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Inbox: This is when teams can finally catch their breath

What are the criteria to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year?

WRs Allen Lazard, Christian Watson & TE Robert Tonyan
WRs Allen Lazard, Christian Watson & TE Robert Tonyan

Thomas from Cedar Rapids, IA

Wes, I certainly hope Mike greased your palm for carrying his bags in London. Is he a good tipper? I can see him holding out $10 and asking for change.

Heck no. That's what good tag-team partners do. Animal and Hawk, bro. The Inbox Warriors.

Tom from New Braunfels, TX

Hey, I might have missed it in the Inbox questions, but no shout outs to "33" for becoming only the fourth Packer ever with 5,000 rushing yards. First, it blows my mind how few backs have done that with all the greats we have had. Secondly, go Aaron go. A fantastic, respectful, enthusiastic supportive teammate who leaves it all on the field! Reminds me more than a little of the character of Mr. Walter Payton who has an award named after him which BELONGS in a certain No. 33 hands!

Spoff offered a few nice words on Wednesday and I don't wish to be redundant, but I do feel Jones has a strong case for Walter Payton Man of the Year – perhaps the Packers' strongest since Aaron Rodgers was a finalist in 2015. Jones uses his platform to its fullest potential, enriching the lives of children and families not only here in Wisconsin but also back home in El Paso. He doesn't do it for notoriety or photo ops. Jones does it because of who he is and the way he was raised. The fact he also happens to be a Pro Bowl running back is the icing on the cupcake. Hopefully, we can produce more compelling content in the weeks ahead to help his cause. Surpassing 5,000 career rushing yards was a nice feather in the cap for a running back who consistently goes about his business the right way.

Phil from Portland, OR

OK, now that we are at the bye week, I can ask my bye question: How come there are so many early byes and late byes? I've heard that TV is the reason, but it's the same total number of games regardless. Wouldn't it be better competitively to have them over the span of two weeks in the middle of the season? You could make the games those weeks the marquee matchups so lots more eyes would be on each of them. Just a thought.

I don't know if it would work to squeeze the byes that tightly together but having them stretch out from Weeks 6-14 still seems way too wide for me. I am very much in favor of getting rid of the Week 4 byes but still think we can do more. Maybe Weeks 6 or 7 through 13? To me, it's odd that six teams had to wait until this week for their bye. That's almost a fifth of the league. Meanwhile, there also were two weeks (8 and 13) where only two teams were on bye. The teams with a bye this week include the four-win Saints and Colts, and three-win Bears, who already have been eliminated from the playoffs. This is when teams can finally catch their breath in hope of contending for a championship. Bye weeks shouldn't be a mandatory weeklong requiem for a lost season. Fortunately, the Packers still have something to play for.

Dan from Algonquin, IL

Hi Wes, I found some data on NFL kickoffs that adds some meat to the "Why run it out?" conversation. Only 29% of kickoffs returned from the goal line or deeper make it to the 26-plus, 8% make it to the 35-plus, and 2% make it to the 50 or farther. Penalties and turnovers can be killers, too. Unless you have an elite returner, why not just take the ball at the 25 every single time in normal circumstances where taking risks is not warranted, or when you want to put the game in the hands of your elite QB?

Yes and no. I believe in all the statistics you rattled off but also feel there is something to be said for game situations and feel, too. Sometimes returns can provide a spark for an offense, especially when it goes beyond the 30-yard line. Again, it is worth pointing out that Keisean Nixon only returned those kickoffs when the ball was kicked to the middle of the field. When the ball was kicked to the corners, Nixon took the touchback.

Wayne from Stevens Point, WI

Hello, I saw these numbers (remember now, numbers aren't necessarily math). The total points in the Cowboys' and Eagles' games against the Vikings, 64-10. Same opponents but against the Packers, 68-64. How do you explain that? Maybe it is just the bounce of the prolate spheroid.

That's football. The Packers went through a rough midseason patch, whereas the Vikings kind of stuffed all their mistakes into those losses to Philadelphia and Dallas. Besides that, Minnesota has been one of the NFL's most consistent teams. The Vikings also rank third in the NFL in turnover margin (plus-8). That statistic helps win close games. Just ask the Packers in 2019.

Matthew from Racine, WI

If we win out, what other teams do we have to root for the Packers to get into the playoffs?

Whoever is playing the New York Giants, Washington or Seattle. Also, it wouldn't hurt if the Vikings "upset" Detroit this Sunday to throw a wet blanket on the Lions' playoff hopes.

Ken from New York, NY

I just noticed that there's a chance the entire NFC East could make the playoffs. What a strange thing that would be.

That it would be. I'll be honest with you – my car didn't see that NFC East deer coming.

Joseph from Vermillion, SD

Watching the end-around touchdown again, I'm curious if he still would've scored even if Sammy Watkins wouldn't have blocked Christian Watson's man? Also, I'm shocked that Watkins' corner bit so hard on the fake on the other side of the field.

Maybe Watson gets to the edge and still turns upfield without any assistance, but Watkins' block on Josh Blackwell made the TD a sure thing. You are right about Jaylon Jones, though. He got caught peeking into the backfield and Watson was off to the races.

Tracy from Waukesha, WI

What are the criteria to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year? With Christian Watson's slow start, is he still eligible?

Oh, he's eligible all right but the decision sits in the hands of the AP voters. Certainly, Seattle RB Kenneth Walker (649 rushing yards, nine TDs) and New York Jets WR Garrett Wilson (57 catches for 790 yards and four TDs) are the favorites right now but Watson has quickly closed the gap. My advice? Just keep scoring touchdowns and see what happens.

Allie from Green Bay, WI

Watching WYMM (one of my favs of the site, by the way), I just LOVE how excited Sammy Watkins was on several of the plays. Either because he executed his block really well, the overall success of the play, or both. Whichever, I'm glad to see it!

I think Watkins is just a good dude who was happy for a young teammate. I touched a little on the veteran wideout this week on “Packers Unscripted.” I'll let my comments live there, but it goes without saying that Sammy Watkins, the person, has come as advertised. On that play, I thought it accurately reflected how badly he wants to win.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Is Matt LaFleur giving the team one extra bye day or practicing one extra day, seeing as how the game coming off the bye is MNF?

I'm not sure what the Packers' plan is for Monday, but we don't have media availability on Monday. That would suggest the Packers are pushing their schedule back one day and treating Tuesday like a typical in-season Monday, so on and so forth.

James from Appleton, WI

Going for the two-point conversion to go up by nine is like sneaking in an extra possession, with much better odds than an onside kick. The more I think about it, the better I like it. Kudos to those who can make a bold call long before it becomes the obvious call.

Most importantly, the Packers had a call they liked in that situation. There's a difference between gambling and taking a calculated risk. Green Bay liked its chances and prevailed.

Anthony from Sturgeon Bay, WI

One week we are dreading turning on the game, the next week we are anxiously awaiting the swift passing of the bye week. Fickle needs to be the word of the week?

I thought it was spelled "Fickell"?

Dan from Honeoye Falls, NY

If a team picks up a fifth-year option, is the player required to accept? As a first-round pick, particularly at QB, the expectation is normally to at least be given the chance to be a starter within 2-3 years. I feel like if I were in Jordan Love's shoes, I'd want an opportunity to prove myself both in terms of competitiveness/love-of-the-game and all that, but also in practical terms of earning a life-altering payday. It's got to be a bit frustrating to potentially sit through five would-be prime years.

No, it's part of the CBA. If the fifth-year option is exercised, the player remains under the team's control for five seasons.

Ed from Minneapolis, MN

Good morning, gents. I noticed that the Pack picked up a player from a local D-III school, St. Thomas. How common is it for a player from such a small program to get a spot on the practice squad, let alone the 53?

It happens, maybe now more than ever with practice squads expanding to 16 players. Teams occasionally will use spots to develop talent from smaller programs and/or to transition a player to a new position. Robert Tonyan (Indiana State) is probably the best example of both. The Packers did it with Jake Kumerow (UW-Whitewater), too. The Packers have cycled through a few practice-squad tight ends this year with St. Thomas' Nick Guggemos being the latest. While Guggemos played at the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul) as a Division III athlete, the Tommies have since transitioned to Division I.

Chris from Clive, IA

Good morning! In response to Mike from Ames, Iowa, using the word "irrelevant" in his submission, that can't be a coincidence, right? I'm sure that word was front of mind after seeing Brock Purdy (aka Mr. Irrelevant) become the new starter at QB for the 49ers. I'm not rooting for them by any means, but I do hope he does well.

Watch out, Ryan Succop. Brock Purdy is coming for the king.

Jack from Marshfield, WI

From your position at the intersection of league, fans, and media, do you have a sense of what people really want from the referees? Everyone says they want crisp, consistent, fair officiating that emphasizes the things that most affect the outcome of the play. Until there is a result they don't like, then they want to pick out something from the frame-by-frame analysis of 17 high-definition cameras that wasn't called right.

I just want more consistency and the league to invest more resources into helping officials do their jobs correctly. As I've written several times before, the game has sped up considerably over the past 60 years, but the league continually drags its feet with officiating and ensuring referees can keep pace. For example, you see this VAR technology in the World Cup. Why haven't we seen anything like that make its way into the NFL? To this point, we're led to believe the best the league can do to get the call right is a bunch of guys standing around a monitor in New York. Even then, their cable evidently was out the year offensive pass interference was reviewable.

Jim from Eau Claire, WI

Spoff, a reference to Mel's Diner and "Alice." Nicely done.

It took nearly seven years, but Spoff finally dropped a reference that went completely over my head. This must be how he feels when I mention "Game of Thrones."

Max from Toledo, OH

Hello, Inboxers. "When pigs fly." I have only seen "pigskin" fly. I hope this is an easy week for the II family.

Thanks Dan – I mean, Max. The same to all of you.

Josh from Napoleon, OH

Wes, make sure your lunch is over 20 pounds for the next month.

Good point. I'll talk to Ma Hod about throwing an old shake weight in there or something.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Sorry Wes, no rest for the Hod. I was referring to the team and myself. The quarter-to-quarter, half-to-half and week-to-week rollercoaster has worn me out. See you next week.

See you then, Dean. Have a great Thursday, everyone.

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