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Concern for Packers' pass-defense?


Tom from Fairborn, OH

The Packers have given up 800-plus passing yards in two games. Coaches McCarthy and Capers can't be happy. Any idea what adjustments will be made? There were some Panthers awfully wide open in that game.

There are two phases of the Packers' game for which I have no concern: pass-offense and pass-defense. Those two phases just have too much talent in them to pose any reason for long-term concern. It's early in the season. Points and yards are up all over the league. As I watched training camp practices, I marveled at the depth of talent the Packers have in their secondary. Dom Capers said on Friday that he's always felt the secondary is an area of strength for the Packers. I have no doubt it will improve as the season goes on.

Tyler from Pierre, SD

How did we allow so many passing yards? Obviously, Cam is talented, but with four sacks, three interceptions and their running game being nonexistent, how did he do it?

Eighty-one of his 432 yards came in the Panthers' final touchdown drive, when the Packers were allowing the catch and the clock to expire. Another 148 yards came in the Panthers' furious first-quarter surge which, of course, was aided by Randall Cobb's fumble. So that's 229 of the 432 yards. If the Bears throw for a lot of yards this week, I'll come on over to the concerned side, but at this point I'm not concerned. If I have a concern, it's for the prognosis on Nick Collins. You don't wanna lose him from the lineup. He's a very important man in that secondary.

Ricky from Melbourne, Australia

Looks like the NFL is getting the results it wants. Only one team (Jaguars, 16-14 over the Titans) has scored fewer than 20 points to win a game in the first two weeks of the season, as opposed to 13 at this time last season. Would you attribute this to the NFL's rules to promote the passing game? Or do you think defenses not having a full offseason have a hand in this? Either way, I get the feeling you won't like those numbers.

That's a great stat. Thank you for providing us with that information. That's a really telling stat about where the game is. I think both factors have contributed to this points explosion, along with the lack of two-a-days. That's where you build defensive toughness; you build it in two-a-days.

Leonardo from Las Vegas, NV

Do you think the officials were a little trigger happy with the roughing-the-passer calls in Sunday's game? It's understandable if the rusher deliberately hits the quarterback late, but how can they be expected to stop completely if they're going at full speed and the ball hasn't even been released for more than a second?

The officials have been ordered by the league to be trigger happy. Did you see the roughing call on John Abraham last night? He got flagged on a play in which he held the quarterback up. I laughed. Now defensive guys are getting flagged for not knocking the quarterback down. Cris Collinsworth said Abraham led with his head. I guess when scouts are looking for defensive players, they should be looking for guys without heads. I keep going back to what the commissioner said at that breakfast in Green Bay, that the league is changing the approach to the game. We all, and that includes me, have to embrace that message. The message to pass-rushers is clear: If the quarterback doesn't have the ball in his hand, don't touch him. If that means slowing up as he begins to throw the ball, then slow up; just make sure you don't touch him unless the ball is in his hand. The game has changed. The quarterback must not go down, and the quarterback must not go down hard.

John from Doylestown, OH

I'll take an 84-yard touchdown and a 14-point lead over hoping you can run the clock out any day. I hope McCarthy continues being aggressive late in games. Our passing game is our strength; put the ball in Rodgers' hands.

Here's the problem I have with that: Ninety-seven seconds later, the Packers were right back to where they started. I don't like the idea of I score, you score. I prefer you don't get the ball again.

Patrick from Hopkins, MN

Why do some players wear dark visors? Is it strictly to keep the sun out of their eyes or is it so it can't be seen where they're looking?

A player can only wear a tinted visor if he has medical need for wearing one. An eye injury or concussion is the usual reasons.

Pete from Munster, IN

The Pack is 2-0, but I feel the defense is giving up too many points. Thank God we have Aaron Rodgers.

You just described in two succinct sentences the essence of the modern game.

Josh from Harrisburg, PA

What did you see from Cam Newton?

He's a huge talent. He'll be more than a face-of-the-franchise player. He'll be a face-of-the-league player. He has a great feel for the game and he keeps his eyes downfield, which surprised me for a guy coming out of a spread offense. He looks to pass, not run. He has a big arm, but he doesn't use it unless he throws deep, and I think that's something Mike Shula is going to work on with him. There were times that Newton needed to cut it loose, but he didn't. Shula will teach him to step into his throws and cut it loose, when the need arises. At this juncture, he's a touch passer, but he's a touch passer that has the arm strength to be a rocket-launcher. That'll come with work on his mechanics. Newton is what the scouts refer to as a "New Age" quarterback. He can beat you with his arm and his legs. As time goes on, he'll use his legs less often. That's the part I like most about him. He wants to be a passer. That's the difference between Newton and the other "New Age" guys. Their first instinct is to run. Newton stays in the pocket a long time; he wants to throw.

Eric from Wausau, WI

Who's the most brilliant player you've been around?

Mike Reid. I didn't cover the team on which he played, but I covered games in which he played and I interviewed him. Reid quit football at the height of his career, when he was one of the two-best defensive tackles in the game, to become a concert pianist. Playing football wasn't enough for him. He needed a greater challenge. His mind was more important to him than his body.

Jonathan from Jacksonville, FL

Apparently three media members were kicked out of the press box of the Auburn-Clemson game for cheering too much. Has anything like this happened at a press box you were at?

No. That's funny. That reminds me of a story. I was sitting near a radio guy doing a broadcast of a high school basketball game, when he said: "In this reporter's unbiased opinion, we are getting screwed."

Nick from Watermill, NY

Why does the NFL require reporting injuries each week and why the bother with classifications of doubtful, questionable or probable?

Transparency is a good thing. It keeps cynics from accusing a team of manipulating medical information for nefarious reasons.

Lukas from Sayulita, Mexico

In regards to the kneel-down by the QB before the half, has anyone ever used that as a ploy and tricked the other team for a score? Is that even legal?

Sure it's legal. I haven't seen it happen, but I know Dan Marino once faked a spike and threw a touchdown pass – I think it was a game-winning touchdown pass – against the Jets.

Frank from Elsmere, KY

Hey, Vic, I've been a Packers fan for most of my life, but along the way I've noticed that most people either love the Packers or hate the Packers. Do you think the Packers are the most hated/loved team in the NFL?

I have never known anyone to say to me that they hate the Packers. I mean that. People hate the Steelers, the Cowboys, the Raiders, etc., but I have never heard anyone say they hate the Packers. Maybe I'll hear it this week. It's almost as though there's a rule that you can't hate the Packers.

Griffin from West Bend, WI

If offensive linemen could first use their hands to block in 1978, what were they doing before that? Use their shoulders only?

Shoulders and forearms. When the ball was snapped, offensive linemen would grab their jerseys with their hands. At the same time, they were getting hit in the head by defensive linemen, who were permitted to use a tactic known as the "head slap." Give it a try some time. Grab your shirt as someone hits you in the head. It'll give you a feel for what it was like to play pro football in the years before 1978. Oh, and by the way, if you got your hands the least little bit away from your body, it was holding, and holding was a 15-yard penalty back then.

Sam from Burlington, WI

With the passing game becoming more and more dominant in the NFL, will teams start looking harder at quarterbacks that ran spread systems in college?

Sure; they have no choice but to look at those guys. The "New Age" quarterback is upon us.

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