Mon, 21 Sep 2020

Inbox: Fair solutions aren't a given

Packers
03 Aug 2020, 18:12 GMT+10

Everything still goes up

Todd from Brighton, MI

This is not going to be easy.

Understatement of the summer. I've been emphasizing the enormity of the challenge for months now.

Kelly from Bemidji, MN

My husband, Brian, is a Packers fan living in Vikings country. He reads Insider Inbox faithfully every day and just showed me the photos of Marge Switzer inside the Packers sewing room. I'm in awe! I've been spending many hours in my sewing room making masks for the past four months since the pandemic started and my hands and fingernails look awful. Can you please ask Marge if she has any tips on how she keeps her hands and nails looking so fabulous during the busy sewing/football season?

That's not exactly the challenge I was referring to, but OK.

Jeremiah from Madison, WI

It seems at least plausible if not probable that some games will be suspended/cancelled leading to an unequal game comparison between games for playoff tiebreaker or ranking comparisons. I know in the old days (or even now in CFB) this happened often. Do you think this would shed any light on how tiebreakers would be determined?

If there are uneven numbers of games, tiebreakers become less necessary. Winning percentage will decide playoff spots, presumably, and I could definitely see that happening. Here's what I wonder about, though. Say the Bears and Lions aren't in the picture and the NFC North comes down to the Packers and Vikings. The Packers play all their games and finish 10-6. The Vikings get one game called off and finish 10-5, but Green Bay won both head-to-head meetings. To whom would the league award the division title? The Packers would believe they deserve it, while the Vikings would argue if they'd played the canceled game and won, there'd be no debate. I'm not going to go down the road of endless hypotheticals, but my point is any number of inequities could arise and fair solutions aren't a given. We're already seeing in baseball that the chances of every team playing 60 games appear remote.

Ruthann from Chippewa Falls, WI

Are you not publishing a yearbook this season?

We are, but due to a number of reasons I won't get into, the production schedule has been pushed back. As of now, it's slated to be available in early September.

Dennis from Parrish, FL

Davante Adams doesn't exactly post 1,000-yard seasons, but it's hard to argue he is the best ever at posting 997-yard seasons!

What a strange statistical quirk. The guy is six yards away from having three 1,000-yard seasons instead of just one. Not a knock here, but meanwhile Donald Driver is the franchise record-holder with seven, and four of those were between 1,012 and 1,064 yards.

Chris from Eau Claire, WI

I get a player going from rookie contract to a second contract eating up additional cap space, but what's the big deal about re-signing a veteran? Shouldn't their contact eat up a similar amount of cap space?

But everything still goes up. Take David Bakhtiari as an example. His APY is $12M, which currently ranks tied for 12th in the league at his position, and he's been an All-Pro selection four years running. Yes, his cap number in the final year of the deal is a tad higher ($14.7M), but four left tackles have APYs at $15.5M and above, three have cap numbers $17M and above. It's gonna cost more to keep him, while at the same time other veterans in the middle of their deals ( Preston Smith, Za'Darius Smith, Adrian Amos, etc.) are hitting their peak cap numbers after the initial, lower, manageable figures.

Derek from Norton, KS

Knowing that a mass infection of single team (e.g. Marlins) is a possibility, I believe it would be wise for the NFL to plan for a shorter season (10 or 12 games). Do you know if they are giving any thought to this, or are they just planning to react to whatever issue presents itself?

As I've been saying for weeks, if the NFL had been thinking about a shorter season, those plans would be in place now. Those are not the plans.

Kyle from Osceola, WI

How much consideration do teams give to another coaching staff's evaluations? In other words, if Brian Gutekunst really liked a wide receiver in the draft but couldn't pick him and then the guy gets cut by a team with a well-respected receivers coach, does Gutey still take a flyer?

To give the player a look in camp? Sure, if the initial evaluation ranks him higher than another player. To automatically put him on the 53-man roster at the expense of someone else? Hard to say.

Thomas from Cedar Rapids, IA

Imagine a high-profile player testing positive right before the playoffs. Do you suppose a couple years from now we will have any conspiracy theories like the Michael Jordan pizza incident in Salt Lake City? I say this only slightly tongue in cheek because suspicion and gullibility (is that a word?) are human traits that go hand in hand sometimes.

Let's get to the playoffs before we start talking wild conspiracies and scenarios. No one has even had a practice yet.

Craig from Laramie, WY

"Road trips will be very different, just like everything else." - the ghost of Yogi Berra

I'm getting really good at it without even trying! I guess that's sort of the point.

Levi from St. Paul, MN

Watching PFT with Peter King this morning and their discussion of COVID protocol for NFL teams, they played clips of Mike Tomlin and how he communicates to his players the importance of personal accountability outside the facility and how one player not following protocol can take down an entire team. Has ML made a statement similar to Tomlin? Do you have any information on the Packers plan for COVID protocol? I truly believe the NFL can go on if everyone stays committed. Do you agree?

As I've been saying, it's a gargantuan undertaking given the length of the timeline for a full NFL season, so the commitment has to be complete. Tomlin's message of "one fail, all fail" is absolutely spot-on. There will be instances of individuals taking every precaution and still contracting the virus. That risk won't go away. Anyone letting their guard down is only adding more risk to a precarious situation. I'm not privy to LaFleur's message to the team, but I'm sure he'll be asked about it when he meets with the media for the first time, which will likely be very soon.

Paul from Schenectady, NY

I was looking forward to watching Jordan Love play in preseason games this year. How do you think the absence of those games will affect his development?

It's less than ideal, obviously. Those are opportunities for young QBs to work out a lot of nerves, adjust to the speed of the game, get the communication down with hearing the play call and spitting it out in the huddle, deal emotionally with botching a third down and trudging off the field to get an earful from somebody, ... I could go on. All those things are part of practice, but the preseason games are the bridge between practice and the real thing, and for the toughest position to play, that bridge is more important for a young quarterback than anyone else.

Ryan from Appleton, WI

How big of a challenge do you think Brian Gutekunst will have evaluating the bottom of the roster this year without preseason games?

Pardon the broken record, but again, it's not ideal. With young players who show promise in practice, making a strong bid to stick, there's usually a progression. The coaches start moving them up from the third- and fourth-string reps in practice to get some work with the twos, and if they hold their own, they get some preseason game reps with the second string as well. That last step isn't an option. It's also very hard for practice reps on special teams to really replicate game reps, so that facet - which is typically a young guy's best path to a roster spot - becomes harder to gauge as well.

Christopher from Frederick, MD

I hope Mason Crosby and Jace Sternberger take care of themselves. I can easily say Mason Crosby is my favorite kicker of all time, and based on the playoff game, Jace looked like he was going to make quite an impact this season. Get well soon, boys!

To be clear, just because those players are on the COVID reserve list does not necessarily mean they've tested positive. You can also be placed on the list if you're known to have been in close contact with someone who's contracted the virus.

Jennifer from Middleton, WI

Upon telling my nurse practitioner friend working in a COVID-only unit in FL that COVID testing is different in Madison depending on the facility, she remarked, "A good test should feel like it's poking your brain." Having experienced it, I have to say it's pretty awful and the spot inside my head was irritated for days. Spoff had his without comment so I'm curious if a less invasive method is being used by the team given the frequency, or if Spoff is just that tough.

Ha. The tests I've had - and I'm getting tested every day now - have been nostril swirls, not the probe. Baseball has been doing a saliva test, to my knowledge.

Cameron from Wayland, MI

Has the coaching staff talked about increasing their efforts to train players in multiple positions even more given the COVID list? Any chance we see a return of two-way players?

I don't know if I'd go that far, but I would imagine there'll be as much cross-training with certain position groups (offensive linemen learning multiple spots, tight ends knowing fullback and receiver duties, safeties working at inside linebacker) as time will allow.

Lori from Hartford, WI

I don't need a top 10 countdown, but throw some names at me. Or would this be a better question for Cliff? Who are some of the better but underappreciated/underutilized running backs in Packers history?

Fullbacks like William Henderson and John Kuhn became fan favorites and were greatly appreciated, for good reason, but when I was a kid I always thought Jessie Clark was overlooked, partly due to the backfield combo of Eddie Lee Ivery and Gerry Ellis being so productive. As far as running backs I've covered, I'll always maintain Ryan Grant was underappreciated by this fan base. Even after a 200-yard playoff game and back-to-back 1,200-yard seasons, he never seemed to be good enough in the eyes of many.

Bill from Wilmington, DE

Hi Mike, even though our TE group is younger and unproven (except Marcedes Lewis) do you feel they can be more productive?

I don't see Graham's 38 catches for 477 yards and three TDs from last season being overly difficult to replace, if that's what you're asking.

Karen from Kaukauna, WI

Is Tramon Williams still unsigned? If so, do you think the Pack will look at his experience and sign him, due to lack of a normal preseason?

I'm not ruling it out by any means.

Joel from Green Bay, WI

Max from Toledo, OH: How long did you study for your Covid test? "That's not funny." Actually, it was pretty funny. A little levity about the times we are going through while not downplaying the seriousness of this pandemic.

For the record, I had originally written it without a space between "that's" and "not" to make a bad joke of my own, but someone edited it without my knowledge. Some of you got it anyway. Have a good weekend, everyone.

Editor's note: Mymistake.

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