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You throw to score, but you run to win


Kinzie from Asheville, NC

If this were "Ask Madden," even John would say run and protect the lead. If only Aaron Rodgers' hands would start glowing or something when he gets on fire and becomes unstoppable, then we would know it would be OK for Mike McCarthy to let him throw it all over the place up two scores in the fourth quarter. Only when his hands are glowing though, otherwise, kick on fourth and 26. If only fans could call the plays with a special fan-only remote. I just like to watch, too, Vic.

Vic: You know what plays fans want called? The ones that work. That's what this is all about. They see running plays as being doomed to fail. The running game isn't dynamic enough for them. They don't wanna commit to slow attrition. It takes too long and requires too many plays, and one holding penalty will stop the drive. They wanna strike quick; bury the opponent with points so you won't have to do any of the grunt work, such as running the ball and playing tough defense. The passing game is the easy way and everybody wants to do it the easy way; it's human nature. Hey, I wanna do it the easy way, too, but I know, we all know, the easy way doesn't get it done, does it? By the way, I was just through your hometown. What a beautiful place. We own property there and I couldn't help but stop, look at it and take a picture.

Daniel from Portland, IN

I understand what you mean about not getting wrapped up in what is going on, with all the social media available. Do you think players in the long run are hurting themselves with fans by making comments? I have seen players say they are now living paycheck to paycheck. I feel it is a slap in the face to those who work hard, actually live paycheck to paycheck and still buy tickets.

Vic: It's a different life and it can consume them if they don't discipline it. I don't feel anger or jealousy toward those players; I feel sympathy. I hurt for the ones that don't protect their earnings and I'm happy the union and the league have developed player programs to help teach and advise the players how to deal with their new-found wealth. Please, try to avoid the emotional pitfalls in this time of angst. These are good people, on both sides of the table. I really mean that.

Bart from Bartlett, IL

Hey, Vic, talking about the potential participation of many former Packers players in the "Tailgate Tour" got me all fired up. Do you, as someone still getting his feet wet in Green Bay, have any sense as to how involved former players, from Bart Starr to Gilbert Brown, are with the franchise beyond what we see as fans?

Vic: I don't have a full sense of it, yet, but anybody that has read my column for any period of time and those that know me personally know the respect I have for those who have played and coached the game, especially the old-timers. I love the history of professional football and it doesn't get any richer than what it is in Green Bay. It's one of the big attractions for me. Very quickly, I will develop a full sense of the relationship between the Packers and their alumni.

Phil from Albuquerque, NM

Vic, I can't agree with you more about getting conservative and running out the clock. If you fancy yourself as a prolific offense, running the last six minutes off the clock is all part of the game; just as much as playing basketball on grass and ripping the opposing defense for 4-5 touchdowns.

Vic: That's what defines the muscle teams. They say, "That's all, this game is over," and then they stick it down your throat. They are the teams the other teams fear. Ask an offensive lineman on one of those teams what he sees in the eyes of the defense when the game reaches that point. He'll tell you he sees quit. There aren't many that can play that way. The good ones can. Meanwhile, the passing-game sissies just keep throwing.

Joseph from Wessington, SD

Winning the Super Bowl wasn't good enough? I would say McCarthy did a darn good job calling his own plays. Enjoy the win; it may be awhile until we enjoy one again. Yes, we have a great team but it's harder and harder just to get back.

Vic: A long time ago, when I was covering the Steelers during their four-Super-Bowl-titles-in-six-years stretch, I was sitting on the bus to go to the airport the day after the fourth and final of those wins, when I heard one of the coaches' sons say to his mother, "Next year I wanna" do this or do that, whatever it was. I remember thinking to myself: It's gotten to the point that he thinks the Super Bowl is on the schedule. Folks, it is not on the schedule. What the Packers did this past season is special. It is extraordinary and Mike McCarthy turned in a coaching job for the ages. Yes, this is a young team and I have a feeling this won't have been a one-and-done, but please make sure you develop a full and lasting appreciation for what happened, because those types of seasons don't come along very often.

Dallas from Ames, IA

Does the lockout affect the Lambeau or Hall of Fame tours fans can take?

Vic: That's a good question and the answer is no, fans are not locked out. Everything else is business as usual. Lambeau Field continues to be a hub of offseason activity.

Mo from Mountain Top, PA

Just wanted to say hello and I hope you're settling in OK. Any good mountains out there?

Vic: I made my first drive from Chicago to Green Bay on Monday and I didn't see any mountains, but it's a very pleasant drive and I could see Lake Michigan out the passenger window. I just went from marsh to mountains to plains on our country's fantastic network of interstate highways. We truly do live in a special place.

Scott from Las Vegas, NV

Dom Capers get another shot as a head coach? Very unlikely now. Please stop talking about conservative with a lead; it just is not what happens.

Vic: Folks, allow me to introduce you to our first resident "Debbie Downer." Scott sends me e-mail after e-mail, ripping me for my views and expressing a general dislike for everything. That's OK. I had my share of "Debbie Downers" in Jacksonville and it's good to know I've got one in "Ask Vic" in Green Bay. They keep you honest; give you a sense of balance. Scott sent me something the other day and I thought to myself: You know, he's right. Anyhow, welcome aboard, Scott. I hope you're having a lovely day as this column reaches you.

David from Succasunna, NJ

What are the Packers' foremost needs in the upcoming draft?

Vic: I don't believe in need-drafting but if the best available player is a defensive lineman when it's the Packers' turn to pick, I don't think that would be a bad thing.

Jon from Lynchburg, VA

Thank you for your column. I try not to miss it. I couldn't agree more about the fourth-and-26 game. The Eagles couldn't stop the Packers running game. All they had to do was pound out some yards and kick a field goal in overtime. That was, perhaps, the worst interception ever. McCarthy is accused of conservative play-calling, but going for the end zone on third-and-one at the Steelers 29 says he's willing to take risks when the reward warrants it. What about clock management? Does McCarthy have any assistance in that area while he's calling plays?

Vic: Sure he does; Joe Philbin and Tom Clements are part of the offensive braintrust and those are two guys with tons of experience and great pedigrees. Philbin came to the Packers from the Kirk Ferentz tree at Iowa and I consider Ferentz to be one of the top offensive minds in the game and a fantastic clock manager. Clements won a national title at Notre Dame by completing a pass out of his own end zone to convert third down and allow Notre Dame to kill the clock and beat Alabama; Clements was one of the great quarterbacks in CFL history and he's been coaching quarterbacks since 1997. Coach McCarthy has assembled a top staff.

Kevin from Racine, WI

It's kind of boring to watch a team put up a lead and then sit on the ball.

Vic: Bingo! The fans want entertainment; the coach wants to win. That's the yin and yang of the situation.

Will from Iron Mountain, MI

The Eagles 2003 game is the nadir of my Packers experience. My beef with that game was that the Packers were among the best running teams in the league that year and when the offense faced a fourth-and-short in Eagles territory, we punted. Run to win and you have the sweetness of victory formation in their house in the playoffs. Instead, we know what happened. I agree that generally a conservative approach to lead-management is the best but, to me, that was not conservative, it was cowardice and was punished accordingly.

Vic: Oh, I like the way you put that. It has long been football dogma that you throw to score, but you run to win. You have provided the perfect example of it. All they had to do was to pound out one more first down – I think it was a yard at the Eagles 41 – and the game was over. That's when you need to be able to run, because you run to win.

Justin from Syracuse, NY

Vic, I'm the kid that wore the old Packers helmet to grade school after the 1967, '68, '69 seasons, dreaming of being like Taylor, Hornung, Dowler. Do you think players could get away with such misbehavior in this day and age? I'm speaking of curfews and such?

Vic: Whoa! Don't put Jim Taylor and Boyd Dowler into Paul Hornung's class. Hornung and Max McGee were in a league of their own. You raise, however, a stimulating question: What would happen to the players of today if they, well, you know, sneaked out for an after-hours adult beverage? I'll tell you what would happen: They'd be on Twitter, Facebook and any other form of social media pop culture has to offer within minutes of walking into the joint. If they had social media when Vince Lombardi was coach, he would've had no choice but to fine and suspend Hornung and McGee every week. Hey, I'm in an information business. It pays my salary and I respect it for that and for what it provides to the fans, but I think the crush of information available these days has cost us some of sports' old charm. The players have lost some of their mystique. We may know too much about them. Do you remember the middle-of-the-night phone call in "When Pride Still Mattered?" If Lombardi was the Packers' coach today, substitute text message for phone call.

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