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Poise in Seattle will help Mike McCarthy

Packers prepare for showdown with Vikings and Adrian Peterson


Steve from Toronto, ON

If a player whose contract has per-game roster bonuses and other likely to be earned incentives misses time and doesn't earn those bonuses, is the money unspent added to the following year's cap number?

In cap jargon, there are two kinds of incentives: LTBE, which stands for "likely to be earned," and NLTBE, which stands for "not likely to be earned." If a player's incentives are in the LTBE category, then they have been charged to that year's cap and the team will receive a credit on next year's cap if those incentives aren't met. If a player's incentives are in the NLTBE category, then they haven't been charged to the current year's cap but will be charged to the next year's cap if those incentives are met.

William from Savannah, GA

A couple of years ago, you were very high on Christian Ponder, if I remember correctly. What did you see in him then? He clearly has not developed as quickly as some of the other quarterbacks from that class, like Andy Dalton.

You're referring to his junior year at Florida State. He reminded me of Matt Ryan and I saw a little of Tom Brady in him, too. Then came the shoulder injury in his senior year and he hasn't been the accurate passer since then that he was as a junior. Don't rush to judgment on Ponder. Aaron Rodgers came out of Cal with a shoulder injury, but Rodgers didn't play until his fourth season. Ponder has a lot of talent. I still like him.

Richard from Madison, WI

In conversations about Adrian Peterson, he's always being compared to Jim Brown, Earl Campbell and Walter Payton, but nobody seems to mention Eric Dickerson in the same breath. Why is that?

You seldom hear of runners being compared to Dickerson because Dickerson was a uniquely upright runner. He's one of the few big backs that slithered more than he pounded. Brown and Campbell were classic pads-down backs that could also elude you and run away from you. That's also a perfect description of Peterson.

Chan from Austin, TX

Who's your coach of the year? Maybe McCarthy will win it this year. Hasn't he done a good job managing injuries?

Mike McCarthy is going to get a lot of votes for coach of the year, and it's for two reasons: 1.) He was able to keep his team in the hunt despite injuries, which is a repeat of what he did in 2010. 2.) A lot of voters will have a soft spot in their heart for McCarthy as a result of the poise with which he handled the Seattle situation. Ironically, Seattle's Pete Carroll might turn out to be McCarthy's top competition. Yeah, I'd vote for McCarthy.

Terry from Tomah, WI

Will the dome favor the Vikings? Will the crowd noise be a deciding factor? How can Rodgers and the Packers offset the crowd noise?

The noise will absolutely give the Vikings an advantage. The two guys to watch are Marshall Newhouse and Don Barclay. They'll be up against two pass rushers, Jared Allen and Brian Robison, who will have a half-step advantage on Newhouse and Barclay because the tackles will be pretty much on silent count the whole game. Dwight Freeney was always a better pass rusher in the old RCA Dome than he was on grass outdoors. The Metrodome is the equivalent of the old RCA Dome.

Nick from Water Mill, NY

Rex Ryan says the Jets franchise needs to spend its way out of its offensive mess. What is the quickest you've ever seen a franchise turn toward draft and develop and succeed at it?

The Cowboys under Jimmy Johnson rebuilt their roster as quickly and as thoroughly as any team I can remember. They were 1-15 in 1989 and won the Super Bowl in '92. The '79 49ers were 2-14 under Bill Walsh and won the Super Bowl in '81, but they still had some work to do and effected a second haul of talent that turned the 49ers into a dynasty. The '69 Steelers were 1-13 and were built for the long haul by '74, when they won their first of four Super Bowls. Lombardi inherited a 1-10-1 team and won his first of five titles three years later. Suffice to say, draft and develop requires patience.

John from Eagan, MN

Vic, everyone seems to be focused on Adrian Peterson in regards to Sunday's game, but I tend to believe this game hinges on the performance of Christian Ponder, who is on the threshold of the most important game in his young career. How do you think he will handle the pressure?

This is the game that will define Ponder's career up to this point. How he plays in this game and in the postseason, should the Vikings advance, might even determine whether or not the Vikings address the position in the offseason. As I said, I think he's a talented guy and I think he's the Vikings' quarterback of the future. I don't think the pressure will get to him. If you've played in a Florida-Florida State game, you're familiar with pressure.

Ryan from Morton Grove, IL

What do you think of a seven-on-seven Pro Bowl game with a sack clock?

Isn't that what we already have?

Albert from Tucson, AZ

Most of the outside linebackers picked for the Pro Bowl are pass-rush specialists. Lance Briggs was left out simply because he didn't have the sack numbers. What are your thoughts?

Fans complain en masse about the poor tackling in the NFL, but when was the last time the fans voted a player into the Pro Bowl because of his tackling ability? A guy like Paul Posluszny has no chance of being selected to the Pro Bowl, but he might be the best tackler in the game. The almighty sack always wins.

John from Port Edwards, WI

Which Packers player has come the farthest since camp started?

Casey Hayward has advanced from a rookie trying to earn playing time to an impact player who's a strong candidate to win rookie of the year honors, and Evan Dietrich-Smith has advanced his career from that of a swingman on the offensive line to the man who touches the ball first on every play.

Koti from Vijaywada, India

Why not remove the Pro Bowl game and voting altogether? Could that be replaced by fantasy stats?

Haven't we already done that?

John from Holland, MI

You often hear Coach McCarthy talk about the importance of rhythm and tempo for the offense. Recently, he's also been stressing the importance of clean plays. By clean plays, does he simply mean no penalties, or is he referring to assignments, execution or something else.

By clean plays he's referring to plays that make sense for that specific down and distance, and provide favorable personnel matchups. They are plays that can be executed cleanly, meaning success should be the expectation.

William from Sterling, VA

Is there anything Dom Capers will try differently Sunday to stop/slow down Adrian Peterson?

When you're facing a dominant player, as Peterson is, you usually feel a need to direct attention toward him. You want to get more defenders headed in Peterson's direction. To do that, you have to have a strong sense of what the opponent likes to do according to down and distance and also by formation. Coordinators call it tendencies. You might say it's an educated guess. My guess is Coach Capers will take his chances against Ponder and make sure he always gets that eighth defender in the box against Peterson. That's probably nothing different from what the Packers did in the first game between the two teams. This time, the Packers need to be more forceful at the point of attack.

Michael from Madison, WI

Bob Costas was describing his favorite broadcasters and said what caught his attention was that they seem to be bigger than just the game. The reason people read this column daily is because it is more than simply football.

In my opinion, there are two kinds of sports reporters. There are the ones that tell you what you think, and there are the ones that tell you what they think. Obviously, Costas is one of the latter. I like that.

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