George from Manassas, VA
Similar to the O-line question, how can DBs who remain on the field stay with receivers who are shuffled in and out? Second, I can't fathom having time to read a few hundred emails. How many do you guys get a day, besides researching and writing stories?
Conditioning is king for cornerbacks. I remember talking with Sam Shields about his offseason workout routine back home in Sarasota, Fla. Four days each week, he’d run a mile to start, perform four 200-meter sprints and then run the stairs at his alma mater, Booker High School. Every cornerback’s process is different, but the goal is to keep up with the Julio Joneses and Desean Jacksons of the world. To the second part of your question, emails vary each day of the week for Inbox, but there’s always too many to answer.
James from LaPorte, CO
The consensus here seems to be that the best way to improve the secondary is to improve the pass rush. Last year you had Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Julius Peppers, and first round pick Datone Jones leading the attack. Do you really expect to have a better group next year?
Change is inevitable. While there’s not as much experience, the Packers’ stable of pass-rushers has upside. It’s obvious what Matthews is capable of when healthy, and Nick Perry (27 in April), Kyler Fackrell (25) and Jayrone Elliott (25) should all have their best years still ahead of them. There’s a good chance Green Bay also will add another linebacker to that group through the draft or free agency.
Anton from Green Bay, WI
Why are there so many questions about Ty Montgomery’s durability as a number-one back? I can’t see any limitations from the physical point. He went into the season as a WR and was about 10 pounds lighter than Ezekiel Elliott. That bit of weight can easily be picked up during the offseason. So why the questions?
I’m guessing it mostly has to do with his position change and only carrying the ball more than 15 times on one occasion. I’d be concerned if he didn’t produce with the touches he received, but his 5.9 yards per carry tells you the talent is there. Montgomery is a running back in every way.
Dave from Madison, WI
Hey guys, I got my crystal ball working. This is what I see. The Packers addressed their secondary concerns by signing House. They're going to put their faith in Randall and Rollins having bounce back years, continued growth from Gunter and House as a capable veteran. Their draft will consist of pass rushers, lineman and a running back.
It still wouldn’t surprise me to see the Packers draft another cornerback, but they have options regardless. I said to Spoff several times last year how Gunter reminds me of House – lengthy, physical and tenacious at the line of scrimmage. Those two give the Packers more flexibility with how to best utilize Randall and Rollins. As frustrating as 2016 was at times, I think Randall and Rollins will be better for it in the long run like Sam Shields and Casey Hayward before them.
Bob from Marietta, IL
I am completely on board with the Packers’ draft and develop. I just wonder if Mike McCarthy has any input into the draft or retaining players that are entering free agency or does he just have to coach the players that TT and management signs for him.
McCarthy and Thompson have defined roles – one coaches and the other acquires talent. However, there’s a constant stream of communication between the two regarding the team. The final decision on the construction of the 53-man roster is up to Thompson, but he’s made it clear over the years that he takes into account the opinions of his scouts and the coaching staff when making tough calls.
Kurt from Grand Rapids, MI
If limited to four compensatory picks, what would happen to the other two picks Packers have right now?
The six unrestricted free agents the Packers lost and the one they signed (Martellus Bennett) are taken into account when determining which compensatory picks the Packers will receive. While it is a pick for a player in many cases, the added net loss would be factored into the other four picks.
Daryl from Springfield, MO
Ted was the only GM at T.J. Watt’s pro day. Does he attend the pro day for Wisconsin every year?
That’s been the case for as long as I can remember with maybe an exception here or there.
Rich from Yankton, SD
I think if we don't hit on a pass rusher and more big guys this draft that A-Rod doesn't get to play in another Super Bowl. This draft is huge.
Every draft is huge for every team. Look at the last six Super Bowl champions. In almost every case, the team that won it all had a very productive draft one or two years prior.
Sam from Saratoga Springs, NY
Including the playoffs, the Packers were 11-1 when holding an opponent to under 30 points, and 1-7 when allowing the opponent to score 30 or more. It seems like our focus should be to build a defense that routinely (not constantly, I don't expect "full consistency!") keeps the other guys under 30 points, which doesn't seem like too tall of an order. We only have so many draft picks; can this be accomplished in the draft, or should we expect more moves in free agency?
Absolutely, but I’m guessing the rest of the NFL has a pretty decent record when scoring more than 30 points, as well. This game centers on the defense – how you defeat it and how you fortify it.
Curt from York, PA
Let’s imagine you are the CEO of a successful top-notch I.T. firm. One day, six of your very good developers come to you and say they can make more money working somewhere else. You think about it and decide you can't possibly pay all six of them what they want. It would hurt your bottom line too much. So you decide that you can pay three of them what they want and not hurt your company. The other three, you wish them well and replace them with somebody else at a more reasonable price. That's how business goes. You can't keep all your good employees if one of your competitors wants them badly enough. So why is this simple thing so tough for Green Bay fans to accept?
Familiarity creates comfort. Fans get invested in players after watching them develop from unproven rookies to key players on winning teams. It’s only natural to not want them to go. I’m sure McCarthy and Thompson would have loved to have T.J. Lang back, but it’s not that simple. It never is.
Dillon from Minneapolis, MN
Yesterday in response to a question about tackling statistics, Vic wrote "if your scheme is to use your defensive linemen to keep blockers off your linebackers, then a linebacker should be your leading tackler." While I know they played a large percentage away from their base defense this past year, the tackling statistics for the same period reveal a top three of Burnett, Ryan, and Clinton-Dix. The fact that a LB is No. 2 coupled with the fact that both safeties comprise No. 1 and 3 is indicative of the Packers’ struggles on defense. Does this shift some emphasis to the Packers’ LBs for this next season?
I see a couple flaws in your logic. First, the Packers’ run defense was pretty good in 2016. High tackle totals for safeties are more concerning when you’re getting beat at the line of scrimmage. Secondly, Ryan and Blake Martinez combined to miss five games, which led to a jump in snaps for both Joe Thomas and Morgan Burnett at inside linebacker. The Packers’ three natural inside linebackers still had 221 combined tackles, slightly more than five who played inside linebacker for Green Bay in 2015 (Clay Matthews, Nate Palmer, Ryan, Thomas and Sam Barrington totaled 211). Burnett and Clinton-Dix also will drop down into the box in the run-nickel package, which is another reason you’ll see their totals increase.
Joe from Asbury, IA
What aspect of the team do you think McCarthy's big letter promise this year will revolve around? How is life without Spoff trying to steal your lunch?
I don’t want to speak for McCarthy and what his message will be, but I think the acquisition of Jared Cook, Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks over the last 12 months reflects the value the Packers place on the tight end position. This was a different offense when Cook was comfortable and healthy in the second half of the season. Also, my lunch resides comfortably in the staff refrigerator. We appreciate your concern.
Jeff from Brooklyn, WI
At this point the crying is loud, but in my opinion uncalled for. All positions which Thompson didn't address in free agency has players from last year ready to take on bigger roles, so Ted now has a way to take BAP in the draft. What are your thoughts on the offseason so far?
I’ve liked the moves the Packers have made this offseason. If you look at it, outside linebacker and tight end are two positions where it’s tough for rookies to come in and make an immediate impact. With a few exceptions, both typically require a year or two of seasoning before breakthroughs occur. As deep as the draft supposedly is at tight end, it’s not a guarantee that potential will be realized on Day 1. The other positions the Packers have a perceived need – offensive line, running back and cornerback – are spots where rookies have thrived in Green Bay.
Tom from New York, NY
How are fans reacting to Peppers' return to the Carolinas? What is the emotional impact when a veteran re-signs with the team of his professional birth? Can one go home again in the NFL?
I think Packers fans understand. I liken it to when Charles Woodson went back to Oakland. Yes, it was under different circumstances, but I don’t think you can blame Peppers for wanting to finish his career where it began. He has so many ties to North Carolina. I give him a ton of credit. He had an unbelievable run in Green Bay and exceeded my expectations during his three seasons with the Packers.
Daniel from Copenhagen, Denmark
When I draft in my fantasy draft and the players I deem worthy of the value of the pick are gone, I scramble in panic. The calm and full mastery of your board and knowledge of willing trade partners needed to be successful in such situations amaze me. How do you train and prepare for that as a (potential) GM? Will power versus faintheartedness seem to be skills you possess, not skills you learn?
Years of sitting in draft rooms prepare you for those anxious moments. There’s so much time and energy invested into building your draft boards, as well. By the time your pick is up, I think you have a pretty good idea of who will be those best players available. There’s no space for a panic switch in a draft room.
Rudy from La Crosse, WI
Free agent questions are the worst and I'm sorry to be bothering you with them, but I'm wondering if you can tell me why Zach Brown hasn't been signed by anybody. He had a really good year with the Bills, so I assume his asking price is way too high. If he stays on the market any longer it'll have to significantly drop, I assume. Is that an accurate assessment of the situation?
The first wave of free agency crashes hardest. The top players are identified and teams work fast to re-sign their own or get a deal done with one of the top guys on the market. That second wave often takes more time to develop. If you recall, the market was still forming for Jared Cook around this time last year. It wasn’t until after the Packers’ brass returned from the owners meetings a deal got done. It can turn into a staring contest between veterans looking to get the best deal possible and teams being cautious with their remaining cap space.
Josh from Oshkosh, WI
If a player retires while under contract, does the team he was playing for hold his rights forever, for the duration of that contract, or something other?
Correct. Unless he’s released, the player’s contract is tolled and he is placed on the reserve/retired list.
Luke from Ellendale, ND
If a player at the draft receives a call from a team, can he turn them down if he favors playing for another team that might be interested in drafting him also?
The player’s only leverage is his word. NFL teams are permitted to draft anyone they so choose. Teams can trade the rights to a player, but otherwise he must play for the team that drafted him or not play at all.
Forrest from Phoenix, AZ
Why is 1,000 yards rushing or receiving still used as a milestone of excellence in the NFL? With a 16 game schedule, that equates to 63 yards per game. Doesn't seem like a very high standard.
Because it’s a nice, round number.
Daniel from Davis, CA
A lot of those arguing that the 2013 draft was a failure are using the number of players remaining on the Packers roster from that draft as proof. I've crunched the numbers: based on the number of draft picks and the rounds selected, the Packers have enjoyed five player-years above expectation from the 2013 draft.
The Packers received significant contributions from several players in that draft. The fact that five exited in free agency doesn’t change that. If Green Bay would’ve waived all 11 players besides David Bakhtiari, then that’s a different story.
George from Jefferson City, MO
My question probably won't make the cut but here goes nothing. Do you think Ted Thompson will put together another Super Bowl winning roster with his philosophy?
He did it once. Who says he can’t do it again?
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