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Thoughts on Flynn and Wells


Rick from Valley Springs, CA

Did we let Flynn get away without any compensation for him?

Where have you been, Rick? We've detailed the circumstances surrounding Matt Flynn's departure for the past several months. It was impossible for the Packers to secure immediate compensation for Flynn without taking a huge risk by putting the franchise tag on him, and after seeing how long it took for him to sign with a team and the contract he got from the Seahawks, I'm absolutely convinced the Packers did the right thing by not franchising him. The risk far outweighed the gain; obviously, the Packers knew that. I missed the boat on Flynn. I thought he would be a break-the-bank signing, but he barely got Rob Johnson money 14 years after Johnson was traded for a one and a four, and Johnson only had one game behind him.

Kirk from Jacksonville, NC

Vic, I know you have been pushing the truth about today's game being a pass-happy game, but don't you think there were times last season that we could have used a really good running back to either run out the clock or wear out the defense?

The Packers used the running game to close out the win in Minnesota. Mike McCarthy has shown us time and again that he will use the running game to do that. To wear down an opponent? No. That's not how the Packers play and I can only think of two teams in the league – Baltimore and San Francisco – that truly and successfully played that way last year: Even at that, what are Baltimore and San Francisco focused on improving? Their passing attacks. The Ravens want Joe Flacco to go to the next level; it's the difference between where the Ravens are and the Super Bowl. The 49ers, obviously, aren't satisfied with their passing game. They're going to the extreme of trying to sign Peyton Manning. Coach McCarthy calls it playing uphill, which is what he refers to as running the ball into a defense stacked against it. It's a pound on the door until you break it down style of football and that's just not McCarthy's style, nor is it most team's style.

Ryan from Menomonie, WI

With the 49ers being contenders last year, why would they let their starting QB go in favor of an aging Manning, who has yet to prove himself after his injury? Is it possible they were trying to force Smith's hand and it backfired?

Let's not forget that the 49ers drafted Colin Kaepernick with the 36th overall pick last year. They might view him as their future and Peyton Manning as a very attractive bridge to it. I think the 49ers are sending a message to Alex Smith, with the offer they've given him and their courting of Manning, that they are open to upgrading themselves at the position.

Kylon from Ipan Talofofo, Guam

Aaron Rodgers vs. Matt Flynn this year might be one of the games to watch. What do you think?

It'll be a very high-profile game for Packers fans. Whether or not it's a game of national interest will depend on where it fits on the schedule and how Matt Flynn is performing when the two teams meet.

Tim from Santa Clarita, CA

Out of the five titles the Packers won under Lombardi during the 1960s, which year, in your opinion, was their best?

I think it's a tossup between '61 and '62. The '62 team was more dominant, but I kind of favor the '61 team because Starr, Taylor, Hornung and the defense were all in their primes, as evidenced by the 37-0 whipping the Packers put on the Giants in the '61 title game. I think on that day, the Packers of the Lombardi era were the best they ever were. Hornung started to break down the following season, then came the suspension and two missed playoff seasons, and Lombardi was forced to re-tool the Packers, which he did beautifully for a second-wind run that produced three more crowns. In my opinion, Lombardi was the star of those three title seasons.

Franklin from Birch Run, MI

I've heard of a mathematical formula teams use to evaluate trading of draft picks, assigning a point value to each draft position, or something like that. Is there something like that?

It's called a numerical table, which assigns a points value to each position in the draft. Teams trading back attempt to acquire picks with points values the sum of which exceed the points value of the pick they've traded. Teams trading up expect to lose the points value battle, which is the cost of being able to move into position to acquire the player you've targeted. You better be real sure of the player you're targeting. The Packers moved up to get Clay Matthews.

James from Waterloo, Ontario

Now that Seattle signed Flynn … did we by any chance put a first-round tender on him like the Steelers did with Mike Wallace?

Again, Matt Flynn was an unrestricted free agent, Wallace is a restricted free agent. You can't tender a UFA as you can an RFA; all you can do is tag them. About the only way the Packers could've gotten maximum compensation out of Flynn was by trading him prior to last season's trade deadline, but would that compensation have been worth the risk of not having a backup ready to play on a defending Super Bowl champion? Based on what happened in free agency, I have to believe the Packers wouldn't have gotten better than a second-round pick. Considering all that's happened, I think the Packers played their cards perfectly; they got maximum performance protection from Flynn and they will likely receive a significant compensatory pick for having lost him in free agency.

James from San Diego, CA

What do you think of drafting Janoris Jenkins, Dre Kirkpatrick or Trumaine Johnson and moving Woodson to safety, a la Rod Woodson, as a way to improve the defense?

Ronnie Lott made that move and it lengthened his great career, too. You have to be a top tackler to make that move and Charles Woodson has always been a top tackler. I think it's a no-brainer; it might add years and a lot more interceptions to what is already a Hall of Fame career.

Michael from Watertown, WI

Is there any particular reason the Packers are not making any big moves in free agency?

It's because they have discipline. They have strong beliefs and they are disciplined in their adherence to those beliefs. I'm glad they are the way they are because it dovetails with what I believe, and that allows me to answer these questions from my heart. I believe in the draft. I believe free agency can be used in its more affordable stages to find a gem here and there, but it should always be secondary to the draft in a team's pursuit of talent. Football is a game of replacement, not maintenance. It's a young man's game. I believe with all my heart in those two statements. Good personnel departments challenge themselves to find new talent to develop. They don't fill their roster full of players the competition didn't want. A patch here and there is necessary, but the less necessary it is the better off you are because that means you're drafting well, and teams that draft well play well.

Steve from Carlton, MN

What do you see as Derek Sherrod's role on the offensive line next year?

First of all, he's got a major injury to rehab. We might get an indication of where he's at in his recovery according to if or how much he can participate in OTAs. He's an important piece in the Packers' offensive line of the future.

Chris from Burlington, ON

Can you explain in more detail the "Mel Blount Rule"? How did this rule change become a turning point?

I think of it as having given birth to Part II of the modern era of professional football, because the 5-yard chuck rule that eliminated bump-and-run pass defense did for the passing game what the league had been unsuccessfully trying to do for years. The rules change of 1972 that moved the hash marks toward the center of the field was intended to promote the passing game, but it caused an explosion of thousand-yard rushers. One rule, the rule that allowed defenders to maintain contact with receivers until the ball was in the air, was the problem. Blount was an enormous defender who dwarfed most receivers but also possessed the speed to turn and run with them. In the years leading up to the chuck rule change, everybody was looking for big corners that could jam defenders. Mike Haynes was a big guy that could jam. The years following the "Mel Blount Rule" saw an explosion in small corners – Hanford Dixon and Frank Minnifield come to mind – that could mirror in coverage. It changed the game.

Will from Mt. Laurel, NJ

With Scott Wells signing with the Rams, we find ourselves with a troublesome situation.

And that's why we have to assume the Packers have a distinct strategy for replacing Wells. Allowing Wells to leave in free agency is a bold move. It's part of that discipline to which I referred. They had a position on Wells and they weren't going to compromise it, so the Packers challenged themselves to replace him. They know what they're going to do. We don't know, but they do. Sometimes you just have to trust in that.

Ioana from Orlando, FL

How does a contract based on incentives affect the salary cap?

They count against it, depending on whether the incentives are likely to be earned or not likely to be earned. Nothing is paid without it being washed through the salary cap.

Niklas from Cologne, Germany

When you talk about the 3-4 defense, you say it has a positive effect on pressuring the quarterback since you can confuse offensive linemen when they don't know who is rushing the passer. If that's so, where exactly do you see the advantage of the 4-3?

The 4-3 is a great defense when your people are better than their people. You just line up and whip them, play after play after play. You don't need schemes to do it because you have the talent to do it. You have Reggie White. Or you have ends as the Giants do. What if you're playing a 4-3 and you don't have ends that can rush the passer? Well, then you have to get into a lot of specialty rushers and schemes and, frankly, I don't think the 4-3 lends itself to versatility or creativity nearly as well as the 3-4 does.

Raymond from Winter Park, FL

I'm concerned about what you said about the CBA and the big-market teams pulling away from the small-market teams. I consider Green Bay a small-market team, so should Green Bay fans be worried that in years to come we might not be able to fund high-caliber players?

You omitted two words I included in my reference to small-market teams: low revenue. The Packers are not a low-revenue team. The Packers are a team with a huge regional and national fan base that gives the franchise high visibility and marketability. As a result, it can compete with the big-market teams. The only thing small-market about the Packers is where they play. Prior to Vince Lombardi's arrival, that wasn't true. The Lombardi era, however, propelled the Packers into a higher existence. If there had never been a Lombardi era, I'm not sure the Packers would still be in Green Bay.

Jim from Des Peres, MO

The great thing about sports is that it all comes out in the production wash. Apparently, Ted Thompson thought Scott Wells, who was the key to organizing the offensive line, wanted more than his value. Ted may be right. We shall see how penny-pinching works within the next nine months, shan't we?

I get the feeling you've already decided. I'll keep an open mind.

Adam from Stevens Point, WI

What were some of the top free-agent steals of this decade? Charles Woodson comes to my mind, rejuvenating his career with the Packers.

Woodson wasn't a week-one signing. He lasted until the second month of free agency, when the Packers jumped in and picked a plum. Drew Brees was a risky free-agent signing because he was coming off major arm surgery and the Saints signed Brees without even having seen him throw. The Saints had reached the desperation stage and they got lucky. James Farrior is another home run that comes to mind. He was an eighth overall pick by the Jets and they let him go in free agency just as he was coming into the prime of his career. They didn't see what he would become. He would play 10 more years and become one of the best linebackers in the game. It happens. Teams make mistakes and good personnel departments see them and sign those guys. Those mistakes, however, are the exception, not the rule.

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