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Ask Vic

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Scheme wasn't the problem

Posted Jan 17, 2013

Mike McCarthy's press conference was an exercise in accountability

Kim from Overland Park, KS

Vic, it seems you enjoy evaluating football talent during this time of the year. Did you ever consider being a talent scout back in the day? What are some of the requirements to be considered a good scout? Drawbacks to being one?

I enjoy the process. I like talking to scouts; I have found them to be the most engaging and entertaining people in pro football. They tell great stories and they offer insight, a lot of which I have stolen and used in this column through the years. I have always considered myself a “scout’s reporter.” I’m a reporter. That’s all. I have no illusions. I think it’s very important for a scout to have played the game into the college level or higher, and I think it helps to have done some coaching, because the more you know about the game and what it takes to succeed in it, the more successful you’ll be as a scout. A scout must know football technique. He must know what players at each position are going to be taught to execute, because he has to look at a prospect and envision that player executing that technique. Can a cornerback flip his hips and play press coverage, or is he a squat-technique corner only? Can a tackle punch with his left hand? Does a quarterback prospect have a false step? These are questions a scout has to be able to answer. “He’s a good player” isn’t good enough. The drawback to being a scout is that you’re on the road six months or more a year. Your life is about airports and rental cars. If you’re a scout in the northeast, life’s not too bad. If your territory is the southwest, you better really love what you do.

Peter from Columbus, OH

The steal of this next draft may be Marcus Lattimore and I would love to see the Packers get him. If he falls to round three and you have the patience to wait a year, you could end up with a franchise running back and a top 10 talent for a bargain.

You’re describing Willis McGahee, but most fans don’t have that kind of patience. Tom Donahoe was ripped by Bills fans when he picked McGahee in 2003. McGahee didn’t play that year, as he rehabbed from a catastrophic knee injury, but nine years later, McGahee has rushed for more than 8,000 yards in his career and I think that makes him a pretty good pick. Lattimore is a sensational talent, but he’s facing a major recovery from a catastrophic leg injury. Some patient team might get real, real lucky.

Brandon from Fort Wayne, IN

How long of an offseason do the players have?

If they intend to be full participants in the voluntary portions of offseason conditioning and practices, then their offseason will end in early spring.

Marilynn from Schlise, WI

It was mentioned on a sport cable channel that Brett Favre lost the most championship games of any NFL quarterback. This seems to be the path Aaron is headed. To me, there seems to be a problem in Green Bay that goes way back in time and needs to be addressed. Who is responsible for the same mistake being made over and over again?

Aaron Rodgers has only played in one conference championship game and he won that game. In his five years as a starting quarterback, Rodgers has a 5-3 playoff record and a Super Bowl title. Peyton Manning is 9-11 in postseason games and has eight one-and-dones. Eight! There is no problem in Green Bay, other than the expectations might be a little too high.

Derek from La Crosse, WI

I understand people saying it was lack of execution that led to the Packers’ downfall on Saturday, but after an historically bad season last year, and an historically bad end to the season this year, isn't there someone on the coaching staff that can be accountable for the poor defense?

Define accountability. Self-mutilation? Going to every Packers fan’s house and apologizing? What was it Coach McCarthy did on Tuesday? Was he not being accountable when he said the team didn’t spend enough time preparing for the read-option? I think you need to go back and read Mike Spofford’s account of Coach McCarthy’s season-ending press conference, which I consider to have been an exercise in accountability. What bothers me is that I haven’t heard anyone say, “I played poorly.”

Mark from Westernport, MD

Vic, have you ever covered a story in football quite as bizarre as the developing Manti Te'o situation? If so, please explain. Also, do you think this story will have an impact on draft day?

I covered a story about a little kid getting his head stuck in the mouth of the Jaguars statue. Rescue had to cut out the jaguar’s tooth to get the kid’s head out. That was pretty bizarre, but not as bizarre as this Te’o thing. If it’s true, then he’s going to really need to be on his game during the interview sessions at the combine.

Drey from Manchester, UK

Joe Staley. Wow! Maybe he should be NFL MVP.

I wouldn’t go that far, but a couple of weeks ago I was asked in this column what players I would select at the four premium positions. I picked Joe Staley at left tackle, and I got a lot of e-mail from people calling me an idiot. Staley’s pretty good, isn’t he?

Ken from Pickens, SC

Vic, the game was won and lost on the defensive line. I am hoping there’s a best-player scenario where we get a Reggie White or a Javedeon Clowney type of player to augment a pretty good defensive scheme.

Clowney’s not eligible for this year’s draft. If you want to draft him next year, you better lose a lot of games next season.

Nate from Pueblo, CO

As for defending the read-option, I'd just like to add one thing to what you've said: Hit the quarterback! Hit him really hard!

Hit him on the passing arm a lot. The knees are good, too. I like the way you think, Nate. You’re my kind of guy.

Thomas from Vienna, Austria

What do you think about signing Steven Jackson?

I prefer young legs.

Thomas from Nottingham, UK

Reading yesterday's questions about the search for talent, I got excited again. The offseason is as much a part of the fun as the actual playing season. I am over our loss. Bring on the endless draft banter.

I agree. Let’s move on to the next thing. That’s what’s better about the NFL today, as opposed to when I started covering pro football. In the old days, I’d be covering basketball games in some stinky gym now. Other than for the draft, I wouldn’t cover football again until training camp. I like the season-long quality of today’s game because I like football.

Glenn from Cromwell, KY

I have been hearing lots of people saying Woodson, Hawk, Jennings, Driver and Finley will all be gone before the start of next season. What are your thoughts on this?

There’ll be changes. We all know that. Coach McCarthy said on Tuesday that the Packers are averaging 20 percent roster turnover each year. That’s a lot of turnover for a playoff team, but that’s the way it is in today’s game. It’s a game of replacement. There wasn’t a lot more turnover than that from the Jaguars’ first season to their second season. I saw a comment by Steelers GM Kevin Colbert yesterday that really interested me. I think it says everything about the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately quality of the NFL. Colbert said: “If we don’t change a roster that produced 8-8, we’d be silly to expect a better result.”

Jeremy from Lawrenceburg, KY

I don’t know why you are taking up for Mike and Dom. If it wasn’t for Aaron, the Packers wouldn’t even be a .500 team.

You might be able to say that about any team with an elite quarterback that lost that quarterback. I take up for Mike McCarthy and Dom Capers because I think they are outstanding coaches. I took up for Tom Coughlin and it angered Jaguars fans who thought he was a terrible coach. He’s won two Super Bowls since then. I took up for Dirk Koetter, who Jaguars fans thought was a terrible offensive coordinator. He’s in the NFC title game this weekend with the league’s No. 8 offense and one of its most celebrated quarterbacks, Matt Ryan. Having done this for some years, I know people with other teams, and I was talking to another team’s GM recently when he began to praise the job Coach McCarthy had done this season to overcome the unrelenting chain of injuries the Packers sustained. Every week was another crisis, yet, the Packers never lost two games in a row and won nine out of 10 games during one stretch of the season. I know everybody is disappointed, but this harangue of the coaching staff has reached the point of silliness.

John from Lafayette, CA

I read “Ask Vic” daily and you have mentioned power vs. finesse quite a bit. I suppose this last game shows why it is so important. In your estimation, how often does a good finesse team beat a good power team and why?

Power teams tend to be very difficult to beat in the postseason, especially in cold weather. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen. The Rams of Mike Martz fame were certainly a finesse team and they beat a power team, Tennessee, in the Super Bowl, though it was in a dome. I’ll also tell you that power players tend to go toward the top of the draft, and the Packers have been picking at the bottom for a long time.

Tim from Rosario, Argentina

Atlanta has already played against Newton twice, RG3 and now Wilson. Do you think that will help them with facing the pistol read-option offense of SF?

Sure it will. I think Colin Kaepernick is going to see a lot of three-man and four-man pass rushes.

Lucy from Green Bay, WI

What do you make of the comments Charles Woodson made after the divisional playoff loss, regarding the coaching staff's reluctance to change things up and try new things during the second half to stop Kaepernick and the 49ers’ offense?

They surprised me. I saw cover one, cover two and three-deep safety, which is something you seldom see on first down. Hey, if you can’t stop a running quarterback from gashing you when you’re in a three-deep look, something’s really wrong. I saw spy technique and I think I even saw a spy stack technique. I saw press coverage and I saw squat coverage. I saw three-man rush, four-man rush, five-man rush and all-out blitz. The most successful look I saw all day was a four-man rush that, as I’ve written, formed a perfect pocket for Kaepernick, who had lots of time to throw and then threw short and incomplete. I would’ve liked to have seen the Packers use that look more often, but maybe they did and I missed it. I’m not an expert, but I have a pretty good feel for football and this is what I believe to be true: Scheme wasn’t the problem.

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Do you have a question for Vic? Your question could be posted on packers.com. Vic has covered the NFL through 42 seasons, including 23 years covering the Steelers and 16 years covering the Jaguars.

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