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Ryan Grant was key man in win at Soldier Field

Important for Packers to keep arrow pointing up at this time of the season


Kathy from Temecula, CA

Vic, do you have any special plans for Aaron Rodgers Day?

I'm thinking of renaming the "Ketchman prevent." How about "Cover 12"? You can never have enough cover numbers.

Alex from Minneapolis, MN

If the Vikings make the playoffs, is Adrian Peterson a sure win for comeback player of the year? And possibly even MVP?

I think there's a rule now that the MVP has to be a quarterback, but I'm starting to think Peterson might have a chance of winning comeback player of the year. That would mean having to take Peyton Manning's name off the trophy, of course, because it was engraved on the trophy before the season began. It might also mean having to find a new award for Manning to win, because he has to win something. I think there's a rule about that, too.

Colton from Mellinger, WI

Why in today's game of football do we prefer the 3-4 defense? Since this fad has come about, offense has ruled the game. I know it's not all the 3-4's fault, but I feel the 4-3 is a more effective style of defense.

The top two defenses in the league use the 3-4. The bottom four defenses in the league use the 4-3. The 3-4 is still a good defense. If you can find four down linemen the equal of the Giants' and the Lions', I'd heartily recommend using the 4-3, but a lot of teams have spent a lot of high picks on pass-rushing ends that turned out to be busts. The 3-4 allows for a deeper pool of pass rushers that can be used more creatively than the 4-3 would allow.

John from Port Edwards, WI

Introduce the forward pass to it? Please explain. I would like to hear more on that idea.

The forward pass was invented to soften the game and take it out of the flying wedge era. Football historians will tell you that it was the outlawing of the flying wedge and the invention of the forward pass that saved football from extinction. OK, so introduce it to the kickoff return. I know that's a wild thought, but I don't like the idea of eliminating ingredients from the game. When you do that, you shrink the game instead of growing it. Eliminate too much and you run the risk of becoming stale and dull. In my opinion, the goal should be to make the kickoff return a safer play, not an obsolete play. Find a way to back off the coverage team from a hard charge. Allowing the ball to be thrown forward would accomplish that. I'll consider anything that represents growth and excitement.

Zach from Iowa City, IA

The Bears defensively seem to fool teams into throwing interceptions now and then by showing blitz with their linebackers, then backing off and playing coverage at the last second, confusing quarterbacks. Is there any way besides a good hard count to read whether they are blitzing or not?

The Packers know what the Bears want to play defensively, which is to say a loaded secondary. I don't know what the Bears' blitz count is, but I know they have long played a defense that invites the run and denies the pass. The keys to attacking the Bears are: 1.) Being able to run the ball against a light front. 2.) Providing enough time in the pocket for Aaron Rodgers to allow his receivers to come open against a loaded back end. Run at Julius Peppers, block Julius Peppers. I think it starts with that. The last time the Packers played at Soldier Field, Ryan Grant ran for 92 yards and a 5.4 average. I thought it was the key to the game.

Brendon from Austin, TX

Since the NFL is throwing around crazy ideas, here's a question: What would the impact on the game be if soccer-style placekicking was disallowed?

I don't know how you do that and I wouldn't be in favor of it. There are easier ways to manipulate the kickoff play. Make the tee higher and the ball will fly higher, which will allow more time for coverage teams to get down under the ball, resulting in fewer returns out of the end zone and shorter returns that probably won't reach the dangerous full-speed level. Take the tee away and make kickers kick the ball from placement and the ball will fly shorter and lower, resulting in more kickoffs returned but likely eliminating one player on the coverage team from the hard charge. By limiting players that may participate on kickoffs to defensive backs and wide receivers, a lot of mass will have been removed from the field. The same can be achieved by limiting the number of players that may participate in kickoff plays. By doing that, you open the field and force the coverage team to "come to balance" sooner, thus denying the hard-charge contact. My point is this: We need to do a lot more brainstorming on this subject before we start eliminating facets of the game that will effectively rip pages out of the football record book. Look, the rules changes of 1978 changed the game. It can be done again without changing the face of the game.

Mark from Kingsford, MI

This protect-the-lead mode you referred to seems to give the ball to the opponent more often than not, since the Packers can't seem to generate first downs. Why not stick with what got you the lead?

OK, tell me the last time the Packers lost a game when they went into protect-the-lead mode on offense. I won't accept the Seattle game for two reasons: 1.) The obvious one. 2.) The Packers' previous possession began at their 7-yard line.

Tony from New York, NY

Which, if any, of the middling 7-6 NFC teams do you see slipping into the No. 6 seed?

The Redskins, Cowboys and Vikings are all 7-6. By winning out, the Redskins could knock the Cowboys out of the race and possibly win the NFC East and drop the Giants to the No. 6 seed. I think that's the likelihood, that either the Redskins or Giants are No. 6. The Vikings really caught my fancy when I saw them play at Lambeau two weeks ago. If Christian Ponder was farther along in his development, the Vikings would be more than a playoff contender, they'd be a legitimate championship contender. They've got talent and their arrow is pointing up. I don't like their finishing schedule: at St. Louis, at Houston, Green Bay. The Redskins have the favorable schedule. The Giants have games at Atlanta and at Baltimore over the next two weeks. The Giants need the Packers to beat the Bears. There's a lot of football to be played; the NFC is tightening and getting tense for a lot of teams that appeared to be cruising toward the playoffs a few weeks ago.

Thomas from Milwaukee, WI

Look out for the Patriots. You agree?

Their convincing win over the Texans makes the Patriots the team to beat in the AFC, but the Texans still have a one-game lead for the No. 1 seed, and the Texans have a favorable finishing schedule. I think the Texans will win the No. 1 seed in the AFC, and that'll be worth something in the postseason.

Vic from North Little Rock, AR

I agree with your point on the Lions using Stafford to block. Could you elaborate a little more on your answer? It's an interesting point.

I don't like the idea of the quarterback having it both ways. If you're going to use your quarterback to block or run, then the extra protections afforded a quarterback should be off. By protecting a quarterback who's a blocker, for example, you're effectively making the player he's blocking defenseless. I'm OK with protecting the quarterback in the pocket or the quarterback who's been forced to scramble from the pocket, but I don't like protecting a quarterback whose clear intent from the snap of the ball was to run. As far as I'm concerned, he's a runner and should be regarded as such, which means his head is in play. Don't wanna get hurt? Don't run.

Carl from Port Washington, WI

In the second half, the Packers found the run and the Lions abandoned it. Why did the Lions stop running it like they did in the first half?

They weren't the same team in the second half. I think the weather got to them. The long coats went on; I made mention of it in our in-game chat.

James from Grafton, MA

What's the one thing you take away from the game against the Lions?

The Packers' arrow is pointing up. That's all that matters at this time of the season. Keep that arrow pointing up.

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