Sun, 20 Jun 2021

Inbox: The Packers will be ready for that challenge

Packers
14 May 2021, 18:12 GMT+10

A gnarly schedule on paper doesn’t always tell the full story Wes Hodkiewicz

Kirsten from Madison, WI

Week 13 is late for a bye. But I'm guessing we'll be grateful for a week to rest up and get healthy just as we head into the final stretch of the season and, fingers crossed, on to a Super Bowl run.

Week 13 is late for a bye, really late. It's so late the first time I glanced at the 2021 schedule on Wednesday I said to myself, "This must be wrong. There's no bye here." Oh, it's after Thanksgiving...I've covered two Packers teams that had Week 4 byes - and I remember those final 12 games being an absolute grind. This will be the opposite of that. But maybe it'll be a good thing, a quick breather in the midst of a playoff push. The Packers know what they're in for. They'll be ready for that challenge.

H.R. from Las Vegas, NV

Two straight years the Packers play the last game of the season on the road at Detroit. They also have only two stretches with multiple home games, one of which is split by the really late bye week. No schedule is perfect, but they both start and end on the road. What the heck?

It's also the third straight year the Packers will start the season on the road (but second time in three years with the finale in Detroit ... last year was at Chicago). Listen, there are weird quirks to every schedule. That's the rub of the green, no pun intended.

Ross from Hudson, WI

WOW! Only six noon Sunday games and five primetime games. When was the last time that happened? Looks like the NFL is betting heavy on No. 12 being under center this year.

And only one of those noon games is at Lambeau Field. The Packers haven't played many noon games in recent years but that's often been a product of games being flexed. Spoff has been doing this longer than me, but this is the fewest noon games I remember on an initial schedule in some time.

Gary from Davenport, IA

Only one noon home game on the schedule. That probably didn't thrill you guys.

No...but it's not about me. It's about the people.

Florian from Kronach, Germany

Riding the "it's not whom you play but when you play 'em" horse, I do like the Packers playing at New Orleans in Week 1, hoping the Saints will still have some issues after Brees' departure. Might be much harder to play them after some weeks of getting "tuned." Your thoughts?

That's kind of how things worked out last year. That's not to say the Packers couldn't have beaten the Saints twice, but New Orleans was vastly different come the playoffs than it was in Week 3. And that 37-30 win ultimately was the difference between the Packers claiming the No. 1 seed in the NFC. A gnarly schedule on paper doesn't always tell the full story. I covered this league long enough to know preseason perception doesn't often equate to postseason reality.

Graydon from Menomonie, WI

What game on the Packers' schedule do you see as a potential trap game?

Washington. The Packers will have to mind their P's and Q's in Week 7. That game is going to feel like an oasis in between two-game road trips. But we learned last year how cunning Ron Rivera and his staff are. Green Bay can't afford to treat that game like a layup.

Neal from Ft Worth, TX

Good morning Wes. Loved the piece on Amari Rodgers. Well done! With the WR room intact from last year, would you expect him to total more rushing or receiving yards in his rookie year?

Thanks Neal. I do think he'll have more receiving yards in Year 1. Amari Rodgers is 5-foot-9, 212 pounds, and previously played running back, but I expect him to be factor in the passing game this year. He brings a skill set to the Packers' offense that it hasn't had since Randall Cobb left three years ago, whether it's in the slot, jet motions or just gadget concepts. If his massive YAC and slot production at Clemson were any indication, Rodgers is a guy you want to get the ball to in space.

Craig from Brookfield, WI

On QB toolsets: For a time, everyone looked for the classic tall pocket passer. Then, the run-pass threat came into vogue (Vick, Newton and Jackson). Given the evolution of the passing game, and the longevity issues for run-pass QBs, is the current desire of GMs for more of a pocket passer who has just enough run ability to evade the rush? Where on the continuum do you see Jordan Love and Justin Fields?

I'd agree with that sentiment. In my opinion, Aaron Rodgers is the perfect example of a QB who could cut up a defense from the pocket but also possesses the speed to keep defenses honest with his feet. I still have a lot to learn about Love, the quarterback, but it seems like he knew how to balance the two well at Utah State, and his 40 time was pretty much on par with Rodgers'. If Fields' 4.4 time in the 40 is accurate, he could be a real problem for NFL defenses. That is, of course, if he knows how to use that speed to his advantage at the next level.

Geoffrey from Rosemount, MN

When was the last time Ohio State put out a successful pro quarterback? I can't remember a successful one in recent memory, and we all know the Bears haven't found their guy at quarterback since Sid Luckman. Maybe Fields ends up being the man, but I think odds are against him. Plus, I think there is a chance he sees his second head coach in as many seasons this time next year.

Man...I didn't realize how good this question was until I looked it up. I mean, who is the best Ohio State QB in the NFL? Tom Tupa?

Jim from McLean, VA

Hi Wes! After your take on the next big NFL dates, I'm looking at the offseason period from the schedule release through June 8 as a beautiful mystery.

I am taking this offseason day-by-day, hour-by-hour and minute-by-minute. This weekend, we have rookie minicamp. Then, there's a week of organized team activities. Once June 8 rolls out, I'll start taking attendance.

Dave from Huntsville, AL

Blake Bortles, eh?

That's what they're saying. I've heard nothing but good things about Bortles. It sounds like he's a solid dude. If that's the direction the Packers go, it makes sense on a number of fronts.

Jeffrey from Wauwatosa, WI

Hi guys, so Gutey becomes GM and in his first draft he spends a fifth-round pick on a punter, and later on a second-rounder on a guard and another second on a center. It's hard for me to imagine TT doing any of these things. Are the two just that markedly different, or has the game changed to the extent that positions once considered not to be high-value positions now are?

Gutekunst is a little more aggressive than Thompson but I don't think his draft philosophy differs greatly from his predecessor. Thompson never drafted a punter but it's not like he didn't value that position or interior offensive lineman. Heck, one of his second-round picks, Daryn Colledge, primarily played guard in the NFL. If anything, I think the league had its eyes opened to the value of centers and guards over the past decade.

David from Appleton, WI

Hello Insiders! The Packers don't want to bring David Bakhtiari back too soon from his ACL tear. What is the "normal" recovery time from an ACL tear according to the training staff? When is the window open for him to return to the roster? Is he a PUP candidate at the beginning of the season?

Again, you can't paint everyone into a box of "normal." As I wrote this past week, Amari Rodgers came back in five months. For others, it can be nine months to a year. Bakhtiari will be back when Bakhtiari is ready.

Ed from Windsor, CO

What non-traditional numbers, with the new rules, have been requested by players, or assigned by the team?

Maybe a few guys will request new numbers after players report for the offseason program, but right now Amari Rodgers (No. 8) is the only Packers player who has taken advantage of the expansion of numbers.

Richard from Madison, WI

Speaking of versatile offensive linemen, don't just limit yourselves to the ability to swap positions or catch tackle-eligible passes. There's a guy who used to play center who turned out to be a genius with a microphone. Do you remember his name?

The most versatile Packer of all-time - Larry McCarren.

Robert from Salem, MA

Seeing where the roster is, is there one free agent out there, regardless of what their cost would be, that could add the most to the roster?

He's not a free agent but seeing the reports out there that the Arizona Cardinals were open to trading Jordan Hicks raised my antenna. He's an inside linebacker who can help a lot of teams if the Cardinals choose to part with him.

Matt from Bloomington, IN

I usually try not to be the guy to point out silly mistakes, but tagging Jordan Love as one of the guys "playing that pseudo-H-back role" Tuesday was something I just couldn't pass up commenting on. I can't imagine a first-round QB playing a role so dramatically different than his drafted position!

I wanted to quickly address the obvious that we had some formatting issues when Inbox was posted on Tuesday. A couple questions got jumbled together and John Lovett was incorrectly tagged as Jordan Love (which creates the hyperlink). It all got straightened out before Inbox tweeted out but of course so many of you caught it.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

To ease the mind of Matt from Durango, CO, I suggest he read a recent article about Jalen Rose. It seems he has touched off a landslide of children with his name or a spelling variation. My guess is that Matt LaFleur will touch off a naming frenzy amongst Packers fans who we know have a worldwide presence. I imagine we will be meeting Mat, Maat, Maht and a host of others that my imagination can't fathom, before long.

Kind of like how the number of babies named "Brett" or "Bret" inflated exponentially in Brown County in the 1990s?

Michael from Alameda, CA

Wes, or Mike, remember the Killer B's defense of the '70s Miami Dolphins? With the following players on the Packers, AJ Dillon, Aaron Jones, Aaron Rodgers, Amari Rodgers, Allen Lazard and Davante Adams, I propose we nickname our offense "The A Team."

Sure!

Adam from Greensboro, NC

Had to go look at the Forbes list for most valuable sports franchises and man the McCaskeys made a very good purchase back in 1920. Did they really only pay $100 for a team which is now worth $3.53 billion? Wish my monetary decisions in life could have worked out just as well.

Or my great grandparents'...

Matt from Waterloo, IA

Wes, what's your favorite "Star Wars" movie? For me, it's "Empire Strikes Back" hands down.

"Rogue One." It broke from status quo and offered the audience a different take on the franchise. I loved it.

Phil from Marietta, GA

Here in the greater Atlanta area, we don't say soda or pop. We say, "Would you like a coke?" When the reply is affirmative, we ask what kind and may get any answer in the soft drink spectrum, including Pepsi. But true fans down here just want the season to start - no matter what they're drinking or who plays QB. And we still bleed Green and Gold. So, we have that going for us...

Coincidentally, in the Hod household, whenever Ma Hod asks me, "Would you like a tea?" and I reply in the affirmative, she hands me a lemonade. To each their own.

Joe from Wauwatosa, WI

Culver's or Chick-Fil-A?

HAHAHAHA. Good one. Culver's versus the world, bro.

Scott from Lincoln City, OR

Wes, I'm guessing it may be a generational thing, but I'll give you one more chance to prove you're a genuine Wisconsinite: drinking fountain or bubbler?

I try to say "drinking fountain," but a "bubbler" occasionally will pop out here and there.

Gary from Belle Mead, NJ

Growing up in 414, it was soda. My freshman roommate at college from La Crosse called it sodapop, though. I figured it must have been some kind of compromise with Minnesotans from across the border!

Well, that's just ridiculous.

Bruce from Jackson, WI

Mike/Wes, excellent job on the player profiles this past week guys. It's obvious when not answering knucklehead questions in the II you both have a gift for interviewing members of the organization and producing quality stories. The determination shown by both Rodgers and Isaiah McDuffie to overcome injuries shows their passion for the game. How about doing a feature profiling a half dozen II loyalists every quarter, or monthly during the year? We all have great stories you might find interesting.

Thank you, Bruce. We both appreciate that. It's fun learning about these incoming players. And yes, we've enjoyed learning your stories, as well. Well, most of you.

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