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Will the Packers make the playoffs? Here's my answer

Expectations create frustration and exasperation; keep it real


Ryan from Piney River, VA

Vic, I'm starting to think we've been spoiled during the past few seasons. This must be what it's like on the other side.

I think success has caused a loss of perspective. I think that was especially true with the "next man up" philosophy in 2010. The Packers' success in 2010, in spite of the league's worst rash of injuries, fueled the feeling of smugness we all want to have for the team we love. When the Packers kept losing players and plugging in guys without a drop in production, Packers fans began developing a belief that it's the helmet, not what's in the helmet. Hey, it was "The Man," and now this team has been without "The Man" for three weeks. I can remember being scolded in this column this past summer by fans that didn't care for my philosophy that the goal isn't to win the Super Bowl, it's to make it into the playoffs every year, with the idea that every so often you might get hot and win it all. I was told in no uncertain terms that in Green Bay the expectation is always to win it all. In my mind, that's a formula for frustration and exasperation and those emotions are dominating my inbox today. I like to keep it real. Here's the reality of Sunday's game: The Packers were playing with a quarterback making his first pro start, on the road against a team that was being quarterbacked by a two-time Super Bowl champion. I expected a closer game than 27-13, and when it was 20-13 and the Packers had the ball at their 30-yard line, I thought it was game on, but I'm suffering from neither frustration nor exasperation today because I kept it real. Expectations can be a killer.

Kevin from Nassau, Bahamas

I'm predicting that you will toe the company line and say it's OK our team isn't well-coached because we still have a chance at the playoffs, but for peace of mind I will ask a question your feeble mind won't comprehend. Mike McCarthy is 0-3 without his star quarterback and makes excuses or fake accountability in angry speeches after each game now. Do his players have any respect for him at this point?

The result of a football game shouldn't cause the kind of reaction you're displaying. To go onto a public forum and ridicule people you've never met should alert you to a problem much greater than my feeblemindedness.

Brandon from Fort Wayne, IN

Vic, I know your inbox is filled with negativity, but I just want to say we are in no bigger hole than we were two weeks ago when Rodgers went down. Isn't this good news?

The situation has certainly worsened since Aaron Rodgers left the Chicago game with a shoulder injury. At that point in time, the Packers were 5-2, leading the NFC North and holding a 3-0 lead over the Bears. Since then, the Packers have only held the lead in games twice, briefly at 10-7 and 20-17 against the Bears. They never led against the Eagles or the Giants. Think about that, folks. What's that tell you? OK, now here's the good news: The Steelers win over the Lions on Sunday keeps the Packers in control of their own destiny. As I wrote in my editorial from yesterday’s game, the formula for winning the NFC North is simple: If the Packers win their remaining three division games and finish in no worse than a tie with the Lions and/or the Bears, the Packers will win the North and host a playoff game. Maybe I should add to that formula: Get Rodgers back.

Peter from Eagan, MN

Vic, all I can say is that I am sorry for my comments. You are right when you identified my disappointment that turned into frustration. Please forgive me. If there was something I could do to undo what I have done or make it right, I would do so. Your wrath was well-deserved and my only hope is that others who don't get it will read your response and get it. Believe it or not, I do enjoy reading your insights. Keep up the good work. Again, I really did not want to push your button but was airing frustration that should never have left my screen.

I am humbled by your graciousness and muted by your sincerity. If ever there was a day when we needed this kind of commentary, today is that day. You've taught us all a valuable lesson: Think twice before you hit that send button. Is what you've written representative of you? Is it how you want people to regard you? Peter, you have opened a new wing to the "Ask Vic Hall of Fame." I am delighted to count you among my esteemed readers.

Don from Orion, IL

How could you, Vic? I got an email that says "Clay Matthews is done with the club." I was freaking out for like 30 seconds until I figured out what you meant.

I'm so ashamed. There's this little man inside me that makes me do stuff like that. It's not how I want people to regard me. Can I ever change? Probably not.

Dennis from Indianapolis, IN

Remember, we demand FULL CONSISTENCY.

That's from my pre-Packers days, but Packers fans want it, too. There's still enough time left to achieve FULL CONSISTENCY, but it better start happening this week.

Scott from Lincoln City, OR

Vic, so when did this "first touching" rule come about? It had to have been after Jim Thorpe played because it would have been illegal for him to catch his own punt, let alone advance it for a touchdown.

It's known as the "Jim Thorpe rule."

Mike from Stephenson, MI

I'm pretty sure you don't read every email, but that's ok.

I read them all, Mike. It's my promise to my readers. They've honored me by writing to me. The least I can do is read what they've written.


Koigi from Lynchburg, VA

Vic, what's your take on the defense?

I wouldn't call it a rock-ribbed performance, but it was good enough to win. The Giants had 10 possessions; five of them ended in a punt and one ended in an interception. Three of those possessions were of the three-and-out variety, though the last one was a victory-formation kind of series, so it doesn't count. Twenty points allowed isn't awful when you consider the Giants had the ball for more than 35 minutes; the offense did little to help the defense stay off the field. The Packers defense held Eli Manning to four of 14 on third down, sacked Manning four times, held the Giants to 78 yards rushing and 334 total net yards. Those aren't bad stats. With the score 20-13, the defense came to life with two sacks that forced a three-and-out and a punt. Give me those stats every week when Aaron Rodgers is under center and the Packers are undefeated.

Aaron from Green Bay, WI

I want an honest answer. Do you think the Packers will make the playoffs?

Aaron, I wouldn't give you anything but an honest answer. In my opinion, if the Packers win the next two games, they will be in the driver's seat to win the NFC North. If the Packers win the next two games, I believe they'll win the division. If they lose either of the next two games, however, I'll expect to spend the majority of my time in January with the Snowinator.

Adam from Montgomery, AL

I did not watch the whole game, but I think if we had Rodgers on the field, that game is 34-17, Packers win. Your thoughts?

If Rodgers hadn't gotten injured, the Packers are, at the least, 7-3 and in first place. Next man up is a viable philosophy for the other 21 positions on the field, but it doesn't apply to the quarterback position because there is only one "Man."

Ryan from Platteville, WI

Tolzien played very well, aside from his three interceptions. What do you expect from him next week, having his first start under his belt?

There was no proclamation on a starting quarterback for next Sunday's game, following yesterday's game. I need more information. This is it. This is crunch time.

Jeff from La Crosse, WI

Vic, I have heard a lot of talk about switching to a 4-3. I find this absurd, but after a lot of discussion with other fans, I thought about this: What about a hybrid 4-3, like Denver uses?

If it helps, do it. I'm fine with any scheme, as long as it fits the personnel. B.J. Raji is a perfect 4-3 over tackle. Mike Daniels would be perfectly cast as a three-technique tackle. Datone Jones has the body for a 4-3 end and Clay Matthews would be a perfect fit at strong side linebacker. The same people are on the field. Do you really expect a change in scheme to make the difference? I'm not fond of the 4-3 for one reason: The right defensive end makes quarterback money. He's the most overdrafted player on the defense and he always makes top money. If you miss on him, you wasted a high pick and a lot of money. If you hit on him, you'll have trouble keeping him without ruining your cap. The 3-4 allows a team to tap into that huge pool of tweeners. They're guys you can find in the later rounds. Joey Porter was a third-round pick. James Harrison was undrafted. That's 164 sacks and they fit under your cap.

Ignacio from Las Vegas, NM

Fred Taylor, eh? Give us one of your best Fred stories.

Fred was getting clobbered by fans for being injury prone. They were cruelly calling him "Fragile Fred." It reached a peak at the start of the 2000 season, when Fred was out with a knee injury. Storms were predicted for the day of the home opener. They never materialized, but it kept fans from attending the game. The place was empty. So I wrote an editorial, the headline of which was, "Fragile Fred? How about fragile fans?" Oh, did they go nuts. They called me everything but Vic.

John from Farmington, MN

Vic, I've worked with marketing writers. I am a marketing writer. Marketing writers are good friends of mine. You, sir, are no marketing writer. Thanks for being opinionated, controversial and unafraid to alienate a portion of your public (and maybe even your bosses) to share your observations of the facts. You are the definition of a journalist.

I can't win.


Rick from Evergreen, CO

Did you get a chance to see the Steelers' throwback uniforms? They may be the ugliest ever.

They wore those last year. Hey, they're throwback uniforms. They wore those a long time ago. Isn't that the idea of throwback uniforms? You don't design throwback uniforms; you just wear what was worn. I like them. I like colorful uniforms. I liked the Broncos throwback uniform with the vertically striped socks. I remember when the Broncos wore them. If I was Art Rooney, I'd get a suit made to replicate what the Steelers wore yesterday, and I'd wear that suit every time the Steelers wear those uniforms. They sure looked good going 97 yards down the field against the Lions, didn't they?

Derek from Greenville, WI

Vic, I come to the website on Giants game day only to see red and blue plastered all over. I thought I went to the wrong website at first. I understand the value of the banner ads from Delta, but selling out the wallpaper, too? That's just tacky. Tell the powers that be to bring back the green and yellow.

The problem, Derek, is that there aren't a lot of green and yellow airplanes in the sky. Blue is a popular color for airplanes.

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