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Nobody does more with tweeners than Capers


Gasper from Somerset, WI

What are your thoughts on the rule change to have all turnovers reviewed?

It'll be the subject of today's point, counterpoint. I'll give you a little preview: I appreciate the ongoing attempt to get it right, but isn't this another example of selective use of replay?

Dan from Milwaukee, WI

Can you expand on why you think Cobb can be better than Welker?

I think Randall Cobb is a better and more explosive athlete. I remember covering a Dolphins game the year before Wes Welker was traded to the Patriots. I noticed him as a punt-returner. Welker and Cobb have similar all-around skills, but Welker doesn't have Cobb's explosiveness and I think Cobb is physically stronger. When the ball comes to rest in Cobb's hands, the show begins. That's why I think Cobb can be better. I don't judge a receiver by how many receptions he makes. I judge a receiver by his impact and the degree to which defenses fear him. Do defenses really fear Welker? I know, he had a 99-yard touchdown reception this year, but I don't sense genuine fear. I think Cobb has big-play ability that'll make him a feared receiver. I think he's going to open the field for everyone in the offense.

Jeff from Hudson, WI

I think another reason Lambeau is not as intimidating as it once was is the average age of the Packers fans in attendance. When I've gone to games, I've seen a lot of 50-plus fans and naturally they are not going to be as loud as your late 20's through 40's. Thoughts?

I disagree. Packers fans bring fantastic energy to the game. If you put them in the Metrodome, the roof would tear. The fans aren't the problem; Lambeau is. It's not conducive to generating noise. That's going to change.

Miriam from Butte, MT

You're killing me! Lately, you have been saying how we were one player away from winning the Super Bowl this year because we needed another outside rusher. One player, really? Last year, we expressed our opinion how we missed Cullen Jenkins and things would be different had he been signed. You specifically responded that one player would not make a difference. What gives?

I'm killing you? You're killing me. How many times do we have to go through this? The Packers needed one more pass rusher. Jenkins is an end. Ends in a 3-4 are not pass rushers, they're hold-the-point-of-attack plugs. Whatever they get in the way of sacks is usually because the real rushers, the linebackers, have run the quarterback into the ends' arms. When are we going to understand the role of the end in a 3-4? Would one more pass rusher have made a difference? Yes. I wrote it over and over late last season. Would one more end have made a difference? No, because ends aren't pass rushers. I have not misrepresented anything. That's my opinion and I have represented consistently. If you disagree, fine, but I have been clear and consistent of what I believe is the Packers' need on defense. And, by the way, when did Jenkins become Reggie White? I know I was in the AFC, but I think I would've heard the news.

Jason from Jacksonville, FL

About eight years ago, I asked you for some pointers on flag football. You wrote in your column and said use the element of surprise (breaking out of the offensive huddle quick, and lining up on defense late to hide the coverage). Since that very weekend, my team has won two national championships, and in June I will be inducted to the Flag Football Hall of Fame. I will be giving a small speech and I will be sure to tell everyone the story of how it happened. The last two or three years everybody calls it the "Ketchman off-guard defense." I am now 30 years old and can't run with the younger guys like I used to, so I am officially retired from flag football. It really is a young man's game.

Yeah, I remember. I called it the "Sunburst Defense." I said it's a gimmick that might catch an opponent by surprise and give him something to think about. Some years later, Dom Capers invented something similar. The defenders formed a kind of muddle huddle at the ball, disguising their alignment until the snap of the ball. It met with some immediate success. It seems to have worked long-term for you.

Allen from Omro, WI

Why is it that Reyes is not a 3-4 DE? He definitely has the size and strength to fit the bill, plus, he gives some pass rush ability out of what is normally a run-defense position. He's my pick for the Packers when I run mocks.

He certainly has the size to play end in a 3-4, and I heard the question asked often at the Senior Bowl and scouting combine. The answer I heard most often is that Reyes is a pure three-technique, 4-3 tackle. That's not to say he can't play end in a 3-4, it's just to say his natural position is as a 4-3 "under" tackle. If you had seen what he did to Kevin Zeitler at the Senior Bowl, you'd probably agree. Reyes is a quick-twitch, penetrate-and-disrupt defensive lineman, and that's the definition of a three-technique defensive tackle. That player's role is to beat the guard off the ball, penetrate the gap between the guard and the tackle, get into the backfield and disrupt the play. Those guys are rare and they aren't going to get past the 4-3 teams. The 3-4 ends aren't penetrators. They're 4-3 "over" tackles. They're two-gappers. They take the tackle on, stand him up and refuse to be moved. That is their primary function. Once that's accomplished, you'd like him to be able to push the pocket or get out and space and chase the play down, but the primary function of a 3-4 end is to occupy the blocker and keep him off the linebacker. Based on what I've heard on Reyes, that's not his game.

Rob from Oshkosh, WI

The second-round pick the Saints had to forfeit this year is the pick right before the Packers. Another little bit of help for the Packers come draft day.

Thank you for this fabulous observation. One forfeited pick can create a dominoes reaction that changes everything. Let's use last year's draft as an example. The Saints traded their second-round pick to the Patriots in the deal that brought Mark Ingram to the Saints. If the Saints hadn't had that second-round pick, they might not have been able to make that deal. How would that have changed the order? Would the Patriots have traded their pick to another team? Would the Patriots or another team have taken a player that would've altered the picks directly ahead of the Packers? The Patriots took Ras-I Dowling with the first pick of the second round. Maybe they would've taken Dowling with the 24th pick. Maybe Ingram would've fallen all the way to the Packers. Also, don't forget that defensive end Cameron Heyward was selected one pick ahead of the Packers. Had the Saints not been able to trade into the first round, would it have pushed Heyward done one spot to the Packers? See where I'm going with this? A sport as rugged as football is can be very fragile.

John from Austin, TX

Are you really just saying that DeSean Jackson is not a great player?

He's only been in the league for four years. I think we throw the word "great" around too much. Why is it that what's good in the present we call great, but what was great in the past we want to re-classify as good? I don't get that.

Austin from Eau Claire, WI

I think a lot of the Packers problems on defense last season really started when Nick Collins was injured. Any word on how he is doing or if he is planning on playing this season?

I was told Collins was to undergo an examination this week. Collins and the Packers will share the information from that examination at the appropriate time; there's no way of knowing until they do that. As far as the problems on defense last season, I would heartily agree that losing Collins hurt the Packers. You don't lose a player of that caliber without feeling the effects of the loss. The reason I haven't used it as a reason for the collapse on defense, however, is because in the two games in which Collins played, the defense allowed 851 yards passing. Obviously, safety wasn't the whole problem.

Jon from Fargo, ND

Who would you rate as the best five quarterbacks of the 2000's?

If you mean from 2000 to now, Brady, P. Manning, Brees, Rodgers and (tie) Roethlisberger, E. Manning.

Al from Arcadia, CA

If you're really old school, I can understand you liking intimidation, but why noise? Don't you know that noise pollution is unhealthy?

I didn't say I like noise. I liked it better when the referee stopped the game until the crowd quieted down and the offense could hear the quarterback. I think the advantage dome teams enjoy is horribly unfair, to the point that dome noise literally becomes the most important "player" in the game. I hate that. I don't want to see "noise" play. I don't go to games to see the fans play. I want to see the players play in a fair competition and the noise in domes makes for an unfair competition. But that's the way it is and that's the way it will continue to be, so I just accept it. What we have now is a competition among fans to see who can make the most noise and cause the greatest disruption to the visiting team. That's life in today's NFL.

Edward from Jacksonville, FL

Do you see yourself writing a general NFL column in the future, a la Peter King? I'm always curious about your opinion regarding the league's various teams and NFL news in general.

I checked my voicemail and there aren't any messages from national publications seeking my services; I'm not expecting any, either. I'll also tell you that I love covering a team. I've covered three NFL teams in my career and the years I've spent doing that are as dear to me as my family. I love the "book" that is a team's season, from draft day to the last game. Even the worst seasons were great.

Randall from New York, NY

Do front offices scout free agents like they do draft prospects?

No, they don't. In scouting draft prospects, money is never a consideration. In scouting free agents, money is a primary consideration.

Maurice from Great Lakes, IL

How did the league decide on the salary cap for teams and what is the current amount?

The salary cap is decided by the league's total gross revenue. This year's cap is projected to be $120.9 million.

Mike from Kaukauna, WI

With the offense looking pretty set for the next few years, I'm concerned the defense is going to be the reason we don't win another Super Bowl while we have Rodgers entering the prime of his career. Do you feel the same or do you think we'll get just enough defense back to make it happen?

I think this is a good draft for what the Packers need, which is to say pass rushers. As I wrote yesterday, I'm hearing that it's not a good year for 4-3 and 3-4 ends, but it's a cornucopia for tweeners, and nobody over the last 20 years has done more with tweeners than Dom Capers has. I expect improvement on defense and I expect it to keep the Packers in the Super Bowl hunt.

Mark from Stewartville, MN

Vic, did you ever get a chance to meet or interview John Facenda, or do you have any John Facenda stories? I loved his voice on those old NFL highlight films.

I met him, but I have no stories. What I can tell you is this: In a lot of ways, Facenda's voice meant as much to the rise in popularity of the NFL as did Johnny Unitas' right arm. One of Pete Rozelle's main objectives when he became the league's commissioner was to establish a brand for the NFL. Facenda is one of the men who clearly helped establish that brand.

Jason from Austin, TX

It's now the Packers' turn to pick in the first round of the draft and on their board they rated a WR to be drafted in the top 10 and a safety to be drafted in the top 20. Both players are still available. Best available player mentality suggests they take the WR, but they need the safety and definitely not the WR. What do you do? If you trade your pick, you risk losing the safety. I'm glad I'm not a GM.

You attempt to trade back and recoup the value of the pick, to where need and value meet. If you can't trade back, then you take the wide receiver. If you don't do it that way, you're not being true to your BAP philosophy. It's all about value. Can we not do this anymore? Please?

Mike from Niagara Falls, ON

How severe would Chuck Bednarik's punishment be if that hit occurred in today's game?

He would've been ejected from the game, fined a hundred grand and probably suspended, because Bednarik was very definitely a repeat offender. This is where I start to get that sour taste in my mouth. Why? Well, I agree that the player-safety movement is a good and necessary thing, but the popularity of the game was built on that hit and others like it. Frankly, for a whole lot of years the league celebrated that kind of thing. This league is built on what Bednarik did. Now, all of a sudden, it's no good. I struggle with that.

Scott from Martinsburg, WV

Last week you said, "I won't listen to music if I can't understand the words." As a musician who plays tenor saxophone and trumpet, I am all about the music. Music is full of expression. When I play, I can feel the music. When the audience listens, they can feel the music in my facial expressions when I play. Thoughts?

You work with notes, I work with words. In my world, a song without words makes no more pleasing a sound than a hammer striking a nail. What sound would this column make if you were "playing" it?

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