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Inbox: They're playing the game a different way

Quite the Hall of Fame class coming in 2021


Joel from Picton, Ontario

With all these questions about questions, I almost question if this question has a better chance of being my first question answered than a question I have about football! Wait, that's not a question, is it?

And we're off …

Aaron from Lexington, KY

Who is "Calhoun" in your list of all-time Packers?

George Whitney Calhoun, co-founder of the team, along with Lambeau.

Gary from Austin, MN

When you wrote, "I don't see the defense changing the way McCarthy and Rodgers want to run the offense," I have to disagree. I think the last year McCarthy has gone away from the no-huddle offense for the most part because of the defense's inability to stop anyone. In essence, fears of losing the time-of-possession battle and exposing his defense was dictating his offensive philosophy. Was Rodgers not able to catch the defense with too many men on the field as many times as a result?

I didn't see a huge decline in that specifically, though I understand your point. I won't dismiss it entirely, but in my opinion, a greater factor in the offense going no-huddle is the state of the offensive line. If the veteran starters are in there regularly, it's used more often. If there's more shuffling due to injuries, I think there can be some understandable reluctance. I thought the Packers went no-huddle plenty during the stretch run in '16 when the guys up front were healthy, but last year was a different story, even before Rodgers went down.

Daniel from Altoona, WI

I beg to differ Mike, preseason games are for real. Some players have four games to "interview" as I look at it. The preseason is as real as it gets for some of these players. Saying it's not is an insult to those young men.

This is a big-boy league. I think they can handle it.

Jon from Columbia, MO

Even though the preseason is just not the same, I am looking forward to seeing Pettine's defense on the field. Should we expect to learn anything about the defensive scheme during the preseason?

I hope not too much.

Jeffrey from Appleton, WI

Greets Spoff and Hod. Had the pleasure of having dinner with Charles Woodson at a downtown GB restaurant a couple of years before he returned to the Raiders. Is he a lock for the Packers HOF? If so, how soon will he be eligible for enshrinement?

Yes, he's a lock for the Packers HOF and for Canton. He should go into Canton on the first ballot in 2021 (along with Peyton Manning and Calvin Johnson, which will be quite a class). I've never seen published rules on eligibility for the Packers HOF, which is a separate organization from the franchise itself, but since Woodson's last season here was 2012, I suspect he'll be inducted here before Canton.

Richard from Farmington Hills, MI

Mike, I was pleased to see you had Lombardi, Harlan and Wolf all listed in the first six of the top 10 Packers of all-time. In answering Wes's question, "What three Packers, dead or alive, would you want to have dinner with?" I listed them as my answer. I was disappointed Wes did not post my response. You can rectify that.

I think my trio would be Hutson, Lombardi and Rodgers.

Ron from Broken Arrow, OK

Mike, as someone who's watched plenty of Brewers baseball over the years, and their association with both the American and National leagues, which league do you like more?

The strategy of NL ball always has intrigued me more.

Johnny from Grand Chute, WI

Mike, you said you would never have run out of candy if you had a nickel for every time your dad said life isn't fair? In the early '70s I never ran out of candy because I kept sneaking nickels out of my dad's sock drawer. Turned out they were Indian Head nickels. When he found out I felt like I'd been hit by Ray Nitschke and Dave Robinson...multiple times. But I sure enjoyed those bubble gum cigars!

As a kid I'd buy Jolly Ranchers for three cents apiece at the little store a few blocks from my house. Nobody makes a green apple flavor like Jolly Rancher.

Matthias from Hartford, WI

Do the players have parking underneath Lambeau Field?

No, their lot is outside. But they drive underneath the stairs of the Oneida Nation gate to get to it.

Take a look at how Packers players celebrate big moments during games.

Chad from Milwaukee, WI

Regarding your answer to the Keenum vs. Cousins question, "...but the last thing there is in the NFL is a guarantee of anything." There is at least one guarantee: Cousins' contract.

Indeed, and you weren't the only one to say so.

Brad from Billings, MT

Could a player intentionally lateral the ball out of bounds to stop the clock if his team doesn't have any timeouts?

Not without incurring a 5-yard penalty for delay of game and a 10-second runoff, if less than a minute remains on the clock.

Bruce from Green Bay, WI

Total respect here, but if AR is that good why does he have to build chemistry with a receiver to be productive? In comparison, Brady has had much success with almost walk-on receivers. What am I missing? I know to play with a receiver over time you build confidence, but how does that compare to just hitting a man that is open? I feel confused because of how good AR is on broken plays and hitting a man "on the fly."

You need to read about the Patriots' route system, how complex it is, and all the post-snap adjustments it requires. To say Brady doesn't have chemistry with his receivers just because they aren't All-Pros is missing the point. NFL passing offenses these days, the Packers' included, are predicated on reading coverages and figuring out how to get open at or after the snap, which means the receivers have to see the same thing as the QB and react accordingly. This isn't just better athletes running the routes we all used to call in the backyard huddle. They're playing the game a different way.

Jim from Norristown, PA

How about Ellis/Buchanon, 1972, for top cornerback duo?

A worthy contender, which others mentioned as well.

Fearn from Rolling Meadows, IL

Hey Spoff, I gotta agree with the C-Wood and Tramon duo being the best. The title of "coolest," though, might have to be awarded to The Dread Zone with Harris and McKenzie. Sorry Sean from Portland, Maine (which is the exact town and name I give to people when using a false identity, so I don't trust ya), although Harris played longer with Charles, he belongs paired up with McKenzie. The Dread Zone was deadly.

Sorry, considering hairstyles did not cross my mind.

Sean from Portland, ME

I think most of us can agree the Inbox gets overloaded with questions about position switches and jersey numbers, but here is one that seems realistic: Quinten Rollins to safety. He has experience in the position from college and has shown flashes of having good coverage skills when healthy. He is coming off an Achilles injury which often impacts quickness, which was never Q's strength to begin with. The CB room is more crowded than the safety room at the moment. Do you see this as possible?

I wouldn't totally rule it out, but all through OTAs and minicamp, Rollins was playing corner. If the coaches had a position switch in mind for him, I would expect we'd have seen it this spring. Oh, and Fearn has some issues he'd like to discuss.

Geoff from Omaha, NE

NFL teams don't practice completely live kickoffs during training camp, correct? Do you think the new rule change will alter that? With the change in the placement of the two-point conversion, teams were able to fully grasp the impact of the rule change. If there is a competitive advantage to this rule change, wouldn't it be worth the risk to find it?

They'll do everything live in camp except tackle the returner. I think the biggest unknown with the new kickoff rules is how often returners will bring the ball out of the end zone vs. downing it. There'll be some experimentation in the preseason that could influence regular-season strategy.

Justin from Hoboken, NJ

I'd love to see a system for Insider Inbox where we can slice and dice questions (and answers) by: Person asking the question, Person responding to the question, Date, Name of Packer mentioned in either question or answer. It would be fun to see all the questions asked by Lori from Brookfield or to see all the questions/answers regarding Reggie White. I love patterns and it would be fun to see what patterns are in the Insider Inbox.

Would the algorithm be able to categorize the smart-aleck responses and movie references? Some folks this week have been asking for a filter. They weren't entertained by Yoda, I guess.

Josh from Hackensack, NJ

Time to give Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy tremendous credit for making the switch to Rodgers when Favre wanted back. Imagine the noise if Aaron had flopped. Just to point out Aaron's greatness: 313 TD passes and 75 interceptions. No one from any time is close. I know he needs Super Bowls but that's like saying Ted Williams couldn't hit because he never won a World Series.

As personnel moves go, sticking with Rodgers in the summer of '08 was shrewder than drafting him in the first place. It took tremendous guts, foresight and trust. Hackensack would definitely be my false identity locale, by the way.

Brian from Sussex, WI

The schedule would be best if the first two weeks were all AFC vs. NFC games. Excitement is already high for the start of the season, and all teams have the same record without really knowing what teams are going to be playoff caliber. Plus, there are prime games between teams that rarely play each other.

I like this idea.

Mark from Sturgeon Bay, WI

It's unrealistic to think adding a "better" player makes a team better. Washington in the 2000s, Jennings to Vikings, Flynn to Raiders, and on and on. There is so much more to it than ability and talent. Scheme, chemistry, coaching, how much a player has to prove (Cousins really wanted to stick it to the Redskins GM), talent around you and how that meshes, etc. I still don't think Favre would have made it in this league if he hadn't come to Green Bay with Holmgren to be able somewhat contain him.

Environment and all those factors definitely matter, but it starts with trying to acquire the most talent and ability. It may not end there, but it always starts there.

Aaron from Tamborine, Queensland

I hear a lot of talk, particularly in fantasy circles, about G-Mo taking up the WR3 spot on the roster and I couldn't help raise an eyebrow when you mentioned the Packers targeted his size and catch radius in this draft. The fact they managed to add speed to that combination would seem to suggest the pack are trying to move on from Geronimo don't you think?

Not at all. They drafted more receivers with his length and some additional physical attributes, and they're going to see who performs the best. Allison's not the same receiver he was coming out of college. His arrow is still pointing up.

Brett from Streamwood, IL

I am so excited to have a receiving threat like Jimmy Graham on the roster this year. How do you think the Packers will utilize him predominantly? Mainly red-zone offense or split out wide like a hybrid receiver? A healthy combo of both? Along with experienced veterans like Marcedes Lewis and Lance Kendricks, a possible young stud in Emanuel Byrd, the length and speed we have added at wideout in the draft, it seems like the amount of personnel packages will be endless.

There are only so many roster spots, so the combinations won't be endless. There will be a healthy variety, though, and to comment on your first question, I expect the vast majority of that variety to include Graham.

Take a look at what the Packers have been up to this summer during the offseason.

Lane from Kihei, HI

Speaking of Howard Cosell...I saw him in the elevator in the bowels of Metropolitan Stadium when I worked in concessions back in high school, which was pretty cool at the time. Have you met or interacted with any network announcers when they are covering the Packers?

Years ago I did sit-down interviews for the website with Mike Tirico and Curt Menefee when they stopped by during training camp. I also was on Jon Gruden's bus once, and I rode the elevator at the Georgia Dome down with Buck and Aikman right after the 2010 divisional blowout of the Falcons. I was in such a hurry to get to the locker room for interviews, though, I didn't strike up a chat.

Preston from Tallahassee, FL

Thanks to Bergeron for remembering my dad, Ray Scott. His relationship with the Packers meant so much to him. While I was humbled to accept on his behalf when he was inducted into the Packer HOF, I regret he was not alive to receive the honor. Pat Summerall was with us and did the introduction. We are all proud Packer Backers, and my sons are shareholders. One day I hope to bring my entire family for a first-ever game at Lambeau.

I didn't know Summerall did the intro at your dad's induction. How perfectly fitting. Thanks for sharing.

Tony from River Falls, WI

Which NFL team needs a jersey change in terms of design or color scheme? Or should they all stay as they are?

I really wish the Chargers would go back to the dark blue with gold lightning bolt on the uniforms and helmets from the Dan Fouts era. Those were sharp.

Joe from East Moline, IL

You're forced to bet your entire life savings on which Packers player will score the first touchdown of the regular season this year. Who are you picking?

Jimmy makes his move. Jimmy's open in the end zone. Jimmy hauls it in.

Mitch from Bettendorf, IA

Does Spoff need more coffee in the morning or more beer at night to finish out the dead zone?

Do I have to choose? It's Thirsty Thursday, everyone.