Chris from Platteville, WI
Coach McCarthy always stresses the fundamentals of football and looks for perfection in that area of the game. Why is it players at this level of the game still need to work on the fundamentals so much? It seems to me these players should know and be able to execute the fundamentals of the game inside and out.
It’s human nature to slip back into old habits, which usually means doing something the easy way. For example, pad level is a major fundamental for defensive linemen. They have to work on staying low all the time because the natural tendency is to stand up and look, instead of staying low and driving. That’s what Mike McCarthy means by fundamentals. It doesn’t exclusively mean holding onto the ball. Every back knows to hold onto the ball, but it’s the technique for holding onto the ball that has to be practiced and executed. Proper fundamentals mean holding the ball high and tight to the ear for quarterbacks. It means running crisp routes for wide receivers, instead of rounding them off. It means squaring your shoulders to the line of scrimmage for linebackers. It means sinking your hips and striking the rising blow when tackling, instead hitting high and falling into the tackle. It means using the same proper stance posture all of the time, instead of leaning or tilting, which might give the play away. It means taking on blocks instead of running around them. Proper technique is what wins; even in today’s game.
Richard from McFarland, WI
What is going on with Atari Bigby? He’s another player who really stepped up last year. Are the Packers interested in re-signing him?
He’s available in free agency. We’ll see.
Jeremy from Kenosha, WI
You mentioned you don't see a disappointment team of the year, but warning signs go off for the Patriots. I completely agree on the Patriots. They had a very weak defense last year, and one of the easiest schedules I've ever seen. Tom Brady had a career year, but, again, a very easy schedule.
Huh? An easy schedule? They played the Jets twice, and the Packers, Steelers, Ravens, Chargers, Colts and Bears. That’s two Super Bowl teams, all four conference title game teams, seven games against playoff teams and an eighth game against a team that was No. 1 in the league in offense and defense. That’s an easy schedule?
Rene from La Habra, CA
I've heard a team can never have enough good cornerbacks. Does that apply to receivers, too?
Quality cornerbacks are difficult to find. That’s what it means. Wide receivers are a dime a dozen. OK, folks, let it rip. I know you’ll never be able to handle that one. It’s the truth, but it drives the fantasy boys crazy.
Caleb from Madison, WI
In your opinion, who do you believe to be the front-runners for the NFC and AFC this year?
The Packers are certainly one of the favorites in the NFC. They’ll share that distinction with the Eagles. I think the Falcons are closer than their playoff loss to the Packers would suggest. In the AFC, the Jets are the favorite, but Houston is the team that holds my interest. I liked what they did in the draft on defense, and if they can get something out of those guys this year, the Texans could be a jump-up team. I’ve been watching them grow for the past several years. I think they’re ready.
Bram from Colorado Springs, CO
You stated that teams will be better basically because players will have another year's experience. Wouldn't that make every team better each year? Or are you saying that teams start to decline when their veterans start to decline?
That’s exactly what I’m saying. It’s a young man’s game. As long as you’re young, you should be in ascent. When you get old, you begin to decline. Never get old.
Nick from Kodiak, AK
What does a head coach focus on when planning the practice schedules before the players come back from the offseason?
Scheduling is a balance of what’s required to install the team’s playbook vs. what’s required to begin the season with a physically fresh team. That’s what a coach focuses on when making his team’s training camp practice schedule.
David from Memphis, TN
Do you think we will have issues on the offensive line for having to rely on two new guards?
This offensive line has the potential to be the best in the Mike McCarthy era. I watched Chad Clifton absolutely stone, no, make that crush a couple of outside linebackers in middle-run drills on Monday. He still has it. Bryan Bulaga is in hard ascent. Derek Sherrod is getting better every day. Scott Wells is, in my opinion, one of the most underrated players in the league. Josh Sitton is a developmental player who’s now entering the prime years of his career, which are generally considered to be years 4-7. Beyond that, there’s depth and competition. The expectations for this offensive line should be very high.
Jarret from Crosby, ND
Worst football movie?
“The Program.” It’s unwatchable. The tragedy of it is that James Caan allowed himself to stoop to such depths. This must’ve been what Marlon Brando meant when he said, “Look what they did to my boy.”
Tim from Menomonee Falls, WI
I know as Packers fans we tend to look at our team through green and gold glasses and see wonderful things. Do you ever get the chance to talk to people from other teams and get their perspective on the Packers? Anything you can share?
I talk to out-of-town sportswriters every day. The consensus opinion of the Packers is that it’s a franchise to be admired. I get a lot of these respect-type questions, and I’m not sure if Packers fans feel ignored or are just so proud of their team that they want to know it’s respected, but either way, be happy because your team is one of the preeminent franchises in all of sports. No team and its fan base are more respected than the Packers and their fan base are.
Keith from St. Louis Park, MN
In reference to the Bears/Packers two playoff bouts, how significant was their earlier game? We all know the impact the more recent win had.
The Packers and Bears met in a 1941 Western Division playoff game and the Bears won, in Chicago, 33-14. The Bears won their second consecutive NFL title that year. Their only loss was to the Packers, in Chicago, 16-14. Both teams finished the season 10-1, so according to today’s rules, the Packers would’ve won the tiebreaker on the strength of their head-to-head win, there wouldn’t have been a Western Division playoff, and the Packers would’ve faced the Giants for the NFL title. Since the Bears blasted the Giants in the title game, I think it’s fair to suggest that had today’s tiebreaker rules been in effect then, the Packers might be sitting on 14 NFL titles today.
Patrick from Chico, CA
I was looking forward to seeing a Packers player on the cover of the “NFL Record and Fact Book.” Instead, it’s just 32 different helmets. What gives?
Blame it on the lockout. The Super Bowl MVP is traditionally featured on the cover of the “Record and Fact Book,” which means Aaron Rodgers should be on the cover this year. At the time of printing, however, the league was in a lockout.
Peter from Toledo, OH
I'm going to the game on Saturday; can't wait. Any recommendations on what I should be watching for?
Make believe you’re Ted Thompson. That’s the best way to watch preseason games. Don’t concern yourself as much with the score as you do with evaluating personnel. Is Matt Flynn as good as he looked against New England? Is Graham Harrell capable of being a No. 2? Who’s leading the battles at right outside linebacker and running back? What undrafted guys are making a move on a roster spot? Where’s Derek Sherrod in his development? Is Randall Cobb the answer at kick-returner?
Chad from Middleton, WI
Thanks for all your work on the column. I've learned a lot from it. I know you're an employee of the organization, but can you find at least something to criticize about the Packers? Be it with the players or the front office, I've noticed you rarely find fault with whatever they do.
The air-conditioning is set too low. I’m freezing in this place. That’s the best I can do right now, but don’t fret, the regular season is right around the corner and I doubt the Packers will win 19 games, score on every possession and never surrender a first down on defense. I fully expect Mondays after a loss will be every bit the finger-pointing event that they are in every other town in the NFL. There will be something to criticize but, honestly, what’s to criticize now? Please, tell me. Should I criticize the Packers for acting conscientiously and protecting their future salary caps by not spending wildly in free agency? Should I criticize them for drafting the players they felt were the best players available to them, instead of drafting players of lesser talent but addressed needs the team might not have and which those players might not have the talent to address? What ill can I speak of a general manager that took over a roster that was old and in decline and rebuilt it in a few short years into arguably the best young roster in the league? Should I criticize the franchise for planning to expand Lambeau Field and make room for more fans? I don’t whitewash the truth; ask the people in Jacksonville. It’s just that at this point in time, this is a difficult franchise with which to find fault.