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Inbox: The work already has begun

Jerry Gray is the right man for the Packers’ secondary job

Head Coach Matt LaFleur
Head Coach Matt LaFleur

Don from Aurora, Ontario

I thought the Packers' biggest need was to win their fifth Super Bowl title. Willing to bet most readers would agree with me.

Correct. And the work already has begun to get there in 2020-21. Good morning!

Drew from Melrose, WI

What prompts a positional coach to make a seemingly lateral move to another team like Jerry Gray did?

We'll talk with Gray at some point and gain a bit more clarity on what happened in Minnesota, but his resume speaks for itself. He mentored and developed a long list of Pro Bowl DBs during his time with the Vikings. Gray now will get the chance to work with a lot of young talent in Green Bay. By all accounts, he's the right man for the job.

Mike from Stevens Point, WI

No disrespect to Coach Simmons, but don't you feel good about the wealth of experience that just walked into the defensive secondary room?

To be sure, Gray has worked with some absolute stud defensive backs such as Harrison Smith and Xavier Rhodes, but also look at what he did with undrafted free agents such as Anthony Harris and Andrew Sendejo.

Jim from Eau Claire, WI

Who is your pick for Super Bowl MVP? Let's take the quarterbacks out of the equation just to make it interesting.

I have Kansas City winning the game. In order to do so, I think Patrick Mahomes needs to have an MVP performance against the 49ers' defense. If you're going to take him out of the equation, however, then I'll go with Tyreek Hill.

Rick from Pacifica, CA

Happy Offseason, II! You often preach that you never know how a season is going to unfold. The Niners have five first-round picks on their defensive line. Dee Ford, 2014, Arik Armstead, 2015, DeForest Buckner, 2016, Solomon Thomas, 2017, and Nick Bosa, 2019, with three of them in the first 10 picks. It all comes together at different times for different players and this was the Niners' year. I think this bodes well for the young defensive talent on the Packers' roster for the 2020 season.

Whenever a team makes the Super Bowl, look back to its draft three years prior. There's often a strong correlation. Not every pick is gonna hit but both San Francisco and Kansas City found some game-changers in 2017.

Chris from Milwaukee, WI

No pro football franchise has won three consecutive championships since Lombardi's teams did it in the '60s. Do you think it's probable in the NFL of today for a team to win three consecutive Super Bowls? Is it likely, in your opinion, either of the franchises playing on Sunday could pull it off?

I'll believe it when I see it in the free-agency era. Just look at how the Patriots' roster, and more specifically the defense, was gutted after last year's Super Bowl run.

JVC from Chandler, AZ

Regarding the question about this season's most memorable plays, the Aaron Rodgers' TD pass to Jamaal Williams in KC and Aaron Jones' TD run around left end in Week 16 are great choices, but I think Jones waving to the defender as he runs past him for a TD has to get honorable mention (the resulting fine notwithstanding).

Another underrated part of that play – Jones running to the back of the end zone and throwing a perfect pass to his twin brother in the front row. It was a nice gesture but also noteworthy because Jones swears he couldn't hit the broad side of a barn as a passer under normal circumstances.

Jonathan from Las Vegas, NV

The Davante Adams catch against Philly in '16...Aside from the catch, my favorite part was the ever-quotable Jon Gruden. He took a long pause during one of the slo-mo replays and said "... How did... Adams catch that ball...?" That was the cherry on top for me.

Adams had several meaningful performances before that game but I still feel like that game was his coming-out party. It proved to me, "Yeah, this guy is just different."

Brant from Millis, MA

Mike forgot the best road game for weather (especially if it is late-season) will be Tampa Bay. Do you think the pirate ship is stupid? I kinda like it (as long as it doesn't fire at the end of the game).

I'm actually not very high on Tampa, to be honest. Maybe that's because the only time I've been there (2014) a massive thunderstorm moved in after game. New Orleans is the road trip I'm most looking forward to in 2020.

Joel from Yagur, Israel

In 2015, six receivers went in the first round. They have four 1,000-yard seasons...combined. I doubt any of those six teams are happy with those picks. That year, Tyler Lockett went in the third, Jamison Crowder in the fourth, and Stefon Diggs in the fifth. 2009 similar story...with Mike Wallace being found in Round 3. Even 2014, which had five pretty good WRs go in the first, still had Davante and Jarvis Landry in Round 2. Unless Gute thinks it's another Reggie Wayne at No. 30, I'd be more comfortable waiting another night.

This appears to be the deepest draft for receivers since probably 2014, with many draft experts saying five or six could go on the first night. If the Packers want to go the receiver route, Brian Gutekunst and his staff have to make the right pick at the right time. After Green Bay drafted Adams at No. 53, Denver took Cody Latimer three picks later ahead of Allen Robinson and Landry.

Geoffrey from Rosemount, MN

I understand the notion of wanting to find another "WR 1A" but I think there are some people here who need to understand that there isn't a Davante Adams tree at Lambeau Field, where the Packers just go pluck off a new WR that's elite. And I'm guessing there are a few that are II participants that wanted him cut after Year 2. I think drafting another WR would be wise, but let the guys the Packers have develop over the offseason and see what happens.

One-hundred percent. The Packers could draft a receiver right away at No. 30, but the offense is counting on Allen Lazard, Jake Kumerow, Marquez Valdes-Scantling  and everyone under contract to take a big step, as well.

Trevor from Carmel, NY

If you could go back and change the result of a single play this season, what play would you pick? You don't get to know the ripple effect before making your choice, and it's your final answer. I initially thought the game-ending INT against the Eagles, but there are no guarantees the rest of the season would've played out like it did. I guess I'll take the third down on the first drive of the NFC Championship Game. Thoughts?

The fumble on the opening drive of the Week 12 game vs. San Francisco. The Packers fell into a hole that day that they never seemed to climb out of against the 49ers.

Eric from Colorado Springs, CO

Why not just make it five yards instead of 10, on the touching rule, for onside kicks? They've slowed down the amount of speed the players have to get off the line, so just shorten how far they have to go. As I'm imagining it in my head it kind of sounds fun, don't you think? Like a really crazy game of hungry hippos.

I think the rate of recovery would be too high but maybe projections would suggest otherwise. The competition committee is pretty spot-on with crunching those numbers. A few years ago, they estimated pushing back extra points to the 15-yard line would result in a five-percent reduction in makes to around 94 percent. That's how it turned out.

Tyler from Green Bay, WI

Any chance of a reunion in Green Bay with the Cleveland Packers front office?

You're asking the wrong guy(s) on that one. The Packers appear to have a full house in their personnel department at the moment. Whatever happens, I don't expect either of those two to be out of league for long. 'Zo and Eliot are both incredibly gifted scouts. It was surprising to see those reports coming out of Cleveland on Wednesday.

Tony from Chanhassen, MN

I feel like the Blake Martinez situation is similar to when Micah Hyde hit free agency. We keep focusing on what he isn't instead of appreciating what he is.

Spot. On. And I've found many of the Hyde critics are the same ones who lambasted Ted Thompson for not re-signing him a year or two later. Hindsight is a beautiful thing.

Julian from Gastonia, NC

While I realize that Martinez lacks the speed the Packers may be looking for at LB, I do think his hand injury hampered him somewhat this past season. I think his most underrated skill is setting the defense. If the Packers have a promising alternative to that skill on their roster it may impact whether or not they are active in trying to re-sign Martinez.

Martinez played through a lot this past year and didn't complain once. He remained available and accountable. As I said before, the guy plays the most thankless position in the entire league.

Tom from Sacramento, CA

Hey guys, I'm sure you guys have a whole offseason worth of fun planned this year, but I'd like to suggest a "where are they now" piece. You guys have made me a fan of so many players through your stories. I want to know what happened to Johnathan Franklin, how's his bid to become mayor? What's Alex Green been up to? How many cows is Jordy currently looking over?

We have our alumni spotlight series that runs periodically throughout the year. I believe Spoff has had a hand a few of those. Franklin has worked in the Los Angeles Rams' community affairs and engagement department for the past three years, while Alex Green only recently saw his playing career end after a two-year stint in the CFL.

Daniel from Delta, PA

In the spirit of being in the "what if" and "rumors" phase of the NFL season, I feel as though the Patriots could survive if Brady does not return. Bill Belichick knows the type of QB his system needs and could make it work (see 11-5 season without Brady). However, if Belichick decides to move on or call it a career, then I definitely see some sad years ahead for Pats fans. Your thoughts?

I feel if the Patriots do move on from Brady this offseason, they picked the worst year to do it. Unless they're convinced Jarrett Stidham is "the guy," I don't think New England will find a better starting quarterback in free agency than Brady. If it's me, I bring back Brady, draft a quarterback, and let that individual and Stidham develop another year.

David from Nicholasville, KY

Wow, what a fun season to be a fan. Making the final four is always a desirable outcome. Next we turn to new talent. Reading about the Senior Bowl got me thinking when reading about Justin Herbert, the Oregon quarterback. Has there ever been a Hall of Fame or truly franchise quarterback who was 6-foot-6? Seems like height is desirable but most are 6-2 to 6-4 range.

If there is a 6-6 quarterback in the Hall of Fame, I couldn't find him in my research.

Robert from Harris, MN

I couldn't agree more about the discussion about the worst 13-3 needing to end. Maybe this will help. The worst 13-3 was 13-3. The very best 13-3 team was...yup 13-3.

I agree wholeheartedly with what Spoff said Wednesday. Fans can put whatever dressing they want on this season, but none of this talk changes the contents of the salad. The Packers were 13-3 and finished one game shy of the Super Bowl. Would you have preferred a 15-1 season with a divisional round exit again?

Scott from Downs, IL

Laser goal posts? No thank you! We would all have been deprived on the joyous double doink…

Meh. I much prefer the double zap.

Take a look at photos of Packers LB Blake Martinez from the 2019 season.

Chad from La Crosse, WI

Hey guys, will you be watching any of the XFL this year? If so, what aspect(s) are you most looking forward to? Thanks for your hard work, even during the offseason!

Absolutely. There are some players I want to keep an eye on, but more than anything, I want to see how the various rule changes the XFL is implementing plays out.

Ryan from Suamico, WI

While Charles Woodson played for the Raiders and Packers, do you believe his name will be added to the facade after he's inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

Yes.

Bill from Nairobi, Kenya

On the untimely passing of sports heroes who were also great human beings, I think Roberto Clemente's death while delivering earthquake relief to Nicaragua shook a lot of people up. I was quite young at the time, and I still think about it.

Unfortunately, Clemente passed away many years before I was born but I read a book on him when I was in grade school. What an extraordinary life he led.

Bruce from New Canaan, CT

OK, I just have to weigh in on the discussion of athletes who were taken before their time. I would like to nominate my boyhood hero, Arthur Ashe. It would be difficult to think of a finer human being. He happened to be a great athlete, but that pales in comparison with the rest of his life.

All high-profile athletes have a platform. The ones who use it productively become more than elite competitors in their eras – they become true legends.

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