Patrick from Nashville, TN

Is there any notable historical rivalry between the Chargers and Packers?

Nothing special, and I think that’s holding back this game a little bit. I don’t sense great fervor for it, and that bothers me a little bit. I think it’s time to turn the crank.

Kevin from Elko, MN

Vic, you described plays from teams with signature plays where they took what they wanted despite the opposition knowing it was coming. Those teams were great at imposing their will. Does McCarthy have that play, to just go in and take what he wants?

Yes, it’s been the back-shoulder pass. Everybody knew it was coming, but nobody could stop it. That pass has kind of gone away in Jordy Nelson’s absence. Davante Adams is the guy I expect to bring that play back to prominence. The Packers need to bring that play back. That’s my idea of the deep ball that’s missing right now.

Cameron from Burley, ID

I remember, as a kid, crying at the base of the stairs when the Packers lost a game. This particular instance was a loss to the Carolina Panthers. I lacked perspective then because I was a child and there weren’t many things more important to me than my Packers. Sadly, it seems many fans today still have that lack of perspective, even though they’re adults. What is the craziest reaction you’ve ever witnessed from fans?

Coaches have always had day-after-the-game press conferences, during which they review the previous day’s game. Chuck Noll conducted his day-after-the-game press conference in the baseball press lounge in Three Rivers Stadium. During one such press conference, we heard a noise outside. When the press conference was over, we walked outside toward the elevator to find a car had crashed through a gate in front of the elevator. This was on the third level of the stadium, which meant the car had driven up three levels of ramps. What we found out was some lunatic was trying to crash his car into the baseball press lounge during Coach Noll’s press conference so he could make a statement. The statement was: “I can’t watch Mark Malone play quarterback anymore.” I’ve seen an airplane stuck in the upper deck of Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, and a car crashed outside the press lounge at Three Rivers Stadium, so I have that going for me, which is nice.

Blair from Los Angeles, CA

Vic, do you think McCarthy and other coaches save their more elaborate plays and schemes for crunch-time December football?

It’s just the opposite. Coaches will always have a surprise play or formation ready for the next game, but late in the season, when the games matter most, they rely on the plays that have worked the best, especially at crunch time in those games. Why? Because it’s about execution. Do what you know you can do. Oh, yeah, your opponent knows it’s coming, but if he can’t stop it, why should you quit doing it? I keep preaching this sermon, but I won’t apologize for repeating it because it’s the truth and I desperately want fans to understand and appreciate the true meaning of strategy. It’s about doing what you do best, and it’s about matchups. If you like strategy, then focus on matchups. Here’s an example of what I mean: Coach Capers was talking yesterday about pass-rush strategy he uses. He said he’ll take his worst pass rusher and put him over the offense’s premier pass blocker, probably the left tackle, with the idea it’ll waste the opponent’s best pass blocker on a guy who isn’t a pass-rush threat. In other words, use a run stuffer on a pass blocker to eat the block and allow the best pass rushers to work against the offense’s less-effective pass blockers. That’s the kind of strategy I love because it schemes personnel, not schemes. Plays are meaningless if you can’t execute them. Plays are wonderful when personnel are matched up to gain an execution advantage. Don’t scheme schemes, scheme personnel.

Steve from Indialantic, FL

I watch games with my two sons-in-law, both in their early thirties, both avid fans. However, while one is old school, loyal to the core, the other has become a fantasy fan. I watch him as he impressively juggles his two television screens, smartphone and tablet passionately, reacting to the individual player points, regardless of the player’s team or conference. I see how much media time is now devoted to the fantasy fan. It’s the globalization of the individual fan. Is this the future?

Yes, it is the future and I have fallen victim to it, too. Last Saturday, I found myself juggling three college games at one time. I had the TV remote set so I could jump back and forth between two games, and in my other hand I held my phone, which was monitoring the progress of another game. I was manic for information. I was watching three games but wasn’t seeing any of them. This has to stop. My Saturdays are out of control.

Greg from Appleton, WI

Sorry for crowding your mailbox more than it already is, but I have to say thank you for giving us the opportunity to win a chance to go to any game, let alone the Thanksgiving Day game. I can’t express the feeling I got when I saw I was yesterday’s winner. So thank you.

Nothing beats winning. It gives us the greatest feeling of our lives. There’s only one problem with winning: You have to risk losing. The solution? Learn to deal with defeat and you’ll take the risk more often, which means you’ll feel the warm glow of victory more often, too. You can’t win if you don’t try.

Kurt from Green Bay, WI

I’m interested in your opinion on the recent discipline handed out to the referees. It doesn’t seem consistent and the suspension seems harsh for the incident.

It’ll quiet the wolves. What worries me is the howl it’ll create.

Tristan from Davenport, IA

What’s your strategy when winning the opening coin flip? I like deferring to get the ball after halftime, but I’m not sure it’s rational to turn down a possession.

I’m a defensive guy. I wanna stop you. I wanna stop your run, sack your quarterback, force you to punt and let you know that’s how it’s going to be all day. So, I defer.

Aaron from Fort McMurray, AB

Vic, what’s your position on superstition and gameday rituals? I have very specific gameday rituals and attire (right down to my socks). I liken it to your feelings against chortling and angering the football gods.

If it gives you comfort, do it. If it feeds your fears, stop!

Jiri from Fulton, MO

What running play is your favorite? I love trap plays. It makes me sad I don’t see them anymore. Do you think we might see them again somewhere in the future?

I love trap plays. What I love most about trap plays is how the back bursts through the line and into the clear. I see a back explode through a big hole and I know instantly it was a trap play. Trap plays are sudden if they catch a lineman penetrating into the backfield. The old rule was: If nobody blocks you, take one step across the line of scrimmage and turn to the inside. Teams still trap. It’s an effective blocking scheme against gap-control defenses, especially against three-technique tackles that are bent on penetrating and disrupting. You can catch that guy up the field as the back runs past him. Trapping the three-technique tackle is also a good way to calm him down and get him out of your backfield. You’re using his aggressiveness against him.

Doug from Lafayette, OH

Vic, what do you feel will be the biggest game during the second half of the regular season?

It’s not in the second half of the season, but the Denver game is one I previously identified. On June 27, I wrote in this column: “It’s the first game of three road games in a four-game stretch I see as the hump in the Packers’ schedule.” At Denver, at Carolina, Detroit, at Minnesota is a critical stretch of schedule. In my opinion, it’ll either tighten the NFC North race or blow it wide open.

Jon from Bloomfield, NJ

On the last day of the Cenex giveaway, how many questions are in your inbox?

As I write this answer, there are 6,597. Congratulations, you are today’s winner of the “Cenex Question of the Day,” and two tickets to the Thanksgiving Day game between the Packers and Bears.

Ryan from Franklin, WI

Vic, what has been the reason behind the transformation of the defense this year?

A lot of the defensive talent the Packers have collected is coming into the prime years of their careers.

Nicholas from Louisville, KY

Vic, do you think Clay Matthews will be in coverage more this week due to Antonio Gates? Thank you for the daily read.

I think Coach Capers is going to open the gates and let all the dogs out.

Brian from Albertville, AL

Packers fans are like Alabama fans, they just sit down and expect to see a well-coached team win. Spoiled, aren’t they?

It wasn’t that many years ago Alabama wasn’t winning and times were tough. “If you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same.”

Erik from Mansfield, TX

So what happens to the cap hit for someone who goes on IR in the middle of the season?

Nothing happens. You pay it, you cap it.

 

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