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Good play-callers create themes in their game plans

What players might provide impact next season?


Eric from Champaign, IL

Vic, I saw on TV recently that the Patriots are the youngest team to win the Super Bowl. If the Packers had won, would they be the youngest?

I don't pay much attention to that youngest-team stuff because in my opinion a team is only as young or as old as its quarterback. Tom Brady is an old quarterback, which means the Patriots will likely have to replace him sooner than later. In my mind, that doesn't qualify the Patriots as being a young team.

Aaron from Seattle, WA

Vic, I know that comparing Seattle's defense to the Bears and Steelers is asking a lot, but doesn't the fact that the Seahawks have built a truly demonstrative defense in an era in which playing defense is almost impossible to do mean something?

You bet it does. So why do so many people want to compare quarterbacks of different eras statistically? That's not fair, either.

Ryan from Platteville, WI

What team do you think could have the biggest improvement from 2014 to 2015?

The Vikings.

Frank from Columbus, OH

I just saw a football card from before my time. It listed the position of the player as defensive halfback. Can you tell me about that position? I haven't heard of it before.

That card might be from the era of the umbrella defense, for example. Cornerback is a modern-era position. Prior to that, defensive backs were interchangeable. They all played as today's safeties play, which is to say more as centerfielders than as man-to-man coverage guys.

Richard from Farmington Hills, MI

You said McCarthy is "the best play-caller I've ever covered." I have no issue with his calls and believe the fans that fault them in the Seattle game need to focus on the many players that did not do their job in the last minutes. I'm wondering what the basis is for your opinion, since it seems to me it would be very hard to compare play callers.

Mike McCarthy is a master of using formations in one series or one play to set up what he might do in a future series or a future play. Good play-callers don't just pick plays, they create a theme on which they call their game. In my mind, the best play-callers create their themes by scheming personnel, not schemes, and Coach McCarthy is also a master at scheming personnel. He knows where he wants to go with the ball. Davante Adams' emergence in the win over the Patriots is a perfect example.

Terry from Elk Mound, WI

Vic, in response to the Jeff Janis question, you asked, "When have you known the Packers to quit on a talented, young player after his rookie season?" Charles Johnson comes to my mind. What were the circumstances that allowed him to slip into the hands of the enemy, and how are the situations for Janis and Abbrederis different?

Johnson was on the practice squad, which means he was a free agent. The Browns signed him. Jeff Janis spent his rookie season on the Packers' active roster, which means he was protected. Jared Abbrederis spent the season on injured reserve, which means he, too, was protected.

Carl from Port Edwards, WI

How would you define the media these days?

It's part of the show.

Jeff from Seminole, FL

What player or players from last year's draft do you see making an impact next year that didn't play this year?

With nose tackle now a position of opportunity, Khyri Thornton immediately comes to mind. Mike Pennel isn't a draft pick, but he's another young player who'll have an opportunity to make a big leap in his career.

Chris from Fredericksburg, VA

Love your point about the NFL not being a reform school and I agree wholeheartedly that teams need to do a better job of keeping these players away from ruining the league's name. Do struggling franchises overlook past behavior if the players have exceptional talent?

Losing causes desperation, which can cause more losing. I'm not a goody-goody kind of guy. This is football and it's for tough guys and it's often true that those guys live on the edge. Every team has to take chances on those guys. You have to define where the edge is.

Graham from Lake Cowichan, BC

Could dropping 10-15 pounds make Eddie Lacy even more successful?

That might be something Lacy asks himself during the offseason. I like his power. I wouldn't want that to be compromised in any way, but I'd also like to see him get more carries and be able to play deeper into the game without having to back off in the early going. I think Lacy has the potential to be the best back in the league. I haven't seen his kind of raw power since Jerome Bettis was in his prime.

Vern from River Falls, WI

Vic, I have noticed the Packers seem to be notorious for starting the season slow. Why is that?

Maybe it's because the teams that beat them in the last three openers also ended the Packers' last three seasons. The Packers haven't exactly opened with soft touches the last three years.

Jordan from Montreal, Canada

Vic, do you think it's strange nobody is making mention of Brady refusing to throw at Sherman, or is it a moot point since the Patriots won the game?

How much did the Seahawks throw at Darrelle Revis? It's what offenses tend to do against great cornerbacks: They avoid them.

Dan from Seattle, WA

What's your assessment of Jayrone Elliott following his rookie year with the Packers?

My assessment would be built almost solely on what he did in the preseason, and I'm not comfortable with coming to conclusions based on preseason games. I'm confident he's going to get a good, hard look next summer. Elliott is one of those players on whom the Packers' roster and salary cap are built. You have to find these kinds of guys to create depth and keep your cap healthy.

Brian from Ishpeming, MI

The 2014 season seemed to be an above average season, as far as the Packers players' health is concerned. Was more emphasis put on conditioning, or were the past few years just bad-luck years for health?

In his season-ender, Coach McCarthy talked about the players, in their exit interviews, praising the new training and practice regimen. I would expect the same regimen to be used next season. We'll have our answer then.

Dan from Houston, TX

Vic, is the greatest appeal of the playoffs that there's no second place?

The greatest appeal of the postseason is that it's clear to see the players have turned it up a notch.

Alex from Helena, MT

Vic, do you think the league should implement some sort of policy on teams being able to draft players who have multiple legal infractions while in college? Wouldn't this help clean up the character issues in the league if college athletes knew they wouldn't be eligible to be drafted unless they cleaned up their act off the field?

I would not be in favor of that because it would doom a lot of young men who might mature and change their ways. We're talking about a subjective process. I think it's the teams' responsibility to be experts in that process.

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