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Inbox: Their fans haven't forgotten

It’s why winning consistently is so difficult

San Francisco 49ers S Jaquiski Tartt

Thomas from Verona, WI

"Scrumdiddlyumptious, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious?" Did someone spike Wes's root beer? Or perhaps his "cup of Tang"?

And we're off, so we might as well get going.

Scott from Salem, OR

Did Wes reveal his inner Yogi Berra: "… there really isn't anything to say until there's something to talk about … "?

That, too.

Mark from Appleton, WI

With the NFL being a "copycat league," how many teams do you think will pick up the Cowboys' last play?

About as many that copied the fake punt the Colts tried to run several years ago. All that rigamarole for nothin'. (That was for you, Mike from Cascade, ID)

Andrew from Clearwater, FL

I was listening to someone who demonstrated how the Packers can get themselves $20 million under the cap. Not going to repeat the math, (no math in the Inbox). He restructured five contracts. He said the Packers can restructure the contracts without the player agreeing to it, because it is the same money, only "restructured." Is that true?

Basically, yes, because a strict restructure means there's nothing to negotiate. As long as there's no reduction in original guaranteed money, any reduction in salary is offset by guaranteed bonus money, and any change in the timing of payments gets the player paid sooner (not later), the player's permission is not required.

Dave from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Rules question. Offense and defense line up for a play and the D has 12 men on the field. The flag is thrown and penalty assessed. Why is that viewed differently when a QB catches a team and they scramble to run a player off the field? Then the play is allowed to continue for a "free play." What's the difference?

The defense having 12 men in formation at the snap gives it an advantage that can be used late in a game to hinder a trailing offense while running time off the clock. A play like this occurred in a Super Bowl about a decade ago and the league decided to assess 12 men on the defense as a dead-ball foul if the 12th player is not attempting to get off the field.

Julian from Gastonia, NC

Like many Packer fans I really don't have a particular team to root for now. But I still have a rather unconventional wish for the final two weekends, and preferably in the Super Bowl. The NFL, much like our government in Washington D.C., is very reactive rather than proactive especially when there is a national uproar. I am hoping for monumentally bad officiating that will clearly cause a team to lose. That is the only thing that will lead to a complete revamping of NFL officiating.

Don't hold your breath. Four years ago the wrong team went to the Super Bowl from the NFC due to an officiating blunder. The league tried to change the replay rules to address it, botched the whole process and abandoned the fix after one year. That doesn't give me any confidence a Super Bowl catastrophe would produce meaningful, long-term change.

Neal from Chicago, IL

The playoffs have made it blatantly apparent that the rule allowing runners to be pushed forward by linemen needs to end. If it doesn't, a linebacker or safety will inevitably take a running start and tee up on the upper body of a helpless runner caught in the scrum. Agreed?

However it occurs, someone will get seriously hurt in one of those scrums. It's a non-football play that needs to be removed from the game. It's made QB sneaks a joke now.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Who is the real Dak Prescott? His last three games he was down, then up, then back down in terms of performance and productivity. As a seven-year veteran, if I were a Cowboys fan I would be hoping for more consistency. Thoughts?

You'd certainly be hoping Prescott would have more than two playoff wins by now, but he's faced that Niners defense the last two years, and those are his two dud performances. His other four postseason games, he's been pretty decent.

Jerry from Lancaster, PA

Wes, I agree George Kittle's catch was terrific, but I don't think he made the defender miss. I viewed the defender avoiding contact. Had the DB hit Kittle, it would have been to the head and most likely brought out the "YELLOW LAUNDRY" for a personal foul contact to the head or defenseless player.

That was my thought at the time, too.

Ben from Pensacola, FL

With all due respect, I didn't think it was a TD after replay. Live I thought it was, but Chase never really had firm control all the way through. The defender's hand knocked it free and he didn't secure it until he was o/b. Not a catch, not a TD.

Also my thought at the time. It was a heckuva play by Milano, and Chase was still trying to secure the ball after he was out of bounds.

Augustus from Eureka, CA

Any thoughts on Carl Cheffers and his league-leading penalty flags being "awarded" the Super Bowl?

Cheffers' crew led the league in flags. It's not his crew officiating the Super Bowl. That's not how it works.

John from Jupiter, FL

Two things if you would. Monday, Mike touched on stadium traditions. Why do the networks never seem to show the Eagle fans singing "Fly Eagles Fly"? Pretty cool with the whole stadium involved. Packers related please tell me there's a way we keep Aaron Jones. Special player. Thanks.

As exhausting as it is to be at the Linc when the Eagles score 40 points, I appreciate the E-A-G-L-E-S chant more than the song as far as traditions go. That crowd gets loud. But the lyrics to "Fly Eagles Fly" are pretty lame, really. Are the networks just going to commercial at the time so they don't show it? I don't know. I do believe the Packers will keep Aaron Jones.

Steve from Flagstaff, AZ

Steve from MN yesterday mentioned Joe Cool. Definitely that tennis player smooth as velvet and light on his feet. But in all seriousness I think of Montana not Namath as Joe Cool even though Namath came before. Style-wise sure, but style of play I give the distinction to Montana.

Definitely Montana in that respect. Namath can't be Broadway Joe and Joe Cool. Nobody's the true Joe Cool except Snoopy, though. Nobody.

Jeff from Lake Forest, CA

Mike, in one of your longer, well-thought out, responses last week, you alluded to when a fault becomes a trend for several weeks in a row and how opponents will exploit that. My question is, if there is an issue like that, is there actually enough in-season practice time to fix it? With the rest and recover after the game, and the rest of the week so opponent/game-plan focused, can a team actually address its ills? Of course, the rules are the same for all, just curious to hear your thoughts.

That's one of the challenges, or dilemmas, all coaches face – how to divide and devote the time in the midst of the weekly rat race. Any extra time in meetings or on the field fixing something internal is less time spent on the opponent, and vice versa. There are no easy answers. Most coaches prefer to focus on addressing the ills because, as you said, that's what the opponent is going to exploit. But they also despise not being adequately prepared for something they're going to see. It's why winning consistently is so difficult.

Ned from Laguna Woods, CA

There is a constant reference to, say, linebackers' room, or receivers' room. Are there actual rooms, or is this just a metaphor?

No, each position has its own meeting/film room.

John from Beloit, OH

How many draft picks do the Packers have this year?

Right now, eight – one in each of the first five rounds, plus three in the seventh. I see Green Bay is now projected to get possibly multiple Day 3 compensatory picks as well.

Jon from Cedar Rapids, IA

Hi Mike, the 49ers and Eagles look tough. Who do you think will win and why? Looking forward to the game.

I'll stick with the Niners, that defense, and their dynamic offensive weapons. Getting it done in Philly will be a huge chore, but I think they'll make one or two more key plays, the same way they beat Dallas.

Gary from Cross Plains, WI

Wes, way to cover your bases. Rank Philly higher, but pick SF in the very next question. Let's see which "prediction" you reference next week! More seriously, that just tells me the teams are pretty darn close on paper. What's the x-factor you see making the difference in the NFC Championship?

I caught that, too. I think the Niners can stop the run better than any defense the Eagles have faced all season. But if Philly gets that run game going, it all looks different.

Anthony from Auburn, WA

It's hard to believe that the Eagles are playing in their seventh NFC Championship game since 2000, the most of any NFC team during that time. They've gone through multiple coaches and quarterbacks during that time, which says a lot. What is it about them that has put them in contention so often despite the turnover?

Well, four of those seven were in four straight years, from 2001-04, so it's seven since 2000 but three since 2005. Donovan McNabb was the QB and Andy Reid the coach for the first five of the seven.

Josh from Newhall, CA

If I had one takeaway from each game it would be, tough break for the Chiefs, Hurts is lookin' healed, Cincy looks DANG good, and that was a hell of a valiant effort by the Dallas D. Is there one thing you're looking for next week that could predict an eventual champ? Unlike last year, I think the best four teams are all still alive. Take your pick.

I wouldn't be surprised if any of the four hoisted the trophy. The last three years at this stage, to me it's felt like one team was a true underdog – Tennessee in '19, Buffalo in '20 and Cincinnati in '21. I don't feel that way about any of the teams this year.

Mark from Rochester, MN

The NFC Championship Game features three potential HCs in this hiring cycle (49ers DC DeMeco Ryans and Eagles OC Shane Steichen and DC Jonathan Gannon.) This will be quite the audition for those three coaches this week to impress their potential new team. Steichen vs. Ryans will be a fun matchup to see how they adjust against each other.

Couldn't agree more.

James from Appleton, WI

Sure, some potential interceptions are too far out of reach and too much to ask for, but is there a more deflating moment in football than a pick going through a defender's hands or arms? It's a turning point that happened but didn't, a dagger that never hit home.

It's the biggest reason the 49ers didn't go to the Super Bowl last year and Matthew Stafford did. I'm sure their fans haven't forgotten.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Isaiah McKenzie of the Bills said, "We're winning football games when we need to win them during the season, and then we get to the playoffs, it's just like, it's not there, and I'm still not understanding that." Players and fans alike have tunnel vision when it comes to their own experiences. Isaiah's not alone in such feelings; look no further than the Packers' recent postseason experience including the Lions meltdown. There are suffering players and fans everywhere.

If Tyler Huntley doesn't try to reach the ball across the goal line from too far away, the Bills aren't even playing the Bengals last Sunday, and everything could be different. It all falls into place for only one team every year.

Steve from Lake Stevens, WA

When you mention how it's a week-to-week league or comment about a single play changing not only the outcome of a game, but perhaps the fortunes of a team, I'm reminded of the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers of the '70s – generally considered one of the greatest teams of all time. If it wasn't for the Immaculate Reception and Jackie Smith dropping a sure touchdown pass, maybe they win just two Super Bowls even with a roster full of Hall of Fame talent. Amazing.

Hold on here. While the Immaculate Reception is considered the play that launched the dynasty, it occurred in the 1972 playoffs, and the Steelers did not win the Super Bowl that year. In fact, football historians consider that play a huge factor in Miami being the only undefeated Super Bowl champion, because many thought at the time the Raiders had a much better chance to beat the Dolphins in the AFC title game than the Steelers.

Nate from Naples, FL

With the season ending a little earlier than we hoped, there must be some unused production budget laying around for a Lego highlight clip of Mike and Wes typing up the Inbox.

How is this a thought when we aren't even out of January yet?

Jim from Woodman, WI

Are you surprised nobody is asking for the Packers to add Agnew to the special teams roster, giving us Ford, Nixon and Agnew?

The offseason really is tough on this crowd, isn't it? Happy Wednesday.

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