The right tool for the job

Like a lot of Packers fans, I was complaining and worrying about the lack of a running game - once again - after another close loss down in Atlanta. I'm still not convinced we can run when we need to, but Coach McCarthy didn't seem to share that concern, and after listening to his comments on the subject, I do feel a bit better.

Essentially, McCarthy claimed he could have run, but that he thought the passing game was doing so well it would have been foolish to do so. "We played in a dome, a very fast track and had favorable match-ups," said McCarthy this week, defending another pass-happy game-plan. He thought their greatest advantage was attacking through the air. This I buy, but isn't that his approach more weeks than not, regard-less of opponent? Is this simply just a passing league, or is this a league of piss-poor passing defense? Or are the rules so favorable to the passing game that the field is tipped too far in that direction?

I chewed on these questions for a while, dear readers... I've always been told the best offense blends the run with the pass, that you've got to establish the run, et cetera. So in a foot-ball sense, it's hard to accept a coach who often abandons the run, even if the passing game is moving the ball pretty well. McCarthy knows more about offensive game-planning than any packers blogger or beat writer out there – that's indisputable – so I decided to come at this from another angle. What do I know more about than McCarthy? How can I see this puzzle through that kind of understanding?

And then I woke up to snow, the pond froze over, and thoughts of ice and ice fishing crept over me like solidity surely creeps up on a liquid water molecule this time of year.

While most problems require a multi-faceted approach for finding a solution, or the best possible results, some-times the problem requires a refined approach, using specialized equipment and tactics. McCarthy may be a passing attack wizard, but I, dear readers, am a regular Einstein when it comes to ice fishing.

Disclaimer: the following section requires a basic under-standing of ice-fishing versus open-water fishing, and the equipment and tactics used, to understand the point out-lined above:

So I imagined myself coming off the ice after a long day of fishing, and holding a press conference:

Q: FG, only a couple of pin-dicks landed today, but it looks like you lost a pretty big pike at the hole there near sun-down... In hind-sight, should you have used a landing net?

Well no, you can't fit a landing net down a 10-inch hole, for starters, so that wouldn't make a difference out there. Now I could have used a gaff-hook, but of course that item is still on injured reserve. In reality, the fish bit through the line before I even saw her, so that wouldn't have made a difference any-ways. It was a big one, though. Tough loss. Next question.

Q: Sure, but how do you expect to catch big fish when you don't even have a boat out there?

The lake is frozen. What are you, some kind of pebble-eater?

Q: So you never considered throwing out some bobbers and drifting, covering some more water? I mean, you basically sat in one spot doing mostly the same thing all day...

Again, the lake is frozen. Thought my best chance was moving tip ups around on that weed edge, making sure my bait was lively, drinking plenty of PBR to stay hydrated. That spot has produced big fish before, and we had one good opportunity at the end. I liked the match-ups my minnows gave me in these conditions, but the fish just didn't cooperate at the end of the day. You can't win 'em all.

Q: FG, you can say tip-ups are the best option on a frozen lake, but don't you at least need to establish the casting game at some point during the day in order to open up the live bait attack?

Again, we were on a frozen lake, the casting game was not an effective option. We did try a cast on that one short-yardage play, but of course it was stuffed for a loss and the lure got frozen to the ice. We hadn't really practiced that play, I'll admit. If we were fishing an open weed flat down south, sure, I'd open up the play-book more, but you've got to acknowledge the conditions.

Q: What about trolling? I know you've caught fish trolling before. Why not give that a try?

Next question.

Q: What is the key to drilling a quality ice fishing hole?

Gotta have proper pad level. It's all technique, preparation, map study, knowing your ice thickness, how well the auger is running.

Q: What kind of tip-ups were you using? Wire or floro rigs? 

That's none of your god-damned business, son. (abruptly leaves podium)

[end scene]


Look folks, McCarthy may make some bone-headed plays, but he's an expert, and after reading and hearing so much griping about the lack of a running game, I realized it's more a lack of a desire to run, and that most of the question being asked are missing the point. This isn't just a decision you reach on the field of play. If you are going ice fishing you put the rods and reels away and you make sure your drill has sharp blades. The whole week of preparation was built on the idea that they'd pass it all day and never look back. There's a reason Donald Lee was a healthy scratch, that the pass protection looked much better than the run blocking: The team had been prepared to pass, pass and pass some more. When the team is prepared to run I think they've shown they can do that, too. Let's just hope that McCarthy uses the right tool for the job as winter sets in, even when/if it's the running game.

May your auger blades and your minds be sharp! No running and no yelling!
Until next time,