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Ask Vic

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The truth behind Finley's celebration gesture

Posted Nov 18, 2011

Holger from Guayaquil, Ecuador

Vic, what is the Packers’ record for most consecutive wins and when was it done?

It’s 15 and you’re living in it. Isn’t it wonderful to experience the greatest winning streak in the history of the franchise?

Ricky from Melbourne, Australia

What? You mean to tell me the team doesn't get on the plane and chant “We are Marshall,” or throw a crocodile into the showers in the locker room? Next thing you'll tell me is they don't need big rant speeches to encourage them to earn all those millions of dollars their next contract will bring.

Hey, easy with the sarcasm. That’s my shtick. Every time the subject of pep talks comes up, I immediately think of something from my formative years as a reporter. It involved a Steelers cornerback named Lee; that was his first name and I’ll withhold his last name. Anyhow, at halftime of a game in Houston that the Steelers were losing, Lee decided to give a pep talk to his teammates. Chuck Noll was in one of his first seasons as Steelers coach. In the middle of Lee’s pep talk, Noll tapped him on the shoulder and said, “Lee, sit down and shut up.” Noll then turned to his team and said, “This is what we’re gonna do and this is how we’re gonna do it.” Joe Greene told me that at that exact moment, he knew Noll was the right guy for the job. Players don’t want a pep talk, they want a plan, and coaches don’t want promises, they want performance.

John from Kalamazoo, MI

During film study, is the whole team together or do they split up by position?

Each position group has its own meeting room, and it’s in those rooms that the bulk of the tape study is done. The head coach meets with the team collectively in the team meeting room, where the head coach presents the game plan and addresses the team at the start of each day. The room is equipped with video equipment and he’ll use tape to make his point on specific topics. He might have a “10 keys to victory” speech he delivers on a Friday, as Tom Coughlin always did. Or he might have the video department put together something humorous, as Bill Cowher was fond of doing. Hard tape study, however, is mostly done in the position rooms.

Robert from Coupeville, WA

On the pass to Kuhn for the TD against the Vikings, two linemen were downfield. Was that a miss by the refs or was that legal because the pass to Kuhn was behind the line of scrimmage?

Linemen may not release downfield before a pass is thrown, regardless of where the ball is caught. What you might have seen is that two linemen were a yard beyond the line of scrimmage, which is the legal limit of how far an ineligible receiver may advance beyond the line of scrimmage prior to the pass.

Jon from Anaheim, CA

Vic, can you shed any light on why the official football of the NFL says "The Duke" on it?

It’s meant to honor Giants founder Wellington Mara, who was known as “The Duke.”

Rob from Dubuque, IA

What needs to happen for the Packers to improve the running game? Better line play, different play design or simply more reps? Going into the cold part of the season, running has to become more of the game.

You have to commit to it and we might see more of that as the weather conditions worsen, but the Packers aren’t a run-the-ball team, so you’re never going to see them “run uphill,” as Mike McCarthy is fond of saying. Running uphill means running into a defense stacked against the run. That’s what a true run-the-ball team does. They don’t care how many men the defense commits to the run, they’re gonna run the ball; that’s the mindset a true run-the-ball team has to have, but you don’t see much of that anymore. Those days are pretty much done.

Mitch from Twin Falls, ID

Is it legal to use four down defensive linemen and four linebackers at the same time?

Sure it is. It’s called a “44 defense” or “44 stack” and it’s usually played with “Cover Three” in the back end. It’s a popular college defense that employs a monster or hero as the fourth linebacker. He’s kind of a linebacker/strong safety hybrid that is big enough to bang at the line, and mobile enough to drop into coverage.

Spencer from Annandale, VA

Why did the Packers repeatedly run against the side that Jared Allen was on?

Run at a rusher. It’s old-school stuff. The idea is to make a rusher play the run. It helps keep him home and it takes a little out of him that might slow his rush.

Scott for Orwell, OH

Would you say during your short time in Green Bay you have become a passionate Packers fan as well as a journalist? Do you bleed green like the rest of us, as psychologically unbalanced as it may be?

That’s an unrealistic expectation and an unfair question, Scott. The Packers didn’t bring me here to bleed green; they brought me here to do a job and that’s where my passion is. I am passionate about doing the best job of reporting I can do for passionate Packers fans such as yourself. Instead of cheering, I write. Instead of bleeding, I think. Am I a fan of the team? Sure, I am, just as I have been a fan of every other team I’ve covered. If you cover a team without achieving a fondness for that team, then you’re either made of stone or you’re a social misfit. What I ask fans to understand and respect is that this is my job. This is what I do for a living. I like it, I like the team I cover, I like my readers and I treasure the opportunity, but reporters have to be vigilant about not crossing that emotional line that threatens the quality of their work.

Brandon from Tampa, FL

Every Charles Woodson quote or interview I read I get the feeling he'd make a fantastic coach when he retires, should he want to be one. Would you agree?

I think his leadership qualities extend beyond coaching. He has a statesmanship quality that I think makes him a natural for politics. He knocked me out with his performance at the White House.

Gil from Atlantic Beach, FL

You leave the Jaguars, our team goes into free-fall. You arrive in Lambeau, the Packers go undefeated. Coincidence?

Falls down a well, eyes go cross. Gets kicked by a mule, they go back. I don't know.

John from Janesville, WI

The first-down celebration that Finley does is called “The Big Fin.” It’s supposed to look like a shark swimming in the water. According to Finley, some younger players were doing that gesture to him in camp and Finley didn't understand it. He finally broke down and asked them what it was. After finding out they called him “Big Fin,” he implemented it into an on-the-field gesture. All this is according to Finley and his wife on a local TV segment they have where they interview each other. When Finley scores a touchdown, he does what some people think is the “YMCA” gesture. He is actually spelling out his own acronym, “YOTTO,” which stands for “Year of the takeover.”

It all makes sense now. I feel so stupid.

Stephanie from Dallas, TX

Which current NFL team, AFC or NFC, would you consider to be the best-equipped to stopping the Packers?

The perfect team would be good at defending the pass and rushing the passer, and either good at milking the clock with the run or matching the Packers with the pass. I can’t find any that embody all of those ingredients, but based on rankings, these are the teams that would seem to match up best: Giants (17th against the pass but No. 2 in sacks per pass play and No. 5 in pass-offense), Saints (No. 1 in total offense and No. 2 in pass-offense) in another shootout, Lions (ninth in passing, fourth in pass-defense and sixth in sacks per pass play), Ravens (11th in passing, sixth against the pass and third in sacks per pass play), Patriots (second in total offense, first in passing) in a shootout, Steelers (seventh in passing, third in pass-defense and 16th in sacks per pass play).

Rickie from Milwaukee, WI

How can you possibly believe Cris Collinsworth is a good football analyst? He is absolutely stupid and constantly gloats about the fact he was a receiver in the NFL at one point. Also, why do you have to be so sarcastic in your blog? It's completely obvious and it comes off making you sound very rude. Guess what, you have only been in Green Bay for half a season. You don't own the place.

You’re right, you never wanna be rude.

Nick from Conneaut, OH

Vic, I had the Seahawks-Ravens game on last week and for the first time since you mentioned it, I noticed the play where the Ravens punted it and touched it, but a Seahawks player came in and tried to advance the ball after it was touched. The Ravens ending up getting the ball and the announcers were ferociously saying that should be the Ravens’ ball. Of course, the officials didn't give it to them and I could only help to think to myself with your wit and humor, you should be the guy in the booth. At least you know the rules.

I looked up the Week 10 schedule of broadcast assignments and I saw that Dan Dierdorf was scheduled to do that game. If he did the game, then I’m stunned that he didn’t know that rule. There must be something here we’re missing. I like Dierdorf’s work. He’s one of my favorites.

Justin from St. Augustine, FL

Talking about comparisons, I see a lot of Terrell Owens in Jordy Nelson. Stop me if I'm crazy, but they're similar in size, speed and they don't catch everything but have nice hands and are great with yards after catch.

Nelson is better than Owens.

Troy from Suamico, WI

It seems lately the Lions have been struggling and I think the Bears have been getting quite a bit better. What do you think about the Chicago Bears matching up with the Packers, as of late?

I think the possibility exists that the Packers might play the Bears twice more this season. It’s in Jay Cutler’s hands. This will be his chance to redeem himself.

Cristiano from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

What’s a Sam linebacker and a Will linebacker?

Sam is strong and Will is weak.

Allen from Zephyrhills, FL

So now that Packers fans are enjoying the year of Rodgers, what was the general evaluation of Aaron that made him fall to 24th in the draft?

He was a year off an ACL, but it was the combination of a shoulder injury and the failures of Jeff Tedford quarterbacks that caused his stock to fall the hardest.

Dan from New York, NY

Vic, I have to ask you, what do you think of Tim Tebow? Is this a lot like Vince Young's rookie year, when he seemed to be winning luckily?

First of all, I admire what he did last night because I admire quarterbacks that get it done at crunch time, and he did. Secondly, I think your comparison to Young is appropriate because it was very clear, even during Young’s whirlwind start, that he lacked true passing skills, and that’s not something that can be ignored. Tebow, as was Young, is a runner, not a passer, and that’s not the thing of long-term success at that position in this league. He must develop his passing skills or his success will be temporary because defensive coordinators will scheme to stop him, just as they schemed to stop the “Wildcat.” Eventually, they'll make him be a passer. It’s just a matter of time. Winning will lie to you. It will make you betray what you know to be true, which is exactly what happened to the Titans with Young. It ended up costing a very good coach his job.

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