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It's gonna get real tense down the stretch


Linda from Clive, IA

I have been hearing a lot lately about the Packers' draft-and-develop system. Do you think more teams will start to look at this as a way to build their team rather than rely on free agency?

No, I don't, because draft-and-develop isn't something new. It's age-old and the same teams that used it ages ago are still using it, and the same teams that didn't use it ages ago still aren't using it. The difference is patience and commitment. Some teams have it and some teams don't. The Packers didn't invent draft-and-develop. What's important to note is that the two teams in last season's Super Bowl are the greatest practitioners of draft-and-develop, which raises the obvious question: Why wouldn't every team do it? The answer is that every team either doesn't have the patience to do it or can't afford to be patient because they've got tickets to sell and they have to use glitzy free-agent acquisitions to fool their fans into believing this is the year the team wins it all, because that's what it takes to sell those tickets. Smart teams have smart fans, and they both know that the best way to build a winning team that sustains its success is to slowly, surely acquire talent through the draft and develop that talent to fit into your system and play according to your philosophies. There's nothing wrong with patching in free agency, but in order to sustain success, the core of your football team must come through the draft.

Tim from Duluth, MN

I can already see the national networks comparing this Thanksgiving game to the 1962 Green Bay-Detroit game. Can a Green Bay historian briefly outline that game's effect on Lombardi and his players for the rest of that 1962 year?

I don't know that I'm a Packers historian, but I remember the game and what it did for the Packers: It refocused them on the one true goal, a championship. That's the great thing about losing a game late in the season and having your perfect season go down the drain. It clears the air. At that point, the goal becomes singular. You no longer have to worry about going undefeated and being satisfied with that achievement and needing time to rest and celebrate. Once the Packers lost in Detroit, they began a "new" season, and they tore through it, beginning with a 41-10 win over the Rams in Green Bay. I also think an undefeated record becomes a burden; it becomes something to defend and something else to worry about, and I think it dogged the Patriots in the 2007 postseason. I covered one of their playoff games that season and I didn't think they played anywhere near the level at which they had played during the regular season. In fact, if it weren't for two dropped passes, I think they would've lost that game I covered. The following week, they got lucky when they faced a Chargers team that was without LaDainian Tomlinson and was coming off a body-bag game against the Colts. The Patriots were ripe for the Giants in the Super Bowl.

Jon from Springfield, MO

On Monday, "Jaws" pointed out the position of Rodgers' lead foot, especially on quick-slant throws. Could you elaborate on this a little more?

No, I really can't. "Jaws" is an exceptional analyst and I listen when he speaks, but I also think he'd analyze a yawn if he saw it. I look at it this way: Whatever Rodgers is doing must be the right way and everybody should do it that way because nobody in this league is playing as well as Rodgers is.

William from Jacksonville, FL

The annual rite of passage for veteran "Ask Vic" readers is "Christmas Vacation," which is just around the corner. Are you getting ready, Sparky?

Oh, yeah, it's a Thanksgiving night tradition in our house, so here's my plan for Thanksgiving: Get back from Detroit in time for a fun, old-fashioned Ketchman family dinner, and then sit down and watch some idiot in a bathrobe empty a chemical toilet on my TV.

Jason from Oshkosh, WI

Do you get the feeling like I do, that the Packers coaches don't have to say anything negative to a player when they screw up like Cobb did, because all the Packers players have pride in their work? Cobb was very intense and focused in his next return. The coaches only need to coach and not babysit.

Yes, I believe that all to be true, but let's not get too full of ourselves, please. There's a lot left of this season and the Packers are gonna be facing some really good teams down the stretch. I think it's very important for everybody to keep their balance, so they can not only enjoy the season, but endure the season, too. It just isn't likely to continue as uneventfully as it has through the first nine weeks. There are almost certainly going to be trials and tribulations that will require calm and resolve. I think it's very important that we respect that the other teams' players have pride in their work, too.

Nick from Madison, WI

Vic, I couldn't help but see the question from the gentleman about Montana vs. Rodgers. Obviously, someone needs to read up on the "Comeback Kid," and I agree wholeheartedly with his friend, but can we really compare a quarterback like Joe Montana to Aaron Rodgers? The game has evolved and changed quite a bit from the days of Montana scrambling for his life from defensive tackles to the protected-quarterback era of today. I love Rodgers, don't get me wrong, he's an amazing quarterback and definitely the best of his era in the NFL, but I feel it's a little bit of an unfair comparison to Montana, who didn't have as much protection. What are your thoughts?

You are a student of the game. Stats don't tell the tale; people who know the facts tell the tale and you've done a very good job of telling the tale of Joe Montana. Everybody wants to compare, but the coaches almost always refuse to compare players from different generations, even those coaches who coached great players from different generations. Why? Because they know the game has changed so much over the years that it's not fair to bring a player forward into this era or send a player backward into another era. Here's my question: Why can't fans accept that?

John from Superior, WI

I just read in an article that, with using the NFL's quarterback rating system, Russell Wilson would have a 141.92 passer rating. Do you believe that efficiency in college can translate into the NFL?

No, I don't. Stats don't translate, talent does. If a player is big enough, strong enough and talented enough to play in the NFL, he will. It's just that simple.

Kris from Mukwonago, WI

What is the atmosphere of the Packers locker room like compared to other teams you have covered? Obviously, being 9-0 makes it pleasant, but this team doesn't appear to have any cliques, like I'm sure some teams have.

I've never detected a difference between the locker room of the worst team I ever covered from the locker room of the best team I ever covered. Players put on their clothes and go home. Fans always ask me about what it's like on the team plane. I tell them, to their dismay, that you wouldn't know whether they won or lost, based on the mood in the plane after a game. In the old days, they got on the plane and played a card game called Boo-Ray. Players would get on the plane and immediately start folding down seats to accommodate Boo-Ray games. Now players get on the plane and put on their headphones.

Greg from West Allis, WI

I read where Woodson said the difference in the Vikings game was they played "downhill," as opposed to playing on their heels. Is this a mental part of the game for the defense or is it more the defense taking what the offensive scheme gives them?

I think what Charles Woodson is saying is that the Packers played faster. The game is not all about scheme. It's not chess; it's not all strategy. The largest part of the game is physical. The faster you play, the better you'll play. A fast team playing a bad scheme will always beat a slow team playing a good scheme.

Nick from Water Mill, NY

Where did Clay get his sack celebration pose? I say it's from the Predator movie where just before putting the beat-down on Arnold, the predator, in a great display of intimidation, strikes the same pose. It is intimidating, for sure.

Yes, I'm sure it is, but I haven't seen that movie, yet, so I'll defer to you.

Chris from Horicon, WI

Vic, does someone screen the comment section of the articles or are Packers fans really this much more mature than, say, the people who comment on Most of what they have posted is name-calling and hate speech; very little substance.

Yeah, I look it over to make sure what you're describing doesn't exist in our comments section, and I don't think I've had to censor anything, and that leads me to congratulate and thank those that read and elect to contribute responsible commentary at the bottom of our stories. The respect you show for the opportunity to express yourself is appreciated by everyone that wants to do the same. This is something I desperately wanted when I took this job and you have rewarded my faith in Packers fans by keeping it clean. You wanna rip, go ahead, but keep it clean, please.

James from Kalamazoo, MI

I noticed on the fourth-quarter, four-yard touchdown play to Nelson that both Lang and Newhouse saved the play by picking up the twist beautifully. When I was younger, it seemed so rare for a player like Newhouse to walk in and play left tackle well or at all. Times a changing?

That's not what it is. Marshall Newhouse is playing well because last year he was drafted and developed. In 2010, he was what I call a jar on the shelf, which is what Derek Sherrod is this year. This is how you do it. This is how you sustain success. Not everybody has to be an immediate hit. You take care of the present by taking care of the future.

Peggy from Bloomer, WI

Vic, will you please give the defense another message for me? Tell them thanks for kicking their game up a notch. My husband's heart thanks them, too.

Yeah, he needed a break, Peggy, and I hope he gets another one this Sunday, but you better hold his hand tight after that, cause I gotta feeling it's gonna get real tense down the stretch.

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