Joe from Dallas, TX

Effective leaders are skillful problem solvers. McCarthy talks tough, but the secondary problems persist. If he was really serious about fixing them, he’d give up play-calling duties to Clements and spend more time and energy on the defensive side of the ball. I’m tired of his weekly rhetoric. Solve the problems, coach. That’s what you’re paid to do. What say you, Vic?

I say you sound frustrated and think that by demanding change results will follow. I would ask: Does your criteria apply to all head coaches, or just to Mike McCarthy? If it applies to all head coaches, then all teams would immediately fix their problems and win the Super Bowl. The Patriots are No. 30 against the run. Come on, Belichick, roll up the sleeves on that hoodie and fix the problem. The Broncos are No. 30 against the pass. Come on, Fox, stop faking that heart surgery and get back to work. The Steelers are No. 27 in rushing and No. 29 against the run. Come on, Tomlin, that’s not Steelers football. Fix it or get out. The 49ers are No. 32 in passing. Come on, Harbaugh, you created this problem, so fix it. Joe, all teams have weaknesses. Coaching isn’t always about eliminating weaknesses; often it’s about overcoming them.

L.P. from Tosa, WI

There are two sides to the “look out” coin. It has landed on the bad side. There’s enough time for another flip and the good “look out” is still possible. We just need to tread water until then.

There isn’t anyone who reads this column, or for that matter anyone that doesn’t read this column but has a general understanding of Aaron Rodgers’ value to this team, that didn’t know what the likely impact of losing Rodgers would be. You could say the same of Manning (the one-and-done one), Brees, Brady and a lot more NFL quarterbacks whose teams’ fate rest in their quarterback’s hands. December is the “look out” month. I’ve maintained that point from the start of the season. You can’t have “look out” before December because “look out” doesn’t count until December. The Packers have to find a way to get from here to December and still have a chance to make “look out” count. As I see it, the Packers have got to stay within a game of the Lions heading into that Thanksgiving Day game. Go Steelers!

Joe from Hartford, CT

The game is about making plays. To this point, the best playmaker I have seen has been Micah Hyde. He is a form tackler with an extremely high football IQ. Doesn’t it seem to make sense to start him opposite Burnett at strong safety?

Had Casey Hayward not been sidelined nearly all season by the hamstring injury from hell, I suspect Hyde would be playing some safety by now.

Bob from Scranton, PA

Why does Capers only send three, maybe four, rushers on third down every week? I sit and yell why?

Don’t yell, Bob. Coach Capers can’t hear you from Scranton. To answer your question, I would recommend that you first take note of the offensive formation on those third-down plays. Is the offense in five-wide? Against that set you’re going to drop a minimum of seven defenders into coverage, maybe eight. Blitzing against an empty backfield can be productive. You can make big plays against an empty backfield, but you’ve got to have rushers that can get home or you’re vulnerable to the big play. The Packers have been playing without Clay Matthews and Nick Perry, but even at that, the Packers are No. 8 in the league in sacks per pass play. That’s pretty good for a team that’s been playing without its star pass rusher since the fourth game of the season – I know he returned to the lineup on Sunday, but not really. The whole idea of five-wide and other spread type formations is to make defenses replace rushers with pass defenders. It’s a strategy teams love to employ when they believe you can’t cover their receivers, and it puts the defensive coordinator between a rock and a hard place: If you rush, you’re vulnerable to the big play; if you don’t rush, you’ll have to cover longer. On the 32-yard touchdown pass to Riley Cooper on Sunday, the Packers were in nickel and they rushed four; it was second-and-nine. Cooper was in the slot with two defenders over him. The Eagles used play action, which effectively emptied the backfield. Tramon Williams was head up on Cooper and squatted. Morgan Burnett was over the top, but he bit on Cooper’s in cut and that was all she wrote. If you knew that would be the result, you’d do something different, but that scheme should’ve been effective. It was five defensive backs against three wide receivers. The Packers are struggling in pass coverage. They need Matthews back to full strength and they need to cover better.

Roland from Glen Cove, NY

Vic, what is the biggest match up concern playing against the Giants this week?

Victor Cruz is the guy. He’s the Giants’ playmaker. He’s caught 50 passes for 714 yards. He has to be kept under control.

James from Chicago, IL

On Sunday, thanks to your column, I was able to explain to everyone sitting around me why the recovered punt wasn’t a touchdown. Thanks, Vic, even though no one believed my explanation.

My work here is complete.

 

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