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Bears not the same team they were in Week 1

Packers-Seahawks not a rivalry? Tell me that in January


Trevor from Venice, CA

How much time do players spend in the weight room during the season?

It's part of their daily routine.

Robert from Aiken, SC

We used to have Thanksgiving at my granny's house when I was a kid. About 20 of us jammed around a table that fit eight. Once you sat, you stayed until the meal was over, especially if you sat on the back side, or you could crawl under, but good luck with that. Any best memories, Vic?

I was watching the 1962 Packers-Lions game. My father said, "OK, let's go." It was time to go to my aunt's for Thanksgiving dinner. I said, "I wanna watch the game." He gave me a cold stare. "Get in the car!" he yelled. The holidays always bring out the best in us.

Gregory from Saint Helens, OR

Vic, can you explain how a defensive player's stance, hand-on-the-ground versus stand up, is such a significant difference?

It's about pad level. Some players need to play with leverage; they're usually the power rushers. Other players like to use their feet in space. Whatever it takes.

Bill from Newnan, GA

Cobb will help "lead this team to its destiny." Way to invoke chills! You may have subtly calmed the nerves of many fans with that.

I was just trying to capture the spirit of the thing.

Troy from Milwaukee, WI

Just a reminder as we are chortling: The Vikings control their own destiny every bit as much as the Packers do. John Fox is building a good team in Chicago, the Lions are after that and already got a win in Wisconsin, and then a healthy and resurgent Cowboys team comes to Lambeau. It's going to be a fun rest of the season.

Thanks, we needed that.

Brett from Jacksonville Beach, FL

Vic, are the Bears a threat now? I didn't get that feeling in September.

The Bears team that opened the season lost its first three games by a combined 59 points. Since then, they've lost three games by a combined eight points, one of them in overtime. Frankly, I thought they outplayed Denver last week. This is a very different Bears team from the one the Packers faced in Week 1. First of all, Jay Cutler is playing more efficiently. He's bought into John Fox's mentality for defense first. The one part of the Bears game that's lagging is its run defense, and that's the part Fox emphasizes the most. He said in his conference call on Tuesday he expects the Packers to test the Bears' run defense, so, in trying to get a feel for this game, start with the Packers' run vs. the Bears run defense. Are the Bears a threat to win this game? Absolutely, they are.

Ryan from Seattle, WA

Vic, when is the best time of the day to send you a question?

This isn't a good time.

Dave from West Allis, WI

Vic, I used to like reading your responses to fan questions. It was informative and interesting, even if I didn't agree with all your opinions. Lately, though, you've been moody and lashing out at fans. You must remember, we are fans and not reporters who have been covering games since the mid-20th century. We have completely different mindsets. We are fans, not reporters. Please be considerate in your responses to innocent questions. Now, go ahead and give me a short, snarky, remark about how skewed my perception is.

Wait, I'll get my violin.

Steve from Harshaw, WI

Vic, what made you choose Packers-Seahawks as a bigger rivalry than Packers-Vikings?

The Packers and Seahawks have in recent years played two of the most emotionally charged games I've ever covered, leading us to a Week 2 game this year for which Packers fans were bloodthirsty for revenge. That's not a rivalry? For the record, they don't like you, either. Trust me. I've been there. It's not one-sided.

Robbie from Dublin, Ireland

On a blocked punt, can the kicking team gather the ball and run with it if the defending team's only contact with the ball was the block?

Not until the ball has crossed the line of scrimmage and has been touched by a member of the receiving team. Here's a question for you: Why is it a good idea to try a walk-off field goal attempt on third down?

Matt from Lancaster, CA

Vic, the forecast for Thursday's game is looking like a wet, windy, cold mess. Which team do you believe that benefits more?

It favors the team best-suited to play in those conditions. If the Packers were hosting a dome team, I'd say it favors the Packers, but the Bears are accustomed to playing in the same miserable conditions, so I'll answer your question this way: The conditions will favor the team that can run the ball. Eddie Lacy's return to form couldn't have come at a better time. I never doubted his return. We just needed to be patient. All good things come to those who wait.

Vincent from Seattle, WA

Vic, Packers-Seahawks NFL top five rivalry? Surely you jest. I think you're seeing if we are paying attention. Packers might not play Seattle again for 2-3 years. Hardly counts as a rivalry.

Surely, I'm not jesting. I fully expect the two teams will play for a second time this season. I expect that to happen because I believe in fate. The football gods won't allow this season to go by without another Packers-Seahawks drama.

Dan from South Range, WI

Hall of Fame semifinalists announced. Do you think Tony Boselli gets in? Would he be the first Jaguar to do so?

Yes, he'd be the first. I think it'll come down to Tony or Fred Taylor, not both. I sent Tony a congratulations text last night when I heard the news. He is, by far, the best tackle I've ever covered. I think he was every bit the pass blocker Anthony Munoz was, which means Tony might be tied with Munoz for the title of best pass blocker ever. Tony's issue is the briefness of his career. Can an offensive lineman make it into the Hall of Fame on a 91-game career? The fact he's made it to the semifinals with only 91 games under his belt says everything about the regard for him. If I was on the Hall of Fame selection committee, I would speak in Tony's behalf and I would use other short careers – Gale Sayers and Lynn Swann – to make my point. I'm close to some guys on the committee and I'm going to campaign in Tony's behalf, as I will for Fred Taylor.

Ben from De Pere, WI

Vic, can you explain what the term Okie end means? I've never heard it before.

It refers to a two-gapping defensive end in a 3-4 defense, which is known as the Oklahoma; that's where it was invented.

Scott from Lincoln City, OR

Vic, what feeling are you getting for the Thanksgiving game?

It'll be a tough, hard-fought, down-to-the-wire thriller.

Maximillian from Sydney, Australia

Vic, do the Packers win if Lacy rushes for 100 yards this week?

Let me turn that around a little bit: I don't think the Packers win if either Eddie Lacy or James Starks doesn't rush for 100 yards, or the two don't total 150 yards rushing combined. I think the Packers need to run the ball to win this game. It was cold but dry in Minnesota. This is going to be the first true weather game of the season. In my opinion, it'll be decided by turnovers and control of the line of scrimmage.

Dustin from West Bend, WI

Eddie Lacy seems to do a lot better with a fullback leading the charge, so why don't the Packers use them more? They have two of them.

Put the fullback in, take a receiver out, add one more defender in the box to block. If it works, do it, but it's not about numbers, it's about matchups. Is your fullback blocking their extra defender in the box a better matchup than your extra receiver against the pass defender that would be assigned to cover him? It's all about matchups, and they vary from game to game. Don't scheme schemes, scheme personnel.

Isaac from Nashville, TN

Vic, you recently referred to a mania for zone-blocking in the running game. I had no idea zone-blocking had taken over. Do you have a theory on why that is?

Offensive linemen that can move laterally are often better pass blockers than drive blockers are.

Jon from Cedar Rapids, IA

Vic, Packers and Seahawks? Everyone knows the greatest rivalry is Packers and 49ers when Harbaugh was the coach. Is the cold affecting you?

He's not the coach anymore and I didn't feel the same tingle when I covered this year's game in Santa Clara. I don't think that rivalry is coming back soon. Rivalries are about right now. History and tradition add to a rivalry when it's hot in the present, otherwise, it's a rivalry committed to memory. The most intense rivalry I've ever witnessed, by far, was the Steelers-Raiders unholy wars. It was vicious and it was real, but they didn't face each other for a few years, the personnel changed and the rivalry was dead. The Packers and Seahawks are about now. I can see the Packers hosting the Seahawks in January. Does that make you swallow hard? If it does, then you get it.

Kari from Appleton, WI

Who all have worn the number 48 on the Packers and also who wore 39?

The list would be too long to do both. Here's 48: Clarke Hinkle, Frank Butler, Ookie Miller, Harry Jacunski, Don Perkins, Bob Nussbaumer, Ted Cook, Ace Loomis, Jim Psaltis, Al Carmichael, Dick Pesonen, Dave Hathcock, Ken Ellis, Nate Simpson, Lee Morris, Mike Bartrum, Jim Kitts, Vonta Leach. After Hinkle, the names don't exactly roll off the tongue. Are you looking for somebody who hit your car?

Paul from Wauwatosa, WI

What are the differences we can expect to see on the Bears' team come Thursday night? They've been playing very competitive ball for the last six weeks or so.

You can expect to see a team playing for its collective and individual futures. Those guys know they're being evaluated for how they might fit into the reconstruction of the Bears' roster. If they want to continue to play for the Bears, they have to play the John Fox way. There is no greater motivator than job insecurity.

J.J. from West Allis, WI

Vic, they were looking for you. Who? The squirrels. They think you're nuts.

They should've thrown a coat over it and hit it with a hammer.

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