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Inbox: There's still a whole lotta leapin' to be done

Lynn Dickey would’ve cooked in today’s NFL

RB Aaron Jones
RB Aaron Jones

Steve from Wabasha, MN

Aaron Rodgers was playing golf in California, and we had Packers in Vegas. But they couldn't split you and Spoff up to cover them. Was there a disagreement on who got to go where?

Spoff isn't allowed back in Vegas. That's all I can say on the matter. Moving on.

Bob from Ocean View, DE

One of Philadelphia's greatest strengths this year has been its offensive line. The Eagles stayed mostly intact through the entire season. Given the nature of the position, with players falling all over on almost every play, how much does OL health come down to luck vs. training or scheme?

I'd say it's 75% luck and 25% training/scheme. A team can control as many of the controllables as it wants but it's very difficult to get the same starting five to run the same marathon for six months. I think the Packers' 2014 offensive line is the closest we'll ever see to that happening in Green Bay. Philly's offensive line is incredible but what's most astounding is how the Eagles have seven players who reached 1,000 offensive snaps this year. Lane Johnson came 26 snaps away from the Eagles having five O-linemen eclipse that mark. Green Bay has had seven players reach 1,000 offensive snaps in the past three years combined.

Daniel from Horsholm, Denmark

Which team are you picking to win the big game and why?

Philly. Because I'm never right and a glutton for punishment.

Mike from Baraboo, WI

Now, we can all put our focus on the Super Bowl. If the Chiefs win, what will that mean for Patrick Mahomes' legacy?

He's one of the greatest of all time at just 27 years old.

Don from Intercourse, PA

If the league is so hellbent on ratings, viewership, and of course money...why isn't the Super Bowl played on Saturday? I don't know a single person or employer who would be opposed to it.

Because Super Bowl weekend is more profitable than Super Bowl Saturday. The Super Bowl is practically a holiday in the United States and a windfall for the host cities. The reality is the NFL can play the Super Bowl whenever it wants, and it would be a major draw. A mid-morning weekday Super Bowl would even give "The Price is Right" a run for its money.

John from Yorba Linda, CA

The NFL Network played highlights of every Super Bowl this past weekend. It was a great walk through history and showed the game's evolvement through time. From helmets and facemasks, long-sleeve jerseys and knee pads, grass, mud, and outdoor stadiums, to speakers in helmets and multi-billion-dollar architectural complexes. What's a fumble and what's a catch changed with helmet-to-helmet and roughing the passer. Broken noses and missing teeth. Coaches in suits to hoodies. Loved every minute.

My two biggest takeaways from watching parts of that marathon – the ever-shrinking shoulder pads and advancement in camera technology. And not just from 50 years ago, either. Even watching how far TV broadcasts have come since the Har-bowl just 10 years ago. Cameras and video technology are so much brighter and sharper these days. And I'm sure I'll be saying the same thing 10 years from now if I'm lucky enough to still be here.

Ken from New York, NY

I watched the Pro Bowl Games out of curiosity, lasted five minutes, and concluded that this whole thing needs to be put out of our misery.

Oh, come on, Ken. An unnecessary roughness penalty for making contact with the ball carrier, no run zones inside the 5-yard line and a controversial kneel-down weren't enough to entertain you? My personal highlight was watching two NFC offensive linemen trying to pull a 5,000-pound sled instead of pulling the weights off it.

Dan from Kenosha, WI

Insiders, it may be because I went in with my eyes wide open, but I'm surprised at all the hate over the Pro Bowl activities. My family watched and found the event entertaining, much better than a watered-down quasi-football game. It also looked like the players enjoyed it as well. Kudos to the NFL for making a bold decision. My one complaint was Derek Carr. How does a QB who is benched for the last four games and whose team doesn't want him end up in the Pro Bowl?

All jokes aside, I enjoyed the Pro Bowl Games. I could have lived without Thursday. Eight skills competitions are too much for my taste. I think it would be better to bring players in for two or three days, do some cool community service work like Elgton Jenkins did, and then have one day of on-field activities. Players seemed to be into the flag football game, though. Peyton Manning was hot at the end of the game. Listen, I get the criticism with the AFC quarterbacks but there really weren't many left to choose from. If not Carr, you're probably picking between Russell Wilson or Mac Jones. The only person I think has a real gripe is Jacoby Brissett. If we're sending "backup QBs" to the Pro Bowl, Brissett deserved it more than Tyler Huntley for the job he did this year in Cleveland.

On Feb. 6, 2011, the Green Bay Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-25, to win Super Bowl XLV.

Keith from Dodgeville, WI

Guys, the only part of the flag ballgame I saw was the replay of Ja's pick-six. It sure would have been great to see him get it during the real season.

I'd bet we're getting close to seeing that happen. Alexander was a pretty good return man at Louisville, too. He knows how to use his speed in the open field.

Venny from Montgomery, AL

Probably more of a question for Mike, but is there a specific baseball position that better transitions to quarterback? In basketball it seems that the power forward transitioned to TE well with three former players coming from said position (Antonio Gates, Jimmy Graham and Tony Gonzalez). From what I understand, Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray and Patrick Mahomes all have baseball backgrounds. Did they all play a similar position in baseball? I imagine Patrick Mahomes as a shortstop.

We'll see if Spoff has something to say on the matter, but my take is middle infield and centerfield seem the most "NFL-like" baseball positions. Those spots require arm talent, athleticism and coordination. Pitcher goes without saying. Mahomes is the son of an 11-year MLB pitcher and a draft pick himself at the position. The arm strength obviously has translated to the gridiron as Mahomes is legitimately one of hardest-throwing QBs in the history of the NFL Scouting Combine.

John from Jupiter, FL

Morning Wes. Regarding special teams, did Pat O'Donnell meet expectations? Will he be back? Thanks.

Yeah, I thought O'Donnell had a good season. There unfortunately were a few blocks that brought down his net average, but he brought a lot of peace of mind back to the Packers' special teams, especially as a holder on field goals. He also shepherded an undrafted long snapper in Jack Coco. O'Donnell is under contract for 2023 and I fully expect him back next season.

Dick from Sarasota, FL

Last year, it was said that it was more important for the rookie wide receivers to learn at OTAs than have Aaron Rodgers there throwing to them. If AR is back this year, do you believe he should be at OTAs to work on chemistry?

As Matt LaFleur and Brian Gutekunst often say, the Packers want all their players there. It's voluntary – and it absolutely should be voluntary with how long the NFL season is now. But yes, I think everyone would benefit from having a player of Rodgers' experience and ability in attendance.

Bob from Fredericksburg, VA

Along the lines of offseason business, one of the first dominoes to fall should be the restructuring of some of our bigger contracts. When should we begin to see some of these deals get done and making some much-needed cap room?

Restructures can happen at any time, especially when it's just simple restructures like converting base salary to signing bonuses that can be prorated. For example, the Packers reportedly tweaked Dean Lowry's contract in late November to free up some cap space prior to Elgton Jenkins' extension. Now if you're talking about bigger modifications (e.g. Mason Crosby's restructure in 2013), those can be trickier. But again, money can be shuffled around anytime between now and the start of the league year in March.

Jeffrey from Eveleth, MN

Guys, what's the deal with the Sean Rhyan pick? Just a bad-luck year, or is this more of the Packer curse in the third round? Who was the last quality draft pick the Pack landed in the third round?

It was a tough rookie campaign for Rhyan, but we hardly know anything about him yet aside from a few preseason games. His size and athleticism jump off the page and hopefully Rhyan can show it on the field next summer. Morgan Burnett was the last third-round pick to receive a second contract from Green Bay, but Kyler Fackrell, Richard Rodgers, and Oren Burks all played out their rookie deals in Green Bay. The Packers haven't hit on a Pro Bowler in the third round in a while but there have been plenty of good pros in that bunch.

Richard from Madison, WI

Pretty clearly, the 49ers took a serious hit when Brock Purdy's elbow got torqued to Toledo, and poor Josh Jackson didn't last very long. That did highlight the role of the backup QB, however. So which Super Bowl team would be better able to survive the loss of either Mahomes or Hurts in the first quarter?

Interesting question. Chad Henne has kind of morphed into Kansas City's version of Doug Pederson, but Gardner Minshew can find a way with the best of 'em. Even though Minshew struggled in two spot starts this year, I'd still favor the young QB making something happen.

TK from Grafton, WI

Isn't it kind of lazy to "fix" things by suggesting that everyone gets fired?

We live in a time where people would rather replace the sink than fix a faucet. But in this business, buying a new sink doesn't guarantee anything other than a smaller bank account. The bigger challenge for NFL brass is determining when something is broken beyond repair and needs to be replaced. But as I've said for years, firing for the sake of firing doesn't accomplish anything.

Dan from Waupun, WI

Are the new rules eliminating the "human confrontation"? I, as a fan, want as much confrontation as possible. Any new rules to give us more? The UFC is perfect for inner confrontation we want! I would like to see more teeth missing. Less jewelry wearing. More blood. Less dancing. More fighting. Less talking. More in-your-face arguments. Less 5-yard, tough-guy finger-pointing. We need old-school football to go with modern statistics. We try to put numbers to make modern football look cool.

Sure, but even the UFC is a much different product today than when it was founded in 1993. Back then, the only rule was you couldn't bite your opponent. You could headbutt, scratch and pull hair. It was even legal to hit your opponent in the nether regions, but Mixed Martial Arts evolved. It's no different than the NFL. We know a lot more than we knew back then. Football is a sport brimming with athleticism and drama. I appreciate that the NFL steers more into that now than the "Biggest Hits!" VHS tapes that were on during every commercial break when I was a kid.

Eric from Springfield, VA

How many former Packers players work for the organization? You have Larry and Kuhn, but who else is still working for their former team?

The venerable Tony Fisher, Grey Ruegamer, Chris Gizzi, Brandian Ross and Adam Stenavich.

Jim from Manitowoc, WI

How would Lynn Dickey have done if he did not have numerous injuries, and where can I buy a Lynn Dickey jersey?

The injuries are a big part of Dickey's story, both the setbacks and the triumphs. I feel strongly that Lynn Dickey would've cooked in today's NFL. He's a prime example of a someone who would've really benefitted from all the protections granted to the quarterback in 2023.

Jeff from Victorville, CA

In response to Jessi from KS, I say get rid of the Roman numerals. It's like trying to understand the metric system. It's American football and American numbers should be used. For a brain teaser, for Super Bowl 60, we could go Super Bowl 40 + 90 –10 ÷ 2. At least, then we could actually figure out which super bowl we're watching.

Super Bowl 125?

Rebecca from Madison, WI

Morning II. No question, just another observation of the use of Roman numerals by the NFL describing which Super Bowl it is. I just looked back on the Packers' last Super Bowl and the Roman numerals are so much cooler looking on the swag we buy, than just regular numbers. Keep the Roman numerals!

I like Roman numerals, but I know the WWE did away with them about X years ago because it didn't want Wrestlemania to seem old. I'm guessing the NFL will follow UFC's lead and just keep the numbers coming. Personally, I'm looking forward to Super Bowl CLIX in another century.

Dwight from Brooklyn, NY

Here's my prediction for Chicago's pick in the draft: The Bears will do what the Vikings did in 2003 and the Ravens did in 2011.

Or they can always trade back with Cleveland for three second-rounders…and regroup, figure themselves out…and relax.

Mark from Vienna, VA

Are the fans going to be burdened with the same kind of "games" at next year's Pro Bowl? More than 30 people gathered at the local sports bar and 15 minutes later only about a dozen remained.

Maybe it was the chili.

Scott from Reno, NV

Your reference to Johnny U in Monday's column brought back a treasured memory. I once had the pleasure of sitting at a bar and talking to him for about three hours. Near the end of our conversation, I asked him, "What's the best team you've ever played against?" He didn't skip a beat and said, "the '62 Packers." At which point, I jumped in and said, "You're damn right they were!" I can still hear his laugh as he said, "Packer fan, eh?" What a gentleman.

I'm not sure what impresses me more – Unitas' response or you feeling comfortable enough to revel in your Packers fandom in front of one of the most decorated players in NFL history.

Dar from Mansfield, TX

Wes, if memory serves (and sometimes it doesn't), many of us found this once-fledgling column 12 years ago this week, when a curmudgeon named Vic started answering reader questions in the afterglow of Super Bowl XLV. Any birthday plans for Inbox? Cake? Party favors? Fun anecdotes you'd like to share?

As my bumper sticker reads, "I brake for squirrels…and Spoff." I'll leave that one up to the man who's been here longer than any of us on to decide.

Steve from Ankeny, IA

If second-year leaps are a real thing, I can't wait for next year!

And there's still a whole lotta leapin' to be done by one and all. Have a good day, folks.

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