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Letters To LeRoy Butler


LeRoy, Love your column. My question is: I see you from time-to-time roaming the sidelines when the cameras show the Green Bay bench. I know you don't have an official role as a coach, but do you get involved in pointing out what offenses or defenses are doing, as a kind of "coaching internship," or is your capacity just one of a former player and current analyst? - Patrick (Green Bay, WI)

I definitely try to help the guys as they come off the field whenever I'm at the games on the sidelines. If they see a certain offense that I can help them with or anything I can help with, I'm glad to help in any way I can.

I played the game long enough to know that if a guy is looking for help, I'll try to help him out. I think a good thing about the Green Bay sideline is that you have coaches and players working together to try to make sure that you have every advantage possible to win the game.

That's my role when I'm on the sideline. I'm not a coach or a coaching intern, but I definitely want to help the defensive backs get in position to win the game and if they have questions for me, I'm always ready to help.

Leroy - Right now the Packs and Vikes are tied for the lead in the division, and the Pack owns the tie breaker because of their win over the Vikings. If the Packers lose to the Vikings on Dec. 24 do they own the tie breaker then? Thanks...Go Pack! - Daniel (Logansport, IN)

If the Vikings were to beat the Packers in the rematch in the Metrodome in a few weeks (which I don't expect to happen, by the way) and they both ended up with the same record, there are a number of tiebreakers that would decide who was the NFC North Champion.

The first tiebreaker is head-to-head play, which in your scenario would have both teams at 1-1.

After that, it comes down to division record. Right now, the Packers hold an edge there with a 2-1 record against teams in the NFC North and the Vikings are 2-2. The Packers have three games left (one each with Detroit, at Minnesota, and at Chicago) to play, and the Vikings play at Detroit the week before they play the Packers in Minnesota. That's another reason why this Sunday's game against the Lions is extra important.

The next tiebreaker, if the Pack and Vikings are still tied, would be record in common games. Since the teams' schedules are so similar these days, only the Packers games against Carolina and St. Louis (both wins) wouldn't be counted, since the Vikings didn't play them. Minnesota's games against New Orleans (a win) and this Sunday against Seattle would not factor in to this equation since those are the only teams on the Vikings schedule the Packers don't play.

If the tie still wasn't broken by this point, it would come down to record in the NFC, which the Packers lead right now at 6-3, compared to Minnesota's 4-4.

There are some more, even more complicated possibilities for how it could turn out (**click here** to see the full breakdown of the NFL's tiebreaker procedures), but the Packers' best way to avoid getting caught up in any tiebreaker mess would be to win all four of their remaining games. They control their own destiny - if they win out, they will be NFC North Champions.

LeRoy, I think we were all surprised on the game Sunday. The Pack looked very similar to weeks 2-5. Were the short week and travel a factor? It looked like we had difficulty getting pressure to McNabb. Is that the price to be paid for zone defense? Obviously the Pack intends to make a return trip to Philly this year so how can they adjust? - Paul (Cincinnati, OH)

I don't think the short week had any effect on the Packers' performance Sunday. If you look at it, Mike Sherman's teams had a record of 9-1 following Monday night games going into this last one, so that's not an excuse.

The one adjustment that can be made for a rematch with the Eagles would be to play more man-to-man coverage and be more aggressive at the point of attack.

All in all, it comes down the individual players getting their job done. There's only one player in each helmet that has a job to do. If every guy realizes that if the one guy in the helmet does his job, you'll win.

This team is making the corrections and getting ready for next week, but I'm sure Sunday's game is not one that's going to be forgotten when they get ready to meet the Eagles again down the road.

Mr. Butler, Why do the Packers continue to struggle so much against the pass? Against Philly, they looked like they learned nothing from the Colts game earlier in the season. Is this on Slowik, a poor offensive performance, or just the players? Obviously, you could say it's a combination, but it seems like opposing QBs practically have career-high types of weeks against us, whether they win or lose. - Chris (Madison, WI)

That's a good question. Through 12 games, the opponents' quarterback rating is 101.5 and that's a very high number. I think the biggest contributor to this has been the Packers' struggles to stop teams on third-and-long.

One of the biggest factors in these plays has been poor tackling, and that comes down to the players. If you tackle a receiver where he catches the ball, you will cut down on the long-yardage gains for the opposition.

Also, the defense has struggled in zone defense and it seems like it's been partially because of everyone not knowing exactly what they're supposed to do. Like I've said before, you not only have to know your job, you have to know everyone else's job on the defense so you can work together and make plays.

The guys understand their jobs. I think if they take it a step further and communicate better with the other players around them, you'll see it get better.

Hey LeRoy, Painful game today. But do you think that sometimes a team that's really on fire like the Packers were actually benefit from a big loss like today? What good does it do, and what bright spots can be seen in this horrible loss? Thanks again for your articles each week. GO Packers - Darayus (Philadelphia, PA)

I think that sometimes when you get beat by an elite team and you thought you were an elite team, it lets you know that you have to go back to the drawing board and find out what you have to do better. You can also see what you could take from that elite team and learn from it.

One thing the Packers can learn from Sunday's game is that Philly doesn't make mistakes, especially on their field. The Packers can't afford to make mistakes, and that's exactly what happened by committing 12 penalties and turning the ball over twice.

Hi LeRoy, firstly I'd like to say that as a distant fan your column is great for a personal perspective on the club and the week's game. Maybe one day I'll make it to Lambeau Field. I have passed through Green Bay once and it is a small town, in comparison to where a lot of other teams are based. How do the players adjust (those coming from large cities) and do you get some players on the roster wishing the team was based in a larger city where things are a little more flashy? I love the Green Bay Packers for many reasons but one of them is because they are based and owned by a small city. - Stephanie (Canberra, Australia)

That's a good question, mate. Playing in Green Bay is definitely different than playing in any other NFL city. The players really love the way the fans support the team, but there are sometimes some drawbacks.

In the winter, it gets dark in Green Bay around 4:30 in the afternoon, which can be a difficult adjustment. It can also sometimes be a little bit of a lonely place, especially for the younger guys. I think the married guys prefer the small-town atmosphere because it's a great place to raise a family.

The main thing to focus on is that you came to Green Bay to do a job, and that's to win football games. The weather may not be as great as Australia, but it's a great football town. The Green Bay Packers are the biggest thing going in Green Bay. It's not like New York or Chicago or even Indianapolis where there are basketball or baseball or hockey teams that also get a lot of attention.

In Green Bay, the Packers are the thing and the fans love the team and the team loves the fans.

Being one of the greatest defensive players to play the game I have a defensive question for you. I've noticed all year up until the Raiders game that people didn't go at Champ Bailey. When the Raiders threw his way they got 2 TDs on him. What is the best way to game plan for a great defensive back, do you attack him or do you just stay away from him? - Clay (Jacksonville, FL)

The best way to go after a great defensive back is just like the best way to go after a great receiver - you attack him. Great receivers or great cornerbacks - whoever they are - sometimes they let their guard down because they don't think they will be tested at all.

If you look at what happened to Champ Bailey in that game against Oakland, the Raiders had a third-and-one and he relaxed on the play and got beat deep on a play-action pass right over his head. He assumed just because of who he is, the offense wasn't going to go after him on such a crucial play.

I think that's one of the reasons why Deion Sanders was always one of the greatest cornerbacks around, because he was always up for any challenge. People would throw his way, and sometimes they would win the challenge, but more often than not, Deion would come out on top.

I say that you have to make everyone on the field show that they can beat you. You can't play scared of someone's reputation. You have to play to your strengths, not play away from the opponents' strengths.

*LeRoy Butler played 12 seasons for the Green Bay Packers, helping them to two Super Bowls and earning NFL All-Decade Honors for the 1990s, before retiring in July 2002. This season Butler is again providing exclusive analysis to beginning with training camp and later with a breakdown of the upcoming game on Saturdays, followed by a column and Q&A session on Tuesdays during the preseason and regular season.

Butler's autobiography, 'The LeRoy Butler Story ... From Wheelchair to the Lambeau Leap,' is available on his website,*

LeRoy serves as the host on the new DVD, 'Brett Favre - On and Off the Field'. Click here for more information on the DVD.

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