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Saints will be desperate on Sunday night

NASCAR is change-of-pace defense


Randall from Zarczyce Duze, Poland

Vic, what keeps your attention during the second half of a blowout game like Sunday's?

It becomes more difficult for me then. I have to force myself to pay attention. I'm not a fan of blowouts.

Andy from Sydney, Australia

Could the Packers benefit from trying athletes from other sports, such as rugby?

You find football players where you find football players. Good scouts and scouting departments leave no stone unturned. They never stop looking for talent.

Tony from Santa Ana, CA

Vic, what are your thoughts on the Steelers scoring 24 unanswered points in less than three minutes?

The Texans executed one of the most shocking meltdowns I have ever witnessed. It was 13-0 and looking like another blowout, and then it was 24-13 and neither J.J. Watt nor the Texans did much of anything the rest of the night. How does that happen? I've been covering football for 43 years and I don't know the answer to that question. This league has never been as unpredictable as it is now.

Jon from Bath, England

Vic, with the season heading to midway, which teams have surprised you the most so far?

The Cowboys are No. 1 on that list. I never expected they would have the best record in the league at this point in the season. I have a higher opinion of the Saints than their 2-4 record; that's a little bit of a surprise to me.

Dominick from Berwyn, IL

Vic, it would seem the Packers defense will be facing less mobile quarterbacks who don't run the read option. With guys like Brees, Cutler, Foles, Brady and Ryan on the schedule, do you see the possibility for the NASCAR making some noise leaguewide?

It's a change-of-pace defense that gives an opponent more for which it must prepare, and the more you throw at an opponent, the more you might create hesitation in its play. The NASCAR defense isn't a staple; it's a gimmick defense that must dovetail with down, distance and score. In my opinion, it's a scheme that must be used conservatively. If you lean on it too hard, you open yourself to counter measures, and then all of a sudden you have more for which you must prepare.

Tim from Woodbury, MN

Do you believe a good defense is all this team needs, or do the Packers have to play great defensively to close the gap on NFC heavyweights?

As I wrote prior to the start of the season, improvement on defense held the key to the Packers' fate in 2014. If the way the defense is currently playing is an indication of what's ahead, then this is going to be a very good season.


Ross from Hudson, WI

Cheese curds. The ketchup was from cheese curds.

Who is the mystery man in the black glove? Identify yourself!

Kevin from Natick, MA

Last night, an Antonio Brown touchdown was reversed because it appeared his foot was out of bounds (by maybe one tenth of an inch). After the official announced the reversal, Gruden said, "I used to really like football, Mike." He almost sounded defeated. If the NFL is not reading your inbox, are they at least listening to their best commentator? Take the attention off the officials and put it back on the players.

That's why I love Jon Gruden's work. He makes football fun.

Shalom from Austin, TX

There was a lot of groaning and moaning those first three weeks, but the Packers seem to be back on track. What can we do to keep this fortuitous streak of wins going?

Stop the run. If the Packers do that, I think they will carry this high level of play into December and beyond.

Greg from Perkasie, PA

Vic, I was just reading your first-ever "Ask Vic" article and I really enjoyed learning about your first thoughts and feelings about joining the Packers organization. You mentioned some of the things that drew me to the Packers in the first place, and made me the fan I am today. My question is do you still get that feeling of awe and appreciation for the Packers as an organization?

I still get the sense of uniqueness this team and its fan base possess. Sunday provided another example of it. In most places, the stands would've begun emptying in the third quarter, but not in Green Bay. Packers fans love a blowout. The score can never get too lopsided for Packers fans. They'll stay to the very end and cheer every meaningless point. In fact, I think Lambeau Field got louder as the game wore on. I've never seen that happen anywhere else.

Sam from Skokie, IL

Sean Payton being blasted by the media proves it's players and execution and not plays. He called a pass play late, having one of the best QBs in the league, and the interception was blamed on Payton. They asked why he didn't call a run to wind the clock. Since there was a lot of time on the clock, he didn't want to give Stafford the ball with too much time left. If the pass is complete, he is an aggressive genius. Head coach is a tough gig. He made a losing franchise into an annual contender and he still gets grilled. What do you think?

I didn't hear any complaints when he tried that onside kick in the Super Bowl. Just win, baby.

Dan from Schofield, WI

Vic, during the offseason you had mentioned that Letroy Guion could be a huge addition to the defense. I didn't think anything of it since I never really heard a lot about him. Well, Ted Thompson brought him in and look at him go. He is starting to look like the DT the Packers need at the point of their defense. Good call!

I didn't write that he could be a huge addition to the Packers defense. I merely included him in a list of five players I thought were free-agent bargains. For a team that doesn't do a lot in free agency – other than signing its own players – the Packers have one of the best free-agent classes in the league this year. They hit home runs at both ends of the spectrum. Julius Peppers is worth the contract he got at the high end of free agency, and Guion is without a doubt a bargain.

Ted from DeForest, WI

Do you think a quarterback should be allowed to slide in a designed run such as the zone read?

I don't. I think protections for the quarterback should only pertain to the quarterback as a passer who has been forced to run.

Rachel from Eau Claire, WI

What were your expectations of Aaron Rodgers back in 2008 when he took over for Brett Favre as the starting quarterback of the Green Bay Packers?

I had no expectations for him until I saw him in a loss in Jacksonville late in the 2008 season. I knew then he was on his way to becoming one of the league's premier quarterbacks. His talent was undeniable. I had first seen it when I covered a preseason game at Lambeau Field in 2007. The game in '08 confirmed it.

Justin from Roy, UT

Vic, what are the advantages of having a lighter, more athletic defensive front? What are the disadvantages?

The advantages are you're likely going to be better in space, and you can drop those guys into coverage and that can cause confusion for the quarterback. The disadvantage is you don't want the offense to go no-huddle on you and keep that light-in-the-pants defense on the field against the run. When you make an opponent one-dimensional, as the Packers did to the Panthers on Sunday, you don't worry about run.

Ryan from Madisonville, LA

Vic, the Saints are going to be desperate coming into the Superdome on Sunday night. Are the Packers walking into a trap game?

Yeah, that's a good way to put it. The Packers are going into a trap. The Saints are desperate. Their fans are desperate. It's a prime-time game. All of the circumstances favor the Saints. Deal with it. The Packers will.

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