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Packers, fans share bond of loyalty


Luke from Dubuque, IA

With the trending of the NFL toward more passing, why haven't we seen a full-blown spread or air-raid offense with all plays out of the shotgun? Would this work in the NFL?

If last season's Lions-Packers finale doesn't qualify as air-raid football, then I don't want to see it; 103 passes, 1,000 yards passing, 11 touchdown passes and less than a hundred yards rushing. You need more offense than that? Why does the formation matter? I still have to pinch myself to believe I covered a game that produced those passing stats. Frankly, I hope I never see it again. That is not my kind of football.

Clint from San Jose, CA

Who's the better pick? "Mr. Everything" has a draft rating of 95 and is loaded with physical talent, however, there are character issues. "Mr. Big Heart" has a draft rating of 88 and is known for being an intelligent, team-oriented, high-character guy.

Too many "Mr. Big Heart's" will get you 8-8 every year. You better have some "Mr. Everything's," too.

Paul from Bemidji, MN

Vic, the "Madden Curse" is a variation on the sophomore jinx, both of which are examples of the mathematical concept of "Regression to the Mean."

That's baloney. The "Madden Curse" is nothing more than a player coming off a great season and being a marked man.

Dave from Nottingham, England

There are plenty of articles (here and elsewhere) which say this year's draft thins quickly at certain positions. Is there a position where the depth goes beyond the first round?

The guard crop is thought to be very deep. The combination of guard being deep and the tackle class being thin is likely to push some guards into the tackle category. Is Cordy Glenn a guard or a right tackle? I saw him dominate at both positions at the Senior Bowl. At that time, he was thought to be a guard and he was thought to fit near the bottom of the first round. Now, some are saying he's a tackle and that appears to be moving him up boards. Rush-backer is another position of depth. In the opinion of most draftniks, this is a good year to be a 3-4 team in need of an outside linebacker that can rush the passer. Wide receiver and running back have some depth to them, but they're suspect at the top. It's a spotty-looking draft. You see a guy here and there, but you don't see a sustained run of talent. I think this is a draft that favors targeting guys and moving to where they fit. I don't see an avalanche of talent that allows a team to sit and wait for that avalanche of talent to fall to them.

Mike from Superior, WI

College football, while still popular, is not the same game it was back in its heyday. Do you think the NFL has caused that decline? Why?

When the NFL expanded in Dallas in 1960, the Southwest Conference was one of the dominant leagues in college football, and Dallas was its epicenter. The SWC has been gone since 1996.

Edward from Brisbane, Australia

Do you consider the new Bears with Marshall a serious threat?

I considered the "old" Bears without Brandon Marshall a serious threat. The NFC North is a rugged division. Nobody is going to coast into the playoffs out of this division.

Tony from Platteville, WI

When was the last NFL game that ended in a tie? Do you ever see it happening in the future?

The last time was on Nov. 16, 2008, the infamous Eagles-Bengals, 13-13 tie, when Donovan McNabb admitted to not knowing a game could end in a tie. There have been 17 ties since regular-season overtime play began in 1974. Ironically, the first-ever regular-season overtime game ended in a tie. I don't think we're going to see it happen often, but I think the new overtime rule that limits its sudden death nature makes it more likely a tie will occur.

Robbo from Madison, WI

Our committee of running backs didn't really produce last year. Considering the draft and free agency, how do you predict our running situation will shake out come time for the season opener?

I think the door is open for James Starks to become the Packers' dominant back.

Michael from Copenhagen, Denmark

In your opinion, could Melvin Ingram become a star player in a 4-3 scheme?

I think Ingram's talents are a more natural fit for a 3-4. The 3-4 offers the kind of space Ingram can use to get a tackle on "skates."

Jeremy from Stony Plain, Alberta

A recent report on said "half of the teams in the top 10 are trying to trade out." Why do you believe this is?

This does not appear to be a strong draft class. The inference is that the talent at the top doesn't match the money teams in the top 10 are going to have to pay the players they would select.

Richard from Farmington Hills, MI

You wrote that Dom Capers is one of the two most esteemed and prominent defensive minds in football over the last 20 years. Who is the other?

Dick LeBeau was the other name I had in mind, though Gregg Williams has certainly leaped to prominence.

Alex from Centreville, VA

I'm kind of upset with your answer regarding the "Madden Curse." Normally, I love reading your answers and your thinking; I was really hoping for a clear answer here.

OK, here's what I think has happened. I think the "Madden Curse" is some kind of reverse curse thing for the curse that was put on John Madden the day before the "Immaculate Reception." Didn't know about that, huh? Yeah, it's a little-known fact that at the Raiders' practice the day before the "Immaculate Reception," Art Rooney's brother, a missionary in China who was visiting for the holidays, put an Irish curse on Madden for not allowing the two brothers to watch the Raiders practice. A day later, wham! Curses can be big problems.

Leonardo from Las Vegas, NV

Your assertion that draftniks are debating whether any RB is even worth a top-five pick in today's game baffles me. Does that mean that if a Jim Brown or Emmitt Smith-type were available and the Packers had a top-five pick, they'd trade back to get better value?

Probably not; I mean Jim Brown would have to be the highest-rated player on the board, but you ask an interesting question. The running back position has become devalued. What if Jim Brown was in this draft? I think Andrew Luck and RG3 would still be the first two picks of the draft. Where would Brown be drafted? Behind a left tackle? Behind a pass rusher? Today's game is not about running the ball.

Wayne from Appleton, WI

An NFL radio show talked about how tackling has gotten much worse in the last 10 years. In your opinion, do you think this is fact? If so, is it a reflection of rules changes to protect players?

Yes, I think tackling skill has declined in football, and I think rules changes have probably contributed to the decline, but I think the main reason is because the game is being played higher. Players are encouraged to stay on their feet. Today's game is played with the hands, not the shoulders. What did Lombardi say? "Grab, grab, grab; everybody's grabbing out here." Those words have never rung truer than they do today. Why is the game played more with the hands that it is with the shoulders? I think it's because the game has trended toward finesse and away from power.

Bart from San Diego, CA

Unconditional support for a sports franchise? Are you serious? The players, owners and the NFL have no such loyalty. Why should fans?

By and large, I think the general perception is that the Packers and their fans share a bond of loyalty. This franchise has spent its existence in this town, and there was a time when its following was one of the smallest in the league, not one of the largest. The Packers found a way to stay in business, by making their fans owners. That's a bond the pro sports world envies. The Packers found a way to keep the franchise in Green Bay when the team's founder threatened to take it to Los Angeles. Always, the team and the town have found a way to remain united. I don't understand your cynicism.

Tristan from Golden, CO

It seems like there are so many first-round grades given and there are only 32 picks. Do teams give out more than 32 first-round grades on their draft boards?

Players are graded irrespective of the rounds in which they might fall. In a strong draft, there might be more than 32 players that carry first-round grades. I have a suspicion that this draft class might have fewer than 32 players that carry first-round grades. What I sense from a lot of fans is the need to fit everything into a neat puzzle. That's not how the draft works. You rank 'em, you pick 'em. You don't find out how they fit until, in most cases, years later.

Andy from Roanoke, IN

What play in the Packers playbook do you like the most and why? Is there one specific play in history which you would say is your favorite of all time?

The sideline fade is a pretty play. Looking back on history, the Packers sweep, the 49ers' sprint right option, the Cowboys' lead draw with Emmitt, the USC student body right and the Penn State sprint draw are all legendary offensive plays. To this day, I still love to see a good trap play open up and spring the back on an unsuspecting safety.

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