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Show me the offense; I'll be satisfied


Adam from Branchburg, NJ

Vic, I think everyone needs to keep calm and look at the facts. This is preseason and while the turnovers are a problem, I'd say ball security and our rushing attack are our only problems. Our defense hasn't shown its true potential, and our offense marches down the field every time until we beat ourselves by fumbling. I think with some fine tuning, we will go into the regular season strong.

OK, that's a sound and positive approach to the current state of the Packers. I don't see any real problems. The quarterback is healthy – knock on wood – and as long as we can say that, this team won't have any real problems because this is, without a doubt, a quarterback-driven team. They were 15-1 last season with the No. 32 defense in the league and the No. 27 rushing offense. I think that says it all. What I want to see this Thursday is a return to life of the passing game. I want to see Aaron Rodgers and company make it look easy, again, as they did last season. That's this team's calling card; that's its identity. If I see that happen on Thursday, then I will pronounce the Packers ready to start the regular season.

Owen from Los Angeles, CA

Great to see Finley and Jennings are getting back. What can we expect out of them this week?

I'd like to expect that they resume their roles in the offense. This offense needs them.

Steve from Wichita, KS

The signing of Cedric Benson seems out of play. If Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy wanted a free agent to bring in, why not go with LaDainian Tomlinson? Why not bring him in and have that veteran presence at running back. Tomlinson seems to me to fit that role in the offense better that Cedric. Am I wrong?

Yes. Tomlinson has nothing left; that's why he retired. Benson's the pounder this team needs. Alex Green can become that guy, but he's coming off knee reconstruction and he needs time to grow into the role. The fact that Benson doesn't "fit" in this offense is exactly why he does fit in this offense.

Eric from Honolulu, HI

I was glad to hear Coach McCarthy praise Harrell the way he did because what he said is exactly what I saw during the game: poor line play and guys missing well-thrown passes. I'd like to see him play with the first-team offense to see what he can do should he need to replace Aaron. Do you think they would do that in either of the remaining preseason games?

We've moved into the preparation phase of the preseason. It's time to get ready for the 49ers and the start of the real season. The starters will get a half of play on Thursday and the hope is they'll perform to a level that'll let us know they're ready to start the season. You can't waste that valuable time on seeing if the backup quarterback would play better with the ones. He's got to show what he can do when he has the opportunity. He'll have more opportunity to do that in the second half on Thursday, and I'm sure he'll get plenty of playing time in the preseason finale. Evaluation is very important in the preseason, but game three is mostly about preparation.

Jorge from Joliet, IL

In 2010, they won the Super Bowl. In 2011, they went 15-1. What should we expect from them in 2012?

I don't deal in records because I don't think records define a team. I believe the postseason defines teams. My expectation for the Packers is that they will be one of six teams in the NFC playoffs, and I expect the Packers to go deep into the playoffs. Beyond that, I'd just be throwing darts. I think a deep playoff run is a fair expectation for this team.

Bryden from Centerburg, OH

Hey, Vic, will we see Aaron Rodgers play a full half at the Cincinnati game?

"That's the goal," Mike McCarthy said.

Harry from Rochester, NY

What are the chances of Jarrett Boykin making this team at wide receiver? I like what I see in this rookie out of Virginia Tech.

Practically speaking, I think he's pushing for a spot on the practice squad.

John from Los Angeles, CA

In his postgame interview after the Browns game, Mike McCarthy said he felt the offense and the defense took a step back. No reporter followed up that statement and asked him why they took a step back. Vic, why do you think the offense and the defense took a step back?

The correct answer is: I don't know. Since I'm sure that won't satisfy you, I'll offer this: Randall Cobb's fumble reversed the trend on offense, which had been positive until then. The failure to convert a fourth-and-2 play that Coach McCarthy said he would've never attempted to convert in a regular season game, seemed to do something to the Packers' defensive mindset. Preseason attitudes can be fragile. You just don't find the same kind of intensity and dogged determination that exists in the regular season. For the Browns, because of their unique preseason scheduling that has them playing this week the team against whom they open the season, the Packers game was the Browns' game three of the preseason. I think the Browns came into the game with a firmer resolve. I think it showed in the aftermath of the Cobb fumble and the failure to convert on fourth-and-2. That's just a theory.

Ken from Mount Jackson, VA

Should we be concerned after the first two preseason games?

Give it another game. If you don't like what you see on Thursday, adjust your expectations accordingly. I advise against worry and concern because they don't accomplish anything, other than to make your life miserable.

James from Wausau, WI

We need to run the ball. Come on, we have four elite teams to start off the season.

They need to run the ball better than they did against the Browns. The Packers need to run the ball well enough to make defenses respect the run. Remember, the Packers only had a few healthy running backs going into last Thursday's game, and Alex Green was one of those "healthy" backs. As Coach McCarthy said, he was not interested in establishing the run with a depleted stable of running backs. I'm very interested to see how Benson impacts this offense. I don't know much about him, but I can tell you this from having watched him in practice on Sunday: He looks the part. I get the feeling that one day the Creator said, "Let's make a running back," and that's when he made Benson.

Bob from Colby, KS

If push comes to shove, why not have a good blocking tight end play left tackle?

I covered one that moved from tight end to tackle, and he was from Kansas and he became one of the best tackles in the game, Larry Brown. He also put on about 30 pounds or so to play the position. By and large, tight ends just don't possess the mass to hold up against defensive linemen. They'd get walked back to the quarterback.

Jarle from Tromso, Norway

Vic, apparently, you are very good at towing the company line. What's the secret behind being a good line-tower?

The towing, or toeing, whatever the case might be, is in the eye of the reader. After a loss, if I don't rip the team and demand that everyone be fired, then I'm a homer who's toeing the company line. If I write expressing concern for what I've witnessed, then I don't deserve the job I have because I'm not leading cheers.

Roger from Wausau, WI

Remember, this is only preseason. You sound like we should all just fold up. How did you even get this job?

Yeah, I know.

Jon from Norman, OK

If I was an NFL ref, I would be loving this right now. They are going from the least favorite guys on the field to everyone's favorites. I bet they get far less criticism than usual for bad calls after they get back on the field.

Don't make that bet, Jon.

Chris from Eindhoven, The Netherlands

Vic, are we expecting too much and too fast from Nick Perry?


John from Chippewa Falls, WI

Vic, while the offense was on the field, the cameras showed Worthy riding a stationary bike. Why was he doing that?

I'm just guessing, but it might've been to keep his hamstrings loose.

Matt from Stuttgart, Germany

Am I the only one not understanding the panic with Graham Harrell, a guy we never actually want to see on the field anyway? Honestly, the Packers live and die with A-Rod. If Rodgers goes down, the Super Bowl aspirations are gone, regardless of the backup.

Harrell? I've got e-mails from people who are panicked about Rodgers. Every team needs a capable backup quarterback with whom the team can win a game or two should it be without its starting quarterback. I agree that losing the starter for the season is usually too much for a team to overcome, but getting by for a game or two without him is something all teams need to be able to do.

Greg from Waterloo, Ontario

The Patriots went 0-4 in the preseason when they were going for the perfect season.

I get your point and I think it's valid. A lot of very good teams, championship teams, had losing records in the preseason. Am I worried? No. Do I want to see the Packers play well on Thursday, particularly the pass offense? Yes. I want to see evidence of the Packers being the Packers. That's all I need. I have no doubt this team will grow on defense. I want to see the return of the offense.

Dean from Bluefield, WV

Vic, apparently some people see you as an evil man, but do you ever feel sorry for guys that get cut?

I absolutely do. For me, training camp has always been about the longshots, the undrafted kids chasing their dream. That's when reporters establish respectful long-term relationships with players. They do it in those players' rookie camps, when the young players are looking for someone to show interest in them. It's happened often that a kid I've liked has been cut, and I might see him before he leaves and wish him well and tell him I want to see him walking the other way in the hallway outside the locker rooms in some stadium in the league someday, and it often turns out that way. This is what I call the "fraternity of football." We're all in it: players, coaches, media, fans, everybody.

Jeremy from Elizabethtown, PA

You've got to give a hand to Phil Dawson: 60, 54 and 59 yard field goals in the first half.

Actually, it's 53, 47, 52, but I'm glad you brought it up because in 41 years of covering the NFL, I have never seen the football fly off the foot of kickers and punters as it is this summer. I'm starting to wonder if the ball is juiced.

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