Doug from Lafayette, OH
Vic, what do you feel the Packers can do to solve their defensive issues of giving up huge chunks of yards virtually every game?
The answer is to tackle a little better, cover a little tighter and rush a little harder. The combination of the three will make the difference. This is the time of year when defenses start taking control of games. As the weather turns colder, wetter and windier, the game slows down a little bit. Hands aren’t quite as soft, throws aren’t quite as sharp and might wobble, and the hits hurt more. As I watched games this past weekend, I saw evidence of defense on the rise. I saw tighter coverage than I saw in Week 1. All of the quarterbacks I watched were under a fierce pass-rush. Eight of the weekend’s 13 winning teams scored in the 20s. All of a sudden, the time-honored 20-17 “rule” appears to be in play again. I can sense the game tightening down, despite a seeming increase in pass attempts. I think we’re going to see the Packers defense improve its performance and stats as the season wears on. I believe that to be true because Dom Capers doesn’t coach bad defenses. This is his time of the year.
Donald from Jacksonville, FL
When a player is released, do interested teams have a chance to perform a physical or anything else on the player before putting in a waiver claim?
No, but the player’s contract is contingent on him passing a physical examination.
Steve from Newcastle, NSW, Australia
How do teams maintain up-to-date information on players who are on other teams’ practice squads? What is the process to sign them?
It’s not as though teams are updating information on a daily basis. They have information on every player in the league and on the street that went through the draft process. A team might’ve been interested in drafting a player but he was selected by another team. When they see him on a team’s practice squad and they have need for a player at that position, they pull some tape on the guy, take a look and if they like what they see, they call his agent, ask about the player’s health and, if they’re still interested and wanna sign the guy, they make a contract offer. Practice squad players are free agents. Now it’s up to the player. Does he wanna sign the contract and become an active-roster player, or does he wanna stay on the practice squad? The agent will likely call the other team and try to squeeze them for a better deal; that’s what agents for free agents do.
Keith from Toronto, Ontario
Has the rule allowing a drop kick been repealed? When was the last time anyone actually did that instead of the traditional held field goal?
The Patriots kicked an extra-point by using a drop kick a few years ago. That might be the last time it was used. I think it was in one of those end-of-the-season, doesn’t-matter games. The Patriots also used a drop kick on an onside kick attempt this past Sunday. I think it went out of bounds.
Patrick from Hopkins, MN
If a player is declared an eligible receiver for a play, does that mean he can go in motion prior to the snap?
Yes, he may.
David from Jacksonville, FL
I don't think any offense from this era would enjoy playing the 1976 Steelers, or any defense from that era, with that era's rules. I'm just 27 and I can tell you that. The things players back then did, you'd have people on Twitter calling for them to be banned from the sport today.
You’re right. The most vicious play I have ever seen resulted in one player being knocked cold after a catch, and the defender that picked up the fumble being held by one leg and machine-gun speared by several members of the offense, and not one flag was thrown. In today’s game, the “defenseless receiver” penalty would be invoked, a harsh fine would result, a penalty for unnecessary roughness would ensue on the offense, and a player or two might even be ejected. Back then? Nothing. There wasn’t even a complaint, and this was an AFC title game. If a weekend of games today were played as games were played back then, Monday would be a day of public outrage. Congress might even get involved.
Nick from Water Mill, NY
I was just listening to the sound bites from the locker room concerning our next game with the Chargers. I love that the guys show respect for any opponent, unlike the disgrace another team heaped upon a quarterback’s performance this past weekend. Boy, did that turn my stomach. How much emphasis does a coach place on respect for an opponent? Do they even care?
It has been my experience that a team takes on the personality of its coach.
Joe from Piscataway, NJ
So far, teams coming out of a bye week are only 4-10. How do you think that will affect the Packers against the Chargers on Sunday?
I can’t think of any stat that is more meaningless than the win-loss record of teams coming off a bye. Who were the teams? Who were they playing? Were most of the games on the road or at home? The Rams were coming off a bye when they played in Green Bay. Was the Packers’ win a surprise? Rest is a good thing; it should help the Packers on Sunday. I think the site of the game, however, will have a greater impact than the bye week. Qualcomm Stadium is a tough place to play. I’ve covered a lot of games there and I’ve always considered it to be greatly underrated among tough places to play.
Tom from Richmond, VA
What are your thoughts regarding the to-the-ground touchdown rule? The player has possession, two feet down, the ball has broken the plane. How is this not a touchdown?
He’s gotta do one more thing to complete the catch: Control the ball through contact with the ground. That’s the rule and the one thing I like about the rule is that it makes the situation crystal clear. It ain’t a catch until the ground says it’s a catch. It removes subjectivity: Did he control the ball long enough? The ground determines how long is long enough. I like any rule that’s black and white.
Eric from Wausau, WI
What annoys you most about fans?
I don’t like anger. I don’t like fans acting as though they’re players. I went to a sports bar a few years ago to watch a particular game on a bye week. It only took me a few minutes to realize this wasn’t gonna work. I finished my drink and left. No thanks. This was not a happy place. Frankly, I see this as a problem. Places where we watch sports should be happy places. In too many cases, they’re becoming angry places and that not only annoys me, it saddens me. I love playful fans. I love spirited conversation about sports, but only if it comes with a smile. When it turns angry, I turn off.
Robert from Harvel, IL
If you were a defensive coordinator, what would your game plan be to try to slow down the Packers offense?
You have to dominate time of possession. It’s what you do to slow down any prolific offense. Traditionally, that has meant running the ball, but the Steelers did it against Tom Brady on Sunday by throwing 50 passes. This is the new NFL. The bottom line is that today’s game is a battle of quarterbacks. There’s really no way around it. Your quarterback has to beat their quarterback. To beat the Packers, the opponent’s quarterback will likely have to outplay Aaron Rodgers, and that is a very difficult thing to do.
Justin from Wilmington, DE
What do you think about the decision to kick the onside kick by the Patriots? I think they should have just kicked it deep and trusted the defense.
You would put the game in the hands of the league’s 32nd-ranked defense, which had surrendered nearly 500 yards of offense in the game?
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