Paul from Machesney Park, IL
Later in the Chiefs game, the TV commentators went back and showed a replay of the Chiefs receiver heading out of bounds, but in the process of switching the ball from his right hand to his left he lost control of it. The ball crossed the plane and exited the end zone out of bounds. He was clearly still in bounds during the loss of control. By the time Coach McCarthy got the word to challenge, it was too late. Who was responsible to get that information to the coach? Say what you will about all the other factors, but I think that mistake cost the ball game.
“Later” is the key word. Coach McCarthy didn’t have “later” to make a decision. He had to challenge immediately and he didn’t have the information he needed to make that decision. His coaches up in the “press box” are his advisors because they have a television monitor in their booth and they see the replays. I believe they had the same feed we had in our area of the press box and I was complaining to Mike Spofford that we weren’t seeing replays. I only saw one and it wasn’t slowed enough for me to decide whether the receiver had fumbled the ball prior to going out of bounds. I would’ve offered an opinion in my blog had I seen enough visual evidence to support one. As I said, this is the flaw in the system. I don’t like the challenge system because it makes coaches responsible for officiating. I like the college system that would’ve stopped the game until a replay official had seen enough evidence to support a decision one way or the other. I think it’s very unfair to criticize Coach McCarthy for guessing wrong. I also don’t think that was the deciding play in the game. Had the defense held at the end, maybe I would agree, but not the way the Chiefs were able to kill 2:04 from the clock. When that happens, I think you have to tuck your tail and move on.
Rob from Brewster, NY
What's your favorite scene from “Christmas Vacation”?
I like the attack on Santa and the reindeer decorations. I’m not good with decorations. They frustrate me and cause me to be angry. I like to look at them, I just don’t like to arrange them. I once even tried to find a company that would put up and take down the Christmas decorations, but to no avail. My wife does all of the decorating; she literally gives me a pass because she knows I am decorations-challenged. Dick Butkus was once asked what his favorite movie was and he said it was “Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte,” because he liked the scene when the head comes rolling down the steps. I like it when Chevy Chase attacks the decorations.
Rob from Brewster, NY
Any chance the KC grounds crew muffed up the turf prior to last Sunday's game? I noticed multiple Packers players stumbling or falling down completely.
Come on, we’re better than that. Yeah, the middle of the field had been re-sodded, but I don’t like we-fell-down excuses. I work in a building that has pictures all over the walls of great Packers players wearing uniforms covered with mud, and I’d hate to think that we’ve reached the point that we expect games to be played on golf greens. The field conditions were the same for both teams. Deal with it.
Rob from Bel Air, MD
If you were an owner of a team starting a franchise, who would you rather have as a quarterback at 22 years old, Tom Brady or Peyton Manning?
I’ll always pick three Super Bowl titles over one. Just win, baby.
Ryan from Rockford, IL
Do you read every question that comes in, or is there some sort of a filtering system you do?
I’m the filtering system. I read every question. That’s my promise to you. I can’t use them all because I’ll receive well over a thousand in a week, but you deserve to have what you wrote read and I promise to do that.
Adam from Branchburg, NJ
I've read the articles, watched every game, and still cannot understand this. Why can we not pressure the quarterback?
Adam, it is one of my great frustrations in this column that a portion of the readership will not buy into the simple theory of human confrontation. We’re not talking about a video game or blips on a screen, we are talking about real football and real people, and the actions of the people in the real game are not programmed. Real people get tired; blips don’t. Real people are unpredictable; blips aren’t. Real people have injuries; blips don’t. Real people have emotions; blips don’t. Real people have wives and children and distractions; blips don’t. You get pressure on the quarterback by winning the one-on-one human confrontations. If you don’t win those confrontations often enough, then you need new humans. When you can feel what I’m trying to convey, the game will change for you.
Joe from Sherman, IL
Vic, I just re-read your article on Jerry Parins for the umpteenth time. My date is Dec. 20, 2010. I'm one lucky guy. Just wanted to get it off my chest.
Joe is talking about the day he was told he had cancer. My date is Nov. 10, 2002. We never forget our date; everything after that is house money. Jerry Parins is the long-time director of security for the Packers. I did a story last summer on Jerry and his “Cruise for Cancer” event, and Jerry talked about his date and his battle to beat cancer. Jerry recently retired from his position with the Packers. It was a position he held during the Bart Starr years through the Mike Holmgren years and into the Mike McCarthy era.
Kyle from Chicago, IL
The Bears have a great pass-rusher in Peppers and our offensive line is starting to look like it might be in trouble. If Rodgers starts taking a beating on Sunday, do you see McCarthy pulling him, even though they did not clinch the one seed, yet?
No, I don’t see that happening. At this time, I think we need to stop talking about resting players. This has become a contagion. I don’t know why everyone wants to rest, but I’m absolutely sure we need to stop talking about resting and start talking about the Packers playing 60 minutes of winning football. The goal has not been achieved. The Packers still need to win home-field advantage. Until that is achieved, there can be no rest.
Rene from La Habra, CA
I couldn't believe it when I first heard it but it's true, the Eagles can still win their division as the fourth seed. Of course, quite a few things must fall in their favor. In my opinion, the Eagles are just as big a threat to the Packers as the Giants. Thoughts?
The playoffs are all about the hot team. Last season, the Packers were the hot team. If the Eagles make it into the playoffs, they’ll be more than a hot team, they’ll be scorching hot and a team that hot is a threat to everyone. The playoffs are a different season. All of that power ranking stuff goes out the window. The playoffs truly are just win, baby.
Gregg from Colorado Springs, CO
While I certainly enjoy watching football, and the Packers in particular, I'm at somewhat of a handicap in that I never played and I don't recognize various formations, schemes and so forth. Is there a good primer for someone like myself starting at zero experience?
I think it’s more important to understand the evolution of the game than it is to just know current coverages and formations. If you know how those schemes evolved, then you’ll understand why they evolved and then it’ll all make sense. “Total Football” is the best football book for understanding the game’s evolution that I’ve ever read. It truly is the “The official encyclopedia of the NFL” and it was authored by a man named Bob Carroll, with whom I became friends back in the ’70s, and who dedicated a major portion of his life to advancing information on the history of the game. Bob has left us but his work lives on. He was a driving force in the “Professional Football Researchers Association,” an organization that awakened the NFL to what a poor job the league had done in chronicling its history.
Todd from Fitchburg, WI
So who is your all-time favorite tight end and why?
It’s Ditka. I love Ditka. He was one of my boyhood idols. “Be a Ditka.” It was a favorite saying among kids when we aspired to be football players. It meant be tough. Ditka has always been the personification of toughness. He’s also the symbol of the position because he invented it. Some think it’s being reinvented, but that’s not accurate: It’s being abandoned. If a player isn’t lined up tight to the formation and if he’s not an inline blocker, then he’s not a tight end. Real tight ends are men strong enough to block down and athletic enough and tough enough to catch the ball down the seam. It is not and should never be a finesse position.
Tim from Cincinnati, OH
There is all this talk about the Packers not being a complete team and that’s why they won't be able to repeat winning the Super Bowl. I do agree they are a bit lacking on defense and in the running game; however, I think they make up for it by their drive. Which do you think is more important, drive or being a complete team?
Getting hot is what’s important. The Packers lose one game and all of a sudden they’re not going to win the Super Bowl? That’s ridiculous. There are four weeks between now and the Packers’ first playoff game. Between now and then, the Packers have to get hot, as they were for 13 weeks. It’s just that simple.
Tony from Mandan, ND
I was wondering if you have any concerns with our defense?
I thought they’d have it all figured out by now, but they don’t, and by the time you’ve reached Week 16 of the season, you pretty much are what you are and you have to figure that identity into your game plan. The Packers will win or lose with their offense.
Randy from Burlington, IA
Why don't we bump the receivers on the line? Instead, we give up too much space and they make the yards they need to keep drives alive.
Press coverage, which is what you have to play to get up into that five-yard chuck zone, is dangerous because it makes you vulnerable to the big play and the Packers have had a major problem with giving up big plays this season. That might be the reason. They are who they are, Randy.
Mike from Rib Lake, WI
I love your responses and knowledge of the game. You truly are an early Christmas gift for me and the rest of the Packers fans out there.
That’s nice of you to say, but this year has been a gift to me and my family. I tend to be a little bit of a yin and yang person. I like experiencing extremes; it makes me feel alive. Coming to Green Bay has exposed me to the NFC after 39 years in the AFC. I’ve gotten to experience new ways, meet new people, examine a new fan base. Working with a new head coach is something I really treasure. I have a fascination for head coaches, their philosophies and what makes them tick. The head coach here is one of my all-time favorites. Everything about mine and my family’s life has changed in the last year. We’re learning how to adapt to change and that’s something that makes us all stronger because it expands our horizons and gives us confidence. Challenge yourself. Don’t be satisfied with status quo. Memories make us rich and the more we experience, the richer we are. We remember when we laugh and when we cry, and everything else has a tendency to be forgotten. We remember extremes and this has been a year and a season of extremes in my life that I’ll never forget, and that’s the only Christmas gift I need.
Karen from Kaukauna, WI
If San Francisco and the Packers both have the same record at the end of the regular season, which one gets home-field advantage?
The only way for that to happen is for the Packers to lose out and the 49ers to win out, and that would give the 49ers home-field advantage for the playoffs. One Packers win or one 49ers loss clinches home-field for the Packers.
Aaron from Columbia, SC
You've talked about it before and Sunday night I saw it: Suggs used the head slap against a poor Chargers blocker. He got a flag but it sure was effective. Brutal and illegal, but effective.
I’ll never forget Chuck Noll motioning me into his office to watch some film. That was back in the days of projectors and big heavy reels of film. He had a smile on his face so I knew he had just seen something he wanted to share with somebody. He said to me, “This is what happens when you play opposite ‘Fats’ all day.” He was talking about a ferocious defensive tackle named Ernie Holmes. Chuck started the projector and said, “This is the first quarter,” and directed my attention to Holmes and his opposite, great Patriots guard John Hannah. What I saw was that at the snap of the ball, Holmes would club Hannah on the left side of his head. Chuck then put on another reel and said, “This is the second quarter.” I saw the same tactic, but Hannah continued to play effectively. Chuck put on another reel and said, “This is the third quarter.” I watched a little, saw nothing different and asked, “What am I supposed to be seeing?” He smiled, put on another reel, and said in an alerting tone of voice, “This is the fourth quarter.” Right away, I saw Holmes swing his right arm but this time he missed Hannah’s head because Hannah ducked. It was over. Even the great John Hannah couldn’t take anymore. That was the ’70s game. It was a different game.
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