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Good time to appreciate Peprah's play


Mike from Bridgeport, CT

Vicbow, you say your inbox yesterday was that of an 0-8 team's fan base. Well, you're missing out on a real treat of an inbox in Jacksonville. Just imagine what your inbox would be like if the Packers had 98 points in eight games, were 2-6 at the bye and the fairways are covered in snow.

Fairway? What's a fairway?

Ben from Harrisonburg, VA

Does every NFL coach do as many press conferences as Mike McCarthy? If so, how long has it been the standard for coaches to speak to the media so often?

It's always been that way. A head coach is the voice of the franchise. He sets the tone. What he says is the message the franchise wants to convey to its fans and expects its players to embrace. Most coaches speak to the media in a formal setting these days, as compared to when I began covering the NFL. Back then, we had a sit-down with the head coach on "Review Mondays," and then he did a stand up with us each day at the end of practice. Coach McCarthy speaks to the media from the podium. That's how the Packers want it to be done. No matter how it's done, it's done by every coach in the league. It's part of a coach's job description that he be able to communicate his message to the media.

Tom from Belmont, MA

I know, defensive football has a big element of instinct and aggressiveness. If you take that away from the players, you get cold, rational decisions and, most likely, worse play. That being said, shouldn't Peprah have sat down on that last pick?

As soon as he started running, I thought of a former Chargers defensive back Marlon McCree. Had he just sat down after an interception in a playoff game on that field against New England, maybe the Chargers would've won the Super Bowl. Yeah, I think the smart play is to go down and turn the game over to the offense and its victory formation.

Eric from Fort Atkinson, WI

Did it surprise you that the Chargers had to use the silent count for a home game because the Packers fans were making so much noise, and have you ever witnessed any other games with the same type of scenario as yesterday?

Again, yes, I have, but not often and I congratulate Packers fans for their passion and support. I was down on the field for the final minutes and I noticed that not only were Packers fans howling, so were Chargers fans. I think the Packers fans caused that. I think they created a kind of frenzy that rubbed off on Chargers fans so that Philip Rivers and the Chargers offense were playing in a road-like environment. Again, congratulations to those Packers fans in attendance on Sunday. Your contribution to the Packers' victory is not to be ignored.

Jakob from Wiesbaden Hessen, Germany

What is the difference between last year's defense and this year's?


Brett from Kaukauna, WI

Vic, at what point do the Packers take a chance on Vic So'oto and D.J. Smith and get A.J. Hawk off the field?

At what point do the Packers succumb to wild desperation? Certainly not at 8-0.

Andy from Menomonie, WI

Defenses don't win championships, Aaron Rodgers does.

You're right. You gotta have "The Man." This is a quarterback's league. If you doubt that, then consider this: The Packers and Patriots are 31 and 32 in defense, and they are postseason favorites. You win with offense these days.

Terry from Regina, Canada

I really enjoy your column and look forward to reading it every day. I know the defense has been surrendering more yards and points than they would like but, if anyone can solve this, I put my money on Dom Capers. Do you have any idea what the timetable is for Mike Neal's return?

I have covered Dom Capers defenses for a long time, and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that whatever problems exist on this Packers defense, they will get fixed in time for the postseason. That is my promise to you. If I am wrong, then blame me at season's end for having misled you. The plan is for Neal to begin practicing this week.

Todd from Marion, OH

Why does Clay Matthews line up on the left side? Every team has their best pass-rusher on the right side.

How did that work for Matthews last year? All of a sudden, the plan is no good? I was covering the Steelers in 1993 when they signed an unrestricted free agent from the Los Angeles Rams. He had a good start to his career but then became miscast as a defensive end and the sacks stopped. Coach Capers re-cast that player, used him just as he's using Matthews, and the player went on to have a career that has made him a Hall of Fame candidate. That player is now a linebackers coach for the Packers. Ask Kevin Greene about Coach Capers' plan.

Andrea from Robecco Sul Naviglio, Italia

This may be a silly question but I'm going to try asking it to you anyway. Why do football players almost always throw the shoulder to tackle a player, instead of using their arms also?

Because knees have a way of finding ribs when the arms are extended and the ribs are exposed. The tuck and jolt technique is tackler-friendly.

Daniel from Houston, TX

I keep hoping to see Morgan Burnett attempt to intercept the ball with his club. In your 70-plus years of covering the NFL, have you ever seen anything like that?

Seventy-plus years; oh, that's really funny. Now that I've stopped laughing, yes, I remember Larry Wilson having casts on both arms and hands and intercepting a pass that way. Of course, that's when players were smaller and slower, so I guess that doesn't count, because everything back then was inferior to now, right?

Jamie from Rushden, England

Looking back, do you think the Packers should have paid out and re-signed Cullen Jenkins? Would this have not helped the Packers pass-rush?

Defensive linemen aren't prominently used in a pass-rush capacity in a 3-4 defense. They are used in a hold-the-point role and linebackers are used prominently in a pass-rush role. Jenkins is a good player but, as I've said several times, in the salary cap era you have to be willing to let players leave and force yourself to replace them with new, young talent. Why? Because your salary cap and salary structure are sacrosanct. If you lose control of them, you're gonna go away for a while. I always focus on the big picture, and that means doing what's right for the long-term future of your team and franchise. Take care of the future and the future will take care of the present.

Josh from Okabena, MN

First and foremost, love your column, Vic, and keep up the good work. Is the loss of Nick Collins becoming more apparent as we see more and more big plays being given up due to blown assignments by our safeties?

Apparently, there was a lack of communication on Sunday that resulted in blown coverages. Would that not have happened if Collins was playing? I don't know. He played the first two games of the season and the Packers allowed a lot of yardage in those games, right? I think this is a bad week to not appreciate what Collins' replacement, Charlie Peprah, contributed to the Packers' most recent win.

Tony from Monona, WI

What does it mean when a running back is said to be running "downhill?"

It means his pads are down, his knees are up and he's in full flight.

Rick from Mercersburg, PA

Not to sound like a spoiled fan, but what is wrong with our defense? The San Diego game really highlighted problems to me; no pressure, lack of discipline or communication on the backside, etc.

Read the stories Mike Spofford and I did from the past two days; all of the problems on defense are detailed, beginning with Charles Woodson's postgame comments through Mike McCarthy's and Dom Capers' comments on Monday. They put it all out there for you; lack of a consistent pass-rush and miscommunication or lack of communication in pass-coverage are the big ones. I think Coach Capers also made a rather humble admission in the story I did on him. "They give you a lot of shifting and motion, which requires a lot of communication. Norv Turner is one of the better play-callers in the league," Coach Capers said. In other words, the Packers got schemed a little bit. All of what was said the past two days is a strong example of accountability. It's players and coaches pointing the finger at themselves. You want that. That's how problems get fixed.

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