Jim from Cedarburg, WI
Sometimes you see an offense that seems to totally have the defense confused. They run when the defense is playing pass, they have a screen set up on an all-out blitz. Is this just the coordinator outsmarting the opposition, or is it the execution that makes the plays look that brilliant?
Often it’s a case of the defensive coordinator having done his homework. He’s calling defenses according to down-and-distance tendencies. Several years ago, when Mike Smith was a rookie defensive coordinator for the Jaguars, his defense went on a stop-the-run tear against some of the top rush-offenses in the game. I found myself on the elevator with him on the way down to the locker room after his defense had shut down Jamal Lewis and the Ravens. I looked at him and said, “You’re guessing.” He laughed but he didn’t deny it. Later, he admitted that he was reacting to down-and-distance tendencies. Dom Capers is one of the best at “guessing,” but even when you’ve put your players in position to have success, they still have to physically defeat blocks to make the defense work. I saw clear-cut examples of the Bears running into a defense stacked against the run on Sunday, and the Bears were still able to gain yardage. It reminded me that even when you call the right plays, it’s still about players.
Ross from Aurora, CO
Why aren't we seeing more roll-outs and more shotgun formations? We move the ball when we pass, and while it's nice to establish some kind of running game, it seems we move the chains more when we throw on first and second downs.
The run should be outlawed. It’s boring. Teams should throw on every down. Who wants to see a perfectly-executed trap block and a back blow through the hole, drop his pads on a linebacker and then bounce to the outside and beat everyone down the sideline? I don’t. I’m with you. I’m a throw-the-ball guy now. I’m done with that run-the-ball stuff. That was the old Vic. This is the new Vic.
Carl from Beloit, WI
I hear fans complaining about having to focus on the fundamentals. Isn't that a key for success in any sport?
Fundamentals, shmundamentals. Just throw, baby.
Rob from Bel Air, MD
What record do you think is more prestigious for a quarterback, 5,087 passing yards in a season or 50 passing touchdowns in a season?
I’m gonna go with 5,087 passing yards in a season because that 50 touchdown passes in a season is an old record. Hey, that was four years ago; it’s ancient history. The passing yards record is new and the thing I like best about it is that it’ll be broken next year and the year after that and the year after that … I love records because if you just concern yourself with records, then you don’t have to worry about things like the real meaning of the game and developing a sensitivity for the real-life, human confrontation being played out in front of us.
Tom from Fairborn, OH
We can think/talk/surmise about the defense all we want. Yes, get pad levels down; blah, blah, blah, but methinks we need the entire defense to get an attitude adjustment and for Hawk/Bishop to muscle up and make a lot more plays. Oh, and yes, we did miss Jenkins this year; that's a no-doubter. There, now I feel better.
Yeah, forget that pad level stuff, just go nuts. That’ll do it.
Tim from Winthrop Harbor, IL
Not to take anything away from Drew Brees on a great accomplishment but it must be noted that 11 of his 16 games are in a dome while the others are at Jacksonville, at Carolina, at Tampa Bay, at Tennessee and at Green Bay in Sept. Talk about a custom-made schedule to make a run at the passing record. Have you heard any of the talking heads point this out? Personally, I'm more impressed with Brady’s and Rodgers’ numbers when you factor in the weather conditions they play in.
I haven’t heard any talking heads point that out, nor did I know about it – thank you for that information because I will use it at the appropriate time – because I have absolutely no interest in Brees’ passing-yards record. Yardage records in today’s game are meaningless because they are a creation of the league’s intent to stimulate them. To give you some historical perspective, the lowest-rated passer in the league, rookie Blaine Gabbert, has thrown for 2,122 yards in 13 games. The most yardage for which Bart Starr threw in his career was 2,438. Only four times in Starr’s career did he throw for more yards than for which Gabbert has currently thrown, and Gabbert has a game left to play. My interest is in what teams and quarterbacks do at crunch time. How do they perform in the playoffs? The great quarterbacks are the ones whose postseason stats are as good or better than their regular-season stats. Those are the guys that belong in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The other ones belong in the Stats and Records Hall of Fame. My respect for Brees is for what he did in leading the Saints to the Super Bowl XLIV championship. That’s what resonates with me.
Jeff from Blanchardville, WI
I'm thinking that Lambeau Field, the turf will be the great equalizer for the defense. Your thoughts?
If you’re using the word “turf” as a metaphor for home-field advantage, I agree. I think Lambeau Field and the cold weather that is almost certain to be present will be an obstacle to scoring. In cold weather, scoring declines.
J.P. from West Bend, WI
If so many people are in an uproar over the Saints’ decision to let Drew Brees throw late in a blowout game, why don't people call for an option for teams to forfeit when they're getting blown out? The way I see it, this is a case of adults being paid to play a game to entertain people, not little kids who need a self-esteem boost. Let the players play to the best of their abilities until the clock expires.
Sean Payton had to do what he did. He would’ve been vilified had he not allowed Brees to set the record. In all other cases, however, I’m bitterly opposed to padding yardage totals and running up scores. I like professional football to be played in a professional manner: Win the game. That’s all. Just win, baby. As for your support of running up the score, I must ask: Would you feel the same way if the score was being run up on you?
Gregory from Rockford, IL
When voting for MVP, do you or other sportswriters think about that candidate playing indoors/outdoors?
You’re describing degree of difficulty and, yes, I would consider it in my deliberation and I don’t think it’s considered enough by those who vote for these things.
Paul from De Pere, WI
Mike McCarthy says regardless that the No. 1 seed is locked, Week 17 is not like a preseason game. That said, is there still opportunity for an unknown player to step up and surprise coaches and fans with his performance in the playoffs?
I think Vic So’oto has a chance to do that. As I wrote, this team is looking for that one more pass-rusher. I think So’oto will get a lot of playing time on Sunday, which effectively will be an opportunity for So’oto to become that missing link.
Sean from Menominee, MI
Has there ever been a team that hosted a Super Bowl they were playing in?
The closest it’s come to happening has been in Super Bowl XIV, when the Steelers beat the Rams in Pasadena, and in Super Bowl XIX, when the 49ers beat the Dolphins at Stanford. Neither of those stadiums was the Rams’ or 49ers’ home field, but those games were played in the Rams’ and 49ers’ home markets.
Andrew from Altoona, WI
Would you say this year’s Green Bay Packers is one of the most flawless offenses you have ever seen?
It’s the most efficient pass-offense I’ve ever covered.
Travis from Plymouth, MN
I've heard you mention the strength of Rodgers’ arm as giving us an advantage at Lambeau because of the weather conditions. I was wondering if you would be so kind as to rank the quarterbacks you feel have the best arm to deal with the weather conditions at Lambeau that we are likely to see in the playoffs.
Matt Stafford, Eli Manning and Tony Romo would be at the top of the list, but only one of those last two can make it into the playoffs. The other NFC playoff quarterbacks rely more on their technical skills than they do arm strength.
Phil from Ardmore, OK
I can't wait for the playoffs. I sure hope there’s lots of snow at home for the Packers; nothing like football in the snow. What is your most memorable moment of a snowy football game?
It was from a game on the Sunday after Thanksgiving in Cincinnati in 1976. It wasn’t cold and snow wasn’t in the forecast; it was expected to rain, but it was a four o’clock start and the temperature dropped just enough to produce those giant, heavy snowflakes that pile up in a hurry. The first half of the game was played without a flake in sight. Just as the last few players were disappearing into the tunnels, the first flakes began to fall. I left the press box to go get a hot dog. When I came back to my seat and looked out the window, I could barely see the field for the white that filled the air. Soon, the field was buried under a heavy coating of snow. When the players returned from halftime, I could see them stop, look and wonder if they were somehow in the wrong place. The snow grew in intensity as the game wore on, and I will always remember the sight of the final play of the game: Kenny Anderson trying to launch a pass for a wide-open Isaac Curtis in the back-corner of the end zone. Every time Kenny would pump, Dwight White would pull his leg. Pump, pull, pump, pull. Neither player could get any traction and eventually Kenny was able only to launch a weak pass that fell short of its mark. The snow made for a surreal visual. Photos took on the look of paintings. It’s one of my most treasured memories.
Ryan from Sheboygan, WI
I don't know if you saw it, but my (ex)girlfriend held up a sign at Sunday's game. If you did see it, don't you think the national shame was a little much?
So you’re the rat?
MORE FROM 'ASK VIC'