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Inbox: Upgrade, refine and revise, and let's go

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Eli from Yardley, PA

Mike, in the offseason we don't know which writer will be covering the Inbox the following day. So I don't know who to address my questions to. However, Wes suggesting Jordy being brought back as the WR coach could only mean one thing...you were handling the Inbox the next day.

Brilliant, Holmes.

Corey from Henderson, NV

I'm all for more football. But people complain about the possibility of a 7-9 team winning a division...and now the new CBA is going to add a seventh team from each conference to the playoffs? Wild-card weekend is going to be a watered-down version of what it should be.

That's my fear, too. This past season, the 9-7 Rams and 8-8 Steelers would have made the playoffs as the extra teams. Not necessary. I've stated my case before, which is similar to Wes's – I don't like devaluing the regular season, and that's what any playoff expansion does. As many other readers have noted, the playoff system isn't broken, so there's nothing to fix. The preseason-regular season schedule is another matter, and while I don't think the league needs more than 16 games, it doesn't need four preseason games. If the owners push enough revenue the players' way, they'll get the 17th game they want. I said that months ago.

Dan from Grand Rapids, MI

Seven playoff teams now? I for one am rooting for a division to send all four teams to the playoffs. It would take a lot of breaks but that would be a fun story.

That would really be something. I did a quick check, and it never would have happened since the current divisional alignment took shape in 2002. The closest I found were a couple of instances where a division with two wild-card qualifiers had a last-place team that finished two games back of what would have been the third wild-card team.

David from Cable, WI

Would you draft a player who sat out a bowl game just to avoid risk?

Well, if my stance was I wouldn't, then if I'd had the opportunity, I would have passed on Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey, Denzel Ward, Bradley Chubb, Derwin James and Jaire Alexander, among several others. I don't think that's a way to make a career for yourself as a GM.

Derek from Sheboygan, WI

What do you think the Packers will be primarily looking for most during the NFL Scouting Combine?

I'll spare you my "good players" response to say this: The Packers have often put a premium on finding good fits for the locker room, and I think with the chemistry and camaraderie of the 2019 team being such an integral part of its success, exploring that element the best they can in interviews will remain a key part of their process.

Jeff from Littlefork, MN

I know mock drafts out to the 30th pick are crapshoots and extra picks equal draft capital. This may be impossible to answer as a hypothetical, but if we pick at 30, with the current CBA, we can exercise a fifth-year option and get a team-friendly rookie deal. If we trade back a few spots, we lose the fifth-year option but pick up another pick (or more) later in the draft. Since we're cutting down to 53 anyway, doesn't it make more strategic sense to get a slightly higher pick with the bonus year?

More picks are always going to give you more chances to find good players, as long as you're not sacrificing value (based on the board) to move back a few spots. Going from late first to early second is a significant drop in signing bonus and slotted money, so there's legitimate cap savings if you can get a player you want later. I know a lot of folks are pointing out how the trade back in 2017, passing on T.J. Watt for what became Kevin King and Vince Biegel, ultimately didn't turn out as intended. But one result is not a reason to dismiss the strategy if the circumstances are right.

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

OK guys, where did Kuhn go for his pro day when no scouts showed up at his school's? Also, how receptive are schools to having players from other schools show up for their pro day?

I think he went to Pitt's, but I'll have to double-check with him. Schools are generally receptive to it, because it's all about giving young men exposure and opportunity.

Mike from Lompoc, CA

It seems that hardly an Inbox goes by where I don't learn a fine point of football or get a good laugh. Most Inboxes I get a twofer. Thinking back on the recent playoffs (and I watched most of the games) I got the definite impression that the officiating overall is less strict, allowing for more contact, and in my opinion much more aggressive play. Is there anything statistically to back this up? Or is this a manifestation of the win-or-go-home mentality raising the stakes and level of play?

I don't have any penalty statistics in front of me, but generally I think the officials let them play in the playoffs, and the best ones are getting the assignments, so they're presumably better at drawing the proper lines. Unfortunately, that tendency probably contributed to the PI disaster in New Orleans two seasons ago, but by and large I've felt playoff games are officiated better.

Jim from Arkdale, WI

Was that Yogism on purpose?

If you have to ask, you aren't giving Wes enough credit.

Donny from Green Bay, WI

I can't wait for all the typical statements from GMs at the draft. We were shocked he was still available. We targeted him all along. Highest player on our board at the time. We thought we got good value. He's a high-character, big-motor guy, good locker room fit. What do you expect the GM to say, "We really wanted player X but those darn Seahawks took him right before us"? Which typical statements am I missing?

Pure honesty with anything draft-related is a pipe dream. You pretty much hit on all the clichés, though. I appreciate the laugh. What's even funnier is how often those quotes are actually printed in stories or aired on broadcasts. I won't say I've never used one, but I seriously try not to. There's no lazier way to cover the draft.

Anthony from Southington, CT

Does position need go into determining BAP? I mean, if the BAP at pick 30 was a QB, I wouldn't expect the Packers to go there and have Gute say we picked the BAP. There must be a factor for need also.

You don't split hairs, but you don't leave decidedly better players for other teams to draft. One grading system (I don't know what the Packers use) rates players out to two decimals. If you're on the clock and you have three players rated at 6.48, 6.45 and 6.41, positional need will certainly factor into the selection. But if those three guys and someone rated at 7.5 is still on the board, you aren't hesitating to take the 7.5, regardless of position, unless you're suddenly afraid the rest of the league knows something you don't. Whether or not your phone is ringing with trade offers could answer that.

Rob from Wilmington, NC

I'm very disappointed with Wes. Everyone knows brats are five or 10 to a pack.

Details, details.

Daniel from Altoona, WI

Mike, you need to separate yourself from Rodgers and accept the fact his skills are diminishing. Sure I believe he wants to play to 40, too. But will he be any good? Will he be helping or hindering the team? I think the latter. Think the Carolina game with playoff hopes on the line. He could not perform. Don't forget 13 screws. At what cost does he still get the start just because he's "Rodgers" vs. what he can produce out on the field? It's time to start to find his replacement.

The Carolina game in '17? He hadn't played a game in two months. My goodness. Look, I think I was pretty honest with everyone last season when Rodgers' accuracy was inconsistent, and when he wasn't always the Rodgers we were used to seeing. But let's step back for a moment. He had exactly one wide receiver on the roster taken in the first four rounds of any draft (with three who weren't drafted at all), and he was working his way through a system transition. Under those circumstances, to say his skills are past the point of no return is ludicrous. Do you think it was just coincidence the Saints won 11, 13 and 13 games in Drew Brees' age 38-40 seasons upon finding Michael Thomas in the second round (and after they'd gone 7-9 three straight years)? Upgrade the WR corps, refine and revise some scheme heading into Year 2, and let's go. To take any other approach with a 36-year-old HOFer at the game's most important position is unfathomable to me.

Kyle from Sun Prairie, WI

Your response to the questions about sending Rodgers out to sea soon made me go the data route. Using simple average salary (not cap hit), Rodgers is third at $33M/year, Stafford 10th at $22M, Flacco 15th at $22M, and Dalton 20th at $16M. The dropoff isn't worth the saved salary. I would take a first- or second-year Mahomes over Rodgers right now, but the odds of that happening are at or near zero. (Contract info from overthecap*). Question for Spoff: Have you typed II from the patio of Hinterland?

I couldn't agree more, and when you do decide to move on, you don't know whether you've invested a first-round pick in another Mahomes or another Paxton Lynch until he's actually playing every game, no matter how long he's been groomed behind the starter. As confident as the Packers were in Rodgers in 2008, they still didn't really know, and they didn't give him a contract extension until halfway through that year. Even with more to go on, there are no sure things. Jared Goff helped the Rams get to a Super Bowl, got $110 million guaranteed last year, and then put up a TD-INT ratio of 22-16 and an 86.5 passer rating after two Pro Bowl years. It's not an easy game, so I'll definitely prefer to hang onto the surefire HOF guy who's been through the wars and knows what it takes. And before everyone attacks that line with Favre's final renaissance in Minnesota, you have to remember Favre already had been contemplating retirement for two offseasons heading into the Packers' selection of Rodgers in the draft. He gave the franchise no choice but to be prepared for the future long before it actually arrived. That is not the case here. Sorry for the second straight long post. As for your question, I've never done that but it sounds like a great idea. Maybe I could even get the boss to expense the lunch so I don't have to steal Wes's.

Allan from Austin, TX

If you could have written II for one other franchise for one day over the past 10 years, what franchise/day would you pick? Also, which other franchise/day would you have dreaded to write II for that day?

I'd pick the same day for both questions, but different franchises. Jan. 15, 2018. Minnesota, New Orleans.

Nathan from Dubuque, IA

Last year the Packers seemed to double dip on an area of need. Signing two OLB free agents to rush the passer and then selecting Rashan Gary at 12 who didn't see the field as much as (in my opinion) a top 15 draft pick would. Do you think the Packers will unfortunately do that again? Either with a free agent LB or WR and then drafting someone in the first round?

I disagree with the use of "unfortunately" because there's nothing wrong in my view with focusing resources on a premier position like pass rusher, especially when practically starting over like the Packers were. I don't see them using free agency and the first-round pick to make three additions at one position again, but getting multiples at a spot through a signing and a high draft pick (first two days) wouldn't surprise me at all.

View photos of furry Packers fans showing off their Green & Gold.

Mike from Novato, CA

Hey guys, just some advice to all the people complaining about the mock drafts now. I don't use them to see if the authors get things right. I use them to get acquainted with prospects I otherwise know nothing about. I know the Packers better than most such mockers, but I don't know the college players. So, I look at the mocks, get a feel for which prospects are rated highly at their positions, and make my own call about who the Packers might take. I'm not always right, but I'm seldom shocked.

I use them to get a sense of the range in which most draftniks believe certain players will be picked (10-20, 20-30, etc.).

Randy from Ooltewah, TN

You are on the clock with the 30th overall draft choice. You are granted a wish that whoever you select will have a 14-year Packer career and be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. You are not allowed to select a quarterback. What position would you want to draft?

Right now, to add to the 2020 Packers? Defensive lineman.

George from North Mankato, MN

Which of our division foes do you feel can get better by making a change at one position? Who would you choose, which position and why?

Well, the jury remains out on Chicago at QB, so stay tuned there. Minnesota still needs to improve its offensive line, as Green Bay in Week 16 and San Francisco in the playoffs proved. Detroit could make a big, immediate jump with another pass rusher to pair with Flowers, in whom they made a significant investment last year.

Gregory from Combined Locks, WI

If 60-70% of draft picks don't make it in the NFL, who is more to blame for their failure, the coaches for not getting that player NFL ready or the player for not getting ready?

Who's most to blame? The human condition and a brutally tough game.

CJ from Menomonee Falls, WI

What are your thoughts on the Astros having to call out their pitches the entire season to give the owner the data to conclude knowing the pitches make a difference?

Splendid idea.

Jim from Woodbury, MN

You guys headed to the combine?

Yessir. We leave Monday, and since Wes is driving, he's going to write Monday's column before we go, I'll write Tuesday's on the way, and we'll keep alternating while in Indy, just on the opposite days we usually do.

Hal from Lanesboro, MN

Mike, how goes the journey through Ludlam land? What's your favorite Bourne book?

I'm almost done with the first one. I'll be taking the second one to Indy.

Kevin from Louisville, KY

Not that you guys were wondering, but I wanted you to know that I often take II out into the masses for the benefit of my friends who aren't Packers fans. Takes and quotes that are particularly interesting or insightful and (especially) the takedowns of some of the rude posters are some things anyone can enjoy and potentially get something from. Thanks, guys, we appreciate you.

We appreciate all of you, too, even the rude folks. If we didn't have an audience, we wouldn't have jobs. Happy Friday.

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