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Who will be the next to step up?

This move keeps the train moving


Chris from Racine, WI

What are your thoughts on the type of GM Brian Gutekunst will be for someone that knows nothing about him?

Gutekunst is yet another protégé from the Ron Wolf personnel tree and been a continuous member of the Packers' personnel department for nearly 20 years. He learned from two of the best in the business in Wolf and Ted Thompson. Time will tell what Gutekunst's philosophy will be towards player acquisition, but he has a good blueprint to work from when it comes to the draft and free agency.

Nick from Sturtevant, WI

It never ceases to amaze me how deep the Ron Wolf tree runs, and how much of an impact it will have on this organization for years to come.

Ron Wolf's legacy will forever be rebuilding the Packers into a championship organization. His 11-year run will go down as one of the most impressive reclamation projects in NFL history. However, Wolf's lasting impact on the league is what makes him an undeniable Pro Football Hall of Famer. His scouting tree has produced six GMs within 17 years of his retirement, along with dozens of other personnel executives across the league who developed under his watch.

Ben from Las Vegas, NV

Does the Gutekunst promotion change the approach to or delay signing Rodgers to an extension? Will Ball stay on board?


The Green Bay Packers officially named Brian Gutekunst as GM on Jan. 8, 2018. Photos by Evan Siegle, Tyler Gajewski & Matt Becker, packers.com.

I think this move keeps the train moving. The Packers have a well-rounded, homegrown scout making the final calls on player acquisition and Ball handling contracts. I don't think Green Bay gets enough credit for how it's managed the cap over the past 10 years. Yes, the Packers have had to make tough calls on players, but they haven't found themselves in "cap jail" like many other contending teams have. We'll see what happens with a Rodgers extension in the coming year, but the pieces are in place for the Packers' personnel department to get a deal done.**

Mitch from Waukesha, WI

What do we need to know about Brian Gutekunst?

He's a very talented personnel evaluator who's spent the past 20 years in the Packers' organization. He's steadily climbed the ranks en route to becoming a valued member of Thompson's small council. He played football at UW-LaCrosse in the mid-90s before deciding to try his hand at coaching and scouting. Football runs deep in his family. His father, John, was the head coach at the University of Minnesota from 1985-91.

Keith from Lincoln, IL

OK, how do we pronounce Gutekunst? Thanks!


Steve from Wauwatosa, WI

So strange. The NFL playoffs are going full tilt and the Packers website is deadsville. I don't like it. Please Mr. Murphy, never let this happen again!

They're working on it. Mark Murphy and Mike McCarthy understand how important this offseason is for getting the Packers back on the playoff track. They want this year to be the anomaly. This reboot is intended to reestablish the standard Packers fans grown used to over the past decade.

Mike from Boscobel, WI

The last time we saw Aaron Rodgers play, he underthrew long balls. I have never seen him do that before. How do we know that he will ever come back totally?

*Because he won't be thrown immediately into a playoff push following a two-month layoff. Rodgers is going to be just fine. I'd put your worry tokens into a different jar. *

Braden from Aurora, CO

Wes, happy Monday! It seems from McCarthy's comments whoever is the next OC/DC will be expected to do a better job of developing the "next man up." How does a head coach get a feel for a coach's ability to develop young players, if they haven't worked with them before?

One specific coach isn't responsible for developing the roster – it takes a village. This is when you build it. Green Bay has talent on both sides of the ball, but it just didn't fit quite right the past two seasons. I think the Packers are looking for individuals who will help tie all the pieces together.

Jake from St Clair Shores, MI

You're the new GM of the Green Bay Packers. Its draft day and you're on the clock. Which position do you address first: Wide receiver? Edge rusher? Defensive tackle? Go.

Wait, I'm the new GM? News to me. What a surprise. What an honor. Based on those three options, I'd say edge rusher. The Packers need to get more pressure on the quarterback next season.

Nate from Pueblo, CO

Any chance Ted Thompson stays with the Packers as a scout?

The details of Thompson's new position still need to get ironed out, but scouting is what he does best. As Murphy said last week, Thompson has a wealth of knowledge that'll serve the Packers well. He might not be making the final call anymore, but at the end of the day, scouts scout. It's a great opportunity for him to continue doing what he loves.

Jake from St Clair Shores, MI

What is your opinion on Montravius Adams moving forward and how much of an impact could he have on the D-line next season? With Daniels, Clark, Adams and possibly additional help from the draft, this defensive front could be scary good in 2018.

Adams is a bit of an enigma. He only played 65 defensive snaps during his rookie year. Adams missed all but two practices in training camp due to foot surgery, setting his development back. Like Vince Biegel, this will be an important offseason for him to gain comfort in this defense. As a team and as players, the offseason is when you grow. That second-year jump is so big. Just look at Kenny Clark and Blake Martinez. Who will be next to step up?

Matt from Greensboro, NC

If a player ends the season in the concussion protocol (Davante Adams), are they still monitored by the team? Does the independent neurologist "clear him" when he's healthy in offseason?

Based on what I recall from the Sam Shields situation from 2016, players stay in communication with the independent neurologist throughout the process. Adams is a little different because he passed the protocol after the season finale in Detroit.

James from Chicago, IL

Why does it seem the Packers (in regards to Aaron Rodgers) are the only ones held to the "They've only won one Super Bowl" standard? I've never heard fans nor the media speak of the Saints or Falcons wasting the prime years of Brees or Ryan's careers.

If you've read this column long enough, you know I have strong feelings on this topic. Rather than repeating my stance, I'll just say this phenomenon is not unique to Green Bay. Every team feels pressure to win it all. Believe it or not, it happened in New England, too, when Brady went 10 years without a Super Bowl. Manning went 10 years without a Super Bowl. Roethlisberger hasn't won one in almost a decade. Titles are elusive, but you never stop chasing.

Dan from Grand Rapids, MI

How much of the Patriots' dynasty do you think can be attributed to the weakness of the AFC? Not only does that lead to a top seed most years for the Patriots (Kudos to them for avoiding upsets in the playoffs) but they seemingly always open the playoffs with a divisional game against a team that is usually not seen as playoff caliber. Whereas in the NFC a 6 seed is usually a "hot" team that no one wants to play.

I don't think you can write that story without acknowledging that fact. There's a reason why the AFC Super Bowl representative has been either Brady, Manning or Roethlisberger in like 16 of the past 17 years, right?

Charlie from Ali Al Salem, Kuwait

Hi guys, my favorite part of the Inbox is the balance you both find. Everyday there is enough seriousness, insight, and wisdom in both the questions you choose and the answers you give. Yet you include enough goofiness, ridiculousness, and absurdity to keep it fun! My question is regarding the personnel changes at GM, OC, and DC. Is it possible those responsible for these changes have specific replacements in mind already? If not, I see the organization just making a change for the sake of making a change.

You don't make a change because you immediately know who you're going to hire. You make a change because you want to find out what's behind Door No. 2. You have a general idea of what you're looking for, but the search process is what helps make the decision. You might have an inkling about whether a certain individual might be a good fit, but it's in those interviews where you really get an idea of who you're dealing with.

Thomas from Milwaukee, WI

Marcus Mariota reminded me a lot of Brett Favre last night. The pass to himself for the touchdown? The huge block on Frank Zombo to seal it? Did you notice that?

You haven't arrived as an NFL QB until you've complete a pass to yourself. Mariota is a gamer. This hasn't been his best year, but he has so much athletic ability.

Ned from Houlton, ME

Erik Walden and Zombo playing against each other last night. Would have been nice to have one of them on the roster this year.

Walden was a nice signing for the Titans. He fits that Capers/LeBeau system well. Frankly, I was surprised how little interest he received last offseason after putting together an 11-sack season in his last year in Indianapolis. Zombo is a high-effort player and a credit to him for the career he's carved out for himself, but it looked like he got beat on a few of those runs (including the last first down). He's started 20 games for KC the past two years, but only has 2½ sacks during that time. Vince from Janesville, WI

Has anybody in the front office of the Packer organization thought about bringing Brett Favre in for the replacement of Dom Capers?


Keith from Lincoln, IL

Seeing Dick LeBeau rally the Titans defense around him on the sidelines Saturday raised this question for me: With Dom Capers up in the booth, which Packers coach this last year was 'his voice' on the sidelines during games?

Capers had a direct line of communication with the player wearing the headset (usually Blake Martinez). However, associate head coach/linebackers Winston Moss previously handled those duties and served as Capers' voice on the sidelines.

Jonathan from Paducah, KY

Just watched the first half of Bills at Jags. I couldn't help but think either one those teams would love to have Hundley. I'd for sure take Hundley before Bortles. Thoughts?

It was another reminder of how difficult it is to play quarterback at this level. I saw Jacksonville and Buffalo doing a lot of the same stuff the Packers did with Hundley at quarterback – read-option runs and designed rollouts to escape the pocket. Conversely, you also saw two terrific defensive pressure packages. I enjoyed watching this game for every reason other than the quarterback play.

Craig from Perth, United Kingdom

More catch-gate in the Bills versus Jaguars game. If that is a receiver catching that, would it be incomplete?

That wasn't catch-gate. That was a catch. I don't care if that's a receiver, defensive back or punter. Jalen Ramsey did a remarkable job on that play. He's a field-tilter. I had a bigger issue with Taylor being slammed to the turf than the catch/no-catch.

Ryan from Noblesville, IN

Wow, the Rams got screwed by the officiating crew on a few plays. But the one that really stumped me was when the Rams threw a pass to Gurley, he caught it for a first down within the 10, ran up to the line of scrimmage, and spiked the ball quickly. Then before they could run another play the refs stopped the game to review the catch from two plays before. How can they do that? Review (and overturn) the play before the last play?

That was a new one for me, too. If I understand what Ed Hochuli was saying correctly, the snap on the spike didn't happen because the Falcons player was offsides. Since the player was offsides, it allowed the booth to review the previous play. So yeah.

Jim from Bowie, TX

During the wild-card game between the Bills/Jags, Tyrod Taylor gets hit helmet-to-helmet while sliding. Penalty is called. Two plays later, he is hit same way while he is running and the announcers say this is legal because he is a runner. I thought helmet to helmet hits were never legal now, what am I missing? I have only watched football for fifty years and don't know the rules anymore, would you explain this one more time?

I feel your pain, Jim. There are greater protections for the quarterback when he's in the pocket and sliding than when he tucks it and is declared a runner. This is why T.J. Watt wasn't fined and/or flagged for his helmet-to-helmet hit with Brett Hundley two months ago. I know, I know, it doesn't make sense. The league needs to look into this.

Paula from Minneapolis, MN

Love reading the column. Kudos to both of you for having a sense of humor during some tough weeks. I am curious about the other folks employed by the Packers organization. I know that there are many Hall of Fame, Pro Shop and venue employees who are plenty busy during the offseason. What other types of jobs (besides coaching, management and media - related) are year round in the Packers' organization? For example, are equipment staff employed year round?

The NFL is a year-round business. I can't speak for every department, but I know there's little let up with my job. That's not unique, though. Most Americans work crazy long hours. I couldn't even guess how many hours the full-time members of the equipment staff pull year-round. Many boats sail through their waters.

Mitch from Stillwater, MN

Good morning. With the Raiders hiring Jon Gruden, do you think there is any chance they might let Jared Cook go? If so, do you think there is a chance he would come back to Green Bay or too much bad blood?

I'm not sure what Gruden going back to Los Angeles has to do with Cook, but I don't see the Raiders letting him go. Cook is a good player and proved to be a good fit for their offense. Also, there wasn't any bad blood with Cook. Teammates and coaches love him. He was a great teammate.

Omar from Buenos Aires, Argentina

Ignorant question: could it be Michael Clark, TE?

I think the focus right now is playing Clark at receiver. He's a pretty lean guy with speed and a good catch radius for the boundary.

Daniel from Los Angeles, CA

Insiders, I love Mason Crosby as much as the next guy but I'm thinking we should trade him for Josh Lambo just to have him at Lambeau. Thoughts?

I don't want to speak for Mason, but I'm guessing his response would be something like, "I'm not even mad. That's amazing."

Paul from Ottawa, Canada

Busy week for you guys, I would assume. Just wanted to let you know that "I think we'll pass on the Lambeau mausoleum." has been the funniest thing I've read on the internet all week.

I'm a little more than a year into the process of routinely answering fan questions. Yet, some never cease to amaze me. I'm not sure whether it was supposed to be humorous, but I laughed. I felt it provided a much-needed break from all the seriousness surrounding the GM and coaching searches.

Tristan from Durham, NC

I'm with Andrew from Fullerton. The fan base got what they wanted, but I can't help but think of the coaches that had to explain to their families that the reason everyone has to move again is because too many people got angry watching TV on Sunday. Change was needed, but we don't have to take satisfaction in it. Here's to a good new year for you and Spoff.

Exactly. You asked for change. You got it. That's how the NFL works. I just don't take satisfaction in anyone, in any walk of life, losing their job. Maybe I'm sensitive to it because I came from the newspaper industry and saw my fair share of it firsthand, but it's just a sore spot for me. It's why I rarely, if ever, entertain questions that begin with "When are we going to cut/fire (insert name here)."

Greg from Hamilton, Ontario

I just saw "Pitch Perfect 2." How would you rate the performances of the Green Bay Packers?

T.J. Lang and David Bakhtiari were electric. I was disappointed to learn the Packers weren't in the third movie.

Patrick from Ashland, WI

Not a single question mark for your answers. I noticed. My New Year's resolution is to make more humane questions for you men, and to treat you better. I love this column. Do people share their resolutions here? Will you share yours?

*Thank you. This column is best served civil. My New Year's resolution was to be a better husband and to be home more for dinner. *

Jack from Naperville, IL

Hi Wes, has Baby Hod made any New Year's resolutions yet?

Don't be like his dad.

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