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Inbox: This sport brings fans to their feet every week

When a team hits on a generational talent, it defines the decades that follow

WR Christian Watson
WR Christian Watson

Jeff from Green Bay, WI

Hi Wes, so I'm not much of a movie watcher but Friday night I decided to watch "The Shawshank Redemption" since I had never seen it, and lo and behold, you drop a reference in the next day's Inbox that I could get! I was glad I watched the movie, but you gave me a bonus that justified my three-hour investment.

That's the beauty of Inbox. They can't get that from you.

Nick from Oceanside, CA

With the recent hiring of former head coaches into coordinator positions, do they possess an advantage over others since they've been a head coach before?

Experience is a big part of it. You look at Rich Bisaccia – his addition last year went way beyond special teams. I also think about the job Dan Quinn has done in Dallas and how he's helped elevate the Cowboys. Coordinators don't become a head coach in this league without being on the cutting edge. On the other side of the coin, you also don't go back to being a coordinator again without facing some adversity. Former head coaches have seen it all and that's valuable, especially for a first-time NFL head coach.

Etienne from St-joachim-de-tourelle, Canada

Good morning, Wes. My gut tells me even though we spend a lot of prime draft capital on the defensive side of the ball lately, we will draft a pass rusher with our first pick. The NFC North won't be a walk in the park next year. We need all the pass rushers we can get.

No lies detected. Detroit certainly isn't going anywhere. Elite edge rushers are a key ingredient for any thriving NFL defense. Injuries forced the Packers to dig deep into their pass-rushing reserves the past two seasons, which is why I've been pushing for another.

Johnny from Salt Lake City, UT

Oh, haha, you know what I meant! Wes, not including Matt LaFleur (incomplete resume), who would you rank as the best Packers head coach to never win an NFL Championship?

OK, OK, it's Mike Sherman. It was a rough ending, but Sherman helped get the train back on the tracks in Green Bay and steered the Packers to five consecutive winning seasons. He also was ahead of his time with the way he utilized Ahman Green's talents as a pass-catcher.

Joe from Shirley, NY

With Aaron Jones renegotiating his contract for the benefit of the team, it shows that to him, team-first is the right thing to do. I commend him and any other player who puts the team-first in the hopes of the championship above themselves. I understand they all have a short shelf life. At what point does the management look for more players like this, as opposed to paying exorbitant numbers for players who appear to be the best but do not deliver towards the championship which is the goal?

Renegotiations are tricky because historically it's been an either-or proposition: Either restructure or be released. That's where relationships and trust come into play. Sometimes it doesn't work out and the two parties must go their separate ways. I don't think this was the right time for Jones and the Packers to part company. Maybe it's more the exception than the rule but obviously there's huge upside to keeping that union intact.

Ed from Windsor, CO

Now that the offseason is on, when do you speculate the NFL will microchip the ball to determine TDs/first downs? Then II can stat the exact speed of every pass and take credit for the eventual laser goalposts.

They're already in there. Sean Payton did a media carwash at the Super Bowl, pushing for the NFL do to more with the chips. It makes total sense to me. If there's technology to help officials do an impossible job, we need to use it.

Jason from Austin, TX

Wes, what if while you walked towards your car today Biff Tannen came up and handed you a Sports Almanac from 2038 that covered the last 15 years of sports (Doc Brown wouldn't dare do this). The one caveat would be that you couldn't bet on any of the games, or the book would void itself. Would you read the book and, if so, would you share that you had the book with anyone or would you just blow everyone's minds with how well you could predict outcomes?

I wouldn't open it because it would ruin the drama, the spontaneity. UFC president Dana White often talks about how he's in the business of creating "Holy (crap)" moments. When it comes to team competition, I think professional football does that better than anyone. This sport brings fans to their feet every week and that's my favorite part.

George from North Mankato, MN

What does the process of getting a proposed rule change look like? Who can make suggested changes and how do they get advanced to the rule committee? Perhaps the NFL could hold a fan's suggestion contest to keep us all further invested and intrigued during the off season. It could even be an idea bracket with fan voting, etc.…what do you think?

While fans are always welcome to voice their opinions, I doubt we'll ever see a formal way of requesting changes from the crowd. Prospective rule changes can be introduced by the competition committee or teams themselves. From there, NFL owners vote on proposals at the annual spring meetings. To change a rule, 24 of 32 NFL owners (75%) must be in favor…and that is how a bill becomes a law.

Bill from Raleigh, NC

Hi Wes, with Mike gone, I thought it was a great idea for you to talk about what Mark Murphy said in MT5: "Overall, the officials do a great job and allow the game to be decided by the players on the field." Is it possible that officials do a great job with the rules that exist, but those rules (e.g. replay review process, what's a catch, QB/RB pushes, etc.) should change? Is there enough motivation to make needed rule changes from ownership, so the end result is decided by the players more often?

That's exactly how I view it. I don't think referees are any worse than 30 or 50 years ago. The difference is the game is faster than it's ever been. In my opinion, the NFL has been a bit of a laggard when it comes to utilizing available technologies to aid officiating. I have grown tired of this cloak of anonymity surrounding replay reviews in New York, beginning with how Al Riveron undermined the OPI rules several years ago. I'm not saying officiating is atrocious. I just think it could, and should, be better, especially in the playoffs.

TK from Grafton, WI

Royce Newman started as a rookie but lost his job in his second year. With teams counting on the "second-year jump," is what happened to Royce kind of rare?

Not necessarily. Newman's situation was impacted by circumstances and more competition on the offensive line, which saw Jon Runyan take a big step and Zach Tom emerge as a starting-caliber player. With how the interior line stayed healthy all season, we knew there would be an odd man out once Elgton Jenkins slid back to left guard. Newman is versatile enough to play inside or outside and should get another shot at a starting job this summer. Competition is never a bad thing, especially on the O-line.

Caleb from Knoxville, TN

What's one offseason area of need for the team that's not being talked about?

Cornerback. Keisean Nixon and Corey Ballentine are unrestricted free agents, and Eric Stokes is coming off a significant injury. That leaves Jaire Alexander, Rasul Douglas and a lot of questions in the sub-packages. Shemar Jean-Charles has been in Green Bay for two seasons but only played in six games last season.

Bruce from Jackson, WI

Thanks Wes, that's good to know. The only pictures and video I've ever seen from practice show the assistants in front of the runners where they run between them. Having run a business for nearly 50 years until I retired, I always told every new hire to speak up if they had an idea or a better way to do something. You see 99 people can look at something one way and the 100th person might see a better way of doing it. Didn't want to be closed-minded or think I knew everything.

Your point is valid. Ball security is a huge emphasis in Green Bay. The Packers drill it constantly. In addition to that "boxing" period we discussed, the coaching staff also run through cones with the ball in a high and tight position, while tugging at the ball behind them. Players still run the gauntlet, too, and the team finishes 11-on-11 plays with defenders raking at the ball. I know Aaron Jones had a few too many fumbles this year but overall, I feel like the Packers do a good job of protecting the football.

Dale from Prescott, WI

Watched a little XFL Sunday for the first time but not sure if you have. What's your take on the way they are doing the kickoffs? Do you think it's to prevent high-speed collisions for most of the players?

Aesthetically, it's obviously a major shift but I like it. I view the XFL kickoff like a hybrid punt. It lessens the impact of hits on the ball carrier but still maintains the spirt of the kickoff. If coverage players don't stay disciplined in their gaps, the returner can still break a big return.

David from Cable, WI

I see that college football is considering a rule change that would keep the clock running after an incomplete pass. Long overdue. Will the NFL follow suit? I would accept a 5- or 10-second gap between play clock starting and game clock starting. But this rule has been the biggest reason for the many improbable comebacks we have seen. It penalizes the team which has played better. But there is no longer any reason for it.

I wouldn't be in favor of it at the NFL level, but I feel like it's an idea college football should definitely consider. I know the change would first be in the name of player safety but also feel college football needs to hasten its pace of play.

Check out photos of the fourth-annual Titletown Winter Games, presented by U.S. Venture.

Jeff from Cedar Falls, IA

I watched a little of the XFL games this past weekend. It was fun to see some former Packers, and specifically Geronimo Allison. There is a possibility that both Lazard and Cobb are not resigned. In order to get a veteran presence in the WR room, would it make sense to bring back Allison or some other XFL veteran? Or are these players in the XFL only because they can no longer play NFL caliber?

I wouldn't go that far. Micah Abernathy sure looked like an NFL-caliber player to me after being a late arrival to Packers training camp last summer. Allison, 29, is in a tough spot because he's older now. Most teams are looking at younger prospects who might have only gotten one shot at an NFL training camp. But I always enjoyed G-Mo. I hope he does well.

Dave from Waterford, OH

The Jets passed on Dan Marino and drafted Ken O'Brien. O'Brien was a decent quarterback, but...oops!

It's a good reminder how high the stakes are during NFL Drafts. Almost every year, teams pass on a prospect who turns into a once-in-a-generation talent. That's just how it goes. Scouting has massive implications on an organization's future – and when a team hits on a generational talent, it defines the decades that follow.

Shawn from Stratford, WI

Good morning, Wes. This past week, the state of Wisconsin and a member of our football family lost a great humanitarian. Violet Golz was a past winner of the Community Quarterback Award by the Green Bay Packers for her work with the Lutheran Counseling and Family Services of Wisconsin. It warms my heart to know that the Green Bay Packers are passionate about more than just football, partnering with dozens of organizations to honor people like Vi, who make our world a better place.

I'm very sorry to hear that. We extend our thoughts, prayers and condolences to Violet's friends and family. It was touching to see Vi's community award from the Packers was included in her obituary. May she rest in peace.

Ryan from Sun Prairie, WI

I have been waiting for GRRM to finish "The Winds of Winter." Did he tell you when it will be completed?

I've been tweeting about the book every New Year's Eve for the past seven years. He has yet to respond.

Dan from Rothschild, WI

Wes, I contend that it's not that no one caught the "champing" remark. It's that you guys taught us well and did catch it and didn't feel the need to call you out.

I don't know whether I should feel proud or ashamed.

Jim from Westland, MI

You started it...It's okay to ask No. 88 questions and post comments again. Of course, you waited until Mike wasn't there.

I should've waited until Saturday's column to really stick it to Spoff.

Jake from Decatur, GA

When it comes to darkness quotes, I think one is pretty clearly head and shoulders above the rest: "You cannot pass. I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the Flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, Flame of Udun. Go back to the shadow! You cannot pass!" The only question left is whether Rodgers is Gandalf or the Balrog.

The combine can't come soon enough. Have a wonderful Fat Tuesday.

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