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Dark day brightened by late-game rally

Accountability is all around us


Ronnie from New York, NY

Vic, big fan of the column. My question is regarding Eddie Lacy. Do you think he (or the media) is in his head at this point? Do defenses just have him figured out or do you think we'll see a big resurgence from our bell cow after a breakout run?

First it was the ankle and now it's a groin. He's just not himself right now. His two best runs yesterday were downhill types, which means he burst into the hole instead of having to find the cutback lane in a zone-blocking play. I think finding the cutback lanes has become a little bit of an issue, too, and we talked about that during his rookie training camp. He played behind a drive-blocking Alabama line and it took him a little bit of time as a rookie to find those cutback lanes in the Packers' zone scheme. I remember observing him in that way during half-line drills in the 2013 training camp. When he found them, though, he became one of the most powerful backs in the league. Ironically, watching Alabama on Saturday night against LSU, I saw Alabama is now running a lot of zone stuff. Zone blocking is now commonplace. James Starks might be playing the best football of his life. He's giving Lacy time to get his mojo back. He'll get it back.

Steve from Flagstaff, AZ

Vic, I'm hearing from fans all over that McCarthy needs to take back the role of play-calling and Capers needs to go. Really, after two losses? But wouldn't you say the players have to be held accountable as well. The defense and offensive line have been porous lately.

Everybody is accountable. Didn't Coach McCarthy accept responsibility for the loss in Denver? Aaron Rodgers blamed himself for not making the pass to Randall Cobb on the fourth-and-4 play on Sunday. There's no lack of accountability on this team. What else can they do except give their best and then blame themselves for their best not being good enough? I think it's unfair to expect a human sacrifice; that might be going too far. Fans are frustrated, just as the players are. That's what we saw on the sideline yesterday. It was frustration. That's the problem with expectations. They create frustration when expectations aren't realized. Everybody who reads this column knows how I feel about expectations. I try to avoid them in my everyday life. I try to focus on one fundamental expectation: Try my best. At times like these, I think we need to get back to that simple expectation of this team, that it merely tries its best. Fire everyone isn't the solution. It's just a nonsensical reaction to frustration.

Jake from Westminster, CO

Vic, I shouldn't have read the comments. How do you deal with Packernation's roller coaster of hypocritical emotions?

I go to the comments section to make sure the language is fit for consumption, especially after a loss. I commend the comments section on its behavior. It's the best comments section of any type of online opinion forum in the history of the world, and that's not hyperbole. I campaigned for this type of forum right from the beginning because I believe in freedom of speech and I believe loyal readers need a place to express themselves and share thoughts and emotions, especially during tough times. I saw a couple of comments critical of me for selling hope. I don't sell hope. I preach reason. I think I have an audience that pursues reason. I don't understand how give up helps, especially when we all know those who preach hopelessness aren't about to give up. Again, it's just frustration. The frustrated attempt to relieve their frustration by transferring it to others. We'll get through this.

Don from Swaledale, IA

The poke in the eye delivered by Talib makes me sick. How childish? I no longer had the desire to watch the rest of the game.

It's an emotional game, and it can make us act ridiculously. I have never known a game that elicits raw emotion as football does. Why? Because it's a game of human confrontation.

Warren from Charlotte, NC

Vic, I watched the game at my neighborhood sports bar, which is obviously a Panthers bar. I thought you might be interested to know that from what I heard the game wouldn't have been as close if the Panthers had a halfway decent quarterback, a kicker that could make field goals, and if Ron Rivera had shown some guts on the fourth-quarter play-calling.

It's never good enough. Nobody is happy; not even when they win. I worry more about the future of fans than I do about the future of the game.

Christopher from Echo Park, CA

So, it now looks like we could be in a dogfight for the division, and maybe that's where we belong. Know what I mean?

Competition always makes us better. The fast start made it too easy. All of a sudden, we were more concerned about hard count and drawing teams offside and catching them with too many men on the field than we were about blocking them and tackling them. Well, that's passed. We're back to blocking and tackling now.

Matt from Colorado Springs, CO

Vic, based on yesterday's game, how thin is the defensive back position. I would also like to commend Randall for his level of play; nothing like being thrown into the fire.

The Packers were without Sam Shields and Quinten Rollins, and then they lost Casey Hayward. I was stunned when the Panthers came out throwing, but now I understand. Damarious Randall looks like a great pick. He nearly made a potential game-tying pick six, and he was all over that deep ball, but Cam Newton made an absolutely perfect throw.

Tom from Mount Horeb, WI

What was the difference between the first and second half yesterday? Was it the scuffle on the sidelines that got things going? Great to see that emotion.

It might've cleared the air, but I think that's more of a wish than it is reality. When the score got to 37-14 with 9:22 to play in the fourth quarter, the Panthers might've begun playing prevent, in their heads. We know how that goes. Teams lose their edge when they get a big lead. What's important is the Packers didn't quit. They played hard to the end. That's something we can use to brighten our spirits. It's a game of the heart.

Dustin from Long Beach, CA

Vic, what do you think about Cam Newton ripping down the "cheeseheads of North Carolina" sign and the fans reporting it to the police?

So that's why a few "brave" fans were beating on the side of our bus as we were stopped in traffic outside Bank of America Stadium following the game. I thought to myself, "Hey, I'm trying to write in here." Hmmm, so maybe North Carolina isn't waiting for the start of basketball season. Seriously, we've got to be careful about that thin line that separates fans from the field. When a player rips down a sign, he crosses that line and, in the process, invites fans to cross it, too. That's not a good thing.

Christopher from Los Angeles, CA

Is it fair to say, if not the wheels, certainly the hubcaps have come off the bus?

The bus engine needs a tune up. That's all.

Barry from Dublin, Ireland

Vic, would love to get your take on Jake Ryan and his increased role. Did he show promise to take a bigger inside role, in your opinion?

He made the best play by an inside linebacker other than Clay Matthews that I've seen all year. On second-and-three at the Packers 5, Jonathan Stewart ran wide left. I thought he was going to score easily, but Ryan quickly diagnosed the play and closed on it with impressive speed. He stopped Stewart for a 1-yard gain and helped force a field goal. I'd like to see more of Ryan, and I have a feeling I will.

Daniel from North Kingstown, RI

The fourth quarter was exciting to watch. I'm proud of how the Packers played. What do you take away from this game?

I'm trying to make sure I don't delude myself into believing the fourth-quarter rally makes everything better. I have concerns about the defense. It's giving up way too much yardage.

Andrea from Sofia, Bulgaria

Vic, there's no panic in me, but I'm concerned. That scuffle between defensemen, Rodgers throwing away that tablet … I like the grit they showed in the second half, but they don't look collected and confident as they were in past occasions. Do you see something different from your end?

I agree, but I don't seek FULL CONSISTENCY because there is no FULL CONSISTENCY in this league. The Colts hung 27 on the Broncos and handed them their first defeat. Antonio Brown turned in one of the great performances in NFL history, but nearly lost the game when he fumbled a punt return. If you're going to be a fan of this game and keep your cool, you must acknowledge the lack of FULL CONSISTENCY. It's kind of an inside joke long-time readers of this column understand.

Blake from Marion, IA

Will Starks start next week? He looks the part, as of late.

I don't know who'll start, but I suspect James Starks is likely to get the bulk of the carries.

John from Melton Mowbray, UK

"The Packers biggest problem on defense is they have converted a great outside linebacker into a good inside linebacker." Do you agree with what Shaun Gayle said on UK TV yesterday?

Clay Matthews left the game in Denver and on the next play the Broncos running back went up the middle untouched for a 28-yard touchdown. Did Coach Gayle mention that? I'd love to see Matthews returned to outside linebacker, because that would mean a young lion has replaced him on the inside. You can't just move people without having people to replace the guy you're moving.

Jake from Denver, CO

How do we prepare for Detroit? I have a feeling my fellow fans are looking two weeks down the road, but the Lions won't be a freebie either.

We hung onto Denver too long, and it's imperative we not do the same with Carolina. Two monks were walking down a country lane next to a babbling brook.

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