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How much does the defense need to improve?

If American Pharoah could talk, he wouldn't say much


Troy from Madison, WI

I read an article about how many quarterbacks when they come into the NFL have to learn a new throwing motion and footwork. Are the college coaches so bad they are teaching everything wrong?

In many cases, the college coaches don't have enough time with the quarterbacks to do much more than plug them in and teach them to run the offense. Once upon a time, freshmen were ineligible to play varsity college football. They played an abbreviated freshmen-team schedule, and the year was largely dedicated to learning and transitioning to college football. In many cases, those freshmen were red-shirted for their second year in college, which meant another year of learning on the scout team. In year three, they were sophomores and they slowly broke into the lineup, and those players weren't eligible for the NFL draft until they had expired their college eligibility, which meant a full five years of development. Now, they play right away and they can enter the draft three years after graduation from high school. For Larry Fitzgerald and LeSean McCoy, that meant leaving college football after only two seasons. College coaches are also handicapped by a 20-hour rule. I think they do an amazing job with what they have.

Roland from Glen Cove, NY

Vic, at this stage in your career, what gets you excited about the start of a new season?

Knowing that eventually we'll get to December and the real football season will begin. Training camp just isn't the same for me. The CBA of 2011 caused that. I love the big games late in the season.

Colin from Lansdale, PA

I'm sorry, but just watching highlights from the old days, football looked boring back then. Maybe it's the black and white, maybe it's because the players look slower, but the game is more exciting right now. I'm sorry, I respect the history, but I sure am happy I grew up with football in the early 2000s.

If you grew up back then, you wouldn't know what you're missing, and you wouldn't be spoiled by what you have now, so you'd be more appreciative of what little you had. Have you ever smelled the mixture of cigar smoke, beer and wet grass? It's delicious. I remember waiting for the numbers to change next to the games on the scoreboard. They didn't show videos because there were no video boards, just scoreboards with games and numbers. It was wonderful. I remember my father buying tickets for $3 outside the ballpark. Three dollars? That wouldn't make you happy? I'm sorry, I respect the entertainment treasure the game has become, but I sure am happy I grew up with football in the 1960s, when the little we had made us tingle with excitement.

Steven from Oxford, OH

"Shouldn't we at least wait until (Hundley) plays a preseason game before we start asking that question?" I don't think so. We want to know how he might contribute to the Packers. It's the same as asking how big of an impact the other draft picks can make this season. It's the best-case question.

Yeah, I forgot, patience has been outlawed. We must have it and we must have it right away. OK, here's the answer to the question: Brett Hundley can contribute to the Packers by playing well enough in training camp and in the preseason to compete for the backup job and be worthy of a spot on the 53-man roster.

Mike from Fort Wayne, IN

Vic, I haven't heard anyone mention the role of fans in the equation. If not for fans, where would the NFL be? So maybe have several rows of bleachers with cheering fans on Mt. Rushmore.

That's kind of nuts.

Peter from Nashville, TN

Black and white TVs, hoof technique, and fans dying for another well-behaved University of Florida football player. Yesterday's "Ask Vic" is a classic.

As Joe Namath said, I'm just trying to get by.

Anthony from Baraboo, WI

Vic, I think we can all agree if the key players stay healthy, the Packers will most likely have a top-five offense. What rank does the defense need to reach for the Packers to make another deep playoff run?

The Packers finished 15th in total defense last season and they went deep into the playoffs, so I guess 15th is the answer, but it really isn't because they were playing much better than a 15th-ranked defense when the regular season ended. Don't worry about stats. Trust your eyes. You'll know a good defense when you see one. I saw a good defense late last season.

Ryan from Champaign, IL

Why are stats your least favorite part of the game?

Because they're often used to tell lies.

Mark from Waconia, MN

Regarding the fourth head, I would think we would consider someone from the broadcasting business as a possibility. What do you think of Howard Cosell up on that mountain?

He would frighten little children.

Lee from Westerville, OH

Have you considered having a weekly guest provide their response to some of the questions? Pre-selected by you and, of course, edited if need be by you.

I did that with "April Fools Ask Vic," and I thought it was the most boring column of the year. I asked the questions and the fans answered, and the answers sounded as though they were crafted by attorneys and PR men.

Jesus from El Paso, TX

Was there ever a time when fans were humble, or have we always known better than the men who dedicate their lives to the sports we enjoy? Where did our arrogance come from?


Scott from Crystal Lake, IL

Vic, there is a prime example of free agency within the division. The Packers held on to an aging James Jones and tried to keep Charles Johnson on the practice squad. He was the best receiver the Vikings had last year. Increased involvement in free agency would only increase those scenarios.

I like the way you think, Scott. You're my kind of fan.

Phil from Tampa, FL

Thanks for the answer, Vic. Who doesn't need better hoof technique?

What if American Pharoah could talk and I interviewed him after the race? Vic: Pharoah, did the other horses do anything you weren't expecting? Pharoah: No, they pretty much did what I expected. I just had to execute. Vic: What's this win mean to you, Pharoah? Pharoah: I'll celebrate it tonight, then I'll start getting ready for the next race. Vic: Are you looking forward to making little Pharoahs, Pharoah? Pharoah: That's proprietary information, Vic.

Greg from Perkasie, PA

Vic, if the 49ers make the playoffs with all the losses they've had to deal with on their team, Jim Tomsula will be coach of the year.

Tomsula is a really cool guy. He is super friendly and engaging. He's the anti-Harbaugh. I bet he'll have that list in front of him.

Jared from Plymouth, WI

What is your favorite part of Lambeau Field?

I love the Atrium on gameday. I love sitting in the Atrium during the pregame radio show and watching all of the fans milling about, wearing their gameday garb and interacting with everybody to make it one big football party. That's when the fans are at their best. They're fun, they're interesting and they have a story to tell. The fans are the other half of the game.

Jeff from Arlington, VA

Does the increasing parity of the NFL change the way we answer the question who is the greatest QB of all time? Perhaps, in the pre-salary cap era it is a better metric, but now with so many teams so close in talent, is it really fair to judge QBs by number of rings?

Yes, it is. I'm not going to penalize a quarterback for winning titles.

Kary from Sheboygan, WI

If players do make a year two jump, what is a reasonable jump for guys like Clinton-Dix or Linsley? What more can they do?

Corey Linsley will be a veteran this year. He won't need as much input from T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton. More will be expected of Linsley, as far as making line calls and other such adjustments. Ha Ha will be expected to take his game to a higher level, which means making more plays. As a veteran safety, he'll be expected to get more involved in making calls, too.

Mark from Stewartville, MN

Vic, let's say you get to ask the first question when Brett Favre comes back to have his jersey retired on Nov. 26. What would you ask him?

Are you glad to be back? Isn't that what we all want to know? Packers fans love him. They wanna know if he loves them. I think Nov. 26th is going to be a seminal moment in Packers history.

Brian from Fond du Lac, WI

"I have young people in my inbox asking me who Jim Brown is." Take any, literally, any good running back in today's game and transport him back to 1957-65, and that's Jim Brown. Nuff said.

Wrong, wrong, wrong, Brian. I am very disappointed in you. We're talking about a 6-2, 232-pound man that would've dominated in any era. I've only seen one other back with Brown's combination of size, speed and athletic ability: Bo Jackson. Jackson's career was cut short by injury. Brown cut his own career short by retiring early. If he had played on, he probably would've pushed his rushing record beyond any man's grasp, even beyond those playing in the 16-game era. Brown is special. He changed the game. He was the reason for which the 4-3 defense was invented. He's the greatest running back of all time and he might be the greatest football player of all time.

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