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Inbox: We're in the season of intrigue

Dominating the ground game isn’t a bad place to start


Sam from Harlan, IA

Was your recliner at home more comfortable than your seat at the stadium for watching the football games this weekend?

For the first time all football season, I sat directly in front of the TV in the bonus room with a box of pizza and watched the Kansas City-Indianapolis game. It was glorious. Good morning!

David from Green Bay, WI

Shouldn't it have been a "?", instead of a "." to technically get the bonus points?

Respect the process, don't exploit it. That's all I ask.

Domenick from Kenosha, WI

I am very excited about the upcoming season. Probably more excited for a season to start than I may have ever been. Reading the Dope Sheet, this season looks so much better than it actually did during the season. Do you think that is just because of expectations? Even though I continue to try to tell myself that any team can beat any other team in any given week, I still get to game time and think, "The Packers should blow this team away."

We're in the season of intrigue. I think the excitement is a product of the fresh start the team now has under Matt LaFleur. There hasn't been a season like this in Green Bay since 2006, so naturally there's going to be buzz about what this team will look like.

John from Pottsville, PA

How many Super Bowls has LaFleur been in?

One. He served as the Falcons' quarterbacks coach in Super Bowl LI.

Joe from Las Vegas, NV

Constant reader, sometimes submitter – why does anyone want to change the playoffs? In the 2010 season we won the S.B. from the sixth seed and were on the road for all playoff games. The next year we went 15-1 and lost the home-field advantage game after the bye. Do you really think home-field advantage means that much?

I think it matters to play games in front of your home fans. Those four byes heighten the importance of every regular-season game and are what makes the NFL postseason meaningful. I'd rather go that route than having seven teams from each conference making the playoffs and only two byes.

Thomas from Milwaukee, WI

I'm curious as to why LaFleur took so long to start using Derrick Henry in a featured role in the Titans' offense. I mean, he might be the biggest back in the league. You'd think you'd want him wearing down defenses. Any insight, Wes?

It's a production-based business. Henry was given several opportunities during the first seven games, but only had 273 yards and a touchdown on 84 carries (3.3 yards per carry). Once things started to click for Henry down the stretch, LaFleur fed the third-year running back accordingly.

Don from Adell, WI

When will Coach LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers meet face to face?

The start of the offseason program on April 1, unless there's some language in the CBA I'm unfamiliar with.

Mike from Fort Wayne, IN

Insiders, do you self-evaluate like the coaching staff does during the offseason, in order to stay cutting-edge with your product?

I read and watch content from all major sporting platforms. The way fans consume media is ever-changing and I'd like to think I've stayed ahead of that curve going back to my days at the Press-Gazette.

Bill from Wisconsin Rapids, WI

I thought head coaching candidates had their coaching staffs put together before interviews. Why doesn't LaFleur?

New head coaches will have an idea of whom they want on their staffs, but very rarely do they already have all their assistants in place. The only coaches who can be hired immediately are those not currently under contract with a team. If an assistant is under contract, teams must ask for permission to interview those potential candidates.

Brad from Oshkosh, WI

Is it concerning that Coach hasn't yet hired an outside assistant coach?

Patience, Brad. The NFL doesn't hand the Lombardi to the first team to finalize its coaching staff. These are major decisions. You have to find the right individuals for the right spots. Trust me. It's coming together.

Tyler from Dixon, CA

The more and more I hear Matt LaFleur speak, the more I realize the organization has not moved too far away from where they were just a little over a month ago. I hear things like family, high character, and process. Sounds a lot like the predecessor, so I guess that part wasn't broken.

I've only known LaFleur for a week, but I can tell family comes first from talking to people close to him. First and foremost, he's a high-character man. That's where it starts.

Steve from Colorado Spring, CO

My wife asked me this question during the Eagles-Saints game and I didn't know. I thought I would pass that on to those who know a lot more about football than I do. Do you know how many head coaches in the NFL have been NFL players?

I counted nine former NFL players among the 30 currently occupied positions.

Becky from New Berlin, WI

Who would you say is/was the most valuable defensive player on the Packers and why?

Kenny Clark. He's an emerging talent and still only 23 years young. He's the future of the Packers' defense.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

The most interesting, revealing stat from last weekend's games: rushing yards. Chiefs 180/Colts 87, Rams 273/Cowboys 50, Patriots 155/Chargers 19, and Saints 137/Eagles 49. In this day and age of the franchise QB and the dominant passing attacks, it comes down to run the ball, stop the run. Your take?

With the exception of the New Orleans-Philadelphia game, all three of those games were fairly one-sided. The common trend? Dominating the ground game and time of possession. This game is more complex than who gains more rushing yards each week, but it isn't a bad place to start.

Mike from Stevens Point, WI

Just a quick prediction. If the Chiefs don't pressure Brady more than the Chargers, we can expect to see the Patriots yet again in the SB.

This week, we're going to hear about Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski's future, and Andy Reid and Bill Belichick vying over a Super Bowl berth. On the field, there may be no larger storyline Sunday than whether Kansas City's defense can stop the Patriots.

Rick from Harrisburg, PA

I was amazed to hear that the Rams' O-line started all 16 games. Made me wonder. Do you think playing the majority of your games in a less harsh environment cuts back on injuries?

Possibly, but what do you say then about someone like Corey Linsley who wasn't missed a snap in two-plus seasons? Conditioning and preparation are key, but there's something to be said for good fortune, as well.

Andrew from Falls Church, VA

Watching Mahomes is a lot of fun, but do you think his play style will be sustainable over the years? And how much of the numbers this year has been the result of a great coach/player dynamic there?

Promising quarterbacks must evolve to reach the next level, but Mahomes has all the tools to be a force in the league for years to come. As exciting as he is to watch, Mahomes can beat you in a number of ways. That's the difference.

Kristen from Surprise, AZ

I just gotta say that I really enjoyed the Eagles-Saints game. Two upstanding quarterbacks that I can respect and feel good cheering for. It was nice to know I'd be happy for either team. And as much as I miss watching the Packers in the playoffs, I was surprised to realize how nice it is to watch a game without my heart pounding out of my chest.

It was a great game. I just wish the ending would have played out differently. Don't get me wrong. I'm fine with the Saints prevailing. It just felt a bit unsatisfying to see the Eagles' magical run end on an interception off a dropped pass. Oh well.

Timothy from Spooner, WI

You guys think there might be a change in philosophy regarding the Packers' draft-and-develop process for the offensive line? Tackles are almost always drafted high, guards tend to be lower-round picks. We have seen how Quentin Nelson changed the fortunes of the Colts quickly. Obviously, those types don't come by often, but it seems with the emphasis of "A gap" blitzes lately, which hurt the Packers this past season, the need for perhaps more physically talented guards might be in order?

As a whole, I think the stigma with interior offensive linemen has changed over the last six or seven years because of players like Nelson. Now, that doesn't mean there still isn't risk with drafting a guard or center early, but those two positions are getting more respect than probably 15 years ago. In recent years, I think you've seen the difference a player like Linsley has made on the Packers' O-line.

Noah from West Allis, WI

I really liked the play of Bashaud Breeland late in the season. What do you think the chances of him being re-signed for next season are? I think he could really solidify our DB group.

We'll find out in March, but Breeland impressed me with his versatility. He can play anywhere in the secondary. That's valuable in a sub-defense league.

Take a look at photos of Packers LB Clay Matthews from the 2018 season.

Jason from Watertown, WI

Do you think the Packers will continue to stay in the 3-4 base defense or with the amount of teams going to a spread offense, will our base defense essentially be the nickel?


Gordy from Sugar Hill, GA

You do realize Brian from Sussex, WI, that if there weren't wild-card games that the Packers wouldn't have won their last Super Bowl and AR's famous prediction, "I think we can win out, I really do," and the fact that they pulled it off would've all been for naught?

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times – I have no issue with the NFL playoff formula. It's not broken.

Kent from Homosassa, FL

Our local paper has a "Transactions" listing that shows teams signing numerous players to "reserve/future contracts." Can you please explain what these are? Thank you!

Once the season is over, NFL teams are permitted to sign street free agents or practice-squad players to future contracts, which then take effect the first day of the new league year in mid-March.

Kurt from Rosendale, WI

What do you think of the Packers trading their late first-round pick (and maybe another pick) for Antonio Brown? I think Brian has the guts to do it and we would have a tremendous duo.

It has nothing to do with guts. It's not just about what it would take to acquire Brown, but also the cost of absorbing his contract.

Sonia from Fairbanks, AK

Has parity skipped the AFC East? I can't recall any team other than the Patriots making the playoffs from that division for some time. This easy schedule has to have contributed to their playoff run. Your thoughts?

My thought is New England has been a consistent contender in an inconsistent division. That's not the Patriots' fault. In the end, you have to win playoff games to win Super Bowls and Bill Belichick's teams have accomplished that.

Joshua form Houston, TX

When do we find out about pregame parties in visiting cities?

Those plans will begin once we find out the schedule in April.

Jordan from Lawrenceburg, KY

Has Insider Inbox ever done or considered a live show where fans would come and ask you questions in a live setting? I'll be the first to buy a ticket!

We conduct Periscope and Facebook Live chats with fans twice a week during the regular season, but nothing in-person. Is that something you guys would be interested in?

Kyle from Los Angeles, CA

Approximately how many hours do you gentlemen work during a standard offseason week versus during the season? Do either or both of you physically go in on Saturdays before training camp? My thanks to you and the other workers for the yearlong coverage and content!

I work as long as I must to do the job right. If you have time to count your hours, then you're not working hard enough.

Take a look back and celebrate the anniversary of Super Bowl II, when the Green Bay Packers defeated the Oakland Raiders, 33-14.

Mike from Mount Prospect, IL

Gentlemen, with James Campen moving on after so many years, care to share a memory of the man? He coached so well for so long, I wish him all the best in Cleveland.

Along with being a brilliant coach, James Campen is one of the most decent and generous individuals I've encountered in this business. He lives in my neck of the woods and we happened to run into each other at a local pizzeria during my first year with the Packers. While waiting for my pizza, Campy asked me some really introspective questions about how things were going and how I was enjoying the new job. Since then, the man went well out of his way to make me feel welcome within these walls. That meant the world to me. I respect the hell out of him.

Autumn from Alexander City, AL

What's it like being at a game in the snow?

Even if your favorite team is in a warm-weather climate, I highly recommend putting a December game at Lambeau Field on your bucket list. There's nothing like it.

Gary from Hope Mills, NC

I think I might have to hire a new head coach because I've submitted questions all year but fell flat in getting posted like the Packers did in getting to the playoffs. So I'm starting interviews today. All II readers are welcome to apply and so are you, Mike and Wes. Hopefully I can get a good coach, so I can make the Inbox.

All the best in your search.

Scott from Richland Center, WI

Prediction for Packers' upcoming season?