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Nobody's complaining today


Juan from Moreno Valley, CA

Do you think the Packers defense can keep it up for the rest of the season?

I didn't expect that kind of dominant performance this early in the season, so I'm probably not a good person to answer your question. My expectations are for slow, steady growth. I'm going to stick with my original thoughts.

Andrew from Jacksonville, FL

What do you think about the fake field goal?

Had it not worked, it would've been perceived as a panic move. At the least, momentum would've shifted to the Bears. The fake field goal, because down and distance made success a touchdown-or-bust proposition, is one of those plays that you have to be absolutely sure will work. You have to be absolutely certain you're going to get the look you want, and you have to be absolutely certain your players will execute the play. I'm stunned at the boldness of the call. I'd love to hear more on the subject, but coaches are never going to tell the whole story, for obvious reasons of protecting strategy. Suffice to say, they had it pegged, and when something succeeds with that kind of stunning precision, you have to admire the achievement, not question the attempt. Special teams coach Shawn Slocum did his homework on this one, as evidenced by the fact he was able to sell the idea to his head coach for it to be used in the most extreme of circumstances.

Matt from Rothschild, WI

Well, you were right, Vic, a win and all is right with the world. However, while the defense and special teams looked great, I couldn't help but notice the passing game is still a bit off key. Given the fact that most of this unit has been together for a while now, to what do you attribute this disconnect?

Dropped passes are the cause and it's been going on for too long. An entire first half of domination was nearly wasted, and it was largely because of two dropped passes. If the Packers make those catches, they wouldn't have needed to take the fake-field-goal risk.

Jered from Baton Rouge, LA

Vic, I understand this was just one game, but do you think we caught a glimpse last night of what the defense is capable of being? Has the foreseeable bar now been set?

I covered an offensive coordinator who liked to say, "If you can do it once, you can do it every time." It's one of my favorite coach quotes. Yes, what we saw last night is the level of performance this defense is capable of achieving. Yes, the bar was set higher last night, but I think it would be a mistake to think a rebuilt defense needed only one game to perfect its performance. Patience is a virtue.

Aaron from Fort Wayne, IN

Hi, Vic, I love your column. What I don't love or understand is everyone calling for Capers' head after one bad defensive game. It happened all last year. It's just very disappointing.

It was more than disappointing for me, it was embarrassing. I felt bad for the people who flooded my inbox this week with frustration. Come on, we're better than that. This defense lacked speed last year. It was obvious, especially to opponents. Coach Capers knew where the problems were, but he never threw his players under the bus. He stood in front of reporters and calmly answered their questions, acknowledging his unit's failings. He never called anyone out or used their failing as an excuse. During the offseason, he got new players and went to work teaching them how to play defense within a scheme that has been successful in this league for going on three decades. He deserved more than one game to effect that change. He produced change in just two games. That's extraordinary. It's my hope the fire-everybody crowd calms down and develops an appreciation for the fine art of teaching young men how to play professional football, and I hope they develop an appreciation for one of the best defensive minds the game has ever known.

Matthew from Madison, WI

All of Packernation is celebrating. I have to imagine you are even happier than most. How do you feel about the re-emergence of both our run game and our physical defense?

Don't forget special teams. The combination of a strong defense, running game and special teams were the difference in last night's game. Without them, the Packers don't win that game.

Cory from Milton, ON

Vic, your thoughts about fan reaction if the fake field goal had not worked?

It would not have been positive. Panic could've filled the air. What message would it have sent to the players, on both sides? It's one of the boldest calls I've ever covered. It takes a tough-minded coach to make that call.

Chad from Middleton, WI

The MVP of the game: Tramon Williams.

Nothing beats rush and cover and that one-two punch was provided by Clay Matthews and Williams. I have another candidate for star of the game: Cedric Benson. I think he introduced a physical element to the Packers offense that's been lacking for quite some time. Everybody needs to feel like a bully once in a while. It satisfies our self-esteem to know we're the physical equal of our opponent. With all due respect to the passing game, on which success in today's game is built, it doesn't engender a physical attitude. You need a running game to be able to do that.

Ron from Chicago, IL

Vic, last year, in one of his Tuesday columns, McCarthy said regarding rushing plays, "It's not the yardage, but the number of attempts." This week, he said it's not the number of attempts, it's the yardage. What's changed?

When the yardage dips as low as it did against the 49ers, it doesn't justify the attempts because your opponent is stopping the run without respecting the run. For a pass-first team such as the Packers, the goal for the running game is to freeze the defensive front one count before it goes into pass-rush mode. That's achieved by running the ball well enough and often enough to create balance between run and pass. Two yards a carry achieves nothing. It allows the defense to play run on the way to the quarterback. I started to see evidence of that at midseason last year. Tampa did it.

John from Austin, TX

Why does the referee go through the exercise of going under the hood to review calls?

The first time I saw it, I thought it was comical. We're going to fix this call, but we're not going to let you see how we're going to do it. Meanwhile, TV was showing replays of the play in question over and over, and Mike Pereira is going to go through the whole thing with us and carefully explain why the call should be this or that. By the way, I didn't receive one complaint about the officiating in last night's game. Nobody is calling the league out and demanding a return of the regular officials. Nobody is outraged or disgusted. Nobody is demanding I share their opinion and join them in their harangue on the officials. Just win, baby.

Tom from Fairborn, OH

I thought the 3-4 was initially developed as a better way to stop the run, not enhance the pass rush. Am I wrong or did I just sleep through 20 years of football?

The 3-4 is a pass-rush defense. Move those outside linebackers up to the line of scrimmage and put their hands on the ground and you've got a 52, and that's a stop-the-run defense.

Brett from Whitewater, WI

Vic, you once used the word "talented" to describe the Packers secondary. Thank you for demonstrating to all the readers why you are a sports writer and not a scout.

You should've waited a little longer. You're not alone.

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