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You never can have too many red-zone targets

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Andrew from Stevens Point, WI

Wes, I don't know why but every time I read your good morning I read it as Robin Williams would have in, "Good Morning Vietnam." It brings an excitement to me.

*Gooooooooooooooooood mornnnnnnnnnnnnning, Insider Inbox! Whatever works. *

Ron from Boerne, TX

With the large-scale structural changes made this spring in the front office, players, and coaching, why would anybody place the Packers as anything more than a rebuilding team this year?

**

Aaron Rodgers. I’m not saying the Packers win the Super Bowl last year if Rodgers stays healthy all year. There were issues and other injuries working against them. However, this was a 4-1 team before his collarbone. The 2017 season forced Green Bay to look itself in the mirror and make adjustments. The last time the Packers did that they won a Super Bowl within two years.**

Joe from Richmond, VA

Jimmy Graham Red Zone Isolation = TOUCHDOWN. Can we expect another 10 TD season for Jimmy with AR behind the wheel?

I’m steering clear of setting expectations for veteran tight ends for at least one season. Graham always has been a legit touchdown threat, though. Past experience has made him a savvier pass catcher in the red zone. As history has shown with Davante Adams, Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson, you never can have too many red-zone targets.

Pat from Pulaski, WI

Playing off of Hunter's comment from Stevens Point about teams that are pretty good next season that don't make the playoffs. Vic had said in the past, add two more teams in the playoff picture from each conference. I'd be happy with just one more. Really simple, the team with the best record in each conference gets a bye, and all other six teams play. Hate to see a team with 10 or even 11 wins possibly left out in the cold. It has happened before.

*I don’t want to see the NFL playoff structure changed at all. It’s a big deal to be one of the 12 teams that make the postseason. I’m not interested in watering that down. Your heart goes out to the 10-win teams that don’t make it, but that’s how it goes sometimes. *

Harry from San Mateo, CA

Love what you guys do – please keep it up on “Packers Unscripted” – would love to hear more about other dark-horse guys that you haven’t touched on recently – Kofi Amichia, Chris Odom, Herb Waters, Tyler Lancaster, etc. Love the deep dive on player journeys to the NFL, whether articles or interviews of players directly. Keep it coming.

A lot to unpack here. First, I’d highly encourage you to read *this story from Spoff on Lancaster. Mike lays everything out better than I could ever do in this space. Waters is still on his way back from the shoulder injury, Odom is getting a taste of his first offseason in Green Bay and Amichia is trying to put it all together. Those three guys have to take a step this summer.*

Kyle from Los Angeles, CA

A Dom Capers defense relied heavily on QB pressures and sacks and normally ranked correspondingly highly in those stats. How have Mike Pettine's defenses ranked in them? Edge rusher in a DC defense was a premier position because of this; is it still a "premier position" in MP's or did defensive line supersede it?

I wouldn’t say Pettine’s scheme features one position over another, but rather promotes balance. He’ll gladly accept an outside linebacker or lineman leading the defense in sacks. However, the success of the scheme isn’t solely predicated on that. Pettine’s defense can win a variety of different ways.

John from Colonial Beach, VA

I'm more curious about the surprise team(s) in the AFC. The NFC is a very loaded conference so it wouldn't surprise me to see any of the teams at the big dance in January, minus a handful or so. In the AFC you have perennial contenders like the Pats and Steelers. The Jags have a dominant defense and many teams have arrows pointing up. Who is your surprise team(s) in the AFC that could make a potential playoff push?

*The Houston Texans. *

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

As has been said by many the NFC looks incredibly strong and deep this year. I know MM likes to break the schedule into four-game segments, but this year I see it in six-, five- and six- game splits. Although difficult, if the Packers get off to a fast start I think 6-0 is possible or at least 5-1 going into the bye. The next five games look brutal and could wreak havoc on the season, especially if they get off to a bad start. The last five are a golden opportunity to finish strong. Do you think MM's BOLD offseason emphasis will be a great start leading up to the bye? Should it be?

Start fast, weather the midseason grind and finish strong. That’s how I look at it. The Packers are in a good spot to start fast with back-to-back division games at home and three of the first four at Lambeau. You build some momentum and channel it into a strong surge into the second and third quarters of the season.

Matthew from Oshkosh, WI

Insiders, what reasons are there for me to be excited about this year’s draft class? It seems like the 2017 rookies with King, Biegel and Jones had about the same amount of hype but none of those first-year players really produced much of anything on the defensive side of the ball. Is this class different? Or are we as fans just easily excited to see new faces on the roster? Can we realistically expect these new guys to contribute Day 1?

Be excited or don’t be excited. That’s up to you. It’s not my job to be a carnival barker, hyping up the draft class. It’s a deep and talented class of rookies, but nobody knows what these guys can do until they get on the field. I look for that 2017 class to take a jump and the 2018 rookies to make a fast transition to the pros. That’s all you can ask for.

David from Rogers City, MI

Insiders, I'm a dummy, please help! 53 guys on the roster, or 46? Or 90, or 11x2x2? (I understand the 90.) Just need clarification on how many men coach has at his disposal to put on the field. Thank you for your patience!

NFL teams have 90-man rosters during the offseason, 53-man rosters during the regular season and 46 available on game days.

Monty from Hazen, ND

After looking at the draft picks we had this year, do you think the team was focused on upgrading speed at, not just receiver, but all positions on the field?

*Yeah. Mike McCarthy said during the second day of rookie orientation that the Packers have wanted to improve their speed dating back to the 2016 NFC Championship Game in Atlanta. Furthermore, McCarthy and Brian Gutekunst discussed this offseason getting “bigger” as a team. There’s more to the game than speed and size, but those two areas definitely factored in the decision process. *

Wilson from Bowling Green, KY

CAN WE PLEASE LEAVE THE 49ERS OUT OF "GREAT TEAMS IN THE NFC.” They strung together some wins last season. Calm down. I’m not sold on GAPOPPOLO until a full offseason.

OK.

Joe from Bloomington, IN

On kickoffs, what about one point for bouncing it over the uprights, two for going through the uprights cleanly, three for hitting an upright and bouncing in, four for hitting the top of an upright and in, and seven for sticking the landing on an upright?

Wait, no eight-point play? Ridiculous.

Andrew from Fullerton, CA

Regarding the OL substitutions: if the RG goes down, and the sixth offensive lineman is a guard, you plug him in there. But if the LT goes down, instead of subbing in the next tackle (if he's the eighth-best OL on the team), you plug in the guard from the last example, and shuffle the other starters around? This must be why a guy like McCray, with so much position versatility, is so valuable. Or why we draft so many tackles and convert to interior line?

*I still prefer to make a one-for-one substitution than disrupting the line. I remember talking with T.J. Lang about this in the past when the Packers used to push him out to right tackle in emergency situations. The logic is there likely will be a drop-off at the injured position, so why create two of them by moving a starter out of his primary spot? Versatility is always a good thing, but I still lean toward subbing guards for guards, tackles for tackles and centers for centers.  *

Bill from Mediapolis, IA

Morning fellas, I have more of a comment than question. For what the Saints gave up in the draft to select Davenport and now I read he has signed his rookie contract. Have the Saints reached for this player or do they see something other teams don't see?

I don’t think it was a reach to take Davenport at No. 14. The bigger question is at what cost, though? First-round picks are serious capital in the NFL, but the Saints obviously feel Davenport is the missing piece for their defense. I had my trepidations about Davenport as a 3-4 OLB, but I think he’ll fit as a defensive end in New Orleans’ defense.

Roger from Indianapolis, IN

Both Brett Hundley and DeShone Kizer had losing seasons as QBs. Hundley was 3-7 as a third-year player, Kizer 0-16 as a rookie. Which one was more damaged by having a losing record with respect to finding an upside moving forward to being the No. 2 QB?

*It depends on how they respond. Hundley and Kizer dealt with their fair share of adversity last year. You have to take those lessons and apply them to the future. That’s where improvement comes from. Alex Smith had one of the roughest rookie seasons of any top draft pick in 2005, but he didn’t let it define him. *

Matt from Griffith, IN

Jeremy Jeffress has been dominant in a Brewers uniform, especially this year. Not so much when pitching for another team. Is there an NFL player you can think of who excelled in one uniform, left and struggled, then returned and found his former success?

The first one that comes to mind is Ted Ginn Jr. and the Panthers.

Geert from Old Windsor, UK

May I ask where all this enthusiasm about Reggie Gilbert and declaring him as the solution at OLB is coming from? He was an UFA, cut twice by the Packers with one career sack. What am I missing?

People love relative unknowns and longshots. I think that’s what endeared so many folks to Cullen Jenkins, an NFL Europe standout who became a big part of the Packers’ Super Bowl run in 2010. Not every UFA becomes Jenkins or Tramon Williams, but you won’t find the next one unless you try.

Eric from Antigo. WI

Help me understand the non-existent market for Dez Bryant. I am not implying the Packers should be signing him but to seemingly have no interest from any team baffles me. Is it because he was released after many teams had already signed other players and proximity to the draft?

Bryant is three seasons removed from his last 1,000-yard season. He’s also entering his ninth NFL season. The timing of his release, a month after the start of free agency, didn’t help his cause, either. The money flies in the opening days of free agency. Not so much in the weeks that follow.

Erik from Bonduel, WI

Am I wrong for kind of wanting to see AP come to Green Bay? I mean I know he’s 33 but he could bring some wisdom to the RB room and he should come cheap.

*Peterson has had a Hall of Fame career, but he plays a young man’s position in a young man’s league. The Packers have several talented, young running backs and a good leader in Ben Sirmans to guide them. *

Griffin from Naples, FL

I just saw Antonio Gates is a free agent. Would he be worth kicking the tires on?

*Here’s my weekend assignment for everyone. Go find a free agent who never has been to a Pro Bowl you think the Packers should sign and provide evidence. *

Ken from Wolcott, CT

If the NFL was to add another team, where would it go? One division can’t have five teams.

I think it’s highly unlikely the NFL adds more teams in the next 10 years or so. If it did, I think it would add two and realign divisions like the league did in 2002.

Darin from Madisonville, KY

If you’re looking for an Inbox intern, I know a guy who has two thumbs and would love that job. (It’s this guy.)

I’m not an easy person to work with. Just ask Kim Ippolito or Quinn Cretton.

Charlie from Cameron, NC

Mike and Wes, what a great week of stories and the Inbox! And it appears we made it through the week without otiose bloviating on what AR’s new contract might/should look like. Well done on all accounts. Thank you for filling the void for another week!

Wes Hodkiewicz. Filling the void since 1987.

Lyle from St. Louis, MO

Wes, what are you getting your wife and new mother for Mother's Day? Don't worry, she's too tired to read this.

*I got her a gas card. She has a long commute to work every day. That’s what she wanted. *

Anthony from Richmond, VA

Mark from Wheaton makes a good point about Ted Thompson leaving Gutekunst with a bunch of picks to help set him up for success in his first draft. While I liked Thompson and see this perspective, he shouldn't have let so many great players walk, especially those in the secondary like Hyde and Hayward (and possibly Burnett).

Let it go, let it go

Can't hold it back anymore

Let it go, let it go

Turn away and slam the door

I don't care what they're going to say

Let the storm rage on

The cold never bothered me anyway



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