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Inbox: There isn't much downtime on the NFL calendar

The Super Bowl is a heavyweight matchup in every sense

Offensive huddle
Offensive huddle

Neil from Tunbridge Wells, UK

What time during the NFL year is there so little news or activity that you can enjoy and get on with your lives?

There isn't much downtime on the NFL calendar, but we're currently in the eye of the offseason storm. That said, Inbox is again going offline during Super Bowl weekend, so no postings Friday, Saturday or Monday. It'll return on Tuesday with Spoff at the controls for a few days while I'm on vacation. The good news? I'm caffeinated, energized and ready to tackle a few questions before punching out on PTO.

Bill from Wilmington, DE

Hi Wes. No question, really haven't had any, just want you to know I'm still enjoying!

I felt this, Bill. This is probably the quietest offseason during my time on the Packers' beat. Green Bay didn't make the playoffs but there haven't been any changes on the coaching staff or in the front office. We're just sitting here, waiting for the oven to preheat.

Douglas from Cudahy, WI

What is the likelihood of a Packers' draft pick becoming a starter in the same year?

That somewhat depends on your definition of starter. Do you mean Day 1 (e.g. Darnell Savage) or a rookie who started a majority of the games (e.g. Marquez Valdes-Scantling). The higher the pick, the likelier the probability of a rookie starting out of the gates. In the Brian Gutekunst era, four of the Packers' seven first-round picks have started as rookies. Three of those four made the PFWA's All-Rookie Team (Jaire Alexander, Quay Walker and Savage).

James from Appleton, WI

What position on offense or defense do you think is most likely for a rookie to start for the Packers next season? I'm guessing safety.

Potentially, but I'll say outside linebacker. I wouldn't bet against Rashan Gary being ready for Week 1, but this might be the year for Green Bay to invest a premium draft choice into an edge rusher who also could shoulder a heavier load early on until Gary is ready to go.

Mark from West Des Moines, IA

What key matchups should we be watching for this weekend?

Building off what Spoff said, it's Chris Jones vs. Philadelphia's interior offensive line for me. We saw during last year's playoffs how much of a wrecking ball an elite defensive tackle can be. Jones has been that dude for Kansas City all season and dominated in the AFC Championship Game vs. Cincinnati (five quarterback hits, three tackles for loss and two sacks). Conversely, the Eagles' offensive line has been solid all year long for Jalen Hurts and Philly's running backs. It's a heavyweight matchup in every sense of the word…or words.

Bob from Emmaus, PA

The trip to London was a historic first for the program, but how large was it on the season and the win-loss record?

Who's to say what direction the Packers' season goes if they take the bye week after London? Maybe it would've mattered and perhaps not. What I know definitively is the Packers fell into a sizeable hole after that second half against the Giants and it took two months for them to climb out of it. I think the International Series is great for the game of football, but it definitely seemed to be a detractor for Green Bay this year.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Fact or fiction? The Packers' struggles on offense and defense in 2022 were the result of using more assets for special teams?

Fiction. In fact, it was sort of the opposite last season. For example, the primary reason the Packers signed Keisean Nixon last winter was because of special teams. By year's end, Nixon was the Packers' nickel cornerback.

Kyle from Pittsburgh, PA

While I wholeheartedly agree that officials shouldn't be flagging individual tackle "styles," I do hate the hip-drop tackle. I have to look away when I see it in a game because there is so much potential for gruesome leg injuries to the runner. Over the last many years, I've seen discussions of how tackling is a lost art in the game. Two questions: Is the hip-drop a product of poor angles and going high for a tackle? Is reduced padded practice time partly responsible for poor tackling?

Like Spoff said, I don't know how you can officiate that tackle out of the game. There also was no ill intent on the play. Is the defender just supposed to let Tony Pollard loose? So, I tend to sympathize with Adrian Amos and Richard Sherman who acknowledged in tweets this week about the difficulty of playing through such a change. Tackling is difficult enough given the justifiable practice constraints. Personally, I think we need to get the concussion protocols in order before we start debating lower-body tackling technique.

Barbara from Duluth, MN

First, I am a lifelong devoted Packers fan, and love to watch football. However, I have an issue with the belief that football is the ultimate team sport. As the mother of a former collegiate rower, I suggest that rowing/crew is the ultimate team sport. It requires that every individual be in total sync with each other mentally and physically. At the end of the race, there is no MVP because it is "all for one and one for all."

I think our social intern Rachel Valentine would tend to agree. As far as football is concerned, however, I believe the phrase "It takes all 11" applies perfectly to this game. While football might not consist of 11 individuals all rowing in the same direction, players have to be on the same page to keep matriculating the ball down the field.

Theresa from Sylvania, OH

When discussing "best attributes" of those who have worn the Packers' uniform and played the position of quarterback, I am fascinated by AR's ability to get "free plays." Is he truly statistically better than others in this category? If so, how does he do this so much better than other quarterbacks?

A few years ago, I crunched the numbers, and it was pretty jarring how much better Aaron Rodgers was at generating free plays than the rest of the NFL. I think the only comparable quarterback might have been Matthew Stafford. Field awareness and cadence are valuable weapons for a QB and I'd argue nobody in league history has done more with those extra opportunities than Rodgers.

Anthony from Sturgeon Bay, WI

II, if sitting in a dark room for four days and getting food and water through a slot in the door keeps Aaron Rodgers a Packer, I'm all for it! I found great humor when one sports analyst asked the question, "Isn't that basically the isolation cell in prison?" Do you enjoy the way AR12 interacts with the media as much as I do?

I knew as soon as Rodgers talked about this with Pat McAfee on Tuesday it was going to make some waves on social media…and sure enough. But if you're not hurting anyone, I couldn't care less what individuals do in their deserved free time. We all do different things to relax and recharge the batteries. At the height of the pandemic, I rented a car and drove myself up to the northernmost tip of Wisconsin to just get away from life for a few days. Rodgers has a monumental decision to make over the next month. I wish him nothing but peace, love and grace while doing so.

Bill from Clive, IA

Good morning, editors! I think I understand (at least in part) what happens if AR12 returns to play in 2023, whether for GB or somewhere else. But what are the financial implications to the Packers in terms of the salary cap (as well as cash out the door) if he emerges from his sensory hibernation experience with a firm decision to retire once and for all?

I believe Rodgers would go on the reserve-retired list, his contract would toll and whatever bonuses have been paid to Rodgers would be accelerated to this year's cap in dead money. But Green Bay wouldn't be on the hook for whatever remains.

Dan from Saint Charles, MO

Is it too much to ask of a first-round draft pick to wait for IV full seasons on the bench in hopes of an opportunity to be the starter in Year V?

That's probably fair to say considering how quickly quarterbacks are being thrown in the fire these days. But for every Joe Burrow or Justin Herbert, you can't forget about Josh Rosen, Zach Wilson, or Malik Willis – the young QBs who don't succeed right away, if at all. Love has been a total pro for the past three years, while the Packers have provided him a sturdy foundation to get his NFL career off the ground. Now, we just have to wait to see how the rest unfolds. And your usage of Roman numerals is noted.

Jim from Westland, MI

Be it readers or television commentators saying he (the QB) missed the receiver that was wide open, I'd love to see a side-by-side replay with stopwatch showing exactly where this "wide open" receiver was before the QB chose another option. With that, we still wouldn't know where the receiver was in the QB read/progression. Not as easy as it looks.

And perceived holes in the secondary aren't always as open as they appear.

Bud from Boyceville, WI

Please help me understand how the NFC North champs do an upgrade at DC and we, not making the playoffs, stand pat?

Because Minnesota's defense was really, really bad…like historically bad. The Vikings allowed more than 400 total yards nine times this year, including a stretch of five games in a row.

Dave from Lakewood Ranch, FL

So, a neutral-site championship game would be a "cash grab for the league." You mean something like a 17th regular-season game…?

Preaching to choir here, Dave.

Barb from Marengo, IL

My mind is already turning to the Brewers although I still keep up with the Inbox. They are doing a series on the Brewers' website highlighting the people who helped to make the players successful. I listened to Craig Counsell talk about how he learned from his dad who worked for the Brewers. They showed pictures of him as a boy with famous players. Do your kids get an inside view of the Packers? Do they get to experience things simply because they are? If so, are you open to adoption?

I don't think I ever told the full Sammy Watkins story from December. If I did, please forgive me. But for the first time in three years, the Packers hosted their family Christmas party on the fourth floor of the Lambeau Field Atrium. It's open to any full-time employees in the organization with children, so you see coaches there and a handful of veteran players like Mason Crosby with their kids. While we wait our turn to take photos with Santa, there is a buffet and various activities to keep the children preoccupied. So, my wife and I are at a table making paper gingerbread men with our son when Sammy and his beautiful family sit down next to us. Now, I didn't know Sammy well. He's a super-friendly dude, but it just worked out that Spoff handled most of our Watkins stories. So, we made some room and just let the Watkins family be. Well, my son is real social butterfly with no knowledge whatsoever that Sammy is one of the football players, let alone a former No. 4 overall pick. My gregarious son leans over to Sammy, who's making a gingerbread man with his daughter, and gives Sammy a handful of markers to draw with. My wife and I are slightly embarrassed because Sammy and his wife clearly have their own children to manage…but he could not have been kinder to my kiddo. Watkins didn't just flippantly take the marker – he crouched low and asked my son which color he should use. A few minutes later, he put the cap back on the marker, handed it back to my son and thanked him for letting him use it. For that reason, I'll forever be a fan of Sammy Watkins.

Dave from Edina, MN

As an actuary, I'm proud of Wes. But for my sanity, let's please get back to no math in the Inbox.

Deal…for at least seven days.

Joseph from Vermillion, SD

I thought you would like to know that my 18-month-old daughter saw me reading II today, pointed, and said, "Packers!"

That warms my heart to heart, Joseph. That's a very smart young lady. I hope you all enjoy the Super Bowl. I'll see y'all at the end of next week.

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