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Inbox: The Packers have a lot of work to do

It’s a challenge to relish


Andrew from Battle Creek, MI

I just must have the worst questions in the world! I'm sorry!

Don't give up.

Rod from Chugiak, AK

Re: Al Harris, what I most remember him for besides his near shut-down ability was his strength for a CB's lean body type, and even more for his incredible toughness. Wasn't it a ruptured pancreas that he came back from amazingly quickly to play that same season? A freakin' ruptured pancreas! Prob'ly not even completely healed!

For the record, it was a ruptured spleen, and yeah, Harris had a particular toughness about him, no doubt. What I remember most were his one-on-one battles from 2007-09 vs. Megatron. He got really fired up for assignments like those.

Janet from Brown Deer, WI

Let's say the Packers can pick up just one high-profile free agent this year...which position would you target for your one high-profile signing?

Again, I want to see the market at different positions first. If I'm picking one position, I want to find the position at which I can get the best value, and availability will factor into that.

Blake from Itasca, IL

No question, just a comment: I think management will earn their stripes this offseason. Not to dismiss last year's free-agency haul and relatively good draft class – they did a great job and would be hard to replicate. My feelings come from limited cap space and a draft pick order that we are used to seeing. In my opinion, we will get to see the true finesse of our personnel department and bear witness to a lot of hard decisions. The game within the game within the game. Thanks y'all.

For a 13-3 team that came one game away, the Packers have a lot of work to do, and the personnel department isn't blind to that. You're right, the circumstances are drastically different this offseason, which makes improvement more difficult and reduces the margin for error, but it's a challenge to relish.

Russ from Henrico, VA

If the Packers draft/sign/develop a receiver who can truly take the top off, how much more effective do the current receivers get? Backs out the backfield, special attention to Davante Adams and a genuine deep threat would likely open up lots of space for Allen Lazard, Jake Kumerow and the tight ends. It seems that one addition could turn the current group into something genuinely vicious.

That's why I made the analogy about a baseball starting rotation a couple of weeks ago. When you add someone who changes the pecking order, it's a boost for the entire group.

Randy from Sheboygan, WI

What do you think was the play of the year as far as the Packers were concerned?

I was just thinking about this the other day, and if we define "play of the year" as the single play that had the biggest impact on how the season played out, I think I'd have to go with Kevin King's interception in the end zone in Week 2 to hold off the Vikings. If the Packers had started 1-1 and lost that first game to Minnesota, a whole lot might've been different.

Doug from Union Grove, WI

The offseason jet lag has gotten to me early this year, so forgive me. As a charter member of pre-Disqus Ask Vic/Insider Inbox, I can't help but wonder, do either of you "ever" get as tired of us as I do sometimes?

You really have to ask that?

George from North Mankato, MN

When evaluating draft picks, how much weight is put into the quality of competition that one faces? Do you think scouts rate players from power conferences higher than those from more obscure colleges?

If the film shows they were up against tougher competition, and NFL-bound players, on a regular basis, then yes. But it's about the one-on-one matchups on tape, not just the teams on the schedule.

Kerry from South Range, WI

There are 337 invited prospects to the combine. Would I be wrong to estimate that some of them go undrafted?

There are 256 draft picks, and several players not invited to the combine will get drafted, so there's often 100 or more combine invitees who don't get selected.

Justin from Los Angeles, CA

Who pays for players to attend the combine? The league, teams, agents? I'm just curious how players who come from more modest means or smaller schools afford it, and how they afford the prep it must take to be ready.

The league pays all the players' expenses to attend the combine. As for the pre-combine prep, agents will often front that money for players.

Julian from Gastonia, NC

Given Bryan Bulaga's age and the importance of keeping Rodgers healthy, do you think it's possible the Packers use the non-exclusive tag on Bulaga for one year, rather than sign him to a longer-term contract? I know the Packers usually don't tag players but it may be worth it this year to settle the right side of the line for one more year. The cap hit would be high, but only for one year.

I don't see it, because the tag value for offensive linemen is pretty much set by the top salaries at left tackle, which are higher than those at right tackle (though the gap is narrowing a bit). It's an option, but an unlikely one in my view.

Donna from Farley, WI

After watching the highlights from Aaron Jones, it really shows just how smart these athletes are. Knowing that all positions take so much skill, what position do you think is the toughest to play besides quarterback?

Cornerback. The other guy always knows where he's going, the rules are stacked against you, and every fan wants you cut as soon as you give up a first down. The combination of physical skills and mental fortitude needed to succeed at the position isn't easy to come by.

Michelle from Ringgold, GA

How many more seasons do you think Rodgers will play?

I expect him at a minimum to play out his contract, which would be four more seasons, at least.

Brett from Oshkosh, WI

I remember last offseason, one of the little things people made a big stink about was slot WR, and how we didn't seem to have a specialist there. I recall you two kinda shrugging it off because LaFleur wants all his receivers to be slot/boundary guys. So Wes (maybe Mike too), is there something specific you can point to that makes you see slot WR as a position of need now? Something LaFleur said, simple observation, somebody else changing your opinion, etc.?

There's definitely a place for smaller, shiftier perimeter weapons in LaFleur's offense, which I wasn't totally sold on until I saw him rather quickly incorporate a newcomer like Tyler Ervin into some packages. Also, as the season wore on, it became clear Adams was the team's best slot receiver as well as the team's best boundary receiver. That's not ideal.

Richard from Clearwater, MN

The back-shoulder throw used to be a staple of the offense, but hasn't appeared to be since Jordy left. Is it because it's simply not part of the offense anymore, or was that bond between Rodgers and Jordy just that special?

It's not as prominent, but it's still there. Adams caught his share, I recall one or two with Lazard, and Aaron Jones caught a TD pass vs. Oakland on a back-shoulder throw. It just wasn't the traditional type along the sideline.

Terrance from Sun Prairie, WI

Can Aaron Jones be used more as a WR next year?

I don't think 49 catches for 474 yards and three TDs is his max if that's what you're asking.

Tony from Bronxville, NY

Guys, following up on Robert from Verona's comment about broadcasters getting help in spotting the ball, holding calls, etc., I understand that the broadcast team also sits with the team coaches, I think on Friday, and are given a summary of the game plan. The broadcasters can then somewhat predict what might happen on the field. Any truth to that?

Yes, those are called production meetings, and they involve the broadcast team meeting separately with the head coaches and select players from each team. They don't necessarily get a summary of the game plan, but a few nuggets here and there to help them prepare.

Eli from Yardley, PA

Great points on Pete Rose I had never thought about and I completely agree with. I felt Manfred looked weak for not vacating the 2017 World Series. What are your thoughts on that and giving players immunity?

With no definitive way to determine all the players involved or not involved, I can understand the reluctance to discipline players, and if granting immunity helped the investigation find more answers, I can live with that trade. But the 2017 championship absolutely should be vacated. I've believed since the day the punishments were first announced, and fell short, the incomplete investigation into the Red Sox and the fear of potentially having to vacate two World Series titles made MLB hesitate. It's the wrong decision.

Matt from Waunakee, WI

Hi Mike, what are your thoughts on the punishments Hornung and Karras received compared to Rose?

I think Rose's would have been similar, and certainly not a lifetime ban, if he had just admitted it and accepted it when caught like Hornung did. Karras was contrite as well shortly after the suspension was handed down, which initially was "indefinite," but it ended after 11 months because the players publicly apologized and realized what they did was wrong. It took Rose, what, a couple of decades at least? Sorry.

Thomas from Cedar Rapids, IA

Mike, would you have followed Shoeless Joe into the corn to get a story?


Alan from Madison, WI

In baseball when a pitching prospect has a 100-plus mph fastball teams will take a chance on him and draft him high even if he has awful control and no offspeed pitches with poor fundamentals. Does football feel the same about skill-position players who run a 4.3 40 but may have lousy hands, run lousy patterns, etc.?

Not to the same degree when there are no minor leagues in which to bring him along for five years or more.

Jeff from Coventry, RI

Wondering what your thoughts are of the Broncos and Rams keeping assistant coaches/coordinators home from the combine to study film instead of attending the drills and doing interviews. Do these teams just have limited draft picks or wave of the future?

I'm guessing if their personnel departments want opinions or evaluations on certain players, they'll have those coaches watch video of the combine workouts (as well as college film, which most do anyway), and they'll use their pre-draft visits for the coaches to meet the prospects if necessary. There are different ways to attack the work. I have not heard of any change in approach by the Packers, which has been to include most assistant coaches for the relevant portions of the combine involving their positions, but when we get a chance to talk to Gutekunst, we'll certainly ask him.

Mike from Kalamazoo, MI

March 27, 2020, Season 3 of "Ozark" begins!

The boss is getting the PTO request today. Happy Monday.