July 28, 2021

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He smoothed out the rough edges and his talent…

5 min read
He smoothed out the rough edges and his talent...

Mike from Mount Prospect, IL

Gentlemen, I don’t know how much impact a single position coach can have on a team, but I’m fired up about Jerry Gray. He was a stud as a player, and I love his attitude and tone, a real student of the game. I’m looking for even greater things from the secondary this year.

He’s got the perfect group for a veteran coach and former Pro Bowler to work with – young, ascending players who, in the grand scheme of things, haven’t accomplished anything yet but have the drive and talent to do so.

“Macho Man” Mike Spofford? I can only hope that Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and “Mean” Gene Okerlund will have some influence, too!

Wes is gonna get me in trouble if my wife sees all the Inbox references to Miss Elizabeth.

How much did the Packers’ disastrous 2015 draft have to do with dooming Mike McCarthy’s career as Green Bay’s head coach? By 2018, in what should have been the contract year for a bulk of the class, only one player even started the season on the roster, and he was traded midseason. Not a single player was offered a second contract. With a gaping hole like that in personnel, very few coaches would look good, much less put together a winning season.

I wouldn’t put it all at the feet of the ’15 draft, but that certainly was a factor. A lot of other issues with personnel leading up to ’18 didn’t help, either (Shields’ injury, Cook’s departure, Perry’s contract, second-round picks in the ’16 and ’17 drafts who never really contributed, trading a former first-round pick for a backup QB who didn’t pan out, etc.), and I think as a collective whole McCarthy’s coaching staffs weren’t as strong in his final years. As usual with these things, there was a cumulative effect.

Mike, would the NFL forgo preseason games and a formal training camp to get the NFL started as scheduled? Or would you expect them to have some preseason games and training camp conducted prior to beginning the season, even at the expense of delaying the NFL season start date? While there may be fans who don’t care for preseason games and camp, and just look forward to the regular season to kickoff, I worry about the quality of football in the first month or two without preseason/camp.

Players will have to be allowed time to get ready to play, to handle the physical rigors of the sport. What that preparation schedule looks like is still to be determined.

Is there any way players on the practice squads can be protected from being picked off by other teams? (and should they be protected?) I understand practice squads may be expanded to 16 players, which is an excellent idea.

Expanded practice squads would make sense, but the union wouldn’t want those players to be protected because that would be hindering their ability to earn active-roster game checks. The difference in pay is significant.

Speaking of Chandon Sullivan, the moment he caught my eye was seeing the athleticism he had during his interception in Dallas. It made me think back to the display on the field when TT infamously said “that’s our ball.”

I have to give Wes credit. He told me halfway through camp last summer Sullivan was going to make the team. At that time, all I saw was a young player whose physical approach to the game kept drawing flags. To his credit, he smoothed out the rough edges and his talent emerged as last season wore on. He’s going to play a big role for the Packers in 2020.

I know I’m going to be in the minority and ridiculed for this, but I don’t think football should be played this season without a vaccine. It is inevitable that players, coaches, referees, and other essential individuals will get sick unless they are living like bubble boy outside of game day. This will reflect in the product on the field. Remember replacement referees and what that did to one of our seasons? God forbid someone really gets sick. Some coaches are not spring chickens, don’t ya know?

I’ve maintained for the last three months the risks are, and remain, very real. Aside from the obvious health risks, there’s also the financial risk of starting up but not being able to finish. The well-intentioned efforts of the league come with no guarantees. This is all wait and see to me.

Mike from Franksville, WI

At the time, around 2004 when the Packers had dropped a few home games, I remember fans and sportswriters saying the home-field advantage of Lambeau Field was lost, that the renovation made the stadium too “comfy” and the “edge” was gone. I never bought that, but for fun decided to check. From 1992-2002 the Packers were 74-12 at home (86%). After the renovation, from 2003-present, they’ve been 100-46 (68.5%). Do you think the old stadium might have somehow given the team more of an edge at home?

That’s an interesting question. On the whole, I’d chalk it up more to regression to the mean when looking at such large sample sizes. With the additional seating and closed end zones, Lambeau is louder now than it ever was before, in my opinion, so I don’t think crowd noise was a bigger factor previously. I will say this: Before the renovation, the visitors’ locker room was rather cramped and uncomfortable. It was like a high school locker room, and substandard for the era. I’d been in there several times after games to interview visiting players in my newspaper days. The current visitors’ quarters aren’t a five-star spa or anything, but any change was going to improve the environment for the road team.

Hello guys, our old friend, Vic, believes the evolution of the game has made the QB position easier than ever to play. I would love to hear your perspective on that. Thanks for keeping us entertained, especially in these trying times.

Physically, I would agree with Vic. Mentally, no way. I think the mental processing required to play quarterback at a high level in this day and age, against all the varied defenses with massive and constant substitutions, is immensely difficult. That’s why it’s so hard to win in this league without a top-flight QB.

Hi, Wes and Mike. I don’t have a question. I wanted to say your coverage of the present times has been much better than the news. I truly appreciate it. I write for a living, and it gets hard to stay upbeat. But, somehow, a Packer fan site says all that needs said, eloquently, in a column about lasers and goalposts. That, I think, you should both be very proud of. Keep it up. I really love you both for it.

After a day off from this column, it’s worth reiterating how much we appreciate everyone’s readership, especially through such slow times for sports news. Have a great weekend, everybody.


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