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Lions game will tell us where Packers defense is

Do you fully appreciate these good times?


Nora from Alexandria, VA

I always had a lot of respect for Lovie Smith when he was coaching the Bears, and I was happy to see him land at Tampa Bay. The game last night against Atlanta was brutal. I wanted to see how you felt about him as a coach and if you think he can turn things around for the Bucs?

Coaches aren't usually hired because the team is on the verge of something good. It happens, but not often. I think Jim Harbaugh is an example of a coach who was hired at just the right time, and I think it could turn out that way for Jim Caldwell, too, but most coaches are hired because the fortunes of the team have plummeted. That's the case with the Bucs. I'm sure Coach Smith took the job knowing there was work to be done.

Kris from Marquette, MI

Do other NFL organizations show the level of respect the Packers show their alumni? Do other teams' fans show their alumni the appreciation Packers' fans do?

Yes, they do, Kris. I think Packers players are more integral in the lives of Packers fans than they are for fans of other teams, but there are a lot of teams in this league that have produced a lot of great players and those players are loved and revered by the fans that cheered them. I love the pride Packers fans have for their team and themselves, but don't sell the other teams and their fans short.

Ryan from Fredericton, New Brunswick

As it stands now, does Devin Hester eventually make it into the Hall of Fame?

I'm opposed to putting specialists in the Hall of Fame. We have too many great full-time players not in the Hall of Fame.

Brian from Albertville, AL

I'm sure you went to bed at halftime, but you missed the best part of the broadcast when they showed highlights of Billy "White Shoes" Johnson in the second half. There's another good nickname.

I made it to 21-0. Yeah, "White Shoes" might be the best nickname of them all. He was a wonderful player. I loved watching him play. I would support a wing of the Hall of Fame for specialists such as Hester and Johnson, but not Hall of Fame induction.

Adam from Santa Clara, CA

Vic, do you think our pass rush will have more success against Detroit, as they have a pocket passer rather than the scramblers we have seen so far?

Pass rushers like knowing where the quarterback will be, and Matt Stafford is a pure pocket passer, so everyone knows where he'll be. You won't have to chase him all over the field.

Vince from Sioux City, IA

Vic, I don't care about Richard Sherman, coaches coaching, players playing, baloney, Clay Matthews' multiple roles, etc. I don't care about Adrian Pederson, Ray Rice or anyone else who's in trouble, or what kind of garbage the media is making of this. I want to watch football. I really enjoy not caring about the logistics of the defense, the courtroom or who avoided who in what game, and whatever trash they had to talk about it later. Just win, baby.

At the end of the day, that's all that matters. I can think of some other things that are important, but if you knew nothing about the game, the first question you would ask would be, "Who won?"

Matthew from Maffra, Australia

Sometimes Coach McCarthy gives a slightly annoyed or fired up answer in interviews. Do you feel good, bad or neither when a question of yours elicits that kind of response?

I attend press conferences to acquire information that will help me write a story. I don't go to press conferences to entertain coaches or fans that might be watching or listening to the press conference. This new mania for judging questions is laughable. Judge the story, not the question. The question, in many cases, is asked for effect because the answer is obvious.

Robert from Terre Haute, IN

Vic, you talked about how Lombardi and Noll allowed their quarterbacks to call their own plays and, between the two of them, won nine titles. Do you ever think we'll see that again?

Those days are gone. Lombardi's and Noll's quarterbacks didn't wear helmet communicators. Secondly, Lombardi's and Noll's playbooks were Dick and Jane readers compared to what today's quarterbacks have to master. You knew what you were going to get when you played against those teams. The Packers were going to run the power sweep and the Steelers were going to run the inside trap. They're two of the most dominant teams in pro football history and they might've been the most predictable teams in history. They didn't beat you with scheme; they beat you with dominant talent and execution. If Lombardi and Noll were coaching today, their quarterbacks would receive the play from the sideline. Noll went in that direction in the second half of his career, as the rules changes of 1978 deepened his playbook and the sophistication required of the rules-changes passing game.

Brett from Green Bay, WI

Vic, what do you think of the Super Bowl rematch on Sunday?

That's not a Super Bowl rematch. When they're in the Super Bowl again, that'll be a Super Bowl rematch. This is just another regular-season game, not a loser's-done, postseason game. The pressure's off. The Broncos will probably win.

Noah from Brisbane, Australia

Vic, how do you see the Packers defense faring against a good-looking Lions offense?

In my mind, Sunday's game will be a much better measuring stick for the Packers defense than the Seattle game was. The Seahawks hit the Packers with a lot of unscouted looks, unconventional stuff against which you do much better the second time around. That's why it's good the Packers played against that stuff; it's for future reference. What the Packers are going to see on Sunday is an old-fashioned, big-play, throw-it-down-the-field passing attack. They know exactly what the Lions are going to do and the Packers will be fully prepared to defend against it. Will they be successful? That's the question and the answer will tell us where this defense is and where it has to go. I have no feel for what I might see on Sunday. I'm as anxious about it as you are. Sunday's game is going to tell me a lot about this defense.

Ryan from Schofield Barracks, HI

Vic, does a player (Evan Dietrich-Smith) who left a successful organization to make more money regret his decision when his current team continues to get pummeled all over the field? Is it all about the money or pursuit of a championship?

I got a lot of this type of question this morning. Packers fans got their feelings hurt when Evan left for Tampa, and now they're reveling a little in the Bucs' lopsided defeat. It's been my experience players pursue what they believe is best for their careers. I wouldn't want a guy that didn't pursue what was best for his career.

Jim from State College, PA

I noticed some of the players' helmets are different on the top. Is this new design having to do with reducing head injury impact? I haven't heard any announcer discuss this in a broadcast. Can you shed some light?

Yeah, it's an attempt to reduce head injuries. I think there's a little man inside that trap door that jumps out and yells "Halt!" when a defender leads with his head. I think we're going to see more such design attempts. Helmets are likely to get bigger and more menacing. As a result, I suspect the next phase of helmet technology will include some new material that'll make the helmet shell lighter, which it will have to be as the helmets get bigger, or players won't be able to hold their heads up. Please don't send in helmet technology suggestions.

Jason from Wausau, WI

If you were Lovie Smith, what would you tell your team after that brutal loss?

The less said, the better. You're not going to fix that with words. How a coach reacts in hard times goes a long way toward defining his personality with his players. Panic is the worst possible response. Hard times offer a wonderful opportunity for a coach to win respect. Be calm, be supportive and do what it takes to fix what's wrong. The best thing a coach can say to his team is: This is what we're going to do and this is how we're going to do it. If you have a problem with how a guy is playing, call him into your office and tell him directly.

Tom from Sacramento, CA

Vic, it's currently 49-0 and even though I have no animosity toward the Bucs, I want to see a record tonight. Am I a bad person?

No, but you've lost perspective. NFL Network should've taken the game off the air and shown Heidi.

Brendan from New York, NY

Not sure if you saw the New York Times piece this week about how this NFL season has already seen a dramatic rise in short passes. So I guess reading "Ask Vic" is like getting the Times a few weeks early.

If the league doesn't back off this illegal-contact/pass-interference witch hunt, running plays will average more yards per attempt than passes will. I really, really dislike short passes. They're very boring.

Adam from Antigo, WI

Tough day to be a Bucs fan. Packers fans should feel fortunate.

That's an understatement, Adam. I think Packers fans should give some thought to what they've enjoyed the past five years: five consecutive playoff seasons, three consecutive division titles and a Super Bowl title. What teams' fans have had more to enjoy? Seahawks, 49ers, Saints, Patriots, Ravens, Steelers? Packers fans are living through one of the great periods in this team's history. I think Packers fans know that and appreciate it, but sometimes I wonder if they do. My inbox can be a very angry place. Here's the good news or, if you're delusional, the bad news: It doesn't get much better than this. The Packers are on a sensational run of success that's likely to continue into the foreseeable future. If that doesn't satisfy you, I feel sorry for you.

Andrew from Fullerton, CA

Vic, I found something in life that works. When you have a bad day, read "Ask Vic," put your life in perspective.

It works for me. I achieve a lot of perspective from reading the questions I receive and then sorting through my thoughts to find the answers. Always see the big picture. I got that piece of advice form a wise football man a long time ago, and it's advice that has always served me well. The little picture changes too quickly for us to spend time dwelling on it. The big picture changes less dramatically. It allows for more thorough contemplation, direction and perspective. The big picture is the Packers have another good team that is likely to be a playoff contender. That's all I want, for now.

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