Ask Vic Halftime: Scheme has nothing to do with it

Posted by Vic Ketchman, editor on August 9, 2014 – 8:26 pm

ask-vic-half-cenex-600-REVISEWilliam from Ahoskie, NC
Vic, I’m 31, 150 pounds soaking wet, and possess maybe average speed. However, I can call for a fair catch and field it cleanly every time. Will you put in a good word for me with Ted. I’ll except the league minimum.

Big, fast, angry men are running at you, yelling terrible things at you as you look up into the sky. Sure, you’d catch it.

Tyler from Menomonie, WI
Football doesn’t stop. No matter the conditions, the show must always go on. Have you ever been part of a game that has been called off? Who called it off?

It was the 1976 College All-Star Game. The skies opened up and there was lightning and thunder and everybody left and nobody came back, including the teams and the fans. It would be the last-ever College All-Star Game.

Teg from San Luis Obispo, CA
Vic, do you think the mixture of the short dump-off passes and runs up the middle we have seen in the first half of the Titans preseason game will be a trend throughout the regular season in setting up the deep ball play-action for Nelson/Cobb? I see virtually nothing for the TE game other than run/pass protection on the offensive line.

Never, ever consider scheme in a preseason game. Coaches do everything they can not to do in a preseason game what they will do in a regular season game.

Dylan from Wilkes Barre, PA
Vic, the run game has jumped out so far, but what individual on defense has done it most for you?

It’s Clay Matthews. I was encouraged by what I saw.

Randy from Eagle, WI
I am having a hard time seeing with the rain. Who’s looking sharp, Vic?

James Starks was outstanding. He’s picked up right where he left off last season. He was about to go to Pittsburgh for a free-agent visit when the Packers signed him to a new contract. Remember that. I think re-signing Starks is real big.

Jason from Syracuse, NY
What are your impressions now of moving the PAT back, after seeing the first half of the game?

It might have merit.

Ben from London, Ontario
How badly do you think those muffed punts are gonna hurt Adams?

They won’t help. A coach must have confidence in his return man to catch the ball. It’s that simple. Catching the ball cleanly and securing it in the rain would’ve been a perfect way for Adams to gain his coach’s trust.

Anne from Auburndale, WI
Vic, as the camera pans around the stadium for this first preseason game, I have to wonder how many people showed for the game? I see the rain is heavy, but there are a lot of empty seats out there.

LP Field is half full; that’s a kind assessment. Anne, this isn’t Green Bay. This is the real world. A lot of teams don’t have the history, tradition, fan base and championship-season hopes the Packers have. The Titans franchise lost its founder and owner, Bud Adams, and it’s trying to get back to where it was in the Steve McNair years. Nashville is a good town. Pro football prospered here once before and it’ll prosper again.

Jason fronm Friesland, WI
Vic, are you dry?

I’m dry, but I wouldn’t be dry if I was sitting a few feet to my left. That position has been vacated and a bucket now sits on the desk top to collect water dripping from above.



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Ask Vic Halftime: Expect more all-out rushes by Bears

Posted by Vic Ketchman, editor on December 29, 2013 – 4:53 pm


Julie from Jackson, MI

Where is Eddie Lacy?

He’s splitting time with James Starks. Obviously, they’re trying to keep Lacy from wearing out late in the game, which is what happened against the Steelers when his ankle weakened.

Sam from Ridgewood, NJ

If the Packers win, can they be a Super Bowl contender?

In my opinion, every team in the playoffs is a Super Bowl contender. All it takes is one play and one win to make you a hot team. That’s exactly what happened to the Ravens last year. Just make it into the playoffs; just win today’s game.

Paul from De Pere, WI

Who is the most important Packer on defense today?

I think it’s whatever linebacker the Bears decide to pick on. I think that’s what they’re going to do, focus on the Packers linebackers and try to get them matched up on Matt Forte.

James from Tucson, AZ

Saw a Bears fan at breakfast. He suggested we go out back. I bought his breakfast.

He needs a lot more than a free breakfast.

Jarrett from Byron, IL

Do you have any pregame rituals?

I like to engage my media buddies, especially those I don’t see every week, and get their opinion on the game. There are a lot of big boys here for this game.

Ryan from Menomonie, WI

You were right, Vic, it would have been nice for Rodgers to get a game in before this one.

The second interception was the result of a high throw. That’s not a Rodgers-type throw. Yeah, it would’ve been nice had he been able to play last week, but it is what it is. What concerns me the most is that Rodgers is clearly hesitant to run with the ball, which is to be understood. That won’t be lost on Mel Tucker. I think we’re going to see more all-out rushes by the Bears to try to move Rodgers off the spot. The threat of scramble isn’t there. That’s a big part of Rodgers’ game that is missing today.

Matt from Saugerties, NY

The field conditions in Chicago are notoriously bad, so why doesn’t the league step in and do something?

They look fine to me. I intensely dislike whining and crying about field conditions. It’s football, not golf.

Joe from Bloomington, IN

First half is Rodgers preseason, second half is his playoffs. Got to keep it close until halftime.

Good thought. This one will come down to a big play in the fourth quarter. I can feel it.

Jonathan from Toronto, Ontario

Any insight on why the Packers ran so many sweeps in the first half against the Bears?

Zone blocking is all about getting defenders running laterally, and then cutting the ball back behind them.

Thomas from Vienna, Austria

We control time of possession, as you said; this is the key to the game, but we are still behind. What needs to be changed in the rest of the game?

Hang on for a minute. Jarrett Boykin is running with the ball. Changed!

Phil from Fort Wayne, IN

Vic, was the play that Boykin scored on the trick play we’re looking for?

That’s the one.

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Ask Vic Halftime: Big chunks of yardage are the big problem

Posted by Vic Ketchman, editor on December 15, 2013 – 4:56 pm


Trevor from Peoria, IL

Vic, longtime fan here. Why does our defense have more holes than Swiss cheese? I mean, I have a difficult time believing it’s a lack of talent. Is it poor scheming or poor execution? Both?

I don’t know what the problem is, all I can do is agree with you that there’s a problem and it’s significant. You can’t surrender yardage as the Packers have in the first half and expect to win. In time, your question will be answered by the decisions the team makes in the offseason.

Adam from Muskego, WI

Remember when you said we were deep at defensive back. Well, we need serious help at the safety position. Is this something we can agree on?


Patrick from Chicago, IL

Vic, this game is looking a lot like Thanksgiving, and that scares me.

The Packers have to stop allowing big chunks of yardage. It starts with that. With 4:17 to play in the Thanksgiving game, the yardage difference was 563-56. I can’t remember having covered a game with that kind of gap in yardage. I sincerely hope I’m not watching Thanksgiving, Part II.

Randy from Aurora, CO

Say what you will about the defense, but the offense needs to put together sustained drives and give the defense a break.

You’re right.  This is an ambush. The defense needs to slow down the action and allow the offense to claw its way back into this game, and the offense has to start sustaining drives. The Cowboys have a big time of possession advantage. 

Anthony from Dayton, OH

What is missing in the Packers defense?

It has been my experience that when a problem repeats over an extended period of time, more players are needed.

Rick from Evergreen, CO

Sounds like a lot of Packers fans in the stands. What’s the percentage look like to you?

It’s not San Diego, but it’s a nice representation of Packers fans that can be seen and heard. You never have to worry about Packers fans showing up. They have my respect and appreciation. They are the best thing about the Green Bay Packers so far today.

Ned from Greenville, SC

Do you know why the home/away jerseys are swapped today?

The home team always has its choice of jerseys to wear, and the Cowboys have forever elected to wear white at home. I’m surprised at how many of these questions I’ve received. I figured everyboy knew the Cowboys wear white at home.

Dale from Kingston, IL

This is getting hard to watch. Why does it always seem our defensive backs are a step or two behind the receiver? Someone is always open.

Scheme can’t cover receivers and it can’t tackle ball carriers. Those are physical acts that have to be executed by the players, not the coaches. What will the coaches do at halftime to help reverse the trend? Whatever it is they do, it will have to be executed by the players. We’ll see what this team is made of in the second half. This is a gut check now.

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Ask Vic Halftime: Takeaways not enough to beat Lions

Posted by Vic Ketchman, editor on November 28, 2013 – 1:04 pm


Gerald from Wausaukee, WI

What are you most thankful for this Thanksgiving?

I’m thankful for my family’s health, the opportunity to watch this wonderful football game and the fans that grace this column with their readership. I have a lot more for which to be thankful, but I can start with those three.

Joey from Rhinelander, WI

Vic, everyone has been criticizing our tackling as the problem with our defense lately. This game, the tackling seems fine, but the Lions are having huge holes to run through and wide open receivers. Is our defense this bad or are the Lions this good?

The Packers’ run defense has fallen on hard times. Everything on defense begins with stopping the run and the Packers aren’t doing it. The Lions are a pass-first team, but not in this game. What’s that tell you?

Bob from Dubuque, IA

Why does Green Bay give up the pass in the middle always?

It’s difficult to get any depth with your linebackers when you’re having to concentrate on stopping the run. If the Packers could stop the run, they could get a deeper drop with their inside linebackers.

Devon from Ortega, CA

When is Rodgers supposed to be back?

If I’m reading this week’s return to practice correctly, I think it’s fair to expect Aaron Rodgers to be back under center in the next game, against Atlanta.

Bill from Alexander, AR

So when do you think the Packers are going to fix the defense? How do they fix it?

Does that fumble return for a touchdown by Morgan Burnett fix anything? That’s what it’s going to take for this defense to be productive, I believe, because this is not a yardage defense. That’s becoming painfully obvious. Fixing this defense, in my opinion, is going to require another offseason of draft and develop.

Tony from Saint Paul, MN

Vic, what do the Packers need to do in the second half to win the game?

They need to gain yards, score points and control the clock on offense, because I don’t think they can depend on the Lions to continue turning the ball over and missing field goal attempts.

Beth from Anchorage, AK

How do you feel about the Packers defense this year?

I’m disappointed. I firmly believed this defense would be playing at a high level late in the season. If you can’t deny yards, then you better take the ball away. The Packers have done that, but not much else.

Andrew from Des Moines, IA

Do you like what you have seen so far?

I like the takeaways, but I’m not going to delude myself into believing the Packers can play this way and win. The Lions are moving the ball freely and the Packers are struggling to move the ball at all. That’s a bad combination. The big concern I have now is that the second half could become a sack fest by the Lions, if the Packers have to throw on every down.

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Ask Vic Halftime: Lions loss to Steelers huge for Packers

Posted by Vic Ketchman, editor on November 17, 2013 – 4:43 pm


Sean from Saint Paul, MN

I’m looking for hope. Not seeing much. I’m glad Detroit lost.

The Lions’ loss in Pittsburgh is huge for the Packers. It’s as good as a win by the Packers. In my mind, whether the Packers win or lose to the Giants, the Packers will have to win in Detroit. I’m not suggesting in any way shape or form that this game isn’t important, but the Steelers’ win over the Lions could turn out to be the game of the year for the Packers. It might be this team’s DeSean Jackson punt return.

Joey from Rhinelander, WI

Players, not plays, right? OK, then why are the players always leaving the middle of the field wide open on defense?

Apparently because they can’t stop leaving the middle of the field open. The Packers are not scheming to leave the middle of the field open, if that’s what you’re asking.

Simon from Virum, Denmark

Is it just me or has the defense changed since the game vs. Ravens?

The Ravens began the day with the league’s No. 29 offense. Did we overrate the Ravens?

Justin from Newark, DE

Vic, the defense is frustrating me.

Justin, my inbox is a place of overwelming frustration. I appreciate the frustration but I was getting it before the Giants had even scored. Shouldn’t we be a little more resilient? They’ve only allowed 10 points.

Pat from Altoona, WI

How about them Steelers?

Did I mention that the Lions lost?

Jason from Wausau, WI

You won’t post this, but I’m going to vent anyway. Third play of the game and the Packers are penalized for too many men on the field. That is all on the coaches. Unacceptable.

I agree, but you were wrong about me not posting your comment. I’m a good marketing copywriter.

Hunter from Neillsville, WI

Why don’t the Packers blitz Clay Matthews more often?

I think you’ll see more of that, but blitzing is a product of down and distance and the belief that you can get home with it. Remember, the other guys have a game plan, too.

Mohammed from Bayonne, NJ

Do you think Mike McCarthy should let Tolzien run some more passing plays? He seems like he has a hot hand.

I think he should let him warm to the occasion. This is his first pro start. Let him get a feel for it. I’m counting on the running game and the defense to buy him some time. We’ve got a long way to go, folks. Hang in there.

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Ask Vic Halftime: Aaron Rodgers puts it on the money

Posted by Vic Ketchman, editor on October 27, 2013 – 8:53 pm


Zack from Tallahassee, FL

You called it, Vic, on Cordarelle Patterson. This will be a good game.

All I wrote is that he’s a big-play guy that gives me much more concern than Greg Jennings does. Patterson was very nearly the Packers’ first-round pick last spring.

Tony from Lancaster, PA

Vic, even though the Vikings are a one-win team, it seems they are one player away from being a really good team. What say you?

I agree, but that one player is the most important player of all and the most difficult player to find, the quarterback. If Christian Ponder was to come of age, the Vikings could make a second-half-of-the-season run for the playoffs. There are a lot of teams with losing records in the NFC. The No. 6 seed is wide open. The Giants are a team I believe can come to life. The season is still young.

Frank from Flieden, Germany

Vic, how about the crowd? How much green is in there?

The Packers have a lot of fans here tonight, and they are loud. I would put the crowd at 60-40, Vikings fans.

Sam fromm Madison, WI

Jordy has some of the best hands I’ve ever seen. I have no idea how he catches some of those passes. Have you ever covered a receiver as sure-handed?

Sam, I’ve covered some very good receivers, beginning with Lynn Swann and John Stallworth. Jordy Nelson is an outstanding receiver. On the 11-yard touchdown catch Nelson made, Aaron Rodgers’ pass was jaw-dropping. He fit it into the tightest of windows and he zipped it past Josh Robinson’s head before Robinson was able to turn and see the ball. On the 76-yarder, the window was just as tight. Those were two incredibly skilled passes by Rodgers. Do you understand where I’m going with this?

Scott from Kennewick, WA

In the second quarter, Adrian Peterson lowered his head right into Tramon Williams’ head. Is that not a perfect example of the the new rule that should have been called?

It probably is, but it’s a rule I don’t like and it doesn’t offend me that I have yet to see it enforced. I’m all for player safety, but I don’t want to see aggressiveness eliminated from the game. Initiating contact is a trrademark of great backs. That’s just my opinion, and it would be the same if Eddie Lacy dropped his head on a Vikings cornerback.

Doug from Maplewood, MO

With so many teams going to solid-color uniforms, like the Vikings going all purple on Sunday night, will we see the Packers wear solid-green uniforms?

I hope not. I think the Vikings’ uniforms are awful looking. I don’t know why they ever changed their uniform style. I always liked their uniforms. These look like clown suits.

Ricky from Denison, IA

What do you think about how the Packers defense is doing in the first half?

The pass interference penalty on Tramon Williams was an awful call. Until that play, the defense was playing outstanding football. This is a defense on the rise. When Clay Matthews and Nick Perry return to action, I think this defense could become special.

Darin from Toronto, ON

Vic, what was going through your mind when you saw the opening play?

I thought to myself, the Packers should’ve kicked it farther. I think most people remember how it bothered me that the Vikings maneuvered to get back into the first round and draft Patterson. He’s a guy with huge upside. He can be their next Randy Moss.

Bill from Green Bay, WI

How about Micah Hyde, huh?

Randall Cobb might’ve just become a full-time receiver. The Packers are growing. Their roster is getting deeper and more talented. That’s what development does for good young players, and Hyde is one of them. By the time Cobb and Matthews return to action, look out.


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Ask Vic Halftime: Packers playing Ravens’ game

Posted by Vic Ketchman, editor on October 13, 2013 – 1:35 pm


Adam from Muskego, WI

Why go away from what worked? Keep running the ball down their throats until they stop it.

I’m sensitive to what you’re saying, but we’re only talking about the first two plays of the game. I don’t think they qualify as running the ball down the Ravens’ throat. This is a passing team that wants to use the running game to achieve balance. We must not forget that.

Joe from Saint Paul, MN

Why is Lacy not on the field for third-and-1? I just don’t get it.

I wondered the same thing. That’s the kind of question that needs to be asked after the game or tomorrow.

Auston from Homeland, CA

Who has the advantage in this game?

The Packers have the lead and they’re playing at a higher level than the Ravens, but the difference isn’t significant. This is beginning to look like a game that’ll turn on a fumble, interception or big play on offense. The blocked punt that resulted in John Kuhn’s touch and the Ravens getting the ball and a first down appeared as though it might be a turning point in the game, but the Packers responded by stopping the Ravens on fourth-and-goal from the Packers 1-yard line.

Gary from West Greenwich, RI

I know Rodgers is a money quarterback, but why not run more when you can pick up the few yards for a first down?

The obvious answer is he thought he could complete a pass downfield to Jermichael Finley. In retrospect, Rodgers probably should’ve run for the first down. If he completes the pass, however, we’re not having this discussion.

Evan from Eau Claire, WI

I feel like James Jones going out could be very bad for the Packers. Calm me down, Vic.

The injury to Randall Cobb late in the half is the one that has me concerned. Picking up the slack created by two injuries will be difficult for Jermichael Finley and Jordy Nelson to do. I don’t have an official injury report on Cobb, yet. He’s standing on the sideline but limping as I write this.

Todd from Champaign, IL

I remember you thought Green Bay would have a tough time running today. What did they do on that first drive to have success?

Eddie Lacy found a running lane on each of the first two plays of the game. Since then, the Ravens have tightened down on the run. In my opinion, the game is now in Rodgers’ hands. That’s not a bad thing.

Laura from Pewaukee, WI

Vic, I agree with your players, not plays philosophy, which is why I fear the loss of Clay Matthews in today’s game. In the first half, did you see anything Dom Capers was able to do with scheme, blitzing, packages, etc., to overcome the loss of Clay’s playmaking ability?

The Packers defense is doing it with old-fashioned execution. Davon House was very strong in coverage early in the half. The Ravens went after him and he answered the challenge. I’m not seeing any special schemes. The Packers are just winning the one-on-ones.

Rick from Cameron, WI

I’m loving this defensive game. This is football.

The Packers are playing AFC North football. This is how they play in this division. Sometimes you have to be able to play the other guys’ game.

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Ask Vic Halftime: Don’t take the Bengals lightly

Posted by Vic Ketchman, editor on September 22, 2013 – 1:27 pm


Mark from Kingsford, MI

How do you account for the Packers coming out so flat against the Bengals? Why is it they can’t handle teams like the Bengals or Chiefs?

I think you’re guilty of looking down your nose at the Bengals. These aren’t the old Bengals, this is a Bengals team attempting to make it into the playoffs for the third year in a row. The Bengals are the AFC North favorites and they have a stout defense. Flat? I don’t think that’s the issue. I think the Bengals are the issue.

Noah from Canton, OH
I understand we need to keep Cobb healthy, but Ross continues to make bad choices and mess up returning the ball. Why do the packers keep sending him out there?

Didn’t you answer your own question? Apparently, Ross is the best option other than Cobb. That could change. Fumbling usually necessitates change.

John from Manchester, MI

Vic, second week in a row a Packers player has been targeted in the head on a tackle. Finley was a defensless player. Why does the NFL say it’s putting an emphasis on these types of plays but doesn’t really do anything? It’s becoming a joke.

I was expecting a flag. All we can do is wait for the league and Mike Pereira to tell us whether the non-call was right or wrong. This is becoming very frustrating for me, too. I’ve covered the game for 42 years and I don’t know what the rules are anymore.

Matt from Green Bay, WI

Why, on consecutive possessions, do we chuck to the end zone on third-and-six? It seems like we don’t even try to pick up first downs anymore.

Maybe it’s a result of what the Bengals denied. I looked in the secondary and didn’t see anyone open. The Bengals are playing some very good defense.

Paul from De Pere, WI

This horrific start means we will learn a great deal about the Packers today. How will they respond? Is this a game they should win?

The character of the team isn’t at issue. The defense has already responded by forcing turnovers that have gotten the Packers back into the game. I don’t look at this game as a should win. I think that would be to look down my nose at the Bengals. I won’t do that. I have too much respect for Marvin Lewis to do that.

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