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Ask Vic

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What can Flynn tell the Seahawks?

Posted Sep 19, 2012

James from Chicago, IL

After Week 1, I read a story about whether the Colts regret drafting Luck instead of Griffin. After one bad quarter, I heard a TV report on whether or not Peyton Manning was done. Headlines based on such limited body of work seem ridiculous to me. Is there now such a glut of media outlets, reporters and sports news consumers that anything can be spun into something resembling a story?

Yes. That’s why it’s important to be discriminating in selecting the outlets and the reporters you read. If you want to be teased and titillated, there are outlets that will do that for you. If you prefer a more measured approach, that type of responsible reporting still exists. It’s your choice. You don’t have to subject yourself to that which irritates you.

Moses from Boyd, WI

In reply to the excessive celebration, is it just me or does anyone else dislike when teams are way behind and get a score and have a big touchdown dance? To me it should be about the win, not personal stats.

The one I most dislike is the post-sack celebration while trailing by several points. What did Herman Edwards say? You play to win the game. He didn’t say you play to celebrate your individual success.

Austin from Shell Rock, IA

In your opinion, what has led to or are the main reasons Aaron Rodgers has gotten off to what I consider a slow start?

It’s only slow by his standards but, yes, there are reasons that have contributed to it: 1.) The San Francisco 49ers. 2.) Dropped passes. 3.) Failure to convert third-and-1 on three occasions against the Bears, which robbed Rodgers and the Packers offense of at least nine more plays in that game. I’m not concerned about a slow start because the goal is to finish fast.

Eric from Jacksonville, FL

When I was younger, I remember the “You Make the Call” commercials on TV. It really made me pay attention as a kid to what the penalty might be. I’m curious as to why the NFL got rid of them and hope they come back.

That was before replay review. If they ran those commercials today, the referee would have to go under the hood and review the call, and that would take too much time. Or maybe not. Maybe after the call is made, the referee could announce that the play is under review, and then the next time they break for a commercial, the referee would announce, “After further review,” and give his final ruling. Perfect!

Jacob from Portland, OR

Which game would have you more entertained, a score of 14-10 or 36-35 at the start of the fourth quarter?

I prefer an orderly game, so I would probably enjoy the 14-10 game more. I like a sense of attrition in a football game. I like the old-fashioned game of field position, which gives value to drives that move the ball but fail to score. They have value because they contribute to one team’s gain on the other and its steady movement toward scoring. In that kind of game, every play is important, as opposed to the regular-season finale between the Packers and Lions last season, when there were so many big plays I wasn’t sure which ones really were big. I think there’s another reason I prefer lower scoring games. When I was a young reporter, we did something called “How They Scored.” It was a play-by-play, agate-type recap of each team’s scoring drive. The ultimate in avoiding work was a one-play touchdown drive in a 7-0 game; a 36-35 game was a nightmare.

Andy from Fremont, WI

Do you ever see the NFL changing the pass-interference penalty to be more like the college penalty? I hate seeing a 50-yard pass that probably wasn't going to get caught result in a 47-yard spot foul. Aren’t 15 yards and an automatic first down good enough?

I fully appreciate what you’re saying, but if the NFL assessed pass-interference penalties as college football does, we’d see pass-interference penalties triple in number, and given every coach’s obsession with not allowing big plays, defenders would be tackling receivers every time the receiver broke deep and the defender feared he would be beaten. Pro football has become a red-zone game, so why not just commit pass interference until the ball gets into the red zone? What I want the league to do is soften its enforcement of pass interference on deep balls. In other words, the crime must justify the penalty. Just stay away from the ticky-tacky stuff on the deep balls.

Peter from Manitowoc, WI

Vic, I was watching the Falcons-Broncos game and my friend said the Falcons jumped out to a 20-0 lead because they had game-planned well for Peyton. I said they simply executed better.

The Falcons had a great scheme and they executed it. They saw in the Broncos’ game against the Steelers that Manning has lost something off his fastball. It was pretty evident and that’s why Manning was living underneath. So the Falcons adjusted their coverages accordingly. Cover three? I couldn’t believe my eyes. Cover three against Peyton Manning? That’s a college defense, yet, it worked like a charm because Manning was lacking the arm strength to beat it. In his heyday, Manning’s eyes would’ve lit up if he saw cover three. He would’ve killed that coverage, but these are different times. All three of the Falcons’ interceptions were play-the-ball-in-the-air picks. The field is going to tighten on Manning until he regains his arm strength.

Aaron from Regina, Saskatchewan

Do the QB, WR and TE get together after a game and discuss schemes, routes, dropped balls and or interceptions.

I’m going to assume they do because I remember a bus ride back from a game in Cleveland a long time ago. Bradshaw, Swann and Stallworth were sitting behind me and I remember them going through each pass play in that game on the ride home. What they didn’t know is that I was listening. The next day, I jokingly thanked Stallworth for the information.

Nick from Toronto, Ontario

I know it's only two games in, but what's been the biggest surprise to you so far in the season?

It’s the level of play of the rookie quarterbacks, especially Griffin and Luck. The days of needing five years to develop a starting quarterback are over. Expectations are immediate. I’m not sure if this means the quarterbacks are better or the position is easier to play.

Matt from Melbourne, Australia

What are your thoughts on Jermichael Finley's agent tweeting about Rodgers not being a great leader? Do you think this will have an impact on Rodgers’ relationship with Finley?

No. I think it means Aaron Rodgers is not likely to fire his agent and hire Finley’s.

Mark from Stewartville, MN

Vic, what did Steve Sabol mean to the NFL?

Steve and his father created a platform that’s as responsible for the popularity of the game as the game’s great players are, because the Sabols’ platform celebrated the performance of the game’s great players when we didn’t have the glut of media outlets we have today. When I was a kid, there was no ESPN. There wasn’t even Monday Night Football or Howard Cosell’s halftime highlights. We got a game at 1 p.m. and a game at 4 p.m. on Sunday, and that was about it. See you next Sunday. Then Ed Sabol pitched his idea to Pete Rozelle, and Rozelle’s vision embraced the idea, and Ed and his son Steve took their idea to school programs and Boy Scout meetings, etc., and we sat mesmerized as the NFL forged itself deeper into our hearts and minds. John Facenda’s voice, the music, the ball spiraling in slow motion through the autumn air, the wired-for-sound players and the pretty picture of hope the Sabols’ films painted for young fans of bad teams were joyous occasions for kids that had to create their own fun. On those days, however, our fun was created for us, and it was free. Is it any coincidence the NFL’s rise in popularity parallels the rise of NFL Films? I think not. When you create something as important and lasting as the Sabols did, you never die.

Steve from Lodi, WI

In some ways, the 49ers have given us the opportunity to watch a team from the past compete against teams from the present. It's a good way to illustrate that the players from one era aren't better than those from another.

That’s an interesting thought. I think more to the point, though, the 49ers are proving that yesterday’s schemes can succeed in today’s games if you have the players to execute those schemes. It always comes back to players.

Jeff from Tucson, AZ

Vic, regarding the kneel down, if defenses will try to disrupt it, how about a shotgun kneel down?

If you’re suggesting that the center snap the ball to a player in shotgun formation, then what you’re suggesting is a high-risk play at a time when you’re attempting to avoid risk. Don’t think too hard on this one. Something will happen that a player will become injured and the league will change the rules so that it’s not legal to do what the one player did that caused injury to the other player. This is the kind of frivolous storyline and controversy I wish we would avoid. This is going nowhere.

Jason from Austin, TX

Vic, how much do you think Matt Flynn will be able to assist Seattle in their game planning?

A lot; I’m sure the assistance has already occurred. Formations, route trees, trick plays, tendencies according to down and distance are all examples of information Flynn can provide. I think the really important stuff involves a team’s audible system.

Paul from Queretaro, Mexico

If we agree that commitment to draft picks is the formula for success in the NFL, and that teams that commit to this are consistently successful, how can we account for those two decades after the Lombardi era which were consistently unsuccessful?

Attribute them to poor drafting and lack of commitment to the process, as evidenced by the trade for John Hadl. You are what you draft. Draft good players, coach good players. It’s that simple. What’s difficult is the patience.

Trent from Bloomington, IN

Ray Nitschke is obviously one of the greatest linebackers ever, and he was a first-ballot Hall of Famer. However, he only made one Pro Bowl and two first-team All-Pros. What gives?

Chuck Bednarik and Dick Butkus.

Holger from Guayaquil, Ecuador

If teams that run the ball, stop the run, then why teams that pass the ball are not always good at stopping the pass?

Because their inability to stop the run has allowed the offense to be two-dimensional, and that leaves the defense to play with unfavorable down and distance that has them guessing between run and pass. If you can’t stop the run, you probably won’t be able to stop the pass, either. You may not even get the chance to stop the pass.

Ellis from Wausau, WI

If the two outside linebackers put their hand down in a 3-4, would that not be Bud Wilkinson’s Oklahoma defense?

Yep. It’s Wilkinson’s 52 defense, with two ends, two tackles and a nose guard, not a nose tackle. It’s what you play when you want to stop the run. Stand up the ends, move them off the line of scrimmage and call them linebackers, and you’re playing a 3-4, which is what you might do if you want to stop the pass. Those ends are really tackles and should be regarded as such. Too many fans apply the same standards to 3-4 ends that they apply to 4-3 ends.

Ben from Venray, The Netherlands

Since moving overseas, I've had to rely on packers.com for my Packers news. To my surprise, I'm much better informed about the team than most of my friends and family who still live in the States. Over the last few years, I've been able to see McCarthy give countless press conferences. As a coach, I see how hard he works at self-grading, analysis and constant improvement. As a leader of a team myself, I want to try to employ some of the same ideas but don't know where to start.

Define the goal and the steps required to achieve it, and then repeat that message often. Pep talks wear off. Players want to hear their coach say: “This is what we’re going to do and this is how we’re going to do it.”

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