Mike from UK
Do you think it’s the media’s fault for the obsession with addressing needs in the draft? You don't have to watch NFL Network for long before some ex-player talks about how this guy fits a particular team because they are weak in that area.
Vic: What else can they do? Teams won’t allow the media into their draft rooms to get a look at their boards, so the media has no choice but to focus on team needs. It’s logical because a lot of teams do draft for need and even the BAP teams are trying to address need without sacrificing value. What the media and fans do that really bothers me is assume that because a particular player wasn’t high on Mel Kiper’s board, then that player had to be a needs pick when he was selected so much higher than it was thought he fit. How can you know where that team ranked that player without seeing that team’s board? There is no universal ranking. One team will grade a player differently than another team. Clay Matthews is a perfect example. Most draftniks didn’t consider him worthy of the 26th overall pick, let alone a trade up to that spot. Chris Johnson is another example. Last year, it was Tyson Alualu.
Jesse from Pawnee, IL
You have said a lot of smart things, but by far the smartest is “I’m in favor of fewer refs.” Football needs to stay football.
Vic: It’s real simple: The more officials you have, the more penalties will be called and the longer games will take to complete. I don’t want either.
Michael from Green Bay, WI
Will Jerry Kramer ever make it into the Hall of Fame? Seems to me a five-time All-Pro who arguably made the greatest clutch block in the history of the game should be there.
Vic: I agree and I think Kramer will, one day, be elected to the Hall of Fame. Bob Hayes had to die to make it happen.
Garrett from San Antonio, TX
If you had the opportunity to have dinner with three Packers players or coaches in their prime, who would they be and why?
Vic: I am, to a degree, obsessed with all things Lombardi. He would be choice number one because there is so much I’d want to ask him. My number one question would be: Why did you resign as Packers coach? Was it the loyalty factor? Did you see you were going to have to start cutting the guys that won for you and you didn’t have the heart to do it? My second choice would be Paul Hornung, because he’s a great storyteller and he’s got a lot of great stories to tell. I would want to ask him why he thinks he was Lombardi’s favorite? Hornung was everything Lombardi didn’t like in other people; why did Lombardi overlook those flaws in Hornung? My third choice would be Mike McCarthy and it’s for the simple reason that I spent an hour in conversation with Coach McCarthy a few weeks ago and I wanted it to be two hours. He is a wonderful conversationalist. I would want to ask him more about his road to becoming the head coach of the Green Bay Packers, and I want to know more about his stormy early years as the team’s coach. I think Coach McCarthy is poised to become one of the stars of the coaching profession. Frankly, as a play-caller, I think he’s scary.
Ben from Milwaukee, WI
With regards to the BAP philosophy, what is involved in the process of determining who is actually the best available? Certainly, it can't always be cut and dry and they have to lean one way or another, so how do they determine which player to go with?
Vic: You scout ’em, you grade ’em, you rank ’em and then you pick ’em. The tough part is grading them. That’s where the genius lies for true BAP teams, but it’s never cut and dry. One general manager I know who is deeply committed to drafting the best available player softens his stance a bit by putting prospects in groupings. For example, if there are three players with grades 4.53, 4.54 and 4.55, he’ll consider them all in the 4.5 grouping and he’ll pick the player from that group that addresses need. What that GM is saying is that the art of grading isn’t scientific enough to stand on hundredths of a point. He’ll stand on tenths, but not hundredths; that’s where he draws the line. Every team has a line.
Ryan from Ancaster, Ontario
With the rules changes continuing to extend the skirt on the QB, isn't it conceivable that running QBs could become more of a focus in NFL offenses? Linemen and linebackers can't take the shots at quarterbacks and defenseless receivers that they once could. That could really open things up for a spread-type offense.
Vic: I don’t agree. The rules that protect the quarterback the most are when he is in the pocket. Once he gets out of the pocket, other than for sliding feet-first, he’s fair game. It’s real simple: If your quarterback runs, you better make sure you have a deep supply of them because you’re gonna need them. How did Aaron Rodgers get hurt in the Detroit game?
Scott from Black River Falls, WI
Vic, I would really enjoy a discussion regarding the greatest Packer player by number. I would love to read your opinion on the subject.
Vic: I would love to read the fans’ opinion on it. I think we’ll do it.
Victoria from Cedar Rapids, IA
What, in your opinion, doomed NFL Europe?
Vic: There just weren’t enough hot markets. There were a few worthy of development, but not enough to make for a league. If there had been, the NFL wouldn’t have quit on it. I think the NFL got what it wanted out of NFL Europe, which is to say it was able to expose the product and identify the potential for future development. It’s gonna happen; there’s no doubt in my mind. I don’t know when it’ll happen, but it’ll happen.
Mike from Marshall, MN
Vic, in response to your comments about baseball's economic system, how do you feel about the fact that the Pirates have spent the last decade making money while consistently putting a losing product on the field, thanks to their cuts of the luxury tax (which is pooled and split between all the clubs that did not pay in)?
Vic: Eighteen consecutive losing seasons and they are so flush with money that they had to pay major dividends to partners, just to get the money off the books so it wasn’t so embarrassing. That’s a good system? Feeling good about being bad?
Zach from Woodstock, IL
I'm curious, what makes a spike to stop the clock legal, while the intentional grounding rule is actively enforced?
Vic: It’s about intent and technique. The intent in spiking the ball is to stop the clock. That intent is expressed in how the act is conducted. The quarterback must throw the ball to the ground immediately after taking the snap from center and there can be no other motion or the intent changes and the play becomes subject to intentional grounding.
Dan from Bruce, WI
You mentioned that Unitas called his own plays. That was actually pioneered by Vince Lombardi and Bart Starr, if I'm not mistaken.
Vic: Unitas was calling his own plays for the Colts when Lombardi was still the Giants’ offensive coordinator. I didn’t say Unitas invented it – it was commonplace for quarterbacks back then to call their own plays – but I don’t think Lombardi and Starr invented it, either.
Michael from Scanlon, MN
What would you think of this strategy in regards to the new replay rules? If you know the opposing team has used up their coach challenges and it is outside the two-minute auto replay, would you intentionally run out of bounds or allow yourself to be tackled before crossing the goal line on a play that might be overturned?
Vic: This is a brain teaser, isn’t it? This is one of those if one car was traveling west at 50 mph and another car was traveling east at 60 mph, when would they stop for gas? I’m not real quick on these things. I guess I’m just not much of a Madden player, so explain to me why I would run out of bounds or allow myself to be tackled before crossing the goal line.
Garth from Portland, OR
When a player is drafted this year, can they talk to the team?
Vic: It’s my understanding that teams may talk to draft prospects until the final pick of the draft is made. At that point, the draft is over and teams may no longer speak to the players that were selected.
Dick from Plant City, FL
I read that Mike McCarthy would rather have a high percentage of times the opposing defense is 50/50 playing run and pass, than to have a certain percentage of rushing plays per game. How can one determine that in looking at the defense just as the ball is snapped?
Vic: You don’t determine it at the snap of the ball, you determine it after the ball is snapped. After a couple of series, you’ll have a pretty good idea if the defense is favoring run or pass and that’s when you begin adjusting accordingly. If the safeties are coming up into the box on the early downs to play run, then it’s time for a little play-action fake and throw it deep. If the safeties are staying back to defend against the deep ball, then it’s time to pound at the line a little. All you wanna do is make the defense play honest, which then allows you to call plays according to down and distance, not according to what the defense is doing.
Chris from South Bend, IN
Do you think Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback the Packers have ever seen? I know Starr was amazing and Favre was pretty spectacular, but Aaron just seems to have something the others didn't. What’s your opinion?
Vic: My opinion is that Rodgers is on track to have a great career and it’s possible that he’ll win multiple championships, but I’m not ready to anoint him the greatest quarterback in Packers history. Let’s wait and see what happens. I like to watch.
Brett from Portland, OR
Why are the tactics different at the college level as compared to the NFL (such as use of spread offense)?
Vic: It’s because there aren’t as many good players to go around in college. It’s much easier to create mismatches in college football and get a superior athlete out in space against an inferior athlete. The spread offense works in college football because the quarterback is a runner and that creates a numbers mismatch. In a typical spread formation, two receivers would be spread to each side of the field and those receivers would be covered by six defensive backs, leaving five defenders against seven offensive players. That’s OK for the defense, as long as the quarterback is not a runner; you can defend six with five. Defending seven with five, however, is veritably impossible for the teams that don’t have superior athletes, which is to say most teams. In pro football, the quarterback is not a runner.
Kevin from Kennewick, WA
I noticed in the picture you used of the 1962 Packers for the best-team-of-all-time question that there are only 36 players in it. Was this really the entire roster? What was the roster limit back then?
Vic: In 1962, the roster limit was 36. The largest it had been up to that point was 38 in 1960; the smallest was 16 in 1925.
Burnell from Moline, IL
Saying Johnny Unitas is the best ever would be like saying Babe Ruth is the best ever. Both are absurd. If you put Unitas' body (in his prime) and he tried out for the Colts, Manning would start over him 10 out of 10 times. Just like putting Ruth in today’s baseball sport. Ruth was only good because he was playing against roofers and people that laid cement. It would be like having a minor league player play in a girls tee-ball league. Just because Unitas was the father of offense (which he wasn't, Jim Thorpe was), doesn't mean he's the best. I would kill my father (in his prime) in a game of football, but since he's my father that makes him better? I just wanted to list some quarterbacks that are better than Unitas: Bart Starr, Joe Montana, Brett Favre, Steve Young, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and, in time if not already, Aaron Rodgers. These are to name a few. Thoughts?
Vic: You forgot Don Majkowski and Lynn Dickey. By the way, I didn’t say Unitas was the father of offense, I said he was the father of modern offense. I really don’t think Jim Thorpe was the father or modern offense.
Randall from Conway, AR
You believe the 1978 Steelers were the greatest all-time team? You forget a few things. The Steelers didn't have Lombardi. You also forget that the ’60s Packers were the only team ever to win three titles in a row, and that they won five championships in just seven seasons. No, hands down, the Lombardi teams were the greatest ever and my opinion should matter more because I saw both teams at their best and nobody could beat Lombardi.
Vic: You might be right.
Trevor from Ocean Springs, MS
How dare you mention the 1985 Bears and not the ’96 Packers? The ’96 Packers are far too often underrated, despite putting up numbers similar to the ’85 Bears.
Vic: Sorry, not on this one. The ’85 Bears were special.
Tracy from Lafayette, IN
If the Packers didn't spend time evaluating all draftees, including the potentially higher draft picks, they may not have known enough about Aaron Rodgers to take him at number 24 in 2005, since he was projected to go much higher than that. I'd say that worked out pretty well for us. You never know how things will unfold during the draft, so I would think any team would be foolish to not evaluate all draftees, regardless of where they are projected to be taken.
Vic: You’ve given us a great example of the need to be thorough. There were some concerns about Rodgers coming into the draft. There were some arm concerns and, of course, he was coming out of the Jeff Tedford system, which had produced busts in Joey Harrington, David Carr, Akili Smith and Kyle Boller, so the possibility existed that Rodgers would fall, but nobody thought he would fall that far. You could say the Packers got lucky, but a lot of teams ahead of the Packers got lucky, too, and they weren’t smart enough to recognize it.