"Ask Vic" is published on M-W-F through the regular season.
Mike from Prescott, AZ
Do you think Rodgers even wants to play or was his performance from lack of playing?
He brought this on himself with his offseason whimpering and his I'm-above-this attitude. Only he can fix it and it begins with a winning performance against the Lions. In my opinion, Rodgers must be accountable for what happened against the Saints. If he tries to deflect blame on anyone but himself, the Packers' malaise will worsen. He needs to be a leader and a leader says "This one is on me."
Jeff from Asheville, NC
The Packers got their butt and everything else kicked. Why? I know the preseason is no excuse.
The Saints were ready to play. The Packers weren't. Matt LaFleur has to be accountable for that.
Jake from Eden Prairie, WI
In the famous words of Bill Belichick, “We’re on to Detroit.” One game doesn’t define a season.
No, but dismissing it as a fluke would be a big mistake. The loss to the Saints won't define the Packers' season, but it absolutely defines a problem that currently exists and it better be corrected quickly. You don't want to go to San Francisco 0-2.
Aaron from Eau Claire, WI
How did the Saints successfully put the Brees era to rest?
One win doesn't successfully end an era, but the way the Saints played on Sunday sure says a lot about Sean Payton's ability to lead and manage a football team. I have become a fan of his ability to evaluate, utilize and motivate players.
Louis from Columbus, OH
Vic, it's almost as if Dom Capers and Mike Pettine weren't the problem.
And Joe Barry isn't, either. Defensive coordinators have never been the problem. The problem is the Packers' players on defense are soft. They lack speed and aggression. Brian Gutekunst must be accountable, just as Ted Thompson was.
Brian from Conroe, TX
Soft in all facets. Blow it up!
Too late for that. As Coach Noll was fond of saying, "Help is not on the way."
Evan from Green Bay, WI
Is there anything positive to take away from the Packers game? The new punter looks good?
That's a good approach. Why should fans have to suffer the pangs of this defeat? They didn't play the game.
Fabio from London, UK
Is the Steelers defense scary enough to propel an aging Big Ben to playoffs and more?
I don't see the postseason in the Steelers' future, but I think it should be noted the aging Big Ben to whom you've referred scored his 36th career fourth-quarter comeback in Buffalo on Sunday. He's now tied with Drew Brees and behind only Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
Dillon from Melbourne, FL
It was just the heat, right?
It was not the heat. I repeat, it was not the heat. When I went on my bike ride Sunday morning, I said to myself the Packers got lucky. It was the coolest morning I can remember since April, maybe since March. I spent two hours on the range before coming home for the one o'clock games and I hardly broke a sweat. Usually, I have to dry off with a towel after every few swings. By kickoff in late afternoon, the sun wasn't even a factor. Yesterday wasn't even in the same league with the heat the Packers had to overcome in 2016 in Jacksonville. That was a blistering hot day. The Packers didn't lose on Sunday because it was hot, they lost because they were a bad football team.
Ben from Chicago, IL
What are the Packers working on this week?
They need to achieve perspective, and it begins with introspection and humility.
Lane from Winter Garden, FL
I thought you were being a bit dramatic by putting the Jags at 32 on your all-important power rankings but, alas, you were correct. I’m not sure Jacksonville wins a game this year.
Don't worry about that. Their record is meaningless other than for how it pertains to the draft order. Focus on Urban Meyer and Trevor Lawrence. Do they have what it takes to lead the Jaguars from their depths? Chuck Noll was 1-13 as a rookie coach, but everyone knew he was the right guy for the job. Bill Walsh was 2-14 and Jimmy Johnson was 1-15, but everyone knew they were right guys for the job. Those coaches' young quarterbacks were Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana and Troy Aikman.
Robert from Plymouth, WI
What do you think has caused the biggest gap in talent in college football. I remember when there seemed to be a semblance of parity, at least back to the late '90's to early to mid 2000's. What happened?
Go back and look at old scores. It's always been this way and it was much worse before the roster and scholarship limits of the '70's that gave the game, as you put it, a semblance of parity. Notre Dame won the national title in 1966 by outscoring its opponents 362-38. There were no roster limits unless self-imposed. Nebraska had a red-shirt roster that would've probably beaten most of the teams on Nebraska's schedule. Player distribution is the problem. Recruiting is the equivalent of unrestricted free agency. The best way to equalize it is to limit it. College football lacks the courage and commitment to parity to do what's necessary.
John from Brookfield, WI
Last year, following the Saints game, you said Brady didn't have a strong arm. Many pundits are saying it's stronger than ever. What gives?
A Boston Globe writer said Brady looks like he's playing Arena League football. I guess it depends on what pundits you believe. As for what I wrote, please include a link to it.
Jeremy from St. Catharines, Canada
Are there any college football programs today that care more about playing strong competition than they do preserving a playoff-qualifying record?
When I was young, there were several major independents, not just Notre Dame. Pitt, Penn State, Miami, Florida State, Boston College, Syracuse, Georgia Tech, Army and Navy were independents and they played flavorful schedules that crossed regional boundaries. They all belong to conferences now and the disparity in how those conferences schedule has caused a problem finding and scheduling non-conference opponents. For example, the SEC's late-season week off before rivalry games weekend leaves its schools searching for beat-upons to schedule, schools whose seasons had long since become hopeless and for which there is no longer any energy. This is another example of college football's need for standardization. College football needs more Oregon-Ohio State games.
David from San Francisco, CA
Would you support the NFL allowing teams to trade salary cap space? Quick hypothetical: The Colts have $50 million in cap space next year. Packers trade a second-round pick for $25 million next season, which gives them the luxury of re-signing players to extend their run and gives the Colts the draft ammunition to begin theirs. Who says no?
It's a wild and unnecessary idea. Parity has never been stronger. The salary cap has done its job.
Jay from Minneapolis, MN
Vic, genuine question, no snark intended: If WRs are a dime a dozen, why haven't the Packers had a second good one for this many seasons? Dime a dozen should essentially negate the effects of the inverse draft order, right? So it's just bad picks?
The wide receivers last year were good enough for Aaron Rodgers to win another MVP and for the Packers to claim the No. 1 spot for the NFC playoffs.
Aaron from Point Pleasant, SD
The only thing I don't like about seeing a game in person is the time spent watching the players stand around during TV commercial breaks. Did this happen when you began covering Pittsburgh?
What you're describing goes back to the '60's and the dawn of the TV football age. The ticket-buying fan pays so the fans at home can watch the game for free, and nothing begins until TV says it does. It's gross mistreatment of the paying customer.
Mark from Eau Claire, WI
I'm in my early 30's and I don't think I'm lamenting some long-gone era; maybe I am. Seems a defender's only job is to tackle a receiver after he catches the ball. That's the only way you can impede him. Anything you do to interrupt the highlight of the ball sailing through the air into his arms is a penalty. I was never privy to the "three yards and a cloud of dust" era, but I was at least witness to "not every incomplete pass is a penalty" era.
I saw a story following the Thursday night opener that proclaimed football has become a burden to watch. The game provided an exciting finish, but it included 108 passes and the repetition had become a burden for me to watch. The stewards of the game need to monitor this closely. Without resistance there is no achievement.
John from Pittsburgh, PA
At first glance, I thought the Steelers caved on the Watt deal by guaranteeing all that money. But only giving him four years is kind of clever. They’re not paying guaranteed money when he’s much past 30, like the Bears and Rams are with Mack's and Donald's six-year deals. Thirty is usually when players start slowing down and breaking down. But if he is still productive at the end of this contract, in his early 30's, they can probably re-sign him for a very reasonable number. They were forced to deal with the reality of the marketplace, but they left themselves some wiggle room.
His salary guarantees run out after the 2023 season. At that point, his cap hit will be twice his dead cap, which means the Steelers will be free to extend him, re-structure him or even release him. Until then, the Steelers are at the mercy of the contract, but Roethlisberger is likely at the end of his career and the cap burden is easing at quarterback. There's nothing about Watt's contract that would concern me.