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Inbox: You can never go wrong with homegrown talent

The best offenses don’t shy from taking high-reward chances

RB Aaron Jones
RB Aaron Jones

Al from Green Bay, WI

The NFL game moves at lightning speed, and quarterbacks have so much to process from the snap of the ball to the whistle. I would suggest that any QB who has a single thought about their own statistics during those brief moments is not going to succeed. Fair?

And that is why the man is a finalist for Inbox MVP.

Bil from Stateline, NV

Watching film of Lukas Van Ness, one thing I can say he has. Game face. Rather reminds me of JJ Watt in that respect. If I were an O-lineman lining up against a mountain of a man with that determined look on his face, I would seriously question what I had gotten myself into. Is he as intense off the field, or is that reserved for game day?

He's the type of guy you want leading your team off the bus. The kid just looks like an NFL football player. One of my favorite quotes from that profile I wrote on LVN last week was Iowa defensive line coach Kelvin Bell's quip about how Van Ness would've been at Ohio State or Alabama if he looked like he does now as a senior in high school. He's a late-blooming blue-chipper and now he's a Green Bay Packer.

Mike from Baraboo, WI

Do you anticipate that Lukas Van Ness will be a rotational player, or will he have more of a consistent presence on defense in a variety of positions?


Jared from Stuttgart, Germany

I was talking with a colleague of mine the other day and he mentioned a statistic that was interesting. He read somewhere about the percentage of players on the Packers' roster drafted by the Packers being higher than other teams. I did a quick scan of position groups in my head and quickly agreed. Does that check out? Do we have more homegrown talent than most teams?

I'm not going to run through the entire NFL, but that also would be my hypothesis. Nearly half of the Packers' offseason roster comprises former draft picks (43 out of 90), while another dozen or so players signed their first NFL contract with Green Bay as college free agents. This recent salary cap pinch has shifted the Packers back to their roots, which isn't a bad thing. History has proven you can never go wrong with homegrown talent.

Brendyn from Howard, WI

Realistically, how do you feel going into the season? Is this team really full-swing rebuilding or is it more of a reset with an infusion of youth and replacing one (all-time great) player? I don't see this team being that far off from the playoffs again.

Once and for all, I proclaim this team is not rebuilding – at least not in the traditional sense of the word. I understand what David Bakhtiari was saying in terms of trading a generational talent like Aaron Rodgers. That is a massive transaction, but the Packers also didn't cut a single veteran this offseason. To me, rebuilding is when you tear down the structure of a team and start over. Outside of the QB position, the Packers' foundation is still very much intact.

Darren from Wakefield, MI

Hi Wes. What can be done to utilize the middle of the field more? We talk about slot receivers and TEs, and as Joshua from MKE mentioned with the defense's hands more tied, it seems there should be more for the taking. There's no Chuck Cecils out there anymore.

Attacking the middle of the field is a mentality. The Packers have brought in several rookies who can help infiltrate that area, but ultimately it comes down to the offensive philosophy and risk tolerance. Occasionally, a QB will throw late across the middle and a turnover will occur. It's just how many first downs and touchdowns happen in between. The best offenses don't shy from taking high-reward chances.

Joel from York, NE

Looking at Jordan Love, I feel something we should be talking about more is how the number of interceptions this season could dramatically increase. This isn't a ding against Love! Rather, it's Aaron Rodgers setting a historic standard. Love could be the next Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, or Brett Favre, and interceptions could still more than double compared to what we've had in the recent past. In what other ways has Aaron Rodgers spoiled us that might initially disturb fans?

Interceptions will happen, but you gotta make the defense work for its takeaways. You can't give anything away. Love and the Packers must steer clear of the avoidable mistakes such as throwing across the middle, locking onto receivers and making premediated decisions with the football.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

On the subject of the worst Packer losses, I've been watching the Packers for more than 60 years and all that have been mentioned in the Inbox rank high on that list, as do others. However, they're all competing for second place on that dubious list. A certain playoff game that cannot be mentioned will forever hold that distinction in my nightmares.

You know which game randomly sticks in my craw for no apparent reason? The Packers losing to New England, 17-16, in 1994. It's one of the first games I remember watching as a child. Green Bay blew a 10-0 lead, Chris Jacke missed an extra point and Matt Bahr hit a 33-yard field goal with 4 seconds left to win it. That was the first time I remember being legitimately ticked off by a football game. I think I was 6.

Christopher from Stratford Upon Avon, UK

There's been a lot of talk about devastating losses and great victories in the dead zone, but has anyone mentioned the Walter Stanley Thanksgiving game in November 1986? I listened on Armed Forces Network in the UK and couldn't believe my ears. What a fourth quarter! This may be a bit early for both of you, but does Cliff have clear memories of this?

I was nothing more than particles back then, anxiously awaiting my parents to piece me together. I will take your word for it, though. I do have a signed Walter Stanley rookie card…so I have that going for me.

Danny from Potosi, WI

You said earlier you think the 2014 team would've won the Super Bowl had we gotten past Seattle. I've often struggled with that. We beat the Patriots earlier that year, but to beat Tom Brady and Bill Belichick twice in the same season is tough. What was it about that team that makes you think we would've done it?

The 2014 team had it all. Rodgers won MVP for a second time. Jordy Nelson, Eddie Lacy, and Randall Cobb all had career years. The offensive line started all but one Week 2 game together. Defensively, Clay Matthews moving inside was the missing piece for the unit. I feel strongly the Packers were the best team in the NFL that season, which was highlighted by a win over New England at Lambeau Field that'll go down as one of Mike McCarthy's finest in 13 years as head coach.

Andrew from Burke, VA

Regarding lack of Pro Bowl kickers, I think circumstances need to be considered. Kicking in Lambeau is significantly different than kicking in a dome and going for it on fourth might look better than attempting a 54-yarder in the cold. Also, with so much QB success, I'm guessing Packer kickers have kicked a lot more extra points than your average Pro Bowl kicker. To top it off, kicker isn't a flashy position, so bias probably leads to who has the most 50-plus yarders first. Am I missing anything?

Sure, but also only two kickers go to the Pro Bowl every year and rarely does one of those two drop out due to injury. It's a tough, tough field to crack.

Clem from La Crosse, WI

Wow! Loved the pic at the top of yesterday’s Inbox. Imagine being the offensive player trying to make a tackle and seeing that coming at him. What game was that from?

Miami. Boy, that second half was one for the ages.

Jon from Andover, MN

I read a comment in the Inbox about Brian Gutekunst and this youth movement he's planning for the future. I would reason he's actually been on this path for a while. Drafting first-round defensive talent for years speaks of a GM planning for the eventual non-Aaron Rodgers Packers, and the need to support a young QB with a strong defense. I haven't always agreed with or liked the moves Gutekunst has made, but I'm starting to think I might have been playing checkers (from my armchair), while he was playing 3D chess.

Respectfully, that's how it should be. Fans and media often forget the future while reacting to the present (See: Adams, Davante circa 2015), while GMs must see the future without being too reactionary to the present.

James from Chicago, IL

There are also close losses in the Rodgers era where the offense actually scored and took the lead on the final offensive possession, but the defense couldn't close the deal. I seem to recall a game against Atlanta that ended that way.

It's all, never one. Always.

Jeff from Ripon, WI

When is the last time Detroit finished first in the division and the Packers finished last?

It's never happened. The Lions have only won four division titles in their history (1993, 1991, 1983 and 1935). Detroit won the NFC Central in 1991 with a 12-4 record, but the 4-12 Packers were bailed out from finishing last in the division by 3-13 Tampa Bay.

Bret from Hertel, WI

Dear Wes or Mike, have you ever run into a Packers player on a vacation or trip by just chance? Thanks! Bret.

No. I'm guessing my idea of a vacation doesn't necessarily align with that of a 20-something professional football player. I did run into Tim Masthay once at the Barnes & Noble in Appleton. That was kinda humorous.

Doug from Neenah, WI

Good morning, Wes. Would Gilbert Brown's "Gravedigger" celebration even be legal in today's game, or would it be considered taunting or excessive or both?

I think it would still be legal. Personally, I find "The Gravedigger" celly to be quicker and less audacious than let's say, Za'Darius Smith's.

Karen from South Beloit, IL

I'm an hour and a half from Chicago, which has recently had the worst air quality in the world due to the Canadian wildfires. How is the air in Green Bay? Are you staying indoors? Are any team members still in the area working out at Lambeau?

I spent way too much time outside over the weekend and learned my lesson. The headache finally subsided yesterday. Jaire Alexander said he was going to be in town during the break, but I don't know if anyone else stuck around.

Tony from Davenport, IA

Wes, you said that you bought your father a professional sports team. My son did that for me two Christmases ago. When I was unwrapping (tearing the paper off) the present and realized what it was, I think I was more excited than Ralphie was with his Red Ryder BB gun! Without a doubt, the best Christmas gift ever. GPG!

It drew an unforgettable reaction from Pa Hod.

Michael from Pound, WI

Gents, with dead zone submissions not being mandatory, I prefer to train on my own in contemplation, hypothesis and humor techniques, perfecting my craft. As a seasoned vet I know what works the best for me. I routinely use the II facility to study, train, and review submissions all in the hopes of being a better submitter, person, and teammate. I believe I will be better in 2023 than I was last year. I just want to stack my successes and continue to improve each and every day.

The goal of every Inbox reader should be to get one submission better every day. OK, folks. The time has come. Here are your questions for the 2023 Outsider Inbox. Responses will be posted, in order, from July 3-7. If you want the best shot at getting posted, I suggest being thoughtful in your responses and not submitting one-word answers. Yes, I know there's a 500-character limit. No, that won't change for OI. If you want to answer multiple questions, then send multiple posts. Problem solved. I will peruse responses next week, but submissions sent Thursday and Friday take precedent.

1. What is the most meaningful/unique piece of Packers memorabilia you own? (It can be valuable, but the emphasis is on meaningfulness and uniqueness. I'd rather hear about the napkin Bart Starr signed for your grandpa than the autographed football you won at Sizzler).

2. Which Packers game (non-Super Bowl/NFL Championship) would you watch live in-person?

3. Who is the greatest Packers ambassador, alive or departed?

4. Have you ever pushed back an event or plans with significant others, family, or friends because of a Packers game? If so, please explain.

5. Which NFL player did you want to see most on the Packers? Did it ever happen? (Editor's note: I marked out in 2002 when the Packers signed Ki-Jana Carter).

6. What is the goofiest thing you've done to celebrate a Packers victory?

7. Who is your all-time favorite "niche" Packers player? (This question includes jerseys of lesser-known former Packers, Dar)

8. Has your Packers fandom ever gotten you into hot water? If so, please explain.

9. Where is the strangest place you've ever run into a fellow Packers fan?

10. What is your favorite mantra/slogan for an Insider Inbox bumper sticker?

11. What are you looking forward to most about the 2023 Packers season?

12. Who is your pick for 2022-23 Inbox MVP? (Voting runs midnight Thursday through midnight Monday) The nominees are Al from Green Bay, Derek from Eau Claire, Dean from Leavenworth and TK from Grafton.

There you have it, folks. Talk to you Saturday.

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