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Packers win the toss; what will they do?

On the eve of the big game, these are your final thoughts


Todd from Indianapolis, IN

Who is your Packers MVP of the regular season?

Aaron Rodgers. In this offensive system, if it's anybody but the quarterback, this team is in trouble.

Charles from New Orleans, LA

I read your column every day and I am a fan, but your know-it-all type of attitude is annoying me a bit. Have you ever been wrong in your life? When's the last time you admitted you were wrong?

My wife has one of those foam-rubber sleeves that goes over bottles so you can hold them without your hand getting cold – it's an absolute must-have item. On it is written: "I didn't know when I married Mr. Right that his first name is Always."

Nick from De Pere, WI

Vic, can you explain the relative advantages of the quarterback lining up under center vs. the shotgun?

When the quarterback is under center, he can receive the ball and retreat to the depth of the pocket without having to take his eyes off the defense. When he receives the ball in the shotgun, he's already where he needs to be to distribute the ball. Some quarterbacks don't move their feet as well as others; the shotgun is for them. Some quarterbacks drop back seamlessly. It's a natural movement for them. It's all about what the quarterback wants. If it's third-and-long and there's no threat of run and you can't sell play-action, and the quarterback prefers to be at the depth of the pocket when he receives the ball, then the shotgun is the way to go. A lot of coaches I've covered don't like the idea of the quarterback taking his eyes off the secondary. The "Pistol" set allows a team that wants to run the ball to sell pass and still run power. It's a kind of pass-action. That's the great advantage of the "Pistol" shotgun. The backs are positioned behind the quarterback.

Paul from Nashville, TN

I think the winner of this game plays in the Super Bowl. Agree or disagree?

No, the winner has to win one more game after this one to get to the Super Bowl.

Steve from Minneapolis, MN

I think many of us would love some insight into how the chess game of calling plays works during the game. Does the defense just watch for who comes onto the field for the offense, then quickly calls a play and the necessary personnel gets on the field? It seems the other players don't get the defensive play call until everyone is out there, so how do they know who to send out before the call? The behind the scenes for that 35 seconds between plays is never really talked about much.

If the offense substitutes, the defense has to be given a reasonable opportunity to do the same. The defensive coordinator decides on his strategy according to down, distance and personnel. If it's third-and-one and the offense runs three tight ends onto the field – the defensive coordinator has done his homework, so he's probably expecting as much – then the defense is likely to go to a heavy-in-the-pants package. As long as coaches are getting scouted looks, they're prepared in advance for every down-and-distance and personnel-package situation they'll see. If they get an unscouted look, and there won't be many of those at this time of the season, then they'll either have to adjust on the fly or call time out. Preparation is the key.

Jacob from Darwin, MN

Green Bay exacts revenge on the 49ers and the Seahawks extend the Falcons' playoff woes to set up a "Fail Mary" rematch in Lambeau Field. Almost sounds like it would be too good of a story to be true.

That's the plan.

David from Arlington, VA

How is it that a player like DuJuan Harris can be completely out of football, get picked up from a car dealership and then look so good playing, all within the same year? Do teams really miss that badly when assessing talent, or do some players just need to be in the right system?

You can't keep everybody. I promise you, Pittsburgh and Jacksonville loved Harris, but they ran out of uniforms. America is loaded with football talent. We don't have to go abroad for our players, as baseball and hockey do. All we have to do is put on the tape of a college game and find our next running back or wide receiver. What's tough to find are the guys at the premium positions, especially the quarterbacks and big guys. There's a limited supply of those people. In my opinion, fans get too enamored with wide receivers. If the fans had it their way, a team would keep 10 wide receivers. In scouting circles, and relatively speaking, wide receivers are a dime a dozen. You can always find what you need, as long as you have "The Man." Look at what Peyton Manning did for Pierre Garcon from Mount Union College. How about Victor Cruz? Quarterbacks, however, are usually the product of a high pick. The Tom Bradys don't come along very often in today's game; in the old days they did, but not now. The same goes for left tackles. Marshall Newhouse is a rarity. Left tackles tend to be high picks. The Vikings' Matt Kalil was the fourth overall pick of this year's draft. The 49ers' Joe Staley is a first-round pick. That's why I say get the quarterbacks and the big guys early; you can get the other guys later.

Jim from Fairview Heights, IL

I think contain will be more important than sacks against the 49ers. Not allowing Kaepernick to run and forcing him to pass could be playing into the hands of our secondary. Any opinion?

I agree with you. Make a runner be a passer. I have this vision of Colin Kaepernick standing in the pocket tomorrow night. I see him standing there and looking and looking and getting antsy. I could be wrong. It's just what my instincts tell me.

Lance from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Two years ago we faced and contained Mike Vick on the road, on the way to the Super Bowl. How does defending Vick compare to the challenge we face in Colin Kaepernick?

Kaepernick has young, fearless legs. He's never been wounded. That's the difference. In his mind, there isn't trouble he can't avoid. There isn't a rush he can't outrun. What if there isn't a rush? What does he do then?

Tim from Sun Prairie, WI

You might be tired of this question, but if the Jets end up releasing Tebow, do you think the Packers would try to pick him up, especially if they could pay him the minimum salary? I really think with the right coaches, he could be a great quarterback. And we know the Packers run one heck of a QB clinic. Plus, he is a great person and role model. What's to lose?

I'm not going to fall into the Tebow trap. I moved my family 1,300 miles north at a time in my life when most men are moving south, to quiet the sound of that haunting voice in my head that said, "Tebow, Tebow, Tebow." I'm done with it. I have a snowblower and I'm dug in for the winter. I don't know what the Packers would do, and I don't want to know what the Packers would do. I think Aaron Rodgers is a very good quarterback. He's good enough for me.

Jesse from Fitchburg, WI

I was just re-watching the Week 1 game on NFL Network. The turning point of the game was Rodgers throwing the interception in the fourth quarter after the defense stopped the 49ers on a three-and-out. The very next play was a Frank Gore touchdown. This game could have had a different outcome if Rodgers takes the offense down the field for a TD. Is it fair to say the team that doesn't make turnovers will win this game?

Yeah, I think that's an accurate statement, but I don't think your assessment of the season opener is in any way accurate. That game, in my opinion, was total domination by the 49ers from beginning to end. The only thing that made it close on the scoreboard was Randall Cobb's punt return for a touchdown, which gave the Packers a short-lived burst. The best thing about that game is that it was four months ago and much has changed about each team.

Michael from Madison, WI

Has anyone in San Francisco watched a Packers game since Week 1? Every article and comment I have read from the Bay Area talks about Green Bay's complete lack of a running game. I guess that's just the image the Packers have now. What say you?

I say good? I say I'm not going to say anything that would give anybody in the Bay Area reason to believe the Packers aren't the same team the 49ers defeated on Sept. 9. I think this could be a huge advantage for the Packers, that the memory of that game could promote a distorted image of the team the 49ers will face in Candlestick Park tomorrow night. Chest-thumping is for after the game, and if you've won the game, why do it then? Just win, baby.

Jerry from Wilmington, NC

Hey, Vic, I thought the purpose of each team submitting their injury report is not only to protect players but to also keep teams honest. Is that not the case or did the Vikings pull a fast one in not revealing the severity of Ponder's injury?

The Vikings did nothing wrong. They reported Christian Ponder's injury as it should've been reported. The problem is with the system. The new system doesn't require daily game-status reports; it only requires a report on practice participation, until Friday. In the old days, a player had to be listed as probable, questionable or out on each daily report. That would've probably required the Vikings to have listed Ponder as questionable at some point prior to Friday, which would've alerted the Packers that something was wrong. Listing him as being a limited participant in practice wasn't a red flag because lots of players are limited participants in practice, especially late in the season. The Vikings reported the facts. I would prefer that we go back to the old way of reporting game status. Why don't we do it that way anymore? Because the Patriots and Colts, and others, were listing everybody on their teams as questionable. Maybe the commissioner needs to address that.

Pat from San Francisco, CA

Why no "Packers Everywhere" event Friday night in San Francisco, like the one in San Diego last year?

They require time to arrange. We didn't have enough advance notice of this game to make those arrangements.

Matt from Melbourne, Australia

Steve Young said this week that this season has been Aaron Rodgers' greatest, because of the injuries to his offensive weapons and the lack of a true threat in the running game. He went on to say that if Aaron had a back he could put the ball into his belly, pull it back and have reaction from the safeties and linebackers, that he could not be stopped.

I agree. If Aaron Rodgers had a 1,200-yard back, play-action would be a lot easier to sell and he'd be seeing more single-high coverages, each of which would produce more downfield throws. Joe Montana won his first Super Bowl by nibbling. That 49ers team had no running game and Montana dinked and dunked his way to a title, and that largely created the notion that Montana lacked arm strength. When he got Roger Craig, the ball started going downfield and Montana had more than enough arm to get it there.

Daniel from Kingston Upon Hull, UK

Vic, it's game day. You're Mike McCarthy and you have just won the coin toss. What do you do?

I'm deferring. I want the ball in Kaepernick's hands. I want to challenge him.

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