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Why not use throwback numbers, too?

We are in the conditioning and learning season


Dan from Madison, WI

Vic, you've mentioned before how Datone Jones isn't the prototypical gap-eating 3-4 end, but a great athlete that can penetrate and play in space. Do you think the decision to draft him was influenced by the success J.J. Watt has had in Houston's 3-4 as a penetrating DE?

I think the decision was influenced by the success Colin Kaepernick had in the playoff game against the Packers. We don't know if quarterbacks such as Kaepernick are the wave of the future, but there is an unmistakable fear that quarterbacks such as Kaepernick are the wave of the future and this league always overreacts to change. Jones can two-gap. He has the size and strength to do that and he offers the potential to get bigger and be an even better two-gapper. He also is athletic enough to play in space, so he's a player that fits the scheme and offers the kind of athlete you'll need to play in space against read-option quarterbacks. He's really not a departure from the prototypical 3-4 end; it's just that he offers more than the prototypical 3-4 end usually does. Picking him was a no-brainer.

Chadd from Antigo, WI

Paul Hornung, Jim Brown, Ron Kramer, John Brodie, Len Dawson, Sonny Jurgensen and so on. Was 1957 the greatest draft in NFL history?

You forgot Jim Parker, Henry Jordan, Jack Pardee, Tommy McDonald, Lamar Lundy, Gene Hickerson, Don Maynard, Jack Kemp, Jimmy Orr and how about this pick in round 29, Lee Corso? The '57 draft produced nine Hall of Famers. It might be the greatest draft in history.

Scott from Palos Park, IL

At this time of year, as undrafteds try to get noticed, do you ever see a kid shoot a gap or jump a route and make a play in a drill only to leave you disappointed for them. They feel/act like they have gotten the coach's attention, when in reality the coach is making a note like, "didn't maintain gap responsibility."

It's more likely the coach is making a note that says, "This kid can play." Coaches aren't ultra-concerned about an undrafted player's ability to execute the scheme at rookie camp. The coach is looking for guys that can run and are athletic. If a guy can do it wrong and still get it right, he's probably going to catch the coach's eye. In training camp, the coach wants to see if the kid that can run will also hit. When he proves he can do those two things, then he's probably going to make the team and that's when scheme becomes important. Please, everyone, lighten up on your focus on the scheme. Find the guys that have the talent to play. That's job one.

Paul from Ossian, IN

What player you watched or covered did you admire the most for his ability to get the most out of his God-given talent because of sheer determination and a refusal to give-up?

It's probably Rocky Bleier. When he came back from Vietnam, he could barely walk.

Scott from Knoxville, TN

Who's the best team ever without "The Man"?

In the Super Bowl era, it's the 2000 Ravens. They didn't score a touchdown in October.

David from Tacoma, WA

I have a good example of players, not plays. In Bill Belichick's first year as Patriots coach, with Drew Bledsoe at quarterback, he went 5-11. The next year, Bledsoe was injured and Tom Brady comes in the second or third game. Under Brady, they win the Super Bowl that year.

The Patriots were 0-2 when Brady replaced an injured Bledsoe in the third game of the 2001 season. What if Bledsoe hadn't been injured? At what point in the season would Belichick have benched him? Would he have benched Bledsoe? What if Belichick stuck with him and the Patriots went 5-11 again? Would Belichick have been the Patriots' coach in 2002? Football is a tough game but it can also be a very fragile game. One injury changed the destiny of Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.

Jeff from Chesapeake, VA

On the players page of this site, why is DuJuan Harris listed with one year of experience and Casey Hayward and other 2012 draft picks listed with two years of experience?

Hayward accrued a credited season last year and he's now in his second year of NFL experience. Harris didn't play enough to be credited with having accrued a season of experience, so he remains a first-year player. There are strict guidelines that must be met for players to be credited with a season of experience.

Dirk from Munich, Germany

How about this explanation on the line positions: zero and five-technique mean hold the point and eat some blockers; one, three, seven and nine-technique are used to penetrate and disrupt.

That works. Basically what you're describing is the difference between 3-4 two-gappers and 4-3 gap-control defensive linemen. Those are the functions and I prefer that positions be described in manners that include the functions of those positions. A two-gapper is a player that plays on the head of the offensive lineman across from him and is responsible for the gaps to his right and left. A gap-control player lines up in the gap and is solely responsible for plugging it.

Johnny from East Palatka, FL

I was never more nervous in my life than in my first real football game. My number was called (crossing route, five yards and in), and having to walk to the line of scrimmage, knowing that it was on me. I learned something that day, at 11 years old. I knew I would have to beat the other guy and catch the ball, then run. Not everyone has forgotten; thanks for reminding us, though.

We never forget our first.

Erik from Moline, IL

Hey, Vic, I don't know if this is in your department or not, but have you guys ever thought about updating the Green Bay Packers app for the iPhone? I like the app and all of its conveniences. I use it every day when on break to read "Ask Vic" and other stories, but sometimes it takes forever to load or it just doesn't load the pages at all. That and the video quality isn't the greatest. Just thought I'd ask.

Packers.com will launch its new app in July. I don't know what that means, but I believe that information to be true.

Mike from Altona, Manitoba

I'm bored. When's this thing going to get started?

Rookie camp begins this week. Then come the OTAs and the inevitable "Underwear League" awards, hype and overkill, and then comes the "Dead Zone," when everybody takes some vacation time and prepares for the start of training camp in late July. We have just concluded the personnel season. Now we're in the conditioning and learning season. For me, "start" is defined by the sound of pads striking pads. I'm not sure anymore when that season begins, but Mike McCarthy has promised that this year's training camp will have a little more verve to it than last year's did, so I have that going for me, which is nice.

Jonas from Fort Collins, CO

I continue to be surprised and sometimes shocked by the questions you receive. Why the panic over the safety position?

Because we're all bored and we're in need of human confrontation. This is not a happy game for happy people. We need angst.

Paul from De Pere, WI

So we have two candidates for the X, which means two for the Packers No. 1 receiver. So who is it, Vic?

An X can play Z but a Z can't play X. When you have a guy that can play X playing Z, you have more than one No. 1 receiver on the field.

Andrew from Milwaukee, WI

Vic, in the past you have said the quality that separates head coaches from position coaches and coordinators is leadership. What do you believe separates good GMs from scouts?

Scouts scout, GMs pick. A good GM doesn't freeze when he's on the clock. He makes the pick with conviction and he commits the team to that player's development.

Mark from Stewartville, MN

Vic, I watched the video of the Packers players taking part in their strenuous offseason workout. Can you review the difference between today's offseason workout programs and those from the early 1970s? Didn't the players pretty much play themselves into shape back then?

All teams had conditioning programs in the '70s. That's when we saw the emergence of strength coaches. Those programs, however, were simplistic in scope and concept compared to today's conditioning programs. Weight rooms were small and players did the basics: lifts, squats, curls, etc. It was all about the weight on the bar. Today's programs are conducted in enormous weight rooms with equipment for every muscle in the body. Today's programs are the product of the science of fitness. They are extremely sophisticated and, yes, they make today's players bigger and stronger. If today's players played in the '70s, they'd look like the guys that played back then. If the players that played in the '70s played today, they'd look like today's players. Here's my question: How does it help players stay healthy if all the teams are making their players bigger and stronger? Doesn't that mean the collisions will be more stressful? In my opinion, we're headed for a breakthrough in strength and conditioning approaches. Something has to change because we're creating stresses the human body can't endure.

Randy from Sharon, NH

Vic, I just saw that the Packers will be wearing the throwback jerseys from 1929 again next year. This makes me wonder if they have ever thought of wearing a throwback jersey from when they won their first Super Bowls.

The uniforms are similar, but what if the players wore jerseys bearing the numbers of the great players from that era in Packers football? What if Aaron Rodgers wore No. 15? I think it would be absolutely wonderful if the league were to loosen its tie a little and consider something so beautiful. A few years ago, Peyton Manning wanted to wear No. 19 as a tribute to Johnny Unitas, and the league said no. Why? Hey, it's time football celebrates its past. It's time football teaches its fans about its wonderful history and about the great players that played this game when it wasn't as popular as it is today. Instead of having a bunch of young fans smugly proclaiming that everything today is better than it was back then, why not develop in those young fans an appreciation for and love affair with the players whose names those young fans have come to resent as a challenge to the greatness of today's players. Let those young fans cheer No. 15. Maybe it'll deepen their love for the game and the team they cheer.

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