Letters To LeRoy Butler


Hi LeRoy; I enjoy your insight into the Packers game plans. If there was one bright spot in last week's loss, I think it was the play of Craig Nall. In your opinion was his success just a matter of the Philly defense playing soft or is Craig a guy whose future is possibly a starter for Green Bay? - Al (Wichita, KS)

If you look at Craig Nall, he has a great throwing motion and he appears to read defenses well. He's also aggressive with the ball and has shown a lot of good things when he's gotten the chance to show what he can do during games.

I think that he has a bright future and it's going to be very hard for anybody to come into Green Bay and unseat him as the backup to Brett Favre and the quarterback of the future. He's a big guy, he's smart, and he has a lot of veteran characteristics even though he's only in his third season and hasn't gotten a whole lot of playing time.

He's the kind of guy that I think has a real chance to step up and lead this team whenever Brett does decide to stop playing, if he has the patience to wait around that long. Craig can be a very good quarterback in this league, and hopefully he can stay with the Packers.

This season it seems like the Packers defense is a lot more effective in the second half. And it seems the reason is they usually switch to more man-to-man coverage rather than zone and play more aggressive. Do you think the defense would be more successful against the pass if they played the entire game like this regardless of what elite receiver they are facing? - Jon (New Brunswick, NJ)

You can't be too predictable. You can't just play man-to-man the whole game, and you can't play zone the whole game either. I think Bob Slowik does a great job of mixing up the defensive calls.

Every time there is a breakdown in the secondary, it's not always the coaches' fault, and it's not always the players' fault. It's the team's fault. But I think there will be fewer breakdowns from now until the end of the season.

I think the secondary will step up in these last few games of the season and help carry the Packers to the playoffs.

Leroy, I love all of your questions! I know the injury report shows Mike Flanagan to be out for the season, but does this include the playoffs? - Aaron (Memphis, TN)

Since Mike Flanagan was placed on the injured reserve list, he is out for the season, including the playoffs.

Right now, the Packers have seven players on IR who will miss the rest of the season: Brennan Curtin, Mike Flanagan, Torrance Marshall, David Martin, Doug Pederson, Donnell Washington, and Walter Williams.

They will all be eligible to play again next season.

I think it's fairly obvious that the Packer defense needs to be looked at this off-season. Do you think they will be a big time player in the free agent market this year, or do you think it has more to do with the scheme than the players? - Sean (Jacksonville, FL)

The Packers will absolutely be a player in the free agent market, you have to be every year the way the NFL is these days. They are also a player in the free agent market right now.

Coach Sherman and his personnel department are always looking to improve the team each week. If there's a player available that can fill a need and make the team better, they would bring him in.

Either way, I think this defense is only going to get better over time. I think a lot of the struggles they have had this season have to do with learning each other and understanding their role in this defense.

Obviously the defense will be addressed in the offseason, but the players who are here now will continue to work together and only get better as they work more with each other.

Hi LeRoy, I was at the Philly game last week and at the game, every time number 71 (Kevin Barry) came in, the refs always said he was being eligible. Do they have to do that or were they just helping out the Philly defense, because we almost always run out of the "U-71" package? - Sam (Connecticut)

No, the officials aren't helping out the defense when they make the announcement that "Number 71 is eligible," when Kevin Barry comes into the game.

The rules in the NFL are that to be an eligible receiver, your number has to be in a certain range - 1-19 for quarterbacks, running backs are in between 20-49, and wide receivers are usually in the 80s, but recently the league has allowed them to wear numbers 10-19. Tight ends generally have numbers in the 80s, but sometimes between 40-49.

Since Kevin Barry lines up as an extra tight end in the "U-71" package, he has to report as an eligible receiver since he wears 71 and lines up on the end of the line. If he didn't report, the Packers would be flagged for an illegal formation if he were the outside player on the line of scrimmage.

Hello LeRoy! Let me first say I miss seeing you on the field every week but I love your articles. My question is about William Henderson. While watching the ESPN Classics last week featuring Brett and the Packers, I noticed that Henderson used to wear #30. When did he change to #33 and why? - Lynn (Newhall, CA)

William changed to #33 before the 1998 season. #33 was the number that he had worn in college at North Carolina and the number he would have preferred to have worn when he got to Green Bay. However, Doug Evans was #33 when William was drafted in 1995, so he chose #30, but changed to #33 when Evans signed with the Carolina Panthers in 1998.

It's a personal thing with players, most guys like to wear a certain number if at all possible. In fact, I still have pictures of William in #30 and I just talked to him about some of those old photos last week as I was starting a William Henderson fan club.

He's done a great job in #33, and I think it's time to send him to the Pro Bowl to get some of the recognition that he's deserved for a long time. Time's running out, so make sure you go to NFL.com and vote before Friday, just make sure you vote for the right number.

LeRoy, awesome win this Sunday against Detroit. With the Jaguars coming to town this coming Sunday, will the weather play any factor during the game? It's well known that Miami, a warm-weather Florida team tends to struggle in December. Do you think that Jacksonville, being a warm-climate team that they are, will be affected by the frigid conditions at Lambeau? Thanks, and go Packers!! - Kevin (Butler, NJ)

I think the Jaguars will absolutely be affected. The one thing about them that could allow them to function a little better in these conditions than some other visiting teams in Lambeau Field is that their quarterback, Byron Leftwich, has enough arm strength to fight through the wind.

A problem that they definitely will have is catching the ball. Their receivers have been working all year in the Florida sun and will not have any experience catching the rock-hard ball with frozen fingers. It will be just like catching a block of ice.

The Packers have always dominated at home in December, and I don't think this will be any different. Leftwich did play in college at Marshall where it does get cold and snowy, but I don't think he's ever faced the elements that he and his teammates will see Sunday afternoon at Lambeau Field.

They're a tough team, though, and their coach, Jack Del Rio, played against the Packers in Green Bay during his playing days, so he will have them prepared as best he can. But hearing about the cold and playing in the cold are two different things.

*LeRoy Butler played 12 seasons for the Green Bay Packers, helping them to two Super Bowls and earning NFL All-Decade Honors for the 1990s, before retiring in July 2002. This season Butler is again providing exclusive analysis to Packers.com beginning with training camp and later with a breakdown of the upcoming game on Saturdays, followed by a column and Q&A session on Tuesdays during the preseason and regular season.

Butler's autobiography, 'The LeRoy Butler Story ... From Wheelchair to the Lambeau Leap,' is available on his website, leroybutler36.com.*

LeRoy serves as the host on the new DVD, 'Brett Favre - On and Off the Field'. Click here for more information on the DVD.

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