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Ask Vic

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Bears loss means the game is on

Posted Nov 12, 2012

Joe from Bloomington, IN

My father offered me unsolicited advice about three times in my life. Once it was this: “Sarcasm will get you nowhere.”

It works for me.

Ivan from Decatur, IL

“I hate sarcasm” has to be your most sarcastic comment to date. Love it!

See. People love it. Seriously, I feel sorry for people who take everything so seriously.

Kenneth from Kandahar, Afghanistan

I was watching the clip on Aaron in “60 Minutes” and wanted to know your opinion on why he gets so sensitive when asked about his height?

I think Aaron has a glib sense of humor and likes to play with us. I think he might even have a sarcastic side to him. “Ask Aaron?”

James from Wausau, WI

I was just watching the Toronto-Montreal game for the CFL and it opened my eyes literally. When they spanned the field, it looked huge, which means it's bigger. They only play three downs instead of four, they are able to keep moving, at least on offense, prior to the snap, and the one thing that really amazed me is they give a point for trying a field goal attempt. All in all, I kind of like it. What is your take on it? Have you ever watched the CFL?

Literally? Huge means bigger? You’re trying to get into the “Ask Vic” Hall of Fame, aren’t you? As for the CFL, when ESPN first came on the air, I think they showed a lot of CFL games. I watched them and semi-enjoyed, but they just didn’t measure up to NFL games because they weren’t as violent. Maybe the CFL knew something we didn’t.

Larry from Plymouth, MN

Now that we are in the flexible scheduling portion of the season, how far in advance does the NFL have to notify teams if their games get shifted?

It has to be at least 12 days in advance for Weeks 11-16. For the final week, it has to be at least six days in advance.

Davy from Chetek, WI

Out of everything that happened, what was the highlight of your weekend off?

It was probably the Texas A&M-Alabama game. I didn’t think Week 10 of the season was the NFL’s best. The 49ers miss a short field goal attempt that would’ve won the game in overtime, and then the Rams ice themselves with a delay-of-game penalty on a long make by “Legatron,” who then misses the next attempt and gives the 49ers a short field they fail to convert into even an attempt. I watched one of the young stars of the league last season, Cam Newton, display one of the worst cases of shell shock I’ve ever seen. The Lions-Vikings game was the best game I saw yesterday, largely because Adrian Peterson is so special that I think he’s living proof that there’s still a place in this game for the great back. What was Brad Childress thinking?

Mike from North Aurora, IL

While the Packers were getting some rest (and hopefully healthy), the Bears, Lions, Falcons and Giants lost and the 49ers tied. That is almost a perfect outcome for a bye week, don't you think?

The table is set for the Packers. As I wrote a few weeks ago, nothing is out of reach, including home field advantage for the playoffs. The Falcons still have to play the Saints, Giants and Lions. Getting the No. 1 seed will likely require running the table, but this isn’t a good time of the year to lose, regardless of a team’s record.

Zach from Woodstock, IL

What could you learn about the Bears with Cutler out for half the game and the weather being as bad as it was?

I didn’t need to learn anything. They went into the game as No. 6 on defense and No. 25 on offense and I think they played true to that identity. All I needed to know about the Bears is whether or not they would come out of the game with a one-game or two-game lead on the Packers. It’s down to one game now. The game is on.

Damone from San Jose, CA

Hey, Vic, hate to bring up old memories but if the “Fail Mary” goes the other way, like it should have, the Packers and Bears would both sit at 7-2 and, with the Packers already winning that head-to-head matchup, they would be first in the NFC North. Looks like that’s hurting us right about now. Thoughts?

It’s likely that game will have an impact on playoff berths and seeding, but the Packers’ fate will largely be decided by the results of their head-to-head games against NFC North foes. The focus needs to be on those games. Win and in. That’s all that really matters.

Ben from Alameda, CA

During the Bears game, when Cutler got a concussion and was flagged for crossing the line of scrimmage, how was there also a defensive penalty on that play? Isn't Cutler a runner at that point?

That’s when I get up and go to the refrigerator. I think the answer is that the quarterback is never a runner, even when he’s a real runner, but especially when he’s running and he’s not a runner. I think that should clear it up.

Jason from Summerville, SC

Is a tie better than a loss or is it basically the same?

A tie is better than a loss because a tie leaves a team with a better winning percentage, and that helps in the tiebreakers. How’s that for nuts? A tie helps in the tiebreakers.

David from Arlington, VA

All scoring plays are reviewed, so how did the officials upstairs miss the fact that Trindon Holliday didn't actually score?

That was a Dave Smith moment, kind of. Don’t know who Dave Smith is? Well, he spiked the ball on the 5-yard line. I don’t know what it is about the goal line that causes players to feel such a great need to release the ball from their grasp. Is the ball really that heavy? Does it turn hot or something when it reaches the goal line? Can’t they hold onto it for just a little longer? If I was a coach, I would have my players practice crossing the goal line. I would have a line drawn inside the end zone and they would not be permitted to release the ball until they cross that line. At that point, they may advance to the celebration circle. Hey, they practice every other little thing. Crossing the goal line isn’t such a little thing.

Adam from Overland Park, KS

Andrew Luck for MVP? Ten touchdowns and nine interceptions? Doesn't seem MVP material to me.

Really? Leading a team that was 2-14 to 6-3 doesn’t qualify a guy as an MVP candidate? Did you watch him at crunch time against the Packers? If he leads that team to the playoffs, after having to step into Peyton Manning’s shoes, he’d get my vote. Those stats you’re providing don’t tell the story. What he does with that team between now and the end of the season will tell the story. Here’s a stat you’ve conveniently avoided: The Colts are No. 5 in total offense.

Cord from Elkhorn, WI

Vic, in last night's Bears-Texans game, Cris Collinsworth said: “The officials are letting these guys play out here,” in reference to the lack of holding and pass interference flags. Do you think the officials should let things go because of weather conditions? I think it's completely wrong.

You want more penalties?

Chris from Iron Mountain, MI

Vic, the Packers organization has found success in the BAP draft-and-develop strategy, but what other teams use this mentality to develop their programs? And what teams use the other type of strategy of dipping into the free agency pool and gaining success early? Are there other team success strategies out there that go unnoticed?

Every team tries to be a draft-and-develop team, but only a few have the patience and conviction of ownership to execute that philosophy. There’s also another trait shared by the true draft-and-develop teams: Waiting lists for tickets. As I’ve written previously, a waiting list for tickets is one of the most valuable commodities a team can possess because a team with a waiting list never has to make a football decision based on anything but football. When you have to draft or sign players to sell tickets, you’ve got problems. Empty seats can force teams to seek quick-fix solutions. They’re killers.

Bob from Cambridge, Ontario

Do you think officials have a favorite team deep inside them? Obviously they can't be saying it out in public, but they have to have a favorite team deep down.

Everybody comes from somewhere and every player, coach and official in this league had a team of their youth, so to speak. What fans such as you refuse to accept is that being a professional requires players, coaches and officials to leave the teams of their youth behind. They’re able to do that because being a professional football player, coach or official is the most important thing in their life. If I could accomplish one thing in this job, it would be to make fans understand the mindset that goes with being a pro. For you, it’s about your favorite team. For them, it’s about their job. They love their job as you love your team.

Miriam from Butte, MT

Is it coincidence that injuries are up because live practices are down? Seems the union did the wrong thing.

I think injuries are up because sensitivity to them and the reluctance to play with them are also up.

Steve from Saint Charles, MO

In your “10 things” column, you quote statistics heavily and seem to base your analysis on them. Yet, you have decried others’ analyses based on stats. What gives? Are there good stats and bad stats? What makes your selection of the stats to use better than somebody else’s?

Yeah, there are good stats and bad stats. I use the good ones and reject the bad ones. After covering football for 41 years, I think I have a pretty good idea which ones are good and which ones are bad, and I also have a pretty good idea when a guy is trying to tell me a lie based on stats that lie. It starts with this: Use your eyes. I don’t need stats to tell me the Bears have a pretty good defense. My eyes tell me that, but the stats confirm it, so I’ll use them. What I won’t use are stats that don’t confirm what close inspection of the team tells me to believe. I believe Andrew Luck is a good quarterback. What he’s doing with a Colts team that gutted its roster for rebuilding is mind-boggling. Having said that, I’ll also tell you that other than for the win over the Packers, the schedule the Colts have faced to date hasn’t been especially strong. So, I’ll watch and I’ll wait, and I’ll weigh all of the information, but if Luck takes that team to the playoffs, I think he should be considered a serious candidate for MVP, provided that he continues to play well.

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