Bernie from Green Bay, WI
We all forget too soon that it’s hard to repeat. Do you think the Packers are well-positioned to make another run next year and into the future?
Every team that has a young, star quarterback, as the Packers do, is positioned to be a championship contender into the future. When the 2010 season ended, we didn’t think the Packers had needs. That was misleading. Now, we know exactly what those needs are and it’ll be the challenge the Packers’ personnel department faces to address those needs without compromising the team’s best-available-player drafting philosophy. That’s the key. Anybody can go get a guy they need, but can you get that guy at the right price and without mortgaging a portion of the team’s future?
Jamie from Butte, MT
You are confusing. You say the loss of one man (Jenkins) would not have made a difference. I disagree. Jenkins’ play made the linebackers behind him play well. QBs had to hurry their play as a result. He helped get the job done. He made the defensive line better. He made the team better. Without him, the defense went from being a top five last year to the bottom this year.
No, you’re not gonna sell me on all of that. The player you’re describing is Lawrence Taylor, and that’s not the player the Packers lost. The guy they lost wasn’t an impact pass-rusher to the point that opposing offenses had to find him and block him on every play. The Packers lost a good player but they didn’t lose the kind of difference-maker you’re describing. At no time in his career was he that kind of player, nor was he that kind of player this season. You’re trying to sell some kind of one-size-fits-all excuse that’ll explain away all of the other flaws, but that’s not truthful and that kind of approach would only worsen the problem. The Packers need young speed on defense, especially in the secondary. They need young lions on that defensive line and some young run-and-hit linebackers. One 31-year-old defensive lineman can’t provide all of that.
Khanh from Rockford, IL
It seems to me the biggest draft needs lie on the defensive side of the ball. Which positions do you see as a focus for the team's scouting department?
The priority needs on defense are obvious. Coach Capers spoke yesterday of the obvious need to improve the pass-rush. I think that when you’re No. 32 against the pass you can also assume that you have need in your secondary. The Packers can draft any position on defense and address a need for young talent. Remember, in a 3-4, the defensive line positions are interchangeable. In a sense, all three guys are nose tackles. That’s the beauty of the 3-4. It allows for a lot of versatility when it comes to talent selection. You can mix and match; just find guys that can play. Ted Thompson will find them.
Chris from Pompano Beach, FL
Vic, what do you do in your offseason?
There is no offseason. I came to work early Monday morning and did “Ask Vic,” which is what I do every day. Next week, I’ll be at the Senior Bowl to begin reporting on the search for new talent. One season ended on Sunday and another season began. I know what you’re feeling because I feel it, too: It took so long to get to this point and now we have to wait six months before the team can even start trying to get back to where it was. Yeah, it’s a deflating feeling and that’s why it’s so important in the business of professional football to not let your thoughts flash forward. The Senior Bowl is the next stop, and then come the important February dates for waiving players and tagging players, which allow teams to begin shaping their rosters. Then comes the combine and March will bring us unrestricted free agency and the start of the new league year, and that’ll be followed by the draft, mini-camp, OTAs and the “Dead Zone,” which is the brief vacation point in the year when we take a deep breath and get ready for training camp and the start of a new season.
Nathan from New Orleans, LA
Can you tell us a little bit about compensatory draft picks and how the Packers look in that regard this offseason with Cullen Jenkins’ departure and Mark Tauscher’s contract with the Cardinals?
The Packers lost Jenkins, Daryn Colledge, Brandon Jackson, Jason Spitz, Korey Hall, Anthony Smith and Atari Bigby in free agency. Tauscher was waived by the Packers, therefore, he doesn’t count as a free-agent loss. The Packers didn’t sign anybody in free agency, therefore, they have a net loss of seven and that’ll probably result in a significant compensatory picks award. I don’t think all seven will count toward the awards consideration, however, because only players in the top of the league, according to a money/production formula, count toward awards consideration. I would expect Jenkins, Colledge, Jackson and Spitz to count toward awards consideration. Jenkins is the main guy; he’s gonna return something nice.
Andre from Port Austin, MI
Your wisdom in keeping an even keel has helped me get over this loss pretty quickly. Accept it and move on. What are your thoughts on the remaining playoff field? Who do you think will go to the Super Bowl this year?
I favor the Giants and Patriots, but I think the two conference title games are tossups.
George from Hellertown, PA
What's your advice on dealing with people who like to rub it in when your team loses?
George, they can’t rub it in when your team loses if they don’t know which team is yours. Omerta.
Terry from Springfield, MO
I've tried the just-watch approach. I can't do it. How are you supposed to care about winning without caring about losing? I can't do it.
It’s not about caring. It’s about self-control. Suffer with dignity.
Steve from Elk River, MN
Vic, I have been a big fan of yours for many years. How does this Packers loss to the Giants compare to the Broncos loss to the Jags in 1996? Both were heavy favorites, at home after a bye, with an elite QB.
Whoa! The ’96 Jaguars were a second-year team. The New York Football Giants are one of the league’s heritage teams. The ’96 Jaguars were Cinderella. The 2011 Giants are a monster that was disguised by a short stretch in their season when, for whatever reason, they went soft. I only needed to see them once to know what they are. The Packers lost to a powerful opponent. A lot of “experts” didn’t think it would be an upset for the Giants to win. On the other hand, nobody was picking the Jags to upset the Broncos. The ’96 Jags do, however, have one thing in common with these Giants: Tom Coughlin.
Annie from Baraboo, WI
Do you think the Packers will try and keep Donald Driver for less money or let him go?
I don’t think money is the real issue. When you’re a draft-and-develop football team, you’re always looking to advance young talent because it’s the constant flow of young talent onto your roster that is the lifeblood of your process. I think Donald senses that and that’s why he’s concerned about his future with the team. He knows that once upon a time he was a young player that pushed an older player off the roster. It’s the way of the pro football world; it’s the law of the “jungle,” so to speak.
Jack from Naperville, IL
What is it that caused the once No. 2 overall defense, followed by the No. 5 overall defense, to fall all the way to dead last? Is it something Coach Capers did with his scheme?
Scheme has nothing to do with it. Coach Capers emptied his bag on Sunday. I think I might’ve even seen “Cover Four” at one point in the game. He spoke on Monday of having made an adjustment up front that helped against the run on Sunday, but there are only so many things you can do. It always comes down to players, not plays, because X's and O's don’t move, only players do. There’s an old saying: If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse, because your competition is getting better. This is what happened to the Packers defense in 2011. The first three picks in this year’s draft are offensive players. The first pick in the 2010 draft is an offensive player. It happens that way when you draft the best available player; that’s one of the flaws of that system but you have to live with it if it’s value you seek. The 2008 Packers defense I saw play in Jacksonville was awful and it caused Mike McCarthy to blow up the defensive staff when the season was over. In came Coach Capers and the Packers’ first two draft picks were B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews. See where I’m going with this? The Packers brought in new talent on defense in ’09 and that fueled an immediate improvement of the defense. It would be nice if they could position themselves to do the same thing in this year’s draft.
Leonard from Jacksonville, FL
Vic, why do you continue to be so sarcastic toward your followers? I have read your work for 4-5 years and your use of sarcasm is much overdone to a point that I have decided not to read your work any further. I am sure others feel the same way. One day you will become old and no longer a celebrity, and then you will not even get a hello from those that could be your friends. Too bad.
Leonard, I think you have made an outstanding decision.
James from Waukesha, WI
What was the reasoning behind the Packers' second-quarter onside kick?
They wanted to be the hunter, not the hunted.
Tim from Huntsville, AL
While I do agree that the NFL is keyed towards offense, as I watched the Packers-Giants game I still have a hard time grasping that you win championships without a defense.
The Patriots are certainly going to test that theory. Here’s my position on all of this, which has become a hot debate but I’m not quite sure why: I think you need a respectable defense to expect to be a championship contender, but I’m absolutely certain you can’t win a championship without an offense that moves the ball and scores points. The days of winning with defense only, as the Ravens did in 2000, are over. You can win with all offense and no defense, or with some offense and some defense, but not with all defense and no offense. The 49ers would test that theory to a degree, because they don’t throw for a lot of yards, but they do have the league’s No. 8 running game so it’s not as though they’re a three-and-out machine. The Giants are eight on offense and 27 on defense, the Patriots are two on offense and 31 on defense, and the Ravens are 15 on offense and three on defense. If defense wins championships, then the Jaguars (32 and six) should at least be in the playoffs. I love strong defense, and it pains me to admit that today’s game is tilted dramatically to offense, but that’s the way it is and I’m not gonna lie about it.
Kris from Las Vegas, NV
What do the Packers need in the 2012 draft?
They need to move themselves into position, if necessary, to address needs, without paying too high of a price. That’s what they did to select Clay Matthews. It worked once and it can work again.
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