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You stop the run by whipping your man

Saints defensive look invited the screen pass


Richard from Saratoga Springs, NY

I saw an interview with a Saints DB before the game and he talked about stopping the big plays, making Green Bay work for everything and throw checkdowns. Seemed like they pretty much did that except for the first Green Bay drive and the screen passes to Lacy. Green Bay took what the Saints defense gave them, but at some point don't you have to impose your offense?

I don't know what game you were watching. I was watching one in which the Packers gained 491 yards. The Packers imposed their offense up and down the field, until they got into the tight red zone area. That was the problem. Giving the Saints defense credit for a job well done would be ridiculous.

Jeff from Farmington, NM

Vic, is part of the problem in the run defense the front seven learning to work together and trust each other?

I think it's getting a little late in the season to play the unfamiliarity card. It's time to start whipping the man across from you.

Jerry from Des Moines, IA

Vic, are short passes to Lacy/running backs equal to running the ball? Or is there no substitute for imposing your will on the opposing defense with the running game?

I've never bought into the notion that throwing to the backs is the same as handing off to the backs. Throwing to the backs doesn't tighten the defense toward the middle of the field, it spreads the defense out. Throwing to the backs has the opposite effect of running between the tackles. I think you need to run the ball to be able to sell play-action.

Jason from Somonauk, IL

Vic, I asked this question a while back about why the Packers don't use the screen game like they used to. We were at one time the best at it in the league. I saw something in New Orleans that hadn't been done in quite some time. I saw Eddie Lacy in space running for chunks of yardage and running people over with his power ability. Will this be the frontier game that the screen game is here to stay going forward?

Persuade the Packers' future opponents to play as the Saints did, and the screen game is here to stay. The Saints played bracket coverage. Mike McCarthy called it 6X or quarter, quarter, halves. It means a defensive back underneath the receiver and one over the top. That's a lot of people in the deep secondary, which opened the field between the defensive line and the defensive backs. Maybe that's what the Saints defensive back meant when he said make them check it down; they were going to give that pass. The bottom line on screen passes is that you use them against defenses and defensive looks that invite screen passes. A 3-4 defense with fast linebackers isn't a good defense against which to screen. You don't screen against Ray Lewis; know what I mean?

Ryan from New Haven, CT

Vic, what is your outlook on the rest of the season?

The second-half-of-the-season schedule is favorable. Four of the next five games are at home. Three of the final five are at home. Also, none of the final five teams on the Packers schedule are in the top half of the league in rushing. The Lions are No. 31.

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