Peter from Benton City (wherever that is)
Did Mark Murphy just make himself the General Manager?
He gave himself oversight authority, which the president and CEO of any company should have. Football ops had been autonomous under the previous arrangement. It made decisions without requiring approval from above. Now, there's an above.
Ben from Chicago, IL
Vic, when personnel executives move to another team, the new team benefits from all the scouting that was done on the previous team's payroll. Seems a bit odd.
This is a rare year for personnel department moves immediately following the season. Those types of moves have traditionally occurred following the draft, for the obvious reason teams don't want to switch horses in the middle of the ride. Will this new way become a trend? I think it could if teams are going to treat GMs as disposably as they treat head coaches. I think you can chalk it up to the howl. In a lot of ways, the howl is running this league. Just howl, baby.
Andrew from Minneapolis, MN
The college football finale did not disappoint. Coach Saban decided to bench his two-time champion QB at halftime. The coach must know his team and players well to be confident with that move. The freshman QB gave a spark and showed his talent and poise on that stage. Whose performance was more impressive? Do you think this title would be a good place for Coach Saban to retire?
When you recruit as Coach Saban does, you can bench anybody you want at any time you want. The rumor is he wants to take another swing at the NFL. Maybe he's tired of winning.
Ben from Sioux Falls, SD
Vic, what's the inside story on this new hierarchy in Green Bay? You mentioned our new GM could bridge gaps between football and other departments in the organization. Can you help us perceive what some of these "silos" might be?
With completion of the new football facility construction, the football Packers moved into a fiefdom that would be off limits to the other departments within the Packers. Football parked in its own secure area, entered Lambeau Field through its own door and lived in such daily seclusion that someone working within the walls of Lambeau Field might never see a player or member of football operations. I found it to be an insulting and somewhat troubling separation. Why? Because it didn't fit with the friendly, small-town Packers image on which the franchise's fame had been built. I suspect Mark Murphy might be referring to that separation, certainly to its autonomous nature, when he speaks of "silos." The physical separation is going to continue, but I suspect Murphy's oversight will require approval on such matters as coaches' salaries, facility expenses, etc. Don't worry about the Packers going cheap on player salaries. The cap is the cap and the Packers spend to it, and they've never been a big cash over cap team, so I don't expect much to change in the way of player spending. It's all of the other spending that will be at issue. In all my years covering the NFL, I had never known a team with as many titles as the Packers have had in their personnel department. It was as though everybody got a title. Hey, those titles cost money.
Simon from New York, NY
He’s old enough to be my grandpa, but Terry Bradshaw seems like the most fun guy alive right now. Was he always this much fun or has he gotten better with age?
I always liked him because he never seemed to take himself or the game too seriously. Everybody got a scoop. It might not have been the truth, but you could put quotes on it and build a story around it. Some of his teammates thought he was full of baloney, except they didn't say baloney. Jack Ham wasn't a fan, and Jack is as honest and down to earth as any player I've ever covered. Jack Lambert just brushed Bradshaw aside as being some kind of comedy show. I have no doubt Lambert was thinking of Bradshaw when Lambert made his "put skirts on the quarterback" remark. Joe Greene loved Bradshaw. He knew the team couldn't win without him. I can remember often going to Joe's locker after a game and Joe's first remark was, "How'd you like our quarterback today?" Coach Noll knew Bradshaw wanted to be cajoled. Coach Noll also knew that would've been the worst thing for Bradshaw. Therein lies the rift between the two. Bradshaw wanted his coach's love, and his coach wouldn't give it. It reached a head in 1983 when Bradshaw missed nearly the entire season due to elbow surgery. Coach Noll didn't take injured players on road trips and he wasn't big on the player mentoring thing. Bradshaw made a comment that he'd like to be there for Cliff Stoudt to help him. Noll said, "If Terry can't play for us, Terry can't help us." I think I knew at that moment Coach Noll wouldn't be Bradshaw's Hall of Fame presenter, which he should've been. Yep, ol' Brad is a lot of fun. He sure wrote me a lot of good stories, and I'll always love him for it.
Karl from Albuquerque, NM
Vic, how much of a role do you think the wolves played in what's transpired in Green Bay?
As it pertained to Dom Capers, the howl couldn't be ignored any longer. The howl had become a distraction. Mike McCarthy had to make a change. The change is good for the Packers and it'll be good for Coach Capers. He needs to become new, too.
Nic from Milwaukee, WI
What can we expect from Mike Pettine? Do you have any stories about him?
Expect? Expect improvement. Don't worry about 3-4, 4-3, attack, bend but don't break or any other such schemes. Schemes aren't the problem. Coach Capers is the king of schemes. The Packers need better players and greater demands on them. As for Pettine, his father is a legendary Pa. high school football coach. Mike Pettine is off the Ravens tree, which is good, and my former radio partner in Jacksonville, Jeff Lageman, was Pettine's roommate at Virginia, which is completely meaningless but I thought I'd throw that in there.
Birky from Fennimore, WI
Without taking into account any current players on the roster, if you could build a defense from the ground up, would you prefer a 3-4 or a 4-3?
I continue to favor the 3-4 and for the same reasons: The pool of talent that fits in a 3-4 is deeper and more easily accessed in the draft than what is required by a 4-3, and the 3-4 allows for greater disguise of the rush and coverages.
Leif from Saint Croix Falls (wherever that is)
Vic, how would you handle the Le’Veon Bell contract situation this upcoming offseason?
I'd try to sign him, but I wouldn't damage my cap to do so. He's a great player but he's not my kind of back. I like pounders, and the Steelers already have one in James Conner.
Reed from Wisconsin
I really, really liked you on packers.com. I love you here. Thanks for letting loose as you promised.
I ain't savin' it for the prom anymore, coach.
Sean from Chaska, MN
Keenum's not "The Man?" He's an MVP candidate! Came to them on wings of angels, practically paid in pennies, and could very well give the Vikings a Super Bowl win with his high impact and low price. Other than financial footprint, what quality of being "The Man" does he lack?
I think you're going to get an answer to your question this weekend.
Jon from Bloomfield, NJ
Vic, I love the Packers, but what our fans need is a good decade of losing to remind them what it's like. The howling is giving me tinnitus.
I kept going to the door but nobody was there. All of a sudden, the doorbell stopped ringing.
Carl from Mount Horeb, WI
Does a front office shakeup have a direct impact on the part of the operation where you used to work? Or do things pretty much stay the same if you aren't working directly for a coach or the GM?
As Coach Noll would say, "Nobody knows."
Donovan from Crestline, CA
I know I don't have to tell you but I'll say it anyway: Don't let others tell you what to write. Keep writing about politics or whatever the hell you want. Just keep doing what you're doing.
I bought the domain name, I bought the LLC and I pay the monthly site charges. I run the show and the howl means nothing to me. This is where I revel in being a citizen of this great country and exercise the most wonderful freedom the world has ever known. If somebody doesn't like what I write, then they may do as that infamous Schenley High School cheer suggested: "Get your hat, your coat and get the heck out," except they didn't say heck.
Doug from Evergreen, CO
Mark Murphy all of a sudden is the man.
I think that's a little over the top. He's suddenly what he should've been all along. He's the president and CEO! If Murphy is responsible for the Packers' bottom line, shouldn't he have some say in how money is spent? He's one of the most personable and intelligent football people I have ever known. This should've happened long ago.
Tanner from Hilbert, WI
Jacksonville vs Pittsburgh: What key things does each team need to do to win?
The Jaguars need to run the ball and rush the quarterback. The Steelers need to stop the run and protect the quarterback. That's the confrontation. It'll decide the outcome.
Ben from Chicago, IL
Vic, I follow the perspective that picking at the back of the round for multiple years leads to a lower quality roster. How do the Patriots do it? What is the Belichick way?
All right, let's do it again. They have Tom Brady. He's the greatest quarterback who has ever lived. He tilts the field. He negates deficiencies. He has given the Patriots an advantage no team has ever enjoyed for as long as the Patriots have enjoyed it. It begins with him, as evidenced by the fact Coach Belichick was 5-13 and on his way to being fired when he made Brady his starting quarterback. To Belichick's credit, he saw the greatness when everyone else was criticizing him for not reinstating Drew Bledsoe as the starter when he returned to health. Belichick is a great coach. I don't like his "gamesmanship" ways, but he is an absolutely sensational football coach. With Brady as his quarterback, Belichick has kept the Patriots on top by getting what they can out of the draft, and then patching in affordable free agency. Dion Lewis is a reject, and look what the Patriots are getting out of him. How about Lawrence Guy, a Packers seventh-round pick in 2011? He's on his fifth team and he's playing at a very high level. Nobody patches as the Patriots do.
Joe from Germantown, TN
Jags or Steelers?
I don't put any stock in the five interceptions or the long run at garbage time in the previous meeting between the two teams. What I remember is a point in that game when the Jaguars were backed up against their goal line and ran the ball out to midfield to help clinch the win, and the Steelers had Ryan Shazier back then. That drive resonates with me and that's why I'm picking the Jaguars. Making matters worse for the Steelers is they don't have Shazier now, and their defense is showing the effects of it. The Browns moved up and down the field.
Tim from Jacksonville, FL
Do you have a story from the Jaguars victory over the Steelers in the '07 playoffs?
The Steelers were horribly decimated by injury for that game and the Jaguars were the better team. The following week, the Jaguars lost in New England, a game the Jaguars would've won if Dennis Northcutt and Matt Jones hadn't each dropped what should've been touchdown passes. I firmly believed the Jaguars were the better team in that game, too. It might be '07 all over again.
Mike from North Hudson, WI
Vic, Jaguars at Pittsburgh, you have any mixed emotions?
Of course I do. I lived in both places and covered both teams. I love each place and each team. I'll be happy for one and sad for the other.