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I expect better play at inside linebacker

Offseason has become another season


Jason from Sparland, IL

Dec. 23, 1972: Any insight as to who Swearingen called?

Fred Swearingen called Art McNally, the NFL's director of officials at that time. McNally was in the press box. The significance of Dec. 23, 1972, isn't just about the "Immaculate Reception." That was the one o'clock game. The four o'clock game was the Cowboys' thrilling, fourth-quarter rally to beat the 49ers. It was a long Christmas weekend and in those days we didn't have bowl games booked for every hour of the holidays season, nor did we have all of the entertainment possibilities we have today. The NFL playoff games that weekend had the whole stage to themselves, and the two games on Dec. 23 captivated a nation. But there's more. All of the games were blacked out in their home markets, and that was a big part of football becoming identified as the national pastime that weekend, in my opinion. The following day, the Packers played in Washington. The game was blacked out and that caused a furor among congressmen that led to the Act of Congress of 1973, and that's when we knew for sure football was our national pastime.

Randy from Des Moines, IA

What is the supplemental draft and will it affect the Packers' roster?

The supplemental draft is a point of entry for players that weren't eligible for the regular spring draft but have since become eligible for reasons such as having lost their college eligibility. If a team wishes to draft a player in the supplemental draft, it notifies the league of that intention and in what round the team wishes to select the player. When the time limit for the draft has expired, the league awards the player to the team that used the highest draft pick on him. The team loses the corresponding pick in the next spring's regular draft. Ted Thompson likes having a full complement of picks for the spring draft, so I don't expect him to make a pick in the supplemental draft, but he could if he believes a player is worth the pick it would cost him.

Evan from Rochester, NY

For some reason, this year I have started to become completely obsessed with football. As a lifelong Packers fan and having played the game through high school, I can't remember a time when I scoured the Internet for one shred of a story during the offseason. Perhaps it has something to do with the heartbreaking way the season ended. Somewhere along the way this year I stumbled upon your column and I've been hooked ever since.

The offseason is when decisions are made that decide what will happen during the season. In some ways, the offseason has become another season.

Jason from Granger, IA

Vic, I've really been enjoying your column lately. You're definitely in midseason form. Let's just hope you're not peaking too early.

I enjoy writing this column in the offseason because I think we explore a wider range of topics. The in-season column is too much about what play should've been called and time-management mistakes and all of the other lame reasons a team won or lost.

Pete from Los Angeles, CA

With a salary cap in place, why doesn't the league make it post-tax to remove what seems like an enormous advantage for tax-free states?

It wouldn't impact free-agency decisions because salary cap money is Monopoly money; free agents get real money.

Kevin from Saint Michael, MN

What are some ways off-the-field charges against a player, such as Andrew Quarless, can impact an organization?

We're going to have to wait to find out what the answer to your question is. The wheels of justice grind slowly, and that includes whatever the NFL decides as to a possible punishment. Anything more than that would be a reckless guess.

Blake from Menominee, MI

We have two superstars in Nelson and Cobb, and an upcoming star in Adams. With Abbrederis and Janis having a good offseason and breakout potential in Montgomery, do you see the Packers having all six on the final roster for the regular season?

It's possible, but I wouldn't consider it likely. What I'm absolutely sure will happen is the Packers will find a way to keep players they believe have a future with the team. We worry too much about roster shaping and depth charts. Injuries will occur, and the team will use every roster move available to utilize the talent it has. You can't keep everybody. Every so often you're going to lose a player to another team, as the Packers lost Charles Johnson, but it doesn't happen very often.

Barry from Hayward, WI

Vic, which is the better rivalry, Bears vs. Packers or Steelers vs. Ravens?

In recent years, it's been the Steelers and Ravens, but the Bears-Packers rivalry will never go away. It's built on history and geography. Those are two of the key ingredients in defining a rivalry. The other is big games. With John Fox as the Bears' new coach, I expect big games are on the horizon.

Blake from Bloomington, IL

I'm only 13 and I can already see the Packers having a great season due to all of their new players, but do you ever just have this feeling a team will have an outstanding season?

I have that feeling, but it's not because of new players, it's because of the players that are returning from last season. I thought those players made the Packers the best team in the league.

Jonah from Mandan, ND

Vic, at what point in the 2010 season did you sense the Packers were the team of destiny? At what point in the 2011 season did you worry they might not be?

In both cases, it was games against the Giants.

Brett from Missouri City, TX

I love the Packers, but my all-time favorite NFL player is Natrone Means. Did you ever cross paths with him in Jacksonville? If so, do you have any stories about him?

I covered him with the Jaguars and I can tell you it was Means that turned the tide in the Jaguars' 1996 playoff win in Denver. The Jaguars were down 12-0 when they turned to Means and the running game. That's when it all changed. Eddie Lacy reminds me of Means.

Derek from Ramsey, NJ

Vic, the defense really did improve over the course of the season. I can't get over how versatile Clay Matthews is. Do you think the Packers could be a top 10 defense using him in that manner?

I really believe the Matthews position-switch thing is getting too much attention. It was successful because it put better players on the field. I think we know that to be true based on the Packers having released both of their starting inside linebackers shortly after the season ended. I expect better play at inside linebacker this season, which will allow Matthews to spend more time at his natural position on the outside. I don't like him taking on interior blocks. Can the Packers be a top 10 defense? Yes.

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