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Ask Vic

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Which teams' fans travel well?

Posted Oct 22, 2012

Rich from Nashville, TN

Jeff Fisher made some classy postgame comments. What can you tell us about the man?

There was a point in yesterday’s game when I said to myself, “They look like the old Titans.” It’s easy for me to see that Coach Fisher is putting his stamp on the Rams. I covered his teams twice a year every year while he was the coach of the Oilers/Titans. What I came to learn about Coach Fisher’s teams is their defensive linemen penetrate and disrupt, and his offense uses the running game to shorten the game and keep it tight enough for somebody to make a play at crunch time and decide the outcome. The Rams were executing that strategy perfectly until Aaron Rodgers took the Packers on that 80-yard touchdown drive to start the second half. The Rams don’t have the talent, yet, to match up with the Packers for 60 minutes, but I suspect that’ll change over the next few years.

Chris from Voorhout, The Netherlands

The decision to go for the onside kick so early sent a huge message that the coach was confident in his defense to stop the Rams.

It also sent a message to future opponents that the Packers will onside kick at any point in the game, so make sure your up people stay there and don’t peel back prematurely.

John from Grayslake, IL

Why is Aaron Rodgers so good?

I’ll tell you what one of the reasons is: He’s a got a gun for an arm. He made a throw yesterday that caused me to wonder how many quarterbacks in the league have the arm strength and speed of release to make that throw. It was a far sideline shot and the ball was there in a snap. Every time I hear somebody say of a quarterback, “You can see it in his eyes,” I think to myself that first I’d like to see it in his arm. Intangibles are great, especially when a guy has an arm like Rodgers’. Don’t make the mistake of thinking he has a magic wand. The “magic” is in that arm.

Daniel from Cedar Rapids, IA

Why were we in our home jerseys yesterday?

Because the Rams elected to wear white at home. Apparently they already had their blue jerseys and gold pants packed for this week's trip to London, where they'll be the "home" team, and they didn't want to risk those uniforms getting ripped or damaged with little to no turnaround time to make the repairs.

Sam from Gold Coast, Australia

Vic, what do you think of the standout performances and big plays from our special teams this season? I think they're one of the most underrated groups in the NFL.

When I arrived in Green Bay following Super Bowl XLV, the first e-mails I received to “Ask Vic” were very uncomplimentary of Coach Slocum. So what do you think of him now? Players, not plays.

Franky from St. Louis, MO

Vic, is it safe to say the Packers have put their fate back into their own hands with that win?

It was always in their own hands because they have those five division games in the second half of the season. As long as a team has those head-to-head games, it’s usually in control of its own destiny. What the Packers have done is to have given themselves a chance to be perfectly positioned at the bye for a second-half-of-the-season run to the playoffs. Nothing is off the table, including home field advantage. Players aren’t permitted to look beyond the next game, but sports writers aren’t players and I love to look beyond the next game. I see a game in Detroit and I see a game in New York. You know what I mean?

Steven from Allendale, MI

Do you think Mason Crosby is trying harder on his attempts over 50 yards lately?

Nothing will ruin the tempo of a good golf swing faster than some bombs on the driving range. Distance and accuracy are often adversaries and that means they have to be treated separately and differently. The thing that worries me about a lot of “Hail Mary” type field goal attempts is that it can get a kicker out of his rhythm. The two shortish field goals Crosby kicked in the second half on Sunday are good for his rhythm. A good kicker must absolutely be reliable when he is comfortably within his range.

Cindy from Schaumburg, IL

Just wondering if players have a preference for where their bye week falls.

It’s best for it to fall at a time when the team is nursing injuries. I’ve covered teams that had their bye week ridiculously early in the season, but were glad to have it then because they had injuries that needed time to heal. In the Packers’ case, I’d have to believe Coach McCarthy is very happy to have the bye week where he has it, because it’s going to give his staff a head start on preparations for a stretch of schedule that’ll include four NFC North games in a five-week period. The players will be gone from the facility and the coaches will be able to dedicate all of their time to “film” study and game-planning.

Jon from Imperial, MO

Sunday was my first NFL game, and it was in a dome. Although the game and experience were awesome, especially with the abundance of Packers fans, I found the pumped-in noise extremely annoying. I just want to say I can't wait to go to Lambeau, where that sort of artificial noise isn't needed.

The press box in the Jones Dome is open to the crowd, so we get all of the noise. I arrived in the press box about three hours in advance of kickoff and it was as quiet as a library. Then the cheerleaders decided to practice and the sound system exploded with noise. It was as though 60,000 people arrived simultaneously, but the place was still empty. That’s when you realize that today’s sound systems allow for the game to be played without any fans in attendance, and still be able to create a sense of frenzy and excitement. They could put a mannequin in every seat, turn up the volume and nobody watching at home would know the difference. I don’t like that feeling. I don’t like domes.

Matthew from Lawrenceville, NJ

The game wasn't on where I live, but I can tell from the stats that Alex Green didn't have a great game. Was the offensive line not winning the battles and making holes? Or is it mostly Green's fault?

I saw running lanes. I think we forget that Green is only a year removed from knee reconstruction. I think what we saw yesterday is a guy that was still recovering from 22 carries the previous week. I thought he was quicker in Houston than he was yesterday. Give him time. What I like right now is his ball security. I think that’s his greatest challenge and he’s answering it.

Eric from Fort Atkinson, WI

Why is it that in college football it is now against the rules to drive the ball into the ground on an onside kick, yet, in the NFL you can still do it? The league is trying to prevent certain injuries, so why would they still allow this type of onside kick?

I witnessed a gruesome injury on that kind of onside kick way back in the mid-’90s. The player’s name is Dave Thomas. It was one of those final-seconds, desperation onside kick attempts. It was in Cincinnati and I was down on the field when it happened and what I’ll never forget is the terrible sound his leg made when it broke. I was standing with reporters and we looked at each other as if to say, “What was that?” It didn’t take long to figure it out. It was a Tim Krumrie type of injury. Yeah, it’s a dangerous play because a mass of humanity arrives at the same time. It caused Trumaine Johnson to be injured yesterday when he was flipped onto his head as he attempted to field the kick. I immediately thought back to having interviewed him at the combine last winter, when I thought Johnson might be a Packers target. Yeah, it’s a dangerous play, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it gets a hard look by the league in the offseason.

Chris from Del Rio, TX

I'd like to hear your thoughts on the Packers team depth and the secondary. A weakness turned into a strength?

The offense is what we thought it was, and the defense is on the rise. I know that must be true because I’m not getting any more Cullen Jenkins questions. I think the secondary is a particular place of young talent, and that’s what makes for depth.

Greg from Bellevue, WA

Seeing the crowd in St. Louis confirmed again that the Packers are a national team. Dallas and Pittsburgh are, as well. Do you think there are any others, or are they all dependent on regional support?

Those three travel well, but there are others. The Bears and Eagles take fans with them. I think we also saw that from the Giants in last year’s playoff game. I was stunned by how many Giants jerseys I saw in Lambeau Field.

Derek from South Point, OH

Does Vic the football fan hope for a low-scoring, defensive struggle, high-scoring shootout or a lopsided victory by your favorite?

Vic the fan and Vic the reporter want a competitive game. That’s most important. Blowouts are no fun for me to watch or write. I like a little scoring, but not too much. The game against the Lions last year was ridiculous. It becomes too much to digest.

Mark from LaCrosse, WI

Any idea why the Jets and Patriots didn’t wear pink during yesterday’s game?

The first thing I noticed when the Rams took the field is that none of their players were wearing pink. I don’t know why it seems some teams shut it down yesterday, but I think it got a little out of hand the previous week. It was as though every team had changed its primary color to pink. The pink shoes were especially annoying because they often gave the appearance of a fumble. I think we need to do a better job of accenting with the color, instead of just splashing it all over the field.

Dan from Irvine, CA

The Patriots’ red throwback uniforms are awesome. I hate their current uniforms; looks like a cheap USFL team. They should keep the red ones for good. What do you think?

There are some teams in the league whose throwbacks are better than their current uniforms, in my opinion. I think the Patriots are one of those teams. The Bills were obviously one of those teams because they went back to the old look. I think the Falcons’ red, throwback helmets provide a more colorful appearance than the all-black shrouds they had been wearing in recent years. As I watched the Rams play yesterday, I thought to myself, why did they ditch those beautiful uniforms they wore to win a Super Bowl? That royal blue and deep yellow combination was so bright, colorful and distinctive, especially compared to the drab colors they wear now. Hey, I love a navy blue blazer and a pair of khakis for cocktails after golf, but I want something brighter for a football game.

Bob from Durango, CO

Do the visitors’ water boys travel with the team or are they supplied by the home team?

The home team provides a staff of visiting clubhouse attendants.

Aaron from West Allis, WI

When a player is placed on IR, do they have to go home, or are they allowed to use the facilities and attend meetings, take advantage of rehab, etc.?

They’re permitted to use all of the team facilities and attend meetings, but they may not practice with the team. They are also permitted to go home, which means the team may not require them to perform any kind of duty while on injured reserve.

Kara from De Pere, WI

The locker room is a place for the players to get ready for games and to unwind after games. With that in mind, do you think it is appropriate for the media to be able to enter the locker room after contests to interview the players, or do you think that goes too far?

Would you rather not know what the players have to say about the game? We’re you. We ask questions for you. I can sit down and write a story about what I saw without players and coaches telling me what the truth is. It would make my job easier. Is that what you want?

Travis from Green Bay, WI

Why did Buffalo get rid of that running back if he is so good?

Maybe they had a run on injuries at a position, as the Packers have at linebacker, and they perceived running back to a position where they had an excess of depth. Bottom-of-the-roster players often shuffle from team to team early in their careers.

Josh from Harrisburg, PA

Sure looks like you were right with Brian Kelly.

An Irish blessing: May your players perform with speed and talent, and your coaches with cunning, and may the officials blow your opponent’s play dead on fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line on the final play of the game, even though the running back’s forward progress hadn’t been stopped and his knee hadn’t touched the ground.

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