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We'll see the real schemes on Sunday


Eric from Colorado Springs, CO

Everyone is going nuts on the pass-first trend and how it will never change. It seems to be on a rotation of sorts. What makes the pass-first trend we are seeing now different from all the others I remember that were here to stay?

What you've detected is legislation by the league to stimulate offense, followed by the inevitable catch up by defense, followed by more legislation to stimulate offense. It's an age-old process. What makes this process different from those of the past is that it's married to a desperate player-safety movement, and the league's commitment to that player-safety movement is so intense that I can't foresee the league allowing defense to catch up, again. If it happens, I don't think it'll be a leaguewide trend, and the league will act quickly to legislate against it, just as it did in 1978 when it legislated big, bump-and-run cornerbacks out of existence.

D.J. from Mission Viejo, CA

The middle of the Packers secondary has been suspect for the last couple of years and looks to continue struggling into this year. Are you concerned about this and, if so, what do you think the Packers can do to tighten things up so we don't get picked apart again this season?

Every secondary gets picked apart. That's the nature of today's game, that offenses are moving the ball through the air with the greatest of ease. I think you're underestimating the talent in the Packers secondary. With a healthy Davon House, I think the Packers have one of the most talented secondaries in the league. The issue, in my opinion, is the pass rush. If you can't rush the passer, you can't stop the pass.

T.K.W. from West Bend, WI

Is there a limit to how many seasons a player can be on a practice squad?

The limit is three.

Dillon from Milwaukee, WI

I saw this picture of Y.A. Tittle sitting in the end zone and the caption read something like "Y.A. Tittle sitting in the end zone after a linebacker hit him and caused three cracked ribs and a broken sternum." He went on to continue the game. Who, in your opinion, has that old-school nastiness about them on the field now that resembles how the guys back then played?

If you're referring to the famous picture of Tittle that makes his head look like a cracked egg, then I'll tell you I was sitting in that end zone where Tittle got hit, and it wasn't a linebacker that hit him, it was a defensive end named John Baker. Actually, we didn't think much about it at the time. It wasn't until the picture appeared in the newspaper the next day that it became a big deal. Who in the game today resembles the guys that played back then? That's easy: James Harrison.

Jeremiah from Two Rivers, WI

I usually agree with your viewpoint, Vic, but Steve Slaton a star? He had a really good rookie season, but has been a bust since.

That's the point I was trying to make. Alex Gibbs and his zone-blocking scheme turned a running back who hadn't previously been a star and never would be a star again, into a 1,282-yard, nine-touchdown rusher.

Nick from Toronto, Ontario

What do you think is more likely: The offense being better this year than last, or the defense returning to the form of a couple of seasons ago?

I think it's more likely the defense returns to the form of 2010 because I just can't imagine an offense playing better than the one I saw last season.

Brandon from Tucson, AZ

Say a player on our offensive line gets injured, are the Packers allowed to switch that player with a player from the practice squad until he makes his recovery, just to save space on the 53-man roster?

You've got a lot of things going on here; let's try to sort them out. The "switch" would involve a lot of procedures. Practice-squad players are free agents. They are not members of a team, therefore, moving a player up from the practice squad would require signing that player to a contract, which means having to drop a player from that team's 53. You can't just assign the injured lineman to the practice squad. He might not even have practice-squad eligibility. More importantly, he's injured, therefore, cutting him would involve waiving him injured and possibly either putting him on injured reserve or having to do an injury settlement with him. If you want him to return to action, you'd likely have to keep him on the 53 and cut someone else. The kind of switch you're suggesting involves a lot of roster manipulation. It's not as simple as switching out one player for another.

Phil from Santa Maria, CA

Vic, are you going to do Super Bowl picks?

No, I'm not, Phil, and here's why: If I make picks that include the Packers, I get accused of being a homer. If I make picks that don't include the Packers, then I'm accused of not being a fan. Some people become so angry they threaten to have me fired. So, if I always pick the Packers to win every game and become the only team in history to go 19-0 every season, why bother with predictions?

Michael from Mason, TX

I asked a question with a small but deliberate punctuation mistake to see if it would be corrected. It was and I find it funny. Should I seek psychiatric help?

That's not necessary. Marriage, children and mortgages are all cures for your problem.

Baird from Cypress, CA

Why did Roger Staubach win MVP of Super Bowl VI? He did not have a very good game.

When I see a question like this, I become sad. I feel sorry for the game, me, Staubach, the players that could actually block and tackle, the coaches who taught those fundamental skills, etc. Most of all, I feel sorry for you and those in your generation that have been desensitized to human confrontation by an avalanche of meaningless statistics. Staubach completed 12 of 19 passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns. That was a workmanlike day for a quarterback in an era when defenses were allowed to offer resistance, and in an era when the quarterback was live to the ground. I'm sorry you missed it. It was beautiful football.

Tim from Chicago, IL

If you are on injured reserve, does it count against the 53-man roster?

You wouldn't count toward the 53 but you would count toward the 80-man limit.

Lucy from Milwaukee, WI

Vic, now that the four preseason games are over, what is your opinion of the Packers defense's pass rush? Has it improved enough to put us where we need to be? More important, is this a championship-caliber defense?

First of all, we haven't really seen the Packers pass rush, yet, because the pass rush in a 3-4 alignment involves a lot of scheme that won't be revealed until Sunday. When the full package is revealed, I think we'll see evidence that the Packers pass rush this season will be better than it was last season, because I see evidence of more speed and athletic ability in the linebacking corps and in the front seven overall. How much better? I'd be guessing if I tried to answer that question. The only thing about which I'm certain is the Packers have more speed and athletic ability on defense this year than they did last year, and that leads me to believe the defense will be improved.

L.J. from Chicago, IL

Vic, with camp over, are all the outside practices at Hinkle Field or will they still utilize Nitschke Field?

Nitschke Field is now in repair mode. Hinkle Field is the site of outdoor practices during the Packers' in-season regimen.

Kristopher from Janesville, WI

I know about the "Turk" and what he does, but how did he get his name?

I asked the "Turk" a long time ago how he got his name, and he told me it was all about the scimitar carried by the mythical "Turk." Off with your head! Get it? I forget what movie popularized the "Turk" and his scimitar. Maybe one of our readers has information on that. I remember the "Turk" being a big, full-faced character who wore a turban and a menacing smile, and he always carried his scimitar.

Eric from Sheboygan Falls, WI

Vic, with the new IR rule, does that player have to go to that today? Or can a team put a guy on that later, say in Week 4 or 5, and then be available late in the season?

Only one player per team is permitted to be designated as eligible to return to the active roster from the injured reserve list. He can be assigned to the injured reserve list at any time in the season, but he must spend a minimum of eight weeks on injured reserve before being eligible to re-join the active roster.

Jon from Kingsford, MI

What is going to come first, a successful team in Los Angeles or a team in the UK?

I think there will be a team in Los Angeles within the next few years. I expect a team in London to be part of an evolutionary process.

Hansen from Whitewater,WI

What is the current status of Davon House and his shoulder injury?

We'll begin getting reports on Wednesday of players' practice participation. On Friday, teams will present injury reports that will list players with injuries as either probable, questionable, doubtful or out. Probable means there's a 75 percent chance the player will play in the next game; questionable is a 50 percent chance; doubtful is a 25 percent chance; out means the player will not play in the next game. Teams don't offer anything more than the minimum information they're required to provide. We'll get our first indications of where House is in his rehab when the Packers provide their practice participation report on Wednesday.

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