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Ask Vic

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Aaron Rodgers' window open wider than ever before

Posted Jun 9, 2014

This is officially "Lighten Up and Have Some Fun Week"


Steven from Wauwatosa, WI

In light of the “best that never were” column, who do you think is the all-time best that never was (for any team), and who is the best that never was that you saw or covered?

Ernie Davis and Gabe Rivera.

Randall from Zarczyce Duze, Poland

Vic, 95 percent of your respondents thought your Steelers press box story was true? That’s depressing. My question is this: When you cover an away game, how much time, if any, do you have to see the city you’re staying in? What kind of things do you like to do?

Arrive the day before the game, leave immediately following the game. I like to sightsee. Nothing beats another trip up the Space Needle. Sometimes I like to avail myself of the host city’s symphony orchestra, or its museums of art or natural history. I try to make each road trip an experience that enriches me, as opposed to doing the tired old bar thing.

Corbin from Freeport, IL

Since I started reading your articles probably two years ago, I look at football completely different. It’s a business and I look at it in a more strategic and patient way instead of a personal way. Thank you for opening my eyes. The art of the business side of football is almost as enjoyable as the game itself.

I saw a TV interview Tim Geithner did to promote his new book about how he and Hank Paulson and the finance guys dealt with the crash of our markets in the fall of 2008. He talked about the biggest problem being the national sentiment to punish those that created the problem, the arsonists, as he called them. He said that was absolutely the wrong thing to do and would’ve caused more pain for the innocent than it would have for the guilty. We’re very fortunate we had men who were able to work with calm and purpose, instead of yielding to the angry mob. The leadership of a football team has to do the same thing. When the “wolves” are howling, true leaders turn a deaf ear and focus on what’s best for the franchise. This team has that kind of leadership.

Jim from Sand Creek, WI

Would two-a-day practices serve the same purpose they once did? My impression is they helped get players back into shape after the offseason. Don’t players today do a better job of workouts throughout the year?

There were two main purposes of two-a-days in the Oklahoma Drill era: 1) Get a team into hitting shape. 2) Find out who the tough guys are. As a result of two-a-days going away, I don’t think teams are in hitting shape when the season begins, and I don’t think we identify the tough guys nearly as well as we did when full-pads two-a-days were a rite of passage. There’s look-in-the-mirror shape, and then there’s football shape. I don’t think the latter can be accomplished without hitting.

Joe from Camp Pendleton, CA

When other coaches plan against the Packers, what are they telling their players to watch out for?

Before Eddie Lacy arrived, opposing teams focused on denying the big play. I suspect the plan was to make the Packers drive the ball. Last year, Lacy made that plan change. All of a sudden, defenses had to get that eighth defender up to the line of scrimmage to stop Lacy, and that brought back the big play.

Dan from Pikeville, KY

Vic, you should have expected the response your tale generated. We have made it very clear over the years that we can’t relate to the detached professionalism you talk about concerning players, coaches and yourself. We love Green Bay and believe we would even if we worked or played for another team. We want to believe our rookies grew up loving the Packers because we think they will give that much more because of it. We feel betrayed when players go over to the enemy, and welcome their players like converts who have seen the light. We are fans above all. So when you tried to make your point through a story you felt was too ridiculous to believe, you didn’t realize how believable a fan going crazy for his hometown team is.

We need to lighten up a little. It’s June.

Dan from Waupun, WI

Is Rihanna giving away the Underwear League MVP trophy?

I had to look her up. I don’t think she fits the image “Ask Vic” is attempting to portray; too conservative.

Danny from Concord, CA

Vic, I was reading the recent addition of “Murphy Takes Five” and Mark Murphy mentioned that players would rather go undrafted than get drafted in the later rounds because of the potential for a higher signing bonus and to end up with a team that will better be able to utilize their talents. This is the first time I’ve ever heard a player might actually prefer to not get drafted. Why then was B.J. Coleman so excited to be drafted by the Packers in the late rounds a few years back?

Because “I wish they hadn’t drafted me” would’ve been the wrong thing to say.

Brenda from Duncan, OK

Vic, I’m so disappointed. While watching Super Bowl classics, Super Bowl III, I heard one of the announcers use the term casual fan. I thought you came up with that phrase. Can you remember the first time you heard it used?

It was by a PR guy a long time ago. I was just a kid reporter. The PR guy used the numbers 80 percent and 20 percent to represent the casual fan vs. the diehard fan. He said for the league to be successful, it had to market itself to the 80 percenters because the 20 percenters weren’t a large enough sample, plus, they’re already hooked on the game and don’t need to be sold on it. It made me think.

Eric from Fennimore, WI

I’ve been hearing the biggest jump for an NFL player is from his first season to his second season. Can we expect even more out of Eddy Lacy this year in that case?

I don’t need more. He helped change the face of this team last season. What I want is for Lacy and Aaron Rodgers to spend a whole season together. The Packers were on the verge of becoming the best offense in the league last season, and then Rodgers got hurt.

Paul from Munising, MI

Could you define the back-shoulder throw and where it originated? It seems to have evolved the last few years. What was the route called in previous years?

The first time it caught my attention was in 1996. I don’t know who invented the back-shoulder pass. It appears to have evolved over a long period of time. I first noticed it when I was covering the Jaguars. Mark Brunell was adept at the back-shoulder throw. I can remember Brunell using it to beat the Ravens in ’96, which began the Jaguars’ run to the AFC title game. I can remember thinking to myself that it’s almost unfair for a defensive back to have to defend that pass, at the same time he’s being coached to not get beat deep. I doubt the back-shoulder throw would’ve been as successful in the bump-and-run era.

Erryl from Mendenhall, IL

Vic, Mike McCarthy talks about getting a lot more rotation into his defense, especially the defensive line. I also occasionally hear talk of wanting three- and four-down players, and talk of reducing the complexity of the defense. I am a little confused. Why is it so important to have a lot of player rotation?

It’s important for every player on the field to go all out on every play, and that’s awfully difficult for a guy weighing 300 pounds. The Florida teams have long been concerned with having enough quality defensive linemen to keep them fresh in the heat. Maybe Coach McCarthy is reacting to that game in Miami on Oct. 12.

Stacy from Whitefish Bay, WI

Vic, I was thinking you have watched a great deal more football games than the average fan. What critical few things do you pay attention to when observing a game, and what insight do those things give?

Pre-snap, I find the true tight end and then take notice of how the safeties are deployed. The safeties largely determine the coverage scheme. Where they move after the snap determines the manner in which they might’ve disguised the coverage. The true tight end, one that blocks and catches, will usually tell me if it’s a run or pass. If he blocks down, my eyes go to the running back. If the true tight end releases, my eyes go to the quarterback. The strong safety and the true tight end are the players I watch at the snap of the ball.

Tom from Plymouth, MN

I hate to break it to you, Vic, but the commissioner double-crossed you. The Super Bowl number will be in Roman numerals again starting at 51. I guess khaki brothers can’t always be trusted.

He’s so stubborn.

Shinji from San Diego, CA

Vic, what are the most important skills for a QB?

Start with courage. If a quarterback doesn’t have the courage to keep his eyes downfield, it’s over. I’ve covered a lot of courageous quarterbacks that weren’t successful, but I’ve never covered a successful one that wasn’t courageous. Arm strength, accuracy, pocket presence, mobility, proper mechanics, information processing are all important skills. Accuracy has always been No. 1, but only after courageousness.

Duke from Marshfield, WI

Vic, the identity of the 2011 Packers was aerial circus offense. The Seahawks’ current identity is suffocating defense. What do you think the 2014 Packers identity will be? I think this is the most balanced roster we’ve had in years.

The Packers’ identity this season will be defined by its defense. We know what has to happen for this team to go to the next level of achievement.

Sal from Chandler, AZ

I’ve asked you a few questions and have never gotten an answer. Looking at some of the answers you give other fans, I’m happy you never have. All your answers are either rude or sarcastic or both. You act like you are better than everybody else and it’s annoying. You said it yourself, “Football is a young man’s game.” I think journalism is also a young man’s game and frankly I’m getting tired of listening to the comments of a grumpy old man. I think it might be time for you to retire.

I’m not retiring but you can stop sending questions and reading the column. I won’t be offended.

Joe from Eau Claire, WI

Vic, as a former media member that covered the Packers during the mid to late ’90s, I can certainly empathize with your no cheering in the press box story. I was at the Christmas Eve 1995 Packers-Steelers game at Lambeau in the auxiliary press box. Yancey Thigpen drops a touchdown pass. The reporters in that press box were actually pounding on the windows before that play. The following week, the Packers hosted Atlanta. In our press kits was a sternly worded letter from Lee Remmel, who was then the PR director. That letter, which I still have, scolded media members for their behavior and threatened future offenders with permanent revocation of credentials if this happened again.

I’ve never seen that happen and I hope I never do.

John from West Chester, OH

Don’t you think all the talk about Rodgers’ window closing comes from a place that isn’t really enjoying this great ride he’s given us thus far? The Super Bowl or bust fan perspective takes away from the enjoyment of the journey. For as long as Aaron is wearing that No. 12 jersey, I’ll be having a heck of a time.

His window is not closing. It’s open wider now than ever before and it’s going to stay that way for the next several years, barring the unforeseen. Enjoy the ride. It’s going to get even better.

Joel from Cleveland, WI

If the injury that ended Gale Sayers’ career happened today, would he have continued his career?

We lost a lot of great careers in the ’60s to knee injuries that medicine didn’t know how to fix. Sayers and Joe Namath are the two that immediately come to mind. Medicine didn’t know in those days that MCL tears didn’t require surgery, just rest. They cut up Namath’s knees like fish.

Marc from Fitchburg, WI

Imagine if Vince Lombardi could see Lambeau Field and the facilities today. What do you think he would say?

He’d love it because he would immediately know pro football is a success. The coaches in the Lombardi era were also salesmen for the game of pro football. That’s the big reason they felt a need to communicate with the media. That’s why we had a five o’clock club. Coaches in that era felt a responsibility to promote pro football, which was fighting for market share with college football and trailed baseball in popularity. Lambeau Field is the house Lombardi built. He’d be proud of what it has become.

Marvin from Barron, WI

Me and the commissioner? You’re a professional writer with a grammar problem. How can this be?

It’s called literary license. Its intent is to allow writers to bring flavor to their work by introducing a personality or style that isn’t grammatically proper. We really do need to lighten up. I am officially designating this “Lighten Up and Have Some Fun Week.” Give it a try, Marvin.


 

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Do you have a question for Vic? Your question could be posted on packers.com. Vic has covered the NFL through 42 seasons, including 23 years covering the Steelers and 16 years covering the Jaguars.

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