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There's method to the madness

Don't go crazy trying to figure it all out


Ken from Oceanport, NJ

Do the Packers play Tampa Bay this year at home or on the road? If it is on the road, I hope it isn't Week 1.

The**Buccaneers come to Lambeau Field**in 2017. Week 15 or so sounds pretty good to me.

Lukas from Darmstadt, Germany

I'm a little surprised I haven't seen a question about Peterson. There's rumors he might be cut by the Vikings. I do believe in the draft-and-develop philosophy, but a nice acquisition in free agency hasn't hurt us lately (Woodson, Peppers, Guion, etc.). So here's my case for AP. 1. We have a need at RB and an O-line that has shown it can block well. 2. If he's cut he won't count against the compensatory picks. 3. Ty and AP would form one of the most dangerous backfields in the NFL. There are way more arguments but I'll keep it short.

There have been plenty of questions about Peterson but I've been avoiding them, because if the Packers are going to spend the kind of money in free agency it would take to sign Peterson, I'd prefer that money be spent on defense.

Mark from Naperville, IL

Is the list of draft prospects that McCarthy and TT interview at the combine ever divulged or would that be tipping their hand too much?

They've never divulged it, and I don't blame them. We often find out after the Packers draft a player whether or not he had a formal interview with Green Bay at the combine, but that's about it. When the prospects speak to the media at the combine, it's usually before their formal interviews, so we only hear about whom they talked to in the informal settings, which isn't really newsworthy, though many outlets will try to sell it as such.

Chris from Burnsville, MN

NASCAR is the canary in the coal mine. They just had their main sponsor fees cut by about 40 percent when Monster Energy Drinks was the highest "low" bidder. You don't think networks are watching the declining ratings in every sport right now? I think you will see TV contracts flatline and contract over the next 20 years.

I'm no expert on auto racing, but attendance and ratings have been declining in that sport for years from what I've read. The NFL experienced a dip last fall through the election, but come December and playoff time, the ratings bounced back, as expected. This fall will tell us whether last season was an aberration or a potential trend.

Paul from Milwaukee, WI

Spoff, I couldn't help but notice your response, "You build a contender, get yourself in the playoffs, and roll the dice." What this actually sounds like is the Packers have been in the playoffs for eight straight years, any of which could've ended with a Lombardi trophy. So really is there any point in getting better players each year, or is it just luck and we've been on the wrong side of it for eight straight years?

Well, the Packers were the last team standing once and advanced from the dirty dozen to the final four two other times in those eight years. You always try to get better. You'd be a fool not to. My point is the season is so long, with the roster ever-evolving and countless uncontrollable factors, that there's no telling how the playoffs will ever shake out. Look at the Super Bowl runs in recent years that hung by a thread in one playoff round and/or another – the Saints in '09, Packers in '10, Patriots and Giants in '11, 49ers and Ravens in '12, Seahawks in '13 and '14, Broncos in '15. Each of those teams was in position to be undone by one play at some moment (or moments) before it got to the big game – I won't bore you with the details, though I could – but people forget too easily how tenuous it was. Those teams deserve all the credit in the world for surviving, but very few get there without catching a break or two along the way. Heck, I think the Packers in '13 (the only one-and-done here in the last five years) had a chance to make a run if Shields and Neal don't get hurt in the first quarter against the Niners. That San Fran team escaped Green Bay with a walk-off field goal and came within 20 yards of beating the Seahawks two weeks later, a Seattle team that demolished its Super Bowl opponent. That's how this league is, and if you don't acknowledge that, you'll go crazy trying to figure it all out.

Chris from Victor, ID

Mike, do you think there is a difference between allowing need to dictate your picks on draft day versus need influencing your draft board? Seems like a team mostly reliant on the draft to fill holes in their roster would have to use need somewhere in their rating scale.

Yes, there is a difference. You grade the players and build the board without regard for need. To do otherwise would only invite regrettable mistakes, like letting someone else draft Deion Sanders because you downgraded all cornerbacks due to your own team's lack of need. Need becomes a factor, though, when multiple players with negligible differences in their grades are available when you're on the clock. When all else is equal, or close to it, you draft the position you need. That's how BAP works in my book.

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Derek from Eau Claire, WI

What is the purpose for having both the combine and the pro days? With the game tape being the ultimate decision-driver, it seems like too much. Is it for more players to get exposure or the same players to get more exposure?

Both, and occasionally for players who didn't work out at the combine due to injury (or other reasons) to post all their testing numbers.

Bill from Raleigh, NC

Hi Mike, the athleticism of NFL players is off the charts ... speed, power, endurance, agility, but what about intelligence? We'll be seeing Wonderlic scores from the combine soon. Without mentioning names, do you ever see players fail because they are not smart enough? Great coaches seem to be able to disguise what their players are about to do, so film study and instant recognition seem vital.

The Wonderlic isn't the be-all, end-all of football intelligence, but it's hard to make it if you're not smart enough. One time I recall interviewing a player right after a particularly rough individual performance early in the year. Often in those instances players will understandably deflect questions, say they need to see the game film, etc. But this was different. It was clear to me he had absolutely no idea how poorly he had played. No clue. When he was cut by midseason, I was not surprised.

Jon from Rapid City, SD

Going by the current roster (yes, it can change) and with guys on IR, there are very few numbers that Ty can choose from. I think it's a good bet he is No. 44 at RB next season. Any bets?

That's definitely an option now and would make sense in relation to 88. I've also wondered if his choice will be related somehow to his college number, 7.

Matt from Hartford, WI

Who was your favorite ballplayer growing up?

It was always tough for me to choose between Paul Molitor and Robin Yount. As an adult, I attended both games when their numbers were retired.

Benjamin from Bear, DE

You're the GM and you just asked Clay Matthews and Randall Cobb to take pay cuts in order to free up cap space. They both say no. It's your move Mr. GM, what do you do?

I tried to pre-empt this conversation a few days ago, dancing around the subject by discussing whether you can be better without said player, but not everyone seems to have gotten the hint. So I should have just started here: You don't ask a player to take a pay cut unless you're fully prepared to release him and watch him play for someone else. I'm not the GM, but I don't think in 2017 the defense gets better without Matthews, nor the offense without Cobb, so I'm not going there.

Rich from Grand Rapids, MI

Adapt or die. Draft and develop works best when you can, you know, develop players. The new CBA makes that far more difficult, certainly in the short term. I do not see that Thompson has adapted, even marginally, to the increased difficulty in coaching up players in an era of fewer OTAs, training camp sessions, and in-season practices. It seems the snake that has bitten our D in recent years is an inability to understand what to do (too many blown assignments) that may have been alleviated (or eliminated) with more veteran presence. As a fan, I would feel better about the Thompson philosophy if he didn't leave so many position groups without a veteran presence (ILB and CB come to mind for 2016).

There's some merit to your argument, but I will point out that 2016 began with one of the defense's most veteran presences at cornerback. It's difficult to cover every possible scenario that might unfold.

Pierre from Holbrook, AZ

I can't wait to see what becomes of this Jimmy Garoppolo situation. If the Patriots get a second-rounder for him, that could be our benchmark for Hundley.

Whoa, hold on. Garoppolo was a second-round pick who has two NFL starts to his name. Hundley was a fifth-rounder with essentially one preseason under his belt thus far. I think Hundley has a bright future in this league, but any benchmark talk is ludicrous. Hundley will be watched very closely in the 2017 preseason, especially if Rodgers plays minimally again and Hundley gets a lot of work early in games.

Jeffeory from Bloomington, IL

Am I the only fan who thinks unless there's a player (Clinton-Dix) that falls to where need and perceived value meet, we'd be better off trading out of the first round? The value is insane and trading back has worked out very well for TT and the draft team in the past.

You're not alone, and I wouldn't rule it out.

Monty from Hazen, ND

I agree with you on the draft being a crapshoot. Theoretically, teams should look to trade back to gain picks. The one that comes to my mind is the trade back in 2008 that netted Jordy Nelson. Can you think of any other examples of where the Pack came out well on a trade down?

The Nelson trade is the only time Thompson has traded out of the first round, but second-round trades down produced Daryn Colledge and Greg Jennings in 2006, and Eddie Lacy in 2013. Also in '13, Thompson traded out of the third round and got David Bakhtiari early in the fourth, then used extra late-round picks from the Lacy and Bakhtiari trades to move up and get Johnathan Franklin later in the fourth. There's always method to the madness.

Josh from Glenwood, IA

TT's first couple of drafts featured a number of trades that acquired him more picks. Since that time there have been a couple of trades (up or down) but much more of a draft where they are. Is this a function of how the team is built, a change in philosophy, or unwillingness by other teams to participate in trades? As frustrating as the trade back is to watch, I certainly think there is a lot of merit to a large draft class every year.

It's all about how the board looks when your turn comes up, because you want to get the most value for your pick. If you have several guys you'd be happy with at your spot and can find a trading partner, you can move back several slots relatively sure one of your guys will be there and get more picks, boosting value. If you have only one, or very few options, worth taking at your spot, and your board drops off considerably in quality after that, you'd better grab one of those guys.

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