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Thoughts on how to fix the Pro Bowl

Posted Dec 27, 2012

How do you stop Adrian Peterson? You gang-tackle him

Tim from Spotsylvania, VA

Wouldn't you say part of the defensive improvement is the result of the offense being more committed to the run, thus eating up more of the clock on offense?

As it stands right now, time of possession this season is only 12 seconds more per game than it was last season. I don’t think time of possession is a significant factor in the defense’s improvement.

Mark from Minneapolis, MN

If the Packers are looking for bulletin board material, there is plenty in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Virtually every media outlet is communicating their opinion that the Vikings gave away the last game in Lambeau. “Vikings had them beat last time” is the constant theme this week in TV and print. Did the Green Bay media feel the same way?

Leading 14-10 on the first drive of the second half, and having moved to the Packers' 8-yard line in two plays that gained 52 yards, I was starting to get the feeling the Packers were in trouble, and then came Morgan Burnett’s interception in the end zone. Christian Ponder made a terrible decision; he should’ve just thrown the ball out of bounds, as he was out of the pocket and near the sideline. That interception changed the game. I didn’t feel the Vikings had the Packers beat, but had the Vikings scored on that possession, it might’ve been tough for the Packers to rally from a 21-10 deficit. I don’t think this game is about bulletin board material. This game is about stopping Adrian Peterson, and you don’t do that with pieces of paper you tack up on a bulletin board.

Jesse from Lansing, MI

To be successful, you need to build your team around the four premium positions. Have the Packers done that?

Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews are first-round picks, Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod are first-round picks, and the Packers traded up into the second round to draft Casey Hayward. Yeah, I think the Packers have concentrated much of their draft efforts on the four premium positions.

Barry from Los Angeles, CA

You say you've never seen a kick fielded from out of bounds like Cobb did on Sunday? Special Teams Assistant, Chad Morton did it in 2004 while playing for the Washington Redskins.

Please believe me, I didn’t see him do it.

Wayne from Vallejo, CA

Fifty-six yards was the total for Adrian Peterson minus the three carries in which he broke away. Will Matthews and Shields be enough to stop those three breakaways?

First of all, I don’t like this take-those-three-carries-away stuff. Take away Aaron Rodgers’ longest completions of any game and see what that does to the final score. Football is about big plays. Having Clay Matthews in the lineup will certainly help stop Peterson, but this might be one of those occasions when the age-old axiom “run at a rusher” doesn’t apply. Run at a rusher is what you do when you want to pass the ball. The Vikings don’t want to pass the ball, they want to run it down your throat. Matthews’ is the Packers’ top defender, whether it be pass or run, so I see the Vikings running away from him. As for Shields, if he gets a lot of tackles on Sunday, the Packers will have problems. With 1,898 yards rushing, Peterson demands respect. He has mine.

Travis from Bloomington, IL

In Jerry Kramer's book, he described a situation in which George Halas of the Bears gave the Packers extra film on the Rams. He wanted to see the Packers win because he was bitter a Bears assistant coach had broken his contract to go coach the Rams. Does anything like that happen in today's game?

I know of a case since then when a coach tipped another coach of a trick play that was used against his team in a playoff game by a coach the first coach didn’t like. The trick play was used early in the game, the other team was ready for it and created a turnover that was an early turning point in the game. There’s no advantage to making enemies in this league. Winning is tough enough.

Matt from Minneapolis, MN

Vic, Clay Matthews does not get enough credit for stopping the run. Do you think he will be the key to stopping Adrian Peterson this Sunday?

The key to stopping Peterson will be the Packers’ ability to get multiple defenders to the ball. You have to gang-tackle Peterson; one man isn’t going to bring him down. That’s something that’s always been said of the great backs, especially the ones that were power backs. It was said of Jim Brown and it was said of Earl Campbell. You didn’t bring them down with one guy. Peterson is in that class of running back.

Joseph from Yorktown Heights, NY

Jim Brown averaged 6.4 yards a carry in 1963. That’s more than Peterson’s 6.0. He also averaged 133.1 yards a game, which is most likely better than what Peterson will average, even if he does break the record. I just wanted to set the record straight.

I was thinking in terms of Brown’s 5.2 yards per carry average for his career, but Brown’s numbers in ’63 are mind-boggling and put into perspective just how dominant he was, especially when you consider that he was playing in a run-the-ball era when the back was the focus of every defense’s game plan.

Jeremy from Phlox, WI

Vic, you say you just like to watch the game and not be the criticizer, as most fans are today. But what about this whole blog of yours? Aren't you here critiquing the team and also talking about what you think is going to happen with playoff seedings, etc.? If you truly wanted to be a watcher of the sport, I don't think you would be on a critiquing blog.

Jeremy, I don’t remember ever having said anything about not wanting to be a criticizer. I love being a criticizer. I consider myself to be a great criticizer. When I say I like to watch, I mean I like to calmly observe what happens instead of getting so emotionally involved that it dulls my appreciation of what’s happening. When I calmly observe, I am able to more fully understand the game’s events and what’s behind them, which allows me to be a better criticizer.

Steve from Saint Charles, MO

Why does Pro Bowl voting and decision-making end before the season does? This cheapens the entire process. The Pro Bowl game is already a joke, and not content with that, they make the entire voting process unfair. What are they thinking?

As Coach McCarthy said on Wednesday, something has to be done about the Pro Bowl. In my opinion, the whole thing is a mess. The voting is a mess, the game is a mess and we’ve reached the point that if it’s not fixed, it’s going to reflect badly on the NFL brand. The NFL is a Tiffany league. The Pro Bowl is not a Tiffany game. The first thing that has to be done, in my opinion, is that fan voting must be limited to the skilled positions, which is to say positions that can be evaluated with the use of statistics. Asking fans to vote for offensive linemen is absurd.

Bart from Sanibel, FL

Doesn't it seem a little ironic, Vic, that the week Cobb shows his tremendous value on special teams by making one of the headier plays you're ever likely to see is the week there is suddenly talk about whether or not he should even play on special teams anymore?

It was inevitable that the first time he sustained an injury on a special teams play, the issue of whether or not he should play special teams became a media event. It hits the fans’ hot button and lights the “visits” and “views” lamp. The bottom line is that returning kicks is a big part of Cobb’s job description and value. If you subtract him from the return game, you lose your edge in the return game. I guess his returns could be limited, to lessen the chance of injury, but I don’t think he should stop returning kicks entirely. He’s too valuable to the Packers in that role to sacrifice.

Mike from North Haven, CT

If you were starting a team tomorrow, who would you take at the four premium positions you so often speak about?

QB—Aaron Rodgers, LT—Joe Staley, DE—Jason Pierre-Paul or Rush-backer—Clay Matthews, CB—Darrelle Revis.

Josh from Phoenix, AZ

I found it interesting that Jeff Saturday was voted to the Pro Bowl but he was benched in favor of Evan Dietrich-Smith. What gives?

Jeff Saturday has been a top center in this league for a long time, and that’s why he was voted to the Pro Bowl. Name recognition is the big thing for an offensive linemen being selected to the Pro Bowl. It’s a tough thing to acquire, but it also has a half life.

Mark from Escondido, CA

Around the Pro Bowl announcements and game, you always hear about how people think it’s pointless and I tend to agree for the most part. Winning championships is the bottom line of the NFL. It’s easy to see why players would not play like it was a real game. What can be done to improve the Pro Bowl?

Another game, a real football game, needs to take its place. I would favor the Senior Bowl being the centerpiece game of a Pro Bowl weekend in which the players elected to the Pro Bowl squads would appear and be recognized as the stars of their respective conferences. The Senior Bowl is a real game and a real competition of young men turning the page on their amateur careers and debuting as professionals. The NFLPA and ESPN are partnering on a competing type game and I don’t want to see the Senior Bowl lose any of its luster. It’s been a good game for a long time and I think making it the centerpiece game of the Pro Bowl weekend would protect the Senior Bowl’s future.

Harry from Rochester, NY

What are your thoughts on your interview with Bob Costas?

I’m appreciative that he took the time to do something for packers.com and Packers fans. He clearly has a lot of respect for the Packers and a fondness for the team’s fans, its history and Lambeau Field. He spoke on a variety of subjects and I think his comments are salient and thought-provoking.

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