Sean from Fort Collins, CO
Vic, as a reader for four solid years, I am very surprised you have never brought up the fact that diehard Packers fanatics like me are somewhat greedy with expectation. Is this because we were spoiled with the smooth transition from the Favre era to Rodgers, or because we are afraid Rodgers’ window is closing? What say you?
It’s because Packers fans are like the fans of every other team in the league: They want it and they want it now, and if they don’t get it, then they want somebody fired. I have no doubt those words will irritate, maybe even anger many who are reading them, but tell me they’re not the truth. By the way, the “what say you?” thing is really starting to chafe me. Can we please not do that anymore?
Jerod from West Fargo, ND
I see a defense built to rush the passer. What did the Packers do to slow down opposing teams’ pass rushers last year? They drafted Lacy and committed to the run. I still see the defense having trouble with running teams (Seattle and San Francisco). With the great pass rushers on this team, will we see teams running the ball more often against the Packers?
You will if the Packers don’t stop it. In my old-school world, there is no excuse for not stopping the run. It’s about toughness. It’s about defeating blocks and making the tackle. If Coach McCarthy was thinking about run defense when he made his fewer-schemes remark, then I’m all for it. When it comes to run defense, the “players, not plays” mantra is absolute.
Calvin from Seattle, WA
Vic, have many people written to express worry about the center position? I’m surprised there hasn’t been more scrutiny surrounding the uncertainty and inexperience at center. Even Rodgers himself has stressed his desire for consistency at that position. The Packers are going to have their fourth straight starting center to begin the season and he will be playing in his first NFL game in front of one of the loudest crowds. What are your thoughts about the center position?
Many people have written to express much worry about many things. I’m reminded of what Chuck Noll said about a running back named Sidney Thornton: “He has many problems and they are great.” In my opinion, the Packers don’t have many problems and the problems they have are not great. Not having a quarterback is a great problem; having a competition at center is not a great problem. The Packers drafted prospective long-term centers in each of the last two drafts. In my opinion, they have addressed need at the position and soon we’ll find out to what degree they have succeeded.
Tou from Eau Claire, WI
The Buffalo Bills have not been in the playoffs for the last 14 seasons. How would covering a team without your December friend affect you?
It’s miserable. Covering a team that’s out of playoff contention heading into the final month of the season is like writing a book without an ending; the words just trail off. I am deeply thankful to the Lions and Bears for allowing me the joy of covering the division title race last December. I regard it to be one of the most memorable months of any season I’ve ever covered. Given all of the Packers’ injuries on defense last season, I didn’t delude myself into believing the Packers were headed to the Super Bowl, but I enjoy a game for what it is and the four games the Packers played last December might be the most exciting four consecutive games I’ve ever covered.
Pablo from Oak Creek, WI
Vic, how does your inbox look regarding Jermichael Finley?
My inbox possesses great courage.
Josh from Springfield, MA
As far as accountability goes, I think there’s plenty of blame to go around. We wouldn’t know about 90 percent of what goes on unless the media reports it, and the media wouldn’t keep reporting things if we didn’t gobble it up.
Blame the media for providing information?
Nate from Torrington, CT
What would you rather have, one great player at a position or a few good players? Why?
I’d rather have one great player at one position, because it’s much easier to find a few good players than it is to find one great one.
Quade from Saint Joseph, MN
You are like a habanero pepper, Vic. The first time I tasted one I swore I would never eat one again. Now I can’t imagine life without that flavor.
The truth often has a bad taste to it, but we seek it.
Josh from Green Lake, WI
So what part of free agency don’t you like?
The part that robs players and teams of their shared identities. To what team does Reggie White belong, the Eagles or the Packers? You could ask that question about a lot of players from the free agency era, but everybody knows to what team Bart Starr, Jerry Kramer, Paul Hornung, etc., belong. The Packers’ worldwide fan base was built on those shared identities. In my opinion, had Vince Lombardi lived to coach the Redskins to titles, something would’ve been lost from Coach Lombardi’s Packers identity. It’s a good thing to know I belong to you and you belong to me. Love is built on that bond.
Dan from Madison, WI
“It hasn’t been an eye-test kind of defense.” I remember you saying the exact opposite going into last season. Explain.
I’m not going to go back and hunt through the archives to find the column to which you’re referring, but I do remember expressing the opinion last spring that the Packers roster overall had a more athletic look to it. On defense, one of those players that gave the Packers a better look is Datone Jones. He’s one of those “who dat?” kind of players, but he didn’t play much last season. What I’ve seen on the Packers defense is a lot of Mike Daniels kind of guys, which is to say guys that play bigger than their bodies. Maybe that’s a product of drafting near the bottom of the order for a lot of years. The Jadeveon Clowneys are long gone by the time the Packers pick. Whatever it is, Julius Peppers gives the Packers another “who dat?” guy. A.J. Hawk said it: “We’re going to send him off the bus first. What a big, impressive guy.” That’s what I’m trying to convey.
Steve from Cincinnati, OH
Vic: I’ll cut you a break since Mike was subbing for you at the time, but see the 1/31/14 edition of “Ask Vic”. I asked, “Do you think Dom Capers employs too complex of a scheme to continually be plugging rookies into? I’m not suggesting firing Capers, rather an adjustment to play more to the personnel. Seems to me that his playbook is so vast that rookies continually end up on their heels. I believe a more basic defense would suit the Packers’ way of running an organization.” Seems to me the Packers agreed with that assessment after their offseason review.
So did Tramon Williams before you “invented” it. Hey, I’ll cut you a break.
Scotty from Chicago, IL
Vic, many times in your articles you have indicated the four key positions are QB, LT, a playmaker rushing the QB and a safety. Before the rules changes (of 1978), what four positions did you consider the key positions?
Many times in my articles I have indicated the four key positions are passer, pass blocker, pass rusher, pass defender. Pass defender refers to a shutdown cornerback, not a safety. Prior to the rules changes of 1978, running back and defensive tackle would’ve certainly been two of the four key positions, and right tackle was seen as at least the equal of left tackle in importance.
Brandon from Green Bay, WI
Vic, I saw Ahman Green at the mall. I wanted to go up to him and say something. After fighting with myself for a good 10 minutes, I decided not to bother him. In your opinion, do professional athletes prefer not to be bothered, or did I just waste a good opportunity to meet a Packers Hall of Fame running back?
You should’ve said hello. Athletes value a kind word and a show of affection from fans, especially when they’re retired and they have a chance to savor what the fans mean to them.
Thomas from Crown Point, IN
Vic, I was watching the top 100 show NFL Network does every summer and, after the show was over, the wrap-up/review show came on and one personality said, “This is the year the run game returns.” Are we coming back to running and defense?
I’d welcome it, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. Seattle was a fluke. We’ve talked about it. Kevin Colbert was asked at the combine about what the Seahawks did and Colbert said he didn’t think the model was sustainable. I don’t think it’ll be sustainable for the Seahawks, either, once Russell Wilson breaks the bank. He was a $681K cap hit last year. That’s the kind of money you pay guys to run down under kicks, not to quarterbacks. The Seahawks gave us a break from the Brady/Manning era. It was good to see, but I don’t see the NFL allowing a return to run-the-ball, stop-the-run football. By the way, is there anything NFL Network hasn’t predicted?
Jeff from Boise, ID
Vic, what's the difference between free safety and strong safety?
The strong safety is so named because he was the safety that positioned himself according to the strong side of the offensive formation. In the old days, that was determined by the tight end. The free safety was then free to roam the deep middle of the field, or deploy himself as he saw fit. As a result of those roles, strong safeties were bigger, stronger guys, and free safeties tended to be smaller, faster. That’s old-school defense. Determining the strength of formations is much more difficult these days. A lot of teams play right and left safeties, which means both of your safeties need to be able to support against the run and defend the deep middle of the field.
Jeff from West Allis, WI
Is anyone else excited about seeing what Nick Perry does in his third season?
I think the addition of Julius Peppers will take the pressure off Perry to be that “other rusher.” I think it’ll allow Perry to define his role, instead of having it predetermined and forced into it. How might Perry be used this season? I think it’s one of the most intriguing questions of the summer.
Gage from Milwaukee, WI
Out of free safety, tight end and center, which position battle are you looking forward to the most?
Mike McCarthy will use multiple tight ends and, according to their roles, it might not matter who the starter is. Safety is a battle, but nickel and dime defenses will employ multiple defenders and that means we could see more than two safeties on the field at the same time. Center is a head-to-head competition, it would seem, between JC Tretter and Corey Linsley. One guy will win the job and it’s not a position at which you want to rotate personnel. Looking forward to a battle at center? As I said, the Packers do not have many problems and the problems they have are not great.
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