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Tendency football is passive; attack football is dangerous

Take time to enjoy the obvious joys of watching a football game


Mitch from Reno, NV

Vic, I do not understand why we don't move Clay Matthews around on the line like other teams have done with their game-breakers? Can you please enlighten us?

I don't know why the Packers don't move Matthews around, but I am absolutely sure that if you asked that question to Dom Capers and he was willing to give you a detailed explanation of his reason for not moving Matthews around, you would say, "Oh, now I get it." We need to trust that the coaches know what they're doing. There has never been a time in my years covering the NFL that a coach has submitted to strategy conversation with me that I haven't immediately sensed my inability to converse on that level. Their knowledge of the inner workings of the game is intimidating, and Coach Capers is a veteran of five decades of coaching on both the college and professional level. He's coached in five college conferences and two professional leagues. He's schemed to stop everything from the wishbone to the no-huddle. I am absolutely certain he could give you a good reason for what he does schematically.

Tom from Grand Forks, ND

Vic, is it harder nowadays to be medically cleared to play than it was back in Brett Favre's days, for example?

It absolutely is more difficult to be medically cleared to play today. We are in the player-safety era. The NFL just agreed to a nearly $800 million settlement of a player injury lawsuit. Injury awareness has never been greater. Sensitivity to re-injury is at an all-time high. I covered the Steelers in 1977 when Terry Bradshaw broke his left wrist in a game against the Oilers, and he was back under center the following week with a cast on his left arm. That was football back then, but it's not that way today. The game has to prove to the public that it is neither reckless nor negligent. The future of the game is at stake.

Eric from Bloomington, IN

Vic, can you explain what tendency football is? Mike McCarthy mentioned it in this week's "Tuesdays with McCarthy."

Tendency football is a way of describing a defense's reaction to down, distance and formation. It makes sense to play that way, but you're allowing the offense to dictate to you, instead of you dictating to it. It's a logical but somewhat passive way to play. In the second half on Sunday, the Packers were more aggressive on defense. The results were stunning. Be that as it may, I'll remind everyone that attack defense has its dangers. The Packers got caught in a blitz on third-and-12, but were fortunate that Harry Douglas dropped that screen pass. If he catches it, it's Katy bar the door and, all of a sudden, tendency football looks pretty good. Do it any way you please, just make it work.

C.J. from New Hampton, IA

Vic, I know our defense looked better against the Falcons offense, but the Cowboys offense is pretty explosive. I am hopeful, but do you really think our offense can put up more points than Dallas?

We shouldn't expect the Packers to win this game without the defense being a major contributor to the win.

Corbin from Adams, MA

Despite the fact that they have changed from a 3-4 to a 4-3, the Cowboys defense is still horrible. My brother keeps telling me how bad their scheme is and I can't get him to believe me that it is the players, not the scheme. Any advice or wise words that may help?

Last year, the Cowboys defense was No. 19. This year it's No. 32. Obviously, scheme wasn't the problem.

Ethan from Farley, IA

I read your blog on a daily basis because you're a straight shooter. I see all these Packers fans trying to analyze every aspect of each game and coaching decision to make them feel warm and fuzzy about the playoff hopes. Truth is that on any given day any NFL team can beat another. We need to relax and let what happens happen or these people will drive themselves looney. Agree?

We spend too much time analyzing the unknown and not enough time enjoying the obvious. Why do we do that? Because we've become overexposed to the obvious and we believe we need to look deeper, but I don't think we have to look deeper. I think we need to develop greater sensitivity for the obvious and the simple. When I was a kid and my dad took me to the game, I'd think all week about that experience. I'd remember the smell of those hot dogs that were being passed down the aisle, the ones that you knew cost too much to ask to buy because the answer would be, "Your mother has those at home." I'd think about the people that were around me and how I wondered where they were from and what their lives were like, and how we instantly became friends and talked to each other about the game as though we had known each other for years. I'd tell my friends about the blind man selling pencils on the street, and how the Giants' uniforms were so cool and how Bobby Layne didn't wear a facemask and he wiped the blood from his nose on his right sleeve. I remembered everything, from the graffiti on the pole that blocked my view to the splinter in my seat, but I never once came away from one of those games talking about spider Y2 banana. Let the game entertain you, folks. Don't make it work, don't make it hurt.

Matt from Janesville, WI

Vic, why is it that you spend so much time responding to people who simply bash the column? I've sent numerous, legitimate questions about football and the Packers over the last year or two. I have yet to have one answered, yet, I see you taking the time to respond to someone who simply says your column sucks.

Football is an edge game. My column is about football, so I want it to have an edge. Your question has an edge to it. Congratulations, you made it.

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