Rich from Manitou Springs, CO
Seems to me the right tackle would be just as important as the left is, if the quarterback is left-handed. Is that not so?
It would be so if the right defensive end, which is usually the premier pass rusher, was moved to left defensive end. The counter to that move, of course, is run at him. It’s not about right or left, it’s about good or bad. The left tackle is the best pass blocker because most quarterbacks are right-handed, which means the best pass rusher is usually deployed to the offense’s left, which fits perfectly with the tendency for most teams to be right-handed runners; premier pass rushers and pass-rush specialists are often a little light in the pants to be run stuffers. If you move that light-in-the-pants guy to the offense’s right, he might spend most of his afternoon playing the run. Don’t scheme ’em; whip ’em.
Scott from Viola, IL
I’m taking my wife to Door County for a mini-vacation. On the way back, we’re going to make a stop at Packers training camp to watch a practice. She is not a big football fan, but she tries hard for me. What are some things I could have her look for during the practice to make the experience a little more entertaining/enjoyable for her?
Have her watch closely to detect any down-and-distance tendencies, especially when the Packers are in … I’m just kidding. Have her watch the fans. I like to do that. I like to watch them watch practice, feel their intensity for the Packers, and I like to imagine what it’s like for them on game day. I like to make contact with them. I like to say hello and see where that goes. Training camp practices aren’t as dramatic as they once were. The confrontational training-camp-only drills that were meant to test players are gone. Practices are more regular-season like. Teams evaluate young talent while in the process of preparing for the season, whereas a long time ago training camps were a place for conditioning and finding out who had the physical stamina and toughness to play this game. Those aren’t issues anymore. What you’re going to see at training camp is largely a team practicing its playbook. I don’t think your wife will find much excitement in that, but I have a feeling she’ll remember the fans she met and observed.
Cameron from Burley, ID
Vic, I’m a farmer so fall is by far my favorite time of the year and the most rewarding for a few reasons. It’s when we get to harvest our crops that we’ve worked hard on all year and see the fruits of our labors. Also, it’s when football finally starts again. Do you think players and/or management view the beginning of football season as seeing their hard work come to fruition in a similar way that farmers do?
I think that happens when the playoffs begin. No playoffs, no harvest. No playoffs would be the equivalent of a summer drought that killed your crop. How deep a team goes in the postseason is the measure of its harvest.
Dave from Appleton, WI
How can the new Lambeau be the third-largest stadium behind FedEx Field and MetLife Stadium? What about Dallas?
Temporary seating doesn’t count. Cowboys Stadium lists its official capacity as 80,000, with the potential to be expanded to 100,000 for special events. The new Lambeau seats 80,750.
James from Fort Worth, TX
You’ve mentioned that you foresee that stadiums will become smaller in the future, yet, Lambeau just renovated to add seats. Do you see Green Bay as unique because of its fan support, or do you think this could be something the organization would regret in years to come?
Yes, the size of the Packers’ fan base and its passion for the team make this a unique franchise. I don’t see that changing. Most teams don’t enjoy the advantages the Packers’ fan base provides the Packers franchise.
Mitch from Waupun, WI
Is this heat anything like the heat in Florida?
Not even close.
Tony from Saint Paul, MN
Vic, if I understand you correctly, the NFL will remain a 32-team league, but two teams will eventually relocate to Los Angeles and London. We’re just waiting on the who and when.
We’ve known that for a long time. Eventually, I think two teams will relocate to Los Angeles.
Ben from Lima, Peru
In Holmgren’s era as head coach, we never had a dominant run game, but Holmgren made up for it with screens and short swing passes to running backs. It doesn’t seem like these short routes are as big a factor in McCarthy’s playbook. With Holmgren, you’d count to four after the snap and if nothing opened up, the ball would be dumped to a running back. Why doesn’t McCarthy do more of that?
I don’t like that kind of football and, frankly, I think it was a big mistake in Super Bowl XL. The Seahawks had the best running back in the game and they threw the ball 49 times. I’m not a big fan of dink-and-dunk football. I appreciate the thinking behind the take-what-they-give-you concept, but I prefer the take-what-you-want mentality. Dink-and-dunk teams tend to struggle against power teams. I like Mike McCarthy’s offense. I like his playbook and the aggressiveness of his play calling. I also like his balance between run and pass. If the Packers’ yards-per-carry average had been better last season, its attempts would’ve allowed for a much higher ranking. I think that average is going to take a decided turn for the better this year. Again, if that happens, the Packers offense could be unstoppable.
Mark from Minneapolis, MN
Are there one or two features of the new end zone structure that jumped out at you? I am probably not going to be able to get to Lambeau Field this year, but was hoping you could share any insight?
The view from the platform at the top of the south end zone is stunning. It’s also the highest point in Brown County. The volume of the structure struck me. It has big, beautiful clubs. The seats are ultra-comfortable. Being the hopeless football romantic I am, I sat in one of those seats and imagined it being Dec. 31, 1967, and I was staring down at Bart Starr sneaking it over the goal line for the winning touchdown in the “Ice Bowl.” I couldn’t help but imagine what one of those new seats in the south end zone would’ve been like for that moment in football history. It’s as though the whole structure was built with that play in mind, as though somebody is expecting it to happen again. Hey, I’m a romantic; I can’t help myself.
Dirk from Munich, Germany
For the NFL to be successful in Europe, they’ll have to do everything they can to keep it physical and aggressive. Might as well watch soccer if they take violent hits out of the game. What really gets people to watch American football over here is hard hits.
That’s an interesting perspective.
Mike from Ft. Myers, FL
Tight end is an important position in the Packers plan. Do you think we have enough firepower with the players we have?
I began my career covering a coach who believed tight ends were first and foremost blockers. He believed that every wide receiver he had could run faster, jump higher, catch better and do more with the ball after he caught it, than any tight end on the team could, therefore, why throw it to the tight end? Now I cover a coach in whose offense the tight end is a centerpiece player. That’s the difference between the game then and now. Yes, I believe the Packers have enough firepower at the tight end position.
Steven from Independence, MO
When Nick Perry was drafted last year, scouts raved about his speed, strength and overall athleticism. Have you seen him enough to believe he could be an elite player? And how does his athleticism match up to Clay Matthews’?
Perry’s as athletic as they come. Matthews has a special ingredient: bloodlines that give him some of the best football instincts I’ve ever covered. Matthews is one of the smartest players I’ve ever covered. He not only understands the game, he feels the game. If Perry develops those instincts for the game, he’ll become an elite player.
Dustin from Jacksonville, FL
What do you think about the current length of the draft? Too many rounds, too few?
Seven rounds are OK, especially when you stir in the compensatory picks. Seven rounds allow for a healthy group of undrafted free agents, and the thing I like about undrafted free agents is they are able to sign with the teams that give them the best chance of making a roster. Teams with weak rosters should always do well in undrafted free agency, and that further favors the concept of parity.
Paul from Farnborough, UK
Aren’t game-receipt revenues small potatoes compared to all the money coming in from elsewhere? If so, isn’t it just taking fans for a ride in making them buy tickets to a game they don’t care for in order to have a chance of seeing a bigger game?
Rule of thumb is the salary cap is equal to the TV revenue, which means TV pays the players, leaving each team to funds its other expenditures with its local revenue, the greatest source of which is ticket revenue. Ticket revenue is very large potatoes.
Randy from Medicine Hat, Alberta
Vic, what are the differences working with a team which is publicly owned vs. a sole proprietorship? I know you have experience in both situations.
I’ve detected no difference.
Tyler from Cedar Rapids, IA
Vic, you say Packers fans are winsome. Who is the most winsome player you’ve covered?
Rocky Bleier is the first player that came to mind and he’s from Wisconsin.
Jon from Green Bay, WI
I like rankings about as much as you do, but here is one that is truly amazing. Forbes has listed the Packers as the 18th-most valuable sports team in the world. A city with a little over 100,000 people is home to the 18th-most valuable team in the world. Amazing!
It is amazing. It amazes me every day I go to work. I’m never in a traffic jam. There is no rush hour. I can go to work any time I want and not have to worry about getting stuck in traffic. I go home for lunch. That’s unbelievable. It’s as though I work in Oz. This is the team for all the people from small towns. I heard one of the tour guides yesterday asking everyone where they were from, and I listened to the fans rattle off the names of places you hear a few times in your life; maybe it’s because a storm passed through there or somebody famous was born there or died there. The Packers represent those places. They give all of the people from the small towns something with which they can identify. The most amazing part to me is how those people will drive such long distances to make that connection. It says everything about how much they not only love the Packers, but need the Packers.
Greg from Westerville, OH
On a recent visit to the NFL Hall of Fame, one of the displays had several NFL footballs, each with a hand mold attached to the ball that allowed you to place your hand in it. It showed how quarterbacks with big hands tend to hold the ball more over the middle of the ball, while quarterbacks with smaller hands hold it more toward the end of the ball. Of all the quarterbacks you’ve known, who had the biggest and smallest hands? I heard that little Doug Flutie had really huge hands, while Troy Aikman had smaller hands.
Terry Bradshaw has the biggest and thickest, Dan Marino has the smallest and thinnest.
Charles from Statham, GA
Vic, help me to understand how the high-revenue teams pass their success onto the low-revenue teams.
Revenue determines the salary cap. High-revenue teams get the money; low-revenue teams get the burden. The current CBA addresses that disparity. That’s leaguethink.
Tad from Wausau, WI
Quit whining about our hatred of Packers turned Vikings. Maybe where you are from they don’t care about these things, but this is Green Bay. We love our team like family. If my brother switched families I would hold a grudge. Jennings moved on. That’s fine. We have younger, better receivers. So I am fine with that. But I’m not going to wish him luck and I am going to root against him. He wears that purple now and who cares? But getting to wear that beautiful green and gold is something we all would give anything to do, so maybe you should understand our bitterness when someone gives that up to play across the border. It’s not the same with Bishop because he wasn’t given a fair shot this year like he deserved. I guess if (Jennings) thinks Ponder will give him the production he had with Favre and Rodgers, then that is his mistake. If he would quit running his mouth it would be a nonissue.
It’s an edge game. Looks like you got yours.
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