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One or two rookie sensations might be enough

Don't write off rookies too soon in their first training camp


Jim from Maple Grove, MN

If Vic is right and the next evolution in football is the "system quarterback," what do you think will happen to the genuinely gifted QBs of the future? Will the cream still rise to the top, or will the gifted be obscured, either by the mediocre QBs putting up good numbers in the systems around them, or by being crammed into a system themselves and not rising to their full potential? Could we someday look back on today as the last era of exceptional QB play?

I don't think so. I think the cream will still rise to the top, as you say, and the exceptional QBs will do their thing. I think Vic's point was that the system QB will close the gap between the haves and have-nots. But if we're both right, a team's ultimate decision might be whether it's worth paying for the elite QB, or having the adequate system guy that allows for more spending elsewhere on the roster. If the latter is eventually coming, I still think it's a long ways off, especially given the way the current rules have geared the game.

Tony from River Falls, WI

Now that the Raiders are moving to Las Vegas, what city will most likely get an NFL team in the near future?

I don't know, but I suspect it might be a city outside the U.S.

Andy from Chengdu, China

I'm from Montana so I love seeing Sandland and Tripp on the team. Do you ever hear them jawing about the Montana rivalry? Are there any particularly noticeable rivalries from college ball that any of the players give each other playful guff about?

You definitely hear some Cal-Stanford chatter each season now when the Big Game rolls around. The Big Ten guys will bark at each other on occasion, too. Bowl games between schools represented by different players create the most talk, from what I've heard.

Tim from Madison, WI

Is it typically immediately obvious in training camp whether or not a rookie can play?

You can tell right away the ones who are ready to play, but I've learned to never write off guys in their rookie training camp too early. I've seen offensive linemen or cornerbacks, for example, in one-on-one drills who look completely overmatched the first week of camp, and by the last preseason game it's clear they're making the team.

Mitch from Bettendorf, IA

Without Vic, is there a Spoff?

With all due respect, I got here five years before Vic did, but it's this column that will be Vic's legacy at, and I'm proud to carry it on as best I can.

Corey from Mooresville, NC

It seems everyone agrees that Brett Favre had some of his best years under Coach McCarthy. What did he change that helped Favre achieve that new level, especially bringing the turnovers down.

You said it, he brought the turnovers down, by getting Favre to buy into the offense and play smarter. Favre's interceptions went from 29 the year before McCarthy arrived to 18 and then 15 over the 2006-07 seasons, respectively. I don't discount the influence a first-round pick on the bench, whose improvement Favre was witnessing first-hand, had on the veteran QB's willingness to listen to his new head coach, too.

Brandon from Appleton, WI

The overtime win in Denver on Monday Night Football was a great choice! That final play is unforgettable. The only Favre-era play that I would choose over that one was the playoff win in the Pontiac Silverdome. That last heave to the end zone from Favre to Sharpe is my all-time favorite football play and is what made me the die-hard Packer fan that I am today. Keep up the great work guys!

I remember watching that play in Detroit on TV in college, and it's when I realized just how crazy good Favre might be. I wasn't a believer before that.

Nick from Lima, OH

Where does Rodgers' throw to Adams in Jacksonville last year stack up to his other great throws/plays? Pure strength.


That one and the Monday night TD throw to Adams in Philly were the most recent ones mentioned. The fourth-quarter, third-down laser to Jennings in Super Bowl XLV was also heard from, and Ryan from New Brunswick chimed in with this one from 2010, which I had forgotten about because it's similar to many, but it's worth watching again because of what it sums up about the QB we know so well now.** Tim from Rib Lake, WI

Take nothing away from Tom Brady or the Patriots, but your answer to the NFC vs. AFC parity question has been one of my arguments for years why they are at or near the top in the AFC – lack of competition. Do you think if the Pats were in the NFC the success would be the same?

It's hard for me to speak on the Patriots' run in the early 2000s, because I wasn't covering the NFL on a daily basis back then. Regarding their four Super Bowl appearances in the last 10 years, they might not have made it that many times coming through the NFC, but I don't think they'd have two Super Bowl defeats when they got there, either.

Craig from Vancouver, WA

I'm thinking of attending a Packers game at Lambeau Field and traveling from Washington state. Would you recommend a warmer weather game, like a September matchup against a rival like Chicago, or pick a December game for the full Lambeau experience?

You can't go wrong.

Tony from Eden Prairie, MN

I was surprised to see John Dorsey let go by the Chiefs. I think the timing shows it was a negotiation that didn't work out. What are the chances he tried to put in a clause that he could leave for the GB gig when Thompson retires and the Chiefs didn't like that?

I have no idea. One Kansas City columnist suspects something went wrong in negotiations for a contract extension, but that potential narrative has been drowned out by others in recent days. Whatever the case, I have no doubt when Dorsey decides he'd like to work again, he won't be unemployed for long.

Courtney from Butte, MT

In their last SB win, GB won as the No. 6 seed. If there was an eight-team playoff for each conference, who would have been the No. 7 and No. 8 seeds in the NFC? How were they playing at the end of the season? Would the outcome have been any different?

The Giants and Buccaneers also finished 10-6 that year and would have been the 7 and 8 seeds. The Packers had hammered the Giants in Week 16 at Lambeau, but New York won on the road at Washington in Week 17. Tampa Bay beat playoff teams Seattle and New Orleans the last two weeks. I wouldn't have counted anybody out. The NFC was wide open.

Greg from Cuenca, Ecuador

Insiders, the Yankees and Dodgers have rookie sensations in Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger. The Dallas Cowboys hit paydirt with rookie standouts Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot. So, let's play the "what if" game. Given the choice, for 2017, would you rather the Packers have a rookie sensation (or two) or five or six solid role players? And no, you can't have both.

I'll confess I'm getting a little tired of the hypotheticals to pass the time in the offseason, but for this one, I will say if the Packers develop a rookie sensation or two in 2017, that might be enough.

Alan from Albuquerque, NM

How could you retire Charles Woodson's number without retiring those of Willie Wood and Herb Adderley?

Exactly. That was my point in saying White's overall profile went above and beyond.

Dan from Houston, TX

Sounds like the difference between Reggie and Woodson is Reggie had a bigger role in redefining the Packers and the Packers had a bigger role in redefining Woodson.

That, too.

Doug from Eugene, OR

Hi gents, I was reminded of a long unanswered question by the photo of Rodgers being blatantly facemasked in front of the entire world in overtime in a playoff game on a play that decided the game, yet I have never heard a discussion about this. If facemask was called, what would have happened? Packers keep ball and get 15 yards? Arizona gets ball at spot of recovery and gets 15 yards? Penalty enforced on kickoff (obviously making the penalty moot)? What's the rule and what was the explanation from the league?

The penalty would have given the Packers a first down on their own 39-yard line. They would have needed about 25 more yards to get Crosby in decent range to win the game. If I recall correctly, the league tried to sell the explanation that the facemask contact was incidental, and since the 5-yard incidental facemask foul had been eliminated the year before, that was the reason for the no-call. No one was buying it, especially when everyone had seen the still photos and slo-mo replays.

Nick from West Bend, WI

Hi, longtime reader of this column, first-time poster. Johnny "Blood" McNally has always been one of my favorite Packers stories. I recently read an article listing the numbers that he wore and I found it interesting that the No. 27 is not listed, yet one of the most recognized photos of Mr. Blood has him wearing No. 27. Why is that not listed as a number that he wore? Was it a number that he officially wore during games?

Apparently not. I know the photo to which you're referring, but I never realized until reading Cliff's piece that team records do not indicate he ever wore No. 27 in a game. Now, there's always a chance the records are incomplete, or players just threw on any jersey for practice I suppose, but I'd have to defer to Mr. Christl for a more complete answer.

Chad from Minot, ND

I miss Nick Collins. This statement has nothing to do with the guys we have now on the field, it's just a statement saying what a great football player, person, and ball hawk he was.

I've enjoyed seeing Nick and chatting with him at a number of alumni appearances over the last several years, including at multiple Packers Everywhere pep rallies. He's a first-rate guy with a great family. But every time, I can't help wondering what we might have been saying about his career by now.

Sean from DeSoto, TX

I have to disagree with Vic on the football produces the best athletes. I honestly think it's hockey. That sport combines the toughness and explosiveness of football with constant action, endurance is a must, and they have to do all that while going much, much faster. There are also fewer breaks, there are times where you will only see one or two commercial breaks in a period. The toughness of those guys has no comparison. I saw a guy take a slapshot to the face, go back to the locker room to get stitched up and was back out there for his next shift.

Wrestling got multiple votes from readers, too, so I'll pass that along, but it's not a debate that particularly interests me.

Theodore from St. Louis, MO

Hey Insiders, which one of you is most athletic?

Neither does this one.

Steve from Grafton, WI

Daniel from Honolulu asked a question about the Packers and the risks in the past the team faced with leaving Green Bay. It got me curious about an unanswered question I've had for you guys. Let me ask it this way – are there any circumstances where a town like Green Bay could land an NFL franchise? Are we the unicorn of the NFL never to be repeated?

Just for kicks, I did a quick search of cities with a population between 100,000 and 110,000 in a state that doesn't otherwise house an NFL team. I only found four – Waterbury, Conn., Manchester, N.H., Norman, Okla., and Charleston, S.C. Make of that what you will.

Tyrus from South Range, WI

Hi guys, my wife and I are expecting our first child in December. If it's a boy we like the name Vincent, after Lombardi of course. I wanted his name to have a little history behind it. My father did it with me and I love it, and I can't wait to explain to him the history behind his name. What would I have done had the Packers faded into obscurity?

Given South Range's location, you might have been choosing between Francis and Bud.

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