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Packers offense theories abound

Beating Panthers begins with stopping the run


Terry from Fort Knox, KY

Vic, if the starting receivers aren't getting open, why not give Janis and Abbrederis a chance to see if they can make a play down the field or on some crossing routes? On the defensive side, clearly Palmer is not the answer, so why not give Jake Ryan a chance?

Ryan played in the game. The official stats credit him for a tackle. Jeff Janis and Jared Abbrederis will play when the coaching staff believes they're ready to play. Maybe that'll be soon. All we can do is be patient. I have complete faith in the coaching staff's ability to evaluate talent. This isn't the preseason. This isn't tryout time. Training camp, the preseason and all of the practices between then and now are for the purpose of ordering the players on the roster and preparing them for the games that are being played now. Playing time is earned in practice. The best players play. You know that.

Troy from McKinney, TX

What do you see from our run blocking? Are the holes there? Running the ball will be critical to righting the ship, so to speak.

Running the ball is the fix. I firmly believe that to be true. I saw some things in the running game on Sunday I liked, but the third-down conversions weren't there, and that's what killed the running game. When you're successful running the ball, you're converting third downs, sustaining drives, moving the line of scrimmage, dominating time of possession, opening the passing lanes, imposing your will, etc. That's why the running game fixes everything, but because the running game involves so many other aspects of a team's performance, fixing the running game isn't as easy as opening holes. It requires a blended performance. I think the Packers might be on the verge of running the ball the way they need to run the ball to be effective, and that means consistently pounding out yardage, not a long run followed by several no gains. The Packers need Eddie Lacy pounding out gains of four, five, six yards. When that happens, everything else will happen, too. That's my analysis of the situation.

Phil from Martinsburg, WV

Vic, do you notice Tom Clements doesn't hold the play sheet over his mouth when he calls plays? In this day and age, do you think teams have noticed that?

I knew this was going to be conspiracy week, but I wasn't expecting that one. Opponents are stealing the Packers' signals? Are we sure he's even calling the plays? Maybe Coach McCarthy just said Clements is calling the plays to trick the opponents. Oh, the intrigue. It's all about the plays.

Larry from East Lansing, MI

While it's disheartening to see your team get whipped on both sides of the ball, I am interested to see if the coaching staff can turn the team around. Let's not forget last year when the Patriots got whipped by the Chiefs, which propelled them to a dominant run, which culminated in a Super Bowl victory.

It's the coaches' job to fix what's wrong. Bill Belichick did it with the Patriots last year, and Mike McCarthy and his staff have done the same with the Packers. We saw that last season following the loss in New Orleans. The idea of going through a whole season without hitting a soft spot is absurd. The finest minds in the game are studying you every week and looking for weaknesses they can exploit. It's going to happen. No team in the league is better at every position than every team they face. Sometimes, the matchups will favor the opponent, and the coaches will have to work to disguise or minimize that matchup deficiency. The Patriots are masters at it, and Coach McCarthy's staff did a pretty good job of gaining a matchup advantage in last year's game between the two teams. Remember that?

Alex from Durham, England

Vic, the Broncos have just traded for Vernon Davis. This obviously makes them even more of a threat than they previously had been. Is this the final move in the win-now-under-Peyton storyline?

I think that's a fair assessment. It's win-now time in Denver, and they're doing a good job of it.

Zach from Oshkosh, WI

"Help is not on the way." Knowing Ted Thompson, your statement is correct, but for the sake of argument, Denver just bought some help at tight end. Why can't or shouldn't we do the same at wide receiver? I'd gladly give up a late-round pick for a guy who could alleviate our inability to stretch the field this season.

I don't know if that guy's available. A fast wide receiver for a late-round pick? Speed isn't cheap, unless it has hands of stone, and even then it's not cheap. You can find the catch-and-fall-down guys; they're everywhere. The deep-threat, big-play wide receivers are not a dime a dozen. They're special and you don't acquire them for a late-round pick. How about Sanzenbacher? Is he still available?

Hernan from Whitefish Bay, WI

Vic, can you point out some things the undefeated teams have in common (coaching style, offseason philosophy, players, etc.)? And how they differ?

The Patriots have Tom Brady. None of the other undefeated teams have him. The Broncos have committed their salary cap to winning now. The Bengals and Panthers haven't done that. The Panthers have a running quarterback. Brady and Peyton Manning seldom move from the one-foot square on which they pass the ball. Andy Dalton has really red hair. I can't remember the last red-haired quarterback to win a championship. Moral of the story: There's more than one way to win.

John from Whitewater, WI

Vic: Is it time to P-A-N-I-C?

One loss? I'll assume you're just being playful.

Matt from Rock Hill, SC

What does Green Bay have to work on the most for their matchup with Carolina?

Stopping the run tops the list because the Panthers are No. 1 in the league at running the ball and, all of a sudden, the Packers are in a stop-the-run funk. Everybody wants fancy plays. I'll settle for getting off blocks and stopping the run. That's not a play; that's the first fundamental step in playing successful defense.

Jonathan from Wilmington, NC

Knowing what we know now, if we played Denver this Sunday, how do we get faster to beat them?

The kind of playing speed to which Coach McCarthy is alluding is the result of reaction time, and that's all about thinking more quickly. The brain tells the feet to move. That's why Coach McCarthy accepted accountability in his press conference last evening for the Packers' playing speed on Sunday night. I hope fans heard that, as I did. Coach McCarthy was telling the fans it's his job to get his players to play faster.

Claus from Honefoss, Norway

Will a game like that have hurt Aaron Rodgers' case for MVP, or will it be forgotten if the rest of the season plays out the way we all hope?

Forget about that MVP stuff. Tom Brady has a pretty big lead and he'll have a chance to take the trophy home with him from Denver on Nov. 29. If he doesn't, then we can re-open the discussion. Right now, the only thing on Rodgers' mind is getting the Packers' offense back on track. He knows what the issues are. He knows what has to be done; so does Coach McCarthy. What we have to understand as fans is no quarterback or coach is going to tell all, because to tell all is to provide a scouting report for opponents.

Mike from Norfolk, VA

I'm a glass half full kind of guy. What positives came from the Broncos game?

I said to Mike Spofford on Sunday night before the game, that if this team has an issue on offense, playing against the No. 1 defense in the league will make it crystal clear. It did. I think we need to adjust our expectations accordingly. We have reached the first suspenseful point in the season. What will the Packers do to fix the offense? I love the story. This Packers team is writing one.

Tony from Cedarburg, WI

Vic, it is with great concern the game of football has forever changed due to the Miami-Duke game on Saturday. There are people agreeing the score should be overturned and Duke should get the win. What went from a once-in-a-lifetime play is now a complete disaster. If you could write a eulogy to football pre-instant replay, I would appreciate it. I need to let go of football how I liked it and learn to accept the modern game.

I am greatly disappointed in the ACC's decision to publicly censure the officials for blowing the call on the play. The ACC is my favorite conference and I love the regional product they've created, but it's my opinion they have made a terrible mistake on this issue. They have opened Pandora's Box on what will be a weekly firestorm of fire the officials.

Nuno from Carregosa, Portugal

What do you mean when you say the Packers were trapped?

I referred to Sunday's game as an ambush game. It's common terminology for when everything goes against a team. The Packers ran into a Broncos team on their best night of the season. As I wrote yesterday, I don't think any team in the league could've beaten the Broncos on Sunday. In contrast, the Packers came into the game with their arrow pointing a little sideways. They ran just 49 plays against the Chargers. That's the stat that bothered me the most from that game. Now, they're coming off a 46-play game. That's not Packers football. It'll change.

Tom from New York, NY

A win over Carolina gives the Packers the tie-breaking edge in the battle for homefield advantage. My prediction is the Packers will beat the Panthers and bring back a sense of calmness to Packernation. Your thoughts and prediction?

I think we need to sans the predictions and expectations. I like to watch, and that's what I'm going to do. There's a drama unfolding in front of our eyes. I don't want to miss it.

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