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Inbox: You never know which direction the road will bend

Once again, the sky is the limit for the Packers’ passing game

RB Josh Jacobs
RB Josh Jacobs

Al from Green Bay, WI

The NFC North: The Packers are clearly on the rise given the way they ended the season, their FA acquisitions, and their draft capital. The Lions are on the rise as they fell just short of a Super Bowl berth. The Bears are on the rise given their free-agent movement and wealth of draft capital. While the Vikings lost Kirk Cousins, they also have great draft capital and will likely draft their QB of the future next month. Which of these teams will improve the most in 2024?

The Packers. Detroit will again be a top contender in the NFC but is veteran-laden and coming off a 12-win season. Meanwhile, Minnesota and Chicago have serious QB questions to answer before I can earnestly prognosticate improvement for either team. I see Green Bay as the NFC North squad with the most meaningful room for growth.

Jeff from Victorville, CA

Hello Wes! So, after your demand Kenny Clark not leave, he will tell his agent about it, and I guess we can now consider KC a lifelong Packer! Thank you for that! With that type of clout if given the choice, who would you tell the NFL schedule makers to matchup with the Packers Week 1? Day and time?

The Packers haven't opened against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field since 2001. It is time (and make it primetime).

Bruce from Appleton, WI

How do you think the added presence of Xavier McKinney will help the secondary?

Whenever Jeff Hafley wants to play one-high safety, he has a rangy and instinctive ball hawk roaming centerfield. A safety like that opens up so many different avenues for a defense, let alone a secondary.

Yotam from Atlit, Israel

In regards to Eric from Woodbury's question about recent QB drafts (lack of) success across the NFL, it's important to remember that most of those unsuccessful QBs were thrown into the deep end, while Jordan Love had three years to learn behind Aaron Rodgers. If GB had chosen someone else and he had three learning years, might he be the big success and Love one more "bust?" No one can tell, but his game against the Chiefs a couple of years ago suggests it's entirely possible.

That's a world we'll never live in, my friend. All I know is the Packers have a process when it comes to developing quarterbacks and it's proven.

Mary Ann from Black Mountain, NC

I am so pleased that the Packers could find terms acceptable to AJ Dillon. A great man for the team and the community. Do you think he will receive more touches behind Josh Jacobs than he did behind Aaron Jones?

It remains to be seen how the Packers will use Jacobs, but he's the textbook definition of a bell cow. He averaged 300 touches per season during his five seasons with the Raiders. Regardless of how the snaps shake out, it is good to see Dillon back in Green Bay. He's durable, dependable and a great locker-room guy. His return also means the Packers aren't locked into drafting a running back next month if the value isn't there. Brian Gutekunst likes options.

Vinny from Arlington, VA

First Impressions: Not only are McKinney and Jacobs very talented, but they seem to be of high character and fit into Packer People.... I do feel for Jacobs having to come in after Jones, who was so beloved by the players, coaches, and fans.

Jacobs will be just fine. He's dealt with high expectations his entire career as a former first-round pick who played in Tuscaloosa.

Dale from Port Washington, WI

The NFL silly season. Not a question, but it's a good thing gambling isn't allowed in Bushwood. Aaron Jones a Viking and AJ Dillon a Packer: nobody would have won that bet. Thanks for keeping us updated on everything.

You never know which direction the road will bend. That's how the NFL keeps you on the edge of your seat at every turn.

Ken from New York, NY

After watching the Josh Jacobs highlight video, I find myself wondering if we're going to see our first Lambeau Leap into the luxury suites.

I like what Jacobs told our broadcast team when asked about his playstyle – "I like to feel like it's chess. I might try to run a guy over one time and then try to make him miss the next time." You see that on the film. The broken tackles are eye-catching, but Jacobs also can beat defenders with his speed and quickness. He's a five-tool back one season removed from leading the NFL in rushing yards.

Michael from Shawano, WI

Gents, watching replays of Davante Adams' thought process for leaving reminds me that even if the reasoning was sound, outcomes in life may not be. It also made think about what I saw at the end of last year with multiple GB weapons on the field at one time and a QB having multiple options to pick from. With absolutely no shade thrown towards a great receiver, I believe this is the closest I've seen to being a better "team" without player "X" than with, especially if there is growth in WR room.

One of the points I hammered home after Adams was traded is Green Bay needed to replace his production in the aggregate, no one specific player. It didn't happen overnight, but the Packers cleared that path forward with youth, athleticism, and versatility. Now, once again, the sky is the limit for the Packers' passing game.

Mike from Ames, IA

When talking about the inside linebacker situation, I've seen a lot of talking heads specify that Kristian Welch is "only" a special-teams guy and "not someone we'll see on defense." Surely the Packers don't feel that way, right? I can't imagine an NFL team signing someone (other than a K/P/LS/Devin Hester) and thinking there's no way they can help the team on offense or defense.

Welch is an interesting case study since he's a veteran who's played 1,101 snaps on special teams but just 44 on defense over the last four years. Last season, Welch was a late addition to a deep ILB room, which contributed to him not seeing a defensive snap in 2023. To your point, nobody is viewed as just "a special-teams guy" in Green Bay. This summer, Welch will compete for multiple roles in multiple phases.

Mike from Lake Villa, IL

Good morning, Wes. Welcome back from vacation! If you know, when and why did Josh Jacobs change his number with the Raiders from "28" to "8?" It obviously made the number assignment for the Packers easier with AJ Dillon already having the former.

Jacobs wore No. 8 at Alabama and wanted to switch back to it after the NFL began allowing skill-position players to wear single-digit numbers in 2021. However, that would've required Jacobs buying out the remaining inventory of "28" jerseys. Last year, he was able to switch to "8" after completing his rookie contract. Jacobs told reporters afterward that "8" makes him "feel like a superhero."

Jake from Decatur, GA

Alignment-wise, base defense in a 3-4 system looks (to me at least) more like a 5-2 front, and when the defensive coordinator calls for a nickel package, he usually just has to choose which down lineman to pull off the field. Do I have that right? If so, how is that choice different in a 4-3 system?

Both nickels are 4-2-5. The only difference is you're subbing in a slot cornerback for an off-ball linebacker in the 4-3 as opposed to a defensive lineman in a 3-4.

Tom from Cambridge, MA

Rumor has it that Sean Clifford is giving up his No. 8 to Josh Jacobs. Will Sean by changing to No. 88? Was I close to the first to ask or the ten thousandth?

You stand proudly among several part-time comedians with that submission. I am curious to ask Clifford if he chose "6" because 6+8 = 14, which was his high-school and college number that he couldn't wear in Green Bay because it's retired for Don Hutson.

Julian from Gastonia, NC

Perhaps there are reasons that the Bears continue to struggle to find their QB. If I'm the GM for the Bears, I keep Justin Fields for one more year and also use my first pick to take a QB to sit and learn in 2024.

In fairness to Ryan Poles, you can't ask your outgoing first-round pick to warm the seat for another. If a team chooses to move on from a recent top pick, then let the player move on, as well.

Tom from Hoboken, NJ

Hi Wes, with the Bears' impending acquisition of Caleb Williams, do you think that changes the Packers' draft strategy a little, a lot, or not at all?

With respect to Williams, I don't think it changes anything from a draft perspective. The Packers are looking to build the best roster to compete against all 31 NFL teams, not just Chicago.

Dustin from Kansas City, MO

This weekend, the NCAA Wrestling Championships are being held here in KC. There will be kids competing who also play football for their schools. There will also be a ton of others who are as athletically gifted as anyone you can find and are obviously not afraid of physical sports. I was wondering, do the Packers, or other teams, send scouts to the tourney each year to see if they can identify any athletes, they may want to look at closer to possibly bring on later as a UDFA or something?

In my opinion, wrestling provides the best base for linemen. Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark were both wrestlers and praise the sport for improving their leverage and balance. Having covered wrestling at the Green Bay Press-Gazette, I can tell you the sport also teaches discipline. Still, it would be tough to take someone who's only wrestled and train them to become a professional football player. Such a prospect would require time and patience.

Doug from Pardeeville, WI

Hi Wes. Is there any word on signing our punter Daniel Whelan? It looks like he's an exclusive rights free agent, but I have not seen anywhere that we have re-signed him. Thanks for any info you can share. The same goes for RB Emanuel Wilson.

I have no concern with either player. Exclusive-rights contracts can be signed anytime between now and the start of the offseason program. It just depends on whether a player is in town before he has to report on April 15.

Ed from Windsor, CO

Sometimes I get overwhelmed balancing my finances, so balancing $255 million would be a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Apologies for plagiarism and math but how many accountants are used to get to the final 53?

Well, I ripped that line from Churchill, so you're just plagiarizing my plagiarism. Russ Ball is a wizard when it comes to managing the cap, but he'd be the first to tell you it's not a one-person job. Ball has a credentialed team helping him keep the Packers' checkbook.

Aaron from Miami, FL

I saw a report that said that when Aaron Donald came off the field after the loss to the Lions in the playoffs, he told Sean McVay, "I'm full." That really hit me in good way. Congrats to one of the greatest to ever play.

Donald accomplished everything there is to accomplish in the NFL and went out on his own terms. That's a beautiful thing to see.

Bud from Boyceville, WI

With linebacker high on the Packers' list, when Jerome Baker was unsigned and his previous coach in Miami is now in Green Bay (Anthony Campanile), why did we not sign him? Was it all about money?

You know how I don't like predicting who will sign with the Packers before the start of free agency? I enjoy analyzing why said player did not sign with the Packers even less, especially when there wasn't even a reported visit or offer.

Subhadeep from Middletown, CT

Why did Tyler Huntley did not get a better deal than the fourth QB on Browns roster? In my limited exposure to Huntley playing, like when Ravens hosted Packers, I was impressed with him. I also see some thoughts on Bears trading Fields to Steelers since they did not want Caleb Williams possibly compete with Fields. If that's the case, why did GM Ryan Poles not go after Huntley as their backup QB?

You know how I don't like analyzing why said player didn't sign with the Packers? I enjoy analyzing why another team didn't sign said player even less.

Mark from Fullerton, CA

Most Packers fans would never find themselves rooting for the 49ers. However, the school formerly known as the Cal State Long Beach 49ers just made an improbable run to the NCAA men's basketball tournament. It's a story worth checking out. There's even a Minnesota connection. They probably won't make it past the first round but if ever there was a team to pull for…

…Long Beach State is the one. It's not too often a coach, whose fate has already been sealed, gets a chance to lead his team to the NCAA tournament. I'll be cheering on Dan Monson and the Beach against Arizona on Thursday.

Rex from Laramie, WY

As a longtime fan, part-time Wisconsinite, sometime Insider, small-time owner, I just wanted to thank you and Mike for keeping us all informed and grounded but still excited during this season. P.S. as an alum of both Iowa and Iowa State, I'm looking forward to watching the Cyclones and Hawkeyes in their respective tournaments.

I'm a huge fan of T.J. Otzelberger. Wishing him and the Cyclones well in the tourney.

Ryan from Sun Prairie, WI

What happened to the early spring?

The Night King must have crossed the border down from Upper Michigan, I guess. Anyone see a white raven from Florence County?

Graydon from Menomonie, WI

Wes is giving us the "It's not you, it's me" routine? We invented "It's not you, it's me." Nobody tells us it's them, not us. If it's anybody, it's us.

All right…Inbox, it's you. Have a good Tuesday.

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