Robert from Harris, MN

Just a general question. Do you ever get a question or comment that is so profound or insightful that you think, there is a person I would love to sit down with and chat football, sports or just life?

Nah.

Gary from Austin, MN

My take from the Vikings’ miracle play is exactly what Coach McCarthy says all the time. This is about football, it's about blocking and tackling. The Vikings are moving on simply because of poor technique by one person. It's not about better players, plays or scheme. It's all about execution. So why are we not focusing on getting better execution? It's all about tackling, right?

It’s not about better players … but it’s all about execution? Don’t better players execute better? You always want better players.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Mike, assuming all things are equal (and I realize they never are), in a Mike Pettine defense or today’s NFL defenses in general, which would be more valuable – a top-five edge rusher or a top-five shutdown CB? There's no guarantee of finding either at 14 but the majority of the draft speculation for the Packers in the first round is centered on those two positions. Your thoughts are appreciated. Thanks.

Both are incredibly valuable, but I always lean toward edge rusher, for one main reason – because you don’t have to sacrifice numbers in coverage and leave multiple corners on an island if you can get pressure from a standard front.

Bill from Kronenwetter, WI

Morning Mike, is the Vikings’ defense considered complex? I know they give you the same look on every play and do different things off of it, rather than give you complicated sets to confuse the offense, which looked to confuse our young guys more often than not.

I don’t think it’s incredibly complex, but I wouldn’t call it simple, either. Zimmer is pretty creative and it took some time for those players to play together and develop continuity to make them the unit they are. They didn’t become a defensive juggernaut overnight. In his first season as head coach, in 2014, they ranked 14th in yards allowed and 11th in points allowed – solid, but not spectacular. They have a lot of really good players, but I think Harrison Smith is the guy who makes it work. The games I’ve watched the last few years when Smith has been out due to injury, it’s just not the same unit. Not even close.

Kevin from Tucson, AZ

Mike, "Know yourself, and seek self-improvement" was a motto in a previous career. Do you ever look back at your training camp assessments and see where you nailed it regarding “players to watch” and where you missed? Seems to me you got it right more often than not. When not, why did you miss in most cases? Thanks for the great week of comments.

I don’t keep a scorecard, if that’s what you’re asking. I don’t know how often I’ve been right or wrong, but I don’t consider myself much better or worse than others analyzing the same things. The biggest lesson I’ve learned over the years watching training camp is to not write a guy off too quickly. Sometimes, the first few days the pads go on, a young offensive or defensive lineman will look like he just doesn’t belong. Then as camp progresses, and the preseason games start, he begins to settle in and puts himself in position to make the roster despite appearing in others’ daily “thumbs down” segments early on. No one wins or loses a roster spot in the first week of camp. I really believe that.

Larry from Chubbuck, ID

Just a quick comment about Taysom Hill. In speaking with his dad, Taysom was disappointed to leave the Packers, but the Saints offer a better opportunity. Drew is older than Rodgers. Sometimes what is better for the Packers is not better for the player.

I agree, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a regrettable decision by the team.

Todd from Manitowoc, WI

They have to kick the extra point. What if I need that to cover the spread?

Which is probably why it will never go away.

Bruce from New Canaan, CT

Mike, when you wrote about the Packers not returning to the Super Bowl since the 2010 season you mentioned that Rodgers was injured in two out of those years. I would argue it was three. Do not forget the calf strain in 2014 that severely limited his mobility. With the excruciatingly close loss to the Seahawks, one could argue that was the difference between defeat and victory.

True enough. I’ve always thought about those three Lacy runs with five minutes left with the Seahawks stacked to stop him, and what a read-option run or bootleg might have done, but it wasn’t a viable choice. Or when Rodgers clearly pulled up and went out of bounds on the 12-yard scramble to the Seattle 36 with 35 seconds left. He might have been able to get a lot more, and the Packers had all three timeouts left. But I digress.

Michael from Houghton, MI

"Things" happen off the field as fingers are pointed at "things" that happened on the field. How do these guys clean the slate with each other during the offseason to rebuild as a team for next season?

It’s professional football. It’s their job.

Mike from Davenport, IA

Our division has been a cakewalk for a few years. Next year looks really tough. Obviously the Vikings will be tough. Which of the others should we look out for?

The division title came down to Week 17 four years in a row from 2013-16, so I don’t know where you get cakewalk. Be that as it may, Stafford’s game has gone to another level the past two years, in my opinion, so the Lions aren’t going away. And if Trubisky makes the strides anticipated in his second season with a new head coach, the Bears will continue to rise.

Mark from Temecula, CA

Hilarious answer to the guy who wanted to be a draft predictor. A buddy of mine can't understand how Skip Bayless can stay employed and "say such stupid things.” I asked him how he knows he says stupid things. "Well, I watch him every day." Oh.

There you go.

Andrew from Roveredo in Piano, Italy

I coach a high school wrestling team and this past weekend multiple wrestlers got hurt with the same ref because he didn't stop a match with a potentially dangerous move occurring. In my opinion keeping the athletes safe is a ref's No. 1 job. I would like to see the NFL refs focus on that and implement ejections more frequently for offending players on helmet-to-helmet or other dangerous actions. I know that athletes will get hurt in the NFL but I think that there needs to be a serious effort in protecting players from avoidable injuries.

I’m sorry to hear your prep wrestling story. I covered that sport for a long time and would have hated to see something like that. I’ve been saying for years, partly in jest, that the NFL needs to have specific safety officials apart from those administering the other rules, because the safety rules themselves are so extensive. I’m not saying it so much in jest anymore.

Jim from Manteca, CA

In the past there have been press conferences with the position coaches and assistants. Will there be anything like that with the new coaching staff after their status is set to let us in on what these new coaches are thinking?

There will be a media availability with all the new coaches at some point. That’s how it’s always been done in the past. We just haven’t been told when that’s occurring. I’m anticipating soon.

Brad from Rockford, IA

How do defensive players need to know who needs to be on the field? Only one player on the field has helmet communication with the sidelines, and injured players are roaming or sitting. How do they communicate to others who needs to be in the game?

There are multiple coaches on the sideline calling out the personnel groups for every play. The players have to know when they’re in a package that’s called and/or be told when they’re filling in for someone who’s injured.

Jeriah from Las Cruces, NM

I know Nick from Alaska is referring to a free-agent pickup. But I'm hoping this year’s "Reggie White" comes through the draft. I loved the North Pole though! It's a cool little town just outside of Fairbanks, Alaska.

North Pole, Alaska, is where former Packers guard Daryn Colledge hails from. His childhood home was on South Santa Claus Lane.

Timmy from Chicago, IL

At the very least, you have to believe Marrone will want to sit down and pick Coughlin's brain, right?

No doubt.

Eric from Green Bay, WI

Someone should remind Stephen from Chicago that the '85 Bears received one of the greatest bounces in the Super Bowl era: New England played Miami in the rain during the AFC title game and beat them. The 46 defense was no match for Miami's quick passing attack on grass much less on turf. Miami was the "1" in 15-1.

It would have been an epic rematch, to be sure, but I also remember various bounces and deflected passes going Miami’s way on the Monday night that produced the “1.”

Tom from Minneapolis, MN

Would you have suspected this huge overhaul of coaches and GM would've happened if Rodgers didn't break his collarbone?

It’s harder to gauge with the coaching staff, but a couple weeks ago I mentioned my belief the Lions game right after the bye was the performance from which a recovery by the defense seemed highly unlikely. That was only two games after Rodgers’ injury, so I think an overhaul might have been inevitable. Mark Murphy made it sound as though Ted Thompson stepping aside had come up in his previous postseason discussions with the GM, so that change may have happened regardless as well.

Mike from Somerset, WI

Mike, how are the Packers limited in free agency with the pending Aaron Rodgers contract on the horizon?

It all depends on how Rodgers’ extension is constructed, and if I know Russ Ball, he’ll find the balance between giving the team immediate cap flexibility and not mortgaging the future to get the deal done. It’s what Russ does.

Landon from Coeur d’Alene, ID

The current balance of offense to defense in terms of percentage of cap spending for 2018 for the Packers is 58 percent (O) vs. 34 percent (D) while for the Vikings it is 37 percent (O) vs. 60 percent (D). Is it any wonder one is a Super Bowl favorite and the other is in disarray?

That’s a convenient, as well as ridiculous, argument on a number of fronts. The Vikings aren’t paying a franchise quarterback, so their spending split looks much like, for example, Seattle’s when the Seahawks were going to Super Bowls before Russell Wilson got his extension. In addition, the Vikings were one fluke play away from not getting as far as the Packers got last year. But if you want to believe your numbers tell some absolute truth, go ahead.

Tom from Westfield, MA

"If the Jaguars win on Sunday, the league is probably in for its lowest-rated Super Bowl since the turn of the century." I couldn't disagree more. I think the entire NFL fan base outside of New England would love nothing more than ANY TEAM other than New England in the Super Bowl.

A preponderance of the Inbox does not agree with me on this, but I think your disdain for the Patriots is clouding your judgment. I think two weeks of hype surrounding a team that has never won a Super Bowl (Eagles or Vikings) trying to stop Brady and Belichick from winning their sixth would create an audience exponentially larger than either NFC team against the Jaguars. It’s no contest, ratings-wise.

Al from Green Bay, WI

The NFC Championship Game features two teams that were within a whisper of elimination last weekend. Knowing they are playing with "house money" do they open things up and take some unexpected chances, or do they play it close to the vest knowing the first team to 13 wins?

No team that reaches this stage cares how it got here. All that matters is the opportunity in front of it.


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