Brandon from Manhattan, KS
It’s obvious we have a lot of depth at the receiver and secondary positions. How much does it help the development of young receivers and defensive backs to have the quality of guys the Packers have to go head to head in practice every day? Is that as big of a factor as the quality of the coaching?
Competition makes us all better. The higher the level of competition is, the greater the demands are that players must put on themselves to play to that level. It’s a fundamental premise of athletics. You know who else benefits from a high level of competition? The people in the personnel department that have to evaluate these players for the purpose of making decisions on whether they stay or go. For example, if you have a Greg Jennings on your team and you wanna find out about a young cornerback who’s shown some promise, you assign him to Jennings in practice and you’ll find out if the young cornerback can compete at the highest level. In the old days, teams would open training camp with an Oklahoma drill, and they would take their highest-drafted offensive lineman and put him up against the team’s stud defensive lineman, and vice versa. It was a way of finding out very quickly what the young linemen had under the hood.
Ricky from Charlotte, NC
I've noticed the Packers do not use the “C” patch to signify the Captains for the games. Why do the Packers not wear the patch?
The Packers don’t wear the patch during the regular season because they have different captains for every game. They wear the patch in the postseason because they keep the same captains for every game in the postseason.
Andrew from Mason, WI
I was talking to someone the other day who said the reason Aaron Rodgers is so good is because he had Driver and Jennings. I laughed that off and told him the stats from the Atlanta game: 12 different receivers. I then went on to say that put Aaron on any team in the NFL and they would become playoff contenders. Thoughts as to who is right in this case?
Peyton Manning is teaching us the value of a star quarterback. With him, the Colts would be playoff contenders. Without him, they are winless. As much as I respect the talent wide receivers possess, I have to also acknowledge that their supply would seem to be rather plentiful, as evidenced by the fact that Manning has won with everyone from Marvin Harrison to Pierre Garcon. Let’s not forget the corps of wide receivers with which Tom Brady won three Super Bowls. He won one of those Super Bowls when his top two receivers were David Givens (seventh round) and David Patten (undrafted). What I’m suggesting is that the quarterback is “The Man.” With him, you got a shot. Without him, you have none. Yes, Rodgers would instantly make any team in the league a playoff contender; he’s that good.
Adam from Eau Claire, WI
The other day, I saw a question regarding Graham Harrell on the sideline and you said it’s customary for a practice squad quarterback to travel with the team when the active roster only has two quarterbacks. Is there some scenario where he could enter the game, even though he's not on the active roster, or is he there just to watch?
For a noon CT game on Sunday, if he hasn’t been added to the 53-man roster by 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, he’s there to watch and probably chart plays. There are deadlines for which players must be added to the 53-man roster or they are not eligible to play in the game.
Jesse from Providence, RI
I read an article by Brian Billick on the NFL’s recent trend toward heavy passing and big-play offenses. According to him, 400 yards is the new 300, although it doesn't guarantee you a victory. He cites changes in the rules, mainly advantages given to the offense and the abundance of top-rate quarterbacks, but he also claimed the league has gotten more liberal in regards to offensive holding. In your opinion, is this true?
I’ve watched replays where I’ve seen offensive linemen have their arms wrapped around pass-rushers and I’ve thought to myself, “How did they miss that?” I’ll even add this: I think the officials have become more tolerant to holding on pass plays, but not on run plays. I’ve seen holding called on running plays and when I’ve watched the replay I’ve said to myself, “That’s borderline.” Yes, I think there is a concerted effort to protect quarterbacks and promote the passing game. This is the new NFL.
Marty from San Francisco, CA
Vic, your comments about the changes in the offensive line made me sad. I grew up with the Lombardi Packers and those beautiful power sweeps. I thought there was nothing more elegant than synchronized, pulling guards that fluidly danced around end to a confrontation: pugilism at its best. Today's running game with that zone stuff is so sterile in comparison, and the passing game is starting to resemble arena football to my eye. Do you think the NFL sees this as a potentially dangerous trend and would consider pulling back, just a little? I'd give anything to see a power sweep, even a badly run counter trap.
Marty, it’s a young man’s game. I’ve espoused that philosophy for a long time and now that I’m no longer a young man, I’ve accepted the fact that today’s young fans deserve the right to shape the game to their tastes. They don’t want pulling guards, Marty. They want fantasy points. Staying young has always been the formula for growing the game. A lot of young talent makes a team better, and a lot of young fans make the game better by providing for its future popularity.
Andrew from Lake Mills, WI
Having read your column for a few months now, I am starting to wonder if you are planting some of the questions yourself. Is this true?
Not a one.
Doug from Prescott Valley, AZ
Which teams have never been to a Super Bowl?
Texans, Browns, Jaguars, Lions.
Zach from Derby, KS
Besides a win, what are you hoping to see out of this Sunday's game?
I’m having a tough time piquing my interest for this game, but I wanna see Sam Bradford play. This will be my first look at him as a pro quarterback. How good is he? I wanna be able to answer that question. If he’s “The Man,” then it’ll only be a matter of time in St. Louis. I covered Rams games in the past, so I’ve seen Steven Jackson and he really is a star-quality running back. I’ll be interested to see how the Packers’ run-defense fares against him.
James from Green Bay, WI
Can you explain why certain positions are limited to certain numbers?
The NFL would probably tell you that it’s a way of branding positions, standardizing the game and helping fans identify players, but I’ll tell you what it is: It’s a means for helping quarterbacks read defenses. The old axiom was: Look through the middle linebacker to the strong safety and you’ll know where everybody on the field is. I’m sure it’s more difficult than that today, but it’s still of critical importance for a quarterback to know where the linebackers and the strong safety are. Those are the key players because those players are usually the moving parts in a defense. If linebackers were allowed to wear defensive back numbers and vice versa, the quarterback’s job would be more difficult. I remember covering a game the first year the NFL did the throwback jersey thing. The team I was covering went with a throwback jersey that had no number on the front, just a city crest, which was a replica of the team’s first-ever jersey. Well, the opponent found out about the throwback jersey not having numbers on the front and they threw a fit to the league. How was the quarterback going to read the defense? So the league made the team put a number on the front of one of the shoulders, but the opponent still complained that it was difficult to see. It’s all about the quarterback; always has been, always will be.
Frank from Milwaukee, WI
You mentioned there are coaches on the staff that could become head coaches. Do you think one of those could be Dom Capers or could his prior lack of success keep him in Green Bay?
He was pretty successful in Carolina. The problems he faced in Houston, in my opinion, were not of his making; you have to draft linemen to win the line of scrimmage. I think Coach Capers would be a perfect candidate for a team that is built and ready to go, but needs something to put it over the top. I think he would be an especially good candidate for that type of team if what it needed was improvement on defense. I’d hire him. He’s the best defensive mind I’ve ever known.
Richard from Delavan, WI
What would you think of giving Jermichael Finley some practice reps as a corner or safety? I could see putting him in against Calvin Johnson if the game was on the line. What do you think?
It would only take one rep to find out if it’s doable. Can he backpedal? If he can’t, then that’s the end of that. I gotta tell you, I’ve never known a 6-5, 250-pound guy that could backpedal well enough to cover a receiver that can run 4.4 forward. I think fans are too caught up in the height thing. I was covering the Jaguars a few years ago when they had a “basketball team” for wide receivers, and I can only remember them winning one jump ball. It’s not how tall you are, it’s how high you play. A lot of average-sized receivers and defensive backs play high.
Andrew from Boring, OR
What are your thoughts on LeBron James being interested in football? Do you think he would be able to play at this level?
He’s certainly big enough and athletic enough. If he had elected to make football his career, he’d probably be in the league right now, but playing professional football is a craft, just as playing professional basketball is. He would have to learn technique; you can’t just go out and play. That’s laughable. If he was to quit basketball and dedicate himself fully to football, I think defensive end would be the place for him. I say that because I can remember a basketball player of similar size that had a nice career as a defensive end. His name is Sam Clancy and he played as a 6-7, 288-pound DE/DT in a 10-year career that produced 30 sacks. It can be done, but James would have to commit to it and I don’t think that’s going to happen.
Richard from Lake Geneva, WI
How come some players in free agency would rather choose a team that pays them more money over a team that is a Super Bowl candidate?
Pro football is a business. First, you take care of business, and then you play the game.
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