Skip to main content
Powered by

Starks fits in Packers' zone-blocking scheme


Rene from La Habra, CA

It might just be me but, when I watch NFL Network and they show the classic games from the 1990s, the players look bigger and thicker than the players of today, particularly those at receiver, running back and cornerback. Why do they look bigger?

It's probably because they were wearing more padding under their uniforms then. Shoulder pads were bigger and, believe it or not, there was actually a time in football history when players wore hip pads, thigh pads and knee pads. I think we need to get back to those days and it's because you tend to use what's padded. So what's the most protected part of players in today's game? The head. Duh! I've been hearing coaches shout "Stay on your feet, stay on your feet," for years, and that's what players have been doing. They've been staying on their feet by playing higher, which has resulted in more contact to the head. We need to get back to the days, in my opinion, of form-tackling and technique-blocking; there's too much push and shove in today's game. Players are wearing more protection on their hands and arms than they are on their legs and hips. That says it all. I think we need to start getting back on the ground.

David from Redmond, WA

I think the NFL's excessive celebration penalty is rather ridiculous. As long as the celebration isn't overly offensive, I think it's all in good fun. Do you think there's a chance this penalty could be taken a little less seriously in the future?

I don't like all the wiggling and jiggling because someone will always take it too far, as Randy Moss did at Lambeau Field. If it means so much to the young fans and the popularity of the game that it needs to be allowed, then I'll ignore the dancing after the touchdown and let the younger fans have it their way. Hey, I had it my way for a long time and, as I've always said, it's a young man's game. If I was a coach, my concern would be for the penalty yardage my team would incur should one of my players feel the need to call attention to himself. The crazy part is that no matter how much coaches caution their players against the dangers of excessive celebration, players don't seem to be able to curb their desire to do it. If I was a coach, I would designate a celebration area at my team's bench area. All players wishing to call attention to themselves would be instructed to go immediately to the celebration zone and dance for the TV cameras. They'd get the attention without the team getting penalized. TV would love it. It would be a side show of sorts.

Nathan from New Orleans, LA

Had the Packers drafted Suh, where would he play in a 3-4?

Ndamukong Suh is not a hold-the-point, two-gapping defensive lineman. You don't take a talent of that magnitude, that possesses such extreme ability to penetrate and disrupt, and use it to keep blockers off the linebackers. He has the ability to play end or nose tackle in a 3-4, but using him in a traditional 3-4 way up front would be a horrible waste of talent. His role in a 3-4 would have to be redefined.

Bart from San Diego, CA

The changes in the NFL game other than trying to limit head injuries are definitely softening the game into something that only resembles football. Football is a victim of its own success. Marketing the game to the public as a whole rather than to a mostly male audience predictably necessitated those changes. The same situation occurred when Las Vegas was marketed as a family destination. Perhaps, it's time to find a new sport that hasn't been watered down yet for us old-school types. Listening NFL?

You make a good point. When I was a kid and my dad took me to games, there were as many cigars at the game as there were fans. I mean, women just didn't go to football games back then. The NFL intelligently realized it wasn't reaching the other half of the population, and it was never going to appeal to women as long as the game was bludgeon ball. OK, so here we are. We've got a game with broad appeal. Men love it, women love it and players are beginning to embrace the idea of being role models for kids; why not, it's lucrative to do so? So, it's time to take a look at the game itself. Has it moved too far from its roots? I don't know, but it's a fair question.

Matthew from Greenwood, IN

I agree with both arguments made for Lambeau Field vs. Cowboys Stadium. I think what Jerry Jones did is the wave of the future. All other teams can go that route, just as long as Lambeau Field doesn't, which I don't think it will. Keep up the good work.

Everything goes full circle. If you wait long enough, you'll be ahead of the trend, not behind it.

Andrew from Columbia, MO

I have always noticed how much people pay attention to sacks, but not as much to tackles for loss. While sacking the QB usually gets more negative yardage, I feel like tackling any player behind the line should receive more recognition, especially since it typically means you are shutting down the opposing team's run game. What do you think?

I think sacks are huge, as long as they occur at impact points in a game and not after the fact. The problem with sacks is that we tend to look strictly at the number and not at their impact. Did a guy get his sacks at garbage time, when the other team was hopelessly behind and forced to pass on every down, or did his sacks change the game? The sack can be the most overrated statistic in a game, but not if you examine each one individually and apply its importance to a game. The same applies to pressure on a quarterback. How much did pressure on Ben Roethlisberger contribute to Nick Collins' interception? Stats often require explanations.

Jack from Lake Forest, IL

What is uniform-sizing like? How do players select their jerseys, helmets, pants, shoes, socks, etc.?

They wear what fits and in the model or style that appeals to them. Socks are according to the league's uniform code. Everybody has to wear the same style and at the same height, etc. If your socks droop, the uniform cop in the press box will make a call to the bench and tell the equipment manager to get the socks up. If they keep drooping, the player might get fined. Jerseys and pants are tailored specifically to the player's wishes, but within NFL code, of course. All teams have a seamstress or tailor that makes the alterations.

Dan from Portland, IN

To further Ken's question from yesterday about what sets Brady apart from Manning in the postseason, I am expecting an epic Vic answer here.

Crunch time is about grit. The more intense the pressure, and postseason pressure is the most intense pressure the game has to offer, the grittier a player has to be to deal with it. I don't think an explanation beyond that is necessary.

Tom from Fairborn, OH

Vic chooses to defend Lambeau, Mike gets Cowboys Stadium. Thank you, sir, may I have another? Vic gets to work with questions about which end zone (that was the coup de grace, by the way) and Mike gets stuck with writing about technology in homes out-pacing technology in football stadiums. Herein lies the value of winning the coin toss.

What coin toss? I'm the boss, and I'd rather write about smoke rising from tailgate fires than video technology.

Tom from London, UK

In response to Earl from Winnipeg, there is no position in sport that demands as much mental toughness as QB. If you are the kind of player that will wither and wilt after a few bad games, you will never be a great QB, whether you are a 21-year-old rookie or a 10-year vet. You can't teach toughness and it's a tough game for tough guys.

Examine the lives of some of the game's great quarterbacks and you'll see examples of toughness. Just look at the career of Aaron Rodgers. He blew out his ACL as a sophomore at Cal, played on a reconstructed knee as a junior, opted for the draft following his junior season and, three years later, became a starter under the most adverse circumstances. Toughness? Yeah, I'd say he's got some toughness.

Zach from Woodstock, IL

What do you think about James Harrison's comments about Ben Roethlisberger and Roger Goodell?

Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing. It's what I love most about America. As far as Harrison's comments, as I've said previously, football is an edge game and I have no problem with players making edgy comments. I'm not looking for warm and fuzzy; I want some edge. Harrison honked off a lot of important people with his comments, including two of his teammates. He failed to critique his own performance in the Super Bowl, which provided no impact. Roethlisberger needs to think about those interceptions. Rashard Mendenhall needs to think about that fumble. They were the difference. Harrison spoke the truth, and the truth is the pure defense.

Justin from Orlando, FL

Am I crazy or are people getting a little too excited about James Starks a little too fast and writing off Ryan Grant just as quickly?

Who's doing that? I haven't seen anyone write off Grant. I think it's just the opposite. I think it's understood that Grant has the inside track to the starting job, based on his career accomplishments. I see no reason, however, not to be excited about Starks. He's a big cutback runner and that's exactly the kind of runner that fits in the Packers' zone-blocking scheme.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.