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170616-insider-inbox-950
opinion

Take time to appreciate greatness

Excellence at both quarterback and tackle isn't easy to achieve

June 16, 2017

Dante from Fredericksburg, VA

What do you expect out of Jake Ryan's play on the field this year? I believe he has to be the team's leading tackler to take that jump into being the physical presence we need in the middle of the defense.

Given the strides Ryan made in each of his first two seasons, there’s no reason to think the linebacker won’t take another step in 2017. He’s not a finished product, but the early signs are promising for the 25-year-old. He looks the part at 6-foot-2, 240 pounds and embraces contact. We know what he can do on first and second down. Further developing his coverage skills will be vital to staying on the field in late-down situations.

Tal from Ascot, UK

What's the most important factor to the Rodgers' Hail Mary? Arm strength? Mobility? The opposing defense?

Great question. It’s obviously all important, but the mobility and placement don’t matter unless Rodgers gets it there. His arm is incredible. It’s a cannon with a scope lens on it.

Dale from Owatonna, MN

I hope Aaron can play longer, but I will take 31 TDs and 4,400 yards for the next eight seasons. That pace puts him ahead of Peyton Manning. Sort of puts into prospective how good whoever the GOAT is.

Whatever team you root for, be sure to appreciate the Rodgers, Bradys and Mannings. I didn’t enjoy the greatness of the ’90s QB Club until it was over. This game is played at such an insanely high level. The gifted few who master it are hovering in their own stratosphere. To be that consistent in a week-to-week league epitomizes their greatness.

Jacob from Madison, WI

The comment about the Packers enjoying smooth transitions between elite quarterbacks and left tackles got me thinking, are we lucky to have seen such consistent, incredible talent at those positions? Or does Green Bay just have top-tier position coaches that can build anyone into an elite player given enough time?

The Packers have some talented coaches on this staff, but you can’t take Wes Hodkiewicz and Matt Haberkamp and turn them into Rodgers and Bakhtiari. You need tools to work with. What’s amazing with what the Packers have done is the personnel department has identified those prospects and the coaches have helped them develop into All-Pros. That’s not as easy to achieve as the Packers have made it look the last 25 years.

Gary from Columbus, OH

Is it a coincidence that the Pack has good LTs or is OL Coach Campen a big part of it?

Campy can coach ’em up as well as anybody in the game. For as many Pro Bowlers as he’s shepherded over in the NFL, what I find equally impressive is how he got a rookie fifth-round pick in Corey Linsley to play at the level he did in 2014 without taking any camp reps with Aaron Rodgers.

Bill from Oskaloosa, IA

Regarding the quality of play in preseason games, I like watching them primarily so I get the chance to see our backup QBs. We rarely get to see them in the regular season.

The best stories of the preseason usually are what’s going on under center from Matt Flynn making the case for the backup job in 2008 or Joe Callahan’s improbable bid to make the 53-man roster last year. Honorable mention has to be Vince Young. We might have broken a record at the Press-Gazette for clicks when he signed midway through camp in 2013.    

Chris from Hanover, Germany

Jamaal Williams always shows a big, big smile when talking about contact. How do you like interviewing him?

The three new running backs have all been great in their own way. Really, the past few draft classes have been excellent when it comes to handling the media. Williams seems to possess a lot of maturity, though. He should transition nicely into this locker room this summer.

Greg from Danbury, CT

Joe Whitt didn't exactly give Kevin King a ringing endorsement. When you start with "He really hasn't done much" -- ouch!

That isn’t what he was saying. You’re taking it in the figurative sense. Whitt was speaking literally. King just arrived in Green Bay this week and hasn’t done any team drills yet. Whitt is an honest guy. He wants to reserve comment on a player until he’s actually on the field. If you listen closer, Whitt complimented Washington for how polished King was coming out of school. He also praised the young cornerback for his intelligence and attention to detail. 

Willie from Boise, ID

I recently saw an interview with Bakhtiari wherein he stated this offensive line is led by Bulaga. Do you all have any favorite quotes or moments that can describe Bulaga's leadership qualities? As a fan, we don't hear all that much about him other than his dependability.

Offensive linemen don’t tend to get much publicity. Right tackles typically get even less, but it’s becoming an increasingly important position because of how much teams are throwing the ball. Bulaga is one of the best right tackles in the league. Bakhtiari has been saying that since he got here. That’s probably the sentiment that stands out the most when discussing Bulaga’s value to the Packers.

Joe from Bloomington, IN

No doubt in my mind what makes football most attractive is the ever-changing, ever-compounding mental complexity combined with the 11-on-11 confrontation of every single play. No other sport has remotely evolved in terms of human sophistication and I don't even see how they could. Football is completely unique.

There’s nothing quite like it. You need more than two or three star players to win it all, too. One of the things that always appealed to me about football was how an undrafted player like Tramon Williams could become a Pro Bowler. As humans, we love underdog stories and unknowns. The NFL gives a platform to those players every season.

Adam from Laurel, MD

Just crunched the numbers, and in the last decade, the Packers are the only team with two left tackles selected outside of the first 10 picks of the draft to make the Pro Bowl. A true testament to TT's draft philosophy.

That was a great observation by Michael. It was always in the back of my mind, but I never put two and two together. It’s a huge credit to the ability of Ron Wolf and Thompson to find talent past the opening round.

T.J. from Tampa, FL

Rich from Prospect, KY asked what Spoff would change about the current uniform. He said "nada." I appreciate that, but would just like to bring back the Lombardi-era sock striping. Thoughts?

I’ve always been partial to the ’80s arm stripes with the “G” in the middle, but I’d settle for some striped socks, as well.

Curt from York, PA

Once and for all, who cares where our QB is ranked, or if our left tackle or best receiver or best LB is ranked in the top 100 players. As Vic always says, “Just win baby!” If you win the big game, those individual rankings won't matter to you at all.

I don’t want to discredit accolades. Acknowledging what players accomplish is important. I’m just not interested in offseason rankings. I’m interested in trophies.

Justin from Sherwood, AR

During the regular season, the question is usually "who is in the lead for MVP consideration," not "who is better, Brady or Rodgers." I think we're all just bored, and pondering legacies is as good a way to spend the offseason as any other.

Bull’s eye.

Decoda from Memphis, TN

The answer to this question will be completely useless to anybody without my incredibly nosy, I mean curious, nature. I notice Crockett and Pearson have non-traditional WR numbers (9 and 1, respectively). If they make our 53, will they get to keep those numbers?

They likely wouldn’t, especially in Pearson’s case. Again, there are only so many numbers available on a 90-man roster. Andy Mulumba wore No. 46 as an undrafted free agent in 2013 and was given 55 after making the team.

Mike from Somerset, WI

If I was about to get a break and my direct competition performed better than me in a minicamp, I would work harder with increased focus during the break. By removing the starters, did McCarthy just help focus the team and increase competition?

The rookies know who they’re competing against. I don’t think the presence or absence of the veterans changes that, but I’m with you. If I’m a rookie, I don’t want to have any regrets going into the five-week break. That’s way too much time to stew over them.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Wes, which of the players or position groups made the most of the offseason programs?

I really like what I saw from the cornerbacks. Randall and Rollins are healthy again, Gunter has experience on his side, and House is carrying a huge chip on his shoulder. This is a group looking to silence a lot of doubters this season.

Jerry from Carlisle, PA

I think it was Payne Stewart that always wore the NFL home team’s colors whenever he played in a tournament. Is there another fan willing to do that on the PGA tour, do you think?

We know Rickie Fowler is doing his part in Wisconsin.

Paul from London, England

Thanks for answering my question the other day re: AR12 being called the BOAT. I kinda feel like you've mugged me off a bit by not showing the whole question with regards to my Patriot fan friends and not taking my question in the light-hearted manner in which it was meant. The banter between two sets of fans will always be just there and each set of fans will "believe" their No. 12 is the best, be it the amount of rings or stats. Keep on keeping on buddy!

Sorry. I didn’t mean to make you feel like your comment and question were short-changed. Sometimes we have to edit these down for space, though. I write long enough and I want people to be able to finish reading before dinnertime.  

Tim from Charlotte, NC

Reference Greg from Ann Arbor: There should be a word limit on Inbox questions.

Case in point.

Bill from Fort Worth, TX

I've gotta agree with Josh from Brandon, MS. Let's stick with the Roman numerals. The alternative reduces the Super Bowl to MMA Smackdown 269.

If we’re going to continue numbering Super Bowls, I think Roman numerals are the only way to go. Plus, they’re educational. I had no clue “L” meant 50 until Super Bowl XLV.

Marty from Winona, MN

Here's a thought which I hope doesn't get me banned. What about having the preseason games be scheduled and then played so they could be used in the "tiebreaker" formula later in the season? Or designate a couple (home and away) preseason conference opponents to factor into the conference tiebreaker formula for final seeding if you otherwise qualify for the playoffs?

This won’t get you banned, but I’m going to give it a hard-pass. Preseason games are there for young players to make a name for themselves and get your veterans ready for the upcoming season. Nothing more, nothing less.

Jimi from Aurora, CO

I've figured out Ty's number situation. He needs to change it, but to another wide-receiver number. It's a bold strategy Cotton, let's see if it pays off for him.

Now this is an initiative I could get behind.

Steve from Clintonville, WI

If Ty Montgomery buys a new phone, does he have to change his number? Asking for a friend.

You guys are on fire.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

During Kyle Murphy's Twitter time, he talked about growing out his beard during the season. Do you plan to do that this fall?

Funny you should ask. I, too, am planning to grow my beard out. If I start now, it should be in come retirement.

David from San Francisco, CA

Rodgers posted pictures to his new Instagram page.

Thank you for the update.

Cameron from Augusta, GA

Thanks guys for all you do, I really appreciate and enjoy this Inbox ... GOT. Does everyone die or does Jon reign happily with Tyrion as his hand?

I doubt the story will have a happy ending. Martin has said readily it will be bittersweet. My contention for the past three years is Arya ends up on the Iron Throne.

Jerry from Kansas City, MO

Just wanted to say thanks to Spoff for answering my journalism question. I couldn't hack it in journalism but it is still something that's interesting to me. I have a lot of respect for you guys and what you do so well. Thanks for the Packers coverage!

I couldn’t have said it any better than Spoff. As someone who has been on both sides of the NFL aisle, I couldn’t be more proud of the content this website has produced during my time here. I was 19 years old the first time I helped a colleague clean out her desk. Eight years later, I did the same with the man solely responsible for allowing me a foot in the door. It never got easier. I worked in newspapers for 10 years and I cherish every one of them. I can also tell you the people here are some of the most passionate and dedicated individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure of calling colleagues. They miss birthdays, anniversaries and memories to make this site what it is.

Adam from San Diego, CA

With more than a month away from the start of training camp, what's a Packers fan to do now?

Rest up. Winter is coming. Speaking of which, I’m off to reconnect with some family in California, so you’ll get a double-serving of Spoff for next two weeks. Take it easy on him.


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Take time to appreciate greatness

Excellence at both quarterback and tackle isn't easy to achieve

170616-insider-inbox-950
opinion
June 16, 2017

Dante from Fredericksburg, VA

What do you expect out of Jake Ryan's play on the field this year? I believe he has to be the team's leading tackler to take that jump into being the physical presence we need in the middle of the defense.

Given the strides Ryan made in each of his first two seasons, there’s no reason to think the linebacker won’t take another step in 2017. He’s not a finished product, but the early signs are promising for the 25-year-old. He looks the part at 6-foot-2, 240 pounds and embraces contact. We know what he can do on first and second down. Further developing his coverage skills will be vital to staying on the field in late-down situations.

Tal from Ascot, UK

What's the most important factor to the Rodgers' Hail Mary? Arm strength? Mobility? The opposing defense?

Great question. It’s obviously all important, but the mobility and placement don’t matter unless Rodgers gets it there. His arm is incredible. It’s a cannon with a scope lens on it.

Dale from Owatonna, MN

I hope Aaron can play longer, but I will take 31 TDs and 4,400 yards for the next eight seasons. That pace puts him ahead of Peyton Manning. Sort of puts into prospective how good whoever the GOAT is.

Whatever team you root for, be sure to appreciate the Rodgers, Bradys and Mannings. I didn’t enjoy the greatness of the ’90s QB Club until it was over. This game is played at such an insanely high level. The gifted few who master it are hovering in their own stratosphere. To be that consistent in a week-to-week league epitomizes their greatness.

Jacob from Madison, WI

The comment about the Packers enjoying smooth transitions between elite quarterbacks and left tackles got me thinking, are we lucky to have seen such consistent, incredible talent at those positions? Or does Green Bay just have top-tier position coaches that can build anyone into an elite player given enough time?

The Packers have some talented coaches on this staff, but you can’t take Wes Hodkiewicz and Matt Haberkamp and turn them into Rodgers and Bakhtiari. You need tools to work with. What’s amazing with what the Packers have done is the personnel department has identified those prospects and the coaches have helped them develop into All-Pros. That’s not as easy to achieve as the Packers have made it look the last 25 years.

Gary from Columbus, OH

Is it a coincidence that the Pack has good LTs or is OL Coach Campen a big part of it?

Campy can coach ’em up as well as anybody in the game. For as many Pro Bowlers as he’s shepherded over in the NFL, what I find equally impressive is how he got a rookie fifth-round pick in Corey Linsley to play at the level he did in 2014 without taking any camp reps with Aaron Rodgers.

Bill from Oskaloosa, IA

Regarding the quality of play in preseason games, I like watching them primarily so I get the chance to see our backup QBs. We rarely get to see them in the regular season.

The best stories of the preseason usually are what’s going on under center from Matt Flynn making the case for the backup job in 2008 or Joe Callahan’s improbable bid to make the 53-man roster last year. Honorable mention has to be Vince Young. We might have broken a record at the Press-Gazette for clicks when he signed midway through camp in 2013.    

Chris from Hanover, Germany

Jamaal Williams always shows a big, big smile when talking about contact. How do you like interviewing him?

The three new running backs have all been great in their own way. Really, the past few draft classes have been excellent when it comes to handling the media. Williams seems to possess a lot of maturity, though. He should transition nicely into this locker room this summer.

Greg from Danbury, CT

Joe Whitt didn't exactly give Kevin King a ringing endorsement. When you start with "He really hasn't done much" -- ouch!

That isn’t what he was saying. You’re taking it in the figurative sense. Whitt was speaking literally. King just arrived in Green Bay this week and hasn’t done any team drills yet. Whitt is an honest guy. He wants to reserve comment on a player until he’s actually on the field. If you listen closer, Whitt complimented Washington for how polished King was coming out of school. He also praised the young cornerback for his intelligence and attention to detail. 

Willie from Boise, ID

I recently saw an interview with Bakhtiari wherein he stated this offensive line is led by Bulaga. Do you all have any favorite quotes or moments that can describe Bulaga's leadership qualities? As a fan, we don't hear all that much about him other than his dependability.

Offensive linemen don’t tend to get much publicity. Right tackles typically get even less, but it’s becoming an increasingly important position because of how much teams are throwing the ball. Bulaga is one of the best right tackles in the league. Bakhtiari has been saying that since he got here. That’s probably the sentiment that stands out the most when discussing Bulaga’s value to the Packers.

Joe from Bloomington, IN

No doubt in my mind what makes football most attractive is the ever-changing, ever-compounding mental complexity combined with the 11-on-11 confrontation of every single play. No other sport has remotely evolved in terms of human sophistication and I don't even see how they could. Football is completely unique.

There’s nothing quite like it. You need more than two or three star players to win it all, too. One of the things that always appealed to me about football was how an undrafted player like Tramon Williams could become a Pro Bowler. As humans, we love underdog stories and unknowns. The NFL gives a platform to those players every season.

Adam from Laurel, MD

Just crunched the numbers, and in the last decade, the Packers are the only team with two left tackles selected outside of the first 10 picks of the draft to make the Pro Bowl. A true testament to TT's draft philosophy.

That was a great observation by Michael. It was always in the back of my mind, but I never put two and two together. It’s a huge credit to the ability of Ron Wolf and Thompson to find talent past the opening round.

T.J. from Tampa, FL

Rich from Prospect, KY asked what Spoff would change about the current uniform. He said "nada." I appreciate that, but would just like to bring back the Lombardi-era sock striping. Thoughts?

I’ve always been partial to the ’80s arm stripes with the “G” in the middle, but I’d settle for some striped socks, as well.

Curt from York, PA

Once and for all, who cares where our QB is ranked, or if our left tackle or best receiver or best LB is ranked in the top 100 players. As Vic always says, “Just win baby!” If you win the big game, those individual rankings won't matter to you at all.

I don’t want to discredit accolades. Acknowledging what players accomplish is important. I’m just not interested in offseason rankings. I’m interested in trophies.

Justin from Sherwood, AR

During the regular season, the question is usually "who is in the lead for MVP consideration," not "who is better, Brady or Rodgers." I think we're all just bored, and pondering legacies is as good a way to spend the offseason as any other.

Bull’s eye.

Decoda from Memphis, TN

The answer to this question will be completely useless to anybody without my incredibly nosy, I mean curious, nature. I notice Crockett and Pearson have non-traditional WR numbers (9 and 1, respectively). If they make our 53, will they get to keep those numbers?

They likely wouldn’t, especially in Pearson’s case. Again, there are only so many numbers available on a 90-man roster. Andy Mulumba wore No. 46 as an undrafted free agent in 2013 and was given 55 after making the team.

Mike from Somerset, WI

If I was about to get a break and my direct competition performed better than me in a minicamp, I would work harder with increased focus during the break. By removing the starters, did McCarthy just help focus the team and increase competition?

The rookies know who they’re competing against. I don’t think the presence or absence of the veterans changes that, but I’m with you. If I’m a rookie, I don’t want to have any regrets going into the five-week break. That’s way too much time to stew over them.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Wes, which of the players or position groups made the most of the offseason programs?

I really like what I saw from the cornerbacks. Randall and Rollins are healthy again, Gunter has experience on his side, and House is carrying a huge chip on his shoulder. This is a group looking to silence a lot of doubters this season.

Jerry from Carlisle, PA

I think it was Payne Stewart that always wore the NFL home team’s colors whenever he played in a tournament. Is there another fan willing to do that on the PGA tour, do you think?

We know Rickie Fowler is doing his part in Wisconsin.

Paul from London, England

Thanks for answering my question the other day re: AR12 being called the BOAT. I kinda feel like you've mugged me off a bit by not showing the whole question with regards to my Patriot fan friends and not taking my question in the light-hearted manner in which it was meant. The banter between two sets of fans will always be just there and each set of fans will "believe" their No. 12 is the best, be it the amount of rings or stats. Keep on keeping on buddy!

Sorry. I didn’t mean to make you feel like your comment and question were short-changed. Sometimes we have to edit these down for space, though. I write long enough and I want people to be able to finish reading before dinnertime.  

Tim from Charlotte, NC

Reference Greg from Ann Arbor: There should be a word limit on Inbox questions.

Case in point.

Bill from Fort Worth, TX

I've gotta agree with Josh from Brandon, MS. Let's stick with the Roman numerals. The alternative reduces the Super Bowl to MMA Smackdown 269.

If we’re going to continue numbering Super Bowls, I think Roman numerals are the only way to go. Plus, they’re educational. I had no clue “L” meant 50 until Super Bowl XLV.

Marty from Winona, MN

Here's a thought which I hope doesn't get me banned. What about having the preseason games be scheduled and then played so they could be used in the "tiebreaker" formula later in the season? Or designate a couple (home and away) preseason conference opponents to factor into the conference tiebreaker formula for final seeding if you otherwise qualify for the playoffs?

This won’t get you banned, but I’m going to give it a hard-pass. Preseason games are there for young players to make a name for themselves and get your veterans ready for the upcoming season. Nothing more, nothing less.

Jimi from Aurora, CO

I've figured out Ty's number situation. He needs to change it, but to another wide-receiver number. It's a bold strategy Cotton, let's see if it pays off for him.

Now this is an initiative I could get behind.

Steve from Clintonville, WI

If Ty Montgomery buys a new phone, does he have to change his number? Asking for a friend.

You guys are on fire.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

During Kyle Murphy's Twitter time, he talked about growing out his beard during the season. Do you plan to do that this fall?

Funny you should ask. I, too, am planning to grow my beard out. If I start now, it should be in come retirement.

David from San Francisco, CA

Rodgers posted pictures to his new Instagram page.

Thank you for the update.

Cameron from Augusta, GA

Thanks guys for all you do, I really appreciate and enjoy this Inbox ... GOT. Does everyone die or does Jon reign happily with Tyrion as his hand?

I doubt the story will have a happy ending. Martin has said readily it will be bittersweet. My contention for the past three years is Arya ends up on the Iron Throne.

Jerry from Kansas City, MO

Just wanted to say thanks to Spoff for answering my journalism question. I couldn't hack it in journalism but it is still something that's interesting to me. I have a lot of respect for you guys and what you do so well. Thanks for the Packers coverage!

I couldn’t have said it any better than Spoff. As someone who has been on both sides of the NFL aisle, I couldn’t be more proud of the content this website has produced during my time here. I was 19 years old the first time I helped a colleague clean out her desk. Eight years later, I did the same with the man solely responsible for allowing me a foot in the door. It never got easier. I worked in newspapers for 10 years and I cherish every one of them. I can also tell you the people here are some of the most passionate and dedicated individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure of calling colleagues. They miss birthdays, anniversaries and memories to make this site what it is.

Adam from San Diego, CA

With more than a month away from the start of training camp, what's a Packers fan to do now?

Rest up. Winter is coming. Speaking of which, I’m off to reconnect with some family in California, so you’ll get a double-serving of Spoff for next two weeks. Take it easy on him.


HAVE A QUESTION?

LOAD ALL COMMENTS
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