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Inbox: The onus belongs on young players whose arrows are pointing up

He’s not lacking in stature

DL Devonte Wyatt
DL Devonte Wyatt

Caleb from Knoxville, TN

Tell us truly, Spoff. Did you send that mud dauber after Wes?

No need. They find him. He has a gift.

Ryan from Bellingham, WA

Just a clarification as a biologist, if it lives in the ground it would most likely be a yellow jacket (and not the HOF kind). Mud daubers very rarely sting and make individual nests of mud up in the eaves. Interestingly enough they paralyze spiders and seal them in their mud tubes for the larvae to feed on. Built-in lunch no one can steal!

And now back to football matters.

Jason from Austin, TX

There is a lot of optimism, excitement, wonder and glee in the air surrounding this young team with the fans. My selective memory could be off, but I feel like during the last few seasons under Rodgers, the fans were more anxious, nervous and tense. Is that because the expectations were so high those seasons? Am I remembering that correctly?

Probably, but those consumed by anxiety, nerves and tension with Rodgers as QB were the fans who couldn't enjoy wins and only felt relieved by them.

Scott from Noblesville, IN

Quick opinion about Wes's third part of No. 10's job being "competing," if I might. My hope is JLove understands this year "the competing" is almost entirely competing with himself, AND NOT trying to compete with the "current mood, demands, and expectations of either the media or the fandom of Packer nation, and CERTAINLY NOT trying to compete with the memory/legacy of the two legends he's replacing. Those worries should be "shouldered" by Murphy, Gute and to some extent, ML.

His job is to compete against NFL defenses, no one or nothing else.

Dan from Kenosha, WI

Mike, does it help the young skill players be successful earlier on having Jordan Love as QB rather than Rodgers? They should be less likely to miss some of the nuances of an expanded interpretation of the playbook that Rodgers represents. I feel if they can run the plays as written and not have to worry about secret signals and other adjustments Rodgers made, they will be more successful early on. Then, they can grow into those nuances together.

That sounds plausible. Certainly a kernel of truth in there. But the proof will be in the playmaking.

Kevin from Wanette, OK

Which veteran do you think has the most to prove? Which newcomer/rookie do you think will take that position from them?

Yosh Nijman will have quite the fight on his hands at right tackle against Zach Tom. Meanwhile, several prominent players – Rashan Gary, AJ Dillon, Darnell Savage, Jon Runyan and Josiah Deguara, among others – are entering contract years.

Ingrid from Superior, WI

Since over 7,000 shareholders made it to the annual shareholders meeting, about how many shareholders do the Packers have total?

539,062. They own just a shade over 5.2 million shares.

Babo from Aurora, IL

I honestly don't understand the argument to adjust NFL policy/contracts for running backs. As the game has evolved into a QB/passing league, the RB position has become devalued and the contracts have reflected that. If you are a multi-dimensional player like Jones, you are more likely to get paid, but overall why is it wrong to be paid on your long-term expected value to the team? QBs get paid more than centers, left tackles get paid more than right guards, etc. I don't understand the debate.

The debate is over star running backs, whose value to an offense can rival that of a top wide receiver or left tackle, not getting the guaranteed money other positions can command due to the shorter length of their careers. That is prompting some to suggest the mandatory three-year wait before renegotiating or extending a rookie contract should be examined as it relates to running backs. I think there's merit to the argument, but it's also a dangerous precedent for the game's economics. It's tricky.

Richard from Greenwich, NY

Good morning, I wonder if teams that have a HOF QB might subconsciously think that their miracle man can always overcome team shortcomings, whereas those without one might take on the opposite attitude. Intangibles are an important part of sports.

They are, and certainly there are players who wait around for and expect the superstar to bail out the team. I would submit those types of players don't stick around long. And any shortcomings exist not out of laziness or neglect on the part of decision-makers, but more often constraints and realities that come with paying an upper-echelon QB.

Jason from Hartselle, AL

In yesterday's II, you mentioned that TE might be the No. 1 area of concern this year. For me (and I don't think I'm alone) I am most concerned with the general youth among QB, WR and TE. Average age in that room of likely starters is probably 23-24. I appreciate all the optimism, but even AR12 went 6-10 his first year as starter, and our top three WRs that year were Driver, Jennings and James Jones. Sorry to stack the baloney even higher, but I always try to temper my own expectations.

All valid. Having covered every game of the 2008 season, I'm sure I'll compare a lot of mileposts for Love based on memories of Rodgers, but that shouldn't be confused with comparing the two teams as whole entities. Rodgers did have a much more advanced set of receivers, while that Packers D was notably deficient in both its pass rush and run defense. Only one defender in 2008 had more than three sacks, and the unit allowed 130 rushing yards per game (similar to the 2022 defense). If numbers like that hold true this year, it's hard to see it finishing any better than '08.

John from Jupiter, FL

Morning, a lot has been said about the defense needing to step up with the first-round talent on the unit, but I have to say the run defense has me concerned. It was bad with veterans Lowry and Reed and now the backups are the starters. This to me is the biggest concern with the start of camp just around the corner. Thoughts?

I've said it all offseason, the Packers are counting on major strides being made by T.J. Slaton and Devonte Wyatt with regard to the run defense. They've decided the onus belongs on young players whose arrows are pointing up rather than on veterans sliding toward the other side of their careers. I don't blame them for changing the approach.

Eddie from Fort Myers, FL

What does II think of Rudy Ford and his potential to take the second safety spot? He really impressed me with limited reps at reps at safety last year, especially with the INTs in the Cowboys game. He seems to play fearless and relies on his instincts, which have probably been ingrained from his time spent as a gunner. I think he has the potential to be a great enforcer that complements the more ballhawk nature of Savage.

That Cowboys game proved there's some ballhawk in Ford. He's got speed to burn and packs a pretty good punch. It's all about consistency and reliability for him, much like it's been for Savage. Smooth out the ups and downs and that'll help the defense most.

Ethan from La Crosse, WI

I don't want to short the WRs of credit they deserve, but these guys do not match up to the WRs No. 12 inherited when he took over. That's not to say Love doesn't have a good rapport with the WRs he has; I just think you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who would pick Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs to help a young QB over Jennings and Driver or Nelson. To Mary Ann's point, I do believe they'll prove able, though perhaps not with the consistency we saw from such veterans. There will be bumps in the road.

Indeed. That '08 offense also had its top two backs combine for 1,451 rushing yards and five TDs (Grant had 1,203 and four). I believe the Jones-Dillon duo should be able to surpass that production by a substantial margin.

Kurt from Waterloo, IA

II, I don't know why, but I think Love is going to greatly exceed expectations, but honestly worry he is a bit fragile. Does he look rugged enough to survive 17 games? To me he still looks like a basketball player.

There are no injury guarantees in this business, except that every player will get hurt in some fashion at some point. But he's 6-4, 219. He's not lacking in stature.

Dan from Sammamish, WA

It was great to see the interview with Jayrone Elliott. I was also born and raised in northern Ohio and received my bachelor's degree from the University of Toledo, so I became a big fan watching him make the team as a UDFA and making such an impact on defense during his tenure. I still have a jersey and a long sleeve Packers T-shirt with his name and number, both of which I wear on game days quite often. Glad to see he's doing well.

Jayrone will always be one of my favorites. As genuinely friendly as they come. Worked his tail off, knew his role, and never tried to be someone he's not. I'm sorry I missed him when he was here for that interview.

Kurt from Waterloo, IA

II, I love the opening day starter concept, but I was wondering when we saw a rookie "overtaking a vet who started on opening day" other than quarterback that wasn't injury-related. Seems it never happens.

Matthews overtaking Poppinga in '09, Adams (WR3) over Boykin in '14, Alexander over King in '18.

Joseph from Sioux Falls, SD

I think the storylines with Mariota in "Quarterback" were really good. It offered unique perspective for QBs in his type of situation…so most of them. They are dealing with all the physical and mental challenges and then adding some severe job insecurity and doubt week to week. Seems even more difficult.

This business is never easy, even for a No. 2 overall draft pick.

Allan from Austin, TX

AJ Dillon's injury in the divisional round two years ago dramatically changed the game plan, and could have been the reason we lost. Can you think of an in-game injury that had a major effect on an important game?

Jay Cutler and Todd Collins in the '10 NFC title game in Chicago. Sam Shields and Mike Neal in the '13 wild card vs. San Fran. Clay Matthews one year and 13 days later. Randall Cobb in the '15 divisional at Arizona.

Richard from Racine, WI

Any chance training camp schedule this week will be modified due to the heat and air quality issues?

LaFleur said they'll adjust if the air quality becomes a major concern. But they have their protocols and preventive measures to deal with the heat, which hits at some point every training camp. It just happens to be at the start of this one.

Jesus from El Paso, TX

If Tom and Nijman grade out equally at right tackle, does Tom's versatility make him better suited to be a backup? Could Tom's versatility work against him?

I don't think the coaches would look at it that way, unless it truly is dead even. If Tom is one of the best five, he's going to start, even if he's the next man up at multiple other spots. In that case, Tom moves to replace an injured player and Nijman steps in for him. Wes and I discussed some of those scenarios on the return of "Unscripted."

Mark from Canton, GA

OK, I know camp is just about to start, but are there any X factor players that you are really intrigued about on both sides of the ball? Ones that could possibly really help this team go over the top?

I don't know about over the top, but on offense I'm most intrigued about Jayden Reed as WR3/4, and Tyler Goodson possibly making a run at RB3. On defense, I'm with Wes on Carrington Valentine catching the eye, and I'd qualify Keisean Nixon at full-time nickel as a possible X factor.

Matt from Waunakee, WI

I like the Packers and football season as much as the next guy. It's seems to be coming way too fast this year.

It is, but there's no slowing down now.

Luke from Des Moines, IA

Are we there yet?

The baloney hasn't stopped, but today is a big step toward it doing so. Happy Wednesday.

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