Skip to main content
Powered by

Inbox: This year, it's up front

There’s plenty on the line for all involved

DL Chris Slayton
DL Chris Slayton

Jon from Soldiers Grove, WI

Is one man's snark another man's chortle?

Something like that.

Will from Rochester, MN

You guys don't get to participate in tailgating at all! Shirley, you can't be serious. If you could, what would you do?

It's just as well. I'd never make it through the work marathon that is gameday if I started it with a beer.

Mark from Normal, IL

Raiders game (and Raiders in general). For teams with large fan populations that travel well, the Las Vegas game will always be a big attraction. For the Raiders, that means their "home-field" advantage becomes something akin to a neutral-field game. My personal belief is that the other NFL owners thought about this when the Raiders' move to Las Vegas was considered. For AFC West teams, they have one less road game. For the Raiders, they rarely have a true home-field advantage.

There's some truth to that, and locals in Vegas aren't suddenly going to become die-hard Raiders fans successfully re-creating the "black hole" atmosphere in Oakland. From games I watch on TV, I sense even less of a home-field advantage for the two L.A. teams at SoFi Stadium, at least when playing other West Coast teams. When the Rams and Chargers host their geographic rivals, it never sounds like they're playing at home.

Jim from Eau Claire, WI

Based on your response to John from Ramstein, is it safe to assume (barring any trades) that the Packers will have 11 draft picks heading into next year's draft: three compensatory picks, one from the Jets and our seven.

That's how it appears at the moment.

David from Janesville, WI

Gents, it seemed that Gutey made a clear move to improve speed on defense over the last number of seasons, and I think we began to see the results of that. It's true that the defense underperformed last year, but guys had the ability to cover the field quickly, especially in the middle. Starting last year it looks like the same focus has moved to offense. What will be the things you look at to see how the speed of guys like Christian Watson, Luke Musgrave and Jayden Reed affects this offense?

It'll show up on film in the way defenses deploy their defensive backs, particularly the safeties. Gutekunst commented right after last season that when Watson got rolling, opponents played the Packers differently. The more big-play threats that must be accounted for, the less aggressive a defense generally plays in the back end. But as rookies, Musgrave and Reed aren't going to prompt any adjustments until they prove they can do damage. This past offseason, defensive coordinators spent their time outlining how they'll deal with Watson.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

I'm encouraged by what I've read about Musgrave and Tucker Kraft, the Packers' two new tight ends. I'm also aware of how steep the learning curve is for rookie TEs. What or who would consider the gold standard for the position in their rookie year over the last 30/40 years? Thanks Mike and welcome back.

Well, only one tight end has won the Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year award since its inception in 1957, and it was 62 years ago – Mike Ditka in 1961. In the last 40 years, I found two tight ends who finished second in the voting – Jeremy Shockey in 2002 (74 catches, 894 yards, two TDs) and Keith Jackson in 1988 (81-869-6).

Bob from Fisher, IL

Mike, with all of the information about the Jon Gruden emails and everything else that was happening, I believe there was definitely a "hit job" on Gruden. Don't get me wrong, I am not defending him, those were self-inflicted wounds and I never did like him. But man, was he thrown under the bus, by several people. The article on ESPN on Wednesday really showed how many people went after him. Care to share your views on that situation? Thanks!

The ESPN story paints a convoluted picture with more secret agendas than I ever considered. I don't have the time or space to get into all of it here, but I will say the details of a soon-to-be-former owner apparently blackmailing the commissioner struck me as more interesting than all the other stuff surrounding Gruden.

Bill from Raleigh, NC

Hi Mike, John from McHenry, IL, said our defense was above average. With the playoffs on the line, on our home turf, the Lions ran the ball down our throats. Since then, we've lost Reed, Lowry, Amos, and Rashan Gary will be trying to return from a serious injury. Is it reasonable to expect we can even become an average defense this season?

The Packers' 2022 defense rode a rollercoaster for 12 games. Stretches of solid play, stretches of struggles. Then the defense (and special teams … it wasn't the offense) fueled the late four-game winning streak that nearly salvaged the season. The defense then held the Lions to six points through their first six possessions in the finale before the late breakdowns. I don't know whether to call that average, above or below. What I do know is the defense can't continue its see-saw play, one week to the next, or quarter to the next. It's tough to find defensive consistency and reliability in an offensive league, but the Packers' play last year suggested periodic lapses in focus and discipline, which shouldn't happen. Can this defense be better? Absolutely. Will it be? I have no idea. I do find it humorous, though, that you rue the Lions running the ball down the Packers' throats and in the next breath are concerned about losing two players integral to the run defense. Over the last two years, the Packers made a big transition at inside linebacker. This year, it's up front. Much unknown exists personnel-wise but the efforts to turn the page where needed have been made. There's plenty on the line for all involved.

The following is the third installment in a series of photos examining the Packers' roster position by position. This installment examines the receivers and tight ends.

Jonathan from Muenster, Germany

Hi Mike, could you please clarify your "It saddens me to hear what's happened at Northwestern and to a player/coach who did so much for the school and the program" sentence. Nothing happened to a coach other than being fired for either gross oversight or worse. I understand the impact Fitzgerald had on the football program and the university but nothing happened to him that should sadden anyone. Sympathy should go out to the victims, not the coach who allowed it to happen.

I agree, and I apologize for any lack of clarity. What I was saddened to learn is that an individual who meant so much to the institution was not running the program in the way we all assumed he was.

Mark from Geneva, IL

I keep reading about how fast and twitchy Jayden Reed is and also that he had a relatively low RAS score. What are the factors of RAS that brought him lower? I am really excited to see him on the field.

Physical measurements like height, weight, arm length and hand size, relative to position, are included in the RAS calculation. At 5-11, 187, Reed is small for a receiver, so I suspect those would be the biggest factors dragging down his number, so to speak. Bench press also counts, and he didn't do the bench press at the combine, but had 13 reps at Michigan State's pro day.

Rebecca from Madison, WI

Good almost training camp morning! I love this time of year! Now onto my question. I was listening to John Kuhn's radio show and they were talking about the stellar offensive lines the Packers have mostly had during the Favre and Rodgers era. Is it the continuity of the scouting department that allows the Packers to draft so well at offensive line, or is it a developmental process by coaching that leads to the success? The Bears can only wish they had the Packers' fortune at O-line.

The easy answer is it's both. The Packers have a scouting process they rely upon that has produced consistent success, and they've had their share of well-regarded, experienced offensive line coaches over the years (Tom Lovat, Larry Beightol, Joe Philbin, James Campen, Adam Stenavich). It's early, but Luke Butkus appears on a similar trajectory as a coach, too.

William from Newburgh, IN

All I would hope from Jordan Love, in his first year, is just be efficient. I'm afraid the NFL has moved past being able to win with a Trent Dilfer at QB, no disrespect to Mr. Dilfer. But with a strong defense, and special teams, coupled with a strong running game, this would pair well with an efficient QB and allow us to make the playoffs. Once in the playoffs anything can happen. What are your thoughts?

Making the playoffs or not, just as winning playoff games or not, probably will hinge on a handful of crunch-time drives during which Love will have to come through. Don't lose the game in the first 55 minutes, then win it in the last five. That's not every game, but these days there are enough that pretty much every season gets determined and defined by them.

John from McHenry, IL

Gentlemen, that last post was not mine! I would never disparage Jordan Love considering he has not yet played an entire season for the Packers. Please give that credit to the proper person. I am not a negative Nellie.

I double-checked and that post yesterday was sent in by John C. from McHenry, and I neglected to include the extra initial. My bad.

Jeff from Foothill Ranch, CA

Hi Mike, just wondering if you were able to catch the HR derby or MLB AS game. At the risk of sounding like a homer, I really wish they'd go back to just letting the players wear their team uniforms. I know it's merchandising so it won't happen, but how many people are gonna buy those AL atrocities they wore yesterday? Woof.

I didn't watch any of it over the two days, which might be a first for me. I've lost interest in how MLB makes it all about the production and not the players. I couldn't agree more on the uniforms, and other readers share the sentiment. Part of the pageantry of the game, for decades, was seeing all stars wearing their different uniforms on the field at the same time.

Bob from Green Bay, WI

What week of the season will we know what this team is capable of?

Each week. Every game we will learn something more in that regard.

Richard from Greenwich, NY

Hola amigos, the II community (me included) has shown a lot of eagerness over the upcoming season despite losing AR and the virtually automatic playoff berth associated with his teams. I think columnist David Brooks, writing about the N.Y. Mets, stated it well: "...we don't watch sports for happiness; we watch for drama." Can't wait!

That drama begins in T-minus 60 days and counting. Happy Thursday.

Insider Inbox

Insider Inbox

Join writers as they answer the fans' questions in Insider Inbox