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Inbox: They're harder to find than it looks

No one is exempt from that challenge

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DL Kenny Clark

Dylan from Cary, NC

"Spot and choose" is a great alternative to the current OT system. In the very recent past, three MVPs lost in OT during the playoffs the year they won MVP without getting a chance to touch the ball. We all know one, can you name the other two?

Let's give everyone some time to think about it. The answer will be below.

Ryan from Appleton, WI

Should fans expect a mid-April schedule release as usual or will it be different this year due to the pandemic?

There were reports last week the schedule would not be coming out until early May.

Doug from Springfield, IL

Two players, one game. It's interesting how people view Kevin King and Marquez Valdes-Scantling after the NFC Championship Game. Seems like most are discarding Kevin King and several in the Inbox proclaiming MVS as the legit No. 2 of the future, praising Gutekunst for not drafting a WR last year. To me, both takes are incorrect. It was one game, we'll see.

The difference in the health histories and current contract situations are part of the bigger picture, but I see your point and it's valid.

David from Minneapolis, MN

Everyone, along with myself, agrees that CB is a position of need and should address it earlier in the draft. But what about Kabion Ento and Stanford Samuels? Do we have the next Sam Shields in the house and we as Insiders on the outside looking in just don't know it yet?

It's always a stretch to think any undrafted cornerback is the next Shields, but the Packers hope to really find out this year what they have in the two you mentioned. Ento has unfortunately had some injury issues, and the preseason getting wiped out last year left a lot of question marks on young players like them.

Ryan from Kaukauna, WI

Do you anticipate a coach in today's game being able to install an offense/defense that takes the league by storm like the West Coast offense or Tampa 2 (sorry if I'm giving them too much credit, they're just the ones I could think of off the top of my head), or is there just too much information available to all the coaches for one of them to find something revolutionary that others don't see?

In my experience, something that "takes the league by storm" is usually a scheme variation that's more personnel-driven, such as Lamar Jackson taking over at QB in Baltimore. That can take opposing coaches longer to respond effectively to than something strictly X's and O's.

Mike from Franksville, WI

Mike McCarthy had a total win percentage of 61.3% with the Packers, while having a 71.6% win percentage at Lambeau Field. Mike Sherman's total winning percentage was 57.8%, while winning 67.3% at home. Mike Holmgren, on the other hand, won 66.7% of his games with the Packers, but went 47-5 at Lambeau Field for a staggering 90.4% win percentage, including a 29-game winning streak. All of the Mikes had winning teams, but what, in your opinion, made Lambeau Field such a fortress in the '90s?

I can't say for sure, but I do know the visitors' locker room back then (pre-2003 Lambeau renovation) was a small, super-crowded, uncomfortable, antiseptic cinder-block tank that high schools these days would consider substandard. I was in there several times after games to interview visiting players in my newspaper days, and I dreaded the experience each time. I can't imagine how much opposing teams hated the place.

Justin from Los Angeles, CA

When my sister and I were kids my parents had an "I cut, you choose" rule: If we were splitting a piece of cake, one kid did the cutting, the other chose which slice they wanted. The Baltimore OT rule reminds me of that. Both sides have ownership of the choice, and if you try to get too clever, you could end up with the smaller piece of cake. I dig it.

My sister and I were introduced to that rule at a young age as well.

Matthias from San Antonio, TX

I have a question regarding overtime rules and if it's really important to keep some form of regular-season overtime or end games at regulation regardless of the outcome: How many overtime games decide the difference between playoff and division placement versus if the games had been tied?

I don't have the list in front of me, but it would be an interesting exercise to take a full season, change all the OT results to ties, and compare the playoff qualifiers and seeding. Look, even though I brought it up, I don't expect the league to turn the clock back almost 50 years and revert to no OT in the regular season. While I think some intriguing end-game strategies would develop without OT, the NFL loves drama more than anything else, and OTs provide more drama. There's no arguing that.

Sam from Janesville, WI

Insiders, it has been well documented in this column that there should be a "sky judge" watching for safety violations and safety violations should be reviewable. My question is, who can officially submit these suggestions to the league, and have these suggestions been officially proposed?

It's up to the teams to make suggestions/proposals, usually to the competition committee, and then that committee decides whether to bring an idea to the full league ownership for a vote. There were a couple of "sky judge" proposals last spring, but then they were withdrawn before the official league meetings. I would suspect the idea will come up again in the near future.

Rusty from Eustace, TX

Mike, in your response to Bob from Sydney, Australia, concerning blocking, I agree the concept is the concept. However, there are some differences in blocking which are dependent on the speed/quickness of the back and the size of the back. A back that is a step slower getting to the hole requires holding the block longer, and let's be honest, there are holes Aaron Jones can fit through, but AJ Dillon's thigh wouldn't!

All true, but the offensive linemen are not blocking differently based on who the back is. Any lineman who can hold his block longer is going to do so, regardless of the runner.

John from Livermore, CA

What do you think the impact of a 17-game season will be?

More revenue for the league, first and foremost. Some lost perspectives on records (which happens every time the schedule expands). Coaches paying attention even more to the wear-and-tear on players' bodies. Perhaps fewer tiebreakers required to determine playoff spots/seeding, due to the extra game and odd number? Maybe a mathematician out there knows if that's actually true.

James from Asheville, NC

While I support the Packers' "draft-and-develop" philosophy, with the salary cap restraints do you see this year as more of an "immediate help" draft?

I don't see the Packers changing their usual approach, if that's what you're asking. If it comes down to the choice between two players, and their scouting reports say Player A might be more ready to play as a rookie, but they're confident Player B will be the better player by Year 2 or 3, they're going with Player B.

Bryan from Madison, WI

It has been a running joke in Packerland (I know I am guilty) to laugh at the QB carousel in Chicago. However, since the Bears haven't had to routinely allocate large portions of their cap to QB, it would seem they have been able to amass (and retain) quite a lot of talent at other positions. This leads me to believe that once Chicago does find a QB worthy of ending the carousel, they might get very, very good very, very fast and stay that way for quite some time. Hopefully we are ready.

Once the Bears find a solution at QB, at some point they'll face the same cap issues other contenders do of paying the QB what he's worth and building a winner around him. No one is exempt from that challenge.

Corey from Fond du Lac, WI

Hey! Longtime reader, but I've never asked a question. Why does it seem like the need for a stud on the D-line is not as much of a priority as it should be? In my eyes we are one STUD away from being a really good defense. I personally think that is absolutely the only thing we should be thinking about.

As mentioned, I was stunned the Packers didn't draft a single defensive lineman last year. Also as noted last week, the track record of finding them late in the first round isn't good, and that's most often where the Packers are picking. I went through the last 10 years, and a lot of teams picking between 20-30 in the first round took a D-lineman they thought was the next "stud," and it didn't work out as hoped. If you aren't going to draft one, you have to pay top dollar for one, and that's never a simple decision. They're harder to find than it looks.

Daniel from Waukesha, WI

Who was better, a prime Sterling Sharpe or the current Davante Adams?

I can't bring myself to choose. There are legitimate arguments for both. It's a great question, but sorry, I don't think splitting hairs is worth it here.

John from Madison, WI

Do you have a sense for how the intangibles are analyzed? It seems so incredibly important regardless of draft round.

That's what, in part, the interviews with the prospects are for, as well as the interviews scouts do with a players' former coaches, teammates, kindergarten teachers, you name it.

Todd from Long Island, NY

Mike, how thick would you estimate the binder of spreadsheets BG and Russ Ball have on their desk right now? It has to be an almost insurmountable amount of information. "If we do this, we can't do that. If we do that, we can't do this." Have you ever seen it? If they have to take it to a meeting, would they transport it with a shoulder bag, briefcase or forklift? I have a lot of empathy for them.

I've set foot inside it maybe once or twice, but there's a cap room that has all the contract info on the white boards that serve as walls (similar to the draft board in the draft room, just a much smaller room). I would imagine those walls are filled with more scenarios, possibilities and repercussions this offseason than any other.

Brian from Twain Harte, CA

The Packers scored on a league-high 13 of their opening drives during the 2020 regular season. To me, this is an indication of the outstanding coaching and scouting of the Packers, putting together an excellent game plan and forcing the opposition to adjust to keep the Packers from scoring again. What say you?

It's that combined with the players' readiness to execute at a high level right from the jump, which speaks to their preparation, not just the plan.

Jordan from Virginia Beach, VA

How important will the "green dot" be in Barry's first year at the helm? It seemed to shift a lot last year, mainly due to injury. Could being able to communicate the new system better give Ty Summers or Kamal Martin an edge over Krys Barnes? Would there be a penalty if Summers and Barnes were both on the field with their communication helmet? Or could we see someone like Adrian Amos or Darnell Savage communicating from the backfield to allow for consistent communication as well as rotation at the ILB position?

The way Barnes handled that duty when it came his way last year as an undrafted rookie would make him the favorite, as the roster is currently constructed. Amos would be an obvious fallback if needed. There'd be a penalty if two green dots were spotted in the huddle.

Ben from Pensacola, FL

I never really looked at drafting AJ as 33's replacement as some have suggested, more as another type of back. The three top backs we have all have different strengths, making it a really round room. The draft is very much a crapshoot. It's all guesswork, some more educated than others. You never really know how a player is going to perform until they actually do. That's also why grades are not really good.

I said last year when Dillon was drafted the pick made all the sense in the world with the offense's top two running backs both heading into contract years, because the chances of giving two guys at the same position second contracts at the same time are virtually nil. It was a smart investment no matter the final outcome regarding who stays/goes.

Rod from Chugiak, AK

Mike, your "This league sets you up to be a victim of your own success" is the best one-liner I've seen capsuling the blessings and curses of core league philosophy stressing parity. Waxing then waning, celebrating then jaw grinding is the normal, designed flow, and a great part of what makes the NFL so appealingly unique. Final four and so many Pro Bowlers and All-Pros have us swimming against a powerful current.

Indeed, but it sure beats the alternative.

Lori from Heredia, Costa Rica

Hey Mike, what is your favorite flavor of the day at Culver's? Mine is mint Oreo.

Caramel cashew.

The answer to the trivia question is Matt Ryan in the Super Bowl (following the 2016 season) and Patrick Mahomes in the 2018 AFC title game.

Happy Monday.

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