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No. 1 spot is well-deserved


The regular writer of "Ask Vic," Editor Vic Ketchman, is on vacation. Staff Writer Mike Spofford is temporarily filling in to answer your "Ask Vic" questions. Vic will resume writing his daily column on Monday, July 9.

Jeff from Albuquerque, NM

Hey Mike. Now that Vic is on vacay (I'm sure he won't mind), what are some of his behind-the-scenes things you have been witness to that makes it interesting working with him? Any "isms" you can tell us about?

Interesting doesn't describe working with Vic. I can hear him plain as day from his office (my desk is in a cubicle area just outside), yet he always calls me on the phone, so I'm constantly getting Vic "in stereo" when he needs to speak to me. And in case you haven't noticed, he's not crazy about rehearsing anything with the videos, so he's always catching me off-guard with questions or comments I have to respond to with no advance warning. I think that's his version of "gotcha" journalism, but it keeps me on my toes.

Tony from St. Paul, MN

Hey Mike, a couple of weeks ago, Jermichael Finley said he was looking for more chemistry with Aaron Rodgers, hoping to spend a couple of days during the "dead zone" period in San Diego where the two could "marinate." Could you put to use your cryptography skills learned in J-school and tell us what this means?

Well, to avoid any discussion of grilled meats, one of the dictionary definitions of "marinate" is "to give or undergo lengthy exposure," so I think Finley's word choice there was pretty good. I think he was referring to the fact that last year, with no offseason program and Finley coming off the knee injury from 2010, he didn't have the "lengthy exposure" with Rodgers to develop the kind of chemistry they previously enjoyed. Last year in camp Finley was not taking all of the 11-on-11 snaps, as is standard practice under Mike McCarthy for a player coming back from a major injury. In 2010, Finley was a standout in camp and he and Rodgers were obviously clicking. Then Finley started out 2010 like gangbusters before he got hurt. Those connections are more difficult to build during the season, when practices are centered around game-planning. Training camp, or the pre-camp offseason, is the time for that, which is what Finley was getting at. We'll find out when camp starts if the two did indeed spend any extra time together.

Michael from Bountiful, UT

What do you think of Aaron Rodgers being the No. 1 player of 2012?

I think it's well-deserved. To come off a Super Bowl MVP award and win the league's MVP award by setting an all-time record for single-season passer rating, the choice was clear. That said, it's going to get exhausting if they do this Top 100 thing every single year. I thought it started just as lockout filler last spring.

Mike from Reno, NV

Hey Mike. I like what I'm reading so far from you. It will be as if Vic was still here and never went on vacation. Except for the lack of sarcasm. I was wondering how Andrew Quarless has been doing since that horrific leg injury last season?

I'll work on the sarcasm, if you truly miss it. I haven't spoken with Quarless myself, but he was around the facility throughout the offseason continuing his rehab. I don't know this for a fact, but with his injury occurring in December, I would suspect there's a strong chance Quarless begins training camp on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) and we'll just have to wait and see when he's ready to practice. Week 1 of the regular season would still only be nine months removed from his injury.

Vic from Green Bay, WI

Debby's killing me, Mikey, she's killing me. I'm looking at the ocean but if I go down to the beach I might get swept away. It's rained so much the fish are starting to drown. We should've spent more time at the world's largest ball of yarn. So, how many games do you think the Packers will win this season? I'm thinking 12 or 13, win the division and home-field advantage for the playoffs, and a rematch with the Giants in the NFC title game. Wadda ya think, Mike?

And there he is, folks. We've now heard from "The Man" himself, and he's throwing at me the very type of prediction question he despises. He knows any sports writer worth his salt isn't going to answer that in June, before a single set of pads has been strapped on, so I'm not going to bite. Ha. I hope I passed his test.

Cristiano from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Are you a daily "Ask Vic" reader?

It's in my job description, as hard as I've tried to have it removed. In all seriousness, when Vic is here, I'm the guy who handles the "technical" side of actually posting his column to the website with an appropriate photo. So yes, I read through it every day as part of that process, meaning I didn't go into this two-week assignment blind, if that's what you're asking.

Ben from Milwaukee, WI

How do you think the Giants' current front four compares to the Packers' of Reggie White, Sean Jones, Santana Dotson and Gilbert Brown?

I think both units are/were the heart-and-soul of championship defenses, to be sure. They're great in different ways, though. What impressed me the most about that Packers' unit from 1996 was their completeness as defensive linemen, able to stop the run and rush the passer. There wasn't a whole lot of substituting going on there. Big Gilbert wasn't a dominant pass rusher, but they didn't need him to be. What I see with the Giants' group is incredible depth, which allows them to rotate a lot of quality players through and consistently get production. I don't know what the Giants consider their "starting" front four, because Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck are all listed as defensive ends. If you call Chris Canty the fourth-best lineman, then after all of them they've still rolled through guys like Linval Joseph, Rocky Bernard and Dave Tollefson. The depth seems endless.

Pedro from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Mike, are you surprised by the number of questions that come from outside the USA? I have a lot of friends that like football more than soccer and this number grows every day.

No, I'm not surprised at all, and you're the second question from Rio today (and third this week I think). I noticed when I started doing in-game blogs on this site in 2010 how many people overseas and elsewhere stay connected to the Packers. The number of foreign countries represented within Packer Nation is impressive, as long as y'all are being honest about where you're from. You are, right?

Josh from Delano, MN

That "what if" question got me wondering, what if the play had been ruled a fumble? How different would Tom Brady's career be?

That is the flip side of the "tuck rule" call, but to play the hypothetical, I'm not sure it would have altered Brady's career much. He was so young then that I don't think a playoff loss in those atrocious conditions would have gotten him off track. It was his first foray into the playoffs, and we all saw Aaron Rodgers lose his first playoff game on an overtime sack/fumble, yet he came back and won the Super Bowl the following year. It's possible Brady's career might have played out differently, but I'd venture the only difference would be a 2-2 record in Super Bowls to this point, rather than 3-2.

John from Mason City, IA

Mike, if you could pick one play as the best ever for the Pack, what would it be and why?

Wow, John's really putting the pinch-hitter on the spot here. This feels like two outs in the bottom of the ninth in a one-run game and the manager just barked my name. Let's see … I'm going to cop out a bit and pick the best Packers play I've witnessed in person, and it would have to be the third-and-10 throw from Rodgers to Jennings with six minutes left in Super Bowl XLV. Given the situation, the precision of the route and the throw, the velocity on the ball, the coverage being as tight as it was (with Ike Taylor ever-so-barely tipping it), and the hands displayed by Jennings, it was a phenomenal play. Best one I've seen. Only one thing could have made it better – if Jennings had been able to avoid Polamalu to turn that 31-yard completion into a 75-yard touchdown to seal the championship. Had that happened, it might have gone down as one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history.

Pete from Madison, WI

Hi Vic (Mike) - What are your thoughts on Brad Jones? I was really impressed with him as a rookie filling in after Aaron Kampman went down. I know he had injury issues during the 2010 season, but why has he struggled so much to re-establish himself since then?

Jones was impressive as a rookie in 2009 filling in for Kampman. I remember Dom Capers telling me opposing coaches were noticing him and wondering how the Packers got him in the seventh round. The injuries in 2010 were unfortunate and stalled his progress, clearly. I think he's an interesting guy to watch this summer, and it could be a make-or-break camp for him. He did work his way back into the starting lineup for the playoff game last year, and he had Green Bay's only sack of Eli Manning that night. Plus, he blocked a field goal in that game, and he was one of the top tacklers on special teams all season. He and Jamari Lattimore moved from outside to inside linebacker this offseason, but then on the final day of minicamp, I noticed them rushing the passer from their old outside spots. I spoke to the two of them about possibly cross-training at multiple positions during camp. I haven't had a chance to post that story yet, but I plan to in the next few days. Keep an eye out for it.

Patrick from Minneapolis, MN

I was reading an interview with Mike McCarthy where he said that it's not always the most talented player that gets the job, but the best player. What do you think he means by that?

He means what every coach knows, that athletic talent doesn't always translate to football-playing ability. That's why the scouting combine and workout days are only a piece of the overall evaluation of a prospect. That's why no one wins jobs in OTA's when there are no pads. The NFL is full of ultra-talented athletes who aren't as good at playing football as some players with less athletic talent. If you think about guys like Zach Thomas, the longtime linebacker for Miami, or even Green Bay's own Mark Tauscher, that's what McCarthy means. Scouts didn't drool over those guys, but when the ball was snapped, they sure could play, and a lot better than most.

Trent from Nappanee, IN

Hey Mike, who would you put on your Mount Rushmore of all-time NFL quarterbacks and why?

Since I keep getting these Mount Rushmore-type questions, I guess I'll indulge once. My first three would be Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana and Dan Marino. I know Marino might seem an odd choice to some, coming from Montana's era and all, but he threw for 5,000 yards and 48 touchdowns in 1984. Nineteen-eighty-four. That's the same year Eric Dickerson rushed for 2,105 yards. It was not the passing league then that it is now. No one surpassed 5,000 passing yards for another 24 years and the TD record stood for 20 years. When I really started watching football growing up, Marino was the guy who just seemed in his own league as a pure passer, so he's on there for me, even though I know many will disagree. As for the fourth spot, I'm going to leave it blank for now because the current direction of the game dictates someone not yet retired be the choice. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady would be the leading candidates, but I'm not going to rule out guys like Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees from making a bid.

Todd from De Pere, WI

Thoroughly enjoy the website. Is it possible to put info on home-game military flyovers on the website someplace? I take my elderly retired military father and we watch from the car near the runway. He thoroughly enjoys it. Any pre-game flyover info would be much appreciated. I see lots of folks parked near the airport on gameday morning. Thanks, keep up the great work.

For this coming season, we're actually working on providing in advance of every home contest a regular in-game entertainment overview, which will come from Kandi Goltz, who's the game and fan development manager. That would include flyover information. I didn't know the airport drew a crowd like that, but now that you mention it I shouldn't be surprised.

Steve from Larsen, WI

OK, Mike. I have waited three days and no one has asked. I guess I have to. What does your sock drawer look like?

You're not the only one who has asked, but I can assure you and everyone else that my sock drawer looks nothing like Vic's. I save that kind of meticulousness for my baseball card collection.

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