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Inbox: Truly anything can happen in January

Chicago will be the NFC North team with all the expectations in 2019


Guilherme from Lins, Brazil

After all the discussion about the uprights and the crossbar in the II, it's incredible (and funny) how the Bears' season ended.

Absolutely never, ever underestimate the power of the Inbox.

Dan from Naperville, IL

Laser beams would have never allowed a dual hit. Unreal.

Incineration or double deflection? A new debate I won't even try to settle. Regardless, it felt like the playoffs officially started on the last play of the weekend. The moment reaffirmed that truly anything can happen in January.

Scott from Martinez, GA

I wonder how Eric will count that toward his official donk stats. Anyway, so much for home-field advantage, but great games especially in the NFC where the total point separation added up to just three points.

The three teams that lost at home had QBs making their playoff debuts, so no one should be shocked. Watson and Jackson had their share of rough moments. It's no consolation to Bears fans, but Trubisky definitely played the best of the three. He made some really clutch throws in the second half. I was impressed, and I was expecting to be as underwhelmed as I was by the other two.

Justin from Los Angeles, CA

So Rivers, Luck, and Foles beat Jackson, Watson, and Trubisky. Brees and Brady await. Can all those people who argue that a young QB on a cheap first contract is the best/only way to compete for a championship maybe pump the brakes a bit now? I'll take a savvy vet every time when the lights get brighter in the playoffs.

For the most part, I would, too. Luck vs. Mahomes oughta be interesting, though. All the young QBs will be better for what they went through this past weekend, and I don't think we've seen the last of them.

Mike from Algoma, WI

I don't put much stock in internet articles, but this quote from SB Nation was priceless: "The Chargers scored, which was overturned. Then they didn't, but the refs said they did – but the Ravens thought they scored. Then the Chargers scored, and the Ravens forgot a defender. Football is truly the most beautiful and stupid game." It was a pretty great playoff weekend, wasn't it?

Stop distracting me. I'm trying to figure out how to take those first eight words of your post.

JJ from Longmont, CO

Nick Foles just beat the No. 1 D in Chicago. And so I ask again, if he continues to win in the playoffs, should the Eagles actually consider trading Carson Wentz? I understand Foles is a backup in almost every other NFL city. I understand Wentz is the more talented QB. But for some reason Foles in Philly is a star. One season of putting up 25 TDs to two INTs, a Super Bowl win and MVP, and now a second postseason run beginning by knocking out the No. 1 D. I'm just saying...

I take nothing away from what Foles has done, but let's be honest about a couple of things. One, the Eagles should have lost Sunday. Two, Wentz was on his way to the MVP last season before the knee injury, and it seems clear he wasn't healthy this year, long before they shut him down. If heaven forbid Wentz can't get healthy, then we're having a different conversation.

Igor from Sao Carlos, Brazil

Just to remember: there are no guarantees in the NFL.

The Mack trade, so far, got the Bears a division title and a one-and-done. Now they have no first-round picks until 2021, which as I've said before, puts their improvement as a team mostly on Trubisky. Chicago will be the NFC North team with all the expectations in 2019.

Mike from Las Vegas, NV

I thought at the time Frank Reich's decision to go for it on fourth down in his own territory in OT was about the dumbest move of all-time. I guess I was wrong. He showed faith in his team and it seems to have paid off. Not saying that's all that brought them this far but I think it helped set the tone.

The Colts started 1-5 under their new head coach, but the defining moment in that stretch might have been when Reich boldly told his players he believed in them. They didn't reward him then, but they certainly have over the long haul. Ten wins in 11 games since the dismal start, and they're now eight quarters from the Super Bowl. What a job by Reich, Luck and Co.

Trevor from Seattle, WA

Seahawks out. Bears out. Monday will be a good day.

My only disappointment will be not seeing that Bears defense against the Saints offense in the postseason.

Ron from Mitchell, SD

Reality check. The Cowboys posted just their third playoff win in 22 years Saturday night. A little eye-opener for those that think we have it so bad. The Pack will be back!

What the Dallas defense did against the league's No. 1 rushing offense was exemplary. The Cowboys also made a strong statement in the stud vs. committee argument when it comes to running the football.

David from San Luis Obispo, CA

I liked your response to Michael about a "serious" playoff run. Though, I will add my devil's advocate, the last 10 Super Bowl participants all had a first-round bye. I think it gives a little merit to the "serious" contender argument.

Point taken, but prior to the last five years, nine of the previous 26 Super Bowl participants were wild-card teams. And I think we've all seen plenty of divisional-round games recently where the host team coming off the bye could have (or should have) lost. Just look at last year in the NFC. Atlanta at Philly and New Orleans at Minnesota. Both games very easily could have gone the other way.

Bob from Lexington, SC

It seems like every year I hear, fire the conditioning staff, we have more injuries than any other team! Not true. What I perceive is that we tend to have most of our injuries at one or two positions, wiping out all the starters. 2018 all defensive line starters on IR; three offensive line starters hurt. How can you win in the trenches if all your starters are gone? Other years, Gunter ends up No. 1 CB. It isn't that we have more injuries; they just seem to focus on one area each year.

I believe there's some truth to that. It's particularly damaging when the season is in the balance and one position group is devastated by injuries. Edge rusher in 2013 and, as you mentioned, cornerback in 2016 really stand out in that regard.

Sam from Janesville, WI

"I think a change in offensive philosophy can make the Packers' offensive line look a lot better than it's currently perceived by many fans." This statement is extremely intriguing to me. Can you please elaborate?

I was struck this year how often, even in the preseason, I heard McCarthy preach the importance of big plays on offense, how the analytics say you need them to win. If he said it once he said it 100 times. Then we saw the Packers lead the league in pass plays of 40-plus yards yet only win six games, and I've seen metrics indicating the Packers led the league in sacks allowed on third down and in sacks allowed with the QB holding the ball longer than 2.5 seconds. The picture wasn't coming into focus as intended, and no one succeeded in changing the lens.

Heather from Green Bay, WI

Spoff's comment re: the future of journalism hopefully involving contributors who lack self-importance really hit home with me. Yesterday I went out for lunch and on TV was some NFL talk show, volume muted. A commentator kept jumping out of his chair and screaming while his cohorts tried to pull him back down. I commented that this is why I cannot watch these shows anymore. It's all about look at me and I can yell louder than you. Sad, because I used to drink in all of these shows, but no more.

Every day I'm grateful I can do my job by just being myself, and I'm equally grateful my audience seems OK with that.

Benny from Aurora, CO

Of the 2018 rookies, who do you think will have the most to prove in 2019? Who will make the biggest progress?

I'm not going to try to predict anyone's progress, but I think it's fair to say both Burks and Moore head into 2019 with plenty to prove, given their draft status. More important, they're aware of it and eager to do just that. I had conversations with them on locker-clean-out day at the beginning of last week, and both players had very introspective and interesting thoughts, which are coming soon in stories I'm working on. Self-awareness is the first step.

Cliff from Granville Centre, Nova Scotia

With the Oxford comma, implied-subject sentences, and the use of "that" (from back in Vic's days), one would think II was a remedial grammar website.

If it were, we could teach the subjunctive mood as well. But we do our best.

Jared from Brillion, WI

Why does a guy like LeRoy Butler keep missing the cut of the Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist ballot?

I wish I knew. Ed Reed is a slam dunk HOFer, but Butler's credentials are equal to if not better than the other safeties' in the finalist pool, in my view. It's disappointing, but he's still got time.

Aaron from New York, NY

This time last year I was hopeful that this was going to be Allison's breakout season, but it ended up getting derailed by injury. Looking towards next season, who is the player you are most looking forward to seeing make a big leap?

To piggyback off a suggestion from another New Yorker (Sean from Cortland), if the guy who does is Josh Jackson, I think the defense rises to another level.

Andrew from Falls Church, VA

How long do you think it will take before people stop asking pointless II questions just to earn Packers Perks points?

Hopefully sooner than later.

Bob from Houston, TX

"Let me put it this way – if David Bakhtiari played a skill position, I don't think we're having this conversation." I think by now we should be lumping the LT position with the skill positions instead of the power positions. That OL position has such a distinct set of talents needed beyond pure size and strength. Speed, agility, intelligence, quickness, hand use, footwork...Bakhtiari's kick-back step is the best and most graceful in the league. Don't ya think?

I wouldn't know how to rank them, but I believe what got Bakhtiari up to first-team All-Pro was the new gear he found with his run blocking this past season. He's an even more complete left tackle now.

Matt from Waunakee, WI

Three straight All-Pro selections is a nice start to a HOF career.


Brandon from Fairfield, CT

How quickly can we expect the head coach search to conclude? With the first round of interviews being completed over the weekend, how many more rounds will there be, based on prior history?

Hard to say. I don't know if the Packers are planning to do another round of interviews with their top candidates, say, after the conference title games, or if they won't have the luxury due to the competition with and interests of other teams.

Patrick from Valrico, FL

If a coaching candidate really impresses Mark and Brian during the interview how do you think they would handle that? Would they continue to schedule interviews to see if anyone could make an even better impression or would they make an offer quickly before they lost out on the candidate? How much of a risk is there in losing a candidate you liked because you are waiting to interview someone who might not be available yet?

There's always that risk. The relationship with the coach's agent and an open line of communication always help. But I also think you have to act with the courage of your convictions in these situations. If you've found your guy, don't mess around.

Mark from Sturgeon Bay, WI

The list of HC prospects includes former coordinators for Rodgers, P. Manning, Brady, Brees and Ryan. Is this a case of them making superstars better or riding their coattails?

That's what everyone has to figure out, right? I'm a believer sustained success is at least to some degree symbiotic, but to what degree isn't easy to answer.

Chris from Kirksville, MO

I know the specifics are unknown, but can we get a rough estimation on when the new head coach will be announced? After the Super Bowl? Before free agency? Before the draft? This is a big decision and they'll want to make sure they get it right, but there's only so much time to make a decision. When would be the absolute latest the decision would have to be made?

My anticipation is the Packers will make their hire prior to the Super Bowl, unless their choice is coaching in the big game. Then it'll be shortly after, at the latest. You want to get a coach and staff in place before the scouting combine, I would think.

Roy from Langley, KY

Where do you see the Packers using their first couple draft picks?

Preferably in Nashville. I don't think they're redeemable anywhere else.

Joe from Manchester, England

Any news on where the game against the Chargers may be held next year? Could this possibly be a game held in England? I know teams don't like to give up games to the well-traveled Packer fans, but a game abroad must be in the offing seeing as the Packers haven't set foot on foreign ground yet.

The longer we go without hearing about a London announcement, the less confident I am we're going to get one.

Reed from York, PA

A lot of questions about the talent on the team, but I think the special ingredient is how the new coaching staff, FA/draft additions and returning vets can come together and bond to create the type of magic the best teams showcase. It's pretty obvious just watching the successful teams this year, who cultivated that productive, positive, all-for-one, love-of-the-game environment and who didn't. What signs are you looking for to indicate that's happening come July/August 2019?

I won't be looking for them until September. That's when the signs mean something. Before that, well, the baloney hasn't stopped yet.

Derrick from Rockaway, NJ

Reading Insider Inbox daily will surely be a requirement of the next head coach, correct?

With all due respect to everyone who contributes to this daily endeavor, I hope he has more productive ways to spend his time.

Joe from Stillwater, MN

Favorite addition to Lambeau Field within the last 10 years?

The fourth Lombardi Trophy.

Tyler from Indianapolis, IN

Who says defense is dead? That was an awesome defensive performance on wild-card weekend.

Indeed, but pour some more punch and sit back down. The Chiefs, Patriots, Rams and Saints are just now arriving at the party. Happy Monday, everyone.