Neil from Cheddar, UK
Can I ask why we are playing the Giants again in New York?
It’s for the same reason the Saints played in Green Bay in consecutive seasons; it’s just the way the scheduling formula rolls out. If the Packers and Saints were to finish in the same place in their respective divisions’ standings this season, the Saints would play in Green Bay again next season.
Simon from Copenhagen, Denmark
When the Packers were 2-3, I saw several comments that said McCarthy or Ted Thompson had to go. How many e-mails like that are you getting now?
It depends on the time stamp of the e-mail. I’m serious. What was a year-to-year game has become a play-to-play game. The tenor of my inbox changes with each play. I can match the play-by-play to the time stamp on the e-mails in my inbox and the success or failure of each play will be mirrored by the criticism or praise within the e-mails that correspond with the plays. After a dropped pass, there’ll be a flurry of e-mails that such and such receiver should be cut. After a failed third-down play, the e-mails will demand that Mike McCarthy be fired. If that play produces a touchdown, however, the e-mails praise Mike McCarthy as the best coach in the league. It’s really kind of nuts and I feel sorry for these fans whose emotions swing so dramatically with each play. They really need to develop some self-control.
Joe from Shenzhen, China
What are your thoughts on why Cleveland hasn't made the progress in the same time Houston has?
They both made the same mistakes early on: They didn’t draft big guys. They drafted passers and pass catchers, but not nearly enough pass blockers. It cost Dom Capers his job, and I think the Texans realized that and changed their ways. Eventually, the Browns came to the same realization, but there have been too many draft misses since then. They traded picks to move up for Brady Quinn. They traded picks for Shaun Rogers and Corey Williams. There’s a tendency in all of us to want to fix everything now, a desire to do something dramatic by swinging for the fence or catching lightning in a bottle. It has to be disciplined. Logic and patience are the ingredients to success in the draft.
Eli from Rechovot, Israel
I write this as I sit here, listening to missiles from Gaza explode just a few miles away, and I wonder, do you think the Packers are more motivated when faced with adversity?
Adversity can make a team’s focus very sharp because adversity is often such a demanding challenge that it causes teams to block out other issues and concentrate on only one issue, winning the game. That’s why coaches often speak about distractions. Anything that blunts a team’s focus is a distraction. Hey, if I’ve got bombs exploding a few miles away, I’m not thinking about that leaky flapper valve in the upstairs toilet. Be safe, Eli.
Jared from Burlington, VT
I’m just wondering how player contracts are determined. Who or how many people determine how much money they want to offer a player or how many years?
Typically, the general manager works with the team’s cap guy to know what the team can afford to spend and stay within its budget. At that point, the GM weighs the player’s worth vs. what the team’s cap can house. In the salary cap era, you have to be willing to let players go. It’s a game of replacement, not maintenance.
Keith from Truro, Nova Scotia
Why do so many teams try to pass the ball on second down when they only have a yard or two? Why not run it and then if they don't make it, pass on third down?
Think big picture, not play to play. Coaches have a game plan that was designed to establish a particular quality or trait in their offense’s play. Maybe the coach designed his game plan to establish balance between run and pass because he feared his opponents’ pass rush. Maybe the coach designed his game plan to avoid predictability according to down and distance, or maybe he’s built predictability into the game plan because he believes his team is physically superior and he can break his opponent’s spirit. He has studied his opponent and he knows its strengths and weaknesses, and his game plan is intended to mitigate his opponents’ strengths and accentuate its weaknesses. What he calls on any down will impact what he calls on succeeding downs because the cumulative of all play calls will impact how his opponent attacks him.
Steven from Springfield, IL
If the Packers finish 13-3 and the 49ers finish 12-2-2, who would win the tiebreaker?
Ties are regarded as half a win and half a loss, therefore, 12-2-2 is the same as 13-3. Head to head would be the No. 1 tiebreaker and the 49ers own it.
Peter from New Smyrna Beach, FL
This will be the first Thanksgiving I will spend without being with my parents. Do you have any advice for this college student?
Go get yourself a turkey burger at some fast food joint, and then rent “Christmas Vacation” and sit down and watch it with us after dinner. That’s what we’ll be doing. Our family is spread out over several states. For whatever reason, the movie gives us a feeling of togetherness on Thanksgiving. It’s all part of the experience.
Scott from Greensboro, NC
I liked the statement you made about offensive linemen being better equipped for pass blocking in the modern era. Do you think more teams will create packages where defensive linemen get on the field to push for the third-and-one?
Pro football is increasingly becoming a game of specialization. I think it would be coaching genius to have on your roster a couple of linemen that are short-yardage specialists, which is to say guys that can get low and move the line of scrimmage.
Larry from West Linn, OR
If asked about Nick Fairley's performance, Tommy Lasorda would have said the same as he did about Dave Kingman's performance. It would need to be edited.
What do I think of Nick Fairley’s performance? The guy makes seven tackles, two sacks, two tackles for loss, two quarterback hurries and one forced fumble and you ask me what I think of Nick Fairley’s performance. I’ll stop there.
Tony from Chandler, AZ
Wow, do the Lions play dirty against us. It doesn't appear Fairley was penalized for his almost body slam. I think that was enough for at least a fine. What's your take on that?
You want players to be fined for what they were thinking of doing but didn’t do? I don’t think this column is for you, Tony. This is a tough column for tough readers. I think you want “Ask Wimpy.”
Bill from Caledonia, WI
There’s a possibility we will never be able to enjoy a Twinkie again. How big of a blow would this be to you and other sports writers?
I’m not a Twinkie kind of guy, but I understand the despair all the Twinkie people must be feeling, because when the doctor said I couldn’t eat hot dogs or smoke cigars anymore, a part of me died inside. I felt like less of a sports writer.
Josh from Sussex, WI
“They’ll play again. It’s a kind of reporter’s instinct. I felt that way following the Packers’ win over the Giants last year.” I remember you saying this last year and I also remember you saying something along the lines that you hope we don't meet the Giants again in the playoffs. Is this how you feel about the Seahawks this year?
No. Bring them to me.
Matthew from Jones, Cardiff
I think Jermichael Finley had his best game for the Packers in a long time. Do you think it’s a sign of things to come from him down the stretch?
I think we might be witnessing a great talent coming to maturity.
Calvin from Racine, WI
Why is it the Packers are such a weak cry baby team when they played the Seahawks? All I know is the Seahawks won.
I hope you used an alias because if you really are Calvin from Racine, the people who read this column are going to hunt you down and find you, and I refuse to be responsible for what will happen.
Paige from Morgan, UT
With the end of the season and the playoffs quickly approaching, what do you think the Packers could have done better this season?
They could’ve played better in the first half in Seattle and in the second half in Indianapolis. Had they done each of those two things, they’d be 9-1 and in the driver’s seat for home field advantage.
Jake from Albuquerque, NM
Do you think a successful running game will be the key to defeating the Giants on Sunday night?
We all know what the No. 1 key to Sunday night’s game is: Protect Aaron Rodgers. If that means running the ball, and it probably does, then run the ball.
Peter from Viborg, Denmark
Do you ever make up questions just because there is something specific you want to address?
I don’t have to do that. There’s no chance that I won’t get a question I want to address. My “Ask Vic” inbox is where I go to get the news.
Tom from Lynden, WA
Do teams keep track of which teams they owe for a big loss?
They don’t have to do that. Teams that break your heart are like girls that do the same. You never forget them.
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