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Inbox: The kid is fearless, and so is his team

That’s almost hard to believe

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow

Graydon from Menomonie, WI

Pitcher and catchers report in one week. Or no?

Not looking good, unfortunately.

Jeffrey from Eveleth, MN

This "voidable years" contract game is like paying your credit card bill with your credit card.

Of course it is, and if the Packers hadn't been on the brink these last couple of years, I doubt they'd have employed the practice this much.

Ray from Phoenix, AZ

What exactly are all or the main duties of a quality control coach? I really have no idea what they do.

Generally speaking, quality control coaches do a lot of film breakdown of opponents to compile scouting reports. They stay ahead on the preliminary work on an upcoming opponent before the rest of the coaching staff dives in to create the game plan. They also coordinate the scout-team work in practice to get the starting units the best possible looks at their upcoming foes. They might assist with a position group here or there, too, potentially to prepare them for a higher-level role down the line.

Steve from Flagstaff, AZ

So as we get closer to Thursday to finding out if LeRoy Butler will be a Hall of Famer, let me ask this again for the millionth time. Does Sterling Sharpe have any chance of ever making it? I see players with short careers as Terrell Davis and Kenny Easley in and another receiver, Harold Carmichael, with similar numbers in receiving yards in. Sterling's numbers of 8,134 yards and 65 TDs to Harold's 8,985 yards and 79 TDs and Harold played more years. I would think Sterling belongs.

We've discussed Sharpe plenty in this space before, so you must've missed it. Davis' induction absolutely opens the door to more short-career players getting in, though I've pointed out in the past that Davis has postseason stats and accolades difficult to match. Tony Boselli is another with a shorter career who's been a finalist previously (and again this year). If he gets in, that's another positive sign. Sharpe just became eligible for senior committee consideration a couple of years ago, so I think his case will be reviewed again in due course. I would advise against comparing stats from players who didn't play at the same time, though. Carmichael and Sharpe retired just 10 years apart, but their primes were closer to 15 years apart and the game was changing considerably.

Subhadeep from Middletown, CT

Andrew Whitworth story for this SB is a good story that I have not seen covered here. He was a great left tackle for the Bengals for a decade before being shipped to the Rams. Will be a nice story for him to win SB playing against the team that he spent a decade with.

It's a pretty cool story regardless of the game's outcome, frankly. To be 40 years old and starting at left tackle for one of the best teams in the league is remarkable.

Jeremy from Carlsbad, CA

Mike, I see that your rookie year overlaps with William Henderson's final year. He was one of my favorite players of the Favre era; humble, workmanlike, high character. Do you have any Henderson anecdotes?

Just one. I forget which game was coming up, but Henderson was recovering from a knee injury and I was part of a small scrum of reporters at his locker after practice one day trying to find out if he planned on playing Sunday. He gave the typically evasive answers, that he was pleased with his progress but wasn't going to promise anything. Shortly after, I headed out a back hallway after the locker room closed and Henderson happened to be walking by the other way. He just smiled at me and winked, so I knew he was going to play. I couldn't report it, but I knew I didn't have to write extensively about contingency plans.

David from Bay Minette, AL

I noticed that during the season, we missed a lot of interception opportunities, but I also noticed that our tackling was much improved from our secondary. Do you believe there was a concerted effort by the coaching staff to do less big hits/chances for picks and concentrate more on sure tackling?

Not necessarily. The Packers missed plenty of INT chances in prior years, too, and the 2021 defense had its own rough tackling games (the December stretch vs. Chicago, Baltimore and Cleveland come to mind). Sure tackling comes mostly from being in fundamentally good position to make tackles. Missed tackles come from poor positioning and poor angles. I think, on balance, this defense kept players in the right positions to make tackles.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

I assume the trade window opens on the first day of the league year on March 16. I was wondering if teams are allowed to discuss and agree to trades before that date? GPG in 22.

Yes. The Matthew Stafford trade last year between the Rams and Lions was agreed to in January and made official in mid-March at the start of the new league year.

Harry from Chandler, AZ

With all the talk about what we could get trading AR, what did we get when we traded Favre?

A third-round draft pick, which was used as part of a package to trade up in the 2009 draft to select Clay Matthews. Totally different situation, so there's no use comparing the (potential) compensation, but that's the answer to your question.

Michael from Berrien Springs, MI

With so much speculation on this year's MVP award, I was wondering if you thought a "shared" award might happen. It's happened before (Favre and Sanders e.g.). With Taylor and Kupp as strong considerations this year, do see it as a possibility?

Not really. First, I'm as big a Jonathan Taylor fan as anybody, but the ending to the regular season knocked him from serious MVP consideration. The MVP is not coming from a team that finished 9-8 and missed the playoffs. It's just not happening. As Wes noted, a wide receiver has never won the AP MVP, so barring one setting the single-season records for catches, yards and TDs – which would mean a 150-2,000-25 stat line or thereabouts – I don't see that, either. Of the last 20 MVPs, 17 have been QBs, three RBs. Here are the three RBs. In 2005, Shaun Alexander rushed 370 times for 1,880 yards and 27 TDs on the NFC's best team (Seattle went 13-3). In '06, LaDainian Tomlinson broke Paul Hornung's 46-year-old scoring record with 31 total TDs for the AFC's best team (San Diego was 14-2). In '12, Adrian Peterson topped 150 rushing yards six times in the last 10 games and got the Vikings into the playoffs with a 199-yard outing in the finale to beat the division-champion Packers. It takes something truly extraordinary for a non-QB to win it in an increasingly QB-driven league. That's just how it is.

Dennis from Appleton, WI

I believe it's fair to say that there now may be a renewed enthusiasm and optimism for the special teams next season. After filling the coordinator position, I anticipate the Packers will draft players specifically for special-teams positions. Do you foresee this will be addressed in the draft as well as signing of free agents?

Somewhat, but I don't see the Packers going overboard. As I said last week, there's a balance to be struck with the overall roster, to have quality players for the third phase but also reliable depth on offense and defense.

Stephen from Palos Park, IL

Good morning Mike/Wes, can you please tell me who the Green Bay Packers are playing for their extra game this year, since it will be at Lambeau Field, since the Packers played the Kansas City Chiefs on the road last season?

The "17th game" in 2022 will be a home game against the Tennessee Titans.

Mike from Cascade, ID

Hi everyone, Joe Burrow's response to the persistent "underdog" question: "Uh, yeah. I think we beat the second-best team in the AFC. Twice." The kid has some personality. I'm rooting for the Bengals.

The Bengals came back from down 21-7 to beat the Chiefs in Week 17, and then from down 21-3 to beat them for the AFC title. The kid is fearless, and so is his team.

Damien from Boston, MA

I read that no quarterback in football history has ever won the Heisman, a D1 national college championship, and the Super Bowl. Now Joe Burrow has a chance to do this, all within a span of three years. That would be pretty amazing, potentially cementing his legacy in Year 2 of his NFL career. What are your thoughts? I'll be pulling for him and the Bengals on Sunday.

The Heisman note piqued my interest, so I dug into it a little. Even taking out the national championship part, according to my research (which could be wrong), only two Heisman-winning QBs also won Super Bowls as starters – Roger Staubach and Jim Plunkett. The only other one who started at QB in a Super Bowl was Cam Newton. That's almost hard to believe.

Andrew from St. Pete, FL

What aspect of Rich Bisaccia's coaching style do you think will benefit the special teams the most in the future?

Great question. I honestly know nothing about his coaching style, so I'm curious to find out.

Bob from Grand Rapids, MI

TV commentators often make the same description for Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes: "Nobody else could have made that throw!" Now that we are (barely) in the offseason, a change of pace question: Is this mere hyperbole, or are the amazing throws of these two qualitatively different?

The phrase might be a tad overused, but I do think they try, and succeed with, throws that others wouldn't. Russell Wilson has shown that plenty in his career, too. That's what's so exciting about the young crop of rising stars at QB in this league – Burrow, Allen, Jackson, Herbert, Prescott, Murray, and others. As they continue to mature, will parts of their game evolve in ways that differentiate them?

Jake from Regina, Canada

I'd like to play devil's advocate on the gambling = a greater likelihood of match-fixing point, as I wrote a law school paper on the topic. Much data states that the North American sports gambling industry was worth upwards of $15 billion prior to legalization; however, it was facilitated through completely unregulated, often illicit, offshore organizations. Now the industry is regulated and heavily scrutinized. I would argue that this may actually decrease the likelihood of unethical behavior.

Valid point, and I sincerely hope you're right.

Jessi from Sterling, KS

"All in" is overrated. It's not a good plan for life or football. Consistency wins more often than not. I'm not saying we have had all the trophies we've wanted or even expected with Rodgers, but I'd much rather have a chance every year and watch entertaining football. I may be an oddball, but I love good regular-season winning football year after year. There is A LOT to enjoy. I've always respected the way the Packers operate, it's part of why I'm a loyal fan. How do they keep this culture?

By being realistic about when they feel they can contend while looking seriously at where improvement is needed or desired, but also understanding all the forces that are beyond anyone's control. With that perspective in place, the answers to tough decisions often reveal themselves.

Dave from Waterford, OH

If the NFL wants its fans, and some casual observers, to watch the Pro Bowl players interact, then please do something different than this farce of a game they have every year. It's beyond ridiculous and is unwatchable. Instead, have the players compete in various competitions like ping pong, cornhole, 3-on-3 basketball, and various other common man contests. Fans would get to see and hear their favorite players interact up close and personally. That would be fun and entertaining to watch.

I agree. I probably still wouldn't watch. But I agree. Happy Wednesday.