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New Year's Day look back on 2012 season

'Fail Mary' will have an impact beyond this season


Bill from Fredericksburg, VA

Why didn't Green Bay blitz on third-and-11?

1.) Blitzing leaves you vulnerable in coverage to the side from which the blitz has come. 2.) Christian Ponder is at his best when he's out of the pocket. My guess is the Packers wanted to keep Ponder in the pocket and make him be a passer. 3.) The Vikings had been using tight formations and seldom sent a lot of receivers into the passing lanes, so it was logical to believe eight defenders would result in double coverage or better on every Vikings receiver. It was a sensible strategy.

Peter from Eagan, MN

It appears some of the Packers defensive backs either lack the courage or ability to tackle Adrian Peterson. What do the coaches do to solve the problem? Do you hide the weak link, substitute in running situations, bench the culprit, or come up with a creative scheme?

You find a way to keep Peterson from getting into the secondary. That's what I refer to as the second level, and when a back of his speed and power gets to the second level, he's going to win against defenders whose primary skill is for defending against the pass, not the run. You can't stop Peterson by tackling him in the secondary. If he's getting past your front seven, he's won the battle.

Brandon from Norfolk, VA

Adrian Peterson is human confrontation. He puts fear in defenders to get in front of him.

The fear is for being humiliated. A few years ago, Peterson ran over a smallish defensive back. The kid came in with his head up and his hips sunk. He was ready to strike the rising blow with perfect tackling form. Shortly after impact, the kid was made to look like road kill. That play then made it onto every sports highlight show for the next several days. The kid was the star of "He Got Jacked Up." They laughed at him, mocked him and my guess is the kid's self-esteem took a hit from which he never recovered. The human confrontation is: How do I get this guy on the ground without getting jacked up?

Andrew from Algona, IA

Thoughts on head coach firings? I think it's a little ridiculous. After all, it's a quarterback league and it's almost a direct link to success or failing.

You are what your quarterback is.

Ron from Fresh Meadows, NY

Vic, after seeing the Packers relinquish more than 400 yards in two games to Adrian Peterson, isn't it amazing to consider that Lombardi's Packers never allowed Jim Brown to rush for more than 100 yards in one game. Those teams had the nutcracker drills and full contact two-a-day practices. How can today's teams improve their tackling if they never practice tacking?

I appreciate what you're saying, but Lombardi's teams didn't play against Jim Brown twice a year every year, let alone three times in a season. I can only find four games Lombardi's teams played against the Browns when Brown played for Cleveland, and one of those games was in the meaningless Playoff Bowl or Runnerup Bowl.

Ellen from Troy, MT

My brother and I were talking and he heard that the "Fail Mary" game in Seattle has more ramifications than a loss for Green Bay. The so-called win for Seattle got them into the playoffs, a spot that should have gone to Chicago and which ultimately got Lovie Smith fired. Is that true?

Yeah, that's true, and it's also true the Packers' loss in Seattle will impact next spring's draft order. The Packers will pick 27th. Had they won that game, they'd be picking no higher than 29th. Let's remember that next spring. Fate has a funny way of imposing its will.

Michael from Madison, WI

I think the biggest beneficiary of the cold will be the pass defense because Ponder is not good outside.

The Vikings haven't won a game outdoors this season. They've played 10 games in domes. In don't think I've ever seen that before. The Vikings are clearly a dome team and playing outdoors in Green Bay in January is not in their DNA, but they have a great running back, and that gives them hope.

Tera from Bowerston, OH

What does liking and respecting a player from another team have to do with being a Packers fan? I thought that was all part of being a football fan; knowing that there are other players, good players on other teams, and enjoying watching them play is all part of loving the game.

How we react to defeat provides us with a snapshot of ourselves.

Landon from Coeur d'Alene, ID

Christian Ponder is averaging a 90 for his passer rating in the previous three weeks, compared to 80 for Rodgers. Is it safe to say their quarterback is hotter than ours? Also, can we win with our defense without pressure and turnovers?

It's easy for you to love Ponder and be excited to watch him play. You aren't a real Packers fan. Why do you even cheer for the Packers? By the way, I think you need to check your stats.

John from Boise, ID

The Packers have gotten off to a number of slow starts. Do you feel the coaches need to do a better job inspiring the players or do the captains need to do a better job pumping up the team?

It's cold, they're not going to cancel the game, you know what to do, go do it.

Eric from Lubbock, TX

We often see defenses bring in an extra defensive back to stop the pass. Could we possibly see a defense bring in an extra lineman or linebacker to stop Adrian Peterson?

I'm all for it.

Stephen from Salem, OR

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Jake from Spooner, WI

How can Dom Capers keep his cool when he calls a great play and the players whiff on the execution?

I imagine the third-and-11 must have been extremely frustrating for him because after seeing the play on the all-22 view, Coach Capers' strategy should've been rewarded. The Packers had five defenders to the completion side of the field and three defenders covering the two receivers outside the hash. That scheme and those numbers should've produced a win. So why didn't it work? Players, not plays.

Josh from El Paso, TX

You've said there's a difference to tackling and running in cold weather. Hits hurt more and it's about will. What player in your mind, past or present, is THE cold-weather player?

I think Bart Starr is largely considered to be THE all-time cold-weather player and Starr is from Alabama. Terry Bradshaw is the best cold-weather quarterback I've ever covered and he's from Louisiana. I once asked him why he was so good in cold weather, and he told me he hated playing in the cold. He said he had trouble feeling the ball in his hand in the cold and that sometimes he'd get so cold he couldn't stop shaking inside. So I did some research and what I found out is that Bradshaw wasn't always good in the cold. He once threw for nine yards in Buffalo on a cold day early in the season when you're not expecting it. What I found out was that it wasn't cold weather that made Bradshaw good, it was the playoffs that made him play his best football. If you view Bradshaw's postseason career as a full season, you'll see that it's the best season of his career. That's true of most great quarterbacks who've played a lot of postseason games. There are exceptions: Peyton Manning and Dan Marino are great quarterbacks that haven't been great in the postseason, but take a look at Tom Brady's and Joe Montana's postseason stats. Great players play their best football when it matters the most, and that usually means they've had to play well in cold weather.

Phil from Ceres, CA

Do you really feel it is going to be that much different at Lambeau on Saturday than Sunday's game?

Yes, I do.

Jeff from Agat, Guam

You said this season was one of the best you have ever covered. Interested to hear some of the specific reasons why. Happy New Year!

This season has been loaded with exciting games, two of which I will never forget because of the historical quality they possess. I'm speaking, of course, about the Seattle game and the game in Minnesota this past Sunday. I don't have to tell you about the Seattle game; it'll live in infamy. The game in Minnesota came within one more broken tackle of an Adrian Peterson combination walk-off win and all-time, single-season rushing record. It's one of the most dramatic runs I have ever seen. Before the play began, I turned to Mark Murphy and said, "What if this guy gets it all right here?" When he broke the line of scrimmage, I thought to myself, "He's going to do it." This season has been a treasure. It's been a great season to cover and I have a feeling it's just beginning. I think this team can go deep. Happy New Year!

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