John from Holland, MI
When Coach McCarthy was hired, I didn't know very much about him. With hindsight, it's obvious he was a terrific choice. Can you give us any insight or inside information on exactly why the Packers selected him over the other candidates?
I first heard of him back in the early ’90s, when I was covering the Steelers. The Steelers had just taken John Fox and Marvin Lewis off the Pitt staff, and the Steelers’ director of football operations at that time was telling me about the talent they had on the coaching staff at Pitt and he mentioned a local kid from Greenfield, which is a neighborhood in Pittsburgh. I’d hear the name now and again through the years, and then in 2005 he was a top candidate for the offensive coordinator’s job in Jacksonville, where I was covering the Jaguars. That’s when I found out where Mike McCarthy had been since I first heard about him as a coach at Pitt, and I was told he was on the verge of becoming a head coach. The next year, he got the Packers job. The average Packers fan might not have known about him, but he had long been identified as a coach on the rise.
William from Savannah, GA
With reference to Paul’s question the other day, the Union Army was able to defeat the Confederates at Gettysburg because of their ground game. It was all downhill running thanks to one of the all-time great fourth-and-goal play-calls by Chamberlain, an unassuming college professor from Bowdoin.
The rocks were sharp and the South didn’t have shoes. They should’ve never put Gettysburg on the schedule.
Joe from Milford, OH
Next season, the world will end during December, 2012. Does that mean there will be no Super Bowl champion for the 2012 season?
Apply the tiebreakers and then flip a coin between the AFC and NFC champions.
Chris from Petaluma, CA
What would Green Bay have to do to host a Super Bowl?
Dome Lambeau Field and build a lot of hotels.
Steve from Ithaca, NY
Finley is a dynamic player and best known for his pass-catching abilities. He can line up in the tight end spot or split out as a wide receiver. Why is he technically considered a tight end, when in reality he is a wide receiver?
I apply a simple rule to decide whether a guy is a tight end. If he’s not tight to the formation, he’s not a tight end.
Tom from Fairborn, OH
Trap games: Seems like every year the schedule will present one. Seems like Green Bay's might be this week with Denver. You have worked with a few teams in your career. Do coaches even recognize the possibility of a trap game?
Coaches acknowledge the tendency for their players to ease up off the gas a few times during the season, to catch a break after a tough stretch of games or when the bumps and bruises make it tough to even get out of bed. A “trap game” is the result of mental and emotional fatigue. We shouldn’t have reached that point in just Week 4 of the season. I don’t see the trap and I don’t like the idea of building in excuses for losing before the game is even played.
Joseph from Washington, IL
What is the rule when a fair catch is signaled by one player and another player fields the ball? Can the second player advance the ball or not?
Corey from Richland, WA
Having been around the league for some time, in your opinion are Packers fans as a whole lot different than other fans around the league? Please share what you pick up on.
Different? A little bit. If I was a player, this is where I’d wanna play because Packers players can do no wrong. Packers fans love their players more than any fan base of any team I’ve observed. It’s never the players’ fault, it’s always the coaches’ fault. That’s what I’ve observed, which is to say an intense love affair with the players, right down to the bicycles at training camp. Those bicycles are the best player PR tool in the history of football. They’re off-the-charts better than signing autographs. Look at it this way, if you’re a kid and a player rides your bike to or from the practice field, are you ever going to turn against him? No way. That’s the big difference I’ve detected between Green Bay and other places in the league. Players get ripped and thrown under the bus in other places, but not in Green Bay. They walk on water here.
Randy from Sheboygan, WI
Do reporters chart plays and series like Pat Kirwan describes in his book, “Take Your Eye Off The Ball?”
I had always done that until I started doing the live, in-game blog. Prior to my blog days, I would make notes during the game. For example, “42 bit on DM,” means the defensive back wearing number 42 bit on a double move by the receiver. Or I would write, “QB LO S” on a deep pass, which means the quarterback looked off the safety, or “C, RG trap,” which means the center and right guard executed a trap block on the defensive tackle, or “T collapse” on a touchdown pass, which means the tackle executed a collapse block on the pass-rushing end. Everybody has their own little code for taking notes. I liked to carry a legal-sized note pad, draw a line down the middle of it and then a line across the bottom of each completed series, which made the page look like a grid when it was done.
Eddy from Temecula, CA
Do you think there’s any correlation between having a horrible pass-defense and a dominant pass-offense, such as the case with the Packers and the Patriots?
Well, look at it this way: Teams that throw the ball a lot tend to run more plays than teams that run the ball a lot, and that makes games longer, and teams that throw the ball and score a lot of points with the passing game tend to force their opponents to abandon the run and throw the ball a lot, too. Stats will lie; find the truth.
Peter from Toledo, OH
Vic, you've been brilliant on the whole stats vs. just win, baby thing. I love it so much I've quoted you in a sermon (I'm a pastor). My question is this: Do you see a tipping point, after which the NFL goes from being more team-oriented to being more individual, stats-oriented, changing the economic calculus of the NFL's business model?
Pastor Peter, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, it’s human nature to be attracted to that which is glamorous, and football fans have long favored passers and pass-catchers over pass-blockers, pass-rushers over run-stuffers, etc. We love our stars, Pastor Peter, and the NFL’s success is built on the star power of its quarterbacks. Tipping point? No, expect more of the same. More stats, more stars, more money. Pray for us, Pete.
Jesse from Clarksville, TN
I'd like to hear your reaction to what Mike Vick said about not getting the flags that other NFL quarterbacks do.
I agree with him.
Ross from Green Bay, WI
Last Sunday, I heard the announcers talking about the Packers running “run-action,” as opposed to play-action. What's the difference?
I can’t know exactly what they were thinking, but in my mind they’re the same thing. In fact, I like run-action better than play-action because I think it’s a better way to describe what the intent of the play fake is. I run into fans all the time that think play-action means the quarterback rolls out and has the option to run or throw. Play-action is an old term from the days when running a play meant running the ball.
Vance from Hartland, WI
If Grant does not play Sunday, what do you see happening with Alex Green? Do we finally get a taste?
That would be my expectation.
Jon from Oshkosh, WI
With the receiving talent the team has, and the desire to use all of the weapons available to them, how is the Packers offense different from the old “Run and Shoot” from years ago?
The “Run and Shoot” had no tight ends; the Packers have five.
Jim from Tucson, AZ
Would you agree that part of the reason for our success is the continuity in the coaching staff, the cohesiveness of the coaching staff, and the quality of the coaching staff?
Yes, I would agree with all of that, and I would add that the major reason for the Packers’ success is that they have a general manager/head coach combination that is the envy of the league. Ted Thompson is a personnel genius; I think that has been widely understood for a long time. What people are starting to realize now is that Mike McCarthy can really, really coach. Trust me on that: He can.
Scott from Minneapolis, MN
Were you born this way or did it take years of practice?
I’m a product of my environment. I was born and raised in a different kind of place. I don’t think I had a friend that didn’t have a parent or grandparent that didn’t speak a foreign language. It was a mill town and we were all sons and daughters or grandsons and granddaughters of immigrants that came to work in the mill. One of the favorite expressions was “just got off the boat.” My mother would say to me, “You’re not going out dressed like that. You look like you just got off the boat.” It wasn’t a spread-offense kind of town, if you know what I mean. Our seven-man sled (that’s right, seven-man), was made in the mill by men who were fans of the high school football program; so were the goal posts. On Friday nights in the fall, the mill agreed to cut back on its 4-12 shift so the men could go to the game. It’s the kind of place that gets into you so deep that you never really cut it out of you. Maybe that’s what you’re sensing. I did a story on Mike McCarthy for the ring ceremony in June and McCarthy talked about how he identified a lot of those same qualities in Green Bay, and that’s what he likes so much about this place.
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