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Inbox: The oversight worked to the Packers' advantage

Last year’s team was the epitome of what it means to improve from within

TE Robert Tonyan

Jeff from Eveleth, MN

Spoff, what is the over/under for how many beers David Bakhtiari will chug before Game 4 of the Finals? I say 3.5.

Before? His activity during is plenty, wouldn't you say?

Dale from Prescott, WI

Mike, I like the idea of Men in Black to heal what's ailing Yelich but we could also call Doc and his DeLorean to take him back to his MVP season.

That contradicts my point. He needs to forget about his MVP-level play in the same way he needs to forget how much he's struggled since the injuries hit. I know it's impossible, but he needs a clean slate mentally, because talent like that doesn't just vanish.

Craig from Appleton, WI

Looking in the rear-view mirror, who would you select as the most improved player on offense and defense for the 2020 season? Several possibilities come to mind.

Too many to narrow it down. I thought Rashan Gary, Elgton Jenkins, Kingsley Keke, Allen Lazard, Darnell Savage, Robert Tonyan, Lucas Patrick, Adrian Amos and Billy Turner all – for various reasons – played noticeably better in 2020 than in 2019, and I'm probably overlooking a few. Last year's team was the epitome of what it means to improve from within.

Mike from Fort Wayne, IN

Does Coach Matt make up the training camp schedule and what are considerations that go into it? Disappointed there are no Sunday practices which means no three-day weekend and no training camp for my brother and me this year. I will be there in spirit, though!

LaFleur is responsible for the schedule, and it includes CBA-mandated days off for the players as well as typical recovery days (such as after preseason games) and practices that aren't public because of certain things the team will be working on.

Steve from Middletown, KY

Good morning, Mike. To follow up on yesterday's Big Bob question, what would you consider a successful season for him this year? I'm sure he wants to repeat last year's numbers, but as you pointed out, that's unlikely. Plus/minus 600 yards and five TDs?

Those look like reasonable targets to me. But it's difficult to gauge with the additions of Josiah Deguara and Amari Rodgers to the perimeter personnel. We have a pretty good idea of what Davante Adams and Aaron Jones are going to do (or be asked to do). Beyond that, the possibilities run the gamut.

Joe from Wausau, WI

Robert Tonyan caught 52 of 59 targeted passes last year. Best on the team among players with double-digit targets. Aaron Rodgers had a passer rating of 147.6 when targeting Tonyan. Also the best among players with double-digit targets. Would you be more inclined to draw the conclusion that: A. Packers did a very judicious job of maximizing Tonyan's talents, or B. Tonyan should have been targeted more.

A. The fact that Tonyan wasn't the type of player who had to be fed the ball to find a rhythm in order to produce at a high level was a tremendous asset. In the red zone, he never attracted the attention from defenses he probably deserved. The oversight worked to the Packers' advantage.

With 62 days until the regular-season opener, packers.com looks back at those who have worn No. 62 in Green Bay.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

Looking at our TE/HB roster, it jumps out at how Deguara/Dominique Dafney and then Tonyan/Jace Sternberger have almost identical physical profiles. Then Marcedes Lewis with his size is a unique physical profile. Has the rule regarding keeping an extra OL on the game-day roster carried over to this year? It is hard to envision the team cutting any of the aforementioned players, yet it is unlikely we would keep five TEs isn't it?

With Sternberger suspended for the first two games of 2021, that decision won't have to be made until Week 3, and a lot can happen between now and then.

Mike from Allen, TX

Gentlemen, my goal for the next three weeks is to submit questions to help us make it through the night. First up. What is the greatest display of sportsmanship you've witnessed in person? Choose any level you like.

It wasn't anything I'd classify as the greatest, but it was the most fun. In the spirit of the week, it was pretty cool to see Barry Bonds pick up Torii Hunter in a fireman's carry in the 2002 All-Star Game at Miller Park right after Hunter robbed him of a home run.

Paul from Gorham, ME

Good morning! We value having Mason Crosby and we are thrilled by his walk off field goals. They've won their share that way, but when was the last time GB lost from a walk-off field goal? Or one so late it might well have been a walk-off?

Indianapolis last season in overtime. Before that, you'd have to go back to Pittsburgh in 2017, when Hundley was QB.

James from Appleton, WI

I saw a story about researchers counting sacks that move Willie Davis to the top of the Packers' all-time list, ahead of Clay Matthews. Do you think Clay saw that and thought, "But how many of those sacks were 'legal'?"

Good one. I've seen a lot of "estimates" that Willie Davis had 100 career sacks, and these researchers have pegged his total at 93½.

Ron from Broken Arrow, OK

Mike, with the exception of James Lofton and your fellow co-worker Larry McCarren, which player off the 1982 Packer playoff team would you like to have available to play for the Packers in 2021?

Speaking of adjusted sack totals, I'd take Ezra Johnson, who is now third in franchise history based on Pro Football Reference's revised list with 82, behind Davis and Matthews. Johnson was a defensive end in his day, but I'm sure he could rush the passer from the interior pretty well, too.

With 63 days until the regular-season opener, packers.com looks back at those who have worn No. 63 in Green Bay.

Jeff from Victorville, CA

Good morning Mike! What time is your alarm set for during football season and what time is it set for on Sunday for an early game? When do you arrive at the stadium on game day?

I usually arrive in the range of 2-3 hours before kickoff. On a non-game day, I try not to waltz in before 9 a.m. if I don't have to because we're often here well past 5.

Brian from Moncks Corner, SC

Watching NFL Network replay of SB 32, where would you rank that QB SB match?

It's definitely in the top five for me, but I want no part of parsing the particulars on that list. There have been at least a dozen Super Bowls pitting Hall of Fame (or likely to be HOF) QBs against one another. I wouldn't know how to actually go about ranking them.

Bob from Oshkosh, WI

Glad to have you guys back. So do you know if there's any dialogue at all going on between Rodgers and the powers that he has a beef with?

I have no idea.

Steven from San Diego, CA

Why wouldn't the Packers' front office just close the door on Aaron and move on?

Because he gives them the best chance to win in 2021.

Phil from Marietta, GA

It certainly seems as though GB won't trade AR, at least not this year. And if he sits out, his contract tolls, so he's still obligated to the team for the additional years. He's likely too competitive to retire. So it looks like the most probable outcome is his return for 2021. Will all of the histrionics from this offseason be a distraction – if the media harps on it all year – and would there be any division in the locker room?

That would be mostly up to him. Rodgers would control how much he speaks about it publicly and how he handles any discussion with his teammates.

Dan from Elizabethtown, KY

Can Aaron win another MVP in 2021?

Sure. Or another Aaron in this offense could win his first.

Jeff from Milwaukee, WI

Which draft pick will see the most playing time in 2021?

Hard to say. If Josh Myers wins the starting center job and stays healthy, it'll definitely be him. Otherwise, it could be Eric Stokes or Amari Rodgers.

Sandy from Green Bay, WI

Thanks for posting the 2021 countdown, jersey-style, ongoing photo collections. It is a great way to cover so many bases as it reminds us of and reacquaints us with Packer players and uniforms throughout the history of the team, and even provides some glimpses of Lambeau Field, the sidelines, weather conditions, etc., over the years. This feature is truly a walk through history and I look forward to every new photo collection. Please extend my appreciation to everyone who is putting this together!

Credit there goes to our interns, Madeline and Jen, as we are in the process of transitioning from the former to the latter for the upcoming season.

Gary from Hayward, WI

Do the Packers have any passing plays which start with run blocking (like play-action or RPO)? It seems that might freeze the LBs or even some up DBs for an instant and create some voids in the pass coverage, but of course would only be possible on quick passes. Or are NFL defenses just too quick?

The RPOs the Packers most frequently run are the quick, horizontal throws that begin with the line firing off like a running play. The decision is the QB's in the moment, so both the back and the receiver have to expect the ball.

Tony from Morrison, IL

Excuse my ignorance, but what are the strategic advantages for home teams in hockey? Ice conditions? Lasers instead of nets?

Last line change. After a whistle, the home team gets to make the last call on which line takes the ice for the next faceoff.

Keith from Dodgeville, WI

Insiders, do umpires get graded? I am getting pretty disgusted with some of the inconsistent calls. The Brewers got shafted a couple of times against the Reds.

Umpiring is not Major League Baseball's strong suit at the moment. Every team has been shafted, numerous times.

Jeff from Lake Forest, CA

Spoff, I'm not sure how I feel about the back-pocket cheat sheet scouting reports in baseball. The tablets in the dugout are one thing, but I'm growing weary seeing pitchers and fielders reach for their back pocket to see where to line up or what pitches to throw. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

I've got no problem with it. I'd rather see them glance at a card than have the game delayed while dugout personnel shout or signal instructions.

Ron from Waukesha, WI

What two or three areas on offense and on defense do the Packers need to improve this season? And I already know the answer for special teams. Everything but kicking field goals.

On offense, just repeating (or coming close to) what they did will be challenging enough. They were first in the league in touchdowns, total points, fewest turnovers, and red-zone efficiency. They were second on third down and in fewest sacks allowed. It's hard to find areas to improve. Defensively, the rushing average per carry allowed was too high (4.55), ranking 21st, though it did improve over the final month of the season. The unit also needs to generate more turnovers – 18 in 16 regular-season games isn't enough to be an elite defense.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

The long slow journey back up the mountain begins. Has there ever been a more anticipated first day of training camp with the Rodgers rubber meeting the road and the first public practice since 2019?

I don't know. There was a lot swirling around in the buildup to '06, '08, '11, and '19, but this probably tops them all.

Michelle from Ringgold, GA

What do you think is the biggest strength the Packers have going into this season?

Their roster. Happy Tuesday.


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