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Packers trade? Whatever it takes

Posted Oct 29, 2012

Rod from Middletown, NJ

I am certainly no defensive guru, however, if I can see that the Packers offense struggles every time they face a cover two type of defense, why would any opponent of the Packers play anything different? And what is stopping the Packers offense from adapting to this defensive scheme and learn to take what is given?

Cover two invites the run and concentrates on defending the pass. The Jaguars took cover two up a notch by using only six in the box against the run, and at the snap of the ball their linebackers went into deep drops to crowd the middle of the field. The Jaguars’ game plan was: Stop the run with six and clog the passing lanes in the middle of the field. They’re not the first team to use that scheme against the Packers. The way to defeat that scheme is to run the ball effectively and force the defense to commit extra personnel to the line of scrimmage. The Packers tried to do that. They ran the ball 26 times, which means 43 percent of their plays were runs, a very high run percentage for a team that wants to throw the ball. That’s the proper adjustment against that defensive scheme – so is throwing sideways, which the Packers did – but it’s not all about adjustments, it’s about the execution of adjustments.

Sven from Sollentuna, Sweden

When a Jaguars 164-yard-average-per-game passing attack can put up more than 300 yards against Green Bay, what does that say about the Packers defense?

You’re using a statistic to tell a lie. Other than for a tackle-eligible touchdown that was a result of a turnover by the offense deep in Packers territory, the Packers defense limited the Jaguars to three field goals. Most importantly, with the game on the line and the Jaguars at midfield, the Packers stoned the Jaguars on four consecutive downs. The Packers offense was having an off day and all I wanted was for Mike McCarthy to play field position and turn the game over to his defense with the Jaguars facing a long field. I felt as though the Packers defense was, at all times, in control of the game.

Saleh from Abu Dhabi, UAE

Vic, what does it mean to fall away from the rush and why is that a no-no?

If you’re looking at the rush, you’re not looking at your receivers. It’s OK to hear the rush and move within the pocket instinctively, but you must never fear the rush. Courage is a very underrated ingredient of success at the quarterback position. Great quarterbacks are fearless.

Jake from Eagle River, WI

Vic, I believe Packers fans gripe so much after a win because they expect nothing but perfection. We are a spoiled fan base.

Success will spoil any fan base, but all of those shares of stock create a sense of entitlement, and that also promotes a higher expectation. This is a unique dynamic.

Matt from Bremerton, WA

Seeing the highlight of the Dallas-Giants game where Dez Bryant's touchdown was taken away because his finger touched out of bounds first was disappointing. Had he not put his hand down at all, he would have landed in bounds for the score. I like instant replay as a tool to correct errors. When it’s used on technicalities like this, it feels like it takes from the game rather than gives. I suppose if the Packers were benefiting from such a call, I'd be tempted to feel differently though.

The truth is the pure defense. The question is: Do we really want the truth?

David from Belgium, WI

Vic, on the fake-punt Masthay pass, it looked like Jacksonville quickly adjusted their formation to defend such a play. Is it possible our special teams have been successful in so many plays that opposing teams are preparing for anything unusual?

If you use tricks too much, they stop being tricks and become part of what you do and part of what your opponents have to defend. There’s an upside to that: They have to defend what you might do, instead of being aggressive and going after the punter or kicker.

Marty from Louisville, KY

Vic, who decides what throwback uniforms a team will wear? The Steelers looked like they were in Halloween costumes. I understand they try to get more revenue with a different design, but when your quarterback is referred to as “Big Ben Bumblebee,” is there no shame?

Nike is in charge of uniform design, per the team’s final approval. The intent of throwback uniforms is twofold: 1.) Give fans a sense of the team’s history. 2.) Sell jerseys. The Steelers are one of the NFL’s heritage teams. They have a long and storied history and they can reach way back for their throwbacks, which they’ve done with this model. Nike thinks they’ll sell. We’ll see. I love them, because I love colorful uniforms. We got into a terribly drab period of everybody wanting to change their main color to black. The black shirt, black pants and black helmet look does nothing for me. I love the Packers’ bright colors. I think they provide a stunning visual. I think the Steelers’ bumble bee jerseys provide a stunning visual, too, and I think they’re going to sell.

Jocelyn from Crawfordsville, IN

What's your opinion as to why the offense regressed Sunday?

It couldn’t run the ball. It was at the root of everything. It’s very difficult for even great teams to take what they want when your opponent is bound and determined to make you take something else. Great teams usually pose a balanced threat of run and pass, and that allows them to take what they want. The Packers need to pose a more distinct threat of run. They’ve reached the point that it’s about more than carries, it’s also about yards.

Zachary from San Jose, CA

I'm slightly confused as to why McCarthy uses Starks so little. Is he still recovering from his injury and when do you see his role increasing?

He was out of action for a long time. This isn’t the trial-and-error time of the season. The Packers had some success with Green a few weeks ago in Houston and committed to building on that, but consecutive lackluster performances might now threaten that commitment. As for Starks, he dropped a pass that would’ve gained a first down on Sunday, and that’s not the kind of thing that gains a coach’s favor. Mike McCarthy is looking for somebody on whom he can depend. When that back emerges, he’ll be the guy.

Mark from Bettendorf, IA

Vic, I know your inbox is probably full of doom and gloom. I look at this game differently. I don't think a blowout would have helped this team get better. The backups got a lot of play in a tight game and they still won. I can't help but think the Packers got deeper and better today. Isn't that McCarthy's goal each week, to get better?

The goal is to win. Win the game and then find a way to win the next game. Coach McCarthy and his staff have already turned the clock forward to Arizona. Packers fans will spend the next several days fretting over yesterday’s game. Hey, if that works for you, go ahead and do it. The point I’m trying to make is that each week brings with it a different challenge and different circumstances. You can’t win a playoff game in October. You win playoff games in January. The goal now is to find a way to get there. That’s all. Just win. If you do that long enough and often enough, you will probably solve your problems along the way.

Nathan from La Crosse, WI

With all the talk of the running backs available near the trade deadline, I'm wondering if you think the lack of a running game can be fixed with a more experienced running back or if more of the problem lies with the offensive line’s ability to run block?

I think Cedric Benson was in the process of fixing the running game before he was injured. Does that answer your question? I think the Packers need to find another Benson, whether that player is on their roster, on somebody else’s roster or on the “street.” I’m not big on trading draft picks for older players, but I won’t dismiss anything at this point in time. Whatever it takes.

Kim from Overland Park, KS

Clay Matthews reported that “the stadium had a lack of energy. We had a lack of energy.” Was the crowd lacking energy? Is Matthews right about the team lacking energy, or is this just a turn of phrase to mean they underestimated their opponent?

If he thinks the team was lacking energy, then I believe him. I won’t blame the fans for lacking energy. First come touchdowns, then comes cheering. You know what I mean?

Josh from Cedar Rapids, IA

Every time we see an offense get the ball with a minute or less left before halftime and they run out the clock, it seems like the entire stadium boos them for not taking a shot. We saw a perfect example of how that can backfire. I would have liked to see us try a run play or two and go into the locker room with a 14-6 lead. Instead, we took a chance and ended up giving the Jaguars the momentum going into the third quarter. I've seen this happen a few too many times, so I can understand the conservative approach. What are your thoughts?

I think it comes down to a feel for your team on that particular day. I don’t think you can apply a one-size-fits-all standard. The Packers offense didn’t engender a lot of confidence yesterday; I thought the defense did. That’s why I wrote in our live chat that I wouldn’t be offended if the Packers decided to play it safe on offense and play to what appeared to be their strong suit on Sunday, their defense. The fake-punt play scared me because it flipped field position. I think it says something about the defense that it responded with a three-and-out. That was a critical point in the game.

Joe from Framlingham, UK

All in all, I really enjoyed that game.

Good for you. I like games that have tense moments. I never got the sense that the Packers would lose this game, but it had some tense moments, and I like that a lot better than a blowout at halftime.

Peter from New Smyrna Beach, FL

Vic, what are you going to be for Halloween?

I always go as a sportswriter. It scares the hell out of people.

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