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They're 6-2 and poised for a run

Time of possession has become a huge problem


Richard from Truckee, CA

Vic, do you think this team could use an Oklahoma drill this week? What better way to stress winning one-on-ones?

Treating professional athletes as children doesn't endear them to the coach or the team that employs them. There's no lack of commitment in the Packers. They faced undefeated teams on the road in consecutive games, the first team in NFL history to ever do that against opponents with six or more wins. The truth is you're not supposed to win those games. The truth is back in June I wrote about this being the hump in the Packers' schedule. Packers fans have an expectation the team should never lose, that the Packers are better than everybody and a loss is an insult to Lombardi and all things holy in Packerland. That highmindedness wears on me and I think it can become an obstacle for fans and even the team. You want perspective? OK, here it is: The Packers are 6-2 and poised for a run at another NFC North title, first-round bye and home playoff game. That's bad?

Greg from Iowa City, IA

Vic, a quick message from Iowa. Just win, baby! Or does that not hold up in college football?

It'll work for Iowa if they beat Ohio State, but it doesn't always work in college football. In 1993, Florida State and Notre Dame each finished with the same record, and Notre Dame beat Florida State, but Florida State was awarded the national title. Just get the ranking, baby, is often what works in college football.

Trevor from Waukesha, WI

It seems like Lacy isn't given a real chance to find a groove. They have bailed on him so early in games (albeit the fumble last week). Lacy has always been a player that gets stronger as the game goes on. Committing to him for a full 60 minutes would give us a better idea of where he's at, right?

Coach McCarthy knows where he's at. Trust the coach.

Dustin from Sidney, NE

In your opinion, what was the turning point in the second half of the Panthers game that began the almost comeback? Will that carry through to this weekend?

The turning point occurred with 9:22 to play in the game, when the Panthers scored a touchdown that gave them a 37-14 lead. I heard the sound of air going out of the Panthers. Does that mean the Packers' rally is meaningless? No, because moving the football as the Packers did in what was left of the game may give this team the confidence it needs to get back to playing as we know it can play. I sensed a lot of resolve in the Packers in the final minutes of that game, and that's a very good thing.

Justin from Moira, NY

The NFL should try to develop its eligibility status the same way the NHL does. A player can be drafted at 18. If you're good enough you play; if not, you go back down and develop some more. Thoughts?

I'd like to see an overhaul of college football. The old rules aren't working in the new game. Larry Fitzgerald and LeSean McCoy, for example, only played two years of college football. How can you build a program on that kind of temporariness? If it's going to be that way with the star players, then why limit the players that aren't NFL prospects to four years of playing eligibility? Instead of four in five years, why not just five in five? Get rid of the redshirt year and allow a player a fifth year of playing eligibility. What's the harm in it? Russell Wilson had already graduated. Isn't that the same thing? College football shouldn't be treated as a revolving door. If it were to marry with the NFL, and playing eligibility was extended, it would effectively make college football a developmental league and some of those non-prospects would find their way into the league. I don't know from year to year who the stars in college football are. They come and go too quickly. It's not good for college football.

Martin from Tisovec, Slovakia

Vic, as our thoughts turn to Detroit, where must the improvements start?

Start with time of possession, which goes to third-down conversions. The Packers have lost TOP by a combined 35 minutes in the last four games! That's mind-boggling. You can't put your defense on the field that long and expect it to excel. The Packers need to begin playing defense with their offense, and that begins with sustaining drives and winning TOP.

Owen from Tampa, FL

When the "Murphy Takes 5" segment was introduced, I assumed it would give Mark Murphy an opportunity to interact with Packers fans and tell them about how great everything is going with the Packers. In regards to the latter, I was wrong. He does not avoid the tough questions, and provides very thoughtful responses, explaining all sides of every issue. I am very impressed.

I liked last Saturday's column.

Scott from Roseville, MN

I'm sure you have seen the ESPN article where it shows the Packers have the slowest receiving corps in the league. A factor in not winning the one-on-one confrontation? The Pats are almost just as slow; perhaps, that's why they run all the pick routes?

It might be. The fourth-and-4 play that should've been a pass to Randall Cobb was a pick play. The Packers run them. They don't run as many of them as the Patriots or Chargers do, but the Packers use pick plays and rub-off routes. What you must understand is you can't change everything in midstream. What you do must be practiced, and it begins in OTAs. I didn't hear any complaints about the Packers' pass offense during OTAs or training camp. Since then, the Packers have experienced a rash of injuries at wide receiver and they've changed the composition of that position. Time will fix what's wrong. Abandoning your core beliefs will only worsen the problem.

Caleb from Eau Claire, WI

I heard B.J. Raji say something to the effect of: "We may be 6-2, but in this city, when you lose two in a row, it feels like you're 0-8." I'm not sure we fans have that kind of impact on our beloved players.

I have never experienced a fan base with the expectations and demands Packers fans have for the Packers.

Ginger from Superior, WI

Vic, why did McCarthy feel the need to name Starks his starting running back when both Starks and Lacy seemed to be on the same level to this point? Was it to light a fire under Lacy?

Maybe it was to take the pressure off him. Maybe Coach McCarthy knows exactly what Lacy needs.

Michael from Winchester, VA

How are you, Vic? We saw several plays in the last two games, especially in the first half against Carolina, that we hadn't seen before and didn't see again. If you're against a top-rate team, do you try new things to see what might work during a playoff run, even if it might not give you the best chance at a win that week, or is your focus always on win this one right now?

It's always on win now. In the process, you'll find the things you do best, and those are the plays on which you'll rely at playoff time. A trial lawyer doesn't ask a question to which he doesn't know the answer, and a football team doesn't run a play it doesn't know it can execute.

Paul from De Pere, WI

What does cheap cologne smell like to a dog?

The dog didn't tell me, but on Sunday in Charlotte the dog got to my bag, took a sniff, stopped and looked at me. I said, "I bought it at the dollar store." I think I saw the dog shake its head.

Frank from Chicago, IL

What was the brouhaha about between Ha Ha and Peppers at last week's game?

I'm just guessing, but I think Julius sat in Ha Ha's seat, and Ha Ha wanted his seat back and started to fuss, so B.J. Raji came over and told Ha Ha to go find another seat. Spofford is always crowding me with all of his junk. I told him on Sunday, "Your cup is crowding my mouse," and he got all pouty with me.

Kristy from Forest Grove, OR

My dad and I were remembering a time when Holmgren seemed to run more screen plays. Is there a reason we aren't seeing more passing plays to Starks and Lacy? This came up on our postgame cross-country call to our buddy Dave in Packerland. Wondering your thoughts!

I can't do this screen thing anymore. This has to end or I'm afraid I'll leave here in a white wagon.

Brooke from Texarkana, WI

Vic, I understand one must keep business and pleasure in separate arenas, but would you consider yourself a Packers fan, per se?

I want the Packers to win. Is that good enough? Do I have to wear a block of cheese on my head, too?

Chris from Newnan, GA

From when they were 6-0 until 6-2, what changes have you seen in the team after the losses in Denver and Charlotte?

I fear they've lost the faith of their fans. I know their faith will return with winning, but the team needs to feel the support of its fans now.

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