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The league's best press boxes


Gladdys from Arlington Heights, IL

Could you explain how the injured reserve category works?

When you put a player on injured reserve, he can't play for you again in that season. He can play for another team if you release him, but if you release him and he doesn't sign with another team and you want to re-sign him, you can't do it until after the season is over. The rules governing injured reserve are meant to forbid using that roster category as a means for roster intrigue.

Guy from Foley, MN

I'm very excited about this season, but not so sure about the offensive and defensive lines. Nobody on the team seems worried. Am I missing something?

I'll betcha every team in the league has concern for either its offensive or defensive lines, or both. Those positions are where it's most difficult to accumulate talent, and that's why you gotta get the big guys early and often, because their ranks tend to thin quickly and you never have enough of them.

Dave from Ankeny, IA

We see Coach McCarthy calling plays in from the sidelines via the helmet speaker. How does the play get communicated to the players so the right personnel group is entering the game? I know the quarterback calls the play in the huddle, but how do the correct players get the call to report in?

Let's go through a typical chain of command. In this case, to lengthen the chain of command, let's make the offensive coordinator the play-caller and let's put him up in the press box. He calls the play down to the quarterbacks coach, who communicates the play to the quarterback. An offensive assistant might be responsible for the personnel grouping. He hears the play-call in the headset and relays the accompanying personnel grouping to the sub-package players that are always at his beck and call. It's possible the quarterbacks coach will do both duties. He might yell out "12 personnel," and that personnel would trot onto the field as he relays the play to the quarterback. There are variations of how the chain of command works, but it'll be along those lines. The players, of course, know just what each personnel-grouping call means and who the players are that accompany each personnel-grouping call. It's similar to a special teams coach calling for the punt team.

Chris from Burlington, Ontario

I've heard from a few experts that football is turning into basketball on grass. What is meant by that?

It means the football is being passed around the field as the basketball is passed around the court, and the quarterback is the equivalent of a basketball point guard. Sarcastically, it also means defensive backs are being whistled for more fouls. "Basketball on grass" is a traditionalist's way of mocking the evolution of the game away from blocking and tackling and toward pitch and catch.

Rob from Mishawaka, IN

More knee bruises again this week. Wouldn't knee pads help, even if only a little?

Obviously, "knee bruise" is a metaphor for a variety of knee injuries. I suspect that eventually injury reporting will evolve to the point that any player having sustained an injury will be listed as having a "bruised body." Have we reached the point that we might be taking ourselves and others' interest in us a little too seriously?

Tony from Jacksonville, FL

Is there a reason quarterbacks lick their fingers before they take the snap? I've seen some quarterbacks do this. Is it to get a better grip, like when a person turns a page?

It's either that or they like the way the ball tastes.

Chris from Newport Beach, CA

What Packers player reminds you the most of Joe Greene?

Charles Woodson; he carries himself with the same air of distinction and when Woodson speaks, something worthy of repeating usually follows. Joe was the heart and soul of his team. Woodson is the heart and soul of the Packers. I think the term leader is way overrated and overused, but not in Joe's or Woodson's case.

Brannon from Greenville, SC

Is there any concern about the lack of a running game this preseason? It seems to me this might be linked to the frequency of sacks.

If this was the regular season, yes, I think there would be reason for concern, but teams use the preseason to work on the parts of their game and the plays they want to perfect and don't mind their future opponents observing. Yes, sacks are directly linked to the percentage of run plays vs. pass plays; you can't sack the quarterback if he doesn't have the ball. I think your question would be better asked after a month of the regular season.

Jeff from Round Rock, TX

Is there any concern about the run/pass ratio from the Colts game?

Fifty passes and 19 runs isn't balance and that's not what Mike McCarthy wants or for which he would game plan. The Packers passed the ball 56 percent of the time in the 2010 regular season. They passed the ball 72 percent of the time on Friday in Indianapolis. This isn't the regular season.

Hawken from Clemson, SC

What skills and strengths are looked for in a third-down back? How is this role different than an every-down back?

I'm assuming you're not talking about a short-yardage situation, so he's a guy who needs to be able to block as well as catch, because even though he's in the game to be a receiver, the possibility exists that the defense will force him to stay in the backfield and pick up the blitz by sending "the house," so to speak, at the quarterback. John Kuhn can catch and block. Alex Green can catch and he's working on his blitz pick-up.

David from Moscow, ID

It seems the Packers are overfilled at a lot of positions. What are all the positions that seem to have a surplus of talent?

Wide receiver and tight end have logjams that'll be tough to break.

Cole from Fort Collins, CO

Vic, your blog and "Ask Vic" columns have been so beneficial to help me understand the finer points of football. As I looked at teams around the NFL, it seems there are staple positions for different teams, like the Packers and quarterbacks. What other teams have a consistently good position, and why is that?

The Eagles always seem to have a supply of wiggle running backs that are one part rusher and two parts pass-catcher. They added another one in the draft: Dion Lewis. The Ravens always have space-eaters up front to keep the blockers off Ray Lewis. The Steelers have strong traditions for linebackers and centers. The Cowboys have always seemed to find wide receivers in out-of-the-way places. Under Joe Gibbs, it seemed the Redskins could find an offensive lineman under a rock. The Raiders always had a speed receiver. The Broncos turned out running backs as though they were coming out of a printing press. Why? Each situation would have to be examined separately but, in most cases, it's because those teams focused on those positions. They had a mold for those positions and they replaced one guy with the same guy, so to speak. Those players were and are at the heart of those teams' success. They didn't find those players by accident. They were targeted because it's how those teams play. It goes to their philosophy and identity.

Tim from Normal, IL

I saw a picture of Clay Matthews recently and it looked like he wasn't wearing hip, thigh or knee pads. He basically had on uniform pants and socks. What in the world is going on?

The game has evolved from hips and shoulders to hands and feet.

Randall from Wichita, KS

If the extra point gets moved back to the 20-yard line (which I favor for kicks), would you also move the two-point conversion option back to the 10 or 20?

I would eliminate the two-point play.

Mike from North Aurora, IL

What are your top five stadiums in the league to view a game? What stadiums have the best amenities?

Mike, my view of the game is from the press box, so if I rank stadiums, I'm ranking stadiums according to press boxes, and the criterion for ranking press boxes would be: location; size and nearness of the men's room; size and speed of the elevator; availability of auxiliary staircase should elevator be full; accommodations of seating, electric outlets and other working needs; quality of TV monitors and whether or not a bank of "Sunday Ticket" TVs are offered; and quality of food (a giant pretzel machine is a major positive). With that criterion in mind, the Lambeau press box ranks high on the list. It's on the 50 and it's not ridiculously high. The LP Field press box in Nashville, however, might be my No. 1. It offers, without a doubt, the best location; on the 50 and low enough and close enough to actually see the looks on the players' and coaches' faces. It's got a good elevator and it offers an auxiliary staircase. The men's room is close, as is a bank of "Sunday Ticket" TVs. LP Field has it all, except the giant pretzel machine, but it does have a popcorn machine, and here's the kicker: The coffee is the best in the league. The best press boxes as a whole are in the AFC North; they're all on the 50, spacious and most accommodating. Heinz Field offers a killer view and you can walk out the back of the press box and get on those spirals and kill time. The worst press box? The Metrodome, hands down.

Eric from Keene, NH

What is your favorite work of fiction about or involving football?


Bill from Sault Ste. Marie, MI

Do you and the Packers organization realize the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is as much Packers as the state of Wisconsin, especially the western side? If not, I strongly encourage you to visit this peninsula that is attached to Michigan and see for yourself; you'll be truly amazed. The Yoopers deserve to be recognized.

I know the Packers are aware of that because they included the UP in their bus tour this past spring. I did my first exploring of the land north of Green Bay this past weekend. We drove up to Sturgeon Bay, stopped at the visitors center and asked where we should go to see something, and the guy in there sent us to "Cave Point County Park." It was beautiful. In time, we'll work farther north and one day we'll make it into the UP.

Dave from Escanaba, MI

Do the Packers players ever get a chance to practice their Lambeau Leap?

If it ever comes to that, that's when I'll need to build the cabin and start writing the book.

Diana from Three Rivers, MI

Do you only answer guys' questions? Maybe I am asking the wrong things. Love your column, by the way. Thanks for the great information.

Maybe we need a ladies day. Ladies?

Neil from South Range, WI

Why is it that every day you seem to post a question that is not very kind to you? "Ask Vic" brings me back to the website every day and the stories are better than they ever were before. So my question is: Why do some people just dislike you?

I'm media and a lot of people don't like media. What's important to me is that this column provides a representative cross-section of the fans' collective voice. I'm a big free speech guy. Some people like free markets; I like free speech. I think it's what defines us as a nation. I want people who read "Ask Vic" to feel that freedom and exercise it.

David from Chuluota, FL

Excluding quarterbacks, if you could have any current player in the NFL, who would it be and why? Same question for historical player.

Darrelle Revis and Lawrence Taylor.

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