"Ask Vic" will publish on M-W-F during the football season.
Tom from Sacramento, CA
What do the Packers have to do to beat the Bears on Sunday? Furthermore, what do they need to do to show they are a real Super Bowl contender this year?
The Packers have to protect Aaron Rodgers to beat the Bears. It begins and ends with that. As for your second question, they don't need to do anything but win to show they are a real Super Bowl contender this year.
Rad from Jacksonville, FL
"They ran Tom Coughlin out of town because they didn't like his play-calling." I thought we ran Coughlin out of town for putting the team into salary cap hell that made us a bottom dweller for a decade? He thought we were on the cusp of winning the Super Bowl and he bet our future on it. Sure, the play-calling made fans unhappy but you seem to be rewriting history a bit.
Really? I remember Wayne Weaver saying "No more three yards and a cloud of dust" at the press conference that announced Jack Del Rio as the team's new head coach. As I remember it, Jaguars fans didn't even know what a salary cap was back then. In fact, this column was created by the jaguars.com webmaster (not me) to help explain to fans the salary cap and the particular problems and cures the Jaguars were facing. Fans had no idea how salary, roster bonus, signing bonus and incentives were charged to the cap. Explaining LTBEs and NLTBEs reminded me of my father trying to teach me long division. In the column's first days, I would answer five salary cap questions. "You pay it, you claim it" is an answer I created to help explain terminology such as bonus amortization and dead money. Eventually, I did a salary cap series that included a test readers could take following the series' final installment. "The salary cap is your friend. Take care of the salary cap and the salary cap will take care of you" and "Take care of the future and the future will take care of the present" are Vicisms I created to help explain the long-term thinking in sound cap management. The Jaguars' salary cap problems made Jacksonville a pro football town. Previously, it was a college football town that couldn't understand why the Jaguars couldn't play that way in the NFL. I think having to endure the salary cap mess of 2002 was ultimately good for Jacksonville, but once is enough.
Jared from Sugar City, ID
Vic, I'd love to hear about your favorite NFL season and what made it so special.
The 1978 season was certainly special. That's the best team I ever covered; it might be the best team in pro football history. The 1996 season was special for the Jaguars' great late-season run and the innocence of an expansion franchise riding a wave of good fortune. I'll always remember 2014 for that wonderful feeling of covering what I believed to be a team of destiny, followed by the incredibly cruel four minutes that took it all away. Every season I covered was special in some way.
Scott from Milwaukee, WI
Do you think the Packers will beat the Bears on Sunday?
Yeah, but I sense danger. If this game was being played in Chicago, my answer to your question would be no.
Bill from Fairfax, VA
Vic, saw the piece on Mike McCarthy preparing with Jim Haslett, Frank Cignetti and Scott McCurley. Is this his future coaching team nucleus? Is he putting a band together?
They're all Pittsburgh guys. I was sitting and talking with Coach McCarthy one day. Cignetti's name came up. All of a sudden, McCarthy picks up the phone, pushes a button and he's talking to Cignetti. McCarthy had him on speed dial. Pittsburgh guys are like that. We stay close to each other.
Randy from Medicine Hat, AB
Do you think Tom Brady should have pulled the plug on his great career and retired after winning the Super Bowl last year?
Jack from Jacksonville Beach, FL
Is Tom Coughlin better suited to coaching or a front office role?
He's as good a coach as I've ever known. Before I knew much about Tom, I got a smile and a nod from Coach Noll about Tom. In the Jaguars' inaugural season, I interviewed the late, great Will McDonough about Tom and Will gushed about him. "The man can flat coach," Will said. I think Tom has had a coaching career worthy of the Hall of Fame. As a general manager, I think Tom is an outstanding evaluator of talent, but the passion that made him a great coach has hurt him in his GM role. A GM needs to be patient and measured. Those aren't Tom virtues. Tom is now and in your face. If he's going to remain in his current role, he needs to change, because rebuilding the Jaguars isn't going to happen overnight. Or maybe he could be the coach, again.
Kevin from Sussex, WI
I disagree with you on the Patriots, Vic. The Patriots' YouTube page has a series called "Do Your Job" that (features) documentary-quality clips showing what different team employees do. There are several interesting ones like what the team dietician does or what the video department does. They should have been smarter (especially considering they are the Patriots) but, to me, their explanation is entirely plausible. I appreciated the Patriots producing different video content that showed how an NFL team works. I hope that doesn't go away.
I'm sure it won't.
Karl from Albuquerque, NM
If the Pats were recording signals in an attempt to steal signals, what would you do?
I know a guy in Pittsburgh who could make this stop.
Justin from Knoxville, TN
An ESPN analyst recently stated Aaron Rodgers is no longer among the league's elite. He cited the team's poor third-down conversion rate and Rodgers' middling fourth-quarter stats as evidence. What do you see that these guys don't?
I see a quarterback who's still making big plays, winning games and turning it on at critical junctures of the game. I see a quarterback who is still unstoppable when he gets on a roll. I think my inbox is jammed with woe-is-us questions, such as yours, because Packers fans are so afraid of losing they have begun to prepare themselves for the event. They did this to themselves, again, with expectations and loss of perspective. Last spring, when I was asked to set the expectation for this season, I said the Packers' aggressiveness in free agency nearly demands the team make it into the playoffs for this season to be a success. In other words, I set the postseason as the goal and I think the Packers are going to get there. Also, I'll remind everyone only one team in the postseason won't end its season on a loss. I hope these reminders will help everyone get back up on their feet and walk like a man…and stop flooding my inbox with these whiny, poop-negative, please-reassure-us questions.
Samuel from Jacksonville, FL
This won't happen but let's assume the NFL discovers evidence of continuous cheating by the Patriots throughout the decade. Does this effect Tom Brady's and Bill Belichick's Hall of Fame chances?
Brady? No. Belichick? It would have to be a scandal of Pete Rose-like proportions.
Mikey from Tallahassee, FL
Despite the recent futility, everyone in Jacksonville remains employed. How do you interpret the inaction as the wolves continue their howling?
Let 'em howl. It's good to know the team still has fans.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, some commentators were discussing the latest New England scandal and one man said every team cheats; New England is the only one that has been caught. From your experience, is that true?
Not at all. I'll use an example of the Steelers costing themselves a draft pick. They were doing an internal audit of their salary cap following a season years ago. Dan Rooney, who was one of the authors of the salary cap rules, detected an error in how the team had capped money paid to a tackle named Wil Wolford. The mistake was minor and had completely avoided the league's attention. The Steelers were in the clear but Rooney blew the whistle on himself and the league responded by taking a third-round pick from the Steelers.
Jason from Austin, TX
Vic, did you read or see any of the recent McCarthy news about him hiring a coaching staff to evaluate the latest trends in the NFL? I'm wondering what your thoughts are on this and what team you think would most benefit from hiring him? I wish him the best of luck wherever he goes (unless it's in the NFC North).
He's getting ready for his next job. If I was an owner preparing to hire a new coach, it would send a message to me McCarthy is still passionate about football. It's too early to get a bead on where McCarthy might be headed. We still don't know where the jobs will be. Washington and Carolina are said to both have interest in Mike Tomlin. If he was to leave the Steelers, I think McCarthy would be an obvious replacement. NFC North? Is Matt Patricia safe in Detroit? Maybe the horn I was hearing was a car horn.
Lars from Denmark
Some of the people in Green Bay just mentioned the cold took a different turn this week. Did you notice the difference in cold and extra cold in your years there?
I was always cold. When the weather finally turned warm and I took off the sweaters, gloves, boots, etc., I felt as though I had been released from prison.