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McCarthy, Thompson will do what's right; count on it

If any of you are looking for any last-minute gift ideas for me, I have one


Peter from Eagan, MN

Mike McCarthy mentioned Ted Thompson for the first time related to the decision to let Aaron Rodgers play. Last week, Coach McCarthy seemed to be lobbying for Aaron to play, so it appears Thompson is the main player in the organization that is against putting $110 million at risk. I am not upset with the decision. There just seems to be less to gain and more to lose in putting Rodgers back on the field. My plan for Sunday is to sit back and enjoy the drama unfold before me.

Coach McCarthy confirmed on Monday that it is his and Ted Thompson's mutual decision to play or not to play Aaron Rodgers. Ask yourself this: What part of Coach McCarthy or Thompson doesn't want to make it into the playoffs? Now that you've answered that question, consider the restraint these men are summoning when the quarterback says he wants to play and the men that make the decision say no. There is right and there is wrong, and wrong is not an option. McCarthy and Thompson will do what's right. Count on it.

Paul from Farnborough, UK

What, to you, makes a fitting Super Bowl champion?

The team that's undefeated in the postseason; that's it, nothing else. These aren't the old days. The days of the iconic teams, such as the Packers of the '60s, the Steelers of the '70s, the 49ers of the '80s and the Cowboys of the '90s are gone. One player defines a team's run nowadays. Tom Brady and the Patriots are the perfect example. Brady has stayed but everything around him has changed, except the coach. This is a game of replacement. This is an era of extreme parity. I don't think the best team won the Super Bowl last season, but so what? We're not trying to find the best team, we're trying to find which team has what it takes to get hot at the right time. That's the new game; that's the new league. Never has "Just win, baby" been more appropriate than it is today.

Chase from Morton, IL

Vic, what do you think about moving Micah Hyde over to safety?

It would be an easy move for him to make, but how do we know he's not headed for a star career as a cornerback? They're more difficult to find than safeties.

Peter from Guettenbach, Austria

One of your all-time favorite seasons? Can you name your three all-time favorites?

I probably have half a dozen or so seasons I would lump into the favorite category, but I'll give you one from each of the teams I've covered: 1989 Steelers, 1996 Jaguars and, should the Packers win in Chicago on Sunday, the 2013 Packers. The '89 Steelers started the season by losing their first two games by a combined score of 92-10. On the last weekend of the season, they needed a litany of things to happen for them to make it into the postseason, and the scores fell like dominoes, the last domino falling on Monday night when the Bengals lost. The '89 Steelers then came one play, a dropped pass, from playing against the Browns in the AFC title game. The '96 Jaguars are legendary for their upset win over the Broncos in the playoffs, but the real drama was what happened on the final day of the season for the Jaguars to make it into the playoffs as a 9-7 team. They needed Morten Andersen, then the most accurate kicker in the history of the game, to chunk a chip-shot field goal on a beautifully warm and calm day in Jacksonville. I was standing next to the goal posts when I saw the ball come off Andersen's foot like a dead bird. This Packers team has played three of the zaniest games I have ever covered: at Cincinnati, at Dallas and this past Sunday's game against the Steelers. You don't forget those kinds of games, and I'll never forget the weekly Rodgers drama that continues to play out.


RB James Starks

Sam from Summerville, SC

It seems to me that people are not giving enough credit to how Starks was able to come into the game as well as he did. Thoughts?

He's playing the best football of his life and that's a good thing because the Packers are going to need him this Sunday. In one of the recent conference calls we did with the coach of the Packers' next opponent, he went out of his way to talk about James Starks when the question was about Eddie Lacy. Coaches don't miss a thing when scouting an opponent, and the coach's remarks on Starks got my attention. He's averaging 5.2 yards per carry and has become a real threat in the screen game. I've always thought the screen pass is his play. Starks has found his niche as Lacy's complementary back. All of a sudden, the inconsistencies are gone. Maybe the expectation for him to be a feature back was too much for him. This is the new expectation for him, that he come into the game and take the load off Lacy and, in the process, provide a change of pace. He carried the ball 10 times this past Sunday and I would expect him to get as many carries this Sunday.

Aaron from West Allis, WI

"What good did 15 wins do the Packers in the 2011 playoffs? Just get into the playoffs; that's all." It, umm, got us into the playoffs?

I think, umm, you're missing the point. It didn't take 15 wins to do that and you can't take the extra wins with you because everybody starts the postseason 0-0. Just get there.

Bill from Raleigh, NC

Yes, Vic, I'm excited about the drama of human confrontation, but how can we beat the Bears?

In my opinion, you beat the Bears by running the ball, dominating time of possession and, in the process, ratcheting up the pressure on Jay Cutler by making every possession critical. Take the game to him. Make him beat you.

Joe from Shenzhen, China

If he's healthy, is a rusty Rodgers leading an offense that hasn't played with him in two months preferable to a Matt Flynn, who's soldiered through late November and December with the team?

Aaron Rodgers is "The Man." If he's medically cleared to play, I think he'll have an opportunity to answer your question. It's a fair question.

John from Flagstaff, AZ

Vic, my wife and I invited a couple over for dinner on Christmas Eve. They are from the Pittsburgh area originally and he's a Steelers fan. He just emailed me, "I'll understand if you want to cancel Tuesday evening." I need your help in interpreting this. Is he showing his winsomeness or something else?

He ain't showin' his winsomeness. He's stickin' it to you.

Blake from Phoenix, AZ

Vic, love reading your column every morning. Calm my nerves for me. If the Packers win on Sunday, my college graduation present is a trip to the wild-card game the next weekend. It's Monday and I'm already going crazy.

Wow! Sunday could be the worst day of your life. If the Bears win, you're cooked. Goodbye trip! Adios, Green Bay! You really do need to calm down.

Robert from Mount Olive, NC

Now would it not be awesome to get San Francisco at home if they win their half of the bracket?

Hey! If any of you are looking for any last-minute gift ideas for me, I have one. I'd like the 49ers right here in two weeks. I want them brought from their happy holiday slumber over there on the West Coast with all the other rich people, and I want them brought right here, with a big ribbon on their heads, and I want to look them straight in their eyes and I want to tell them what a cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, hopeless, heartless, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed football team they are! Hallelujah! Where's the Tylenol?

Jon from Goodyear, AZ

I'm puzzled why people say the Eagles had nothing to play for on Sunday night. By beating the Bears, they clinched having the No. 3 seed, if they can beat the Romo-less Cowboys. What say you?

It's risk/reward. Is the risk of playing your starters worth the reward of the No. 3 seed? What if the Eagles had lost LeSean McCoy? I don't think the three seed is that big of a deal. Had it been the two seed, absolutely it's worth it. I have a feeling Chip Kelly would've played it the same way had there been absolutely nothing at stake. He's one of those attack-style coaches. I like that. I think everybody likes that, as long as nobody gets hurt. Had he lost McCoy, Kelly would be getting hammered.


Jim from Medford, WI

If you look at the stat sheet, the defense played pretty darn good.

I agree. It forced three punts in the first half, and the field goal it allowed late in the first half was largely the result of a 46-yard kickoff return. The defense also pitched a three-and-out at the Steelers in the first half, following a 41-yard punt return by Antonio Brown. In the fourth quarter, the defense twice forced Steelers punts, once following a three-and-out, and the Steelers' game-winning touchdown was the result of a Matt Flynn fumble the Steelers recovered at the Packers' 17-yard line and an encroachment penalty on Nick Perry after the defense had stopped the Steelers and held them to a field goal attempt. After that, they had to allow the touchdown to be able to get the ball back. I thought Sam Shields and Tramon Williams did an outstanding job on Brown and Emmanuel Sanders. The only criticism I would have of the defense's play is that it allowed too much rushing yardage. That continues to be a problem and it must stop or Matt Forte will take over the game this Sunday.

George from San Diego, CA

Were you as happy as I was when Marc Trestman soundly said Jay Cutler was the starting QB for the Packers game? I think that was as important a decision as who will be the Packers QB on Sunday.

The Bears have an issue at quarterback, too. Run the ball, stop the run, make Cutler beat you.

Matthew from Las Vegas, NV

Vic, emotional goodbye to Candlestick. Can you fathom saying goodbye to Lambeau?

When you "live" in these buildings, as I have, you get very attached to your areas. I grew up as a reporter in Three Rivers Stadium. In the final minutes of its final game, a couple of my reporter friends walked down to my old press box seat and scraped the old No. 37 placard from my seat and sent it to me. I have it framed with a picture of Three Rivers from that game; it hangs on my study wall. I felt the same way when I walked out of my office at EverBank Field, and it won't be any different when I leave Lambeau. They're not just places, they're where we go to feel emotion, which is exactly what we feel when it's time to say goodbye.

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