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Inbox: They get to attack instead of react

It’s baked in the cake


Ray from Hawthorn Woods, IL

Hi II! You mentioned that you're not able to tailgate prior to games, but what about at the Packers Everywhere events? My wife and I met you both a few years ago at the event prior to the opening game in Chicago (btw, it was a really fun time) and I'm wondering if you'll be there this year and if I'd be able to buy you a beer or if you're there in official work capacity?

Oh, I've been known to down a beer or two at a PE pep rally. All in moderation, of course. Though I appreciate the offer (and I haven't heard yet where we're having rallies this coming season), I can't really stay after or I miss the bus ride back to the hotel.

Mark from Westminster, CO

I may be in the minority, but I have a sense of calm with how Jordan Love will integrate into leading this team, I'm not concerned at all. However, I am wondering what will become Love's personal nemesis and fan outcry. For Favre, it was his interceptions; for Rodgers it was using all the play clock and burning unnecessary timeouts. For Love, ask me in three years.

In this day and age of instant analysis and fan reaction, it won't take nearly that long.

Jeff from Foothill Ranch, CA

Hey Mike, reading the latest “Countdown to Camp” and regarding Kenny Clark and his eight years of play, though only 28. So much has been made recently about the longevity of RBs, what is the longevity of a DL? Does he have another long-term contract in him?

I would guess so. Plenty of top-flight defensive linemen have made good money into their 30s. They might not get paid at the very top of the market anymore, and the length of the next contract might shorten. But a guy like Clark with a fairly clean injury history who shows little to no signs of decline would be highly sought after.

Kathy from Middleton, WI

Hello Insiders. I read a fun article in the NYT today about Blake Martinez and his Pokemon card business. He is making a lot of money and seems to be having a ton of fun following this interest, with the revenue for his "Blake's Breaks" company hitting more than 11 million in less than a year. I'm curious if you can think of other NFL players who have quit football in mid-career (Blake was 28 when he retired) to follow other interests, and seen such success?

Nobody else immediately comes to mind, but I'm not surprised at all that Blake is finding lucrative success elsewhere. He's a smart dude who used those smarts to carve out a heck of an NFL career while a tad undersized for his position. I always enjoy hearing about players who left the game on their own terms and found their way at or near the top in another venture.

Mike from Cascade, ID

Hi Mike, can I add Vince Ferragamo's name to your list of Cal QBs? He played at Cal before transferring to Nebraska and ended up with the Packers. As a long time Cal fan I realize that their football program isn't elite and doesn't garner much attention, but they have consistently placed quality players into the NFL. Marshawn Lynch, Chuck Muncie, Keenan Allan, DeSean Jackson, Wesley Walker, Tony Gonzalez, Alex Mack, Ed White, Tod Steussie, Ryan Longwell, Andre Carter, and more did pretty well.

You're right, I forgot Ferragamo played one year for the Packers (1986). He was also the second of four Cal QBs to start a Super Bowl, after Craig Morton and before Rodgers and Jared Goff.

Avida from Vienna, VA

Hi Mike, do you sense there is a chip on the shoulder by current players to prove that they can win without Aaron Rodgers? It seems like the national media and local media to some degree have made the Packers to be a HOF QB-centric team, who basically carried the team to greatness over the last decade-plus. Do players want to prove that while Rodgers was a great QB, they each contributed to the team's success and that their accomplishments and performance have been overshadowed for too long?

Players understand it's a QB-driven league as far as who gets credit, who gets overshadowed, etc. It's baked in the cake. I do think a close-knit team might be motivated to prove the whole can be greater than the (perceived) sum of its parts, but the bottom line is the players have a job to do, and they want to win. Their primary goals are to be accountable to their coaches and teammates, because that keeps the paychecks coming, and to celebrate with them in the locker room after victories, however they get accomplished.

Bob from Racine, WI

Gents, still two unsigned draft picks. What happens if they are not signed by the time training camp starts? Can they practice with the team? Are they in limbo until they sign? Thanks for your patience with all the responses you consider.

They have to sign their contracts and pass their physicals before they can practice during training camp. I'm not anticipating this to be an issue.

Kerry from New Richmond, WI

Can NFL players become free agents by refusing to sign a franchise tag and then sitting out a season, or does the team retain their rights until the player either plays under the tag, signs a tag, or negotiates a long-term agreement?

They can become free agents after sitting out a season only if they don't get the tag applied again the following year. After Le'Veon Bell sat out the 2018 season, the Steelers chose not to re-tag him and he signed as a free agent with the Jets.

Bob from Green Bay, WI

Halftime adjustment question. Let's say our running game is dominating the first half and we anticipate the opponent is going to put another player in the box. How do all the offensive coaches get on the same page in the short time they have to answer back with personnel and play calling, etc.?

Discussions take place at halftime and over the headsets all the time, but it mostly falls on the play caller. The best counter is to use similar personnel groups and formations with which the ground game was working, but give the QB run-pass options, so if he sees the loaded box, he can check to a pass. Then it's on the receivers to win their matchups and the guys up front to protect.

Danny from Potosi, WI

Do you have a favorite throwback jersey that the Packers have worn? Or is there a jersey from a certain era that they haven't worn yet that you'd like to see? I, personally, would love to see them wear the 1936 uniform which I believe was the first time they wore green. It had the gold yoke on the shoulders, much like the blue ones they wore in the '30s and '40s.

I feel the current throwbacks are the best ones they've worn yet. Going back to those duds from the '80s with the uniform number inside the stripes on the sleeves might be pretty neat sometime.

Hannes from Glendale, WI

With training camp just around the corner, I was wondering whether all teams let their fans attend open practice for free. Do some charge? Are there teams that have no sessions open to the public? Does the NFL regulate it?

It's up to the individual teams how many practices they open to the public. If they charge admission, they have to let scouts from opposing teams attend, so that's uncommon.

John from Livermore, CA

So since the question about wide receivers bench pressing yielded a blocking answer, who in your opinion was the best blocking wide receiver on the Packers?

The two best I've seen from this chair are Jordy Nelson and Allen Lazard.

Skip from Maryville, TN

I know we have Aaron Jones and Quadzilla running the ball and they will do a great job again this year, but with the departure of AR12 doesn't this put the spotlight on the OL and their ability to run block versus pass block? Drafting linemen over the last three years, I am sure, the emphasis was on finding pass blockers versus run blockers. Can you provide any commentary on how this shift may affect the OL, probably the strength of the offense?

The Packers didn't look for just pass blockers in the draft, if that's what you're suggesting. They've looked for guys who can play in this league, and that means having abilities in both realms that can be developed. Offensive linemen prefer to run block. Ask any of them. That's when they get to attack instead of react. It's much simpler and more fun. Believe me, if the offense becomes more run-reliant, the guys up front will be all for it.

Mike from Ames, IA

Mike, I appreciate your frank response about the Brewers' lineup of sluggers. Have you ever had a time watching the Packers where something, strategically, got on your nerves like that?

Having an injury on the offensive line, and then calling a short-yardage run to go right behind the substitute blocker.

Alex from Duluth, MN

In response to Ron from Mitchell, nothing drives young people crazier than older generations bemoaning their supposed lack of attention span and need for instant gratification. Coming up in the Favre/Rodgers era I have much appreciated the Packers' dynastic evolution in the modern era. Free-agent signings and blockbuster trades are the prerogative of players, agents and team brass, not the fans. Why regret such moves that brought us Favre, White and Woodson, who became faces of the franchise?

I'll let Ryan continue this thread.

Ryan from St. Charles, MO

I find it hard to believe that any Packers fan would want to go back to the "dynasty era" before free agency. Unless they enjoyed watching other teams beat the Packers. How much has the league's interest in parity helped to ensure the continued existence of its smallest-market franchise?

League-wide revenue sharing was the most important facet keeping the Packers in existence during the down years of the '70s and '80s until they were able to redevelop Lambeau Field and generate more sources of their own revenue that doesn't need to be shared. That said, free agency and the salary cap came in together. That was the grand bargain in 1993 – the players got free agency, the owners got a cap. They work hand in hand in the parity equation.

James from Willand, UK

Hi Mike, talking of "QB" on Netflix, did you see Kirk Cousins the bibliophile? I can't help but like his dorkiness. I thought the series missed covering the elephant in the room: What happened to Mariota after he was benched?

Yeah, the Mariota story left a lot of unanswered questions, but at the same time it's understandable. In some ways that series couldn't have worked out better in terms of the variety – one QB whose season got sidetracked, one who suffered the most devastating playoff loss of his career, and one who won the Super Bowl.

Jeff from Cedar Rapids, IA

How are you?

I'm two columns away from finishing nine straight and reaching my last little respite before the bell rings. Happy Tuesday.

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