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Great players 'beg for the ball' in big games

Posted Dec 27, 2013

Time to pause and collect ourselves for Sunday’s "final act"


James from Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Vic, I feel as if with the return of Rodgers, everyone automatically thinks this game goes to Green Bay. I disagree. Like Jordy and James said, it’s still up to everyone to be responsible for their own job. My keys to the game are run early and set up play action, take care of the ball and get off the field on third down. You agree? What are your keys? I predict a Packers win, but I do not take Chicago lightly. Who do you think wins?

I don’t have a strong feel for who wins the game, but I do have a strong feel for what the challenges are that each team faces. The Packers defense, in my opinion, has to play above the X’s and O’s. Not having Clay Matthews is going to stress the Packers defense in the flats. I think the Bears are going to dump the ball to Matt Forte in the flat and force the Packers linebackers to run laterally. If the Packers can’t cover in the flat, Dom Capers will be forced to make critical decisions. Involve the corners in the screen game and you run the risk of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery running by you. The same risk applies to getting the eighth man in the box against the run. The Packers offense needs to sustain long drives and dominate time of possession. This game will not end well for the Packers if the defense is on the field for much more than 26-28 minutes. Special teams will be every bit as big as they were in the Steelers game; cold weather and less-than-ideal field conditions often allow for big plays on special teams. Those are my thoughts.

Don from Torrington, CT

Have you ever covered an athlete as confident, competitive and prepared as Aaron Rodgers appears to be?

Sure I have, and they’ve all been great players. Terry Bradshaw immediately comes to mind. He never wilted. As the games got bigger, he played better. Bradshaw was 4-0 in Super Bowls and Roger Staubach was the opposing quarterback in two of those games. Imagine what it must be like to have a guy on the other team entertaining the media at the Super Bowl all week by telling them you’re so dumb you couldn’t spell cat if you were spotted the c and the a. Imagine then going out and turning in a record-setting performance. That’s what great players do. They respond to challenge. Aaron Rodgers is that kind of player. He never wilts. This is another example of his grit and determination. It’s the biggest game of the year, he’s on nearly two months of inactivity and he begged for the ball. I am in awe of these men.

Rich from Chicago, IL

Vic, this Chicago-born, life-long Packers fan can’t help wondering what a screen pass is all about. I thought a screen pass was a tactic to thwart an imposing pass rush and help keep the quarterback healthy.

Screens and draws are plays used to cause hesitation in a team that’s pinned back its ears to rush the quarterback, but a screen pass is also a play a team will use to test the range of an opponents’ linebackers. There’s an old axiom: You don’t screen against good linebackers. With Clay Matthews out of the game, the Bears are going to test the Packers’ linebackers with screen-type passes. Finding support without exposing yourself somewhere else will be a challenge.

Adam from Madison, WI

My plan to watch the game in the airport was hosed by flex scheduling. Can the drama be over by the end of the third?

I think you know the answer to that, Adam. This is one of those games that you have to watch for three hours to find out if the final minute of the game is going to make your life better or worse. Remember, “The Natural” had two endings. The book ended one way and the movie ended another way. Which will it be on Sunday, the book or the movie? In two days, we’ll have our answer. Now, it’s time to relax and wait.

 

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