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Some position groups will change more than others
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To reinforce the statement about never taking winning for granted, the Packers won as many playoff games this year as the rest of the NFC North has won in the last 10 years combined. It’s tough to win, especially in the playoffs. I’m looking forward to enjoying the ride again next season.

A chip-shot kick in the cold would have made it three, but your point is well-taken.

Dale from Kettering, OH

Coach McCarthy made an excellent point, that you can’t just remove one piece and plug another one in to create a perfect team. How about calling that the Madden Misconception?

Works for me.

Larry from Atlanta, GA

I consider this a straight question and I’m hopeful for a straight answer. With a questionable running game going into the playoffs and starting cornerbacks that were deep on the depth chart early in the season, did Ted Thompson do enough given he ended the year with $8 million of cap space?

If you want to find which running backs and cornerbacks were available to be signed after the season started and/or heading into the playoffs, I could give you a straight answer.

Thomas from Milwaukee, WI

That Top 10 video jogged my memory after the Cook catch in Dallas. I remember after the official called it a catch his partner came in and gave him a smack on the rear. Did you see that? I loved it.

I didn’t see it until several readers pointed it out, so I went back and watched it. I wonder if that was his way of saying, “Thanks bud, I didn’t see it worth a darn.”

Eric from Baker, FL

Hey guys. I’m a pretty avid nonfiction reader, but never anything sports-related. When MM finally retires from football, I’d love for him to write a book about leadership in football and how it relates to all types of leadership. I see him as someone who could be a successful leader in anything he does. Are there any sports figures you learn from or would like to learn from outside of their respective sport?

The first name that comes to mind for me is Theo Epstein.

Ryan from Noblesville, IN

Insiders, I absolutely loved the “Packers Life: Packers Across the Pond” video.

Me, too. Wes and I have been guests on Stephen’s UK Packers podcast before, and I have a blast every time.

Randy from Des Moines, IA

What 2017 position group do you think will least resemble its 2016 counterpart?

I’d have to say running back, because even if Lacy comes back, he wasn’t really a backfield mate of Montgomery’s, and if he doesn’t that’s another opening for a new face.

Brian from Ludington, MI

Mike, I agree with your point on Rollins and Randall. What I don’t agree with is you characterizing those who might disagree with you or be skeptical of your point of view as “haters.” You’re better than that kind of name-calling and you lower the level of discourse when you do that. Raise the bar, Mike.

My reference to haters was specifically toward those who believe I spout the company line. I don’t have a problem with people who disagree with me, and I enjoy the banter. What I don’t have time for are those who insult me by believing I’d waste my time reading hundreds of emails a day in order to offer a viewpoint I don’t genuinely espouse. Nobody tells me which questions to answer nor how to answer them. Most of you are smart enough to figure out the rest.

Keith from Greendale, WI

Insiders, are there any players that have offseason plans that make you envious? Being off until early April sounds great to me.

I tried to run that past Vic once. He said he’d get back to me and then drove to South Carolina.

Jeremy from Danville, KY

In the last couple years I’ve noticed a trend that I believe will continue. Teams in each conference will either win with an elite, but expensive quarterback, or win with a young inexpensive quarterback they lucked out in picking. One allows you to develop the offense, the other allows you to develop the rest of the team. What do you guys think?

Teams that find success with a young quarterback on his rookie contract will have an edge for a while cap-wise, but it doesn’t last forever. The Cowboys are in dynamite shape with Dak and Zeke for the next two years, paying elite players chump change (relatively speaking), and I expect them to maximize on that advantage. The Seahawks had that initially with Wilson, but once they lost that edge, their offensive line declined considerably and their defense fell apart this year when it lost one player to injury. Payday is coming for Carr with the Raiders, Cousins with the Redskins. The 49ers were totally sunk when they paid Kaepernick and he bottomed out. That was a double-whammy.

Dave from Sparta, WI

Well, gang, it was one heck of a season. I look forward to the discussions throughout the offseason. My question now; what is your favorite kind of cheese? Without getting too wild, a 10-year cheddar hits the spot for me. This topic has been on my mind all season, and figure the timing is more appropriate now.

Smoked gouda.

Josh from Oshkosh, WI

I just learned about the 1987 player strike and was shocked I never heard of it before. It had something to do with free agency. I hear about Reggie White coming to Green Bay at the dawn of free agency. What was it like before free agency? How did players ever go to other teams?

Way back in the day, they either had to be traded or their contracts sold. During a roughly 25-year period from the early ’60s to the late ’80s, there was a compensation system in the form of draft picks, cash or players, decided by either the teams involved or in some cases the commissioner, which essentially made every free-agent signing a trade. In the late ’80s, “Plan B” free agency preceded the actual free agency that began in 1993. Under Plan B, teams had right of first refusal on about three-quarters of their roster, so almost no players of note changed teams, though the Packers did acquire center Frank Winters via Plan B in 1992. That’s a very rudimentary outline of the history.

Justin from Stephenson, MI

Maybe this year Ted will move up in the draft and get a playmaker. This is the first year you can trade compensatory picks, right?

Yes, it is.

Andy from Brookfield, WI

Insiders, what are the important dates for the offseason this year?

The scouting combine is from roughly Feb. 28-March 6. The owners’ meeting is March 26-29. The draft is April 27-29, with the schedule likely coming out a week or two before. Somewhere in late May, OTAs will start, with minicamp in mid-June to wrap up the offseason program.

Andrew from Des Moines, IA

I love what Ty brings to the team, but am I the only one who is a bit cautious about full time at RB? I thought he was great when finding open field, but pushing piles, hard yards, etc., I thought he wasn’t as great. Thoughts on his future and what offseason training might do to allay some of those concerns?

He’ll be training for the position he’s going to play, so I would expect that to have some impact. I’m also curious if his running style will be more compact and lower to the ground by the time next season begins.

Subhadeep from Cincinnati, OH

Can you guys provide the statistics of how many home vs. road games Tom Brady played in his seven trips to the Super Bowl?

Looking specifically at AFC title games, Brady is 5-1 at home and 2-3 on the road, including 0-3 in his last three. You have to go back to 2004 to find the last season the Patriots advanced to the Super Bowl by winning the AFC title game on the road.

Luke from La Crosse, WI

Sadly, I must be counted among those that are quitting this column after following it daily from Vic’s first arrival. Reading the backlash against the team during the season when they lose, followed by the inevitable backlash if the team doesn’t win a Super Bowl every year has finally gotten to me. I can’t take another offseason of salary cap explanations and Ted Thompson haters. It’s pretty sad when fans of other teams can appreciate my team’s staff more than its fans. Thanks for all the insight and perspective. Go Pack Go.

Please don’t go.

Tom from Fairfield, CT

The TT disinclination to sign free agents is more nuanced but that nuance makes all the difference in the world. Unless I’m mistaken, the nuance is TT only tends to sign free agents who have been cut from their teams (Julius Peppers, Letroy Guion, Jared Cook) and therefore don’t count against the compensatory draft pick calculation. Could you tell us what Packers players the compensatory draft picks have produced during the TT era?

The most noteworthy names from past years are Josh Sitton, Mike Daniels and Richard Rodgers. Last year’s draft brought Blake Martinez and Dean Lowry.

Niko of Hollywood, CA

Hey Wes/Mike, great work as always. In reference to re-signing guys vs. free-agency signings, the difference is this: While the hole left by losing a player could make the team worse depending on who takes their place, the fact remains that only ever signing your own players keeps the team at the status quo. Or in other words, bringing back the same team that wasn’t good enough the year before.

I hear this argument a lot, and I don’t agree. Bryan Bulaga is a better player now than when the Packers re-signed him two years ago. So is Mike Daniels. So is David Bakhtiari. When you re-sign your own and they continue to develop, you get better. Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying that re-signing your own takes care of everything, but I wanted to point out the flaw in your argument.

Keith from Lake Geneva, WI

Guys, I love the sophomores. Gunter showed signs of growth and maturity to handle the big-time stage, but his athleticism was challenged. Randall and Rollins both had rough years being injured and could never get their footing this year. They both showed signs of strong potential. I think they can be the new Williams and Shields or McKenzie and Harris tandem. However, the Packers can’t solely rely on that. Get a top corner in free agency. Without Shields there is cap space.

I get where you’re coming from, but to say “get one” without knowing who’ll be available would be disingenuous. Will one on the market be worth the price? There’s so much to sort out amongst Shields, Peppers, Perry, the market for pass-rushers and corners, which position has a deeper crop of NFL-ready prospects in the draft, etc. I need to see the real picture six weeks from now.

Tom from Wentzville, MO

I am 44 and I feel we Packer fans have become spoiled. A 10-6 regular season with a solid Super Bowl run…when I grew up in the ’80s we never had it this good throughout my entire childhood. I just think we should remember those days. Spoff, have you seen any other franchises change so dramatically good for the better? In any professional sport?

The Kansas City Royals might be the best current example. They went 29 years between postseason berths, from 1985 to 2014, then advanced to back-to-back World Series, but now they already missed out on the playoffs in 2016, so I don’t know if 19 postseason appearances in a 24-year span is in the cards for them.

Scott of Grafton, WI

What is the value of a top 10 draft pick relative to a pick in the 20s? And not just for the first round but the entire draft? Maybe we can use previous trades to better understand.

There are many different draft trade charts, but one I’ve seen values the No. 10 overall pick at 1,300 points, while the No. 29 pick (Green Bay’s) is worth about half that, at 640. The disparity diminishes in the later rounds to the extent that the top pick in each round is worth a little more than half of the bottom pick in each round. It’s not an exact science, though.

Phillip from Wilmington, DE

The O-line pass protection was solid down the stretch, but in both the Dallas and Atlanta games, unblocked blitzers had free runs on AR. What did you see on those plays? Was it poor recognition and therefore no adjustment, or was it so loud that the calls couldn’t be heard?

I think it was all of the above. Communication mix-ups, missed assignments, lack of recognition. They all look the same in live action, but I think the miscue that led to the free runner varied.

Sam from Janesville, WI

Why are the Colts and Eagles tied for draft position? And how will the tie be broken at the combine?

It’s actually a tie between the Colts and Vikings (who traded their first-round pick to the Eagles), because they both finished 8-8. Strength of schedule is the first draft tiebreaker, so that must be identical. The other wild-card/division tiebreakers don’t apply because the teams are from different conferences, so it’ll be decided by a coin flip. They do it at the combine so a representative from each team is present.

Erik from Sanford, FL

Could just one shutdown corner or elite pass-rusher turn our dreadful defense around to top five?

Not by himself, but a major addition at a premier position, plus better health and the continued development of young players would add up.

Luke from Dorchester, England

I’m in two minds about whom to support in this year’s Super Bowl. On the one hand it’d be nice to see the Falcons win their first Lombardi, as well as having the team who beat the Packers go on to win it all. But on the other, I feel we’re currently witnessing greatness in what the Patriots have achieved under Brady and Belichick, and I think it would be quite nice to see Brady cement his legacy as GOAT with a fifth Super Bowl ring. Who will you rooting for, if anyone?

The Falcons.

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