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Ask Vic

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The combine could shoot Eddie Lacy upward

Posted Feb 13, 2013

Packers need stronger running game to help bring back big play


Kris from Rock Island, IL

Can the Packers use the franchise tag on Greg Jennings to see what he has left, like a tryout?

That would be an awfully expensive tryout because once the player signs the franchise tender, his salary is guaranteed. The franchise salary for a wide receiver is more than $10 million. The cap is your friend. It wants to help you. Let it.

Thomas from Hopewell Junction, NY

I came across a great quote by Terry Bradshaw: “You may lose with me, but you’ll never win without me.” Does that type of indispensable player ever exist outside of the QB position?

I remember writing it in my notebook as he said it. That was nearly 40 years ago and it resonates today as much as it did back then. When you have a franchise talent at quarterback, you must be patient with him because you will not win championships without him. The Packers have a franchise quarterback, and Bradshaw’s words ring as true for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers as they did for Bradshaw and the Steelers of the 1970’s. You can win without star players at all of the other positions. You can’t do it without “The Man.”

Juan from New York City, NY

The No. 1 reason I read your column is to learn. I looked up Chuck Bednarik today, watched a short documentary on him and some film. Vic, my college accounting courses are tough. The steaks my girlfriend tried to cook once for our anniversary dinner were tough. There has to be another word for what Bednarik was. Also, thought you might like this: “You gotta play with that killer instinct, man. You gotta hate that guy across from you. Then, when the game is over, tell him what a nice guy he is. Shake his hand, especially if you win.”

That’s beautiful. Bednarik’s stories will never die. One of his most famous stories involves Chuck Noll, and Bednarik turned it into entertainment. He once performed it for NFL Films and every so often I see that clip and it makes me feel good about a game I’ve always loved because it’s always been a tough game for tough guys. I once asked Noll about his flap with Bednarik, and Noll said with a smile, “Ask Chuck.” Apparently, Noll has a different version, but I never heard him offer his version, and I think that’s because he knows a little entertainment is good for the game, even if it’s embellished. I always loved that about the old guys. They were always about growing the game. Baseball was the national pastime and football was the college game. They knew they had a responsibility to do whatever it took to grow the game of professional football. Bednarik and his stories gave the game flavor. We still enjoy them.

Terry from St. Louis, MO

Do you think the NFL would ever consider moving the Super Bowl to Saturday? There are so many reasons for it to make sense, and only tradition to keep it on Sunday.

It would allow for a Super Bowl review the following day. Imagine what that would’ve been like this year, what with the controversy involving the no-interference call on the deciding play. Imagine all the spicy conversation that game would’ve stimulated on a day reserved for nothing but review.

Eric from Louisville, KY

Vic, you are Ted Thompson and it’s time to make the 26th pick in the draft. Who are you hoping is still in the board?

Eric Fisher was hanging around the middle of the first round when the Senior Bowl began. Within a couple of practices, he had moved up into the top 10 picks. If there’s one guy at the Senior Bowl I’d take, he’s the guy, but that ship has sailed. I’m sorry, but I don’t have another guy right now that interests me that much. I think there will be a lot of top defensive line talent available when the Packers pick at 26.

Justin from Wisconsin Rapids, WI

How does the Packers-Bears rivalry compare to the Steelers-Raiders rivalry you covered in the ’70’s?

They’re completely different. The Packers-Bears rivalry is age old. It’s about history, tradition and geography. It’s about the teams’ fans and the borders they share. It’s a wholesome kind of rivalry. Nothing about the Steelers-Raiders rivalry was wholesome. It was ugly. It was the meanest, most vicious, intense and frighteningly real thing I have ever covered. It reached a point that it bothered me because I felt it shaping my view of the game. It wasn’t about history, tradition or geography. Those teams shared none of those ingredients. It just flared up, mostly the result of the “Immaculate Reception” and the nasty players each team had. There was the dirty tricks game in 1973, when the Steelers kept getting half-inflated balls and balls with dirty words written on them. There was the iced-sidelines game in the 1975 AFC championship. There was the terrible “criminal element” game in the 1976 opener and the embarrassing trial it spawned. It came to this, a letter sent by Commissioner Pete Rozelle, warning each team that the rivalry had reached the point of “pure violence.” The two teams’ games against each other were so intense that legendary referee Tommie Bell, who was retiring at the end of the season, was given the choice of refereeing that year’s Super Bowl in what would be his last game, or the Steelers-Raiders AFC title game, and Bell chose the latter. The Raiders Super Bowl XI ring bears the score of the ’76 AFC title game; that’s how intense that rivalry was. It was no hype; those two teams truly hated each other.

Billie Jo from Ward, AR

Vic, nfl.com just posted an unofficial listing of each team’s potential free agents. I noticed the Packers’ list was shorter than almost every other team’s list. Is this a good thing? Does this help maintain a healthy cap?

What it means is the Packers have a roster of good, young players with good contracts. Free-agent lists are usually populated by older players, players with declining skills and players with bad contracts.

Michael from Madison, WI

Vic, I am interested in the mechanics of “Ask Vic.” Do you read every question, even on a night like the “Fail Mary?”

The “Fail Mary” week was a real problem. When I reached the end of the week, my inbox still had a few thousand unread e-mails in it. I can remember it being Friday afternoon and thinking to myself that I had to clean out my inbox. I knew I couldn’t read them all, but my conscience wouldn’t allow me to summarily delete them. So, I opened my eyes real wide and looked straight at my computer screen as I kept hitting the down-arrow key. I figured that at least I could say I looked at every one of the e-mails before I deleted them.

Griffin from West Bend, WI

So you would like to see a team run the Wing T offense? Seeing how my high school team runs it and went 7-1, I think that would be interesting.

Marv Levy ran it in 1978 when everybody was playing run, why can’t somebody run it now when everybody is playing pass? The pro game needs some variety. It’s become too stale. Everybody is doing the same thing. Every team is starting to look alike. I’m glad this read-option thing has come along. I like the idea of teams having trademarks. I think we got to the point that every team’s offensive trademark was the check-down pass. Yuk! Viva la difference.

Ryan from West Bend, WI

I do not enjoy your answers. Way too biased. I think you are not thinking progressively at times. Plus, I do not like how you only use your opinions and no actual facts or numbers in your replays. Please retire and let a new, good writer work for the Packers and provide us with actual good reading material.

I’ll cry all night.

Jack from Toronto, ON

You have spoken about London being the next frontier for football outside of the U.S. As a Canadian, I was wondering about Toronto.

You have a team, it’s just around the lake, in Buffalo, and it’s willing to share games with you. What’s wrong with that?

Ed from San Diego, CA

You called Eddie Lacy a power back. Isn’t that exactly what the Packers need to bring toughness to their offense?

Lacy played behind an Alabama offensive line that made the first five yards feel like running against air. So, does Lacy appear to be a straight-line runner because his line at Alabama provided a straight-line gain, or is he a straight-line runner because he’s stiff in the hips? In my opinion, next week’s combine is going to be especially important for Lacy. We know he’s powerful. We knew he’s tough. We don’t need the combine to prove those points. What we need to know about Lacy is if he can run around cones, if you know what I mean. Does he have the flexibility, the feet and lateral movement to be more than a straight-line runner? If the combine reveals the answer to that question is yes, Lacy could shoot up boards.

Chris from Fairfield, CT

How exactly do you see the Packers making cap room?

In the salary cap era, this is a game of replacement. You must be willing to allow players to leave and to make tough, cap-based decisions. That’s why I say the cap runs your team. When the cap says releasing a player would result in a huge cap savings, you have to look hard at that player’s value to your team. Can he be replaced for less hit on the cap? The Packers have to make those kinds of tough decisions on players.

Mike from Rib Lake, WI

Vic, what person do you look forward to most receiving an e-mail from in your “Ask Vic” forum? Should I be blushing?

It might be you now, Mike. I like looking up the names of towns with which I am not familiar. I’m a geography nut. So I looked up Rib Lake and found this beautiful little town on a lake in the middle of Wisconsin. So I dragged the little man down and took a look around, and now I know something I didn’t know when I woke up this morning. It’s a good day.

Steven from Gilbert, AZ

Vic, what does the offense have to do to get back to the Super Bowl next year? What does the defense have to do?

The offense has to bring back the big play. Fourteen-play drives require too much perfection; they don’t allow for a mistake. The big play disappeared in the passing game, in my opinion, because the Packers lacked the running game to make teams commit that eighth man to the box, which makes a defense vulnerable in the deep middle of the field. So, I guess the answer on offense is to strengthen the running game. On defense, I believe continued growth is all the Packers need.


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