Derek from South Point, OH
During yesterday's broadcast, Phil Simms commented that the perfect season isn't about mounting pressure, but constant distraction. Do you agree?
My guess is that Simms was referring to the constant distraction of having to address questions about the pursuit of an undefeated season, such as: “Will you rest your players if you’ve clinched home-field advantage?” The media is focused on the big story, the pursuit of an undefeated season, and that threatens to become a distraction for a team that needs to focus no farther ahead than the next game. Be that as it may, I think the mounting pressure of pursuing an undefeated season is also distinct. I think it got to the Patriots. They had eliminated the distraction part of it by getting to the Super Bowl undefeated. I think that’s when the pressure got to them. I don’t think the Patriots played nearly as well in the 2007 postseason as they did in the regular season. I think the pressure became crushing.
Rick from Queen Creek, AZ
Watching the Giants on Sunday night, I saw a team that believes it can beat all comers. I see them as our biggest threat to the Super Bowl. What do you think?
I saw a team that now has the inside track for the fourth seed in the NFC, which means that if the Giants were to win in the wild-card round, the chances are very good they would be playing at Lambeau Field in the divisional round.
Dave from Albany, NY
Last week you said the longest winning streak was the Colts at 23 games. The official Packers Twitter tweeted last night that it's 21 by the Patriots. Which is it?
It’s both, depending on the criteria you use. The NFL Record and Fact Book names the Colts as having the longest winning streak in NFL history, because the league doesn’t include postseason play in its official records data; it has a separate category for postseason play. If you want to include all games, then the Patriots hold the record with 21 straight wins, which includes the 2003 postseason.
Peter from Copenhagen, Denmark
Hi, Vic, I love your column. I have noticed that every time Rodgers calls “kill, kill, kill” before the snap this season, the play is a run. Is this just a coincidence?
Peter, when I began in this business, I agreed to a code football writers had long honored: strategy would not be divulged. The agreement was that we would be permitted to attend practices and would be given access to players and coaches for the purpose of providing information our readers need to be able to follow the team’s progress, but we would not provide information opponents would use against the team we were covering. I always thought it was the most honorable of agreements and it worked. In recent years, practices have become closed around the league, as a result of a media that has broken the boundaries of the select group of newspaper reporters that once covered the game. I wish practices were still open, but I can understand why coaches close them; this is just a different day and age and it’s much more difficult to guarantee that sensitive information won’t be divulged. Be that as it may, I adhere to the code and always will. Your question goes directly to strategy. By the way, I don’t have a clue what it means.
Leonardo from Las Vegas, NV
Why was the clipping penalty still enforced in favor of the Packers, despite the fact the foul happened during a play that was overturned because of the “Tuck Rule”? I thought the play was officially dead when the ball hit the ground. Does clipping fall under the category of a personal foul?
Yes, clipping is a personal foul.
Matt from Spotswood, NJ
Dom Capers doesn't coach bad defenses. Is this the defense we've been waiting for?
I don’t think we can know for sure until we get to the postseason. The Chiefs and Bears are without their starting quarterbacks and are struggling on offense right now. The Detroit game might give us an indication but, ultimately, the postseason will provide the answer to your question.
Nick from Water Mill, NY
Knowing your penchant for players having an edge, what's your take on Rodgers’ refusal of an opponent’s helping hand up off the turf following a sack? Man, he didn't even look at him.
I’m fine with it. We don’t know what might’ve transpired. Maybe the guy had been trash-talking Rodgers. The football field is not a place for pleasantries. It’s where men committed to a physical exchange execute that exchange, and you better have an edge to your attitude if you’re going to be successful in that exchange. Some players express that edge with trash-talking. Some players, pass-rushers especially, try to intimidate. Maybe the guy was trying to get into Rodgers’ head. Quarterbacks need to stay in their zone. They need to maintain their edge without losing their cool. Rodgers was internalizing. I like it. He was expressing his edge and it sent a message to the Raiders that, “I’m into this game,” and that can be intimidating, too. Make no mistake, the Packers play with an edge, and they get it from their coach. All you have to do is listen to one of Mike McCarthy’s press conferences. I can feel his edge.
John from Grand Forks, ND
Christian Ponder has a hip pointer; I have always wondered what that is? It sounds really painful but kind of silly at the same time.
On each side of your body, waist high, you can feel your pelvis bone. If you bruise that bone on its point or tip, it makes you not wanna fall or get hit on that side of your body. The old hip pads players wore had a pad on each side to cover the points of the pelvis, and one pad in the back to cover the tailbone. Hip pads were always considered to be the third-most important piece of equipment, behind the helmet and shoulder pads. These days, players don’t wear hip pads and I can’t imagine what it must be like falling on a bruised hip point without anything between your hip and the ground, not even a piece of government plastic.
Jim from New Paltz, NY
Vic, what gives you more joy, hearing from fans that completely miss the jokes or knowing the laughs that your responses bring to those that do get the jokes?
I guess it’s the combination of the two. I love the willingness of readers to participate in this column. It’s all about having fun and if the reader is worried about being embarrassed, then he or she should use a fake name and hometown. I’m the only one being identified here and you are free to use me as the butt of your jokes, if you wish. We need to be able to laugh at ourselves and others without losing respect and appreciation for each other. That’s a quality I think we’re losing; I think we often take ourselves too seriously. It’s football, it’s for fun. Most of all, it’s for fans that wanna have fun. The Packers are 13-0. If that isn’t fun, then we need to check ourselves.
Leroy from Oak Hill, AL
I happened to watch the first half of the Army-Navy game on Saturday. Not one pass was thrown in the first half of the game. I know you like running the football, but I had to change the channel because it was too boring. Is that typical college football?
No, it’s not typical college football. It was in the late ’60s and early ’70s when Texas and Oklahoma were running the wishbone, but that was out of choice, not necessity. Army and Navy run it because it fits their recruiting base and life at the academies. The top quarterback prospects coming out of high school are at a premium, and most of them are thinking in terms of the NFL, not a military commitment. Recruiting the top quarterback prospects is a waste of time for Army and Navy, so they go after wishbone-type quarterbacks because those prospects are likely being recruited by other schools to play a position other than quarterback. Triple-option offense requires great discipline and, of course, that’s what players get when they attend the academies. The fit is perfect. Also, Army and Navy gain a competitive advantage by running the triple option, because teams on their schedules don’t play against that offense and aren’t skilled at defending against it, and that often allows Army and Navy to catch big schools by surprise. I like watching a triple-option offense. I especially enjoy watching Georgia Tech run it, but I prefer a mix of run and pass. I like play-action football in which you establish the run and then use it to throw the ball over the top. I love pound and bomb. That’s my kind of football.
Josh from Harrisburg, PA
I have a question about the hit James Harrison put on Colt McCoy Thursday night that is getting a whole lot of attention. Looking at the replay, McCoy tucks the ball in as if he was going to run (making him a runner), but at the last second sees Harrison and pulls up and throws a pass. By the letter of the law, was he a runner or passer?
You’ve identified a major hole in the rules that, in my opinion, needs to be addressed. With Cam Newton and Tim Tebow ushering in the era of the spread-option quarterback – hey, those are big guys that can certainly protect themselves – the quarterback has very definitely become a runner. In my opinion, the point at which he becomes a runner has to be clearly defined. He can’t be allowed to be a runner and then become a passer when he’s about to be tackled. McCoy was out of the pocket and moving toward the line of scrimmage with the ball under his arm. Then he saw Harrison and McCoy quickly became a passer again. There’s something wrong with that. TV slows the replay down to the point that the play is moving frame by frame, but that’s not how it happened in real time. What is he, a runner or a passer?
Ryan from Fredericton, New Brunswick
Vic, please encourage Mike McCarthy to write a book without you, thanks.
I probably won’t do that, Ryan, but I get your message.
Andrew from Jacksonville, FL
It doesn't behoove you to answer this question, but what play will be remembered more, the “Immaculate Reception” or Bart Starr’s sneak?
I don’t know what you mean by behoove, but Starr’s quarterback sneak in the “Ice Bowl” is clearly the more important play in NFL history. It capped what is largely considered to be the second-most memorable and important game in league history, and it defined the career of the man for whom the Super Bowl trophy is named. The “Immaculate Reception” occurred in a playoff game, but it’s real importance is for how it pertained to the 1973 Act of Congress that gave us the TV blackout rules by which the league still voluntarily conforms.
Jim from Des Peres, MO
I think your answer regarding leverage was not correct. Leverage seems to refer to a defender playing on a given side and applying force or defense from that side. Thus, if a defensive back has outside leverage, he is lined up on the wide receiver’s outer shoulder, and inside leverage is just the opposite. Am I wrong?
You’re right. As in the example I used of a punt team pinning a return man against the sideline, or a defense stringing out a running play to the sideline, each has maintained leverage, which is a way of saying they are applying intended force to the play. When the return man gets into the open field or the back turns the corner, the defense has lost leverage and now the offense is applying intended force.
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