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Great QBs aren't afraid of crunch time

Who'll replace Sam Barrington?


Don from Torrington, CT

Vic, what's the mood of the team? Any extra juice because it's Seattle, or is it just business as usual?

Seattle? I thought the Packers were playing Tampa Bay this week. You know what I mean? The revenge thing doesn't work; players just don't think that way. They're focused on one thing and one thing only: doing their job. As long as they do their job, they'll have one. Beating Seattle is meaningless to a player if he didn't do his job. Any postgame victory celebration begins with a player's joy for having done his job. Fans see the big picture. They feel hurt and they want revenge. It's OK to be a fan.

Trevor from Uijeongbu, South Korea

Thoroughly enjoyed this win! Aaron Rodgers looked like he was having fun and toying with the defense a bit. Did you see any offensive struggles worth noting?

No. I'm sure I'd find them if I looked hard enough, but I'm of the belief if it doesn't jump out at me, it's not worthy of worry. Nothing jumped out at me. They ran it, they threw it, they protected the quarterback. If you're looking for more than that, you're going to be disappointed nearly every week.

Paul from De Pere, WI

How much harder will making the playoffs be with two preferred starters lost for the season? Where is the tipping point for the Packers?

Quarterback is the tipping point. As long as he's healthy, you're healthy.

Nathanael from Prague, Czech Republic

Vic, if you appreciate the change of the game, then why does it make you sad offenses have figured out passing the football is more productive? Love your column over tea time.

If by appreciate you mean enjoy, who said I enjoy the change of the game? I hate the change of the game. I love run-the-ball football. I miss the days of offensive lines firing out low, hard and in unison. I love road-grader football. I love to see an offense impose its will with the running game. I don't care how many defenders are in the box, block it. Don't take what they give you, take what you want. Run it down their throats. Break their spirit and bow their heads. Now you got me all fired up and wanting to get into a time machine. Don't do that again.

David from Maribor, Slovenia

Marcus Mariota doesn't appear at all in the fourth-quarter passer ratings list. Isn't it better to have a QB who puts the game away in three quarters than having to rely on clutch-time heroics?

You're afraid of crunch time, aren't you? You'll never be my quarterback. I want a guy who invites crunch time, instead of trying to avoid it. That put it away in three quarters stuff is for wimps. Mariota doesn't appear in the fourth-quarter passer ratings because he didn't throw enough passes to qualify, and that's because the Titans were protecting a big lead. If you can count on that happening every week, go for it, but you can't count on that happening every week. What you can expect is having to make plays at crunch time in your pursuit of a championship, and if you have a quarterback that plays the smallest when the stakes are the biggest, you have no chance. When the fourth quarter started on Sunday, with the Packers holding the ball, I knew the game was over.

Tom from New York, NY

No worries here! I expect a thorough victory this Sunday night over the Seahawks. This game will be totally dominated by the Packers on both sides of the ball. Seattle will leave Lambeau with a bit more than just a bruised ego.

I'm expecting something more competitive than that. I'm expecting the Seahawks to come in here with their jaw set and their game plan committed to running the ball and winning the battle of the hitting. I'm expecting a Packers defense committed to that challenge, and a quarterback basking in the opportunity to put on a show for a national TV audience. I've never seen Aaron Rodgers shy away from the bright lights. All the great quarterbacks like the bright lights.

Nick from Long Beach, CA

With Sam Barrington out for the year, does signing Desmond Bishop make sense?

I'm not a scout. I don't know where Bishop is physically or mentally. I'm getting a lot of Bishop and Brandon Spikes in my inbox. I understand why fans turn to recognizable names, but it would make more sense to me for a team in need of a linebacker to turn to its own practice squad or to another team's practice squad and find a young, healthy "lion" whose arrow is pointing up. James Jones was an exception to the rule. He was a guy still in the game, which meant he had passed physicals and was in shape to play right away, and he was only a year removed from having played within your offense. The loss of Barrington is a challenge. The Packers personnel department will deal with it. It's what personnel departments do.

Tom from Camarillo, CA

I wasn't surprised to see all of the Debbie Downers complain about the run defense, but did no one see the transformation McCarthy brought to special teams? Not only the excellent returns by Montgomery, but the boring fundamentals of blocking were much improved in the return game. Granted it's only one game, but McCarthy is flat out a phenomenal coach. We are blessed to have him.

He promised a better running game in 2013, a better defense in '14 and improved special teams this year. Those are the facts and if a head coach gets all the blame, it's only fair he should also get all the credit, too.

Scott from Advance, NC

Mama Lynch wants Seattle's play-caller fired. Dallas gives up a draft pick for a WR. What do you believe Ted Thompson's take on this would be?

I don't know, but I'll tell you what I'd do if I was Darrell Bevell. I'd send Marshawn Lynch's mother flowers with this note: Please forgive me. Sometimes a good laugh is all we need.

Tom from Sydney, Australia

Vic, what defines an exotic blitz? You always hear certain coaches associated with exotic blitzes, while everyone (including Dom Capers) blitzes with players other than linebackers. Is it just to do with the number of moving parts?

I can't think of a more exotic blitz than rushing a defensive back and dropping a nose tackle into pass coverage. It's called a zone blitz and Coach Capers is one of its creators. A coach on that old Philadelphia Stars staff told me a guy named John Rosenberg created the zone blitz when he was on Joe Paterno's staff at Penn State. Penn State used it in that famous Fiesta Bowl national championship game against Miami, in which Penn State intercepted Vinny Testaverde five times. Rosenberg was on the Stars staff under Jim Mora in 1983. The following year, Coach Capers and Vic Fangio joined that staff. The belief is Rosenberg planted the seeds of his invention in Mora.

Jon from Bloomfield, NJ

I think goal-line stands are the best way for a defense to forge an identity. If they get another one in the fourth quarter this week, they might really start rolling.

They can steel a defense. They can give a defense belief in its toughness.

Neil from Milwaukee, WI

With Barrington out, do you expect to see more of Jake Ryan and Nate Palmer inside? Or might we see some use of Perry and Elliott inside?

I expect to see Palmer and Ryan replace Barrington. Nick Perry has the body for it. Jayrone Elliott has the length you usually don't associate with inside guys.

Ben from La Crosse, WI

Vic, I love reading through all of the articles from before heading to bed every night. I was just wondering if you could offer a little insight on the relationship between you and Spofford. Friends outside of work? Any good-natured ribbing going on? Competition for hits on the articles you write? Keep up the good work, both of you. It's appreciated.

We have different perspectives on football and sportswriting, but they mesh beautifully. I wouldn't change anything. The "Final Thoughts" videos we do are a perfect example of the give and take between us. Let's take a trip down memory lane.

Ryan from Abilene, TX

I get it, we lost Jordy. But that doesn't eliminate our deep ball threat? Remember the Week 17 touchdown to Cobb that sent us to the playoffs? Or how about Davante Adams and his work with Rodgers in jump balls? There are things to clean up. I'm excited for Seattle. Get loud, Packer nation. We've been waiting for this.

Somebody will emerge, but leave that for later. Let's focus on now. This is the game everybody targeted. You wanted it; here it is. Don't worry; just win, baby.

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