Joe from Bloomington, IN
How do scouts see if a running back has vision?
It's obvious on tape as to whether or not a back consistently sees where the running lanes are. I have my own way of knowing. When I see a picture of a running back, the first thing I do is look at his eyes. Are they relaxed and surveying the field? I don't like squinters or tight-faced guys. That leads me to believe they're preparing for contact, instead of trying to avoid it. I think the same test applies to quarterbacks. I've never seen a picture of Aaron Rodgers that his eyes weren't full and downfield. Fred Taylor was one of the best eyes runners I've ever covered. His eyes were always open and searching for that cutback lane.
Chris from Virginia Beach, VA
Vic, if the NFL and the NFLPA are so concerned about player safety, why are players allowed to play without any pads below the shoulders? I know the players do it to improve their speed, but if all players were required to wear hip and leg pads, wouldn't it reduce injuries with both greater protection and by slowing down the speed of the game?
I've long suspected that the people who want to advance player safety see the lack of thigh pads, knee pads, big shoulder pads, hip pads, etc., as a means for promoting more of a push and shove game, instead of thump and drive. In other words, I think the popular opinion has been that fewer pads will soften the game by taking the big muscles, the shoulders and hips, out of the action. It only makes sense that as I reduce the padding on my shoulders, I'm less likely to use them as weapons, right? So what do we do? We increase the padding of the head by increasing the size of the helmet and the facemask. Duh!
Joel from Las Vegas, NV
"When you go to Lambeau Field for the first time, you ask: Which end zone is it?" I've seen you say this twice, and I don't know if it's because I am relatively new to football, but to what are you referring?
I am referring to Bart Starr's quarterback sneak in the Ice Bowl. The first time I ever went to Lambeau Field, I walked up to a press box attendant and I asked him, "Which end zone is it?" He just pointed. "In great deeds, something abides. On great fields, something stays." – Joshua Chamberlain
Rick from Victoria, MN
Vic, kudos for your early prediction that Cobb would be a breakout player this year. Who catches your eye as the next young player to make a difference?
Yeah, that was some prediction. Nobody else saw that coming, right? The next guy? I don't know, but I think Morgan Burnett bears watching because I suspect that in Charles Woodson's absence Burnett is going to be put into positions to become a more high-profile player.
Jon from Green Bay, WI
When Jim Rome asked Aaron Rodgers this week to basically defend the naysayers, Rodgers repeatedly said, "Just look at my stats." Can you reconcile this?
I think he made a mistake. He should've said, "Just look at my ring."
Joe from Franklin, WI
When Jacksonville was in the midst of their salary cap meltdown, did the Jaguars "Ask Vic" column contain all of the same opinions on drafting and developing and free agent signings as the current Green Bay version? I'm not at all questioning whether or not you gave your honest assessment of the situation, merely wondering whether those events were a guiding influence or merely strong reinforcement of long held beliefs.
I would no more change my opinion on those subjects than I would my name. I wrote of the merits of the draft on a daily basis, I remained opposed to spending big in free agency, even as the Jaguars were doing it and decimating their salary cap, and Tom Coughlin and I were polar opposites in our draft philosophies. He told me, "The draft is all about needs." My philosophy is that the draft is all about value. To this day, I will tell you that Coughlin is as good a coach as I've ever covered. The moral of the story is: Respect doesn't require agreement.
Robert from Seattle, WA
Since football is an emerging activity that could be called a sport, why not take some lessons from a real sport, futbol. Soccer moves along without six-minute reviews on whether someone kicked someone's shin or not. The ref makes a call, it is decided, it may be wrong, but the game goes on. Roger, you there?
Soccer is the most boring sport I have ever seen in my life and if they were playing the World Cup in my backyard, I'd close the blinds. Be that as it may, I read an interesting story yesterday about your sport and its fans and how its culture relates to the NFL's pursuit of playing games in London. One of the main differences between futbol and real football is that in futbol the home fans cheer loudly as the offense is moving the ball, to show support, whereas real football fans get quiet when the home team has the ball, to allow it to communicate. That fundamental difference between the two cultures might be too much for the NFL to overcome.
Greg from Jacksonville, FL
Can you provide any words of wisdom to console our spirits? We know the Pack is going to beat us soundly on Sunday and it saddens me deeply.
"If you can wait and not be tired by waiting … If you can dream and not make dreams your master …" The waiting is the best part. It's the drum roll.
Josh from Skokie, IL
I recently read an article about why the Packers should ditch Lambeau Field and build a dome because of how well Rodgers and the offense play indoors. Just wanted to hear your thoughts on such a crazy idea.
Somebody needed attention.
William from San Jacinto, CA
Michael Wilbon said recently that "RGIII at this point in the season is not only Rookie of the Year but the MVP as well and it's not even close."
Robert Griffin has singlehandedly transformed the Redskins into a playoff contender. His impact on that moribund franchise, one of the great franchises in NFL history, is undeniable. Where would they be without him, right? I would say to Wilbon, ask that same question as it relates to Rodgers and the Packers.
Mark from Bettendorf, IA
Vic, Mike McCarthy is in his seventh season as head coach of the Packers. I believe Mike Holmgren was with Green Bay for seven seasons. Lombardi was with Green Bay for nine seasons. Is there any concern McCarthy may have other aspirations, like being a GM, and might soon leave?
No way. He loves it here and I don't think he wants any part of personnel. The guy loves to coach and he wants to be free to devote all of his energy toward coaching, and still have time in the offseason to dedicate to his family. I sense that Coach McCarthy has great respect for happiness.
Jordan from Riverside, CA
I believe the media will do anything to create a controversy in this sport because that is what the fans love. The NFL wants controversy to a degree because it's what fans want.
The media provides a great service. We give everyone what they want, and when they find out they shouldn't have wanted it, they can blame us for giving it to them.
Frank from St. Augustine, FL
Vic, Gene Smith is getting hammered down here in Jacksonville. He has the same philosophy as Ted Thompson, draft and develop. For some reason, it's just not working out for him. You've known Gene for a long time and I wanted to know what your thoughts were on the situation.
Gene is as good an evaluator of talent as I have ever known, but there are no guarantees in his business. After all the scouting has been done, and the board has been painstakingly stacked, selecting players is still by and large a crap shoot. The best and worst all have hits and misses, but the best all hit on one player, the quarterback.
John from Portland, OR
You mentioned that, in 1972, had the Raiders beat the Steelers in the "Immaculate Reception" game, they would have played the Dolphins in Oakland. How did the 14-0 Dolphins not get home field throughout?
Home field was on a rotation basis in 1972. It wasn't until 1975 that the NFL adopted the current best-record system. In '72, the AFC Central had home field throughout the playoffs, which is why the Dolphins played the AFC title game in Pittsburgh. I'm having trouble finding the rotation order from that year, and I think I might've been wrong about the AFC West being in the No. 2 spot in '72, but the fact still remains that Oakland was largely considered to be the best team in the AFC, regardless of record, and that the Raiders' loss in Pittsburgh was a fluke. Most "experts" back then felt the Dolphins were able to avoid the toughest opponent they might face in the postseason, as a result of the "Immaculate Reception." The Dolphins had a lot of good fortune in going undefeated. Their regular-season schedule was a cream puff, and temperatures for the AFC title game in Pittsburgh on New Year's Eve were pushing 70 degrees. Nothing beats a little luck.