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New Orleans game bigger than I thought

To cheer or not to cheer in the press box


Jess from Los Angeles, CA

Last week, I saw Phil Simms crediting Peyton Manning for inventing the no-huddle offense, while Boomer Esiason continually rolled his eyes. So who invented the no-huddle offense?

I don't know who the inventor of it is, but I remember seeing Esiason use the "muddle huddle" long before Manning was in the league. The Bengals just stood over the ball as the play clock ticked off, daring the defense to attempt to substitute. It seemed a little cheap and it rubbed me the wrong way, but it was ingenious.

Koigi from Lynchburg, VA

Vic, to answer your question about the Browns: On Sunday morning, the question was how much and how long of a contract the Browns should offer Hoyer. On Monday morning, the question was if Manziel should start this week.

During last week's "Hallelujah Chorus" for Brian Hoyer's performance against the Steelers, I remember thinking to myself the Jaguars were going to get their first win of the season on Sunday. It's almost as though praise has become a curse. Remember the "Hallelujah Chorus" for Kirk Cousins? Who would trade for him? Should he be the Redskins' No. 1 quarterback when RG3 was ready to return? Well, now Cousins has lost his job to Colt McCoy. All of this is why I caution against chortling. Stay grounded, folks. It's difficult to do when your favorite team is playing as well as the Packers are, but it's the smart thing to do. Chortling angers the football gods.

Dan from Milton, WI

During his postgame press conference, coach mentioned the great fan atmosphere at the start of the game. I saw video of the UW marching band performance. How much does a great band like that add to the gameday environment?

It brings a college atmosphere to pro football, which has a tendency to look like a stage production with so many singers providing so many different adaptations of the National Anthem. It was refreshing listening to the Wisconsin band play the national anthem, instead of wincing through a 10-second vibrato hold of the word "free."

Daniel from Cary, IL

Vic, I was wondering, in a league with a hard salary cap, how do teams that are bad, like the Raiders, Jaguars, etc., manage to stay so bad despite having the same amount of money to spend as every other team?

For starters, the NFL doesn't have a hard cap, it has a soft cap. A hard cap wouldn't permit pushing money out of the year in which it's spent. The soft cap has caused a lot of teams to hit bottom and struggle to recover. The Jaguars soft-capped themselves into what was the worst salary cap mess in cap history, and I'm not sure they've ever recovered from it. In most cases, however, you can trace extended losing to the quarterback position. If you miss on a guy there, it's going to hurt you for multiple years.

Dan from Madison, WI

Do you have any concerns heading into New Orleans?

I don't have any concerns other than what the Packers would have for any game against a formidable opponent. This one is on the road and that'll make it more difficult. I guess that's the concern.

Mike from Pawcatuck, CT

Vic, I attended the game on Sunday. As Mike pointed out in his "What You Might've Missed," I noticed a lot of great blocks by Packers receivers in which they were driving the defenders into the ground. Do you believe we have one of the better blocking groups of receivers in the NFL?

It sure looks like it. I have to pay more attention to that.

Darrin from St. Louis, MO

With everyone talking here about the fake punt and the return, how do you think the Packers special teams have done so far this season?

I have the feeling either Micah Hyde or Randall Cobb is about to break a return. I thought Cobb was close to doing that this past Sunday.

Alex from Madison, WI

What do you think is the most important stat for a quarterback?

It's the stat that defines the identity of the team. If a team has developed an identity for late-game rallies, then fourth-quarter comebacks is like the quarterback's most important stat. If the team has established a reputation for being dominant, then the quarterback's passer rating is likely his most important stat.

Jim from Scottsdale, AZ

Vic, the team is 5-2 but we have only played one team with a winning record, Detroit. Does that mean anything when you evaluate a team during the course of a season?

I've seen that game played several times. It's what we do to create issues when there aren't any. If the Packers win this week against a 2-4 Saints team, they won't get credit for a win against a team with a winning record. Would a win in New Orleans impress you?

Michael from Janesville, WI

Vic, do the Packers have the best dynamic duo in the league with Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb?

They might. What's important is knowing what the Packers have works. Nelson and Cobb have a relationship with their quarterback that's as good as any receiver-quarterback relationship in the league. They communicate adjustments more fluidly than any receiver-quarterback combinations I've ever seen.

Jim from Guatemala City, Guatemala

Do coaches look at garbage time differently than fans? I sense some angst from the fans when the defense gives up a couple of scores. Can coaches let it go as the game is in hand or are coaches wired to be different? Are they still looking for opportunities to improve?

Every player is graded by his position coach for every play in the game. If you got beat in garbage time, it's going to count against you.

Steve from Ramsgate, England

Do you see the Lions' trip to London this weekend as a distraction?

It takes teams out of their routine, and that can be challenging, but if you overcome it, it's another thing you've done and you grow stronger from your accomplishments. Jim Caldwell has the Lions believing in themselves.

Bob from Seekonk, MA

Vic, suddenly the Packers have become the favorite to win the NFC championship and right behind Denver to win the Super Bowl. I believe they must go into New Orleans and win on Sunday night. If they do, I see them going no worse than 12-4 on the year and Seattle and San Francisco each losing a minimum of five games. The rest of the NFC doesn't scare me.

Wow! Sunday's game is even bigger than I thought it is.

Jake from Sun Prairie, WI

Vic, you often talk about perspective when watching football. While I can say I am a rare case of a passionate fan that enjoys the game with perspective, I believe it is you, Vic, who has lost perspective. You have not lost perspective on what role football plays in your life, but on what it's like to be a fan. It is your job to look at the game as objectively as possible to write a good story and you have been doing this for years. I say this because I've read a few sarcastic responses from you to fans in your last few columns. Perspective has been more easily achieved by you due to making football your livelihood for 40-plus years. For the rest of us, we get 16 days a year to yell, scream and cheer on our team in hopes they make the playoffs. You have admittedly succumbed to the powers of fandom last year by giving a big fist pump when the Steelers beat the Lions, which you've said is a press box no-no. I'm a big fan of your work, Vic, and I read your column every day, but please remember you are on a different level than fans, as an employee of the Packers in the quest for perspective.

So, I should cheer in the press box, or not cheer in the press box?

Charlie from Waukesha, WI

You have managed to work "Rubicon" and the "Oxford comma" into your answers. Any chance you'll use "Philistine"?

Sir, I am not a cretin.

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