On the first Saturday of every month, Mark will write about a topic of interest to Packers fans and the organization, and then answer five fan questions. Fans are encouraged to email Mark with their name and hometown at: MurphyTakes5@packers.com.
The Packers opened the season in impressive fashion with a road win over the Bears. Since then, we have not matched that performance. We knew that transitioning from Aaron Rodgers would be challenging, but our performance as a team has been disappointing.
I have confidence in Matt LaFleur, though, and believe that he will make the necessary adjustments to allow us to improve as we go forward. I also think we have a talented team, albeit young, and that we will see our players start to make plays and gain confidence as the season goes on. I'm encouraged that, although we haven't always played well, our players have continued to play hard. I've also been pleased with the leadership that many of our veterans have shown during this challenging season.
It's a long season and things can change quickly in the NFL. Over the next 10 games, the most important thing is to show improvement, gain confidence as a team, and learn how to win close games.
Now, on to your questions.
Chris from Washington, D.C.
Shouldn't the league consider mandating a consistent, minimum broadcast quality standard as part of its increasingly lucrative rights deals? I can't tell you how frustrating it is for fans to suffer FOX broadcasting most of its games in 720p, while the other networks find ways to accommodate 1080i and 4K. They even restrict the high-quality feed to their app for the Super Bowl, which I find offensive. In comparison, it almost appears non-HD, these days. I can't think of few things that more inhibit the home fan's viewing experience than this and it makes me cringe every time I see the Packers listed on FOX. It also seems relatively easily correctable given the league's leverage in these negotiations.
I'm impressed with the detailed, technical question, Chris. While I can't speak to which networks are using 720p or 1080i, I believe that they are all going to be 4K in the near future. In fact, that's why we made sure we went with 4K with our new video boards that debuted this year. That is definitely the future of broadcast and we wanted to make sure we had the leading-edge technology for our new systems, both the video boards themselves and all the control room technology that runs them.
Steve K. from Green Bay
I have a question regarding the NFL trade deadline. What is the purpose of the deadline and how often are trades made at the deadline?
Timely question, Steve. The trade deadline is in the league's collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association. It is meant to benefit both teams and players. Teams having a good season might look to add a player to help them make a Super Bowl run, while struggling teams make look to pick up extra draft picks. For players, a trade represents a chance to go to a team with playoff hopes from a team that is not likely to make the playoffs. The deadline is currently in Week 8. Up until 2012, it was in Week 6. The league doesn't want the deadline to be too late in the season or teams that are out of contention would have fire sales. There are not as many trades at the deadline as you would think. Last year was a record for most trades with 11. Major League Baseball and NBA teams make more trades at the deadline than NFL teams. We made one trade at the deadline this year – sending Rasul Douglas to Buffalo. Rasul has played well for us, and we weren't looking to trade him, but Buffalo's offer was too good to pass up and it frees up a substantial amount of cap space for next year. It is also a great opportunity for Rasul to go to a talented team, and for Carrington Valentine to show he is a quality corner.
Shaun M. from Germantown, WI
It seems like more and more season ticketholders are selling their tickets (usually to visiting teams' fans) than ever before. With tens of thousands of people continually on the waiting list for season tickets, have the Packers thought about changing the season ticket plans so current season ticket holders have different options for tickets? Example: Green package fans having the option of going from six regular season games down to three games. This would open up a lot of tickets for Packers fans that are on the waiting list, rather than selling them to opposing fans on Ticketmaster or third-party sites.
You raise a great issue, Shaun. Visiting team fans have been very noticeable at recent games. Unfortunately, when our team isn't playing well, our fans are often more inclined to sell their tickets. We encourage our fans to try to sell to Packers fans. The challenge, though, is when they post the visiting team fans are often willing to pay more to see their team play in iconic Lambeau Field. I do appreciate your suggestion about a fewer-games option. The problem I see with it is that few season ticketholders would take the option of fewer games since they know that they can sell their tickets for more than face value. Other NFL teams tried to adopt a policy where season ticketholders could only sell to people on their waiting list. I believe they had challenges enforcing it. We have taken steps to try to address the issue including taking season tickets back from ticketholders with blocks of seats who sell their tickets for every game (they are effectively brokers). The challenge is that it is so convenient to sell tickets on the secondary market now. Finally, we also realize that we do benefit from the practice when we play away games. Our fans travel very well and are a huge help to us on the road.
John from Kenosha, WI
I was pleased to see that the Packers agreed to a contract extension with Rashan Gary. I was concerned that he would become a free agent after the season. Why did the Packers wait so long to extend him?
John, we are also very pleased that we were able to agree to a contract extension with Rashan. He is an extremely talented player and has shown tremendous progress over the years. He's also the kind of person we want on our team and has started to become a real leader for us. The only issue with Rashan was related to his torn ACL. We wanted to see him play this year to ensure that he was fully recovered. He was on a pitch count early this season, but his play has been outstanding and we are confident he is fully recovered. It is a real tribute to Rashan how he handled his rehab. It was also very touching to see how much the new contract meant to Rashan and his family.
Jim from La Crosse, WI
What are your thoughts on Jordan Love? I know you said that it would take at least eight games to determine if he is our quarterback of the future. Is he our quarterback of the future?
That's the million-dollar question, Jim. As a person, Jordan is everything you would want in a player – hard worker, smart, humble, a leader who is respected by his teammates. He is also willing to take the blame when things don't go well. His play has been up and down, though. Young players often take time to find consistency, but we still very much believe in Jordan and are excited to see his continued development. In 2008, after eight games we had seen enough of Aaron Rodgers to sign him to a contract extension. Aaron was in a much different situation, though, as we had good veteran receivers in Donald Driver and Greg Jennings, a quality left tackle in Chad Clifton and a good running game with Ryan Grant. Jordan, meanwhile, is facing a much different situation with young receivers and tight ends, no David Bakhtiari and a struggling run game. It wouldn't be fair to judge Jordan now since there are so many other factors that have contributed to the offense's poor performance (e.g., dropped passes, penalties, mental errors). We should have a much better sense regarding Jordan at the end of the season. In the NFL, quarterback is the most important position, but also the hardest position to play.