Fri, 29 Sep 2023

Inbox: It's the thrill of the chase

Packers
24 Mar 2023, 17:12 GMT+10

There’s a great opportunity on the defensive line for those ready to seize itWes Hodkiewicz

Adilson from Rotterdam, Netherlands

I really wish Mike would stop apologizing for giving long answers. It's those well-thought-out, insightful responses that I enjoy and teach me the most (especially the one in response to Tom from Highland Village, TX). I can't be the only one who thinks so.

I've never once apologized for a long answer, and as many of you can attest, I'm guilty of having numerous opportunities to do so over the last seven years. So, take heart, Michael.

Venny from Montgomery, AL

Another note in response to Jim from St. Paul, MN. In the last 30 years there have only been three teams to win more than two Super Bowls: The Patriots (exception to the rule), Cowboys (more than 25 years since their dynasty ended), and Broncos (17 years between titles). While it's disappointing that the Packers haven't won more given the number of bites at the apple, a crapshoot sounds like an accurate assessment to me.

Be thankful for the titles you've won and relentless in the pursuit for more...but never get discouraged. The climb is continual, and it extends from generation-to-generation.

Darren from Wakefield, MI

Don Majkowski was arguably the next QB to give GB hope since Lynn Dickey. The "Cardiac Pack" sure was fun to watch. When Majik went down, my heart sank to my gut. "Who's this Brett guy?" We found out. When Brett left, we asked, "What's this Aaron guy got?" We found out. Now we ask the same for Jordan Love. Not that Love will be a Hall of Famer, or will he, but I'm excited for the next we-don't-know-and-soon-find-out time. Isn't this why, we, fans watch for years?

It's about the thrill of the chase. It's the excitement of identifying and developing the next Patrick Mahomes or Joe Burrow. In Mahomes' case, it took one season behind Alex Smith for Kansas City to feel its young first-round pick was ready to take the wheel. As we saw with Aaron Rodgers and Favre, there's only one way to know if that QB can drive.

Ric from Longmont, CO

I'd "Love" for Bob from Myrtle Beach to list the lower-paid quarterbacks from "most" of the Super Bowl winning teams. Maybe he was talking about the ones on the practice squads, or before free agency?

Again, they're called franchise quarterbacks for a reason. It's surveying for oil, not digging for water. Teams either have a franchise quarterback or learn how to win without one, but that doesn't make the latter the preferred option. The Cincinnati Bengals' turnaround ties directly to drafting Burrow three years ago. If you find the man, you don't give up the man because their impact goes well beyond Super Bowls - they represent hope.

Tom from St Johns, MI

Thank you, guys, for what you do for II. I feel you will really earn your pay in a transitional year. I'm looking forward to seeing Matt LaFleur coach and get the credit he deserves rather than it going to AR12. This team has a lot of potential at WR and skill at running back and OL. If the second-year players come through, the defense will shine. Is TE the biggest need? Are there enough draft prospects to fill that need? Do you think we will be able to re-sign Adrian Amos at safety? Or find a replacement?

The Packers' need at "tight end" is in the eye of the beholder and dependent on whether Brian Gutekunst and LaFleur feel they need a premier prospect at that position to get the offense where it wants to be. The depth of this year's draft class adds to the appeal. Without any knowledge of what the Packers intend to do at safety, I believe re-signing Rudy Ford gives them some flexibility over the next month. He's a six-year veteran who played quite a bit last year despite first joining the team before the start of the regular season.

David from Sahuarita, AZ

Green Bay had a defensive line last year that was mediocre at best. I agree with not signing Dean Lowry and Jarran Reed, but we need bodies and good ones. I think this will be a looming problem in 2023.

I could see the Packers adding a value free agent to the defensive line like they did last week with safety Tarvarius Moore, but improvement will still need to come from within. Green Bay has been preparing for this scenario, though. It drafted three defensive linemen the past two years, including first-round pick Devonte Wyatt, with knowledge of what the roster might look like in 2023. For the young D-linemen on the roster, it's a great opportunity for those ready to seize it.

Jon from Soldiers Grove, WI

I am very appreciative of the question Dean from Leavenworth asked as well as Mike's response. I have had the same thoughts but couldn't word it without it sounding like a criticism of Rodgers. And that isn't what I wanted to express. Guess that's why I build sheds instead of doing what you do for a living. Thanks for what you do.

Jon, there's no shame in that. I wish I knew how to build a shed. But Mike raised a salient point. While the Packers have enjoyed a lot of success during the LaFleur-Rodgers era, this scheme grew in popularity because it's widely viewed as QB friendly. LaFleur has been in this position many times before, and when the time comes, those experiences have prepared him to build an offense around a young QB with Love's immense talent.

Brian from Columbia, MO

Gentlemen, I have a question about Packer QB2s of the last decade or so. In terms of raw talent, which of them would you rank highest? If you were the GM, are there any you'd try to bring back with Love and the current coaching staff?

Most are retired so I'm not sure how many former Packers QBs realistically could return outside of Tim Boyle. In terms of raw talent - and assuming we're not counting the three weeks Vince Young spent with the Packers in 2013 - Jordan Love is the top QB2 Green Bay has had during the Rodgers era. He's a first-round talent with a big arm. But if Love is to Rodgers what Rodgers was to Favre, then I'd add Matt Flynn is the Doug Pederson to Rodgers' Favre. He was a dependable No. 2 who knew the offense and even won some big games for this football team.

Joe from Wausau, WI

Wes, maybe you can make things right with David Bakhtiari by giving him a ride to practice every morning.

Yeah, so I got a little irritated on Twitter Tuesday morning. Dave and Elgton Jenkins are tremendous teammates and leaders. I have no doubt both will step up if Rodgers departs. But I named Aaron Jones, specifically, in the column because he could be the only returning offensive captain. My only point was Jones is a natural leader. He may not be boisterous, but Jones is accountable, disciplined and doesn't shy from the big moments. He's already been a great mentor to AJ Dillon the past three years. He can easily handle those responsibilities.

Doug from Neenah, WI

Good morning, Wes. Now we're hearing the Jets trade might not reach its final conclusion until the eve of the draft. Does this lack of financial certainty impact Green Bay's ability to compete for free agents early in the process? Thanks.

No. With Russ Ball working the books, the Packers know exactly where they stand with the salary cap. It's a tight squeeze regardless of whether Rodgers is on or off this 2023 roster. Truthfully, I'm OK with how Green Bay has handled the offseason so far. It retained Jones and extended its two most important free agents: Elgton Jenkins and Keisean Nixon. As I've written about before, Gutekunst has found some gems in late spring and summer. This thing is far from over.

James from Appleton, WI

Can the Packers' pre-draft voluntary workout have any effect on their draft plans and strategy? Given the few months since the staff has last seen the players and the drills they run, what can they learn about their players that they didn't already know?

I just think it's good to get that face-to-face interaction in a more casual setting. By and large, Gutekunst has used pre-draft visits to bring in more top-tier prospects than Ted Thompson did. In that way, it has been a good barometer of which players the Packers could draft. Last year's pre-draft visits included six eventual picks: Christian Watson, Devonte Wyatt, Romeo Doubs, Samori Toure, Rasheed Walker, and Tariq Carpenter.

Bruce from Jackson, WI

Wes, I think it's conceivable the Packers could turn their entire WRs room over within a two-year period this offseason; at least those with game experience. Has this ever happened before? Besides a tight end, I could see us adding a veteran and a couple more rookie WRs during the draft. Because of the rookies' injuries last year, let's hope the veteran has a healthy background unlike last year's veteran additions. Another versatile OL to protect Love sounds good, as well. Thoughts?

That's an interesting observation. Donald Driver's 13-year run in Green Bay binded multiple generations of Packers receivers together. Driver started his career with Antonio Freeman and Bill Schroeder, and finished with Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings, James Jones, and Randall Cobb. While I'm sure there are pre-Lofton examples of Green Bay's receivers room turning over quickly, I don't recall another time when the Packers have completely reshaped their receiving corps over the span of 24 months. It's definitely a new day.

George from Edinburg, VA

Good morning, gentlemen! Having snapped every snap for my undefeated high school team in the metropolis of New Auburn, I can only imagine the chore of an NFL long snapper. Considering our recent rash of blocked kicks, how much of that is on the center (speed, precision, blocking), possibly affecting the decision between Jack Coco and Matt Orzech.

There is no easy answer there, George. No different than offense, solid punt protection requires all 11 to play as one. Special teams are complex. As Spoff outlined Wednesday, the long-snapping competition is shaping up to be the best we've seen during my time with the Packers. Orzech is no street free agent. He's been there, won that and had his foot in the door for four years now. May the best snapper win.

Jeffrey from Eveleth, MN

I can see why a player would want an agent negotiating on their behalf without the player directly involved. Who would want to sit across the table listening to their employer tell them why they shouldn't get paid versus why they should? Let the agent roll in that mud for you.

Exactly. That's also why arbitration in Major League Baseball is so unsettling to me. "Hey, Corbin Burnes. We love you. You're one of the greatest pitchers in Milwaukee Brewers history. But here's our list of reasons for why you should make $750,000 less this year."

Brian from Charlottesville, VA

Your answer the other day about Julio Jones got me wondering what it would look like if both Jones and Marcedes Lewis were Packers. Not from a we-must-get-this-free-agent-now-to-win perspective but thinking about both as veteran mentors who could still be distractions for defenses. Would Jones and Lewis blocking and running underneath routes open up the field for a speedy guy like Christian Watson, for example?

Injuries quickly have piled up for Jones as he's grown older. Now 34, Jones is coming off career lows in receptions (24), receiving yards (299) and yards per catch (12.5) but obviously still has a wealth of knowledge to share. Gutekunst said he'd like to have a veteran on the roster, but your guess is as good as mine as far as who that individual might be.

Brendan from Warren, MI

Good morning, Wes! I thought Avida from VA asked a great question about the personal side of the business for journalists and how it might hurt to see someone walk out of the Lambeau doors for good. Who would be your Mount Rushmore of Packers players you and Mike have covered over the years, from a personal perspective? We've heard a lot of good things about Tramon Williams, "Big Dog," Aaron Jones, etc., curious if you could do a top four. Appreciate all that you guys do!

It's difficult to narrow down that list to just four. There are so many affable personalities in the Packers' locker room. Allen Lazard and Robert Tonyan were two of my favorites. They both maintained their humility during their journey from undrafted free agents to starting players. Micah Hyde, Lucas Patrick and Justin McCray were incredible dudes, too. Marcedes Lewis and Kenny Clark are probably the two with whom I share the most common interests. Both guys are big fans of UFC and Clark also was a WWE fan growing up. Lewis is one of the only people I know who can go toe-to-toe with me on UFC and general knowledge of Mixed Martial Arts. He's a diehard.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

If you could pick one player other than Jordan Love to be All-Pro this season, who would you pick?

Aaron Jones. Nothing would help a young starting QB more than having the best running back in the game.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Hi Wes! Now that Jordan Love will presumably be a regular at the interview podium have you given any thought to the question(s) you will ask him when he is next made available to the Packer media?

"So...how was your offseason?"

Arthur from Eau Claire, WI

I loved the spanking Mike gave Jim from St. Paul. I am always amazed at people wanting to blame someone by using a reference from an era where the rules and regulations were vastly different. In my research (which could be wrong) this is the reason that the adage "Comparing apples to oranges" was created.

Feisty Spoff is best Spoff.

Benjamin from Burlington, VT

Never any need to apologize for long answers, gents. It just means perhaps a few more ticks before I have to bus my lunch dishes and get back to work!

You are the real MVP, Benjamin. Have a great Thursday, and to everyone whose NCAA brackets have not yet busted, I wish you good fortune tonight in the games to come.

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