Luke from La Crosse, WI

Do you anticipate McCarthy will emphasize the run against the Raiders? They are significantly worse against the pass.

Rankings can lie. In game-planning, they need to be confirmed or refuted by analysis of personnel. How much are the rankings the product of the opponent’s run-pass preferences? I suspect Coach McCarthy and his staff have created their game plan for this game based on analysis of their personnel vs. the Raiders’ personnel, as opposed to the rankings, which are the result of the Raiders’ personnel vs. their other opponents’ personnel. Each game is unique in its one-on-one matchups.

Derek from San Jose, CA

My condolences to you and Mike for having to endure the Oakland Coliseum’s press box this Sunday.

It’s an old facility, but it’s the place of some of the most vivid memories of my life. I felt as though I was covering something of critical and lasting importance. I’ve never felt such hate being shared by so many people. I suspect that in one way or another, I will be spending my last afternoon in that press box. I’ll say goodbye, to a place I’ll never forget, for all the wrong reasons.

Robby from Loma Rica, CA

“I attribute it to fear of run.” I can see that. On the less technical side of things, it would appear as though you have to fool or smash through the entire defense to gash a 50-yard run. A wide receiver just has to burn the secondary, and he acquires yards before the catch is ever made.

You’re right. So why does everybody want to run the ball? When you can answer that question, you’ll understand the essence of the game of football, and how it fundamentally remains the same game about which Vince Lombardi said it is first and foremost a running game. Don’t analyze football. Feel it.

Ryan from Evansville, IN

Just bought tickets for the game against the Vikings. I don’t want the team to lose the next two weeks, but I hope the game against the Vikings is for the division. I also hope it’s in a snowstorm.

The odds are overwhelmingly in your favor the game will be for the division title.

Josh from De Pere, WI

Any good Jack Del Rio stories for us from your time in Jacksonville?

Coach Del Rio and I came to understand we are of the same football mentality, which is to say we like run-the-ball, stop-the-run football. He smiled at a press conference when I referred to his team playing “Big Boy Football.” That’s when I knew we were the same guy. We also shared a fondness for the Oklahoma drill. One day, before the start of training camp, Coach Del Rio came to me with a proposition: He would allow me to pick four Oklahoma matchups for the first full-pads day of training camp. I would, of course, promote my selections in “Ask Vic.” The result was the biggest crowds in Jaguars training camp history, which is exactly what Coach Del Rio wanted. The Oklahoma drill is a tone setter, and it set a tone of competition and enthusiasm for the start of full-contact practices. One year, a fire truck pulled up outside the fence and firemen sat on a ladder that was raised so they could see over the crowd; I remember seeing the picture in the paper the next day. The players loved the drill, too. I matched Marcellus Wiley against Mike Williams, and Wiley tossed a piece of candy at Williams’ feet, playfully suggesting Williams was soft. I’ve seen footage of some of the drills on You Tube. I have very fond memories of my time with Coach Del Rio. His team will not lack for feistiness on Sunday.

Derek from Appleton, WI

I’m not a fan of cold weather, but when December rolls around, there’s nothing better than watching football played in that Wisconsin winter chill. It’s a shame any football at all is played in domed stadiums. Whether it’s in the frigid frost of Green Bay, the bone-chilling rain of Seattle or the suffocating humidity of Miami, football is a game meant to be played outdoors. The battle against the elements is just as thrilling as the battle against the guy across from you.

I agree.

Don from Torrington, CT

Vic, can you give us a scouting report on Carr? How good is he now, and how good do you think he can be?

He’s thrown 28 touchdown passes and only nine interceptions. That’s a good balance for a young quarterback. The Raiders have given him weapons. My opinion of Derek Carr was formed at his Senior Bowl. He came into the week as a lesser-regarded prospect; he left as a solid first-round pick. My strongest memory from that week was of Carr’s agent inviting anyone interested to a post-practice, up-close look at Carr’s talents, which were put on display in a red-zone passing exhibition. I stood next to Carr and watched him throw. He made all of the throws, and I don’t think the ball wobbled one time. I remember asking Tony Pauline, “What’s not to like?” Tony said the only rap on Carr was he had played in shotgun formation exclusively, and scouts wanted to see him under center. I said to Tony, “Are they here to evaluate Carr or his college’s playbook?” When I left the Senior Bowl, there was no doubt in my mind Carr would be successful.

Riley from Calgary, Canada

Have you ever seen a better spin move than Eddie Lacy’s?

Yes, Earl Monroe’s.

Gary from Lewiston, ID

Did Mike McCarthy receive total consciousness on Sunday?

It was 8-4 vs. 4-8 and we are in full gaga chortle. Why do we continue to do this to ourselves?

Greg from Downers Grove, IL

Vic, looking at the standings, there are only 11 teams with winning records. Where is all of the parity in the league?

That’s not how you measure parity. Heading into Week 15 of the season, only seven of the league’s 32 teams have been eliminated from playoff contention. That’s parity.

Patrick from Mesa, AZ

Vic, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians ripped Cardinals fans on the radio for last Thursday’s game. Coach Arians chided the fans for selling their tickets and having a sea of purple when the Vikings played. I applaud your efforts to keep Lambeau green. Should Packers fans going to the Dec. 27 game wear the green jersey instead of the road white? I think the green would be a more festive look in the Cardinals’ stadium, don’t you?

That’ll depend on the final score.

Andy from St. Petersburg, FL

Vic, what’s our biggest challenge on Sunday?

To do it again.

Josh from Brooklyn, NY

Vic, why do you seem so afraid of seeing the Giants in the playoffs?

They have that look about them. In 1996, Coach Coughlin’s Jaguars were 4-7 when they began their march to the AFC title game. Both of Coach Coughlin’s Giants teams that won the Super Bowl got hot late in the season. If they beat the Panthers on Sunday, look out.

Colin from Tripoi, WI

Vic, do you believe in stats at all? I surely don’t. The Packers are 18th in offense and 18th in defense. I can’t find one single player in the top 10 of any category. All this mid-packness suggests a mid-pack record, yet, here they sit at 9-4 and poised to capture another NFC North title. I’ll leave stats to all the fantasy zombies. How about you?

I think those stats make a strong statement: Coach McCarthy and his staff have done a heckuva job squeezing nine wins out of those numbers.

Don from Aurora, CO

Vic, it’s fun to read the plays vs. players tete-a-tete between you and the readers. While I agree with you scheming personnel is of utmost importance, I think it’s also true you understate the importance of scheming schemes. The truth, as with most things, lies somewhere in between. The mantra shouldn’t be players, not plays, but instead, players, then plays. It’s a game of human confrontation, first and foremost, but sometimes games really are won or lost because of scheme, especially in the hyper-charged modern era. Can we at least agree on this and call a truce?

Nope. There is no compromise. Once the ball is snapped, it’s players, not plays, and it can’t ever be anything else. I feel sorry for fans that can’t understand that philosophy. They will never fully understand or appreciate the essence of the game. I would ask them to stop trying to persuade me otherwise. I will never change.


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