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Inbox: Their job descriptions aren't the same on every snap

These decisions are never easy

C Corey Linsley, G Elgton Jenkins, T David Bakhtiari
C Corey Linsley, G Elgton Jenkins, T David Bakhtiari

Melissa from Germantown, WI

How is the offseason going?

Slowly, but right now I honestly don't mind the change of pace.

Todd from Brighton, MI

Before the season started Spoff agreed with my expectations: I want the offense to improve throughout the season, hopefully peaking at the end of the year. I expect the defense to be better than the previous two years based on the "eye test/gut feeling." And I expect that special teams is no longer an automatic penalty in the making. Expectations met?

No argument here.

Ryan from Fredericton, New Brunswick

2-for-1: On the topic of greats passing, to this day I still reflect on Sean Taylor. On the topic of Jerry Gray, and of the same era of Taylor, it's worth mentioning Gray has seen success as a DB coach through coaching staff transitions in Buffalo, and would have had some influence on players like Nate Clements, Antoine Winfield, Terrence McGhee, and Lawyer Milloy. The Bills used to be a DB factory. I perked up when I read that name as hired.

Gray knows what it takes, as a player and a coach. I'm eager to meet him and learn his perspective.

Dennis from Parrish, FL

I attended the last game Jerry Gray played in when he matriculated as a Texas Longhorn. It was played in Anaheim in a baseball stadium, some new bowl game called the Freedom Bowl. They played 11 of them, this was the inaugural. Your Iowa Hawkeyes and Chuck Long crushed those Texas Longhorns 51-17 in the pouring rain! It was 17-17 at halftime. I am sure he still remembers!

My Iowa Hawkeyes? Wait, what?

Irvine from Kjellin, IA

What percentage of passes thrown in 2019 were intended for Davante Adams?

Including playoffs, Adams was targeted on 149 of Rodgers' 635 passes this season, or 23.5 percent. The percentage jumps up to 29.9 if you remove the four games Adams missed. Most telling to me was that only once after Week 3 were Adams' targets in single digits for a game.

Arthur from Altoona, WI

I'm going to throw my two cents in on Blake Martinez. If the team decides to let him go, is there anyone on the roster that would be able to step in and replace his leadership in and out of the locker room, his amount of tackles, his experience in calling plays, his work ethic, his experience in the defensive scheme? I am positive the team could find or draft someone faster, but what about his intangibles and football intelligence? Do these play a part in the discussion on whether or not to re-sign him?

Sure they do, but ultimately it comes down to how the Packers think they can get better, and it's not just about all those things you listed, but how much they'll cost. For everything Martinez brought to the team, he was a bargain on a fourth-round draft pick rookie contract. Now the equation changes, and the Packers know they have to get better on defense, not stay the same, but of course no one wants to regress. These decisions are never easy.

Aaron from Herndon, VA

I understand the sentiment about players the Packers have let "get away," such as Micah Hyde and Casey Hayward. As Wes stated, hindsight is truly 20/20. However, that doesn't really describe the full story. How those players are utilized and the other contributors on the depth chart sometimes mask a player's true potential, and that potential may not be realized until they get a fresh start with another staff. I'm not saying that is always the case, but it should be considered. Life is funny.

Indeed it is.

Benjamin from San Mateo, CA

"If you could go back and change the result of a single play this season, what play would you pick?" Easy, and it's not from a Packers game. Final Seahawks play in Week 17. It's the only play (nearly) guaranteed to meaningfully change anything. Let's roll the dice again on the playoffs with the Packers as the No. 1 seed.

My thoughts exactly when I saw that question. Same for Justin from LA. It might have created a tougher two-game playoff road, having to beat the Vikings a third time, or get through both the 49ers and Saints (who would have had the other first-round bye), to get to the Super Bowl, but the Packers would have had the opportunity at home. We'll never know what that last inch might have changed, for better or worse.

Ed from Minneapolis, MN

Hi Mike, can you talk about the apparent dichotomy between linemen? It seems like a defensive lineman is more aggressive, and an offensive lineman is more of a "defender." Is this an apt assessment? And at what point in their career do these "jars on the shelf" develop their penchant for which line?

Young players play both sides of the line a lot growing up, and it's usually a high school or college coach who recognizes where his skills fit best. As for the mentality, a lot depends on the play call. On certain types of running plays, offensive linemen are the aggressors and defensive linemen might be just trying to plug gaps. On pass plays, it can switch. Their job descriptions aren't the same on every snap.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Curtis Bolton? I remember the UDFA out of Oklahoma making a pretty big impression in training camp and starting and playing well against Baltimore in the preseason. He looked like a lock for the 53 and an opportunity to contribute at ILB in the regular season. I remember he was injured (not sure of the nature of the injury) and ended up on IR, and I believe he's still listed there. Any updates on his recovery or if he's still in the Packers' plans for next season?

I saw Bolton around the facility late in the season, but I've heard no update on his recovery. I would expect the Packers to give him an opportunity to make the team again in 2020, but coming off an ACL, it wouldn't be wise to let that possibility influence any of the team's planning at the position.

Derek from Norton, KS

We are in agreement on how important the MLB is to the defense. Why does there seem to be so few MLBs talked about heading into the draft (OLBs get all the love)? Is it due to the differences between the college and pro game?

Edge rusher is a more highly valued position, and there are more styles and types to choose from in the draft. They're going to make more highlight reels. But last year, two inside 'backers went in the top 10 – Devin White and Devin Bush – so it's not as though NFL teams aren't paying attention. If they believe in an interior impact player, they'll pick him.

Jackson from Peoria, IL

Mike, "I like a lot of the talent the Packers have at wide receiver." Take two weeks off then quit. Thanks.

Did you read the entire answer or just latch onto one line you didn't like that can easily be misinterpreted out of context? Take tomorrow and find a new website. Thanks.

Julian from Hamburg, Germany

Yesterday's Inbox called for a leap in performance from Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, et al. While I wholeheartedly agree, I'm wondering, how much margin is there for receivers to improve, when they already played in the league and caught balls all their life? Not saying our guys can't do it, just looking for insight here.

Route running, checks at the line, on-the-fly options and adjustments are all different and happen at much faster speeds in the NFL than in college. No one's learning curve is the same. All of the Packers' young receivers still have plenty of room to grow, and we've seen guys like Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams not really come into their own until their third seasons. But they were also second-round picks for a reason, because their abilities stood out that much more in college, and their projections were for higher ceilings. The Packers have young receivers who have proven they can play in this league, but I don't see a Nelson or Adams ceiling in the mix. I believe that's what the Packers would like to add to the group for the new receivers coach.

Al from Green Bay, WI

There is an expectation that players make a "leap" in their second year in the NFL. Does the principle also apply to rookie head coaches? What might make Coach LaFleur even better next season?

Just knowing many of his own players better, from the get-go. Countless times at the podium he referenced some form of "what we're asking them to do," and he was discovering all season long who can do what best, because there's only so much that can be gleaned from no-pads OTAs and training-camp installs when everybody's just learning the playbook.

Trevor from Carmel, NY

You read my mind with that Jace Sternberger article. After two weeks of hearing about Kelce and Kittle, I must admit I have some TE envy and I've been daydreaming about what we might have. The young man has a long way to go after losing much of this year, but I really liked what I saw from him in the playoffs. I'll go as far as saying he is the 2020 "X-factor" for the offense. If he can put together a stat line like 40 receptions and 500 yards, it might propel us back to the days of averaging 30 ppg.

I think the Packers and LaFleur are looking for more than that from their No. 1 tight end in this offense. Jimmy Graham's regular-season numbers were 38-447-3 and I don't think anyone, Graham included, was satisfied with that.

Derrick from Rockaway, NJ

I feel like I'm missing something here. I thought the NFL was never one to miss a buck, but their reluctance to move the Super Bowl to Saturday is baffling. Is their own hubris of having it on "their day" keeping them from moving it? I just have to believe viewership would increase if it was played the day before. What am I missing?

This is purely my own speculation, but I think the NFL fears if the Super Bowl were played on Saturday night, they'd lose a ton of viewership of the hours upon hours of pregame shows. Everyone would start their weekend like normal and just tune in Saturday night for the game. There's a better chance people devote a larger chunk of their day to all the programming on a Sunday.

Steve from Eau Claire, WI

What is happening in Cleveland? I thought they had a solid front office.

I believe I mentioned a couple of weeks ago how large the fallout can be when a mistake is made with a head coaching hire. It's having huge repercussions in Cleveland.

Dan from Toledo, OH

In regards to best memory from this season, I'll always remember both the Davante Adams and Jimmy Graham first-down conversions in the Seattle game. It's not every year you get to taste a playoff victory.

No doubt. I still remember Randall Cobb's deflected reception on the final third down vs. Dallas five years ago almost as much as I remember the Dez Bryant play.

Thomas from Milwaukee, WI

My favorite play of the year was Adrian Amos' interception in the end zone to finish off the Bears at Soldier Field Week 1. I chose that because, besides being partial to defense, our defense had given that play up a lot the past few years, and it told me that this year was going to be different.

Another perfectly valid choice.

Jim from McLean, VA

As an addition to Thomas from Evansville and Spoff's best moments of the year, and as a nod to our impressive D saving some games, I'd like to nominate the goal-line stand in the snow-globe game to seal the win against Carolina.

Also worthwhile.

Matt from East Troy, WI

II, in regards to zone coverage what does a good "hand-off" look like?

Smooth. The defenders know their areas, know where their teammates are, recognize the route combinations coming at them, and react accordingly. It doesn't guarantee every pass can be defended, but no false steps or stutters indicates a well-schooled concept. Quarterbacks look for false steps and stutters.

Packers CB Tramon Williams celebrates his birthday on March 16. Take a look at photos of him from the 2019 season.

Gary from Chippewa Falls, WI

After 10 years, Bryan Bulaga's arms proved to be long enough. I loved his introductory press conference. He showed a lot of confidence in his ability.

That was when we used to get an in-person press conference with the first-round pick the day after he was selected. He might have been the last one to do one here. Yeah, that was a memorable "measurable" discussion.

Bryce from Westcliffe, CO

Do we know the amount the cap has been raised for the 2020 season yet?

In December, the league announced that the 2020 cap would go up in the range of $8 million to $13 million. It was $188.2 million for 2019, and the new figure will be somewhere between $196.8 million and $201.2 million. The exact figure should be finalized soon.

Paul from Wahiawa, HI

I entered to win a free car if a safety is scored in the Super Bowl. When is the last time a safety has been scored?

Don't hold me to this, but I believe it was Super Bowl XLVIII. The first points the Seahawks scored in their blowout of the Broncos came via safety.

JR from East Moline, IL

Do you think the Chiefs will run the 65 toss power trap?

Ha, good one. Now I'll have Hank Stram's voice in my head all weekend.

Mike from Sioux Falls, SD

What's the Insider Inbox schedule in the offseason?

Still six days a week, but we won't always be alternating days. I'm taking my first break and will be back mid-to-late next week, so Wes will be at the controls for a few days here, and then I'll be back to share some post-Super Bowl follow-up thoughts. Happy Friday.

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