Mauricio from Chicago, IL

I know Ted Thompson is all about BAP, but does he go in with a position need ranking in mind? Does ILB, DT, CB, WR, RB sound about right?

He knows what his needs are and he knows the prospects he likes and where they fit in the draft. At that point, it’s all about moving to where those players fit. I would agree that linebacker, defensive line and cornerback are potential need areas. I don’t think wide receiver and running back are areas of need, but I would never hesitate drafting a good player at those positions because those positions make your roster more athletic. I think quarterback is a need position.

John from Ash Grove, MO

About being personally involved in the coaching of special teams, Coach McCarthy said, “That culture is going to change in there, I can promise you that.” Does this mean there was a problem with the culture among the special teams players and coaches, or just that it will be different simply because McCarthy will be the third man in the room?

It sounds as though something within the special teams culture met with Coach McCarthy’s disapproval and he’s committed to fixing it. This is what a leader does. He identifies where improvement is needed, and he sets a course for repair. Coach McCarthy did that with the running game in 2013 and with the defense in 2014, and now he’s doing it with special teams for 2015. Football teams are either getting better or worse. If they stay the same, they’re getting worse because the competition is getting better. Coach McCarthy is acknowledging the challenge he faces in 2015.

Connor from Islip, NY

Vic, my oldest football memory is the faint image of Terrell Owens catching a game-winning pass in the playoffs against the Packers. You said you have a similar memory of the 1958 championship with your father and grandfather. How did people who didn’t grow up with football on TV view the game?

When I was young, all home games were blacked out, so we had to listen to them on the radio. I would literally sit in front of my radio and stare at the dial as I listened to the description. I remember the play-by-play guy saying, “They’re moving right to left across your radio dial,” which meant you were “viewing” the game as the play-by-play guy was seeing it. The dial was my football field, and I created images of what was happening. I always liked seeing the highlights on the TV news, just to see how what really happened matched up with how I thought it happened. It often did.

Warren from Appleton, WI

What’s an associate head coach? Never heard of it.

It’s a title that allows for promotion. To keep your people, you have to be able to advance your people. Promoting Tom Clements allowed for the promotion of Edgar Bennett.

Jeff from Moore, OK

With all the hoopla over McCarthy’s new role, does it truly matter who calls the offensive plays, as No. 12 can audible to any play depending on what the defense shows?

Plays, not play-callers, and players, not plays.

Brett from Green Bay, WI

Have you been watching any college basketball, Vic?

I haven’t turned on the TV in over a week. I do my column in the morning, and I spend the rest of the day reading. It’s wonderful. I read with great interest Mike Spofford’s accounts of yesterday’s press conferences.

Ben from Indianapolis, IN

Vic, I read your column every day and thoroughly enjoy it, even if you aren’t a diehard Packers fan. What do you think of McCarthy spending more time with every aspect of the team and leaving his fingerprints on them?

What have I always said? Assistant coaches coach, head coaches lead. Coach McCarthy is a leader of men. When he took this job, he had an offensive system he wanted to install. He wanted to make it the team’s identity, and he has. It’s engrained within every player and coach on the team. Coach McCarthy can now step back from the play-calling and devote more of his time to other facets of the team, and know his wishes on offense will be carried out.

Denis from Milwaukee, WI

Don’t you think the ceremony for Brett Favre should be in the stadium in front of the fans?

If it can be achieved logistically, I’d be all for it. Let’s all give it a chance to happen before we begin crucifying people for not having done it initially.

Rusty from Fond du Lac, WI

I saw a list of the Packers free agents. Some were listed as unrestricted, others as restricted, and DuJuan Harris as exclusive rights. Can you explain what these mean?

An unrestricted free agent has accrued four or more accredited seasons and is free to sign with any team in the league. A restricted free agent has three accrued seasons and is subject to the tender system. An exclusive rights player has yet to accrue three accredited seasons and effectively has no option but to re-sign with the team that holds his rights.

Ryan from Platteville, WI

Assuming he’s healthy, what role do you think Jared Abbrederis will have with the Packers in the upcoming season?

It sounds to me as though there will be a very strong opportunity for young players, such as Abbrederis, to win a role on special teams.

John from Ashburn, VA

Packers fans want to sign Suh? Did I read that correctly? I can’t think of a worse free agent signing. Have the fans not heeded your thoughts about the team’s personnel moves reflecting the Green Bay culture?

He’s a great player and he can play on my team any time, but trying to cap him will be like trying to shovel a hundred pounds of rocks into a 10-pound bag. Most fans don’t understand that concept. They don’t comprehend the difficulty and the risk; they just want him because they want to win now. Remember Byrd, Byrd, Byrd?

Jeff from Sun Prairie, WI

Vic, do other teams in the NFL switch around coaches like the Packers do? I like how McCarthy is always trying to improve and challenge his coaching staff.

He’s a master of it and I fully appreciate what he’s doing. It’s about continuity. It’s critically important to keep your coaches. Why? Because they are you. You taught them how to coach. They know what you want done. Even more importantly, by keeping your staff together you limit the information out there on your playbook and on your players.

Michael from Wauwatosa, WI

Vic, how upset do you think Packers fans will be because the new special teams coach was promoted from within and not someone new?

The grass is always greener? Not in this case. Ron Zook is one of the pioneers of special teams coaching. You won’t find a better special teams coach. He’s an innovator; he’s one of the reasons the league had to change the wedge rules.

Aumed from Moorhead, MN

Vic, being a Packers fan, I’ve never thought about what a head coach that doesn’t call his own plays does during games because we had McCarthy doing it. So what will Mike McCarthy’s new role be? What will he be doing and what are the benefits of this?

He’ll be overseeing everything about his football team. He’ll be wearing a headset and he’ll hear the calls going into the game. If he doesn’t like a play, he’ll change it. He’ll communicate with Tom Clements: “Tom, let’s kill some clock here,” or “Tom, let’s up the tempo in this next possession.” I remember Ron Erhardt telling me about his days as Bill Parcells’ offensive coordinator. He said he’d be looking deep down his play-call sheet, Parcells would see him and would walk behind him and say, “Run it, run it.” So who’s calling the play, huh? This play-calling thing is being way over-analyzed. These are still Coach McCarthy’s plays being called and executed by Coach McCarthy’s men, and they are subject to Coach McCarthy’s approval.

Harold from Galesburg, MI

From what I understand, Coach Noll and Chuck Bednarik had quite a rivalry during their playing days in the NFL. Did Coach Noll ever share any stories with you from that rivalry?

If you mentioned it to him, he would smile and say, “Chuck’s a great story teller.” Apparently, Coach Noll’s recollection of the event doesn’t match Bednarik’s. I like Bednarik’s version.

Paul from De Pere, WI

Does Mike McCarthy have a game management problem he believes he can address by stepping away from play-calling? The “thats” have been removed.

I think he just wants to spread himself over a wider range of his sideline. If you trust your people to call what you’d call, you can do what Coach McCarthy is doing.


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