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Ask Vic

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Dave Robinson might've been best defensive player today

Posted May 20, 2013

Running the ball makes a team tougher


LB Dave Robinson

Lilly from Pittsburgh, PA

Vic, do you think Woodstock could happen again? Love and peace.

No, there’d be a fight about the BCS rankings or NFL Network’s top 100 players or bad play-calling or something terribly unimportant. Seriously, though, I don’t think something that spontaneous and of that magnitude could happen today without incident.

Preston from Tallahassee, FL

I appreciated the remembrance of my dad, Ray Scott, in a recent “Ask Vic.” Because dad’s style was minimalist, he is often forgotten. It means a lot when his time with the Packers is remembered.

Minimalist is a good style. Every time I hear Gus Johnson do a game, I think of your dad.

Joe from Bloomington, IN

What if a defensive lineman does a spin move, pulling the offensive lineman’s hands outside his shoulders?

What if an offensive lineman executes a “collapse block” by grabbing the defensive lineman inside the plane of his shoulders and then pulling the defender down as the offensive lineman falls over backwards, as though he’s been bowled over? You have to get caught.

Sawyer from Aiken, SC

How do you think history would have played out if it had been Peyton on the Giants and Eli on the Colts? It seems to me the Giants teams didn't have to play against the Chargers and Patriots every year in the playoffs, but they had a better, tougher defense?

I struggle with that 9-11 postseason record, which includes eight one-and-dones. That’s an awfully large sample to ignore. In contrast, Eli Manning has an 8-3 postseason record, which is also a significant sample, and for anyone who thought his game-winning, crunch-time drive to win his first Super Bowl was a fluke, he did it again four years later.

Jon from Green Bay, WI

For me, the quality of your daily column is closely related to the number of words, names or acronyms I need to research after reading. How do you judge the quality of your daily “Ask Vic”?

I judge it by the quality of the questions. I’ve always maintained that the readers write this column because they determine the subject matter.

Aric from South Dayton, NY

I recently watched a show about the 10 greatest Packers of all time. Don Hutson was ranked No. 1. After a little research, I would agree with them, but I was wondering what you thought about this and who you would rate as the No. 1 Packer of all time.

I would rank Bart Starr as the No. 1 Packers player of all time, if I felt it necessary to rank players, which I don’t, but I acknowledge that I must participate in such rankings because the fans want it and this column’s volume of readership is determined by what the fans want. In my opinion, Bart Starr is “Mr. Packer.” The problem is that I now feel as though I’ve lessened the accomplishments of Don Hutson and a lot of other great players, and that’s why I wish media outlets that have too much air time or space to justify the uneventfulness of the offseason would cease with this unending pursuit of ranking everything. It’s reached the point of contradiction.

John from Minnesota, MN

You talked about the “spy backer.” Does that mean Nick Perry would not play outside linebacker anymore and take one of the inside linebacker spots, but only in games against running quarterbacks?

No, it’s just a name I made up to emphasize the need for linebackers in the “new game” to have the athletic ability, especially the movement skills, to chase and catch elusive running quarterbacks such as RG3, Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson. Nothing about the way Perry plays outside linebacker needs to change, it’s just that I believe the movement skills Erik Walden didn’t have in playing “spy” technique against Kaepernick last January, Perry has. We’ll see.

Noor from Jakarta, Indonesia

With players playing for other teams, are they allowed to discuss playbooks from their previous team? How do teams adjust?

Mike McCarthy has also coached for the Chiefs, Saints and 49ers. Dom Capers has coached for the Saints, Steelers, Panthers, Jaguars, Texans, Dolphins and Patriots. Tom Clements has coached for the Saints, Chiefs, Steelers and Bills. Mike Trgovac has coached for the Eagles, Redskins and Panthers. Packers assistant coaches have also coached for the Bucs, Bengals, Raiders and Seahawks. You see where I’m going with this. The playbook of every team in the league is an amalgamation and homogenization of every other playbook in the league. There are no secrets. Everybody’s playbook is the same. What’s different is the selection of play and its execution. Execution is the adjustment.

Matthew from U.S. Army, Afghanistan

Vic, I am the commander of a unit currently deployed to Afghanistan. I am confident my 1SG and I are currently the most fervent Packers fans in the Eastern Hemisphere. Our unit also includes about four dozen other staunch supporters of the Green and Gold. We would like to take a picture displaying our support of the team for packers.com. If we were to do this, who should we send the picture to? We would also be more than happy to have Olivia Harlan come visit us to do a video interview of the troops. Is there room for that in the packers.com budget?

I’m sorry to inform you there is no room in packers.com’s budget to send Ms. Harlan to Afghanistan to do a video with the troops, but I would love to see a picture of your unit. E-mail it to me, or send it to me at 1265 Lombardi Ave., Green Bay, WI, 54304.

Darin from Hortonville, WI

Why does the NFL standardize all of the teams’ apparel? I remember when the Packers had unique styles and now it’s all the same. It makes it so boring and blah.

It’s all about branding. The brand is what’s important because it’s about identity. Anybody in marketing knows that. You’re looking for that one thing that says this is us. Heinz ketchup has one of the most unique brands of any product in the world; you can’t get it out of the bottle. That means a percentage of what the consumer purchases will inevitably be wasted, but that’s a problem Heinz will never attempt to fix because it’s their identity. The Packers uniform offers that same kind of strong identity. With standardization, the NFL is branding its apparel and giving it the leaguewide identity it needs to market it as one product, not 32 individual products.

Sandy from Sheboygan Falls, WI

What does a college guard have to learn or do different to become a tackle in the NFL?

He has to learn to pass block in space. He has to learn to slide to the outside as he pass blocks. Tackles have to move laterally, whereas pass blocking is pretty much right in front of guards. If they can block the bull rush, that’ll be good enough because there’s enough of a crowd in the interior line play to limit the space the guard must cover.

Josh from De Pere, WI

“Berkeley Bazooka” is a terrible nickname for Rodgers. You can do better. How about “Four’s Shadow”?

That sounds like a book title or horse, boat or cabin. I hate it. It’s terrible.

Julian from Amelia Island, FL

Which one is credited with more influence on today’s game, the way Unitas played the quarterback position or the way “Air Coryell” opened the passing game up? Of course, it’s Unitas, but why did it take so long to take advantage of great quarterbacking skills?

Because we had to wait until they changed the rules to make it easier for quarterbacks to play. “Air Coryell” didn’t open up the passing game; the rules changes of 1978 did that. The first to take advantage of those rules changes was Terry Bradshaw, who went from the quarterback of a sledgehammer offense to a two-time Super Bowl MVP who threw for 627 yards and six touchdowns combined in Super Bowls XIII and XIV. Compare that to Bradshaw’s stats in Super Bowl IX, his first of four Super Bowl wins: nine of 14 for 96 yards, one touchdown and no interception. That was four years prior to the ’78 rules changes; it was a different game.

Jack from Corrales, NM

So if linemen couldn’t use their hands to block, then how did they block?

They blocked with their shoulders and forearms. It never ceases to amaze me that so many young fans aren’t aware of how the game was played prior to the rules changes of 1978. All they know is that today’s players are better and the players of then couldn’t play in today’s game. How many linemen in today’s game could block without using their hands? Different games. If the players of then played today, they’d look like the players of today, and vice versa.

Tou from Fresno, CA

Has there ever been anyone straight out of junior college and into the NFL? If not, do you think it can happen?

It can happen now if a JC player is three years removed from high school, which is possible if he went to a prep school after high school and then went to a junior college for two years. I don’t know of a player that has gone straight from JC ball to the NFL – maybe one of our readers knows of such a player. There’s no doubt in my mind O.J. Simpson had the skill to do it when he went from JC ball to USC, but the draft rules back then forbid a player to enter the NFL draft until he was four years removed from high school graduation.

Jeff from Seattle, WA

If Vic Ketchman wrote a book, what would it be about?

It would be about football, but it wouldn’t be about ranking players. It would be about my memories of the game, and they tend to be romantic, not statistical.

Seamus from Waunakee, WI

The Packers have been a finesse team in each of the past two seasons. As good as they can be playing that style, the last two times they played the Giants and the 49ers they were blown out. How do they change that this year?

You change it by running the ball. Running the ball changes everything about your team. It makes you tougher because you have to practice against it. You learn to block and defeat blocks. More than practicing how to execute plays, you practice how to win your one-on-one. You learn to win the physical confrontation, not just the mental one. Doing all of that, however, requires a commitment to it, and a commitment to the running game requires more than patience, it requires stubbornness. I keep reading about the fans wanting a strong running game. I’ll be interested to see next fall how many fans still want a strong running game the first time it gets stopped.

Mick from Granger, IN

Vic, I often look at players from before 1980 and wonder how their careers would be in today’s game. What one Packer player from pre-1980 do you think would excel in today’s game moreso than when they played? Travis Williams comes to my mind.

Dave Robinson is my easy pick. He’d be a perfect fit in Dom Capers’ 3-4. I’ve long considered Robinson to be one of the most underrated players in pro football history. I’ve said he was L.T. before L.T. was L.T. Robinson was born into the wrong era. If he played today, he might not only be the best linebacker in the game, he might be the best defensive player in the game.

Bill from Oshkosh, WI

This is a suggestion, not a question. The rapid fire “Video Ask Vic” was fantastic. How about slipping that in more often, like once a month?

OK.


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