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Best coach at making halftime adjustments?

Here's an example of why we shouldn’t compare eras


J.D. from Palm Bay, FL

I was a little surprised by your selection of the Namath picture with his finger in the air, but that team did intrigue me. What are your thoughts on Don Maynard and Matt Snell?

Maynard was the AFL's Tommy McDonald. Snell was its Jim Brown. Snell holds a dark and mysterious grudge against the Jets. He possesses a Jim Brown-like chip on his shoulder. Brown quit football in a huff when Art Modell threatened to fine him. Snell, who some believe was the true star of Super Bowl III, has severed his relationship with the Jets. Football is an edge game played by men with an edge.

Weston from Genoa City, WI

I hate when people use fourth-quarter comebacks as the tool to measure how clutch a quarterback is. So because the quarterback does really well and gets ahead in the first three quarters he gets punished? What is a better way to measure the clutch gene in a quarterback?

You measure a quarterback's grit by what he does at crunch time. I think the fourth-quarter-comeback stat is an excellent way of measuring quarterbacks to whom it pertains. Know when to use stats.

Zak from Huntington Beach, CA

Vic, love the column; it's my daily morning respite from the doldrums of the corporate world. Do you have any memories or stories about great halftime locker room speeches, by either coaches or players?

In all the years I've covered football, I can only remember hearing of what happened at halftime in a couple of games. One was from halftime of the 1999 AFC title game. Apparently, there was a confrontation between players in the Jaguars' locker room. At the time, the Jaguars led 14-10. They didn't score another point. The other game was from when my son was a visiting locker room attendant for Jaguars games. On the way home following a Steelers-Jaguars game, my son said to me: "Dad, you know what Coach Cowher said at halftime? He said, 'This is the best team in the AFC? Go kick their (butt).'" I said, "You like that, huh?" "Yeah," he giggled. I've always believed football is best explained in terms of butts kicked.

James from New York, NY

Is it me or is your inbox getting back some of the chippiness that defined it in the early days?

My inbox has always been a place of angst. The inbox isn't changing, I'm changing. I'm new. Yesterday, I kayaked to the beach, where I observed a horseshoe crab at the edge of the high-tide surf digging into the sand to lay her eggs. A wave would wash over her and loosen the sand, and she'd dig. With each wave, she repeated the process. It was like watching an army helmet with a tail move. When I got home, I Googled "horseshoe crab" and discovered I had observed 450 million years of history. With that, I achieved perspective.

Rick from San Ramon, CA

Our culture stole the prime years from Pat Tillman and the other brave men and women, not Ali! How do we repay them for that?

With peace.

Mike from Kalamazoo, MI

"Drink and play cards." That's great! The first Monday of each month is our local FOP meeting and every time I tell my wife I'm going to a union meeting, she rolls her eyes.

Did they really believe blowing a whistle would disguise their intent? Yeah, sure, something catches fire every Tuesday at 7:30.

Jeremy from Victoria, Canada

Vic, I read a story yesterday about a sit down between Muhammad Ali, Malcom X, Sam Cooke and Jim Brown. If you could have been there, what question would you have asked?

I would've asked Cooke if, when he recorded "Frankie and Johnny," he believed he might die that way.

Cary from Sioux Falls, SD

Vic, who is the best coach you have ever seen at making halftime adjustments?

It's Mike McCarthy. What he did in Oakland last year is a prime example. Coach McCarthy is the most scheme-conscious coach I've covered. Coach Coughlin is a close second. Coach Noll is, by far, the least scheme-conscious coach I've covered. His fourth-and-4 play in Super Bowl X is the worst play-call I've ever seen.

John from St. Augustine, FL

Could you elaborate on what a "run fit" is? I have no idea what it means.

It's a defender's gap responsibility in a scheme for stopping a running play. Jack Del Rio was obsessed with everybody being in their gap. He calls it "fitting it up." Of course, you have to win your gap or "fitting it up" is meaningless.

Mike from Appleton, WI

Vic, what the heck? Bart Starr built your mailbox? What's the story?

I owned the home across the street from Bart Starr's old house. I was told I shared a mailbox with that house, which seemed odd. Why do I share a mailbox? I asked. It was explained to me that when Bart was the Packers' coach and the Packers lost, fans would knock down his mailbox, and sometimes my house's mailbox would also get knocked down. Bart felt badly about it so he had a big, brick mailbox holder constructed, and it included a mailbox divided into halves. The left half was for his mail and the right half was for my house's mail. It's a cool story, but what unappreciative slob knocks down the mailbox of the most revered player in Packers history? We're talking about the man who made the play that gave birth to the Packers franchise as we know it. You knock down his mailbox because he lost a game? That story left a mark on me.

Tony from Bronxville, NY

What would John Madden say about how Madden the game influences how people talk about actual football?

I've never heard him talk about the video game that bears his name. Is it out of respect for football?

David from New Berlin, WI

I see you don't want to tell us who the author of "Burnt!" is. Would you tell us if we were Steelers fans?

One day they'll make a movie about this column and they'll call it "Nuts!"

Tom from Phoenix, AZ

Vic, pride may be frustrating but the Packers' winning tradition has to be just as frustrating to fans and owners of other teams around the league. Football's version of "Field of Dreams" was carved out of local farmland in a village whose name most people can't pronounce. There's something to be said for historic events and success taking place in the least likely of locations. How iconic would that little shindig held on Yasgur's farm have been if it was staged in a big city?

I don't recall any mailboxes getting knocked down in "Field of Dreams." Be that as it may, I'll bet you didn't know Max Yasgur's son and grandson are Packers fans. Yep, they are. Here's how I know. A friend of mine from the league office asked me if I would give my two tickets to friends of his from New York. I said sure. "His name is Dr. Yasgur," my friend said. Hmmm, I thought. Yasgur, New York? No way. When I met them and delivered the tickets, I said, "I gotta ask. Any connection to Max Yasgur of Woodstock fame?" I was then informed I was in the company of the real Max Yasgur's son and grandson. Sometimes I feel like Forrest Gump.

Kraig from Oregon, WI

Vic, I am in disbelief of some of the negative comments you get. I am sure you do not post all of them. While I do not agree with everything you say, I do respect your opinion. I have gained a better perspective and enjoy following the Packers more than ever. Thanks for your dedication and work. Keep up the great work.


Jon from Muenster, Germany

Vic, we always talk about different-era quarterbacks. Does this apply for other positions? How do cornerbacks of today differ from those of the pre-'78 era?

Prior to the rules changes of 1978, playing cornerback was about being able to play bump-and-run coverage. Cornerbacks were more involved in run support back then and the combination of run support and bump-and-run technique required cornerbacks to be bigger and more physical than the cornerbacks of today. Following the rules changes of 1978, bump-and-run was out and mirror technique was in. All of sudden, the Mel Blounts of the game gave way to the Frank Minnifield types, which is to say smaller, quicker corners that could mirror. I don't think Blount would be as successful in today's game as he was in the pre-'78 game, and I don't think Darrelle Revis would've been as successful in the pre-'78 game as he is in today's game. I think it's a classic example of why we shouldn't compare players from different eras.

Tal from Ascot, UK

Which coach you've covered do you agree with the most in their style of football?

I'm a run-the-ball guy. So was Bill Cowher, so I'm philosophically closest in style to his. Bill has some ridiculous record for leading by 10 points after three quarters; it's something like 100-1-1. That's my kind of football: Run the ball, play defense. I'm the last dinosaur. I think Coach Cowher is an underrated strategist. I must acknowledge, however, Coach Cowher didn't win a Super Bowl until he got "The Man."

Jordan from Medford, NJ

Vic, why do you accept questions from people being rude?

If I allow them to take their anger out on me, maybe they won't take it out on someone else.

J.J. from West Allis, WI

I'm happy you post some of those really mean-spirited questions. It gives us an idea of what you read.

I think those types of questions have a sobering effect on the rest of us. Anger about something written in a sports column? Maybe I should check myself.

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