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Bowl Lambeau's link to its past


Andrew from Quincy, IL

Vic, without giving away too many secrets, can you tell how we will implement Randall Cobb? I feel as though the team is pretty happy with the receivers they used last year. Do you see him getting more time on special teams or as a part of the offense, perhaps, wildcat?

I especially liked one of Mike McCarthy's answers to a question about Cobb shortly after the Packers selected him. McCarthy said, "We didn't draft him to run the wildcat." In other words, even though much of the interest in Cobb will be for his ability to run out of the wildcat formation, that was a minor consideration if even a consideration at all in drafting Cobb. What the Packers see is: 1.) A potential impact receiver. 2.) Immediate help in the return game. I think the logical answer to your question is that Cobb will initially see more time on special teams, or at least provide a greater short-term impact on special teams than in the receiving game, but limits will not be put on him. As he works his way into the pass-offense, his play time will likewise increase. As I said in yesterday's column, temper your expectations and enthusiasm for this year's rookies because they're gonna be up against the learning curve, but don't count this kid out. He has instincts for football that are special. Players such as Cobb require less time to learn the playbook because they almost feel it.

Steve from Hazelwood, MO

Loved your reply to Lee from Hong Kong regarding draft board valuation. Based on your reply, you must use a similar system for evaluating questions to pick. Do you select based upon topic need or BAQ (Best Available Question)?

I use both, but mostly I use BAQ. I use BAQN when a hot topic has surfaced and it must be addressed in the column. When that occurs, I find the best question that pertains to the hot topic and I use it.

Mike from Wonder Lake, IL

What did you think of Ricky Elmore's YouTube videos?

I was impressed. What's not to like? Not only does Elmore have a high-rev motor, he's got a good-looking first step off the edge. I didn't see the speed concerns his 40 time would raise. You know what else I saw? I saw Bryce Paup from his Green Bay days. He reminds me a lot of Paup when he was a star pass-rusher for the Packers. Something, however, was haunting me as I watched the video and I couldn't figure it out. It was really bugging me. Then it hit me. It was the music. It was the same music to which I watched a Matt Jones highlight video when he was drafted. Seriously, though, Elmore intrigues me. The Packers worked him out with Brooks Reed and when something like that occurs, the two players, especially because they play the same position and are kind of the same guy, are effectively working out against each other. I have a feeling the Packers came away from that workout with the feeling that Elmore represented a Reed-like player at a much lower price.

Jeff from Henderson, NV

I understand that during the lockout teams cannot have contact with the players, however, are the teams allowed to have contact with the agents of the players? Could deals be taking place right now between teams and players, using the agents as the go-between?

That is not permitted.

Doug from Hampton, VA

What do you think of J.J. Watt?

Tony Pauline loves him. Tony thinks Watt has big-time upside. He loves his explosion, quickness, intelligence and versatility. I can't help but wonder if Watt might not be as good as he's gonna get. I don't see the pass-rush moves. I just see a bull and that won't work in the NFL. He must develop his pass-rush skills. The Texans are a good fit for him because they are desperate for help on their defensive line. He can be a game-changer for the Texans. He can put them over the top.

Tom from Richmond, VA

As a roster gets deeper and better, doesn't that preclude low-round draft picks from cracking the lineup and making it difficult to grade drafts overall?

So what do you do, trade your picks for future picks? "Hey, everybody, we're too good to draft?" The most important thing a GM can do for his team is keep it young. This is a young man's game. Just draft, baby, draft. Find ways to keep those players because one day you're gonna need them. In this era of unfettered free agency, I don't think any team in the league is too good not to need a full draft class. When you start thinking you are, look out.

Travis from Orlando, FL

Vic, I'm a huge fan and long-time follower but I feel you are greatly leaning to one side on the Ravens/Bears draft mistake fiasco. The situation with the Ravens back in 2003 was much different for this main reason: The problem was that, at the time, the NFL had only two phone lines to call in to report trades. As Newsome (Baltimore's GM) actually tried to call, the lines were constantly busy. The league added more phone lines to prevent a repeat of that problem. Angelo (the GM for the Bears) openly admitted the failure of the deal was his fault, even though he tried to downplay it as a mistake. One tried to call; the other didn't even pick up the phone. There have to be rules to stop these things.

Wait a minute, I'll get my violin.

Grant from Superior, WI

I have always wondered how a drafted person who has no idea what team they are going to be drafted by is sitting at home and, as soon as he is drafted, has that team's hat or shirt. Can you explain how that happens?

I guess the draft pick knew in advance that team wanted to pick him and they sent him a hat, right? Grant, when it comes to first-round picks, the personnel guys in the league mock it out pretty good. What I mean is the 32 personnel departments in the league conduct mock drafts internally in the days leading up to the draft. Scouts are assigned a handful of teams and told to find out who those teams are going to pick. The scouts will go to any extreme to get info; they'll even call sportswriter friends that cover the team and ask them what they hear. When that information is combined with the teams' value boards, they can pretty much predict how the first round is going to fall. Look at the last three picks of this year's first round. Heading into the final three picks of the first round, it appears the Packers' candidates were Muhammad Wilkerson, Cameron Heyward and Derek Sherrod, and that's exactly the order in which they came off the board. The draft is not a science, but the first round is getting close to being a science.

Mark from Rochester, NY

After a great start out of Matt Flynn vs. New England, I kind of like him to go start a career somewhere and be something. He looks like a real classy, respectable guy with talent; he reminds me of Rodgers with his pocket presence and some of his shorter throws. Do you see him landing anywhere else in the next season?

Every quarterback wants a team to call his, as Aaron Rodgers can with the Packers. If Flynn grows his game, he'll have that opportunity.

Grant from Ottawa, Ontario

The only part of the American game I don't like is the fair catch. In the CFL, the punt-receiver must be given 5 yards to catch the ball but must run with it after he's caught it. Your comments, please.

I'm OK with the fair catch. I don't like the gray area that is the 5-yard halo; I don't need more penalties. Plus, I like the idea of being able to make a fair catch and immediately stop the clock late in the game. I also think the fair catch in a player-safety aid. I'm not against what they do in the CFL to open up the field. It's an entertaining game. Viva la difference.

Mathias from Stuttgart, Germany

Can a player refuse to play for a certain team even though he was selected by said team? Is he allowed to sign with another team?

A player can't be forced to play for a team, but he can't pick his team, either, until he reaches the status of an unrestricted free agent. If he doesn't want to play for the team that drafted him, then he'll either have to persuade that team to trade his rights or relinquish their rights to him, or he'll have to enter the next season's draft and go through the whole process again.

David from Kuwait, AE

What were the negatives on John Clay? He was a bruiser in college and wasn't drafted. I thought he'd be a great fit in GB, but they took the kid from Hawaii instead.

It's the Ron Dayne syndrome and it dogs every Wisconsin running back whose talents resemble Dayne's. Clay is a straight-line runner and straight-line guys have red flags on them. It hurt Clay and so did his 40 time, which was in the 4.7s. If you're a straight-line guy, you better be a fast straight-line guy.

Tom from Nottingham, UK

Vic, loving the column. I read yesterday's column every morning I get to work here in the UK; it really put a smile on my face this morning reading the last question from yesterday. Do you think Green Bay would ever come over to Wembley to play?

They're not lined up asking to play in that game – the travel takes its toll – but it could happen if the opportunity was presented in an attractive way. Sell the marketing potential for a team such as the Packers and I think you might see some interest. It's professional football; dollars talk.

Zach from Wautoma, WI

If they add onto the south end zone, do you think it will take away the historical look that Lambeau Field has been known for?

No, I don't and here's why: If the luxury suites they added to the top rim of the stadium didn't do that, nothing will. Think about it: Luxury boxes in the Vince Lombardi era? Luxury boxes at the "Ice Bowl" so the fans in those luxury boxes could've sat in heated comfort while the folks in the bleacher seats sat through dangerously cold conditions? Not in that day and age. The bleacher seats in the bowl at Lambeau Field are so distinctly different, so quickly identifiable with the Lombardi era that any modernization of Lambeau Field is going to accentuate that difference more and further distinguish that era and the historical quality of the franchise. The current bleacher seats in the bowl ARE Lambeau Field. As long as they're there, Lambeau Field will continue to be Lambeau Field.

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