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I'm counting on fate to provide Thanksgiving Day drama

You have to have blitzers to execute blitz schemes


WR James Jones had a 65-yard TD reception in Detriot on Thanksgiving in 2011.

Andrea from Fennimore, WI

Vic, I'm making a four-hour drive to Lambeau Field today for a conference on dairy cattle nutrition, of all things. Mark Murphy is our featured speaker this afternoon. Got a good question I could ask him?

Ask him about dairy cattle safety.

Ryan from Menomonie, WI

The Bills are questioning the fairness of the NFL scheduling. That seems to go right along with the changing culture we are seeing. What do you think the old-time owners would be thinking of this issue?

Chuck Noll was fond of saying, "We don't always like the cards we're dealt, but we never complain about them." Did the league's schedule maker intentionally schedule the Bills to play all of those teams coming off byes? Not at first, but when he saw a trend developing, he probably smiled and put some more on there. Why? Because the NFL schedule maker has always made a point of scheduling adversity. The schedule maker has always had an "evil" side to him. Open in San Francisco? Do you think the schedule maker saw how obsessed the Packers had become with that playoff loss and decided to hit the Packers in the face with a pie on opening day? I can pick the schedule of any team in the league and find the schedule maker's fingerprints on it. Baltimore opened the season at Denver and will close the season at Cincinnati. You think that's just a coincidence? Kansas City opened the season at Jacksonville, in a matchup of the last season's two worst teams. Coincidence? Somewhere in every team's schedule, they are going to be challenged by the schedule maker. It might be a big game on a short week. I've long believed the schedule maker lands harder on the good teams and softer on the bad teams, almost as though he's trying to help them, but at some point in the season the schedule maker challenges all teams. The schedule maker likes drama. He probably knew the Bills would complain about what he did, and he likes it.

John from Port Edwards, WI

You're loving this week; huge game, coaches you admire?

I'm absolutely loving this week, and I'll love next week even more. As we head toward the finish line, the games get bigger and the storylines get better. I live for this time of the year. The few times in my career that I've covered teams out of it heading into December have been memorable for the loss I've felt. I genuinely felt as though I had lost my best friend. His name is drama and he has been my Nov.-Jan. friend for a long time.


Tom Coughlin

Kurt from Woodland Park, CO

I can't wait to smell the snow, too.

We won't be smelling any snow in New York this weekend. Temperatures are expected to be near 60 degrees. Tom Coughlin's face is safe.

Josh from Monroe, WI

Speaking of the Steelers and bad cheese, have you been introduced to Limburger, yet? The stuff is putrid. Monroe is the only city in the U.S. that produces it. You may have also heard about our high school mascot, the Cheesemakers.

They should change it to the Stinkers. My grandfather ate Limburger and washed it down with buttermilk. He would've loved Monroe.

Evan from Costa Mesa, CA

Vic, these days, every time a reporter is interviewing players, they all tend to give variations of the same answer. It feels almost pointless to even read or watch locker room sessions anymore because I can pretty much recite guys' responses verbatim as soon as I hear the questions. Is this just a consequence of the 24/7 sports media coverage we have nowadays, or have things always been this way?

It's a product of the army of sound-bite media that descend on locker rooms, especially on Wednesdays and after games. Most players have run to the safety of, "I just want to contribute." It's kind of sad but it's understandable because the last thing a player wants to do is get caught on camera saying the wrong thing. It's still possible for a print-type guy to develop a relationship with players that goes deeper than stock answers, but it's becoming more difficult all the time. In the real old days, the print guys far outnumbered the sound-bite media. Every print guy seemed to have his guy, and it was understood that this player belonged to that reporter and that player belonged to this reporter. We had little trysts and though they were a little on the unethical side, they provided us with scoops that justified the preferential treatment we afforded those players. Those days are gone.

Sam from Madison, WI

Vic, I don't appreciate all the jabs at us fans that didn't understand the illegal touching play. It wasn't that I couldn't understand the rule, it's that I had no idea the ball even touched Hyde before he saved it from the end zone. FOX did a terrible job of showing and clarifying that the ball hit Hyde around the 16, so forgive me for wondering why a play I've seen dozens of times couldn't all of a sudden be illegal.

I didn't know Hyde touched the ball at the 16. It didn't matter that it hit him because he was unable to control the ball when he scooped it back from the end zone, and that's when the Eagles player saw an opportunity to use the first-touching rule to his advantage. He touched it and was unable to control it, and then the ball went into the end zone where the Packers fell on it. At that point, I didn't understand why the ball wasn't coming out to the 20.

Scott from Ozark, MO

Vic, this is a test as to whether you read all the emails. If you do, write the word "win" as the last word of the column.

I won't do it. I'm gonna keep you guessing.

Patrick from Sandson, VA

Should Coach Capers work on fundamental tackling? What I saw last Sunday was horrendous. Open-field tackling was non-existent.

Mike McCarthy said the team was tackling well when he decided to include some tackling drills in the team's practices a few weeks ago. Since then, the tackling has been bad. Vic to Coach McCarthy: Stop practicing tackling.

Salman from Sioux Falls, SD

Vic, will Aaron Rodgers play on Thanksgiving vs. the Lions?

My instincts tell me Rodgers will be under center for that game. Somehow, some way I see the Packers heading into that game no more than one game behind the Lions. I almost feel as though the schedule maker knew that when he scheduled that game. I knew the old schedule maker. His name is Val Pinchbeck and he was a master at creating good theater. I once asked him if he was clairvoyant, and he smiled. Val was a great guy and he loved it when a plan came together. The Packers at Lions on Thanksgiving Day has to be part of fate's plan to give us holiday drama. I trust fate to keep the Packers within a game of the Lions heading into that game. That's part one. Part two is Rodgers' return.

Matt from Green Bay, WI

Why is Dom Capers so afraid to blitz?


Kevin Greene

I don't know that he is, but I can certainly understand why he would be afraid to blitz. He's missing his blitzers. You can sack the quarterback with scheme if you have guys that can execute the scheme, but where are those players right now? Capers' defenses have always been built on the sack. When he was in New Orleans, it was Pat Swilling and Rickey Jackson. When he was in Pittsburgh, it was Kevin Greene, Greg Lloyd, Levon Kirkland and Chad Brown. When he was in Carolina, it was Greene and Lamar Lathon. When he was in Jacksonville, it was Tony Brackens and Kevin Hardy. When he came to Green Bay, Clay Matthews was thrust into that role. Those were his best defenses and they always had premier pass rushers. For much of this season, the Packers have been without Matthews and Nick Perry. The Packers have found other ways to sack the quarterback, but Matthews and Perry are the blitzers that would allow Capers to scheme teams. Without those guys, you have to play it straight because the price to pay for not getting home is too great.

Cale from Brillion, WI

Vic, I couldn't help but notice that since Monday, the question on asking whether or not the Packers would make the playoffs changed dramatically from no to maybe to yes. Did you notice the same sway of optimism in your inbox from Monday to today?

It's always that way as the week turns toward the next game. It's a result of the triumph of the human spirit. It will not let us quit on our hopes and dreams.

Nelson from Madison, WI

This is not directed toward the Packers because I firmly believe they will make the playoffs but, is there anything stopping a team from purposely losing when their season is lost to get a higher pick in the draft?

There is no rule that prohibits a team from tanking the season, but if I was the owner of a team and knew I was in rebuilding and I could position my team to draft a centerpiece player such as Andrew Luck, who would give me a decade or more of contending for championships, I'd gut the roster and let the cards fall where they may. Is it tanking? Not in my mind, as long as your players play hard. Is it stacking the deck? Yeah. Just win, baby.

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