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One description of a five-tool player

What would be a big-letters promise coming out of the bye?


Andrew from Huxley, Iowa

Hi guys, when can we expect to read Vic's next column? Does the bye week change anything?

He's all yours on Monday.

Scott from Gainesville, FL

Happy bye week, Insiders. Wes used a fantastic term I believe coined by Billy Beane, a "five-tool" player, to describe Daniels' growth as a DL. I am guessing that many readers would want to have the defensive lineman "five-tool" description.

Hold the point, penetrate and disrupt, tackle, pressure the QB, and bring a nasty edge.

Josh from New Berlin, WI

It looks like the NFL will be committing another $40 million to medical research on concussions via the Play Smart Play Safe initiative. My sister has suffered long-term complications from repetitive head injuries, so this news really hits home for me. That said, it seems a lot of people are critical of the initiative because they sense more rules changes coming. I say evolve or diminish. What are your thoughts?

I think evolve or diminish is a good way to put it. I'm not sure the league, nor the game, has a choice.

Greg from Bordentown, NJ

Hi Spoff, NFL Films posted a video recently about the Ravens' punter aiming for kicking harder-to-catch balls rather than higher, longer balls. Given the Packers' preseason punting dilemma, it was very interesting learning about how much has come to be involved in something so seemingly routine as punting.

My 11 seasons in this position have taught me that nothing in this game is "seemingly routine." Everything is studied to gain any possible edge, from the tendencies of certain officiating crews to the position of the upback in a punt formation. There's so much more going on in any given moment of an NFL game than you or I could ever comprehend.

Caleb from Eau Claire, WI

Guys, if he were to make one, what would be McCarthy's big-letters promise coming out of the bye?

Field position or time of possession. Flip a coin.

Timmy from Chicago, IL

Spoff, one of the most fun things Vic used to do was Mt. Rushmores. So here's your shot: Give us your Mt. Rushmore of Seinfeld episodes.

You're not the first to ask, and it seems an impossible task. If I'm allowed to count the sequence of "Show about nothing" episodes as one, then "The Soup Nazi" and "Master of your Domain" give me three. After that, I can't pick (or scratch) only one more. I'm open to suggestions.

Matt from Verona, WI

What's going on with Mike Neal? Why the lack of interest?

At this point, being the only player not cleared in the Al Jazeera investigation has to be a factor.

Mark from St. Pete Beach, FL

Gentlemen, the post today about having to edit submissions made me happy that I spent nine years in Catholic schools learning English from nuns who demanded proper grammar, spelling, punctuation, syntax and capitalization. Were you guys fortunate to have had similar experiences, or did you have to struggle on your own?

My dad didn't have a ruler, but he did have a Ph.D. in English.

Take a look back at some of the best shots of the Packers' first quarter of the 2016 season. Photos by Evan Siegle,

Clayton from Eldorado, WI

So many people refer to "the dark days" before Favre and say we should enjoy it while it lasts. As if the winning will stop as soon as Rodgers retires. I don't agree with this at all. The Packers are a smart, strong, profitable organization with a huge fan base that I think will be competitive for a long time. Am I wrong?

No, as long as the search for the next great quarterback, whenever it occurs, doesn't take too long.

Josh from Oshkosh, WI

When I watch football, my eyes are almost always on the ball, so I tend to miss out on picking up things like a good block or special formations. Have you any advice on how a person can analyze a game better?

Start by recording a game and looking for those little things when you watch it again the next day. It'll be easier to analyze when you're not invested in an unknown outcome. Once you train your eyes to find more on second viewing, see if you can start doing so during the instant replays in a live broadcast.

Donald from Lexington, KY

Insiders, I was curious where you stood on the Dryden/Shakespearean debate concerning preposition placement? I know how Vic feels, but I seem to remember some disagreement about Oxford commas and was curious where you all stood on it.

Not something I've concerned myself with.

Mike from Kalamazoo, MI

Wasn't Brett Favre one of the players/reasons for the "throat-slash" rule? I seem to remember a big deal being made of him doing the gesture years ago.

Amidst a sudden epidemic of the gesture, Favre was one of the culprits, yes. But contrary to what some Inbox submissions have suggested, he was not the sole reason for the rule.

LJ from Chicago, IL

How many irate emails today that the hated Seahawks signed C.J. Spiller after the Packers worked him out?

None, since I didn't detect any anger in yours. Heard from more folks wanting to take a flyer on Josh Gordon, actually.

Simon from Mountain View, CA

It's not the scheduling format, it's TV. Missing eight teams a week would leave only 12 games. Take three out for Thursday, Sunday, and Monday nights, and that leaves only nine for Sunday afternoon. And remember each network generally gets only the games from one conference (although exceptions can be made now) and the best case is CBS or FOX has only four games to choose from to fill early and late afternoon slots for the entire nation. That makes it too easy for them to have no good games to show, which would impact ratings negatively. TV is the biggest revenue source for the league. It's always about TV.

I see your point, but I still think a nine-game Sunday afternoon slate, when only one game is a true national broadcast, could get the job done.

Eric from St. Louis, MO

To answer the question about Lacy cutting his hair, he posted on Snapchat that he cut three inches off.

OK then.

Otto from Monongahela, PA

Is there just one password for the Insiders' email account? If so, how about a little bye-week shenanigans: Change it and don't tell Vic.

Wouldn't work. He told me he met a hacker buddy on the beach, wearing flip-flops of course.

True from Greenville, SC

What was it like for you when you first interviewed NFL players?

Funny story. First NFL game I ever covered was the 1996 NFC Divisional playoff at Lambeau, the mud game vs. the 49ers. The Packers were going to host the conference title game the next week against the winner of Cowboys-Panthers, being played the next day. I was in a group of reporters around Antonio Freeman's locker, and he had heard enough of the "How badly do you want Dallas at Lambeau" questions. He stood up and exploded, let everybody have it. "That's all you guys want to talk about! Dallas! Dallas! Dallas! What, you think Carolina is just going to roll over?!?" I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into, but I'll never forget that moment, for a number of reasons.

Bill from Ringle, WI

Better every week guys. I loved the 8-yard scrum play. When did they change the rule about aiding the forward movement of the ball carrier?

I don't think it changed, but it seems it must be an obvious, direct, one-on-one push from a teammate to elicit a call. If it's in a scrum, anything apparently goes.

Jake from Grand Marais, MN

I just realized Jim Schwartz is DC in Philly and now I'm very much looking forward to the Eagles game. I wouldn't call him a likeable guy, but he's a great defensive coach. I think of the Harbaugh incident every time I hear his name. Memories make me laugh.

Taking nothing away from the Bo Schembechler days, but wouldn't it have been something to see a Harbaugh postgame handshake with Woody Hayes?

Tony from Bronxville, NY

Mike, love the WYMM segments. What technology do you use to look at the film and get to spots in the game quickly? Do you use NFL Rewind like the rest of us?

Our video department gives me access to the coaches' all-22 film, for which I'm always thankful. It's broken down into offense, defense, and special teams segments, which helps. The telestrator stuff comes via an app.

Donald from Schofield, WI

I, too, remember the dark ages of the '70s and '80s. I can't remember the name, but I believe the Packers had a first-round pick that went to the Canadian Football League because he didn't want to play in the wasteland known as Green Bay. How times have changed.

The Packers drafted Bruce Clark at No. 4 overall in 1980. Since then, the only time they've drafted higher than fourth they took Tony Mandarich at No. 2 overall in 1989. How's that for first-round bookends on a draft decade?

Jim from Rancho Cucamonga, CA

Just read about how much dead money a certain team is spending this year alone. Do you realize how often the Packers are not in the news? Imagine what your Inbox would be like if this was the Pack. Maybe you can imagine it.

They still wouldn't want to cut back on free agents. They'd be convinced they just have to sign better ones.

Hey Insiders! Wes mentioned yesterday the balance of the offensive play-calling vs. Detroit, 24-24 pass and run. Does Coach Capers try to balance defensive packages? Nickel vs. dime vs. base, etc.? Or is it more situational on defense than offense.

The defensive package for a given play is largely based on the offensive personnel employed and the down-and-distance situation. If an opposing offensive coordinator goes with four wide receivers and no tight ends all game, for example, the defense would never employ its base.

Derek from Milwaukee, WI

"I think social media and Twitter have forever damaged our English skills." Or has social media simply given an arena for those who lack them to display it?

Better to strictly consume an online conversation and be thought a fool than to try to contribute and remove all doubt.

Roxanne from Helena, MT

Hey Insiders, thanks for the hard work you put into this column. What teams have surprised you most so far this year?

I think the linked QB changes in Philly and Minnesota occurring so suddenly and late in the preseason qualify their undefeated records as the biggest surprises, especially with half of their collective six victories coming over Green Bay, Carolina and Pittsburgh.

Pete from Chanhassen, MN

Do you agree with these key plays to start this season? I feel they could be "identity-building" type plays that could help shape the future games. 1) JC Tretter having A-Rod's back on the late hit in the end zone in the Vikings game. Good team play and grit. 2) The 8-yard push on the Lacy run by the O-line against the Lions, showing "to-the-whistle" toughness. 3) Stretching the field with Trevor Davis. Even though a PI, it shows a new dimension.

Don't discount the fourth-and-1 in Jacksonville, not just because it won the game, but because the first time the defense was forced to close out a victory, it succeeded. That can go a long way.

Leslie from Pilgrim, NY

As an English teacher, I liked the young lady's poem and miss Vic's occasional writing tips. I share his loathing of the word "that" with my students all the time. What writing tip would you pass along to future sportswriters? I tell students one way to pursue what you love in life is to be a good writer. Follow your passion and write about it.

If you can say it in fewer words, do so. If you've already said it, no need to quote anybody saying the same thing. If what you're saying doesn't sound interesting, delete it. If it is interesting, explain why, but quickly. Reading what you tell your students put a smile on my face. Thank you for your dedication to teaching young writers.

Will from Lexington, KY

In honor of Mike's revelation about his poetic past, here's a question (and challenge) in the form of a Shakespearean sonnet:

With Aaron's arm and Eddie's churning feet,

We Packers fans have many things to cheer;

But now our pride is even more complete:

We learned our Spofford is a sonneteer!

From tender youth he's followed Shakespeare's lead,

Assembling iambs pentametrically,

And now that master Vic's Steinbeckian need

For pith is (almost) gone, he's finally free!

Come, Spoff, and show us all your rhyming flair:

Delight your readers with your skill and wit,

And answer every question, if you dare,

In metered verse - if you are up to it!

Thus in the couplet I'll begin t'assay you:

Da Bears will get a win, but when? What say you?

Sorry, it was a one-time gig. Happy bye weekend everybody.

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