Sat, 24 Jul 2021

Inbox: It's a night Wisconsin will never forget

Packers
22 Jul 2021, 18:12 GMT+10

There’s a huge opportunity for the Packers to get creative with Rashan Gary and Smith Bros. this season Wes Hodkiewicz

Shannon from Ovilla, TX

Fifty points to end a 50-year drought! What an amazing performance by Giannis. BUCKS IN 6!

It was a performance for the ages and a night Wisconsin will never forget. And Giannis is just unreal. He's an MVP on the court, but most importantly, he's the type of human being Milwaukee deserves leading its basketball team. I was on the edge of my seat the entire game, but it was obvious by the end of the third quarter the Bucks were the better team. They just needed to execute. And I can tell you this...the 12-year-old Wes who cried his eyes out when Glenn Robinson missed that baseline jumper in 2001 is rejoicing. The "Bucks in 6" prophecy came true.

Rob from Muskego, WI

What's your opinion of bandwagon fans? As someone following the Bucks for the past month or so, I say bandwagon fans are OK if they're self-aware and admit it.

I'm cool with it, especially if it's a team from your home/adopted state. I mean, it's not like there were 65,000 people in the Deer District when the Bucks were playing the Cavaliers in January. Like I said before, it's not like I watched a ton of Bucks games this year. But as a Wisconsinite who wants to see both the Brewers and Bucks win titles in my lifetime, I was pulling hard for Bucks on Tuesday night.

Craig from Williamstown, Victoria, Australia

Hey Wes. Well done, Bucks! I'm not a fan of basketball at all but even I was checking the scores from Australia during our morning. Party time for the state of Wisconsin. Let's hope for you Wisconsinites it's the first leg of the sporting trifecta.

We can only hope. All right, let's talk some football.

Bruce from Green Bay, WI

Doesn't matter positive or negative...which Packers general manager had the biggest impact with the team?

Ron Wolf. Who knows if I'm working inside Lambeau Field today if it wasn't for Ron Wolf? Wolf and Bob Harlan brought the luster back to the green and gold, and ensured pro football would never leave Green Bay, Wisconsin. Please don't forget that...and make sure your kids don't forget it, either.

Josh from New Richmond, WI

Finish the sentence: If Za'Darius Smith and Preston Smith and Rashan Gary combine for 30 sacks this season...

...the opposing quarterback is going to have trouble sleeping the night before he lines up against the Packers' defense.

Aumed from Moorhead, MN

Interesting stat regarding Za'Darius Smith. As an interior rusher he had a win rate of 20%. Compared to primary interior rushers that made him third behind only Chris Jones and Aaron Donald. If you want Gary to get more snaps, could we see more of an interior role for Smith this year since he has proven his dominance on the interior? I figure this would also give Kenny Clark more one-on-one opportunities, and the move just makes so much sense in that regard. Thoughts?

Gary needs to be on the field more this season - and I think that can be accomplished without the Smith Bros. coming off it. There's a huge opportunity for Joe Barry to get creative with those three outside linebackers and Za'Darius' interior rush definitely can be a part of that formula.

Dan from Elizabethtown, KY

We know the big three names at OLB. Who are the dark horses to keep an eye on?

It's mostly familiar names. Randy Ramsey, Jonathan Garvin, Tipa Galeai and Delontae Scott are all back. The Packers did add Gary's former Michigan teammate, Carlo Kemp, as an undrafted free agent, though. A two-time team captain, Kemp played defensive line for the Wolverines and is making the switch to a standup outside backer in GB.

Ross from Hudson, WI

Can Devin Funchess block? If both he and Allen Lazard can seal edges to complement the TE group, it could add an even greater level of camouflage to the already nebulous looks given by the Green Bay offense. I picture a 3-1-1 that can affect a defense as well as could a 2-2-1 or 1-2-2.

I said from the moment Funchess signed in March 2020 that his versatility would be an asset to the offense and I think it will complement Lazard's skill set perfectly. I can't give you too much of a scouting report on Funchess' blocking until we see him in pads, but that's a big part of the job description for wideouts in Green Bay. The more Funchess can do, the more creative the Packers can get with their personnel groupings.

Dave from Germantown, TN

How many of Jordan Love's offensive teammates from Utah State in 2018 and 2019 were drafted by the NFL or are on current NFL rosters?

One. Running back Darwin Thompson (sixth round in 2019). Love is still the most recent draft pick Utah State has had. Coincidentally, the Packers have taken three of the Aggies' last five draft picks (Love, Devante Mayes in 2017 and Kyler Fackrell in 2016).

Malachi from Chetek, WI

On my way out the door this weekend to work the fire department fundraiser, I reached for a Packers cap but decided against it to avoid talking about Aaron Rodgers all day. How do you handle dealing with undoubtedly hundreds of those questions per day and not lose it?

Breathing exercises.

Markus from Aurora, CO

Insiders, I know patience is a virtue, but I hope to feel at least "In the know" next week when training camp starts. Don't you think that will bring some clarity regarding Aaron Rodgers' status?

I hope so because the public has been overserved when it comes to anonymous reports and theories. What we need is training camp to get here and fortunately it's one more week away. Hopefully, we'll have the answers everyone wants soon and we can all move forward.

Tony from Chanhassen, MN

Wes, every year in the off season the fans obsess over something. Sometimes it's that a WR was not drafted in the first round. Sometimes it's lack of free agent additions. This year it is obviously the Aaron Rodgers situation. My question is, if that wasn't a thing (and I know that's a big if), what would it be? The new DC? Davante Adams's contract? Special teams?

The new surge tank.

Bob from Oconomowoc, WI

My apologies if this has been answered before but when I read about Simon Stepaniak, he's usually described as having "a mean streak." Could you elaborate on exactly what this is means? It might be an exaggeration but I picture a Bill Romanowski-type of on-field attitude. In a deep offensive line group going into training camp that sort of attitude might be what gets him a roster spot. As long as come gameday he's not being penalized for taking it farther than he should, bring on the mean!

I take that to mean Stepaniak doesn't backdown from anyone and isn't afraid to mix it up with the opposition. And you don't need to get penalized to have a mean streak. Just look at what Lucas Patrick and T.J. Lang have brought to the O-line over the years. You always need one or two of those guys on your roster.

Richard from Menasha, WI

I will be at the season opener in New Orleans and at the Packers Pep Rally the night before. Who (not whom) will be at the pep rally from II?

Those details are still being ironed out, but the plan is to have some Packers alumni in attendance.

Jordan from Virginia Beach, VA

Unlike Kansas City, which is in two states, Virginia Beach has my state's name built in and is only in VA. I will continue to include the state anyways. Something feels off about filling out something online and leaving something out for the recipient to guess about. When a team is deciding who to cut, would they keep a fourth RB over a wide receiver if they believe it more likely can get the WR to the practice squad? Especially if the 'call up' option remains for this season, it could happen.

That's part of the strategy now for teams with these expanded practice-squad rules. In the past, teams had to be careful with how they structured their 53-man roster because 46 of those players needed to be active on gameday. Now, they can get away with stashing an extra prospect or two on the 53-man roster because of the "call-up" flexibility.

Bill from Houston, TX

How many tight ends do you expect to be kept on the final roster? How likely do you think it might be that Marcedes Lewis is let go in favor of a younger player?

Zero percent chance? A healthy Lewis is absolutely making this team. Plus, the Packers will keep as many tight ends as they see fit. This offense needs them all. And keep in mind, Jace Sternberger is facing two-game suspension so there will be an extra roster spot to play with on cutdown day.

Derek from Norton, KS

Good morning! The best players don't necessarily perform the best in crunch time. They are afforded more opportunities due to their skill set, and they have a higher opportunity of success due to their elevated talent level. I believe that often times there is just as equal of a chance for a lesser-known player to make the pivotal play, due to the opposing team focusing on the stars. Do you agree, or do you ride the horse that got you there?

I see what you're saying, but the image I had in my head was Kevin Durant in Game 7 against the Bucks in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Nets are down two with six seconds left and there's only one player they wanted to have the ball on the inbound. The greats raise their game in winning time. Just look at Giannis' 50 last night. That's not to say the eighth guy off the bench couldn't make those game-winning shots - but who do you trust to make it when it counts?

Neil from Tunbridge Wells, England

Being as professional as they are, will the players be ready to play in front of fans again, or will there be that moment they just forget and let the atmosphere sink in?

That won't be a problem in Green Bay. The Packers return most of their roster from last year's team that hosted the NFC Championship. For my money, the noise those 9,000 fans generated made with their voices and those signs rivals a full stadium.

Curt from Algonquin, IL

Is the malfunction of the Mason St bridge a bad omen for the Packers' Mason Crosby, or is the fact that it's stuck looking like a set of uprights for him to split mean it portends well for the kicking game this season?

Well, it's open again. So, maybe that's nature telling us it's almost time for Mason Crosby to kick footballs again?

Brian from Madison, WI

Hi Wes, I've been enjoying the day-in-the-life questions this month. How does your writing process change depending on whether you're working on Inbox, a player profile, or a game recap? How does your process compare to Spoff's?

I fully admit I take longer than Spoff with pretty much all of the above. I like to transcribe everything, gather my thoughts and begin to build my stories. Spoff is more like a locomotive, which does complement my style. If we need a story up ASAP, Spoff is the man for the job. On gameday, all bets are off. We both try write as fast, and as clean, as possible and get our stories posted.

Lee from Conifer, CO

Over the years of visiting Packers.com I have found my personal favorite articles and features to read, including II (since the Ask Vic days), WYMM, and The Rock Report. I was wondering, which are your favorites to write?

Features...which is probably the thing I have the least amount of time to do. Haha.

Bruce from Savage, MN

Dar from Mansfield, TX stated that Wisconsin is the least populated state with three major sports. I believe Minnesota has a slightly smaller population than Wisconsin but has four major sports. Surprised you didn't catch that.

I'm not.

Peder from Sturgeon Bay, WI

The Hod-Rob Dog Cart. Count me in!

And you get a hot dog! And you get a hot dog! And you! and you! And you!

Sam from Janesville, WI

Good morning, Wes. In your response to Erick from Vancouver you mentioned the fans being the reason for a six day per week column. While that's true, it's only half true. I think most markets would support a six day per week column, but the writers want nothing to do with it. Thanks for what you guys do. Also, I'd stop at the "Wes Hodkedogs" cart for a brat with onions, kraut, and spicy brown.

...and an ice-cold root beer (but no actual ice).

Michael from Boise, ID

In the bricklayer/mason profession, the person who hauls the bricks, (cement, mortar) is called a "Hoddie," cause they haul the stuff in a "Hod." So, stories are the bricks, and as editor, Mike is the mason who makes the final "set?" Keep up the good work and heavy lifting, Weston, no, no; I'll g'head and see myself out.

As will I. After all, we got a championship to celebrate!

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