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Stopping the run a feeling, not a stat

Mike Daniels is old school and I love it


Ted from Pittsford, NY

Vic, Gronk was unstoppable, fueled by the fact sometimes the Steelers defense didn't even have a guy on him. Was this miscommunication between young corners or just a mistake in defensive play-calling?

I've never known a defensive play that leaves the offense's star receiver uncovered.

Hans from Front Royal, VA

I found it interesting during the telecast of the Patriots-Steelers game that Al Michaels specifically mentioned the Pittsburgh coaches having headset problems. I don't think I've ever heard that from the announcers during a game. Do you think we may see a new approach by the league this year to highlight these shenanigans in an effort to get the culprits to stop? Or does the league just understand controversy like this piques interest?

It's always been done the way it was done on Thursday. The league provides a game rep that sits in the press box and manages the behind-the-scenes action. He informs TV there's an issue with the headsets, and TV relays that information to the viewer. It's likely you never paid attention to that process until Thursday night, and it's likely you'll be alert to that kind of information from now on.

Scott from Richmond, VA

If the postseason body of work is how you judge elite QBs, how would you rate Aaron Rodgers, among the best of the best? Would he even be among the best of the best? I think that is an honest question from a diehard Packers fan and huge Aaron Rodgers fan.

He's compiled statistics from 11 postseason games. Five more would give him a full season's worth of postseason stats, and that's when a verdict can be handed down on an elite quarterback's postseason-to-regular-season comparison. To this point in postseason play, Rodgers has completed 65.4 percent of his passes for 271.2 yards per start, 23 touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 101.1 passer rating. In regular-season games, he's completed 65.8 percent of his passes for 274.3 yards per start, 226 touchdowns, 57 interceptions and a 106.0 passer rating. Those stats are nearly identical, so, if you like Rodgers in the regular season, you should also like him in the postseason. What he does in the remaining games of his postseason career will likely define where he fits historically among elite quarterbacks. I think he would agree with that statement.

Chris from Sun Prairie, WI

Vic, who is this schedule maker? Is it one person sitting in a darkened room huddled over piles of papers with a pen and pencil? Or is it a committee of people?

His name is Howard Katz, he is the NFL's senior vice president of broadcasting, and he has a staff of people who assist him.

Kevin from Dubuque, IA

Bears week mean anything to you?

I think I'm guilty of trying to make it mean something to me before I experienced it. In other words, I went to cover my first Packers-Bears game with unrealistic expectations. I was underwhelmed. I was expecting "War of the Worlds" and what I got was a football game. The two games in 2013 gave me the tingle I was seeking. Last year, the tingle went away. We'll see what happens on Sunday.

Jon from Lynn, MA

You must love Mike Daniels. That guy has an edge.

He's old school and I love it. Daniels is what we refer to in my business as "good copy." More than that, he's the kind of good copy I like, the playful kind. He's not disrespectful; he's fun in a playfully edgy way. That's the kind of good copy that made this game popular. There's a difference between verve and venom. I hope he never changes. There aren't many like him left.

Bob from Rossford, OH

Nervous or excited?

Excited, never nervous. What does nervous accomplish? I seek enjoyment, not angst.

Kaare from Odense, Denmark

Do the Packers have any defensive players that intimidate opponents? I don't see a Ray Lewis kind of presence on the team.

In 44 years of covering the NFL, I've only covered three players I would refer to as having been truly physically intimidating. In a game played by the world's most elite physical specimens, the kind of player you seek doesn't come along very often.

Del from Sterling, IL

Was the Steelers decision to go for two somewhat early a matter of following the chart, or was it a result of the new rules?

It was definitely from following the chart. In the first game of the season, the new PAT rules were of no consequence.

Michael from Wheaton, IL

Vic, Sunday marks the beginning of probably one of the most difficult seasons the Packers have played yet, not to mention 50 years since the Packers went on to win the first Super Bowl with Coach Lombardi. With that said, do you think the team as a whole going into the season opener on Sunday against the Bears has an extra motivational boost because of the significance of this season? And what do you think is running through each and every player's head as we get closer to game day? Thanks for an excellent column!

Each player is thinking of one thing and one thing only: doing his job. It's been that way forever. Bill Belichick didn't invent the "Do your job" mantra that is the title of NFL Network's recent production. I've been writing those words for a long time and I got them from Chuck Noll, who probably got them from Paul Brown, and I guarantee Coach Lombardi spoke those words, too. The fans feel the pressure of winning or losing; the players are focused on doing their job. If they do their job, they're happy. They do the playing; they let you do the worrying. They worry about failing to do their job; they let you worry about losing. I write about both of you. You might say we all do our jobs.

Doug from Mitchell, OR

Vic, when trying to stop the run, how many yards is a fair amount allowed and still getting the job done?

You don't need stats to make that determination. What did Justice Stewart say? You'll know it when you see it. A defense will know it when it feels it, because there's an unmistakable feeling of accomplishment when a defense whips its opponent up front and denies rushing yardage. A quarterback scramble can make the stats lie, but neither the tape nor the smile on a defense's face lies. When you whip your man you don't need to look at the stats. If the Packers defense walks off the field on Sunday knowing it whipped its man, we'll all have a smile on our face.

Steve from Madison, WI

Many talk about protecting the integrity of the game. Vic, there's no integrity left! I hate the hypocrisy. I'm out.

Casual fans come and go, but the diehard fan sustains us. In my opinion, protecting the integrity of the game is the commissioner's greatest challenge.

Tony from Burbank, CA

Vic, I've turned the page and look forward to enjoying the new season. The baloney stops now.

I invite everyone in the "Ask Vic" family to join me on Sunday as the kicker raises his right arm – do kickers still do that? – and I whisper to myself, "The baloney stops now," except I won't say baloney. The start of another season thrills me.

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