Luke from La Crosse, WI
How do you rank the NFL’s greatest franchises? Do you go by total number of Super Bowl/championship wins? Or maybe a franchise’s total net worth? Perhaps it is the franchises with the longest sustained existence?
I don’t feel a need to rank them, but I have a natural regard for them, and for some that regard is higher than it is for others. Championships are No. 1, but how and when they were won is also big. Was it the result of sustained winning, or a flurry? Great franchises are consistent and repeating. They produce great players, great coaches and great fans. The fans are a big part of my regard. The balance between profits and winning is also important. In the salary cap era, I judge franchises on their ability to be an annual playoff team. I lose regard for a hit-and-miss franchise. I have a higher regard for franchises that are playing big games in January year in and year out, as opposed to win it all this year, see you again in five years. In the final analysis, franchises are defined by their players, their coaches, their fans, their championships, their stadiums, their financial stability and their tradition. The Packers are at the top of the ladder in every category.
Brad from McChord AFB, WA
Vic, what do you see in this secondary, and its potential for next year?
It’s a secondary loaded with young players on the rise. The great thing about young players on the rise is we can’t know what their ceiling is. I expect the Packers’ secondary to play better in 2016 than it did in 2015, and I expect that to be a sustained trend. Nothing beats young talent.
Dana from Reno, NV
Is there a best time for a team to release a player, to gain the most or to lose the least?
It depends on whether you want to move money out or bring it forward. If you’re tight against the cap, it’s best to release a player with remaining amortization after June 1. That allows the team to push some of that money into the following year. If you’re rebuilding and you’ve got cap room to eat up, cut him before June 1 and all of his amortization will accelerate into the current year, which means his dead money will be gone and you’ll have more room the following season when your team is better and you might want to spend on a free agent that might help you win it all (that’s sarcasm, folks). Releasing players is strategic, especially in the preseason.
Daniel from Burton on Trent, UK
Vic, what are the strengths and weaknesses of a 3-4 vs a 4-3 defense?
The 4-3 is heavier up front and generally better against the run. The 3-4 offers more mobility in coverage and more creativity in the pass rush and, in my opinion, is better against the pass. What I like most about the 3-4 is it affords a larger draft pool of pass rushers.
Jesse from Ham Lake, MN
Vic, Clay Matthews used to rely much more on his outside speed rush. His results were multi-sack seasons. Has that changed because of how teams scheme against him? Is it a result of our past inability to contain mobile QBs? He seems to move further away from his original approach to success every year.
How do you speed rush from the inside?
Anthony from Baraboo, WI
So, when a team like the Vikings gets a new stadium, its revenue goes up, meaning it has more money to spend on players. Does that mean there are teams that don’t have enough actual cash to reach the cap? Which teams are they?
The CBA of 2006 was a disaster. It still amazes me the owners approved it. The Jaguars’ CFO back then told me the moment it was approved he knew the owners would void the CBA and accept the uncapped year in 2010. Because that CBA was so lopsided in the players’ favor, it was the reason for the lockout in 2011. The percentages were so out of whack that two low-revenue teams, Buffalo and Cincinnati, voted against the CBA; they saw what was coming. Under the ’06 CBA, there was concern some of the low-revenue teams would struggle financially. I had that fear in Jacksonville, and there was a distinct tightening of purse strings during that CBA. The new CBA is favorable to low-revenue teams. This is a good time in NFL history to grow a franchise.
Zach from Waukon, IA
Where would Darron Lee fit in the draft? Would he be someone to look at if Ragland has been taken?
His 40 time at the combine and at his pro day will likely determine where he fits in the draft. He’s a smallish linebacker who, in my opinion, fits best in a 3-4. He’s regarded as an OLB, but I can see him as a chase guy at the weak inside position. He’s a playmaker, but he might not be big enough to take on blocks, so he needs to be used creatively. If he runs well, he’ll draw comparison to Ryan Shazier. I would definitely consider Lee someone to look at.
Ben from Missoula, MT
In your opinion, what attributes make an All-Pro linebacker?
He almost has to be a playmaker. Tackle machines are undervalued.
Andy from Omro, WI
Is Reggie Ragland a plug-and-play player? If so, and he’s a targeted player for the Packers, at what point in the draft do they consider making a trade up?
The Packers moved up for Clay Matthews. Use the price they paid for him as your guide. A team that values draft picks as the Packers do isn’t likely to give a lot of them away. Trade ones and add a two; that works for me.
Tom from West Bend, WI
Do you ever miss Howard Cosell? He was great with Muhammad Ali. He helped make MNF an event.
We desperately need another Cosell. By that, I mean a broadcaster who is a journalist, not an ex-player. We need an independent voice, a man or woman who isn’t afraid to speak candidly and who has a talent for showmanship. Good interviewing is about more than asking the right questions. It’s about the progression of the interview and making it flow to a peak that defines the interview and compels, not traps, the interviewee to expose his inner self. Journalists are skilled at the art of interviewing. Ex-players ask questions.
Scott from Los Angeles, CA
Is BAP as simple as the Packers rank their top 256 prospects, cross off the names as other teams pick, then take the highest ranked when it’s their turn?
Teams don’t reveal their process. It can be that simple, but I doubt it is. A few years ago, a GM told me his process for drafting BAP included eliminating grades to the hundredth. In other words, if he had three players graded 6.23, 6.22 and 6.21, he’d make them all 6.2, which meant three players fit as BAP when it was his turn to pick. After all, can you really count on a hundredth of a point being accurate? There has to be some wiggle room.
Steve from Lake Stevens, WA
Vic, what is the best and worst thing a player can do to help or hurt himself at the combine?
The best thing a player can do is impress the coach in the interview. If the team is interested enough in a player to interview him, the interview will likely determine whether the team drafts the player. The worst thing a player can do is make the coach feel as though he’s being interviewed. Answer questions, don’t ask them.
Gary from Davenport, IA
Vic, have you seen the “What’s My Line?” show from 1967 that had Vince Lombardi as the mystery guest? The panel was blindfolded and they didn’t take long to figure out who he was. I loved it when Arlene Francis asked, “Do you have anything to do with that remarkable organization known as the Green Bay Packers?” Of course, she already knew it was Lombardi by the time she asked that question.
I remember it. That’s when the NFL knew it was gaining in popularity. Arlene Francis would’ve never guessed who Paul Brown was.
Deniz from Munich, Germany
Is there a potential free agent you’d sign with not much left in the tank, only for his leadership, smarts and as mentor to young players?
Absolutely not. I would want at all times a sense of competition dominating my locker room.
Herb from Palm Desert, CA
Vic, what other movies have you watched when you’ve been happy the lights in the theater were off? Perhaps “Field of Dreams” or “Pride of the Yankees?”
It’s “A Dog of Flanders.” I will forever hate that movie. I wasn’t supposed to be at the theater. I had been AWOL all day, which was a habit I couldn’t break. I was a wanderer. Well, my mother found me in the theater. All of a sudden, I was flying out of my seat and being dragged up the aisle. I heard kids laughing.
HAVE A QUESTION FOR VIC?