Nick from Water Mill, NY

Vic, I don't know why or how, but a few words of yours throughout this season have changed how I view and enjoy football games. I can still remember the funk I sunk into following our loss to the Broncos in the Super Bowl. I had to swear off watching the games for a long while. Still, the fear of what lurked in my football psyche was there. Not anymore. The Giants game was a good re-test. I loved it.

There’s nothing we can do but watch. Make sure you enjoy the viewing experience because there’s a real-life, human confrontation being played out in front of our eyes, and it’s a beautiful thing to watch. Last night, we saw the beauty of the will to win and the strength to endure. We saw a man come up off the ground on a cold night, his ankle too painful for him to walk on it. Twenty minutes later, he was limping out of the tunnel with his helmet on ready to play. This is the beauty of our game, the courage and valor with which these men play it. Don’t let it get lost in your anxiety.

Milton from Blaine, MN

Did you sleep OK on the couch after that “some people are lucky in love, I'm lucky in sports” comment? Remember, flowers never hurt.

I can write anything I want because she’d never read this column. There are times that she doesn’t even know what city I’m in when I’m covering a road game. It’s kind of refreshing to know that at least one person in my life doesn’t think football is the most important thing in the world. Of course, we all know it is, but what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.

Christopher from Pompano Beach, FL

Barring an unforeseen collapse, let’s imagine the Packers clinch the No. 1 seed. I looked at the postseason schedule and it says they would play Jan. 15, which is a Sunday. When will we hear what time that game will be?

There’s no guarantee they’ll play on Jan. 15. It could be on Jan. 14. We wouldn’t know until the wild-card weekend winners have been determined, at which time the league would announce the dates and times for the divisional round games.

Ryan from Irvine, CA

I'm trying to learn the game and understand what I'm watching. When you watch a running play, do you see individual blocks? After the play, can you tell if it was power, dive, trap, stretch, etc., and tell who missed their blocks and who had a good block? I try to read the guards, but often times it looks like a cloud of dust. Is the zone-blocking scheme more about finesse or power?

Drive-blocking is man-on-man, straight-ahead stuff. A pulling guard will leave his position and run to another gap, where he will lead the back into that hole. On a trap play, you’ll see a kind of scissors action in which a guard will pull out in one direction and the other guard, for example, will seal the defender at the gap the pulling guard vacated. In a zone-blocking stretch play, all of the linemen will slide laterally in unison and the back will cut back behind that wall of blockers and run to daylight. Yes, it’s a finesse scheme, but not for the poor defensive lineman that gets cut on the backside. I always keep my eyes on the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped. I wanna know which line crossed it first. That tells me who’s winning the battle of the line of scrimmage. That team usually, but not always, wins the game. Last Sunday was one of those exceptions to the rule.

Luis from Santa Ana, CA

I'd really like to see the Packers play the Patriots in the Super Bowl. Do you think this would be the ultimate matchup?

That’s the matchup most people would want to see: Brady vs. Rodgers.

Jared from Sussex, WI

Can you explain to me what nickel and dime defense is?

Nickel is five defensive backs and dime is six.

Nolan from Kennewick, WA

How does a quarterback progress from one year to the next? Why is Rodgers so good this year? He was good last year, but nothing near this year. Is it swagger? He is more confident in himself? Or is it natural progression? Or coaching?

It’s all of those things except swagger. Swagger is the result, not the cause. When you look at a young quarterback, there are checkpoints in his game: arm strength and accuracy, feel for the rush, mobility, instincts, etc. One of the big ones is: Does he keep his eyes downfield? In my opinion, it starts with that. How can he see if he’s not looking? You have to know your quarterback has the courage to focus on his receivers, not the rushers. He has to have the courage to trust his pass-protection. If he passes the checkpoints, and if he displays the courage to keep his eyes downfield, then there’s only one issue remaining: his ability to learn and apply what he’s learned. Aaron Rodgers has all of the physical skills and can make all of the throws, but those skills would be useless if he didn’t possess the courage to keep his eyes downfield. He never drops his head or eyes. He’s always looking for the open receiver. In my opinion, it’s his ability to find the open receiver that puts him over the top. Great quarterbacks are courageous. Sometimes, that’s enough.

David from Huron, SD

In his Tuesdays with McCarthy, Mike talks about his defensive coverage unit “playing with the proper leverage.” What is he referring to?

When I started covering football, leverage was a term used to describe blocking and tackling. It meant getting under your man and striking the rising blow; under and up, it was called. Coaches would bark, “Play with leverage.” Nowadays, leverage is used to describe all things that pertain to victory or advantage. When a punt team pins the return man against the sideline, it’s playing with leverage. When the return gets out into the open field, the punt team has lost leverage. When a defense strings the running back out to the sideline, it’s playing with leverage. If the back gets to the corner and turns upfield, the defense has lost leverage. When you hear the term leverage being used, just know it means having won or lost.

Nathan from Waukesha, WI

All my co-workers are constantly doubting the Packers, saying they need/deserve to lose a game to keep their focus. Are you as tired as I am hearing friends doubting this team? They haven't lost a game in a year now; that says a lot about the coaching staff and the players, right?

You’re not hearing doubts, you’re hearing fears. You’re hearing your friends preparing themselves for defeat, and that’s the kind of anxiety that can cause us to not enjoy and not appreciate the journey until we reach the destination. The season is the celebration, not the offseason.

Tom from Birmingham, AL

Vic, you continue to misspell the word “coach.” Mike McCarthy is the coach of the Packers, not the couch, which is what I sit on when I watch football games on TV.

Congratulations, on your induction into the Packers wing of the “Ask Vic Hall of Fame.”

Kevin from Lynchburg, VA

If Hawk and Bishop don't play this week, Michael Bush can have a field day up the middle. Bush is a runner like Blount, and he had over 100 yards on us a couple of weeks ago. How do you think we can stop the Raiders rush attack?

You’re forgetting somebody: B.J. Raji. This is a B.J. Raji game. This is why he lifts all those weights. This is a nose tackle’s game. This is a classic “I’m gonna be there all day, baby,” kind of game. Sunday’s game for the Packers defense will be all about pad level, toughness and stamina. I know most of you don’t like that kind of football, but I’m tingling with excitement for Sunday’s game. Did you see that four-down goal-line stand by the Browns last night? Was that beautiful? Four plays right up the middle and every one of them was stoned, a couple of them with helmet-to-helmet thuds. No cutesy, little delay to the tight end, or corner fade to the tall wide receiver, or tackle-eligible play that tricked everyone. Just four swings of the sledgehammer and after the fourth swing the wall was still standing. I love that kind of football. We don’t see it much anymore, but we’re gonna see it on Sunday. Enjoy!

Keith from Jacksonville, FL

Gotta call you on this one, Vic. The Seahawks were an original NFC West team in 1976. They came into the league with Tampa Bay. Seattle was put in the NFC West while the Bucs went to the AFC West. They switched conferences for 1977.

You’re absolutely right. I forgot about that. Tampa agreed to play in the AFC West and Seattle in the NFC West for one season; the following year, Tampa was moved to the NFC Central and Seattle to the AFC West. I can’t remember the reason for it, but I think it had something to do with scheduling. That takes me back. I covered a game the winless ’76 Bucs played. It was against arguably the greatest defense of all time and it ended predictably in a shutout.

Jake from Tucson, AZ

Have you ever even played Madden?

I have never played it and I never will play it and here’s why: When I was a kid, I got one of those electric football games for Christmas. I can remember ripping off the wrapping paper, seeing the box and hearing trumpets blare. The joy I experienced that day would only be exceeded later in life by marriage. Well, I opened the box, plugged in the game, put all of the little pieces on the “field,” threw the switch and watched the pieces vibrate aimlessly across the “field.” I paused for understanding, but could find none. I struggled with that ridiculous game for a month, but every time I flipped the switch, the pieces vibrated aimlessly. One day, I kicked it and the pieces flew everywhere, and something inside me vowed to never play or watch another football game except the real thing as long as I live.

Adam from Chetek, WI

Vic, recently I've read a couple of articles arguing that Tom Brady or Drew Brees should be MVP, not Aaron Rodgers. What are your thoughts on this?

The guys that wrote those articles are homers. Rodgers is the guy.

Johnny from San Diego, CA

All season long you've been telling us Dom Capers doesn't coach bad defenses. Now that we're 12 games into the season, I think it’s time you apologize for misleading us because Dom Capers is coaching a horrible defense and they aren't just going to magically get better.


Brian from Ames, IA

If I remember correctly, you chose cover corners over a strong pass-rush in a recent point-counterpoint article. After watching the Giants game, would you now agree a pass-rush is a greater threat to the Packers offense than shut-down corners?

Huh? They scored 31 points and cut through the Giants defense at crunch time like a plow through mush. Thanks, you just made my point for me.

Peter from Toledo, OH

Vic, based on your support for good old-fashioned ground and pound football, for non-vanilla antics, for tough guys who trash-talk, I can't help but wonder if you are with the Packers to expand your horizons and adapt to where the game is going.

Bingo! That’s exactly what’s happening. I’m learning how to cover the “new” game. I covered one of these kinds of offenses before. Tom Coughlin ran the best pass-offense I had ever covered, but I was too stubborn to enjoy it, and he knew deep down inside I wanted him to run the ball more. Hey, I don’t think he ran it enough last Sunday. I guess Coach Coughlin and I will always have that little edge between us. This is a little different because Rodgers’ success is so off the charts that I don’t have a run-the-ball leg to stand on.

Molly from Hagerstown, MD

Would you and Coach McCarthy please write a book together?

I’d love to do that someday. Let’s put it this way: I know the neighborhood.

Harry from De Pere, WI

You did it again. You really are clairvoyant. You gave us that description of what a high-ankle sprain is, and then last night Roethlisberger got a high-ankle sprain. You’re scary, man.

I don’t know what it is. I get these headaches, and then things pop into my mind and then I feel better. If you didn’t quite understand Packers Trainer Pepper Burruss’ technical explanation of a high-ankle sprain, then thank Ben Roethlisberger for giving us a visual display of how the injury occurs. The ankle bends to the inside, not outside. Oh, did that look like it hurt.

Sue from Midland, MI

I noticed that a fan asked about lead horse for head couch. You responded and used the same misspelling. I thought you were just being sarcastic (which made me grin), but then I saw couch used again in your answer to the very next question. What should I think now?

The “a” on my keyboard isn’t working?