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Compensatory picks could make a difference


Barbara from Chatsworth, CA

Forgive me but except for Clay Matthews our defense was worse than substandard last year. Are there any changes being made on the coaching level to help improve this situation?

I'm glad my wife didn't divorce me every time I disappointed her.

Kevin from Springfield, MO

Ted Thompson has made more moves in the last two weeks of free agency than he had in the previous two years and is reportedly looking at a few more players. I guess he found some solid bargains he liked.

Need and value met. For good personnel managers, it's always about value.

Mike from Toledo, OH

Do you think the Packers will try to find a dominant defensive end like Aaron Kampman when he was with the Packers?

Kampman played in a 4-3 when he was a dominant defensive end. When the Packers switched to a 3-4, Kampman was moved to outside linebacker because he was a pass rusher, not a run stuffer, and 3-4 defensive ends are traditionally run stuffers, not pass rushers. We really need to accept the role of a defensive end in a 3-4 or we are going to be forever disappointed by that position's play.

Michael from Dallas, TX

I understand many fans here won't remember it, but if they want a great example of how much tougher the NFL has gotten when it comes to the sport's violence in light of "Bountygate," consider this: Charles Martin's legendary season-ending cheap shot of Jim McMahon got a two-game suspension.

The worst assault on a player I've ever witnessed was George Atkinson's club to the back of Lynn Swann's head as Swann was running downfield during a pass play in the 1976 season opener, and Swann wasn't even the intended receiver on the play. It will be forever known as the "criminal element game." Swann was knocked unconscious and sustained a severe concussion that threatened to end his career. There was no penalty because the officials didn't see the violation. Atkinson was fined $1,500. How much would he be fined today? I posed that question to a friend of mine who covered that game and who still covers the NFL. He said, "a hundred thousand dollars." I'm certain Atkinson would be suspended for multiple games; maybe for the season. This is a very different game and league.

Juan from Astoria, NY

Bert Sugar passed away. He was witty, a great writer with true talent and real passion. Any thoughts?

Boxing lost a part of its soul when Sugar died. He was a great story-teller. He was a boxing romantic. We're losing the romantics. We've got more than enough analysts. We need more romantics.

Ben from Dover, CT

In reading about offensive line draft prospects, the report will say he's better suited in either a power, angle or zone-blocking scheme. What are the differences?

A power scheme is what I call road-grading. The lineman comes off the ball low and hard and drives into the defender with one intent in mind: Move him off the spot and, in the process, move the line of scrimmage. Angle-blocking is for linemen that can pull and trap. They're guys that use their mobility to create angles to move their man. Zone-blockers are guys that can wall off. They're big guys that have strong hands and light feet. They have the ability to lock up you up with their hands and use their feet to move you sideways and wall you off from the ball-carrier as they move laterally, allowing the back to find a lane through which he might cut back behind the wall.

Rob from Laramie, WY

Do you think the new wall on Lambeau will make the stadium louder? P.S. Don't worry about the fans that don't understand football; you're awesome.

I think the additional seating in the south end zone is going to make Lambeau Field one of the most intimidating places to play in all of football. It's going to give the Packers a homefield advantage that, frankly, I don't think is the equal currently of what other teams in the league enjoy.

Nathan from Hutchinson, KS

Would the Packers' strategy for next season been any different if we had kept the season going and won the Super Bowl? Trying to get a sense of the difference in perspective from a fan vs. the reality that the Packers and the NFL are real businesses.

What if the Packers had finished 6-10 and not made it into the playoffs? Would they have been more inclined to change? Hey, they were 15-1. We shouldn't forget that. Wanting to gut the roster and the coaching staff because they lost one game in January is nonsensical. Here's what I believe to be the absolute truth: This is a good team that will be right back in the title hunt next season. I believe the Packers had a pass-rush problem on defense that dovetailed with a major injury and some speed concerns in the secondary, the sum of which is a No. 32 ranking. I believe, as I wrote late last season, that one more pass rusher would make a huge difference, and that one more pass rusher and a healthy Nick Collins and one more pass defender would make all the difference. I believe the Packers are going to win a lot of games in 2012. I believe the Packers are in a very good period in their history and it's going to last a long time. I believe changes should be few and under no circumstances should change include a change in philosophy or operation.

Michael from El Paso, TX

"Lambeau Field is going to become an intimidating place to play." Vic, was it not already an intimidating place?

As I wrote above, I don't think the intimidation factor at Lambeau Field is what it is at other stadiums. I remember covering the Jaguars in 2004 when they won here on a viciously cold Sunday night, and I remember the players remarking afterward that they expected Lambeau Field to be a tougher place to play. It will be when those new south end zone seats are full, I promise you.

Brandon from Eagan, MN

I realize you have many questions asked to you, and I humbly respect your time and never expect you to answer everyone, but I would sure appreciate your opinion on this one that has my fellow traditionalist Packers fans up in arms. Is it time we put a dome on Lambeau Field? I mean, the Packers have become a dome team.

Noooo! Dome Lambeau Field? Because of one loss in January? Please, think about what you're asking. Go on vacation. Go on a retreat. No, call me. We can talk this out.

Jarrod from Joliet, IL

How do you think the offense will change this year?

It won't change, it'll evolve. Mike McCarthy is one of those coaches, one of those offensive minds that will always introduce new ways of doing old things. That's what I perceive to be his genius: More creativity, less volume. He's got an offensive coordinator who was a quarterbacks coach. He's got a quarterbacks coach who was a tight ends coach. He's got a running backs coach who was a quarterbacks coach and former quarterback. None of those coaches are what I would call pound-the-ball guys. And McCarthy's quarterback is the league's MVP. I think we're gonna see a whole lot of passing in 2012.

Steve from Hazelwood, MO

Loved your "Ask Vic" column of 3/26. Like you, I have to recheck and rethink before I put anything out in writing. All too often I find my sarcasm or word choice has gotten too acidic.

What I've found is that a lot of my readers can't wait to find a mistake; they can't wait to prove me wrong. Good! That's the way it should be. I don't want this column to be a document. I want it to be a debate; if need be, I want it to be an argument. It's good for our souls to express freely. I hate this obsession with being politically correct. A lot of times I look back on something I wrote and I think to myself that I wish I had said that now. Sometimes it's the opposite. So what? Just say something. We'll figure it out. The sign of lucid thought, in my opinion, is the ability to say, "I was wrong, you're right."

Otis from Pearland, TX

Vic, I agree with the philosophy of not overpaying in free agency, but I have to think that something has changed over the last 15 years. During the Packers' 1996 Super Bowl season, we had a number of free agents on the team, including Reggie White, Sean Jones, Santana Dotson, Eugene Robinson, Don Beebe, Andre Rison and Keith Jackson. Any one of these would be considered a major acquisition in today's free agency. Nowadays, in comparison, any team would struggle to pick up more than a couple of free agents of that quality. What was different back then that allowed the Packers to pick up so many big-name free agents in such a short time span?

First of all, Andre Rison was cut late in the season by the Jaguars, so he was a street free agent when the Packers acquired him, not a high-priced UFA. I know that because I was in the Jaguars' locker room on the Monday when he was cut. It was an unforgettable moment because I've never seen a locker room instantly divide as that locker room did at that moment. Five weeks and five wins later, the Jaguars were in the playoffs on the way to the AFC title game and most of us consider the moment Rison was cut to have been the turning point in that season. As for what was different back then? Nothing was different. The Packers got lucky.

Bruce from West Bend, WI

You have mentioned a few times that you have played sports. On camera you appear to be around 5-6, 145 pounds. I'm just curious, what sports did you participate in and at what level?

I'm actually 5-2, 109 pounds. I played sports at the very lowest levels and I never really played, I just sat the bench. I was once sent into a football game, and it was a very embarrassing moment for me because I began to weep when someone tackled me. The other boys, however, comforted me. It was like that in all sports for me. I wanted to be like the other boys, but I was too small and weak to compete. That's why I became a sportswriter. Tell us about yourself.

Mark from Stewartville, MN

Vic, you mentioned that you loved the old guys from years ago. Were their personalities different than today's players? If so, how?

Yes, the personalities were different. The coaches' personalities, the players' personalities and the media's personalities were all different. We all enjoyed each other's company. There was trust. Baseball was the national pastime and I think we all enjoyed being part of pro football's rise. When I began covering the NFL, the team's PR director taped a room list on the wall of the media room. When you wanted to talk to a player, you went to the room list, found his name and room number, went to his dorm room and knocked on his door. You'd hear, "Come on in," and you'd go on in, sit down and do an interview the player gave every indication of enjoying. Assistant coaches loved talking about their players and promoting what was going on at the position the assistant coached. Often, an assistant coach would turn on the projector and, against a darkened dorm room wall, show you what he meant. We were all looking for something to do after lunch and before the afternoon practice. When the season began, the PR guy would give the beat reporters what he referred to as a black book, which included the home numbers of all the players and coaches, so you might be able to reach them in an emergency. It was a wonderful time to cover football. It was a time in my life I will always remember fondly and those guys taught me what pro football was. The players of today have to be careful. Every word is a potential problem. Every interview can produce a negative effect. It's a shame.

Jason from Summerville,SC

Wow! Four compensatory draft picks. How much do you think this will help the Packers get the key players they are in need of?

Two fours and two sevens; that's pretty good. Compensatory picks could make a difference. You know what? Cullen Jenkins was undrafted. Hmmm.

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