You’ll can to read my responses to Jason’s questions on the Green Bay fan site.
1. Jason, the running back situation for the Green Bay football team offense looks... interesting... this season. Tell us what's going on there.
Despite increased competition, Ty Montgomery remains the focal point of the Green Bay Packers' ground attack. He performed more than admirably after moving over from receiver, averaging nearly 6 yards per carry for an offense that had no reliable alternatives. Still, Montgomery hasn't progressed in pass protection as the team hoped and ball-security issues continue to crop up. Still, he should enter the regular season as the lead runner in a multi-back rotation.
If Montgomery loses his starting job, rookie Jamaal Williams appears the most likely candidate to replace him. The Packers spent a fourth-round pick on Williams earlier this year and the coaching staff has raved about his work in pass protection and ball security. That alone can't win him the job, but it could open the door if Montgomery continues to struggle in those areas.
2. I know that early last season, prior to the 6-game run to close out the season and get to the playoffs, there were some rumblings from some of your team's fans (or at least some media sources) about Mike McCarthy, and perhaps even Ted Thompson for his conservative approach to free agency. How is the fan base feeling about the head coach and front office right now?
The Packers' fan base has known almost exclusively success for the past 25 years. Accordingly, a loud minority of the fans want the coach fired and the general manager replaced every year that doesn't result in a Super Bowl victory. That, of course, sounds ridiculous, but such is the reality of a team that has performed well consistently for such a prolonged period of time.
In reality, Ted Thompson will remain in charge of Green Bay's roster until he decides to retire. McCarthy doesn't have quite as much rope, but after his offense bounced back down the stretch in 2016 to finish fourth in DVOA, it would take a season from hell to unseat him.
3. Are there any Undrafted Free Agents or under-the-radar players who have "flashed" in the Green Bay team's training camp?
Undrafted rookie wideout Michael Clark has made some noise during training camp. The 6-foot-6 converted basketball player understandably still has much to learn about the nuances of playing receiver, but his size and straight-line speed have manifested as big plays. Clark caught his first professional touchdown last week against the Philadelphia Eagles.
On defense, safety Marwin Evans has looked vastly improved during his second training camp. The former undrafted free agent always possessed the athleticism to make plays all across the field. Now, he finally seems to have the confidence and comfort with the defense to make an impact consistently. His interception of Matt McGloin from last week ranks as one of the most impressive takeaways of the preseason thus far.
4. What's the biggest concern surrounding the Green Bay team's defense this year?
The Packers entered the offseason with major questions in the secondary, and those questions remain largely unanswered. Davon House, who returned to Green Bay after spending the previous two years in Jacksonville, will serve as the No. 1 cover man. After that, the cornerback position has no clear hierarchy. Top draft pick Kevin King will receive plenty of opportunities to win a starting job, but he has struggled thus far in training camp and during the preseason opener. Third-year man Quinten Rollins has enjoyed a solid camp, but his lack of top-end athleticism makes him a better fit in the slot rather than along the boundary. Damarious Randall and LaDarius Gunter could also start opposite House, but neither has stood out consistently thus far in 2017.
With less than a month remaining before Week 1, Green Bay has to feel at least somewhat concerned about this position group.
5. Is the Green Bay team struggling with any significant injuries?
Coming out of the preseason opener, the Packers have some health concerns but few appear overly worrisome. Reserve offensive lineman Don Barclay suffered a serious ankle injury during the game and looks to remain on the sidelines for the foreseeable future. Cornerback Damarious Randall and wideout Malachi Dupre suffered concussions and both expect to miss Saturday's game at Washington. Lead back Montgomery missed practice on Tuesday, and his status remains unclear at the time of this writing. And while neither has an injury, don't expect to see Aaron Rodgers or Jordy Nelson suit up this weekend.
Bonus question: Who gets to the playoffs from the NFC North this season?
At least at the outset, the NFC North doesn't appear to be a particularly stacked division. The Detroit Lions managed to make the playoffs last year despite finishing dead last in defensive DVOA and 27th overall. They look like a prime regression candidate. Meanwhile, the Chicago Bears enter yet another rebuilding year, one piloted by either the pedestrian Mike Glennon or rookie signal-caller Mitchell Trubisky. Chicago should play more competitively this season, though a playoff berth of any kind appears highly unlikely. That leaves the Packers and Minnesota Vikings for the division crown.
The Packers' major offensive pieces all return healthy this season with Pro Bowl tight end Martellus Bennett augmenting the group. The defense has flaws no matter how well the offseason additions perform, but Green Bay still looks like one of the top teams in the NFL. The Vikings still lack an identity on offense, a unit that finished 26th in DVOA and still has a questionable O-line. Their defense could potentially cover up those issues, but it would probably take a top-3 performance from the unit or a significant injury to Aaron Rodgers to overcome the Packers in the division.
I want to thank Jason for taking the time to share his knowledge, and I know that fans from both teams are looking forward to a good, injury-free contest.