Graham from Albuquerque, NM
Vic, how does this Packers team compare to the 2011 Packers? I feel like aside from the Week 1 game when Matt Forte ran all over, the defense looks a lot more well-rounded. I also like the blitz packages with Clay Mathews.
The 2011 team was a one-trick pony, but that one trick was something the rest of the league couldn’t solve until late in the season; that’s how dominant it was. The Packers’ pass offense in 2011 was third in yards and first in touchdowns. The offense was No. 3 in yards overall, but a lowly 27th in rushing. Defensively, the Packers were No. 32 in total yards, No. 32 in passing yards and 14th against the run. This team has it all. The Packers are No. 3 in rushing, No. 8 in total defense and No. 7 in pass defense. The No. 21 run-defense ranking is the result of one bad half against Forte. The thing that really jumps out at me is the Packers’ passing game, the team’s true calling card, is No. 21, beneath both the Packers’ rushing offense and overall defense. That’s the difference between 2011 and now. There is nothing about the ’11 team and this team that are similar, except the records.
Richard from Canton, GA
Coach Vic gets picked as the head coach of a new franchise. Obviously, Coach Vic believes in draft and develop. How long before that philosophy becomes rooted? If he became head coach of an existing team and tried to instill draft and develop, how long would that take?
There isn’t going to be a new franchise, so allow me to skip that question and move on to the existing team. Does Coach Vic have a clean cap and a full complement of draft picks? If he does, and if he has a quarterback around whom he can rebuild the roster, Coach Vic should put a winner on the field within a couple of years. If he has a clean cap and a full complement of draft picks but one of those picks needs to be used on a quarterback of the future, Coach Vic needs three years of patience before he can be expected to win. If it’s a complete cut and gut, with a bad cap, Coach Vic will take the job but rent a house instead of buying one. If it’s a complete cut and gut, with a bad cap and lacking a full complement of draft picks, Coach Vic will keep his job as editor of packers.com. Understand this, there is no patience beyond three years, regardless of the circumstances. I remember doing a conference call with Bum Phillips when he was in his first year as head coach of the Saints. I asked him how long he expected the rebuild would take, four years? He said, “If it takes that long, somebody else will be doing it.” I loved that man. He was a great interview.
Paul from Muncie, IN
Every week, opponents seem to talk about all the ways they prepare to not jump offside against Rodgers. Has he created a hesitancy that gives his linemen a split-second advantage getting off the line?
Yes. I think what he’s doing is wonderful, but I think it’s important to keep those types of things in perspective. You don’t ever want to count on tricks to win. That’s when people stop blocking and tackling.
Scott from St. Augustine, FL
Vic, fellow St. Augustine resident Lindy Infante just passed. Is there a good Lindy story you could share?
We have a mutual friend, Matt Robinson, who played quarterback for Coach Infante when he coached the Jacksonville Bulls. Matt arranged a couple of golf games that gave me an opportunity to meet and talk with Coach Infante. Mostly, we talked about our days together in the AFC Central, when I was covering the Steelers and Coach Infante was the Browns’ offensive coordinator. I thought he was the best coordinator in the league, and I was sure the Packers had made the right choice when they hired him to be their head coach. He spoke some of his time in Green Bay. Most of the conversation, as I remember it, was about Tony Mandarich and the impact his selection had on Coach Infante’s time in Green Bay. I’ll remember Coach Infante for the work he did with Bernie Kosar, and for being one of the finest offensive minds in all of coaching.
Mark from Toronto, Ontario
Why is everyone so eager to see screens? They are beautiful when they work, but disastrous when they don’t. Why worry about screens if we can beat them right up the middle?
I’ve come to realize Packers fans love screen passes as much as they love beer and brats. This fan base is absolutely gaga about screens and deceptives, as Mike McCarthy calls them. The Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery out of the backfield thing causes my inbox to giggle. Me? I like to push the ball down an opponent’s throat. That’s what makes me giggle.
Scott from Sauk City, WI
Do you ever get to share your opinions with Coach McCarthy? I know the Packers and their staffers have devoted the entire week to studying film on the Rams, but someone who knows Coach Fisher as well as you do obviously notices his penchant for running trick plays. Do you get to call up Coach McCarthy and tell him to remind his players to be extra alert? Or would you get laughed out of his office if you tried something like that?
After he got done laughing, he’d call security. Scott, in this digital world, all Coach McCarthy would have to do is call his video guy and request a video of all the trick plays Coach Fisher has used since this video capability existed, and Coach McCarthy would hear the ding in his computer in short order. In the old days, coaches would have to talk to other coaches to know when a trick play was used, and then they’d order their video guy to hunt through the film of that game to find the play. Yesterday, I asked Coach Zook about Coach Fisher’s trick plays, and Coach Zook immediately talked of the fake punt the Rams used against the Steelers two weeks ago. Coach Zook knew the down and distance, the field location, the formation and what happened on the play. Nothing gets past these guys. These players are prepared for everything, but knowing it and doing it aren’t the same thing.
Richard from Eau Claire, WI
When the Packers play the Rams, I’m thinking we are going to see a big special teams play: a blocked kick for a touchdown late in the game. I think Peppers or Elliott will be significantly involved in the play.
Or maybe it’ll be Jeff Janis.
Bob from Mount Joy, PA
Which feels worse, playing 16 games and losing a home wild card game, or playing 162 games and losing the wild card game? I had such high hopes for this Buctober, but now it’s suddenly Buctover.
I knew it a week ago when they got squashed by the Cardinals. They went cold at the wrong time. It’s the way it is in postseason sports. The team that gets hot wins. That’s why I say the real football season begins in December. All those wins in Sept. and Oct. that got you homefield advantage won’t mean a thing if you’re not playing your best football at playoff time.
Joshua from Modesto, CA
It always seems you aren’t much on stats, but you have been pulling out rankings lately. Where do you go for your stats?
The league provides a stats pack. It includes everything you could ever want to know. I pore through it looking for stats that tell the truth. The Packers’ run-defense ranking, in my opinion, doesn’t tell the truth. It’s skewed by one half of football. So, instead of using that ranking, I refer to what the defense has done most recently against Lynch, Charles, Hyde and Kaepernick. The Packers’ defensive ranking last year was not indicative of how it was playing in the second half of the season. A bad first half of the season doomed the overall ranking. So, what do I do, use the overall ranking to tell my readers how the Packers defense was playing two months ago? What good is that?
Grant from Wauwatosa, WI
Vic, your suggestion to get Blandino and the competition committee to simplify the rules is 100 percent correct, but aren’t they the ones screwing this stuff up by adding more rules every offseason? This is becoming a serious detriment to the game, in my opinion. What started to turn people off about the NBA? We didn’t know what traveling was anymore.
We don’t know what a catch is.
Scott from Lincoln City, OR
Vic, would Aaron Donald work in the Packers’ defensive scheme? Players, not plays, right?
Donald can two-gap. He’ll hold the point as well as anybody, but it would be a waste of his quickness to use him as a plug. He needs to chase the ball. Coach McCarthy and Coach Capers would quickly identify Donald’s ability to penetrate and disrupt, and they’d alter the scheme to accommodate that talent. I’ll never understand why this issue perplexes fans as it does.
Robert from Aiken, SC
According to the rules, a player may not bat or punch: (b) A ball in player possession. That means the initial punch out was also illegal, as is every swat, punch or slap, or any hitting of a ball in possession at all. Stripping is pulling or ripping the ball out; any other means is illegal, according to the rule, yes?
Tell me when you’ve seen that rule enforced. Do you remember the “around the world” rule? It was in the rulebook for eons, but I only ever saw it applied once, and the official that did it was reprimanded because, as I was told, “Mike (Pereira) doesn’t want it called that way.” I didn’t like the rule, either, but a rule is a rule, right? Or why have a rulebook? Seriously, the rulebook needs to be re-written. It’s a mess.
Steve from Neenah, WI
Vic, Todd Gurley has 155 yards in his NFL career. Hardly a cornerstone. He’s proved nothing to nobody.
The Arizona Cardinals might disagree with you.
Charles from Port Saint Lucie, FL
If the Rams play cover two, as you suspect, then they’re going to invite Eddie and James. I know the Rams’ defensive line is formidable, but do you believe they can stop Lacy and Starks with just four?
It won’t be with four. They’ll have at least six in the box, which is what the 49ers used early in last Sunday’s game. They played six in the box and cover two behind it. It’s what the Lions did last season in Week 3. No, I don’t think the Rams or anybody else can stop the Packers’ running game with six. If they can, the Packers will have a big problem on their hands.
Don from Aurora, CO
Vic, I’m glad Jeff Fisher is a good man and a good interview, but in 21 years as a head coach, he’s 15 games over .500, with a grand total of three division titles. Help me understand why he’s not the most overrated coach in NFL history?
OK, I’ll tell you why. First of all, you’ve failed to mention his AFC title in 1999 and the one more yard the Titans needed in the Super Bowl. Coach Fisher did something only a great leader of men could do: He held that franchise together through the most tumultuous period in its history. It was a lame-duck team playing in the Astrodome in front of flies. Its next move was to Memphis, where it played in the Liberty Bowl, which is not an NFL-caliber facility. Its next move was to Nashville, where it played at Vanderbilt while the Titans’ new stadium was being built. Coach Fisher guided that team through three cities and four stadiums. That kind of accomplishment isn’t defined by his record. You had to see it to understand what an achievement it was. I saw it. I covered those games. I covered his two wins at Alltel Stadium in 1999. I admire the man.
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