Mark from Winfield, IL

Vic, reading about our sudden lack of depth at receiver and the fan pressure to give certain players more field time made me wonder what exactly improves with experience with receivers in a draft-and-develop system? Can you comment?

Route-running improves. The ability to read coverages and adjust the route correctly so the quarterback knows where you’ll be improves. I suspect one of the reasons Alex Van Pelt was made wide receivers coach is so he might teach young receivers to think as a quarterback would think. Knowing how to set up a defender improves. The ability to sell a fake in a double-move route improves. Knowledge of the route tree and the role of each route in the scheme improves. Knowing how to read a defender so you capitalize on the position of his hips improves. Running with the ball after the catch improves. That’s where Edgar Bennett was a benefit to young receivers when he was the wide receivers coach. He taught them how to run as a running back would. One of the big things is knowing where the ball is without seeing it. I’m talking about picking up the ball coming out of a receiver’s break. It appeared to me Jeff Janis didn’t see it quickly enough on that little turn-in route on the goal line last week. The ball got on him too quickly. That’ll change with time and experience. It’s not just run fast and catch.

Ethan from Pensacola, FL

I have to believe there is too much talent on this team to not be dangerous in the playoffs. Big games require big players to make big plays. We have the game, we have the players and I think we’ll have the plays. A win this week and a potential match up against the Seahawks in the wild-card round? You can’t write it any better than that.

That’s what I want. I want a game that’ll make everyone’s heart beat faster. I want a game that’ll challenge all of us. That’s the game that’ll do it. It could have a launching effect.

Noah from Orem, UT

I still think it’s amazing the Falcons can lose to Carolina 38-0, and then come back and squeeze a win out against the once-perfect Panthers. Do you think such a shift could happen with the Packers? I’m sensing anything can happen in this league.

Yeah, it can happen, but sustaining it is the challenge all teams face. It’s very difficult to be the same team every week. I think it’s an emotional thing. To be at your best every week means being able to play the most important game of your life every week, and I don’t think it’s humanly possible to achieve that kind of focus and emotional edge every week for 16 weeks. Sometimes you have to win because you just have more talent than the other team. The postseason is different. The postseason is about playing the most important game of your life three or four times.

Rod from Marysville, MI

Do you really think you know more than the average Packers fan? If so, why?

I know enough to know I don’t know nearly as much about football as the coaches do. Do you know that much?

Jon from Campbell, CA

Kenny Stabler would have turned 70 a few days ago. Any good Kenny Stabler stories from a different time in the NFL?

Stabler was the true victim of the Immaculate Reception, because it wiped out his would-be game-winning touchdown scramble. Stabler had replaced Daryle Lamonica and Stabler would’ve been the game’s hero. I also believe that had the Immaculate Reception not occurred, Stabler would’ve been the starting quarterback the following week against the undefeated Dolphins, and I believe Stabler and the Raiders would’ve won that game and then beaten the Redskins in the Super Bowl. All of that would be in Stabler’s resume in the Hall of Fame. Fate is fickle and we are at its mercy.

Bill from De Pere, WI

What if James Jones is tackled by his hoodie? Is that a horse-collar tackle?

No, because Jones’ hoodie is treated as hair hanging out of his helmet.

Vincent from Danbury, CT

Vic, as you’ve stated before, the past few games opponents have been playing man coverage and loading the box. If protection is hurting us now, would it be advantageous to play a five-drop I-formation with two TEs and Kuhn behind Rodgers for added protection. What are your thoughts on this type of extra protection, pros and cons? All the best in the new year!

Same to you, Vincent. I’m sorry I can’t offer an opinion on your formation. I don’t understand it, but it sounds as though you should run the ball, so you have that going for you, which is nice.

Kim from Austin, TX

Vic, Clay Matthews is amazing to be able to play both inside and out, and he’s clearly effective. He was essentially missing, though, from the stats last weekend. What do you see and not see from his play?

I see a guy running around trying to make plays. I see total hustle and dedication. So where have the sacks gone? Heading into the bye week, I thought he was the leader for defensive player of the year. In the last two games, he only has a hurry on his combined stat lines. I think it’s a concern. Is he doing too much? Is he wearing down? Are offenses finding him and successfully running away from him? I’d sure like to see him coming off the blindside edge on every play. I’d sure like to have that seed of thought planted in every opposing quarterback’s head.

Pat from Edinburg, IA

Vic, do you think Clay should have helped Palmer up after the hit he put on him?

I actually kind of like that stuff. If I had been Carson Palmer, I would’ve looked up my fellow Trojan and had a playful chat with him after the game. I’m weird like that. On the football field, I enjoy bad manners. It’s the place for it. It’s not a game for the well-adjusted. That’s one of the reasons I love football. I’m not well-adjusted.

Rob from Rochester, NY

Vic, another member of the local sports media called this edition of the Packers “possibly the worst team in franchise history ever to win 10 or more games.” Do you think that’s a fair assessment?

It’s a shot you can take on the heels of a 38-8 loss. The response to that kind of shot can’t be verbal. It must come in the form of performance on the field. I’d like to see this team use all of the betrayal it’s experiencing to fuel a playoff run. A little us-against-the-world attitude is a good thing at this time of the season.

Bruce from Anaheim, TX

Vic, I agree with your response that New England like Green Bay has done a terrific job of sustaining excellence through the draft. I do believe they have been better with key free-agent signings like Randy Moss, Rodney Harrison, Wes Welker, Corey Dillon, Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. Much like the Ron Wolf signing of Reggie White and trade for Brett Favre, I believe the above players helped Brady and Belichick to fill key gaps. Is it unfair to say Ted Thompson is too worried about compromising the future with the salary requirements of a key free-agent signing? Appreciate your thoughts?

First of all, Moss, Welker and Dillon were all acquired in trades; they were not signed in free agency. Harrison was cut by San Diego prior to free agency, and the Patriots signed him as a street free agent. Revis and Browner were pricey free-agent additions, but they were signed to what I consider to be rent-a-player contracts; they were both gone after one season. The Revis and Browner signings were gutsy. They helped the Patriots win a Super Bowl, so I give them credit for having the courage and the football acumen to see an opportunity and make it work, but pricey, one-year contracts just aren’t my way for building a football team. I’m a draft-and-develop guy who believes in patching in affordable free agency. The Patriots are unique. I think I’ve made my point: Tom Brady makes it work. I don’t know why we persist in using one of the most unique teams in football history as an example of how to do it. They have Brady. He wins with Troy Brown and he wins with David Givens. He wins with Deion Branch and he wins with Reche Caldwell. He won this season with Dion Lewis and LeGarrette Blount, and I suspect he’ll win with Steven Jackson. Brady is a very special player. I don’t think he’s fully appreciated.

Ryan from Platteville, WI

Last week, you said you didn't have any feel for the game prior to the matchup. How about this week?

The team that runs for the most yards will win.

David from Coeur d’Alene, ID

Vic, say you’re sitting in on the next Packers coaches strategy session and Mike McCarthy turns to you and asks what do you think we need to work on most this week? What do you tell him?

Work on running the ball. Run it and run it and run it. Run it until the box is so loaded the passing lanes are wide open. Then run it some more. Why? Because the running game fixes everything.

Dan from Madison, WI

What’s so bad about PEDs, anyways? With the physical tolls that come with football, it’s one of the main things that can help these players on the field for a longer time. Even a small testosterone boost can allow an aged player to continue for a while longer.

I speak often and lovingly of human confrontation as the centerpiece of the game, yet, it’s a dehumanization of football that seems to be the popular trend. From the FOX robot, which casts the modern player as a seemingly indestructible mechanical being, to those who believe football is first and foremost a game of ideas, the sport I’ve spent my life revering as a test of the human spirit, is losing its soul to science. If unchecked, PEDs will destroy the game because it will destroy the men who play it. I pity those who don’t understand the threat. They have no chance of experiencing the beauty of football.


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