Wed, 08 Jul 2020

Inbox: The film regularly shows it

Packers
06 Jun 2020, 18:12 GMT+10

The platform of the sports world could be more important than ever right now

Andy from Wausau, WI

Not a question, but a quick statement. I want to say that I respect and appreciate the video that the Packers put out today saying enough is enough and showing the team stands together on this issue. It is important for all of us to keep educating ourselves and pushing for meaningful change.

It's a worthwhile message that stands on its own. Kudos to our video department for its work on the production.

Dennis from Beavercreek, OH

When it comes to opening the stadiums to fans do you think the NFL will allow teams to allow as many fans as that state will allow (in other words some games could have full stadiums, while others have a fraction or none on the same week) or will they do like opening facilities and have all teams follow the same rules? I would like to think the NFL will have all teams follow the same rules but I am not sure they will.

I suspect the location of a given game, and the regulations at the time for that location or state, will dictate fan procedures. I don't see the league turning down revenue if it can be generated safely and within various health guidelines.

Thomas from Cedar Rapids, IA

Marv Fleming came way before the current era of free agency, but he played in five Super Bowls, two for the Packers and three for the Dolphins. I believe he was the first guy to win a SB with two different teams.

I don't believe that's true. I think Bill Curry, Forrest Gregg and Herb Adderley all beat him to it. But Fleming was the first player to play in five Super Bowls and to win four Super Bowl rings.

John from Evans, GA

We really take for granted the salary cap increasing nearly $10 million a year. With COVID-19 and the improbability of fans in the stands, the salary cap could actually decrease. I'm beginning to think physicals are not the reason teams are not signing many of the available top free agents. Russ Ball is going to have his work cut out for him and Gutey is going to have to make some real tough decisions. What say you?

If the league is going to take a major revenue hit, I expect the owners and the players to negotiate how to spread out the impact on the cap in the coming years, and teams will then have a framework within which to make decisions. Having the cap plummet one year and then suddenly return to normal the next year would invite chaos.

Chris from Eau Claire, WI

One-third of the league has more dead money than available cap space. Do you think the league needs to come up with a new salary-cap system to alleviate these situations, or do you think each team needs to be more vigilant with whom they guarantee contracts?

Cap management is a major factor in any team's success, so alleviating burdens teams have brought on themselves wouldn't be fair to those who have been diligent under the same rules. We may be headed into uncharted territory with the cap here in the near future, but the NFL's competitive balance is rooted in the cap structure.

Jennifer from Middleton, WI

Bob Harlan said Peter Platten "helped us determine in 1999 that we would need to borrow $10 million just to fund our operations by 2004. That foresight prompted us to expedite our plans to redevelop Lambeau Field." So that means even with TV revenue, even with winning records, even with a Super Bowl, it's not enough to stay afloat. Wow. And our huge reserve now, that was mainly generated from year-round activity at Lambeau?

A lot went into building the corporate reserve, so I can't speak to all the specifics. But the bottom line is the Packers were going to need their stadium to generate revenue on non-game days to survive. Expediting the redevelopment of the stadium also saved the franchise hundreds of millions. It cost $295 million for the whole deal, from 2000-03. I remember having a conversation with Harlan during my first year or two with the Packers (around 2006-07), and he said if the franchise were trying to redevelop the stadium at that time, he estimated the same project would have cost around $600-800 million.

Fred from La Crosse, WI

If the games at Lambeau are played without fans in the stands, do you believe appropriate socially distant tailgating would be allowed?

No idea.

Kerry from New Richmond, WI

Perhaps the only upside to sports being put on hold has been the amount of honest, intelligent discussions dealing with race/justice issues in the wake of George Floyd's tragic death. These conversations have involved people of all races and positions in a variety of sports. Do you think they will continue as leagues resume competition, and will management or owners continue to allow people to speak as opposed to trying to stop or limit them?

Civil, productive conversations involving high-profile athletes and individuals can, in my opinion, help set an example of engagement in the process for change. I think the platform of the multi-racial and multi-ethnic sports world could be more important than ever right now.

Don from Foxboro, WI

Do you foresee the 2021 NFL Draft returning to format of the past or do you think the format will be similar to the 2020 virtual draft?

I'd be surprised if some aspects of the virtual draft are not incorporated in future, more traditional drafts.

John from North Charleston, SC

Corey from Bethlehem's question on the Rams got me thinking about them selling out to win the Super Bowl. In my mind it was also selling out to win LA. They needed a big year to grow and capture as much of a fan base as they could before the Chargers or at the time Raiders moved to town. They might have lost the Super Bowl but that quick success won them a city. They were able to pack games while the Chargers hoped a handful of home team fans showed up each week.

Perhaps a valid point. If some data I dug up is accurate, the Rams saw their average attendance drop 20,000 per home game from their first year in LA (2016) to their second when the Chargers came to town, despite making the playoffs in '17. How much influence Kroenke had on the approach to '18 only a certain few really know. But they also had a playoff team with a young QB on a rookie contract, so they were in the right position to make the push regardless.

Tom from Phoenix, AZ

I believe the last team to go all-in to win a Super Bowl was the '94 49ers. It was the same year the salary cap was introduced which ended the one-uppsmanship between Jerry Jones and Ed DeBartolo. After two consecutive playoff losses in '92 and '93 to Dallas, the Niners added free agents Deion Sanders, Ken Norton Jr. and Rickey Jackson to an already star-studded team and beat San Diego in SB 29, giving them their fifth SB victory.

That's as good a call as any. Your note prompted me to do a little refresher on that team. How Carmen Policy built that roster worked because when free agency began in '93, he restructured a bunch of veteran contracts (and dumped some popular veterans like Tom Rathman and Bill Romanowski) to generate flexibility before the cap kicked in the following year, '94. In the transition to free agency and then the cap in back-to-back years, Policy stayed ahead of the curve and took advantage.

David from Fairmont, WV

Due to a huge turnover on defense and a messed-up offseason, I predict the Vikings will sign Tramon Williams.

The Vikings currently have 10 cornerbacks on their roster, plus possibly another who's listed generically as a DB. All of them have spent two or fewer previous seasons in the league. I think if they felt the need for a veteran presence or stopgap player at the position, they would have made the investment by now. But we'll see.

Tony from River Falls, WI

The game of football appears to have evolved greatly over time in terms of rules and play, while other major sports have stayed relatively the same. If this is correct, why has football gone through more changes than other sports?

The inherent physical nature and potential for serious injury in the sport really have no peer within the other major sports. That means safety, equipment, technology, training methods and other aspects have a greater impact on how football is both played and watched than other sports. Styles and rules factor into that impact.

Abiegail from Santa Clarita, CA

Speaking of laterals, I keep thinking about the Detroit game in 2015 when Aaron Rodgers got the ball before the facemask penalty. He had no one behind him to pass the ball to. Can players run back throughout the play so there's always somebody to receive the ball if it had to be thrown backwards?

Indubitably.

Cliff from Alexandria, VA

Insiders, forgive my ignorance, but why is Kenny Clark considered to be so good? Not trying to be facetious. I never see him getting sacks and we were mediocre against the run last year, so I don't understand the hype. Can you explain it to me?

He's difficult to block one-on-one, and he can anchor against a double-team. The film regularly shows it. Offenses have to account for him in the middle, which means the attention paid to him should help free up his teammates. One guy can't stop the run, and Clark has posted a half-dozen sacks each of the last two years, an impressive total for an interior lineman who's trying to rush in the high-traffic areas against guards who can often get help from a center.

Aaron from Scottsdale, AZ

We've seen several questions in the offseason in the flavor of "how will other teams' offenses attack the Smith Bros. now that they aren't a secret." My initial reaction to this is they haven't been a secret since the first month or two of last season, so effectively OCs have been game-planning for them for a while now. Is there an element to this topic I'm missing where there exists a possibility they can be neutralized with offseason strategy improvements?

Coordinators and other assistant coaches have a lot more time to study and strategize in the offseason. Often a lot of the extra time is devoted to division opponents, but they'll do some advance work on pretty much every opponent on the upcoming schedule who hasn't gone through major coaching or personnel changes, especially if they've played recently and have their own film against the opponent to review. During the season, they get maybe a day and a half to formulate a game plan to have it ready for Wednesday's practice, so the players can rep it. The foundations for some plans are built during those offseason studies.

Tom from Vista, CA

What was the toughest game you ever played in?

I faced a big lefthander in college once who threw in the upper 80s with a hard, nasty slider in the low 80s. He was like the Division III version of Randy Johnson. I'd never seen so many radar guns in the stands at one of our games, and I'd never felt so overmatched. Happy Friday.

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