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Inbox: The impact should flip

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Scott from Martinez, GA

Eric from Cary, NC, called them pesky yellow bars where actually they're pesky yellow poles. Bars are horizontal and poles are vertical. A technicality, yes, but let's start this off season right by getting the little things right.

I’ll forgive him for being deferential to Fenway Park in his choice of terms.

Benny from Aurora, CO

I am "amazed" (not in a good way) by the degree to which some "fans" think they could achieve significantly more success than the current front office. I appreciated your take(s) regarding experience vs. youth on any given roster, and as we have learned time and time again, we never know when and where an injury strikes and how severe it will be.

Sometimes fate would have it that the year you move on from a franchise great and draft three rookies at the same position, two of your remaining three veterans go down, thrusting those rookies into action prematurely. That’s how it goes. If I were to pick one injury that hurt the 2018 Packers offense the most, I’d probably say Allison’s, yet it might have the most positive effect on the 2019 offense. The impact should flip.

George from London, UK

I have just found out I will require knee surgery for a torn ACL for the second time in about two years. I have played contact sports for as long as I can remember and want to continue doing so. Can you give me some inspiration of any NFL players than recovered from two ACL surgeries and continued to play at a high level?

What Bryan Bulaga did for the Packers this year is certainly worthy of mention, but if you want to go even further, read up on the career of Carolina linebacker Thomas Davis.

Jake from Athens, GA

I’ve got my fingers crossed that Gute can find a way to move into the top five and still finagle another pick in the first round. However, I’m curious – how hard would it be with our current stock of picks to “triple dip” in the first? Wouldn’t that be something?

It would take the Packers’ second- and third-round picks to get back into the bottom five of the first round, and the fourth-round pick to get any higher than that. But I don’t understand the obsession with looking to trade up. If you trust your scouts, some of the best value in the draft is found in the middle rounds, when a player has a second- or third-round grade and he’s still sitting there in the fourth or fifth round. You can’t make those picks if you’ve traded them all away.

Ryan from Nashville, TN

Lots of question pertaining to moving up in the draft or if you can actually get star players at 12 and the end of the first round. In 2017, the Saints drafted 11 and then traded into the 32 spot and got Marshon Lattimore and Ryan Ramczyk. We don't have to trade our picks to move up, talent can be found where we pick.

This is what I tend to believe as well.

Ronald from Superior, WI

With the two first-round draft picks will the Packers have the option of the fifth year on both of them or is it only their first pick?

Both.

Andrew from New York, NY

I'm not sure who evaluates our GM and scouts, but when they are evaluated on their draft picks do they consider people they left on the board who turned out to be stars to be a strike against the GM? For example, the Packers seem to have landed a good player in Jaire Alexander, but traded back and let Derwin James fall to the Chargers. Does the front office consider this to be a misstep or issue when they are evaluating?

You have to look at the whole picture, and in this case the whole picture includes an upcoming first-round pick the Packers wouldn’t possess had they drafted James at 14. Evaluating anything with a draft is years in the making, and no one yet knows whether James or Alexander is going to have the better career anyway.

Mike from Mount Prospect, IL

Gentlemen, I see the lack of depth on the OL as similar to the lack of depth among DBs in the past few years. Poor line play has crippled some offenses (MN and AZ come to mind). While the Packers spent years addressing the DBs, and seem to be making progress, let's hope the OL depth is replenished soon. Too simplistic?

I agree the Packers need to restock up front, create competition at certain spots, and see who emerges as a viable starter or two in 2019. But I’ll also say this – I think a change in offensive philosophy can make the Packers’ offensive line look a lot better than it’s currently perceived by many fans.

Andy from Verona, WI

If you were allowed to be on the committee to hire the next head coach of the Packers, but were only allowed to ask the candidates two questions, what would your two questions be?

How would you get Aaron Rodgers playing his best football again? Why will 53 players believe the game plan you hand them on Wednesday mornings is going to be successful?

Bill from Bloomfield Hills, MI

I see three legit top 10 guys on the Packers – Rodgers, Adams and Bakhtiari. It’s been too long since we had a promising talent turn into a star. As much as I love all the guys on the roster and their stories, I'm hoping for wholesale roster changes to find new stars and a new identity. We might suffer through another non-playoff season but I just don't see a big enough core on the current team to build a championship. Wholesale or tinkering, what are your thoughts?

I think it’s somewhere in the middle. I see Clark and Linsley as headed toward the upper echelon at their positions, and Alexander has shown similar early potential, along with King when he’s healthy. The Packers have to do more than tinker with their roster but this isn’t blow-it-up-and-start-over time.

Michael from Hammond, IN

Are there enough quality NFL players for the Packers to make a serious playoff run in 2019?

They have work to do, but those who know me know I don’t latch onto phrases like “serious” playoff run or building a “championship” team. You make yourself a contender, and any team in the playoffs has a shot. Did anyone think the Packers were a “serious” playoff team in 2010 with that IR list? Or the 2012 Ravens with four losses in their last five regular-season games? Or the Eagles last year without Wentz? Do what it takes to get a ticket to the dance, and go from there.

Michael from Marquette, MI

What is the policy for interviewing coaches who are still in the playoffs?

This week, through Sunday, is the window to interview coaches on the teams who had first-round byes. A small window opens next week for coaches on the wild-card winners. After that, second interviews for coaches headed to the Super Bowl can be conducted during the week after the conference title games, up until seven days before the big game.

Ben from Bear, DE

Do you think some of these head coaching candidates we are interviewing could come on as assistants/coordinators?

Always possible, but that can often depend on their contract status with their current teams.

Andrew from Columbus, OH

“If you don’t want to coach a two-time MVP QB, you should get in a different line of work” might be the most rational take I’ve heard during this coaching search. Seems other talking heads are saying they need to find a coach that fits with the team, but they are doing it in a way that attracts clicks. Do you guys ever get FOMO having to be rational while these other reporters throw out hot takes all the time?

No, and I certainly hope applying coherent thought, perspective, knowledge of history, and a lack of self-importance in answering queries never goes out of style.

Justin from Los Angeles, CA

Was looking at playoff rosters and was startled to see Frank Zombo on the Chiefs. If you were going to pick the guy you're most surprised to see still playing in the NFL from the last Super Bowl team, he'd have to be way up there, right?

You have to give guys like Zombo a ton of credit. After a promising rookie year with the Packers, multiple significant injuries wrecked his ’11 and ’12 seasons. Green Bay understandably moved on, and 95 percent of undrafted players at that point have almost no chance of survival. He latched on with Kansas City (where new GM John Dorsey, who obviously knew him, gave him another shot as part of his roster rebuild) and carved out a nice career for himself. I still think Zombo’s third-down sack of Roethlisberger in Super Bowl XLV is one of the more underrated moments from that game. The Steelers missed a field goal on the next play.

Austin from Galesville, WI

Should ST coordinators play it safe? I'm for getting the ball back to my offense with as little damage as possible. So, fair catch most punts. Never return a kick from the end zone. You get a free 25 yards with no risk of penalty or turnover. Never attempt to block a FG or punt. The risk of roughing outweighs the odds of a block, and playing prevent on those plays guarantees that you will likely never give up a fake. With a top-tier offense, should this be the goal of ST?

While I get where you’re coming from, you’re oversimplifying to the point of hurting your team. If the opponent knows you’re never setting up for a punt return, nor trying to block the punt, the punter can just swing away without regard for pressure, hang time or direction and boom 60-yarders on you all season. If the opposing kicker knows you’re never going to try to block a field goal, the percentage of makes against you from 45-plus yards goes way up. You can’t just concede an entire phase of the game to the other guys. You still must try to be better than them.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Which home team are you most worried for this weekend?

Baltimore, and I say that with the belief that if the Ravens win this weekend, they’re going to the Super Bowl. But I don’t see the Chargers and Rivers getting throttled on offense by the same unit twice in a span of 15 days. It feels like a total toss-up game, but really, pretty much all of them do.

Aaron from Herndon, VA

I love reading II every day. Though at times I find I get emotional about common themes from the questioners. “Shut down AR for a top 10 pick,” “sign more free agents,” “fire everyone,” and so on. I end up stepping back and realizing it sounds like a huge roomful of schoolyard kids pointing fingers and saying “he said, she said.” The lack of rationality is mind-boggling. Truth: people drive THEMSELVES nuts. Thank you for putting entertaining spins on these mindless rants and keeping us informed!

I’m just here so I don’t get fined.

John from Hamilton, NY

Spoff, was just in New England, on the NH/VT border there is a Camp Spofford. Any relations to you? No football question, just curious.

Not that I’m aware of, though your post prompted me to read on Wikipedia that George Carlin had some of his ashes scattered in Spofford Lake in that area. Long live every activity that’s not a sport. Happy Friday.

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