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Rodgers has reached 'good year' level


Paul from De Pere, WI

So, in the end, it is a player's grade that matters, not truth? If a player is graded as a seventh-round pick, then his value is not based on reality, but the collective perception of the football world, right?

That's right because you don't know what he's going to become, only what his market value is now. That's called a player's value line and good drafters are vigilant in adhering to it. No one will complain if the guy for whom you reached is the next Tom Brady, but why not pick him in the sixth round instead of the first round, if you can? I'll give you an example: John Stallworth. Chuck Noll loved him, wanted to take him in the second round. His personnel man, Dick Haley, said he could get Stallworth later, which he did with his third pick. Hey, if they had taken Stallworth with their second-round pick, no one would've complained, right? But then they wouldn't have drafted Jack Lambert in the second round. The draft is all about value, and it is represented by each player's value line. Accurately predicting each player's value line is the true genius of drafting.

Kris from Green Bay, WI

Now that the draft is over, do you think the Packers will look at free agency to fill any remaining needs?

Yeah, I do. We are now in what's called "second tier free agency." The free-agent crop is picked over, but this is where you find the bargains. There will be guys from this wave of free agency who will become major contributors to the teams for whom they play next fall, and at a price that won't damage their team's salary cap. Finding one or two of those guys can put a team over the top.

Paul from Milwaukee, WI

I love your answer where you stated, "The evolution of the passing game is not by natural selection." As a trained biologist, I think your use of this analogy is spot on and reveals a great understanding of evolutionary theory. Continuing with this theme, what explains the gradual increase in average weight among NFL players? Are these guys putting more effort into becoming bigger and stronger? Or are bigger players favored in today's game?

The increase in the size of players in the NFL is also not normal evolution. It's a result of an intense effort at increasing size because football favors bigger and stronger players. I think one of the challenges the game faces is to shape itself so that it favors players of less size and strength, which means making it more of an open-spaces game. That's why I think the commissioner was serious a couple of years ago when he dropped the bomb about the potential for outlawing three- and four-point stances. I think we could be headed there.

Lucas from Sioux Falls, SD

Now that the Packers have completed a successful draft, I was wondering how soon do the scouts and staff get started on compiling information on players for next year's draft?

"Junior Days" are the next big thing on the scouting horizon. They preview the next year's draft prospects by identifying who they are and assigning some baseline information to them, such as height and weight.

Tom from Woodstock, GA

Do you think the commissioner waited to hand out suspensions until after the draft so he didn't get booed worse than last year?

I think he waited until the draft was over before he dropped the "Bountygate" player-suspensions bomb because he didn't want to create a distraction during draft week. One thing at a time. Last week was the draft; this week is "Bountygate." I'll be glad when "Bountygate" is over. I've long accepted that football is a violent game.

Jake from Denver, CO

You discussed something I'm unfamiliar with: scouting combine alliances. Could you explain these further and who is allied with whom and why? When did this set up come about?

BLESTO is the original. Its letters stand for "Bears, Lions, Eagles, Steelers Talent Organization." It was a cutting edge creation of the early 1960s in which those four teams combined scouting resources and pooled information, as a means of extending their scouting reach and saving money doing it. It became a big hit and more teams joined. The Vikings joined and BLESTO changed its name to BLESTO-V. As other teams joined, it became BLESTO-VI, BLESTO-VII, etc. Later on, another scouting combine emerged: National. The Packers are a charter member of National, to which most of the teams in the league belong. Cost might be a factor in that movement because membership to BLESTO is pricier. I find it interesting that the Bears, a charter BLESTO member, now belong to National. Six teams don't belong to a scouting combine, electing to go it alone. The Raiders were always an independent under Al Davis' watch, but Reggie McKenzie is taking the Raiders into National. I don't think that would be happening if Davis was alive.

Trisha from Waupun, WI

Vic, since they have control over your comments, do they have standards for your appearance?

Oh, yes, they control everything I do. My appearance on videos is the result of a carefully designed plan to cast me as frumpy. I have a whole wardrobe full of washed-out plaid shirts, stretched-out sweaters and sun-bleached and misshapen golf shirts. My hair is treated with gray highlights to cover the brown. Just read, baby.

Jesse from Anoka, MN

What baseball team do you root for?

The one that is in the process of achieving its 19th consecutive losing season. Maybe it's 20; I don't know.

Jake from La Crosse, WI

Have the number of knee injuries per season grown since you started watching the game?

I don't know what the numbers are, but knee injuries aren't nearly the issue now that they were when I started covering the NFL. Back then, an ACL was the death knell for a player. The words "knee injury" were feared and they often meant a player would never be the same again. Medical science didn't know back then that MCL tears healed on their own, so a lot of MCL tears were treated unnecessarily with surgery. The arthroscopic procedure had yet to be invented, so all knee surgeries were highly invasive and required massive rehab time. Simple clean outs didn't exist. A torn cartilage was often something a player played with because the alternative was too extreme. Once upon a time, it was feared knee injuries would collapse the game, but they didn't. I think we're facing the same kind of challenge with concussions.

Brad from St. Louis, MO

I have now heard multiple talking heads raise concerns that in the foreseeable future there will be a movement to ban football outright because of the risk it poses to players' future health. Is there even a remote possibility of that being true?

I think it's a valid concern on the high school level, due to the possible costs associated with having to insure players against injury. I think college and professional football have the financial resources to find ways to deal with the concerns the game is facing today. I think the combined efforts of college football and the NFL will discover a solution to the problem. You know, Joe Paterno warned us about this problem a long time ago. I think it was all the way back in 1969, in a speech he gave in Philadelphia, in which he said that if we didn't take steps to make football safer, mothers would start directing their children to play soccer. Why did we wait so long?

Donn from Oakland, CA

Vic, do I believe that you have lied? No, I do not believe you have deliberately lied when you are giving an answer to a question posed to you, but that is not to say you haven't followed company policy either, meaning that if you know a lot more than what you're writing, then I believe you do hold back a lot of information that could be given out but isn't. We can argue the BAP point until the cows come home, but I know that all you would do would be to take Mr. Thompson's point, even though this last draft proved that even he doesn't follow that philosophy all the time. In the end you are a good writer and a good Packers company man and everybody should understand that and realize that when they write their questions to you.

I was on the Jaguars' payroll when Tom Coughlin was their coach. Coughlin was a steadfast and admitted practitioner of needs drafting. He wanted Curtis Enis, but when Enis wasn't available, Coughlin picked Fred Taylor. He wanted Shaun Williams, but when Williams went right ahead of the Jaguars, Coughlin picked Donovin Darius. Find one example from back then when I didn't present myself as a dyed-in-the-wool BAP believer. I felt no need to lie and my employer never pressured me to do so. My draft beliefs clashed dramatically with Coughlin's, but we were able to co-exist. Here's my question: If you distrust me, why are you here?

John from Philadelphia, PA

Vic, I thought of you right away when Desmond Bishop said in his chat that only a few running backs from former eras would translate well to today's game.

I don't agree. Great players translate to any era because they have great talent and great talent makes a place for itself. How good would Lenny Moore be in today's game? He invented the back out of the backfield. How about Lydell Mitchell? He would've been better today than he was when he played, in the 1970s, which was the worst possible era for a man of his talents. Jim Brown is also the greatest lacrosse player of all-time. Do you think he had the athletic ability to adapt his game to its conditions? How about Paul Hornung's versatility in today's game? We don't have room in today's game for Gale Sayers' elusiveness, Tony Dorsett's speed? Would Terry Metcalf have been a good player today? I'll stop there because I'm starting to get worked up.

Matt from De Pere, WI

I just read an article in which Jerel Worthy said it's impossible to play 100 percent every play and that he admits he "took plays off," in response to criticism of his game tape in college. What do you make of this?

I think that after playing a few games next fall, he will have changed his opinion.

Richard from Davis, CA

The biggest criticism I have seen of Nick Perry and especially of Jerel Worthy is that they are inconsistent. Is this a concern, and what can the Packers do to keep their motors running?

Let's see, Andrew Luck wasn't as good last year as he was the year before, RG3 is selfish, Trent Richardson is ordinary, Matt Kalil is the best of a bad tackle crop, Melvin Ingram is too short, Dontari Poe is a workout warrior, Quinton Coples played not to get hurt. What about that punter that was taken in the third round? Is there a knock on him?

Jason from Hampton, VA

What is key to Rodgers repeating his year from last year? Less injuries on offense, keep the turnovers limited?

When a quarterback achieves Aaron Rodgers' level of performance, injury is the only concern. When did Tom Brady have a bad year? When did Peyton Manning have a bad year? If Rodgers avoids injury, he'll have another good year.

Alex from Allentown, PA

If Woodson doesn't get moved to safety, where does Casey Hayward fit in?

Don't worry about that. He'll determine where and how he fits by how he plays. All we have to do is watch. That's the fun part. You can't make players fit by assigning names to positions on paper. You roll the ball out onto the field and let 'em go get it. I like to watch.

Hans from Front Royal, VA

Vic, your magic wand comment in regards to concussions struck a chord with me. I, too, am worried about this game we love, but I'm also at odds with myself for loving it. It saddens me a great deal when so many players we have admired die so young. Our entertainment shouldn't carry such a heavy price tag.

I think we need to identify whether or not there are contributing factors, other than football, to these sad stories. I'm not ready to blame all of this on the game. Is it possible that lifestyle issues have contributed? I think that's a major question that needs to be addressed.

Matthew from Maffra, Australia

When the Packers are in nickel, does that mean they swap one defensive end for a nickel cornerback?

"Nickel" means five defensive backs, that's all. What you do with the other six people is meaningless. Five defensive backs is "nickel" and six is "dime."

Austin from Cape Coral, FL

If half a sack is when two players reach the quarterback at the same time, what happens when three players get to him at the same time?

The offensive line coach gets fired.

Shay from Hattiesburg, MS

Hello, Mr. Vic, I was just thinking to myself that if you died, who would take your place, or would "Ask Vic" cease to exist?

The "Ask" part would continue, the "Vic" part wouldn't. "Ask Spofford" sounds good.

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