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DuJuan Harris is off the shelf and in the game

I have a gift idea for you, if you want to get me something


Fabrizio from Fossano, Italy

Are receivers becoming cleverer or are their gloves just stickier than before? Sometimes I wonder how the league would look if they weren't allowed to wear such kind of apparel.

I call the gloves today's players wear "Lester Hayes hands." Actually, the gloves are stickier than Hayes' hands were. I don't know how someone can drop a ball wearing those gloves. The catch somebody named Durham made on Sunday is a ball Don Hutson probably wouldn't have caught. Why not? Because Hutson didn't have those kinds of gloves to wear. The gloves today's players wear are so sticky and give receivers such an immeasurable advantage in catching a ball, especially in cold weather, that I don't think it's fair to the old-timers to compare today's receivers to the great receivers of the pre-gloves era.

Jeremy from Oshkosh, WI

This season, the two-safety defense employed against the Packers has been a major topic. Why wasn't it as big of a topic last season? Was it being played against the Packers and was the offense just beating it? If so, what is different this year that the Packers can't beat it without a run game like last season?

The teams in the NFC North that had a bead on the Packers played it, but the teams on the Packers' schedule that weren't real familiar with them didn't have as much information, so they tended to try other tactics. Anytime a hot, new passing attack emerges in the league, defenses are faced with a decision: rush or cover? Usually, defensive coordinators will first choose to rush. We saw Wade Phillips make that mistake in October. It wasn't until late last season that Romeo Crennel and the Chiefs made the right decision: cover. With that, the die was cast, and teams that could rush four and cover with seven were at a huge advantage.

John from Grayslake, IL

My fiancé got mad at me because I watched the replay of the Super Bowl the Packers won in 2010 and shed a tear of happiness and I've never cried in happiness over her. What do I do to make her not upset about it?

Get a brain transplant? Just kidding.

Adam from Appleton, WI

Readers still don't understand how to beat the dreaded "cover two"? How about one smart, committed head coach, three capable running backs, seven running plays, 59 yards, one touchdown?

Good news! We don't have to worry about beating "cover two" anymore. The commissioner just outlawed it, so no more "cover two" questions, OK?

John from South Lyon, MI

Every time we get to see isolation video of Casey Hayward running with a receiver, he looks like he's running the route. Do you agree that he has the potential to be an amazing corner?

That's called "mirror technique," and the best corners are able to use it. Some have the speed to play "trail technique" and then close on the ball when it's in the air, but that's a risky way to play. I'll take the guy who can mirror. The knock on Hayward coming out of college was that he wasn't a quick-twitch guy. I haven't seen evidence of that. I never saw him have a bad practice in training camp. He's one of the steals of the draft and appears to be headed for a long career as one of the top corners in the league.

Barney from Elizabethtown, PA

Vic, I have seen small glimpses of the run game throughout the season, but Sunday was great.

Yes, it was great, but let's make sure we keep our expectations at a sensible level. That was just one game.

Koigi from Lynchburg, VA

Vic, I hope the Bears force us to run the ball. I liked what I saw. It created momentum and energy.

You can count on it. The Bears absolutely will invite the run by overplaying the pass.

Nathan from La Crosse, WI

Has McCarthy changed his running scheme? I didn't see many zone/stretch runs. Seemed like he called more power runs with guards pulling. What did you see?

I assume you're referring to when the Packers went "heavy" with the extra offensive lineman in the all-runs touchdown drive. With that strategic adjustment, the Packers had a power advantage at the point of attack, so it would make sense to go to more power-type, downhill runs. That is also a way of getting a defense out of a loaded back end. What would the Lions do? Would they bring in more big guys to match up against the Packers' size advantage? Or would they stay "light in the pants" and try to stop the run with their front four and stay loaded against the pass? More to the point, how will future opponents react when the Packers go "heavy"? It's a chess match and there are lots of ways to move the pieces around the board.

Jim from Brandon, MS

There used to be a rule on excessive sound where the quarterback would ask the referee to quiet the crowd so his team could hear the signals. You don't see that anymore. Why not?

It was hopeless. It was delaying the game and TV didn't like the potential for losing the audience during those unnatural breaks. The situation worsened with the increase in domed stadiums. The league decided it was what it was and visiting teams would have to deal with it.

Brian from Oshkosh, WI

Vic, can you tell us more about DuJuan Harris? He's obviously one of those jars on the shelf you talk about and the Packers must see some upside in him. Watching him run, I couldn't help but think of Ray Rice.

That's a good comparison. Harris was a jar on the shelf in Jacksonville last year. General Manager Gene Smith astutely identified Harris as a player of talent and upside. Interim Head Coach Mel Tucker even referred to Harris as the most improved player on the roster. Eventually, Harris came free and the Packers put him on their shelf. Identifying talent is very important, but committing to it and developing it is what rewards the scouting process.

Al from Arcadia, CA

Why didn't the Packers' success in the running game open up the passing game, as you've repeatedly suggested it would?

By the time the Packers did that, it was the fourth quarter. The touchdown they scored in that all-runs drive was the game-winner and it put the Packers in protect-the-lead mode. The real question is: What will having committed to the run do for the passing game going forward?

Margo from Bloomington, IL

The announcers remarked how many players on the Packers roster had played their entire career in Green Bay, as compared to the Lions. How do we stack up against other teams in this regard and what does this say about Ted Thompson's talent-judging ability?

I don't know, Margo.

Eric from San Mateo, CA

Vic, what's the difference between the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the NFC this year, besides the obvious home field advantage?

My instinct tells me it's the Giants. If the Packers were to win the No. 2 seed, I'll take the 49ers here in the divisional round. I like that matchup.

Dylan from State College, PA

Vic, I know it seems we're getting hot, but I'd still like to avoid the Giants in the playoffs. The other teams in the NFC seem beatable for us. What's your take?

If any of you are looking for any last-minute gift ideas for me, I have one. I'd like the Seattle Seahawks right here. I want them brought right here, with a big ribbon on their head, and I want to look them straight in the eye and I want to tell them what a cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, hopeless, heartless, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sack of stuff they are. Hallelujah! Where's the Tylenol?

Steve from Osceola, WI

Vic, who would be your vote for team MVP this year for the Packers and why?

The quarterback is always the team MVP, but if I wasn't allowed to vote for the quarterback, I'd probably vote for Randall Cobb.

Troy from Green Bay, WI

Now that Mike McCarthy has admitted to the viewing public that he has adjusted Green Bay's offense a bit this season so it wouldn't score so many points (or did he wink when he said that?), do you now believe high-scoring teams in today's pro football will usually end up giving up more points, therefore, keeping the defense on the field longer, possibly getting them worn down, disinterested, etc.?

Coach McCarthy told the media yesterday that after a careful review of last season, he wanted the Packers to be a more well-rounded team this year. I kind of addressed this issue yesterday in comparing last year's team to this year's team. I said I considered last year's team to be a one-trick pony, and I thought that was a concern going into the postseason. Stop that one trick, and you stop the Packers. I think the Packers are a more well-rounded team this season.

Darrell from Janesville, WI

How does Coach McCarthy do it? He stays so calm during the games. Very refreshing and gives a sense of confidence to the players.

When I cover a game that includes a new coach I haven't seen in action previously, I like to watch him and his sideline, to get an idea of what kind of coach is he. That was the case in 2008 when I covered the Packers at Jaguars game. I had not seen Coach McCarthy or his new quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, in person in a regular-season game before that. So I watched him. What I saw was a focused young coach whose sideline was calm and orderly, and I saw a young quarterback with an undeniable look of future stardom. I can remember writing several times in my in-game blog that Rodgers was far more mobile than I had expected, and I'm not sure if I wrote anything about Coach McCarthy, but I remember thinking to myself, "He can coach."

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