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The best things in life are seasonal

Games are won and lost in the middle of the field in today's NFL


Mike from Buffalo, WY

What are the characteristics that separate a punt returner from a kickoff returner?

You tend to look for more explosion in kickoff returners. Guys who can see through the smoke, as Ron Zook likes to say. The best kickoff returners seem to possess a sound combination of vision, burst and top-of-the-line speed. Punt-returning seems to be more of a sweet science where finesse and timing play a bigger role. Plus, you also need the wherewithal to field the ball under pressure.

Steve from Dunlap, IL

Who is the hardest hitting mother of all thumpers on our defense?

A lot of worthy candidates – Sam Barrington and Mike Daniels quickly come to mind – but I have to say pound-for-pound it's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. I would not want to get hit by that guy.

Mike from Mount Prospect, IL

Look into your crystal ball. How much difference will it make to have a coach dedicated to the wide receivers this year?

Significant. Alex Van Pelt is a good football coach but was stretched too thin last year. That's a lot of bodies to be responsible for. Luke Getsy has past experience working with receivers and already brought new ideas to the table to help improve fundamentals. Repetition plays such a big role in developing receivers and having one coach focused solely on the position will help make that happen.

Wendell from Porto Alegre, Brazil

McCarthy said tight end and safety are now premium positions. I think he's sending a message about matchups. Nowadays, even more, players that can break matchups are the most important ones. And it's what the Packers are trying to do with Jared Cook and Morgan Burnett. Do you agree, guys?

Bingo. The middle of the field is where games are won in today's NFL. Everyone wants a big, athletic tight end who can tilt the field, but there's so few of those players out there when you look at all 32 teams. Cook is a rare prospect with his unique blend of size and speed. Now can he put it all together? On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Packers need to defend against those tight ends and Burnett seems equipped to handle whatever the Packers throw at him. A selfless leader and quietly versatile, Burnett is arguably the most underrated player on the roster. Expanding his responsibilities only makes sense.

Kevin from Superior, WI

Do you think the average Packer fan appreciates the value of having Dom Capers on the staff?

No, but I don't think Green Bay is unique in that way. It's the plight all defensive coordinators face in an offense-driven league. Look at Wade Phillips, the architect of one of the most suffocating defenses in modern NFL history. A year ago, he couldn't even get an interview. I remember how upset fans were in 2012 and 2013, asking why the Packers don't have a defense like San Francisco without realizing Vic Fangio (now in Chicago) was a disciple of Capers who runs a comparable 3-4 scheme. Capers is an innovator who's constantly evolved his scheme to his personnel over the years. One way or another, his defenses tend to keep offenses off the scoreboard.

Andrea from Parma, Italy

Okay, you have to admit, you need to take more of a "national breath" with questions you choose to edit. So, here I am, a three-time Lambeau Field visitors from Italy, and here's my question: How does Eddie Lacy REALLY look to your eyes? Does he finally seem healthy and ready to go? My guess and hope is Coach McCarthy is looking for a lot of power offense this year.

Mike Spofford and I talked about this on today's episode of Packers Unscripted. Lacy has packed a punch in training camp. Noticeably leaner, he seems more explosive in the half-line drills. We probably won't know how much progress Lacy has made until he steps on the field in Jacksonville, but the potential is there for a turnaround.

Sean from Baltimore, MD

If the McCarthy era has taught us one thing, it's how to handle tough defeats in the playoffs. Giants in '07 and '11, Cardinals in '09 and '15, 49ers in '13, and Seattle in 2014. Four of those were in overtime and two were NFC title games. I guess it comes with the territory of winning divisions and making the playoffs. Do you think MM's playoff record in non-2010 seasons is a stain on his otherwise successful career?

No, because there was a 2010 season. The Packers were Super Bowl XLV champions. Mike McCarthy was the coach. Aaron Rodgers was the quarterback. Forever. The past is already written. The ink is dry. Any argument that starts with "aside from" is not an argument at all. It's only natural to want seconds, but don't forget all the other teams that never got to the dinner table in the first place. Twelve teams make the playoffs, one walks out undefeated. You have to give yourself a chance, which is what the Thompson-McCarthy-Rodgers era has given Green Bay every season.

Braden from Brookfield, WI

The wide receiver battle to me (and probably most fans) is the most exciting to watch. It sounds like Jared Abbrederis is having a great training camp. Randall Cobb is a lock and Ty Montgomery was great last year till the injury, and the Packers seem to be high on him especially since he's a second-year draft pick. Do you think Jared gets buried on the depth chart only because there are two other players with his same physical abilities and stats? How could they use Jared outside the slot? Would his size be too big of an issue to be a sideline receiver?

If last year proved anything, it's don't get too caught up on depth charts. Accountability and versatility are two of Abbrederis' most defining attributes. I doubt many would've predicted he and Janis would be the most targeted receivers in a divisional playoff game, but that's how it turned out. Abbrederis has proven he can play wherever the Packers line him up and find separation. He's not Cobb or Montgomery, but he doesn't have to be to make the roster.

Jerome from Midland, MI

Why is tailgating just associated with football, why not baseball? What makes tailgating unique (is it the type of fan) to football and only football?

I don't know about that. I used to tailgate all the time at Milwaukee Brewers games. In fact, I tailgated at the only game I attended at Miller Park this year. Maybe it's a regional thing. What I do know is Wisconsinites tailgate for everything – sporting events, concerts, dance recitals. It's in our DNA.

Dan from Silver Spring, MD

I'm curious, do the reporters covering NFL view the job as the most prestigious position insofar as it's related to covering football news? The final destination sitting atop of high school and college football? Or can covering college football be equally prestigious? In all, keep up the good job on covering Packers football.

Some of the best reporters I know cover college sports. For me, the NFL is my Camelot. I always wanted to cover the league because it's the country's most popular sport. Each game is so pivotal and fans have an insatiable thirst for information about it. Where sometimes I think there can be an oversaturation in sports, there only are 17 precious weeks to the NFL regular season. Covering football has taught me that the best things in life are seasonal. Like Pumpkin Spice Lattes.

Paul from Hewitt, WI

We are aware of the roster comparisons at WR, MLB and punter. Do we have competition and depth at running back? Any surprises at this position?

It's definitely been interesting to follow the competition at running back. At first, I expected Nevada's Don Jackson to factor into the No. 3 equation, but then he was released before camp. John Crockett is holding down that spot right now, but Brandon Burks and recently signed Brandon Ross should see plenty of snaps in the preseason.

Jennifer from Milwaukee, WI

OMG! Can you imagine what the inbox would have looked like if a player got hurt in the HOF Game and what if it was a Packer? Heads would have been called for and refs would have been stalked like the fans do in soccer. THANK GOD someone had the intelligence to see what might have happened. Thank you NFL, NFLPA and the HOF! THANK YOU!!

Like I said in Wednesday's Inbox, you aren't going to please everyone. Fortunately, the conversation you depict in your question is one we don't need to address because the league, NFLPA and Hall of Fame made the right decision.

Jordan from Ames, IA

Wes or Mike, do either of you do fantasy football? What are your thoughts on it?

I've played in one league and one league only for the last 12 years. I'm proud to say I've won it on three occasions. I'm not proud to say I finished 5-9 last season after putting all my eggs in the Sam Bradford and Tevin Coleman basket.

Kevin from Neptune, NJ

Now that he's had an extra week, is Hundley going to start the first preseason game?

Hundley's considered day-to-day but didn't practice on Tuesday or Wednesday. It seems more likely Joe Callahan would get the start. It would be a neat storyline if that unfolds. Callahan's parents are flying into Green Bay for the game after driving six hours to Canton last week.

Happy from Elmhurst, NY

Mike Daniels, Sam Barrington, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. That's some serious swagger at all three levels of the defense (Vic would use 'nastiness'). Is this what has been missing in the past?

*Daniels said it best when he talked about how that "nasty" personality is welcomed more now than maybe it was when he was a rookie in 2012. Whatever way you look at it, those three guys bring an attitude and energy to the defense that it didn't have before. It takes grit to win in the trenches and all three are equipped with it. *

Nate from St. Thomas, WI

Spoff, Biff: What's the day in the life look like for you guys?

I wake up, eat breakfast and arrive at the office at about 8 a.m. to shine Spoff's shoes and make sure Larry's coffee is hot enough. Depending on whether there's any media availability, I spend the next 10 hours writing stories at my desk, shooting our TV show and answering questions from fine individuals like yourself.

Trevor from Waukesha, WI

Recommendation to Mike and Wes: Don't be so agreeable. One of the best things about Vic was, he wasn't afraid to speak his mind. It didn't matter whether he was ultimately right or wrong. Wes, the "for the most part," "I see your point," "I just think," statements, just makes me not take you seriously.

I disagree.

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