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Ask Vic

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What's with Brandon Marshall's comments?

Posted Dec 13, 2012

Which team will have the 'edge' when the Packers and Bears meet in Soldier Field?

Alec from Rush City, MN

Vic, the commissioner would consider changing the playoff format to 16 teams. I think this is a horrible idea. The NFL is so wrong to even think of this. This would mean teams with losing records would make the playoffs. I think this does nothing for the NFL but lose fans due to lack of importance for the regular season. Your thoughts?

We did a point-counterpoint on this. I forget what side I had but I remember writing that we can count on this happening. It will happen; the playoff field will be expanded. History tells us that. When I started covering the NFL, there were only eight teams in the postseason, the six division winners and one wild card from each conference. TV wants big games. It wants games it can sell and games that’ll hold the audience. TV gets what it wants.

P.J. from Edmonton, AB

On the network telecast last week, McCarthy made a comment that last year’s “fast break” offense often put the Packers defense at a disadvantage. Was he saying that by putting up so many points, most opposing teams were passing more and that was exposing our defense to more big plays?

Here’s what I say: The more you score, the more you force your opponent to score. If you open up your playbook, he’ll open up his. Today’s game is all about having a lead in the fourth quarter and being able to protect it. The idea of burying your opponent under an avalanche of points early in the game and coasting to victory is ridiculous. It might work for you against weaker opponents in the regular season, but it won’t work for you in the postseason, so why try to establish that as your style of play? Demand that your team get it done at crunch time. That’s the style of play that wins in the postseason. What I’m describing is a well-rounded approach to the game that uses offense, defense and special teams to complement each other. When you do that, you’re playing as a team, and that’s what wins. Air-Raid offense is for stat boys. I want championships.

Aaron from Spooner, WI

Teams get hot this time of year, like the Packers and Giants the last two seasons. With the return of Clay Matthews and the chance to wrap up the division on the line Sunday, I see a newly found run game and a big win that could light the fire for the Packers, and they will only get better with the return of other key players.

If you’re saying a win in Chicago on Sunday would define the Packers as being a hot team late in the season, then I agree.

Tanner from LeRoy, IL

I found this on the Bears website. We already knew this, so the stats just confirm it: “Since joining the Bears, Jay Cutler is 1-6 versus the Packers, completing 54.4 percent of his passes for 1,647 yards with eight touchdowns, 16 interceptions and a 58.9 passer rating.” Considering the Bears are just as (if not more) banged up as we are, do you see anything that would cause concern for us?

Yes. They hate us.

Jon from Anaheim, CA

Chris Kluwe has me convinced Ray Guy deserves to be in the Hall of Fame as the best player ever at his position. Since football is a team sport and every aspect, including special teams, is necessary to win games, I say put him in there. What do you think?

I don’t favor kickers and punters being inducted into the Hall of Fame. I would favor an exhibit that acknowledges their dramatic contributions to the game, but there are far too many great defensive players excluded from the Hall of Fame for me to support kickers and punters being inducted. In the end, it comes down to electing one player over another player. Do you honestly believe there’s a kicker or punter that deserves to be in the Hall of Fame more than, say, Jerry Kramer?

Mack from Green Bay, WI

ESPN did a poll for the top five players to wear the number 12. Who are your top five players to wear the number 12?

Aaron Rodgers, Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach, Tom Brady and Joe Namath. That’s 11 Super Bowl titles.

Dale from Kettering, OH

They've joked about it for years, but we may be headed there: How about the runback ends when a defender gets two hands on the returner?

Please, don’t ever do that again, or I’ll have to ban you.

Jake from Stevens Point, WI

Vic, regarding the whole kickoff situation, I was just wondering what if the blockers had to line up closer to each other? That might reduce injury.

I like the way you think. I have been saying for years we are approaching this the wrong way. Opening the field isn’t the way to reduce the fearful injury, the frightening high-speed collision. Don’t open the field, compress the field. Bring the players in closer contact with each other. I favor the return of bump and run. I favor all defenders being within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage at the snap of the ball, which would restore the advantage offense would lose with the return of bump and run. I understand the people in the league office have done exhaustive research on player safety, and I respect that, but I think we’re approaching this from the wrong direction. All of the problems we’re experiencing today are the result of opening the field and the playbook. Let’s tighten down both and start over. The first order of business has to be to eliminate the dangerous high-speed collision, but it must not be at the cost of eliminating key elements of the game.

Lowell from Tuscola, IL

Is there any benefit to a team to waive someone on injured reserve, other than paperwork and an empty locker?

The first benefit is that if you release that player when he’s healthy, you no longer have to pay him. All teams have a 90-man roster, and all players on injured reserve count toward that 90-man limit. If you have too many players on IR, you’d have to start deducting from your practice squad or 53-man.

Jace from Fond du Lac, WI

Do you think there’s a bright side to DuJuan Harris? He looked great in the few carries he got. Do you expect him to see more of the field?

I expect Harris to get more playing time and I can think of one big upside he offers the Packers: He’s the kind of back that can really help a quarterback sell play-action. Harris is a burst guy. He’s a quick-hitter, a runner that can hit a crease or a crack and get into the second level in a hurry. That’s the kind of back a defense fears the most. That’s the kind of back that really makes a defense respect the run, and when a defense becomes that conscious of a runner, all the quarterback has to do is slide the ball into the back’s midsection for a second to make the defense think run, not rush. If what we saw of Harris on Sunday is the real thing, he’s going to make safeties peek into the backfield, and that’s the second part of play-action that works for an offense.

Chris from Knoxville, IL

So, by the amount of complaining Marshall has been doing, you can tell it’s Bears-Packers this week. Do you think he is so sore because he gets double covered or is it that he writes checks he can’t cash?

He’s trying to create an edge in his team’s attitude. Football is an edge game. I think it’s a smart thing to do, but not every player on the team can do it. With Brian Urlacher out, Brandon Marshall might be the only player that can do what he’s trying to do.

Matt from Bremerton, WA

I read an article about Brandon Marshall. In it he called Dom Capers the Packers’ MVP, in an apparent attempt to disrespect our secondary. I guess he's not calling for Capers to be replaced.

I can’t wait to interview Coach Capers for the story I’ll post on Friday afternoon. I love gamesmanship.

Timothy from Cliffside Park, NJ

Do you agree the Bears without Brian Urlacher and possibly without Tim Jennings are significantly diminished in the number of defensive schemes they can implement, especially if the Packers go no huddle?

Yeah, but I don’t see the Bears as a scheme team. They’re a classic double-high safety defense that denies the big play and forces an offense to go long distances in several plays. Playing without Urlacher isn’t about scheme, it’s about a loss of identity. He’s their heart-and-soul player and they lost a lot of their edge and personality when they lost him. Jennings is their playmaker, just as Clay Matthews is the Packers’ playmaker. When you lose your playmaker, you’ve lost the most important ingredient to any and every scheme in your playbook.

Dan from Irvine, CA

“OK, tell me the last time the Packers lost a game when they went into protect-the-lead mode on offense.” The Indy game. The Cedric Benson injury is no excuse.

Protect the lead mode? The first four plays of the second half were pass, scramble, pass, interception. Following a Colts touchdown that cut the Packers’ lead to 21-10, the next four plays were pass, sacked, scramble, punt. The Colts then drove for a field goal and the game was on. Maybe you misunderstood the question.

John from Boston, MA

Vic, have you ever tried a Bloody Mary with a brat as a garnish?

I don’t like mixed drinks.

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