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They're here, baby


Chris from Voorhout, The Netherlands

How do you think the NFC North is shaping up after a surprise win for the Vikings and a surprise loss for the Lions? Do you see anything in those teams that will make it harder or easier for the Packers to win the division?

I think both upsets are good for the Packers. The Lions are clearly a competitor for the NFC North title and their loss to the Titans could be the equivalent of one fewer game the Packers have to win to win the division title. The 49ers are a team against whom the Packers are expected to compete for home-field playoff advantage, and the 49ers' loss to the Vikings could aid that cause. The season is early. Teams are trying to find their identities and fit into some kind of long-term groove. Don't read too much into anything. Nevertheless, wins and losses count as much now as they do in December. Each counts one.

Chris from Fort Worth, TX

Vic, do you think there will come a day where every team in the league has a franchise quarterback?

Some would say we're there. All four teams in the NFC North have a franchise quarterback, which I define as a player in whom a team has invested much of its salary cap, its scheme and its future. That doesn't mean every franchise quarterback will win. Some will win, some will lose. What every team in the league having one does, however, is to promote parity, because you can't win without one. If you're overmatched at that position, you have no chance.

Jason from Summerville, SC

So which is the bigger headline: Saints drop to 0-3 or Vikings upset 49ers?

I think the Vikings' win is the bigger headline. You might remember my position on interim coaches.

John from Sun Prairie, WI

With all the talented wide receivers we have, why do the Packers never run a reverse? This may slow down fast defenses and open up the running game.

It's not about what you have, it's about what they do. Reverses don't work against teams that stay "home." They're successful against teams that over-pursue the ball. Today's gap-control defensive scheme has greatly limited over-pursuit. In a gap-control scheme, every player is responsible for a gap. Those gap responsibilities are referred to by coaches as "fits," as in, "If we fit it right." The goal is to maintain gap integrity, and that means a player who doesn't maintain his gap and allows for a reverse to work is going to be singled out for his failure. Gap-control defenses depend on discipline, and reverses don't work against disciplined defenses.

Dan from Irvine, CA

You mentioned the other day that you are a Kent State alumni. Just wondering if you were on campus on that fateful day, May 4, 1970?

The first time I covered a game at Lambeau Field, upon entering the press box I asked a local, "Which end zone is it?" He knew exactly what I meant and he pointed to the south end zone. Fame and infamy mark places, time and us forever. When I tell someone I went to Kent State, the next words out of their mouth almost always are, "Were you there?" Yes, I was.

Mark from Seattle, WA

What I love about going to games here – being from Wisconsin – is that around 25,000 of the fans are usually Packers fans. I had never been to a game outside of Green Bay until I moved here in 1995. Anyway, I hope to run into you and be able to say hi, but if I don't, let's enjoy the game.

The streets of Seattle were a sea of green Packers jerseys last night. They're here, baby.

Joel from Lexington, KY

Any news on when Davon House could be back on the field?

He was a limited participant in practice last week. That's all we really know. The more time they can buy his shoulder to heal, the greater the chance is that it will heal.

Jacob from New Bremen, OH

If Matthews is double-teamed the entire game, what kind of impact will that have on the defense?

If he's being chipped by the tight end or running back, his mere presence will have effectively eliminated one receiver from the passing lanes.

Skip from Woodstock, VT

You certainly have your detractors. I know, I was one, but you won me over. So, what do you want to be when you grow up?

A sintering plant worker.

George from New Paltz, NY

Vic, they got tired of seeing excessive celebrations in the end zone and it's now a penalty. Are they now considering flagging receivers for calling out refs to throw a flag with that imitation receivers are doing. I'm getting tired of it. It's getting to be annoying and comes off unsportsmanlike to me toward refs anyway. Your thoughts?

I found myself yesterday without thoughts. I don't even know what a catch is anymore. I don't know what holding is and the only thing I know about pass interference is that if a defensive back looks like he did something wrong, then he must've done something wrong and he should be penalized for it, even if he didn't do something wrong. Reaching with his arms is an immediate indicator that he has in some way obstructed the receiver's inalienable right to catch the ball. I'm also not sure to what degree defensive players are allowed to tackle offensive players. I'm not even sure if defensive players are still allowed tackle offensive players, unless they do it with their arms only, so there's no chance their heads might bump. That's the problem with shoulder tackles; it usually causes the players' heads to bump. I've decided that's why players don't wear shoulder pads anymore. I am, however, absolutely sure that when a replay is shown and the TV analyst says "that's an obvious penalty," it's not obvious to me. I don't think about it much anymore. I just watch.

Brenda from Sioux Center, IA

I have an awesome picture of my three-year-old, blond son at the Packers Hall of Fame doing Clay Matthew's sack celebration right in front of the image on the wall of Clay Matthews doing his sack celebration. He's wearing a Packers jersey and it's pretty much an exact miniature. I posted the pic on Facebook and people who never like my pics liked this one. People were even sending it to their Viking relatives. It's an amazing shot, even if he wasn't my son.

Sounds great. Would you send it to me?

Tom from Minneapolis, MN

You were right, Vic, the wild-card match-up between the Packers and the Cardinals in 2009 was clearly the start of a new-look NFL. My question is, do you think the NFL had that kind of game in mind before the game, or did they try to make that kind of game more likely after the fact?

Yes to both. That's the new game. I knew it as I was watching it. I can remember thinking to myself, "Well, Vic, there it is. Wadda you gonna do now?" I watch it. That's what I've always done. I've had to acquire new tastes. I love football too much not to have reacted that way.

Brennan from Wisconsin Rapids, WI

How do you think the offense can be effective against the Seahawks' defense? And how can the defense have success against the offense and the powerful running game of the Seahawks?

Offensively, the Packers have to be thorough. The Seahawks have a legitimate defense. They can stop the run and stop the pass, and it speaks volumes that they're as good against the pass as they are, because they don't have a powerful pass rush. The Packers need to achieve a degree of balance, they have to be careful to get into the right plays against single-high and double-high safeties, and they need to catch the ball. Defensively, if they stop Marshawn Lynch, the rest should fall into place.

Kevin from Logan, WV

Vic, I know I've said some bad things about you in the past and I would like to apologize for the harsh things I've said to you. Would you please accept my apology?

Consider it done.

John from Fairfield, CA

I'm glad the defense decided to show up against Chicago, but what should Dom Capers do to make the defense more consistent so we don't have to try and outscore every team?

He should made young players older and more mature immediately.

Fernando from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Still on the excessive celebration subject, a while ago I was watching a film about the Baltimore Colts' Super Bowl season and one of the players (I think it was Bill Curry) said that judging by Unitas' reaction while leaving the field after a drive, you could never tell if he had just thrown a touchdown pass or an interception.

People who grew up during the Depression didn't have a lot of practice at celebrating.

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