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Ask Vic

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Packers could climb to No. 2 seed

Posted Dec 3, 2012

A look at yesterday's game and the playoff race in the NFC

Matthew from Las Vegas, NV

I have a difficult time telling the difference between great running backs and an average back behind a great line. What things can I look for to pick up on the differences?

Does the back break tackles? That’s the trademark of a great running back; he breaks tackles. We saw a great running back yesterday. He could run behind any line. Today’s blocking schemes don’t ask offensive linemen to move defenders. Today’s schemes ask linemen to occupy and turn defenders. The rest is up to the back. It’s his responsibility to find daylight and hit it. I believe the back makes the line look good or bad, provided the line is at least good enough to deny penetration. That, in my opinion, is the job of a contemporary offensive line; deny penetration.

Dave from Sheboygan, WI

Why do the Lions and Cowboys always play on Thanksgiving?

Because they’re probably the only teams willing to do that on a regular basis. Playing on Thanksgiving isn’t something that would be well received by most teams’ season ticket holders. Most teams don’t want to have to answer to the complaints they’d get from their season ticket holders for playing on Thanksgiving.

Susan from Stevens Point, WI

I see a lot of the fly sweeps in college ball. Why is it not used in the NFL?

We kind of saw it yesterday on James Starks’ 22-yard touchdown run, but that kind of untouched run around a caved in side is rare in the NFL because there’s just too much talent and speed on the defensive side of the ball to beat 11 men to the edge. It happens in college ball because there’s not enough talent to go around, except in the truly elite programs. Most teams put their best players on offense and then patch on defense with what’s left over.

Chris from Eau Claire, WI

I always hear about injured players from other teams not traveling to the road games. As an example, Percy Harvin didn’t travel to Green Bay. When I see the sidelines of the Packers on the road, it seems like everyone injured travels with the team. Are we different than other teams in this area?

It’s kind of split. Chuck Noll didn’t want injured players traveling with the team. It became an issue with Terry Bradshaw when Chuck said, “If he can’t play for us, he can’t help us.” The theory is that it’s a business trip, not a vacation. Again, that’s the edge to which I often refer. Tom Coughlin tended not to take injured players on road trips; it’s an old-school mentality. Other teams, and the Packers are one of them, take injured players with them on the road. My guess is the thinking is that they’re part of the team and the team wants them to remain involved so they don’t check out emotionally before they return to action. I see merit in both philosophies.

Hans from Front Royal, VA

Vic, the comments that the team was flat emotionally at halftime got me thinking. What's the right mix of business-like approach and rah-rah type of emotion? Does this Packers team have it?

It’s a personal thing. It’s whatever works. I’m not a rah-rah person. If I was a player, I wouldn’t want someone distracting my mental preparation by forcing theirs on me. That’s what a rah-rah person does. They need to verbalize, so they distract everyone in the locker room that prepares themselves by internalizing. What was the pep talk Lombardi gave his Packers for the Ice Bowl? It’s cold, they’re not going to postpone the game, you know what you have to do, go do it. Mike McCarthy is an emotional guy. He’ll tell you that. In his postgame media conference on Sunday, he made it known that he was disappointed with the mood of his team at halftime. In Aaron Rodgers’ postgame press conference, he as much as said he doesn’t like the rah-rah stuff and suggested that rah-rah wasn’t this team’s personality. Just win, baby.

Craig from Germantown, WI

After attending the game on Sunday, our group of eight met at a local bar near the stadium. Outside a fight broke out between Packers fans and Vikings fans, with some of each taken away in squad cars and ambulances. When will fans realize that in the end it’s only a game? I personally felt disgusted that Packers fans could act this way.

Don’t be too hard on them. These things happen. It’s not a game for the well-adjusted.

Conor from Milwaukee, WI

Last week, the offensive line completely boycotted interviews, except for Don Barclay. Now Barclay had a pretty impressive game that required his best on the fly. How much of success is garnered by a player’s attitude, in your opinion?

Whatever it takes. If making the media the target of a player’s anger works for that player, he should do it every week. Early in Greg Lloyd’s career, he was a super-accommodating interview for reporters, but he kept getting hurt. I guess he decided it was the media’s fault he was getting hurt because he showed up for one training camp armed with a new, surly attitude toward the media, and he stopped getting hurt, became the meanest man in the NFL and, subsequently, an All-Pro. Everybody has their own way of preparing themselves mentally and emotionally to play the game.

Edwin from Colton, CA

Vic, what about them jars on the shelf, huh?

You have to have them. The Packers took one off the shelf yesterday and it helped them win a game of critical importance.

Greg from Phoenix, AZ

So what was wrong with this win?

Ten yards a carry by Adrian Peterson. Everything else was fine.

Thomas from Milwaukee, WI

Even when the guy absolutely torches the Packers, the team I live and die for, all I can ever do is smile and chuckle a little bit because how can you hate on someone that is that good at running the football? I just hope guys like him aren't a dying breed.

I have always considered a great running back to be the symbol of the game. The ability of a player to tuck the ball under his arm and carry it through a defense whose focus is to stop him, in my opinion, is the essence of the game. I hold great running backs in high esteem, and I’ve never seen a more talented runner than Adrian Peterson. He has Jim Brown ability.

Hector from Chicago, IL

Vic, we keep finding ways to win. This is contagious. The drama is here. I hope you are as enthused as I am about finding out on a weekly basis what type of victory the Packers will produce.

I’m loving it. This is my kind of season. I can’t wait for next Sunday to get here.

Hermes from Richmond, CA

Like you, I've been pretty fed up with all the “cover two” nonsense lately. You were right. In the middle of the third quarter against the Vikings, the Packers began running the ball a lot better and the pass protection improved and the passing game opened up. Oh, how I hope that continues.

Those offside penalties the Vikings defensive line committed should’ve told us something. They should’ve told us they wanted to rush the passer. What do you do when a defensive line wants to rush the passer? You make them play the run. It’s Football Strategy 101. The Vikings didn’t think the Packers could run on them. I don’t think the Vikings believed the Packers would remain committed to the run. Something changed yesterday and it needs to remain changed.

Alex from London, England

Vic, I'm looking at the leaguewide standings and I see the 49ers at 8-3-1 and the Packers at 8-4. That first-round bye is up for grabs again.

I think the Packers can climb as high as a No. 2 seed, which has often been rewarded with two home games, as was the case with San Francisco last year. The 49ers still have to play at New England and at Seattle. The Giants are at Washington tonight and still have to play the Saints and at Atlanta and at Baltimore. The Packers’ challenge is to win-out. I think that would get them the No. 2 seed.

Mark from Stewartville, MN

Vic, how does Adrian Peterson compare with the best backs you've ever covered? Does he make the top of the list?

He reminds me a lot of Fred Taylor. He has Fred’s explosiveness and big-play ability, and the same herky-jerky running style. When I see photographs of Peterson, his head is always up and his eyes are searching the field. Fred was like that, too, and it’s another one of those trademarks of a great running back. Great runners run with their eyes as well as with their feet. The No. 1 thing that stands out about Peterson is that he seeks contact. That’s something Earl Campbell and Jerome Bettis did because they had the body type to do that, but you don’t expect it as much from a back who’s 6-1, 220. The power Peterson packs into that body is amazing. He is a treasure.

Jeffrey from Republic, MO

The Packers score a large percentage of their touchdowns on free plays. I don't remember another QB as adept at this as Rodgers is.

He’s the best free-play quarterback I’ve ever covered, by far.

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