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Lean on the run, make plays with the pass

When the pads go on, the emotions begin to build


Ken from New York, NY

Vic, you say December isn't the time of year we'll see new looks, and that teams have already shown what they've got by now. But isn't it possible teams have been working on some looks we haven't seen yet, simply because they weren't ready for prime time, and if the coaches feel those looks are ready to go, won't we begin to see them now?

Tom Clements said what teams do against you at this time of the year is probably on film somewhere, and I agree, but I'm hearing the Packers have some wild trick plays in their game plan for tonight.

Zahir from London, UK

The Lions are full of playmakers and make me very nervous for tonight. No way they are a 4-7 team.

Before the first game between the two teams, I said the Lions were coming to Green Bay as an 0-0 team. That's the mindset Jim Caldwell sold to his team during its bye week, and the firings helped Coach Caldwell sell his message. The Lions team the Packers will face tonight is 3-0.

Dawood from Maple Grove, MN

It's obvious the Packers are missing Jordy Nelson, but the good thing is I think we have his clone on this roster. Do you think we may finally see Jeff Janis get utilized in tonight's game?

I really hope it happens. It's become a battle cry of the fans and the frustration is beginning to build for all of us.

J.J. from Cape Coral, FL

Vic, every game for two years, I have predicted Cobb would throw a touchdown pass. I predict he passes to Janis tonight. How come they don't use Cobb's passing skill?


Ted from Amherst, NY

Vic, if you want to know why some people don't get it, it's because some people never played football or any other competitive sport. I suggest putting a new box in the "Ask Vic" link that says, "Have you ever played a competitive sport?" That'll separate the sheep from the goats.

We won't do that and I've never liked that attitude because football is a game we can love without having played it. That's always been my attitude. Be that as it may, I wish every fan could hear their number called in the huddle, and break the huddle with the combination thrill and fear that goes with knowing you will be the focus of every person in that stadium. There's a special feeling that goes with being a running back on the goal line, at any level of competition, and seeing the defense's collective eyes look at you, knowing they all want to hit you. Fear is a powerful emotion. How we deal with it defines us. That's the confrontation we all need to experience to fully appreciate this great game.

Alex from Madison, WI

What is your gut telling you for this game?

I don't know what to feel or think. We're all waiting for that one big thing to happen, which is for the Packers' passing game to come to life. If that happens tonight, I think the Packers will win. I think the Packers will lean hard on their running game, but you still have to make plays in the pass game to win nowadays.

Matt from Mount Pleasant, WI

Vic, we are 7-4 and we have a shot to make the playoffs. We've got to believe.

When belief is rewarded by victory, a team grows. It's how a team gets hot in December. Isn't that what happened in 2010?

Richard from Farmington Hills, MI

Vic, I have the answer! Aaron's pinpoint accuracy will return and the receivers will not drop another pass, as soon as McCarthy starts calling the plays again.

My greatest fear last winter when Coach McCarthy announced the play-calling change was for the fan outcry the first time the offense sputtered. This was inevitable.

Jacob from Green Bay, WI

Nobody's walking out on this fun, old-fashioned football season. No, no. We're all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm Packers emergency here. We're gonna press on, and we're gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Week 17 since Aaron Rodgers threw to Randall Cobb against the Bears in 2013. And when the Packers squeeze into January with the division title, we're gonna be the jolliest bunch of idiots this side of the nuthouse.

Thank you for the work you put into that, and for lightening our hearts. You get it.

Sam from San Diego, CA

Vic, it's too easy to blame refs and play-calling. What about a dropped ball? Or a fumble? I'm not positive, but I'm pretty sure they weren't called that way.

"Sprint Right Option Drop" is one of my favorite plays … when the other team runs it. I also like "Toss Power Trap Fumble."

Ben from Indianapolis, IN

Would you say the Vikings are the biggest threat to the Packers? I know I would.

I wouldn't say it now because I said it last spring.

Bill from Iowa City, IA

One thing I admired about Don Shula was he adjusted his team's game to his personnel. Have the Packers done that as well as they can?

I think they've done a pretty good job of utilizing their personnel. Clay Matthews' move to inside linebacker? Datone Jones' move to outside linebacker? How about drafting Damarious Randall as a cornerback? Most teams wanted to pick him as a safety. Richard Rodgers was a college wide receiver. We're on a witch hunt right now. Everybody is looking for something to blame. Are we ignoring the obvious? This team has lost a lot of talent to injury, and it's been concentrated at one position, wide receiver. How do you overcome those kinds of losses without a struggle?

Nathan from Baltimore, MD

What's it like writing the column from the hotel?

I can write it in my pajamas (yeah, sure), and I don't have to walk down the hallway and through a security checkpoint to go to the bathroom.

Humberto from Mexico

Vic, you are close to the team. Are you sensing they are growing apart or frustrated with each other in the smallest way?

I don't get any sense of that. Watching them get on the plane yesterday, I saw a team that's focused but concerned. Maybe I was sensing my own concern.

Tom from Shakopee, MN

Who steps up tonight and gets this team revved to beat the Lions?

I think it has to be Aaron Rodgers. He has always been the guy on whom this team has leaned. He's the heart and soul of the Packers. This team will draw its energy from him. As he goes, so will go the Packers.

James from New York, NY

Vic, I'm actually really digging this season. If our only problem is the passing game, I just can't believe Rodgers and the receivers won't get it together soon; they're just too talented. When they do, they'll get hot at just the right time. This is playing out very nicely for us.

That's the hope. I think we find out tonight.

Adam from Fargo, ND

Vic, I just read Tom Brady is advocating legislation against low hits on defenseless receivers. You can't hit high, you can't hit low. You have about a foot of a player's torso to aim for on a moving target, running full speed. Nobody is forcing football players to play. Injuries are part of the game. If you don't want to get hurt, you can feel free to leave the millions on the table. I think we are about to start seeing more and more players leaving the money on the table and playing less violent sports like soccer. Get ready for soccer, Vic, because it's about to take over.

It's all about the helmet. Football's future depends on it.

Matt from San Francisco, CA

Vic, someone needs to start tracking the beat-the-guy-across-from-you stat. Are you up for it?

I'll leave it up to you, but I think the Packers are winning most of those battles. They've been losing the passer rating battle, and the reverse of that has always been this team's winning formula. Passer rating isn't just about the quarterback.

Ian from Saukville, WI

Vic, Harrison Ford was on the Tonight Show, ostensibly promoting the new Star Wars movie, and there was a bit of dialogue I found interesting. Jimmy Fallon asked Harrison, "Did you get emotional when you put the wardrobe on?" Harrison replied, "No, I got paid." Just do your job, baby.

That's a humorous reply, but making a movie isn't the same as playing a football game. One is real, the other is make-believe. When those men put on their uniforms tonight, they know those pads are to protect them against real injury. They know the other guys lift weights, too. That's when the emotions begin to build. I think we're going to see a great game. Enjoy it. I will.

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