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Speed, a pass rusher and a pass defender


Anthony from Leroy, NY

Rather than just let Matt Flynn go, why not try and trade him for a needed position or even a draft pick?

Trading is not permitted until March 13, which is the same day free agency begins; they begin at the exact same time, which means Flynn will become an unrestricted free agent at precisely the time trading may resume. That's not a coincidence; it's by design. Free agency, trading and enforcement of the new league year's salary cap all begin at the same time.

Robert from Boca Raton, FL

What do the Packers need to improve the defense overall?

They need speed.

Jason from Austin, TX

Vic, I know you're not a stats guy, so what do you look at when you evaluate a running back?

You look at the back. You find tape of him that allows you to look into the crystal ball and see what he'll become. Not every back had a successful college career. Willie Parker wasn't a full-time starter at North Carolina; he never rushed for more than 400 yards in a season. Terrell Davis sort of fell through the cracks when Long Beach State dropped football. He ended up at Georgia, but didn't get much playing time until his last two seasons. Even at that, the stats weren't there. He rushed for 800 yards one year and 400 the next, but he cracked the 100-yard mark in each of his last two games and that gave the scouts a glimpse of what he could do. That's all a good scout needs; just give him one look. There are a lot of such stories, especially at running back. And there are a lot of stories of backs with big numbers in college that failed in the pro game. You don't use stats, you use your eyes.

Mel from Albany, GA

What is the difference between the franchise tag and the transition tag?

The compensation is the big difference. Signing a "franchise" player requires a team to return two first-round picks. The "transition" tag only gives a player's original team the opportunity to match an offer and retain the rights to the player. I don't like the "transition" tag because keeping a player often means allowing that player's contract to be negotiated by a competitor. I have a philosophical problem with that.

Tom from Chesterfield, VA

Despite all of the sprints, drills and hype of the scouting combine, don't you feel that performance and execution on the field is the best metric for evaluating NFL prospects?

Your question is the subject of today's "point, counterpoint" debate. I won't ruin the read for you by telling you where I stand.

Zach from Woodstock, IL

What are you most looking forward to at the combine?

I wanna see the defensive linemen and linebackers work out on Monday. That'll be a highlight day, due to the Packers' need for an impact pass rusher. In some cases, the defensive linemen will be prospects to play linebacker in a 3-4.

Paul from De Pere, WI

Is the new CBA good for the players and the game? To me, it is an overcorrection by the players that limits offseason practice time. Young players need reps.

Ten years from now and beyond, I think we're gonna look back on this CBA and celebrate it as the event that created a new game, which is to say a safer, less violent game. It has to happen for the game to grow. The game can't continue to evolve in the direction it has during my lifetime. We know too much now about the dangers of head injuries for the game to continue on its same course. I think the CBA that was adopted last summer will be regarded as the official launch of this new game. It's a new style of game and practice regimen to which I am going to keep an open mind. As much as I love and revere the old game, I would be acting foolishly to think we could return to it. Football will never again in my lifetime be played as it was when I found it and fell in love with it. That's life. It's about change and we have to change with it.

Kylon from Ipan Talofofo, Guam

I feel the same way about how past-era heroes would be great players today. I was reading a book on the Packers in the Lombardi era, and I admire those players for how tough they were, both physically and mentally. They were winners in their head first, and then they won on the field. A player like that will be successful in any era of football.

I was reading the comments at the bottom of yesterday's column, and I was intrigued by one reader's observation that Don Hutson was too frail to have been successful in today's game. It's the kind of comment that makes me shake my head. Hutson was 6-1, 183. Wes Welker, the game's leading receiver in 2011, is 5-9, 185. Greg Jennings is 5-11, 198. More importantly, if Hutson had played in today's game, he would've been 30 pounds heavier and stronger. Why? Because he would've participated in training regimens that would've resulted in that kind of size gain. Great players do what they have to do to achieve success. Today's players aren't naturally the size they are. They achieved that size out of necessity. Forrest Gregg was 6-4, 249. I guarantee he would not have played at that weight in today's game. He would've been 50 pounds bigger and stronger because that's what would've been required for him to achieve success. A lot of fans act as though this explosion of size and strength is a natural phenomenon. Hey, evolution doesn't work that way. Man doesn't naturally increase his body size by 50 pounds every 50 years. Football players have gotten bigger because the game has demanded it. Hutson and Gregg didn't have the advantages of today's weight-training and dietary programs. They held jobs in the offseason. Had they played in today's game, they would've had today's advantages and they would've gotten bigger and stronger. I don't understand this need for fans to dismiss that which they haven't seen. Are they threatened by it? There's no doubt in my mind that the great players of yesteryear would be great players today. Jim Brown was a small man? Wadda ya think he would've been like, given today's training regimens? Rosey Grier? "Big Daddy" Lipscomb's size revolutionized the game. Dave Robinson had the body every scout in the league will be trying to find at the scouting combine this week. Mel Blount would be a huge corner even by today's standards. I just don't get it.

Dick from Tucson, AZ

What do you feel is the Packers biggest need?

They need an impact player on defense, whether it's a pass rusher or pass defender. I think a pass rusher would make a more immediate impact, but a cut-the-field-in-half pass defender can make a big difference, too.

Bret from Mililani, HI

What mid to late-round quarterbacks do you think would be good draft picks for the Packers?

Kirk Cousins, Nick Foles and Ryan Lindley are mid-round guys that interest me.

Travis from Orlando, FL

Suggestion for the FCC: Why not just adjust the blackout policy so that games are still blacked out if not sold out, but make it so that a fan could purchase the blacked out game on TV, say, for the cost of one game ticket?

That's pay per view and we could be heading in that direction, if the blackout policy is terminated. Pay per view, in my opinion, is the Rubicon, and I don't wanna cross it. I like the system just the way it is. There were 256 games played in the NFL last season. We're going to change a system that has worked for nearly 40 years because 16 of those 256 games were blacked out? I don't get that logic.

Sarah from Waukesha, WI

Recently I had the honor of meeting one of the Packers players and getting his autograph. In your experience, do football players generally enjoy meeting their fans or are public appearances more a part of the job kind of thing?

I've never known a player that didn't like having fans.

Dave from Woodland, CA

What worries you most about playing the Detroit Lions next season? Do they have the best chance of keeping the Packers from repeating as division champions?

I don't think it's a worry about playing them, I think it's an acknowledgement of what's happening in Detroit: The Lions are getting better. It's unmistakable. With each draft, they have improved their roster, and they're likely to do it again. How much better do they get with Jahvid Best and Mikel Leshoure back in action? I think the answer to that question will define the Lions in 2012.

Jeff from Hudson, WI

This could be a stretch but do you think the advances in technology hurt ticket sales and keep fans at home?

You're referring to television's presentation of the game and, yes, I think it has become so handsome and sophisticated that a lot of fans feel as though they'll miss something if they don't see it. That's why it's critical to bring that same kind of sophistication to the fan at the game, in the form of state-of-the-art scoreboards and sound systems. Lambeau Field has kept in step with technology and, of course, is in a development phase right now. When you couple the technology improvements with the game-day experience, I'd feel as though I missed something if I didn't attend Packers games.

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