Lance from Milledgeville, GA
I watched a replay of the 1968 Harvard/Yale game that ended 29-29 after an unbelievable comeback by Harvard. I really enjoyed seeing an old-school football game with a run-first mentality, compared to today's games focused on the pass-first, spread formations. What is your favorite football game, college or professional, that you will always remember?
I’ve got a ton of them. The “Ice Bowl” is certainly one of them. I watched it alone in the basement of my grandparents’ home, on a small, black-and-white TV. Even at that young age, I wanted to get away from everybody in the house so I could watch the game in peace. I stayed down there for three hours; never came up. I’ve never watched a game more intently. Another game that sticks out for me is also from when I was very young, which seems to always be the case. Our most cherished memories are from our youth, aren’t they? It was the 1964 Pitt-Notre Dame game. Notre Dame was undefeated and ranked No. 1. John Huarte was the quarterback and they were a big favorite in this game, but they were about to be upset when an official saved them by making a bad call. On a fourth-and-short play, the Pitt quarterback, a guy named Fred Mazurek, got the first down but it was ruled that his knee touched down short of the mark. It was the wrong call; today, replay would’ve reversed it, but back then we just lived with mistakes. Anyhow, it was an absolutely great football game on one of those great days when you’re sitting next to your father and everything in your world is ideal. Remember those days? Maybe that’s why that’s my favorite game. A few weeks later, Notre Dame lost to USC when the officials in that game cheated Notre Dame out of the national title and everybody knew it. Those were different days; regionalism was a difficult thing to defeat. Two years later, Notre Dame hung a 51-0 loss on USC and claimed the national title. Ara Parseghian ran up the score as payback for that ’64 homer job. All of that seemed to fit within that one play I witnessed that, clearly, was the wrong call. I guess the injustice bothered me.
Rich from Nashville, TN
In case Dom Capers doesn't tell us, what is “assignment football” and does it involve more homework?
It involves the execution of the scheme. It means doing what you’re supposed to do. If it is your job to fill a particular gap, then fill that gap and don’t worry about anybody else’s gap. It’s about having trust in your teammates that everybody is fulfilling their responsibility and that all that is expected of you is that you fulfill yours. The execution of sophisticated schemes requires great discipline and communication. There must be no lapses of execution of the scheme; one mistake causes a breakdown of the whole plan. “Assignment football” is 11 men executing their specific assignments. The scheme will work if that happens. That’s why it’s not plays, it’s players.
Matt from Eau Claire, WI
I am so pleased with how our offense can score points. I love how our defense has consistently created turnovers, but can Mike Neal, Vic So'oto and Frank Zombo help free up Clay Matthews?
Clay Matthews needs to free up Clay Matthews, and he will. This isn’t a video game. This is real football. It’s a human confrontation and players have to win their one-on-one confrontations. That’s what has to happen. As Dom Capers said, if you have to rely on schemes, you’re not going to be very good. Players, not plays.
Tom from Slidell, LA
Against Minnesota and San Diego, we saw a few sparks from our running game. Do you think our coaches will begin to emphasize the run more as the weather turns cold? How will the Packers prepare for the pass-unfriendly conditions they can expect in home playoff games?
I wasn’t here last season, but it would appear the Packers leaned a little more on the run late in the season than they did earlier in the year. Yeah, I would expect the same. I like what I see in their running game, but how do you take the ball out of Aaron Rodgers’ hands the way he’s playing?
C.J. from Stevens Point, WI
It appears the quarterback with the higher passer rating prevailed once again. So what was the last game the opposing quarterback had a higher passer rating than Aaron Rodgers?
The answer to your question is a tell-all about the recent successes of the Green Bay Packers. First of all, thanks go to Tom Fanning of the Packers’ PR department for assisting me in answering this question. Rodgers had a 34.7 rating at Detroit last season, compared to Drew Stanton’s 39.4, but Rodgers was knocked out of the game in the second quarter with a concussion, so I don’t think that game applies to your question. Two others from last year also don't apply. Rodgers had a 73.1 rating at Philadelphia in the season-opener, compared to Michael Vick’s 101.9, but Vick wasn’t the starter, Kevin Kolb (56.3) was. In the NFC Championship, Rodgers had a 55.4 rating compared to Caleb Hanie's 65.2, but Jay Cutler (31.8) started for Chicago. The last time Rodgers was the starter in a regular-season game and played the whole game and finished with a lower passer rating than the opposing starting quarterback, who also played the whole game, you have to go back to Dec. 20, 2009, when Ben Roethlisberger threw for 503 yards and had a 121.9 passer rating, compared to Rodgers’ 101.3. If you’re looking for the last time, regular season or postseason, it’s the ’09 playoff game against Arizona; Rodgers had a 121.4, Kurt Warner a 154.1. If you ever needed proof that Rodgers is the driving force of this team, there it is.
Scott from Orwell, OH
You stated defense has fans worried. Does it concern you? If so, what do you think it’s going to take to fix it and can it be fixed in the next couple of weeks, say, like before the Detroit game?
I’m an “assignment football” kind of guy and my assignment is to provide information for Packers fans on a timely basis. I worry about that; I’ll leave the worry about the defense to Coach Capers. Yes, I think it can get fixed; I’ve held to that opinion all along and it sure would be nice if it got fixed in time for that Thanksgiving Day game. You know what else would be nice? It would be nice if the Packers were 10-0 going into that game, as they were in 1962. What a storyline that would be. Fifty years later, Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers try to strike a blow for Vince Lombardi and Bart Starr.
Zachary from Milwaukee, WI
Love the column; can't get enough of the humorous, sarcastic responses. Just wondering if you were planning to update your Twitter account for us younger readers on the go.
Twitter account? When did that happen?
Ned from Oklahoma City, OK
“Three fan questions will be selected each week and presented to Coach McCarthy. Go to the Green Bay Packers' official Facebook page on Monday mornings to post your question.” So why did you only pick two?
Because 99.99 percent of the questions were about the defense. Here’s my advice: When you know everybody’s going to be asking the same question, ask a different question.
Tudor from Saint Augustine, FL
I totally dig your love for throwbacks, and overall I love them, too. There are a few examples where the new version is better, though. Tampa Bay, I think, takes the cake for most hideous and unmanly uniforms ever. Then there are the old brown and yellow Broncos uniforms. Yuk! My favorite three: Patriots, Titans, Steelers. Aside from the Rams, who makes your top three for throwbacks?
Patriots, Chargers and Bills.
Jeremiah from Two Rivers, WI
What has been your favorite part of the ride so far, Vic?
I liked the Chargers game. I’m not sure why, because 45-38 isn’t my kind of game, but I liked it. Maybe it was the “Packers Everywhere” rally the night before. Maybe it was all those Packers fans at the game. I like that kind of stuff. I like it when football is fun.
Marlowe from Minneapolis, MN
Isn't it true that if a defender has a chance at an interception, they should have just as much right as a receiver to position themselves to make that play?
It’s supposed to be that way, but it’s not. I think the rule now is that defenders have to allow the receiver to catch the ball. It’s gotten to the point that any time I hear the crowd groan, I start looking for a yellow flag to fly, and it usually does. If I was a fan in the stands, I would groan every time my team throws an incompletion. Groan, flag. It’s become a conditioned response.
Jim from Tucson, AZ
I realize the head coach outlines how he wants players used during a game, and some play-calls require some players, but who makes the substitutions during the game? I'm guessing the position coach, but I'll defer to you.
It’s all choreographed the week leading up to the game. It’s according to sub packages and personnel rotations. If the coordinator is up in the booth, he calls down a defense and the coach or coaches on the sideline who are responsible for dispatching the accompanying personnel, do so. That’s all it is. Decisions on personnel aren’t made on the fly. It’s all decided and structured according to terminology during the week leading up to the game. It’s part of the communication process.
Tom from Indianapolis, IN
Since you were in Jacksonville in 2006, you probably recall how awful the Colts defense was during the regular season. Bill Polian and Tony Dungy kept saying the problems were fixable, which no one believed but, come January, the Colts defense played lights out. The return of Bob Sanders certainly helped. I'm not saying Mike Neal will make the same impact, but Neal's return can only help. Dom Capers hasn't suddenly forgotten how to coach defense.
Yeah, I covered a game late in the 2006 season when the Jaguars rushed for 375 yards against the Colts. At that point, the Colts were toast, or at least that’s the way it appeared. Then Sanders returned and the defense, not the offense, led the Colts to the Super Bowl title. With all due respect to Neal, I think Clay Matthews is the Packers’ Sanders.
Daniel from Houston, TX
I'm a huge cheesehead from Texas and I've never been to a game at Lambeau before. Should I fork over the money to spend a weekend seeing what watching a Packers game at Lambeau is all about?
Yes, I think you should, but I think you’re a little late. The weather curtain fell on Green Bay today; 180 days of unhappiness has begun.
MORE FROM 'ASK VIC'