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No. 1 threat? Detroit, but Minnesota scares me

Posted May 22, 2013

Vince Lombardi No. 1 in all-time coaches poll


Daryl from Junction City, KS

I recently watched an NFL countdown of the top 10 rivalries of all time. 1.) Eagles-Giants, 2.) Steelers-Raiders, 3.) Jets-Patriots, 4.) Browns-Bengals, 5.) Steelers-Cowboys, 6.) Steelers-Ravens, 7.) Bears-Packers, 8.) Patriots-Colts, 9.) Cowboys-Eagles, 10.) 49ers-Cowboys. What do you think of the list and what would you change?

I don’t get the Cowboys-Eagles thing, other than for the Buddy Ryan bounties. Isn’t Cowboys-Redskins a little better? Eagles-Giants No. 1? Because of the “Miracle in the Meadowlands”? Steelers-Raiders is from a brief period in NFL history. It’s like nothing I’ve ever covered and it’s nothing I ever wanna cover again. It was pure violence and it was disturbing. The word rivalry is too trite to describe the games those two teams played. The “Holy Wars,” as we called them, live in a place deep inside me. I don’t talk about them much because once I start I can’t stop. I think Patriots-Colts of recent history is very good. Bears-Packers has a historic quality and wholesomeness that should have it higher on the list. Steelers-Ravens is fantastic; you don’t even care if they score. Bills-Dolphins was good; so was Chiefs-Raiders. Keep your eye on Packers-Seahawks.

Matt from Highland, MI

Have any other NFL teams in recent history attempted the offensive line flip Green Bay is trying? What are the odds of success?

I’ve never seen it done. When I first heard Mike McCarthy talk about it, I was stunned. That’s four-fifths of your offensive line undergoing change. Coach McCarthy is big on cross-training. He likes to go with a minimum number of offensive linemen active on gameday, which allows him to go heavy at other positions. Cross-training up front allows that to happen. OK, I get it, but here’s the question I have: There was obviously some dissatisfaction with the performance of the offensive line last season. Will changing the positions of the players without changing the players fix that? If it does, then that will have been one fantastic coaching job.

Wes from Mishawaka, IN

Vic, I thought you’d appreciate the Charles Woodson quote from his Raiders signing yesterday. When asked if he had a message for the crowd of fans outside the Raiders complex, he stated, “Just win, baby.”

Charles knows where he is. He gets it. I’m gonna miss him.

Kees from Naaldwijk, The Netherlands

Vic, with MetLife getting a Super Bowl, do you ever see a situation where the owners would vote to have a Super Bowl at Lambeau?

I don’t ever see Lambeau Field getting a Super Bowl or, for that matter, even making application for one. I’ve answered this question many times and now I’m going to answer it with the cold, hard facts of the matter. The NFL requires that a Super Bowl host city have 30,000 hotel rooms within an hour’s drive of the site. The Green Bay area has only 7,000 hotel rooms within an hour of Lambeau Field, and I don’t think the league is going to buy the idea of cruise ships parked off the shore of Lake Michigan. I don’t think the bench seats would be a big hit with the league, either, but it wouldn’t get that far.

Jim from Danbury, CT

What round tender did they put on Sam Shields and how long until we will know his fate?

The Packers tendered Shields at the second-round level. He really doesn’t have a lot of options other than to sign the tender and play out his RFA year, but OTAs are voluntary and he certainly has the right to use his absence to express himself.

Mark from Walworth, WI

Vic, I just saw a post on nfl.com that read, “NFL wants more humane way to handle player cuts.” Thought you’d like that one.

Commissioner Goodell wants to see you and bring your mommy?

Michael from Washington, DC

Vic, I’m interested to know about the dynamics of the Packers team. They all seem like great guys and I couldn’t be prouder of the classiest organization in the NFL. Do the different groups within the team form cliques?

Players have long built relationships within their position groups. That’s especially true of offensive linemen, who tend to include the quarterback within their group. I’ve even detected a little offensive line “union” within league ranks. I can remember Mike Webster being best friends with Tom DeLeone and visiting each other after bitterly fought games. That’s why I say football is a very personal thing. These guys are professionals and they take pride in the execution of their craft. They want to be judged positively by their peers and they tend to identify with the men who face the same challenges.

Will from Knoxville, TN

Along with the players, not plays mantra, how do you see the addition of a talent like Cordarrelle Patterson complementing Adrian Peterson and helping the Vikings? I see a stretched field and even more room for the most dangerous back in the game today.

The Patterson pick has more than home run potential, it can be a grand slam. This guy has scary size, speed and jumping ability. He only has one year of big-time football behind him, so there’s also some bust potential, but I consider this to be a scary pick. If Datone Jones hadn’t been available, it’s possible the Vikings would be playing against Patterson twice a year.

Sam from Nashville, TN

No team will ever be convinced of a commitment to the run with a healthy Rodgers on the field, so the best we can hope for is split-second hesitation from their defense?

I’ll go with that. As long as Aaron Rodgers is the Packers’ quarterback, defenses are going to play pass first and run second, but if a commitment to the run creates a split second of hesitation, it will have done its job.

Randall from New York, NY

The evolution you’re predicting over the next 20 years, do you think it’s a good thing or a bad thing?

If that’s what it’ll take to save the game, then it will have been a good thing. I also think it’s time we start showing some respect and appreciation for what the old-timers endured and sacrificed to make this game what it is. It’s always been this way in this country. The miners, the mill workers, etc., endured harsh conditions to improve their posterity’s.

Scott from Norton Shores, MI

What do you think of Rick Reilly’s list of the top 20 coaches of all time?

I like the names and I agree that Vince Lombardi is No. 1, but I’m bothered by one of Reilly’s criteria. He drops Noll and Walsh because they won all those Super Bowls with one quarterback, yet, Lombardi is No. 1 and he only won titles with one quarterback. I think it’s very presumptuous to believe Lombardi would’ve achieved the same success in Washington. Jurgensen was over the hill and developing NFL quarterbacks in those days was a five-year proposition, which would’ve plunged Lombardi right into the AFC’s era of dominance.

Paul from Kilrush, Ireland

Vic, thanks for teaching me so much about a game I knew nothing about growing up. Which division do you think will be the most compelling and exciting this year?

The division concept is a home run and the NFL should never abandon it. I say that because all eight divisions in the league have achieved true parity and I don’t see a 7-9 Seattle team in any of them. I see nothing but quality and heated races. The most heated of those races might be right here in the NFC North.

Dan from Spokane, WA

I was trying to think of a good question but, instead, just decided to say how much I appreciate your writing. Thanks and glad to have you writing for my team.

I’ll accept that compliment and thank everyone that feels that way because it gives me a good feeling for a column that lives inside me every minute of every day. I love communicating with the fans and I promise that I give you everything I have in this column every day because you deserve that for the financial and emotional investment you make to belong to what I refer to as the fraternity of football. We’re all members.

Mark from Seattle, WA

Vic, with the popularity of today’s game off the charts, do you ever foresee another USFL type league? When quickly researching information for this question, I was reminded that Reggie White and Steve Young both began in the USFL.

Never say never. If the NFL pendulum swings too far toward basketball on grass, there’s always a chance a competing league will give us what the NFL was. Hey, it worked once, right? If it takes 40 years before the lawsuits begin, it would likely be somebody else’s problem. There’s a critical balance between what is physically demanding and what is safe. Physical contact has always been the charm of this game and I think it always will be. It must be made safe, not eliminated.

Adam from Green Bay, WI

What is the toughest football question a fan has asked? How did you respond?

The toughest football question always follows a poor performance by the team I’m covering. What is my opinion of the team’s performance? It’s always a tough question to answer because the truth hurts and it’s likely to anger someone.

John from Logansport, IN

Vic, I just want to circle back on the discussion of head coaches as leaders of men. It is often stated that if a head coach is in place too long, his message eventually doesn’t resonate with his players anymore. In your opinion, what separates the long-standing coaches? Is it just winning?

First of all, I don’t think what you’re saying is as much of an issue these days because players don’t stay in one place too long. If a coach’s message tends to be manipulative, players will tire of it and it’ll lose its edge and bounce, but a calm, sensible, consistent and respectful message never gets old. Good coaches have stable personalities.

Paolo from Stony Point, NY

I know you’re talking about football announcers but how about Mike Emerik?

He’s sensational. I always thought Gary Thorne and Bill Clement were the best broadcast team in all of sports. Hockey has some of the best broadcasters in the business.

Benjamin from Middleton, WI

Vic, if the Packers fall short of a 10-win season and in turn do not make the playoffs this season, would you anticipate any rash front office adjustments? Or has this staff earned a few house chips to play with after acquiring a title and 15-win season over the past few years?

They’ve got enough chips. Benjamin, if you start throwing staffs out the door after every disappointing season, you’re going to have a whole lot of contracts to pay off and just as many people floating around the league with a lot of information on your team to share. The fire-everyone-so-I-can-feel-good approach doesn’t work. What works is having the courage and discipline to be committed to your beliefs in the face of adversity. When you hire people, it’s because you believe in them. Show it.

Jerry from Des Moines, IA

Vic, you mention Coach Noll regularly, but yesterday was one of the first references I can remember about Coach Cowher. You describe Noll, Cowher and McCarthy as good leaders, do all three have similar traits and the difference is their personal style?

I’ve covered four coaches that have won Super Bowls – don’t forget Tom Coughlin. All four are unique. Noll had a small staff. He was his own offensive coordinator and special teams coach. I only know of him having given one pep talk, and he did it on a Monday of game week, and it was only two sentences long. Coach Cowher was a big pep talk guy. Coach Coughlin motivated with a Lombardi-like sternness; he would use intimidation to deliver his message. Coach McCarthy motivates through positive reinforcement. All four men approach winning from different directions, but they’ve all won. Why? Because they all have one thing in common: They’re leaders of men.

Dale from Richmond, VA

How many cheeseheads do you own? Are there other crazed fan memorabilia items lying around in your man cave?

That’s not my style, Dale. The walls of my study are adorned with various items; they’re things that have special meaning to me. There’s a framed picture of Forbes Field with Bill Mazeroski’s signature on the left field wall at the 406 mark. There’s an aerial view of Jacksonville Municipal Stadium that was shot on the day of the inaugural game in 1995. My press box number placard, which my friends scraped off my seat on the day of the final game played at Three Rivers Stadium, is framed within a picture of Three Rivers that was shot on the day of the final game. Fred Taylor presented me with an autographed picture from the day he broke the 10,000-yard rushing mark. From my time in Green Bay, I have a plaque commemorating packers.com’s ranking as the No. 1 website in the league for the 2011 season. I have a memento from the 1977 Sugar Bowl, where I have a fond memory of having assisted Coach Bryant to his room following a night of reverie. Mostly, I have a lot of books in that room. It’s where I go to remember.

Greg from Bellevue, WA

Vic, we rightfully tend to judge players within their respective eras. When do you think the present era began?

It began with the major point of emphasis in 2004.

Michael from Fort Lewis, WA

Vic, who do you think will be our biggest competition for the division?

I’m going to say it’s Detroit, but I’m most afraid of Minnesota.

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Vic Ketchman

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