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It's not your fault- let's talk about it

We're nearing the identity time of the season


Zach from Billings, MT

Vic, absolutely loved your answer regarding college sports compared to academics. Absolutely! Loved! It! What are your thoughts on paying student athletes?

I'm OK with it, as long as it's at a reasonable per diem rate and the same across the board. If schools and conferences are able to pay athletes as they please, college football immediately becomes professional football. We're going to see huge changes to college football over the next 20 years. That's my prediction. Colleges need to get out of the college football business. It needs to be run by football people. The disassociation with the universities they represent will insulate academia from a sport that shares little in the way of academia's values or goals. Neither a student body nor the academic culture of a university should have to suffer the penalty Penn State did for the sins of its football program.

Michael from Neenah, WI

"I fear they've lost the faith of their fans. I know their faith will return with winning, but the team needs to feel the support of its fans now." It's time for Packernation to shoulder some of the responsibility. Instead of kicking the team while it's down, let's stand behind the team. Hey, Packernation, this is your fault, too.

I don't agree. Fans are completely absolved of blame for losing. That's the charm of the message I've been trying to send in this column for going on five years: There's nothing you can do about it, so it's not your fault. That's why I say I like to watch. It's all I can do. What I'm asking Packers fans to do in tense times is to be calm, be reasonable. When the team loses, it's natural to hurt. Go ahead, bring your hurt here. Let's talk about it. Ask questions. I'll try to provide answers. I asked Coach Capers on Thursday why he rushed three on third-and-16. He accommodatingly explained Cam Newton's ability to extend plays is the reason. Coach Capers explained that extending the play stresses pass coverage, and Coach Capers decided to load up in the secondary, which I suspect is the result of the Packers' inability to get home with the rush in the past two games. On third-and-7, the Packers rushed five and didn't get home, and that strategy also failed. We can talk about these things, but please don't come here ranting, raving and demanding that everyone be fired. It's unfair to transfer your pain to others.

Michael from Huron, SD

I was in a sports apparel/memorabilia store the other day, and they were selling "the thing" for $12.99. Needless to say, I didn't buy one.

I'm gonna send you a thing.

Harry from Waupaca, WI

Do you think the next four games will help define the Packers' identity for this year?

We're nearing the time of year a team's identity begins to form, but we're not there, yet. Soon, I promise.

Don from Torrington, CT

Whatever happened to the old naked bootleg on the goal line? I'm thinking we're going to see it somewhere in the games this weekend.

It's a great play, the Packers have the perfect quarterback for it and you are a student of the game to have offered this play for the Packers' game plan. I'm all for using it, and I don't think it needs to be saved for the goal line. Use it on third-and-3, for example. This team is having difficulty converting third down; maybe this will kick-start things. The naked boot is a once-a-game type of play, but it can have long-reaching impact. Once you run it, the defense has to respect it, and that means the defense has to be careful not to overreact to each handoff. It can give your running back a step on the defense. This is the simple and effective strategy I seek in play-calling.

Mike from Milwaukee, WI

I can't believe we're talking about 40-yard dash times from past combines and pro days this week. Sunday can't come fast enough.

We have a fan base and a media manic to be the one that explains what's wrong with the Packers. Only time will do it. If the Packers snap out of this slump and get back to the kind of football they were playing early in the season, then this will have been a slump against two undefeated teams. If this slump continues through the remainder of the season, it'll say something else.

Brandon from Corona, CA

Vic, I remember when the Browns became the Ravens. Will the Chargers be named something different if they are the team that moves to LA? Or is that list not in front of you?

They didn't change their name when they left Los Angeles for San Diego, so I doubt they would change their name if they moved back to Los Angeles.

Tom from Alachua, FL

Vic, I'm getting excited about Coach McCarthy's attitude toward our non-existent pass rush. After 2½ years of saying it, I'm looking forward to a first-round pick defensive tackle, second-round pick defensive tackle, third-round pick anybody, as long as they can tackle. What are your thoughts?

In a 3-4 Okie scheme, you rush the quarterback with your linebackers, not your defensive linemen, and the Packers' star, pass-rushing linebacker is playing mostly on the inside. It took a while for opponents to adjust, but I think they have. In my opinion, the Packers need to find some inside guys, so they can move Clay Matthews back outside.

Bryan from Waverly, IA

I have been a Packers fan since the day I was born. I bleed green and gold. Great season so far. Should be one heck of a run. I love watching the Packers play, winning or losing, their press conferences, interviews, I love it all. I hope the best for the players. Great column, great writing. Keep up the good work, fella. Hope to see you writing for the Packers for another 10 years.

I think I'm in heaven.

Bill from Grandville, MI

I photo-shopped a block of cheese on your head and it was a major improvement.

I'm back.

Sarah from Pullman, WA

Vic, I am a biogeochemist and I appreciated your commentary on research and development grant money from the federal government. Although on the whole research brings in more money, it certainly doesn't get the respect or attention the football team does. We are constantly asked to make cuts and continuously watch money go into athletics. Priorities?

I love football, but I also love Jonas Salk and what his cure for polio, which was the result of research and development, did for my generation. It saved thousands, if not millions, of children from the ravages of a disease that had become more than an epidemic; it was a national scourge. Everybody knows the name Bear Bryant. How many know the name Jonas Salk?

James from Spring Valley, MN

On the Bill Michaels show today, an analyst from Bleacher Report said he thought Green Bay had a creative defense and that its offense lacks creativity. He claimed most NFL coaches would make that same assessment. What is your assessment of the creativity of the defense and offense?

We're now judging Mike McCarthy's offense, one so creative it caused none other than Bill Belichick to engage Coach McCarthy in a postgame handshake that was more about admiration than it was about sportsmanship, according to someone from Bleacher Report? It gets more ridiculous by the day. My assessment? I'm not qualified to provide one. Maybe in my next 44 years I'll acquire the skill to critique strategy.

Trevor from Wausau, WI

What do you feel was the reason Alex Van Pelt moved down to the sideline from the box?

Coach McCarthy said he moved Van Pelt down to the sideline so Aaron Rodgers would have someone other than Tom Clements to discuss pictures. Making Van Pelt that "someone" frees up Clements to begin strategizing his play calls for the next offensive series.

Trevor from Wausau, WI

If Sam Shields can't go on Sunday, would you expect to see Randall line up against him?

If by him you mean Calvin Johnson, I suspect Johnson will get a lot of attention from several defensive backs and combinations of coverages, but Damarious Randall might be chief among them. He's playing the best football of anybody in the Packers' secondary. We're watching a player on the rise.

Isaac from Nashville, TN

Vic, you know what finally made me feel better? I went and looked at the Giants' won-loss record over the last 10 years. Maybe nothing is wrong with Green Bay. Maybe it's just really hard to win all the time, even when you have a great QB and a great coach.

The Giants and Steelers are each 5-4. The Ravens are 2-6. Those three teams have collectively won 12 Super Bowls. We continually talk about Packers coaches needing to make adjustments. Maybe we need to adjust our attitudes.

Tarra from Green Bay, WI

It's only two weeks to Thanksgiving, Vic, but I try to maintain an attitude of gratitude all year. Doing so helps me maintain perspective. What are you thankful for this year?

More on that later, but right now I'm thankful for this season. It's going to be one of my all-time best. I can feel it happening.

Jake from Milton, WI

When the offense goes no-huddle and sits at the line making checks and barely gets the snap off to beat the play clock, doesn't this defeat the purpose of the no-huddle?

No-huddle doesn't necessarily mean hurry up. One of the primary intents of the no-huddle is to get the matchups you want and then forbid the defense to substitute. I think that's what you're seeing.

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