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MVP talk: Rodgers? Manning? Peterson?

Posted Dec 26, 2012

Packers defense gets 'award' for most improved aspect of the team

Daniel from Mexico

Reggie Bush becomes a free agent next year. Do you think he would be a good option for the Packers?

The Packers already have a Reggie Bush. His name is Randall Cobb.

Wallace from Jacksonville, FL

Vic, a couple of years ago, when talking about pro prospects among college quarterbacks, you mentioned Russell Wilson, but like nearly everyone, I believe you had concerns about his height. How is he having success in the NFL at only 5-11? Have the Seahawks modified their offensive scheme to fit his talents and his lack of height?

First of all, if he’s 5-11, I’m 6-9. I interviewed him at the Senior Bowl and I felt as though we were eye to eye. I’ve only covered one game in which he’s played. Dom Capers made Wilson be a passer in that game and it was a successful strategy. He kept him in the pocket and forced him to make the tough throws, which is to say the long outs. It appears to me Wilson is at his best when he’s allowed to play as Doug Flutie did, which is to say outside the pocket. When he gets outside the pocket, he has a magic wand. The strength of Wilson’s game appears to me to be his anticipation. He sees receivers coming open before they’re open. Also, when you play against a short quarterback, your defensive linemen expect to be cut-blocked, which is a strategy for getting a lineman’s hands down. In the game against the Packers, I saw Wilson throw a lot of pre-designated stuff, which was designed to provide throwing lanes. If it wasn’t there, then Wilson would improvise. That was in just his third game as a pro. I wasn’t overly impressed. I’ll be interested to see how he has progressed.

Chris from Andrews, TX

You previously explained how a schedule is created. I want to see the Packers play the Cowboys. If they finish first in the East, that means next year there will be a scheduled game against the Cowboys. How is home or away determined in this case?

Everything is according to a format. The NFC North is matched with the NFC East next season, so the Packers will play at the Cowboys and at the Giants, and will host the Eagles and Redskins. The NFC games that’ll be determined by standings finish will be against the NFC South and NFC West, and the formula dictates the Packers will host the Falcons and visit either the 49ers or Seahawks in 2013.

Erik from Madison, WI

Why is nobody giving Aaron Rodgers consideration for the MVP?

The MVP is generally considered to be an award for having the best statistics in the league, and Rodgers leads the league in passer rating, but I expect Peyton Manning will win MVP. Why? Because he’s the most popular player in the history of the game. The field has always tilted in his direction. Hey, there were goof balls last year that wanted to give Manning the MVP when he wasn’t playing, because without him the Colts had the worst record in the league. Manning will win MVP. I don’t think that’s the issue. The issue to me is if Manning will take the Broncos any deeper into the postseason than Tim Tebow did.

Bob from Saint Charles, IA

Vic, I heard a quote once from Ron Wolf that you build a team from the ball out, that running backs and wide receivers should not be overly invested in with the salary cap. Did I hear this correctly and do you agree with this approach?

I’m sure Ron Wolf would agree that in today’s game you build your team according to the four premium positions: passer, pass blocker, pass rusher, pass defender. I’m describing, of course, the quarterback, left tackle, right defensive end or rush backer, and shut down corner. If you can find those four guys, you can do the rest with what’s available to you.

T.J. from Claremont, CA

I was actually interested in the question about how sports journalism has changed since the times of the “Ice Bowl” and classic players like Bart Starr. Could you elaborate?

When I left journalism school, the media credo was “accuracy, accuracy, accuracy.” The professors would hammer that into our heads and try to trick you into making mistakes that would accentuate the need for accuracy. They would often have us write car accident stories and heaven forbid you should write that one car struck another, because that would immediately cause the professor to bark that one car never hits another, they collide. We seem to embrace a different credo these days: “shock, shock, shock.” We seem to be looking for a way to loosely arrange the facts in a Twitter comment that’ll excite the reader into a deeper engagement. Generally speaking, we have more people and more outlets pursuing a much more aggressive and loosely traveled path to the truth, and the reader has become much more tolerant of the errors that go with the risks we’re willing to take. Reporters aren’t nearly as concerned about accuracy, and readers are much more accepting of inaccuracy. It’s as though the reader is saying, “I don’t care if you’re right or wrong, just excite me.” That’s the negative to the change we’ve undergone. The positive is that we hit more home runs now than we did in the past.

Aaron from Red Hook, NY

You have said several times you do not want to see the Giants in the playoffs. If the Vikings win, the Giants can’t make it into the playoffs. Would you rather have the Packers win and get the No. 2 seed, or have them lose and move down to the No. 3 seed so the Giants don't make the playoffs?

I want the two seed. I’ve said that over and over recently. For starters, the two seed couldn’t face the six seed until the conference title game. I’ll take that chance.

Steve from Springboro, OH

Vic, do players get paid per game for postseason play?

Yes, players are paid per game. If you have a bye in the wild-card round, you don’t get paid for that round. As each round advances, however, so does the financial reward.

Justin from Wisconsin Rapids, WI

If you got to vote for MVP this season, who would you vote for?

I’d vote for Adrian Peterson. His value to the Vikings is obvious, and I consider his rushing totals to be the equivalent of 6,000 yards passing for a quarterback. He’s averaging 6.0 a carry. That blows away what Jim Brown did. In the game against the Packers, I saw a running back the likes of which I haven’t seen in a long, long time. He might be the best back I’ve ever seen.

James from Fond du Lac, WI

Since the beginning of the season, which aspect of the Packers has improved the most?

It’s the defense. The Packers have a top 10 defense. Just before the start of the season, I wrote that I expected major improvement on defense, but I didn’t expect it to happen as quickly or as dramatically as it has. Dom Capers and his staff have turned in one of the best coaching jobs I’ve ever witnessed.

Jeff from Louisville, KY

Vic, I was wondering if you had a chance to see any of the Miami-Buffalo game last Sunday. In the second quarter, the Dolphins defense employed the “Ketchman Prevent” on a third-and-seven. Ten guys dropped into coverage while the 11th acted as if he might rush the passer. You could tell in the replay the Buffalo offensive line was completely stunned. The result was an incompletion for Buffalo.

I’ve never understood why a team would employ anything but that strategy when playing prevent. Let the quarterback stand back there all day. The clock is running, which is what you want, right? If 10 or 11 can’t cover five, you’ve got problems strategy can’t solve.

Mitchell from Columbus, IN

I thought Ryan Grant proved his worth for the playoffs. Your thoughts?

Grant looked quicker, faster and more decisive on Sunday than at any time last season. He looked like the guy I saw in 2008. Maybe the time off was what his ankle needed. Remember, he was coming off a major ankle injury.

Phil from Chicago, IL

Rodgers noted that matchups matter. Heading into the playoffs, what teams do the Packers match up best against?

The Redskins are 30th against the pass. That sounds attractive for a team that wants to throw the ball. If the Packers win the two seed, we could see the Redskins at Lambeau Field in the divisional round.

Brian from Collingswood, NJ

I read this over the weekend and it sounds just about right: “The Packers run the ball like a little kid trying to quickly wolf down his veggies so he can get to the good stuff.”

Vegetarians are very healthy people. I like it when the Packers eat their veggies.

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