Hans from Front Royal, VA
It seems as though the Packers this season have taken control of games in the third quarters of games, both on offense and defense. Why do you think this is? I assume this is a direct link to the coaches and halftime adjustments, but is there more to it?
I think it’s mostly the result of the pressure the Packers offense puts on opposing defenses that wears them down. That pressure to keep pace is then transferred to the opponent’s offense and I think it’s caused some of them to get outside their personality, which is exactly what happened in Atlanta. The Packers are always on the attack, from the first snap until that point in the game that Mike McCarthy turns to his four-minute offense to finish the game, as he did in Minnesota. The constant pressure Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ passing game presents to a defense is overwhelming. Most teams aren’t ready for that pace when the game begins. If and when they adjust to that pace, the Packers then shift into a higher gear. That’s the way I see it. Seven games into the season and 13 games into this winning streak, the league is still waiting for someone to show everybody how to stop the Packers. Who will be the first? Will there be a first?
Michael from Brighton, UK
Watching the Packers on the road, I'm always surprised at just how much support the team has. Why is this? Have the residents of Wisconsin migrated all over the U.S. or are the Packers the Manchester United of the NFL and attract support from all corners of the country?
It’s because of the “Ice Bowl.” No one game has ever meant more to a professional sports franchise than the “Ice Bowl” has meant to the Packers. It set the wheels in motion for a team from a small town to become a national treasure. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself this: What if the Packers had lost that game? Would the Super Bowl trophy bear the name Lombardi? Would Lambeau Field have been renovated or replaced? That game is so big in the history of the franchise and of the league that it shaped the future of both.
Peter from Waukegan, IL
I am not looking past the San Diego game. The old “any given Sunday” phrase haunts me. That's why they play the games.
I agree that you shouldn’t look past the San Diego game, but I don’t agree with your rationale. You seem to be of the opinion that the Chargers are a downtrodden bunch and a Chargers victory would represent an inexplicable upset. I don’t see it that way at all. I covered the AFC for a long time and I’ve covered a lot of games in San Diego, and I’ve covered games in the Drew Brees and Philip Rivers eras and I’ve long considered the Chargers to be one of the tough spots on a team’s schedule, and that’s exactly what I consider the Chargers to be on the Packers’ schedule. Let me put it this way: A win on Sunday, in my opinion, would represent one of the two best wins on the Packers’ schedule to date.
Mike from Springfield, IL
What do you think the Packers can do to reduce the number of sacks they've been taking? Is it a problem with the offensive line or is Rodgers holding on to the ball too long?
Aaron Rodgers is an extend-the-play type of quarterback. He’s every bit as good at it as Ben Roethlisberger is, though in a different way. Roethlisberger often just stands there and takes the abuse; Rodgers gets out of the pocket. In time, Rodgers might become more of a get-the-ball-out passer, but he senses his athletic ability to extend the play and you’re not going to persuade a young quarterback with the confidence he has in his legs to throw the ball away. That’ll come with age, as it does for every quarterback.
Donald from Jacksonville, FL
Do college football programs have general managers? Is it the coach who is doing the recruiting?
College football programs have recruiting coordinators. They assemble the database of recruits, make the contacts and arrange the logistics for the recruitment of those players, which includes the all-important official-visit weekend, when the players are brought to the campus for a hard sales pitch. The head coach is the closer.
Derek from South Point, OH
With the Packers and Steelers both playing well, what do you think the chances are of a repeat Super Bowl matchup? Has that ever happened in the Super Bowl era? Love the columns!
I would say the chances of that happening are not good, and it’s because it’s only ever happened once before: Dallas and Buffalo in Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII. I wasn’t aware that it had only happened once before in history. Thanks for the question. I learned something.
Morgan from Pullman, WA
In regards to your answer about which division is the best, I offer up the stats from ESPN's midseason breakdown. The leading quarterback? Rodgers, obviously, not totally in yards but with the passer rating and 20 touchdowns. Leading rusher is Adrian Peterson. Leading receiver is Calvin Johnson with 11 touchdowns. Sack leader is Jared Allen. Woodson is tied for most interceptions. So using records and stats, the frozen North appears by all means to be the best division. Only real competition comes from the other North, which also has 19 wins among the four teams, while the NFC North has one more loss due to later bye weeks. This could change by season’s end, but if it ended today, the NFC North would stand triumphant.
Gee, I thought I left the SEC.
Phil from Marietta, GA
What does it mean when a defensive player is assigned to “spill it?”
Force the ball to the outside.
Peggy from Bloomer, WI
So, when that motivational chip falls off Aaron Rodgers’ shoulder, then what?
It’s called having an edge and that chip on the shoulder is Rodgers’ edge. Football is an edge game and every player has to have one to drive his competitive spirit to its height. Tom Coughlin was always vigilant about his players having an edge. If he saw that a player appeared to be happy, he fined him to make him unhappy. He once said to me, “I don’t want guys walking around here with smiles on their faces.” Rodgers won’t lose his edge. What I’ve come to realize about him is that he’s an edge guy. He carried that players-only-workouts edge all through the lockout, and then dumped it on the media the first chance he got, following the win over the Saints. If I’m his coach, I like that. It lets me know the game is important to him. It lets me know that he takes the game home with him.
Lisa from Petaluma, CA
I hope the Packers don't come out flat after a bye week, piling up holding penalties, etc. With the Chargers still reeling from Monday night, the Packers should strike early and aggressively and take control. Agreed?
Every team wants to start fast, especially pass-first teams that have a quarterback the quality of Rodgers. When the Packers start fast and get out to a big lead, they turn the game into a battle of quarterbacks and that’s going to favor the Packers. It’s sound logic. It’s also the Chargers’ logic. Don’t forget that they had the league’s No. 1 offense last season. Rivers is a top passer; don’t be fooled by his slow start to this season. Sunday’s game will be a matchup of two elite quarterbacks. The air will be full of footballs. It’ll be a fun game to watch.
Sean from Long Beach, NY
Do the players get any revenue from the sale of their jerseys?
The players receive a percentage of football revenue.
Jacob from Newberry, FL
What do you think is the biggest key for the Packers to win on Sunday over the Chargers?
Dom Capers has made a believer out of me in his passer rating differential theory. The team with the quarterback with the higher passer rating usually wins and I think that’s a theory that’ll especially apply to this game.
Matt from Charlotte, NC
The local sports radio station went into a large debate about why Cam Newton should be league MVP. There were also many people arguing Peyton Manning should be MVP. What is your opinion on Cam and what kind of reaction would the NFL receive if Peyton was voted MVP?
All of that is silly talk. If it’s meant to be anything but silliness, then the media that’s driving it is doing its listeners a disservice.
Daniel from Greenwood, IN
Is it OK to wear another team’s apparel? I consider myself a hardcore Packers fan, but I love to show my support to individual players, as well. Should I be ashamed?
No, wear whatever you want. When I was a kid, the only way you could get a team’s jersey is if you stole one. They were sacrosanct and I can’t remember ever seeing one for sale in a sporting goods store. I wonder who the guy was that had the brainstorm that sports leagues could make a lot of money selling team apparel. How could it have taken so long to figure it out? This is a great time to be a football fan. The game has really made it fun. Enjoy it.
Henry from Jackson Hole, WY
You mentioned your father and he being the greatest loss you've experienced. Did you develop your passion for football from your father?
No, my passion for football was born when, at a very young age, I wandered upon a high school football practice. I loved what I saw and couldn’t get enough of it. I went back every day. That high school team was the most important thing in my life and I lived for the day when I could play for it. The passion I acquired for football then became something I shared with my father.
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