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Top three players I would pick


Trent from Clinton, UT

I liked the reference to Henry David Thoreau in "Ask Vic." Who's your favorite writer?

Steinbeck. "By 10:45, it was all over." Does that make you wanna read more?

Gabe from Jacksonville, FL

Since you've opened your Green Bay wing of the the "Ask Vic Hall of Fame," can you remind us of some of the classic gems stored in the Jacksonville wing?

I think my favorite is the guy who was tired of fighting crows to get to the game. Of course, I'll always have a soft spot for the guy that was obsessed with FULL CONSISTENCY. I don't know what it is about those two words, but they always make me laugh.

Fred from Beaver Dam, WI

If another team takes a player off of this team's practice squad, does this team have the option to promote him to the full-time roster first? I could see teams going after Graham Harrell with all of the quarterbacks going down or failing.

Practice-squad players are free agents free to sign with any team at any time. It's always an option. It's also an option to pay a practice-squad player as much as you want to keep him on your practice squad. The only regulation governing the signing of another team's practice-squad player is that he must be signed to the acquiring team's active roster; he can't be signed to that team's practice squad.

John from Grand Forks, ND

Your idea of Rodgers taking an eye test to see how quickly he recognizes a target was done on Sports Science on ESPN. They used special glasses to track the pupil of the eye to three targets that light up and then the QB throws the ball at the target. It was pretty neat, over my head, but cool. I think Rodgers would destroy that test.

Think about his skill set: Great arm, great release, mobile, courageous, durable, intelligent, dedicated, calm under fire, easily identifies open receivers, coachable. What's not to like, right? So why did so many teams pass on him? Well, he had a shoulder injury coming into the draft and that dropped his stock a little, but the big one was the failures of Jeff Tedford quarterbacks such as Akili Smith, Joey Harrington and Kyle Boller. If I'm a scout, Rodgers has taught me a lesson: Draft the player, not the coach. All of the teams that passed on Rodgers, especially the teams that needed a quarterback, are paying a terrible price, and it's a price they'll pay for 10-plus years.

Eric from Wausau, WI

Vic, suppose you're hired as a GM in some fantasy world, and you have the opportunity to select three players to start this franchise. Who would you pick and why?

Rodgers, Revis and Pierre-Paul. I think the first two are easy to understand: Pass the ball, defend against the pass. Rodgers opens up the field, Revis cuts it in half. The possibility exists that Rodgers and Revis may be the best at their positions that have ever played the game. The third guy, Jason Pierre-Paul, is an emerging player. His performance on Sunday was jaw-dropping, especially for a player with his limited experience. He was a one-year wonder at South Florida, which means his upside is enormous. I think he'll be the league's next great pass-rusher. He reminds me of Bruce Smith.

Noble from Madison, WI

I hear much talk among fellow fans that they are worried about our high-octane passing offense in cold weather. I would make the argument that of the elite NFC passers, Rodgers is by far the most prepared to shine in the snow.

He certainly has the arm for it. Matt Stafford, Eli Manning and Tony Romo do, too. It's not the snow that's the issue as much as cold and wind. The combination of cold and wind can make the ball slick; snow or any kind of moisture would be welcomed by most quarterbacks. Quarterbacks with small hands have a tendency to "soap dish" the ball in the cold weather. It's a football term that means to have the ball slip out of a quarterback's hands. Frankly, I think the playoff field sets up very favorably for the Packers.

Samantha from Wisconsin Rapids, WI

I was reading a past column and I saw someone mentioned an "Ask Vic" coffee mug. How/where do I get one?

I left, they stayed behind. I saved one. I use it to hold pens, pencils.

Oliver from Boston, UK

Do you wear a toupee?

Darn it, Bethany, he guessed it.

Joe from Sherman, IL

In the old days, the strong safety always lined up to cover the tight end and the free safety kind of played centerfield. Can you explain the difference in their roles in today's game?

In the old days, the strong safety was more of a linebacker. Today, he's more of a cornerback. We're in the era of the pass. Tight ends aren't really tight ends anymore, they're oversized wide receivers. The field has been opened by rules changes and teams are playing "nickel" as much or more than they're playing their base defense. What it means is that strong safeties have to be good enough in coverage to line up on a wide receiver or a Jermichael Finley type of tight end because offensive coordinators are going to scheme to create that matchup.

Steve from Denver, CO

You've stated a few times that McCarthy would go for the undefeated season, even if homefield advantage is clinched early on. What leads you to this conclusion?

I think he's one of those kinds of coaches that can't bear to lose. I remember covering a game years ago when the situation was such that the obvious play was for the punter to step out of the end zone, take a safety and allow for a free kick with a few seconds to play in the game. The two points were meaningless; the only danger of losing was a blocked punt for a touchdown. Chuck Noll, however, elected to risk the block and punt the ball away. After the game, I asked him why he didn't take the safety. He just shook his head and looked away, and then muttered something about not being able to force himself to score points for the other team. That's what I'm talking about; the kind of ultra-competitiveness that makes it impossible for some coaches to accept defeat. I think Coach McCarthy has that in him.

Matt from Raleigh, NC

The 2007 Patriots beat the Giants 38-35. Coincidence? Are we destined for a rematch in the playoffs?

I do not wanna see that team again, especially with a healthy Osi Umenyiora and Ahmad Bradshaw. The Giants scare me.

Jeff from Austin, TX

I saw on the game chat you haven't considered taking a vacation during the season and I was wondering how many games you have missed over the 40 years.

Four games; two for cancer and two for a heart attack. The heart attack was more fun.

Andrew from Cincinnati, OH

On the second Driver touchdown, the rule says that if he is legally forced out he can't touch the ball first. What's to stop a defense from shoving receivers out of bounds in the first five yards?

The weight room.

Tudor from St. Augustine, FL

Yes, Vic, there is indeed a team out there that has the ability to rush like the Giants and cover like the Lions: the Baltimore Ravens. Have they done it every game? No, but they have done it many times this season. It's very possible you disagree but I think they are the only team in the league that could defeat the Packers. I can't think of any other player that has the potential to rattle Aaron Rodgers as much as Terrell Suggs.

You might be right. I think it's time for the Ravens to prove it.

Gil from Atlantic Beach, FL

What exactly is a "messenger guard?"

It was a Paul Brown invention for sending plays into the game. He'd shuttle guards in and out of the game and they would carry plays with them.

Josh from Burlington, WI

Was wondering why the Giants chose not to onside kick after that last score? Seems like they just handed the ball back to Rodgers and Green Bay offense.

If they had not recovered the onside kick, and the percentages would've clearly been against them, they would've been handing the ball to the Packers on the edge of field-goal range. Kicking it deep was the right play. I think there's another more intriguing debate in what the Giants decided to do, which was to move quickly enough in their touchdown drive to save time on the clock for an onside kick should they have failed to convert the two-point try. We had a lively debate in the office on this subject yesterday. Saving time is the smart "Madden" play, but was it the smart real-football play? The Giants' defense was gassed; Tom Coughlin had to know that. They got sliced and diced in the Packers' previous possession and there was no reason to believe they could stop the Packers from moving into field-goal range. Should they have expired the clock and let it come down to a two-point conversion for overtime or bust; you know, tie the game and win the overtime coin toss? I think it was obvious that whoever had the ball last was going to win.

Al from Wausau, WI

Vic, I'm 57 years young and have followed the Packers as long as I can remember. I can tell you who was in the living room with me watching on my parents' black-and-white TV the day Mr. Starr crossed the goal line. The 1967, 1997 and 2011 seasons stand out as the best Packers seasons I can remember. Enjoy it, Packer fans. For most teams, extremely special seasons only come along a few times every 50 years. For some teams, never. Do you agree, Vic?

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Vince from Belleview, FL

I am getting a little concerned on the defensive side of the ball. Between injuries, little pass-rush and inability to get off the field, if the turnovers dry up, the Packers can and will get beat. Seems to me that this puts an awful lot of pressure on the offense to score.

There comes a point in the season that you are what you are and what you are is your identity. We are rapidly approaching or have already reached that point in this season. If this is the Packers' identity, then they have to be true to it.

Scott from The Villages, FL

It seems there is an increased frequency of intentional grounding calls. What exactly are the dimensions of the box and which official is responsible for making the call?

The box is tackle to tackle and it is subject to the interpretation of the Referee, who is positioned behind the offensive backfield and has a clear view of the positions of the two offensive tackles.

Ryan from Irvine, CA

The Packers are winning and that's awesome, but their defense is really bugging me. I like hard-hitting, low-scoring games. Should I quit now and go watch hockey? Maybe sometime in the future we'll get a commissioner who will end the seven-on-seven era.

It's not gonna happen, Ryan. The commissioner is responding to two stimuli: 1.) the interests of the casual fan, who is attracted to the entertainment quality of professional sports and who determines the league's popularity; 2.) the movement toward a safer game, which has become a national campaign on the amateur level, spearheaded by the NFL, the nation's premier football league. I feel your pain, but we have to change our ways to accommodate a changing game.

Brandon from Ellenwood, GA

How come when making substitutions in the red zone, players don't run straight for the sidelines but instead run at an angle more towards the 30-, 35-yard line.

That's where their teammates and coaches are stationed, but if they need to get off the field quickly to avoid a too-many-men-on-the-field penalty, they may exit the playing field at any point between the two end lines, but it must be on their team's side of the field.

Dan from Davis, IL

If the NFL truly wants to protect players from helmet-to-helmet hits, why wasn't the offensive player penalized for the play Woodson was injured on? He lowered his head to cause the contact; Woodson was trying to make a leg tackle.

Passers and "defenseless receivers" are protected from helmet-to-helmet hits. Once a player becomes a "runner," and that includes the quarterback, that protection expires, excluding deliberate attempts to spear or ram an opponent with the crown of the helmet. A "runner" may use his helmet to defend himself by delivering a blow with his helmet to a defender's helmet.

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