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Let's compare 2007 Patriots and 2011 Packers


Christopher from Portland, OR

How does McCarthy's message compare to that of the Dolphins' Shula in 1972 or the Patriots' Belichick in 2007?

My guess is their messages are the same: Look no farther ahead than the next game until Week 17. If, at that time, you're still undefeated, then go ahead and talk about pursuing an undefeated season. What I remember from the Dolphins' and Patriots' undefeated seasons is that they both played in New York against the Giants late in the season. The Dolphins played there in their next-to-last game of the season and they held a party for the media the night before the game and made a big deal out of announcing that they were playing for the undefeated season. The Patriots played in New York in the final game of the regular season and I think we all remember what a great game that was and how it set the stage for the Super Bowl. The Dolphins and Patriots each won their games in New York, which would seem to be a rite of passage for undefeated teams. The Packers play against the Giants in New York in Week 13.

Aaron from Pittsburg, KS

It seems like in every postgame interview McCarthy describes the key point talked about in the last meeting before the game, and that goal has usually been met in the game, week in and week out. Is McCarthy the best motivator you've ever seen from a coach?

I'm big on motivation, but not on pep talks. I think the Packers have a lot of self-starters, which means their motivation comes from within and that's what you want. I've covered teams that have been so geeked up all the coach had to do was walk into the locker room and tell them bad men take Jane and they'd start to foam at the mouth, and then they'd go out and lay an egg. I've also covered teams that seemed to be perpetually sleepy-eyed, but when the ball was kicked off they became "killers." Lombardi's final words to his team before the "Ice Bowl" are said to have been something to the effect of it's cold, deal with it, go do your job. I'm sure he didn't even need to say that. Don't confuse pep talks with preparation. I don't know if Mike McCarthy gives the best pep talks of any coach I've ever covered, but I've never covered a coach who was any better at preparing his team to play.

Andy from Oak Park, IL

Do you value a great tight end or wide receiver more?

If we're talking about the passing game, then I would say I value wide receivers more than tight ends because wide receivers can run faster, jump higher, catch better and do more with the ball after the catch than a true tight end can do, but first we have to define what a tight end is. Please, don't tell me Jermichael Finley is a tight end. Tight ends are tight to the formation and they block a lot. Finley is often split from the formation and I don't think anybody will vote for him for the Pro Bowl based on his reputation as a blocker.

Max from Hudson, WI

My grandpa always says he would never take a running back in the first round since they don't last very long. What is your opinion in drafting positional players?

As it pertains to running backs, I'm starting to lump them into the same category with wide receivers: If a great one, a Larry Fitzgerald or an Adrian Peterson, is available in the first round, go ahead and pick him. Otherwise, you seem to be able to find wide receivers and running backs in the later rounds. The first-round busts at the wide receiver position are legendary: David Terrell, Charles Rogers, Bryant Johnson, Roy Williams, Reggie Williams, Rashaun Woods, Troy Williamson, Matt Jones and a whole lot more. I did a bust study a few years ago and the percentage of first-round busts at wide receiver was nearly the equal of quarterbacks. We accept the bust risk at quarterback, just as we do at defensive end because of the premium nature of those positions, but quality pass-catchers last into the late rounds and you don't need to get them early. The Donald Drivers have always been available in the late rounds and into undrafted free agency. Running back is similar in that you can find your guy late in the draft or even into undrafted free agency. Arian Foster, last year's rushing champion, was undrafted. James Starks is a sixth-round pick. Yes, I would agree with your grandfather, unless you have a chance to draft a great one. Never pass on Jim Brown.

Chad from Stratford, WI

Why did the NFL change the A and the N in each conference? They went from three to four stars in each. What does that mean?

The stars represent the four divisions in each conference. When the NFL realigned from three divisions to four divisions in 2002, an extra star was added to each conference's logo.

Kevin from Superior, WI

I agree, Brian Billick is really good in the booth. I also like Troy Aikman. Who are some of your favorites in the booth?

I like Cris Collinsworth. He presents terminology in an easy-to-understand way, and he's not afraid to offer commentary that might cause him to say later in the broadcast that he was wrong. I like that.

John from East Meadow, NY

After Finley caught his first pass on Monday night, he performed a celebration I've never seen before. He put his hand on his head and wiggled his fingers. Do you know where that originated?

The Rocky and Bullwinkle show? I don't know. I'm not big on celebrations. When they start to dance, I look in another direction. That doesn't mean I want the league to ban them. I understand that the young fans like that stuff, so I'm OK with the players doing it, but I'm not gonna watch it because it just doesn't appeal to me.

Steve from Oldsmar, FL

Why does Capers stick with two down linemen, even on running downs?

Because in today's game, the pass is feared much more than the run.

Joshua from Chelsea, MA

I have a question about the clock. I always assumed that when a player with the ball ends the play by crossing into out-of-bounds territory, the clock would stop and remain stopped until the ball was snapped at the beginning of the next play, but sometimes I see the clock start again when the new play clock starts again. What is the rule?

Where have you been? The rules regarding the stop and start of the clock were changed so long ago that I can't remember the exact year. After an out-of-bounds play, the clock starts when the ball is spotted and the referee gives the signal to start the clock, except after the two-minute warning of the first half and inside the last five minutes of the second half.

Dan from Marshfield, WI

Next weekend is the opening weekend of gun deer season in Wisconsin, which is an unofficial statewide holiday. Next year, can you convince the NFL schedule-makers to schedule a Monday night game or the bye week for deer season? Deer hunters would greatly appreciate not having to choose between their team and the deer hunting experience.

It's a difficult choice, for sure: Kill a deer or watch the Packers play? The deer will be happy to know I'm gonna watch the Packers play.

Alex from Minneapolis, MN

I'm pretty sure the reason the Vikings lost was because there was a national television shot of about five seconds of Adrian Peterson squirting a water bottle into his mouth on his own. What do you think?

He can do it all.

Hugh from London, UK

Hey, Vic, are you concerned about the offensive line protection at the moment, especially with two games against the Lions and one against the Bears on the horizon?

I'm not sure I wanna point the finger at the offensive line. I have a feeling Aaron Rodgers completes more passes to secondary and checkdown receivers than does any other quarterback in the league and, if that's true, it means he's holding the ball longer than most quarterbacks. Look at Ben Roethlisberger. Nobody holds the ball longer than he does. He completes passes with defensive linemen draped on him. He's also been a sacks tackling dummy for pass-rushers through his career, and he's already been sacked 31 times this season. Rodgers and Roethlisberger are gutsy quarterbacks and gutsy quarterbacks get sacked and hit more often than quarterbacks that are more safety conscious. It's a yin and yang thing: safety vs. risk, which is another way of saying an incomplete pass vs. a potential big play. If you want big plays, I think you have to accept the risk that goes with them. I'll take the gutsy guy any time. He's the guy who'll win for you at crunch time.

Robert from Monroe, MI

How is the turf holding up at Lambeau Field? Didn't they do some innovative things with the grass that keeps it growing later in the season, and light the field at night to promote the growth?

Yes, they have and the turf looks sensational. It's November and we're out of the growing season, but one look at the Lambeau Field turf makes you feel as though it's April and the grass is exploding with new growth.

Justin from Wilmington, DE

Vic, you haven't seen Predator? Great movie; I'll send you a copy.

No, that's OK. I'll pick one up on the way home.

Peter from Manitowoc, WI

St. Louis Cardinals fans are well-known for being very knowledgeable about the game. What team is the NFL equivalent?

Let me see, uhhhhhh, Green Bay?

Trent from Greenville, SC

OK, two teams to compare from the same era, the 2007 Patriots and the 2011 Packers. Who wins head to head?

Yeah, that's a comparison we can make; good idea. Here we go: The Patriots offense was No. 1 in total yards and passing yards, and No. 13 in rushing. Defensively, the Patriots were fourth in total yards allowed, sixth against the pass and fourth in points allowed. The Patriots' lone weakness was its run-defense, which was 26th; it didn't, however, seem to hurt them. The Packers are a little behind on offense; fourth in total yards and third in passing, 21st in rushing. On defense, the Packers are 28th in total yards, 31st against the pass and eighth against the run. The Packers are 13th in points allowed per game but first in points scored per game. The Patriots were No. 1 in points scored and fourth in points allowed. They played a rugged schedule that included games against the Colts, Ravens, Chargers, Steelers and Giants. If you're a stats guy, and I am not, I think you'd have to admit the numbers favor the 2007 Patriots. Having covered one of the Patriots' playoff wins, I can attest to their dominance. That was truly a great team that would be probably recognized today as the greatest team of all-time if it had just caught one of those two would-be interceptions Eli Manning threw in the Giants' game-winning drive in the Super Bowl. As powerful as that Patriots team was, and let's not forget that Tom Brady set an all-time touchdown-passes record that season, I believe the 2011 Packers compare favorably. I see very little difference between the two teams.

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