Jake from Eden Prairie, MN
Do you really think the Bears are back? Who cares if they’re winning free agency in the NFC North? I thought you always said free agency was a gamble.
The Bears aren't back because they're winning free agency, the Bears are back because they spent a lot of years losing and picking from the top of the draft order. That time at the top has given them a young and talented roster. It's also given them a good-looking prospect at quarterback. If Mitch Trubisky is what I think he is, you won't have to ask this question again.
Tim from Fernandina Beach, FL
If 4-3 pass rushers are so hard to find, why don't all teams go to a 3-4 instead?
It's a matter of personal preference. Some coaches grew up in a 4-3 system. It fits their philosophy of defense and their comfort level in coaching it. One of the big drawbacks to the 3-4 is it's light in the pants up front; it's vulnerable to the run. I thought that was a particular problem for the Steelers last season, and I thought Mike Tomlin, who came out of a 4-3 system, might finally make the move back to the 4-3 during this offseason. Why hasn't he done that? I think it's because he's coached both now and he knows the 3-4 is better for rushing the passer and finding talent deeper into the draft.
Pat from Seneca, SC
Some perspective, please. Does the interior defensive line of Donald and Suh have a chance to be the best such pairing you’ve seen?
I've seen a lot of good ones. Joe Greene and Ernie Holmes in their prime years were the best I've seen. Yeah, Donald and Suh can become dominant. I think Suh's the big winner in this combination because his days of being double-teamed are over. Aaron Donald is going to draw the doubles, and that's going to allow Suh to get back to being the player he was a few years ago.
Mike from Buffalo, NY
Having experienced both, do you prefer the dynasties of the pre-salary cap era or the parity of today's NFL?
Today's NFL allows for more teams and fans to believe they can compete for a title. That's better than three-quarters of the league hopelessly chasing a few elite teams, which is how it was prior to the salary cap.
Dan from Minneapolis, MN
Is the new helmet rule the biggest change to football since the 1978 chuck rule? What do you think?
If the new lowering the head rule is enforced to the letter of the rule, and I think there's a chance the league will do that, it will be the final act in turning football into a hands and feet game. The shoulders and hips will be eliminated from tackling because it's veritably impossible to sink your hips and lead with the shoulders without lowering your head. "Grab, grab, grab, everybody's grabbing out there" will become a good thing. The big negative is tackling will worsen to maddening levels of decline. Defense could become non-existent; it was in the Super Bowl, right? So the question is: How will fans react? I don't have an answer to that question. My enjoyment of the game will fade, but I'm not sure most fans will feel that way. The explosion of offense might propel the league to even greater heights. I need to think on this more.
Matt from San Diego, CA
What single player currently in the NFL do you enjoy watching most?
It's Antonio Brown. I think he's the greatest playmaker I've ever seen, and he makes his biggest plays in the biggest moments of the biggest games.
John from Sioux Falls, SD
The U.S. government decides to create a new day off sports national holiday. Which should it be: Monday after the Super Bowl, opening day of baseball season, other?
I think a Super Bowl Monday holiday would be wonderful.
Brian from Little Rock, AR
Now that the season has started, can you remind us why you didn't care for covering baseball players?
They were bad interviews. They weren't cooperative. I could sit in a football player's dorm room and he'd gladly tell me about his past and the challenges he'd faced and his thoughts on competing for a roster spot, but baseball players got pissy if you asked them anything more than what kind of pitch they hit with the count 3-2 in the eighth inning. I don't know if that's changed -- I suspect it has -- but I think it was one of the reasons baseball lost popularity to football. Baseball got smug and football seized the opportunity to capture the media. Pete Rozelle's personality trickled down to everyone in the game, and the coaches were outstanding in working with the media and promoting the game. I remember sitting in a baseball manager's office after a game when he threw a glass of milk against the door. No thanks.
Nick from Arvada, CO
As the league pushes (or is pushed) to make the game safer, is there a point at which you expect to find yourself unable to watch?
When they eliminate three- and four-point stances, I'm done.
Michael from Milwaukee, WI
Vic, on Thursday you said, "Don't confuse leadership with winning." That was interesting. Who was a great coach and a great leader that never had enough talent under him to win?
Marty Schottenheimer was a great coach and leader, but he never won a title. Bud Grant and Marv Levy were great coaches and leaders and combined for eight Super Bowl losses.
Lee from Marshfield, WI
Vic, I feel the new safety rules around the head will ultimately backfire. You have said for years to make the game safer take away the helmet. Why has the NFL not realized this?
No, I said eliminate the facemask or, at the least, restrict the size of it. I think if the NFL had done that in the beginning, it wouldn't have had to go to the current extremes. I can't help but wonder where we'd be if the last two commissioners had been football men.
Bill from Menominee, MI
Vic, can you imagine two more similar franchises than the Packers and Steelers? Their cities live and die by the team's success level, Hall of Fame QBs, gritty coaches, long and storied histories. I attended the last Packers/Steelers game at Lambeau and although the Packers lost, this was still my favorite game. I felt connected to all the black and gold fans in attendance, and there were a lot of them!
The Packers and Steelers are good for football, and even though they bear similarities, they are good for football in very different ways: The Packers are about resourceful offense; the Steelers' identity is for hard-knocks defense. I am honored to have covered both franchises.
Brad from Jacksonville, FL
Vic, you’re a visionary. You’ve been saying the league just needs to take the facemasks off the helmets to resolve leading with the head. This new rule regarding 15-yard penalties for any hitting with the helmet is going to be too much of a fundamental shift and I feel it will take too much away from the game.
If this new rule doesn't work, and I think there's a chance it'll result in so many penalties it'll turn fans off, the league will have no choice but to begin restricting the size of facemasks.
Alfonso from Brazil
How much is locker room camaraderie overrated? I get that teams and most of the players think a fraternity locker room is a plus, but ultimately all of them are playing for the team, fans and, most of all, their jobs. You still have a job to do regardless of players getting along. Some of the greatest teams had locker room problems. Are these players missing the point, which is to play good, secure a job and maybe win a Super Bowl?
The players aren't missing the point, the fans are. The players know they are in competition with every other player in the league, including the ones in their own locker room. They know they are ultimately judged by what they put on tape, not by how many friends they have in the locker room. Ted Thompson was big on locker room culture. He liked a friendly fit. I prefer an angry fit. I want my locker room to have an edge because football is an edge game.
David from Madison, WI
In my mind, the Packers got their backup QB in Kizer and got rid of a talented locker room problem in Randall. Is that how you're reading it? Did you like the trade?
I like the trade because I get the sense if the Packers hadn't traded Damarious Randall they would've cut him.