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What will it take for defense to be elite?

See everything, not just what you want to see


Laura from Milwaukee, WI

I hear coach say we do not, yet, have a championship defense. What, in your opinion, would it take to get there, besides ILB?

Championship defense begins with stopping the run. The Packers have made some real gains at stopping the run the past two seasons, but it involved moving Clay Matthews to inside linebacker, and that came at the cost of rushing the passer, which is the second-most important ingredient a championship defense possesses. So, I think becoming a championship defense begins with replacing Matthews on the inside. Maybe Sam Barrington and Jake Ryan are the answers inside, but I think the Packers need to address the position more fully than with hope. Find a butt-kicking inside linebacker and move Matthews outside. That's what I think the Packers have to do to become an elite defense. I think they've got the secondary to take them to the next level.

Weston from Lake Geneva, WI

Do you see Ty Montgomery as someone who can stretch the field?

I see him as a run-after-the-catch slot receiver. Those aren't stretch-the-field guys; boundary receivers are stretch-the-field guys. I see Montgomery as the type of receiver who stretches the underneath area, which is to say make people miss and force deep defenders to do what they don't do naturally, tackle.

Michael from Tampa, FL

I've been seeing more and more mock drafts with the Packers taking Arkansas TE Hunter Henry with their first-round pick. I know it's not even the combine, yet, but is it worth taking a TE over other positions of need, like linebacker or offensive tackle? The Packers haven't taken a TE in the first round since Bubba Franks back in 2000.

If he's the No. 1 guy on their board, pick him. By now, we should know the Packers are a best-available-player team. If we don't understand that, and don't understand what BAP means, it's impossible to discuss the draft and the Packers' process for it. Yes, there is wiggle room within that process, but not much.

Damian from Cleveland, OH

I want to become more informed about the draft. Could you tell us what things about a player is fixable/coachable?

Size (weight, not height) and strength are fixable. The way a player is used is fixable. His nutrition and lifestyle are fixable, if his love and commitment to the game are complete. Everything about a player is fixable, except his speed and athletic ability. Find a fast, athletic player with fixable size and strength, and then identify a way to utilize him. Get the speed; it's always about speed. Rosters must get faster.

Rob from Chadron, NE

Seriously, though, we win the Super Bowl by signing all three released Rams players. Guaranteed. No doubt.

This is the kind of silliness that drives my dislike of free agency.

Brad from Tinley Park, IL

Vic, what's your take on Ladarius Green?

He's a big, young tight end with an up arrow, all of which makes it likely Green will be re-signed by the Chargers.

Joseph from Rizal, Philippines

Vic, what is your assessment on the play of Datone Jones so far?

I thought he made major strides this past season. I think 2016 can be a breakout season for him.

Dan from Waupun, WI

What would you do to fill seats in the NFL? Can your answer work better than a TV?

If I owned a franchise that struggled to sell tickets, I'd investigate pregame entertainment options. If my team can't sell tickets, maybe a rock band can.

Barry from Glasgow, Scotland

Vic, another year, another free agency and we Packers fans look for Ted Thompson to make that splash. There is nothing to suggest this year will be any different from previous years and Thompson will do very little in free agency. Am I right?

He does what's best for the team. You want to be entertained.

Michael from Atlanta, GA

How about Bruce Irvin?

We've talked about him. He would certainly be a big splash. I can't help but wonder why the Seahawks would let him go. Cap casualty? The NFLPA has long maintained there are no cap casualties; teams have the means to keep any player they want to keep. I agree. Teams make cap decisions well in advance of their cap deadlines. Those decisions are based on price point. That's where the risk comes in for teams willing to pay a price the player's original team isn't willing to pay. His original team has evaluated that player in every practice. They know more about him than any other team in the league. I have a lot of respect for Pete Carroll and the Seahawks. They don't make a lot of mistakes.

Jim from Stratford, WI

Saturday, when regarding free agents, you talked about off-the-field issues contributing to a player being cut. People wanted Randy Gregory to slip to us. He didn't and he's been suspended again for four games. How does our office evaluate a potential player's personality? Is it a sit down and talk, or do scouts evaluate that, as well as talent?

It goes much deeper than a conversation in a hotel room at the combine and word of mouth between a scout and the prospect's college coach. NFL teams have security divisions. When they dig in on a prospect's background, there isn't much a team doesn't know about a prospect's off-the-field behavior.

Zach from Mount Pleasant, UT

Vic, when a player is cut by a team, when can they be contacted by another team? How does the waiver process come into play?

A vested veteran is not subject to the waiver process. He's free to talk with another team the moment he's been released.

Nick from Centereach, NY

Do you see the NFL expanding to any other cities in the foreseeable future?

Expanding? No. Relocating? Yes. San Antonio and Las Vegas have been mentioned. If St. Louis is serious about building a state-of-the-art stadium, I think it should be considered.

Chase from Morton, IL

Vic, let's assume these players are available and the Packers for, whatever reason, had to take one. Which would you prefer out of Tamba Hali, Shea McClellin or Haloti Ngata?

I love Hali's attitude and motor. He's been a great player for a long time, but now he's 32 and he has a knee issue. I get the sense he'll do something with the Chiefs. McClellin is young enough for a second wind to his career. I loved him at his Senior Bowl. He needs to go where he might fit a specific role. Ngata was a dominant defensive tackle in Baltimore. He was thought to be a cap casualty. The Ravens are very good managers. I'll stick with what I have. I like young, developing talent.

David from Hilliard, OH

If the Packers and, specifically, Mr. Thompson do not make a serious effort to sign Mr. Laurinaitis, I will doubt their commitment to bringing a Lombardi Trophy back to Green Bay! A tackling machine at a needed position and still fairly young, being a seven-year veteran. I do not see a negative here, do you?

He's been a very good player, but I would ask why the Rams released him. I would also suggest A.J. Hawk was the same player, and I think it needs to be acknowledged Laurinaitis had Aaron Donald playing in front of him the past two seasons. See everything, not just what you want to see.

Andrew from Pleasantville, NJ

After watching the film "Concussion" and seeing the unfortunate end of Mike Webster's life, could you explain just how great of a football player he was on the field?

He was a piston that struck with the same powerful blow, play after play, game after game for nearly two decades. He was taken for granted, until now. Now, everyone knows his name. I'm glad I was sitting in the dark when I saw the movie.

Jonathan from Wilmington, NC

Vic, how does Tony know when he has looked at a player enough to form an opinion on him? Does he ever go back and take a second or third look and change his mind?

I think he did on Cam Newton. Newton had a habit of throwing off his back foot. Tony didn't like it, but I think he changed his mind.

Rick from Elizabethton, TN

My son and about eight more friends try to drive the 15 hours to Titletown once a year to see a Packers game. It never gets old but I do. Don't know how many more trips I can make.

As long as our hearts love, we are young.

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