Q: I can't stand it! Russell Wilson is Mark Sanchez. He's a young, serviceably talented QB who was lucky enough to join a team at a time when it had a dominating defense. He hasn't had to do much -- just manage the game, not turn the ball over, and make a few plays here and there. We saw how well that worked out for Sanchez. I predict similar results for Wilson. He's not a franchise-caliber quarterback.
Scott in Minnesota
A: I disagree. Watch him when he has to take control of a game when he's behind in the fourth quarter. Before then, the offense doesn't allow him to open up his passing game. Don't just look at the stats. He's asked to throw only 25 or 26 passes a game. Instead of comparing Wilson to Sanchez, view him as a shorter version of Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben was asked to be conservative early in his career. The Steelers won with defense and a running game. Wilson already has a Super Bowl ring. Sanchez didn't get past the conference championship game. I don't buy the comparison.
Q: People give Ted Thompson a great deal of credit for Green Bay's success, but should we be giving former Packers director of football operations and current Seahawks GM John Schneider more credit than he's received? He's now been part of constructing two elite, Super Bowl-winning defenses with two different teams in the span of four years, and Green Bay's fall from one of the best defenses to what it is now coincides perfectly with his departure to Seattle.
Avi in San Diego
A: Thompson deserves the credit for the success of the Packers. He's the main decision-maker in Green Bay, just like Schneider is the main decision-maker for Seattle. I agree that the talent level of the Packers' defense has declined, but I don't think that's because of Schneider's departure. The Packers have remained a perennial playoff team and Thompson does a great job.
Q: With the evolution of the passing game in today's NFL and linebackers having to cover more often, do you think it's likely that we see teams try and convert safeties into linebackers? As an example, I'm a Browns fan. I see T.J. Ward playing close to the line of scrimmage a lot already. Is it even conceivable for a player like that to assume a hybrid ILB spot and allow the defense to play another ball hawk deeper in the secondary.
Att in Dallas
A: Good question. I don't see a big transition, but a bigger safety with speed could make the conversion. Brian Urlacher played safety in college and had a great career as a linebacker. The benchmark for such a conversion is size. If you put a 215-pound safety at linebacker for coverage purposes, he'll get overpowered. The use of the big nickel might become more prominent. The big nickel features three safeties, one playing the role of a linebacker. The Saints did a great job of that when they had a healthy Kenny Vaccaro. They used three safeties -- Vaccaro, Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins. If you want a safety as an every-down linebacker, he needs to be big enough to hold up against the run.