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Inbox: The next chapter is upon us

You play for pride. You play for character. You play to win.

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Richard from Madison, WI

Given that "II" is easily mistaken for the Roman numeral 2, have you guys ever considered nicknaming your column "InIn" instead?

Oh gosh no. That would be too confusing. Good morning!

Tom from Columbus, GA

Who would have thought the 2018 ATL vs GB game would be between two losing-record teams? The intrigue may be which team will get a start at righting the leaning ship and which one will fall over and sink. Just gotta win baby! GO PACK GO! It's Philbin time.

I would have never believed you.

Dale from Prescott, WI

Thanks to the Packers for allowing MM address his staff and players. Class act by all involved. Everyone needs to chill now. Holmgren had a great run here, he's gone. McCarthy had a great run here, he's gone. The next run starts this Sunday! Sit back and enjoy, it's gonna be another exciting run!

It's a sound point you make. All good things do come to an end and the next chapter is upon us. These next four games are a chance to see what everyone is made of before what's likely to be an eventful offseason.

Gary from Davenport, IA

Coach McCarthy will obviously be in the Packer Hall of Fame someday but I was wondering when he would become eligible. Do non-players have a waiting period?

There is no waiting period for coaches and contributors. There's a four-year wait for retired players.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

I was surprised to read that the Packers now have four of the 13 players that ran sub 4.4 40s at this past year's combine on their roster. Coincidence? Speed matters, but what's your take Wes?

It clearly was an emphasis for the Packers during their first offseason with Brian Gutekunst in charge. The future is bright for that 2018 draft class. The cherry on top is getting immediate production out of a fifth-rounder like Marquez Valdes-Scantling.

Lauren from Sparta, WI

Do you think we will see more of Jake Kumerow? He runs really good routes and would be a great addition to the receiving core.

I don't see why not. The guy has accomplished everything there is to accomplish in his four NFL preseasons and consistently looks the part in practice. Kumerow has proven to be a talented and accountable receiver during his short time in Green Bay. Now that he's healthy, it's time to see whether he can match that summer production during the regular season.

Dave from Germantown, TN

How does the number of Packers on injured reserve (11) compare to the league average and to the other three teams in the Packers' division?

I'm sorry I don't have the time to look up the entire league, but it leads the NFC North. Minnesota has nine, Detroit has six and Chicago only has four players on injured reserve at this time.

Cory from Green Valley, IL

What are your thoughts on the newest Northwestern alumnus Danny Vitale? I really like the eye the GM has. Yes, they dropped Ripkowski but maybe Danny V brings back the versatility of the FB position the Packers had much success with over a decade. Can't wait to see him steamroll some more linebackers for Jones and even take a swing pass up the side to the house. 

I had a good conversation with Vitale in the locker room this week for the story I wrote on the Wildcats' former "super back" Friday. As a native of the Chicagoland area, Vitale knows December football and the value a fullback gives to NFC North teams when the temperature drops. What I like about Vitale is he's a bit of a hybrid. You can't be just a ground-and-pound fullback anymore. You have to be able to do it all to stay on a roster. He has that kind of potential.

Kurt from Crestwood, IL

Do you think it was a mistake not having a fullback on the team this season?

I actually think Lance Kendricks did an admirable job this year as an H-back, but I remember talking to Alex Van Pelt years ago when he was still the running backs coach about John Kuhn's effectiveness. AVP mentioned how there are certain things fullbacks like Kuhn can do more efficiently than H-backs, particularly in terms of pad level and blocking. If the Packers want to use more I-form concepts this next month, Vitale seems tailor-made for those situations.

Eric from Oshkosh, WI

"Find what gets the whole offense in a rhythm so the improv can be a complementary piece. Don't force big plays. Move the chains more consistently and use play-action to strong effect off a good running game. I just believe that's what it should look like." That's a shortened version of one of the best answers I've ever read in the Inbox...and I just so happen to agree with it 100 percent. You should print that again.

OK.

Chase from Minnesota City, MN

I know we acquired MM as a relatively unknown candidate, but I haven't seen one proposed coaching hire that I'm excited about. With four games left and the possibility of going 8-7-1 and what we know of MM, I just wonder if we're about to see that the way the NFL is doesn't mean it's the way it should be. After all, we've stuck by Crosby over the years and that has paid off.

You're not excited about the candidates? We don't even have a real list yet, Chase. Let's get through these next four games and let the field come into focus. You never know who might surprise you. While I'm not saying you're wrong about McCarthy, you don't make the move to part with a Super Bowl-winning coach hastily. The Packers thought long and hard about this decision.

Michael from Addy, WA

It seems on getting a head coach can be a crap shoot...Holmgren was a blessing...Rhodes was a bust...Sherman wasn't bad and McCarthy kept us in the hunt except the last two years...these WINNING coaches don't just fall off the Christmas tree...like I said it's a crap shoot...I'm sad to see McCarthy go and this is going to be interesting which way this team starts going up or down this next year...I just hope they get another Holmgren...Packer fan since 1963...your opinion?

I remember a former colleague of mine who once told me the hardest thing to do in any walk of life is to hire good people. It's incredibly hard to hit a bull's eye. For every Sean McVay, there are a dozen other head coaches who have failed. A credit to Ron Wolf and Ted Thompson for finding their guys. While there are no sure things, collaboration and communication will help this team find the right fit.

Kaleb from Corvallis, OR

Hi Mike, fans seem to love to point out the Watt/King issue, but they were also clamoring for Marcus Davenport when there was little mention of Jaire Alexander. It's a crystal-ball business, the draft.

Literally the same answer. It's a crystal-ball business and a trial-and-error business.

Rob from Hollywood, FL

While Darrell from San Antonio made a fair point, he also forgot to mention the damage being aggressive in free agency and missing does to a team. Simply being aggressive guarantees nothing.

Exactly. Everything is projection. It doesn't matter if it's college or pro.

Craig from Laramie, WY

Listening to CMIII interview he mentioned "playing for pride" but I also heard echoes of playing with character, integrity and fidelity to each other, the organization and the fans. These are qualities I value highly and associate with the Green Bay Packers organization. They are a big part of my continuing appreciation and loyalty to the Packers. Now let's go beat Atlanta!

You play for pride. You play for character. You play to win. Because a win today has meaning for tomorrow. There are so many examples out there of contenders that finished a non-playoff season strong en route to challenging for a Super Bowl the following year.

Griffin from Belmont, NC

It seems like it is easier to accept an injury like a broken bone or torn ACL, but seeing players with the same hamstring or other type of tissue injury gets frustrating. I'm sure we as fans don't know the whole story and extent of an injury, but is there something that we can point to? Is the player not doing the right kind of stretches or workouts to help with some of these issues? 

You're right. Unlike a broken bone or ligament injury, there are no true timelines for soft-muscle issues. I didn't fully realize that fact until I covered track and field at the Press-Gazette and watched state-championship sprinters struggle to work their way back. The trickiest part is every soft-tissue injury is different. It takes a lot of trial-and-error.

Philip from Fishers, IN

Would you say it's ironic that the top two highest-paid quarterbacks in the league are also leading (arguably) the most underwhelming teams in the league? All offseason, the Falcons and the Packers were regarded as top NFC teams, and now one has an interim head coach, and the other has a coach on the proverbial hot seat.

Was this season disappointing for both teams? Of course, but those high expectations are a product of having Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan at quarterback.

Jack from Naperville, IL

Imagine what it's like to have thousands of people criticizing your job performance each and every day. I have lots of respect for the athletes like Rodgers who keep their composure and take the high road when accused of severely underperforming. Especially in McCarthy's case, it's gotta be extremely difficult to tune out the wolves calling for your head. Any instances like that in your sports journalism career?

I'd say at least three times a week.

View photos of Packers fans representing their colors for Green & Gold Friday.

Tyler from Fargo, ND

Postseason heartbreaks have been a staple for the Packers for many years. Half the league probably doesn't even know what it feels like because they are not consistently in the playoffs. We have been spoiled, even if it seems to always end poorly.

There's always more heartbreak than glory in the postseason. Otherwise, you'd have 11 teams win the Super Bowl every year and only one team left disappointed.

Ray from Middletown, NY

You blamed me in response to my question about draft picks. You missed my point. It wasn't about second contacts but rather how many players we drafted who were "misses." Rather than attacking me, do your homework as a reporter and look up the players drafted during those years and you will see what I mean. When you draft at the bottom third of the draft every year you better get it right. Apology accepted.

I didn't miss your point. Unfortunately, I understood every word of it. You manufactured a terrible, gerrymandered argument, and I (regrettably) agreed to answer it and granted you 15 more words of fame than that "take" deserved. My advice – rather than wasting more of my time with flawed rationale, do YOUR homework as a commenter and make a stronger argument because the original made no sense. The only thing you successfully argued was the Packers did a better job from 2011-15 in drafts than the Saints and Bears did – the opposite of the point you were trying to make. Apology accepted.

Dan from Wausau, WI

A reader in a previous article pointed out how few players from the 2011-2015 draft classes were still on the team as part of the point of the submission. The response was dismissive without much thought and asked about the numbers of other teams, etc. However, it was right on point. As a draft-and-develop team, the draft is the lifeblood of talent. Those drafted in those classes should now be making the impact. The fact that so few remain from multiple classes cannot be so easily dismissed.

Eddie Lacy was the NFL offensive rookie of the year and one of eight Pro Bowlers the Packers drafted from 2011-15 (Randall Cobb, Mike Daniels, Casey Hayward, David Bakhtiari, Micah Hyde, Davante Adams and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix). Corey Linsley, JC Tretter, Nick Perry, Davon House and Lawrence Guy have all had productive NFL careers and who knows what Derek Sherrod and Johnathan Franklin might have been. Either way, you can't keep everyone. I understand if you guys want to complain and speculate about how the Packers ended up at 4-7-1. Trust me, I get it. But if you're going to make an overarching argument that simply isn't true, I'm going to bare my teeth.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Will you be heading to Ariens Hill for a little postgame tubing on Sunday?

I'm scared of heights.

Myke from Janesville, WI

Corporations love to create an image of employees in a family. Corporate offices use hit men; not nannies. That's the reality. Expecting all of the fans to believe in that "Kum-by-yah" fantasy is unrealistic. Does anyone feel like I do, that Chris Christl, or his successor, will give us the facts years from now as to what really happened with Favre, Ted Thompson, and McCarthy? His interviews show between the lines, some alumni hated other players, for one reason or another.

I don't know. You're gonna have to ask Chris.

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