Skip to main content
Powered by

'December' begins on Sunday

Here's where I stand on play-calling issue


Josh from Kansas City, MO

Vic, can you explain your thoughts on why the play-calling duties don't need to go back to Coach McCarthy? Everyone from the fan base, myself included, to Troy Aikman and Joe Buck, thinks it should.

I've never expressed an opinion on this subject one way or the other. Why? Because I'm not a plays guy. Here are the facts, as I see them: 1) The plays Tom Clements called in Sunday's games are Mike McCarthy's plays from Coach McCarthy's playbook. 2) The same plays Clements called are the same plays Coach McCarthy would've called. 3) The plays that were called did not come as a surprise to Coach McCarthy. He and Coach Clements spent last week deciding what plays would be run in the game against the Lions, and they likely determined the order in which they would be called, meaning how one play and its formation would massage another play and its formation. Also, Coach McCarthy is in constant communication with Coach Clements and can hear in his headset the play-calls being made. Anybody that doesn't think Coach McCarthy "called" those plays on Sunday doesn't understand how game preparation is conducted. So, I don't think the play-calling is at the root of the Packers' problem, therefore, I see no reason to change the play-caller. However, if this is a confidence issue among the players, if they need to know Coach McCarthy is calling the plays for the players to get their mojo back, then I'm all for making a change. I would also say I don't believe that's the case and I doubt any player would admit to something as fragile as that.

Mutt from Blaine, MN

Vic, I don't like how the Lions got to change their mind on the penalty after seeing Mike McCarthy would go for it. According to TV, the rule states once you make a decision, that is final, but the refs often allow coaches to change their minds. How do you reconcile the rules on this one?

That's not what Mike Pereira said. He said in the old days the captain would decide and that would be that, but in recent times it hasn't been called that way. He said nothing about what the rules state. It happened in a Packers game in 2013 in Cincinnati. Marvin Lewis changed his mind. The same option is available to Coach McCarthy.

Darren from Hull, UK

Vic, we need to move on quickly from Detroit. I'm more concerned how we stop Adrian Peterson. Your thoughts?

First of all, whether we move on or not isn't going to impact the Packers. They've already moved on. They moved on yesterday. I've moved on because "December" begins on Sunday and I want to fully enjoy it. Should the Packers win on Sunday, they will be in control of the division and their own destiny. Should they lose, they'll be two back with six games to play and I'll begin looking harder at the wild-card race. Whether or not the fans move on is a personal decision as to how much they wish to continue their suffering. I prefer joy, and the big, late-season games give me great joy. This is why I lift all those weights.

Sal from Chandler, AZ

Vic, you've been talking about the Vikings all year and how we need to look out for them and, as always, you were right again. What can we expect from this division matchup and what is it going to take for the Packers to come out with a win in another tough road game?

We can expect the Vikings to begin running the ball as the Packers start getting off the bus on Sunday. The Packers need to stop the run and throw the ball. Yes, I saw this coming. I saw it coming in the second meeting between the two teams last year. It was easy to see the Vikings had bought into Mike Zimmer's program. He had them playing Zimmer ball late last season. The Vikings have the unmistakable look of an AFC North team.

Dominic from Colgate, WI

Vic, I was at the Lions game. Most of us were not booing the Packers but the officials. One of the worst officiated games I've seen in person. It's not the reason for the loss but it was getting out of control with the poor play from everyone on the field.

I was hoping the Packers receivers would stop complaining about every little bump and grab. It was only serving to increase the team's frustration, and the crowd was feeding off it, which made it worse. It was, in my opinion, becoming a distraction and another obstacle to overcome. If that's the way the officials were going to call the game, then deal with it and play that way.

Robb from Merrimack, NH

Vic, I read McCarthy saying they felt good in practice, yet, in the game the offense looked flat. How does that happen? Not practice the right thing? Wrong personnel to practice it properly?

Games aren't practice.

Lukas from Rosenheim, Germany

My question is about the inability to get home with a sack for the third consecutive game. After such a hot start in knocking opponents' quarterbacks down, why is our defense unable to do this anymore?

It's because Clay Matthews is getting caught up in the wash. Moving him to inside linebacker changed the course of last season. It was Dom Capers genius. I hope Coach Capers finds new genius so he can move Matthews back to the outside, because Matthews is the guy that makes the Packers' pass rush happen, and it's becoming more difficult for him to do that.

Josip from Zagreb, Croatia

Vic, Coach McCarthy was telling us the Packers are chasing the game, and you don't chase the game of football, you let the game come to you. I don't understand what he meant with that statement. Can you please help?

He means they're pushing too hard, and it's causing the team to be out of rhythm and out of sorts. They need to play at an even and coordinated pace. Desperation can cause a lineman to lunge at a block, which can cause a whiff and a free runner. Anxiety can cause a receiver to look for the ball too soon and tip the route to the defender, allowing him to jump the route. Wanting to do too much can cause a quarterback to try to catch the ball for the receiver, which means to put the ball in an uncontested place. All of a sudden, his throws look off target. It's time for R-E-L-A-X, but nobody is saying it because the confidence to say it is lacking. Here's how you get it back: Win! First comes winning, then comes confidence. At some point in a game, and it may happen on Sunday, the Packers will face a win-or-lose moment. When they make the play that wins, all will be well in the garden again.

Donavon from Beaumont, TX

It's still all right there in front of them. It's time to get a few things ironed out and get after it. I'm sure that's somewhat simplistic, but I have faith in these players and coaches.

What's the option? Quit? If that helps fans cope with their despair, go ahead and do it, but it's not my way. We have reached my season, and I'm going to enjoy every minute of it.

Adam from Winona, MN

These past few losses have been tough mainly because they have been self-inflicted. Things like giving up a big play on third-and-3, when everyone knows an in-route is coming! Or dropping yet another pass, when it could've gone for 50, meanwhile, you're paid millions to catch a ball.

First of all, I've covered this game for 44 years, and I didn't know an in-route was coming. Of course, I don't play Madden, so what do I know about football? As for dropping a pass, I have never known a player's receiving skills to improve according to his pay grade. I heartily recommend you view football without feeling a sense of entitlement.

Ron from Mills River, NC

I think fans will support when a team has energy. I was at the Panthers game and I was really let down and embarrassed by the (Packers') performance. They looked lazy. No coaching on sidelines, while the Panthers coaches were. Do you think something is going on behind the scenes? Hope it gets right.

There's a lot going on behind the scenes. Coaches are working feverishly to fix what's wrong. They accept it's their responsibility to fix it. Coach McCarthy acknowledged as much on Monday. "Coaching wise, we have to get it out of our players," he said. Today is game-plan day. This is an 18-hour day for these guys, and I suspect a lot of them will toss and turn with their decisions in what sleep they get tonight. Tomorrow morning, Coach McCarthy will present the game plan to the team. At that point, the plan is locked. What happens on the sideline on Sunday is a result of what's decided today and announced to the team tomorrow. Personally, I like a calm sideline. When I see coaches jumping around on the sideline, I sense panic, and so do the players. This team needs for its passing game to be revived. It has long been this team's calling card; it has long led the way, and it must do that again. For that to happen, it needs a big-play receiver to emerge. Aaron Rodgers needs a go-to guy he can trust to make a play. That player will emerge. Maybe it'll happen this Sunday.

Theo from Olympia, WA

I feel uncomfortable disparaging this team in terms of its abilities, as I couldn't hold a candle to most of them in terms of what they do. But as a fan, I think not enough was done to address what happened in the playoffs last year, and what was done makes less and less sense.

You're no different than everyone else. You're trying to find something to blame. Blame the play-calling, blame the officials, blame Ditka for wearing that sweater, blame Milwaukee, blame 3:52. I'll tell you what to blame: Blame football, because what the Packers are experiencing isn't anything new, it's the game of football. It's not only the ebb and flow of a season, it's the ebb and flow of the life cycle of a football team. Jordy Nelson is injured. A new Jordy Nelson needs to emerge. That's not the whole problem, but it's an example of the circumstances that impact the life cycle of a football team.

David from Prophetstown, IL

Vic, I went back and looked at the schedule to see how I was feeling at this point last year. The Packers were 5-3 at the bye. They then went on to win seven of their last eight games.

It can happen, but it doesn't mean it will happen. Embrace the suspense. Enjoy the thrill it provides.

Cassidy from Carlsbad, CA

I think this stretch of losses is particularly concerning because Aaron Rodgers, the otherwise unflappable bedrock of this team, seems to be struggling in ways that are somewhat unprecedented for him. Have you any stories of great players going through similar slumps?

This was an annual occurrence for Terry Bradshaw. It was in his DNA to rise and fall like the cake your mother had in the oven that would surely fall if you jumped around. I remember one particular year, 1981, when Bradshaw played a horrible game in Seattle. He had been in a little bit of a slump and now it was at DEFCON 1. The big question Chuck Noll faced after the game was would he bench his four-time Super Bowl-champion quarterback and replace him with Cliff Stoudt? Fortunately, the Steelers got fogged in and spent the night in Seattle, causing Stoudt to go out on the town and break his right hand punching a meter bag in a country western bar. The next week, Bradshaw threw five touchdown passes in Atlanta. Rodgers has been the most consistent quarterback I've ever covered. This is a slump: 2,270 yards, 21 touchdowns, three interceptions and a 103.4 passer rating? He spoiled us.

Andy from Tomahawk, WI

Mike Spofford had a great article about the missed opportunities that were there to be had. I saw the same thing, which eases my worry quite a bit. The plays are there, the opportunities are there. I just hope they can find them and utilize them before it's too late.

A great pass is a failure if it isn't caught.

Andy from Manitowoc, WI

Were you dreading opening your inbox after the Detroit game, knowing how bad most of us fans reacted to losing against two good teams on the road and now the dagger of losing to a subpar team at Lambeau?


This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.