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Now you can be a coach, too


Jonathan from Cleveland, OH

Vic, are players allowed to watch film with a coach during this "Dead Zone" until training camp? If a new guy has a playbook question, can he call his position coach?

No to both.

Adam from Green Bay, WI

Who do you see contending for the playoffs/Super Bowl that will be a surprise?

OK, I'll answer the question, but with this disclaimer: I will intentionally try to be wild with my answer because anything less than that wouldn't be a surprise. Having said that, my pick is Buffalo.

Mark from Stewartville, MN

Vic, the pundits sometimes talk about a team's intangibles. What would you say are the intangibles that make the Packers a better team?

The team's history and tradition creates a standard of expectation the team's players feel a responsibility to uphold. I don't think it's the reason for winning, but it gives the Packers an edge.

Aaron from Keshena, WI

You stated in a recent article about how easy the rules could be changed to favor tackling. Can you give some examples?

Just reverse the rules changes of 1978, which were instituted to persuade teams to play a more wide-open game. Forbid offensive linemen to use their hands in blocking, make holding a 15-yard penalty instead of 10, and allow defensive backs to maintain contact with receivers until the ball is in the air. What those rules changes would do is cause a shift back to an emphasis on the running game, and stopping the run is all about tackling, not jumping. All of a sudden, you're looking for linebackers that can square their shoulders to the line of scrimmage, instead of cornerbacks that can flip their hips.

Gus from Cincinnati, OH

I notice that some teams get a lot out of some undrafted free agents. Is there a reason why these undrafted players sometimes turn into what the team is looking for, rather than some of the later-round draft picks?

In many cases, an undrafted free agent is the equivalent of a late-round pick; their grades are nearly identical. It often occurs that a team will draft a player in the seventh round because they're afraid that if they let him go into undrafted free agency they'll have difficulty signing him. Then they'll sign in undrafted free agency a guy they were considering picking in the seventh round. In my mind, seventh-round compensatory picks are the equivalent of extra "undrafted" free agents.

Andy from New York, NY

If you could only pick one Packers game to watch this season, which would it be and why?

The Giants game, for the obvious reason.

Joe from Madison, WI

Vic, forgive me if you've already mentioned it, but how has Jerel Worthy looked so far?

He's quick off the ball. That's the only determination you can make on a defensive lineman in the "Underwear League."

Steve from Ithaca, NY

I thought you would like this Lombardi quote: "One must not hesitate to innovate and change with the times and varying formations. The leader who stands still is not progressing, and he will not remain a leader for long."

I love "reckless abandon" and "run to daylight" and a "seal here and a seal here" kind of stuff, but Lombardi had a tendency to get verbose when he became professorial, and that's not my image of him. I think he was at his best when he used a minimum of words, as in, "Run it and let's get the hell out of here."

Patrick from Plymouth, MN

I almost forgot the Packers signed undrafted RB Du'ane Bennett from the Gophers. I thought he might have fallen into a scenario like Arian Foster's. How did Bennett look in minicamp? He was everything offensively to the Gophers.

He's shifty and quick. He flashed for me a couple of times and I made a mental note to keep my eye on No. 23.

Casey from Lynchburg, VA

I was just reading an interview with Rodgers where he talked about how the Giants loss is stoking his competitive fire. Football is an edge game. He's going to have one hell of an edge next year.

Yeah, but recently he told the media: "I don't need things like that to drive me. I'm self-motivated to be a great player." I believe him. Guys like him are motivated by everything. They get an edge from someone parking in their spot.

Bror from Oslo, Norway

What would it do for the teams up north if football had been played in the spring instead of in the fall? You think maybe some teams such as the Packers would have lost the advantage they have when it is snowing or just really cold?

Packers football is about cold weather. You take cold-weather games away from the Packers, and you take away a big chunk of the franchise's mystique. This team needs to win a playoff game on a cold day at Lambeau, to reinforce that mystique. It's been a while.

Ray from Bakersfield, CA

I've seen plenty of questions trying to debate which view of the field is best for television. I like the way it is but wouldn't mind viewing some coaches' film after the game to analyze certain aspects of it. Now we get it all on "NFL Rewind" this season. For a fanatic like myself, this is pretty awesome. What do you think of this new feature and what it can do for a greater understanding of the game?

I was overjoyed by the news. Now fans such as yourself can sit back and enjoy the all-22 view of the game. You can be a coach, too. I'm assuming that will include both the sideline and end zone views, from high above the playing field, of course. Just think of all that "Cover Two" you'll be able to watch. Let me know how that turns out for you. One bit of advice: Don't squint; it'll give you a headache.

Scott from Livingston, NJ

I really liked the Clay Matthews Google Plus hangout. What if there was an "Ask Vic" hangout, where people talked to you and asked you a few questions?

I'm all for it.

Brandon from Ellenwood, GA

Vic, it sounds to me that the drama of sports, no matter how big or little, is what really moves you. If true, when did you notice this about yourself, and how has it changed your overall approach when anticipating the next game?

I knew at a young age there was something wrong with me. By that, I mean I knew I saw things differently. I would watch a game with my father, and what he saw and what I saw weren't the same. When I went to the barber shop, I would listen to the men talk about sports and I thought to myself, "They don't get it." Other kids would watch a game and hoot and holler; I would sit in silence and think about what this play or that play meant to the flow and strategy of the game. One of the best days of my life was the afternoon of Dec. 31, 1967, as the festivities of New Year's Eve occupied the rest of the family, so I was able to sit in the basement alone and watch the "Ice Bowl." I can remember knowing then that I was watching something important, lasting. I've always had a feel for the moment. Maybe that's why the other kids on the team called me "coach." It was both a term of endearment and ridicule; I wasn't like them. I saw things they didn't see, and that's good, because after one summer of working in that sintering plant, there was no doubt in my mind that I did not want to spend the rest of my life working in the mill. I've led a sports writer's life, and it was either that or the mill, because neither doctor nor lawyer was a possibility.

Hunter from Fillmore, IN

Have you ever read anything by Bill Bryson? I think you might enjoy his work.

I tend to get wild-hare interests that burn hot for a while, then burn out. A few years ago, I developed a passion for wanting to walk the Appalachian Trail. I walked a few miles of it and decided I wanted to walk all the way to Maine. So my wife bought me Bryson's book, "A Walk in the Woods." I devoured it. It's not only hilarious, it provides a feel for the AT, which is one of this country's great treasures. It's great "Dead Zone" reading.

Justin from New Ulm, MN

What has been the biggest change to the game since you started covering NFL teams?

The shift from football as an athletic competition to football as a form of entertainment. Perception is reality and the popular perception today is that pro football is part of the entertainment industry. I don't know that I especially like that, but it is what it is.

Bill from Tampa, FL

In your time with the Packers, has there been any reason given why former guard Jerry Kramer has not yet made it into the NFL Hall of Fame?

I asked a Hall of Fame committee member that question not too long ago and his answer was that if he puts Kramer in, then either Forrest Gregg or Jim Ringo has to come out. In other words, there's a reluctance to have three members of an offensive line in the Hall of Fame. Other players have faced similar roadblocks. L.C. Greenwood has been blocked by Joe Greene, Jack Ham and Jack Lambert. I think Dave Robinson might be the most underrated player of all time, and a big part of that was having been surrounded by Ray Nitschke, Willie Davis and Herb Adderley. Sometimes not making it into the Hall of Fame will get a player more recognition than making it into the Hall of Fame would.

Diana from Three Rivers, MI

Love your column. Readers' questions are always in regular type, while your answers are always in bold type. That has always bothered me. Then I was talking to a friend about your column and they said they don't read it for just that reason. I guess we are programmed to have it the other way around. I was wondering if others have the same issue?

It's a tough game for tough "guys," Diana.

Shoshana from Washington, DC

Vic, since the beginning of time, all technological advances in civilian life have come from military innovation. The NFL and the U.S. military are conducting discussions at the Pentagon on concussions among football and military personnel. What do you think of this approach? Do you think the mutual respect and parallels shared between the military and football could result in an outcome that affects better diagnosis, treatment and equipment to limit traumatic brain injury? Do you think this could ultimately lead to a safer game that could halt some of the rapid changes taking place in the NFL?

I don't know.

Josh from Henderson, KY

I read your articles daily and thoroughly enjoy them, so I need to ask, when are you taking your vacation so I can know that there are no new "Ask Vic" stories to read?

As you can see, Josh, it's time for a vacation, which I will begin next Monday, but "Ask Vic" isn't going away with me. I've got an idea.

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