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The haters will change it, but not kill it

Does new rule put zone-blocking teams at risk?


Sherman from Blue Lake, CA

In my opinion, the kickoff is one of the most exciting plays in football. It determines field position, and if there is a touchdown, it both energizes the scoring team and demoralizes the scored-on team like no other play can. How feel you?

The kickoff return, not the kickoff, is by and large gone. I'm accepting of this fact. In 44 years of covering the NFL, I could probably count on one alien's hand the number of kickoffs I've seen returned for touchdowns. I've always considered the kickoff – not the onside kick – to be an inconsequential play. What the NFL is saying is the risk of catastrophic injury is too great for a play that is largely ceremonial.

Mike from Sioux Falls, SD

If the kickoff goes away, doesn't that eliminate the onside kick attempt and the drama of a team completing a comeback?

That's one of the major reasons the NFL will continue with the ceremonial kickoff. The potential for a game-changing onside kick warrants the ceremony.

Chad from Tarpon Springs, FL

Does the whole integrity of the game need to be sacrificed for safety?

If by integrity you mean danger, the answer is yes. The game needs to become safer or it will die. The haters are out to get it. They're making movies about it. If you love football as I do, change your culture. I'm trying to change mine, and I am the last dinosaur. I confess: I enjoyed the Steelers-Bengals game. I'm almost ashamed to admit it.

Willie from Hayward, WI

Is "Ask Vic" so popular because of your writing ability or because Packers fans are so loyal they will trek near and far on the Internet for Packers news?

It's the latter. This column is nothing without its readers.

Andy from Madison, WI

I'm going to be an assistant coach for a high school football team. I've never coached before. What should I do?

Encourage, don't scold.

Luke from San Diego, CA

Matthews and Peppers rushing the passer. Haven't seen it for a full year, yet. Excited this could be the year.

Moving Clay Matthews inside was at a big cost. The inside linebacker position must be fixed. It will be.

Jared from Boardman, OR

Vic, the casual fan wants a Madden-like game. I don't want Madden. How much longer will I be able to watch before I lose my interest in the game I loved to play so much?

You're hooked and you know it. We're all hooked. Football is more than important in our lives, it's necessary. If there was a players' strike this season, the pain fans would suffer would be 10 times what it was in 1982.

Christopher from San Diego, CA

Love the column. I read it every day, as soon as I get to work. What are some things you are excited for going into the 2016 season?

First of all, I'm excited for this draft. Several young players will be joining the Packers' roster, and they will make this a better team for the long-term future. I'm also excited to see how the players respond to Mike McCarthy's challenge to win the one-on-ones. It's going to be a theme through training camp. I don't think we're going to be hearing much conversation about play-calling.

Grace from Saint Louis, MO

Vic, singing Forte and alien abductions have me laughing out loud while I'm supposed to be working.

Every so often, we need to take a break from inside linebacker, tight end and free agency.

Greylorn from Cochise, AZ

Vic, yes, we've lost four playoff games since you entered the press box, but along the way many of us have learned to see the game differently. Enjoying the game for its own sake, win or lose, is more fun than simply counting victories. So thanks!

I like to watch, win or lose. In the end, winning and losing don't matter. It's all about being there.

Bob from Los Angeles, CA

Yesterday's player/coach trade question reminded me of how owners Rosenbloom and Irsay essentially traded their teams (Colts and Rams). How was that received at the time by fans and in the media?

It was a minor news story for the fans, even though it involved two premier franchises. We just didn't obsess about pro football back then as we do today. Imagine how many news cycles would be involved if two premier franchises switched ownerships today. America loves football. The bond will only strengthen. The haters will change the game, but they won't kill it.

Tyler from Homer, AK

Vic, I just wanted to ask your opinion of the new cut-block rule, now that you have had more time to think about it. Are you sure it's not going to cause over-pursuit, at least early? I think big backs are going to benefit from this.

What I'm trying to envision is how the new rule will impact the zone-blocking scheme. How many teams are backside cutters? I don't know the answer to that question, but those are the teams that will be impacted the most. Is the cutback runner at risk? Are we headed for a road-grading trend? If we are, pad level will become more important, and guards will get shorter. I need to think on this more, and talk to people whose opinions on this matter I respect. I acknowledge the possibility this rule could have a major impact on the running game. If I'm the coach of a zone-blocking team that cuts on the backside, I have concern.

Phil from Concord, NH

Vic, it's great re-signing players from our own team. It's a must if we want to get hometown discounts, but isn't the goal to get better? If we sign the same guys and don't make any free-agent moves, then how are we getting better? It seems like it's treading water, not improving. Can you please explain to me how the Packers have gotten better this offseason?

If you can wait a month, the NFL has this thing called the draft. It's typically been the way the Packers have fortified their roster. The really nice thing about the draft is it makes you a better team annually for the players you've selected in previous years, because young players naturally improve. Why do I have a feeling you knew all of that? Seriously, I think you know how I feel about free agency. What if Brock Osweiler turns out to be a star quarterback? Imagine the cost the Broncos will have sustained long-term for not being able to protect him. They will have lost "The Man."

Justin from Athens, GA

For those players on the practice squad that leave for a two-week stint with a likely opponent of ours, how many are brought back onto the practice squad after their release?

Some make it back, but some have to wait until the end of the season, when they can be signed to the expanded offseason roster, which means they lost valuable experience. I understand, it was their choice to sign for that week or two, but I also believe they were deceived. The practice-squad system bothers me. I don't like the idea that young men in the Packers' locker room don't belong to the Packers.

Carrie from San Jose, CA

Is winning one-on-one battles this year's big-letters promise?


Tom from Bismarck, ND

Vic, you are spot on when it comes to one observation: Tom Brady is the greatest QB of this or maybe any generation. Do you realize he has won four Super Bowls with virtually three different lineups?

He's won Super Bowls with wide receivers that weren't much better than the Jaguars' inaugural-season wide receivers.

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