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Stay true to your personality, identity

Posted May 31, 2011

David from El Dorado, AR

Vic, I love your insights and return to packers.com every day. In answering a question about the “Steelers rule,” I believe you said that no other NFL team has ever been legislated against. I beg to differ with you because I remember the NFL passed “The Dave Casper Rule.” The Oakland Raiders were playing the Chargers and they won the game because the Raiders players kept intentionally kicking the football forward after the fumble until they scored a touchdown. Am I correct?

I didn’t say the NFL hasn’t legislated against other teams, I said I can’t remember the league legislating against the Raiders. Maybe they have; I just can’t remember it. The play you’re describing is the “Holy Roller.” It’s one play and it’s not as though the Raiders were doing it every week. The league saw a glitch in the rules and reacted accordingly. You could say the same about the “Immaculate Reception” changing the rule about one offensive player not being able to tip the ball to another offensive player. When I think in terms of legislating against a team, I think in terms of rules changes such as the one in 1978 that forbids defenders from making contact with a receiver 5 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. It was known then as the “Mel Blount rule” and it basically targeted Blount and those that played as he did. Recently, the league instituted a rule that forbids offensive players from peeling back and blindsiding defensive players in pursuit of the ball. It’s known as the “Hines Ward rule” and it targeted him and players that played as he did. If the league had adopted a “defenseless receiver rule” following Jack Tatum’s hit on Darryl Stingley, which Tatum and George Atkinson had made commonplace, then it would’ve likely become known as the “Jack Tatum rule” and that, in my opinion, would’ve been legislating against the Raiders, but there was no such rule.

Tom from Richmond, VA

In baseball, the pitcher-catcher combo is referred to as a battery. Do you think the quarterback-center combo is the NFL version of the battery? Doubtless, they have to be on the same page for an offense to be successful.

I would be more inclined to think of a quarterback and his favorite receiver to represent a pitcher-catcher relationship. Every quarterback has a receiver to whom he turns when he needs to make a play or convert on third down. Donald Driver has been that receiver with the Packers for a long time. Greg Jennings now appears to be emerging as that guy.

Neil from Racine, WI

Given the lockout situation, do you anticipate an increase in injuries to begin the season, like hamstring pulls, back spasms, etc.? The less time to get in football shape, the greater the chance for injury?

If the lockout continues into the summer, this season could set a record for leg cramps. I think this is especially a concern for teams that have to play the early part of the season in hot weather. They need the spring season to get their bodies, especially the bodies of rookies that may not be accustomed to playing in places such as Florida and Texas, acclimated to the heat and humidity.

Dennis from Coeur d’Alene, ID

With all of the discussion recently concerning player safety and the use of helmets, what are your thoughts about removing the facemask or not wearing helmets? Might that curb the injuries caused by spearing and use of the helmet as a weapon?

It would end spearing and launching but it wouldn’t offer protection from unintended contact. Remember this: When Paul Brown invented the facemask, there was no law that said you couldn’t put a facemask on the helmet. What you’re talking about is a law forbidding the use of a facemask, and that might open Pandora’s Box to a myriad of issues and legal challenges. I would be in favor of limiting the size, shape and weight of the facemask, but the league’s stance on this matter is that it wants to change the attitude toward the helmet, not change the helmet. It wants to get players thinking of terms of not involving their heads in the tackling process. If they can condition the players to play that way, then protection is the sole purpose for the use of the helmet, and that’s what the league wants. Good luck.

Dan from Mankato, MN

Sometimes I feel like Revis gets too much credit (especially compared to Nnamdi), but you seem to like him a lot. What is it about his play that makes him so much better than everyone else?

Put on a tape, watch him play and tell me if you think he gets too much credit. He “mirrors” better than any defensive back I have ever seen. I’ve always thought Deion Sanders was the best coverage corner of all-time; he wouldn’t tackle a bag of flour, but that’s another story. Sanders’ skill, however, was for closing on the ball. He would bait the quarterback into throwing toward a receiver that appeared open, then Sanders would close on the ball and make the play. Once the no-chuck rule was passed in 1978, thus ending the bump-and-run era, there were only a couple of ways you could defend against the pass in man-to-man coverage: You could play “trail” technique and close on the ball, if you had that kind of speed, or you could “mirror.” Revis “mirrors” as though he knows the route; he “mirrors” as though he IS the receiver. He’s so good at it that I often believe it’s just a fluke and it’s going to suddenly stop, but it doesn’t. I covered a game two years ago in which a receiver was having a big game in the first half. For the second half, Revis was assigned to cover the receiver exclusively and the guy’s big game suddenly stopped. I don’t think he gets too much credit. The only question I have about him is how long can he play at that level? When do the little injuries that go with time take away his skill for “mirroring?” Revis reminds me of Lester Hayes, and vice versa, but Revis is better.

Kaylib from Milwaukee, WI

I was watching the draft for the first time and I learned about “Mr. Irrelevant.” I was wondering if there has ever been a “Mr. Irrelevant” that has achieved some success as a pro?

I don’t know the full history of “Mr. Irrelevant,” but I covered one that had a noteworthy career. He was a guard named Tyrone McGriff and he was the final pick of the 1980 draft.

Quinton from Henning, MN

So, the date for the ring ceremony has been set. When will we find out what the rings look like? Are any sketches available to get a general idea of what they'll look like? Love the articles and videos by the way; they are the highlight of my day.

We have to wait until June 16.

Shawn from New York, NY

I am one who believes the past is not prologue, but history shows that each decade has produced a dynasty: Packers in the ’60s, Steelers in the ’70s, Niners in the ’80s, Cowboys in the ’90s, and Patriots in the ’00s. It seems that Green Bay has a chance to become the dynasty of the ’10s. What other teams do you see that could dominate the decade?

Find the teams with the good, young quarterbacks, because that’s what it takes to be a dominant team for a long period of time. The teams with the quarterbacks that are poised for a long run during this decade are the candidates to dominate the decade. The Packers, obviously, have one of those quarterbacks. I’ll let you tell me who the other quarterbacks and teams are.

Jack from Manitowoc, WI

Vic, I'm thinking the longer the lockout continues, the more important it becomes to have an exceptional coach. Do you think this will separate the men from the boys, as far as coaches go? Will coaches that scheme schemes now have an advantage over those that scheme players because there’ll be less time to evaluate players?

Mike McCarthy has a sign in his office that says more creativity, less volume. There’s your answer. The more that on-field practice time is lost, the more the playbook has to be pared. More creativity, less volume means doing more with less, and that’s what would separate the men from the boys, as you put it. It always comes down to the players’ execution of schemes. The less time the players have to practice those schemes, the more you have to get out of the schemes they can practice and master. The coaches that win would be the ones that find a way to milk every play for what it has to offer.

Curtis from Stevens Point, WI

You said that defining the strong side has shifted from the side of the unbalanced line to the side with the larger grouping of wide receivers. How has this changed the positioning and role of the strong safety and free safety?

Bunching of wide receivers has forced defenses to get more true pass-defenders onto the field. The strong safety of the past was one part linebacker, two parts defensive back and he spent most of his day covering the tight end. These days, the strong safety better be able to cover a wide receiver or he’ll have to be replaced by a nickel back. The same is true of the free safety; both safeties have to be skilled pass-defenders to be effective against today’s sophisticated passing attacks. It’s leaving tight ends to be covered by linebackers, and that’s where the mismatch is. I think we’re going to see dime coverage more and more, as demanded by the growing legion of tight ends that are really wide receivers, and playing dime invites the run. Too much emphasis on the pass could do that; it could stimulate a return to the run.

Richard from Lake Havasu City, AZ

Since the NFL is now a quarterback and wide receiver league and almost all teams are now geared to stop the pass, do you think it might be a good idea for a team, let’s say the Packers, to become more run-oriented? This would counter all the teams that draft for pass-rushing and pass-coverage. It would turn the tables on them offensively. What do you think?

Mike McCarthy has said he wants a better running game going forward. He said he wants a running game that’ll force defenses to play the run and not load up against the pass. I would caution against letting trends dictate your identity and personality. The Packers are what they are, which is to say a team with a marvelous quarterback, a big-time wide receiver in Greg Jennings, a game-breaking tight end in Jermichael Finley, a pass-blocking offensive line and a coach that believes deeply in the merits of an offense built on precision passing. You can’t just flip a switch and become a power-running team. That’s not the Packers. That’s not their personality and that’s not their identity. Stir in some run; that’s all the Packers need to do to stay who and what they are.

 
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Vic Ketchman

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