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Inbox: They weren't afraid to think outside the box

It’s not just the players and coaches who make a team

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Head Coach Matt LaFleur

Cam from Pekin, IL

Good morning Insiders, I'd like the opportunity to respond to Nikolai from Greenbush. As someone who played a few games in my life, the last thing on any athlete's mind in the crux of a game is who was drafted or recruited, and who was NOT. We won and lost as a team regardless of who played next to any of us. We celebrated our wins and agonized together as a team over a loss. I don't ever remember anyone discussing if we had (fill in the blank) we would have won a game we lost. Grow up, Junior.

Spoff was right. It's time to move on. I've done this long enough to tell the difference between readers who want to have a productive discussion and those who just want to hear themselves talk. So I'm pulling the car over. I'm sorry the Packers didn't win the Super Bowl, Nikolai. All the best to you.

Garrett from Le Mars, IA

Winning changes everyone's perspective. Had the Pack won it all this year, would they have been viewed as "going all-in" with the late-season additions they made?

Probably. Narratives don't build themselves, ya know.

Phil from Portland, OR

Both Matt LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers talked about how much they got done over Zoom this offseason breaking down the offense and getting on the same page. Would that have happened in a more normal year? If not, do you see them making those talks a standard operating procedure going forward?

Mark Murphy talked about how the organizations that embraced the virtual offseason program likely would be a leg up on the competition and I think that's what happened. The Packers have many strong communicators on staff, so I think the coaches would've succeeded in getting everyone on the same page during a traditional year. But the difference was how proactive they all were in tailoring the virtual classroom to the players. They relished it. I think back to Nathaniel Hackett bringing in a friend of his who was a teacher to talk with the coaching staff about the best way to get through to players. They weren't afraid to think outside the box and I think that carried through all season.

Johnny from Madison, WI

In 2014, Tom Brady was 36, hadn't won a Super Bowl in nine years, and was coming off back-to-back conference championship losses. Sound familiar? He then went on to win three of the next five Super Bowls. The sun may be setting on the Aaron Rodgers era, but I've seen some pretty spectacular sunsets in my day.

We've seen some of the game's very best quarterbacks go out on top over the past 25 years. Anyone who thinks the door is closed hasn't been paying attention.

Michael from Otsego, MN

I apologize. I know you have covered this topic almost to death, but the continuing news cycle keeps it going. Aaron Rodgers, Matt LaFleur, and the front office have all said the same thing. "They plan to have Aaron Rodgers playing in Green Bay in 2021 and beyond." But, why is it still being brought up? Is there more to this story?

Because the Super Bowl is being played this Sunday and not last Sunday.

Douglas from Bloomington, IL

I'm finally getting out of my funk from the last game and returning to read articles again (packers.com only, some other sources are too sensational and no facts but I won't name names). What kind of jump can we expect in Year 3 of LaFleur's offense? Have they topped out or can this get even better?

I think the best is yet to come with this offense. The offense was so much more efficient this year and Rodgers looked at home in the system. Regardless of how the backfield shuffles out, I'd expect the Packers to again be one of the league's most potent offenses. I'm excited to see what LaFleur, Hackett and the rest of this offensive coaching staff come up with to stay ahead of the curve. Because the entire NFL will be gunning for Green Bay in 2021.

Noel from Norwalk, CA

Greetings II! For the life of me, I can't figure out why ML did not get any votes for Coach of the Year. Didn't the same happen to MM? Does anyone ever ask these people who vote why they did not consider ML?

Every award is subjective but Coach of the Year is the most subjective of all. I doubt Matt LaFleur is losing any sleep over it. The proof is in the pudding anyway.

Larry from Chubbuck, ID

I just saw Aaron on last week's Pat McAfee broadcast. It helped me deal with the loss seeing how much Aaron cares about not only the players, but also the entire staff. I know some outside the organization are critical of his leadership abilities, but this shows just how wrong they are. Thank goodness he will be our quarterback now, and in the future, I believe. The Packers will be in the hunt every year because of that.

I love the fact the first individual Rodgers mentioned during that interview was Kevin Nelson, a longtime member of the Packers' equipment staff who retired after last season. It's not just the players and coaches who make a team. It's everyone who's involved in the process. As Red Batty always says, "It's in the bricks" here at Lambeau. It's true.

Steve from Severna Park, MD

With all of the talk about how great Jordan Love is going to be, doesn't he need to beat out Tim Boyle first? I don't recall Jordan being active on game day all season.

Tim Boyle isn't some Johnny Come Lately. I know fans weren't able to see him throw this summer but Boyle had as good a training camp as anyone on the roster. He earned the right to be the No. 2 quarterback last year. Now, Boyle is a restricted free agent this offseason, so there is some clerical work to be figured out there.

Avida from Vienna, VA

Any insight on the new special teams coordinator, Maurice Drayton, from the Insiders' view of practices over the years? Anything you've observed or heard would be helpful for those of us who know nothing about him. Thank you.

We'll have a "5 things to know" story on Drayton whenever his hiring is officially announced, but he's well-liked inside the building. I've only spoken with Drayton once (when he was hired in 2018) but he brings a lot of energy to practices. You can tell Drayton is the son of a Marine and a self-made made who played and coached at The Citadel for 18 years.

Tyler from Cross Plains, WI

Listening to LaFleur say it would be a different conversation if it was fourth-and-goal from the 5, I couldn't help but see that as a minor dig at Rodgers for not tucking it and picking up a few extra yards. I'm sure it was unintentional, but that's where my head went.

I didn't get that impression. LaFleur was talking about statistical probability. The closer you are to the goal line, the more likely it is you'll convert a touchdown.

Andrew from Clearwater, FL

Fast forward to next year, the Packers' record is 6-2, Rodgers sprains an ankle and Love steps in and wins two of the next three games, Aaron comes back and our season is still looking great, doesn't that make the pick look like an awesome move? Let's stop second-guessing the pick because you never know how it will work out.

Spoff's Jimmy G example on "Unscripted" was the best take I've heard on the topic. Garoppolo helped win two games for the Patriots when Tom Brady was suspended in 2016. Jacoby Brissett then won two more to hand a 4-0 Patriots team back to Brady in Week 5.

Karl from Fort Collins, CO

It seemed that the coaches made great strides with players over the course of the season, especially in difficult conditions. Many coaches did well, but the line coaches seemed to pull rabbits out of the hat. Will the progress they made give Brian Gutekunst more leeway in the upcoming drafting? Could he address some peripheral needs knowing that the foundation is solid?

Perhaps, but one big reason the Packers have always been loaded on the offensive line is the team invests resources into the position almost every year. Fans and media alike believed JC Tretter was going to be the Packers' starting center for years to come in 2014 but that didn't stop Ted Thompson from taking Corey Linsley in the fifth round. One Tretter knee injury later and Linsley winds up being a seven-year starter at center.

Jennifer from Middleton, WI

I really hoped after Gute's press conference we could be done with the AR12 discussion. Then T.J. Lang makes a comment and we're off again. I really hate what sports media has become. Too many shows and they all need content and the tiniest whiff of a story gets exploded for 30 minutes of bloviating. As an II junkie, this is my one daily respite for a hit of football without the insanity. Thank you.

I don't think T.J. was trying to stir anything up. Just listen to his appearance on McAfee. Everything's good.

Jim from Arkdale, WI

Thanks for all you guys do. If the cap goes down, can a franchise tag go down? I think the tag is the average of the top five salaries at that position. Is that correct? Can we tag Aaron Jones and/or Corey Linsley and then extend them when the cap goes back up?

It doesn't change the franchise tag formula, unfortunately. The franchise tag is based on the average salary of the top five contracted players at that position. If the Packers tagged either, however, they are free to negotiate a long-term deal afterward.

Jeremy from Windber, PA

Why don't we draft any receivers?

To make you mad.

James from Reno, NV

Chiefs vs. Bucs – Thinking Bucs' D-line will control Chiefs' O-line mostly because of the injuries on that side. Love Patrick Mahomes but he's been beat by Brady so many times over the years, he's tough to go against in the big games. Thinking this game will be lower scoring than experts predict, and Bucs pull it off.

Is it weird that I don't care? How do you guys feel about it? I'm going to have to watch the game because I'm writing Inbox for Monday after Mike sets sail for Spoffapalooza 2021, but I'm indifferent to the game.

Steve from Ashland, WI

Let's get back to on the field football. Predictions for Sunday?

I expect Kansas City to win handily. Maybe that's why I'm not particularly juiced about the game. I'll say 33-16.

Joseph from Salt Lake City, UT

The question about AR's comebacks reminded me of maybe my favorite one: down 26-3 at half and Matt Flynn brought us the win in Arlington! It was so sad to watch his career simply fizzle out after some outstanding games in AR's absence. Did he end up anywhere after Seattle once it drafted Russell Wilson?

Yes, Green Bay…leading the Packers to one of the greatest comebacks in team history…after falling behind 26-3…at halftime…against the Dallas Cowboys…in Arlington.

Brandon from Mount Vernon, IL

Insiders, I know you probably get this one every year, but how exactly are compensatory picks determined? By performance? By the players' contract? I recently read an article stating Martinez is expected to bring back a fourth, Bulaga a fifth and Fackrell a sixth. However, Bulaga and Martinez signed similar deals in length and salary. So why would their compensation expectance be different?

It's based almost entirely on average-per-year salary. I don't have their contracts right in front of me, but Over The Cap had Blake Martinez's APY ahead of Bryan Bulaga's on its cancellation chart.

Joel from Green Bay, WI

Thanks for the explanation of compensatory picks. You did well, but there's one recent amendment. There can now be more than 32 awarded, as any team that's employed a minority candidate for at least two years who gets hired as head coach or head football executive (e.g. GM) with another team gets a third-round compensatory pick, following the compensatory picks for players in that round, in each of the next two drafts. This year, the Rams, 49ers, Saints, and Ravens will all get such picks.

You're absolutely correct, but the compensatory process for net loss in free agency remains at 32 total picks.

Craig from Temperance, MI

This salary cap thing is going to catch up with the NFL, especially with these guaranteed money contracts and the lengths. It will be interesting in the coming years. It's so hard to keep a team intact year-in and year-out.

Craig, did you lock this submission in a time capsule in 1994 and just now dig it out of your backyard?

Mario from Montevideo, Uruguay

Good morning II. Not a question, rather a suggestion: As long as there is a Mike LB, why not change the Will to Wes? Sorry, I don't know what to do with Sam. Let me congratulate both of you on a job very well done. Keep up the good work.

Now, there's an idea!

John from Prospect, KY

No question but just a quick comment. Though bummed out how the season ended, the future is bright for GB. How many teams make it to NFC championship games two years in a row? The core of the team will be returning in '21 with the best QB, CB, WR, and tackle one can find anywhere and will have at least one great RB to boot and our overall defense is emerging as a powerhouse. I bet 29 other teams would like to trade places with us. We're not quite at the summit yet, but it's within reach.

Like I said, it isn't the end, folks. It's just the beginning.

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