Sun, 20 Sep 2020

Inbox: There's no better setup

07 Aug 2020, 18:12 GMT+10

Quite honestly, this one might mean just a little bit more

Dale from Port Washington, WI

So how many times did "I am serious - and don't call me Shirley" show up in the Inbox today?

Too many.

Daniel from Allen, TX

Wondering what the high mark on II is for breaking masks. I don't wear one at the office much because we have plenty of room to distance right now and I'm on the phone a lot. Yet still, I have broken about 10 so far. My daughter, who is a nurse, just laughs at me and reminds me to keep a backup around.

I've busted five or six. Fortunately, I keep a spare in my trunk next to the tire.

Mike from Ames, IA

Can you think of any past examples of Packers players whose careers benefited from postseason experience, as was mentioned as a possibility for Jace Sternberger? James Starks was the first name that popped in my head.

In terms of not having much of a resume before their postseason experience, then Starks is the right answer. But the first name that came to mind for me was Jordy Nelson. Now, he was on the come-up before the 2010-11 postseason but the run to Super Bowl XLV proved this guy was for real. The following year, Nelson became the receiver the Packers imagined he could be.

Jeff from Eveleth, MN

If the Vikings trot out two or three rookies on opening day in the secondary, would you expect the Packers to throw 50 or so passes with very little emphasis on the run, even though they want to be run oriented?

Possibly, but quality also counts. It's not just quantity. You could throw 50 times against a young secondary and still not be effective if the game plan is predicable and stale. It's like a boxer. You need to set up the knockout punch...and there's no better setup than a solid run game.

Elliot from Hopkins, MN

Will we be seeing an AJ Dillon and Jamaal Williams backfield with Aaron Jones in the slot (wearing No. 33) for the first play of the season?

I get the light-hearted nature of the question but I'll use it to reiterate nothing would surprise me after seeing how Matt LaFleur utilized his running backs in 2019. It's entirely possible we see all three running backs on the field together. Additionally, Sternberger and Josiah Deguara can play H-back and who knows what John Lovett may bring to the offense should he make the team.

Kevin from Janesville, WI

Thanks for the coverage guys! I'm sure it's pretty low on the priority list for the organization, but have you heard anything about what throwback jerseys we will be sporting this year? I remember loving the blue and gold ever since the first time I saw them as a kid in '94. I bought Jordy's throwback after his release and am still proud to wear it saying, "He'll never be a bad Packer."

The Packers were eligible to change their third jersey this year but are taking a one-year hiatus after everything that's happened. The throwbacks will be back in 2021.

Joe from Wauwatosa, WI

While it's very obvious COVID-19 is very transmittable and doesn't pick and choose victims, does a team like the Packers gain an advantage by being in an extremely small town? It seems the chances of the virus infiltrating a team in Green Bay would be way less than a team in say a city with the population size of Chicago or Dallas or San Francisco, for example. Just a thought I had and not really quantifiable, but what are your thoughts there?

There aren't as many distractions in Green Bay but the virus is still here. As I think I've mentioned before, Green Bay was actually 16th in daily cases per 100,000. That's not awesome. If players, coaches and personnel aren't making the right choices, they're putting each other at risk. In that regard, it doesn't matter which city you're in. So be smart, be accountable and stay healthy.

Ken from Arvada, CO

If a head coach, coordinator or position coach contracts the virus during the year and is well enough to do so, does the league have a provision in place for him to coach the game from home or isolation?

It's the same procedure as for the players. The coach's primary focus is on recovery, not coaching from home. The coach is eligible to return only after passing COVID tests and meeting all the standards that have been put in place. What I do not know is how much contact the coach can have with fellow coaches and players during the rest of the week.

Kary from Sheboygan, WI

Will the sidelines look any different when games do (hopefully) start? Will the players/coaches be able to freely move about, or are they being confined to position groups in certain areas of the field? Can players even celebrate with other players as they leave the field? Will a game-ending kick be just the kicker celebrating?

It's going to look different. How different? Only time will tell. Overall, I expect celebrations will be tempered this year but I'm sure there are players who already have ideas for socially distanced celebrations.

Parker from Atlanta, GA

A name I've not seen brought up often when mentioning the Packers' receivers is Jake Kumerow. Aaron Rodgers has mentioned that he trusts Kumerow on multiple occasions, but we haven't seen much of him. He did make a few really nice plays last season, and there's a lot to like about the guy. What can he improve upon to make a leap and stand out this season?

Kumerow is the wild card in this whole equation. Because even though Kumerow is the oldest receiver in the room at 28, I still feel like there's so much we've yet to learn about his game. He only caught 12 passes on 328 offensive snaps last year but he averaged 18.3 yards on those receptions. He has big-play potential and certainly has Rodgers' trust. That goes a long way. Two months from now, Kumerow could very well be the biggest beneficiary of Geronimo Allison's departure and Devin Funchess' decision to opt out.

Bryan from Gladstone, MI

I think our current wide receivers are better than they are getting credit for and with another year of trust from AR they will get even better. Davante Adams had average numbers his first two years before becoming a top-notch receiver. Also, look at AR's stats from the four games without Davante last year. He was OK the first two games against Detroit and Dallas but his stats against Oakland and KC were really good: Eight TDs, zero INTs, 734 yards and ratings of 158.3 and 129.0. I think we are just fine.

I keep saying this over and over again but no matter whom the Packers drafted or whom they signed, Allen Lazard was going to be a big part of this offense this year. They obviously need others to step up, but it's not like the receiving corps is Adams and a bunch of ham-and-eggers who otherwise wouldn't be in the NFL.

Shawn from Kissimmee, FL

Who would be the presumptive starter at TE at this point?

Marcedes Lewis but it'll be fluid. I expect Jace Sternberger to play quite a bit as well early on.

Corey from Henderson, NV

Everybody is talking about how a team has to shift gears if they lose a player or two due to COVID the day of a game. What I'd like to know is how a team's game plan might change if its opponent loses a couple of key players? Say Week 1, the Vikings lose Cousins and/or Cook because of this. Or a couple in their secondary. Does that change how Rodgers and Co. might attack the opposing team?

Of course. You wish the player well in his recovery but it's no different than whenever an injury forces a player out of a game. You play to win the game. To do that, you have to attack the weakest link.

Julian from Las Cruces, NM

It's very early to answer this question, but whom do you see being the Packers' best running back at blocking for Aaron?

Jones has really improved in that area over the past two seasons but Williams is still my pick. I'd put Williams up there against any other NFL running back when it comes to pass protection. He's a fundamental marvel.

Jennifer from Middleton, WI

Can you talk a little about Jason Vrable? Couldn't the change in WR coach be a key variable in having the same guys yet a different outcome in terms of development and resulting on-field production?

It's a significant variable. Vrable's name might be new to the average fan but he's coached in the league for eight years and spent time in the receivers room this past season. He's the fourth different receivers coach the Packers have had in as many years, so it's Vrable's job to settle the seas down. For all the consternation about Green Bay's receivers, there's still a lot of untapped potential in that room.

Dan from Twin Lakes, WI

Wes, since certain members of the media have started another round of "Aaron Rodgers must be upset about the Jordan Love pick," allow me to try another round of common sense. In my mind, Jordan Love is equitable to a term life-insurance policy. You hope to never need it but if you do, you're really glad you were smart enough to buy it. If you don't, you cash it in (for draft picks) at the end of the (4-5 year) term and you buy another. Ron Wolf was masterful at this.

I think what made this such a polarizing topic for fans is how drafting Jordan Love coincided with the Packers not taking a receiver, creating the perfect media storm. However, it's not like Brian Gutekunst took a QB and then spent his next seven draft picks all on defense. He still picked skill-position players in each of the next two rounds. The offense wasn't neglected.

Nikhil from Washington, D.C.

Hello II, Tom from Pine River asked why there would be an asterisk next to the champion this year. I know COVID is unique, but I've always heard football described as a game of replacement, with the next-man-up mantra ingrained in players and fans. Replacing a player because of COVID rather than injury may seem different, but it's the same philosophy. There isn't an asterisk next to the 2014 NFC Championship Game because of AR's hamstring. I don't think there should be any asterisks this year.

The only way there would be an asterisk is if the season isn't completed. If a Super Bowl champion is crowned, that team will be handed the same Lombardi Trophy as the previous 54 victors. Quite honestly, this one might mean just a little bit more, too, given everything that team is going to have to endure to stand tall atop that mountain.

Marcus from Villas, NC

Mid-week greetings, hope that all is well. Suddenly there are players being placed on the COVID-19 list. How long does a player stay on this list, and when placed on this list does this include quarantine from the remaining 80-83 active players? Will this hamper the training camp protocol, when you see two-thirds of special-teams players placed on this list?

Hopefully, it doesn't come to that. But any player who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or been exposed to somebody who has been afflicted goes on this list until he passes the protocol. Once activated, I believe that player has a two-week roster exemption before a roster spot must be cleared.

Harry from Chandler, AZ

I always read II on Packer Perks. I haven't been able to sign in for a week. Any idea what's up?

I asked our wonderful fan engagement folks and this is what I was told: "Since the launch of Packers Perks last year, many fans have shared valuable feedback regarding the program. With fan feedback in mind, we are happy to inform all users that we are launching an updated rewards program, 'Packers Perks 2.0.' This new and improved program will provide an enhanced user experience for all fans with simple ways to earn and redeem prizes. We will inform all users via email as soon as Perks 2.0 is available." So if you didn't know, now you know.

Terry from Rothschild, WI

I have been impressed by the positive questions in the Inbox. One talk radio show yesterday featured a caller saying no more NFL and wanting to turn in his Packer stock. Do you delete these types of questions/comments, or are the II questioners smarter and more positive than the talk radio folks?

Mostly positive. And if they're negative, I credit most for finding a way to phrase their feelings into a question. We appreciate that. The only submissions that get automatically deleted are tirades with little coherence and ultimately no question.

Dar from Mansfield, TX

If the baloney (and I don't mean baloney) stops with the first regular-season game, how would you describe the beginning of this year's, er, sausage-making season so far?

A full platter of undesirable cold cuts.

Ben from Pensacola, FL

Wes, you got to ask the last question in Tae's interview! But Spoff also got one in too. It's not like I ignore the other questioners, but when I hear your names and then hear you start your question, I'm more alert. Obviously, we only know the persona you guys give off, but I do want to let you know a lot of us appreciate your honesty and the display of who you both are, whether by "Unscripted," "Three Things," web stories, Facebook Live before games, etc. Thank you!

Love us or hate us, we are who we are. There's no shtick with Spoff and me. But yeah, it's certainly been an experience welcoming in a wider audience to our media sessions.

Rick from Evergreen, CO

With no fans in the stadiums, will teams pump in "silence" during practice to prepare for the games? I'll show myself out.

As will I.


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