Inbox: They won’t all go back

190201-insider-inbox-2560

Bret from Hertel, WI

Dear Wes and Mike, I have an equal bet for Wes if the Packers draft a TE in the top 64 picks. Free “Dodgeball” movie at Lambeau for all Insiders with a donation of five canned goods to a local food pantry. If not, we all should send Capri Sun and nutty bars and make subs for Mike.

Wes won’t be happy without his San Pellegrino and PSLs, though.

Venny from Montgomery, AL

I do not see pull-ups in your future, but eat your Wheaties just in case. In my opinion there isn't much draft value for TEs in the first two rounds. While some with stellar careers were drafted in the first two rounds, many impact tight ends were drafted in the third round or later. See Travis Kelce (third), Jimmy Graham (third), Jordan Reed (third), Antonio Gates (undrafted), George Kittle (fifth), Shannon Sharpe (seventh) and Jason Witten (third).

The same can be said for almost any position, quarterback the primary exception. You evaluate all the players, build the board, and see how the draft falls. Every year the depth of certain positions and overall depth of quality prospects changes.

Clint from New Berlin, WI

For those who have forgotten, the Packers HAVE played a game overseas. It was a preseason game in 1998 against the Chiefs in Tokyo, Japan. Not to mention, the previous year we played the Bills in Toronto.

If the NFL wants the Packers to play an international game, the NFL will find a way to make it happen. There’s always a way, and it usually involves money.

Al from Green Bay, WI

There were seven new NFL head coaches in the 2018 season (including Gruden). Of those, only Matt Nagy and Frank Reich were able to take their teams to the playoff in Year 1, and both of their teams lost in the first round. A look at the other five new coaches reveals they took their teams from a collective 43.8 percent win rate in 2017 to 33.8 percent in 2018. Year 1 turnarounds are the exception, not the rule. The Packers have Rodgers and an ascending defense. Will LaFleur be an exception to the rule?

It’s pointless to lump all those disparate situations together, so I just don’t look at it that way. The Colts won their first playoff game, by the way, and the Bears only lost on the double doink. Gruden’s Raiders got rid of two of their best players, who helped other teams make the playoffs. Vrabel’s Titans weathered a ton of injuries to be playing for a postseason spot in Week 17. Wilks had a rookie QB with the Cardinals. Shurmur took over a Giants team that had bottomed out at 3-13 in 2017. Patricia’s Lions obviously went the wrong direction. Every situation is different, and a new head coach taking over a team with a two-time MVP QB is also different. There’s nothing out there to tell us how this is going to go, what’s an exception, and what’s a rule.

Jeff from Brooklyn, WI

Being an offensive-minded coach do you believe they will draft for the offense this year so they can get back to being explosive again?

As I’ve stated, there are needs up and down the roster, both in terms of front-line players and for building depth. The Packers have plenty to address in this draft, and after free agency we’ll have a better idea of how the priorities stack up.

Take a look at photos of Packers OL David Bakhtiari from the 2018 season.

Ben from Pensacola, FL

Two mentions: One, on the comment about a SB almost impossible for new HC and staff. Okay, yeah, that's a valid point. But with the potential of our team now if mostly healthy, playoffs should be a certainty. From there, we'll see. Second, I'd really like to not agree with pundits that say the Pats will stomp the Rams. They couldn't on the Eagles, and the Rams are a much more complete team (if they get their act together).

Certainty? Careful. Name one of the six playoff teams in the NFC that won’t expect to return in 2019. They won’t all go back, but they all plan on being contenders, while QBs like Rodgers, Ryan, Newton, Cousins and Garoppolo should all be knocking on the door. As for the Super Bowl, I did pick the Patriots, but the way the Rams rallied from two TDs down in New Orleans, regardless of the controversy, tells me they aren’t getting stomped on.

Brad from Gallatin, TN

In the Rock Report on Kyler Fackrell, Kyler attributes his offseason work to his increased production. How do players improve their craft? Does it include live action and contact?

Not in the offseason. They work on getting stronger and more explosive in their workouts, refine their techniques in drills, and study individual opponents on film. To me the underrated part of Fackrell’s progression was how much sturdier he was against the run last season. He’s definitely a more complete player, though I hope the Packers can build their depth so no edge guys have to play 60 snaps a game.

Kathie from Iron Mountain, MI

I know it’s been asked before but why don’t they change either the day of the SB to Saturday or earlier start time on Sunday? Since it seems so many call in sick on Monday and it’s past younger kids’ bedtime, I think they could attract even more people.

I can understand the league’s desire to occupy some prime-time hours, but I do think moving the Super Bowl to Saturday night would be a welcome change. The weekend would feature less wait and more recovery time.

Chris from Golden Valley, MN

Something something 88 below zero.

The note yesterday about the NWS change in the wild-chill chart was interesting. I didn’t know that. I’ve now read the minus-46 from the Ice Bowl would be more like minus-30s on the new chart, but I don’t think they’re changing the name of the bistro across the street.

David from Hilliard, OH

Mike or Wes, I know everyone is trying to stay warm this week, but imagine Forrest Gregg. He not only played in the Ice Bowl, but coached the Bengals in the AFC Championship Game in (Jan.) 1982. The temperatures in those two games, 13-below in Green Bay (air temp) and 9-below with wind chill of 59-below in Cincinnati. What was the coldest game you ever covered?

I’m not sure about Wes, but you know the answer for me. The 2007 NFC title game is the second-coldest game ever at Lambeau, behind the Ice Bowl. It was minus-1, minus-23 wind chill, and I still don’t know how my wife and friends braved it. Four weeks earlier, it was minus-18 wind chill at Soldier Field, so that ranks right behind. The air temp that day was 16-above, which tells you how bad the winds were off Lake Michigan. I remember Rob Davis’ long snaps to punter Jon Ryan were either barely getting there or going sideways. Toward the end of the fourth quarter, I left the press box early and was going to walk out to the field and see just how bad it was. I got halfway down the tunnel and the wind was making my eyes water so badly I just turned around. No joke. I had forgotten about Gregg being involved in the two most arctic championship contests. It’s neat he won them both. I know Lambeau froze for the Ice Bowl, but Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati was that old artificial turf. I can’t imagine what it felt like to hit that on the way down. It’s too bad the Bengals didn’t win the Super Bowl so that game could be better remembered by all NFL fans.

Andrew from Green Bay, WI

Can you imagine if the Super Bowl was hosted in New York this year? This weather sure would add some interesting spin to the game, if not the week of excitement before it. Do you think the NFL will try hosting a Super Bowl again in a cold-weather city?

No way.

John from Austin, TX

Almost all Packer fans/followers really like Aaron Jones and know he has explosive ability. He also has three knee injuries in less than two seasons. Jones and Williams are a decent 1-2 punch yet I see Packers drafting a RB early. A larger 20-25 touches-per-game type, am I crazy?

Not at all, but I wouldn’t expect that back to get 20-25 touches per game with Jones and Williams healthy.

Andy from Verona, WI

Seven of the top 10 scoring offenses this past year have a RB with 50 or more receptions. With some of these RBs like Gurley/White/Kamara/Cohen who either line up as a WR and/or have option routes out of the backfield, do the RBs on our roster have this skill set or would this be something the Packers would need to address in either free agency or the draft?

I think Jones has that ability, and he showed it on his TD catch at Seattle. He told me after the season that, aside from health, his skills in the passing game are his biggest focus for Year 3.

Christopher from Chandler, AZ

The last two drafts the Packers have drafted multiple players at key positions (three RBs in 2017, two CBS and three WRs in 2018) and they seem to have hit pay dirt. Do you believe they will do this with pass rushers DE/OLB this year?

I could certainly see that, but again, I also see a lot of needs to be addressed across the board.

Patsi from Riverside, CA

Which players on the Packers’ roster are unrestricted free agents going into the 2019 season?

I answered this question once last month, but we continue to get it, so we’ll start a new month by answering it again. The Packers have 11 players headed for unrestricted free agency: Matthews, Cobb, Lewis, Kendricks, Breeland, Ryan, House, Pleasant, Campbell, Bell, Wilkerson. They also have three restricted free agents: Allison, Brice, Vitale.

Gary from Oregon

What are the key dates of the offseason we all need to know and would kindly like to see in one place, i.e., the Inbox? (free agency, OTAs, draft, etc.)

Franchise and transition tags can go out starting Feb. 19, with the deadline to designate March 5. The scouting combine runs from Feb. 26-March 4. The negotiating window for free agency begins March 11, with free agency and the new league year officially starting March 13, which is also the deadline to extend qualifying offers to restricted and exclusive-rights free agents. The owners’ meetings are March 24-27. Offseason workouts begin April 1 for teams with new head coaches, April 15 for others. The draft is April 25-27. From there, OTA and minicamp schedules are up to the individual clubs. Hope that helps.

Mike from Fort Wayne, IN

Mike, Wes was so kind in answering my question about journalism school. I would love to hear about your experiences, too.

The grad program at Northwestern had a specific reporting focus each quarter. I covered city government in Waukegan, Ill., the federal courthouse in downtown Chicago, Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and then sports to wrap up. I was fully prepared to get a job in news and make my way to sports, because full-time gigs in sports weren’t readily available, but I got lucky in Wausau and my career went from there. News reporting is the heart of the business, and I wouldn’t trade my training for anything.

Keith from Lincoln, IL

So, Alvis has entered the building?

Oh boy.

Kevin from Louisville, KY

Hi Mike, happy Friday. Was happy to see the Packers retained Jerry Montgomery. Even through waves of injuries, he seemed to always have the D-line hungry and ready to play. What do you know about his coaching style?

He strikes me as bluntly honest with his players, making it clear to them what they need to improve on to earn playing time, and rewarding them when they do so. I think the strides made last year by both a veteran (Lowry) and a rookie (Lancaster) speak to Montgomery’s work.

Ryan from Hartland, WI

How many coaches are left to hire?

Impossible to know the exact number, because it’s up to LaFleur how he wants the staff structured. Special teams coordinator for sure, and maybe a special teams assistant. Also, an offensive line assistant remains a possibility, plus most likely quality control assistants on both sides of the ball.

Nick from Plainwell, MI

With the coaching staff now forming and getting into their offices, how much interaction do the Insiders get with them? Run into any in the hall yet?

My first nine years here, I worked on the third floor, just down the hall from the coaches, so I bumped into them all the time. Since 2015, we’ve been down on second floor, where they converted the old Curly’s Pub into office space.

Robert from Savannah, GA

I just finished watching the best plays from each of the last 15 Super Bowls video, and I noticed quite a bit of trickery. How important will the trick plays be this coming Sunday?

Neither of these head coaches will hesitate to make such a call.

Don from Swaledale, IA

Question for Jake from OR – do you really think as long as the NFL can squeeze in a commercial they would put a time limit on reviews?

They could have a time limit and run ads side-by-side with the live broadcast, like they do now for certain breaks.

Packers CB Bashaud Breeland celebrates his birthday on Jan. 30.

Matt from Los Angeles, CA

Here in L.A., there are three sports talk radio stations. For the last two weeks, amazingly, it's been wall-to-wall Lakers talk. Could you imagine the Packers being in the Super Bowl on Sunday and the sports fans of the state being obsessed with the Bucks? Weird to have such a disengaged fan base involved in a quest for a Lombardi Trophy...

The Rams were the league’s last remaining unbeaten at 7-0 and opposing fans filled half their stadium in Week 8. I’m not surprised in the slightest.

Michael from Manitowoc, WI

Given today's NFL, if you had to choose between loading up on offensive firepower or defensive prowess, which one would you go with for best chance to win the Super Bowl?

I’d want all the offensive firepower I could assemble and a defense capable of a big play at a key time. It’s what the Chiefs had and they did exactly what it took to beat the Patriots except Dee Ford lined up offside. The Rams-Chiefs shootout on Monday Night Football featured three defensive TDs. The Saints won a playoff game with a fourth-quarter INT, lost one on an overtime INT. Defense is about making plays in clutch moments in the NFL now. The best overall defenses in the playoffs – Bears, Ravens, Chargers, Cowboys, Seahawks – didn’t last.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Mike, what book will you be reading during the Super Bowl?

Ha. I do actually watch the commercials during the Super Bowl. They’re part of the entertainment. But I will be taking “Astroball” with me to get ready for the baseball season as I fall off the grid for a week and leave you to Weston’s wisdom in my absence. Take care, everybody.

Advertising