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The next step for a championship-caliber defense

Packers' wide receiver competition starts fast


Lee from Marshfield, WI

Hi Wes and Mike. Pick one category on offense and defense that you want the Packers to be in the top 10 this year. For me it boils down to third-down efficiency. Move the chains on offense, three-and-out on defense.

I'll still take turnover ratio first, but it's called the money down for a reason. Interestingly, the third-down rankings on each side of the ball told a different story in 2015. Of the top 10 teams in offensive third-down efficiency, only four made the playoffs, but eight of the top 10 on defense were in the postseason. That was actually better odds than turnover ratio last year, where the top 10 encompassed 14 teams (including ties, all plus-5 or better) and 10 made the playoffs. Hmmm.

Justin from Athens, GA

How many games into the season until the defense closes out a drive with three straight sacks? With three straight sacks from three different players?

That's a lot to ask, but slamming the door late in games is what I think McCarthy means when he talks about developing a championship-caliber defense. The defense closed out the wild-card win in Washington impressively but couldn't repeat it the next week in Arizona, despite chances. It's the next step.

Jared from Racine, WI

Mike, will Greg Jennings make the Packers Hall of Fame? He spurned the Packers for Minnesota, but he still caught a lot of big passes, including Favre's record-breaker.

Jennings is a Packers Hall of Famer in my book. Five 50-catch seasons, three 1,000-yard seasons, fourth in franchise history in 100-yard games (23) and fifth in TD receptions (53) all make for a strong case. He may soon be passed in the latter two categories by Nelson, but what Jennings did in the championship season of 2010 – 1,265 yards and 12 TDs when the next best on the team was 679 yards and five TDs, plus 21 postseason receptions and a dynamite Super Bowl performance – is the clincher, if he needs one.

Peter from Polonia, WI

We were at the Rattlers game Friday night along with you. You mentioned how everyone gets excited over a frisbee. My daughter was at her second baseball game. She was so excited to come home with a can cooler and free sunflower seeds. Don't you think that goes a long way in making her a fan of the game?

Absolutely. It's the behavior of some adults I don't get. I'm glad they let her catch the seeds.

Mark from Iowa City, IA

Mike, Jordy Nelson apparently tweaked his other knee somehow and it landed him on the PUP list. Do you think this is any cause of concern in the long run? I'm just afraid it may happen again during the regular season.

Of course it could happen again in the regular season. Aaron Rodgers could get tossed on his collarbone or pull his calf again. Clay Matthews might break his thumb or pop his hamstring again. There's no real control over this part of the game, folks. A player's body is his body, and luck is luck. Nelson said he's not worried about his other knee, and that's good enough for me.

Nolan from West Salem, WI

Player that flashed Day 1?

Rookie Trevor Davis, but Adams, Janis and Abbrederis all made plays, too. The wide receiver competition is on.

Dan from Herriman, Utah

Hey Mike, I noticed in "Three Things" that Wes didn't have a mike. Is that a rookie hazing thing you and Larry are putting him through? Loved the differing perspectives you all bring.

Wish I could say that, but now you're giving me ideas.

Marty from Cuenca, Ecuador

Hey guys, it just occurred to me that the past two Super Bowl teams had a future yellow-jacketed leader on defense near the end of their careers: Reggie and Charles. Now we have Julius in a similar position. Design? Coincidence?

How about serendipity?

Nathan from Scottsdale, AZ

Hi, Insiders. I'm wondering why people aren't talking about Ty Montgomery more. He was my favorite young WR last year, and I'm not trying to stir the pot here, but he did beat out Abby and Janis for playing time when healthy.

I've been talking about Montgomery plenty, but we still don't know when he's going to return to the field. That's the issue. He's on PUP to start camp, which isn't a huge surprise, but he showed last year why he was a third-round pick and I believe he's an impact player in this offense, when he gets healthy and back up to speed.

Graham from Green Bay, WI

Good morning, gentlemen! I'm bored on my lunch break, so here's a three-part question for you. First, if you could pick the perfect player to build your defense around, what position is that player? Second, of all the NFL greats, past or present, who would you choose to build said defense around? Third, who would you pick from the current NFL roster?

Pass rusher, Lawrence Taylor, J.J. Watt.

Craig from Temperance, MI

With Peppers getting older, I think its Perry's year to step up and take his job after this year. If he can stay healthy, I see a big payday for him.

Nick Perry has all the incentive in the world to have a big year, and this is the healthiest he's been in his career.

Giuseppe from Parma, Italy

Mike, at the end of the 2015 season, Vic twice referred to Coach McCarthy as "bold." I thought the comment was tongue-in-cheek. McCarthy strikes me as the quintessential corporate football COO. I mean this in the good sense. However, he has had a couple moments when he could have been bold and made his legacy. To wit, "Let's get two and get the hell out of here" in Arizona last year. You have followed Coach McCarthy for years. Obviously, he has a good shot at the Hall of Fame. But, is he bold, or is he a solid corporate leader?

I think he's both. I also think he's creative strategically and forward thinking in a variety of off-field areas (technology, nutrition, etc.). But don't confuse being bold with gambling. To me there's a difference. Cutting Rodgers loose from his own 20 with 30 seconds left in the first half and no timeouts to try to add to a lead is bold. Going for two in Arizona last January would have been a huge gamble.

Matt from Belmont, WI

Who is going to miss Vic more? The people who liked him or the people who disliked him?

The state's first capital heard from. The essence of Vic is that your question might be the toughest one to answer here.

Ray from Phoenix, AZ

How do you see the duel at punter shaping up?

I think it'll last longer than a year ago, when it didn't even get to the first preseason game, but the incumbent Masthay still will be difficult to unseat. A local kid who played his high school ball literally just down the road would make for a heck of a story, but Mortell has his work cut out for him.

Casey from Austin, TX

Hey Mike, I've heard some chatter about Devin Hester being Hall of Fame worthy. What are your thoughts on specialists being inducted into the Hall of Fame?

If a player was the best of his era in his specialty and was a difference-maker in games, I'm all for his Hall candidacy. Hester clearly fits both criteria, and he holds all-time records to boot.

Gene from Midland, GA

Mike, good to see there is still an edge to the Insider Inbox as evidenced by your banning of Ben – except somehow he sneaked by Vic.

Somehow? I'm not calling that happenstance. I've known Vic too long.

Travis from Blaine, MN

Vic refused to answer any of my questions regarding Carl Bradford. What's the deal with the former Sun Devil? They obviously kept him around two years, meaning they've clearly got plans for him. On the other hand he couldn't get on the field last year even with the injuries at linebacker. Any updates on his progression?

They've given him time to develop and now it's his put-up-or-shut-up camp. Bradford knows it, and told me as much in**this story I wrote on him after minicamp ended**.

Ned from Seneca, SC

I have been hearing a lot about the coaches doing "installs." I think this means different schemes for different situations but am unsure about particulars. Could you supply some specifics?

Normal down-and-distance, third down, blitz, red zone, short yardage and goal line (including two-point plays) are examples of different situations that are part of certain offensive and defensive installations. Usually, the Packers install everything in OTAs, do a quick review in minicamp and a comprehensive review through the first two weeks of training camp.

Brandon from Tulsa, OK

Mike or Wes, I'm sure you've heard of Chris Sale cutting up the team's uniforms and being suspended. The White Sox GM described Sale's behavior as "passionate" for his team. Whether it's Sale, or OBJ, why can't we just call it for what it is, unprofessional? Why have we substituted bad behavior as simply being a "passionate" person? Why make excuses for these grown men?

They're somebody's hero, I guess.

Trevor from Friendship, WI

Vic is like the guy who fakes his own funeral. He gets to see who loved him and who didn't care so much. Then every Monday morning he gets to sit up and say OK.

I don't really know what to say to that, but for some twisted reason I felt compelled to post it.

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