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What would Nitschke have thought of the 'belt'?


David from Brookfield, WI

If Driver had stepped out of the end zone, he wouldn't have been allowed to touch the ball. I saw that his defender actually stepped out. If the defender made a play on the ball, would it have been illegal because he stepped out and back in?

No, defensive players may return from being out of bounds and touch the ball. Kick-coverage players are the only defensive players on whom there are out-of-bounds restrictions.

Jon from Anaheim, CA

How much of Aaron Rodgers' current success would you attribute to his not having to become a starter immediately?

None. In my opinion, if he had become a starter a year earlier than he did, what he's doing this season is what he probably would've done last season. I think we saw evidence of that in last season's postseason. Rodgers didn't need babying. All he needed was the job. I saw him in live, regular-season action for the first time in 2008. I gushed about him in my blog. I thought his performance in that game was eye-popping.

Mark from Lake Mills, WI

Who is the architect of the Packers' offensive scheme? Is it Mike McCarthy or did he just adapt the "West Coast Offense" that was in place when he got here?

This is Mike McCarthy's offense. It's the Paul Hackett version of the "West Coast Offense" that McCarthy learned while coaching under Hackett at Pitt, and McCarthy added to it bits and pieces along the way from the time he spent with coaches such as Marty Schottenheimer and Al Saunders.

Ryan from Winnipeg, Manitoba

Any word on Quarless? That was one of the most brutal injuries I have ever seen happen. I held my shin for a good 20 minutes after I saw that cringing.

Andrew Quarless sustained what Coach McCarthy termed a "significant" knee injury that will require surgery. Quarless' season is over. His injury reminded me of what a brutal game football is. I was on the same bus to the airport with Quarless on Sunday night. Trainers helped him onto and off the bus and watching this great athlete struggle and grimace to do something as simple as step off the bus gave me pause. It immediately reminded me of a rookie tight end in 1984, who created a middle-of-the-night visual I'll never forget. In the process of making the big catch that would give the 49ers their only loss of the season, he sustained a career-ending knee injury. I've told the story before. It ends with a crowded bus, a team doctor, a long needle and the tight end's knee all merging under a street light outside the Cleveland airport. I can still hear the sound of the rookie's, "Ahhhhhh." It's a tough game for very tough guys.

Jason from Austin, TX

What's the point of the 12-men-in-a-huddle penalty for the offense? Why not wait to see if they snap the ball with 12 men on the field, like it is for the defense?

The original purpose of the rule was to prohibit offenses from having a player run onto the field and deliver instructions from the bench, and then run off the field without having played. If offenses were allowed to do that, the coach might as well be a player. In today's game, it's more a function of prohibiting offenses from camouflaging their personnel from the defense.

Jon from Irving, TX

In watching some of the press conferences and interviews, I get the impression Coach McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers don't particularly enjoy speaking to the media, but they do it because they have to. A guy like Greg Jennings, he seems to enjoy it more. Do you know if there is any truth to this? Do players and coaches generally enjoy being interviewed?

Some do, some don't. Some players enjoy talking to the media because it's a way for them to prepare for the game. They feel that by sharing their message with the media, they have gone on record as to what their objectives are for the next game. It helps them commit to those objectives. Other players would rather internalize their commitment. All coaches are skittish about press conferences leading up to a game for the same reason: They wanna be vigilant about not providing any kind of information or sound bite that would aid the opponent. All of this is more applicable in today's game than it was years ago because the media is so much more dangerous now than it was years ago. What I have noticed in today's game is that players and coaches are much more revealing in interviews immediately after a game than they are during the week leading up to the game. After the game is when they let their hair down, so to speak. I think they all enjoy talking to the media after the game because it's a way of communicating with the fans. That's what we, the media, are; we're messengers of information from the players and coaches to the fans.

Laney from Santa Clarita, CA

I know this may sound funny and maybe the answer is obvious, but how does Aaron stay as cool as a cucumber when there is less than a minute to go, such as there was Sunday against the Giants?

It has been my experience that players achieve calm by internalizing. They don't allow themselves to get caught up in the storyline of a game or the fans' anxiety or enthusiasm. They focus on their job and only their job. That's why I am fond of saying that players are responsible for executing their roles, coaches are responsible for winning. You can't have your players worried about winning or losing because if they do that, they're focused on the scoreboard and not their job. Just do your job. Think about nothing else. That's how you stay calm under fire.

Bill from Milwaukee, WI

Have you got any idea why the Packers' opponents have not figured out that mocking Rodgers' title belt move only serves to motivate the man further?

I kind of see it the other way. The first time I saw Rodgers do the belt move, I was kind of shocked. You don't see that kind of stuff from quarterbacks. I mean, they're not the biggest guys on the field, you know? In the old days, quarterbacks all but apologized to the defense for scoring. They never, ever antagonized those guys on defense because most of them had bad intentions. Think about it. What would Ray Nitschke have done had Don Meredith done the belt move after a touchdown? I understand that these are different days and today's players are the celebration generation, but I wouldn't be offended if Rodgers put his belt in the drawer.

Kay from Beit Shemesh, Israel

On Driver's second touchdown, they were checking to see if he was pushed out of the end zone. Why wouldn't that be illegal contact by the corner?

That's a good question. I'd like to hear Mike Pereira comment on it. It's my understanding that illegal contact is not reviewable. For example, a coach can't challenge an illegal-contact call by an official. Does that apply in this situation? I don't know. I'll see if I can get a definitive ruling on that.

Nick from Green Brook, NJ

What is going on with the defense? What are we doing different, or what are the opponents doing different to cause this?

The Packers are not winning the one-on-one battles often enough.

Mark from Seattle, WA

Do players and personnel get free stock?


Andrew from Altoona, WI

This goes towards the point/counterpoint section. If you could pick a running back from any era to put on the Packers team today, who would it be and why? Mine would be Barry Sanders because he is the greatest of all time, no matter what the critics say.

Marshall Faulk, because he was as good a receiver as he was a runner.

Spencer from Madison, WI

Obviously, Aaron Rodgers is a great fit with the Packers. Do you think there is any other team in the NFL with whom he would fit just as well or even better?

He'd fit on any team, in any scheme, in any climate and on any kind of turf. In the vernacular, Rodgers can make all of the throws. He has the arm strength to play in the cold and wind. That's what separates the men from the boys.

Bob from Madison, WI

What team gave you the heart attack?

The Jaguars. It was on Christmas Day. I was supposed to go to New England the next day. Apparently, my heart couldn't bear another beat down by Tom Brady.

Jeremiah from Two Rivers, WI

If ever in the future there is a movie made about this 2011 Green Bay Packers team, what actor would play the part of you?

Brad Pitt, obviously.

Jerry from Hudson, WI

It used to be on a punt that if the ball was inside the 10-yard line, let it go. Now you see a lot of punt-returners call for a fair catch and catch the ball. What has changed?

Everything about special teams play has changed. The old 10-yard-line rule is from the days when special teams were a practice afterthought. There were no special teams coaches. All of the bottom-of-the-roster guys were on special teams and about the only instruction they got was to find somebody and block them or go tackle the guy with the ball. In those days, if the ball hit at the 10, it was unlikely it would be downed before it reached the end zone. I think that's why we saw so many coffin-corner punts back then. Nowadays, with the pooch kicks and the rugby punts and all of the attention given special teams technique and strategy, a ball that hits at the 10 is likely to be downed inside the five. The 10-yard line has become the five-yard line.

Steve from Las Vegas, NV

Vic, I started Tuesday morning at 5:30 Vegas time with a cup of coffee and Come 6:00 a.m., I bought my share along with many other Packers fans and spent the rest of the day flying high. I've noticed a lot of the wonderful online community has taken offense to the pride we fans feel for our team. Do you think this is just simple jealousy that they, too, can't invest in this manner for their teams, or are they just upset because we are the current darlings and they enjoy any effort to bring us down?

I don't know what it is but it's really not important, either. What I like is the innocence of your commentary. I sense that in Packers fans and I like that. I don't like chest-thumping and tell-us-why-we're-great questions, but I do enjoy the kind of innocent pride you've expressed.

Matt from Laguna, CA

I agree with you that the playoff picture is materializing favorably for the Packers. The Saints, Falcons and Cowboys are all in the hunt and all play in domes. With that being said, aside from the Giants, the Falcons and, more specifically, Michael Turner scare me. He's always given us problems and there's no better back suited to play in cold weather than one who's pushing 250 pounds and has tree trunks for legs.

Anybody but the Giants. I don't wanna see them again.

Carol from Aloha, OR

I must have missed something. I thought all division winners get a first-round bye and then host a wild-card team the following weekend, yet, you said in the 12-5 column that they have not clinched a first-round bye. Could you please explain the rules?

All division winners play at home in their first playoff games, but only the top two seeds get first-round byes. In the wild-card round, six plays at three and five plays at four. In the divisional round, the lowest-seeded survivor plays at one and the other survivor from the wild-card round plays at two. In the conference title game, the highest-seeded survivor hosts the other survivor.

Scot from Cedarburg, WI

Do you think opposing couches are reading Tuesdays with McCarthy for some insight that might allow them to find a chink in his armor?

You're trying to get into the Packers' wing of the "Ask Vic Hall of Fame," aren't you? I don't know if other couches read Tuesday's with McCarthy, but if I was a couch, I'd read it. I would read it to help me be a better couch because Coach McCarthy has shared some things in his column that have made me think; it's stuff that's new to me. I loved his answer to the question about the running game, yards or carries? I think his answer is food for thought for all couches.

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