John from Kalamazoo, MI
What a fun game to watch. What do you think about the onside kick call against a non-conference opponent when we're up two scores? Now the rest of our opponents will be ready for that.
This is a different game than the one I covered when I broke into the sportswriting business. Game plans were much more conservative back then. Everything was about blocking and tackling. The best teams had the smallest game plans. They had half a dozen bread-and-butter plays, and they ran them over and over. Today’s game plans are loaded with plays and that onside kick was in the game plan. Obviously, Special Teams Coordinator Shawn Slocum saw something; it may have been that the Broncos peeled back too early or that they were misaligned or whatever. That onside kick play was not attempted for any reason other than to help the Packers beat the Broncos. The Packers didn’t do it to set something up later in the season or show opponents that they’ll use it. It was just done to win on Sunday. That’s the way today’s coaches think. They’re all in, as it was told to me, to win on Sunday, this Sunday, not any other Sunday. Once upon a time, it might’ve gotten your quarterback hit late or low, but this is a different game. Today’s coaches all understand the challenges and pressure they’re facing to win.
Fernando from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
I'm a Packers fan from Brazil and I'm also a big fan of your columns. I have to agree with you when you say that our pass-defense stats aren't that much of a big deal. Do you agree that because of our ultra-fast starts the opponents tend to abandon the rushing game early on and go for spread formations that tend to earn many yards but are also a lot more susceptible to mistakes?
That’s absolutely what’s happening. The Packers’ tempo on offense and the Packers’ early leads are forcing their opponents to abandon their game plans early and up their tempos. As a result, the opponents have thrown more passes than they’d like and that is almost always going to result in greater yardage totals and likely more interceptions, too. The Saints threw 49 passes, the Panthers 46 and the Bears 37. I’ll tell you what’s going to happen, opponents are gonna see those interceptions and they’re gonna run the ball. They’re gonna stick to their game plans because it’s the only way you’re going to beat this team. You are not, I repeat, not going to beat the Packers by matching them pass for pass. You run the ball and keep Rodgers on the bench, or you lose. It’s that simple.
Jason from Dillsburg, PA
It seems these new rules have placed special emphasis on the need to pressure and sack quarterbacks in order to disrupt the passing game. Do you think rules promoting more prolific offense actually endanger quarterbacks?
Yes, I do. Joe Namath said, “We’re the trophy.” Those words have never rung truer than they do today. The quarterback must go down. He doesn’t have to go down hard anymore, but he still must go down.
Hans from Front Royal, VA
I agree with you about the pass-defense, in regards to passing yards being deceiving, but how about looking at it from a more important viewpoint, points allowed? It would seem the Packers are on a record pace with points allowed and certainly nowhere near their standard of last year's No. 2 points ranking. Still no concern?
Hans, when I wake up in the morning, I’m not looking for angst. I don’t say, “Hey, Bonnie, do we have any angst? I need some angst.” Lots of angst will be coming before the day is done. I got two mortgages, two car payments, two dogs, two kids times two, but only one wallet. The Packers’ pass-defense is way down my angst list. I’m covering a team that is 4-0 and that’s a positive in my life. Let it be a positive in your life, too, Hans.
Andy from Watertown, WI
Following the beautiful pick-six by Charles Woodson and the accolades rained upon him soon after, a presumptuous thought came to me: When he is inducted into the Hall of Fame, what team will Charles Woodson represent? I'm having a tough time thinking of reasons he would choose the Raiders over the Packers at this point. Thoughts?
Players don’t select a team to represent when they go into the Hall of Fame. Their entire professional career is represented. Vince Lombardi’s Hall of Fame bio reads: 1959-67 Green Bay Packers, 1969 Washington Redskins. Joe Namath’s bio includes 1977 Los Angeles Rams. Great players that were the face of one franchise but played for another franchise at the ends of their careers have bios that include that “rogue” team. Did you know Johnny Unitas finished with the San Diego Chargers? Franco Harris will forever be the face of the “Immaculate Reception” and the Steelers but he finished his career in Seattle. The Hall of Fame doesn’t ask its inductees to pick a team and exclude all of the others from the players’ bios. Selection to the Hall of Fame is a purely individual distinction; the team has nothing to do with it. I think your question, and I get the same question often, is for what team will Charles Woodson be remembered for having played? That team will be the Packers.
Greg from Bellevue, WA
Have you ever noticed that the primary fan emotion for a strong team is worry and the primary fan emotion for a weak team is hope? For example, “We’d better be careful, they’re a lot tougher than their 1-8 record indicates.” I call this the Lou Holtz syndrome. Thoughts?
That’s a great observation and you are absolutely correct. The Lou Holtz syndrome, as you call it, is why anytime I’m asked which team is the worst in NFL history, I immediately reply that it’s the 1976 Bucs, at least in my lifetime. The ’76 Bucs are the only team for whom I heard the coach of the next opponent say they’re terrible, there’s no chance we could lose to them. Those aren’t the exact words but they’re close; the exact words might have been stronger. The Bucs were so bad that I didn’t even quote the coach; it felt like piling on. The ’76 Bucs were so bad they didn’t even qualify for hope. Their own coach, John McKay, poked fun at them. Asked about his team’s execution, McKay said: “I’m all in favor of it.” Here’s one of my favorite McKayisms that doesn’t get much play: “The bus leaves in an hour. If you need a shower, take one.” What a joy it must’ve been covering McKay.
Peter from Manitowoc, WI
Vic, you can say there are no problems with the Packers’ pass-defense, but what about their pass-rush?
Is it the onset of winter? Is that what it is? You’re trying to condition yourself for 180 days of unhappiness? You know, maybe we all need to have a little John McKay in all of us. The ability to laugh off life’s little foibles is a good thing. What would coach McKay have said? “We didn’t cover very well but we made up for it by not rushing.” Be happy, Pete. Your team’s defensive coordinator is Dom Capers. Whatever the problem is, he’ll fix it.
Josh from Corpus Christi, TX
With a fourth of the season already played, if you look at the rest of the opponents for the Packers, anyone can see they have a great chance of maybe going 16-0. What do you think would be an obstacle that would prevent that, besides not remaining healthy?
It is the onset of winter. No winter in Corpus Christi and Josh has the Packers going 16-0. Obstacle? I think you can start with the next opponent, the Atlanta Falcons. I promise you, they’ll be ready for this one. Mike Smith and his defensive coordinator, Brian VanGorder, are top defensive minds and they no doubt spent a lot of time in the offseason watching tape of the Packers and Aaron Rodgers.
Morgan from Davenport, IA
What do you think needs to happen to get Clay Matthews at the quarterback quicker?
Hold the coverage a little longer. That’s the next step for the Packers defense. Matthews needs time to get “home.”
Brady from Cheyenne, WY
Right now, we have five wide receivers that can all be considered threats, along with a sensational tight end. Is there a secondary in the league that can hang an entire game?
Probably not. The Steelers are No. 1 in pass-defense and they couldn’t “hang” with the Packers’ pass-game in the Super Bowl, though, looking back on it, they probably did as well as anyone might for a long time. Stopping the Packers’ passing attack shouldn’t be in an opponent’s game plan; it’s just not realistic. The sensible game plan for playing against the Packers is run the ball, dominate time of possession and deny big plays. That’s the time-honored formula for playing against teams with great offenses. I covered the only game the 1984 49ers lost and that’s how it happened.
Will from Oshkosh, WI
I'm afraid the Packers are getting too good to play good down the stretch. By that I mean overconfidence. Do you think they will need a wakeup call late in the season with a couple of dumb losses to prove they are still very beatable or is this team mature enough to handle this kind of success for 16 games?
Don’t allow fear to spoil your enjoyment of the season, Will. You wanna try the hope side? I didn’t think so.
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