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Run more or pass more?

Posted May 22, 2017

Where were you when the Packers...?


Jeff from Albuquerque, NM

As Mike wrote, “The more often a blitz is needed to generate a pass rush, the more vulnerable a secondary becomes.” Doesn’t this imply a base 4-3 defense, by virtue of having an extra lineman capable of generating that blitzless rush, is a better defensive scheme than Capers’ 3-4?

A linebacker rushing out of a 3-4 isn’t blitzing. A defense isn’t considered to be blitzing until it sends five or six rushers. The difference between four down linemen rushing vs. the fourth rusher being a linebacker is the disguise the 3-4 creates. The quarterback has to guess which linebacker is coming. It’s one of the reasons I prefer the 3-4 to the 4-3; it offers more schematic creativity. Teams have won playing the 4-3 and teams have won playing the 3-4. Teams have also lost playing each scheme.

Chad from Tarpon Springs, FL

Has what fans root for changed over time since the ’30s? Has how they root changed? Is the experience of culture itself as football as a national phenomenon different?

You don’t have to go back to the ’30s. The change since the ’70s has been dramatic. I grew up covering football in the bludgeon-ball era. At a seminal point in the Steelers-Raiders rivalry, Pete Rozelle sent a letter to each team warning them their rivalry was approaching “pure violence.” In my mind, the court agreed with Chuck Noll that a “criminal element” existed. Fans cheered injuries. It had become disturbing for me to cover some of those games. I felt as though injustice was a repeating theme. Pete began the cleanup of the game with the rules changes of 1978. Roger Goodell is finishing the job. He’s changing the culture. Frankly, I’ve had to change my own culture. Football is a game again, as it should be. What I covered in the ’70s was much more than a game. It was something sinister and unhealthy.

Joseph from Mooresville, NC

I’m planning on getting my girlfriend tickets to see her first Packers game. Being from North Carolina, are we going to be able to stand the cold on December 23rd against Minnesota?

You’ll make it. You’ll hate it, but you won’t admit.

Justin from Milwaukee, WI

The economic impact for a stadium in a small community is higher, but so is the cost, right? I recall seeing a breakdown showing Lambeau’s expansion was the most expensive stadium per household in the country, many times more expensive than Miller Park was, for example.

Market-size stats are meaningless as they pertain to the Packers. The team is abnormally large for a pro sports market that is abnormally small. One of the things I loved about living in Green Bay is I didn’t have to plan my day according to rush-hour traffic; there isn’t any. There’s no other city in the league that can say that. The Packers are a phenomenon. There’s no other franchise in professional sports that bears comparison to the Packers.

Josh from Chippewa Falls, WI

Ty Montgomery will never get as many carries as he had in 2016. He isn’t a running back and the three we drafted are going to be here at the final 53 unless an injury happens. Three drafted running backs means something more than packers.com wants to admit. Packers fans should embrace this, too.

I think it means those running backs were at the top of the Packers’ board when it was the team’s turn to pick, and the team didn’t want to get caught short-handed at the position as it did last year. I also think Mike McCarthy has a distinct plan for Montgomery’s usage, and it’s possible it won’t involve as many carries per game as Montgomery got during the second half of last season. So what?

Bruce from Yuma, AZ

How much flexibility do draft picks really have in signing a contract under the CBA?

They’re slotted. They pretty much know what they’ll get and the teams know what they’ll have to give. There are no real surprises, and that’s one of the reasons it’s so favorable to build your team through the draft.

Andrew from Vancouver, BC

Regarding a Lambeau bucket list trip in the Rodgers era, how young is too young for that experience? My 5-month-old son will be visiting Wisconsin for the first time this summer, but we’ll hopefully make it back several times for Thanksgiving in the following years. At what age should I pull the trigger on tickets? Attention span, memory and temperature are all factors.

I think you should wait until he’s old enough to say, “Dad, I’m cold. I wanna go home.”

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Vic, the Packers’ sweep play was mentioned by Christl in his history article. Did you get to see that play? Why was it so impressive? Do you think Mike McCarthy will bring it back?

You get what you emphasize and the sweep is what Lombardi emphasized. It was the identity of his teams’ offense. It was also a product of its era; all defenses two-gapped back then. In this gap-control era, Lombardi wouldn’t have emphasized the sweep. Penetrate-and-disrupt defensive linemen such as Aaron Donald would blow that play up today. It might work against a particular defensive set, and with an element of surprise, but it couldn’t succeed today with the regularity it did in the Lombardi era. It’s too slow-developing for the gap-control era.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Do you expect Rodgers to have more, less or about the same pass attempts this year compared to last year?

Mike McCarthy believes in balance. I would put him in the category of coaches who believe it’s as much or more about carries as it is about yards. I think the Packers threw the ball more often last season than Coach McCarthy would’ve preferred. I think the Packers will attempt to run the ball a little more this year.

Joshua from Mankato, MN

Vic, there are things to love about all eras but, for me, the NFL peaked in the 1980s. Great balance of run/pass and offense/defense. There were rules to open up passing, but defensive backs were allowed to defend without the constant threat of an interference or illegal contact penalty. A bit more parity would’ve been nice, but perennial contenders and dynasties gave us someone to cheer against. What was your favorite era of football?

It was the ’70s, but not because the game was better; it’s because the players and coaches were so much more willing to talk to reporters. There was a camaraderie that existed back then that doesn’t exist today. It even extended to Pete Rozelle. It was common for him to show up in press boxes and engage reporters in conversation. I’ll never forget sitting with other reporters at a table in a restaurant in San Diego when Pete walked in. I was young and impressionable. He saw us and walked over to the table to say hello. He shook my hand and remembered my name. It meant so much to me. It was a wonderful age of growth in professional football, and we were all in the promotion of it together. I loved the league’s PR mantra: Write anything you want; just spell the name right. The league and its teams were appreciative of coverage, and we were appreciative of the freedom and help we were granted.

Mike from Hartland, WI

Insiders, aside from “Instant Replay,” what, in your opinion, are the canonical works of Packers literature?

I’d like to think this column is one of them. I’m proud of what this column has become, and how it has grown in readership, distribution, authors and bottom-of-the-column comments. By my calculations, I believe this column’s readership to be in excess of 60 million during its time on packers.com, and I believe that’s a conservative estimate. I’d love to know how many questions have been answered. Long after I’m gone, this column will continue.

Brett from Green Bay, WI

What do you think of the college overtime rules?

They’re scrimmage-like; I don’t like them. Also, the team that wins the coin toss enjoys an advantage that is more unfair than what the NFL overtime rules allow.

Jordan from Eau Claire, WI

I was born and raised in Green Bay and the Packers/Bears rivalry was strong. Then I moved to the western part of the state and it’s all Packers/Vikings. And I worked in Michigan for a while, and they really hate the Packers. I don’t think we have a shortage of rivalries.

The future of the Packers/Bears rivalry is now in the hands of Mitchell Trubisky.

Chad from Tarpon Springs, FL

What kind of community is the Green Bay Packers and how does it compare across sports franchises? Please use your whole knowledge of sports. Living in Florida, I find it silly to root for the Buccaneers. It just doesn’t mean anything. What is it about the Packers that overcomes nihilism?

I think it’s the frontier spirit Packers fans seem to possess. The Packers are for fans that enjoy Louis L’Amour. The rest of the league reads Danielle Steele.

John from Fort Myers, FL

Vic, I can’t believe you were harped at for being a homer! You should be, yet, you’re not afraid to criticize a player when it’s justified. That’s walking the writer’s tightrope successfully. Speaking of that, you’ve loved the Packers and the Steelers, arguably the two-best NFL teams. Please compare and contrast their wonderfully loyal fan bases.

I stand by my previous assessment of the fan bases of the three teams I’ve covered. Steelers fans are wild, Jaguars fans are worried and Packers fans are winsome.

David from Hilliard, OH

Just like Buster Douglas knocking out Mike Tyson, what moment in Packers history will you never forget where you were when it happened?

Until Sept. 24, 2012, the answer to your question would’ve been the “Ice Bowl.” I was in my grandparents’ basement, where I could get away from the noise and distractions of extended family on New Year’s Eve and watch the NFL title game in peace and quiet on a small black-and-white TV. Then came the “Fail Mary.” I’ll never forget where I was. I can remember exactly where I was sitting in the press box, and I can remember saying to myself, “Please, don’t raise your arms.” Then I can remember highlighting and deleting the story I had written and was about to send. One other game comes to mind: the 2014 NFC title game, same stadium. This time I was sitting in the postgame interview room. My story was written and ready to be sent. I remember saying to myself, “Please, just catch the onside kick.”

Lisa from Plymouth, MN

Vic, I’m hoping you won’t recuse yourself from answering my question. It has been over three months since this year’s Super Bowl and I’m still wondering: If it had been the Packers vs. the Steelers in the big game, who would you have been rooting for to win the trophy and why?

I usually avoid these types of questions because fans just don’t understand the media perspective, especially of a reporter who’s covered multiple teams. You don’t do what I do without becoming emotionally involved. I have a deep love for each of the three teams I’ve covered. Important events in my life are attached to each. My children were born in Pittsburgh. I beat cancer in Jacksonville. I ended my career in Green Bay. A Pittsburgh-Green Bay Super Bowl would’ve resulted in me feeling good for the winner and feeling bad for the loser. Had Pittsburgh won, I would’ve shared my hometown’s joy. It’s where I was born and raised and became the person I am. If Green Bay had won, I would’ve felt joy for Packers fans that suffered through the 2014 NFC title game loss. In 45 years, it’s the worst I ever felt following a game. It’s the day I realized I was in love with the Green Bay Packers. My heart is a big place. There’s room in it for more than one.


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