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Inbox: You can feel the momentum building

This toolbox has everything a defensive coordinator could want

Packers WR Christian Watson

George from North Mankato, MN

With the release of the full schedule tonight, is there anything the NFL could do that would shock you?

Go back to 16 regular-season games.

Steve from Ankeny, IA

It will be interesting to see the reaction Mike McCarthy gets when the 'Boys come to town!

I expect it'll be a positive reaction. He certainly deserves it. Mike accomplished so many great things in Green Bay and built a football team Packers fans can be proud of. He ran his program with integrity. It'll be great to see him back at Lambeau Field and get the respect he so richly deserves.

Chris from New Canaan, CT

The narrative surrounding Dallas-Green Bay will be focused on McCarthy's return to Lambeau. That's fine and worthy, however, the narrative is much bigger – it's about an historic rivalry and so many spectacular moments over the years. The Ice Bowl, Dez and the "no catch," (it was definitely not a catch, BTW), and my favorite, the "We drew the play up in the dirt" episode out-route pass from AR12 to Jared Cook at the boundary setting Mason Crosby up for the walk-off. Epic stuff ... epic ...

That playoff game in Dallas is still my all-time favorite on the beat. Green Bay and McCarthy will comprise most of the headlines that week, but the reality is this is a game between two perennial contenders with Super Bowl aspirations. If both teams stay healthy, it's a matchup that could weigh heavily into the playoff equation. That's the real story.

Michael from Santa Cruz, CA

I recently read a Devonte Wyatt/Warren Sapp comp (grain of salt) and it got me thinking about pass rush. Do you think there is potential for this year's pass rush to exceed the best units our D has had in the last 30-plus years (I'd probably put Clay/Cullen and Reggie/Bryce at the top during that time)? I foresee third downs where Wyatt and Kenny Clark are both lined up at tackle, Preston Smith and Rashan Gary flying off the edge and both De'Vondre Campbell and Quay Walker jumping around the LOS pre-snap, disguising their intentions. Look out!

The potential is there, for sure. This is the deepest defensive line the Packers have had on paper since I started covering the team. But you can't meld Super Bowl rings from potential. You have to earn it. I do like the one-on-one possibilities the depth creates, though. We haven't talked to Joe Barry yet but I'm sure he's thrilled. This toolbox has everything a defensive coordinator could want.

Jeffrey from Sioux Falls, SD

Love hearing the comments about Christian Watson from NDSU. An interesting fact showing proof positive that scouts in the NFL look everywhere for prospects begins with five players being drafted from the same conference including NDSU (2), South Dakota State U (2), and U of North Dakota (1). The more interesting part is that is the same number of players that were drafted from the Power 5 schools of Florida State (1), Florida (3), and Miami (1).

It's a new dawn in college football. Major FCS programs have been doing a fantastic job at identifying and developing under-the-radar talent into legitimate NFL prospects. I think we're only at the beginning of that wave, too. You can feel the momentum building.

Steven from Oak Creek, WI

Looking ahead at the upcoming 2022-23 NFL season, is it possible that Christian Watson can pull a Ja'Marr Chase and have a breakout season in his first year on the Packers, or does he need time to develop and understand our offensive schemes we have put in place before he can become a full-time starter?

There's no question these college receivers are often further ahead of their predecessors when it comes to making an instant impact in the NFL, but Chase and Justin Jefferson are generational talents. It's hard to hold any incoming rookie to that standard. The Packers drafted Christian Watson for a reason. He just needs to be himself, learn the playbook and be ready when his number is called.

Matt from Irvine, CA

In response to Matthias from San Antonio on football movies that are "rewatchable," I would have to put "The Replacements" at the top of my football movies list. Wes/Mike, how would you compare Christian Watson to Romeo Doubs with the time you have been able to see them on the field? I think Doubs could surprise a lot of people and have more success (at least initially) than Watson.

They're completely different receivers. Watson is a long-strider who is lightning quick off the line of scrimmage. Doubs isn't quite as fast but has an obvious knack for creating separation. He had more catches than anyone during rookie camp. While the two might not be similar on the scouting report, it is exciting to think what the Packers might have if both Watson and Doubs can play. It would set this offense up for years to come.

Thomas from Madison, WI

For all the questions and comments surrounding whether the Packers have a No. 1 receiver, how about this: Someone will inevitably have the most catches, yards, or TDs at the end of the year.

It's funny how that works, isn't it?

Jerry from Des Moines, IA

I'll be interested to see how the OL takes shape this training camp. I understand every position is earned, but based on last year's performances is RG and RT Royce Newman's and Yosh Nijman's jobs to lose? (Assuming Bakh is good to go at LT and EJ starts the season on PUP.)

I wouldn't go that far. It's going to be a real competition for those spots, especially with Zach Tom and Sean Rhyan here now. I expect we'll see offensive linemen moving around quite a bit throughout the offseason program and the early portion of training camp. These coaches want to see how much those young men can handle. May the best men win.

Paul from Wichita, KS

Regarding the talk about Aaron Rodgers being a game manager later in his career. Aren't all quarterbacks a game manager regardless of age? The quarterback has the ball in his hands every down, so he better manage the game. The top request from a traditional game manager is don't turn the ball over. In that respect, Aaron Rodgers is the best all time. Do you feel as he ages, he would turn the ball over more, or from gained experience he would turn the ball over less or at current levels?

Rodgers ain't turning the ball over today, tomorrow or five years from now. If he plays well into his 40s, Rodgers undoubtedly will adjust his playstyle in some ways – but compromising ball security won't be one of them.

Bubba from Kenosha, WI

When Raven Greene got hurt DC Pettine had to abandon a scheme because his skill set was unique. Fast forward: "It's been a while since we've been able to stay in certain packages with two inside 'backers and handle everything in run defense and the passing game," Gutekunst said. When, not if, Walker or Campbell get hurt unless we have a third LB with their skill set, this scheme may have to be abandoned. Could Tariq Carpenter fill this role and have way more value than on first appearance?

I'm sure the Packers will have a backup plan in place. They may need to do some things a little differently but having Krys Barnes available on run downs and some flexibility at safety will help the nickel defense. Carpenter has a very unique set of skills, but he is still a rookie seventh-round pick. We need to keep our feet on the ground a little here.

Kelly from Stoughton, WI

I pondered this question as I was ousted in the first round of my "Madden" league but think it translates. Lot of talk of depth at safety/CB/edge. As we saw last year, no one can project where you will need the depth. Joe Barry's "base" defense is a 3-4 but what does that even mean anymore? With it being a "passing league," aren't most teams finding the best 11 guys (dime, etc.) and adapting their defense to that or are teams still working off a "base"? Any chance Elon buys II so we can get more charac

They really are, Kelly. Even Barry's base defense has like five different variations, including a 4-3 look. It's not just base, nickel and dime anymore. There are sub-packages within packages now. That's why the depth the Packers have built on defense is so integral to the overall vision. Because if everyone stays healthy, Barry has a bevy of options to choose from when building gameplans. If the Packers are beat up a little, then they have Plan B, C and D ready.

Dan from Cross Plains, WI

What would we expect to see with an improved special teams? Obviously last year was so terrible it was easily visible how that unit cost us an important game, with struggles shown during the regular season too. Is it as simple as, don't lose us the game? Or is it something more measurable such as return yards/TDs and penalty yardage?

Breakdowns were more the issue last year than penalties. I think it comes down to players understanding their responsibilities and building the rest up from there. It's getting back to basics. For example, big returns are fun, but let's get guys fielding kickoffs and punts cleanly first.

Geoffrey from Rosemount, MN

NFL Network showed Nathaniel Hackett running around trying to get his guy going, like a lot of coaches do. Does a 42-year-old man running around in May really get elite athletes in their early to mid-20s going? Seems silly to me, though I understand the guy is trying to make an impression as the new guy in town. Also, I'm sure the three yards has meaning to a guy like Davante Adams if it has a contract incentive tied to it.

Hackett is trying to build a culture, Geoffrey. The Broncos hired Nathaniel Hackett to be their head coach and that's what he's giving 'em. I can't help but respect that.

Max from Arlington, VA

I was pleasantly surprised to see that prior to the 2021 college season PFF had Tre Sterling ranked as a top 50 college player. Unfortunately, Tre had a rough 2021 season due to a rather unique injury situation. With a similar body type to Jaire Alexander, Tre is one I am rooting for to make the practice squad and develop with Coach OG and our stud DB room. Are there any other 90-man guys you think could emerge from a down/quiet 2021 year to make the PS or 53?

It's wild how prevalent wrist injuries can be for safeties. Carpenter went through something at Georgia Tech. Sterling made a lot of sense, especially given the Packers' track record of finding undrafted NFL safeties. The competition is wide open behind Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage, so Sterling will have a good opportunity to show what he can do. I still have high hopes for Kabion Ento. The Packers have invested a lot of time into his conversion from receiver to cornerback. He had the coverage aspect down last summer but tackling seemed to be that last hurdle.

Larry from Sheboygan, WI

What can you tell us about Caleb Jones, listed at 6-9, 370 pounds? Do they have a big enough uniform?

My first impression was Jones reminds me a lot of Yosh Nijman – and not just because he's tall. Jones seems to move well for a man of his size. We gotta get the pads on this summer to see how Jones moves in his stance, but both he and Oregon's George Moore caught my eye last weekend.

Christopher from Frederick, MD

First, I would just like to thank both of you for your quality of journalism. Second, are there any other sports journalists who you would like to shout out for having similar journalistic integrity?

Pete Dougherty. He's the most ethical reporter I worked with. He's fearless, fair and uncompromising. I couldn't have asked for a better learning tree to study beneath during my first 10 years as a writer.

Rob from Prospect, KY

As far as football movies worth more than a lone watch, how can you leave out "The Longest Yard"? The original, of course. Ray Nitschke was so good as Bogdanski.


Tom from Phoenix, AZ

As far as football movies go, don't you think "The Express" ranks up there in the top three?

Baseball/Kevin Costner movies are king, but many excellent football movies have been made. "The Express" is definitely one of them in addition to Spoff's pick "Remember the Titans," "Invincible," "Jerry Maguire," "The Replacements," "We Are Marshall," …and obviously "Draft Day." They're all rewatchable on "Any Given Sunday."

Scott from Downs, IL

There have to be days when you look at all of the II questions, roll your eyes and say "ugh"…When that happens, do you still pick the "least ugh-ish" (sorry Spoff) for the day? Or go back to previous questions? Or walk out onto Lombardi Avenue to solicit questions from passers-by?

It's like walking up to the all-you-can-eat buffet before close. You scan the counter and make the best of a bad situation.

Bryce from Lorain, OH

If you could build a Super Bowl championship team using key players from Green Bay's previous Super Bowl championship teams, who would be some of the key players that you would pick?

I would have to think about that. We should do an exercise for Outbox this year where we build a 53-man roster of the Packers' four Super Bowl teams. Obviously we need to have a "pound-for-pound" element to it but could be fun.

Joe from Swansea, IL

Sorry, but I think Spoff failed to mention the most obvious and most important change in the NFL in 30 years. He and Ma Hod's son may – I emphasize may – not be staffing the Inbox then. We'll all be the sorrier for that, but such is life. Oh, also: That Brady fellow may finally be retired.

Spoff and I may not be spilling ink 30 years from now…but at least we'll have laser goalposts to show for it.


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