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Pep talks don't last; players have to motivate themselves

Fans are part of the entertainment of the game


Jake from La Crosse, WI

The Lions will lose to Baltimore and Minnesota. The Bears will win their next two games and the NFC North will come down to the final week, Packers vs. Bears. Don't believe me? Save this e-mail for a told-you-so in January.

Why save it? You're on record.

Pat from Altoona, WI

I checked my kid's Madden video game; they do have snow as an option.

How deep?

Justin from West Chester, PA

Vic, here is the thing about the last play of the first half. If Lacy doesn't get injured, you don't receive one e-mail about that play.

What if Harry Douglas doesn't drop the screen pass? How many e-mails do I get complaining about the blitz the Packers were in, even though I get hundreds of e-mails advocating more blitzing? The problem I have with complaints about the play calling is that it's all after the fact. How many fans would've advocated a fake field goal on fourth-and-26? I didn't hear any complaints when it worked.

Terry from Dallas, TX

Vic, loved the reference to the snowplow game. As a fairly new fan to the game, I love hearing the old controversial stories that bring about wacky (but necessary) rules. Any others come to mind?

The "Holy Roller" immediately comes to mind.

Mike from Martin, TN

Vic, I asked a question during Mark Murphy's conference call with fans in November and listened to Johnny Jolly's conference call with fans (on Tuesday). With each conference call, I am thrilled to participate and enjoy hearing fan questions and Packer responses. What do you enjoy most about moderating the conference calls?

I enjoy listening to the fans' stories. I like hearing where they're from and tales of their love of the Packers. Everybody has a story. Every player and every coach has a story to tell, and so does every fan. In my opinion, the fans are part of the entertainment, too, and I try to feature them in this column so they might entertain us. That's why I say they write this column, not me. I'm just the conduit for the story they want to tell.

Eduardo from Monterrey, Mexico

You said Aaron Donald isn't a good fit for a 3-4, that he is a 4-3 defensive lineman. That said, if he hypothetically fell to the Packers, they should pick him, right? Take the talent and figure out how to use it later.

I didn't say he wasn't a good fit for a 3-4, I said he's a more natural fit for a 4-3 because the strength of his game is penetrate and disrupt and the 4-3 has a position specifically designed for that skill set. Could he hold the point as a 3-4 end? Probably, but to get full worth for his talents, you'd have to feature him a little more in a chase mode. It can be done.

Will from Mt. Laurel, NJ

I'm one of the biggest Flynn guys around, but he's not beating Dallas, even in December with that Cowboys defense. I officially expect Rodgers out at least a full eight weeks.

I get it. If it turns out the way you described, you can say, "I told you." If it turns out to be the opposite, you can say, "I'm glad I was wrong," and be happy about it. That's smart. You've got it covered.

Casey from Albany, NY

I was impressed with how McCarthy dealt with the booing on Sunday, telling the team it's lonely being a warrior. He seems to find a phrase or theme each year that resonates. Last year, it was, "We are nobody's underdog," and he always talks about "stacking success." What are some of the memorable and inspiring themes or phrases you have heard other coaches use over the years?

The one that always stuck with me was Chuck Noll's "it has to come from within." I don't like pep talks. I don't like people getting in my face and using their emotions to control mine. If I can't motivate myself to get the job done, then whatever team I'm on needs to replace me. Coach McCarthy gives his players a theme to set the tone for the week or help clear the air, as he did at halftime on Sunday, but ultimately, it's up to the players to make it last. It has to come from within. They have to be able to motivate themselves after the words have worn off and they're out on the field alone with the conditions and the competition.

Pat from Austin, TX

Coach Landry had an offense that did a lot of formation shifting. The up and down movement of the line was designed to make it more difficult to recognize the formation.

That's interesting. It was explained to me by a coach a long time ago that the up and down movement was about the linemen getting on the same page. The coach went on to explain that he thought the up and down movement was tipping passing plays. He said the Cowboys snapped the ball more quickly after the up and down movement, when they were going to run the ball. I had never heard anyone talk about the up and down movement causing difficulty in seeing Billy Joe Dupree move from one side of the formation to the other, but I believe you and thank you for the information.

Craig from McKinney, TX

Vic, in the “Tuesdays With McCarthy” article, he mentions that there are 120 hours from Tuesday at noon until kickoff. That is 40 hours of sleep, 30 hours of mandatory prep and that leaves 50 hours of free time. In your experience, do you believe the coaches actually sleep eight hours a day? How are their days actually spent during that 120 hours?

Tuesday is game-planning day and coaches work late into the night. The bottom line is that there are no conscious hours during the week that coaches or players aren't thinking about that week's game. They are consumed by preparation to do their job. That's how intense life in the NFL is. The hours immediately following a game, when the fans become most intense, are the hours the players and coaches unwind. At that point, it's over and they relax for a few hours before they start the whole process over again.

Aaron from Post Falls, ID

Vic, any idea as to why Masthay stopped doing kickoffs? I know it's been several weeks. I've just been wondering.

Did Cordarrelle Patterson cause that? In outdoor games, we've certainly reached the directional-kicking time of the year. Placement is now more important than depth.

Jacob from La Crosse, WI

Are you getting tired this season, Vic? The more "Ask Vic" columns I read, the less it is about football. I would actually like to get some good insight on a Packers organization that is in a battle to reach the playoffs.

OK, here's some inside information for you. The Packers have a trick play planned for this Sunday. It's a duzie. Wait 'til you see it.

Storm from Houston, TX

Vic, please define the three technique.

A 4-3 defense has two tackles. Often, one of them plays over a center or guard, while the other one plays in a gap, usually the three gap. The over tackle plays as a nose tackle would. He occupies the blocker. The tackle in the three gap is usually a smaller, quicker type. His job is to penetrate the gap, get into the backfield and disrupt the flow of the play. He's known as a three-technique tackle, which refers to the gap he's assigned to penetrate.

Edward from Combined Locks, WI

Vic, I've got a problem. My mother-in-law likes to invite herself over to my humble abode to watch games on my big-screen TV with surround sound, which really isn't the problem. The problem is she insists that we turn up the surround sound so she "feels like she's there." She then yells over the game about whatever, which results in her missing key plays, then she yells over the extreme volume to find out what she missed. If she doesn't understand something that happened in the game, she usually yells/asks for an explanation when 95 percent of the time she is yelling over the announcer's explanation. She eats my food, drinks my libations and finally leaves me with a migraine. To top it all off, I'd say that out of 20 games she's watched at my home, the Packers have won exactly two. What is a decent, tactful way to let her know she is extremely bad luck and she is disrupting the harmony of my universe and needs to stay away on game day?

There's nothing you can do. The woman is going to ruin your life and you are powerless to stop it. How old is she?

Paul from De Pere, WI

Is it the ban, or the quality of the questions? I'm having trouble sleeping at night, Vic.

It's the ban.

Doug from Kaufman, TX

Good morning, Vic. I have enjoyed your column for years. I'll be at the game on Sunday. Do you ever do a meet and greet with fans on your road trips?

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