Jay from Janesville, WI

Earlier this season, when the Giants were winless, you warned that Tom Coughlin would not let the Giants throw in the towel and quit. They have since won three in a row. Are you able to make the same proclamation about Mike McCarthy and this Packers team?

Quit shouldn’t even be a thought. I know both of these coaches well and they are bulldogs when it comes to preparing their teams to play, regardless of the circumstances. There was no doubt in my mind Coughlin would bring his team back, and make no mistake about it, the Giants are back, baby. They’re in the hunt for the NFC East title. The Giants are only one game behind the Cowboys and Eagles in the loss column. It was only a few weeks ago that my inbox was full of questions asking what’s wrong with the Giants? I kept thinking to myself, I wish the Packers were playing the Giants now.

John from Tallahassee, FL

I was at a bar watching the game against the Eagles. The sound for our game wasn’t on. I still need to know why a touchdown after a punt was taken away from the Packers.

We’ve been discussing this very situation in this column for the past two years. The example I’ve given is that following an illegal touching by the punting team, a member of the receiving team could pick up the ball, run with it for 90 yards, fumble it away to the punting team and it would be the receiving team’s ball where it was first touched by the punting team. That’s what happened on Sunday. Micah Hyde touched the ball at the 16-yard line and then tried to keep it from going into the end zone. The Eagles player, obviously well coached, tried to scoop up the loose ball and advance it, but it was then knocked into the end zone where the Packers recovered. The crowd roared, and I thought to myself, “They don’t read my column.” The rule simply states that when the kicking team is guilty of illegal touching (touching the ball first), a member of the receiving team may advance the ball without risk of fumble, provided a penalty isn’t involved. The ball belonged to the Eagles at their 16-yard line, where it was first touched.

Eric from Green Bay, WI

Vic, I know this is going to be tough, but do you think it’s fair to say that if we win our next three games we are in the playoffs?

Win the next three? If it was summer, I’d promise to swim the Fox River if the Packers won their next three games. Three in a row would include the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lions, and Aaron Rodgers would either have just returned or would be about to return for the big December push. What could I do to tempt the gods? How about an “Ask Vic Live” at Curly’s if the Packers win three in a row?

Jim from Ureda, CA

Why didn’t the Packers sign Matt Flynn as soon as Rodgers went on IR?

QB Matt Flynn

Rodgers isn’t on injured reserve and the Packers didn’t need another quarterback because they had Seneca Wallace and Scott Tolzien, and I think Tolzien validated the Packers’ faith in him. I can’t imagine another quarterback coming in here last week and doing a better job than Tolzien did. I think we need to throttle back on the Matt Flynn mania. There is an almost unavoidable cost to pay when your quarterback goes down. The Packers paid that price in two games in 2010 when Rodgers was lost to injury. The game everybody is using as a reference point to Flynn was a meaningless exhibition. The Packers have lost Rodgers to injury in four games in the last four years, and they have lost all four of those games. Something happens to a team when it loses its quarterback. As I wrote yesterday, everything changes. This team was building to a crescendo in nearly every way when it was moving the ball down the field on its opening drive against the Bears. All of the arrows were pointing up, and then Rodgers was sacked and injured, and since then the arrows have been pointing down. His injury is a seminal event in this team’s season. If the past two weeks had been creation, Rodgers’ injury would be the equivalent of the big bang. In my opinion, we need to stop thinking in terms of saviors. It’s an unfair expectation of Tolzien, Flynn or any other backup-type quarterback. They’re replacing Aaron Rodgers! Rodgers!

James from Madison, MS

The Packers took a beating last week in terms of morale. What is the first step they should take to get back on track mentally?

Morale has nothing to do with it. They’re professional football players. They don’t get paid to feel good, they get paid to win. Just win, baby.

Troy from Cashton, WI

Vic, this is looking more and more like 2010.

I can see the similarities, but the wins better start coming or the similarities are going to end real fast. I don’t think 9-7 is gonna get you in the playoffs this year. That’s the difference.

Scott from Oshkosh, WI

Vic, looking at the stats this year, I have noticed that Pittsburgh’s and Green Bay’s defenses are in similar positions concerning rank and turnover. It gives the appearance the 3-4 defense needs a sprucing up.

The No. 1 defense in the league is a 3-4. It’s not the scheme. The scheme is fine. The scheme put players in position to make plays on Sunday. On the 55-yard and 45-yard touchdown passes, two players were defending against one. That’s a bad scheme? Win the one-on-ones? How about win the two-on-ones?

Gavin from London, UK

Defense? Players, scheme or Dom Capers?

Players and coaches; that’s who are responsible. The scheme is fine. The playing is not fine and that falls on both the players and the coaches; the coaches are ultimately responsible for the performance of their players. Demand less from the scheme and more from the players who execute the scheme and the coaches who are responsible for teaching their players to play to the best of their ability.

LB Clay Matthews

Steve from Milwaukee, WI

Do you think a clubbed Clay Matthews is more effective than his available backups? I’m not so sure.

He gets paid to play and he’s doing the best he can. In the old days, this would be easier to do. It wasn’t as much a game of the hands as it was a game of the shoulders. It’s nearly impossible to play effectively in today’s game without using your hands. Matthews is facing a daunting challenge. It’s the thing of which heroes are made. We’ll see.

Ben from Westmoreland, NY

Just voted yes on the poll on the home page asking if the Packers would make the playoffs. It wasn’t until now that I believed you when you said the believers and non-believers were 50/50. Where’s the faith?

It’s not about belief or faith, it’s about perception. Some people see the glass as half full. That’s the perspective that helps them deal with defeat and disappointment. Others see the glass as half empty, which helps them prepare for the despair that accompanies defeat and disappointment. They’re the same people; they’re both Packers fans. The difference is in how they deal with the same vulnerability. They both hate losing.

Gerard from New Orleans, LA

What does it take to prove to you that Matt Flynn is a super quarterback? You never gave him a chance. I wish I was coaching an NFL team because he would start until you would see just how great he is. Why don’t you hire me as a scout because yours are blind? He came out and threw four or five touchdown passes off the bench, and you still want him as a backup? What’s wrong with you?

What I do?

B.T. from Ripon, WI

Vic, what if the NFL had two bye weeks? With the increase in injuries, would starting one week earlier and adding one bye week in the second half of the season help players to recover?

We did that back in 1993; two bye weeks. The team I covered had two byes in five weeks. It was more than awful. How about no bye weeks? How about expanding the playoffs and get rid of the bye week? I hate the bye week and, frankly, I think it’s diluting the product. The NFL schedule hasn’t been especially attractive this season, and when you hit those kinds of lean years, the bye week is a negative, because it’s not a bye week, it’s nine bye weeks. We’ve been having bye weeks since the end of Sept. and we still have two more bye weeks to go. I say get rid of them. Give TV an extra week by expanding the playoffs. Increase the size of rosters by making practice-squad players “rights” players that can be protected and promoted.

Dustin from Winston Salem, NC

Vic, if the season continues a downward trend and the Packers fail to make the playoffs or have a winning season (which I doubt will happen), would the coaching staff be given a pass by Ted Thompson due to the injury situation? Would Ted Thompson be feeling heat for the lack of depth on the roster? Just curious as to how much pressure the staff is feeling in this situation, despite the successful recent past. Love your old-school honest approach.

Dustin, you’re not going to like my old-school honest approach to answering your question. Fire everybody? Really, Dustin? What happens if the new coaches and general manager have a losing season? Fire them, too? The best thing fans can do when hard times arrive is go read a book. Do something to avoid the frustration that goes with defeat and not being able to do something about it. I feel for the fans’ frustration. They want to fix the problem but they have no outlet for doing that. All they can do is swallow hard and wait for the next game. That’s a tough thing to do, and that’s why I preach the gospel of “I like to watch.” It’s because it’s all I can do and it’s all you can do. This column helps me and I hope it helps you, Dustin. This column is an outlet for my postgame energy. It allows me to express my thoughts and energy for what I witnessed to fans who grace me with their interest. We’ll get through this together, and somewhere down the road, when all the arrows are pointing up and everything is going swimmingly again, you’ll think to yourself, “I’m sure glad the Packers didn’t fire everybody.”

John from Port Edwards, WI

Are we at the tipping point with all the injuries? Does that explain the total run defense collapse?

When your quarterback gets hurt, you’re at the tipping point. Everything changes when “The Man” goes down, and everything changes when “The Man” comes back.


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