their own locker rooms at MetLife. What really surprised me in Week 16 was how the stadium workers must changeover all the photos throughout the press box and suite level depending on which home team is playing.

Day one of the leadership event held at Lambeau Field was geared toward 140 female Brown County middle school students.

Shea from Waukesha, WI

What is the offseason plan for both of you? Will either of you be attending the Senior Bowl or any other all-star games? Do both of you attend the combine?

We don’t cover the Senior Bowl, but we’ll both be at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Tony from Los Angeles, CA

The term "for Pete's sake" refers to Pete Dougherty, obviously.

Obviously.

Ever from Los Angeles, CA

Wes, could you inform Mike that his name has been added to the Wikipedia page of Ainsworth Rand Spofford, as a direct descendant, by yours truly.

So you’re the culprit!

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, what interesting, unknown factoid about yourself or your ancestors would you be willing to share?

We don’t have any librarians, but I believe most Hodkiewiczs in North America are either a descendant of my great-great grandfather or his brother (before he moved to Cleveland). They came over together at the turn of the century and had chopped the “C” off “Chodkiewicz” at Ellis Island. I’m also the only Weston Hodkiewicz in the world, so I got that going for me…which is nice.

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