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Circumstances make it great win for Packers

James Jones difference-maker in red zone


Carl from Queensbury, NY

At what point do we come to terms with a need for a different defensive coordinator?

Yours is the first question I saw when I opened my inbox today. I had to push back from my desk and gather myself. After I did, I felt sorry for you that you could so totally miss the mark on your analysis of and lack of appreciation for what happened at Soldier Field on Sunday. What you witnessed was a masterful performance by a defensive coordinator that was without two of his starting defensive linemen and his best run-defending safety. Also, his true, run-stuffing middle linebacker re-injured his ankle early in the game. Against a Bears team determined to run the ball with one of the best backs in the league, and compounding matters by forcing the Packers into nickel by spreading the field with three and four-wide receiver sets, Dom Capers found a way to hold the Bears to 16 points (the other seven were scored after the fact). I'm sorry you missed the game.

Steve from Ramsgate, England

How is it possible for James Jones to just pick up where he left off?

He has the eye and ear of a great quarterback.

Paul from De Pere, WI

Will Morgan Burnett help shore up the run defense?

The Packers need him back. Yesterday, the Packers played a lot of two-down-linemen nickel. When you try to stop the run with two down linemen, you're counting on the linebackers and safeties to do the job. The Packers missed Burnett.

Jørgen from Trondheim, Norway

Vic, what would you look for in an elite LB and RB?

Elite players don't come off the field. They can do it all. Clay Matthews is an elite linebacker because he can stop the run and defend against the pass. He's not a two-down or one-down player. Eddie Lacy became an elite running back last season when he became a feared pass receiver. His one-handed catch yesterday is another example of how he's taken his game to another level. Lacy can pound you between the tackles or beat you catching the ball in the flat.

Mike from Saskatoon, Canada

Was Forte's lack of yardage in the second half an adjustment by the defense, the Bears needing to get points and switching to the pass, or a mix of both?

Mike McCarthy made vague reference to an adjustment the Packers made at halftime that was more about advising the players how to do it than it was about a scheme change, but I also think the Bears quit on the run in the second half. On second-and-goal at the Packers 2-yard line, the Bears threw three consecutive incompletions. I sensed some panic in the Bears' play-calling after the Packers took an eight-point lead.

Josh from Pullman, WA

Going into the game, I wasn't worried about anything. Now the game is over and I'm still not worried about anything. As you say, the Packers have "The Man" and if they keep him healthy, they're set up for another deep run at a championship.

I think that's an astute evaluation of where the Packers are after one game.

Jerry from Puyallup, WA

How much worry is in your inbox this morning? I think it was a great win but I keep hearing otherwise.

Don't listen to otherwise. It's a great win for the Packers because the circumstances surrounding yesterday's game made it a daunting challenge for the Packers. The Bears had all training camp to prepare for that game, and Vic Fangio did some very creative things on defense to give Aaron Rodgers pass-coverage looks that still kept the box loaded with run-defenders. When I first looked at the schedule last spring, I thought to myself, "Uh, oh." The schedule-maker had bad thoughts when he scheduled that game. The Packers are 1-0 in the division. It's reason to rejoice.

Tyler from Orlando, FL

So Dez Bryant doesn't play at all in the preseason and then breaks a bone in his foot in the season opener. Terrell Suggs tears his Achilles. You can sit 'em in the preseason if you want, but injuries happen.

It's football. You WILL get hurt.

Brent from Columbus AFB, MS

Vic, what did you think of the unnecessary roughness penalty on Richardson? The receiver, although on the ground, was untouched and could get up and run. Richardson did not lead with his helmet. In the game I watched growing up, that was called a tackle.

This isn't the game you watched growing up.

Harry from Rochester, NY

Vic, the Packers offense didn't skip a beat, but I didn't see one deep ball throw. Is that where Jody Nelson comes in?

Rodgers misfired on a deep ball to Randall Cobb.

Steveo from Scranton, PA

I'm sure the irony of the opening game coming down to another onside kick didn't escape you. Same exact location, with Adams in for Jordy. When the Packers recovered, it was as if the football gods said, "Turn the page, it's a new season."

I thought to myself: If only they had done that in Seattle last January.

Blaine from Elmwood, WI

How about Tony Romo? "It always comes down to the final eight minutes, and either you're comfortable with that or you're not." Can you think of any better way you've heard a pro sum up the concept of crunch time?

He's right. If you can't get it done at crunch time, don't tell me about the stats. It was as though a horn sounded in the fourth quarter at Soldier Field on Sunday. Rodgers became a better quarterback. He took his offense right down the field and scored. Jay Cutler threw three consecutive incompletions from the 2-yard line, and then threw a game-changing interception on the next drive. The tale of those two quarterbacks at crunch time is the difference in the game. If you wanna tell me about stats, tell me about the stats at crunch time.

Jonathon from Baraboo, WI

Loved the coverage, Vic. Glad to see you and your team are already in midseason form.

It was exhilarating writing my game recap and editorial as the bus weaved in and out of traffic on its way to O'Hare yesterday afternoon. I love writing a football story on a bouncing laptop as the sirens from a police escort scream at me, "Hurry up, Vic, we're almost there." We were tripled up for the short flight back to Green Bay. Writing on the plane was not an option. The stories had to be written and transmitted by the time we arrived at O'Hare. Check.

Justin from Janesville, WI

James Jones is exactly what the Packers were missing in the red zone.

It's a young man's game, but this was one of those rare occasions when the Packers needed to get older. They needed a veteran receiver that could step into the offense and contribute immediately. As I've written, Jones was a godsend for this football team. It was a no-brainer.

Ryan from Atlanta, GA

Vic, what can the Packers do to minimize Russell Wilson's impact running the ball next Sunday?

Do what they did last January, except this time finish. By the way, "Ask Vic Extra" begins at 1 p.m. CT today.

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