Gary from Tompkinsville, KY

When will the regular season schedule be released?

It normally comes out a week or two before the draft, so we’re getting close.

Charlie from Cameron, NC

Mike, John Madden used to say the goal line extended beyond the pylon all the way around the world. I always thought this meant the ball carrier did not have to reach inside the pylon to break the plane for a score. They could break the plane outside of the pylon on a dive as long as they broke the plane prior to establishing themselves as out of bounds. Please elucidate.

The “around the world” rule changed about a dozen years ago. It’s not officiated that way anymore.

Rocco from Green Bay, WI

Not suggesting any onside kick replacement gimmick, but Bill Polian's new "totally-not-a-farm-league-for-the-NFL" football league is removing kickoffs and replacing the onside with a fourth-and-10 attempt from the "kicking" team's own 35. I'm willing to bet the NFL will keep a close watch to see how that works before deciding on removing the kickoff again. (Obligatory) what say you?

A lot of folks brought this up, and the similar Schiano proposal for a one-shot, fourth-and-whatever play to replace an onside kick. Maybe I’m getting older and moving to South Carolina sooner than I think, but I can’t express how awful an idea I feel this is. You venture into the realm of some ticky-tack illegal contact or defensive holding penalty determining consecutive possessions. Please, no.

Oscar from Newnan, GA

In reference to eliminating kickoffs, why not just allow a team to choose between an onside kick or giving the ball to the other team at the 20? It would eliminate the surprise onside kick gimmick, allow teams a chance to repossess a ball, and decrease injury. Seems like an easy decision, but I'm sure I'm missing part of the picture.

I think it’s the only reasonable solution, but a lot of readers would hate to see the surprise onside go away, especially when one was such a huge factor in a franchise’s lone Super Bowl victory not long ago. It’s not ideal, but when you hear Mark Murphy compare the concussion occurrence rates on kickoffs versus other plays, I’m not sure the NFL is going to have much choice. The league has to make the game safer, period, for its own survival. That message is being heard, loud and clear.

John from Evans, GA

This new tackle rule change is great for safety, and the idea that it will make the game more soft is nonsense. First of all, football was played with leather helmets at the beginning and they didn't lead with the "crown" back then, and no one can say those guys were soft. Second, the Seahawks have a clinic where they teach heads-up tackling to make the game safer and I've never heard anyone refer to Earl Thomas or Kam Chancellor as soft. Third, this method actually allows teams to practice tackling in practice because it has been proven safe enough, which I feel will help reduce ridiculous missed tackles like the one on Diggs in the playoffs. Anyway, spearing has been illegal since like 1976 so in reality they are just now enforcing it.

You have the floor.

Andy from Kalamazoo, MI

Dear Mike, glad to see you giving Jarrett Bush some props and I know it makes a better story, but Shields and Woodson were still in the game when Bush made his SB45 interception. Respectfully, Andy

You are correct and my memory failed me. Looking back at the play, Bush was still the dime back at that point and then played a bunch more nickel and base in the second half with Woodson out and Shields in and out of the lineup. As Cary from Sioux Falls, SD, pointed out, Bush took a huge chance jumping Wallace on the short cross, because it left Miller running wide open down the left side. But he read Big Ben’s eyes right and it worked out. Thanks for the nudge to revisit.

Dan from Houston, TX

Trading back up into the first round sounds nice, but I think it’s more "one player away" mentality. You hinted at what I've been thinking. The fourth- and fifth-round picks being moved up, and having the compensatory picks, make moving back into the second or third round more inviting. It’s a place that has a lot of tight end and receiver talent. Just saying.

That said, spending two-for-one or three-for-one in a trade up always carries risk, no matter the round. Thompson’s trades up for Morgan Burnett and Casey Hayward worked nicely. Those for Jerel Worthy and Terrell Manning, not so much.

Ryan from Atlanta, GA

I can see the first pick of the fourth round having better trade value for the Packers, but if Gutekunst is taking the BAP and sticking to the board, does having the night to think about his pick really matter?

It can, because the board can have a lot of close calls, and the break gives you time to sit back, catch your breath and reassess if necessary. Once the third round starts, it’s only five minutes between picks the rest of the way, except for the overnight between the third and fourth rounds.

Billy from Lyndhurst, NJ

Maggie from Kenosha mentioned the value in picking first on Day 3. I was looking at a trade value chart and noticed something quite interesting. The value of the picks Green Bay acquired from Cleveland equals the exact value of what it would cost to move up to the top of the second round. Coincidence? If someone they like falls, they have the firepower to move up and choose first on Day 2.

Quite interesting indeed.

Joe from Menomonee Falls, WI

As far as the Rodgers contract situation goes, has there been any other player in recent history that the Packers felt was underpaid in the middle of a contract and "did right" and increased their pay with an extension? Or is this situation rather unique with Rodgers being a QB, him being the best QB, and his last contract was a rather long one?

Other players get extended with a year left on their deals rather regularly, but franchise QBs are just different animals in this business. There’s no way around it.

Nicholas from Portland, OR

I think the worry with Rodgers’ impending contract is due to the recent Super Bowl champions nabbing great young QBs on rookie contracts and amassing incredible talent with their leftover cap space. Teams paying a franchise QB top dollar have to make moves like cutting Jordy Nelson and letting Morgan Burnett go. Teams are starting to suffer from paying their QBs so disproportionately high. Is a change coming or should we resign ourselves to being a perennial “also-ran”?

I’m not ascribing also-ran status after one missed playoff berth in nine years when the QB was out 10 games. But with a top-dollar QB, you have to draft well, and first-round picks should become core players on your team. Two of the Packers’ first-round picks over the last five years are no longer in Green Bay. That ratio over the next five years must change.

Erin from Lynden, WA

Would you be on the dodgeball team as well? Coach, captain or water boy? I was the DJ at our most recent dodgeball tournament we put on at our school. My goal was to get someone dancing within five seconds of a song being played. If so, it was a win for me. What would your goal be?

I would officiate, and my goal would be no replay challenges.

Craig from Laramie, WY

Which of these two recent rule-change aspects, the "lowers the head" for tacklers or the "football move" element for receivers, do you think will be most problematic for officials to interpret and apply? Both seem like good changes nonetheless. Do you think fan reaction will hinge on acceptance of the subjective elements as actually good and inherent to the game?

The fan reaction will hinge on whether overly technical interpretations of the rules continue to affect games. I think the head-lowering rule will be far more problematic. I think it’s a change the league must make, but I’ll already predict that ejections are going to stem more from the results of certain hits than their intent, and it will be very difficult to maintain a consistent application of the rule across the league.

Jacob from Green Bay, WI

With the new catch rule, will a toe-tapping catch still be a catch? Since the player is immediately going out of bounds he doesn’t have a chance to make a football move.

As long as he establishes control before going out of bounds and doesn’t lose control before he’s officially out, it’ll be a catch.

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

Guys, with McCarthy's recent comments about Randall's best position is safety and that they would have been playing him as a hybrid safety this year, doesn't that raise questions about some of the decisions the team has made?

I thought McCarthy made it pretty clear in his “out of position” comments on Randall that all the injuries forced the coaching staff’s hand.

Skip from Rozet, WY

In your opinion, what quarterback would have to fall to 14 for the Packers to make the pick like Ted did for Rodgers?

Sorry, but I just don’t see the Packers taking a QB at 14, no matter who’s there. If one falls that far, I’d expect Gutekunst to be seriously shopping for a trade partner, someone who would want to jump up in front of Arizona at 15, because Sam Bradford is not the Cardinals’ long-term answer. Or he’d get something from Arizona to move up one spot and prevent someone else from taking their future QB.

Matt from Hartford, WI

Do you support a rule to balance out the American and National Leagues by either taking away or giving the advantage of the designated hitter?

I’ve been a purist for a long time, but even the purist in me is starting to come around to the idea it’s time for the NL to add the DH. It’s hard to even say it, but it’s true.

Patrick from Inver Grove Heights, MN

I'm surprised Gute hasn't looked to extend either Cobb or Matthews to lower their per-year cap hit. Do you see either being extended prior to the start of the season or do you see them both being asked to play out the final year of their contracts and making a decision on their Packer futures after the season?

At this point, the latter.

Nick from Emerald, WI

It sounds like the Packers have a little less than $17 million in cap space. With that being said, what position do you believe the Packers may try to snag a bargain bin flier on?

I’m not sure what defines the bargain bin, but I can see a veteran receiver and/or corner being added yet.

Ken from Arvada, CO

Mike, there’s been a flood of questions about contracts, the catch rule, cornerbacks and draft picks. We’re missing an important subject – pizza. For 50 years I lived in the Green Bay area with the exception of four years at UW-Platteville. Gallagher’s was my fave in GB, and of course Uno’s in P-ville. Gotta be a la mode! Sales territory included Chicago, where I got hooked on Geno’s East. Now in Denver, Mannie and Bo’s in Golden is the go-to. In all your NFL city travels, are there any standout, must-have pies?

You’re spot-on with Geno’s East and you’ve reminded me how long it’s been since I partook. But when you grow up with the original Uno’s, you’re not inclined to pizza hunt in other cities. I probably mentioned this before, but there remains a picture of me as a member of the Uno’s Little League baseball team on one of the walls at the restaurant back home. My favorite part is still that the jersey contained a mis-spelling. It said “Pizzaria” instead of “Pizzeria” in front of Uno’s. I swear I was destined to write and edit for a living.

Nick from Chicago, IL

Is it September yet..?

Nope, unfortunately, but it is Friday. That’s worth something.


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