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What triggers 'team of destiny' feeling?


Cody from Madison, WI

I was reading about the new postseason overtime rules. If I'm reading it right, if the first team to kick off does an onside and recovers, that counts as the receiving team's first possession, so the kicking team can just go get a field goal and win it. If so, do you think teams will take the slightly better onside gamble, or still play overtime like they usually do?

Somebody will try it. I like the old sudden-death rules. If it was good enough for Johnny Unitas, it's good enough for me.

Dennis from Coeur d'Alene, ID

If you were a team in need of a quarterback, would you rather take a chance on Matt Flynn or what you could come up with in the draft?

I think the right personnel approach to your question is to regard Flynn, should he become an unrestricted free agent, as a draft prospect. In other words, I think he should be evaluated and ranked with the quarterbacks in the draft because, after all, that's the competition; the cost is going to be similar except that in Flynn's case he wouldn't cost you a pick but would cost you more in the way of money, when you add in the cost of Flynn and the first-round pick. The new CBA rules regarding rookie-pool money makes drafting a quarterback high more attractive than in past years because the risk has been lessened. If you have one of the top picks, I think you'd have to decide which quarterback is best, Flynn, Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III. Once that question is answered, your question can be answered.

Matthew from Syracuse, NY

Knowing the Packers are to get a lower pick in the first round, unless they trade up, do they still scout the top 10-15 prospects?

Yes, you evaluate, grade and rank everybody because you never know when a player might fall in the draft, as Aaron Rodgers did, and you need to include that kind of information in every prospect's file in your personnel data basis, for future reference should he become available to you. It's also information the pro personnel side of the department can use in providing advance information. You need to know the league, not just your players.

Rob from Oshkosh, WI

I don't understand why people keep bringing up the Grant snow angel. The rules clearly state you can't go to the ground in a celebration. I remember Wes Welker made a snow angel after scoring against the Cardinals a few years ago and he got flagged for it, too. At least we can say the officials are consistent on making that call.

Why didn't players make snow angels back in the old days? Because Butkus would've ripped their wings off. It was a kind of free-markets approach to football. Maybe the game has become too regulated.

Joseph from Las Vegas, NV

Last year, the Packers went into the postseason backed into a corner injury- and record-wise. The sense of urgency, how does a team create it?

I think you've asked the definitive question for all teams heading into the postseason. It's a question every coach asks himself: How do I peak my team for the playoffs and give it that "team of destiny" feeling. It has been my experience that feeling isn't something you create, it's something that's triggered. I'll use three teams, one of which Packers fans are most familiar, and two I covered as examples: 1.) The 2010 Packers that won Super Bowl XLV appeared to be dead in the water until DeSean Jackson's punt-return gave the Packers hope, and they followed that stroke of luck with a gutsy performance in New England. That one-two punch triggered something in the Packers. It gave them that "team of destiny" feeling and it grew with each subsequent win. 2.) The 1974 Steelers were a very good team, but they didn't become a great team until George Perles turned Joe Greene sideways over center in what Perles would call the "Stunt 4-3" for the first postseason game, causing the Steelers to shut down O.J. Simpson and trigger a feeling that would lift them to victory in the AFC title game in Oakland and to the Super Bowl IX title. When the football world decried that the Miami-Oakland playoff game was the real Super Bowl, the Steelers got that "team of destiny" feeling and nobody could stop them. 3.) The 1996 Jaguars were 4-7 and nobody thought they'd win another game, when they rallied from a big deficit to score an overtime win in Baltimore that triggered a seven-game, Cinderella-like winning streak that carried the Jaguars to the AFC title game. In that run, Morten Andersen chunked a chip-shot field goal attempt to allow the Jaguars into the playoffs, and the top-seeded Broncos went to sleep after going out to a 12-0 lead, allowing one of the biggest upsets in NFL postseason history. With each win, the Jaguars' "team of destiny" feeling grew. It'll probably happen in this postseason. One play or one game will trigger a run. What team, what player, what coach will trigger that play?

Daryl from Jacksonville, FL

The Packers defense has not been getting to the quarterback as much this year. What do you think Coach Capers will do to get after them in the postseason?

He'll do the same thing he's done all season: He'll watch tape of the opponents, looking for any weakness he can detect that might allow for an advantage. He'll check stances for balance. He'll watch to see how a guard-tackle combination handled a particular stunt or twist and if he finds a team that used a stunt or twist effectively, he'll incorporate it into the Packers' scheme. He'll look for something in the opponents' scheme that would tip a play. Mostly, he'll get a "book" on down-and-distance tendencies and look for personnel matchups he can exploit by shading a player to this side or that side. It might be something as subtle as a center who likes to anticipate the snap count, or a guard that turns his hand a little more to the outside when he pulls, or spreads his fingers when he's going to pass-block. It's the little things that can make a big difference.

Matt from Washington, IL

The AFC was "hot" this past decade with championships going to a majority of AFC teams. Do you think this next decade will return the "hot" factor to the NFC?

I think this season's NFC playoff field is stronger than the AFC's, but I don't see anything that suggests dominance by one conference.

Tim from Stratford, WI

Why do you think the Packers defense went from one of the best to worst over one year?

Did it, really? I know the ranking did, but did the causes of that ranking fall occur over a one-year period? Five of the Packers' first six draft picks in 2011 are offensive players. Three of the last four first picks are offensive players. Twenty of the last 34 draft picks have been offensive players. When you employ a best available player draft philosophy, it happens like that, and over time it'll shift in the other direction. It's no coincidence that the Packers got strong on defense in 2010 after using two first-round picks on defensive players in 2009. You are what you draft. The Packers have added a lot of impact players on offense in recent drafts, and that's why the offense is arguably the best in the game. You can't draft everybody.

Alex from Long Beach, CA

How different is the regular-season bye week compared to the postseason bye week?

They're very different. When players leave Lambeau Field to go on break in the regular season, they take their minds with them. They truly shut it down for a week. Not now. Their bodies take a rest, but their minds stay at Lambeau. There's no shutting it down now. There's a tension in the air in the postseason that can't be eased until it's over or you're out. During the regular-season bye week, I'm not sure how many of the players watch that week's games, but I'm certain they'll all be watching this weekend's games. Anxiety lives within every team in the playoffs. It's what makes the postseason what it is.

Lindsey from Appleton, WI

I'm surprised nobody has pointed out Rodgers/Flynn combination of 51 passing touchdowns on the season. That ties Manning/Sorgi in 2004 and breaks Brady's 50 in 2007.

After the win over the Bears, I asked Aaron Rodgers if he wanted the opportunity to pursue Tom Brady's record in the regular-season finale. Rodgers smiled and said, "That's probably safe." Well, when Flynn threw his sixth touchdown pass last Sunday, all I could think was, "It wasn't safe."

Matt from Green Bay, WI

Didn't Joe Montana run a "system" called the "West Coast Offense?"

Absolutely he did, and he never played in anything but that system. I think he had the skills to succeed in other systems, but we'll never know because he found one that was perfectly suited for his skills and he became the symbol of it.

Bryce from Iron Mountain, MI

Do you see the Packers drafting a quarterback? Or do you think they will stick with the Rodgers/Harrell duo?

Two quarterbacks aren't enough. The quarterback position is much too important to ignore. If one doesn't present itself when it's the Packers' turn to draft, then they'll need to move into a position where one fits, or sign one in undrafted free agency or off the street or whatever. The development of young talent at that position must be continuous. If you get caught with your pants down at quarterback, you're facing a long recovery.

Mike from Bridgeport, CT

A guy called my local radio station and said he had the same surgery done as Peyton Manning. He said Peyton would be putting his life on the line if he continued to play football. You've said you had a similar procedure done. What do you think about Manning from a health point of view?

I had the same surgical procedure and the level at which the neck is fused becomes the strongest joint in the whole spine. Manning can quit football and become a crash-test dummy without worry for the level he had fused. The concerns are for the levels directly above and below the fused level later in life, but they are not of a life-threatening nature.

Brian from Milwaukee, WI

This website was great when you were in Jacksonville. How can one man do so much damage?

I do the best I can.

Paul from Lakeside, MT

Vic, Randy Quaid as Cousin Eddie from "Christmas Vacation," or as Lenny from "Of Mice and Men?"

Talk about typecast. Poor Lenny. He might be Steinbeck's greatest character.

Marv from Houston, TX

I am 84 and I can attest to the fact defense wins championships because when the Bears had Bill Wade at quarterback, who I think was the worst quarterback in the league, they won because they had the best defense in the league.

Those were the good old days, right, Marv?

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