Jason from West Allis, WI
After watching the 49ers put the last dagger in the Packers with a perfect, Lombardi-style power sweep right, do you still think the run is gone? Because I just saw the run put away a team based on the pass.
The run isn’t gone. I never said don’t run it. I said you can’t win championships without the pass. You can’t win championships without a top quarterback and a top passing game. Today’s game not only favors the pass, it demands the pass. The great thing about a strong running game is that it aids the passing game. I think Sunday’s game is the perfect example.
John from Green Bay, WI
Based on your observations during the preseason and practice, was the performance by the defense about what you expected?
Those who’ve read me for any period of time know HOW to read me. I tend to do two things when I have concern about something: 1.) Get out in front of it. 2.) Repeat myself. I could see in training camp that this defense was going to need time to grow. Nick Perry and Jerel Worthy, for example, need time to grow into new roles. Perry played with his hand one the ground; now he’s standing. Worthy was a three-technique tackle; now he’s playing Okie end. That’s why I wrote more than a few articles toward the end of the preseason stressing this need for growth and the patience it would require. I was getting out ahead of the story and I was repeating myself. Last week, I made “stop the run” my number one thing to do in my “10 things” editorial. I repeated that theme several times. Everybody knew the 49ers were coming in here to pound the ball. What we didn’t know was to what degree they would stir in the pass. They passed more often early and were much more multiple with their formations than I expected, and I think they did a fantastic job of building a game plan off the strength of their running game. The idea that a defense ranked No. 32 would do a 180 without having played a game is absurd. This is one of the most knowledgeable fan bases in football. It knows this is going to take time.
Ryan from Fredericton, NB
Vic, to me the most alarming thing about the loss was the Packers’ inability to match toughness, especially at the point of attack. Can this be changed by midseason? If they play again in the playoffs, can we expect anything different?
I can’t answer that. The players have to answer that. They know what to expect now. The 49ers gave this team a tutorial on point-of-attack football. I think it would serve this team well, should they meet the 49ers in the playoffs, just as the tutorial the Packers gave the Giants on the passing game in December served the Giants well in last year’s postseason.
Nick from Water Mill, NY
In the postgame interview with Mike McCarthy, one of the last questions wanted to know if he was pleased with the fact that the team bounced back from a big deficit to almost tie it. What was going on with his response? He wished he could answer truthfully?
I would substitute the word expressively for truthfully. In other words, he was not pleased by much of anything about Sunday’s game, least of all by having to overcome a big deficit, but decorum required that he limit his expression of his dissatisfaction. Remember, the tweeters are everywhere, ready to tweet, tweet, tweet.
Marty from San Francisco, CA
Hey, Vic, do you think the silver lining of this loss is that we have an early wake-up call letting us know where the bar is set for the postseason?
I think that’s a fair assessment of the loss. After Week 1, the NFC road to the Super Bowl goes through San Francisco. I think it’s a good thing for this team to be so challenged.
Ken from Oconomowoc, WI
Vic, it seems to me the Packers’ offensive line is best-suited to pass block and is having difficulty in run blocking. Is this the result of the zone-blocking scheme they run?
A lot of good rushing teams use a zone-blocking scheme, and a pass-blocking offensive line is best-suited for the zone-blocking scheme because each requires a lineman to shuffle his feet and move laterally. Scheme isn’t the issue. The execution of the scheme is.
Neil from Helenius, WI
After reading Monday's “Ask Vic,” I have questioned your thoughts (I hesitate to say integrity) on the officials. I have watched four of the games in Week 1. The officiating in most of the games has seemed OK for the most part, but the refs in the Packers game were absolutely awful, and that is being kind. This is the first time I find myself questioning yours and Mike's credibility. The officiating in that game should be a bigger story. Your reply?
So your questioning our credibility for not blaming the loss on the officiating, instead of holding the team that employs us accountable for its performance? Is there any chance you’re just using the replacement officials as a convenient excuse?
Tobias from Jerusalem, Israel
Gregg Rosenthal wrote this in an article on NFL.com: “We're starting to think Green Bay's attitude that no team can actually beat them is part of the problem.”
I don’t think arrogance is the problem. I think that’s a shallow analysis. Want a take a deeper look? OK, let’s do it: The Packers have lost three of their last five games, after winning 19 in a row. When I see something like that, I tend to believe somebody flipped a switch. If you go back to the Kansas City game and come forward, what you’ll see is one common thread in all of those losses: The Chiefs, Giants and 49ers were all able to get pressure with four and cover with seven. They were able to flood the passing lanes with defenders and the Packers couldn’t run the ball well enough to draw them out of that defensive posture, force them to commit more personnel to the line of scrimmage and play run instead of pinning their ears back and rushing.
Dennis from Brook Park, MN
The Packers had beaten the 49ers eight in a row and 13 of the last 14. Vic, do you think Coach Harbaugh used that stat for extra incentive?
He might’ve, but I doubt it. Coach Harbaugh has instilled in his team the kind of swagger physical teams have, and I’m not talking about the way they walk or talk, I’m talking about an undeniable feeling that they are the physically superior team. When you have that kind of confidence in yourself and your teammates, you play to it. It becomes a standard each man must uphold or he loses esteem among his peers. Jim Harbaugh inherited a roster that was perfect for what he wanted to do. He talked in last week’s conference call about the need to be physical. He basically told us what the 49ers were going to do on Sunday.
Dennis from Superior, WI
Why would you put a guy that is 5-11 back to knock down a 63-yard field goal try? To me that was a huge play before half. Did Green Bay think it was going to fall short and have Cobb run it back? I think you put your tallest player back there and knock it down.
Yeah, I think the Packers DID believe it would fall short – isn’t that a logical assumption? – and since it was the last play of the half, why not allow the most dynamic return man in the game a chance to make a play just before halftime that might be the turning point in the game. Dennis, in 41 years of covering football, I think that’s the first time I’ve covered a game in which a kick hit the crossbar and bounced over. Maybe we all need to stop and take a deep breath.
Matthew from Maffra, Australia
I get the feeling you'd prefer to be covering the 49ers because they play the style of football you have always said you liked best. Is this true?
Oh, no. I like it right here. I like that kind of football, but I also like covering a quarterback named Aaron Rodgers. I’m not ready to anoint the 49ers Super Bowl champions. Teams will scheme to stop the 49ers’ running game, just as teams have schemed to stop the Packers’ passing game, and when the 49ers can’t run, they’ll have to pass, and that’s when we’ll find out if they can play that kind of game, too.
Will from Oswego, IL
Vic, let’s say you’re making a team and can pick three positions to have an elite player at. What are they?
Quarterback, pass-rusher and shut-down corner. I’m a little torn between blindside pass-blocker and shut-down corner, but I’ll go with the corner because you can do things such as chipping with the back or tight end when you have an overmatched pass-blocker. A true shut-down corner cuts the field in half for the offense.
Paul from Abingdon, VA
Vic, I think the Packers were too impatient on offense Sunday. They're so used to gashing teams for 15-20 yards a catch, they didn’t adapt to SF's defensive scheme to bend but not break.
I think there’s some merit to that opinion. I’ll also add that when you play that kind of game, you can’t drop passes.
Dan from Orlando, FL
Vic, I used to have some respect for you, but no more. Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy must be lining your pockets. If you have the nucleus now, you don't draft for down the road. Other teams seem to find plenty of ready-now players.
If you’ve read my work for any period of time, say for the last 400 years, you probably have seen me write quite often, “Take care of the future and the future will take care of the present.” I believe in drafting with the long-term future in mind, not for the needs of the present. I professed that philosophy long before I thought I would ever need to buy a snow blower, so nobody had to line my pockets to advance that message, but that doesn’t mean you should respect me.
Mark from San Diego, CA
Why have the Packers done nothing to bolster their problematic running attack of 2011?
They signed a guy who is on a streak of three consecutive thousand-yard seasons. Again, I think we need to stop and take a deep breath.
Chris from Fort Myers, FL
Vic, why does it seem like you are the only one giving credit to Green Bay’s defense for making moves to improve. After reading an article on nfl.com, all seven analysts suggest Green Bay hasn't learned from last year, and I must admit that with all the miscommunication in the secondary, I agree.
This is a good week to have that opinion. You can sell it. I still think making defensive players your first six draft picks qualifies as an attempt to improve that side of the ball. I guess they could’ve signed Mario Williams in free agency. That’s what Buffalo did and I don’t think anyone can accuse them of not making moves to improve their defense, but they also gave up 42 points on Sunday to a Jets team that couldn’t score in the preseason. Take deep breaths, please. We’ll get through this.
Mike from Phillipsburg, NJ
Do you think the Packers have the personnel to run a 3-4 defense or should they move Raji and Pickett inside and run a 4-3?
The Packers’ personnel favors a 3-4 scheme for the obvious reason that they’ve drafted for it. The scheme isn’t the issue. The 49ers run a 3-4 and it worked pretty well for them.
Ray from Bakersfield, CA
As a super hardcore Packers fan, I am invested financially (NFL Ticket) and emotionally at a very high level. During those three hours, there is a lot of yelling, screaming, cheering and sometimes hitting myself. Your advice is to stay calm and collected. Well, I thought I would let you know how this strategy worked for me. During the game, I stayed calm on the outside and didn’t do any of the normal game-day traditions. This backfired on me since I didn’t unleash these extreme game-day emotions that I never feel in regular life. I formed an ulcer and puked blood everywhere in my bathroom and kitchen while getting ready for work on Monday morning. So my advice is to let these emotions out instead of keeping them bottled up.
Ray, go to the doctor, please, and stop hitting yourself.