Sat, 04 Jul 2020

Inbox: Cinderella stories are real

Packers
24 May 2020, 18:12 GMT+10

Are the numbers drastic enough to make a fundamental change to onside kicks?

Drake from Huntsville, AL

I'll admit it, you got me on ending with "Happy Thursday." I went up and checked, saw it was Friday, and then I lolled. Good one!

Mike Spofford. Full-time senior writer. Part-time comedian. Good morning!

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

Insiders, I know people want the team to succeed but it amazes me how some fans expect ALL late-round picks, fifth round and beyond, to not only make the team but be significant contributors almost from the start. More often sixth- and seventh-round draftees get replaced with future sixth- and seventh-round picks.

Cinderella stories are real, so it's not like this ridiculous pipe dream hoping a late-round selection becomes a Pro Bowler, All-Pro or even Hall of Famer. At the same time, fans have to temper expectations. Not everybody is going to become Bart Starr or Donald Driver. These are young men trying to find themselves as pro athletes. If a GM takes four or five swings on Day 3, the hope is he can hit at least one double into the gap in right field.

Bruce from New Canaan, CT

If the fourth-and-15 onside kick replacement comes to be, I am already pulling out what little remains of the hair on my head in anticipation that a ticky-tack illegal contact penalty on a defensive back will affect a game's outcome. Please, please tell me the league won't let something like that happen.

I'm going to write about it for Monday but the idea is still a bit too gimmicky for my liking. I could see how the conversion probability is comparable to an onside kick IF you could guarantee a penalty-less down. But it's a lot more likely to get converted by a defensive penalty resulting in an automatic first down than on an actual onside kick. What I fear is what ramifications a suspect call could hold in the fourth quarter of a pivotal playoff game. The question I keep asking is whether we could go back to overloading on a side if the team ONLY performs an onside kick. From everything I've gleaned, the real danger of the play wasn't from that short-yardage contact inside 10 yards.

Dan from Allen, TX

I'm not sure about this fourth-and-15 thing. Seems too tricked up. Do we know what percentage onside kicks have been successful prior to last year vs. the success rate of fourth-and-15? I'm too lazy to look it up...even with a three-day weekend, and am relying on the crack reporting staff at the II.

This is actually more difficult to find than I thought it would be. First, tricked up is a great phrase. I wish it was mine. The onside-kick conversion rate in 2018 and '19 was 10% (11-of-109), down from 21.1% in 2017. Now, it's up to the NFL competition committee to decide if those numbers are drastic enough to make a fundamental change to one of the league's most timeless plays.

Gene from Anderson, IN

OK guys, a Packer is getting some love from the sports folks. Za'Darius Smith was ranked as the second-best disrupter in the NFL by an "Around the NFL" writer, ahead of Nick Bosa, Aaron Donald and Von Miller. Now, that's one thing we can build on. Don't need to worry about a WR we didn't get, let's build on a player we do have. You go Z...

It's only one season but what a season 2019 was for Za'Darius Smith. I wrote it last year - he has the rush versatility of Clay Matthews and can play a three-technique inside in the dime like Julius Peppers. He's up there with Reggie White and Charles Woodson on that Mount Rushmore of the Packers' top signings since free agency began in 1993.

Scott from Grovetown, GA

I would have to agree with the opinion of Dave from Lake Zurich, IL, about NFL owners influencing the diversity of general managers. As a teacher I'm always impressed by the immense self-segregation of individuals at public events or gatherings. Not just students either, but teachers as well. Human nature is what it is.

If there's a problem, you need to address it. Statistics indicate there is indeed an issue here and we need to make steps in this area of hiring today, so it can be better tomorrow and the day after. That's progress.

Brad from Crofton, MD

Which current assistant coach on the Packers (leave out OC and DC) do you feel has the right stuff to be a future head coach? I don't have much to go on, but I like how Adam Stenavich molded the O-line in his first year!

There are so many worthy candidates but I want to give a shout-out to Ben Sirmans. Over the last two years, he's suddenly become one of the longest-tenured coaches on staff. His resume in Green Bay has been impressive. From molding Ty Montgomery into a running back in-season to developing Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, Sirmans has a lot to hang his hat on right now. He's also eloquent, even-keeled and received praise from the likes of Aaron Rodgers for how he addresses the room when given the opportunity.

John from Charlottesville, VA

I have always been disappointed James Jones was never able to reach 1,000 yards in a season. He put in all the work and had the talent but was mostly surrounded by other talented receivers. At least, he will go down in history for his hoodie.

It's OK. I don't think JJ is losing any sleep over it.

Tony from Marquette, MI

What year do you feel was the best Packer football team?

1962. That team went 13-1, had 10 future Hall of Famers and won the NFL title.

Sal from Hailey, ID

Hi II. I'm still learning plenty about the game; can you help me understand this proposed rule change: "to provide the option to the defense for the game clock to start on the referee's signal if the defense declines an offensive penalty that occurs late in either half." What's the point of that?

It's the Bill Belichick rule, to prevent an offense from taking a delay of game just inside opponent territory and draining the clock when the defense declines the penalty (as to not give the punter more room).

Sam from Antigo, WI

This week's "Legacy" program makes a point of the people on Mike Holmgren's staff being possibly the best ever when you consider what they did over the years. What is your take on that?

It's difficult to argue. A lot of future head coaches in that bunch, including a couple who won Super Bowls themselves as head coaches.

Kevin from Indy, IN

I avoid obvious click-bait articles, but I have a dream that just once I read the title, "When the Packers should trade Rodgers," and the entirety of the article reads, "Never!"

Now that's funny.

Dave from Germantown, TN

I have a Rooney Rule revision question. Teams can no longer block coaches from getting interviews for coordinator positions. Does this just apply to African-American coaches or are white coaches also going to be free to interview for coordinator positions?

This also has been a major issue for years in the NFL but is not related to a coach's race. Previously, head coaches had the power to block any position coach under contract from interviewing for a coordinator position. This provision removes a hurdle that should've never been there in the first place.

Becky from New Berlin, WI

Do you think Aaron Rodgers and the new drafted QB will get along?

Yes.

Thomas from Cedar Rapids, IA

I have two non-calls that changed Packers history that haven't been mentioned yet. One for and one against. I've seen a replay of the Ice Bowl where Jerry Kramer jumped the snap by a fraction of a second. Imagine a false-start flag there moving them back to the 5-plus-yard line. That non-call changed everything! In the 2014 championship against Seattle, Rodgers threw an end zone pick to Sherman. AR drew an offsides and thought he had a free play so he took a shot. The no-call cost us at least three points.

Rodgers hasn't forgotten about that play, either.

Randall from Chicago, IL

Statement, not a question: Best football movie of all time: "North Dallas Forty." It's also my favorite sports movie, period.

You spelled "Draft Day" wrong.

Bobby from Fond Du Lac, WI

Wes, I need some help. There is a UFC guy that sells whiskey. Have you had any Proper? I have to bring a bottle of whiskey and I don't want to bring anything nasty.

I haven't yet. I actually should take a sip - you know, for science.

Mike from Mount Prospect, IL

Gentlemen, I'm pondering upsets today. What do you consider to be the greatest NFL upset you've witnessed? How about the biggest sports upset? I'm stuck between Miracle on Ice and Georgetown's loss to Villanova in the 1985 finals. For football, I'm going with the heartbreak of the '97 Super Bowl.

It's Super Bowl XXXII, without a doubt. I haven't seen as many in-person, though. Maybe the New York Giants beating the 15-1 Packers at Lambeau Field in the 2011-12 NFC Divisional playoffs.

Dan from Lignite, ND

I really think Mike McCarthy has a legitimate shot at a Super Bowl in Dallas. What about you? They certainly have some good core players there. A SB with the Pack and the Cowboys? From a historical perspective, that sure would be something special.

It's never been done before. He's chasing history.

Rob from Louisville, CO

Should numbers get un-retired after 50 years? That way you still honored the player, but it gives new guys a chance to earn the same honor. Otherwise, you have to either stop retiring numbers, or go to three digits at some point.

The Packers probably won't have to worry about this in my lifetime but the Bears might have to consider such a measure someday. They're already at 14, I believe.

Michael from Chanhassen, MN

Hey Wes, of course it's OK to imbibe that early. I have season tickets for U of MN college football and we get 11 a.m. kickoffs scheduled ad nauseum, so that means 8 a.m. starting times for tailgating! We put on the breakfast pizzas and wash it down with adult beverages of choice. If there was an unspoken rule that you had to wait until the afternoon, we would be in trouble.

I wouldn't object to that, but that's the exception that proves the rule. In my case, we're talking about writing the column three times during the work week - not a few random Saturdays in the fall.

Ryan from Milwaukee, WI

Closing Friday's Inbox with "Happy Thursday" was a nice touch. I even scrolled back to the top of the page to make sure I was reading the right day's column! Thanks for all the work you guys do, and have a safe, happy holiday weekend!

There are only two days on the weekly schedule at this point in time: Work Day and Off Day. But Thursday and Fridays do hit differently in this climate. It's like this relief of, 'Man, I made it.' I hope everyone has a Happy (and safe) Memorial Day weekend.

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