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Postseason requires a crunch-time identity

Julius Peppers has found a home in Dom Capers' defense


Brian from Albertville, AL

Peppers didn't look like a 13-year veteran running that interception back and doing the Lambeau Leap.

I thought he looked like a guy who had been out of position for 12 years.

Nick from Boston, MA

Vic, I know Lacy has not been getting the yards he got last year, but could you make an argument his impact on this offense has not dropped off?

The Eagles played single-high safety nearly the whole game. What's that tell you?

Brett from Green Bay, WI

Vic, what did you think of the defensive front play yesterday?

I resist hard analysis in lopsided games, because once the score gets out of control, strategy changes. LeSean McCoy had a lot of 4-yard runs, but isn't that what you're willing to give when you're leading by a comfortable margin?

Mandy from Kansas City, MO

Vic, I see this as the Packers' identity thus far: score, score, score to make the opponent play catch up and then do just enough on special teams and defense to keep the lead. Granted, I may or may not be giving special teams and the defense enough credit, but we all know the Packers are about that offense. What identity do you see the Packers forming?

I think that's the Packers' identity because they've been involved in those kinds of games quite often in recent weeks, but that's not an identity I would embrace for the postseason. You don't blow out your opponents in the postseason. You must be prepared to play a tight, 60-minute football game, and you might find yourself having to win it with defense or special teams. The identity that wins in the postseason is that of a team that makes plays at crunch time, and the Packers have the quarterback to do that.

Adam from Lake City, MN

At the beginning of the season, the Seahawks looked like the unbeatable team, while the Packers looked like a very beatable team. Now, after Week 11, what has happened that has made things flip-flop?

Aaron Rodgers caught fire in Week 4. That's the difference.

Justin from Sheboygan, WI

Any concerns moving forward about the team?

Why manufacture concerns? They'll emerge naturally. They always do. There's your concern.

Justin from Rochester, MN

Vic, excluding exceptionally noisy stadiums (Seattle, dome stadiums, etc.), what is the biggest contributing factor to homefield advantage?

It's about matching the team's style of play to the conditions in which it plays. Rodgers talked about it yesterday. The Packers are comfortable with playing in Lambeau Field. The cold is their ally.

Eric from Bloomington, IN

I've always thought of Dom Capers as an excellent coordinator that simply required the right pieces. What does your inbox think?

When the Packers play well on defense, my inbox says little to nothing about Coach Capers; it praises the players. When the defense plays poorly, my inbox wants to fire Coach Capers.

Dennis from Superior, CO

Do you really think we'll be favored at New England?

The game is set for Lambeau Field and, yes, I expect the Packers to be favored. I think the Packers would be favored at Lambeau Field against any team in the league.

James from Milwaukee, WI

I think Aaron Rodgers should win the MVP award, but his name isn't Peyton Manning, so it probably won't happen.

I think it will happen. I think there is building sentiment for Rodgers.

James from Slinger, WI

Vic, like you often mention, getting hot late in the season often sets up a Super Bowl run. Are you concerned the Packers might be peaking a little too soon?

I'm not worried about that because I would expect mini-setbacks over the next six weeks that would require this team to overcome adversity, and that's what takes teams to even greater heights.

Tim from Grand Rapids, MI

Do you feel Julius Peppers has always been a Green Bay Packer, he just hadn't made it here until this year?

What I feel is that Peppers is fortunate that before his career came to an end, he was able to see what he could do in a role that wasn't restricted to putting his hand on the ground on every play. Peppers is the perfect example of why the 3-4 is superior to the 4-3.

Scott from Fitchburg, WI

Vic, I just realized our questions write the column you anticipate reading each morning. Did we write you a good story today?

I'll let you be the judge of that, but I've said it for as long as this column has existed: The fans write it.

Pete from Corvallis, OR

Vic, I think we're seeing why McCarthy was saying this is our best offensive line. Rodgers with time, look out.

Why don't fans trust coaches enough to believe them? Anybody that watched training camp practices could see this is a top offensive line, yet, my inbox has been full of offensive line bashing.

Jon from Brookfield, WI

Vic, how does a defense get better like this one has so quickly? These guys all have been playing football for most of their lives and have had the same scheme in Green Bay, so why the sudden turnaround?

It hasn't been sudden. This defense hit rock bottom in 2011. It was old and slow and it needed a rebuild, which is exactly what the Packers have done over the past three drafts. You have to be patient. Nick Perry is emerging in his third year. There were fans that wanted to get rid of him midway through his second year.

Josh from Cincinnati, OH

The thing that stood out to me the most is that we only called one screen (which the Eagles saw coming and Rodgers threw away from). This tells me McCarthy is putting together game plans based not only on our team's strengths, but on the other team's weaknesses. He is such an incredible play caller and coach.

Just because the Packers don't use a lot of screens doesn't mean they don't call a lot of screens. Screen passes usually include a hot receiver on the back end. What we don't know is how many times Rodgers throws to that receiver on the back end. I'll bet it happens often.

Tony from Skopje, Macedonia

You've probably been asked this before, but given how the season has progressed, is it possible a losing team might get into the playoffs from the NFC South?

If the playoffs began today, 4-6 Atlanta would host a game and the 6-4 Seahawks wouldn't make it into the playoffs. I love that kind of quirkiness.

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