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Packers react with accountability


Andrew from Miamisburg, OH

Disappointing end to a great season. That was my single thought after the final whistle blew. What were your thoughts after time was up?

At that point, my only thoughts were about doing my job. I was writing a bulletin game story at that point, which was followed immediately by postgame interviews, etc. My enduring memory of the end to yesterday's game came with about six minutes to play. At that point, I was making my way to the media auditorium for postgame interviews. Media use a catwalk to get from the press box to the media auditorium and from the catwalk I was able to look down on fans streaming out of Lambeau Field following the long fumble return by the Giants that sealed the Packers' fate. The fans' disappointment as they left Lambeau was palpable. I could feel their hurt. They walked quickly, quietly. I've seen it before in other places but, on this particular occasion, I was more sensitive to it. The Packers are the centerpiece of life in Green Bay; losing has to hurt more than it does in other places. What I've come to realize about Packers fans is that they are good, fun-loving people that show up on game day with a collective smile on their face. I hate to see such innocence go unrewarded but, really, has it gone unrewarded? Nineteen straight wins including a Super Bowl title is a pretty good run.

Randy from Dyer, IN

Should Rodgers have played half of the season finale? Was that too long a layoff?

No, he shouldn't have played half of the season finale. That's my opinion. I've covered teams and coaches that did the exact same thing and it worked for them. Mike McCarthy put a healthy, rested and ready-to-play team on the field for this game and that was and should've been his No. 1 goal. I didn't like this matchup and I think I had made that clear in the weeks leading up to this game. The Giants are all wrong for a team that lives and dies with the pass. They have the defensive front to get pressure with their down four and drop seven into the passing lanes and that, in my opinion, was the problem on Sunday. Making matters worse, the previous game between the two teams gave the Giants a template for what to do the second time around. They designed their coverages so they were in layers, with one layer passing the defender onto the next layer, and it's a scheme they executed with perfection. That kind of layered coverage, when executed, can produce interceptions. I think it weighed on Rodgers' mind. On top of that, the Giants' cornerbacks did a very good job in man-to-man coverage down the boundaries, and that gave their coordinator, Perry Fewell, the confidence to go to a little more single-high stuff in the second half and start sending that fifth rusher, and that's when the pass-rush started getting to Rodgers. It wasn't about the layoff, in my opinion. It was about the Giants and the ability to rush four and drop seven. Against that defense, you need to be able to run the ball, and that's not the Packers' game.

John from New York, NY

How is it that McCarthy and Rodgers constantly struggle against this "Tampa Two" defense?

"Tampa Two" is nothing more than "Cover Two" with a deeper drop by the linebackers. The Lions played it and the Packers didn't struggle against it. The Bears played it and the Packers didn't struggle against it. The Giants played it the first time around and the Packers didn't struggle against it. They struggled against it this time because the Giants' execution of it was better than it was the first time. It clearly helped the Giants to have played the Packers just a month ago. Understand this, "Tampa Two" or "Cover Two" is not a defense to stop the run; it invites the run and that's probably one of the reasons the Packers seemed intent on running the ball. "Tampa Two" and "Cover Two" are defenses for stopping the pass. You need to be able to run the ball and force your opponent to get that eighth man up in the box. Then you can throw the ball.

Seth from Decorah, IA

After the Saints-49ers game, is it safe to say defense still wins?

I haven't heard any coach or any ex-jocko TV analyst proclaim that defense wins championships. In fact, Jim Nantz and Phil Simms made a point in the broadcast of the Broncos-Patriots game of saying this is the new NFL and it's a passing league and it's not about defense anymore, it's about offense. Defense wins championships? What defense? The 49ers gave up 32 points to the Saints. The Giants gave up 388 yards to the Packers. The Ravens were run on for 132 yards by Arian Foster. The Steelers had the No. 1 defense in the league and they got torched for 316 yards by a guy who has trouble making the ball spin. Who's playing defense? I understand that somebody has to be No. 1, but I would hardly compare any defense of today to the 1985 Bears, 2000 Ravens or '76 Steelers. Yet, I'm receiving an avalanche of e-mails from Packers fans who are all of a sudden convinced that defense wins championships. Is that the excuse? How about those turnovers and dropped passes? The Giants ran six offensive plays in the third quarter; the Packers defense pitched two three-and-outs. That was the Packers' chance to get back into the game, but they didn't. I can't help but wonder what would've happened had the Packers tied the game in the third quarter. If we're going to analyze this game, then let's be fair.

Aaron from Fennimore, WI

Vic, I just bought a house, car and boat with no payments until 2013 based on the Mayan calendar. How do you see that playing out for me?

The Mayans obviously missed the call on yesterday being the end of the world, so I wouldn't put much stock on the other prediction.

Ethan from Cedar Rapids, IA

It seems that you have a grudge against intentional grounding. Why would you allow quarterbacks to spike the ball?

Because they've been intentionally grounding the ball for years. Every time a quarterback throws a ball at the feet of a receiver for the purpose of avoiding a sack, he's intentionally grounding the ball. Every time he throws a ball out of the back of the end zone, he's intentionally throwing an incompletion. How many times have you heard coaches talk about the need for a quarterback to throw it away? Why the pretense? Let him spike it. It would give rise to a new defensive stat: spikes. Defensive linemen would have sacks, hurries and spikes. That's good for fantasy football, right?

Bill from Virginia Beach, VA

Hey, Vic. Rumor has it Dom Capers might be going to Oakland. Any chance you're going with him? I'll help pay for the move.

I'm not a Cali kind of guy, Bill, but thanks for the offer.

Debra from Hartland, WI

Why did we call a time out with seconds to go and the Giants were going to run the clock out before halftime? They regrouped and threw a Hail Mary to score a touchdown.

Obviously, the intent wasn't to save time so the Packers could get the ball back. Either it was the result of a miscommunication or somebody didn't like the personnel package the Packers had on the field or the coverage they were in or something to that effect. Coming out of a time out, you've got to be able to keep a running back from going 23 yards, or at least tackle him in bounds to make the clock expire. That's inexplicable.

Glenn from Savannah, GA

With all of the miscues on offense, I really think the Packers should have replaced Rodgers with Flynn in the fourth quarter. Do you agree?

No, I don't. Please, let's not allow defeat to cause us to lose our balance.

Dan from Andover, NJ

Let me save you the time of typing a response to most of the questions you will get. You can just cut and paste this: It's players, not plays. Coaches don't drop balls, fumble, miss tackles or lose the one-on-ones in a pass-rush.

The same coaches that in 2010 turned in one of the great coaching performances in NFL history guided this team to a 15-1 record this year. All of a sudden, they can't coach? That's ridiculous.

Ryan from Fredericton, NB

Vic, I need a pick-me-up. What is the outlook for the 2012 Packers?

They've got a lot of draft picks.

Lewk from Davenport, IA

So what now?

Dignity, that's what. I watch teams very closely in defeat. How do they react to losing? It'll tell you everything you need to know about the leadership of a franchise. How did the Packers react in yesterday's postgame? With accountability. Mike McCarthy stood in front of the media and pointed the finger at himself. Aaron Rodgers followed his coach to the podium and did the same. When Rodgers was asked if he felt betrayed by his receivers, he fought back an angry response and then pointed the finger at two open receivers he missed. All of the strong franchises react this way. Last year, when the Packers beat the Steelers in the Super Bowl, I didn't hear one Steelers player or coach say, "If we hadn't fumbled we would've won the game." Teams can achieve victory in defeat. They can become stronger according to the strength they show in defeat. I saw evidence of that yesterday and I have no doubt we'll see more evidence of it in the next few days.

Fritz from Santa Clara, CA

Insomuch as the Packers lost more than the Giants won, do you think teams will finally realize, as the Colts did a couple of years ago and as Green Bay did this year, that resting your team does more harm than good?

Your reaction is exactly the kind of reaction teams must avoid in defeat. The Giants won the game because they made plays. They were deserving of the victory. You're trying to make an excuse for losing. That's the wrong reaction.

Sam from Hobart, Tasmania

You keep saying Dom Capers doesn't coach bad defenses. I saw one that couldn't tackle, couldn't rush the passer, barely covered the receivers and couldn't get off the field on third down. Losing Jenkins in free agency was a huge mistake.

If you wanna blame this loss on me because I had maintained faith in the defense, go ahead, but please don't try to sell that Cullen Jenkins stuff to me. One man wouldn't have made the difference. Not even Lawrence Taylor could rush AND cover. Hakeem Nicks gave us a sample of what's needed, when Nicks ran away from defenders on his 66-yard touchdown play. The Packers need speed on defense. That's why they played so much two-down-lineman "nickel" this season; because it made them a faster defense.

Ethan from Eldridge, IA

I demand an explanation. All of us Packers fans deserve one.

OK, here's the explanation: It's a game and sometimes you lose. I think you need to take a harder look at the Giants. Take a look at that front four on defense. Take a look at those two running backs, those receivers and that first-pick-of-the-draft quarterback that appears to have reached maturity. I don't think you have a full enough respect for the Giants. That's a good team.

Philip from Chicago, IL

Is it OK to cry?

No, it's not. But it is OK to be strong and silent. It's OK to be gracious and loyal. It's OK to take some time off from football, recover and come back strong.

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