Brad from Moline, IL
Concerning the cold climate of Green Bay, do players from a warmer climate feel a difference in playing in Green Bay than on their own turf?
Sure they do, and there’s no way for them to prepare for it because I know of no southern team that has a refrigerated indoor facility that can drop the temperature to below zero. Back in 2004, the Jaguars played a late-season game in Green Bay. It was a Sunday night game and frigid temperatures descended on Green Bay that week. Back in Jacksonville, the Jaguars practiced in sunny, 70-degree weather. There was nothing they could do to prepare for the cold other than to discipline themselves to accept that they would be cold and they had to find a deeper resolve to win. One of my favorite stories from that week was of Byron Leftwich driving to the stadium early in the morning when it was chilly, and having all of the windows open in his car. That was his way of preparing for the cold. The specter of playing in the cold hung over the Jaguars all week. It’s all we talked and wrote about: the cold, the cold, the cold; how would the Jaguars deal with the cold? Well, they won the game, and I’ve never seen a team prouder of a win than that team was of that win. Why? Because they defeated an adversary with which they were not familiar. That’s how warm-weather teams prepare for cold-weather games: They deepen their resolve. Frankly, I think it’s more difficult for northern teams to go south early in the season. All of the resolve in the world won’t help you when the needle on your gas tank hits E.
Adrian from Odessa, TX
Do you agree Rodgers has the calmness of Montana, the arm strength of Marino, the athleticism of Elway, the accuracy of Brady and the smarts of Manning?
Yes, I do. I’ve yet to find a weakness in his game.
C.J. from Stevens Point, WI
I like the idea of using throwback numbers. It would work out well for teams such as the Packers, Steelers, Bears, etc., but what about the Lions? They can't all wear No. 20.
Whoa! Life in Detroit didn’t begin with Billy Sims. The Lions were the team of the decade in the 1950s. They won three league titles and played in four league-title games. They had great players: Bobby Layne, Joe Schmidt, Yale Lary, Leon Hart, Lou Creekmur, Jack Christiansen. Just about all of the teams in the league have a period in their history to which they can reflect with fondness. Even an expansion franchise such as the Jaguars can dip into their past and put some uniform numbers on the field that would be instantly recognizable: 8, 71, 28, 82, 87 immediately come to mind. Some years ago, Peyton Manning wanted to wear the number 19 for a throwback game, to honor Johnny Unitas, and the league said no. I thought it was a great idea: Manning wearing No. 19 and a pair of black high-tops? It would’ve been sensational.
Gary from Chippewa Falls, WI
When I see Aaron and Coach McCarthy on the sidelines, it reminds me of the relationship between Joe Montana and Bill Walsh. Are there many coaches that ask their quarterbacks thoughts on the progress of the game?
All coaches communicate with their quarterbacks. The coach/quarterback relationship is what defines a team: Brown/Graham, Halas/Luckman, Lombardi/Starr, Landry/Staubach, Noll/Bradshaw, Madden/Stabler, Ewbank/Unitas and then Ewbank/Namath, Holmgren/Favre and now McCarthy/Rodgers. When the book is closed on this chapter of Packers football, it will be remembered for the coach and the quarterback. They are inexorably linked forever.
Nolan from Janesville, WI
Any news on when Mike Neal is supposed to return?
Based on the way Mike McCarthy talked on Monday, I got the feeling the week after the bye week might be the target.
Holger from Cruz, Ecuador
What position has the most Hall of Fame inductees?
It’s difficult to break it down by position because position nomenclature in the pre-modern era often doesn’t correlate with position nomenclature in the modern era. For example, the Pro Football Hall of Fame lumps pre-modern era (single wing) quarterbacks and running backs together, but I’m not crazy about that because Sid Luckman and Sammy Baugh were still passers more than they were runners. Anyhow, running back is still the position of greatest concentration among Hall of Famers; there are 44 true running backs in the Hall of Fame. Offensive linemen would seem to be No. 2 on the hit parade, but that’s another position that is muddled by the eras because a lot of those guys were two-way players. What’s Chuck Bednarik, an offensive lineman or a linebacker?
Rick from Albuquerque, NM
Besides soft pretzels and being warm, what are the advantages and disadvantages of seeing the game from up in the press box rather than down on the field?
If you’re talking about being a reporter, other than for the creature comforts and the facilities provided in a work environment, the only advantage is access to a TV monitor. If you’re talking about being a coach up in the “press box,” the advantage is a much better view of the action and the formations. Down on the field is the worst place to watch a game. If a coach wants to see the game, he goes up. If he wants to look his players in the eye, he goes down.
Eddie from Denver, CO
Vic, looking at the NFL crest, I notice eight stars on the shield. I'm curious to know if there is significance to the number of them being on the crest, or was it just the NFL's graphic designer's personal choice to utilize this number of stars to give the crest balance?
The eight stars represent the league’s eight divisions.
Ben from Columbus, WI
If you were a coach on an NFL team, would you rather be a defensive coordinator or offensive coordinator and why?
I’m a defensive guy. I like the action up front and I think it’s dictated by the defense. Blocking schemes have gotten a little too vanilla for my tastes, but I like what defenses are doing up front. I like the stunts and twists and gap-control stuff, and I love getting to the quarterback. He’s the trophy, as Joe Namath once said. He must go down, and even though the league doesn’t want you to put him down hard anymore, every once in a while it wouldn’t hurt to bounce him off the turf a little bit, just to let him know you’re still there.
Rob from Liverpool, UK
Love this section; learning more and more each day. You have mentioned in recent articles that the Packers have a lot of coaches that are set to become coordinators and coordinators that are set to be head coaches. Is there anything – contractually speaking – that allows a team to prevent a coach from moving on?
A coach under contract is forbidden to move from one team to another team if that move is lateral, provided the team that holds his contract wants to keep him. In other words, a line coach under contract to one team may leave to become the offensive coordinator of another team, but he may not leave to become the line coach of another team.
Jon from Oshkosh, WI
During the game against the Rams the announcer said the Packers called a “run blitz.” Is there a difference between a run blitz and other types of blitzes?
Simply put, down and distance causes the defense to expect a running play and it has decided to use its defenders to penetrate and disrupt for the purpose of tackling the running back, not for sacking the quarterback. In a short-yardage situation, for example, the defense would probably use all of the players in the box to fill all of the gaps so there will be no running lanes. In blitzing to sack the quarterback, you might overload one side or drop a lineman and rush a safety; the attempt there is to confuse. When you run-blitz, you’re not trying to confuse or get to the quarterback, you’re attempting to penetrate the gaps and redirect the running back.
Daniel from Coeur d’Alene, ID
How is strength of victory and strength of schedule determined?
Strength of victory is the winning percentage of the teams you’ve defeated. Strength of schedule is the winning percentage of the teams on your schedule.
Chris from Anchorage, AK
You've covered many teams over the years and countless games. If you could pick any two teams from any year, who would they be? Who would play in your dream matchup?
The ’78 Steelers are widely considered to be one of the greatest teams of all-time. The 2011 Packers would make a nice opponent.
Thiago from Sao Paulo, Brazil
Vic, I think you made a superficial analysis of the statistical prevalence of interceptions and fumbles. Like yourself, I'm not a stats guy, but I do concede that, when well analyzed, stats can tell you a few things. I looked through a broadcaster's NFL stats website and there have been 85 rushing fumbles and 177 interceptions. There have also been 4,744 rushing attempts and 6,286 pass attempts. Using these numbers, there’s a rushing fumbles/rushing attempts percentage of 1.79 percent. As for interceptions/pass attempts percentage, we have 2.81. Using odds ratio, we got 1.56 for interceptions, which means that, statistically, there's not much difference between risking an interception or a fumble.
You need more stats. You’re missing 19 lost fumbles which, I believe, probably belong to quarterbacks attempting to pass and to wide receivers after the catch. Factor those into your percentages and let me know how that turns out. I’m gonna go get a pretzel.
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