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Inbox: They'll be better for all the experience they gained

It’s been a different kind of year

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Ken from New York, NY

It's amazing that I'm still thinking about the Jets game. The Packers have issues that they need to address during the offseason, but guts isn't one of them.

Say what you will about the 2018 Packers, but never question their desire to win. This team played until the bitter end every week. Good morning!

Dan from Verona, WI

Although we weren't treated to as many wins as we'd hoped, I was able to attend the games at Lambeau for what I consider the best games of the season: Comeback wins against the Bears and 49ers. To you, which is the best comeback win of the season, Bears, 49ers or Jets? Thanks for all the hard work you do. Hope you get to enjoy your offseason after Week 17!

As good as those comeback wins over the Bears and 49ers were, that win over the Jets was one for the ages given all the doubters and outside noise. That team dug deep when it didn't have to, which is why I termed it the Packers' most meaningful performance this season.

Tom from Columbus, GA

II, before anybody asked or maybe someone has, the last time the Pack went 1-7 on the road was 2005; before that 1979 with the 16-game schedule. Here's hoping we don't see it again for many years to come. Go Pack Go!

And within two years, the Packers were back in the NFC Championship Game. If you ask anyone in the know, I think each person would say this 2018 team is vastly better than 2005.

Ben from Pensacola, FL

I think criticism of the three rookie WRs is a little unjust. Do they have work to do? Yes, they're rookies. But they're quick and very athletic – and I'd also like to think other rookie star WRs would have had a difficult time adjusting to a QB they weren't able to practice with all season. If we keep Aaron Rodgers upright next season, these receivers will play much better than they have all year – and they've not even played badly, in my unprofessional opinion.

I don't know how anyone could take fault with the three rookie receivers. If the Packers had their druthers, Davante Adams, Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison would have played a majority of the season. I think it says a lot about Equanimeous St. Brown and Marquez Valdes-Scantling they performed as well as they have given the circumstances. None of these guys were first-round picks. They were Day 3 finds and they'll be better for the experience they gained in 2018.

Rod from Chugiak, AK

His fast start then disappearance before resurfacing last game is about the only MVS narrative written. Here's another perspective: Greg Jennings, lauded his rookie season for performance and promising future, finished with 632 yards. Allison's big start delayed MVS's, but he since has 538. If not for that crazy stumble with the ball in a near open field, and Rodgers' bad miss where MVS was so open, he'd have had a couple more long TDs and a hundred or so more yards--during that "disappearance."

This is one of the most overblown narratives of the season. Valdes-Scantling has 35 catches for 538 yards (15.4 yards per reception) and two touchdowns in 15 games with nine starts. That's a solid year for any rookie receiver, let alone a fifth-round pick who was the 19th player drafted at his position.

Curt from Locust Grove, CA

With the end of the season right around the corner, I know McCarthy did exit interviews with the players. Is that something the players can still expect with a new coach coming in?

If the Packers are going to conduct exit interviews, I'm guessing that's something Philbin will have to decide to do after Sunday's game. By the time a new coach is in place, most of the players already will have dispersed.

Mike from Chaska, MN

Last week Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown became the first WR to score 15 touchdowns with over 100 receptions in a season since Randy Moss. Great time for Davante Adams to do the same!

Hopefully, everything checks out OK with Adams' knee this week and he's able to play without much, if any, restriction. He's been one of the most consistent performers in the NFL this season. It would be nice to see him finish on a high note.

Jordan from Lawrenceburg, KY

I am very excited for the Packer game this Sunday. With two receptions and 134 yards to break two records, one would think AR12 will be slinging the ball to Davante Adams all game long in order to help him achieve those records. This should be a very entertaining game and I am very fortunate to be going! What are the most yards for Davante this year in a single game? 

He had 10 catches for 166 yards against Seattle in Week 11. His second-best game? Nine catches for 140 yards and a touchdown against the Lions in Week 5, so it's well within reach.

Jake from Racine, WI

What are the odds Kapri Bibbs will see any playing time this week? Jamaal Williams did a great job last week but I would like to see what Kapri can do. I know we would only use him for an obvious running situation as we would likely not trust him to help protect Rodgers. The Packers are his favorite team and I could see him running very hard if given the opportunity. Seeing him score and take a big Lambeau Leap would be a great end to the year.

Jamaal Williams and Danny Vitale have the most experience in Green Bay's backfield right now. They were the one-two punch in New York and there's no reason to think it won't be that way again in the finale. We'll see if any opportunities trickle down to Bibbs and/or Lavon Coleman. It would be a really cool moment for Bibbs and his mother, a lifelong Packers fan, if he gets a few carries at Lambeau Field.

Jacob from Chicago, IL

Not only is 10 wins irrelevant for that final playoff spot – even eight wins could secure it. That nonsense of a foul on Clay Matthews is playing out to the end, isn't it?

I'm not saying those calls on Matthews changed the outcome of the season, but it's a part of the story for the 2018 Packers. I still wonder what happens if Matthews avoids a flag, Jaire Alexander gets his first interception and the Packers win those first two games.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

I just looked at the names on the 53 and the practice squad. Not sure what the numbers are but the difference from Week 1 seems unprecedented, at least in my memory. Have you ever seen this much turnover during the season in your time following the Packers? Thanks Wes.

No, but it's been a different kind of year. If Green Bay had been playoff-bound, I'm guessing the team would've kept Kenny Clark and Aaron Jones on the roster. There's no reason to push it, though. Instead, the Packers can take a look at some other prospects for next season.

Scott from Lincoln City, OR

If the Packers finish the year tied with the Browns, who gets the higher draft pick? (Who would have thought this would ever have been a possible scenario?)

I don't know what all plays into the tiebreakers, but right now the Packers are projected with the 15th pick, with Cleveland at No. 17.

Monty from Hazen, ND

Jamaal Williams seems like an Edgar Bennett type player for the Packers. Edgar was often referred to as a "mudder" who had his best games in bad weather toward the end of the season. What's your take?

I made the case on "Unscripted" Monday that Williams is a perfect fit for this offense. He has many of the same qualities as James Starks, though Williams is more durable and better in pass protection than Starks was in Year 2. Home runs are fun, which is why everyone loves Aaron Jones. But there's something to be said for a back like Williams, too.

Geoff from Beaver Dam, WI

Does Cole Madison's status affect the Packers' compensatory selections at all?

No.

Edward from Canton, SD

After the Jets game, was Mason Crosby asked why he did not kick off deep into the end zone on the two long kickoff returns? Wondering if he was told to have them fall short by ST coach Ron Zook, or if he no longer has the leg to kick 65-to-70-yard line drives anymore.

Crosby still has the leg to do it, but admitted after the game he needed to kick better on those returns. Unfortunately, the coverage team didn't pick the Packers up, either. It was a sum of the whole.

Eric from Erie, PA

I'm a little early in asking this since we still have one more week to play, but isn't there a rule that allows teams with new head coaches to start training camp early? Wouldn't that extra time help the team get more prepared for the regular season? An extra week of practice between Rodgers and his young receiving corps would help with chemistry and consistency.

I don't think it pertains to training camp, but clubs with a new head coach are permitted to start the 2019 offseason program April 1 instead of April 15.

George from Sturgeon Bay, WI

To those who propose losing our last games to get an early first-round draft choice, who was the 24th pick in the first round of the 2005 draft?

And conversely, who was the second pick in the 2014 NBA Draft? The draft is a ticket into professional sports. Does a top five or top 10 pick increase your chances at finding a franchise player? Sure, but it doesn't guarantee one, either.

Keith from Lincoln, IL

The Packers' season ends Sunday. Obviously, the head coaching rumors will ramp up after that. Of these three timeframes, which one is the most realistic to be the timeframe in which a head coach hire is announced? During the playoffs, right after the Super Bowl, or later than that?

We can only go off what we've seen. While it's been 13 years since the Packers have hired a new head coach, the organization conducted a very efficient search for general manager last offseason. I'd expect no different this time around. Mark Murphy and Brian Gutekunst are going to do their proper due diligence, but I don't see them dragging out a search any longer than it needs to be to find the right fit.

Steve from Eau Claire, WI

Insiders, I just read that we missed out on D.J. Swearinger to the Cardinals because our record is better than theirs. I always thought the first team to file a claim got the player. What is the rationale behind awarding a waiver claim to the team with the worst record? Is there anything else that factors in?

It levels the playing field and doesn't allow the rich to get richer, especially on the eve of the playoffs. It's no different than the waiver-wire process in your fantasy league. Should your buddy John be rewarded because he was the first to sign on while Derrick Henry is rushing for 200 yards and add him to his roster? No.

Blaine from Fennimore, WI

Looking at playoff scenarios, the Bears still have a chance at a first-round bye with a win and a Rams loss to the 49ers. Would you play your starters if you were their coach?

Abso-freakin'-lutely. In this game, you either play to win or be prepared to lose.

The Packers were back at Practice Wednesday afternoon going into Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field.

Matt from Lambeau, MN

Curious how Cecil Isbell, whom I presume you never saw play, become literally your favorite Packer player of all time? Thanks for the column.

Don Hutson gets a lot of credit – and rightfully so – for the evolution of the receiver position and forward passing game. However, Isbell is an underrated participant in Packers history. He was an innovator in his own right. As I've written in this space before, Isbell's 24 touchdown passes in 1942 stood as a franchise record for 40 years. While I defer to Cliff on all Packers things historical, I'd still venture to guess Isbell's career ends in Canton if he wouldn't have walked away at 27 years old.

Benny from Aurora, CO

One more game to go, then comes the agony of waiting for the 2019 season. I am probably looking forward to the coaching decisions. What do you look forward to with anticipation (besides the well-deserved lighter work load)?

I find the NFL Scouting Combine fascinating because it's the one week of the year where the entire league is pretty much in one locale. There are agents, coaches and personnel executives everywhere.

Tony from Gary, IN

Ever see a bowl game get canceled before? I guess George Carlin missed the lightning factor.

That's a new one for me.

Dan from Waupun, WI

50/50 are 17's. That's good. I would like to thank all the players that played 16 games. They are paid to play 16, not 14 games. They are paid to try and win. I am glad they have some heart left, after this year. There is a commercial that Tony R. says all fans can do is cheer. He is half right. It costs a lot of money to be a fan. Cheering is free. Tickets, concessions, TV, and novelties are expensive. I hope you make a ton! I get entertainment for 12 months from you fellas.

Death. Taxes. Free life advice, courtesy of Insider Inbox, 312 times a year.

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