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'The Ice Pack' is dawg, gone good


Russell from Racine, WI

Does the playoff performance of Starks mean the Packers will look for him to be the running back of the future? Might they be better off drafting Mark Ingram or Kendall Hunter?

Vic: I absolutely think Starks should be viewed as a candidate to become the Packers' running back of the future, but that doesn't mean the Packers shouldn't draft another running back. Good teams are vigilant about upgrading their talent base.

Tom from Fairborn, OH

I have steadfastly held that the most important element of a football team is the offensive line. Years ago, John Madden responded to the question "does the running back make the offensive line better or does the offensive line make the running back better?" with this answer: "The running back will always make the offensive line look better because they can find small holes." Your thoughts?

Vic: Less-talented running backs need bigger holes to run through and that's when the offensive line makes the back better than he really is. You can see it on tape. You can see which lines are getting more push up front. You can see which lines are getting into their blocks sooner and finishing them faster. By the same token, you can see which backs have to be more creative. That's how personnel departments evaluate their backs and linemen. Is the back a product of the line or is the line a product of the back?

Corey from Richland, WA

Time for me to move away from football and all of the drama. The longer the drama lasts, the less interested I become and life's too short to pay attention to any of this. Thanks for your insight, Vic. Hope to catch up with you on the other side if, indeed, we get there anytime soon. Good luck to you.

Vic: You've given me a chuckle at the end of a rather arduous week. I admire intelligent surrender. Sometimes you have to pick your battles so you can live to fight another day. I suspect that a lot of fans have already done just what you're doing, which is to say shut it down until labor peace returns. It's the smart thing to do, if it bothers you to the point that it's a burden. One of the things I'd like to do in this column is create an outlet for people who want to talk football but don't want the burden of the discourse between the players and the league in their labor dispute. If it's not for you, then I sincerely hope to see you again, as you so eloquently put it, "on the other side." It'll happen. Just be patient.

Neil from Gloucester, England

When you complete your mock draft, will it be based on BAP or needs?

Vic: It'll be based on neither. It'll be based on what sentiments are as to how the individual teams might pick. I'm talking to some draftnik buddies and reporters, trying to get a feel from them as to how the teams might pick. A value board is how you rank the players from a talent standpoint. A mock draft is how you believe the teams will pick. The gap between the two is the great unknown, which is to say their unpublished value boards. A mock draft is just a guess.

Randall from Conway, AR

Vic, when will we see the 2011 season schedule announced? Is the NFL waiting for the dispute to be settled first?

Vic: I expect the schedule to be announced the week before or the week after the draft.

Neil from South Range, WI

If Ingram is the best available at 32 in the draft and you are the GM, do you draft or trade down, if possible?

Vic: If you have a trade-back offer, you have to weigh it against staying where you are and making the pick. Where's the value? Is it in the pick or in the trade? You go with value.

James from Mount Pleasant, WI

My nickname for Green Bay's defense: "Packer Sackers."

Vic: They're not sacking the Packers, so how about "The Sack Pack?"

Blaine from Lafayette, LA

My name for the Packers defense would be "The Ice Pack."

Vic: I like that. I like that a lot because it symbolizes a mass of ice that can't be moved. It goes to run or pass. Good job.

Keith from Annawan, IL

Hey, Vic, do you like the throwback uniform concept? Do you like the uniforms they used this past season or would you like to see something different? I personally thought they were great and would like to see more of them this season. What's your take on this?

Vic: Yeah, I like throwbacks for a game or two; I'd prefer one game. I think they were especially cool for the old AFL teams the past few seasons. Why? Because the AFL had a strong identity, especially for the "Baby Boom" generation, which now represents the largest segment of the throwback generation, so to speak. Ultimately, it's whatever the fans like. If it sells, it's good. If it doesn't sell, well, then you better get another throwback design. The Packers have been using their current style of uniform for so long that it's difficult to remember them wearing anything else. Throwbacks are best for teams that made radical uniform-design changes in more recent history, such as the old AFL teams and the Bucs, Falcons, Seahawks, etc. The heritage teams, such as the Packers, Bears, Giants, Steelers, etc., which haven't done much in the way of uniform-design change through the years, find it more difficult to design a throwback uniform, as evidenced by that terrible, laughable, nearly obscene version the Eagles wore a few years ago.

Tony from Maplewood, MN

"The Smack Pack."

Vic: That's good.

Richard from Chapel Hill, NC

When James Starks came on so strong late in the year, I remember hearing that he hadn't played during the season because he didn't practice well and that his success might be attributed to fresh legs at the end of the season. Why didn't Starks play earlier, especially considering our need at the position and do you think that running at the end of the year wasn't a true test of his ability? I know he and Grant will compete in training camp and that you like competition to bring out the best in players but, in today's game, is there any reason Starks and Grant can't share the load and give the Packers a one-two punch?

Vic: My guess is he didn't assert himself earlier in the season because he was a rookie in the process of learning the pro game and trying to find his role on the roster. What better time to find it than in the postseason? It is the truest test of any player's ability. Give me the guy who gets it done at crunch time. I'll take him every time over the regular-season stat boy. A healthy Ryan Grant and his young challenger, Starks, give the Packers a nice one-two punch at the position.

Bill from Hayden, ID

Do you expect that with the reduced time to prepare upcoming draft picks for the season, teams will be less likely to draft players into positions they didn't already play in college?

Vic: Less likely to draft a college quarterback who will have to make the move to wide receiver in the NFL? No. You're not gonna make that move in the time frame of one spring OTAs period. When you make that kind of pick, you're projecting two or three seasons out. The bottom line is that as practice time is lost, the ability of rookies to contribute immediately will be diminished, which means the possibility exists that teams will be drafting even more for their futures than for the present, and good personnel guys won't have a problem with that because they are always vigilant about their teams' futures. If I was a GM in this draft, I would feel a sense of comfort knowing the present isn't likely to even enter my mind in making my picks. Unless we get some kind of a sudden reversal on the labor front, this year's draft should truly be about draft and develop.

Dustin from Minocqua, WI

What do you think of Aaron Rodgers' performance compared to Brett Favre's?

Vic: Rodgers played as well last season as any Packers quarterback has in any season in Packers history. Please, don't use stats to split hairs. When a guy leads his conference in passing, overcomes two concussions and becomes the hottest player in the postseason on the way to winning the Super Bowl title and the game's MVP, that's about as good as it gets. The Packers have had great quarterbacks in their history and Favre is one of them. Now, so is Rodgers.

Gary from Hayward, WI

I had assumed nicknames were given by creative sportswriters and not selected by the teams. How are the nicknames created?

Vic: You're right; usually a sportswriter or broadcaster stumbles onto a tag that fits and captures everyone's fancy. It's not something that can be forced. Name-it contests seldom produce anything special or lasting. The best nicknames are the result of something spontaneous. For example, "The Dawg Pound" of Cleveland Browns fame was the result of a comment one of its defensive backs made; I believe it was Hanford Dixon. He referred to the secondary as the "last dogs of defense" and that morphed into "The Dawg Pound," and it's lasted more than 20 years. Be that as it may, I still like "The Ice Pack."

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