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When do you make him 'The Man?'


Patrick from Edgewater, FL

With the current widespread use of the passing offense, will running backs have a worse chance of getting into the Hall of Fame in the future?

The role of the running back is changing. He's becoming more of a pass-catcher. Matt Forte, LeSean McCoy and Arian Foster are examples of the contemporary running back. They are running backs you want to get out into space, and the way to do that is by throwing them the football. The pounder is going the way of the dinosaur. I think our perception of running backs and our appreciation of them are going to undergo change. In the end, their numbers are going to be undeniable. The "New Age" running back will rush for 1,500 yards and lead his team in receptions. He'll score 20 or more touchdowns a season and his production will be so prolific that his ranks will begin to dominate the Hall of Fame nominations. It all started with Lenny Moore. He showed us another way a running back could be used.

Bill from Baton Rouge, LA

The outcome of games can be determined by three groups of people: players, coaches and officials. After each game is over, coaches and players generally have to face the media to answer questions about their performances, good or bad. Not only are the officials shielded from having to explain themselves, they appear to usually run off the field, sometimes with an escort, into the bowels of the stadium, presumably to their safe haven. I realize officials don't make the kind of money coaches and players make, but they are paid pretty handsomely. Having their NFL mouthpiece speak for their performance much after the fact just doesn't seem quite adequate to me. Your thoughts on the subject?

Officials have to explain themselves after every call they make, especially if it involves replay review. They are literally made to stand in the middle of the field and tell everyone in the building, and all of the millions watching on TV, how they screwed up. Do coaches and players have to do that? Has a coach ever walked to the middle of the field, picked up a microphone and said, "I should've run play-action?" Has a player ever got on the PA system and explained why he dropped a pass?

Heather from Atlanta, GA

Do you think Aaron Rodgers would be as good as he is if he was playing with an average or subpar receiving corps, instead of the crazy-talented group he has in Green Bay? How much of a quarterback's success can be attributed to the talent of his receivers?

Would he be as good? Probably not. Would he be good? Absolutely. I appreciate the point you're making, Heather, but you can find a hundred pass-catchers for every Aaron Rodgers you find.

Kevin from Devils Lake, ND

Do you think the Packers could win all 16 games? They already have won four.

They could, but that's not my expectation and I wouldn't even give it a thought until, say, Thanksgiving.

Hayden from Seattle, WA

This season's most impressive player up to this point, besides Aaron Rodgers, has to be Morgan Burnett. Agree or disagree?

He's one of them. He has a nose for the ball and he's shown a willingness to hit. That's a winning combination for a safety. Burnett is another one of those young core players that secures the Packers' future.

Bobby from Bloomfield, NJ

As of right now, what is the one team in the NFC you see as posing the biggest challenge to the Packers getting back to the Super Bowl?

The Lions.

P.J. from Cross City, FL

Do you have an update status on Nick Collins? We miss seeing him on the field. He's our hometown hero.

He underwent surgery last week and Coach McCarthy said on Wednesday that Collins is at home recovering comfortably. There's been a lot of speculation about his future. Understand this, a lot of guys have played following neck fusions, and Peyton Manning plans to continue to play following his neck-fusion surgery. What we need to do is let Nick speak on the subject because he's the one who will make the decision.

Jean from Lisbon, IA

What do you think about Randall Cobb? Do you think he has a bright future with the Packers? Why?

He's a stunning talent. He's my favorite kind of receiver, which is to say a guy that plays along the ground. By that I mean he keeps his feet moving through the catch. I hate the catch-and-fall-down types. They have to post up on everything they catch. Defensive backs love those guys because they know there's no fear of yards after the catch. Cobb sends chills down the backs of defensive backs because when the ball settles in his hands, the play has just begun.

Daniel from Greenwood, IN

Given how lights out Aaron Rodgers is playing, what are your views on sitting rookie quarterbacks as opposed to throwing them in the NFL in Week 1?

If you're talking about when to install a young quarterback as a starter, my answer would depend on when he was drafted. If he's a first-round pick, my answer would be as soon as possible. You see, when you take a quarterback in the first round, it's not if, it's when. He's "The Man," or at least he soon will be "The Man." Everybody knows that and until he's installed as "The Man," the question will keep coming, when? If you've invested a first-round pick in a quarterback at a time when the incumbent still has life left in him, there's no need to rush, but it's gonna happen sooner than later; that's just the reality of the situation. If you've invested a first-round pick in a quarterback at a time when there is no incumbent or the incumbent is a marginal player, which is usually the case, then get the kid in there and get on with it as fast as you can. It takes three years to know about a young quarterback. The sooner you find out, the sooner you can step into your future. Rodgers' situation was unique.

Kyanna from Oklahoma City, OK

Do you think the Packers defensive line will take advantage of the Falcons' troubled offensive line? Maybe it will result in getting the linebackers more sacks.

The Falcons have allowed 13 sacks and are 22nd in the league in sacks per pass play. The Packers defense has 11 sacks and is 14th in the league in sacks per pass play, which puts the Packers in the top half of the league in sacks. Yeah, I think the Packers have an edge in getting to the quarterback. The real edge is in protecting Aaron Rodgers. The Falcons are 30th in the league in sacks per pass play; the Packers are 11th in the league in sacks allowed per pass play.

Tony from Green Bay, WI

Traditionally, the run opens up the passing game but, with the Packers, I think our passing game stretches out the field to open up the running game. Your thoughts?

It can work that way. It's risky to load the box against the Packers because you're inviting the deep ball against single-high safety, and if you decide to load the box and play "Cover Three" to take the deep ball away, you expose yourself underneath and allow Rodgers to dink and dunk you to death. It's the same conundrum defensive coordinators have faced in scheming against Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. I covered a playoff game in which Mike Smith, a defensive coordinator then, had no choice but to play soft against Brady, and Brady completed 26 of 28 passes. How do you choose to die, fast or slow, huh? Here's the thing about the pass opening up the run: Yes, it backs defenders away from the box, but it's still seven blockers on seven box defenders, which means you have to win the one-on-ones to be able to run the ball.

Ryan from Irvine, CA

You've watched the game evolve from block and tackle to throw and catch. How do you see the game evolving in another 30-50 years?

Football and golf face a similar problem. Mass is to football what distance is to golf. The golf ball keeps traveling farther, and that's making great golf courses obsolete and challenging course designers to create something that can be played by the average guy and the tour professional without embarrassing the former and being embarrassed by the latter. Golf can regulate distance, of course, by limiting the equipment. The size of football players is becoming the same kind of concern. You can't limit their size but you can manipulate the rules to legislate against size, and that's what I think we're going to see. Down the road, I think we're going to see the game get smaller; it almost has to get smaller if we're going to make it safe. The ugly injury Eric Foster suffered on Monday night is not good for the game.

Robert from Las Vegas, NV

Who would you say is the best fullback in the NFL today?

Vonta Leach.

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