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Ask Vic

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Kuhn's no Rudy; he's got real skill

Posted Apr 5, 2011

Kurt from Bolingbrook, IL

Does Green Bay have the ability to delay using the 32nd pick until the second day of the draft, in order to have the extra time to solicit trade-down offers?

Vic: A club may not pass out of one session of the draft and into the next session of the draft. In addition, the club selecting last in a session is prohibited from trading the selection to another club after time on the clock has expired. If the club that is choosing last in a session passes, and the club that is scheduled to choose first in the subsequent session elects to make its selection at that time, the club that has passed is still required to make its selection and conclude the session. Under no circumstances will it be permitted to choose at the beginning of the subsequent session.

Mike from Milwaukee, WI

When will you be fired from packers.com? You are terrible and your sense of humor is outdated. I go to packers.com less and less because I don't wanna see your articles or your face.

Vic: I’ll cry all night.

John from Livermore, CA

I'm curious about the pregame fly-overs. Any idea who/where this tradition was started? How does a team arrange for a fly-over? Does the team pay for this or is it on the taxpayers’ dime?

Vic: I don’t know when or where it originated (my guess is that it was for a bowl game), but the U.S. military maintains a budget for these fly-overs. They consider them part of recruiting, as it is promotional for the military. In other words, we pay for it. A team need only request a fly-over.

Andy from Abbotsford, BC

Vic, I was just reading one of your posts about how football is about replacement instead of maintenance. Isn't it worth it to pay a guy a little bit more who's already familiar with the system and who you know can produce now? I'm thinking about Jenkins and Jones. Football is like any other business. It takes more effort and resources to bring a new guy in rather than keep the guys you got, right?

Vic: I agree, but where do you draw the line? You can’t keep everybody. That’s the point I was attempting to make. You have to be willing to draw the line and let people go. That’s just the way the system is nowadays and that’s why it’s so important to have young, developmental players I like to refer to as “jars on the shelf” ready to be taken off the shelf and used. They allow you to draw the line, rather than being held “hostage” by a player because you don’t have a replacement for him. Free agency is expensive. Young, replacement-type players allow you to maintain a manageable payroll.

Jake from Madison, WI

I am a huge fan of John Kuhn, as I'm sure many others are. I'd like to think I jumped on his bandwagon early, even before last season, when he played primarily at the fullback position. I was impressed by him and would be happy to see him wear the green and gold until he retires. My question is: Does his status as a cult hero factor into contract negotiations at all? They want to keep the fans happy, right?

Vic: It doesn’t hurt him, but I don’t know how much it helps him, either. I can’t imagine that Ted Thompson is going to allow cult-hero status to enter into his decision-making. Kuhn is where he’s at because he’s earned it. Don’t worry about Kuhn. He’s a player. He’s got some skills and they’re the kind of skills coaches like to use in creative ways.

Mark from Yucaipa, CA

Just read Monday’s “Ask Vic,” which I am thoroughly hooked on and search out daily for my football fix. In it you say: “but defense soon found a way to deal with those strategies and balance was restored to the game. I don’t think that’s going to happen this time. I think we’re in an offensive explosion that is going to continue.” What about the adage that defense wins championships, as exemplified by the Packers’ playoff run? The top four teams to reach the conference championships all had great defenses.

Vic: It’s all relative, Mark. The final score was 31-25, which would not suggest a defensive struggle. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think most would agree that we are in an age of offense and future rules changes and adaptations are likely to continue to favor the offensive side of the ball. In my opinion, the only thing that might keep yards and scoring at subdued levels is the hesitation of coaches to get into shootout-type games. Coaches don’t like shootouts. They prefer more tightly managed games.

Lewk from Iowa City, IA

When free agency is brought up, I often hear that some of the elite players would be willing to sign with winning teams for less money than offered elsewhere. Does this ever actually happen?

Vic: It’s probably happened; I think it’s more likely to have happened that a player late in his career has decided to take less money to stay where he is, for the obvious reason that he’s got roots in that community and doesn’t want to move, but I’ll bet more guys late in their careers take the money and move. Let’s not kid ourselves; this game is played for financial gain. I have no problem with that. I think it’s the charm of the game: Play for pay. It’s what the founding fathers of the game did. They played for several teams, under aliases, to increase their financial gain. It’s what links the generations. They played for pay then and they play for pay now. I’m fine with that concept. If you can get it, get it, but that doesn’t mean the team has to pay it. Nothing personal, it’s just business, right?

Kevin from Kennewick, WA

About these questions and suggestions on replay. Yeah, I have to get up and go to work, too. What kind of player would step out of bounds not knowing if a touchdown will be called back? The thing that makes this game so great is the human factor. Everybody involved, on the sideline, in the booth and on the field, is a professional. The NFL referees are right on their calls about 90 percent of the time, if not more. It seems apparent to me they want the game to be called right. That's why they overturn their own calls. Perfection isn't really a part of reality. What's your take?

Vic: I think it’s a matter of perception. There are those who see football as an athletic competition, and there are those who see it as entertainment. The ranks of the latter group are growing all the time, hence, TV commercials such as the one where the bartender pushes a button that signals the official to rig the game so it will continue. I know it’s just a commercial but its implication bothers me. For me, football is and always will be a human confrontation. It is a clash of men, each attempting to impose his will on the other. One of the worst feelings in football is looking across the line at your opponent and knowing he’s better. Immediately, you are confronted with the challenge: How do I defeat him? That’s the part of the game I enjoy. How does an undrafted rookie come from the bottom of the depth chart to make the team? How does a team nobody thinks has a chance to make it into the playoffs get on a roll and go all the way? Some watch for entertainment; others watch to marvel at the sanctity of athletic competition. Either way, let’s just make sure we keep the focus on that athletic competition, that human confrontation, and not shift the focus to replay review and the mind-numbing debate of whether or not it was a catch.

Ron from Helena, MT

I'm not sure I understand when players are released and when they are traded. I thought Aaron Kampman would be traded for a high draft pick, but he was released. What determines release or trade?

Vic: The circumstances determine it. You’d nearly always prefer to trade a player than release him, but smart teams grudgingly trade picks for players. Draft picks are the lifeblood of a franchise. In Aaron Kampman’s case, he was coming off ACL surgery and it was unlikely a team would trade a high pick for him. He didn’t fit the Packers’ 3-4 scheme and the decision was made to let him go in free agency. He was not released; he was allowed to leave in free agency, which is an example of what I said earlier about having to be willing to lose guys. The Jaguars signed Kampman to a nice contract and now the Packers have received a fourth-round draft pick as compensation. It’s how the system works and it works in the favor of those teams that have drafted well enough to be able to allow players to leave in free agency.

Sal from El Paso, TX

How deep do you think this year's draft is with receivers that are 6-1, 205, and can run?

Vic: Every draft is deepest with those types of guys. They are the norm, not the exception. It’s the big guys that are the exception. George Young called it the “planet theory.” There are only so many people on the planet that big and when you have a chance to draft one, you have to do it. This year’s wide receiver crop is really deep with prospects for the second-fourth rounds. An NFC college scouting director told me at the combine the wide receiver crop is really strong in its second tier. I’m OK with drafting a wide receiver high in the first round if he’s truly a special player, but I’d rather get a big guy or a premium-position player high in the first round and look for receivers later in the draft. You can usually find them.

Zach from Woodstock, IL

How does a guy like Jonathan Baldwin compare to a player such as Jermichael Finley? Both have freakish size for their positions. Does Baldwin have the drive and attitude to potentially be very successful like Finley has been?

Vic: That’s the big question. Baldwin’s measurables are Finleyesque, but there were too many one-hand stabs and lackadaisical attempts last year for Baldwin. He was a rising guy off his 2009 season, but he lost a little ground off last season’s performance; his size and speed, however, could bring him back up the board. Will the light go on when he becomes a pro? Will he dedicate himself to his craft and improve his route-running? Will he spend extra time after practice catching balls and improving his hands? It’s up to him now.

Steve from Hazelwood, MO

You are often asked to compare players or teams of earlier years against those of more recent years. Recognizing the differences in rules, can there not be some statistical way to even the playing field and add some independent and impartial comparison for fans and Hall of Fame voters who never experienced the play of prior eras?

Vic: I don’t know of a stat that can be applied to comparing teams from one generation to the other. I think the questions you have to ask yourself in making these comparisons are: What would so-and-so from such-and-such era be like if he played today, and what would so-and-so from today be like if he had played in such-and-such era? I think it’s critical to be able to answer those questions because you have to be able to move players from one era into another. You have to determine if a guy could’ve played in any era, and I’m not just talking about old guys playing in today’s game; I’m also talking about today’s players being able to have played in previous eras, too. For example, if a cornerback today couldn’t have played bump and run, then I tend to dismiss him. Forget the stats. How do you compare 12-game seasons to 16-game seasons? How do you compare the passer ratings of today’s quarterbacks to those of the Johnny Unitas era? The standards are grossly different. Don’t just ask how good Unitas would’ve been today (I think he would’ve been perfect in today’s game). How good would Peyton Manning have been in Unitas’ era? Hey, he struggled against the Patriots in the 2004 AFC title game, ostensibly because the Patriots were allowed to play bump and run, right? That gave us the major point of emphasis for the 2005 season. What does that mean? In my opinion, you have to ask those sorts of questions.

 
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