Letters To LeRoy Butler

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Hey, LeRoy, it sure was great to watch the Packers beat the Vikings. It looks like things are starting to turn around now. What would you say was the biggest difference in the Packers' play that led to the big win? - Philip (Alma, MI)

I think the bye week helped. It gave the players time to come to grips with their frustrating start and gave the coaches some extra time to plan.

I think it was a turnaround that started from the top with Mike Sherman. In my opinion, he doesn't get enough credit. He's the guy who keeps all those different personalities pointed toward one goal. But unfortunately some fans always think they could do it better.

LeRoy, what did the defense do differently this week in order to virtually silence Randy Moss, after allowing him such a big game in Week 1? Thank You! - Karly (McFarland, WI)

For starters, they were patient in their defensive schemes, but in terms of coverage they were also very physical. I think the secondary took it personally that Randy Moss made nine catches against them the last time.

As a group, the Packers secondary is much better than that and I think they were eager to prove that.

Hi, LeRoy! I'll bet you're just chomping at the bit to get out there and play. I have been following your weekly columns and totally agree that it's the players that have to step up and play. My question: Why aren't the Packers utilizing the safeties more in the blitz packages? - Steve (Kimberly, WI)

Actually, Darren Sharper blitzed twice last night, but the Vikings ran the ball on both occasions.

The Packers did have to be careful though against the Vikings. If they show a safety blitz too soon, Daunte Culpepper is just going to call a jump ball to Randy Moss, knowing he can get single coverage.

Also, the beauty of the Packers scheme is that with the safeties at their normal depth you can play both the run and the pass. But as a group, the Packers still haven't scratched the surface of their potential on defense. And I do think that you'll see the safeties used more aggressively in the weeks to come.

LeRoy: Love ya, man. Who was the most elusive quarterback you ever sacked? - Matthew (Colchester, VT)

That would probably be Steve Young. That guy wouldn't let you get a clean shot on him and to have a chance to sack him you'd just have to outsmart him. And he's a pretty smart guy, so that wasn't easy.

As a safety, timing is everything if you want to get at a mobile quarterback.

With about 15 seconds left on the play clock, I'd start plotting my move. With 8 seconds left I'm moving toward the line. At that point, the quarterback doesn't have time to audible out of his call, so he has to call a time out, take the chance that he can avoid you or hope that you're just faking blitz.

Most of the time, I wasn't faking.

LeRoy, first of all, thank you for all the great years. The Packers offense looks nearly unstoppable at times and the defense really stepped up last night against Minnesota. What kind of momentum do you think the Pack will gain from this victory? - Monte (Milwaukee, WI)

I think this game can go a long way for the Packers' confidence.

Sunday's win certainly showed that they can stop a team with a feature receiver, that they can beat a good team on turf and that they can run the ball against a team with eight men stacked in the box to stop it.

How far the Packers will go will have something to do with their ability to stay healthy, but Mike Sherman and his assistant coaches definitely had the players ready to go Sunday. They out-coached Mike Tice and the Vikings staff. And the players seem hungry and ready for a second-half run.

I think some people are quick to criticize Mike Sherman for not motivating the team when they lose. I hope they tip their hat to him when they win a big game like this. Mike Sherman is a great coach, Packers are lucky to have him. - Lucas (Lake Mills, IA)

Lucas, I couldn't agree more. One of Mike Sherman's greatest talents is his ability to keep that big roster focused on one goal. He loves his players and wants them to love one another. He's a big family guy -- family for the players, family as a team. That's why guys play hard for him.

When I read national sports media, Mike Sherman is never treated with the respect his record should bring. Why isn't he listed as one of the current great coaches? -- Dave (Waukesha, WI)

In his first three seasons, Mike Sherman had a better record as head coach of the Packers than Vince Lombardi, but he doesn't get the recognition he deserves for two reasons.

First of all, he's not looking for the spotlight. You don't see him writing books, appearing in movies, mugging for the camera on the sidelines. That's just not his style. He doesn't care about all that stuff, but that's what gets a lot of coaches noticed.

Sometimes I try to bring it out of him, to get him to brag, but he just won't do it. All he cares about is the Green Bay Packers.

I promise you that there's not a harder working coach in the NFL. And there's probably no other coach that knows his players so well that he can walk up to a guy and ask about the player's wife by name.

Mike Sherman cares, and his players feel that about him. So it's too bad that the media doesn't give him the hype he deserves, but that will come.

Eventually, to land a place in the spotlight, he has to lead the Packers deep in the playoffs. Once he does that a few times, people will recognize him. But for my money, he's one of the top five coaches in the league.

Hey, LeRoy. You were a great player, one of my favorites. Do you think Brett Favre is the best blocking quarterback ever, or what? GO PACKERS! -- Frank (Dubuque, IA)

I know you're being funny, but I do think Brett Favre is the best blocking quarterback by far. His hustle and determination Sunday were a lesson for any football player.

With Favre, you have to remember that he's a quarterback with a linebacker's mentality. Off the field he's a family man -- in fact, the other day we were talking about how our oldest daughters are trying to get us to buy them cars in a couple years -- but he knows how to flip the switch.

He might line up at quarterback, but he's a warrior. In fact, I think the Packers should list him on the depth chart as their No. 4 linebacker.

LeRoy, don't you wonder, with Brett Favre having such a great arm, why the Packers never throw the deep ball? They supposedly have the fastest set of receivers in the league, yet they never throw the ball downfield. The West Coast offense is effective, however I think it would be even better if they mixed it up with some long passes now and then. - Vince (Sioux Falls, SD)

Guess what, the Packers tried to throw the deep ball Sunday. I was standing on the sideline listening to the plays being called, and at least three times the Packers called for deep balls, but the play was covered and they didn't want to force it.

Brett Favre does have a great arm, but he's always been a West Coast offense quarterback. Considering how well the offense moved the ball Sunday -- and really four of the last five games -- there's no reason to go away from what's working.

The Packers will look for their shots, but they have to be opportunistic. If they take one deep shot a quarter, that's enough.

But having stood on the sidelines, I assure you, they wanted to go deep against the Vikings. Give Minnesota credit for keeping them short.

Hi, LeRoy. Do you think that Brett Farve gets a little too much credit when the Packers win? It seems that I am in the minority when I say that the Packers will only go as far as Ahman Green takes them, but he has been the real workhorse over the last three seasons. When he plays well Green Bay wins. - Ryan (Kenosha, WI)

Ryan, I agree with you that the Packers will only go as far as Ahman Green can carry them. He's a hard-running back that refuses to go down. But you can't underestimate having a veteran like Brett Favre on the team -- a guy who is in the starting lineup week in and week out.

Yes, at this point Green can carry the team on his back. But what's wrong with having both of them? And how much would it hurt if Favre was gone?

Darren Sharper's hit on Randy Moss early in the game seemed to be a pivotal play in my mind. Do you think that receivers remember things like that and it has an effect on them for the remainder of the game? - Wade (Beloit, WI)

Absolutely, I think they remember. After Darren Sharper put that hit on Randy Moss on his slant route, I sure didn't see Moss going across the middle again.

Receivers are always thinking about getting hit when they go across the middle. Big hits remind them why they're worried.

LeRoy, I think this victory can be summed up in five words Wahle, Clifton, Tausher, Rivera, and Flanagan. - Randy (Superior, WI)

Randy, I've said it all year and I'll say it again, the offensive line has been a force for the Packers.

Mike Wahle has been able to pancake guys all season long. And with the way the offensive linemen are playing, they deserve to have at least three guys make the Pro Bowl this year.

I know I'm lobbing for it. How about you?

If your shoulder would have healed properly, would you still be in the league today? - Brandon (Geneva, WI)

You bet I would. No question about it. But I'd still want to be talking to you guys. I wouldn't want to give this up!

*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.

Every Monday you can come to Packers.com to ask LeRoy questions that he will answer along with his Tuesday column.

Butler's autobiography, 'The LeRoy Butler Story ... From Wheelchair to the Lambeau Leap,' is available on his website, leroybutler36.com.*

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