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Inbox: Trust factors into the calculations

The Inbox doesn’t come with a TV Guide

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Rob from Buckinghamshire, UK

What would you say is the best Packers' game to watch, best all-around Packers' performance, and best individual performance by a Packer, in the last four years?

Best game to watch would be the 2016 playoff win in Dallas, or, in the regular season, the win over New England in 2014. For the best all-around performance, taking the caliber of opponent into consideration, I'll go with the 38-10 win over Seattle in Week 14 of 2016. Best individual performance? Rodgers' six TD passes in the first half against the Bears in 2014.

Kevin from Onalaska, WI

What do you think Vince Lombardi would think of the spectacle that NFL games, especially the Super Bowl, have become? I would imagine he would be happy that the league has survived and grown to what it is, but I can't imagine he would appreciate some of the arbitrary rules and other things like musical performances forcing a longer halftime during the biggest game of the year.

Lombardi standing in the tunnel, pacing back and forth in an agitated manner, as Bruno Mars finishes his halftime set gives a whole new meaning to, "What the hell's going on out here?!"

Dylan from Honolulu, HI

Saw the question and history lesson about the Packers' following in Hawaii. I've lived on Oahu for a few years now and I can tell you this, the most popular team here is the Seahawks, due to their recent success and a lot of their games are locally televised (the early games start at 7 a.m. here, late games at 10). There is also a strong following for all local players. Everyone cheers for the Titans because Mariota grew up here. With that being said there are cheeseheads everywhere. Hope this helps!

That's interesting. The bandwagon nature you refer to makes me wonder whether the 49ers were a favorite out there in the '80s, the Raiders in the '70s, etc., or if the league wasn't popular enough then for people to tune in at the odd times, or for the games to even be on TV.

Chris from Golden Valley, MN

Any ideas on how to make pitching plays in softball safer? We may have to take that play out of softball because it just causes injuries.

I'm just glad to hear Matthews is going to be OK. Maybe a pitching machine with a screen for the feeder is the way to go.

TE Robert Tonyan hit a walk-off home run, spurring Clay Matthews' squad to a 10-9 victory over Team Davante Adams in the Green & Gold Charity Softball Game

Alan from Mount Auburn, IL

Hello, concerning the new kickoff rule and onside kicks, why not have the requirement that that the ball must travel, say, 8 yards instead of 10 to be recoverable?

How long do you want replay reviews to last?

Russ from Henrico, VA

Just a request. Could you please stop saying how deep we are D-line? In the past some of those deeps suddenly weren't so deep.

We all know that one injury can reduce perceived depth, and two suddenly make a deep position look thin. The Packers are built to withstand some of that on the D-line more so than anywhere else right now, provided any injuries that may strike aren't long-term. One of those can change the entire outlook, at any position.

Travis from Hill, WA

Guys, the new "Moments" feature on the mobile app, and, really, the whole app in general is just awesome! I spent at least an hour today learning more history of the teams, the stadiums, the uniforms and didn't get to everything. For a displaced super fan this is a pretty great substitute for the HOF that I've been to only once. I'm really enjoying this "100 Seasons" event and kudos to everyone who is involved.

Thanks for the kind words. The "100 Seasons" site is packed with a ton of stuff, and the historical "Moments" being revealed each day will include photo displays and video highlights when we have them. It's worth carving out a couple of minutes each day to follow along.

Eric from Oshkosh, WI

I wanted you to give my regards to Rick, but then I would only have one left. Since I don't regard him that highly, you can disregard this, I guess.

My head hurts.

Joshua from Mankato, MN

I've never felt a QB's development is harmed by starting immediately (i.e. David Carr). Some QBs are ready out of the gate, some take time to develop, and some never make it. Do you think being a starter in Year 1 affects a QB's development? Seems like an exaggerated storyline to me.

I'll go back to what McCarthy has always said – it's more about whether the team is ready for the young QB. The development is a product of everything around the player, and the extent of the development for a Year 1 starter is dependent in part on those around him.

John from Superior, WI

If the college game is producing fewer in-line tight ends, why did Troy Fumagalli last as long as he did? Can't think of a more in-line offense than the Badgers. Not to mention he was a pretty (darn) good tight end.

Fumagalli is coming in as a good two-way prospect, but he's not viewed as the explosive threat in the passing game that pushes an experienced blocker into the upper rounds of the draft. The open-field speed combined with blocking ability does that, and those guys aren't common.

David from Hilliard, OH

NFL.com recently had a tribute to Gale Sayers as it was his birthday. I am 60 years old and remember Sayers tearing up the NFL his rookie year. My humble opinion was and still is that he was the greatest pure running back I had ever seen. Now, I know that is just opinion and open to debate. I am truly interested in knowing the opinion of a younger generation "football experts" as to who was or is the greatest running back of all-time.

Limiting my choice to players I've seen in person, it's a tough call for me between Walter Payton and Barry Sanders, for different reasons. Payton broke tackles and Sanders eluded them in rare ways. Payton's all-around skills in the passing game and as a blocker were top-flight, too, while Sanders' career was built with hardly any (if any) All-Pro linemen. Most of all, I think I loved watching them more than any other backs I've had the privilege of seeing.

Chris from Fairfax, VA

I don't like change, but the only constant is change. Can we change that?

Only if you have change for my 20.

Carroll from Madison, WI

We've all read how important "trust" is between AR and his targets and that it takes time to develop. The stats seem to confirm both. At the same time, I recently saw 12 quoted as saying, "I throw to whoever's open." So my question is: Is "trust" just a synonym for "getting open" (and making catches), or is something more subtle at work? And what does the answer suggest about how AR's relationship with his rookie WRs and his new veteran TEs might, or might not, differ?

The trust comes from reading coverages the same way Rodgers does and making the route adjustments on the fly he expects, based on what he sees. In a general sense, if a guy is going to get open, Rodgers should find him. But he also has a pretty good idea before the snap of who has the best chance to be open on a given play, and his trust of the receiver, as described, factors into those calculations.

Rod from Ephrata, PA

Actually two questions but maybe the same answer for both. What position group is the most difficult to project NFL success based on college performance? What position group has the most undrafted players in the league?

I have no idea on the second question, but I've always felt pass rushers are difficult to project. It just seems that some guys don't or can't elevate their games to the quality of the pass protection they face in the NFL every snap. I guess that's what the scouts call "upside" and I don't know how to look for it at that position.

Stan from Menomonie, WI

"Roughly three-fourths of our traffic comes from mobile devices." So you're telling me this cell phone thing is catching on?

As we've watched newspapers decline around the country, a development that bothers me as a former proud member of the industry (yet one I can't complain about, as it led to a job I'm grateful for), I'm convinced that was the biggest miscalculation of the print realm as the online world began to take off 15-20 years ago – it never conceived of the internet being portable and in the palm of everyone's hand.

Kyle from Eden Prairie, MN

Gentlemen, how much of Coach Pettine's emphasis on internal pass rush, and Brian Gutekunst's prioritizing those positions within free agency, has to do with a perceived "hole" or at minimum a lack of depth within the interior offensive line on the Vikings' roster?

Virtually none. Pettine is building a defense based on his philosophies, not designing one specifically to beat the Vikings.

Tracy from Sioux Falls, SD

When I read the Insider Inbox, I usually know when lines are used from a movie or TV show. However, I may not remember or may not have seen what is being referenced. Would it be possible to have something that stayed at the top of the comments section that would indicate where the original lines came from? I would hate to miss out on someone's cleverness if I don't remember or haven't seen what is being referred to. For the answer to this, I'll be back.

Sorry, the Inbox doesn't come with a TV Guide. It's like in "The Big Bang Theory." They make countless references and jokes to "Star Wars," "Star Trek," "Indiana Jones" and the like, but they don't explain them. If you get it, great. If you don't, no one holds it against you.

Steve from Omaha, NE

Congrats on 300 editions of "Packers Unscripted"! My question is that during the podcast labeled No. 298, you refer to this being your 300th? Wouldn't this be labeled No. 300? What's the story?

We've had a few shows that aired on cable that were not posted as podcasts, simply because of timing. Due to the content of the show, it was timely for TV but would have been outdated by the next day when the podcast went up.

Andy from Deerfield, WI

How does Captain Kirk live up to the expectations on the wrong side of the river? I remember Elvis Grbac to the Ravens.

It will be interesting to see how Minnesota's season unfolds and how the entire team handles the expectations, including the new QB. Anything short of the Super Bowl will be labeled a disappointment over there. That kind of atmosphere can be invigorating or debilitating at different times.

Paul from Milwaukee, WI

Guys, it has been mentioned that the players seem to be responding to Pettine's defensive philosophy. There appears to be good energy from the coaches and the buzz is starting to ooze into the fans. I'm hopeful this means we'll be a great team in 2018. However, if the Packers totally flop, will it be blamed on the fact they've installed a lot of new players, playbook, coaches, etc...? Or will it be that maybe this just wasn't the right combination to start with?

Three months and five days from the start of the regular season, and we're already supposed to figure out whom and what to blame if things don't go well on defense? Serenity now.

Judi from Caledonia, WI

I've read a lot about the NFL, due to player safety, eventually eliminating the three- and four-point stance. I have no factual basis for this, but it seems concussions happen less frequently to the linemen on both sides of the ball than the skill-position players on offense as well as the DBs. What am I missing here? Why would eliminating the three- and four-point stance lessen concussion rates overall?

That's a loaded question. First, the more research being done, the more we're learning the long-term effects of the game on the brain aren't just from concussions but the repeated contact to the head, which linemen are involved in every play. Second, the new "head-up" rule on use of the helmet, which the league is saying will apply to linemen, might be what saves the three- and four-point stances, but it may take many years before we really know the impact of the rule change.

Gretchen from Dousman, WI

I attended the public OTA practice Thursday. The plays were REALLY fast, both offense and defense. Is that because it's shorts and helmets, no real contact?

Not at all. If you think the plays being run in OTAs are fast, sit that close to the field for a regular-season game sometime.

Steven from Golden Valley, MN

Dom Capers was a press-box/off-the-field game-day coach. I never liked having coaches away from the field. Communication/interaction seemed lacking. I believe Coach Pettine is a sideline guy, where he can be much more involved with the defense in every sense. Don't you think having coaches out of sight (despite the electronic communications) just lacks that personal, in-your-face/part-of-the-team kind of cohesion? What's your thought on remote, off-the-field coaching?

I think every coach needs to be where he feels he can do his job the best. The game's history is full of successful coordinators who made their calls from upstairs, and others from the sideline. To each his own.

Richard from Jacksonville, FL

So my dad came to visit me this week and we were talking Packers football. I told him he really needed to start reading the Insider Inbox because of all the great insight. He asked me who wrote the column and I told him Mike Spofford. Looks at me with his thinking face and said, "Does he have a brother or dad named Steve Spofford who graduated from Preble H.S.?" I'm now very curious, help me out Mike! Small world if so.

There's a small strain of Spoffords in northeastern Wisconsin, but I am not connected as far as I know. My dad is from Jersey, came to the Midwest to go to college and never left. The rest of the family is still mostly on the East Coast.

Bruce from Milwaukee, WI

How does one earn the title of "senior writer"?

By getting older. Happy Monday, everyone.

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