Skip to main content
Powered by

Inbox: The NFL wheel just keeps on turning

It is not easy to walk in the door and dominate on the defensive line

Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes

Kevin from Santa Rosa, CA

I know a lot of II readers were wanting the 49ers to win. I wasn't happy to see Brock Purdy get hurt. However, living in the North Bay there was way too much chortling going on around here. I am happy to see it end! Moving on. I like both KC and Philly. Both well-balanced teams. I'm originally from River Falls, the Chiefs' old summer camp. I've always liked the Chiefs since. I think Philly is better on both sides of the ball. Both great teams. Should be a fun SB to watch. Who do you like and why?

I like KC. Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes have been there and won that, and Chris Jones is one of the most dominant, yet still underrated, players in the NFL. And with all that, based on how all my predications have played out, I want to be the first to congratulate the Philadelphia Eagles on their Super Bowl LVII title!

David from McCormick, SC

Wow, one season ended with an elbow to a helmet and another one with an unfortunate hit out-of-bounds. Although both teams will be hurting for eight months, the Cincinnati linebacker will be hurting most of all. Don't these events show how seasons can end on a single play?

And calls, too. But more on that later in the column.

Dan from Algonquin, IL

Hi Wes, lots of people have recently been banging the drum about acquiring a stud tight end. It's impossible to ignore how players such as Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and others seem to take over games. TE was the biggest difference between the Chiefs and the Bengals. The Chiefs wouldn't be on this five-year run without Kelce. Many teams have multiple impact WRs (two or even three), but usually only one (if that) impact TE. Doesn't that make having an elite receiving TE on the roster all the more important?

I'm not disagreeing with you. I'm simply telling you that drafting a tight end in the first round doesn't guarantee a perennial All-Pro. T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant were both considered can't-miss prospects out of Iowa four years ago. They've both been fine pros, but both already are on their second NFL team. There is a huge demand for elite, all-around tight ends in the NFL. Likewise, they're also in extremely short supply.

Scott from Hudson, WI

Reflecting on the Packers' season and watching playoff football, it seems the Packers' No. 1 goal by opening day is for both lines to get stronger, faster, nastier, more dominant. Championship football starts in the trenches. Philly ran 25 more plays than the Niners with 44 running plays pounding the rock against an elite SF defense. More dominant lines put the Packers back in the Super Bowl chase. Can the Pack do it or do the cap challenges make it a multiyear build?

I think the Packers can do it. On the offensive line, I believe much of what you outlined can be accomplished by simply having a healthy David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins on Day 1 of training camp. The Packers have decisions to make on the defensive line, where both Dean Lowry and Jarran Reed are free agents. As I wrote Monday, Devonte Wyatt is the future of the D-line. The Packers took the same approach with him as they did Rashan Gary in 2019. Hopefully, that experience serves Wyatt well in Year 2.

Jake from Decatur, GA

Thanks for the interesting article yesterday on Devonte Wyatt. I've never put much stock in the "Wide Receiver University" kind of hype, but now I'm thinking there may be something to putting a little extra draft emphasis on deep programs, where the guy you're picking has already had some practice learning from his teammates and not just from his coaches.

That's the No. 1 reason I talked for years about getting as many young guys in the receiver room as possible…because Davante Adams wasn't going to be there forever. It is not easy to walk in the door and dominate on the defensive line. In Wyatt's case, he had eight months to work alongside Kenny Clark and Lowry and learn through experience.

Ty from Jamestown, IN

Another year gone and another year ahead of us...regardless of whether it's No. 12 again or No. 10, I want to hear what positional group excites you the most for the 2023 season? Personally, I cannot help but think what might be in 2023 out of our DL group – T.J. Slaton and Wyatt both turned it up a tremendous amount to close out the season.

Receiver and defensive line are high on that list, but I'd put inside linebacker up there, as well. The Packers were so deep there that Krys Barnes was a healthy scratch during a few late-season games. I look for Quay Walker to build on the positives, learn from the negatives, and come back a more focused football player. Athletically, that young man has such a high ceiling if he keeps the emotions in check.

Grant from Kent, OH

According the so-called "experts," Allen Lazard will not be a Packer next year. If the "experts" get one right and he is not a Packer, how much will this impact the run game since he seemed to be a good run blocker? How did Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs rate in run blocking last year?

I think losing Lazard would affect the Packers' intermediate passing game and third-down offense in a similar way to how Marquez Valdes-Scantling's exit impacted the downfield passing game. Lazard is so crafty and intelligent. He is a move-the-sticks receiver and a bullying blocker. That said, Watson fits naturally into this offense. He was asked to block quite a bit at North Dakota State, and I feel like that showed up this year, especially on that short touchdown pass to Aaron Jones against the Rams.

CJ from Cedar Rapids, IA

Special teams had a big improvement this year, but if it wasn't for Keisean Nixon, I'm not sure if there was much improvement. Where would we rank if we stayed the course with Amari Rodgers?

WKWC – Who knows, who cares? Wanna know what I know for a fact? Rich Bisaccia played a hand in the Packers signing Nixon in the first place. Does that count for anything? When chopping down a tree, gravity only does half the job. Remember that, CJ.

Mark from Madison, WI

With all the big names at QB possibly changing teams this year (Derek Carr, Jimmy G, Rodgers, Tom Brady, etc.), when are the decisions usually made? Before, after or during the draft, and before or after the new NFL year starts?

All of the above. With free agency, there is a hard deadline on Garoppolo, Lamar Jackson and Daniel Jones. The rest could happen at any time. Two years ago, the conversation surrounding Rodgers' future didn't even bubble to the surface until the draft itself.

James from Appleton, WI

I don't think Jordan Love is built to be a runner like Justin Fields or Jalen Hurts. Love would be more like the young Aaron Rodgers, where if the defense left an open lane, he'd take full advantage of it. Do you think that in Coach LaFleur's ideal offense there's an option for the QB to hand off or keep the ball on any given running play?

Quarterbacks don't need to run 4.4 to keep defenses in check with their feet. Those in the 4.7s like Rodgers and Love can enjoy plenty of success scrambling. Honestly, I think that's the better QB build because their first instinct is to still pass the ball when a pocket collapses. I've seen enough of Love to know he doesn't fear pressure – and that's big time. He has three years in the system now. If that's the direction things go this offseason, I have no reason to believe Love can't run this offense effectively.

Craig from Appleton, WI

I know his career is still young, but do you believe Patrick Mahomes has already done enough to make the Hall of Fame someday?

I do. Mahomes just played in his fifth straight AFC Championship Game and is heading to his third Super Bowl. He has a career 105.7 passer rating and Kansas City has won 64 of the 80 regular-season games Mahomes has started. He's already a Hall of Famer in my mind. If Mahomes wins the Super Bowl in two weeks, I'd elevate that to first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Tom from Yardley, PA

I'm no Bengals fan but they must have felt like they were playing two opponents. My favorite outside the phantom no-play call was the questionable grounding call. The replay showed Chris Jones with an obvious hand to the face which should have been called. Officiating is an embarrassment.

What is there to even say about officiating at this point? It's the snake slithering in the shopping mall. On Sunday night, the Bengals got bit. Their season, once filled with promise, is suddenly over. Quick on-field interviews, locker-room cleanout, music up with a swell and final commercial. Meanwhile, the NFL wheel just keeps on turning.

Dale from Palmyra, NE

I'm sure I'm not the only one asking what the rule states. Is the ball placed at the forward progress of the ball? If a runner is pushed back the ball is placed at the forward point of the ball. Is reaching the ball out then pulling it back looked at differently?

Yes. Because the play is not over, and the runner is making the choice to pull back the football. Forward progress is a different deal because the defense has "stopped" the ball carrier and the play is over. As Spoff covered Monday, it's another case of New York making up its own rules in real time.

David from Riverwoods, IL

On the MVS "stretch," isn't the correct placement of the ball based on where the ball is when the player's knee hits the ground? If so, the reversal was probably correct, as it appeared that MVS didn't pull the ball back until after his knee was on the ground.

In my estimation, Valdes-Scantling's knee wasn't down when he began pulling the ball back. Plus, if MVS really was down, then why pull the ball back at all? Because he wasn't down yet. Why must this be so difficult?

Dana from Santa Fe, NM

Regarding the DeVonta Smith "catch" in the Eagles-49ers game, Mike rightly said that in that situation, if the catch is "iffy," throw the flag. But it wasn't just iffy. When Smith jumped up and frantically signaled his teammates to rush the snap, he was telling the players, coaches, and me that the ball was on the ground. Believe him, he knows.

I can't blame the officials on that one. It's a bang-bang play, and bodies are shielding the side judge from seeing the conclusion of the play. That's what the challenge flag is for at the end of the day, and Kyle Shanahan didn't use it.

Jeff from Victorville, CA

I researched some on Brock Purdy. It appears he's been a successful quarterback since HS. At Iowa State, Purdy was the third-string QB his freshman year. He was a starter his sophomore year after the starter got hurt and backup was ineffective. He shined. Was starter the rest of his time there: 81 TDs, just 33 INTs and 12,000 yards, yet was almost not drafted. What do you think scouts' concern with him was? Just hard to imagine all the top picks who have failed, then Tom Brady and Purdy surprise.'s Lance Zierlein lauded Purdy for his toughness, leadership and accuracy before the 2022 NFL Draft, but there were questions about his mechanics, measurables and ability to deliver tight-window throws. As we've seen so many times, however, the only thing that matters is what happens on the grass and Purdy balled out this season.

Julian from Gastonia, NC

There wasn't one officiating error so egregious during the championship games as I had hoped would create an overhaul of the entire striped outfit. No, instead we were served up the very best officials the NFL has to offer (or so they claim) to demonstrate their consistently execrable work performance in the AFC Championship Game.

I wonder if the league would be better served if it kept entire crews together for the playoffs. Does it really matter "so-and-so" graded out the best line judge? We don't pick the best players from the regular season to comprise the 14 playoff teams, so why are we doing it with officials?

Ed from Windsor, CO

How many cameras are used to cover an NFL game and are more used to cover the Super Bowl? When will we know what officiating crew will cover the big game and do you have an over/under for botched calls?

There are 12 to 20 cameras used for a typical game, according to NFL Football Operations. While researching a response to your question, I read NBC used 122 cameras to broadcast last year's Super Bowl. Also, Carl Cheffers is the head referee for the Super Bowl. I linked the rest of his crew here.

Bob from Grand Rapids, MI

Reading II has increased my knowledge of things football immeasurably, with quite a few laughs sprinkled in for good measure. But now comes a term new to me in the context of football. "Why is the draft not serpentine?" What does that mean? Thank you for continuing my education!

It's a fancy way of saying "a snake draft," where the draft order is reversed every round (e.g. your yearly fantasy football league).

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Good the-craziness-never-stops Morning Wes! Thankfully there is no gambling in Bushwood. The King gets jobbed in Boston. Officiating is once again all over the sports news in the NFL. Who is your money on in the Super Bowl?

Oh, there won't be any money, but when the game is over, on your couch, you will receive total consciousness.

Scott from Sauk City, WI

Spoff, I can absolutely recommend a Brewers spring training trip! Mid-March, leaving the cold and snow for a week of 80-85-degree days, is the best. Sun in your face, beer in hand, crack of the bat, up-close interaction with players. Nothing beats it. Sit on the grass berm in the outfield and just enjoy the pre-summer summer.

I have this photo of me and my buddy Dave sitting in the outfield at the Seattle Mariners' stadium in Peoria, doing exactly what you described (minus the beer in my case). By the way, I would've never, ever, guessed I've attended spring training for the Brewers on three more occasions than Spoff. We watched baseball and March Madness from dusk till dawn. I had the time of my life there.

Stephen from Dixon, IL

It's worth pointing out that Fred Vinson, who was drafted with the pick obtained for Mike Holmgren, ultimately became Ahman Green, whom Holmgren soured on in Seattle and got rid of.

Time is a flat circle. Welcome to a new week.

Insider Inbox

Insider Inbox

Join writers as they answer the fans' questions in Insider Inbox