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What's Green Bay without the Packers?

The hard count is an art as much as a skill


Mike from Somerset, WI

Mike, which player has the biggest jump in stats from the addition of Bennett and Kendricks? I believe it's Jordy Nelson. I believe he will threaten Randy Moss's touchdown record.

I'm going with Randall Cobb.

Scott from Hamlin, NY

To Tyrus from South Range, don't forget about the girls names. I have Lynn and Taylor. Adderley is on her way. I couldn't get Whitney past the missus, however.

I was planning on naming my son Tanner until my wife, at about seven months pregnant, saw the original "Bad News Bears." That ended that.

Bill from Menominee, MI

Here's an offseason topic: Do you ever predict penalty yardage on a touchdown to be enforced on the extra point versus on the following kickoff? Seems like a great way to add some importance to a taunting, holding, or pass interference.

We've discussed this before. For a personal foul or other non-declined penalty that by rule is now enforced on the kickoff, I think the team benefiting from the penalty should get the option of enforcing it on the PAT.

Tim from Madison, WI

Didn't Chip Kelly try to create a "system quarterback" with his offense? He made Nick Foles a star for one season and was hailed an innovator. Then the league figured him out.

The system can make the quarterback better, or the quarterback can make the system better. In today's NFL, the latter is the more prudent choice.

Greg from Danbury, CT

Waterbury? That place is an armpit. Then again, so it may have been for Green Bay if not for the Packers.

I was working at the Press-Gazette when the referendum on the Lambeau Field renovation was held. I distinctly remember a discussion I had with our news columnist, who never held back his thoughts. He wrote and spoke adamantly in favor of approving the sales tax to renovate the stadium, and when I played devil's advocate with the arguments against (taxpayer dollars for millionaires' playgrounds, etc.), he just said one thing. "You know what Green Bay would be without the Packers? Beloit." I have nothing against Beloit, but I had no comeback.

Fearn from Rolling Meadows, IL

You're not diggin' the new NFL franchise, the Charleston Chews?

I haven't had one of those since I was about 11.

Dan from Libertyville, IL

From someone like you who's with the team in person frequently, how much mass has Ty Montgomery put on this offseason?

Montgomery has always been in great shape, but he looked even more lean, compact, chiseled – whatever term you want to use – than I recalled. That was what I noticed.

Anton from Green Bay, WI

If I remember it right at some point the teams have to submit a first look of their depth chart to the league and the media. As I don't know the exact date anymore, maybe you can tell me?

It usually comes out just before the first preseason game, but I wouldn't put much stock in it.

Lee from Marshfield, WI

Is there one thing you could tell us about Mike McCarthy that we don't already know?

His executive assistant is the sister of a gal I took to dinner once who lived in the dorm room directly above mine my freshman year in college. I'm not joking. It truly is a small world.

Tom from Westfield, MA

Do you have to have your number retired in order to make the ring? If not, I don't know why they wouldn't want to add Woodson's name to the ring and add to the mystique.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees are posted on the east and west sides of the stadium. The retired numbers are listed separately on the north end.

Michael from Fredonia, WI

We know Wes is a big "Game of Thrones" fan. I've been binge-watching "The Sopranos" after years of putting it off due to bad reviews of the series finale. Do you have a favorite HBO series?

I really, really liked "The Newsroom." Fantastic show.

Ben from Denver, CO

To Craig from Vancouver, I always tell my girlfriend, and she calls me crazy, if you allowed me to pick the weather for a Packer game, I'm picking 2 degrees with some snow every single day of the week, twice on Sundays. There is NOTHING like making the road trip to Lambeau in your shorts and T-shirt with all your gear (long underwear, jeans, snowpants, long-sleeve T-shirts, sweater, sweatshirts, another sweatshirt, winter jacket, hat, gloves, hand-warmers) all in the back seat. Then when you park, before you dare open the door, everyone crammed in the car puts layers and layers and layers on. The walk to the stadium, and the beer jacket, takes all that cold away. THAT, in my opinion, is an experience that cannot be matched in any other stadium anywhere in the world. Just my two cents.

I need to take a Sunday off this December and get me a beer jacket.

Dave from Fairbanks, AK

Spoff, I have to agree with you about the favorite Rodgers throw – fourth-and-goal with 56 seconds left to Jordy leaning out of bounds to catch the ball. The wife (a Falcons fan) and I were there, and after Bryant kicked the 47-yard field goal to win it for Atlanta, I leaned over to her and said, "The better team lost tonight." And we all know how that season ended.

It will take a lot for that throw to be topped for me, but I hope it is someday.

Sam from Saratoga Springs, NY

A word on NFC/AFC parity. In the last 14 seasons, the NFC has been represented in the Super Bowl by 12 different quarterbacks, with only Eli Manning and Russell Wilson going more than once. In the same amount of time, the AFC has been represented by four QBs: Brady, Manning, Roethlisberger, with Joe Flacco being the only AFC QB to get to only one Super Bowl (so far). Additionally, those same four guys make up the losing QBs in nine of 14 AFC Championship Games. That seems crazy to me.

I didn't know the stat about nine of the losing QBs in AFC title games. That clearly underscores the point.

Joseph from South Jordan, UT

The other thing that really bugged me about the Rodgers' facemask incident is the no contact with a quarterback's head rule was also ignored.

Indeed, and the clarification that it must be "forcible" contact to a quarterback's head wasn't added to the rule until 2011.

Joe from Hartford, CT

Hi Mike, penalties and breaks always have a way of evening out. If my memory serves correct, the facemask call in the Detroit game a couple of years ago led to a Packer victory. It was as close to incidental as possible. Do you agree?

Maybe, but there would have been quite an outcry if Rodgers getting his head whipped around like that had not been called.

Griffin from Belmont, NC

The botched facemask call had me thinking. Has there ever been a time when a call was bad enough that the NFL admitted it and changed the outcome? It seems like we just hear the PC answer when something like this happens.

The league has publicly admitted botched calls before but never changed the outcome of a game, as far as I know. It has admitted many more blown calls privately to teams, who continue to get that kind of behind-closed-doors honesty if they don't breach the league's trust.

Matty from Durango, CA

Have rule changes actually made football safer? It seems like most injuries are caused by unintentional, unforeseen collisions that aren't really preventable.

Very true, but the league's efforts to limit the contact to the head and neck area are really the crux of the safety movement. Regarding the "legal" collisions, moving the kickoff up to increase touchbacks has reduced some of the higher-speed variety, but as long as there's still blocking and tackling, there will be ugly injuries in the game.

Adam from Saint Hyacinthe, Canada

Vic said that A-Rip will be the offense's breakout player, but if his performance last year isn't what a fullback's breakout season looks like, I don't know what is. Also, Trevor Davis seems like a good candidate. What do you think?

I'm curious as well what Vic means by picking Ripkowski as a breakout player. Davis is a candidate, but he's one of many young receivers in that category.

Marli from Denver, CO

Do you think Lowry could be moved outside and work as an OLB? Also, do you think we have enough depth at DT to add him to rush packages?

The Packers seem to be**grooming Lowry to play anywhere across the defensive front**, so it wouldn't surprise me if they try some packages with him as an oversized, stand-up edge-rusher, similar to the "elephant" position they've employed in the past with Peppers, Neal, Jones, etc.

Todd from Rochester, NY

Here's why arbitrary lists don't matter and why I don't pay attention to them. You'll never sell me on there being two players better than Rodgers today, let alone five.

There was a list?

Terry from Elk Mound, WI

I just read an article titled, "The 15 most egregious snubs from the NFL's 'Top 100 Players list" that made no mention of Bakhtiari. He is going to top the article I am writing titled, "The 5 most egregious snubs from the 15 most egregious snubs from the NFL's 'Top 100 Players list list." To prevent Wes from writing "The 2 most egregious snubs from the 5 most egregious snubs from the 15 most egregious snubs from the NFL's 'Top 100 Players list list list" who else should I include? And do I need all the "lists"? At first I thought I did, then I thought I didn't, and now my head just hurts.

Mine, too.

Bill from Iowa City, IA

If the Packers win the Super Bowl this season, how do you think it will affect the roster next year? Will players be more likely to move on or retire?

You honestly sound concerned. Here's to freaking out next February.

Matt from Hartford, WI

I was asked an interesting question the other day: "If you could change one thing about three teams in the NFL, what would they be?" My answers: 1. Texans name changed to the Oilers; 2. Redskins go back to the spear helmet emblem; 3. The Browns change their name to the Cleveland Bulldogs to honor Jim Thorpe and his Canton Bulldogs and use the Dawg Pound logo and white uniforms of the Paul Brown era. Do you have a list?

I don't have it in front of me, but as an addition to yours, I'd want that oil derrick back on the Houston helmet, pronto.

Corey from Mooresville, NC

When people talk about how certain quarterbacks, especially Rodgers, are masters of the hard count, what actually makes them so good at it? And why do you think some are better than others?

It's all about having the intensity, rhythm and inflection in the voice on a fake snap count mimic that used on a real one the defenders have heard before. Some don't have the acting chops. It's an art as much as a skill.

Craig from Brandon, WI

Not a question, but more of an observation. My son, who is going to be a freshman in high school, wasn't sure if he wanted to play football this year. After much deliberation he decided that he wanted to go out for the team. After the second practice this summer he had to go straight from practice to his baseball game. After the game (they lost), when we were driving home he said with no prompting from his mother or me, "Football practice was fun today." I asked him why football practice was fun. He said "I'm the smallest guy on the team, and I mean the smallest, and coach walked up to me and said, 'If you work hard and can tackle you will play.'" Later in practice when they were doing tackling drills he overheard the coach telling another coach, "That kid can tackle." He did well during the baseball game, but it didn't really matter. He was riding high from the coach's praise, and the fact that the coach doesn't care how big he is. He is a football lifer now.

Football's allure is powerful, but please tell your son that baseball is a great game, too.

Paul from Oshkosh, WI

"Neither does this one." So, you're saying that Wes is more athletic? Since we're all so bored during the offseason, I'd like to submit the following idea: Both Mike and Wes do a full set of combine drills. Post the video and the results on the site.

Re-submit your idea next winter. Things just might be slow, and cold, enough then to take you up on it.

Ryan from Noblesville, IN

Spoff, are you frustrated and burned out? Is this column getting to you? Do you need a break? It has been becoming more noticeable as of late. Step back, take a breath, don't let the questions get to you, imagine Biff riding an ostrich in a Barney costume, and then get back in there, champ.

Three more days before my two solo weeks in the office conclude. I don't need the ostrich. Biff in a Barney costume is good enough. Thanks.

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