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How long will McCarthy be the coach?

Posted Dec 20, 2012

Seeding watch part of the intrigue of Packers' game against Titans this Sunday

Patrick from Fort Dodge, IA

If the Packers finish at 12-4 and the Niners finish at 12-3-1, the Niners would get the nod because they have a better win percentage. Doesn't this seem a bit wrong to reward a team for having a tie on its record?

Make the tie a loss. Which team gets the nod?

Mark from Stewartville, MN

Vic, after all these years, I still remember a headline from the Packers' glory years: “Starr to Dale pulls Lions’ tail.” I can't imagine seeing a headline like that today. How has sportswriting changed in the past 50 years?

We’re much better at analyzing “Cover Two.”

Chris from Voorhout, The Netherlands

Given the 40th anniversary that approaches, what is your take on the “Immaculate Reception” (I assume you were there that day)?

It was my first playoff game and my eyes were wide. Whether or not the ball hit the ground wasn’t an issue. It was easy to see the ball didn’t hit the ground. I followed the ball closely – it’s my most distinct memory of the play – and I will tell you there is no doubt in my mind that the ball did not hit the ground. That ball-hit-the-ground stuff came later, as the story deepened. The whole issue was whether or not the ball touched Frenchy Fuqua or Jack Tatum. Forty years later, we still don’t know, and Frenchy ain’t tellin’ because he’s made too much money over the years with that sealed-in-an-envelope gig he does. I think that’s what I like the most about the “Immaculate Reception,” the side stories that have accompanied it. Frenchy was always a savvy veteran. He knew right away what his significance would be in football history and he was going to make sure he profited from it. I love the old guys. There’s also the story of Art Rooney’s brother, the missionary priest from China who was home for the holidays, putting an Irish curse on John Madden the day before the game. The “Immaculate Reception” is one of the fun things in the game’s history, but it’s also one of two events on Dec. 23, 1972, that changed the game. The other one is the Cowboys’ fourth-quarter rally in San Francisco in the late game that day. On that day, pro football became our national pastime and before the next season would arrive, Congress would pass the TV blackout laws by which we still abide. The days of being automatically blacked out for home games were over, thanks to Dec. 23, 1972.

Trevor from Green Bay, WI

Is our running game a distraction or an actual game plan to win?

Distraction is a good word to use in describing the Packers’ running game. In this case, it’s an integral part of the game plan because using the running game as a distraction makes the defense do something it doesn’t want to do: Play the run. Every Packers opponent wants to rush the passer because it’s Aaron Rodgers they fear. The Packers have a first-level running game and it takes 25 attempts for a first-level running game to make a defense respect the run. A second-level running game demands the focus of a defense’s game plan. The Titans have a second-level running game and Chris Johnson will be the focus of the Packers defense on Sunday.

Tommy from Orlando, FL

What is the significance if the ball hit Fuqua or not?

Back then, it was not permitted for the ball to be deflected from one offensive player to another. If the ball passed from Fuqua to Franco Harris, without touching Oakland's Jack Tatum, it was an incomplete pass.

Andrew from Somers Point, NJ

Why do you think it is that Nick Saban is such a good college coach and wasn't as good in the NFL? Is it as simple as he has most of the superior players in college and he didn't have a lot of superior pro players?

In college football, you recruit. In the NFL, you wait your turn and draft. I guess Nick got tired of waiting. Players, not plays.

Mike from Roseville, CA

Clay Matthews does an awesome celebration move where he squats down and flexes his biceps. It's even been on TV commercials. Last Sunday, after sacking Cutler for the second time, he wiggled his body and ran his hands down his chest to the stomach area. It looked like a belly dancer move. Could you ask him to please never do that again?

I think it was the gluten.

Ben from Columbus, WI

Are you the type that starts looking at all of the different playoff scenarios, or the type to sit back and enjoy the show?

I love the seedings intrigue of December. I love the tiebreakers and all of the what-if stuff. My eyes will be all over the scoreboard on Sunday. I think the No. 2 seed in the NFC is the plum spot to be.

Dave from West Allis, WI

I'm guessing you haven't heard of the Nekoosa Papermakers. Their mascot actually holds a big roll of paper.

We’re all papermakers, Dave.

Oscar from Milwaukee, WI

Vic, I've read that Atlanta plays the Lions this Saturday night. Why is that? I have only been following football for four years, but I have never seen a Saturday night game.

Once high school and college football shut it down, the football landscape belongs to the NFL. Until then, the NFL respects its amateur counterparts by not scheduling games that would steal attention from theirs. I continue to be amazed at college football’s willingness to surrender December. The bowl system is one of the best things that ever happened to the NFL.

Thad from Chesterfield, VA

Have you ever known any coaches that were better coordinators than head coaches and probably should have stayed coordinators?

There have been a lot of great coordinators that weren’t successful as head coaches. Being a head coach requires a special coaching skill set. Assistant coaches coach, head coaches lead.

Ethan from Linden, PA

I played soccer all of my life …

That’s too bad.

Brad from Tucson, AZ

NFL head coaches usually have a defined half-life before the message gets old and players tune them out, then a new coach comes in. How much longer do you envision McCarthy as the head man?

It’s not the message that gets old, it’s the players. In particular, it’s the quarterback. Head coaches are defined by their quarterbacks. I have a pretty good idea Mike McCarthy will be the head coach in Green Bay through Aaron Rodgers’ career. If the Packers find another Aaron Rodgers to replace this Aaron Rodgers, then McCarthy will likely be the Packers’ head coach through that quarterback’s career.

Jeff from Round Rock, TX

I’m amazed at how well Rodgers can recall so many details of plays, even years later. Are all top quarterbacks able to do this, or is his ability even more remarkable than it sounds?

All courageous quarterbacks, even the ones that aren’t top quarterbacks, are able to do that. When a quarterback doesn’t have total recall, his eyes weren’t downfield and he wasn’t processing the information he needed to process to make the play successful. Terry Bradshaw and Byron Leftwich are at different ends of the quarterback spectrum, but I can remember that, after a game, they would divulge every little detail of the coverage scheme on every play and be able to tell you where every receiver was on the field and who was covering them. Quarterbacks that avert their eyes can’t do that.

Nate from Chippewa Falls, WI

For the second time, we are cheering for the Seahawks. Who saw that one coming after Week 3?

The Mayans?

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