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Packers hitting stride as midseason approaches

Last two minutes the most important two minutes


Dick from Plant City, FL

Vic, I was in the nosebleed section with several family members, and we were roasting in the sun. I felt like my skin was on fire and I wasn't doing anything but sitting there and cheering with all of the other Packers fans. Also, I didn't have on dark green clothes and a helmet. Do you think it was the heat that affected the defensive play in the second half? If so, how were they able to suck it up and make those two stops at the end of the game?

First of all, the Packers training staff was prepared. They had the handheld awnings, which meant the players were able to get out of the sun when they weren't playing. As I wrote last week, it's not the temperature as much as it is the sun. Secondly, the Packers scored a huge time-of-possession advantage. That, in my opinion, is what won the game. If it's reversed and the Packers defense had been on the field for 37 minutes, forget about it.

Erik from Stockholm, Sweden

On the final play, the Packers initially had "11 personnel" with tight end Quarless aligned outside. The Dolphins took a timeout. After the timeout, the Packers entered the field with the same personnel in the same formation and the Dolphins had to correct their defensive formation again, putting a linebacker in single coverage on Quarless. How could the Dolphins not be prepared for the exact same look after a timeout?

They sell Madden in Sweden?

James from LaPorte, CO

Coach Philbin is getting crucified in the media and the fans are calling for his head. I guess it's a tough game for tough guys.

Fire everybody is sweeping the country. It's how we make ourselves feel good after a loss. Why take the high road when the low road is so much more fun?

Don from Carlisle, PA

Spiking vs. grounding the ball. How do the rules differentiate between grounding the football and a legitimate spike?

Spiking the ball to stop the clock must be executed in a precise manner. The action must be immediate and continuous. Once Aaron Rodgers faked the spike, he couldn't spike the ball without it being grounding.

Nic from Laporte, IN

What do you think is the biggest obstacle Green Bay as a team must overcome moving forward in the season?

The potential for injuries is the obstacle; they must be avoided and I don't know how you do that other than by crossing your fingers. This team is beginning to hit its stride, just as it did at about this time last season.

Owen from Portland, OR

It's hard to put too much fault on the offensive line for the Dolphins pass rush on Sunday. Wake and Vernon seemed to be past the line just as the ball was snapped. However, I can't figure out what's wrong with the run game. At the beginning of the season, we kept hearing this might be the best offensive line in the McCarthy era. Since then, I've heard Bulaga is playing as well as ever, Linsley is earning a starting spot, Bakhtiari is continuing to improve, and our guards are playing as well as ever. So what gives?

The Dolphins defense is what gives. Yeah, I believe this is Mike McCarthy's best offensive line, but the other team has good players, too. The Packers won't play against a better left defensive end than Cameron Wake. He takes the right-side run away; he forces you to run left, which allows the Dolphins to shade to that side of the field. That's what a great player does. If you're seeking FULL CONSISTENCY, forget about it. There is no FULL CONSISTENCY. Ask the Seahawks about FULL CONSISTENCY. This isn't a video game. This is real-life football and the other guys are getting a pep talk, too.

Jack from Naperville, IL

Vic, some camera shots in Sunday's game revealed Sun Life Stadium as surprisingly empty. Did it look that way in person, or was it just a bad angle?

It's always like that. There's a lot to do in Miami.

Dawood from Maple Grove, MN

What's your take on Davante Adams so far? I am personally very impressed with how fast he has come on. The presence of mind on that fake-spike play was not something I would expect from a rookie.

Aaron Rodgers called it. He told us a few weeks ago Adams was coming on. I don't think we've seen anything even approaching his top end.

Scott from Fitchburg, WI

How big of an impact do you think McCarthy's commitment to the no-huddle prepares the Packers offense for two-minute drives?

Bingo! If the most important two minutes of the game are the last two minutes of the game, then why would you practice doing something you won't be doing during those two most important minutes of the game? That goes for the defense, too.

Andrew from Ashburn, VA

The elusive quarterbacks have been the bane of the Packers defense in recent history. How and will we stop Cam Newton from beating us with his legs?

I don't have the answers to those questions, but I'll tell you how not to try doing it: Don't use spy technique. I hate spy technique. I have never seen it work. It sure didn't work last night when the Rams tried it.

Bill from Raleigh, NC

Vic, I didn't see much separation from our receivers and their secondary and wonder if we were only running short routes. Was the Miami secondary or pass rush effective enough to keep us from trying enough long pass plays that might have loosened up their coverage?


Jon from Sappington, MO

Vic, could you elaborate on what you mean by this being an extraordinary game? Also, what did you witness in Super Bowl XIV that was similar?

It's an extraordinary game because I don't think any of us will ever forget it. The circumstances, which included a cold-weather team playing in the heat, made this game unique. What I witnessed in Super Bowl XIV was a defense having the opponents' complete audible system. Several Rams assistants, including defensive coordinator Bud Carson, had just gone from the Steelers to the Rams. There's no way to change your audible system for one game, so you have to dummy it up. In the huddle, Terry Bradshaw would say, for example, "Second number, on two," which meant the second number was the play he was calling and the ball would be hiked on the second hut. Brown was the Steelers' hot color back then. Bradshaw called nearly the whole game from the line of scrimmage. At the line, he might say, "Brown 36, brown 42. Hut, hut." Sounds easy, but it required a lot of focus at the line of scrimmage by Bradshaw and his offense. The Steelers tested the Rams on the first play of the game. Bradshaw made a check and the Rams jumped down into the hole. After that, Bradshaw had to dummy it up for the rest of the game. I don't know how Aaron Rodgers did it on Sunday, but that's how Bradshaw did it.

Gary from Davenport, IA

Vic, those Rams uniforms sure looked sharp last night. Why did they ever change them?

The guy that decided to stop wearing those beautiful uniforms should have rams horns surgically transplanted into his head.

Don from Weaverville, CA

For me, the most intriguing play of the game was the decision to go for the first down on fourth down in the third quarter. What's the thought process in that situation?

The thought process is "Aaron Rodgers is my quarterback. He will get the first down." He did. I gotta tell you, I'm not a fan of those middle-of-the-field go-for-its, but they always seem to work.

Adam from New Haven, CT

Vic, will the game against Cam Newton and the Panthers give us an update on the status of the gap we saw in the season opener?

No. OK, everybody, it's time to check ourselves and come to balance. The season is only six games old. December is still a month-and-a-half away. Easy, now, easy.

Owen from Los Angeles, CA

Vic, I've been watching the Packers all my life. I used to know what a catch was and now I do not. I used to know what pass interference was and now I have no idea. But I know when I see something special and Sunday was special. I'm just enjoying the show. From Favre to Rodgers and season to season. This is the golden age for Packers fans.

Don't feel bad. I've been covering the NFL for 43 years and I don't even know what a tackle is.

Zach from San Antonio, TX

With the potential for both starting cornerbacks missing the next game, could we expect a move back to the slot for the time being for Micah Hyde? Ha Ha seems up to the test of a start.

I guess that's possible. We are going Ha Ha crazy, baby. Ha Ha mania is sweeping Packernation. I'm so glad you guys drafted him.

Greg from Danbury, CT

I recall people asking questions about how important things like locker room speeches are. You tend to pooh-pooh the concept, and I understand your reasons. For old dogs like us, the introspective life is the thing. But for these young guys, they are full of energy and their dreams have no limit. It occurs to me powerful words are great motivators, be they from the coach, the captain or the guy with the biggest mouth. Hey, whatever it takes, right?

If they work, use them, but how do we know when they don't work? Nobody talks about that. It's been my experience they only work until the first time you get knocked on your wallet. It has to come from within. You need self-starters. I think the Packers have self-starters.

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