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What if the fans made the picks?

Keeping team together never more difficult


Anthony from Baraboo, WI

Vic, in 2011, offenses around the league had a record-setting season, yet, defense has dominated since the divisional round of the playoffs that season. What happened? I thought the league wanted basketball on grass?

I won't go so far as to say defense has dominated since the 2011 regular season ended, but I'll admit to being surprised two Super Bowl titles have been won by teams that were clearly defensive minded. That's especially true for the most recent Super Bowl because the Broncos won the title with a largely ineffective offense; the Seahawks played well on offense in the 2013 postseason. It's the difference between the Broncos defense and the great defenses of the past that intrigues me. The '76 Steelers allowed 29 points in the final nine games of that season; five of those games were shutouts. The '85 Bears only had the one bad game, against the Dolphins. The 2000 Ravens defense was so good it marched to the Super Bowl without the offense scoring a touchdown in October. The Broncos defense, however, wasn't always impenetrable. Antonio Brown lit them up in the regular season, and it wasn't as though the Patriots didn't move the ball on the Broncos. Yesteryear's great defenses were great all the time. Today's great defenses seem to be the product of mismatches at key positions. The Patriots' and Panthers' tackles couldn't handle the Broncos' edge rushers, and that's why the Broncos dominated. More than ever, football is about matchups.

Nick from Dallas, TX

I know it's fun to look at mock drafts and see who experts have the Packers taking, but knowing Ted Thompson draft picks, it's impossible to predict what is going on in his mind. Have you ever been a fan of the mock draft?

It's a means for identifying team needs; that's all.

FB John Kuhn, the 10 year vet out of Shippensburg, scored two TDs this season and was selected to the Pro Bowl. Photos by Shawn Hubbard, Jim Biever, and Matt Becker,

Matt from Lincoln City, OR

What position is lost in the 10-man team?

On offense, I think it would be fullback. On defense, middle linebacker. Here's what I think is interesting: Once upon a time, those were premier positions, though today's fullback is yesteryear's halfback. I think it still says something about the evolution of the game.

Rick from Stockholm, Sweden

Vic, are you a fan of the franchise tag?

I'm not a fan of the franchise tag because I think it creates enmity between the team and the player, and all it really does is delay the inevitable.

Grace from Florence, SD

How many people and coaches are on your team?

I'm OK with the roster numbers, except I'd like to see the practice squad expanded. That's your developmental team. I like to see young talent identified and allow it to advance through the system at its own pace. As for coaching staffs, they're increasing in size and that provides a place for young coaches to enter the system.

Jeff from Pekin, IL

Vic, I bet you are tired of all the political ads running in South Carolina by now.

It's constant; I've stopped watching TV. What bothers me the most is the negative advertising. One candidate runs an ad attacking another candidate. Ted Cruz has even gone so far as to accuse Marco Rubio of being a Democrat. That's tasteless! I mean, call a man cheap, lying, no good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, dog-kissing, brainless, hopeless, heartless and spotty-lipped, but calling him a Democrat is just going too far. Wait until they find out about me.

Stephen from Cedar Falls, IA

With how deep the WR class is this year, should the Packers consider drafting a big WR and converting him to be our speed TE?

Speed tight end? Hey, if he's not tight to the formation and can't block, he's not a tight end. The position really needs to be defined, for the sake of the true tight ends.

Joseph from Clifton Park, NY

You have mentioned you would favor an NFC vs. AFC playoff format. Could you explain how you think/hope it would work, and do you think the league would ever change to it?

Low seed plays at high seed. Nothing changes, except it's interconference. The league will never do it, but I love the idea. I love the conference-pride thing; it drives college football and I think the NFL needs some of it.

Harold from Chippewa Falls, WI

Vic, what do you think of the Dolphins owner telling his new coach, Adam Gase, he has three years to get the team to the playoffs?

He didn't need to be told. Every coach hopes he gets three years. The wolves begin howling after year one.

Raym from Harrisburg, PA

Vic, it was good to see Kevin Greene, who still looks like he could play. Was he better with the Steelers or the Rams?

Joining Dom Capers is the best thing that ever happened to Greene. He was misused in Los Angeles. Capers plugged him into a 3-4 and it was Greene's years in Pittsburgh and Carolina that have taken him to Canton.

Hansen from Whitewater, WI

When can teams start making trades?

Everything happens at the same time on the first day of the league calendar year: Under the cap, trade, sign free agents. First, you must be under the cap; you can't trade a player to get there.

Mark from Seattle, WA

Vic, do you think Aaron Rodgers will grab another Super Bowl ring before his time is up with the Packers?

Yes, I do.

Martin from Grafton, WI

How did Damarious Randall's season compare to the other cornerbacks taken ahead of him in the draft?

There were four taken ahead of Randall: Trae Waynes, Kevin Johnson, Marcus Peters and Byron Jones. Peters had a sensational season. I think Randall was right behind Peters.

Isaac from Nashville, TN

Vic, is it a coincidence that in the last decade or so it seems to have become more difficult to win multiple Super Bowls?

It's the salary cap and free agency at work. Keeping a team together has never been more difficult. The Broncos are the perfect example. Within hours of winning the Super Bowl, the big story was about the challenges the Broncos faced to keep some of their top players.

Ben from Columbus, WI

Vic, has a team ever loaded up with veteran free agents on the last leg of their careers to build an experienced team quickly?

George Allen did largely the same thing long before the salary cap and unrestricted free agency began. He traded draft picks for veteran players to create the Redskins' "Over the Hill Gang." They got to the Super Bowl but didn't win one. All they got was older.

Jake from River Falls, WI

Could you expand on your answer to Kasey about Cobb technically not making it to free agency, therefore not counting against compensatory-pick awards? I was wondering the same thing. Does it have to do with the fact he never left his original team, therefore was never a free agent?

Allow me to correct a previous mistake, and I apologize for any confusion I may have caused. The only free agents that count in the compensatory-pick formula are ones signed by or from other clubs. Re-signing one's own free agents does not factor into the formula. That said, I like the offer window idea. It gives original teams the opportunity to compete to keep their players. It's a rule that effectively lessens the free-agent market, and another reason I advise everyone to wait until free agency begins before "signing" players.

Ben from Juneau, WI

Vic, what is the obsession with having the easiest schedule next year? They still have to go out and compete and get through 16 games and win the majority. Of the last five years, the teams with the top five easiest schedules have only made the playoffs 12 of 26 (three tied for fourth easiest in 2011), and none of them have won the Super Bowl. May be easier but still have to go out and play.

The 2008 Patriots had one of the easiest schedules in NFL history. Then Tom Brady injured his knee and the Patriots didn't make the playoffs. That's what one injury can do to a team. Predictions are meaningless if you can't predict injuries.

Chris from Ashland, WI

My prediction for the draft this year: Packers pick an OT and fans write to you in outrage because they wanted a TE or WR. The Packers are playing in January once again next season.

What if a fan poll was taken for every round in the draft and the team had to pick according to what player the fans wanted the team to pick? How do you think that would turn out?

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