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Players responsible for being in shape


Zach from Woodstock, IL

I agree completely with your statement, "Sometimes, the bold play is the right play, but when?" In the opinion of most fans, the right time is when it works. If it works, the coach is a hero. If it doesn't work, like the Patriots' fourth-and-2 play against the Colts, the coach is ripped apart for terrible decision-making.

And if it had worked, the genius that is Bill Belichick would've been further celebrated. Just win, baby.

David from Sammamish, WA

I'm not asking you to compare legacies, but you've marveled multiple times at the grace of some quarterbacks' throwing motions of the past. How do you think Aaron Rodgers' throwing motion looks relative to those like Namath and Marino?

I don't see Namath or Marino in Rodgers; I see some Bert Jones. Namath and Marino were a little more from the ear. Jones had a beautiful delivery in the way it flowed back and forth. Rodgers has that same graceful arm motion.

Tyler from Pierre, SD

I remember hearing an announcer give his thoughts on coaches and clock management after Andy Reid (I think) made a mistake. He said that coaches have too many areas of responsibility to be effective clock managers. He thought teams should hire clock-management specialists. Is there any room for such a position? It seems like it could make a difference on some teams.

Another coach? That's what you want? Staffs are already topping 20 coaches. Lombardi had six assistants and he didn't have any trouble with clock-management; they just ran it and got the hell out of there.

Patrick from Hopkins, MN

What does Matt Ryan have to do to get into the current elite ranks of Manning, Brady and, now, Rodgers and Rivers? As we saw last season, Atlanta is poised for a championship.

To join Rivers, Ryan needs more stats. To join Manning, Brady and Rodgers, Ryan needs a championship.

Sean from Albuquerque, NM

Over the weekend, we saw the end of NFL Network's "Top 100 Players," as voted by the players. I don't think anyone was surprised that Brady was one with Manning two, but I was curious of your opinion on the No. 3 player, Adrian Peterson. How would you stack him against some of the all-time greats?

Peterson's talents are on a par with all of the great backs in NFL history. All of his measurables are top end. His career was on track to explode when the Vikings shifted gears and turned harder to the pass a couple of years ago. I would expect that Peterson will be the centerpiece player, again, as the Vikings retool their offense. If that happens, he'll be on course to become one of the game's all-time great backs. There's no doubt in my mind that he's the most gifted runner in the league today.

Jeremy from Eau Claire, WI

It seems as if the field goal kicker is becoming an increasingly valuable asset in the NFL. With as many close games as there are and the difference a field goal can make in a game, why are they commonly perceived as the low man on the totem pole? I've seen just as many games won by kickers as I have by the great quarterbacks in the league, yet, it seems every year they're underappreciated, not to mention way underpaid.

The belief has long been that you don't have to draft kickers and punters. The belief has been that you can find those guys on the street, and that's why they tend to be underappreciated. Most of the kickers I've covered in my career were off the "street." Roy Gerela, Gary Anderson and Mike Hollis were all "street" guys. We're seeing more draft picks used on kickers these days, and that might change the perception of the kicker from that of a journeyman moving from team to team, to that of a home-grown product and one of the team's core players. Mason Crosby was a sixth-round pick by the Packers and the kicker I covered in Jacksonville in recent years, Josh Scobee, was a fifth-round pick by the Jaguars. The kicking game has become highly sophisticated and specialized. Teams mold their kicking games according to their philosophies. A directional-punting team, for example, wants a punter that can place the ball and it scouts for that guy. When they find him, they draft him and develop him in that philosophy. I think you're going to see more of a draft-and-develop philosophy regarding kickers and punters, and I think that's going to alter the perception of them.

Roger from Phoenix, AZ

I am a Packers fan and have been for 50 years. Do you think the Vikings will remain in Minnesota if they don't get a new stadium, and would they move to LA? Just wanted to get your view.

I think the Vikings are going to get their stadium and remain in Minnesota, where they belong. That's been a great football "town" for a long time and a new stadium is going to "resurrect" that franchise, after some years of uncertainty as the team pined for a new facility, which it really does need. The NFC North is one of the NFL's great regional divisions. It's one of those divisions in which the championship really does matter because it's not just the championship of a division, it's the championship of a region. The NFC North needs the Vikings to remain in Minnesota and every indication is they will. Good!

Kay from Beit Shemesh, Israel

Do you think the fact that Clay Matthews lost out on the defensive player of the year award and that Aaron Rodgers was not selected to the Pro Bowl gave them extra incentive in the Super Bowl? Do players really pay attention to that stuff?

Yeah, I think they do. If a player can use a snub to motivate him, go ahead and do it. Weeb Ewbank used that very tactic in his pregame speech to the Colts for the 1958 title game. He went around the room, reminding his players how they were snubbed by the rest of the league, beginning with Johnny Unitas, who was cut as a rookie and was playing on a sandlot when signed by the Colts. Did the tactic work? Hey, they won the game, so the speech became legendary. If they had lost the game, no one would've mentioned the speech, just as you wouldn't be asking this question if the Packers had lost in the Super Bowl. The line between winning and losing is so fine; so is the line between legendary and forgotten. That's the wonderful thing about sports. It celebrates victory and ignores defeat. There are no gray areas. It's a scoreboard business that gives us a verdict. Life is not often that definitive, but football is.

Matt from Jacksonville, FL

Vic, please explain the craze over Chris Johnson. I know when I watch him that I'm seeing a guy with rare, elite speed that I may never see again. I don't want to downplay the threat he represents or the game-planning problem he presents opposing coaches; however, is he truly that great on his merits as an all-round running back? I don't think so.

He rushed for over 2,000 yards in a season. That's good enough for me.

Ted from Madison, WI

What, exactly, does football talent mean to you? This term has been thrown around this site a lot - usually in statements that Favre has more talent than Starr. Well, the more I think about those statements, the less sure I am about what the writers mean.

As it pertains to the quarterback position, talent is defined by some rather obvious measurements, beginning with the answer to this question: Can he make all of the throws? Bart Starr could make all of the throws.

Patricia from Wellington, FL

The sports media over the summer criticized the Packers players (especially our leaders) for not organizing team practices, unlike other NFL teams. The lockout is nearly into regular training camp. To your knowledge, are Packers players having team practices?

The media was critical? I think I've heard of two media people, and they are both ex-players, criticize the Packers for not conducting player-organized workouts. Every reporter friend I know agrees that player-organized workouts are way overrated. The bulk of the criticism I've read has come from fans, which need the security of knowing the team is working out somewhere. It's my opinion that conditioning is the more important issue, and player-organized practices aren't going to address conditioning. Conditioning is the sole responsibility of every player. It's his responsibility that when this lockout ends and he goes to training camp, that he is in shape and ready to go to work. That's what's important and there's no way of monitoring each player's conditioning regimen. We'll find out when they show up for camp. It will immediately become the No. 1 story: Who's in shape and who's not?

Paul from Spencerville, IN

I heard Steve Sabol say that, in his opinion, the greatest drive in the history of football was the Packers' final drive in the "Ice Bowl" (taking into consideration the magnitude of the game, the weather conditions and opposing defense). Do you agree?

I would agree, mostly because it was a do-or-die drive in one of the two most important title games in history. The Colts' overtime drive in the 1958 title game might be the No. 2 all-time drive, but it wasn't do or die. Denver's "The Drive" wasn't a Super Bowl or league title game. The Steelers' drive to win Super Bowl XLIII was do or die, but the magnitude of the "Ice Bowl" trumps any game other than the '58 title game.

Richie from Truckee, CA

With the extended lockout, I'm curious as to how teams are going to balance the urgency to get ready for the season with injury prevention.

Coaches are going to lean harder than ever on their training staffs. The slightest tightness in a hamstring is going to be an alarm bell in the first couple of weeks back. This is new territory for the players and the coaches. It's new for me, too. How much information on sprains and strains is going to be divulged? Not much, and that's gonna make the media's job very difficult.

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