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It's a long season and a crazy league, always

Plus an extended discussion of postseason structure


Kevin from Tucson, AZ

Mike, being a coach in the NFL seems like a daunting profession requiring year-round commitment. When do the Packers' coaches take their vacations? Seems they have plenty to keep them busy even in the offseason.

They get to take their breaks in the offseason when the players aren't around, like now. They usually take a chunk of time off between the end of the season and when the players return in April for offseason workouts, too. The level of commitment is most noticeable during the season, though. We all put in long hours around here from August through January, but I don't think any group in the building comes close to the collective hours the coaching staff puts in. It's not for everybody.

Tim from Lancaster, PA

All I'm saying is that if you add two extra spots in each conference, suddenly there are roughly five teams fighting in the AFC for two spots and six teams fighting in the NFC for two spots in Week 17. That's adding quite a few more meaningful games to Week 17 rather than the AFC field being basically all set and the NFC field having two actually meaningful games (Packers/Lions and Redskins/Giants). Having so many teams in the mix makes tiebreakers even more important, so every game matters, especially those in your conference. The Titans and Broncos certainly would have had more punch than the QB-less Raiders and Texans.

I'm sorry, you're still not going to convince me. What happened to the Raiders was an anomaly, and for all the meaningful games you'd add in Week 17, I think you're reducing the value of several weeks in September and October. I'm not interested in making that trade. Some obviously are. The topic generated plenty of discussion and I'll follow now with several related posts.

Joe from Bloomington, IN

Rebuttal to Mike: The top two teams' reward is to play those horrible 9-7 and 8-7-1 teams at home. Picnic, right?

I didn't say they were horrible, and I'll concede they might be some of the hottest teams at that point. But if you're not a division champ or one of the top two non-division winners, I have no problem saying you didn't earn your spot over the long haul.

Douglas from Grand Rapids, MI

I disagree with both Joe from Bloomington and Vic. Bye weeks give teams something to play for in the later season. Otherwise, why not clinch the playoffs, then sit your starters and tank the last several games?

There are already enough instances of deciding when to rest players late. We don't need more.

Matt from Green Bay, WI

If there weren't first-round byes in the playoffs, we probably wouldn't have seen Rodgers gut out Week 17 vs. the Lions in 2014. Playing on one leg and leading the Pack to a comeback win to lock up the No. 2 seed solidified his MVP. He said the driving factor in the decision to play through the injury was an extra week to heal. Putting that carrot out there is great for football.

I agree.

Sean-Luc from Oceanside, CA

I disagree, Mike. A postseason bye is far too advantageous for teams. There are far too many variables that can lead to baby-soft schedules for teams – injuries to the opposition at opportune times, weak divisions, weak conference teams in general, regular-season bye-week placement, traveling conflicts, Thursday night games, etc. How can the league accommodate these unforeseen and unfair variables that may grant a first-round bye to a team that wouldn't have earned it with a different schedule? "That's the way the cookie crumbles" is not a sufficient answer anymore for such a hyper-competitive league.

You've posited several hypotheticals, and issues that for the most part even themselves out over four months. If you're expanding to eight playoff teams per conference to eliminate the byes, the No. 8 seed is being given a one-shot opportunity against the No. 1 seed it doesn't deserve, in my opinion, and with home field the only advantage the No. 1 seed gets, your regular season hardly has meaning.

Tom from Phoenix, AZ

The arguments on both sides of playoff expansion have merit, but at some point the league will be forced to expand the playoffs as a result of league expansion. If international teams are added to the league, such as London by 2027 (10 short years away), Monterrey, Mexico, and perhaps Australia, Tokyo, Barcelona, a team in Germany and maybe even a couple Canadian cities will want in on it if NFL football goes global, then it only makes sense to increase regular-season games, reduce the preseason contests and expand the playoffs. To have a global league, the NFL will have to increase the playoffs to give expansion teams a better probability to get into the tournament or risk losing fan interest in countries where soccer and rugby are the current national sports.

Valid points, and if the league expands, I'll revisit playoff expansion. But right now, choosing 12 of 32 or 16 of 32, I'll take the status quo eight days a week. Thanks for the discussion everyone, enjoyed it.

Matt from De Pere, WI

So Mike, did you play baseball for the Vikings back in the early '90s? Just a guess. Class of '06 here.

I played three seasons for LU in the springs of '91-93. I was as nondescript a Division III college ballplayer as anyone could be, but I was glad I kept playing beyond high school.

Mike from Fort Wayne, IN

Mike, I know you love baseball. Would you jump ship to cover the Brewers if you could and, if so, how different would it be covering baseball compared to football with so many more games?

I got into the newspaper business hoping to land in baseball someday, but I can't complain about where I ended up. This is a great place to work, and I can't imagine trying to raise a family with the travel schedule baseball demands.

Pucka from Rochester, MN

OK, so Schum was eligible for an injury settlement once he cleared "waived injured," but does eligibility guarantee he will get it, and is it negotiated or set by some formula based on their contract?

It's negotiated between the agent and the team based on the player's contract and projected length of the injury. If the player would have missed the first six games of the season, for example, he'd get 6/17 of his salary (players are paid once a week for 17 weeks in the regular season). If another team signs the player before the injury settlement has expired, the original club's obligation gets reduced accordingly. The player can eventually re-sign with his original team, but only three weeks after the injury settlement has expired.

Jon from San Antonio, TX

Hi Mike, you ever been to Spofford, Texas?

No, but I have a beer from Shiner, Texas, every once in a while.

Eric from Louisville, KY

I think all those questions regarding Ty Montgomery's productivity are just camouflage for trying to get an inside scoop on where to pick Ty in the upcoming fantasy football draft. I personally believe he is an early second-rounder.

I have no idea where he falls in that realm, but I think you're spot-on with your first point.

Matthew from Manitowoc, WI

Will Davante and Montravius need to put their first initial on the back of their jerseys? What is the rule on that?

The Packers haven't traditionally done that in this era. The Rodgers nameplates have been the same for both players since Richard was drafted in 2014. The year before, there were three Joneses (James, Brad, Datone) but no first initials.

Valinda from Delaware, OH

  1. I am of the opinion that Adam from Saint Hyacinthe, Canada, uses better English grammar than most Americans. He doesn't need to worry about it. 2. Mike, you don't look anywhere near the age you'd be based on the life experiences you've shared. 3. Love the Inbox.

1. Totally agree. 2. You're too kind. 3. I'm just trying to contribute.

Colin from Lansdale, PA

Am I crazy for saying Insider Inbox is better during the offseason?

There are no play calls to criticize in June, and no losses to ridiculously overreact to.

Denny from Alexandria, VA

Mike, the Packers appear loaded at wide receiver. Getsy says they have more than seven who can play. How can the Packers get value for those who cannot make the team? Is there any trade market for them?

Not really. There are a ton of wide receivers who can play in the NFL who won't make anyone's roster. It's the position colleges are churning out in huge supply.

AJ from Sheboygan Falls, WI

I know this is water down the stream now, but the way that TT went out and signed Lance Kendricks immediately after signing Marty B. and seeing Jared Cook opt to test the market, my initial thought is that TT wanted Marty and Cook to line up together in the "12" scheme. Could you imagine the Madden offense we could have seen if that had worked out? I get tingles just thinking about it.

Based on the price tags, I'm pretty sure Cook/Bennett was an either/or proposition.

Allan from Orting, WA

I saw a survey on the NFL website, "Which team is the most talented in NFL history?" They listed several teams and years, but I don't understand why they left off the 1962 Packers. That team ended up with, I believe, 11 players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Has there ever been that many Hall of Famers active on the same team? What are your thoughts?

I found a website that laid it out pretty well, and the '62 Packers had 10 Hall of Fame players, plus Lombardi. The teams from '63-'66 also had 10, though not all the same 10. The '61 team actually had the most in history, with 11, because Emlen Tunnell played his final NFL season in Green Bay that year. So Lombardi's teams over a six-year stretch had at least 10 HOFers on the field. For eight straight years (1974-81), Vic's Steelers had nine, plus Noll. I can't imagine those stretches being approached by anyone in the salary-cap and free-agency era.

Dylan from Houston, TX

We can thank the league's one-helmet rule to prevent Jesse from Byron Center, MI's request for the creamsicle vs. throwback matchup.

You're right. That '09 game was before the helmet regulation, but they could wear the creamsicle duds with the pewter helmet, if they really wanted to subject themselves, and everybody else, to the look.

Justin from Richland Center, WI

Are you guys digging to find references for your answers, or are you recalling these examples from memory? The only pick-six Rodgers has ever thrown was against Tampa Bay? He threw three interceptions that game? Tampa was wearing their throwback creamsicle orange uniforms that game? Oh, and it was EIGHT YEARS AGO? If you offered me the winning Powerball ticket to answer even one of those questions, I'd come up blank. I sometimes have a hard time remembering what I had for breakfast.

Sorry, occupational hazard, but that's what I'm here for, right? I had to double-check to make sure it was the last time Rodgers threw three picks in a game, if it makes you feel any better. I'll confess, though, that game in particular has always stuck with me because of what it taught me. I thought that Packers team was as good as dead at 4-4 after losing to a bad Bucs squad going nowhere. Then Green Bay went 7-1 in the second half and came within an overtime shootout of going to the second round of the playoffs. It's a long season and a crazy league, always.

M. from Budapest, Hungary

That half sentence on Aaron Rodgers having only one pick-six in his entire career made me check how he stacks up against other active NFL QBs. Brees has 26, Rivers 22, Eli Manning 21, Big Ben 13 and Brady 12. They are all on their way to Canton but are still nowhere near A-Rod's accuracy and ball security. He went almost eight years and 4,397 pass attempts since his last pick-six and in the meantime led the Packers to the playoffs in each season. Do you think it is possible that he will never throw a pick-six in the NFL again?

He might not, but he probably will. I just hope he isn't so determined to prevent it that he hurts himself trying to tackle the defender.

Greg from Houston, TX

Last week I read about an interview with Steelers LB Ryan Shazier and his disappointment with the CBA regarding rookie contract structure. The contract for a first-round draft pick includes a fifth-year team option, but a second-round draft pick's contract is limited to three years. So a second-rounder can sign a larger contract sooner than a first-rounder, like Derek Carr. Do you have an opinion on how rookie contracts should be structured?

It's way better than the old system, under which guys like David Carr and JaMarcus Russell were getting $50 million in guarantees and compromising teams' caps before they ever played. Contracts for draft picks after the first round are four-year deals but can be extended or renegotiated after three. First-round picks have to wait another year if their option is exercised, but they're getting way larger signing bonuses and guarantees as rookies based on the slotting. In the big picture, the current system shows more respect for veteran players and their piece of the salary-cap pie, which I think Shazier and others in his boat will appreciate in time.

Steve from Broadstairs, England

Do you see the Packers keeping three QBs this year?

At this point, yes.

Jason from Lake Geneva, WI

Just read the article on Adams about his focus on this year. I loved the article. I bought his jersey before his rookie season began based on his college highlights, which I've never done before. Question being, how good can Davante be?

I think we're about to find out.

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