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I see lots of short passes; tell me I'm wrong if I am

Charles Woodson will be warmly received on Friday night


Bert from Madison, WI

There seems to be a number of starters playing on special teams. With an emphasis this year on injury reduction, is it a good idea to have so many starters on special teams, especially in the preseason?

Do you want productive special teams, or do you want to spend the season trying to avoid injury? At some point, you have to play to win.

Christian from Trondheim, Norway

Can you explain a little about how defenses disguise their coverages and rush schemes pre-snap?

A safety moves up toward the line of scrimmage in pre-snap, giving the appearance of covering the slot receiver, and it's cover one. He quickly retreats at the snap of the ball, and it's cover two. The quarterback has to see that switch and process that information. The classic rush-scheme disguise is the zone blitz. The defensive end has his hand down and his foot back, while the linebacker is loose to the line of scrimmage and giving indication he'll drop into coverage. At the snap of the ball, the linebacker rushes and the defensive end drops. Again, the quarterback has to see that switch in scheme and process that information. Not all quarterbacks are able to process that information as quickly as Aaron Rodgers.

Jeremy from Houston, TX

Are you as certain as I am of the warm reception Charles Woodson will receive (on Friday) as a current member of the Raiders?

He should and he will.

Owen from Portland, OR

Yesterday, you said the safety competition is wide open, however, Burnett and Hyde have been the safety pair with the No. 1 defense all training camp. Do you believe Clinton-Dix and Richardson have legitimate shots to crack the starting lineup despite the lack of reps with the first team?


Allen from Los Angeles, CA

Why hasn't Datone (Jones) been more of the impact player we were expecting?

First of all, he's only in his second season, and he spent most of his rookie season injured. Secondly, he doesn't play a position of impact as I believe you envision it to be. An Okie end is not a rusher as much as he is a block-eater. I acknowledge the Packers drafted Jones for his athletic ability with the idea in mind they would play him in space more than would be normal for an Okie end, but first and foremost he is a two-gapping end and they are usually not the stars of a 3-4 defense. The linebackers are the stars of a 3-4. Julius Peppers was signed to be an impact player, as I believe you envision the role of an impact player.

Brad from Green Bay, WI

It doesn't look like you put any value into the comment about us as Packers fans not liking you, which is great. I like the fact you are a fan of another team because I feel it makes you less likely to make your reporting on the Packers biased.

My little yellow light is spinning.

Matt from San Antonio, TX

What compensation do players receive when placed on IR?

It depends on whether or not they have a split contract. If they have a split contract, they receive a reduced amount of compensation, usually about half. If they don't have a split contract, they receive full compensation.

Paul from Green Bay, WI

I hear from you Green Bay's offensive line should be pretty good. SI.com sells them pretty short, saying "the shakiness of Green Bay's offensive line" will hold them back. Why the big difference in opinion?

Maybe I'm wrong. If I could explain why I'm wrong, I'd change my opinion. You have to decide who you trust for accurate information. I believe what I've written to be true.

Stephen from Charlotte, NC

If what you said is true and the NFL wants all defensive coordinators to take the oath, "I will play zone," then they really did miss the mark.

We'll find out, but don't ever think the people that run this league are stupid. The NFL didn't get to this point of dominant popularity by being stupid. I've been telling everyone for going on four years that it's about the casual fan. The casual fan represents, by far, the largest segment of the football audience, and the casual fan wants points. The casual fan wants yards and points and stats, especially stats. That's not what I want, but I'm not a casual fan. The NFL wants completions, lots and lots of completions, and that's what this emphasis on flagging illegal contact and defensive holding is going to produce. I expect to see an explosion in short passes. I think we're going to see quarterbacks' yards-per-attempt averages drop. Hey, if it's there, why fight it, right? Why run the ball or throw it deep when it's so easy to throw it short? That's my view, but I could be wrong; we'll see. I expect to see long drives executed and sustained with short pass completions. What does it accomplish? First of all, it'll make quarterback an easier position to play, which means more teams will have "The Man." I think this new major point of emphasis just made Andy Dalton a star. He's the kind of quarterback that'll benefit the most from this new major point of emphasis. That's my opinion, but I have been known to be overly philosophical on these matters. I look forward to seeing how this turns out.

Pete from Park City, UT

You can tell how old a person is by the type of cookie they eat. It's been my experience that older people's favorite cookie is oatmeal raisin. Perhaps a better and younger analogy would have been to refer to the chocolate chips in one of the cookies. It might appeal to a broader, younger audience.

That's pretty weird, Pete. A cookie? You identify with a cookie? I'm old and I have a lot of old friends but I don't know anyone my age that identifies with a cookie.

Maximillian from Sydney, Australia

Vic, yesterday you said players on the practice squad are free agents that can be picked up by any team at any time. If this is the case, are practice squad players generally kept away from the first team's practice sessions during the season? I mean, surely other teams could snap these players up a couple of weeks before they are due to play their respective opponents. What's stopping them from signing these players strictly to obtain info?

They can and they do. Tom Coughlin was the master of it in Jacksonville.

Jeremy from Grande Prairie, Alberta

Vic, Jon Gruden told an interesting story during the Browns telecast. He was talking about his time in Green Bay when they traded for Favre. He said Holmgren told the staff they were all responsible for Favre's success, and that his success would mean their success. They needed to stick with him through his development. Gruden then compared that culture to the state of the Browns organization, with their rotating door of QBs. Given the current realities of the league, how many teams can afford to think like Green Bay did with Favre?

All teams think as Green Bay did with Favre. All teams have invested or will invest "The Man" money in a quarterback and managing his career is at the root of a team's future. Blake Bortles is a perfect example. When you draft a quarterback third overall, it's not if, it's when. There is no quarterback competition in Jacksonville. Bortles is "The Man" and Chad Henne is just keeping Bortles' seat warm until he's ready to play. Everything in Jacksonville is dedicated to making Bortles successful, but that doesn't mean success is guaranteed, no more than the Packers' dedication to Brett Favre guaranteed his success. Most teams will try and fail, and then re-start the process with someone else. Success stories always make us wonder why everyone doesn't do it that way. They do. Some get lucky; some don't. Be happy.

Nathan from Denver, CO

When Aaron Rodgers was out running routes, who was throwing him the ball? Randall Cobb?

I don't know, but if it was a really tight spiral and with some mustard on it, it might've been thrown by Micah Hyde. In practice the other day, I watched him throw a couple of pins back to the ball boy, from about 30 yards away. If I'm trying to identify an emergency quarterback and I see someone with a number in the 30s throw that kind of pass, I'm asking, "Who dat?"

Augustus from Eureka, CA

Doesn't zone defense invite the big hits the league was trying so hard to tone down last year?

In the deep middle of the field, yes. Underneath, no, and that's where I believe offenses will attack as the flags fly and defensive coordinators back off their cornerbacks. That's what I see in my crystal ball. Come back later in the season and tell me I was wrong, if I was, but I see a whole lot of wide receiver screens coming this season, and that's one of the reasons I think Randall Cobb is going to have a big year.

Adam from Offaly, Ireland

Vic, I am a young NFL fan and have enjoyed your columns each week for so long, but lately you have been reverting back to the past a lot. Can you please stop, as I am young and haven't got a clue about the 1980s and '90s.

It's time to learn, Adam. The Packers are a team with a rich history and a broad fan base. The Packers transcend the ages. If you're going to be a fan of this team, you need to appreciate the history of the game.

Aaron from White Hall, AR

Does it bother you like it does me whenever a former player turned analyst talks about his old team and refers to them as we? I can't remember who said it, but one of his colleagues had to tell him it's no longer we, you're on this side of it now.

When I hear it, nothing he says after that has meaning.

Ellen from Atglen, PA

Why did you misquote Joe Paterno? It seems to be a common thing to paraphrase the quote, which changes the entire meaning. The real quote is, "With benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more." The key words are "With benefit of hindsight."

First of all, I never quoted him. Go back and look at what I wrote. You won't see those little things called quotes. Yes, I was paraphrasing, and if someone said they should've done more, I think it's fair to say they didn't do enough. Duh! Be that as it may, I will revise my answer to exclude any reference to what Paterno said. Here's my new answer: He didn't do enough. He didn't do NEARLY enough. Those are my words.

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