Joe from Bloomington, IN
Vic, when you’re watching a tight end like Backman run routes, what are you looking for?
Among other things, does he know where to sit down in a zone? If he does, that indicates to me a receiver’s understanding and feel for the passing game and pass defense. I saw a couple of occasions on Saturday night when Brett Hundley’s passes appeared errantly behind the receiver, and I think that was mostly because the receiver didn’t sit down in the zone. A quarterback doesn’t want to lead a receiver into a defender. Ty Montgomery had a safety closing fast on him on one throw. I felt that was the reason Hundley threw behind Montgomery.
Jim from Republic, MI
Hundley is starting to look like an NFL quarterback. It was fun to watch.
He’s big, athletic and has a strong arm, and he’s gaining confidence in the pocket. As his mechanics improve, so does his accuracy. The rest is teachable. Look at what Mike McCarthy has done with Scott Tolzien. The clay has to be good. Hundley appears to be good clay.
Sebastian from Munich, Germany
Vic, I can’t remember one single, standout preseason game, and I have watched a lot of them during my time. Is there any preseason that sticks out in your memory?
There’s one game. It’s the 1995 Hall of Fame Game between the Jaguars and the Panthers. They were expansion franchises and this was their first game of any kind, and it was their Super Bowl. Desmond Howard returned a punt for a touchdown, but the Panthers won. I remember there being a strong sense of dejection among the Jaguars. It was more than a preseason game.
Scott from Chapel Hill, NC
So, after the game this past weekend, I’m sure you are getting a huge reaction in your inbox. Do you see distinct differences in fan behavior between your time in Pittsburgh, Jacksonville and Green Bay? How well can you predict Packers fans now?
Packers fans are more acute in their reaction to defeat and injury, but they’re also more supportive of the team in hard times. That’s just the culture of being a Packers fan. It’s also part of their culture to be winsome, and I see example after example of it. There’s an innocence among Packers fans I haven’t seen anywhere else. I love to observe fans of all teams, and that’s especially true of Packers fans. Saturday night’s game wasn’t a classic. I can’t think of another fan base that would’ve stayed beyond the first quarter, let alone the first half, but Lambeau Field held its fans into the fourth quarter. It’s almost as though Packers fans feel an obligation to do that. TV would show faces in the crowd following a good play, and the fans were still cheering, still into the game emotionally. It amazes me.
K.J. from Minneapolis, MN
Troy Aikman was commenting on how some teams this year will probably do poorly, even though they are projected to excel. It’s as though our culture has collectively forgotten the games still need to be played. We can’t analyze away that fact.
Expectations are a killer. They will ruin a fan’s enjoyment of the game. Why not wait to see what happens? You have no choice but to do it anyhow.
Martin from Tisovec, Slovakia
Vic, what is the best preseason you’ve covered?
I once asked Franco Harris how he knew he was having a good training camp. He said, “I don’t know. I’ve never had one.” The same is true for me about preseasons. I’ve never had a good one.
Wesley from Hoover, AL
I really enjoyed taking your advice and looking at individuals rather than the game as a whole against the Eagles. I saw great things out of some players, such as Hundley and Neal on offense. My biggest concern is still LB. Was it a lack of skill or communication that led to the number of breakdowns, specifically with Barrington?
The touchdown pass to Darren Sproles was the result of a blown coverage. There were too many blown coverages. The pace at which the Eagles play causes confusion. That will lessen as time goes by. At some point, the Eagles will have to physically win the one-on-ones; Saturday night, they won them mentally. As for the communication, I was told it was excellent on Saturday night. Recognition of formations and responsibilities could’ve been better.
Dave from Madison, WI
So you really liked Rajion Neal coming out of Tennessee? Ok, GM Vic, who were some of your misses?
Justin Harrell was a miss. I thought he was an excellent pick. I’ve got lots of misses. I used Neal as an example of a hit because I remember mentioning him as a guy in the Packers’ undrafted class I liked. Please, somebody help me out and find that column.
Brad from Spirit Lake, IA
Vic, it seemed to me Vince Lombardi had an antipathy to losing. Did they have preseason games back in his day? If so, how did he handle them?
He played his starters deep into the game and he played to win. His preseason record as Packers coach is 42-8. He was 22-1 from 1960-63, and he had four undefeated preseasons as Packers coach. In his only season in Washington, where he inherited a 5-9 team, the Redskins were 5-1 in the preseason. That’s an all-time .855 winning percentage. He might be the winningest coach in preseason history. Today’s fans and media would’ve hated him. I can hear it now: Vince, should you have risked injury to Paul Hornung by playing him in this game? How do you think Lombardi would’ve reacted to that question? I wish one of today’s coaches would go off on this subject.
Jordan from Nevada, IA
What is Vic’s initial scouting report on Dane Sanzenbacher?
I don’t have one. I thought he was on the Austrian bobsled team.
Dave from Holmen, WI
What would I tell your readers that have already lost hope in the season before it even starts? Don’t focus on the destination (Super Bowl), enjoy the journey. It’s going to be a fun journey because like life, there are no guarantees.
If you don’t focus on the journey, you’ll get lost and never reach your destination.
Mark from West Allis, WI
Although it’s great to hear Coach McCarthy speak after a game, I prefer to read his transcripts. I end up reading them in his voice. “Randall has a shoulder. Rajion is another young guy. Jeff did some things.” You’d think from those examples it’s a terse interview, but boy he has great insight into his football team; total command.
Coach McCarthy opened his press conference on Saturday night by describing the game as having been eclectic. I thought to myself, did I hear that right? Did he just describe a football game as being eclectic? Is my man from Greenfield going Marv Levy on me? It was the perfect description. It truly was an eclectic football game.
Tom from Arlington Heights, IL
I’m confused. I thought the Packers were moving Clay Matthews back to outside linebacker? Now, I see he’s back at inside linebacker. Any insights as to why this decision was made?
That decision was made a long time ago, but I support your decision to use the offseason for rest and recovery. Why is Matthews staying at inside linebacker? Because if you have run-stuffers at inside linebacker, the offense will throw at them. If you take the linebackers out and replace them with safeties, they’ll run at them. Matthews can stuff and cover. You have to have guys who can do both or you’re playing a chess game you’ll likely lose half the time. Players, not plays.
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