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Resiliency fueled the stretch run

Any position can get caught short very quickly due to injuries


Andrew from Memphis, TN

Really, Wes, the Babe calling his shot? How quickly we forget how Jake Taylor one-upped him when the Indians won the pennant.

I just got back from Yellowstone. That park can indeed hold a lot of fly balls.

Kristina from Stoughton, WI

Vic, thank you for your column. I learned so much about football through your writing, and enjoyed every moment of it, even if you never did answer any of my questions. You will be missed.

A lot of you were asking about Vic's future all offseason, and I apologize for having to ignore your questions because it was only right for Vic to make the announcement himself once his plans were finalized. I would say I'll miss him, but I've already missed him, since the flight back from Arizona in January 2016 that almost ended everything. This place hasn't been the same without him around, and I'm forever indebted to him for all the conversations, arguments, advice and the like. Wes and I can't replace Vic, so we haven't tried. We've just tried to be ourselves and we thank everyone for continuing to ride along with us. All that said, I want Vic's column next Monday to stand as his farewell, so I'm going to shut up now and encourage you to send your thoughts and messages to the Inbox on Saturday. It will be easier for him to find and read them then, and he'll appreciate every one of them.

Andrew from San Diego, CA

Mike, what did Vic teach you as a writer?

To never lose sight of the big picture. Details are great, but not when they distract.

Kyle from Fremont, WI

As someone who's only been reading this column for a few years, could you give us a link to the column for the day after the "Fail Mary"? I've got to see this.

Chuck from Mechanicsville, VA

I have been a Packer fan since 1965 (or before). Through good, bad, and great times, why is the single play I remember most fourth-and-26? Even now I can see the play from start to finish in my mind. Terrible.

Why? Maybe because Vic was in Jacksonville then.

Ed from Henryville, IN

I'm going to Lambeau Field for Family Night. I'd really like to know if there are any other special events going on, and do they have events rain or shine? Thanks, Insiders.

There are always various activities going on in and around the stadium on Family Night, and the only thing that's ever stopped the events in the past is lightning. After a bad run of weather for a few years earlier this decade, it's been pretty good in recent seasons. Let's hope that continues.

Andy from Wausau, WI

How incredible is it the Brewers are in first place? Clutch performances game in, game out. Does this team remind you of last season's Packers team? Go Brewers Go!

What the Brewers have done through the first half is remarkable. Many thought they'd be lucky to win 50 games total. No one saw 50 wins at the All-Star break as even possible. Long way to go, but it'll be fun. I wouldn't compare it at all to last year's Green Bay team. All season long, the Brewers have shown an impressive ability to bounce back from the rough moments, like ninth- or extra-inning losses. It has served them well and is a great trait to possess in a long season. Last year's Packers didn't develop that kind of resiliency until the stretch run, and once they did, they were a different team.

Jay from El Paso, TX

We just got our tickets for Packers at Cowboys Oct. 8. It will be my first NFL game and I am too excited to wait. Anything I should do to make it even more special?

Find some Packers fans tailgating at Jerry's World and join their party. Bring something to share. You won't regret it.

David from San Francisco, CA

I think the comparison of adding or subtracting a play to gain a first down is the equivalent of adding a ball or strike to baseball, which would also prove a dramatic rule change.

Agreed, and neither game would react well to such a fundamental alteration. I've always wondered in baseball how much higher batting averages would be if the bases were 85 rather than 90 feet apart.

Johnny from Grand Chute, WI

Regarding: "Where does 'I think we can run the table' rank," since it wasn't a prediction, it doesn't rank at all. It was cool for the fans, but the great players pretty much believe they can win them all. It was and is a nice story, though.

It got the attention it did, in part, because it's not the kind of thing heard from the Packers' locker room very often, if at all. I've been here the entire McCarthy era and I'd never heard anyone, in similar circumstances, stick his neck out there like that, let alone the face of the franchise. From my perspective, it was more than just a nice story.

John from Jefferson, WI

Vic says, "I think Rodgers sees the field as well as any quarterback ever," yet in an article Monday, Andy Benoit says "...what kept standing out was how often Rodgers left wide open receivers on the field." How do those two square? My eyes tell me Vic is right. Is Rodgers intentionally passing up an "open" guy for an opportunity developing elsewhere?

That has to be part of it, if not most of it, but I'll be honest. I can't begin to comprehend what might be in Rodgers' mind as he surveys a defense and goes through his reads and progressions. There's no way to know what he sees or doesn't see, nor all his reasons for what he does or doesn't do. He sees the game and plays it on a different level than most. That's what makes him great.

Phil from Marietta, GA

You have to make a team from the total roster of all-time NFL players. But each player on your team must share the same last name. Which name do you pick? Jones? If so, you have Bert at QB and lots of specialist talent including James at WR. Williams? You get Doug at QB and several excellent former Packers. Please give us the team you'd choose.

Brown would give me five Hall of Fame players, plus a Hall of Fame coach. So I'd start there and fill in the rest.

Michael from Wausau, WI

With some audible grumbling about NFL vs. NBA player contracts from NFL players, is it possible the salary cap gets tossed before the next CBA?

Not a chance. Some players might think they'd want that, but as a whole the union wouldn't. The salary cap includes a salary floor as well.

Austin from Schuylerville, NY

Vic, I think Dalvin Cook will be a good player but do you REALLY think he will be the most challenging player the Packers face when they are going to be facing five of the top 10 receivers in the NFL?

The question referenced a skill-position player within the division, and I disagree with Vic plenty, but not on this one.

Ben from El Paso, TX

What is the most memorable offseason interview you conducted while covering the Packers?

It was just a couple of months ago, actually. I was fortunate enough to sit down for a half-hour with both Rodgers and Nelson to get their recollections of memorable plays and how they happened. It was for the cover story in the 2017 Packers Yearbook, which will be out in a couple of weeks. It was fascinating to sit and listen. Their recall of details blew me away. They just kept talking, with one memory leading to another and then another. I didn't have to ask many questions, and those can be the best interviews.

Andy from Colorado Springs, CO

Not sure if you're the people to ask, but I wanted to see if the team was planning on doing anything for the 100th anniversary next season? My great grandfather played on the original team in 1919 and I would love to plan a family reunion around that event if there is going to be one. If you don't know the answer, can you let me know who I should talk to? Thanks.

Mark Murphy**addressed this recently in his monthly column**. There are a lot of plans in the works for the 100th season of Packers football in 2018, but nothing has been announced yet. Rest assured all the details will be on once they're available. Wow, your great grandpa was on the inaugural team. How cool.

Paul from Ellensburg, WA

As much as I love the notion that we have, according to coach Getsy, "at least seven guys who can help us win games" at WR, I'm also mystified as to why we would have drafted that good problem. We've got weaker areas that might have benefitted more from some late-round flyers than WR, don't we?

I'm not fond of the term "late-round flyer," and I don't think scouts are, either. You try to draft good football players, regardless of round, and your scouts will tell you who they think can play in the NFL, regardless of position. To boot, need we be reminded what happened to Green Bay's receiving corps when multiple injuries struck in 2015? It can happen at any position.

Isaac from Nashville, TN

I've been thinking lately about those great Lovie Smith defenses and wondering, how does the "Tampa 2" defend the run? Do they play something else on running downs, or is there something about the scheme or the players that I'm missing?

In the "Tampa 2," you need the big guys in the middle up front who can eat up multiple blockers and allow fast linebackers to get to the ball in a hurry. Think Ted Washington in front of Brian Urlacher, or Warren Sapp in front of Derrick Brooks.

Ross from Newmarket, Ontario

There has been lots of talk regarding the "free plays" Rodgers gets when he draws a defender offside. Over the last several years, and last year especially, I've noticed the refs are blowing these plays dead more and more rather than allowing the free shot downfield. Am I imagining this?

No, but I've addressed this before – the refs are calling it right more often than they did early in 2015 when the Packers kept feasting on hard-count free plays. If an offensive lineman moves before the snap as a result of a defender jumping into the neutral zone, the play is supposed to be blown dead. In my opinion, the Packers got away with several free plays they shouldn't have, and I think since early 2015 opposing coaches have pointed this out to officials. Most of the Packers' free plays now come from the defense having 12 men on the field.

Donovan from Pecos, TX

Who else other than Ty Montgomery at the tailback position is looking to help out the ground game? Which of the other backs has the upper hand to get playing time behind Montgomery?

That will be THE question of training camp on the offensive side of the ball. Let's wait and see. On that note, I want to shamelessly plug our "Countdown to Camp" position-by-position roster series that begins today and will preview some of these upcoming issues until training camp begins. The stories will also include links to numerous player features Wes and I have written throughout the offseason, in case you missed any. It'll be like a one-stop shop to catch up on everything before July 26. Hope you check it out.

Scott from Greensburg, IN

As a retired teacher, I believe in continuing education from both the teacher and student perspectives. I believe we've all learned from "Ask Vic," while also believing most of us have felt we've asked many good questions which have gone unanswered. Thus, I believe "Insider Inbox" would, now, for at least one season, greatly benefit in many ways, by having Vic "ask" a weekly question of Wes and Spoff, demonstrating for us a higher-quality, no-nonsense level question. Please consider.

I will. It'll be up to Vic whether he'd like to take you/us up on that, but I'm intrigued.

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