Skip to main content
Powered by

I covered a ghost chaser; the ghost won

Mike Mamula, Vontaze Burfict combine contrasts


Jim from Silver Spring, MD

Vic, the lawsuit of Jason Pierre-Paul vs. Adam Schefter seems interesting. Could this have a trickle-down effect on journalism in any way, depending on the outcome?

The No. 1 law of the mass media is "public figures are subject to public scrutiny." From where I sit, it would appear Pierre-Paul is challenging that legal principle. Others have tried and failed. We'll see.

Lorenzo from Genova, Italy

"We need to get bigger. We've been getting bigger, and we need to continue to get bigger." Apparently our coach shares your opinion.

You'll never regret drafting a good big guy.

Paul from Los Angeles, CA

Are our expectations too high for Jordy's return? Should we really be expecting a return to the old Jordy when he comes back?

Our expectations should include patience. We need to give him some time to become familiar with his new knee.

Sean from Helena, MT

So, if the cap rolls over each year, it seems Ted is constantly looking for a small cushion for that just-in-case moment. He's running an effective business: highly competitive and consistently successful.

In the old days, when cap room didn't carry over to the next season, teams tended to keep a smaller amount of emergency money in reserve. These days, why not carry a little more just-in-case money? You're not going to lose it. The Packers kept $7 million in reserve. I consider that to be a reasonable figure.

Steve from Oak Lawn, IL

Rare is the time I disagree with you in the offseason. During the season, however, disagreements happen quite frequently. Have any idea why that is?

The offseason is about philosophy, and I think we all agree in the philosophy of upgrading the roster and addressing needs. We don't all agree on how to do it, but we agree it needs to be done. In-season is about that play or two that decided that week's game, and we have differing views on what play should've been called and who should've done what. Controversy rules, from the play-calling to the officiating. We spend the days immediately following a game arguing. This is a calmer time, and I enjoy it.

Sergio from San Jose, CA

Vic, I just read an article saying the catch rule is unlikely to be changed. So now we will have another season of controversy and endless replays of questionable calls on catches.

And the NFL's popularity will continue to rise. Why? Because controversy rules! Football fans love to argue.

Chris from Cary, NC

You mentioned LeSean McCoy falling down boards because of his broad jump. Has the opposite happened when a player's position rose largely because of a strong combine, only to disappoint as a pro?

Mike Mamula is the poster player. Don't draft a Mamula.

Nick from Seattle, WA

Vic, what do NFL scouts look for when assessing middle linebackers?

They're looking for a defender who's strong and tough at the point of attack. I refer to that kind of a defender as being a thumper. I've heard the word thug used, but I'm not real fond of it. It won't hurt the defender's cause if he can also drop into coverage. I would refer to that player as Levon Kirkland.

Caleb from Eau Claire, WI

Vic, as a speed guy, would you ever sacrifice that trait for extreme size and/or leaping ability at the WR position?

Sure I would. Football is increasingly becoming a tall game. Fade routes are all the rage and they favor the taller receiver.

Larry from Green Valley, AZ

Both Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson admit they do not look at a so-called window of opportunity. How sad, with A-Rod. Do you think they are wasting his time without getting him the supporting cast he needs?

No, I don't. I think they are working in a manner that'll extend Aaron Rodgers' window by maintaining an even flow of talent onto the roster, as opposed to letting it all rip now, trading picks to move up and/or acquire veteran players in trades, and overspending in free agency and eating up cap room that'll force the team to allow good, young talent to leave in free agency. Would you trade one desperate year of chasing a title for five more years of opportunity? I wouldn't.

Josh from Platteville, WI

How come no one is talking about an outside linebacker being a need for the Packers in the draft? I hope a pass rusher is the BAP in the first round. You can never have enough.

I agree with you. When you run a 3-4, you must be vigilant in addressing the linebacker positions, especially the rush-backer position because it's the position that defines your defense. You won't hit on all of them, but you better keep picking them. Never, ever pass on a player you believe can be an impact pass rusher, unless you pick a quarterback.

Tony from Burbank, CA

Vic, have you ever known a team to chase a ghost?

Yeah, I covered one. The Jaguars let it all rip for the 1999 season. They signed Carnell Lake, Gary Walker and Kyle Brady in free agency. They restructured contracts to make room for those guys, and damned the torpedoes to make a run at the Super Bowl. They were the consensus pick in the AFC, and they were 14-2 and 30 minutes away from the big game when the roof collapsed. They never scored another point. In the offseason, they decided to do it again. They restructured more contracts and now they were in full ghost chase. This time, injuries got them and they finished 7-9. In 2001, they decided to give it one more try. They restructured contracts to the point they were described as "dead team walking." This time they won six games, and now they were facing the worst salary cap mess in history. If it wasn't for the Texans expansion draft, I'm not sure the Jaguars could've gotten under the cap. The mess they created caused them to lose their first-ever draft pick, Tony Boselli, to the Texans. The Jaguars needed the cap relief the Texans assumed. That's what chasing a ghost did for that franchise. It killed it. It cost the coach his job and caused the team to betray its most beloved player.

Terry from Manitowoc, WI

I think the Packers are like three free agents away from a Super Bowl title. We need a veteran tight end that can stretch the field. They need a middle linebacker that can play the other side of Jake Ryan. Then we need one more good pass rusher. Then throw in a veteran offensive tackle or two. Why can't Mr. Thompson bring people in instead of rookies all the time?

The Jaguars thought they were "like three free agents away from a Super Bowl title." Seriously, do you have any idea what it would cost to address in free agency the needs you've described? Half your cap would be spent in cash-over-cap bonus money. Terry, I have no doubt you are a well-meaning, Packers-loving fan, but you need to do more research on the salary cap and the effects of spending over it. You'll get a fuller appreciation of the game and what the Packers have achieved in achieving their seven-year playoff run.

Kenn from Upper Marlboro, MD

Vic, are there any positions you would say seem to be underdeveloped or somewhat lacking across the league? Also, what do you think is the reasoning behind this?

Yeah, I think we're lacking in blindside pass blockers, at the same time there would seem to be an abundance of quick-twitch pass rushers. Why? I think it's easier to run past a man than it is to block him from running past. What to do? Run the ball at that quick-twitch pass rusher, who's probably a light-in-the-pants, one-trick pony. Make him play run. Make the defense take him off the field and replace him with a slow-twitch run-stuffer. That's what the Patriots and Panthers didn't do. The Patriots didn't have the running game to do it, and Cam Newton is a big part of the Panthers' running game and that's not really running the ball. The Steelers did it; they ran the ball well enough to make the Broncos' edge rushers play run, but then the Steelers fumbled.

Neal from Cottage Grove, MN

I'm seeing the words "good bend" used to describe offensive linemen during the combine. What does this exactly mean? They can get into a three-point stance?

It means they bend their knees in pass-blocking, instead of bending at the waist and reaching. Once an offensive lineman gets overextended, he's dead. Bend the knees and move the feet.

Phil from Green Island, NY

The baseball team I follow has been reporting a deal with a free agent for days on their official website. Today that player signed with another team and the team website now looks like a gossip column. It gave me a new appreciation for the way the Packers website operates. Thanks for sticking to the facts.

It's called the "Hot Stove League" and it's been a big part of baseball for a long time. Football never adopted it. I guess it's just not within football's personality. Football is all about stealth. It makes me think back to the George Carlin skit. Baseball is played on a diamond. Football is played on a gridiron. Baseball is extra innings. Football is sudden death.

Brandon from Tucson, AZ

Vic, have you ever known a prospect thought to be first-round talent, then tank at the combine and fall through the draft, but they ended up actually being as good and talented as they were initially believed to have been?

Vontaze Burfict fell hard at the combine, and I think he's become one of the best linebackers in football.

Carl from Dickinson, ND

In Thompson's press conference, I liked his answer to the question about guard play and the offensive line as a whole. He talked about the need for the player to be able to force his will on other players. That's football right there.

That's the human confrontation.

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.