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Cornerbacks group one of Packers' strengths

Let's talk about team needs heading into offseason


Tim from Santa Clarita, CA

Will Chip Kelly have a fiasco similar to Nick Saban's a few years ago, if he doesn't succeed?

What fiasco? Saban left LSU for a big payday in the NFL, then returned to college football a few years later for an even bigger payday. Steve Spurrier largely did the same thing, and now Kelly is doing it. It's a no-brainer. Take the big money and a swing for the fence, and if it doesn't work, go back to college football a few years later for even more money. Mystiques die hard.

Jim from Des Peres, MO

Do you think the next defensive adjustment will be a line that morphs between a 3-4 and a 4-3 to confuse blocking schemes and to counter the read-option?

The next defensive adjustment will be the same adjustment I've witnessed throughout my career. Scouts and coaches will continue looking for big guys with the mobility of a little guy, or little guys that play bigger than their bodies. It's all about mobility. You need guys that can run and hit to be effective on defense. During my time covering the NFL, college linebackers have been turned into strong safeties and college defensive ends into linebackers. That trend is going to continue: trying to find speed in size. When you find guys that can run and hit, you can put them into any formation you want.

Michael from Boise, ID

So you're running our board on draft day. Do we move to our favorite running back, or to a 3-4 defensive end?

What you're describing is called targeting and everybody is doing it. Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff bills himself as a position-specific drafter, to use his words, but the Falcons' team is built around Matt Ryan and Julio Jones and both of those guys were at the top of the Falcons' board when they were picked. Call it anything you want, but every team is doing the same thing: They're moving to where the player they've targeted fits. There were 35 draft-day trades last year. That doesn't include the 20 pre-draft trades that involved draft picks. The reason for that activity is that every team, whether it bills itself as a BAP team or a needs team, is looking for the same thing, value. It's critical that you fit yourself to the pick because where you pick him is going to determine how much you pay him and, of course, that's going to determine the future health of your salary cap. I don't know of a team in the league that isn't trying to address its needs, and I don't know of a team in the league that doesn't want to fit itself to the players that address those needs. If you're moving back, you must maintain the full value of your original pick or you're throwing value away. I think the Packers need a running back more than they need a defensive end, but never at the expense of reaching for that player.

Pete from Victoria, BC

What happens in the players' exit interviews?

The coach says a few things to the player before he leaves the facility. It's not a big deal. It's part of the process of checking out. Football ops wants to make sure they have all of the players' pertinent information: the right phone number, address, etc.

Kevie from North Port, FL

Eddie Lacy. That is all.

He's a power runner, and I love that, but he's also a straight-line guy and Ahman Green is one of the few straight-line guys that have been successful in the NFL.

Mike from San Francisco, CA

Who do you think will win the NFC championship?

I'm picking the Falcons. Their win over the Seahawks has lit a fire in Atlanta that would make Sherman proud, plus, the Falcons have the speed on the outside to attack the 49ers' corners.

Doug from Watertown, WI

What do players like Nick Perry do during the season, when they get hurt? Do they still go to meetings and attend practice?

A player on injured reserve may attend meetings, but he may not practice. Players on IR can also leave the facility and not return. It's up to them. The Packers take their IR guys on the road with them and do everything possible to keep them in Green Bay and make them feel part of the team.

Loftur from Reykjavik, Iceland

You mentioned Dirk Koetter in yesterday's column. I think he and Mike Mularkey are the perfect example of players, not plays. They switched teams and Koetter has had great success with better players, while the other one gets fired after a 2-14 season.

That's pretty good. Here's another one. Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry were the Giants' coordinators for the 1958 NFL title game. They lost to Johnny Unitas.

John from Minneapolis, MN

Do you agree with Rodgers that the read-option offense is just a phase?

Yes, I do, and I think RG3 is the perfect example of why you don't want to run that kind of offense. The Redskins invested a large chunk of their future in RG3. They made a bold move to trade up and get him, and then he resurrected the Redskins with one of the most exciting seasons a rookie has ever had. Now, all of that is threatened by a major knee injury. No thanks.

Richard from Bainbridge Township, OH

In your response to Marilyn, you said there is no problem in Green Bay other than expectations may be too high. While I agree with the first part of your statement (there is no problem in Green Bay), I disagree with the later part. Every year, we should expect a championship team to be fielded.

If by championship you mean a Super Bowl title, then most of the seasons are going to end in disappointment for you. I understand the feeling that the Packers are better than everyone else, but the expectation that they're going to win the Super Bowl every year is just not realistic.

Josh from Chicago, IL

I think you would be interested in what Bart Scott said about the Jets shortcomings. "There was never any complaining; guys worked hard. You know what the problem was with the New York Jets this year? We didn't have enough quality players to win. Simple as that." So it wasn't a lack of chemistry or inspirational coaching, it was the players.

That's usually what it is.

Dan from Big Bear Lake, CA

It seems as though a couple of years ago everyone was airing it out, and teams found a way to defend it. Do you think in this coming offseason there will be a lot time spent figuring out ways to stop the new trend of running quarterbacks?

Defensive coordinators already know how to stop the read-option. The trick is going to be teaching their players how to execute the technique and scheme for stopping the read-option. They'll do it and the read-option will slowly become just another offense. One of the keys is being able to determine whether the quarterback that runs it is a better runner than passer, or vice versa. If he's a better runner than passer, then make him be a passer. If he's a better passer than runner, then make him be a runner. If he's equally skilled at both, then why in the world is his team exposing a talent of that magnitude to injury?

Harry from Waupaca, WI

Vic, you mentioned the Packers need a feature back. What type of back fits best in the Packers blocking scheme, a pounder or a speedy type?

I don't know why a guy has to fit. They said Cedric Benson didn't fit. He looked OK to me. I don't care if the guy can't block a toilet seat and can't catch a cold, I want a guy back there that'll drop his pads and move the pile. I want a pounder. I want a guy that forces the defense to commit eight to the box. I want someone that brings something different to this offense. It needs power.

Jesse from St Paul, MN

Coach McCarthy stated the team did not prepare enough for the style of play of the 49ers. I like how he admitted that but why wouldn't they have spent enough time?

He was using the simple logic of they weren't successful against it, therefore, they didn't prepare enough for it, and I get the logic but I wish he hadn't said that because I think it's baloney. They not only prepared all week for the read-option, they played a practice playoff game defending it against the Vikings, whom the Packers stopped cold. Accountability is an exercise in admitting responsibility, not assigning blame. I think the fans get the two confused.

Chris from Fargo, ND

I would like to propose a new rule in the NFL. After each season, every team that didn't win the Super Bowl must fire at least one coordinator. If those teams don't win the Super Bowl the next year, then the head coach gets fired. That'll teach 'em.

A lot of teams are doing that. It's a way of creating excitement in the fan base. It's a way of selling tickets. It's also a way of starting over every year, and that retards growth. The Packers don't have to create excitement in the fan base; nor do they have to sell tickets. It is their great advantage that their fans allow the Packers to address their football team, not their fans.

Grant from Richmond, VA

I love my Packers dearly, but we are just too soft. I agree with you when you say we need big, mean, crusty guys up front.

I don't remember having used those words, but I'm OK with them.

Seth from Fairfield, IA

With the rise of Sam Shields and the explosive welcome to the NFL for Casey Hayward, if Davon House plays to his preseason ability, what will become of Tramon Williams?

You never, ever have too many good cover guys, and I think the Packers' cornerbacks are one of the strengths of the team. That is a solid core of young corners that would be the envy of any team. Put a couple of butt-kickers in front of those guys, and watch how things change.

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