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Celebrating doesn't make winning easier


Paul from Kilrush, Ireland

Does the way the playbook for a game is devised differ when the head coach is the offensive play-caller?

Vic: No. Hey, I love your hometown's name. I wanna be from a place called Kilrush. That's one of my all-time favorite town names.

Greg from Hammonton, NJ

Is there any talk about Kyle Rudolph? If he fell to 32, would there be any interest?

Vic: I don't know where Rudolph is on the Packers' board. Most of the draftnik stuff I've read have him graded as a second-round pick.

Zach from Beloit, WI

With the Packers seemingly locked into taking an offensive lineman, defensive lineman or linebacker in the first couple of rounds, do you think it's possible Green Bay could go return specialist in the fourth or fifth or later?

Vic: I don't think they're "locked" on any position in the first round. I would agree that a lot of linemen on both sides of the ball seem to fit late in the first round, but that's also where the second wave of wide receivers start to surface. As far as a return specialist, yes, I would expect the Packers to be interested in one late in the draft. If you're going to make a need pick, and it doesn't necessarily mean it would be a need pick, that's the time to do it because the grades start to fall off into a stew.

David from Cincinnati, OH

As a child of the '60s and a huge Packers fan, I thought Ray Scott was the best announcer ever. I loved both his voice and play-calling. Is there a book about Ray Scott you would recommend?

Vic: I don't know of a book, but I'll tell you a story that was told to me about how he rose to prominence. I was told that he was doing a game – it may have been a college game – when his second in the booth became ill and had to leave the broadcast. Scott then did both jobs so expertly and was so seamless in transitioning from one role to the other that he instantly became a star. Unfortunately, his big break came too late in life to realize the full benefit of it, but he'll forever be the voice of the "Ice Bowl," and that means his voice will live forever. I listened to him as a kid.

Deante from El Paso, TX

Being a true Packers fan, I know we can repeat, but do you think the Packers have the players to repeat, not to forget that we need to add players, too?

Vic: Sure, they have the players, but you're absolutely right when you say they need to add players. One of the lasting coachspeaks from my early years covering football was: "Football teams never stay the same. If you're not getting better, you're getting worse." What that means is that if you're not getting better, you're getting worse because your competition is getting better. You have to continually upgrade your roster, and that's a tough thing to do when you're picking at the bottom of the draft. What the Packers have going for them is a roster full of young, ascending players. That should keep the Packers on the rise, but those young, ascending players that represent depth have to be replaced at the bottom of the depth chart by the same kinds of young, ascending players that will eventually move to the top of the depth chart. That's how you keep a team's arrow pointing up.

Steve from Fredonia, WI

The need is truly at offensive tackle. We need to think about the years left with Clifton. Rodgers needs protection on the back side, so Thompson needs to pull the trigger in the draft. I also believe defense should take a back seat; offense right now should be the priority.

Vic: I believe you draft the best available player regardless of position because nobody needs a less-talented player.

Doug from Smith, PA

Do you think either of the Pitt defensive linemen would be a good fit for the other outside linebacker position?

Vic: Jabaal Sheard is a tweener type. He offers rush-backer potential. I see Greg Romeus in the mold of a true, 4-3, right defensive end.

Joel from London, UK

If (when) they do go to an 18-game season, how will they format the schedule?

Vic: They can make it as easy or as difficult as they want. The easiest way would be to pick three divisions other than each team's own to play in full. For example, the Packers would play the three other teams in the NFC North two times each, then play four games against each of two other NFC divisions and four games against one AFC division. Those other divisions would be on a rotation basis. I would not favor eliminating inter-conference play and playing an intra-conference schedule only. The difficult part of scheduling, in my opinion, would be the decision of whether or not to start on Labor Day weekend. The league is bound and determined not to do that, but adding two weeks to the end of the season means pushing a significant portion of the season into the dead of winter. I would be against favoring warm-weather and dome sites for late-season games; that's too much of a consistent scheduling disadvantage for cold-weather teams to face.

Luke from Milwaukee, WI

I was wondering about the safety prospects. I know the Packers are pretty set at safety with Peprah's extension and Burnett coming off injured reserve, but are there no stand-out safeties this year that are first-round prospects?

Vic: Everything I've heard would indicate there are no safety candidates for the first round. This would seem to be a good year to be "pretty set" at safety.

Randall from Conway, AR

Where has Jermichael Finley been recovering? With the current turmoil, has he been locked out of Lambeau, with its trainers and equipment? Have there been any reports of his progress?

Vic: You'd have to ask Finley because teams are forbidden from having any kind of contact, including verbal, with their players during this lockout period.

Terry from Tucson, AZ

Back in the 1960s, it was usual to have two deep men on punts; now there's only one. I think the two-man system had a lot going for it: One could advise the other on whether to fair-catch so the other could focus on catching the ball, and the punting team's first man down would face a blocker at the point of the catch. What's your take?

Vic: Punt-returners need blockers up the field more than they need advisers. The difference in special teams play between the '60s and now is the difference between the portable typewriter and the laptop. If there is one phase of the game that is truly better now than it was in the old days, it's special teams play. Vince Lombardi didn't have a special teams coordinator, and there weren't any special teams-only practices, either. The intensity with which special teams is approached nowadays requires that every man on the field have a distinct and direct function. The level of performance on special teams nowadays doesn't allow for two men doing one man's job.

Richie from Truckee, CA

How much weight do you put into a quarterback's ability to take responsibility for breakdowns around him, even if the breakdown isn't his fault? Is that a virtue or a weakness?

Vic: Great quarterbacks never point the finger. Even if they've been sacked five times, the quarterback's offensive line did a great job. When a pass has been dropped, the response is that the quarterback's receivers have turned a lot of bad throws into catches. What's said in the huddle can never be repeated to the media. If you want support, you gotta give support. The quarterback needs blockers and catchers; it's not a one-man show. The men who block for the quarterback and catch the quarterback's passes are more likely to do each with greater dedication if they feel the quarterback has their back. It's human nature to support those that support you.

Patrick from Sterling, IL

Baseball just celebrated Jackie Robinson day, which is awesome. Who are some of the players that broke the color barrier in football and why aren't they celebrated as much?

Vic: Fritz Pollard and Bobby Marshall are the first African-Americans to play in the NFL; it happened in 1920. Pollard also became the first African-American head coach in the NFL. They aren't as celebrated as Jackie Robinson because baseball was the national pastime then and football was the college game. I've always considered Sam "The Bam" Cunningham to be the true emancipator of football. It was his performance against Alabama that broke the true race barrier in football, which existed in college football in the South into the 1970s.

James from Jacksonville, FL

This year the draft will come before free agency starts. Do you think GMs and owners will prefer this timeline and request it in a new CBA?

Vic: I would. What's not to like? Does it make too much sense? It allows the two main means for player acquisition, the draft and free agency, to be used with greatest efficiency. You draft for the future, which means you draft the best players available and then you train them for the day when they are needed, and you sign players in free agency, players that have already been trained, that address specific needs. When I started covering the NFL, the draft was conducted a week after the Super Bowl was played; it was a late January event and it had 17 rounds. How about a compromise? Move the draft to March, right after the scouting combine, and move free agency to April.

Joe from Sherman, IL

The Packers did not have a first-round draft choice in 2008. What transpired that year in terms of draft-day or earlier trades?

Vic: The Packers traded their first-round pick in '08 to the Jets, picked up the Jets' second-round pick and used it to select Jordy Nelson. This is a classic example of fitting yourself to the pick, instead of fitting the pick to where you are. The Packers got their guy and the value of their first-round pick.

Joey from Bellerose, NY

I found it extremely gratifying watching our Packers at least win the conference trophy named after the Bears' founder on their home field. In the days leading up to that game, I fantasized over what a kick it would be if Green Bay pulled it off and received the George Halas trophy in the middle of Soldier Field, however, that scene never materialized, as the trophy was presented in the visitors' locker room instead. Unless I'm mistaken, didn't the Giants receive the 2007 trophy right smack in the middle of chilly Lambeau Field? Was it because the Bears did not feel their fans could handle that scene and would create problems? Just wondering if you knew anything about that.

Vic: It was because Mike McCarthy has respect for his opponents and because he's smart enough to have asked himself this question: If I celebrate on the Bears' turf, how is that going to help me win in Soldier Field in the future? The answer is it won't; in fact, it'll likely hurt. Celebration breeds contempt. Discretion truly is the better part of valor.

Richard from Newark, DE

I believe the Packers are the only team with three different Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks. Do you believe there will soon be an opportunity for a group photograph with Bart Starr, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers standing behind their respective Super Bowl trophies? I believe this may go a long way toward healing Green Bay's relationship with Brett Favre who, like both Bart and Aaron, gave his all for the Packers.

Vic: The Redskins won Super Bowls with Joe Theismann, Doug Williams and Mark Rypien as the starting quarterbacks.

Andy from Abbotsford, BC

I just read Mike Spofford's piece on Thompson's top 10 draft picks. I found it to be a really fun read and it gave me a lot of confidence in our team's ability to draft great players. One thing I found interesting was how in 2009 the Packers found themselves choosing between two good draft prospects in B.J. Raji and Michael Crabtree. Is this one of those examples where two players are so closely ranked together that the deciding factor is the need for 3-4 scheme players?

Vic: It might've been; I don't know. For me, it's an easy decision when it's between a big guy and a wide receiver: Take the big guy. There will be those occasions when the wide receiver is in a special class, but usually he's a guy you can find later in the draft. The ranks of the big guys, however, thin quickly.

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