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Inbox: Their eyes are everywhere

GM Brian Gutekunst
GM Brian Gutekunst

Don from Aurora, Ontario

Why do fans always think they know more about plays and players than the scouts, GMs and coaches?

What fun would this be otherwise?

Patrick from Oronoco, MN

How often does Gute attend OTAs and training camp practices compared to his other GM duties? When he is away from practice, is there tape available for him to review to assist with cut-downs?

The GM and others on the personnel staff attend practice often this time of year, and in training camp as well. They also review practice film regularly as part of the evaluation process. Their eyes are everywhere.

Paul from Bay View, WI

Hey guys, not trying to create any type of chaos here but have you noticed any difference with the players in how they have responded to Matt LaFleur's instructions/coaching flair vs. Mike McCarthy's approach in the past years? Just wondering if the players seem more or less receptive or if they are just feeling things out for now?

This is a full-fledged teaching phase right now. The players are attentive and the coaches are patient. When we get to training camp, the performance expectations on a daily basis, individually and as a group, get ratcheted up. We’ll find out more about the dynamic you’re referring to then.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

I don't imagine that David Bakhtiari is invited to many craft beer tasting events.

No doubt. Too many calories.

Jack from Moweaqua, IL

Watching David trounce Rodgers last night in the beer chugging competition was awesome! It made me wonder how close their relationship is? There's a level of trust in this game that almost supersedes any other sport, and one thing my father always taught me is that football teaches trust and reliability. Also, do you think that Bakhtiari, if he continues his pace, is a possible HOF candidate at the end of his career? He's only missed something like six starts in six seasons.

He’s got three All-Pro honors (two second-team, one first-team) in his first six seasons. Double that and you’re talking about a legitimate Hall of Fame resume.

Dan from Twin Lakes, WI

Mike, thank you for regularly summarizing what the coaches and coordinators have to say. It's highly beneficial to myself and to others like me. I'm a "visual learner." You can tell me something a dozen times and I may or may not get it; but let me read it, just once, and it's locked in solid. I know video content is all the rage but there is still, and will always be, a need for the written word. Especially when it's written well. So keep up the good work. Please.

I’m a reader, too. Always have been. One reason video is all the rage is because it guarantees measurable ad views, but I’ll always hope we can strike an effective and suitable balance on our website. Thanks for the kind words.

Andy from Mesa, AZ

Based on how Burks played last year and the lack of additions, do you see any hope for MLB should Martinez become injured for an extended period of time? It seems like a disaster waiting to happen.

That’s a tad overdramatic, but I agree the Packers’ depth at inside linebacker is less than robust. If Martinez were to go down, a lot more would fall on Burks, Crawford, and Pettine’s creativity.

Josh from Black Earth, WI

Regarding who would win between Favre-led ’07 or Rodgers-led ’14 team: Aaron was on the ‘07 team. If Favre gets injured would that mean Rodgers vs. Rodgers, which would have the potential to create a time paradox, the result of which could cause a chain reaction that would unravel the very fabric of the space time continuum and destroy the entire universe?

We’d have a flux capacitor in the press box to fix it.

Jon from Salem, MA

Hi guys, happy Memorial Day weekend! We've heard time and time again that Mike Pettine wants his defense to be multiple and to create confusion for opposing offenses. I try not to get hooked on formations, 4-3 vs. 3-4, etc., but doesn't this seem like a great opportunity to install a package similar to the “Psycho” package? With the ability to line up the Smiths, Gary, etc., all over the place, why not have them all stand up once in a while?

I wouldn’t rule it out, but I see that as an intriguing third-and-12 type of change-up. I’m a one-step-at-a-time guy. Get the offense into a bunch of third-and-longs first. Then make sure you’re stopping them consistently. Then reach into the bag-o’-tricks to go for the big play or turnover. I prefer gimmicks to be a luxury, not a crutch.

Kenton from Rochester, MN

A question was asked about the change in terminology that needs to be learned due to LaFleur's new offense. My follow-up question may be naive, but why wouldn't LaFleur change his terminology to match what the players already know, rather than the other way around? It seems it would be simpler for a few coaches to learn the terminology change rather than require all of the players to do it.

There are significant parts to any scheme that don’t carry over, roster turnover in the NFL is constant, and not everyone’s knowledge base is the same. Those are just a few reasons. Your way would make it infinitely more difficult for coaches and players to stay on the same page.

Jake from Athens, GA

I’m guessing you were joking about “Spider 2 Y Banana” yesterday, but what kinds of specific terminology, if any, is universal in the NFL? Are there certain plays or position groups that might have less of a learning curve in a new system?

I’m no expert, but from what I’ve gathered over the years, there isn’t as much variation in nomenclature when it comes to pass protection calls on offense and coverages on defense. You hear a lot of the same terms with those.

Jacob from New Bremen, OH

As a coach/GMs trees grow, does it become harder to be productive because there are that many more people in the league thinking and/or acting along the same train of thought as you have?

It’s a copycat league all around. GMs cut from the same cloth fight for the same types of players, and offenses and defenses replicate successful schemes, or pieces of schemes. Any new approach doesn’t stay new for long. It still comes down to being better at it than the other guy.

Take a look at the best photos of Packers players flexing their muscles.

Todd from Brighton, MI

Raven Greene? Quite interesting. Improved physically or was it something else that jumped out at you?

Physically he doesn’t look like someone coming off a season-ending injury, and the Josh Jones situation has opportunity knocking for him. Loudly.

Dan from Rothschild, WI

As far as hosting the NFL Draft, why doesn't the league treat it as the MLB treats the All-Star Game? Every team gets to host on a rotational basis. That way, every team gets to host, and knows when it will host and be able to promote appropriately. That saves time that teams waste vying to get the draft in their city. Everyone's happy.

But it has to be treated as a competition, with drama, and crowned as a true achievement or it wouldn’t be the NFL.

Noah from La Crosse, WI

Would you say the Packers are a sleeper team this season?

I never consider any team with an accomplished, elite-level quarterback a sleeper.

Bill from Bloomfield Hills, MI

Player rankings are a form of click-bait, but if instead you look at them on a macro level they do show reality. How many starters do we have that are upper third, average, and then lower third? We have had a lot of “great potential” players in the past five years but not enough came through. Having starters that rank on the low side of average overall is in line with our recent W-L records even with our QB tilting it. Do you see 10 Pro Bowl names on our roster instead of the five we had last year?

I’m not going to get into league-wide rankings, because I don’t study all the other teams. What I do know is the Packers have five players who have been named to the Pro Bowl within the last few years – Rodgers, Bakhtiari, Adams, Daniels and Graham (with Seattle). The players I have seen play at or close to a Pro Bowl level in recent seasons include Clark, Martinez, Bulaga and Linsley. I put Alexander as the next one on the verge, and not knowing a ton about the free-agent additions yet, I’d rank Za’Darius Smith as the one whose career arc best approximates getting there. Is that enough? That’s why we watch. You need some good health, you need certain players to have career years at the right time (Preston Smith?), you need to catch lighting in a bottle with a player or two on the rise (Aaron Jones? King?), and you need a key rookie or two to make a legitimate impact (Gary, Savage). The Packers have a lot of pieces. There’s never a guarantee they all come together, but they can.

Al from New Franken, WI

What was the last Packers game you watched before writing about them became your profession? And do you ever miss being able to consume a game like a typical fan does?

The first Packers game I covered as a newspaper reporter was the 1996 NFC Divisional playoff vs. San Francisco in the rain and mud at Lambeau. Since then I think I’ve sat in the stands once, but that’s OK. I have my outlets to be a fan, watching the Brewers, Badgers, Bucks, etc.

Paul from Bay View, WI

We all know Matt LaFleur is installing new concepts and a scheme and that it may take some time to work out the kinks. However, how will that flow into Mike Pettine’s defense as he goes into his second year? Does Pettine have to adjust his defense to work in sync with the way the offense is run, or does his approach just stay the same as last year? Also, do you know if Pettine had an area of the defense he would like to improve upon from last year and from a coaching perspective?

The installations of the offense and defense are in sync to the extent that, during an OTA for example, the day the offense is installing third down, the defense does the same, so the 11-on-11 periods have a particular focus. The areas to improve on defensively are limiting explosives and turning the ball over. Improved tackling plays into both, because missed tackles lead to big gains, and solid technique from a first tackler can allow second and third arrivals to target the ball.

Trevor from Seattle, WA

In high school track, we'd warm up as a team before splitting into our similar disciplines for the daily workout. Every long practice, the head coach would drive his golf cart between each group to check in on our progress, provide some motivation, and declare that group to be the backbone of the entire team (before repeating the process with the next group). Forced to pick one, which position group do you hope to see as the backbone of the 2019 Packers? Which would LaFleur choose?

The hope and the pick I think for LaFleur would be the offensive line.

Dave from New Franken, WI

As a collector of Packers memorabilia, I've always wondered, are there any items that you have come by as a Packers employee that hold special meaning for you?

Anytime team hats are made representing some kind of achievement, we each get one as Packers employees, and I have all the hats I’ve been given here lined up along the top of the cabinet in my cube. They’re for the ’07 NFC North crown, the ’10 NFC and Super Bowl titles, and the ’11, ’12, ’13, and ’14 division championships. It’s been too long now. I want the collection to keep growing.

Darrel from Pueblo, CO

Spoff/Wes, the Bucks have lost three in a row. Outcoached, outplayed, overconfident or all of the above? Now we will see what they are made of.

They’ve just been outplayed, and the presumptive league MVP has been outshined by a more seasoned playoff veteran who takes a back seat to no one. The Raptors have shown a whole lot of playoff mettle over the past week. Now it’s the Bucks’ turn.

Evan from Middleton, WI

Well, I guess I need to see “Bull Durham” now.

A splendid idea for a holiday weekend. You won’t regret it. Take care and be safe, everybody.

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