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No saving players for a rainy day

Packers' pass rush needs to return to its level vs. Seahawks


Jim from Des Peres, MO

Isn't the probable absence of Harrison Smith for the Vikes a pretty big deal? We would hate to lose Clinton-Dix, that's for sure.

He's a dynamic player, no doubt. He was listed as a limited participant in practice for the Vikings on Thursday, so he could be back out there. If not, Minnesota has had a couple of games now to adjust to his absence.

Brian from Kingsford, MI

The Minnesota Vikings and their coach have had the Packers' number lately. It seems like Aaron lets them get inside his head more than any team I've seen him play against. If they start slow, will Aaron Rodgers recover mentally? No matter their injury report the Vikings always make it a game against us.

I agree with that last part, but I don't know about anybody getting inside Rodgers' head. The Packers lost in Week 2 because of turnovers and a failed fourth down in the red zone, and because Bradford played the game of his life. It's always tough against Zimmer's defenses, not because of any mental issue, but because his defenses have really good players.

John from Prescott, AZ

Another Bears record we are about to break – if we "run the table" and Chicago doesn't win another game, the Packers will be the all-time leader in team wins in NFL history, 762-761 (including playoffs).

That's all fine and good, but a Chicago win over Washington would help the Packers, so that can wait until next year. Or maybe the Packers can just pass the Bears in January.

Bill from Brooklyn Center, MN

Spoff, just a minor point regarding this weekend's games: Even if the Packers win Saturday, we would still prefer that Detroit lose on Monday. The reason? If the Packers go into Week 17 one game behind the Lions (that is, both teams win Week 16, or both teams lose Week 16), and if the Week 17 game were to go to overtime, a tie in that game would favor the Lions. But if we go into Week 17 tied in the standings (both 9-6), a tie in Week 17 would favor us, as we'd both be 9-6-1 and would win the head-to-head tiebreaker. And in that overtime, knowledge that either a tie-is-as-good-as-a-win, or a tie-is-as-good-as-a-loss, can significantly impact clock management strategy. It can also impact, for example, whether you play for OT or for the win on the final drive of regulation.

I hear you, but if Tampa Bay and Washington both lose on Saturday and the other dominoes fall right in the strength-of-victory tiebreaker, I'd still take a Detroit win Monday night if it clinches the wild card.

David from Tomahawk, WI

During halftime, I often wonder if Don Capers high-tails it from the booth to the locker room to communicate adjustments that need to be made. Does he participate in any halftime coaching discussions with the team, or is this left to the position coaches?

All the coaches in the booth try to get to the locker room at halftime. In some stadiums, it's more challenging than others, and halftime is only 12 minutes, so everybody's hustling. At Lambeau, there's a catwalk the coaches get on after they take the elevator down from the press box level, with a fleet of golf carts and drivers waiting for both teams. They pile into the golf carts and get transported along the catwalk to the top of the stairway that leads down to the locker room, and then they reverse course to get back upstairs the same way when halftime ends.

Jon from Omaha, NE

How do we shut down Kyle Rudolph?

Cover him.

Gary from Davenport, IA

If the Browns win a game this year, will the 2008 Lions pop champagne corks and say a toast?

I doubt it, but they'd probably be happy for the Browns players to not have to endure what they did.

Dave from Hartford, WI

Coming up with the Packers' fourth best RB of the '90s (Levens, Henderson, Bennett) is hard.

Favre? Aside from Bennett and Levens, the only other Packers RB to rush for more yards than Favre in the '90s was Darrell Thompson, and it wasn't by much (1,643 to 1,395).

Trent from Milford, IN

Say the offense has the ball and it's second-and-goal from the 20 because of a sack or penalty, and the next play there is a defensive holding call. The offense gets a first down at the 15, but is it first-and-goal or first-and-10?

First-and-10, I believe.

Matt from Green Bay, WI

I will say this about the column since Vic started writing in flip-flops. The element of how our weather affects outsiders has evaporated in the Carolina sun. No slight to Biff or Spoff, but being Wisconsinites you don't have the same disdain for cold that Vic had. I loved his little anecdotes about living here and his daily commute. Vic made cold seem like a life-and-death situation.

He used to laugh at me when I'd complain about going out to watch a 2½-hour training camp practice in 90 degree heat.

Nathan from Palmdale, CA

Is it safe to say that an O-lineman's job is to attack the D-line on run plays and defend from them on pass plays? That would explain why they prefer to run the ball much more.

The aggressors have more fun.

Adam from Madison, WI

I see so many questions about keeping Ty out on special teams. I liken it to a baseball team using a starting pitcher on only a couple days' rest. In a must-win situation, what are you saving him for? If you don't win today, tomorrow doesn't matter.

Bingo. No saving players for a rainy day here. It's the same reason you see if Clay Matthews or Nick Perry can make one big play to help you when not at full strength, as long as they aren't going to make their injuries worse.

Jeff from Green Bay, WI

The last time we faced Minnesota, we exposed their line and stuffed Peterson (and injured him), yet Bradford and Diggs ate the Packers' defense for lunch and finished with a win. Now our OLB group is banged up and broken and pressure is almost gone without them healthy. How does this team create turnovers and keep momentum without a pass rush?

The pass-rushers aren't any less healthy now than they were two weeks ago against Seattle. Elliott is a question mark, but Fackrell is back, Matthews is better, and Perry might give it a go. Peppers and Jones are still your best bets health-wise. The group got the job done against the Seahawks and has to return to that level.

Tom from New York, NY

I produce news here in Manhattan. Your column and podcast are fantastic distractions from a crazy world. However, both of you are missing one thing. Catchphrases. Wayne has his "dagger" and Vic his "know what I mean?" You can't host a show without one.

I'll have to work on that.

Bill from Ringle, WI

"Pro Bowl" is a great honor and well deserved by those selected. Question: Is "All-Pro" a notch higher?

No question. The All-Pro team is the top player at each position, one per spot. There's a second team selected as well, again, one player per position. It's far more prestigious and harder to attain.

Jon from Alexandria, VA

In response to other readers and NFL Coach of the Year, it has to be Jason Garrett. Their veteran starting QB gets hurt in Week 3 of the preseason, and the team doesn't skip a beat. Some of that credit goes to Prescott, sure, but the head coach deserves a lot of credit for their turnaround. He sets the tone for the team, and that team is incredibly solid this year.

I'm inclined to agree, but I also see strong arguments to be made for Jack Del Rio, Ben McAdoo, Adam Gase, and McCarthy (if the Dolphins make the playoffs and Packers win the division). Plenty of valid choices if you ask me.

Chase from Sunnyvale, CA

It saddens me to think that players skipping a bowl game is a thing. To me, I'd feel like I was abandoning my teammates, fans, and passing up an opportunity. There are no guarantees in life that you will ever get to play in another big game, and certainly not with those players. Do you think this move will hurt their draft stock? Or is there enough information already out there for scouts and teams to make decisions?

Having given this more thought over the past few days, I think there are only a select few players who can't help their draft stock in a bowl game, so I'm not sure this will become the trend some fear. That said, those select few are the biggest names, obviously, because of all they've accomplished. Could this be the underbelly to an expanded playoff system so the elite players aren't just skipping one game, but a chance to play for a championship against several elite opponents? I don't know.

Jordon from Overland Park, KS

All this talk about Ty Montgomery and his athletic ability to perform two positions at a high level, I hope the mental aspect does not go unnoticed. Takes a really smart person to pick up all the nuances of two positions. If you could compare that ability to something not related to football, what would it be?

I'm not sure there is a comparable, but there's no discounting Montgomery's Stanford smarts in all this, for sure.

Cody from Eagle River, WI

It was mentioned the Packers' strength of schedule this season so far is 96-83-1. What is the Lions'? It seems they have been struggling against halfway decent teams this season.

The scheduling formula has the schedules of division rivals vary by only two games. With regards to the Packers and Lions, Green Bay played Seattle and Atlanta (a combined 18-9-1 so far), while Detroit played Los Angeles and New Orleans (10-18). That changes the Lions' strength of schedule to 88-92.

John from Newburgh, IN

Am I the only one who remembers Ty Montgomery putting the ball on the ground three times in the first Bears game? He's shown it was a fluke, likely in part due to his newness to the increased contact of being a RB. But all these questions and comments about why the Bears went for the ball can be answered easily. The Bears had it on tape.

You are definitely the only one who remembers, because Montgomery's only recorded fumbles this year were against Dallas. He lost the ball twice; one went out of bounds and the other was recovered by the Cowboys late in the fourth quarter. That's been it.

Jeff from Kenosha, WI

Hi guys, will the play of Casey Hayward this season have any effect on the compensation the Packers receive for him? Can you tell us what determines the compensation a team gets for a lost free agent?

It will factor in. The two biggest pieces to the mysterious compensatory pick formula are contract size and performance. Leading the league in interceptions and making the Pro Bowl could lift the compensatory pick a round or two higher than it otherwise would have been.

Justin from Powhatan Point, OH

Please tell me Davante Adams wasn't being serious when he said the gloves made him drop the touchdowns. I thought I hinted some sarcasm, but many radio show hosts thought otherwise.

The symbolism of Adams shredding the gloves brought a smile to my face. Hearing that some actually think he was a Little Leaguer blaming his bat for striking out makes me laugh.

John from Madison, WI

It looked like Mike was going to end every answer Wednesday with "Just beat the Vikings." Maybe you guys should do that for the rest of the week. All this looking ahead is a fool's errand right now.

Just beat the Vikings.

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