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Inbox: You have to plant those seeds to grow the game

There’s a good culture in place and the locker room is ready to build on that


Mike from El Dorado, WI

No question, just finished the most recent Matt LaFleur conference and am in awe of his class. At the end, not only congratulating a member of the media, but just knowing that it was his last go just shows the type of man he is. Thank you.

That was a very classy gesture by LaFleur to acknowledge longtime WTAQ/WNFL radio personality Mark Daniels, who's retiring from the beat after 45 seasons. On a personal level, Mark has been such an incredible friend dating back to my days at the Green Bay Press-Gazette. I'm pretty sure he's also the last remaining media member in this area with whom I worked the preps beat. Spoff and I both wish Mark well in his next chapter.

Tom from Baraga, MI

Morning Insiders. I agree with both Mark from Cape Coral, FL, and Dale from Fenton, MI. I am 65 years old and have always been a Packers fan. I bought my one share of stock, which I am very proud of. I also love your work for and II and read it every day, thank you. I have always been a Packers fan and the only time I will watch another team (Lions, Bears and Vikings) is if the outcome directly relates to GB. Right or wrong, I am very excited to see our team play this year. GPG

You're not wrong. It's a salient point. Sometimes the non-Packers games with huge Packers implications are the most entertaining to watch.

Chris from Waukesha, WI

The 2023 Packer offense grew over the season to become one of the better offenses in the league without having an individual receiver get close to 1,000 yards. If the 2024 offense continues to develop, I think it's likely at least one receiver will amass 1,000 yards. But is that as necessary for success as fans and pundits think it is? Individual desires aside, going further in the postseason seems equally likely whether or not any one receiver tops 1,000 yards.

There are bad teams with 1,000-yard wideouts every season. Meanwhile, the reigning Super Bowl champion didn't have a single one. Having a 1,000-yard receiver is a positive watermark for a football team because it reflects consistency and health, but that's really it. Wins are ultimately decided by how your team performs, not just your pass-catchers.

Steve from Hurricane, UT

I don't know enough about healing from these pectoral injuries/surgeries. You would think it will at least keep these players from working out. Have you any indication from the team or watching, how long it is going to take for these guys to catch back up to where they were before they got hurt? Are they losing ground on the rest of the guys at least from a competition standpoint?

I'm not concerned. Zach Tom and Tucker Kraft are still young guys, but they've played a lot of big-time ball. Tom has seen more than 1,500 offensive snaps the past two years. Also, it's OTAs. There are no pads or contact drills. Tom and Kraft have been here the whole time, learning the subtle changes within the offense.

Paul from Winnebago, IL

I'm not a big fan of playing outside of the U.S. Most of the fields are makeshift football fields and have led to some players getting hurt; not that official NFL fields haven't. It seems we are moving more and more games out of their home markets. Will we get to a point where every team has at least one game outside of the U.S.?

I don't know if I necessarily agree with that. There were some issues in Canada in Mexico in the past, but most of these international markets have popular soccer teams and state-of-the-art fields. I don't think it'll ever get to a point where the Packers play an international game every year but that is the direction the NFL, and really all pro sports, are heading. You have to plant those seeds to grow the game.

Jim from De Pere, WI

Greetings Insider Inbox. In your "Packers Unscripted: OTA observations," you described a vibe within the team and a hunger in the practice you were able to watch. Is this vibe or hunger the highest it has been in your years covering the Packers?

I mean, it was pretty dang high after 2014 and 2020, too, but what makes this group different is the wide-open window the Packers have with such a young team. There's a good culture in place and the locker room is ready to build on that.

Keith from Springfield, MO

Is there any evidence that NFL is the most unpredictable professional sport? It seems to me that the unpredictable nature of the game makes it the most exciting professional sport. I doubt if any playoff scenario can ensure that a team with a poorer record may not win playoff games. Brett Favre said there is no such thing as an easy game in the NFL supporting that on "any given Sunday..."

I'm not sure how you tangibly measure unpredictability, but it definitely feels that way having covered the league for more than a decade. While the Packers were riding high entering the playoffs, I think precious few people outside of Wisconsin gave them much of a shot against the Dallas Cowboys. The playoffs often come down to simply having a chip and chair.

Rudy from Rhinelander, WI

I think I heard Coach LaFleur refer to Carrington Valentine as "C.V." Is that his nickname within the team? He sure came out of nowhere as a seventh-round pick to be a solid contributor. I hope he continues to develop. I love stories of underdogs becoming "Big Dogs."

Correct, Valentine's nickname in the locker room is "C.V." That's not to be confused with Corey Ballentine, whose nickname is "C.B." Others with first names that start with a "C" but have yet to claim a nickname include Christian Watson and Colby Wooden (C.W. or C-Dub), Christian Young (C.Y.), and Caleb Jones (C.J.).

Gavin from Albuquerque, NM

Responding to people who only watch Packers games, I appreciate your statement that people have priorities, and many don't have time to watch other games. I am in the club of having a wife who is an avid fan of the Cowboys and we both enjoy sitting down to watch 3-4 games each week. I second your response that the rest of the league is facing the same challenges and problems that the Packers face and that this causes undue angst in those who don't know. The parity is apparent to those who know.

Spoff couldn't have been more right in his response to Richard on Wednesday. When you follow one team like most Packers fans, you think everything that happens is unique to your squad. That's rarely the case. Every fall, all 32 teams face the same perilous journey through murky waters. In the end, only 14 survive to play in the fabled second season.

Brian from Sugar Land, TX

The question of WR money is not simply supply and demand. It's the allocation of money expended under the cap. Expectations are that the cap will grow to the sky, so why worry. The cap still dictates short term personnel actions. QBs take 25-plus% of a team's cap space. Other positions demand premium pay – edge and LT for example. Kickers are difference-makers and get paid a pittance – $6 mil tops. Young players are cheap. Who gets the money after the QBs, and a few premier players grab the bulk?

Maybe it's an antiquated way of looking at football, but it's still about quarterbacks, left tackles, cornerbacks, and pass rushers to me. The game has evolved, but it's still all about who touches the ball and impacts the key players touching the ball.

Scott from Tukwila, WA

Greetings II. What, if any, impact do you foresee impacting NFL salaries now that NCAA players will be eligible for compensation?

I don't think it'll have too big of an impact. Maybe it'll have an effect on Tim Tebow-type players who are collegiate stars but maybe not tailormade for the next level. Maybe a few of those will choose to stick around an extra year. But at the end of the day, the earning potential is so much greater in the NFL than college.

Brent from Santa Maria, CA

I just wanted to chime in on the downsides of automated officiating and why the NFL might be dragging their feet. I read a great article entitled "Turns out robot umpires have one big flaw: They're too perfect." Apparently, fans really enjoy watching, complaining, and debating about what they see as "flawed" officiating. I'm sure the NFL is worried fans may become less engaged in the broadcast if there was no need to watch the replays and weigh in what they think they saw.

I can't think of a time where I ever "enjoyed" watching flawed officiating. I personally feel subjectivity in the NFL is a prevalent issue. If there's technology that can help, I'm all for it. Because there are too many times when officials in the league office have to shrug their shoulders and move onto the next play.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, Anders Carlson is facing adversity and competition in such a positive way, displaying resiliency, honesty, and maturity in his interaction with the press. Do Packers players and coaches receive training in how to deal with the press or are their responses a natural reflection of their true character?

Anders has a calmness about him. Now that could be a product of him coming from a kicking family or just his overall personality, but Carlson has tackled any adversity he's faced head on. Even after what happened in the playoffs, Carlson was neither chippy nor defensive with the media in the postgame locker room. That will serve him well as he progresses in his NFL career.

Edward from Canton, SD

Good article on Anders Carlson Wednesday. He did not lose the game with the 49ers by himself. If he made the late FG, I like the home team in OT. Plus, if the coach had chosen the FG instead of the failed "Love shove," which l think, for the 2024 season, that AJ Dillon should take the snap, with Love split out as a WR so no sub, two tight ends behind him to push. Also, if Love and the offense take the ball from the 23 late and score!

It's never one person. Not in this sport. Football is a lottery machine of variables.

Doug from Neenah, WI

Good morning. Why do you suppose the Packers sign their later-round draft choices first and leave the top picks for last while other teams do the opposite? Thanks.

The higher the pick, the more complicated the negotiations – especially as it relates to guaranteed money. Again, it's all relative compared to how rookie deals were once negotiated 15 years ago.

Dale from Prescott, WI

With all the defensive players' comments on having to read and react with the last scheme, it appears this new scheme is what's needed to defend the modern offense, with all the motion and audibles.

Less thinking, more doing. The Packers have many premium athletes on the defensive side of the ball. Let them cook.

Joe from Hampshire, IL

Wes, really enjoyed Packers After Dark learning insider insight about sports coverage. You said your first chances to travel overseas were London and Brazil. For you and readers waiting for retirement vacation trips to explore overseas, I would implore you to do it while younger. Traveling gets harder on the body, and extensive walking/hiking is the best way to learn other cultures. It takes more than a long weekend to truly appreciate a foreign country experience.

Thanks for checking it out, Joe. I give Tyler grief, but he's one of my favorite humans. While you're not wrong about vacations, I am a bit of a homebody who doesn't enjoy everything that comes with destination trips. I also get my fill of traveling throughout the course of an NFL season. Now I'm not comparing Orchard Park, N.Y., in December to the Bahamas in June, but there is an opportunity cost associated with those flights, hotel stays, and quick turnarounds to another workweek. When the season ends, I kind of want to lay down for a minute. Now, I should report I am engaged in preliminary discussions with a friend of mine to take a trip to Japan in the next few years. As a lifelong Pokemon fan and "Lost In Translation" enthusiast, I have Japan high on my bucket list.

Steve from Lampson, WI

Hey Wes! I am a huge fan of Kenny Clark. It is amazing that he has been around for this long and is still so young. I really hope this scheme change allows him to use his natural ability to be even more disruptive. That being said, his contract is coming up and he has a lot of wear on those big tires. Do you think a deal gets done? Would he have to take a hometown discount to finish where he started?

I offer no predictions, but I'm pulling for Clark to get a third contract in Green Bay. He's a leader, difference-maker and someone who exemplifies Packers football. Still only 28, Clark understands this is a pivotal year for him.

Jordan from Osterdock, IA

Responding to David from Hahira, GA, about holographic helmet projectors. We chuckle about that stuff, but I have a buddy who was a grad assistant at an FCS school, and they were working whether it was possible, and within the rules, to put a visor in each players' helmet and send in plays visually. The QB gets the whole play, OL sees the blocking assignments, WRs get the route tree, etc. From my understanding, they were told by a rules committee it was illegal, so they didn't pursue it.

I beginning to feel like Ed Tom Bell talking to Cousin Ellis at the end of "No Country for Old Men." I feel overmatched with all these technological advances. Fortunately, I'm just a beat hack and not a coach.

Don from Marshfield, WI

Hi guys! Do you know if the Bebe Rexha show will be on TV or radio stations? Thanks!

Nope, but it is live and free in Titletown. I'll be there.

Jeff from Indian Lake, NY

Hello to all my fellow Insiders and our fearless leaders, Spoff and Hod. It's been a while since I sent in a question. I know the dead zone doesn't start until after mandatory minicamp but maybe I got started a little early. So, for lack of a better question, how's everyone doing?

I'm going golfing with Pa Hod today…so pretty darn good in this neck of the woods. Have a great rest of your weekend, everyone.

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