Linda from Lakewood Ranch, FL
Good morning, Wes. I thought it was superfluous to call it "Super" Wild Card Weekend. Now Mike wants to make this weekend "Super-Duper" Wild Card Weekend? Enough is enough?
I strenuously object.
Jordan from Virginia Beach, VA
I have to disagree with Vinny from Arlington regarding the seventh seed producing more division matchups in the playoffs. They are important games in the regular season and seeing them again in the playoffs only intensifies rivalries. I think that is the only good thing about the addition of the No. 7 seed. Two of the three matchups last weekend were one-score games and who is not looking forward to Giants-Eagles?
Anyone who attended Green Bay's wild-card win over Minnesota in January 2013 knows how much that win meant to Packers fans. Listen, I just want to see the best teams playing in January. To me, it doesn't matter which division those teams come from. I'm sure we'll have four teams from the same division make the postseason soon enough. I just want to watch football, with or without pomp and circumstance.
Tom from Douglassville, PA
I'm predicting 49ers vs. Bengals for the big game, who is your pick?
San Francisco and Buffalo. I'm still wary of the Bills and Josh Allen's ability to protect the football, but something tells me this is their year.
Mike from Independence, KY
A follow-up to Jason from Austin's question about the Bengals having to play in Buffalo. I understand that the Bills had the better record, although if the Bengals had beat them, they would have been the No. 2 seed. I can live with that decision. But why did they give the Ravens a chance for a coin flip to decide home field if they had beaten the Bengals in the final game of the regular season after the Bengals had a better record and had already clinched the division, guaranteeing a home game?
I didn't score high enough on the ACT to process the adjusted home-field tiebreakers, let alone opine on the rules. The NFL and NFLPA were forced to make a difficult call after Damar Hamlin's injury, but I believe they made the best, and most tasteful, decision for all parties. Everything worked out in the end and now Buffalo and Cincinnati can finish their business.
Julian from Gastonia, NC
As a person who has had one shoulder surgery on each of my shoulders, I think Jalen Hurts is still injured and will end up getting shoulder surgery in the offseason. An injured shoulder often does not show up using current MRI technology.
And that's why I'm reluctant to crown Philadelphia as the NFC champions. The Eagles have been a different team since Hurts injured the shoulder.
Jeffery from Brooklyn, WI
Hey guys, I say Jags vs. Cowboys in the big dance. Book it.
Doug Pederson vs. Mike McCarthy. I respect it.
Dean from Leavenworth, IN
After the Packers' dismal loss to Detroit, I felt pretty low and wasn't sure I wanted to watch any football for a while. Well, by Saturday, I was ready to move on and tune in. Surprisingly, I think I enjoyed those wild-card games more than I have in years and am equally looking forward to this weekend, as well. Turns out without any skin in the game that playoff football might be more interesting and enjoyable. Did you have any sense of the same?
I completely agree – and I can't wait to watch this weekend. On paper, NFL "Semi-Duper" Wild Card Weekend didn't look like a great slate of games, but it played out beautifully. Coincidentally, the game I was looking forward to the most (Dallas vs. Tampa Bay) was the most lopsided of the bunch. Maybe that means Eagles-Giants and Chiefs-Jaguars will surprise.
Bill from Clive, IA
Thanks to Mike for his great piece on Bobby Tonyan and the human side of free agency, to which many of us can relate. Which of us in other (esp. non-union) professions haven't "tested the market" to try to advance our careers, prompting our employers to "counter-offer" to potentially retain us? How many have wrestled with how to put a monetary value on workplace environment and friendships? No matter how much you love your employer, it can never love you back. But it can be kind.
It's a lot to wrestle with. I know I've been on that side of the fence before myself, but at the end of the day, you have to do what's in the best interest of your and your family's future. Football doesn't last forever, so I don't fault anyone for getting what they're worth. But there are other factors a player must consider, too, given the non-guaranteed contracts in the NFL. That's part of the reason Tonyan came back last year.
Jack from Black Mountain, NC
I am no football offensive expert, but Bobby Tonyan seems to be an overlooked weapon. He is clearly worth his paycheck as a blocker. But couldn't he be part of the answer to the red-zone and third-down woes? He is tall, athletic, smart, and good hands – perfect for when a few yards are needed.
It remains a mystery to me why Robert Tonyan wasn't utilized more this year inside the red zone, especially with how effective Marcedes Lewis was on the goal line. You'd think Green Bay could've built off that. I still think Tonyan's a talent and fits well into this system, but it all comes down to price.
Mark from San Antonio, TX
Regarding the re-signing of Keisean Nixon, how do you think he will be valued? As a DB/return man? More return man than DB? From Nixon's perspective, which one will be worth more? Appreciate all your insight!
I'm sure Nixon's camp will be pitching him to potential suitors as both. There's value in versatility and it's tough for a vested veteran to get paid to just be a returner in today's NFL. It helps Nixon's case that he's also a very good flyer and coverage tackler. His play in the nickel cornerback spot after Eric Stokes' injury won't be ignored, either.
Dale from Palmyra, NE
Concerning Luke's comment about the challenge, I'm for keeping it. It has generated a few of the less boring commercials during games.
I'm for keeping the challenge system but I think the NFL needs to bring the shot clock back for reviews. There were way too many four-minute reviews this season. Do you have any idea how many lunches Spoff can steal in 240 seconds?
Jason from Austin, TX
I think it's only fair that if a coach or the higher-ups review a super close call/play, and if the ruling on the field is confirmed, the refs should be able to celebrate. I want to see the whole squad run to the end-zone camera like the defenses do on interceptions. "The ruling on the field is confirmed" and the camera pans to side ref doing a Clay Matthews flex.
Ha. I'm sure that would go over well with the home crowd when the confirmation on the field favors the visiting team.
Keith from Dodgeville, WI
Guys, now that our season is over and Sammy Watkins is no longer on the team, how would you evaluate his season with the Packers? A wasted pickup or a player that just cannot stay healthy enough to help?
Signing Watkins wasn't a waste. Even if the on-field production wasn't to the level the Packers hoped, their three rookie receivers all spoke on how much Watkins helped their growth. As a former No. 4 overall pick, Watkins undoubtedly was a great resource for Christian Watson in terms of managing high expectations. Personally, I found Watkins to be a standup guy who did his job and didn't complain. It's too bad this wasn't the place for him to turn his own career around, but the receiver room was better for Watkins' time in GB.
Joe from Pittsburgh, PA
It looks like the league has evolved to the point that the days of the non-mobile, pure pocket quarterback such as Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Dan Fouts will soon be gone the way of the dinosaurs. Mobility is the key to the new crop of exciting QBs.
To an extent but it's not like Manning and Fouts wouldn't be successful in today's NFL. Traditional pocket QBs have just needed to adapt their style. Indubitably, the game has changed but it's not like it happened overnight. There's been constant evolution at the position. Joe Burrow, for example, possesses all the attributes to be a '90s pocket passer but also the athleticism to get the available yards. It's just like Aaron Rodgers. That's how he became the 11th all-time leading rusher in team history.
Cory from Bozeman, MT
Good morning, Insider Inbox! Appreciate the work you two do throughout the season and the offseason! Could you see Aaron Rodgers' decision playing any role in who the Packers select in the draft, mainly the first-round pick, if they have two players rated very similarly? Maybe they select an offensive weapon they have rated highly over a defensive player they also have rated highly, if he chooses to come back for another year? I'd appreciate your thoughts on this.
I don't know if Rodgers' potential return would tilt the scales one way or another unless it was part of the offseason conversation between the organization and Rodgers (e.g. areas where the offense needs to improve). The reason I recently pitched for an offensive player was more because how heavily Green Bay has invested into the defense in recent years. With Watson more established, it could be fun to add another premier athlete on the offensive side of the ball. It's worked out quite well for Cincinnati.
Thomas from Madison, WI
Generating clicks and reader interest definitely benefits from ignoring context. I'm guilty of only reading headlines at times, which is most reckless when trying to be informed. That said, I feel like the MVP vs. SB take should be seen more in context of how AR12 has conducted himself/been perceived outside of games the past few years. It seems like he enjoys fueling the fire. To the question: Are there other star players that regularly feature themselves on specific interview platforms?
Oh, absolutely. But plenty of QBs, star players, coaches and even Jerry Jones have their bully pulpits. Rodgers' just happens to rest on one of sports' biggest platforms.
Paul from Ledgeview, WI
Regardless of the spin on the "MVP level versus SB" Rodgers comment, like Bill Belichick, better a year too soon, than a year too late. By the way, how would you define "the right situation"? Are you the player who 1.) can raise the level of those around you to MVP, or 2.) requires those around you to allow you to perform at MVP level? If the latter, then you ain't the guy any longer.
Is Belichick really the right comparison on that one, Paul? If so, I think we're well past singular references by now.
Arthur from Eau Claire, WI
Positional question: What are the long snapper's duties game-wise and practice? During practice does he just practice snaps to the holder or have other concerns? Does he snap to any player or just the official holder? Has any team spent a draft pick on someone that only played long snapper in college?
During the offseason program, Jack Coco and Steven Wirtel snapped to each other off to the side. Assistant special teams coach Byron Storer worked with them quite a bit, as well. In-season, Coco and the specialists are kind of in their own world. And yes, teams have spent draft picks on players who were only college long snappers. Belichick invested a fifth-round pick (166th overall) on Joe Cardona in 2015. The highest draft pick ever used on a pure long snapper was Rice's Ryan Pontbriand in 2003. He was drafted by Cleveland in the fifth round at No. 142.
Dennis from Beaver Dam, WI
In the Reggie White to Bruce Smith comparison, do you think Reggie's dominance against the run gets overshadowed by his pass rush? According to LeRoy Butler, he was so good against the run they could shade their linebackers to the other side because no one even tried to run around Reggie's side. I remember the playoff game in Detroit where they held Barry Sanders to minus-3 yards. Seeing Reggie tackle Barry in the backfield was amazing. For my money, Reggie was the best ever.
It's picking between steak and lobster. I don't think there's a right or wrong answer. I'd still go with White for the same reason I picked Aaron Donald. Reggie was just so different from any other defensive end/edge rusher. There's no comparison. He dominated in every aspect of the game and did things on the field nobody else could do.
Basil from Nags Head, NC
Hey Insiders, what do you think will become of Sean Rhyan? I believe his suspension is over now. My son met him at Hinterland the weekend of the home opener against Chicago that we were fortunate enough to attend. Seemed like a decent guy. Here's hoping he'll turn things around and play like the third-round pick he was.
Rhyan is a big, versatile dude who possessed the best vertical among offensive linemen at the combine, leaping ½ inch higher than Zach Tom. It just didn't come together this year and then the suspension happened, but Rhyan will get another swing at it this spring. We'll see what Year 2 looks like.
Doug from Neenah, WI
Good morning, Wes. During last Saturday's Jaguars playoff game, you could hear Lynyrd Skynyrd's iconic song "Free Bird" playing over the loudspeakers, especially the blistering guitar solo by Allen Collins. That made sense because the band was mostly from the Jacksonville area. Which musical group is Green Bay's equivalent to Skynyrd? Can I nominate Big Mouth?
Todd from Winona, MN
There's a movie called "80 for Brady." I am thinking we need a spinoff of that called "Codgers for Rodgers". Could have all sorts of things only found in Wisconsin. Should I show myself out?
At first, I thought it was gonna be a "Lance Dance" futuristic documentary that explores an 80-year-old Tom Brady's decision to return for an unprecedented NFL season. After watching the actual trailer, I thought, "My God, we have run out of movie concepts…and my idea was better." Have a great weekend, everyone.
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