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You get better; help is not on the way

What Jets players are deserving of attention?


Elijah from Fredericksburg, VA

Vic, our defense just hasn't been the same since the Nick Collins injury. Do you feel a hard-hitting safety with good ball skills is the key to a great defense in the NFL in today's game?

Fredericksburg, Fredericksburg, Fredericksburg. I'm sorry, I had to do it. Elijah, the safety position has become more important in recent years, but good defense starts up front. With all due respect to Collins, the Packers defense began struggling before he was lost to injury. The Steelers rushed for 5.5 yards per carry in Super Bowl XLV, the Saints gained 477 yards in Week 1 of the 2011 season, and Carolina put up 475 the following week, which was Collins' final game. In other words, one man doesn't get all of the credit or the blame. The arrow on defense was beginning to point down on defense, the Packers sensed it and turned their attention to defense in subsequent drafts. Success now depends on those drafted players.

Dan from Houston, TX

Vic, after watching the games this weekend, I'm even more convinced that if the Seahawks play like they did against us, they are in a league of their own.

They didn't prove that last season?

Brian from Spring Hill, TN

Vic, I know your inbox has probably been a little rough. It definitely takes a certain kind of person to handle that and keep perspective, and for that I commend you. You have said the Seattle game would be a good gauge of where the Packers are at. How do we close the gap without hoping for an injury or two to help us?

You get better. That's the answer. That's all you can do. Help is not on the way.

Dan from Cedar Rapids, IA

Barclay, Tretter, Bulaga. Why?

Because it's football. Last year, it was hamstrings and my inbox said the solution was stretching. Now it's knees and my inbox says knee braces are the fix. There is no fix. You replace the injured and you move on. That's the reality. My inbox is screaming for answers. It wants quick-fix solutions. It wants me to write the way you close the gap is by firing everyone or burning the playbook and do whatever the team that beat you did. I don't have answers. I enjoy engaging everyone in conversation about the issues confronting the Packers, but I don't have answers and I'm not going to begin throwing people under the bus just to satisfy the need for a human sacrifice. I have the resolve to endure hard times and make it through this season. It's that same resolve I had last November and December when my inbox wanted to lose and play for the higher draft pick. In defeat, my inbox makes me sad, mostly for my inbox.

Brett from Green Bay, WI

What are your thoughts from the games yesterday?

Random thoughts: For the first time, I saw Colin Kaepernick look-off defenders. He was a different quarterback. He had a look of calm. The pass-interference penalty on No. 84 for the 49ers is the worst overreaction to the major point of emphasis I've seen to date. Seeing the highlight of Antonio Brown stepping on the punter's face in mid-air made me laugh. I wonder how much he'll be fined. This is sure to become the controversy of the week. If I was the punter, I'd ask the league to let the whole thing die, so I could avoid the embarrassment of having my face stepped on in mid-air. I'm no longer going to attempt to change my culture. I'm done with it. I'm going back to my old culture. I tried to change, but every time I made gains, the NFL moved the carrot. The explosion of penalties this year has moved the carrot too far. I'm going back to being a Neanderthal.

Mahmoud from Laredo, TX

Vic, I'm very excited about the Packers this season, despite the loss against Seattle. My question is what's your take about this whole not targeting a certain side of the field because an elite corner is covering that side?

We just can't seem to get past this. I think it's easy to explain: Aaron Rodgers has always said he throws to the open man, right? Well, I guess the guy on Richard Sherman's side wasn't open.

Paul from Las Vegas, NV

Vic, during the Cowboys game they showed Michael Sam on the sideline during the game. Is it normal for practice squad players to be present on the sideline during the game?


Danny from Naperville, IL

A thousand yards of offense in one game. Congrats, NFL, you did it.

You ain't seen nothin', yet.

Ben from London, Ontario

Bring on the Jets!

Bring on Benny and the Jets, anybody, and as soon as possible. Last Thursday's game is the postgame review that won't stop.

Aaron from Denton, TX

What was your favorite game of the opening weekend?

I watched the Bills-Bears game. It was my kind of game. I enjoyed it. The AFC might be headed for a changing of the guard this year. I liked Buffalo last year. As my buddy Jeff Lageman has always said, I'm usually one year early.

Kyle from Minneapolis, MN

Vic, I want to start by saying I've read this column religiously for the past two seasons, and that I very much respect your approach to both football and life. Because of this respect, it's very disappointing that, due to you being a paid writer for the Packers, you cannot give me an honest response when I ask for your opinion on a specific player (Brad Jones).

There are two things I don't want to read: My age immediately following my name – "Ketchman, 63," is never good – and an "Ask Vic" email that begins with "I want to start by saying." Kyle, you need me to confirm your suspicion Brad Jones had a tough game? I don't think so. I think you want me to join you in bashing Brad Jones. Why? Because that'll make you feel good. OK, Jones had a tough game. Feel better? Now, let's get to the real heart of the issue. I don't want you to read this column again. You should never read something written by someone you don't trust to provide the truth. It's not good for you. Plus, I don't deserve the disrespect of being accused of dishonesty. Let's go our separate ways. We'll both be happier.

Adam from Hillsboro, KS

The Patriots were leading 20-10 at halftime. They couldn't manage to score again, losing 33-20 in Miami. Were the Patriots victims of South Florida in September?


Kyle from Madison, WI

Vic, what is the worst team you have covered since you started doing "Ask Vic," and what did you tell the readers that year?

It's the 2002 Jaguars. That was likely the weakest roster of players I have ever covered, including the 1995 inaugural-season Jaguars. The Jaguars got into a terrible salary cap mess. They had to gut the roster, including leaving Tony Boselli and some of their best players available in the 2002 Texans expansion draft – the Texans had to assume those players' salary cap amortizations. I made it clear to my readers the Jaguars were in rebuilding. I remember having even stated the '95 team had a better roster. I wanted to get the message across to the fans, for their own good, the only expectation they should have for the 2002 season is that it would eventually end. What followed was one of the best – maybe the best – coaching jobs I've ever covered. Tom Coughlin somehow found a way to win six games, and he was robbed of a win on a final-play-of-the-game "Hail Mary" play that was not a catch (a picture in the newspaper the next day showed the ball on the ground). That team played back-to-back games without committing a penalty, but lost both games on a play at the end of each. Instead of praising Coughlin and his staff for their coaching performance, the fans demanded they be fired, which they were. That's life in today's NFL. The fans are not capable of calm in defeat. Their answer to losing is fire everyone. They know that's not the answer, but they can't discipline themselves to accept defeat calmly.

Bill from East Dubuque, IL

Vic, it was obvious McCarthy was very unhappy and disappointed with the tackling, or lack of it. How does he address his defense?

Address missed tackles? I don't know how any coach does that in a game that forbids teams to practice tackling. Why are the Seahawks good tacklers? My guess is it's because they are naturally good tacklers. Coach McCarthy and his defensive staff and special teams coaches will continue to teach the fundamentals that go with tackling. They'll incorporate that teaching into half-speed drills, but the game is played at full speed and that's where the disconnect seems to emerge.

Ben from Chicago, IL

Vic, I thought back to the season the Packers were 15-1 and teams started to figure out how to defend against the Packers' offense. With a team like Seattle, is there anything to figure out, or they can only be beat by outmuscling them?

The Seahawks won the one-on-ones. You got a scheme for that? The Broncos didn't.

Luke from Ellsworth, WI

Watching the Colts and Broncos game and I can't help but think about the salary cap. Please explain to me how the Broncos can afford to sign all these big-name free agents and not go over their cap space?

It's called cash over cap. The Broncos have pushed excessive bonus amortization onto future caps, probably well beyond the career expectancy of some of their players, and that's going to become a problem when those players are gone but their amortization isn't. It's the great debate: Remain competitive every year, or load up for a few years?

Chadd from Antigo, WI

Do you think this new emphasis on illegal hands to the face is the first step toward downsizing the facemask/helmet?

Good thought.

Robert from Hanover Park, IL

The Jets had 215 yards rushing and only allowed 25 yards to the Raiders. Thoughts?

The Jets are a physical team. That's why I've said don't go to sleep on them.

Shawn from Seattle, WA

Vic, Week 1 has confirmed what you've stated before: The preseason means nothing. Why do we, the fans, weigh our expectation by it?

What else do you have to weigh? The preseason is absolutely void of any meaning, as it pertains to performance in the regular season. There is absolutely no correlation between what we saw in the preseason and what we saw this past weekend. Our biggest problem as fans and media is that we have taught ourselves to overreact to everything, including the preseason. We've allowed football to become so integral to our daily lives that we create issues merely to have something to occupy our thoughts. The angst that screamed from my inbox this weekend was disturbing. I could hear little voices calling me from my closed laptop: Ketchman! Where are you, Ketchman? Fire everyone, Ketchman! By the time the first snowflake falls, last Thursday's game will be a distant memory. Circumstances will have dramatically changed. If the Packers go undefeated between now and then, I'll begin getting questions about where this Packers team fits among the greatest teams in football history. I'm glad Antonio Brown stepped on that punter's face. It'll make for a much-needed diversion this week. Was Brown attempting to injure the punter, or merely trying to hurdle him? We'll debate it with great emotion.

John from Alabaster, AL

It's a new week with a new opponent. As we look toward the Jets, who is one player on each side of the ball for them we should pay special attention to?

It would be either Sheldon Richardson or Muhammed Wilkerson on defense, and Chris Ivory on offense. Richardson has to be moved to be able to run the ball; Wilkerson has to be blocked to protect the quarterback. Ivory rushed for 102 yards, including a 71-yard touchdown run on Sunday.

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