Tue, 03 Oct 2023

Inbox: Aside from the obvious answers

04 Jun 2023, 18:12 GMT+10

Close calls for the final spots are commonMike Spofford

Jay from Altoona, WI

OTAs continue next week with the mandatory minicamp on June 13-15. When can we expect the Packers to announce the training camp schedule?

Anytime this month, but exactly when I can't say. I promise as soon as we have it, we'll post it.

Dar from Mansfield, TX

Spoff, in discussing this being Jordan Love's first season at the helm, much mention has been made of Aaron Rodgers and the 2008 team going 6-10, his first as a starter. According to my recollection, which could be wrong, the defense failed in at least three or four of those losses. I remember thinking the future was bright; they were good enough to be a playoff with their young QB had only the defense been more stout. Am I misremembering?

Well, the defensive coaching staff was overhauled heading into 2009, so that was a pretty big clue. Rodgers failed on some opportunities in the first half of 2008 to win games late, and Crosby missed a kick at the horn in Minnesota in early November. Then the defense had an abysmal Monday night performance in New Orleans and proceeded to give up late scores that cost games the next four straight weeks.

James from Asheville, NC

If offensive line and safety are the deepest aspects of this roster, where do you see the most opportunity for a player to play their way into a vital role?

Tight end and defensive line.

TK from Grafton, WI

Does draft status play a part as the coaches and players sort out positional battles?

Not that I've seen. Draft status can occasionally factor into final roster decisions, because of the long-term investments made in certain players. But when it comes to who's the starter vs. backup, the best player at that particular time generally gets the nod.

Charlie from Kalispell, MT

Not a question but in regards to the most dangerous play, I believe hurdling a defensive player is more dangerous than returning a kickoff. Your thoughts.

I tend to agree. That's how Nick Collins' career ended.

James from Chicago, IL

Tanking an NFL season is virtually impossible. It would require an owner to convince 53 players, and a coaching staff full of highly competitive individuals that winning doesn't matter, their stats don't matter, their performance-based bonuses don't matter, and in tanking they'd be sacrificing their next job and/or contracts (so convince them their future paychecks don't matter either). A draft lottery wouldn't convince teams not to tank, the reality of NFL business is deterring teams from tanking.

I tend to agree again.

Joe from Pittsburgh, PA

Why do certain teams like the Packers and Steelers officially retire certain numbers, while others like Hornung's No. 5 and Bradshaw's No. 12 go into mothballs, not retired per se but never given to another player. I'm not for the Celtics' way of hanging 105 banners from the rafters, but at least it makes it official instead of this guessing game. If the number is no longer being distributed, then retire it for heaven's sake.


Thomas from Cedar Rapids, IA

Now I want a Curtis Burrow "5" jersey just to be able to tell the story.

While Burrow played for Lindy Infante, for the record it was Forrest Gregg as head coach who first issued No. 5, 20 years after Hornung hung it up. Backup QB Vince Ferragamo wore it in '86, along with replacement QB Willie Gillus in '87 and also Majkowski as a rookie in '87 (before he switched to No. 7 in '88).

Joe from Hampshire, IL

Hi Mike. "The league requires players wishing to change jersey numbers to buy out the current allotment of unsold jerseys." In the Packers' case, is that just jerseys currently in the Pro Shop? Does it include jerseys that have already been manufactured at that point in time by official "NFL approved vendors" or? Thanks.

If it's been made by a league-sanctioned producer, they have to buy it.

Ron from Mitchell, SD

How is Tucker Kraft doing at OTAs? Have not heard much coverage about him lately.

He was not participating in the practice we watched Wednesday, and injuries are not divulged this time of year. I saw him walking around and he looked fine, for whatever that's worth.

Gary from Cross Plains, WI

Well now I'm curious about parking. I recall that player parking moved (underground?) But what is it actually like for everyone? Do players/coaches have separate parking area from other team employees or are you intermingled with them? Are spots reserved or first come/first serve? Which players (or your media co-workers) drive massive trucks that take up two spots?

Players and coaches have parking separate from employees. We just park in the main Lambeau lot but leave the public areas closest to the building open for fans coming to visit the Atrium, Pro Shop, restaurant, etc.

Dennis from Beavercreek, OH

Wes, after reading your answer about the QB's footwork on Thursday I got to thinking. So you are saying that proper footwork is the foundation for accurate passes. So it all starts with the feet and moves up.

Bingo. The footwork on a play is also timed up to the route progressions, so proper footwork is required for the ball to be delivered on time as well.

Zak from Huntington Beach, CA

When do the players vote for team captains? I'm guessing we'll have several players getting their first gold star on their jerseys, as the only two shoo-ins I see this year are Aaron Jones and Jordan Love. I remember Jaire being disappointed to not be chosen last year. Have you seen any changes in his leadership skills since the last vote, and/or do you think the result of that vote was simply due to him being injured for a large part of the previous season?

The voting for captains takes place during the lead-up to Week 1, after the preseason and roster decisions. I'm sure Jaire Alexander's exclusion last year was at least partly influenced by him missing the vast majority of the previous season, so we'll see what happens this time. I'd be surprised if Kenny Clark is not a captain, but again, we shall see. LaFleur has often said a ton of guys get votes, so close calls for the final spots are common.

Randy from Billings, MT

Are Rasul Douglas and Alexander forfeiting their workout bonuses? $300,000 for Douglas and $700,000 for Alexander seems like incentive to be at the voluntary workouts. Are they making a statement?

Those workout bonuses are based on a percentage of offseason program participation, usually in the 70-80% range. So guys can be gone here and there and still participate enough to collect. Remember, there were five weeks of voluntary offseason workouts before OTAs began.

Alex from Sanford, FL

With the talk of Mark Murphy's retirement coming in 2025, I wondered if there is anyone already within the organization that seems to be the logical next in line? Or are there any outside candidates you feel might make a good fit? (I know this is still two years away, but I was curious.)

A popular question. COO Ed Policy is a logical internal candidate. Externally I haven't a clue.

Michael from Bloomington, IN

Serious question: Does (respectfully) disagreeing with either Mike or Wes's take automatically bar/ban someone from getting published on II? Wes believes the current backup QB situation (Danny Etling + Sean Clifford = 0 combined NFL regular-season passes) needs no adjusting and he seems pretty dismissive about anyone thinking otherwise. Injuries happen. Concussion protocol is a real thing. If Love becomes unavailable nothing suggests the team would be in "good shape" at QB in the short or long term.

Wes and I disagree somewhat on this issue. I believe a big reason a veteran backup QB isn't here is the team's salary cap situation, and the prices being commanded by experienced backups. If the cost comes down and, when the offseason work concludes or even after training camp starts, the Packers feel the potential upgrade would be significant enough, I could see them bringing one in.

Bob from Port St. Lucie, FL

Mike, there always seems to be one or two UDFAs who make the team. Have you noticed anyone stand out at this early date?

Not really. I don't give much thought to a UDFA's place on the depth chart or chances of making the roster until the pads go on during training camp.

Luke from Port Alsworth, AK

I have a few questions on the topic of the playbook and study: Do all the players have the same playbook? Is there a team playbook or is it offense/defense/special teams? If it is a separate playbook, how far does that go? A receiver book vs. a lineman's book, or is simply by what side of the ball you play on? Then for a single play what is the depth of instructions/directions given? What I'm asking is when a player studies a playbook, what does he actually do? Thanks for any insight.

There are separate playbooks for O/D/ST, and they're all electronic, so position coaches can share notes with their players on specific points of emphasis and/or a study focus. Generally speaking, receivers need to know what all receivers are doing on a given play. Same with the linemen, if they're rotating between guard and tackle for instance. The first priority is to get one's individual assignments down within his position group, but over time as that knowledge expands, players progress from knowing the "what" about certain concepts to the "why," and then adding/learning new concepts becomes a lot easier.

Jason from Austin, TX

Mike, I was thinking back on some of our playoff losses for some bizarre reason, and started wondering which Arizona loss would have a bigger impact on Rodgers' legacy if the outcome was flipped. The 2009 loss was before he ever won a Super Bowl, but the team looked like it was really clicking only for it to end on a no-call facemask. The 2015 loss reversal would be forever talked about as one of the best comebacks of all time and a statue of Jeff Janis would be built outside Lambeau Field.

The Packers were so banged up at receiver in the '15 playoffs (Adams went down in Washington, then that microphone pack punctured Cobb's lung early in Arizona, and Janis messed up his back on the Hail Mary TD) that it's hard for me to see them going to Carolina and beating that Panthers squad in the NFC title game. Would've liked the chance, of course, but those Cardinals were healthy and still got walloped. So a win there, as miraculous and memorable as it would've been, might only have added another one-game-away loss to his legacy here. The bigger curiosity for me is '09. Not for the reasons you think, though. Had the Packers won that game - say the first-play-of-OT heave to Jennings is on target to end it - I've always wondered, with serious trepidation, what might've happened had Rodgers faced that bounty-hunting Saints defense the following week. Does something happen that changes the course of, like, everything? Rodgers was much younger than Kurt Warner or Brett Favre, but the Saints mercilessly pummeled both of those guys in the divisional and championship rounds. It became Warner's last hurrah, and Favre wasn't anywhere near the same player in '10. There's potentially an alternate history of the Rodgers era to be written if he wins his first playoff game. Maybe that'll be the book I tackle in retirement if I have the urge to explore fiction writing.

Laura from Pittsburgh, PA

Who are you most looking forward to watching this year?

Aside from the obvious answers of Jordan Love or one of the high rookie draft picks, I'll say Rashan Gary when he returns from injury.

Jackson from Wausau, WI

Spoff, I'm an avid crappie fisherman myself. Do you fall into the live bait is the only bait, plastics, or a combination of both? There's no better sight to me than a slip bobber being pulled slowly under by a big crappie.

I've always used plastic jigs, which is how I was taught by my late father-in-law, whom we unfortunately lost last fall. I knew nothing about fishing until meeting him, so I'm forever grateful he introduced me to a new, enjoyable pastime. That slow pull combined with the classic flop on the surface confirming the identity of your catch ... there's just something about it. Happy Friday.

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