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It's time to run through the smoke

The preseason is time for evaluation


Dominic from Islington, UK

How do player incentives work for guys who mainly play special teams? Do they have specific incentives built in, including Pro Bowl recognition?

Sure. There can be incentives for the numbers of plays played, percentage of playing time, number of units, anything that can be quantified.

Mark from Stewartville, MN

Vic, what are your expectations for Ty Montgomery against the Patriots?

I wanna see him run through the smoke, as Ron Zook likes to say. I wanna see that burst that defines great kick returners. The great ones are fearless. They charge head-first into traffic. Montgomery has all of the physical skills to be a top kick-returner in this league. Will he pass the smoke test? I hope he gets some return opportunities tonight so we can begin answering that question.

Sherman from Blue Lake, CA

If a Packers practice squad player gets a formal offer from another team, what options do the Packers and the player have?

The player has all of the options. He's a free agent, free to sign with any team he pleases. If the Packers want to retain him, they have to compete for his services.

Don from Juneau, WI

Vic, you have no regard for senseless violence, yet, you were willing to forgive a troubled football player for shooting at a police helicopter?

He had a nervous breakdown. He spent time in treatment and went on to have a productive career without another incident. I'm a forgiving man. Try it. It feels good.

Dave from Minocqua, WI

How would you change the taxi squad rules, numbers, etc.?

You mean the practice squad? I'd like its size to increase and I'd like to see teams rewarded for their investment by owning the rights to the players in some limited fashion. For example, once a practice squad member has spent eight consecutive weeks with a team, his rights are owned by that team. That's just an example; higher minds can figure it out. This is something to which the players and owners would have to agree. I think there's an even trade here: The union sees its membership increase, and teams are rewarded for their investment. I think this kind of system would encourage teams to commit to a player's development, instead of using the practice squad as an emergency roster.

Vic from Somerset, WI

Vic, who is the greatest special teams tackler you have ever covered?

Tyronne Stowe. He hit like no other special teams player I've covered.

Matthew from Racine, WI

A perfectly run screen pass could beat your 0-0-11 defense. No, I don't play Madden, but without any pass rush you could have the whole team rumbling down the field in front of the runner. It would basically be punt return with a lot of beef.

You can't screen, you're five wide. The whole 0-0-11 scheme is based on five wide receivers. If you want to hold a guy in, I won't play 0-0-11. You're the offense. You dictate what I do. If you want to throw underneath or waste a potential receiver as a decoy, be my guest. You can throw underneath all day. That's the idea of prevent defense, to exchange yards for time.

Michael from Winchester, VA

There was a comment earlier this week comparing Shaun Alexander and Adrian Peterson. Without comparing the two, what is your take on Alexander, who brought winning to Seattle? Is he a Hall of Famer at some point? You know, he led the league in 2005 and made the cover of Madden.

He didn't rush for 10,000 yards and 10K is largely considered to be today's Hall of Fame standard. He was a dominant back, and he has that going for him, but I think the 10K thing will keep him out.

Patrick from Fayetteville, NC

What does Vic look for when considering Hall of Fame credentials for the QB position?

It's the same for every position. It begins with this question: Was he a dominant player in his era? If the answer is yes, you start looking at the player's accomplishments. How many titles did he win? How strong is his body of work? What are the opinions of people against whom he played? Does he have a defining postseason moment, such as Super Bowl MVP? I put a lot of stock in that last one. In my mind, this is the Hall of Famous. I want to select players who are household names. Kyle Brady caught more passes than Lynn Swann, but Swann is a famous player who helped define the Super Bowl and the era in which he played. There are several quarterbacks in the game today that appear headed for the Hall of Fame. We have to be careful; we can't turn this into the Hall of Quarterbacks. The standards must be elevated as the game continues to favor and reward quarterbacks. Only the best of the best should be immortalized. In my opinion, the job of the selection committee isn't to put players in, it's to keep players out.

Tom from Seatac, WA

Do you ask your kicker to kick off high and short, to get a better look at special teams coverage? Or do you tell him to boom it and rely on punts to give you that look at the coverage?

The preseason is for evaluation. You do what you need to do to evaluate your personnel. I kick short because I wanna see who can cover kickoffs.

Chris from Burlington, Ontario

Vic, just finished reading a thinkpiece about Mike McCarthy and the loss of his brother. It was a well-thought and written article. I understand the need for quick information, but when you read something that took time and understanding, it stays with you. I'm happy to know there are still pieces like this being written. Maybe the NFL heard you.

That, indeed, is a thinkpiece, and I'd like to see more of that kind of writing. I would also say this: It's just as important to have coaches and players willing to let us get a deeper look at them, as it is to have writers that can distinguish that look. I congratulate Mike McCarthy for allowing that look. We can do this. We don't have to be afraid of each other. We can work together.

John from Casablanca, Morocco

So, I was wrong. Here, all this time I thought you were going to Canton to see all your old buddies from Pittsburgh and Bettis get enshrined.

I didn't even go to the game. I did the "Gameday Roundtable" discussion, went back to the hotel and wrote my story, went out to dinner and then went back to the hotel and went to bed. Why? Because I was tired and I had done my job, which was to cover Ron Wolf, not the Steelers.

Tim from Wauwatosa, WI

Vic, I went on a tour yesterday of Lambeau Field and got to sit in the seats where the press sits during games. Our tour guide pointed out there are two rules: No eating in your work space and no cheering. It finally all made sense for me.

I eat in my work space.

Gary from Topeka, KS

When a player such as Ik Enemkpali crosses the line, does he deserve a second chance with another team?

I believe in second chances. I'll judge him according to what he does with his second chance, and how he responds to the consequences of his actions.

Scott from Krakow, Poland

I was stoked to see a "Final Thoughts" video posted, mostly because I was hoping for another awesome intro. Just thinking of the music from last year's intro makes me laugh. Any plans for this year's intro?

No more goofing around. We're going classy this year.

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