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Defense on the rise at the right time

Some adjustments are spontaneous


Matthew from Glasgow, Scotland

Vic, I have been watching American football for four years now and I am still learning the game. I am curious as to how much what the coaches see in the first half affects their game plan for the second half?

They make adjustments, but so does the other team. Football is a game of constant adjustments, and they can't all be scripted. Often, adjustments are spontaneous. The perfect example of that is the fumble Clay Matthews forced in the Super Bowl. He saw something that caused him to instruct Ryan Pickett to "spill it," and it was an adjustment that changed the game. Nobody called time out to discuss making that adjustment, but was there a more critical adjustment in that game?

Nate from Minneapolis, MN

What would you say the theme of the season has been?

I would say it's extreme unpredictability.

Del from Sterling, IL

Vic, are there ever times when you feel like you're watching a completely different game than what you grew up on and began covering? For example, if a team got the ball with 40 seconds left, needing to drive 80 yards for a score, the game was essentially over. Today, that's not uncommon.

For the first 35 or so years I covered the NFL, the game evolved slowly, naturally. In the last several years, the game has metamorphosed. It's been manipulated, forced to change. There are times that it leaves me scratching my head.

Steve from Lake Stevens, WA

How close do you think the Packers are to being the kind of team that takes what it wants, or is that even possible in today's NFL?

I think the Packers have that ability. They can run it when they want to run it, and they can certainly pass it when they want to pass it. Taking what you want means you have a balanced offense.

Nick from Oakland, CA

What does an ugly locker room look and feel like?

You can see and feel apathy. Players leave early to avoid media interviews. There's a lack of interaction. The locker room feels lifeless.

Jeff from Anthem, AZ

Why has a NFL team failed in Los Angeles more than once? I keep hearing people saying there should be a team there, but why did the previous teams leave?

It's always been about stadium issues. For the last game I covered at the Coliseum, the press box was condemned and I covered the game from a temporary, outdoor press box in the end zone.

Robert from Terre Haute, IN

Vic, the Packers are 8-1 since the famous R-E-L-A-X statement by Rodgers. Do you think that statement was as much for the team as it was for the fans and the media? Looking back at the highlights from those two losses earlier this season, the team just seems much more comfortable now compared to then.

I doubt that was Aaron Rodgers' intention, but it might've sent that message to his teammates. Worried and tense doesn't work. You can't play that way and play well, and I don't think you can enjoy being a fan that way.

Forrest from Calais, VT

Is Matt Ryan "The Man" for Atlanta? I would say he is, but the team surrounding him relies too much on him.

At the combine a couple of years ago, Thomas Dimitroff talked about the Falcons needing to get younger, so I think the last couple of years have been dedicated to reshaping the roster. When that happens, you need a veteran and accomplished quarterback to keep you competitive. Ryan is doing that for the Falcons. He's been a good quarterback for a long time.

Brad from Gallatin, TN

I've read a couple of things this week referring to the veterans' presence in the locker room holding everyone accountable to their jobs. Has Coach McCarthy handed this season over to his team?

Bill Walsh said that at some point in the season, the coach has to turn the team over to the team.

Richard from Davis, CA

Does the current musical chairs approach to inside linebacker make it harder for opposing defensive coordinators to scheme against since they don't know who will be playing that position?

It probably does.

Matthew from Madison, WI

Except for this year, Rodgers has never had much of an offensive line, yet, he has always been effective because of his athleticism. He could have survived in the 1970s and still been great.

I agree, but he likely would've missed more time to injury because that was part of the game back then. It was just a different game.

Shane from Baltimore, MD

Vic, I hate how everyone bashes this defense because of the stats. We play better than the stats are. We have at least 4-5 blowout games where the defense has let up in the third and fourth quarters. This team forces turnovers and gets big stops when we need them. I see it as a top 10 defense in the league. How about you?

It's a defense on the rise at the right time of the season to be improving. That's all that matters.

Shlok from Ottawa, Canada

Vic, this is in relation to the last question from yesterday morning's column. I'd like to apologize as a Packers fan for some of the other fans that you come across. Not all of us want to yell at you and see you as being biased towards other teams or even the Packers.

I have no problem with a little playful banter. If you're going to be sharp, shouldn't you expect it? I do when I'm sharp.

Addam from Kennesaw, GA

People pretend to know all about Terry Bradshaw. Do these people not know this is what you do for a living? Why such insecurity about our quarterback?

I don't get that either. I was asked to compare two great quarterbacks. I think I did so in a manner that was respectful to both.

David from Hilliard, OH

Comparing Bradshaw to Rodgers is a joke. Bradshaw does not even come close, other than arm strength, which Rodgers still has the edge. Rodgers is way more mobile and can throw on the run. Accuracy is Rodgers', easily. I do think Rodgers would have changed NFL history in one regard if he had played QB for the Steelers instead of Bradshaw. There would have never been the Immaculate Reception play by Franco Harris. Rodgers' throw would have hit the receiver in the numbers and there wouldn't have even been a deflection. That's the difference between the two.

I would've never guessed this topic would've created such a firestorm of opinion.

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