Skip to main content
Powered by

They're 3-0; that's the reality


Weeb from Cottage Grove, WI

Regarding the trick punt-return, why didn't we simply punt the ball out of bounds rather than risk any type of return?

"4. Kick it out of bounds—That means out of the back of the end zone on kickoffs and into the first row of seats on punts, anything to keep the ball out of Devin Hester's hands." Well, they kept it out of Devin Hester's hands, but that's not exactly what I had in mind in my "10 things" editorial.

Kirk from Sneads Ferry, NC

If teams are scheming to block Clay Matthews, why don't you see him getting moved around?

Make him more difficult to find? Good thinking. You might start seeing some of that.

Nick from Somerset, NJ

If Grant and Starks are cutback runners, what would you call an Adrian Peterson?

A pounder that can cut back and slash. He can do it all.

Ryan from Whitewater, WI

After three weeks, I've finally stopped reading endless comments online about how the Packers are under or overrated. As a Packers fan, I have to say I like us better more as the respected background team. It doesn't matter what others think of your team as long as you know they are the best.

Perception might be reality in life, but not in football. You are what your record is. The Packers are 3-0. That's reality. It doesn't matter how you pigeon-hole them, they're 3-0; nothing else matters.

Randy from Medicine Hat, Alberta

I was picturing in my mind's eye where both the starting and second-string quarterbacks go out Sunday with injuries for the Broncos. Then, a certain left-handed phenom enters the game, runs around the field recklessly and leads the Broncos to victory over the reigning world champions.

I wouldn't worry about that.

Justin from Jacksonville, FL

Why don't we see the top passing teams like Green Bay, New England and Indy have a successful or great running game? Shouldn't a strong passing game open up the run?

Your perception is not reality. The Packers are 10th in the league in rushing, which is a stunning improvement over last season and one of the major reasons the Packers' offense is playing up to its 2009 levels. The Patriots are 13th in rushing, which is a pretty lofty ranking for a team that is No. 1 in passing. Yes, today's game is a passing game, but every coach seeks balance between run and pass, or at least enough of a threat of run to keep defenses from teeing off on the quarterback. Without Peyton Manning, it's tough to come to any judgment on the Colts, but when weren't the Colts vigilant about giving Manning the threat of run? Edgerrin James was one of the top backs in the league. Joseph Addai and Donald Brown are first-round picks.

Steve from Kingsford, MI

Why don't the Packers utilize the sweep that the Packers were famous for? They keep pounding at the middle and seldom are really successful.

I don't agree with your opinion about pounding the middle. I saw Ryan Grant tear through huge holes in the middle of the Bears' line on Sunday and I thought Grant's performance was one of the major reasons the Packers won the game. As far as using the "Packers sweep" from the 1960s, it wouldn't work in today's game because it's too slow-developing. The "Packers sweep" was designed to attack read-and-react defense, which was the style of that time. Defenses two-gapped back then. The front seven was responsible for holding the point and defeating blocks, not penetrating the line of scrimmage. Defenses today are about gap control, which is a way of saying penetrating the line of scrimmage and disrupting the flow of the play. If you tried to pull your two guards out in front of the ball against a gap-control defense, the defense's three-technique tackle would cut down one or both guards and the play would get stopped before it even got to the edge.

Neil from Sun Prairie, WI

We had friends over for the Bears game and I was impressed how every offensive play that failed to gain more than a few yards was cause for great concern. I reminded them that sometimes the offense wins and sometimes the defense wins. I also pointed out that if the Packers lose four games this year, we'll be in the playoffs. I think this is going to be a really memorable season for Packers fans. I plan on savoring each game along the way.

I like to watch, too.

Dave from Germantown, TN

I have a question about the Bears' punt-return in Sunday's game and the Packers' coverage or lack thereof. Didn't the outside gunner on that side of the field abandon his responsibility by leaving his assigned lane? Also, doesn't the coach or the punter indicate which direction he is going to kick?

I want you to picture this: You know the ball is supposed to be kicked to the left, so even though Devin Hester is moving to your right and acting as though he's going to field the punt, you go to the left. How foolish are you and your teammates going to look if Hester catches the punt, which unintentionally sailed to the right, and runs untouched for a touchdown? See what I mean? It's the diversion that Hester has created that is the trick, and that's what can happen when you've taken your eye off the ball. Here's an example from a favorite baseball play of mine: The runner on first attempts to steal second base. He turns his head away from the ball to focus on second base as he runs. Meanwhile, the pitcher throws a pitch-out, the catcher throws a pop up to the infield and everybody starts yelling, "I got it, I got it." The guy that was trying to steal second thinks the batter hit a pop up to the infield, so he turns and starts running back to first base, where the ball is waiting for him. Out! Stuff happens.

Patrick from Hopkins, MN

I was reading about the tie-breaking procedure in case two or more teams have the same record. I saw that the last tie-breaker is a coin toss. Has any season in the history of football come down to a coin toss? I can't imagine that ever happening.

I can't remember it happening in my time covering the league, as far as playoff berths are concerned, but it's happened with draft positions. Had the Bears won a coin toss for the first overall pick in 1970, Terry Bradshaw might've spent his career in Chicago. How would that have changed the course of history?

Rowdy from Amarillo, TX

So let me make sure I got this straight. Let's say it's a cold Sunday in December in Green Bay, and the Packers are playing the Raiders on a snow-covered Lambeau Field. The Packers are backed up on the 1-yard line and Randall Cobb catches a quick slant over the middle at the 10. Let's now say he is hopping on his right foot because he ran out of his left shoe at the snap. He then hops 89 yards down the field on his right foot because he doesn't want to get his left sock wet in the snow and gets pushed out of bounds at the 1-yard line. That would be an incomplete pass?

What are the Raiders defenders doing? Are they hopping, too? The rule states that both feet have to touch the ground inbounds for a reception to be completed.

Dave from Sumter, SC

Why do you think fans keep asking to run up the score? Look what happened to the Patriots after they were up 21-0 and kept throwing it. Four interceptions later...

In keeping with the perception is reality theme, the general perception among fans is that passes always succeed and runs always fail. I think we know that's not true, but I think we would also agree that most fans think that way. In keeping with the customer is always right theme, the NFL has tilted the rules of the game to give the customer what he and she want. You want passing? You got passing.

Eddy from Rio Rancho, NM

After the Packers had two delay-of-game penalties, it got me to thinking where the play clocks are located in stadiums. Does the NFL determine where they are placed or do teams put them where they choose?

From the game operations manual: "Play clocks must be at opposite ends of the stadium, visible to fans and players. The preferred location, to the eye of the quarterback, is to the right of the goal posts at least eight feet off the ground. Clubs must outline the play clock with a strip of white tape (or paint) at least six inches wide. Play clock numbers must be at least twenty-eight inches in height."

Scott from Kansas City, MO

You come off like a homer when you say be happy being 3-0. I think anyone who knows football knows the team is playing below its capabilities.

You're right. I am a homer, I know nothing about football and you should never read this column again.

Eric from Woodbury, MN

It seems like the Packers are letting teams stick around in games when they should just put them away. What do you believe are the reasons for that?

I don't know. This is the first I've heard of this. Maybe they're not passing enough.

Evan from Baltimore, MD

It's obvious the Packers haven't peaked, yet, this year. Does a team have any control as to when it will peak or is it just coincidence that some teams hit their peak in the weeks leading to the playoffs?

It's no coincidence. Good coaches have a feel for peaking their teams. They know that as the postseason nears, their teams need to tighten up their play; eliminate turnovers, penalties, missed assignments. They know the teams that win at crunch time are the teams that are most efficient; convert third down, get off the field on third down. They know it's about execution. Obviously, Mike McCarthy has a feel for what it takes to win at crunch time.

Ken from Tucson, AZ

In "Tuesdays with McCarthy," he mentioned the importance of having been a quality control coach. What exactly are the responsibilities of a quality control coach and who is currently serving as the Packers' quality control coach?

Quality control coaches work on whatever assignment they are given. They might be asked to research the play-call tendencies in the league on second-and-long plays. They might be asked to do research on spread formations or short-yardage defense. That's offseason kind of stuff. During the season, they break down the opponents by formation, tendency, personnel, etc. I'm really enjoying the Q&A with Coach McCarthy. I learn more about him and his ways every week, and I thought his comment about quality control being a stepping stone for coaches is right on the money. Coach McCarthy came up the hard way in football. He started at the bottom and as he worked his way up the ladder, he acquired a well-rounded education about his chosen profession. A lot of fans are attracted to recognizable former players as head coach candidates, but I wouldn't hire anybody who hasn't paid his dues as a coach. Examine some of the game's coaching legends. Look at their resumes. Most of them are long and include stops all over the country. Mike McCarthy coached at Pitt, Kansas City, New Orleans, San Francisco and Green Bay. That's a geography lesson. The Packers have two quality control coaches: Joel Hilgenberg for offense and Scott McCurley for defense. Remember those names. They might become head coaches someday.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.