"Ask Vic" will publish on Mondays and Thursdays through the offseason.
Cliff from Washington, DC
Vic, I dislike how our new head coach handles himself in press conferences. He has something negative to say about every player he's asked about. In my biased opinion, great bosses (and leaders) do not give corrective feedback about their staff publicly.
Press conferences have become shows. Their original intent was to inform; now, it's to entertain, and coaches are being judged on their performance. All of this is the result of press conferences being televised and streamed live. Viewers are getting more than answers, they're getting tone. I think it's unfair for coaches to be expected to be experts in voice inflection and presentation. They should not be judged on their TV face, so to speak. When I began covering the NFL, Chuck Noll's press conferences were for print media only. Following his session with the print guys, Chuck would do one-on-ones with the radio and TV media. Everybody got what they wanted and it was a way to avoid getting caught on camera. Chuck could get into some back and forth with a print guy without having to worry about TV capturing it. It kept our press sessions with Chuck real and personable, and to this day I'm thankful for the good writing that approach allowed me. The farther I move away from those days, the more I appreciate them.
Jordan from LaCrosse, WI
It seems to me it’s important for a head coach to be gruffly avuncular. My gut surmises LaFleur’s absence of this quality suggests a grave portent. Would you concur?
You want tone and presentation. I want the facts, just the facts. Here's an example: The Steelers had a young defensive end named John Goodman. Coach Noll had decided it was time for Goodman to replace an aging L.C. Greenwood, so Noll put Goodman into the game. A quarter later, Goodman was taken out of the game, replaced by Greenwood. After the game, Chuck was asked why he took Goodman out. "Because he was being blocked," Chuck said. That works for me! I don't want the smooth-talking press conference baloney, I want the facts. It doesn't get any more factual than "he was being blocked."
Tom from Bismarck, ND
Vic, having spent almost a year of my life in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, I hope I can speak for Canadians on this issue. As usual, the American media has shown its utter ignorance and lack of class by belittling Winnipeg at every chance. The field the Bombers play on is first rate. Better, in fact, than most NFL surfaces. The size of the playing field was, of course, going to create some issues. These were hardly unforeseen. The blame for the poor product on the field is a universal problem with meaningless games. The responsibility for putting starters on the field, for at least a drive or two, should be the call of the home team, in this case, the Raiders. Somehow the reporters will turn this into Aaron Rodgers being the villain. Predictably, this story could have been written a month ago.
You lost me with the "starters on the field" stuff, but I share your disdain for whatever pain or embarrassment Winnipeg has suffered as a result of this 80-yard game. Canadian football doesn't deserve to have its reputation soiled the way it was on Thursday night. The CFL has put a first-rate pro football product on the field for a long time and Canadian football fans deserve better than what the NFL gave it last Thursday. I'm not sure what to think about the field conditions. Jon Gruden said they were fine; the Packers said they weren't. I think the NFL owes Winnipeg a public apology by accepting blame for whatever field conditions were overlooked.
Rich from York, PA
Who do you like for the Steelers' primary backup QB, Josh Dobbs or Mason Rudolph?
I think Rudolph is a better passer than Dobbs, but I think the Steelers need to find a way to keep both men on their roster. I think Rudolph has starter potential and Dobbs' running ability offers playbook variety. In my opinion, the 53rd player on a roster is never the equal of a quarterback with upside. Always keep the quarterback.
Rosco from Oshkosh, WI
Do you think the whole Rodgers/LaFleur feeling-each-other-out thing and not playing Rodgers in a preseason game is a bit of misdirection, or perhaps it's gamesmanship in preparation for the Bears?
It's what I feared would become of this training camp/preseason: too much soap opera, not enough documentary. At the start of training camp, I joked about the Packers needing an Oklahoma drill. Now, it wouldn't be a joke. A Texans player was held out of a combined practice after the Packers complained he was too physically aggressive, the quarterback has yet to play a down in the preseason, and 33 starters were benched for what is supposed to be the most important game of the preseason following complaints about the field conditions. I admit to being a football primitive, and I know that makes me an outlier in today's game, but I still believe football is an edge game and, from where I sit in steamy South Carolina, the Packers desperately need to find some edge before they ride down Lakeshore Drive into what could be a waiting ambush. In my Cro-Magnon opinion, somebody needs to go off.
Dan from Waupun, WI
Do you miss Pittsburgh?
I don't miss it because it's with me everywhere I go.
Richard from Clearwater, MN
What are the worst field conditions you've ever seen a game played in?
It would be the 1975 AFC title game. The head groundskeeper at Three Rivers Stadium got a brainstorm for keeping the field warm overnight. He built a tent over the field with the field's tarp, and then used sideline heaters to pump hot air under the tarp. I remember attending the AFC party in the Allegheny Club the night before the game and seeing the tarp ballooning high above the field. What we didn't know was the trapped heat had created a "rain forest" under the tarp. Later that night, as the Steelers and Raiders slept, the tarp broke and all that moisture froze. The sidelines of the rock-hard artificial turf became a skating rink. When I arrived at the stadium the following morning, the grounds crew was pouring road salt onto the field and chopping at the ice with mattocks. What followed was the most vicious football game I ever covered. I wonder if that game would've been played according to today's sensibilities?
Dan from Richmond, TX
Is scouting a QB an art or is it science?
It's crystal ball stuff. I never saw a top prospect I disliked more than Jamarcus Russell. First pick of the draft? I was in disbelief. I was absolutely sure he was a stiff. Tom Brady? After watching him beat Alabama in the bowl game, I couldn't understand why he wasn't a top prospect. On the flip side, I loved Chad Henne coming out of Michigan, and his career never equaled my expectations. With quarterbacks, it's a crap shoot. How else do you explain Blake Bortles being a No. 3 overall pick but Brady falling to the sixth round? How do you explain teams with need at quarterback passing on Aaron Rodgers? There is nothing artistic or scientific about scouting quarterbacks. A major chunk of it is based purely on chance. Ron Wolf saw a star; the Falcons saw a guy they wanted to trade.
Shawn from Kissimmee, FL
What do your eyes tell you about the Packers' backup QBs? My eyes tell me Boyle can play. I also think it's OK to let Kizer go.
Tim Boyle is winning the job and I'm OK with it. Be that as it may, I think it's time for the Packers to draft a quarterback and begin developing him, much as the Steelers are doing with Rudolph and Dobbs. I'm not saying the Packers need to draft Rodgers' successor, but I think they need to draft someone of enough stature to give the position some edge, if you know what I mean.
Mark from Bettendorf, IA
What a joke. The NFL should be embarrassed. No?
The preseason needs to be addressed. Of course, I say that at this time every year and nothing is done. The players don't want to play it, the fans don't want to see it and TV doesn't want to show it. Yes, it's an embarrassment.
Pete from LaCrosse, WI
Just heard James Lofton mention the "blade of grass" illegal formation rule during the Packers game telecast. Didn't hear an explanation. Any insight?
It refers to wide receivers being off the line of scrimmage. A slot receiver, for example, only needs to be a "blade of grass" behind the receiver on that side of the field who is on the line of scrimmage. As long as a "blade of grass" separates the two, the formation is legal.
Tim from Jacksonville, FL
Watching the Jags/Dolphins game and it looks like the aliens came to Miami before the game even started. So when are the Dolphins moving to London?
For those who weren't "Ask Vic" readers in my Jaguars days, I often referred to aliens abducting fans at halftime. "It looks like the aliens were here again at halftime." Tim, in Miami's case, it's about market size. Just grow, baby.
Scott from Alaska
Without Aaron Rodgers, would the Packers be a top 31 team?
The answer to that question is of no consequence. The important question is what are the Packers with Rodgers at quarterback? The first two games of the season will answer that question.
Samuel from Jacksonville, FL
Does Luck make the Colts' ring of honor?
Why not? Everyone else has.
Dru from Lehi, UT
Does this Packers team seem soft? They whine about the field conditions, about the fans not being loud enough, and about joint practices. If their coach and leader aren't tough, the team won't be either.
Is pro football still a tough game for tough guys?
Todd from Wauwatosa, WI
Andrew Luck, Hall of Fame or Hall of Very Good?
Hall of Hurt, where he'll join Greg Cook, Bo Jackson, Sterling Sharpe, Ryan Shazier and several others whose careers were wrecked by injury.