Paul from Silver City, NM
Sunday is getting colder, Vic.
As I wrote on Wednesday, this is a developing story. According to today’s updated forecast, Sunday’s game will be played in below zero temperatures.
Erik from Stockholm, Sweden
Please explain the thing about winning the time of possession because I don’t get it. The Packers had 25 first downs vs. the Bears’ 17. The Packers scored .43 points per offensive play vs. the Bears .57 points per offensive play. So we won the time of possession because we let the Bears score on fewer plays?
The Packers won time of possession which forced the Bears to score on fewer plays. How many points would they have scored if they had run more plays? The whole idea of winning time of possession is to limit your opponent’s potential for scoring. I think it’s critical that the Packers win or at least come close to matching the 49ers in time of possession. In the opener this year, the 49ers had the ball 17 minutes and 10 seconds longer than the Packers did. That is an absurd TOP advantage. It’s amazing the Packers came close to winning the game. The Packers didn’t have the running game then that they have now. I believe the Packers will do a much better job with TOP in this game, and that’s one of the things on which I’m basing my belief that the Packers will win this game. I’m counting on three things: 1.) An improved running game that’ll help the Packers win or at least level TOP. 2.)
Preston from Meyer, WI
Vic, do you think the Green Bay Packers would have a better defense with the 4-3?
Alan from Sheboygan, WI
My friend and I are going to be going to our first game on Sunday. I think we made a good choice.
I think you are going to attend a game history will record prominently.
Craig from Rio Rancho, NM
The front seven is my biggest concern going into this game. If they can get off their blocks and neutralize San Francisco’s running game, the Packers have a good chance of winning. Who needs to step up more, the line or the linebacking corps?
They work in concert with each other. In a 3-4, the job of the defensive linemen is to hold the point of attack. They are to absorb blocks and allow the linebackers to run through their assigned gaps to the ball. That’s what’s meant by “run fits.” When you “fit it up” so that everybody is doing their job, all of the gaps are sealed and there’s nowhere to run. What’s happening to the Packers in the run game, as I see it, is that too often linemen aren’t holding the point of attack. They are being moved and that’s allowing gaps to be widened and that’s causing missed tackles in spaces that are bigger than they should be. It begins with holding the point. The defensive linemen must refuse to be moved.
Derek from South Point, OH
Do you have any explanation or theories as to why a few of the games are slow in selling out?
This isn’t new stuff. It’s a result of uncertainty. In many cases, heading into the final week of the season we’re not sure who the teams will be and where and when the games will be played. The league can’t commit to a schedule, for obvious reasons, and it’s difficult for fans to commit to uncertainty. Hey, fans need to have schedules, too. They’ve got families and budgets that need to be considered. So, all of a sudden their favorite team scores a dramatic touchdown with 38 seconds to play in the final game of the season, and their team is hosting a playoff game seven days later and it has 40,000 tickets to sell. That’s a lot of tickets to move in the four days to the TV blackout deadline. Again, this is nothing new, it’s just become especially prominent this year because it involves the Packers, whose fans have long trumpeted their passion for the game and the team’s bulging waiting list for tickets. If the league considers this situation to be an embarrassment, then it needs to do something about it because as long as procedures are as they are, it’s going to happen again and again.
Billy from Brookfield, WI
I was reading some of the head coaching hires around the league and I saw the phrase “best coach available.” In your opinion, who is currently the best coach available?
All assistant coaches are available and their ranks are swollen with deserving candidates. Mike Holmgren and Mike McCarthy came out of the assistant ranks. If you’re looking for a big name, however, then I think Jon Gruden is your guy. He has a charm about him, a personality and an allure that can flip your team’s arrow with one hire. I think he’s perfect for a team that needs to create a buzz and sell tickets.
Aaron from Fort Wayne, IN
Vic, I seem to remember you saying Kaepernick’s problem was that he has a long, baseball-like throwing motion and that he doesn’t look off safeties. I believe you said this was what defensive coordinators figured out and began to key on. Is this still a problem for him? Has he fixed this or learned to overcome it?
It’s a problem nearly all young quarterbacks have to overcome. Terry Bradshaw never fixed it, he just overcame it with an arm that could throw the ball faster than safeties could run. At the end of his career, he proudly proclaimed to me, “I’ve never once looked off a safety.” I didn’t understand at first what he was saying, then I figured it out: He was proud to say his arm was so strong and accurate that he didn’t have to look off safeties. The game has changed since then. Coverages are more sophisticated. Pass offense depends much more on route adjustments. Even the most strong-armed quarterbacks in the game today need to avoid staring down receivers. Colin Kaepernick is developing into a premier passer. He has a 91.6 passer rating. Looking off defenders is an especially big thing for him, in my opinion, because he has a delivery that gives defenders an extended look at the ball. He takes the ball back as though he’s pitching darts. I’ve watched him in recent games and I continue to be impressed by his arm strength and accuracy. The rest will come in time.
Adam from Hillsboro, KS
I listened to Coach Harbaugh’s phone interview with the media. He has so much edge to him and it works for him and his team.
I feel the same way.
Hunter from Richmond, VA
I was listening to Mike McCarthy’s conference call with the 49ers media. He dropped the “players, not plays” line.
I’ve never known a coach who believes in plays, not players.
Carl from Wisconsin Rapids, WI
I was watching the Fiesta Bowl and it was 52-35 in favor of UCF when an announcer talked about Baylor’s offense underperforming in the game. Since when is 35 points underperforming? It made me wonder what you would think of that comment since you favor low-scoring games.
I watched the Rose Bowl and I was entertained. The other games didn’t hold my interest. I am a college football addict and that’ll never change, but college football isn’t what it was when New Year’s Day was the biggest day of the year in my life and I was sad when the day ended because I wanted more and there would be no more until next Sept. When I went to bed last night, I did not want more. Football was once the college game. Now, it’s the pro game.
Bret from Oconto Falls, WI
Vic, I was in the Packers Pro shop a few years ago when Joe Buck was buying Packers gear with his daughter. I did not bother him for an autograph but his daughter seemed to be a Packers fan. Maybe Joe is a closet Packers fan. It might be some insight into the critics of him disliking the Packers.
Maybe Joe’s impartial.
Nathan from Denver, CO
The 49ers seem to be built to play with the lead. How do you get a lead and make them play catch up?
I don’t think it’s realistic to think you can get a lead big enough to force the 49ers out of their run-the-ball game plan. They are committed to running the ball. It’s how they play and they will not be deterred. In my opinion, you beat the 49ers by having the ball last and needing a score to win. That’s my game plan for the Packers.
Susie from Two Rivers, WI
The ticket situation concerns me a little. Reading some posts at blog sites, I see plans for 49ers fans tailgating in the parking lot. I was surprised reading some of the states and how far people were driving. They were shocked at the ticket prices (low) and the amounts available. I’m shocked people are willing to drive far in this weather. It will be interesting to see how much red is in the stands on Sunday. I think people assume a Cali team wouldn’t be well-represented in the dead of winter. It bugs me when season ticket holders turn tickets in to be sold.
I’m calling you out, Susie. I’ll put two in your hands for Sunday.
Griffin from West Bend, WI
Do you believe it’s an injustice that a 10-win Arizona team is kept out of the playoffs over an eight-win team just because they didn’t win their division, which happens to be the best in the NFL?
Yeah, it’s an injustice. Life’s tough. Hey, football is a microcosm of life, right?
Chris from Indianapolis, IN
After watching “Lombardi: A Football Life,” it was clear he excelled at coaching because he sacrificed his personal life and worked his players to death. Will we ever see a coach like Lombardi, particularly with different practice rules?
Never again. Neither the culture nor the circumstances will allow it. Players of today would file a grievance against Lombardi. The salary cap of today would force Lombardi to gut his team. The parity of today would prevent the kind of run the Packers of the ’60s enjoyed. Lombardi would win in today’s game because he would find a way around all of the obstacles modern-day coaches face, but he wouldn’t win as he did in the ’60s. This franchise was blessed by fate to have brought Lombardi to Green Bay at just the right time.
Wayne from Seoul, Korea
Kaepernick’s hands are 9 1/8 inches, about one-inch smaller than Rodgers’. Do you think this gives us an advantage with the weather forecast for bitter cold?
That’s average size. Maybe that’s why Kaepernick uses a one-piece throwing motion. I’ll take the guy with the bigger hands.
Richard from Davis, CA
Win or lose on Sunday, from the highs to the lows to the highs, this season has been a great run, hasn’t it?
It’s been fantastic and I expect it to continue.