Skip to main content
Powered by

Change in the wind on defense


Frank from Milwaukee, WI

Vic, how important do you think it is for a Super Bowl contender like the Packers to have a balanced attack?

The importance of a balanced attack is that it forbids the defense from loading up against run or pass. The Packers had the league's 27th-ranked running game last season, but they must've run the ball often enough to keep defenses honest because far more often than not opponents weren't able to load up against the pass enough to stop it. You could make the point that with the Giants' strong four-man front they were able to do it, but you could also counter that argument by pointing to all of the dropped passes in that game. It's not as though the Packers didn't run for yards against the Giants; James Starks averaged 7.2 a carry and Ryan Grant 4.1. It's just that running the ball isn't the strength of the Packers' offense; it's not what they do. The Packers are a pass-first team that was stopped in only two games last season, and that makes it difficult to find fault with their offensive design or philosophy.

Hans from Front Royal, VA

Vic, what is it, exactly, about the Packers-Cardinals playoff game that makes you give it such a high distinction? The Redskins and Giants combined for 113 points in 1966, the Chargers and Dolphins for 79 in 1982. So, it can't just be the score, right? There have been high-scoring games before. Please expound.

Those other two games were not watershed events because they didn't signal change; they were just anomalies. In each case, a return to defense resulted. In my opinion, the Packers-Cardinals game was a watershed event because it was a signal of what was to come, which is to say a long and extended era of offense. The game may never return to the kind of rock-ribbed defensive football of those Redskins-Giants, Chargers-Dolphins eras.

Jered from Baton Rouge, LA

I'm calling on all Packers fans around the globe to come together this evening and unite by phoning in and casting votes for Donald Driver on the show "Dancing With The Stars." He has been nothing less than a consummate professional during his career in Green Bay. Now it's our chance to show him how much we have valued and appreciated his performances on and off the field.

I completely agree and I think you are promoting what would be a wonderful gesture of appreciation. Make tonight a celebration of Donald Driver's career as one of the most popular players in Packers history.

Mike from New Richmond, WI

Vic, I have a question about Paul Hornung's No. 5 jersey. As far as I know, it's never been retired. At the same time, it seems to be an unwritten rule that no other player will ever wear it. I'm writing you about this because I watched a video from May 13 called "Sights & Sounds: Rookie Orientation Camp," and saw that there was a player that was wearing jersey No. 5. My question is, why don't the Packers either just retire Hornung's number or simply just put it out for any player who wants to wear it?

Because they're running out of numbers. Hornung's No. 5 has been taken "out of service." Bart Starr's No. 15 has been officially "retired." Once a number has been retired, it officially can't be used for anything, including practice. "Out of service" means the team is so honoring a player that his number is no longer being issued for use in games. Four players have worn Hornung's No. 5 since he last wore it: Vince Ferragamo, Willie Gillus, Don Majkowski and Curtis Burrow, who wore it in 1988, the last season Hornung's No. 5 was worn. Some teams don't officially retire numbers, but they take numbers out of service which, in effect, is their equivalent of having retired that number. Frankly, I don't see the difference. If it's not being used, then it's retired.

Paul from De Pere, WI

Based on the depth chart now, which position has the potential for the greatest change by the end of training camp?

I think it's obvious that change is in the wind on defense. There could be change at defensive end, linebacker, cornerback and safety. I'm not sure which position has the potential for the greatest change, because I think they all do. When you're No. 32 in the league, things don't stay the same.

Rick from Baton Rouge, LA

You mention the rosters of old having so many fewer players, but did these teams really have a 16-game season and almost a year-round training program? Players get tired and have far more physical challenges than even the Lombardi teams. A 53-man roster only makes the game better.

Whoa! I mean, whooooaaaa! Rosters were at 16 in 1925. The Packers played 13 games that season and players played both ways. Does that mean they played the equivalent of 26 games? How about the equipment back then? Did Nike provide those players with lightweight shoes? Tacky gloves so the ball would stick to their hands and keep them warm in the cold weather? How about the training regimen in those days? Did they have hyperbaric chambers back then? Oh, and by the way, are you really serious about "far more physical challenges than even the Lombardi teams?" Grass drills? Two-a-days every day and in full pads? Sled work with Lombardi standing on the sled and screaming at you? I will not dismiss the pioneers of this game as having been inferior. No way.

Rob from Rockford, MI

You were around the Jaguars for some time. I was wondering, did the Packers trade Mark Brunell to Jacksonville, or was he a free agent at the time? And if they traded him, what did they get in return?

The Packers traded Brunell to the Jaguars right before the 1995 draft, for third- and fifth-round picks. The third-round pick was used to select William Henderson, the fifth-rounder brought Travis Jervey. Brunell is one of the best quarterbacks I've ever covered; he is also a friend. Last week, I interviewed Henderson during the "Tailgate Tour." Isn't that cool? That's one of the things I love about my job, being able to meet so many people that link the years.

Dan from Milwaukee, WI

Is there a limit to how many practice-squad players a team can have and what they can pay them? What prevents a team from stockpiling talent?

Each team may sign up to eight practice-squad players. You must pay them a minimum wage, but there is no maximum. As long as you can fit them under your cap, you can pay them as much as you please.

Alan from Elcho, WI

You talk about a cornerback's ability to "flip his hips." What does that mean?

It means having the ability to turn his hips so the high one (the hip that's pointing in the direction he's running) becomes the low one and vice versa. A cornerback must have the ability to flip or turn his hips quickly, so he can adjust to changes in the route the receiver is running.

Terry from Fond du Lac, WI

You line up a quarterback, pitcher and point guard. Which one of the three has the most responsibility to their respective team?

It's the quarterback and here's why: The quarterback seldom is removed from the game in favor of a relief quarterback, and the quarterback is usually the star of his team and bears its pressures, whereas the point guard is usually responsible for distributing the ball to the star player. The quarterback is starter, reliever, distributor and scorer.

Mike from Reno, NV

Should I take my vacation to coincide with the date of your golf tournament, or should I do what my wife wants me to do and use it during Christmas time so we can visit with her family?

As awful as it will be, use your vacation to spend time with your wife's family at Christmas. These are things we must do and we will be judged by the grace with which we execute them. They are tests and there is no greater test of a husband's love and commitment than spending time with his wife's family at Christmas. Good luck.

Jon from Imperial, MO

Vic, at my high school, our "Oklahoma" was a little different. Since we ran a 3-4, we had a double team on the defensive lineman and then there was a linebacker 4-5 yards deep and it was his job to read the back and step up in the hole and make a play.

That's a four-man "Oklahoma" and I don't like them because that kind of congestion causes players to get rolled up and injured. I like a two-man "Oklahoma" because it's simple in its intent and execution. It's a drill for blocking and defeating a block.

Mark from Stewartville, MN

What is your favorite NFL television broadcast team of all time and why?

It's Howard Cosell and Don Meredith because they were both about fun; they were entertainers. They were the perfect complement to each other because they were complete opposites. Cosell gave the broadcast glitz; Meredith kept it real. Cosell was vinegar; Meredith was oil. It didn't matter who the third guy was in the booth; it was all about Cosell and Meredith.

Paul from Salem, OR

The late, great Ray Nitschke had a bulldog he named "Butkus." If you were naming your dog after a great player, what breed and name would it be?

It would be a mixed breed and its name would be "Ditka."

Clint from Milwaukee, WI

I coach youth football and there is often disagreement in philosophy between the head coaches at our three levels. In essence, I feel this disagreement boils down to quality of coaching. What would you say separates the good coaches from the great?


Sean from Ridgefield, CT

I recently went on a tour of the Giants/Jets stadium. The tour guide said fans don't realize that these players are all about the money. They don't play for the love of the game, but merely for checks. I understand there is some truth to that, but I also think it's a bit exaggerated. How could players who make millions still be motivated to play? Any thoughts?

That's the New York tour. It features a more cynical personality. The Green Bay tour features a warm appreciation of the game and its players. It's all about where you're from and what you like.

Jonathon from Sun Prairie, WI

I'd like to touch on what Pat from Port Washington brought up about the Baltimore Colts players having had other jobs while playing football. Does the NFL have programs to help young men explore potential and current interests?

Yes, they do, plus, they have "NFL Network."

Jason from Oshkosh, WI

I'm assuming you're raising money for a charity with your golf outing, but I don't see a charity listed anywhere.

The "Ask Vic Golf Outing" is not a charity-related event. It is strictly a cost-only event for fans of the column to meet and greet each other, play a little golf, talk football and celebrate the arrival of a new football season. The price of the event is the golf course's cost to us. The prizes are our way of saying thanks for reading.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.