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Some quality teams in the NFC might not make the playoffs

Winning division will be paramount; wild-card tiebreakers could be dicey


The regular writer of "Ask Vic," packers.com Editor Vic Ketchman, is taking some time off. Staff Writer Mike Spofford is temporarily filling in to answer your "Ask Vic" questions.

Trent from Clinton, UT

Hey Mike, where's Vic going? Is he tired of us?

Yup. He's had it. Yesterday afternoon he threw his hands up while walking out of the building and hollered, in his best Jack Nicholson voice, "They can't handle the truth!" I think he'll be back in a couple of weeks after he recharges his batteries. We all need to do that at some point. I will, too, after he's back, but I'm going to work on an even more dramatic exit in the meantime.

Tyler from Cedar Rapids, IA

Mike, we all know that Vic believes football is a game of replacement, so I think I know what he would say about Bishop being let go, but what are your views on it? Was it a smart thing to do?

I think it's unfortunate when a productive player in the midst of a promising career suffers a daunting injury. That's what I think this is about and, in making their decision, the Packers have given Bishop motivation. I wish him the best. I'll miss interviewing him. I always enjoyed getting his perspective.

Joe from St. Paul, MN

Does Desmond Bishop's release mean that people will finally stop bringing up Cullen Jenkins?

That might help with Vic's sanity. Then again … Tadd from Salt Lake City, UT, and Kellen from Jackman, ME, are wondering if one name will replace the other.

Jered from Baton Rouge, LA

Vic, as I never got emotionally tied to Desmond Bishop, I will miss him as a player on our team. I feel he brought an intensity with his style of play that will be sorely missed. Do you have any special memories that you could share with us of his time spent in Green Bay, sir?

Three plays immediately come to mind for me. Two are his pick-six against Brett Favre in 2010, the only interception of Bishop's career to this point, and his fumble recovery in Super Bowl XLV, when I thought he might scoop and score. But the biggest one was in the wild-card playoff game in Philly. First play of the Eagles' final drive, from the Philly 34-yard line, and Michael Vick hits DeSean Jackson on a shallow crossing route. I was standing at the corner of the end zone toward which the Eagles were driving, and you could see the field start to open up as Jackson began to maneuver. Bishop dove and somehow got a finger on Jackson's cleat to trip him up. The play gained 28 yards but might have gone the distance. Four plays later, Tramon Williams made his leaping interception right in front of me to seal the win, but Bishop probably saved the day.

Jade from Denver, CO

How do you not have Seattle getting into the playoffs? I love reading your columns but just a few weeks ago you had them in your top five teams in the NFL. Now they don't even make the playoffs? I see a huge lack of consistency there.

I talked to Vic about this, and you weren't the only reader to ask about Seattle. His omission of the Seahawks from his NFC playoff field was not a reflection of the strength of their team, but of their schedule and the balanced state of the NFC. The Seahawks have to play the 49ers twice, along with the Texans, Colts, Bucs, Falcons, Vikings, Saints and Giants. Plus, the Cardinals and Rams could be significantly better this year in the NFC West. He added he's not sure 10-6 will even make it into the playoffs in the NFC this year, and on that point I certainly agree. I think the NFC is stacked. Notice how Vic didn't have the Redskins in the playoffs, either, and they're the defending NFC East champs whose star quarterback by all accounts is going to be ready Week 1. Two things I'll add on this. At least one or two quality teams in the NFC will not make the playoffs in 2013, and it's perhaps never been more imperative in this conference to focus on winning the division. Putting one's playoff fate in the hands of convoluted tiebreakers for wild-card spots will be a dicey proposition.

Sergio from Winnipeg, MB

Great response to my question, Vic, thanks. I appreciate your perspective and agree on the beauty that the grueling U.S.Open test provides us, but what I love about the Masters is it's the same course that Bobby Jones and all the greats have played. You can identify with every hole and remember the shots the great players made, like Tiger's sand shot on 16 in 2005. I feel like I know the course as well as they do and it adds a new level of excitement to watching the game. I don't need the commentators to tell me he hit it in a bad spot or a good spot, I already know.

Love that last line (Vic would, too), and it's why I agree with your sentiments on Augusta (even if Vic doesn't). I love all the majors, but the Masters is my favorite one to watch. Tiger's shot wasn't from the sand, though. OK, enough golf. Paul from Beaver Dam, WI, and Pete from Victoria, BC, are already annoyed. Moving on.

Jeff from Stewartville, MN

I see the future of RGIII types of quarterbacks being the perfect backup. You can't pay two of "the men" but having a gimmick QB would be nice to trip defenses up in case "the man" does go down for a few weeks.

That's a nice theory, but I'm not sure how scheme-wise you shift gears offensively at the twist of an ankle. Remember, the 49ers didn't run much read-option until they got the bye week in the playoffs. Also, the RGIII types are successful because they are passers who can run. They aren't runners who can pass only if necessary. That's what the backup you're suggesting would be, I believe. If he's truly a passer who can run, then why isn't he the starter?

Bridget from Chicago, IL

I liked your statement that you don't need record books to tell you players are great. Is there a player you can remember as being great, but the record books wouldn't support that answer?

I'll mention him not because of where you're from, but growing up in Platteville, WI, and watching the Bears training camp every summer, no one had to hand me a stat sheet to tell me how good Mike Singletary was.

Neil from South Range, WI

Vic/Mike, between the return of Nick Perry and the additions from this year's draft, I am going out of my mind with excitement for training camp and the season to begin. This team appears to have the talent to be very dominant. Am I out of line with my expectations?

I think any expectation of dominance in the NFL is out of line because the league is too good and the season is too long. I believe the Packers have maintained their status as contenders, and on paper the roster looks stronger, but it's still June. As mentioned, the NFC alone this year appears loaded, and no matter what happens in Week 1 in San Francisco, a lot about the team and the season will look different when December and January roll around.

Anthony from Richmond, VA

Vic, in your opinion, who has the most to prove this year on the Packer defense? We have quite a few guys up for contracts and some young guys trying to snag starting jobs. Who's the guy?

I'll give you three, one from each draft class from 2010-12. First is Mike Neal, who needs to make the consistent impact the Packers envisioned when they invested a second-round pick in him in 2010. Whether he does it at outside linebacker or on the line makes no difference to me. Second is Davon House, a fourth-rounder from 2011 who needs to stay healthy and become the starting-caliber corner he looks capable of being. If he proves he's on the same level as Sam Shields and Casey Hayward, the Packers could be in great shape for years at a key position. Third is Jerron McMillian, last year's fourth-rounder who is going to stage a spirited battle with M.D. Jennings for a starting safety spot. There's a lot on the line for all three of those draft picks this year.

Kyle from Chicago, IL

Hey, Vic, M.D Jennings' strength is playing the pass. Jerron McMillian's strength is playing the run. Do you see the Packers possibly giving Jennings more playing time against passing teams and on passing downs and giving McMillian more playing time against running teams and on running downs, or do you think McCarthy is looking for one every-down starter?

There could be some mixing and matching with packages, but for the most part you're looking for a guy to step forward and take the job full-time. That's going to be best for the other safety, Morgan Burnett, to maximize his abilities and not have to keep adjusting to a different partner.

John from Whitelaw, WI

Mike, I've been wondering for a long time now and nobody has been able to say anything. If you could pick one guy to say he was the sleeper, the guy who was a steal and will be here for years to come – I guess the Donald Driver-esque player for this year – who would it be and based on what?

It's fitting that in the first season since 1999 without Driver the Packers drafted two receivers in the seventh round. Charles Johnson and Kevin Dorsey were injured during OTAs and I was disappointed not to get a preview of them prior to training camp. I'm not going to anoint anybody the next Driver, but when I hear Wide Receivers Coach Edgar Bennett speak as highly of these draft picks as he does, I'm intrigued. They both lasted until the seventh round for a reason – Johnson came from Division II, and Dorsey saw his numbers plummet last season due to Maryland's injury problems at QB. Johnson looks the part of the big, strong, pluck-the-ball receiver, while Dorsey reportedly has speed to burn. Let's see what happens.

Wendell from Elk Mound, WI

With Johnny Jolly out of football for three years, could he be put on the practice squad? Are there any ways for a former player to get on the practice squad after being gone for several years?

No. The only players eligible for the practice squad are those who either, 1) do not have an accrued season, which means they cannot have been on a team's 53-man roster (or injured reserve) for more than five games; or, 2) have not been on a team's 46-man active gameday roster for more than eight games. Also, once a player has been on a practice squad in three different seasons, he is no longer eligible. In Jolly's case, he has four accrued seasons, having been on the team from 2006-09.

Dan from Palm Coast, FL

Do the Packers have delineated requirements for retiring players' numbers?

Not that I'm aware of, and for those who are wondering about this with respect to Donald Driver, don't lose any sleep over it. The Packers have retired only five numbers (Brett Favre will be the sixth), and 15 other Packers inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame have not had their numbers retired. It starts with Canton, but that's only a start, and for all of Driver's accomplishments, he has a very steep uphill climb in a crowded receiver field to earn the yellow blazer. Personally, I don't see it, but the street and statue thing is pretty cool.

Joe from Sherman, IL

Mike, can we possibly make it for 34-plus days?

I'm just trying to make it through the next two weeks, Joe.

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