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Do you favor win now, lose later?

Panthers deserving of respect for their dominance


Benjamin from Roscoe, IL

Vic, I am having trouble filling this void of Packerless Sundays. Two years in a row, the way the season has ended has been very tough to swallow. What do I do?

You're suffering from footballitis. It's a disease that afflicts people who've become singular in their interests. Seriously, it's a problem because fans suffering from footballitis become so intense about football they're unable to enjoy it in its proper perspective, which causes them to not only overreact to every loss, but to overreact to every failed play. It's only been one Packerless Sunday. You need to create greater depth to your existence or the offseason will be torture.

Joe from Waukesha, WI

So what does it tell you when the team that beat Green Bay gets thoroughly embarrassed, as the Cardinals did yesterday?

It tells me the Panthers are one heckuva football team and very deserving of the NFC title they've won. They had a 22-point lead on the Packers in the fourth quarter of that game, they had a 31-0 lead on the Seahawks (the Panthers won in Seattle, too), and when the score hit 17-0 in yesterday's game, I think we all knew the Cardinals were in for a long day. All hail the NFC champions, a 17-1 team that appears headed for 18-1 and the Super Bowl title, and probably should've won the only game they lost.

Jeff from Farmington, UT

Every sportswriter thinks their team was one player away.

I get your point, but I think it genuinely applies in the Packers' case. The loss of Jordy Nelson created a ripple effect on offense. I didn't see it coming. I underestimated the impact of his injury when it occurred.

Kenn from Upper Marlboro, MD

Vic, I continue to see way too much credence given to the idea the Packers are wasting Aaron Rodgers by falling short of a championship again this year. How would you articulate to people how shortsighted and ultimately fruitless that brand of thinking tends to be?

It belongs to fans that want to spend a lot of money in free agency. They want to load up on now before it becomes then. It's a philosophy that's counter to everything in which I believe. My philosophy is to take care of the future and the future will take care of the present. Also, if the Packers were to load up on free agents and win it all in 2016, causing a salary cap crunch and roster-age problem that would cause the team to go dormant a few years down the road, those same fans will curse the decline, instead of accepting it as an inevitable result of trading tomorrow for today.

Karl from Santa Fe, NM

Vic, care to rate your December (and January) friend(s)? For me, December was more pain and January showed flashes and promise.

Two Hail-Mary touchdowns, a playoff win, a playoff overtime thriller and a division title game showdown on the final day of the season at Lambeau Field? It was a wonderful ride.

Todd from Holley, NY

You predicted moving back the line for the PAT attempt would have consequences we couldn't predict. Certainly we'd not have thought it could have a major impact on which teams play in the Super Bowl. Gostkowski missed his first PAT in nearly 10 years, forcing the Patriots to go for two points to tie, which failed. It was a game with entertaining defensive play and great drama. Just the way I like it.

A missed PAT kick may decide this season's Super Bowl champion. What a rule change! It seemed so harmless.

Jake from Grinnell, IA

Vic, someone asked you about maybe trading for Jimmy Graham, but with the way Ted Thompson does things, I feel a more realistic possibility could be Antonio Gates. What do you think? To me, he still has it.

Well, we're off and running in the race to Nutsville. Do you really want to trade for a 35-year-old tight end with chronic foot problems? Please, tell me this is a joke.

Chris from Cary, NC

Earlier this season, you said you welcomed a Packers-Panthers NFC title game in Charlotte. I agreed, but the way the Panthers have played this postseason, I'm not sure the Packers, or anyone else, would have had much success.

The Panthers have earned my respect. Back when the Packers played in Charlotte, I came away thinking the Panthers might not be as good as their record. I don't feel that way now.

Ted from Mankato, MN

Vic, I know GM Ted likes to pick the best player available, but which position do you think is the Packers' biggest need to fill in this draft?

Ultimately, the position that'll suffer a run of injuries is the position of greatest need but, of course, we can't predict which position that'll be. If you had asked this question to me last year at this time, and I had answered with wide receiver, what do you think my inbox's reaction would've been? You're an idiot, Vic, right? As it stands right now, I think inside linebacker is a position of strong need, especially given Coach McCarthy's wish to return Clay Matthews to outside linebacker.

Duncan from Logan, UT

What did you think about the games on Sunday? I thought the Arizona-Carolina game would be much closer, not a total blowout. I also didn't expect the Patriots to lose to Denver.

I thought the Panthers overwhelmed the Cardinals with big-play energy. The Patriots lost because their tackles couldn't block the Broncos' edge rushers.

Keith from Truro, Nova Scotia

I don't understand how they can call a player reaching in the air with the football over the goal line a touchdown. That is almost impossible to stop. In my mind, if your body is not touching over the line, or the ball hasn't touched the ground over the line, any other situation shouldn't be a touchdown. Your thoughts?

I kind of like that idea. A touchdown shouldn't be cheap. There's something about jump and reach that's weak.

Dan from New Berlin, WI

I wish you were still pumping gas in the cold, Vic.

I was pumping gas yesterday and the sun was so bright I had to go back into the car and get my sunglasses.

Curt from Locust Grove, GA

Remember when everyone was ready to fire Ron Rivera?

What are they saying in New England today? "How could Belichick go into that game with those two tackles? Why didn't he have a plan for that? This loss is on him." Coaches understand the mania. They accept it as part of their profession. They get fired for their losses, and then another team hires them for their wins. The howl of the wolf is mighty.

Richard from Farmington Hills, MI

You wrote that we needed one more takeaway. Well, we had one but, unlike 2010, Sam Shields dropped it in the fourth quarter. It occurred to me that our last three playoff losses have something in common. Hyde dropped the fourth-quarter interception in 2013 against San Francisco at Lambeau, and Burnett failed to return his interception last year. In all three cases, the Packers likely win if those plays are made. It just shows what a fine line there often is between winning and losing a playoff game.

How would three more playoff wins look on Mike McCarthy's coaching record?

Ryan from Miami, FL

Well, the Panthers demolish the Cardinals. Is it bad I was happy to see the Cardinals suffer such a humiliating loss? Am I off base to believe the Packers would have performed far better than that?

I don't know the answer to your second question, but sour grapes is the answer to your first one. Don't do the sour-grapes thing. The Cardinals merely did to the Packers what the Packers were trying to do to the Cardinals.

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