Fri, 12 Aug 2022

Teams must be ready for anything and everything on the offensive lineWes Hodkiewicz

Mike from Keshena, WI

So, Weston, you do your 1/11th. It's a two-man column. Not much math required.

Au contraire, Magic Mike. Jen Brien and Joidon Jennings post the column most mornings. My bosses, Duke Bobber and Kregg Shilbauer, edit it with Spoff. Ryan Hartwig, Steven Hudy and Kelsey Tehan link Inbox to our social channels, and Kristen "Krispy" Shand sends out the Friday newsletter. There's also Tyler Gajewski, who has several cats. As you can see, it's an 11-person team. I'm just one small ant climbing up this cold mountain.

Mark from Columbia, SC

As far as come-from-behind victories against Minnesota, how about Brett Favre to Antonio Freeman, on his back during a rainy night, ball hitting his back and grabbing it out of the air. Then, getting up and running it in for a touchdown. The Pack never led in that game until that walk-off play!

Just to clarify, Spoff told me he was only thinking of games in which the Packers trailed late and came from behind to win. In Freeman's Monday Night Miracle, the game was tied the entire fourth quarter and into OT. Whatever the case, it certainly was a classic moment and another reminder the all-time greats find ways to win. I'll also never forget that image of referee Dick Hantak, smiling in disbelief with the whistle in his mouth, while the play was under review.

Dar from Mansfield, TX

Wes, last year between the dead zone and Week 1 the team signed two key veteran free agents: De'Vondre Campbell and Dennis Kelly. This year, I don't necessarily see similar problems with depth. Would you say the over/under might be around 1½ for veteran free agents Brian Gutekunst signs between now and the Vikings game?

I'll say one...and it could come at a position you might not expect. None of us knows what the Packers' board of remaining free agents looks like, but I promise you it's somewhere up there in the personnel department.

Brian from Las Vegas, NV

Insiders, I keep having recurring nightmares that Sammy Watkins, Randall Cobb and Allen Lazard all freakishly are out due to injuries, and we are flying it on a wing and a prayer. Would that put emphasis on a primary running game first scenario, and would it put pressure on the defense to control the game outcome?

I said it after the Davante trade and I'm going to say it again now - it is going to be OK, Brian from Las Vegas. There will be hurdles, and occasional injuries, but the offense will find a way. Whether it's run, pass or teleportation, the Packers will move the ball in 2022.

Mike from San Diego, CA

If the Packers find great success with this receiver room, is that more a testament and enough to move the needle for a Matt LaFleur COY or would that better support a case for Aaron Rodgers and three-in-a-row MVP (assuming we are not comparing against the currently unknown field)?

I'll say Rodgers pulling the three-peat because I have no earthly idea what the AP voters are looking for in their NFL Coach of the Year selections. You'll make yourself sick keeping your eyes fixed on that ever-moving target.

Jeff from Mesa, AZ

Regarding Spoff's response to Mark from Eureka, the largest benefit to cross-training OL comes on game day, when the dress limit is 46 players and usually means only eight OL.

I immediately think of Lucas Patrick anytime this conversation pops up. Patrick was a tryout player at the Packers' rookie minicamp in 2016 who played exclusively at guard during his time at Duke. He learns center in Green Bay, and five years later, he's starting 11 games at center after Josh Myers injured his knee in Chicago. Teams must be ready for anything and everything on the offensive line.

Ryan from Baldwin, WI

Hi Insiders! I figure this might be a good dead zone question. If quarterback is widely recognized and the most important position in all of sports, what other positions are in the top five? Pitcher? Goalie?

Pitcher (starter and closer) and goalie, for sure. NBA has become increasingly position-less but the "Superstar" role is in there. I think back to those playoff games between the Bucks and Nets, where everyone and their second cousin knew Giannis and Durant were getting the ball and nobody could do anything about it. NFL kicker might be, too. The course of Packers history might be drastically different without Mason Crosby, Ryan Longwell and Chris Jacke.

Jeremy from Abbotsford, Canada

I've recently wondered if Vic missed something in his cap philosophy: Salary inflation. Teams that aggressively push money out gain space to sign more deals at today's prices. While this strategy can increase the likelihood of dead cap for players that get hurt or drop off, surely buying at lower prices wins out in the long run?

And to be fair to Vic (and really all of us), void years have taken on a life of their own.

John from Yakima, WA

Given the snapper-holder changes, does Mason Crosby play in all three preseason games?

I think it's still likely Crosby plays all three preseason games, but with Gabe Brkic on the roster, the Packers certainly have the option of giving Crosby a game off, including possibly the San Francisco matchup. That's a game where I imagine most veterans won't even make the trip.

Paul from Ellensburg, WA

Hey fellas, with Jarran Reed signing, what do you see as Devonte Wyatt's role this year? Also, if you could pass along to Matthew from Placerville (a small town) to tell Scott Sinner "Hi" for me, that would be great.

No different than Kenny Clark in 2016. Wyatt doesn't need to be a superstar in Week 1...he just needs to develop, learn from those around him, and be ready if he's the next man up at some point...and Paul says hi, Scott.

Joe from Wauwatosa, WI

Tyler Davis was waived by the Jacksonville Jaguars, and within 28 days went through going to the Colts' practice squad, all the way to the Packers' active roster, to now a "name to watch out for" a bit next year. That's quite a rise. How is it that two teams' (Jacksonville and GB) evaluation of someone is so different? It is not really that Jacksonville doesn't have time to let someone develop. I guess just shows what makes a good franchise vs. historically bad...talent evaluation.

Robert Tonyan was cut by the Lions and out of football for three months before the Packers signed him to the taxi squad in December 2017. Some prospects smack you in the face with their promise. With others, teams have to scratch at the dirt a little more in search of that hidden potential. The Packers have a knack for digging a little deeper when it comes to identifying those prospects.

Mark from Homewood, AL

I'm with you on choosing a top defense based on points allowed. As some old coach once said, "If they don't score, we can't lose."

True, but you also have the Packers' 2011 defense that finished dead last in total yards but much of that had to do with the opposition passing to keep up with Green Bay's prodigious scoring offense. I don't think there is a right or wrong answer here, but I judge defense by the eye test more than anything else. Are you confident, when all the chips are down, that you have the defenders and scheme to get you where you need to go?

Phil from Madison, WI

As you mentioned for Jarrett Boykin, many players spend a year or three in the NFL, and if it doesn't work out end up with a career in the CFL. Just out of curiosity, how do average salaries compare between the two leagues?

It's sizeable. The minimum salary in the CFL is $65,000 for a season. Winnipeg quarterback Zach Collaros is the league's highest-paid player ($550,000 this year). Comparatively, the minimum salary for a rookie who spends the entire season on an NFL practice squad is $207,000 in 2022.

Bob from Racine, WI

Gentlemen: Might we get a story about Caleb Jones? At 6-foot-9 and 370 pounds, I'd like your perspective on his chances of making the team. I don't recall the Pack having a man that large.

We'll probably write one in training camp at some point. It's easy to talk about Jones and his size, but what impressed me most during the offseason program was his athleticism. Now we have to see how he plays in game situations, but Jones appears to be much than just an imposing presence at tackle.

Paul from Cottage Grove, WI

I always feel bad when I read about a really good player who leaves the game right before the team wins a championship. Are there any examples on the Packers that seem the most unfair?

Aaron Kampman leaving a year too early and Randall Cobb arriving a year too late.

Mike from Sacramento, CA

What would it take for a receiver to win MVP? A record-breaking year for a receiver usually means a career year for their quarterback and they usually get the nod instead.

A move to running back.

Eric from Mequon, WI

Fill in the blank: The Packers going 6-0 in the division this year is ___.

...possible regardless of whether the starters play in the preseason.

Ben from Fort Worth, TX

Dead-zone question/comment for a couple of web journalists. I get almost all my news online, sports and otherwise. It is common for a news story to report a tweet(s), and they will quote the tweet(s) verbatim in the article and then show the actual tweet(s), which is redundant and annoying. This is a peeve of mine, and maybe there is a valid reason for this, and if so, please let me know. Maybe some browsers don't show embedded tweets?

There is a valid reason for this - you can't derive clicks from a tweet, especially if it wasn't your tweet. So, we're seeing more and more aggregators posting tweets and bits of information that often show up on your Facebook wall with some scandalous headline like "Five things the Packers want you to know about Mike Spofford (and five things they want you to forget)." We are living in interesting times, indeed.

Jesse from Menifee, CA

With "The Nothing" upon us and we are all fighting for Fantasia, I was imagining watching great coaches and players I would like to see perform a game-film breakdown. I was thinking maybe Belichick breaking down Super Bowl XLV. Given the opportunity to watch any single game film broken down by all-time great coach(es) or player(s), what game would you choose and who would do the breakdowns? If Vic is/was the Southern Oracle, who would you be, Bastian, Atreyu, Falkor?

I'd be Carl Coreander in the bookshop, telling kids to buzz off and not play so many video games. I'd love to sit down with Vince Lombardi and break down the Ice Bowl - what the Packers' plan was, how they adapted to the frozen field and the challenge of keeping your men motivated when those weather conditions would have made a weakling like me reconsider my line of work.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

I imagine being exceptionally talented writers hasn't come without its share of critical analysis from the educators that have helped to refine your skills. Your stories have revealed that critical evaluation of the diverse athletes you cover has been a driving force. Has it been difficult to accept well-meant critiques as you have grown as journalists? Is there a specific instance of criticism that motivated you more than others? Have you ever asked that question of athletes in your stories?

Not at all. You can't get better as a writer if you're not open to constructive criticism - key word being "constructive." Spoff and I go through that with our writing all the time, whether it's me seeking his opinion on how I outlined a story or Spoff asking me what I thought of his lede. More often than not, it leads to a much better story for the reader. The best instance of criticism motivating me came in college. I was a TA for our journalism professor, and she had the students read a story from our student newspaper and do a review. The guy who picked my story - who didn't know I was in the class - was insulting and ruthless in his critique. But he also was right - my lede was meandering and confusing. It was a good reminder that not everything you write is going to be fantastic.

Kevin from Louisville, KY

Here's a classic Dead Zone question for you, Wes. Since we now know you will eat cheese on pizza, what are your top three pizza spots in Green Bay? My girlfriend and I are bringing her son for his first Lambeau visit in a couple weeks and the kid is a pizza nut. Thanks for all you do.

Rustique, Luigi's Pizza Palace II and Cranky Pat's.

Glenn from Mechanicsville, VA

My son and I are lifelong Packers fans, 56 and 25 years. We have decided to get some type of Packers tattoos. Any suggestions?

Don't?

Jason from Rockton, IL

Hey Mike and Wes, regarding the sweetest sound in sports, it has to be the sound of a 95-mph fastball being smashed by an old hickory bat into the bleachers! A close second would be the roar that follows moments such as these. The consolation prize would go to the sound of a beer (root if you wish) being cracked at a slow-pitch softball game and the refreshed "ahhhh" that follows!

And now you've opened the door to one of the most unforgettable sounds I've ever heard at a baseball game. Many years ago, I went to a Brewers game with my buddy Nick, and we got seats down the first-base line right before the game. The game starts and Prince Fielder cracks a liner foul in our direction. I didn't bring my glove, so we immediately turtle up. The fella three rows in front of us didn't get the memo. The ball, having not touched anything since screaming off Fielder's bat, smashes into the dude's face and obliterates his orbital bone. It took forever and a day for the first responders to get there, so we're all handing the poor guy our white giveaway T-shirts to cover up the blood (which was everywhere). I'll never forget that sound. It was like someone heaved a chuck roast against a brick wall as hard as they could. Prince then hit a homer on the next pitch. Have a great Tuesday, everyone.

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