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Inbox: The Packers have everything to gain

It is invaluable when a team has peace of mind at kicker


Dennis from Appleton, WI

It's refreshing to read some articles of late that warn not to take the Packers too lightly. They then recognize the various levels of talent on this Packers team. I cannot wait! Go Packers!

The Packers are needle movers. The national media loves talking about them. Now, throw in an historic Aaron Rodgers trade and it's the offseason gift that keeps on giving for the NFL. I think this current team welcomes the doubters. For so long, this division has continually chased Green Bay. Well, let's see how the NFC North manages expectations. Meanwhile, the Packers have everything to gain.

Richard from Newport, Washington, WA

During the time you have covered the Packers what player has been the best Packer rookie you have seen play?

I didn't start covering the team full-time until 2012, so my pick would have to be David Bakhtiari, but fellow 2013 draft picks Eddie Lacy and Micah Hyde are high on that list, too. I don't want to speak for Spoff, but I'm guessing Greg Jennings would be his pick – or close to it, anyway.

Michael from Winchester, VA

I saw the comment Friday about not having a Pro Bowl kicker in a while. Were it not for one year of Dave Rayner in 2006, our starting kicker list since the '90s (Ryan Longwell and Mason Crosby) would be as short as our list of starting QBs. Doesn't that pretty much tell you everything you need to know about the quality of our kickers? We've been spoiled with the brevity of both lists, not that I'm complaining.

It's an elite fraternity. Jacke, Longwell, and Crosby have been the Packers' kicker for all but two of my 35 years on this planet. That's a ridiculous run in the National Football League, especially given the difficulty of kicking in northeastern Wisconsin during the winter months. It is invaluable when a team has peace of mind at that position.

Scott from Palmetto, FL

Wes, would you be so kind as to list the players on special teams at the end of last season … maybe an indicator of who makes this year's 53. Thank you!

You obviously had stalwarts such as Tyler Davis, Dallin Leavitt, Eric Wilson, Corey Ballentine, and Isaiah McDuffie who are back, but what was cool about last year was watching the young players come on. Innis Gaines, who played 26 snaps against Detroit (13 defense, 13 special teams), wasn't even on the roster the first half of the year, while Tariq Carpenter was a "healthy scratch." They were rotating in as flyers by year's end. My hunch is this is the most returning experience Green Bay has had when it comes to coverage players on "We-fense."

Tom from Harker Heights, TX

Piggybacking on the Shaun from Bayside question regarding RB salaries and career longevity: I have wondered if Aaron Jones might be an ideal example of a seasoned veteran who could extend his career another four or five years by transitioning to slot receiver. He seems like a guy who would be a natural at running the jet sweep, not to mention an ability to catch the ball all over the field. Such a move would open the door for a third running back and an expanded playbook. What do you think?

I think you're spot on. Today's running backs need to do more than just run behind the tackles to last. Jones has developed into an all-around threat, and it's made him irreplaceable at one of the league's most oft-replaced positions. On and off the field, Aaron Jones is everything an NFL running back should be.

Jeffery from Brooklyn, WI

Hey guys, as the RB position gets critiqued, I will never understand why it's not considered a premium position that warrants a premium pay rate. They touch the ball just as much if not more than a WR so why not pay them accordingly?

Because someone needs to block for the quarterback…and sack the quarterback…and intercept the quarterback. I've thought a lot about this over the years and never seem to get closer to a solution. The problem is getting the NFL and NFLPA to rally around a measure that addresses a particular position and not every player in the league. The only way I think you get around it would be a rule similar to the "mid-level" exemption in the NBA.

Bob from Covington, KY

A successful year for Jordan Love: I hope to see him come out of the year healthy, both physically and mentally. Look AR12, Patrick Mahomes, and Joe Burrow in the eyes and you see confidence that they know what has to be done and will get it done. I think if we are still seeing that from JL10 in Week 17 (or later), the team has a winner; No. 3 in a row. All the other things can come with experience and coaching, but that mental toughness and confidence will take him … and the team … a long way.

Confidence is the catalyst for a successful quarterback at any level of football. Having swagger obviously affects your own playstyle but it also trickles down to the rest of the locker room, too. When a team trusts its quarterback, it brings the best out of the other 47 players on the gameday roster.

Steve from Middletown, KY

Good morning. In regard to DPI, the potential for a deep spot foul would suggest sending a WR downfield on every pass play. However, I would like to see a WR go deep repeatedly to start the game, especially early in the season, to draw a safety deeper in coverage with the hopes of opening up the shorter throws for JL. AR took his shots, but do you see a more ball-controlled offense this year? Love to see a deep shot to Watson on the first play again this year! GPG!

I don't know if you guys saw Warren Sharp's tweet this week, but the Packers went deep plenty of times last year. The problem was only six of those 40 attempts beyond 30 yards were completed, with two touchdowns and four interceptions. The structure of Green Bay's offense will threaten the top of the coverage organically, but Love and the receivers just have to make their shots count. If you draw a DPI, fantastic … but that shouldn't be the goal of your downfield passing game.

John from McHenry, IL

Lukas Van Ness. That name just sounds like a Green Bay Packer. Can't wait to see him play.

I know I opened Pandora's box with the quip about LVN being the guy you want leading your team off the bus, but I really do mean it. Over the years, there will be guys who come in with certain nicknames and monikers, and you're naturally like, "OK, all right. Yeah, yeah." Hercules fits Van Ness perfectly. He is built different.

Sam from San Diego, CA

Wes, it dawned on me the other day with the departure of both Rodgers and Crosby this offseason, the Packers have no players left on the roster from Super Bowl XLV. It truly is a new era in Green Bay. When is the last time the Pack didn't have a player on the roster who had won a Super Bowl with the team?

Coincidentally, it was 2008-09, Rodgers' first two years as starting quarterback.

Paul from Ellensburg, WA

Hey fellas, regarding really bad losses that have not yet been mentioned, the Cardinals playoff loss in 2015 was significant. I was in a pub in Seattle with my wife the night before flying across the country. I was devastated as we appeared to be losing badly. Then the Janis x 2! One of the greatest moments I've ever witnessed in my 20-plus years of fandom. Then … total heartbreak as the defense let legend Larry Fitzgerald catch and run right through them all over the field.

The Packers deserved their fate in 2014. They made too many mistakes to win that game. The 2015 playoff game was the polar opposite, but the result didn't fit the story. From a coverage standpoint, that's what made that game maddening to me. The Packers did everything in the second half of that game to win except win.

Nate from Hartford, WI

Maybe this is just my perception, but I felt like there was a stubborn unwillingness to attack the middle of the field last season. I get there's risk of turnover, but doesn't it make defending the pass far too easy for a defense when they know the ball only goes outside?

Inside or outside, you have to force the defense to cover the entire field. A good example of that is the 2014 opener in Seattle when the Packers were content leaving Jarrett Boykin against Richard Sherman on the right perimeter. In theory, it makes sense because Seattle didn't travel Sherman with anyone. However, Sherman pitching a shutout vs. Boykin took away a third of the field, leaving the Packers to deal with the other 10 Seahawk defenders on the rest of it. No bueno.

Sam from Melbourne, IA

I've never watched "Hard Knocks" before but if the Jets are on this year I'll probably watch.

Twenty years into that series, I have no knocks left to harden. The ghost of Curly Lambeau could be making a guest spot and you couldn't get me to turn it on.

Matt from Kolesin, Poland

Hi Insiders! Offseason at its best. I consider being a pro athlete a dream profession. I like my job; I invested much in it and have long-term plans but if Brian Gutekunst called me to be a practice-squad guy for the Packers, I'd be in Green Bay no sooner than tomorrow. Would you change your job for being a practice-squad member or your bar is set up there in final roster or even at being a full-time starter?

Matt, I am 5-foot-nothing, 100-and-nothing … and even if I were the size of Lukas Van Ness, I wouldn't be mentally strong enough to play football at the highest of levels. I know my limits. But your question brings me back to the story I wrote on Tyler Goodson last month, where he talked about the difficulty of watching games from the sideline after being a perennial contributor at Iowa. These guys don't want to just wear the uniform and collect the paycheck – they want to play. That is the mentality you need to have.

John from Heber, UT

The idea of an OI MVP is more than a little ridiculous. These four candidates are favorites of you two, Wes and Mike, by your continually selecting and publishing their questions (and now even those from their spouses). They make you two feel better; I'm underwhelmed. Why are you two foisting them upon us? It's just all so circular. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure they are good people and obviously great Packers fans. But this MVP business is a clear sign you are taking yourselves WAY too seriously.

Why foist them upon you? Because it's our column. Outsider Inbox is a week to celebrate all the wonderful folks who make Insider Inbox what it is the other 51 weeks of the year. I want to champion those people and give them the credit they're rightly due. This column is nothing without them. If you have a problem with that…well, it is a holiday week. Maybe take a vacation or three?

Terry from Rochester, MN

Not a question really but I had to respond to, Christopher from Stratford Upon Avon, UK, regarding his choice of greatest Packer victories on Thanksgiving 1986. I grew up a Lions fan and watched that game with my future wife and her entire family, all diehard Packer fans. When Walter Stanley returned the punt to win the game, I became a Packer fan at that very moment and have never looked back!

That's a nice memory to bring us into the weekend and the start of Outsider Inbox. I will be back next Monday (July 10) to wrap up OI and pivot back to the usual format. Have a great week, everyone…even John from Grumpyville.

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