Not Vic: Is Aaron Rodgers The Problem On Offense?

Vic Ketchman is the guru of Q&A’s. Each week, Vic runs a postgame column answering fans’ questions called ‘Ask Vic.’ Unfortunately Vic doesn’t always do the best job answering the question. Sometimes he just doesn’t answer the question at all. We’d like to fix that.

So today, we debut a new, lighthearted feature on The Power Sweep called ‘Not Vic.’ If you’d like to read Vic’s answers from this week's mailbag, they’re available here.

Richard from Truckee, WI

What’s your lede following the game?

Against a hungry, youthful Jacksonville Jaguars squad, the Packers continued their dominance as a road favorite under coach Mike McCarthy. Green Bay is now 21-9 in their last 30 games under McCarthy as a road favorite.

Mike from Algoma, WI

Looks like the Jaguars are for real. All in all, a solid start for the Packers. Who would have thought the game would be won by a gassed defense?

The Packers close wins in recent memory seemingly all come with a stop by a gassed Packers defense. Last year’s game against San Diego comes to mind, when Damarious Randall made a play at the goal line to swat away a pass. I think it’s less of an indicator of the strength of the Packers defense and more of an indicator of a young, mistake-prone Jaguars offense. Think about it: with the game on the line, Jacksonville ran a play in which no receiver on the side of the field where the pass ended up going ran past the first down marker.

Ray from Walker, MN

Vic guaranteed victory if we do the three things of run the ball, stop the run and win third down. The Packers won all three of those statistical categories and won the game. Great call, Vic.

My name isn't Vic. You know that, right? My name is Gary. I think those three things are important to any team trying to win any game. In today’s NFL, it seems teams like the Packers use the run to set up the pass (think of the Jordy Nelson shot play). If you’re looking for a more advanced stat to talk about with your friends on Sundays, keep an eye on Rushing Attempts + Passing Completions. Generally, if the answer to that equation is over 50, your team is going to win.

Dylan from Forty Fort, PA

I missed the game to go to a concert and had a great time! What should I know about the game?

What kind of concert is at noon on a Sunday? Are you sure you didn’t mean ‘church’? Anyway, I think you should know that the Packers won. And if they continue to win each week, they’re on pace to win 16 games and lose 0 games. Pretty impressive!

Ben from Syracuse, NY

I’m sure you have lots of questions about the Jags game, but tell us something about Coach Del Rio, the man that goes for two while down by one with under a minute left.

Jack Del Rio, the coach of the Oakland Raiders, is the beneficiary of the media and fans playing the results. Had the Raiders not converted the two-point conversion, the narrative would’ve been that Del Rio’s team may not be as that it’s predicted to be after losing to a New Orleans team they should have been able to defeat. Instead, we celebrate “Blackjack Del Rio.” At least it’s a better nickname than “Riverboat Ron.”

Another thing you should know about Jack Del Rio is that he likes to wear suits, despite looking like a gym teacher who doesn’t care any more.

Ricky from St. Charles, MO

I’ve definitely seen some Twitter eggs complain about his lack of aggressiveness near the end of the game in going for field goals deep inside Jacksonville territory. Fortunately, that tactic has never hurt the Packers in a meaningful game, like a recent NFC Championship game, for instance.

Vic, I wrote in after the San Francisco game and I asked you if you thought the fourth down trend would continue in the regular season, and on the first drive within clear field goal range Mike McCarthy goes for it on fourth down. I loved how aggressive that was.

Why are you calling me Vic? My name is Gary. Also, I didn’t get your previous question. One of my favorite sportswriters (and close personal friends, though he doesn’t know it), Jon Bois, dissected how often coaches punt in the other team’s territory. It’s worth a read. McCarthy’s aggressiveness in the beginning of the game was encouraging, as the Packers cashed in on that drive for 6. I’ve definitely seen some Twitter eggs complain about his lack of aggressiveness near the end of the game in going for field goals deep inside Jacksonville territory. Fortunately, that tactic has never hurt the Packers in a meaningful game, like a recent NFC Championship game, for instance. Mike McCarthy is what he is at this point.

Randy from Medicine Hat, Canada

Do you think that if the two-point conversion was available in the era of the “Ice Bowl,” and the Packers trailed by one, Lombardi would have looked at Starr and said, “Go for two and let’s get the hell out of here”?

This is an interesting question, because it forced me to research the history of the two-point conversion. To my surprise, the two-point conversion first appeared in the NFL in 1994. What makes the final touchdown in the Ice Bowl such a monumental memory and moment in Packers history was how infrequently coaches made risky calls. If you read David Maraniss’ book on Lombardi, ‘When Pride Still Mattered,’ you’ll walk away with the conclusion that Lombardi, much like his peers, was a rather conservative coach. He relied on simple tactics executed perfectly rather than statistical gambles.

And yes, Medicine Hat is a real city, but it’s in the Canadian province of Alberta and not just simply ‘Canada.’

Bret from Mililani, HI

Vic, how was your NFL Sunday Ticket experience watching at home? There was a lot of exciting games to enjoy. Which games did you enjoy most on opening day?

My name isn’t Vic, it’s Gary. I don’t know why you think my name is Vic. My middle name isn’t Vic. My last name isn’t Vic. Anyway, I live in Georgia so I was watching via the Sunday Ticket. I usually watch the Packers from home, unless I’m at the game. I don’t like to channel flip when the Packers are playing, because I’m afraid I’ll forget to flip back and get lost in another game. After the Packers game, I watched Red Zone and enjoyed watching the Colts look hapless. If they didn’t have Andrew Luck, they’d be guaranteed to go 0-16 this season.

[Note from Jon: You should see what it’s like in Indiana this week. You’d think Andrew Luck descended from heaven to play quarterback on Sunday.]

Shilo from Fallbrook, CA

Did you miss it on Sunday, Vic?

Hey, my name is Gary, Shilo. Please remember that for next time. I don’t know specifically what you’re referring to about “missing it,” but I can assume you’re talking about the Packers game. I make it a point to watch all of the Packers games during the season. For sports like baseball or basketball, I am not as strict about catching each game. However, I can commit to 16 games a year. To answer your question, I did not miss the game. I saw every play and watched most of the commercials. I drank a smoothie during some of the game. It was delicious.

Eric from Tomball, TX

Since Vic has stepped back a bit, can he do an “Ask Vic” for Jacksonville again? What a young, up-and-coming team; I think they arrive this year. What does Vic tell their fans after a tough loss? What a great, gritty win for the Packers.

I am not Vic, and I am not stepping back. My name is Gary. Please call me by my name next time, Eric. I read a book last year that talked about Michigan football under Rich Rodriguez, or ‘RichRod.’ Coach laid out a principle he believes applies to college football, but I think it holds true in the NFL as well. When you’re building a team, there are four stages: lose big, lose small, win small, win big. The Jaguars are really close to being in that third stage.

Kabir from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Vic, you were right. The crowd actually cheered when a cloud blocked the sun for a short while. There was no place to hide. Picturing you at home with Flip and Flop and a cold adult beverage, in air-conditioned comfort. Missed you at the pep rally, too. Be well!

Hey Kabir, I am sorry I didn’t attend the pep rally. I am well, I hope you are the same. My name’s Gary though, I’m not Vic. I live in Atlanta, so I have empathy for the fans in the stadium and have too cheered when a cloud blocks the sun for a fleeting moment while I am outside. I don’t usually wear shoes inside the house, and I don’t drink alcohol. But I did have the air conditioning on! 1-for-3, Kabir. That gets you in the hall of fame in baseball. Kabir from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL - Hall of Famer. Sounds pretty nice.

Zach from Crystal Lake, IL

Vic, it seemed the offense was underprepared in this game. Rodgers and Nelson had timing issues. The offensive line was caught off balance by many of the looks from the defense, causing Aaron to often extend plays and reduce his ability to read and make accurate throws. Mike, Aaron and the whole offense had multiple communication issues. There are teams around the league with new players and new coordinators that ran their operation much more smoothly. It seems the emphasis on pursuit and finish may have taken away from the preparation of the offense. I know it is Week 1, but much improvement is needed if we are going to contend with the Vikings next week. Look forward to your thoughts.

Hey Zach, I think you have me mistaken with someone else. My name is Gary, not Vic. I will answer your question, though. Don’t look too much into Rodgers and Jordy’s timing issues. I remember two throws where Rodgers simply threw a bad pass Nelson’s way. Additionally, sometimes we equate Rodgers scrambling around in the pocket to being under duress. I don’t think those two are necessarily always correlated. Brett Favre often threw when he could plant his foot and throw, but Rodgers often throws on the run when neither of his feet are on the ground. I would disagree that ‘much improvement is needed’ to contend with the Vikings.

Zahir from London, UK

It would be interesting to see how tough guys like you would hold up in Dubai in July, when temperatures regularly reach 130 degrees plus.

I live in Atlanta, and it’s often really hot here during the summer. It’s not as hot as Dubai. My friends went to Dubai last year. They said it was pretty cool. I don’t think they were talking about the temperature when they said that, though.

Nick from Seattle, WA

Vic, Rodgers’ mobility in the pocket was beautiful to watch yesterday. What are your takeaways from the game?

Hey Nick, it’s Gary, not Vic. Thanks for the question though. Rodgers’ footwork is so impressive. I really feel bad for the video editors who will be in charge of creating a retrospective of his best plays throughout his career. Many of his great plays are approximately 46 seconds long. I tried to pay attention to the offensive line during the game, and I thought they all performed well. The Packers offensive line didn’t seem to me to play any better or worse with Lane Taylor at left guard.

Thomas from Park Falls, WI

I feel Lacy should be getting 18-25 touches every game, no matter what. Not a fan of a 50/50 share; it should be 80/20 Lacy all year and he should be involved in check downs all the time.

The Packers typically run with the same personnel group for the entirety of the possession on offense. This can lead to an uneven snap load, especially at running back. In yesterday’s game, there were more substitutions than normal because of the heat. I think that’s why you saw Randall Cobb line up in the backfield more, too, as the Packers are bringing Jhurrell Pressley up to speed with the offense. It sounds like you have Eddie Lacy on a fantasy team, Thomas.

Ben from Chicago, IL

All I saw of the game were the highlights. Anything noteworthy I missed?

Here are all of the plays in order. Here is a summary of the statistics. Here is a photo from the game. Here is a trailer for the movie Hot Rod, starring Andy Samberg. Here is a brief history of the universe. That should just about cover it. Thank you for asking this question.

Ryan from Las Vegas, NV

Vic, for some reason, I have not written in since your helicopter ride and I hope you’re doing well. I can’t emphasize enough how much I enjoy your column and your direct impact on my love of football for 18 years. I went to Jacksonville to watch this one in person; wish you were there. What do you expect from the Jaguars this season?

Hey Ryan, thanks for writing this question. I don’t know what you mean, to start. My name is Gary, not Vic, and I have never ridden in a helicopter before. If you count video games, then yes, I have ridden in a few helicopters, and blown up a few others. I expect the Jaguars to be competitive in the AFC South. Until Sunday’s game, the only thing I knew about Blake Bortles was that ESPN’s Ryen Russillo liked to call him “Bortles Service” in the SVP & Russillo days. (I miss that show.) Thought Bortles looked like the real deal. He is certainly a more polished quarterback than Mariota and Osweiler, and has more weapons on offense than Luck. The Jaguars should win the AFC South.