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Inbox: The Packers are making sure it stays that way

Having the utmost confidence in your returner is a priceless commodity

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S Rudy Ford celebrates with teammates

Dar from Mansfield, TX

Well, Wes, here we are again. Eating our pancakes and waiting for news to break. Hope you've got maple syrup!

Straight from the tap. Good morning from Arizona!

Keith from Lincoln, IL

I'm thinking you and Larry need to drive to the NFL Annual Meetings in Phoenix in a motor home. Video installments from "Hod and The Rock on the Road" sounds like a click ratings bonanza for packers.com!

Don't joke like that. For a minute, I feared we might actually need to go that route thanks to the unexpected snowstorm that hit Northeast Wisconsin Saturday morning. I actually wrote most of this Inbox while delayed at the Appleton airport. I'm now finishing the column under a cloudless Phoenix sky, while Bill Belichick enjoys his breakfast a few tables down from me. What a country.

Mark from West Des Moines, IA

How important do you feel the Keisean Nixon re-signing was for the Packers' special-teams unit?

Critical. Outside of the Packers finding a resolution to the quarterback quandary, re-signing Nixon was the most important move Green Bay could make this offseason. It wasn't just Nixon's record-breaking production on kickoff returns. It's the peace of mind he provided back there. That pit in everyone's stomach is no longer there. Nixon is to thank for that. Having the utmost confidence in your returner is a priceless commodity.

Jim from Mundelein, IL

Justin Hollins, Eric Wilson, Rudy Ford, Nixon, Corey Ballentine, Tyler Davis, Tarvarius Moore, Matt Orzech. These players all have several years in the league, play special teams and are relatively inexpensive. Six of the eight were Packers last year. Given that we are on "hold" pending Aaron Rodgers' outcome, I think these signings are significant. I would enjoy your perspective.

In the span of 12 months, special teams have gone from a weakness to a strength for the Packers. Now, they're making sure it stays that way. The proactive measures the team took to re-sign many of the players who contributed to that unit's growth shows just how serious the organization is about keeping that phase on an upward trajectory. There's also a lot of positional versatility and experience in that group. Hollins, Wilson, Nixon, and Moore have all been key defensive role players, while Ford will be competing for a starting job on the back end this summer.

Bob from Port Saint Lucie, FL

It appears that the competition committee did not make any changes to the "QB push" play. Do you see where every team will start utilizing it on very short yardage plays? How do you defense it?

I was surprised to see that wasn't on the list of proposals. If that play is permitted in 2023, I could see NFL teams abusing it next season. I mean, why not put AJ Dillon and Kenny Clark in the backfield and push the QB's keister to De Pere every time it's third- or fourth-and-short? One measure that I found particularly interesting is Detroit's proposal to have all personal fouls subject to review. I love that. Referees use video replay to review flagrant fouls in the NBA. Why aren't we reviewing roughing the passer and unnecessary roughness?

Max from Libertyville, IL

Dear Insiders, longtime reader, new team owner and first-time writer. Being from the Chicago area, I've heard the kitchen sink that the Packers' QB era is over and done with, and Jordan Love can't continue it. Am I being too much an optimist that I think JL10 can be a high-quality starter in the NFL? With the O-line and weapons, I feel he has a lot to work with, and possibly more to come. Thanks for all you do!

Welcome, Max. Thanks for reading. This is a great situation for a young QB to enter into. As I've said before, there aren't many first-year starters who have two Pro Bowl offensive linemen blocking their blindside, a pair of established veterans in the backfield and an emerging group of young receivers on the outside. Now, that might not mean much to Chicago talk radio, but it gives Green Bay hope for a bright future.

Chuck from Santa Ana, CA

If Mason Crosby is not re-signed, do you think there is a chance that our new QB1 would take his number? I just think it would be a cool jersey and would sell like crazy.

Don't start those rumors. Love will remain No. 10, the same number he wore in both high school and college. It still baffles me only two players have worn No. 2 in a regular-season game: Crosby and Charlie Mathys (1925-26).

James from Santa Maria, CA

Mike, that was the most measured and mellow mic drop answer to Jim from St. Paul! Nice. Two things on my mind. First, AR12 has been the man and still is, and in my humble opinion, he is stepping aside for the younger man with class. Moving on and giving Love a chance is more than Brett offered him. Next, I saw a brief discussion regarding renaming II. I'm voting for Hall of Fame chat! With Mike and Wes first-ballot shoo-ins and the Rock already there. It seems like a no-brainer! What say you?

Rename II? To quote Mike Spofford, "OH, COME ONNNNN!" That would be like renaming Ask Vic. On the quarterback front, there's a great deal of mutual respect between Rodgers and Love. Again, I have an appreciation for the way Love conducted himself the past three years. A lesser man could've made things much more difficult on Rodgers and the organization, but Love kept his head down, did what was asked of him and was the best backup he could be for the Green Bay Packers.

Steve from Fox Lake, WI

I may be in the minority, but I would like to see the Packers run it back with AR one more time. The Jets seem to think having a QB of his caliber gives their roster a chance to make the playoffs and possibly the Super Bowl. I agree, but I think our roster is just as good. It seems the Packers believed that, too. Otherwise, they would not have offered him the contract they did last year. Make nice and stay the course.

I, too, may be in the minority in that I'm not dismissing any QB possibility. Until I see a press release, Aaron Rodgers is still the Green Bay Packers' quarterback. I still believe this team can compete this year regardless of how the QB situation shakes out. It has veteran players where it matters and plenty of young talent to fill in the gaps.

Rick from Trempealeau, WI

So, we've had roughly 31 years of watching dynamic GB QBs that were often better at improvising after a play broke down than playing vanilla football (aka Kirk Cousins). Have you seen any improv from Jordan Love after a play blew up that makes you think, "he's been paying attention to how Mr. Rodgers does it?"

For sure, and it starts with Love's eyes and footwork. He improved in both areas this past year, which I think helped Love when plays broke down. My favorite thing about Love is his fearlessness in the pocket. He does not panic under pressure. Love keeps looking downfield. The key for him coming out of the gate is going to be reading defenses and protecting the football.

Jim from Oconomowoc, WI

There has been no talk about who is going to be the backup QB. Any insight?

No talk? I discussed this a week or so ago, James. Danny Etling is back after spending last season on the practice squad. He'll likely compete with another QB for the No. 2 job if Rodgers doesn't return. Personally, I favor drafting a QB like Ted Thompson did in 2008 (Brian Brohm and Matt Flynn). I've never been big on signing veterans to multimillion-dollar deals to be a backup. Given the Packers' tight cap situation, I'd rather spend those dollars elsewhere.

Joe from Pittsburgh, PA

Looking back on it, how serious do you think the Jets were about Derek Carr? I think it was Rodgers or bust for them from the beginning. And Joe Namath will be presenting his No. 12 jersey to Aaron with a huge press conference. Talk about pressure and high expectations. We'll see how Rodgers responds.

The writing was on the wall with Carr and New Orleans as soon as he got back from his visit with the Saints and requested out of his contract with the Raiders. That partnership made sense on so many levels. I assume the Jets performed their due diligence on Carr, but in the end, I had him pegged for New Orleans from the start.

Julia from Gastonia, NC

I understand that Megan likes Michael Mayer with the 15th pick, but tight ends are deep this year. I'm just not able to reconcile how the defense was 28th against the run last year. For me, that's the starting point. I like that the defense is young and should continue to develop, but good tackling seems lacking overall in the NFL. I hope they use early pick(s) on defenders that excel against the run. For me, getting after the QB comes after stopping the run.

That's a strong possibility. Jarran Reed and Dean Lowry combined for 1,187 defensive snaps in 2022. Even if Devonte Wyatt and T.J. Slaton make significant jumps, the Packers will still need more D-linemen to step up and fill that rotation.

Travis from Green Bay, WI

Gutey has shown the desire to double dip in the draft at a position when the need arises. It would seem that alignment works again this year for the tight end position. With the strength of the draft and the Packers lacking, what do you think the likelihood is? Any other positions more likely? WR?

It's rare for the Packers to double-dip at tight end. The last time they did that was in 2011, drafting D.J. Williams in the fourth round and Ryan Taylor in the seventh. According to DraftHistory.com, the only other time since the NFL-AFL merger Green Bay has selected more than one tight end in the same draft was 1970: Rich McGeorge (second round) and Frank Patrick (10th round). There were 442 players drafted over 17 rounds that year, by the way.

The Green Bay area received approximately 15 inches of snow through the afternoon of Saturday, March 25, 2023.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Mel Kiper Jr. is generally regarded as the top media draft analyst. Of course, when he "misses" on a prospect, Kiper's not scorned by millions of fans like GMs tend to be. I'm sure Mel's gig is more enjoyable and profitable than NFL GMs. Still, I wonder – do you think he (or any other media analyst) would succeed as GM of an NFL team?

Your guess is as good as mine, but the hiring of Mike Mayock didn't work out too well for the Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders.

Dave from Lake Zurich, IL

The toughest trophy to win, as relates to physical demands on the body, in professional sports is the Stanley Cup. There's no doubt about it.

Sure, but we're talking about two different things. My point was every round of the NFL playoffs is a win-or-go-home proposition. Physically, there's no question the NHL playoffs are a grind. But like the NBA, you don't have to be perfect every game to win it all.

Mike from Rhinelander, WI

Good morning II. I loved the Al Harris article, one of my favorites. I heard a rumor years ago that Harris was given a Super Bowl ring following the 2010 season. Any truth to this? Also, when I grow weary of the current drama, I scour your archives. The Mitchell Henry article is still my all-time favorite and one of your best pieces. Thank you for all you do.

Thank you for that, Mike. It's no rumor. Al Harris did indeed receive a Super Bowl ring in 2011.

Len from Spooner, WI

Thanks for keeping us posted daily. Face-to-face interactions at the owners meetings might move things along. Does Gutey attend? Have a great day.

Mark Murphy, Brian Gutekunst and Matt LaFleur are all here in Phoenix. We'll have stories and videos on all the happenings, with Gutekunst scheduled to speak with us later today.

John from Fairbanks, AK

Hi Wes. Looks like you picked a good time to head to Phoenix. I hope you were able to shovel your way to the airport. The photos and video of snow falling on Lambeau Field were great. But it made me wonder what's going on with the construction cranes in the background. Packers related? Thanks for being there for us, even when the "there" is Arizona.

Oh, I had my Ariens snow blower running before I left for the airport on Saturday. The cranes are for the upgrades the organization is making to the scoreboards in the north and south end zone.

Fred from La Crosse, WI

What's your favorite Beatles song? Mine is "All You Need Is Love."

"Tomorrow never knows."

Terry from Green Bay, WI

Hi Wes. On January 17, 2015, I broke my collarbone and surgery was scheduled for the next morning. So, I watched the game we don't talk about in the hospital recovery room. So, I really don't appreciate being reminded of that weekend when I see the talk about 'the game we don't talk about' in II.

My goodness. Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?

Dwight from Brooklyn, NY

As a writer of history (mostly military), I enjoyed your reference to President Andrew Jackson's inaugural party in 1829. And, since it had as its centerpiece a gigantic cheese, it could be said that President Jackson was the original Cheesehead. I'll see myself out, now.

It also could be said Jackson's staff pouring juice and whiskey into tubs on the front lawn, to get people to leave the White House, could be considered the original tailgate. I, too, will see myself out. Like I said, more to come on packers.com later today from the NFL Annual Meetings. Have a great Monday.

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