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This game could be telling for playoffs


Justin from Christchurch, New Zealand

Signing Harrell to the active roster: Is this to stop another team from poaching him, or a sign Rodgers will get some rest?

Late in the season, teams that are out of the playoffs race will begin shaping their rosters for the offseason; they'll turn their attention to the future. Immediately after the season ends, they'll begin signing street guys to futures contracts. Adding Graham Harrell to the active roster, as the Packers did at this time of the year last season, is a means for protecting him from signing with a team that is shaping its roster for the offseason and the future.

Lance from Milledgeville, GA

I've noticed a calm, focused mentality from both Coach McCarthy and Rodgers on the field and when speaking to the media. Are there any previous coach/QB relationships that McCarthy and Rodgers remind you of?

Walsh/Montana and Unitas/Ewbank and Namath/Ewbank come to mind.

Price from Grand Prairie, TX

I'm going to my first game at Lambeau this weekend. Should I wear pants?

You absolutely should wear pants and they should be long and warm because you don't wanna get caught wearin' your short pants, if you know what I mean.

Bob from Adams, WI

Vic, I enjoy your reporting this year on packers.com, as it enhances it to be more than just-the-facts type of team site. You've had the good fortune in your first year here to report on what could be a perfect season for the Packers.

Without a doubt, I am very fortunate to be able to witness this season. It's starting to hit me that I may be covering something historic. Some people are lucky in love, I'm lucky in sports; I always have been. My first playoff game was the "Immaculate Reception." That was the first indication.

Andrew from Columbia, MO

Yes, the defense hasn't had its best season under Capers, but occasionally they play better than we are giving them credit for. When is it time to accept that we are what we are?

I think it's a fair question and I think 12 games does an identity make. Yes, this is who and what the Packers are. The question is: Can they change that identity on defense in what remains of the season? I think they can. I think the urgency of being on the verge of the postseason will raise the Packers' bar on defense. I sensed a sternness in Coach Capers' voice on Monday that suggested urgency. We'll see.

Thomas from Pensacola, FL

A couple of years ago, I saw articles on up-and-coming quarterbacks in the NFL. The list included Sanchez from the Jets, Ryan from the Falcons and Flacco from Baltimore. Rodgers was mentioned but at the time hadn't won a playoff game. What is your take on the other three mentioned?

They're all good quarterbacks. Mark Sanchez has proven he can win in the postseason and that he can get it done at crunch time. Now he needs to prove he can play the position efficiently and effectively at all of the other times. Matt Ryan burst onto the scene and I was crazy about him in his rookie year, but he's not playing to that level this season. It's something he can erase by getting hot now, leading the Falcons into the playoffs and winning in the postseason. Joe Flacco has had the benefit of a great defense and a strong running game for his years as the Ravens' quarterback. Flacco has made steady progress but he needs to do something sudden. He needs to prove he can win when it counts. Of course, that can be said of every quarterback. The good ones win in the postseason.

Anthony from Charleston, IL

Vic, the Packers' short passing game is their running game.

That's a popular opinion of pass-first teams. They believe checkdowns and swing passes are long handoffs. I don't agree because you aren't run-blocking when you throw those passes and if you're not run-blocking you're not running. The running game isn't about the run, it's about moving the line of scrimmage. It's about being physically superior, and you don't establish that physical superiority with finesse-blocking. You do it by coming off the ball with force. When you move the line of scrimmage, defenders begin running around blocks, and that's when you got 'em. Now your backs have creases they can hit and big plays are gonna follow. No, I'm sorry, I won't buy that short-passing stuff. It's passing, not running. Run is a sacred word reserved for those teams with the power and resolve to commit to the physical demands required to run the ball. We're gonna see one of those teams this Sunday. The Raiders run the ball the old-fashioned way: They pound it.

Jason from Austin, TX

I'm a little surprised that so many people are writing off the Oakland game as a win for the Packers. The Raiders have a formidable ground game and a QB that can throw pretty well. I agree that Green Bay should definitely win this game, but this might be a good test for the defense to see if they can get off the field from a team that can run.

The Raiders are one of those teams whose rankings announce their intentions. They are going to run the ball. They've run it 49.59 percent of the time, at a point in the game's history when most teams are throwing the ball close to 60 percent of the time. I'm gonna be interested to see if the Packers can line up and stop the run, knowing it's coming. I'm also gonna be interested to see how much nickel the Packers play because, frankly, there's not much reason to play nickel against the Raiders, especially on first and second downs, unless nickel has become the Packers' true base. I think this game could be telling about what's ahead for the Packers defense in the postseason.

Joe from Hastings, MN

Who's your lead horse for couch of the year?

If Mike McCarthy doesn't get it, then they should get rid of the couch of the year award.

Brian from Collingswood, NJ

Do you think anything that is said after a game while players let their hair down is remembered and used as motivation for a repeat opponent?

I think we've become way too politically correct and vanilla with our description of what is a very colorful game. Words are meaningless once the game begins, and players and coaches that aren't afraid to express their emotions are a breath of fresh air for fans that want to experience the color of the game. I don't know why everyone is so afraid to say something. They're just words. Bulletin-board material never blocked anyone. It never sacked anyone. If I was a couch and I had a team that was afraid of providing bulletin-board material, I'd be afraid that I had a team that was afraid. Let it rip. Tell it like it is and then go knock their blocks off. All of that bulletin-board stuff lasts until the first time you get knocked on your wallet.

Eric from Champaign, IL

Can you please describe in detail, like a picture, of what a high-ankle sprain is?

The following answer was provided by Packers Head Trainer Pepper Burruss: "If there is a high-ankle sprain, there must be a low-ankle sprain. The average, run-of-the-mill ankle sprain (low-ankle) involves the rolling over of the outside of the ankle and the spraining of one or more of the small ligaments located at shoe-top level. The high-ankle sprain involves those as well as involving a rotational component, whereas the foot and ankle rotation causes the two lower leg bones (tibia and fibula) to spread and sprain the ligaments that hold them together. Being situated higher than the small ankle ligaments at shoe-top height, the sprain has come to be known as a high-ankle sprain. Generally, the higher up the shin the pain, the longer the prognosis for recovery.

Brian from Ames, IA

Who would you say the Packers would rather see as the second seed, the Saints or 49ers?

I can't speak for the Packers, but I'll give you my opinion. A Saints/Packers game would likely be another shootout. The 49ers would introduce a very different dynamic. They run the ball and stop the run, which I don't think is an especially big deal, but they sack the quarterback, too, and I think that's a very big deal. The 49ers are kind of scary because they play a style of game you don't see every day. They truly are built for cold weather. I don't think the Saints are built for cold weather.

Lewk from Davenport, IA

I can't imagine Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers feeling the same way you do about the New York Giants. The Packers are the hunters, not the hunted, remember?

I am the watcher, not the watched.

Bob from Fargo, ND

In the event of league realignment, is it possible for a team to move from one conference to the other?

Sure it is. The Seahawks were originally an AFC team. I think the possibility exists that when the situation in Los Angeles is finally resolved, we might see a team having to switch conferences. I can also see a scenario that would geographically improve the current alignment. If we're headed to two teams in Los Angeles and a team in London, then some form of minor realignment is likely.

Kenton from Rochester, MN

In reading the fine print of the stock offering, it seems to say that as an owner I can be fined up to $500,000 for publicly saying anything bad about any NFL player or coach. Does that mean when I buy my share of stock I have given up my right to express anything negative about, for example, Ndamukong Suh, on fan forums (or even in a bar)?

It sounds like the commissioner is gonna be reading "Ask Vic."

Scott from Orwell, OH

My girlfriend said she is going to ban me from the Packers. She put her hand on my chest as I was watching the game on Sunday and found my heart pounding hard.

You blew it, Scott. You should've told her it was her hand that was making your heart pound. The day after I had my heart attack and after they stuck some things in there to blow out a lifetime of press box hot dogs, I was resting comfortably in my room watching a football game. A nurse came into the room to take my blood pressure and heart rate as the game was heading into its final seconds and one of the teams was moving into position for a walk-off field goal. All of a sudden, my heart rate and blood pressure spiked and the nurse called for a cart with more machines on it. My wife said it's the game that's doing it and she reached for the remote to turn off the TV, which caused my vitals to spike even higher. "No," I yelled. Now the nurse thinks I'm gonna code on her. The cart comes into the room and they're hooking me up to machines when the kick is good and, all of a sudden, my heart rate and blood pressure go back to normal. I felt so stupid. It was an experience that made me think: Why am I allowing a game to do this to me?

Fred from St. Louis, MO

Coach McCarthy touched on the ability to communicate with the QB until 15 seconds are left on the play clock. Who shuts this communication down? It can't be as simple as the coaches just stop talking.

A technician operates the helmet communicator equipment. He sits in the press box next to the clock operator.

John from Las Vegas, NV

I think the seven-on-seven era has two other causes related to each other. The first is the Madden game era, in which scoring is pinball-like. The second is fantasy football, which Goodell sees as great in bringing new interest to the game. Offense is the foundation of both those, not defense.

Madden and fantasy football have done more to change football than has any player since Joe Namath.

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