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Smash-mouth football tests your manhood

Preparation begins for Packers' playoff game against 49ers in San Francisco


Mike from Las Vegas, NV

In their recent clothing commercial, Steve Young and Jerry Rice called men who wear khaki pants "schlubs." Any comments?

Men who wear khakis are comfortable and secure in their own skin. They neither criticize others' choice of clothing, nor are bothered by the criticism of others. Real men wear khakis.

Sergio from Winnipeg, MB

Your prediction/request is two games away from happening. What do you think are the chances we get to see those Seahawks in Lambeau Field on Jan. 20?

The Seahawks were impressive on Sunday. They have power in their game and I respect power football above all other forms and styles of football. I also think the Atlanta Falcons are the most disrespected team in the playoffs, and I don't understand why. I suppose it's because their numbers aren't good, but the Falcons didn't play a cream puff schedule; they beat a lot of good teams along the way, including the Broncos and Giants. The Seahawks could be headed for an ambush in Atlanta this weekend. The Falcons and their fans will be unified by a cause: Win a playoff game. I'm picking the Falcons.

Joe from Saint Paul, MN

So, that throw where Rodgers rolled to his right and then zipped it down the sideline to Nelson, I've watched the replay of that about 20 times and it still doesn't look real.

Aaron Rodgers might be the only quarterback in the game that can make that throw. I've only covered one other quarterback that could've made it: Terry Bradshaw. When a quarterback leaves the pocket, I immediately look downfield to see where the receivers are on the side of the field to which the quarterback is running. In this case, all I saw was Jordy Nelson, who was tucked between a defender and the sideline. I thought to myself, surely Rodgers isn't going to throw to Nelson. Then I saw Nelson stop near the goal line, causing some minor separation between Nelson and the defender. The throw got from Rodgers' right hand to Nelson's hands in the bat of an eye. That's what I call an any-era throw. Rodgers has the tools to have been successful in any era.

Eric from Rockford, IL

Webb and the Vikings were successful with the read-option plays on their first drive. What did the Packers do or the Vikings fail to do to make this a viable option the rest of the game?

The Packers made the quarterback be a runner by overplaying Adrian Peterson. If the quarterback is a runner in this league, he won't be running for long. Michael Vick is the exception, not the rule, and you see what's happened to him in his declining years.

Grant from Richmond, VA

Is the feeling in the locker room Super Bowl or bust this year?

I think the feeling in the locker room is that this week's game is THE game. That's how it should be. Don't worry about next week's game. Worry about winning this one. I think the respect the 49ers earned in that season-opening win will make it very easy to focus on Saturday's game. I think there's no chance the Packers will be looking ahead to anything or anybody.

Mark from Stewartville, MN

Vic, Aaron Rodgers, in his postgame comments, seemed a little frustrated by the offense's performance in the second half. Were the Packers too conservative toward the end of the game, or did they play it just about right?

The offense took its foot off the gas before Mike McCarthy did.

Dan from Carlisle, PA

As a loyal fan living in Pennsylvania, it is always thrilling to see my Packers win. Now, not to sound pointless or to show my lack of understanding of the game, but please explain this about the two-minute drill. Why do they wait until the final two minutes of a half to do the dill? Would it not make sense to do the drill more often, like every time the offense gets the ball?

What's the rush? This is a tough game. It'll tire out even the best-conditioned teams. There's a time for winning in the passing game, and there's a time for winning the line of scrimmage. Good teams win the line of scrimmage. That'll be the big test the Packers will face this Saturday. I acknowledge the importance of being able to play no-huddle football in today's game, but you better be able to line up and play big-boy football against the 49ers. Finesse will only take you so far against these guys.

Susie from Two Rivers, WI

You called it, Vic. During the chat, you said wait until a quarterback gets hurt running the college offense, then it won't be such a hot ticket. I couldn't watch the game once RG3 was limping badly. I turned it back on and he was on the ground. Is it worth it?

I'm not a fan of run-around quarterbacks. RG3 and Russell Wilson are nice stories, but the Redskins and the Seahawks better draft a couple of more like them because defenses don't like chasing quarterbacks all over the field. It makes them angry. I prefer quarterbacks that have the guts to stand in the pocket and distribute the ball, and run only as a last resort.

Conor from Uray, CO

Vic, if we win, would you rather play the Seahawks at home or the Falcons at their dome?

I think you know the answer to that question.

Conor from Glen Mills, PA

In my opinion, this is the toughest team to play for the Packers out of anyone left, even the Broncos.

The 49ers are fourth in rushing, fourth against the run, fourth against the pass and third in overall defense. Those are the rankings of a muscle team. The Packers should pack their big-boy pads for this one.

Tony from Los Angeles, CA

How much does it help the Packers to have just played against Adrian Peterson and a running quarterback, as they prepare for Gore and Kaepernick?

I think it's a huge advantage. There shouldn't be an adjustment period on Saturday. It was as though the Vikings were the scout team in a real-game practice.

Nick from Toronto, Ontario

How do you see the Packers matching up against the 49ers? These aren't the same teams that played in Week 1.

The No. 1 concern I have is for the matchups on the edges: Ahmad Brooks vs. Don Barclay, and Justin Smith and Aldon Smith vs. Marshall Newhouse. Who gets the help? Who do you chip? Brooks has 6.5 sacks, Aldon Smith has 19.5 and Smith pushes the pocket. I think this is a matchup problem for the Packers because it's a matchup problem for every team the 49ers face. The 49ers, meanwhile, face the same matchup problem at quarterback. If Dom Capers' theory of the quarterback with the higher passer rating winning the game, then the 49ers have a problem because I think Aaron Rodgers gives the Packers a significant advantage over a quarterback who has never played in a postseason game.

Peter from Minneapolis, MN

I think the thing that is going to happen to the teams that commit to athletic, running quarterbacks is they are going to realize they need a new quarterback every few years due to injuries. If you agree, how could this change the way the game is played due to increased quarterback protection rules?

It's not going to change the game. The "New Age" quarterback fad is going to run its course and the game will return to the days of the true pocket passer. What you need to understand about the difference between college and pro football and why the read-option works in college is that in college the quarterback is a runner and can be a runner for a few reasons: 1.) There aren't as many good players on defense. 2.) He doesn't have to be an accomplished passer. 3.) He only has four years of eligibility. There's something else, too: In college football, two wide receivers to each side of the field are usually defended by three cover men to each side of the field, leaving seven offensive players against five defensive players in the box. That's only a numbers mismatch for the offense if the quarterback is a runner.

Mohamad from Green Bay, WI

How do you think the Packers will stop the 49ers from winning the next game?

By holding their own in the muscle game and winning the finesse game.

C.J. from Edinboro, PA

Vic, from your point of view, about how many Vikings fans were in attendance? From the shots they showed on TV, it seemed like there were quite a few.

I thought it was an insignificant amount. Mike Spofford thought it was a startling amount.

Jeremy from Duluth, GA

Vic, in the season opener against the 49ers, the Packers were physically dominated in virtually every aspect of the game. Their offensive and defensive lines controlled the trenches, their defensive backs manhandled our wide receivers, and their running backs ran through, over and around defenders. Obviously, the Packers are different now than in Week 1, but do they have the physicality and the mean streak to win a smash-mouth football game?

The easy answer is that's what we're going to find out. Beyond that, I'll say this: If the Packers hadn't played the 49ers and had they not been dominated physically in a game this season the way the 49ers physically dominated the season opener, my answer would be, no, they can't win a smash-mouth game. Because they've already played the 49ers and know what to expect, my answer now is, yes, they can win a smash-mouth game because they know what it is and how horrible it feels to lose one of those games. Those kinds of games test your manhood. I have no doubt the Packers will be ready to respond to that test on Saturday.

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