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Packers have to beat Giants at their game


Mark from Seattle, WA

When you interview players, is it against professional protocol to ask for jerseys, footballs and the like to be autographed? I imagine that after 39 seasons of covering football, you probably have a pretty incredible collection of memorabilia.

It is not acceptable professional behavior to ask for any of those things. Yes, I have mementos from my years covering football, but they are mostly items that are representative of what I do. I have, for example, the number placard that accompanied the press box seat I used at Three Rivers Stadium. My reporter friends scraped it off for me during the final minutes of the final game at Three Rivers. I only have one autographed item, a picture Fred Taylor autographed for me and left on my desk when he was released by the Jaguars. We had talked a lot about Fred becoming a member of the 10,000-yard club and Fred makes mention of the "10K club" in his inscription. The picture hangs in my office at home. Otherwise, my "office" is full of memories. You don't need memorabilia when that which you have experienced was so momentous and left such an indelible mark on your soul that all you have to do is close your eyes to see it all again. I close my eyes a lot.

Matthew from Allentown, PA

The Giants haven't played a game on natural grass since Week 10; the Packers have played their past four games on natural grass. Advantage Pack? I'd like to hear your thoughts.

The game on Sunday will be played on Green Bay turf. Advantage Packers.

Steve from Erie, PA

Vic, I am the NFL rules genie and will grant you three rules-change wishes. What are they?

1.) Defenders may engage, not hold, receivers until the ball is in the air. 2.) Quarterbacks may spike the ball to avoid a sack, effectively eliminating intentional grounding. 3.) Given the option to spike the ball to avoid a sack, the quarterback will be subject to the same rules that apply to runners when the quarterback leaves the pocket; in other words, no more feet-first slide stuff.

Tom from New York, NY

Play to the crowd is the key. The extra emotion and determination the crowd provides will propel the Packers to victory.

I agree, it's the Packers' greatest advantage. The Packers need their fans to cheer them on, and the fans need to be given something about which to cheer. It works both ways.

Keith from Richardson, TX

Aaron will have been out for three weeks. Should he have played at least a half in the Lions game?

Yeah, the half in which it was certain he would not be injured. What if he had played in the wrong half? Aaron Rodgers is rested and ready to go. That's what you want.

Roger from De Pere, WI

I've been a Packers fan since I was knee-high to a grasshopper and I cannot remember any players or coaches going out into the media and guaranteeing a victory or talking trash. Any thoughts from a media point of view?

From a media point of view, I prefer players that express themselves, as opposed to gag orders. Jason Pierre-Paul expressed himself. Now he's responsible for his words. It's a little extra drama to this game and I like it. I like flavor. Why be afraid of words?

Chuck from New York, NY

With all the controversy about touchdown celebrations and criticism outside the locker room, I am wondering about free speech and football. Is there a standard clause in contracts that says players shouldn't participate in partisan politics?

I hope not. I would be disappointed in any player that would surrender his right to free speech. It is, in my opinion, the single-greatest freedom we enjoy as Americans.

Corey from Lake Charles, LA

I was wondering, would you rather have a more sure-handed receiver or one who is good at getting yards after the catch but isn't as sure-handed?

I'll take the big-play guy that doesn't always catch the ball because I can find 10 catch-and-fall-down guys in that pile of snow in the Lambeau Field parking lot.

Guy from Billings, MT

Vic, regarding the crown of the field aiding the runner, is that where the term "running downhill" comes from?

It might because it was during the wishbone years that I first heard the term "downhill runner" used.

Cedar Rapids, IA

I agree that the Giants could be the toughest opponent in the playoffs for us. I am very anxious and I can't get my mind off Sunday. What do you do to settle the nerves and get through the week?

When I go home after work, I build a fire, pour myself a refreshment, sit down in front of the fire with the dog that likes me, and imagine that I'm a tired executive who makes a lot of money and has a perfect family. The refreshment helps stimulate those thoughts. About an hour later, I'm ready for conversation.

Megan from Portland, OR

I have to disagree with your statement that break-through offenses or defenses are because of new talent and not coaching. I think the 49rs are a direct contradiction to that statement. I think Harbaugh coaches to Smith's ability and has inspired the team on both sides of the ball with his intensity and game-planning. Their roster has not changed much but their coaching sure has.

So, Aldon Smith and his 14 "new" sacks don't matter, huh? I guess Jim Harbaugh really is the coach of the year.

Gustavo from Bakersfield, CA

What do you think of the Giants defense?

I think it's a niche defense. By that I mean it plays to a certain style and identity, which is penetrate, disrupt and rush the passer. If you neutralize the Giants' front four, you take the Giants out of their game. I thought the Falcons had a good game plan. They wanted to run the ball and quiet the rush, but the Falcons didn't have the beef up front to convert those short-yardage plays and that changed the game. If you're going to pound the ball, you have to move the sticks so you can continue the pounding. The Packers aren't a pound-the-ball team. The Packers have no choice but to beat the Giants at their game.

Ian from Tempe, AZ

The Giants offense has been on fire since Green Bay's last meeting with them. What will Coach Capers have to do to ensure that Eli Manning won't dominate the defense?

When you don't possess a pass-rush on which you can rely to disrupt the play and affect the quarterback, you have no choice but to concentrate your efforts on disguising your coverages. That's what I expect the Packers to do on Sunday. I think they're going to give Eli Manning a lot of different looks. I call it amoeba defense because it's going to change shapes after the ball is snapped.

Julie from St. Louis, MO

What is the Giants' biggest weakness the Packers need to exploit to win on Sunday?

The Giants are 29th against the pass. You don't often see defenses that rush the passer as well as the Giants do give up that kind of yardage in the passing game. What it tells me is that if the Packers can block the Giants' pass-rush, Aaron Rodgers should have a big day.

Andy from Green Bay, WI

Taken from the movie "Fever Pitch" is a quote that goes along with your philosophy of just watching a game and not believing you can have any control in what happens in the game: "It's good for your soul to invest in something you can't control."

I love that quote. Life is often out of our control. We are often unwilling participants and we have no choice but to deal with circumstances we not only didn't invite but tried to avoid. Sometimes you just have to surrender to life and be a spectator to it. I think it's possible football has taught me that lesson. Thank you for the words.

Luke from Cuba City, WI

Vic, The other day you described the type of linemen for 3-4 and 4-3 defenses. Pierre-Paul is a 4-3 lineman. How would he fit on the Packers roster?

On a 3-4 team, Pierre-Paul would probably be a linebacker. Imagine him and Clay Matthews coming off the edges. Whoa!

Ken from North Tonawanda, NY

Vic, I can't believe you actually wasted time and space to discuss proper punctuation, when I've submitted questions about football that have been ignored repeatedly. Do you see James Starks as being a major factor, as he was last year in the playoffs? Little has been reported as to how he is responding with his injury. Is he the secret weapon?

Uhhhhhhhhhh, I'll say yes.

Kyle from Saint Paul, MN

How do you define a great play-caller?

I liken great play-callers to great pool players. They both are thinking about their next shots. A great play-caller has a theme to his work. He's setting up something in the fourth quarter with what he's calling in the first quarter. He's got a misdirection play, for example, that he's dying to use but, first, he's gotta lure the defense into chasing the ball from the backside. Mike McCarthy is one of the best play-callers I've ever covered. I see examples time and again of McCarthy calling plays to set up other plays. Great play-callers are also very good at doing things by formation, to use the vernacular, and McCarthy is the master of doing things by formation.

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