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Ask Vic

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Did Jay Cutler really guarantee a win?

Posted Dec 14, 2012

Bravado heightens for Sunday's Packers-Bears game in Soldier Field

Stephen from Chicago, IL

Do you think a team’s arrow can remain pointing up after a loss?

It absolutely can. It’s all about how a team plays. I’ll use the Seattle game as an example. I thought the Packers played an inspired second half of football. In no way did that loss dull my outlook for this team. Don’t be fooled by losing or by winning. I’ve seen a lot of teams win a game that left me with a lowered opinion of their prospects for the season. I’ll use the season-ending win over the Lions last season as an example of that. Even though a lot of starters were missing from that game, I did not like the feel of that win. It was too loose. The postseason is about clean and crisp. That’s the style of football you want to be playing as you head into the postseason. I think the Packers are playing that kind of football right now. If they can maintain that style of play this Sunday, win or lose, I will consider their arrow to continue pointing skyward.

Mark from Stewartville, MN

Vic, what do you think about the clock that shows Lombardi time? How important is it for football players to be prompt?

The clock time is a tribute to Lombardi. Setting it 15 minutes fast is another way of honoring the lore that is the Lombardi years of Packers football. This is a place that cherishes its history. I like that because I revere history and the people who wrote it. As for players being prompt, the importance of it goes to the respect players have for the coach. A lack of discipline reflects badly on the coach and can be contagious. Those players need to be removed from the environment.

Kamen from Bethel, CT

I finally found a game the Packers lost in protect-the-lead mode, Week 9 of the 2009 season in the 38-28 loss to Tampa Bay. On the first drive of the fourth quarter, the Packers score a TD on a Rodgers scramble to lead 28-17. On the very next drive, the Bucs score a TD to make the score 28-23. The Packers on the next drive go run, run (1st), run, run (1st), run, run, incomplete, punt. The Bucs would score the game-leading touchdown on the next drive. Is that sufficient to your standards?

No, it’s not and here’s why: According to your play-by-play – I didn’t cover that game – the Packers went conservative with a five-point lead. Protect-the-lead mode is usually defined by a two-score or more lead. If a team goes to its four-corners offense, so to speak, with a two-score lead, it has effectively turned the game over to its defense and is inviting a rally by the opponent. That’s what most people consider to be true protect-the-lead mode. Find one of those they lost.

Cody from Kewaskum, WI

Personally, I think Brandon Marshall's comments on the Packers are actually a good thing. I mean, it’s the Bears vs. the Packers. If you can't get fired up for that, you shouldn't be on either roster.

I don’t have a problem with talking. I’m a reporter; talking is good for me. I like knowing Marshall has something in the tank for this game. Again, I enjoy football because I enjoy confrontation. I’m not looking for political correctness or classy dialogue. I want to see two teams of big, tough guys go at each other for three hours, and I want to know it matters to them.

Greg from Bellevue, WA

Since 1992, the Packers have essentially had two starting quarterbacks. The Bears have had over 40. Since 1992, the Packers have a 27-12 record against the Bears. Correlation or causation?

If you only get one position right, make it the quarterback position. A lot of good rosters have been wasted on bad quarterbacks.

James from Braun, FL

What are the tactics the Packers coaches use to provide extra motivation to the team, and when are those tactics employed?

Just before they go out to the field, the coach threatens to make the team practice in pads next week if they lose the game.

Walt from Indiana, PA

Sounds like Marshall is all about being the individual star. No one defender can stop him. He says nothing about his team, it’s all about him. Does he have a big ego? Aren't you glad the Packers work together as a team?

I’m not down on Brandon Marshall for what he did. The Bears have lost four of their last five games. They need a spark. They need to hate somebody, anybody, even if it’s their leading receiver. What happens on Sunday will define the pregame hype. When you win, you’re great. When you lose, you stink. Whatever it takes to win.

Nathan from La Crosse, WI

Vic, Paul Tagliabue basically sided with the players and against the Saints coaches and front office in the bounty scandal. He disagreed with Roger Goodell and his player discipline, pointing out the players were doing what their coaches said and didn't know the organization had been warned by the NFL to stop the bounty program. What are your thoughts on his findings and their effects on the league?

I hope everyone will forgive me for not having a strong opinion on this matter. I have no interest in it, followed it little during its process, and I’m delighted it has reached a conclusion and hope it fades from the news. As I said from the beginning, I’m from a generation of sports writers that accepted the fact football is a tough game for tough guys, and sometimes they do mean things. Again, I will confess that much of that is what attracted me to football. I guess I’m just not ready to change everything about my culture. I need more time.

Chris from Green Bay, WI

Vic, after two years of therapy with you and your columns, I can finally enjoy Packers games. Thank you for enlightening me.

Good for you. For us, it’s all about enjoying the game. Some people have the ability to immerse themselves emotionally into the game and not allow their emotions to cause a loss of balance. Those fans are truly blessed. Others need to remove themselves from the game and be a true observer. That works for me. What we must at all cost avoid is the emotional investment that costs us pain. This is supposed to be about fun. Whatever pain we experience must be minor and temporary.

Travis from Chicago, IL

On top of guaranteeing a win for the Bears on Sunday, Jay Cutler said they’re ready to execute plays they have been practicing all season but have yet to use. Any idea on what these plays might entail?

He guaranteed a win? I didn’t see that, but why let the facts get in the way of a good story? I’ll assume he did guarantee a win. I can’t wait for Sunday. Please, more bravado. I love it.

Dean from Bluewell, WV

The Packers don’t talk trash. The recent Bears comments, in my mind, are a bit out of hand. Nothing is more obnoxious than some guy who proclaims his team will do this or that. I’ve always heard if you can back it up, feel free to talk it, but I like the don’t-say-a-word-and-just-do-your-job method better.

I guess I like that, too, but I think we needed something like this. I think this is good for the Packers and it wouldn’t bother me if one of the Packers took a verbal shot at the Bears and here’s why: As you said, when you take a shot at somebody, you put yourself into the position of having to back it up. When a player does that, he has deepened his investment in winning. Coaches like that, as long as taking a shot at the other team doesn’t create a distraction. There’s a fine line between deepening the investment and causing a distraction.

Tim from Ottawa, IL

I've listened to the old timers about how they played the game back in the 1960s and how tough it was. When you watch film of some of those games, you can't help but notice how hard the hits were. I'm tired of hearing about player safety all the time. You never heard the old timers complain about hits and missing teeth. I want the ’60s back. What is your take?

Time stops for no one. It marches on and with it the game and life evolve. I’m OK with where the game is headed, though I would like to see the evolution that’s being forced on it applied less vigorously and at a more measured pace. What’s most important to me about the old timers is that we show proper respect for them. I am cheered by your regard for them. In my opinion, neither the league nor its fans have honored the old timers as their contributions would demand. This game is built on the injuries they sustained. They were great athletes, great players and tough-minded men who played with a dedication and love for the game that, in my opinion, isn’t fully appreciated by the present.

Eric from Honolulu, HI

I recently watched an interview from prior to Super Bowl XLV, comparing Dom Capers and Dick LeBeau. In it, LeBeau says he'll have to be run out of Pittsburgh because he loves the team and the players he has. I know Coach Capers has bounced around the league a bit, but do you think he could have a similar situation here?

Yes, I do. I know Coach Capers likes it here. The day I arrived, he welcomed me and told me what a wonderful place it is. The Packers have a special coach in Coach Capers. He’s the best defensive mind I’ve ever known. He now has a young cast of players he can mold within his scheme. I think the Packers’ arrow on defense is pointing directly upward.

Jeffrey from Kenosha, WI

What do you think would be the view/feel of this team should it lose in Chicago?

A loss would likely put the Packers in a must-win position going to Minnesota on the final weekend of the season. That’s not what you want right now, but if it’s how it should turn out, then it would be the kind of a crunch-time game that could send the Packers into the playoffs on a roll. That’s the important thing at this time of the season. You have to win the crunch-time games to be a hot team. The Packers did that in 2010. They had no wiggle room at the end of the regular season. Must-win games are good.

Eric from Wausau, WI

Ray Guy transcended the punting position. One could argue he wasn't flashy and won't be remembered like Jerry Kramer, yet, Guy was transcendent in his own way. He took punting and turned it into a weapon.

I covered a game in 1977 about which I could almost say he single-handedly won that game. Yes, he was a weapon. When I think of punters, his name is always at the top of my list, but I think the history of the NFL can be written without mentioning his name; I don’t think the history of the NFL can be written without mentioning Jerry Kramer’s.

Chris from Burlington, ON

Who do you think is currently the best Packers player no one is talking about?

I think Morgan Burnett is an underrated player.

Dale from Raytown, MO

While I agree with all that is said about how to beat “cover two,” running and all, I can't help but remember how Joe Montana used to beg for teams to play “cover two” against him because he'd tear it up. He had the tight end down the seam and it brought in both safeties and made the “honey hole” bigger for Rice.

A couple of thoughts: 1.) He had Roger Craig. 2.) He’s Joe Montana.

Carmon from Madison, WI

Vic, do you get as many laughs from “Ask Vic” as I do? Between you and the responders, there’s some great humor mined here. Thanks for the laughs.

I love reading the questions. Opening my inbox is like Christmas every day. The fans inform and entertain me. I never have to read a newspaper; the fans tell me what’s going on in the sports world. I love their passion, their anger, their joy and the personality they bring to this forum. I don’t write this column, they do.

Conor from Milwaukee, WI

Maybe it’s my Irish temper, but all of these media comments on both sides of Sunday's game are really starting to fire me up. We gotta go out angry and punch these guys right in the nose, and that starts with Finley. Gotta walk the walk. Would you agree?

Yeah, that’s the spirit. Get mad at each other. While you’re doing that, I’m gonna go up to the press box and get a cup of coffee so I can sit down and watch. I like to watch.

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