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Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin can make the flip genius

Posted May 23, 2013

Four coaches used four different ways to win eight Super Bowls

RB Eddie Lacy

Joel from Tulsa, OK

Vic, I’m sure you’re tired of the Charles Woodson questions, but I have one more. I have no problem with the organization releasing him, but I hoped he’d come back to just retire a Packer. Do you think his signing with Oakland means that won’t happen?

I’d like to see the league exempt players and teams from this ceremonial one-day-contract, retire-as-a-(your favorite team here) mania by just allowing players to declare their intention to do such and arrange a press conference so we can fawn over them one more time. I think Charles Woodson is one of the greatest players in Packers history and I can’t imagine anything changing history’s recollection of his career in Green Bay.

Charlie from Bella Vista, AR

Putting aside the obvious responses, has anyone ever considered playing a football game the way golfers compete; playing by the rules and calling your own infractions?

Yeah, sure. My greater concern right now is for golfers competing the way golfers have always competed. I think the game is losing its gentlemanly quality. The current flap between Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia is unhealthy. I have no problem with Garcia speaking out at the TPC because there was never any doubt in my mind that Woods pulled that wood intentionally to create a distraction for Garcia – he’s been doing that kind of stuff for years – but I am appalled by Garcia’s most recent remarks. Arnold Palmer had no love for Ben Hogan, but he never allowed his dislike of Hogan to result in this kind of ugly rhetoric. I’d like to see a young star emerge, in any sport, who conducts himself with reserve. We don’t need more anger, more taunting. We don’t need another end zone dance. We need someone who might teach us the joys of dignified behavior.

Young from Milwaukee, WI

If Woodson gets into the Hall of Fame, will he go in as a Packer or as a Raider, and how do inductees usually make this decision?

The heads in the hall of heads don’t wear helmets.

Matt from Green Bay, WI

Vic, Mike McCarthy lives and dies for the run even when we don’t have a running game. I understand more than anyone the value of the run to set up play-action and basically open up the whole playbook, but don’t you think in the league today and with the weapons we have that it might just be just an old-school approach?

First of all, I don’t agree with your opinion that Coach McCarthy lives and dies for the run. I think Coach McCarthy lives and dies for the pass and treats the run as a kid might treat vegetables: Just eat enough of them to get dessert. I do agree with you that committing to a running game is an old-school approach and when you have a quarterback the caliber of Aaron Rodgers, it’s not really necessary. I would also say, however, that if you’re going to do it that way, then don’t get upset when people call you soft, because that’s what’s going to happen. Passing teams are finesse teams. They tend to lose the battle of the hitting and the line of scrimmage. They make up for it by winning in open space, as the Packers did against the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV. The Steelers ran the ball for huge gains against the Packers. Remember the one touchdown drive, all runs? The Packers spread the field and had their way with the Steelers in space. I didn’t hear anybody complain then about giving up a lot of rushing yardage and being soft. So, it’s time to pick. What do you want? Do you want to just win, baby, or do you want to win a certain way? If you want to win the old-school, tough-guy way, then you have to commit to the run.

Hunter from Richmond, VA

Vic, many media people and fans criticize players for saying they think they’ll win the Super Bowl or have successful numbers in an up-and-coming season. What do you think about it? I think it's good to set your bar as high as it goes.

Are you setting the bar for yourself or for the fans? What good does it do to set the bar for the fans?

Ryan from Algonquin, IL

Do you think the NFL will look more like the Oregon Ducks style of football in 10 years?

It won’t take that long.

Robert from Madison, WI

Vic, my family does a lot of do-it-yourself jobs. We help each other build cabins and garages, do each other’s welding, electrical, etc. Every time I’m out in the woods framing up a cabin or storage shed, I think how nice it is to have power tools and ATVs to haul it all around. Then I think back to how my grandpa did it, and his dad before him. Men of those generations blazed the trails for us today, and without their sacrifices we’d still be using hand tools and horses. I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this. Have a great rest of the week. I won’t be able to read your column until I get back to civilization on Sunday.

I come from a family of never-do-it-yourself people. There’s a drawer in my house that won’t close. It’s been that way for more than a month and every day I work with it, but I can’t figure out what’s wrong. Usually, when things break in our house, they just stay that way until we sell it, and then we move and buy a new house that isn’t broken, and then we slowly break things in that house I can’t fix. Here’s the deal: I’ll write you a column if you fix that drawer.

Pat from Altoona, WI

Do teams send scouts to watch other teams’ practices that are open to the public or media?

If it’s free to the public, scouts from other teams may not attend. If the public has to pay to attend, as they might for a scrimmage, scouts from other teams may attend. The Redskins made the big mistake a few years ago of charging admission to training camp, and the Cowboys sent a team of scouts to the Redskins’ camp.

Joe from Buffalo, NY

What is your favorite part of the year for football?

It’s Thanksgiving weekend, the “real” start of the football season.

Frederick from Galloway, NJ

Vic, what is going on with Johnny Jolly?

Mike McCarthy was asked that question again on Tuesday and he reiterated what he had said a couple of times previously, that Jolly is still going through the process. I really don’t know what that means, but we’ll keep asking.

Dan from Aspers, PA

Can you tell us your best Noll draft story?

I loved the way he would come into the media room after making a pick and then tell us the guy he picked was the best available athlete, and then smile and wink at us. It was fun back then. He once picked a running back named Sidney Thornton and when asked to describe him, Chuck extended his arms and hunched his back as you might do to create the visual of a very powerful man. What I’ll remember most, however, is a moment from the 1978 draft, when he told us he had traded Ernie Holmes to the Bucs for an 11th-round pick. That was back in the day when you didn’t need a court order to know what a team got in exchange for a player. I said, “An 11th-round pick?” Chuck looked me in the eyes and said, “Not much for an All-Pro, is it?” What I saw in his eyes was despair for how quickly and how far a player Noll regarded to have been the best defensive tackle in the game just two years earlier had fallen. I think that’s when I started to get it.

Brad from Jackson, WI

Even though it’s 50 years since he played, and we shouldn’t care, why isn’t Bobby Boyd of the Colts in the Hall of Fame? Metrics I have seen have him right smack dab in the middle of the top Hall of Famers. What is keeping him out?

The people who are getting in are keeping him out. It’s a competition. The Hall of Fame selection committee’s job isn’t to let people in, it’s to keep people out. Letting them in is the easy part. It’s the people that are kept out that protects the integrity of the Hall of Fame. The more good people that can’t get in, the more valuable getting in is. Great players such as Bobby Boyd are necessary to the Hall of Fame’s esteem. They make it a better place.

Dustin from Jacksonville, FL

I think coaches Cowher, Noll, Coughlin and McCarthy have something else in common, “The Man.”

That’s why you da man, Dustin. Behind nearly every great coach – Joe Gibbs is a rare exception – is a great quarterback.

Dave from Des Moines, IA

Vic, what moment in the world of football has left the worst taste in your mouth?

It’s from the season-opener in 1976. My eyes just happened to fall on George Atkinson as he trailed Lynn Swann down the field and then karate-chopped him in the back of the neck, causing Swann to drop as though he had been shot. It began a chain of events that made football disturbing for me. The following day, after one of those coast-to-coast flights that leaves you just wanting the day to end so you can go to bed, Coach Noll made his infamous “criminal element” remarks at the usual Monday press conference, and then came the lawsuit and football became something more than I ever wanted it to be. It was pure hate. I felt as though I was covering war. It was drawing battle lines and I was struggling to remain neutral. I just wanted the two teams to stop playing. Mercifully, they did get a break from each other a couple of years later, and that’s when I started to enjoy football again.

Tom from West Bend, WI

Could an NFL team ever hire a head coach who isn’t really a football man, just an excellent manager, organizer who leaves the coaching to his assistants? I’ll say no because he’d have no cred and the players wouldn’t buy into him.

The historians say that’s exactly what Jim Lee Howell was when he coached the Giants and Vince Lombardi was his offensive coordinator and Tom Landry was his defensive coordinator.

Paul from De Pere, WI

Vic, the flip notwithstanding, the depth chart on the offensive line has not changed. The flip is not the end, only the beginning. You don’t lose your spot just because of a flip, but I expect the lineup will change. The addition of two running threats will also change the performance of the unit. I like it!

If those two backs give this team a running game, everything will change for the good, and the flip will become part of Packers lore. Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin can make the flip genius.

Mike from Kansas City, KS

Vic, I attended my first ever OTA yesterday and saw some of the players with red covers on their helmets. What is the purpose of those red covers? Thank you.

They use them for special teams, for the obvious reason that you need to distinguish between the coverage team and the return team, but they also use them to designate key positions, such as tight end, middle linebacker and strong safety. In a walk-through type of drill, for example, you might have a player with a low number posing as a tight end, or a player with a high number posing as the strong safety. Those positions are key because they tip the formation. It’s old-school football, for example, for the quarterback to look through the middle linebacker to the strong safety and know where everybody else is on the field.

Pat from Wahpeton, ND

Someone who doesn’t own a cheesehead doesn’t deserve to write this column. The fact that you receive any comments on your work is beyond me. I am almost always disappointed after reading your column.

I’m sorry to hear that.

Andrew from Miami, FL

“Coaches have stable personalities.” I was shocked to read that.

Please allow me to rephrase that: Good coaches are insanely disciplined.

Tim from Indianapolis, IN

Vic, which coach you have covered runs the best practice?

They all ran or run great practices, but they did it in different ways. Coach Noll’s practices were a nine-on-seven festival. He loved that drill and his team did it day in and day out, and it seemed to go on forever. Coach Cowher was big on horns, which was a big change for me because Coach Noll never used a horn and neither he nor any of his assistant coaches used a whistle. Coach Cowher’s signature drill was goal line. He loved a practice-closing live goal-line series. He’s the only person I’ve ever known that could set his jaw and smile at the same time. The collisions in those goal-line drills were frightening. There’d be a train wreck in the middle of the line and then Coach Cowher and all of the players would howl as though they had just won the lottery. I loved writing about it. Coach Coughlin was “Mr. Down and Out.” He ran the best precision passing practice I’ve ever seen, and his quarterbacks had to be able to complete a drive-sustaining down-and-out pass with their eyes closed before practice could end. Coach McCarthy’s practices are similar to Coach Coughlin’s in that they’re both about precision and the schedule. Coach Noll and Coach Cowher were not beyond altering the schedule and tacking on time if they didn’t like a drill. Coach Coughlin and Coach McCarthy each employ periods in practice. Coach Coughlin announced his with cards that were held up by ball boys; Coach McCarthy uses the scoreboard and a horn to announce the progression from period to period. Coach McCarthy’s practices are mostly about tempo; that’s his trademark. Four coaches, four great practices, but each with a different trademark. There’s no one way to win a Super Bowl. Four coaches used four different ways to win eight Super Bowls.

Joseph from Whitewater, WI

What do you think of Cobb coming in at QB for a read-option package?

I’m OK with it. There’s nothing wrong with a little surprise, but it has to be about gaining yards, not providing entertainment.


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