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Inbox: The Packers want to push the gas up front

Green Bay has plenty of unique options to build its backfield identity

DL Devonte Wyatt
DL Devonte Wyatt

Al from Green Bay, WI

Success affects people in different ways. The legendary Bart Starr is probably the poster child for how to use on-field success, and the platform it provides, for the betterment of humanity. This, while remaining humble and caring, sets him apart. What advice might Mr. Starr have been wanting to share with the budding star Jordan Love in light of Love's rising fame?

I would never speak for Mr. Starr, but I'd imagine he'd tell Jordan some version of "keep being who you are" because that's a pretty special dude.

Russ from Odell, IL

Gentlemen, thanks for your hard work and dedication to your jobs. Just with the changes in the defensive system and coaches was reason for optimism, but after watching Jeff Hafley interviews, I am very positive about a new day dawning on the defense. He's positive, high energy, and explains his expectations. Effort, attitude, and commitment to the team and each other. Positivity is contagious, just as negativity is. I anticipate a very different defense with positive results this season.

And that's from just a brief 15 minutes at a podium. Imagine what Hafley is like in the meeting room on a daily basis. I'm still learning about Hafley like all of you, but he sure seems like a guy for whom I'd wanna play.

Kyle from St. Charles, MO

I'd always enjoyed the combination of the AJs in the backfield, but from all the rumblings from minicamp for the rookie and the proven track record of the new vet, I'm really excited to see this potential new duo of Josh Jacobs and MarShawn Lloyd giving the NFC North fits for the foreseeable future. The offense as a whole seems to be setting up to be quite entertaining this season. It's crazy how much expectations can change in a year, and it definitely beats the alternative. Only 120 short days 'til São Paulo.

It's an exciting time because I think everyone in the Packers' backfield has a chip on his shoulder. Jacobs wants to show he's still the same All-Pro RB he was two years ago, while AJ Dillon is looking to get back on track after an injury-riddled 2023 campaign. Lloyd has a very unique skillset and will get as many opportunities as he proves himself ready to handle in Year 1. Echoing Adam Stenavich, I'm just excited to see what the rookie running back does with the ball in his hands. Long story short, Green Bay has plenty of unique options to build its backfield identity in the post-Aaron Jones era.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

A 1,000-yard receiver, Wes? I've watched the Packers for 65 years and the quality and depth they have in pass catchers is unprecedented. Four, five or six trusted WRs, two or three TEs and two or three RBs. In the passing game there is no way to predict where the yards will come from week-to-week or if a 1,000-yard receiver will emerge. This offense has the potential to be at least one of the best GB has ever fielded.

That's the other part of this thing. Last year, we all expected the backfield to carry the Packers' offense early on, but Jones' persistent hamstring injury wiped out that plan. Instead, the rookie receivers and tight ends stepped up in historic fashion.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Would you please explain Jordan Morgan's arm-length issue and what he needs to do to compensate for that?

Pundits enjoy making mountains out of whatever molehills they find. For offensive linemen, it's usually arm length. Ask Bryan Bulaga. If the Packers were worried about it, they wouldn't have drafted Morgan. Even if an O-lineman doesn't have prototypical arm length, he can overcome it with active hands…and Morgan has some of the biggest (nearly 11 inches) in this year's draft.

Stan from Pensacola, FL

The Pack's defensive weakness for over a decade is stopping the run. Did the draft solve that issue? Seems to me that the offense should be able to put up a lot of points so that will force other teams to somewhat abandon the run. I think that's the Pack's best run defense.

An aggressive, attacking mentality should have a lot to do with it. The Packers want to push the gas up front and take it to the opposition. Now, that could leave you vulnerable to a possible explosive play, but I think the right defensive playstyle and hats rushing to the ball will help mitigate that risk.

Bruce from Jackson, WI

Respectfully, Mike, I can't understand why you were so high on MVS while he was in GB and still think he was a highly successful pick. While Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams had high opinions of him at one point, he was one of the WRs Rodgers quit throwing to except for the deep ball. Over his four years in GB, he averaged 30 receptions, 538 receiving yards, just over three touchdowns, and a catch rate under 50% per year. His speed over the top couldn't overcome his dropped balls.

If you can't understand why Mike listed MVS, I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain what your eyes should've seen. Marquez Valdes-Scantling has 186 receptions for 3,155 yards and 16 touchdowns over six NFL seasons. That's more production than any other Day 3 wideout from 2018 by a wide margin. Only Russell Gage (224 catches for 2,491 yards and 14 TDs) is close. If that's not good enough, then consider this: the Packers received a higher compensatory pick for MVS (No. 170) than the fifth-round pick originally used to draft MVS (No. 174).

Bill from Clive, IA

When I read a quote from someone from the front office or the coaching staff say of a player, "His best football is ahead of him," I think wow, how quickly that has become a cliché. Seems to me like it also might be code for something else, but what? He's young? He lacks experience? He's raw? He's coachable? He's a rookie? What do you think it means? I can't imagine anyone ever saying the opposite about a rookie: "His best football is behind him."

On a long enough timeline, every phrase is a copy of a copy of a copy…

Gina from Waukesha, WI

Hi Mike and Wes. I'm wondering if Christian Watson learned anything helpful regarding his hamstring issues. Has he mentioned anything about it?

We haven't had a chance to talk with Watson yet, but everything seems to be on the up and up from what Brian Gutekunst and Matt LaFleur have said. It's only shorts and shirts right now but it's still good to hear that both Watson and Eric Stokes are healthy once again.

Craig from Sussex, WI

Lombardi's Packers usually finished the season playing in warm-weather cities for obvious reasons. I remember Ron Wolf saying he wanted teams coming up to Green Bay in December. What do you prefer?

Teams coming to Green Bay in January.

Steve from Hurricane, UT

Joe from Cedar Rapids, IA asked, "How did the Packers get a tougher strength of schedule than the Lions who won the division?" While Mike answered this question naming the different teams they play, isn't the first thing that jumps at you, the fact that we play two games against the Lions who were 12-5 and they play the Packers at 9-8? Don't you have to take these strengths of schedules with a grain of salt once the new season starts?

I take it all with a grain of salt. The Packers' 2022 schedule remains the best example of how a perceived "weak" schedule can quickly turn into one of the league's toughest. That's why they play the games.

Gary from Davenport, IA

I loved Mike's response about wanting to play a team in Week 2 that won by four touchdowns in Week 1. I won a national pool last year (no entry fee, so no gambling) in Week 2 because I told myself to forget everything I saw in Week 1. Yes, I did pick the Falcons to beat the Packers. Is there a more meaningless week during the season to evaluate NFL teams than the first week?

I felt like Detroit rose to the occasion last year after the NFL booked the Lions for the Thursday night opener against Kansas City. But in general, far too many conclusions are drawn from opening weekend because millions of football-starved fans haven't had anything to overanalyze.

Dustin from Kansas City, MO

I just saw Joe Burrow mention this in an interview and I kind of liked the idea. He thinks if (when) the NFL goes to an 18-game schedule, they should do an all-star break in the middle of the schedule like the other major sports do. I like this idea as it would keep teams from getting stuck with those early or late byes and keep things equal. However, I don't think the NFL is going to want a week with no games in the middle of the season. What do you think of this idea?

Once the NFL season begins, it breaks for no one. The league has built a monster that feasts every Thursday, Sunday, and Monday in the fall…and it must be fed. Living in a hypothetical world with a midseason all-star game, I still highly doubt any contender would want to risk its superstars getting injured at that key juncture of the year.

Linwood from Travelers Rest, SC

II, as players battle for starting, depth and even practice-squad spots, and, as players begin earning those roster spots, what considerations enter a coaches' mind when thinking about who might be a good practice-squad player? For example, one could be which player might best be able to emulate the opponent when practicing with the starters. Thanks for your always informative answers.

A lot goes into cutting the roster after training camp, but I don't think a player's potential value on the scout team is part of that formula. There have been plenty of years where the Packers keep a prospect or draft pick on the 53 to protect him from waivers but he rarely plays on Sundays, if at all. To me, performing well on the scout team is a player's best path to the gameday roster whether he's signed to the active roster or just called up from the practice squad. But it's more of an objective reality during the practice week than something you can project.

Bob from Rome, NY

Wes: You mentioned in a previous II post that a player was drafted this year after playing for four different teams in four years. I wanted to know the player but can't find anything. I also tried to decipher the transfer portal rules and I am more confused. Not sure how all that works with college majors and credit transfers (or maybe they don't care). If you or any other II reader/submitter can find out who it was that would be greatly appreciated! As always, thank you very much!

I can't remember the kid's name, but I should clarify two of those four schools were community colleges. It was mentioned on the ESPN broadcast on Day 3.

Nate from Lino Lakes, MN

What is your biggest pet peeve when it comes to other beat writers, during interviews with players/coaches?

Not listening to what the subject is saying. In my experience, the best questions are derived from conversations, not pre-conceived notions of what the answers should be.

CJ from Kinderhook, NY

Hey II, I heard Boomer Esiason remarking about Netflix buying the NFL's Christmas Day games as Netflix invests more into livestreaming events (like WWE Raw). Could you guys see an eventual future where all NFL games go off cable TV and are exclusively behind a pay wall of a streaming service?

Live sports are a valuable commodity for both cable providers and streaming services, and the NFL is the crown jewel. The answer to your question is really up to the networks and their ability to generate the revenue required to keep those contracts.

Chris from Weston, WI

We hear about when a player gets added to the roster, a corresponding cut has to be made. Could you explain that process in terms of timing? Does the add come, then the cut? Does the team have "X" number of hours to make a cut? I assume the team always has the team's talent/need ranked and can remove player 90 and add the new signee? Always enjoy reading!

All the moves are due to the league office by 3 p.m. CT, so I assume the Packers inform the player he's been released or waived injured and then submit the paperwork to the league for the player they're signing. It's like a child at the toy store – you can only get one toy and you have to put the other one back.

Tanner from Edgerton, WI

Morning Wes. Not so much a question but a cool story. I had the pleasure of attending the Madison Regional Economic Development & Diversity Summit last week where LeRoy Butler was the keynote speaker. To hear him tell his story of growing up a pigeon-toed kid in a rough neighborhood to him giving his best Reggie White and Mike Holmgren impersonations, to finally putting on the gold jacket was amazing! I really wanted to go up to him afterward and ask him if he knew Weston Hodkiewicz was his biggest fan.

He does :)

Douglas from Neenah, WI

Other teams' front offices aren't normally all that interesting but is Eliot Wolf in the running to be New England's next full-time general manager?

He better be. Eliot should already hold the GM title, in my opinion.

Scott from Salem, OR

3.8 there a GPA-to-Wonderlic conversion chart somewhere? Trying to work out a depth chart for a friend.

I did the Wonderlic about 10 years ago and scored a 27 for whatever that's worth. I didn't take much away from it other than I can see why some players would just say, "To heck with this…"

Matt from Forest Falls, CA

"Which makes him very much like just about any other coach I've covered in any sport at any level throughout my career. They have moods just like the rest of us." Dude this is an instant classic quote. Thanks!

Believe it or not, those are not holograms you see standing at the podium or locker…they're real human beings. Speaking of which, I want to wish a very special 37th-ish happy birthday to Ma Hod. I'll talk to you all next week.

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