Hero from Chino, CA

I totally agree regarding the rankings. If we start off the first 12 weeks of the season ranked as the No. 1 defense, but suffer an injury and all of a sudden our defense gets gashed for the remainder of the season and finish No. 10, that is not a top-10 ranking I would feel good about heading into the playoffs. Is there a formula for getting hot near the end of the season?

If there were, everyone could do it. Health, team chemistry, and playmakers are where it starts.

Don from Roscoe, IL

Insiders, Frank DeFord never wrote much good about football. He was a baseball romanticist and apologist through and through. Yet I couldn't help but read his opinions. What was it that made him such a tremendous sportswriter?

Vic is far more familiar with DeFord’s work than I am, but in my exposure, he possessed a captivating combination – a gift for lyrical language and an ability to keep it real.

Nate from Minneapolis, MN

So to piggyback on all the piggyback questions, I think it's time to ban that phrase. What say you?

Want to have your cake and eat it, too, eh?

Greg from Ann Arbor, MI

Guys, if Martellus Bennett is the first man off the bus at road games, and rightfully so, may I nominate Jason Spriggs to be the second? He looks like he ought to be wearing flannel and hanging out with a big blue ox.

Spriggs certainly has that type of frame, but he’s not there yet. Give him another year or two.

Grant from Kent, OH

Will Vogel be the holder for Mason Crosby on field goals? Does he have experience with that? I assume Crosby will need to work with a new holder and snapper this year during camp.

Vogel was a holder for three years at Miami. It’s an unusual situation right now, with a kicker entering his 11th season while his snapper and holder are undrafted rookies. If anyone can handle it, it’s Crosby, but nothing’s set in stone yet.

Scott from Lincoln City, OR

Do you foresee a number change for rookie Justin Vogel or do the Packers see him as the next "Golden Boy" punter?

I suspect if he makes the 53-man roster, he’ll have his No. 5 changed.

Justin from Orlando, FL

I asked Vic a couple years ago, during Montgomery's rookie year, why the Pack didn't move him to running back. His answer? "Sanity." Classic Vic, but it's a mad world. Any way you could remind him of that assessment? I think he'd have a chuckle looking back.

It takes a big man to admit when he’s wrong …

Thomas from Milwaukee, WI

Doesn't five seem about a body short at the OLB position? I think the same could be said with three at ILB. Who are some undrafted linebackers I should know going into training camp?

The coaches have said good things about Reggie Gilbert, an undrafted OLB who spent all of 2016 on the practice squad. Mississippi State’s Johnathan Calvin (outside) and Washburn’s Cody Heiman (inside) are undrafted rookies who have generated some media buzz, for whatever that’s worth in June. I’m waiting for the preseason games when it comes to linebackers.

Carl from Sussex, WI

"The most dangerous chip is often undrafted." Or drafted 24th overall.

Indeed.

Donald from Oakridge, OR

Wes, I may be in the minority here, but I think you missed Don "Magic Man" Majkowski in your top-five consideration. Thoughts on the Magic Man?

Majkowski was a blast to watch as the leader of the “Cardiac Pack” in 1989, but Dickey’s career ranks higher for me.

John from Littleton, CO

Since the first cutdown has been eliminated, do you anticipate that the Packers will periodically cut players as the preseason progresses? I cannot imagine keeping 90 players until the final cutdown at the very end of preseason. Have you heard or what are your thoughts on player cuts?

I expect them to do what you don’t. I see no need to advertise which players you prefer amongst the cuts, because you will be hoping certain guys clear waivers and can be re-signed to the practice squad.

Pkrdug from Union Grove, WI

ESPN televises soccer. ESPN televises the National Spelling Bee. Both are "activities" that attract many viewers. I really enjoy watching the spelling bee.

I wouldn’t call it coming close, but I made a run at getting into the National Spelling Bee. As an eighth grader, I won my school bee, the district bee, and then placed eighth at the Wisconsin state bee out of 49 qualifiers. Right after I dropped out, a few others did in the same round, so if I had gotten one more word right, I’d have been top five. If I’d made it to D.C., I don’t think I’d have gotten past round one, though. Those words are insane.

Alex from Green Valley, AZ

I have been watching the NHL playoffs and seeing the replay decisions that come from the league office. After seeing these crazy and sometimes unbelievable calls, can you give me any assurances that this year’s NFL replay rule change will not result in the same type of fan hatred and suspicions of corruption?

No, but I think they are improving the process. Video replay will still involve subjective determinations at times, so the human element – in the league office and amongst the fans – will endure.

Zach from Honolulu, HI

Calvin Pryor traded by the Jets. As I recall Rex Ryan talked some trash about why they picked him over Clinton-Dix. A few years later Ryan is out of the league and Pryor is on a new team. Is this a big kudos to the Packers for getting the better player while drafting later?

I think they got the better player and they did more to develop him, too. There’s more to the process than making the pick.

Jerry from Harlingen, TX

With Schum waived/injured, how long do you think it will be before they bring in another punter to compete with Vogel?

That’s probably up to Vogel.

Tim from Wauwatosa, WI

One play from last year to change? Sam Shields' concussion – not even close.

I hear you (and others), but I didn’t choose it because it happened on such an innocent play, in Week 1 no less, that I’m not sure there was any preventing Shields from getting a concussion at some point last season.

Patricia from Portland, OR

Hi guys, love the column! I have a question for Mike. I remember the first season Vic was hired. I also remember those first few videos of Vic and Mike. I LOVED watching you two seemingly trying to figure out your on-air persona and the dynamic of working together despite not the warmest welcome from the GB fans towards Vic. Eventually you two seemed to become relaxed and natural, but the first few have some priceless awkwardness. I want to be able to revisit those days. Are they archived anywhere? Do you ever go back and watch them? Can you talk a little bit about what it was like working with Vic when he first arrived? Were you as unsure about it as you appeared to be?

When that camera went on, I had no idea what Vic was going to “toss” my way, and he wasn’t big on retakes. Awkward doesn’t begin to describe it, but he kept it fun, and I suffered along and (hopefully) improved. I’m sure you can find those early videos archived on the site, but don’t be offended if I’m not going to help you.

Craig from Temperance, MI

Instead of a 1,200-yard back, I’d much rather have two 600-yard backs with different skill sets so they are fresh at the end of the year, don’t you think?

Call me old-school, but I like having the go-to guy that defenses game-plan around but still gets his yards. There’s a psychological element to that beyond the stats for me. He needs to be able to handle the long haul, as you suggest, but if you have that guy, you ride him and make defenses deal with him.

Jesse from Bismarck, ND

Fifty-two years ago the "overtime debate" was the "Lambeau Field debate." Another great article by Cliff. Do you ever feel the need to bring a case of beer into work and just listen to Cliff stories all day?

I’m dropping that into Mark Murphy’s employee suggestion box.

Don from Cedar Rapids, IA

I've never been a fan of "zone defenses" in football (or basketball). A good offense seems to pick a zone defense apart and easily find holes. What are your thoughts on zone defenses vs. man-to-man? Can the Packers be a strong man-to-man team in 2017?

I think they can be with House on one boundary, the addition of King, and improvement from the third-year trio, but you still have to mix it up and make receivers and QBs adjust to different looks. Unless your cornerback depth chart is filled with Hall of Famers, no one can just man up across the board every snap.

Jay from Land O’Lakes, FL

Guys, when you look at the main competition in the NFC, it is Dallas, Atlanta, Minnesota, Seattle and perhaps the Giants. The Packers can easily outscore all of these teams except ATL. So to beat the Falcons it is really a question of defense. To stop them you need both a pass and run defense. I am here to say we now have the pass defense. Let's beat ATL in Lambeau next January!

That’s a dangerous trap to fall into. Who at this time last year was talking about the Falcons and Cowboys? They ended up as the top two seeds. New contenders always emerge, or re-emerge, in the NFC. Will it be the Bucs in 2017? They’re my pick. Will the Panthers and/or Cardinals bounce back? Does Drew Brees have another magical year in him for the Saints, or will Carson Wentz light it up in Philly in Year 2? So many unknowns.

Josh from Livonia, MI

In response to David from Green Bay, I would take Earl Campbell for a game. He had the power and fight to break at least one tackle every run and had enough speed to break away from the pack. I remember watching his highlights and in a game against the Rams, he ran over a man, cut to the middle, ran through two arm tackles, stiff-armed a man, had his jersey rip and ran for an extra 4-5 yards. He was a great running back and would be my pick for one game.

I loved watching Campbell as a kid. His was one of the first jerseys I owned.

Tyler from Vacaville, CA

Insiders, jumping on memory lane for a second, could you talk about the 1995 NFC Divisional game against the 49ers and reflect on what that game meant to the organization, even though the season ended with a loss to Dallas before reaching the SB? Is there any highlight video that exists of this game?

I haven’t seen highlights of that game for a long time, but it was the one that announced the Packers were for real, and it set the stage for ’96. The 49ers were the defending Super Bowl champs, playing at home after a bye, and from the moment Wayne Simmons forced the fumble and Craig Newsome scooped it up on San Francisco’s first play, Green Bay dominated. Up 21-0 early in the second, never looked back. The 27-17 final didn’t do justice to the game. The Packers became legitimate Super Bowl contenders in a conference the Cowboys and 49ers had ruled for four years. Leading Dallas after three quarters in the NFC title game the next week contributed to that status, too, but it was the 49ers game that did it – not just beating them, but the way they beat them. There was no doubt Green Bay was the better team, and it had been a long time since anyone had said any team was better than either of the NFC’s two top dogs.

Clark from Boston, MA

I was hoping you might give me some insight into the evolution of the market economy in the southern colonies. My contention is that prior to the Revolutionary War, the economic modalities, especially in the southern colonies, could be most aptly described as agrarian pre-capitalist.

Have a good weekend, everybody.

 


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