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Wisconsin in national title game?


Patrik from Uppsala, Sweden

Assume the following: Team A always drafts the best player available. Team A has a great quarterback. Do you trade your pick when you end up with a quarterback at the top of your draft board at your first pick? Are quarterbacks an exception to your typical draft philosophy? Can you have another guy with "The Man" qualities on your team for quite a few years?

You can adhere to the principles of drafting the best available player by trading down and recouping the value of the pick. The pick's value is what's important. When you select a player of lesser value, you waste a portion of the pick's perceived worth. Yes, quarterback is a unique position and it is treated differently than other positions. It's unique because it's the only position on your team that requires only one player. It's also unique in that it represents the most significant financial investment on your team. So, to answer your question: If Aaron Rodgers is your quarterback and he's in his prime, and the best player on your board in the first round is a quarterback, it's my opinion that you should trade out of that spot and, given the demand at that position, you probably won't have much trouble finding a trade partner. If it's in a later round, pick the guy. At that point, the financial investment should be in line with a backup quarterback's salary.

Sean from Little Rock, AR

How about this for a stat? In Week 4, there were 10 quarterbacks that threw for 300-plus yards; only four of those quarterbacks got a win. There were nine 100-yard rushers; seven of their teams won. Fair to say you must still run the ball?

You have to take a deeper look at each of those games to find the true meaning of those stats but, generally speaking, balance between run and pass is usually indicative of several positive factors in a game, all of which normally spell victory: 1.) Control of the line of scrimmage and the tempo of the game. 2.) Patience in play-calling, which is usually indicative of a defensive performance that allows for patience. 3.) Time of possession advantage, which is usually indicative of a play-count advantage, and more snaps are better than fewer snaps. 4.) A well-rounded game plan, which is usually indicative of a coach that possesses a well-rounded roster. It's not that teams that run the ball win, it's that teams that win often run the ball.

Jake from Naperville, IL

Vic, I'm not sold on the Lions. I think they are a team other teams should be worried about playing, until proven otherwise. That being said, look who they have played. Their toughest opponent has been Dallas and they are 2-2, and they had to have a dramatic comeback in that game, in which Romo handed it back to them. I'm not saying they aren't good, but I need more proof to say they are deserving of all the hype. You agree?

I agree the Lions are a team other teams should be worried about playing, until proven otherwise. Frankly, I don't worry about being sold or not sold on a team. All we have to do is wait. Thanksgiving is on the way. Then we'll know.

David from Arlington, VA

You seem to have embraced the Wisconsin sports scene, so I'm dying to know, what did you think of the Wisconsin-Nebraska game?

I told Mike Spofford last week that Wisconsin would blow out Nebraska. I think Wisconsin is outstanding. They play my kind of football. I flipped back and forth between the Wisconsin-Nebraska game and the Alabama-Florida game. I think there's a strong possibility that should Wisconsin get past Ohio State – don't take the Buckeyes lightly because they're gonna be ready for that one at the Horseshoe – the Badgers could find themselves in the national title game against Alabama or LSU. Matching up against either of those teams, however, would be extremely difficult. Alabama has a kind of disciplined power that would make NFL coaches blush.

Aaron from Washington, DC

How would you compare Green Bay's offense this year to New England's offense of 2007?

Tom Brady threw a league-record 50 touchdown passes in '07. Aaron Rodgers is currently on pace to throw 48 touchdown passes this season. I would say the Packers offense this season compares favorably to the '07 Patriots offense.

Zach from Woodstock, IL

Aaron Rodgers was heard saying he was feeling sore from the hits he was taking from Denver during the game. Where should he draw the line between avoiding hits and trying to make plays?

I'm a big believer in runners run and passers pass. I'm not a "New Age" quarterback kind of guy, though I acknowledge that the game is constantly evolving and that the quarterback position seems to be undergoing more change than other positions. To answer your question, at the point at which big men with bad intentions arrive at the quarterback, I want the ball out of his hands. Yes, sometimes it's necessary for the quarterback to extend the play, but I would prefer that those occurrences be kept to a minimum. Quarterbacks that get hit get hurt more often than quarterbacks that don't get hit.

Alex from New York, NY

Where does Steve Young fall in the evolution of the "New Age" quarterback? Is he the model for Cam Newton?

No, not at all. Young is a lefthanded Fran Tarkenton. Young ran out of desperation. Newton runs out of intent and design. That's the difference. One is a scrambler, the other is a runner. The "New Age" quarterback is a runner.

Dylan from Hampton, VA

What are your thoughts on benching starters and taking a loss when late in the season a team has already clinched homefield advantage for the playoffs and is undefeated?

When you're undefeated, you play to win. I was a rookie sportswriter in 1972 when the Dolphins went undefeated. Late in the season, they played a game in New York and the team's owner threw a party and made a point of announcing that the Dolphins were playing for the undefeated season. I like that. In contrast, I'll always remember a sign that hung at Lucas Oil Stadium after the Colts suspiciously allowed the Jets to rally for a win in Week 16 that dealt the Colts their first loss of the season. The sign read: "It mattered to us."

Patrick from Wausau, WI

Hey, Vic, just an update on my position on the waiting list for season tickets for the Packers. Last year I was 32,036, this year I'm 31,799, which means at this rate I will have tickets for the 2145 season and I will be 162 years old. Thank God for modern medicine and the extension of life expectancy.

I'll tell you what the doctor told me as he was checking me out of the hospital: The whiter the bread, the sooner you're dead. The 2145 season will be here before you know it.

Corey from Richland, WA

Vonta Leach gets your vote as the best fullback in the game, yet, the Packers organization cut him and then he bounced around the league for a while. Could it be he didn't fit the Green Bay system or is he a different player now? Who would you say is the greatest player that was cut from his initial team only to find greatness elsewhere?

Johnny Unitas.

Steve from Larsen, WI

Sportswriters are having a great time with the "Suck for Luck" concept. Is it really conceivable that teams could be purposely trying to lose to gain the No. 1 draft pick? I could see that the temptation could be there in Week 15 or 16, but not this early in the season, as players still need stats and coaches need to prevent being fired.

You're right, coaches and players are too worried about job security to intentionally put a bad effort on tape for everyone else in the league to see. This isn't a new concept. I remember a game when I was a kid that was billed as the "O.J. Bowl." The Steelers beat the Eagles, 6-3; the worst part was that both teams were really trying to win.

Rob from Champaign, IL

How has your job evolved over the years with technology? Do you put in less time since everything can be posted or uploaded instantly?

You don't put in fewer hours, you do more stories faster. The old ways were laborious. You batted out a story on a typewriter. If you were on the road or in a press box, you did it on a portable typewriter. Then you either gave your story to a Western Union guy to send back to your newspaper, or you put it in this big, heavy phone-transmission device that turned out a product in the newsroom that was barely legible. At that point, the copy was handed to a typesetter and then it was moved on to the proof reader; we're talking about hours before the copy was camera-ready, meaning ready to be sent through the process that would eventually lead to the press room. Nowadays, I write and send and the story is up on the site an hour or so after the game is over, and that includes the interviews process.

Noah from Salt Lake City, UT

What's your take on the new passing mentality in the NFL? Does it take away some of the beauty of football or just change it?

I've always thought of the running game as meat and potatoes and the passing game as dessert. So, how long can we eat dessert without getting sick of it? I think we're gonna find out.

Mark from South Elgin, IL

How difficult will it be for the Packers down the stretch to resist growing complacent and overconfident given the accolades and overwhelming positive feedback they have been receiving in the early going this season? It seems to me every game is a potential trap game for them because of the success they have enjoyed of late.

Forget about that; it's just not the way it is. Players are consumed by the thought of one thing: the quality of their performance, because they know the moment it declines, they're on the way out the door. They also know the quality of their performance is on tape for every team in the league to see, and if the quality of their performance is in decline, nobody else is gonna want them, either. Players think in terms of doing their job and their anxiety for it doesn't allow for complacency.

Walt from Skandia, MI

I have a lucky Packers shirt I wear while watching the game (my part to play in a Packers victory). If I have to tape the game to watch later, is there any point in wearing the lucky shirt?

There's only one way to know for sure: Wear another shirt. If the Packers win, then lucky shirts don't matter when the game is already over. If the Packers lose, however, then you're the reason they lost.

By the way, I'll be at the "Stats" sports bar in Atlanta on Saturday from 6:30-7:30 p.m., along with Mike Spofford, Wayne Larrivee, Mark Murphy and a few Packers alumni, to talk football and meet fans. If you're in Atlanta for the game, please stop by and say hello. "Stats" is located in the Luckie Marietta District of Atlanta, at 300 Marietta St. NW.

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