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Ask Vic

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Less angst, more hope for future

Posted Jan 16, 2013

Packers fans sorting out their thoughts from playoff loss in San Francisco


James from Janesville, WI

Do you think if the Packers had a top-notch running back we would be much improved on both sides of the ball?

If the Packers had a top-notch running game, possession time would be increased, which means the defense wouldn’t be on the field as long. It would also mean the Packers would likely have a better third-down conversion rate because those troublesome third-and-one plays wouldn’t be as troublesome, and that would result in more scoring drives and, again, more time of possession. A top-notch running game would also require the defense to adjust accordingly, which means the Packers would see more eight-in-the-box looks, which means the deep pass would likely return. Hey, yards per reception were down by more than two yards this year. That’s a big drop and that is an alarming statistic that I haven’t seen one fan mention in “Ask Vic.” That yards-per-catch stat is screaming at the Packers for a better running game. A top-notch running game would improve everything, especially the Packers’ 51 sacks allowed, which is tied for second-worst in the league. In my opinion, an improved running game should be the No. 1 focus of the offseason.

Ted from Amherst, NY

They say the biggest improvement in a pro’s career comes between his rookie and second season. Is it too soon to think about how much this year’s rookie class will improve before next year? Will Nick Perry have the chance to make the leap forward? Or is it still time to vent?

Randall Cobb is the obvious example, but Davon House was also on course to show us the kind of leap a player can make in his second season. Then the shoulder injury happened and he was never the same. You’re going to see this year’s rookies make huge leaps next year. It might be Perry or it might be all of them. Third-year players, guys such as D.J. Williams, begin reaching those “OK, it’s time now” years, and that’s often when the light goes on for those players. The Packers have a lot of young players, and we’re going to see more of them emerge next season because I think there’s going to be a greater opportunity for them to emerge. All indications are some fixture-type players are going to be leaving us.

Tim from Denver, CO

Mike and you both wrote articles after McCarthy's press conference and the comment section was filled with almost all rage about everyone from Capers to McCarthy to Thompson, the staff that has given us a Super Bowl and two straight NFC North crowns. How can reasonable people think they are not doing a great job? Do they really expect to be champions every year?

Yes.

Jeff from Kenosha, WI

I have read all of your posts and come to the conclusion that you have the positions nailed down that, hopefully, get addressed in the draft. That being said, don't you feel Ted Thompson will not draft an offensive lineman or running back higher than the third round?

That’s too position specific for me. When it comes to the draft, I don’t believe in taking what you want. I believe you have to take what the draft gives you. I think you have to identify your needs and then try to move into position to draft players that address those needs and are at the top of your board when the selection is made. That’s optimum. The more positions of need you can identify, the greater the chance a player that addresses one of those needs will be at the top of your board when you pick him. I think the Packers could use players at running back, on both lines and at linebacker. A backup quarterback might also be considered a need. I think we might be surprised at the depth of this team’s needs. You don’t just draft for this year, you draft for the future, too. You need to have a strategy for the future that dovetails with the management of your salary cap, and that means drafting with the long-range future in mind. Either way, I believe the draft is all about value, and that means picking from the top of your board. If you don’t do it that way, then you’re leaving the better players for your competition to pick.

Don from McFarland, WI

No question, just a pat on the back for a job well done from a fan, not a fanatic. I enjoyed the season. I wish it was 12 months long.

As much as I love the football season, I love the football “life cycle” even more. It’s become my life cycle and it’s a constant renewal. Next week, the hunt for new talent begins at the Senior Bowl. We begin the process of identifying who those players might be. I remember last year’s Senior Bowl. I remember Kendall Reyes and Vinny Curry having monster practices. I remember a stumpy nose tackle named Mike Martin emerging. I remember watching Russell Wilson throw and thinking to myself that he’s going to have to be fit into an offense that’s tailored for him because he’s not a classic pocket passer. Kudos to Pete Carroll for doing exactly that. Let me tell you, these coaches and personnel people are smart. They see talent and they know what to do with it. I remember mentioning Alfred Morris as a sleeper running back. I’m looking forward to beginning the hunt again.

Paul from Salem, OR

In Mike McCarthy's final press conference he referred to us fans as being “knee jerk” and “over-reactive.” Don’t we as fans have the right to demand accountability from a team and its coaching staff for awful preparation and adjustments in the last two playoff losses?

I thought he was talking about the media. I remember him twice saying the fans are great. Either way, I have a question for you: How do we know the preparation and adjustments were awful? Is it possible the problem was that the playing wasn’t good?

Alex from Madison Heights, MI

The halftime adjustment should have been to put a full-time spy on pumpernickel.

That adjustment was made before halftime. The spy got juked. Here’s one of the problems the Packers faced in that game: The 49ers were able to run the read-option out of all of their personnel packages, which forced the Packers to have to defense the read-option out of its substitution packages. At times, that was a mismatch, not in terms of scheme, but in terms of personnel. In my opinion, we’re perseverating on the wrong things: rush lanes, spy technique, adjustments, etc. That shouldn’t be the resonating message from the two losses to the 49ers. The message is: less finesse, more power.

Garrett from Pleasanton, NE

Vic, I think we can all agree Green Bay needs a more effective running game. Is the answer a dominant feature back or better blocking and big guys, like what San Francisco has?

I believe a great back doesn’t need a great line in front of him, just some guys that can deny penetration. The 49ers have a dominant feature back and a dominant offensive line. That’s a powerful combination. If Colin Kaepernick is the real deal, we’re going to be seeing a lot of the 49ers over the next several years.

Kevin from Minneapolis, MN

With the score 38-24 and about 10:30 left in the fourth quarter, the Packers had the ball fourth-and-four at midfield. For whatever reason, Coach McCarthy elected to punt to a 49ers offense the Packers defense was having a very difficult time stopping. Didn't punting rob the team of any realistic shot of winning the game?

McCarthy said he regrets his decision to punt.

Greg from Jacksonville, FL

I'm curious to know if you saw that game coming.

I didn’t see that coming. I envisioned the Packers keeping Kaepernick in the pocket and Kaepernick struggling in the passing game. I envisioned Aaron Rodgers throwing the ball 50 times and frustrating the 49ers with a spread offense that moved the ball up and down the field. When Kaepernick ran 20 yards for a touchdown that tied the game at 7-7, that’s when I began to worry.

Asa from Wadsworth, OH

Vic, I'm a big fan and I enjoy your insight. My question is in regards to DuJuan Harris. You say we need a running back, but Harris looked very good, so why do you think he isn't what the Packers need?

He’s a change-of-pace back, and every team needs a complement back. The Packers also need a feature back.

Nick from Oshkosh, WI

What happens in the offseason on this website? I'm hoping you continue “Ask Vic.” I visit this site more than anything on the Internet.

“Ask Vic” is daily during the offseason, too. What will happen is the next month or so will be dedicated to cleaning up what’s left of the 2012 season and getting started on the 2013 draft class. In March, we’ll split our attention between the draft and free agency. April is pretty much all draft, and then comes OTA’s, followed by the “Dead Zone” between OTA’s and the start of training camp. Shortly after camp ends, we begin the weekly routine of alternating joy and grief.

Pierre from Bordeaux, France

I'm a huge Packers fan who stays up all night for each Packers game, thanks to the time zone. That nearly ruined my studies. Anyway, I know it's really painful to admit, but the Niners were better than us.

Ding, ding, ding, ding.

Tyler from Elkhart Lake, WI

Another disappointing, early postseason loss has given rise to my least favorite time of the year, the Green Bay witch trials. This year's target: Dom Capers.

So that’s why he was wearing that scarlet letter on the front of his shirt yesterday.

Karen from Everett, PA

Vic, I live in Steelers country. What do I say to those around me when they say, “What happened to your Packers?” I've been saying the better team won, but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Roberto Clemente was my favorite baseball player when I was a kid. He had a quirky batting style and he was once asked to describe how he hits. He said, “Sometimes I heet like thees, sometimes I heet like thees, and sometimes I no heet.” He’s the Babe Ruth of Puerto Rico and sometimes he no heet.

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