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NFL facing significant threat on Sept. 30

Beating the Jets begins with stopping the run


Casey from Katy, TX

Vic, you briefly touched on a subject that has been bothering me for some time now. I think football is being televised far too frequently. Recently, you were asked if the NFL could survive on the casual fan, and your response was no. Do you think the oversaturation of football at both a collegiate and professional level will lead to a decrease in viewership?

The explosion in football on television began with the AFL-NFL merger; that's how long the question you're asking has been asked. In all of that time, the answer has been no. America's appetite for football increases. If there's a saturation point, we should've reached it following the 1980's lawsuit against the NCAA that gave us the explosion of college football on TV, especially on ESPN. The reaction, however, literally gave us second-tier college football on weeknights. I see nothing that indicates we've reached or are even nearing a saturation point in football on television. I think there's a greater chance we'll just run out of time slots, and that's when pay per view will become a more significant option.

Alan from Woodland Hills, CA

You observed Coach Coughlin up close. Do you think the Giants have quit listening to him or is it more about players, not plays?

It has been my experience that when teams lose, it's usually because they lack talent.

John from St. Augustine, FL

Football is a nutty sport to be a fan of. The Jaguars looked like world beaters in the first half of the game vs. Philadelphia, until the real Eagles came out to play in the second half. Then they looked just awful. Amazing how quickly things can change. I think it's driving me to drink.

It's September football, which is now August football because front-line players don't play much in August anymore. I'm a December guy. I like the drama and I like the product. That's when the real teams come out to play. I'll wait.

Josh from Plainview, TX

Vic, your column has changed my life. I now judge things on a value basis rather than a needs basis. I needed chicken for a recipe, but there was a sale on steak. Steak and potatoes for dinner tonight.

I went out at lunch time yesterday to buy some pants. On the way to the store I said, "Vic, you need to buy dark-colored pants. No more khakis." So, I'm looking through the rack of pants and all of the dark-colored pants are either unappealing, the wrong size or overpriced. Right in front of me are two pairs of khakis; perfect size, perfect for the office and the golf course, relaxed fit, a brand I've worn and loved for years, and they're on sale. My closet now has two more pairs of khakis. Who doesn't need value?

George from Scranton, PA

In light of all these people questioning your honesty, which is utterly ridiculous, I figured this would be the right time to tell you how important "Ask Vic" is in my life. For about four years, all I did was drink. I was on the fast track to not waking up one morning. Luckily, I have a wonderful family that threw me a life preserver before I completely went under water. I have been sober now for over a year and a half. Life is much better now. But those first few months were very hard. It was hard to make it through a single day without wanting to drink again. Every afternoon, though, I read "Ask Vic." I viewed it as my midway point of the day. Every morning I would tell myself to just make it to "Ask Vic" and I would be alright. It took my mind off everything I was going through. To this day, every article you write makes me laugh and makes me think. So thank you, Vic, from the bottom of my heart.

You did it, George. I had nothing to do with it. It's OK to impress yourself.

Will from Iowa City, IA

Vic, when talking about the Falcons-Saints game and that you think it's hard for an offense to put away a team early, meaning the hurry-up only has an adverse effect on the defense and tiring them out, what do you think about the Packers' new no-huddle, hurry-up offense?

It's not new. They've been using it successfully during the years I've covered the team. It fits this team's personality and philosophy. Coach McCarthy is an aggressive, offensive-minded coach who has a quarterback that can execute his coach's plan. It doesn't play to the defense, but Coach Capers signed up for this. He knew Coach McCarthy wanted to play up-tempo football. From the defense's perspective, it sets the bar higher for the opponents. It makes the opponent play the game the Packers want to play. It likely means more plays, more yards and more points, and all of that's not good for the defense's rankings, but it's how this team plays because that's how its roster is built and its philosophy is shaped. I haven't heard one word of complaint from Coach Capers. Do it any way you want; just do it.

Ty from Whitefish, MT

In a question in the midweek chat, someone asked Mike what he orders in the press box. He ordered a muzzle for you. That made me laugh. What do you like to order during the game, Vic?

I don't order anything. I pay attention to the game. Thanks for the information, Ty. It's good to know these things.

Koigi from Lynchburg, VA

Vic, as you are fond of saying, football is first and foremost about human confrontation. Hyde said: "It's all about effort. It has nothing to do with your smarts of the game or your speed or your intelligence or anything like that. It's all about effort. If you want to get a guy on the ground, you can." I think that says it all. It's time to move on to the next game.

Micah Hyde is 6-0, 197, is built like a porch post, can throw a tight spiral 60 yards, run through 11 big, fast men 93 yards with a football, and is a world-class athlete. None of that matters? It's all about want to? Is that why the punter had his faced stepped on, because he didn't want to make the tackle? With all due respect to that feel-good, want-to stuff, it all starts with talent. Hyde is an immensely talented player I consider to be a naturally good tackler. For him, yes, it's all about want to.

Peter from Taylor Allderdice High School, PA

Vic, so it had to bother you at least a little being labeled an "East Coast guy." Please, educate the Wisconsin fans a little about Mike McCarthy's hometown. Here's my football question: There's a gap, help is not on the way, but it is a long season and maybe some guys underperformed. Can Packers fans realistically hope the talent gap can be closed by the playoffs?

Coach McCarthy comes from the neighborhood that borders yours, which produced Curtis Martin, and Coach McCarthy's neighborhood is full of good, hard-working people that take little and give a lot. They are strong-willed people that know how work toward a goal, and there is every reason to believe the Packers will close that gap between now and the time it must be closed.

John from Grand Forks, ND

I, too, thought about Mark Cuban's words on Monday night. I love football and can never get enough, or so I thought. I skipped the second Monday night game for sleep. Do the fans dictate when we hit too much? I worry what that season will look like for fans.

The fans dictate everything. If the ratings indicate they want less, the networks will adjust accordingly. I don't see it as a concern. What I do see as a concern is the threat the FCC will repeal the NFL's TV blackout policy, which could happen on Sept. 30. I think it's a mistake to do that and I think it could jeopardize the futures of a lot of franchises that aren't positioned as securely as the Packers are in terms of ticket sales. What happens to small-market franchises with tickets to sell when fans can see games without threat of blackout? Will the stadiums go empty? I don't care what the imbalance of revenue is between ticket sales and TV, empty stadiums are not a good thing. What bothers me most about repealing the TV blackout policy is that it'll reward the least-deserving fan. The ticket-buying fan is the backbone of the game. He and she create the atmosphere that makes the game attractive. This is not a good month for the NFL. It's going through a very difficult period with the Ray Rice thing, and it's looking down the barrel of this Sept. 30 FCC deadline.

Chris from Hannover, Germany

Vic, can you share some words on the times when the QB was just another back? Why does the QB get the ball from the center?

The quarterback was a blocking back in the single wing. The tailback was "The Man" in the single wing. What's in a name?

Matthew from Fayetteville, NC

Vic, with the fullback position being overtaken by the expanding tight end role, do you see a fullback ever making it into the Hall of Fame?

As the position is defined today, no, I don't see a fullback making it into the Hall of Fame, but Jim Brown, Jim Taylor, Franco Harris and Larry Csonka were fullbacks and they're all in the Hall of Fame. In their day, the fullback was the star ball carrier. Forget about designations. It's about function.

Michael from Toronto, Ontario

Vic, what was the reasoning behind adding facemasks to helmets in the first place? Who was the first one to do it?

In a game against the 49ers, Otto Graham took a blow to the face that resulted in a deep gash. Graham went to the locker room and had the gash stitched, and he returned to the game wearing a protective device on the front of his helmet. That event is largely credited with launching the facemask era, but it was bound to happen sooner than later. What I remember most about the early years of that era is Bobby Layne and Tommy McDonald not wearing facemasks when everybody else was wearing them.

Matthew from Maffra, Australia

In 2011, it seemed like the other teams eventually figured out how to beat the Packers offense. Is it possible the Seahawks defense might get similarly figured out this year?

Figured out is another way of saying "find a weakness." When a team plays it straight, as the Seahawks do, you usually have to find a weakness in the personnel, attack it and make them scheme to cover that weakness. That's when the chess match begins. Did you see a weakness?

Scott from Lincoln City, OR

What's the biggest threat or test the Jets present to the Packers?

It's the ability to run the ball and dominate time of possession. The Jets rushed for 212 yards and dominated time of possession by nearly 10 minutes in their game against the Raiders. The Packers must stop the run. It's that simple.

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