Jake from Eden Prairie, MN
What is your take on the XFL coming back in 2020? Will it be a bridge between college and the pros? A minor league you’ve advocated for, so to speak?
I never said anything about a league. Practice squad players don't play in a league and they develop their skills quite nicely. The XFL was and still is a garbage idea, mostly because its founder is a promoter of garbage sport. What's he going to do this time, put a team in North Korea and call it the Nukes? Hey, 2020 is a long time from now, and Vince McMahon is 72. I wouldn't waste much thought on the XFL. I won't.
Jake from Knoxville, TN
How slim are the odds you’ll ever get around to making an “Ask Vic” app? Your page is basically the only thing I use my phone’s Internet browser for.
There's a better chance I'll get hit on the head by a meteor.
Amis from Norwich, UK
I have a feeling if Kirk Cousins hits the open market he's going to completely shatter the QB pay scale. Do you think the Packers should get a Rodgers extension done before that happens?
I think Jimmy Garoppolo is going to begin to set the pay scale for quarterbacks when the 49ers put the exclusive franchise tag on him. We're talking about something north of $25 million a year. I think the Packers have a decision to make that will be of enormous impact to future caps, and I don't think rushing to judgement is the right thing to do. Aaron Rodgers' age and his injury would be my concerns. A deal sooner isn't going to be much less expensive than a deal later. I would want more information on Rodgers' recovery before I'd do a new contract.
Chris from Appleton, WI
Vic, the Jaguars need to capitalize on young (cheap) talent now, don't they? Can they afford to wait on another QB to develop? What about a guy like Alex Smith? Do you think he'd be good enough to carry them all the way?
The Jaguars still have lot of cap room. I expect them to be a major player in free agency. They have the room to sign a quarterback for now, and then use a draft pick on a quarterback for the future. I think the position needs to be rebuilt and that would be my formula for doing it. Alex Smith? Sure, it's going to cost a pick or picks in a trade, but the Jaguars are picking low and they don't have any screaming needs other than quarterback. Smith's $14.5 million salary for 2018 could be easily fit onto the Jaguars' cap with a contract extension that would push out some of that salary in the form of money converted to signing bonus. That kind of conversion would allow the Jaguars to spend even more in free agency on other upgrades. It would remind me of what the team did in 1999 in signing Kyle Brady, Carnell Lake and Gary Walker. Smith appears to have just enough gas left in the tank to suit the Jaguars' needs.
Jeffro from Kenosha, WI
Since most great coaches have won with a single quarterback, what’s your opinion of Joe Gibbs?
He was a great coach who won with the running game. He was a great manager of men, and that was his leadership quality. I wish he hadn't come out of retirement. It damaged his reputation.
Derek from La Crosse, WI
My brother and I always loved Doug Pederson. He was our favorite back up QB. Probably because he never had to play. Who is your favorite back up QB of all time?
Mike Kruczek. He was 6-0 as a starter and allowed only 28 points. It was the greatest defensive performance by a quarterback I have ever seen.
Dan from Milwaukee, WI
How do you feel about Eric Ebron if he were to enter free agency? You were quite high on him throughout the pre-draft process.
Actually, he was quite high on himself at the combine; I was just reporting what he said. If I needed a tight end, I'd try to find one in the draft. I just couldn't force myself to pay big at that position, unless the guy was a proven star.
Greg from Ann Arbor, MI
Is it just me or did Coach McCarthy seem energized by all the changes during his press conference? Be new, right?
He appreciates the dramatic change his team is undergoing and the energy required to make it work. A new attitude is a big part of the change.
Rhonda from Appleton, WI
Is it sad I am more excited to see Justin Timberlake in the halftime show than the actual game?
It tells me you're not a football fan, you're a Packers fan. I think this Super Bowl is an exciting matchup. Halftime? Oh, I'll go outside and clean the grill, or go into the storage room and sweep the bugs off the window ledge. I bought a new hose winder; maybe I can play with that for awhile.
Nathan from New York, NY
"The issue is: Will the Vikings pay Keenum as they would 'The Man?' That's a tough one because you're talking about a longterm commitment. In my opinion, if the Vikings do that, they'll open the door for the other three teams in the NFC North." The other three teams, Vic? Have you forgotten which team was in first place before Aaron Rodgers got injured? Perhaps you meant to write the other two teams?
No, I mean three. Get ready for it, folks. The Bears are back. They will be a division title contender in 2018.
Dan from Plymouth, WI
Vic, have you watched the show This is Us? It seems to be potentially up your alley. It takes place in the late '70's in an unnamed Pittsburgh suburb and early episodes have plenty of references to the Steelers, Chuck Noll, Terry Bradshaw and Steelers fans (the time you were covering the team). I won't go into plot specifics, but it is essentially about life and enjoying the beauty of it, while enduring the hardships. You often write about life and perspective, which aligns with the show. Then again, there's a lot of crying in the show; maybe not for you.
I've heard about it and I've meant to watch it. I'll try harder to find it. Life after big steel left Pittsburgh was the best of times and the worst of times. The Steelers made it great; steel made it awful. The exodus was painful. Friends and family forced to leave. Sunday was good. Monday-Friday was bad. In his Hall of Fame induction speech, Joe Greene said: "If you weren't at Three Rivers Stadium on Sunday afternoon in the fall, you were in the wrong place." In those days, Pittsburgh was the wrong place to be, but in at least one way it was the only place to be. It was us. We lived by the steel, we died by the steel. Now, the place has been reborn. It's really not Pittsburgh anymore; no angst, no grit. I just saw another one of those stories ranking cities in America rank Pittsburgh No. 1. That's become a trend, and it always makes me laugh. Where were they when Pittsburgh was the worst city in America? That's when it was truly No. 1.
Mike from North Hudson, WI
Vic, under the new Packers front office structure, do you see an increase in free-agent acquisitions?
I hope not. Brian Gutekunst is a draft guy. I hope I'm reading this right.
Frank from Ellwood City, PA
Why has the quality of sportswriting taken a drastic hit over the past 10 years, particularly NFL writers? It seems not long ago NFL writers were known for their hard work and excellent reporting and writing skills. Today, some are lazy, only want to make mindless videos, count their Twitter followers and believe serving as a guest on a third-rate Sunday night local TV talk show makes them legit.
The Internet has expanded but damaged my profession. It's allowed an army of pseudo-reporters to emerge. The web is loaded with sites that re-write the news with a slant that'll prey on fan anxiety. My friend Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette broke the story about Le'Veon Bell missing the walk-through prior to the playoff game. Since then, I have seen that information re-worked by re-write sites into a multitude of stories; no new facts, just new rants by writers who are more fan than reporter. These are writers who don't have to worry about developing relationships they might cultivate into news sources. They just re-package old news and tease it with Twitter talk. Hey, the POTUS (that's Twitter talk, right?) does it; why shouldn't they? The combine media room is cut in half by the speaker podiums. The old ink-stained wretches tend to sit on the right side of the room; the Twitter kids tend to sit on the left side. There's a distinct division and the room knows how to divide itself; seat assignments aren't necessary. I fear one day the left side will be sitting on both sides.
Matthew from Shawnee, KS
You say a team's draft board doesn't change much after the NFL Combine and that teams just want to get some one-on-one time with the players, which I think makes sense. But I'm curious, do the Shrine game and Senior Bowl affect a team's board?
The players in those two games can move their needle dramatically according to how they perform at those two events. Eric Fisher rode his Senior Bowl performance to the first overall pick of the draft. Aaron Donald was a too-small defensive tackle thought to be no higher than a second-round prospect until he began throwing people around at the Senior Bowl. It wasn't a fluke. He's still doing it.
Elten from Pleasant Lake, IN
"The scheme is worthless unless you play with great passion and great technique." Mike Pettine said it but it could have been Vic saying "players, not plays."
Playing above the X's and O's is what wins championships. I'll use the Dion Lewis game-clinching third-down run as an example. That play shouldn't have worked. It worked because the blocking was executed beyond expectations. Telvin Smith couldn't get off his block. The defensive back on that side was buried. Frankly, I think Bill Belichick had decided to run it, punt it and turn the game over to his defense.
Paul from Chicago, IL
Vic, you're on a panel with four others discussing the greatest QB of all time. The other four people say it's Brady. What do you say?
Jerry from Savannah, GA
Vic, is Kirk Cousins "The Man" or just has potential to be "The Man?"
He's not "The Man" but he'll do until "The Man" gets here.
Pat from Seneca, SC
At some point in your past, you coached youth baseball. Did you ever have problems dealing with the parents of a player?
I put every player in the batting order, but the rules only required me to play a kid for two innings in the field. A father complained his kid wasn't getting enough playing time. I respectfully asked him how much time his son spent practicing or playing baseball at home. He nodded his head; he understood. I explained my big concern was his son would have a negative experience in the field that would leave him with a painful memory, so I tried to limit that exposure. The father began playing catch with his son, and I saw the kid's skill was improving, so I played him more. The story ends with the kid sticking his glove into the air and snagging a line drive that helped win the game. It was a Sandlot moment before there was a Sandlot. He was a hero! I looked at his dad and we both smiled.
Chris from Minneapolis, MN
The Packers finally bought into your resolution to be new. Are you excited to see how well McCarthy balances all the newness to field a competitive team?
New structure, new GM, new coordinators, new players on the way; the 2018 Packers are going to be all new. I'm not worried about Coach McCarthy. I'm worried about the fans. Are they going to be new?
Ben from Chicago, IL
If the Eagles win, I am sure Carson Wentz will receive a ring, but will he be referred to as a Super Bowl winning quarterback?
No, this is Nick Foles' team, just as the 1990 Giants were Jeff Hostetler's team.
T.J. from Tampa, FL
Why was Pete Rozelle attending the AFL Championship instead of the Ice Bowl? Do you give any credence to him and Lombardi having a strained relationship and Rozelle being sort of anti-Packer?
Maybe Pete was paving the way for the merger. Anti-Packer? The Packers owe their existence to Pete Rozelle. If not for his pool-the-revenue philosophy and his ability to persuade Wellington Mara to share his revenue with the Packers, there wouldn't be a team in Green Bay.
Patrick from Fort Collins, CO
Vic, you're on a deadline, what’s your lede coming out of the Pro Bowl?
I probably would've found somebody in the hotel or press box worth interviewing, somebody who might've provided insight on a worthy subject, made that my lede, tucked some details from the game inside the story, slapped a dateline and byline on the story and mercifully hit the send button. The Pro Bowl is like People magazine: The pictures are good, but there's no content.
Randy from Billings, MT
Vic, are you as tired of hearing "at the end of the day" from coaches, players, commentators and writers as I am?
It's a way of saying the result is what counts. I agree. Just win, baby.
Bubba from Pocatello, ID
Vic, is Mike Vrabel ready to be a head coach? Three years on the sidelines (only one as a DC) and he's good to go? Really?
He's an impressive man, but I would agree the Titans accepted a major risk in firing a veteran coach who had raised the team from the depths of the league to within one win of the AFC title game. Let's not forget, the Titans beat the Jaguars twice. Now, they've hired a defensive-minded coach for a team whose issues are on offense, which is Mike Mularkey's specialty. How is it going to impact Marcus Mariota's development? This coaching change is loaded with downside risk.
Robert from Orlando, FL
Are the Jags back next year, or is this a 2007-like mirage?
These Jaguars aren't a snowman; they won't melt during the offseason. It's a young, talented roster on a team loaded with salary cap room. Quarterback is the issue. The Jags can remain a playoff contender without addressing quarterback, but I don't think they can go to the championship level without an upgrade. Hey, they were afraid to pass the ball with 55 seconds left in the first half. I saw it earlier in the season, too, when they were afraid to throw the ball off their own goal line in overtime against the Jets. They tried to play around the most important club in their bag all season, and that tells me all I need to know about Doug Marrone's opinion of his quarterback. You can't play that way in today's game and expect to win. Playing scared won't work.
Ryan from Las Vegas, NV
Vic, I haven't asked a question since you've been back but you bet I've been reading. It's so great to have you around again. Look into your crystal ball. The Jaguars had a period with four playoff years in a row and two AFC championship games. Then they went 18 years in between championship games. Which scenario is more likely to repeat itself?
Tom Coughlin won't make the same mistake. He won't let the team become a cap casualty again. The Jaguars are at the start of a long run of playoff contention.
Pat from Seneca, SC
“Boston will go back to being the bad football town it always was.” That was provocative; please expand. Is there anything the Patriots could do to change how football is viewed in Boston? Is Boston unique when it comes to how football is viewed?
Boston is a Red Sox town. After that come the Bruins and then the Celtics. It was always that way until Tom Brady came along. When he's gone, it'll go back to how it was. It's in Boston's DNA.
Tyler from Dunnellon, FL
In 2007, despite a great year, you said you were concerned (the Jaguars) team was actually in the middle of its window closing, not opening. Is the window now opening or closing?
It's opening, but how wide it opens is the issue. David Garrard was not "The Man," and the Jaguars didn't have the time to find "The Man" before they got old. I think this Jaguars team will have the opportunity to address the quarterback position in this offseason. Drew Brees and Kirk Cousins are scheduled for free agency -- so is Jimmy Garoppolo but the 49ers would likely put the exclusive franchise tag on him.
Stephen from Jacksonville, FL
What is your opinion of the Jaguars’ offensive line? The number one-ranked run offense disappeared too often this season to be deserving of its title. The inability to run the ball in the second half of the AFC championship game played a significant role in the Jaguars’ loss. Do you think they need to make upgrades to the line for next season?
When you're a one-trick pony, your opponent can focus on taking away your only trick. The Jaguars need a real passing game, not just one built on drags, delays, swings, screens and checkdowns. That's scheme stuff and it worked early but not late. Plays win early, players win late. The Jaguars need to upgrade their passing game talent.
Logan from Lino Lakes, MN
Vic, will you be hanging around Mobile this week? Looking forward to hearing who Tony likes for the Packers.
I asked Tony Pauline for the name of somebody he likes for the Packers. This is what he gave me: "Keep an eye on Marcus Davenport, UT-San Antonio. Working at DE here but devastating 3-4 OLB in college."
Brian from Yakima, WA
With the recent reports of Bell being repeatedly tardy to team functions, even basically not showing up for the final walk-through, is this a player that should get paid? Obviously, the talent is there, but if the reports are accurate, I’m shocked at the display of commitment to a team with a real shot at the Super Bowl at the time.
The franchise tag breeds enmity. The Steelers knew that and were likely prepared to accept a negative reaction by Le'Veon Bell. Hey, it's nothing personal, just business, right? The Steelers are not a feel-good team. They don't mind a little angst. They don't mind allowing their players and their coaches to stew in their own juices. Bell's behavior has weakened his position. I think Mike Tomlin's failure to coach the defense out of its late-season skid will have taken a little of the bounce out of his step, too. All of that is good for the Steelers. Peace and tranquility are not virtues for a football team. Winning isn't a byproduct of job security. Confrontation and angst work best. As Tom Coughlin once told me, "I don't want a lot of people walking around here with smiles on their faces."
Chase from Rapid City, SD
Vic, do you believe college football players should stay for all four years at their university before going on to declare for the NFL draft?
I don't believe anyone should be held hostage and denied advancement, but I don't like the farce that is the commitment the top players make but never intend to honor. These are our esteemed institutions of higher learning. They are where young people with genuine academic intentions go to become the leaders of our nation's future. I'd prefer to see players who aren't sincere about their commitment move directly from high school to the NFL. Maybe Cookie Gilchrist was ahead of his time. I think it's time for the NFL to fund its own system for developing talent.
Andrew from Mount Dora, FL
Vic, you mentioned the Packers need one or two great players to fix the defense next year. Do you think there are any players available where the Packers pick this year that could fit the need?
Where the Packers are picking, they should be able to find exactly what they need.
Andrew from Minneapolis, MN
If Brady wins with or without Gronk, Deion Branch, Wes Welker, etc., who from the Patriots' Super Bowl rosters should go into the Hall of Fame? Is everybody riding Brady's coattails?
Ty Law is the only true Patriots player in the Brady era I see as a Hall of Famer, and it's going to be a fight for Law to get in. Some might say Richard Seymour; I wouldn't. By and large, it's been Brady and a cast of misfit toys.
Dan from Sebastopol, CA
What are your keys to victory for both New England and Philadelphia?
Chatty says you beat the Patriots with man-to-man coverage, but the Jaguars have the best man corners in the league and they got trashed. For the Eagles to win, I think the quarterback must go down and the quarterback must go down hard. This Super Bowl will be decided by the Eagles' pass rush or the Patriots' ability to block it.
J.G. from Silver Spring, MD
Peer into the "Ask Vic" crystal ball. Who starts at QB in Week 1 for the Jaguars?
I'll say Kirk Cousins. I think Drew Brees is too intelligent not to get a deal done with the Saints. He's the hero of New Orleans. He must never play for another team, and I think he gets that.
Chad from Troy, MI
What is your favorite trick play you've ever seen executed?
It's one I invented for my all-star baseball team. I called it the pop up play. When the pitcher saw the runner at first break for second, he threw a pitch out to the catcher, who then threw a pop up in the infield. The second baseman began yelling "I got it, I got it," which caused the runner to stop and retreat to first base, where the ball was waiting for him.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, Leonard Fournette's spin moves are remarkable. Which players have impressed you with their signature moves?
I'm not a spin move kind of guy. I like one cut and go. I liked Earl Campbell's charging bull move. Fournette reminds me of Campbell. I think he should charge more and spin less. In my mind, if you're not running the ball with power, you're not running the ball. Power forces defenses to commit extra defenders to the line of scrimmage, and when that happens, the running game has won.
Richard from Jacksonville, FL
Vic, what's your opinion on whistles being blown too early on turnovers? There have been several instances this year of a fumble return being blown dead inappropriately. I understand the safety aspect, but the plays seem so important to games that the refs should let the play go unless 100 percent sure the play is over.
Richard, you're whining. I think you need to remember the score was 20-10 and the Jaguars had the No. 1 pass defense and its "Sacksonville" pass rush to protect that lead, but they didn't get it done at crunch time. In my opinion, that unit spent too much energy celebrating itself. It should remember the numbers 772-7; that's the numbers of yards and touchdowns passing it allowed in the final two games.
Dan from Grand Rapids, MI
Recently, I read an article arguing why Vince Lombardi is still a greater coach than Bill Belichick. The basic crux of the argument was Lombardi won four titles in nine years and didn't have Tom Brady. Even though Belichick has the greatest QB of all time, he still has to be considered the greatest coach of all time, right? What he has done in the salary cap era is nothing short of remarkable. If you had to pick one, who is your greatest coach of all time?
It would be Lombardi because I think his persona has had a greater and more lasting impact on the game than that of any other coach in the game's history. Lombardi defines the essence of the game, which is human confrontation. I'm not sure what Belichick defines. I don't think he wants to define anything other than winning and, frankly, quarterbacks define winning. Nearly all of the great coaches won their titles with one quarterback.
Nathan from New York, NY
The Eagles defense gets better when Carson Wentz gets injured, while the Packers defense gets worse (twice) when Aaron Rodgers gets injured. How do you explain that?
The Eagles defense has true headliners, led by Fletcher Cox, who I believe is right behind Aaron Donald among defensive tackles. That's not a scheme defense. The Eagles have the personnel to line up and whip you.
Steve from New Britain, CT
Did you agree with the review of the Lewis fumble? I didn't because at the instant his knee touched the ground, the ball was still pinned to his thigh and not loose or out of his control.
I'm OK with the call because the ball had moved, but I'm not OK with the wimpy "call stands" ruling by Al Riveron; I'm assuming it was his ruling. The replay provided a perfect view of the ball, Lewis' grasp of it, his knee and the ground. Come on, Al, it's got to be either reversed or confirmed, not stands.
Dan from Madison, WI
How did Minnesota's defense get beat so bad?
It ate the pizza. I thought the Jaguars defense did, too.
Brandon from Jacksonville Beach, FL
Vic, please explain how Bouye interfered with Cooks running out of bounds of his own volition.
There was too much contact by Bouye. There is no more bump and run. Maybe the call should've been illegal contact. Either way, the Jaguars secondary allowed 310 yards passing (gross) and collapsed at crunch time. No. 1 pass defense? It gave up 779 yards and seven touchdowns to the Steelers and Patriots combined. I think the Jaguars defense needs to stop talking and start playing.
Dan from Sebastopol, CA
Vic, which team impressed you the most Sunday?
Does Tom Brady count as a team? Where are the "it's Gronk, not Brady" people today? Brady wins with Gronk and without Gronk. Gronk is a Brady creation, just as Deion Branch was and Charlie Weiss was and maybe even Bill Belichick is. Brady is the greatest football player of all time. Take air out of the ball or put air in the ball; it doesn't matter. Stitches in his passing hand? No problem.
Ryan from Mukwonago, WI
Vic, just watched Coach Belichick's Friday press conference. He is pretty disrespectful to the media. I don't know how those guys even show up and ask questions, knowing what the responses are likely to be. Did Coach McCarthy, Coughlin or Noll ever behave like this?
I'm not a Bill Belichick fan for that reason. I was fortunate to grow up covering pro football when its coaches accepted their responsibility for promoting the game. Baseball was the national pastime back then, and football was the college game. Coach Noll tolerated me because he knew it was good for the game, and I am eternally grateful to him. Back then, coaches conducted something known as the "five o'clock" club, at which coaches and media enjoyed a late-day beer at training camp. Information was passed. A coach would say, "Keep an eye on the kid from Kansas; he's making a move." We developed relationships that lasted throughout our careers. Those days are gone. Now, coaches do everything they can to avoid the media. It's that way because pro football is so popular it doesn't need the every-day media anymore, only its TV partners. Coach Noll wasn't a tell-all kind of guy, but he'd throw out a nugget and then give you that look that let you know you just got something good. I remember covering a 1987 replacement players game in Atlanta. Mike Webster had crossed picket lines to play in the game, which shocked me. Away from other reporters, I asked Coach Noll why Mike would cross picket lines. Coach Noll explained Mike was retiring at the end of the season. He trusted I would use that information responsibly. As it turned out, Mike played on, which was an indication of his financial difficulties. Tom Coughlin always worked at being good with the media. I liked that about him. I think Mike McCarthy could be the best in the business at working with the media. He would've been a perfect fit in the "five o'clock club" era. I think it's unfortunate he feels a need to keep a distance from the media and maintain an edge in his press conferences. I guess it's a sign of the times. I like the old days better.
John from Logansport, IN
What are we doing for "Ask Vic Day" this year?
If I hosted an "Ask Vic Day" in the area under my house known as the party pavilion, ambulances would have to be parked on site to transport all the Wisconsin types who would succumb to the heat and bugs. The mosquitoes would thank me for such a delicious meal.
Dolly from Madison, WI
There are two good storytellers out there: Vic and Lt. Joe Kenda.
My first newspaper job was in a town just a few miles from where Kenda lived. It was a gritty coal-mining town, a most unlikely place to produce a TV star. I guess you find TV stars where you find TV stars.
Michael from Fernandina Beach, FL
It hurts, Vic.
Joy feels like heaven. When you hurt, you know you're alive.
Mark from Ventura, CA
Does the large number of underclassmen declaring for the 2018 draft create a drought of premier choices for the 2019 draft?
It's like bitcoin. Somebody's going to pay for this madness.
Alex from Brooklyn, NY
I haven't seen anybody else mention the salary cap advantage the Jaguars have. Can you tell me exactly what happened?
As a result of the uncapped year in 2010 and stripping the team for sale, the Jaguars got so far under the salary cap minimum it was impossible for them to quickly become cap compliant once the league had a new CBA in 2011. The league structured a long-term plan for the Jaguars to regain cap compliance; it involves two four-year bands (2013-16 and 2017-20). Effectively, the Jaguars have had and will continue to have more cap room and maneuverability in using it than the teams in the league that didn't salary dump in 2010. The proponents of cap spending tell you about Malik Jackson and A.J. Bouye, but they don't tell you about Toby Gerhart and Davon House. Most teams couldn't have signed Jackson and Bouye if they had signed Gerhart and House; there are other busts, too. What surprised me when this plan was announced is the Jaguars suffered no loss-of-draft-picks penalty for non-compliance.
Daniel from Los Angeles, CA
I respect your opinion very much on all things, but you're dead wrong about Blake Bortles. He is the Jaguars' future starting QB.
Will they continue playing scared, as they did when they took a knee with 55 seconds to play in the first half? That doesn't work in today's game.
Brad from Parker, CO
What personnel group would Coach Vic employ in the "Ketchman 0-0-11" defense? Is it all defensive backs or do you throw in a couple of wide receivers and linebackers for hands, size, etc.?
I employ my best defenders and tacklers. Hey, there were 10 seconds left to play and the Vikings were out of times out. Why were the Saints rushing Keenum? You don't want to rush him. You want him to take his time, right? I can't help but think of George Perles, who was fond of saying, "That's why MIT doesn't have a football team." These days, MIT has a football team. What does that say about MIT?
Pete from Minneapolis, MN
Nick Foles is lighting it up. What do you make of his plight?
He has the size and skill set to be "The Man." So what's holding him back? If I needed a quarterback, I'd take a long, hard look at Foles. Is there any chance he's a late bloomer?
Steve from Pueblo, CO
Vic, wanted to say thank you for your “memories make us rich” line. I was terminated at my job last week. I just got back from taking my lovely nieces to the park. I have struggled with feelings of worthlessness and being a complete failure. Then I thought about that line and realized I will not be defined by a job, an extremely stressful one at that. I have my health, my faith and my family to get through this. But what makes me most happy is I have some time to make memories with my family. Thanks for sharing with us your memories.
Be thankful you have bootstraps. Pity the poor people who don't.
Sam from Jacksonville, FL
Do Patriots fans realize how good they've had it? I can't wait for the day Tom Brady retires so New England fans can finally feel the hurt I've felt for the last 10 years.
No, they think it's Belichick or Kraft or the will that is the great spirit of New England. One day, age will claim Brady's career, and Boston will go back to being the bad football town it always was.
Eric from Appleton, WI
Was Mark Brunell ever "The Man" in Jacksonville? If so, when was he no longer "The Man?"
He had the talent, the stats and the contract befitting "The Man." In 1996, he was a star. He's the best scrambler I've ever covered. He was better than Steve Young. Then came a knee injury in the following year's preseason. Mark was never the same again. He continued to develop his skills as a pocket passer, but the big-play scramble he used to upset the Broncos in the 1996 playoffs was by and large gone. Mark was "The Man" until the Jaguars drafted Byron Leftwich in 2003. I think Mark's career at the top was greatly shortened by the knee injury.
Frank from Prosper, TX
Does CBS pay Romo by the word? I am forced to watch with the sound off.
No network could afford to pay "Chatty" by the word. By the way, what was with the Todd Wash obsession yesterday? "He has great schemes," Chatty kept saying. Hey, Chatty, those great schemes gave up 552 yards and six touchdowns last week, and played ole with the game on the line yesterday.
Reese from Wappingers Falls, NY
Why are some successful college coaches such flops when they move to the pros, such as Dan Devine, Lou Holtz, Steve Spurrier and Nick Saban, while others like Jimmy Johnson, Tom Coughlin, Don Coryell and Pete Carroll have such successful pro coaching careers?
Bud Wilkinson, Tommy Prothro, John Robinson, Bob Petrino, Butch Davis and Chip Kelly were also flops. Why so many flops? Because there have to be losers. The inverse draft order system demands it. You can't recruit your players. You have to get in line and pick your players. That's the difference.
Brian from Yakima, WA
Is Tomlin guilty of allowing his team to look forward to a Patriots rematch?
In my opinion, Tomlin is guilty of not having done enough to cope with the loss of Ryan Shazier. Move Watt inside and play Harrison at his regular spot. Play a four-man front with Alualu at defensive tackle in a gap-control look. Bring Sean Davis down in a Polamalu-type role. Do something! Tomlin did nothing.
Lee from Marshfield, WI
How many players do you think it will take to really turn around the Packers defense?
One great player can do it; two will do it for sure. Dom Capers got the one great player he needed when the Packers drafted Clay Matthews, but Capers never got another one.
Tanner from Hilbert, WI
The Jaguars won. Will that game plan work on the mighty Patriots or will they have to change up their game plan?
At this point in the season, game plans don't change much. You do what you do best. The Jags' game plan will be built on running the ball and rushing the passer. The Patriots' game plan will be built on a possession passing attack featuring Brady and Gronkowski. At this point in the season, it's not about the plan, it's about executing it. Plays win early, players win late.
Matt from McNaughton (hometown and state, please)
I’m glad they made it the first amendment, too. Philosophy aside, it really must suck not to have it.
Imagine living in a country where a reporter is afraid to report the truth because he might be required to prove it to avoid being sued for libel. It could require him to divulge his sources, which he couldn't do or he'd have to find a new career. That's a system ripe for corruption. I don't want to live in that country.
Jeff from Miami, FL
The Steelers and Packers have picked first-round defensive players with almost equal frequency over the last several years, but the defensive stats don't match. What do you see as the major difference?
The stats? Did you like what you saw this past Sunday? How about the way that Steelers defense played against the Packers? You want that in Green Bay? The Steelers are guilty of the same sin for which the Packers and Seahawks are guilty: too much winning. The inverse draft order got all three.
Kevin from Greenacres, WA
Vic, I normally agree with you about free agency and it usually being a big expensive risk without dependable returns, however, if the Chiefs are intent on moving away from Smith, would you pursue him as the Browns' GM?
Alex Smith isn't a free agent. He'd have to be acquired in a trade, and the Browns certainly have the picks to get a deal done. The Browns need to get a guy for now and draft a guy for later. I suspect that's what they'll do. I'd do it, too.
Pat from Seneca, SC
Do you think the last play of the Vikings-Saints game would have been a good time to use the "Ketchman 0-0-11" defense?
It was the perfect time. Three defenders down each sideline and five across the 20. The old pincher move, right? One day, somebody's gonna use it.
Jerry from DesMoines, IA
Vic, do Coach McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers have a good working relationship? Does coach push the right buttons to get the best out of A-Rod the way Coach Noll did for Bradshaw? It seems that way to me, but I'm wondering if you have insight to share.
McCarthy-Rodgers is similar to Noll-Bradshaw, Landry-Staubach and Brown-Graham. They each were respectful and sucessful, and each relationship had an edge to it. I did an interview with Otto Graham in which he told me he nearly went after Paul Brown on the sideline one day when Brown intentionally spoke loud enough for Graham to hear Brown question Graham's pocket courage. Terry Bradshaw told me he intentionally played his guitar with his dormitory room door open when Chuck Noll was taking his post-lunch nap in his room directly across the hall. Roger Staubach asked to be traded if Tom Landry didn't stop using the two-quarterback system. Remember McCarthy and Rodgers in Cincinnati? Edge is good. Happy is bad. It's an edge game.
Lee from Marshfield, WI
Vic, do the Vikings have their starting 2018 QB on their current roster?
Yes, and he's Case Keenum, but will Keenum be the starter in 2019? That's the issue.
Tony from the United States (hometown and state, please.
How would you handle the Jags' QB situation this offseason?
I don't think Bortles is the future. Jimmy Garoppolo, Drew Brees and Kirk Cousins are scheduled to become free agents. The 49ers will almost certainly franchise Garoppolo (if they don't sign him), but the Jaguars are so flush with cap room they could cause the 49ers to use the exclusive franchise tag on Garoppolo. Brees' contract forbids the Saints to franchise him, so he might be in play for the Jags. Cousins would fit well with the Jags. I don't like free agency, but the two four-year bands cap exemption the league gave the Jags makes the Jags' salary cap a unique situation. They have so much cap room they can't screw it up. Just spend, baby.
Dave from Savage, MN
I'm not a big don't-get-enough-credit" guy, but we don't seem to hear much about the two Dougs, Pederson and Marrone. Do you have any stories? Opinions?
I don't know Pederson but I think he's a real talent. I am greatly impressed with what he's done in Philadelphia. The only story I have on Marrone is he was an undrafted free agent lineman when I was a young reporter covering the Steelers. I love his sideline calm.
Gary from Hatley, WI
Vic, how much of an impact do you think Tom Coughlin has had on bringing the Jaguars back to relevance?
I think I wrote in my column last spring Coughlin would be the story of the year. Well, he's certainly one of them. He made a big difference, but the real difference-maker in Jacksonville was and still is their salary cap situation. Coughlin saw it. When he took the job, he not only was going back home, he was going to the best situation in the league.
Chris from Jacksonville, FL
Seemed like A.J. Buoye held on multiple plays without a penalty against the Steelers. It didn’t seem to make a difference, but did you notice it, too? What were your thoughts on the officiating?
The Jaguars secondary got away with murder but, you're right, it didn't seem to make a difference. Everyone's talking about that great Jaguars defense. Well, where was it on Sunday? Ben Roethlisberger trashed that defense. He became the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era -- that's more than 50 years -- to pass for over 400 yards (469) and five touchdown passes in a postseason game. Both corners were clobbered.
Alison from Aurora, IL
I have the flu and I am running out of things to do while quarantined in bed. So, I've decided to re-watch the NFC championship game from 2014 for the first time. Why am I doing this to myself?
Obviously, you believe in the Ketchman theory of maximum pain.
Don from Colorado Springs, CO
Isn't it great to be able to give your own truthful opinion as an independent, rather than being scrutinized or even fired by a team employing you? It is quite obvious about your opinions since leaving Green Bay. Personally, I wish I had become my own boss at a much earlier time. Do you ever wish you had done this sooner?
No, because I had to pay the bills. You know what I mean? The need to earn money requires a degree of compromise. At packers.com, that meant I had to be mindful of bulletin board material. I never misled my readers, but I had to be careful of my comments about the opposition. Now, I can write anything I want.
Bob from Australia
Case Keenum might not be "The Man," Vic, but he most certainly is "The Story." Why can't you bring yourself to root for it, even from a journalistic point of view?
You want me to help you tickle yourself, huh?
Sean from Helena, MT
Maybe you can create some merchandise for us all to purchase, and donate the funds to a charity that is close to your heart?
That's a great idea. The charity would get the money and I'd get the tax deduction.
Sam from Jacksonville, FL
Jaguars versus Patriots, baby! You better slap up a power ranking with an asterisk, Vic. It was the missing piece to our '07 run. Don't cave in to the wolves this time around!
OK, here it is. *Needed Al Riveron in three games.
Karl from Albuquerque, NM
Vic, you indicate the loss of Shazier was the end for the Steelers because the ILB in the Steelers' 3-4 is an important and premium position. In the past, you have indicated the ILB spot for the Packers is not such a premium position (at least in Capers' 3-4). What's the difference between the two?
The Packers took their inside linebackers off the field on passing downs. I remember A.J. Hawk playing something like two snaps against Philadelphia. The Steelers leave at least one of their inside linebackers on the field for all downs. If they didn't, they couldn't run their cross-dog blitz.
Leif from Saint Croix Falls, WI
Vic, between Tomlin's inability to get his team to play vs. inferior teams, the rift between Haley and Roethlisberger, and Butler's dismal performance vs. Blake Bortles, do you believe any of the Steelers coaching staff is on the hot seat?
Todd Haley's contract expired. He's gone. It was expected and I don't think it created positive vibes down the stretch. As for Mike Tomlin, he's getting a lot of heat for clock management -- Chuck Noll is the best coach I've ever covered and also the worst clock-management coach I've ever covered -- but my criticism of him is for a failure to cope with the loss of Ryan Shazier. Tomlin is a defensive guy, so I won't pass this off onto Keith Butler. Hot seat? No way. Tomlin is a forceful leader. Nobody challenges his players as Tomlin does. He has the ability to be demanding and not lose his players' respect. I think he regrets not being more creative following the loss of Shazier, but the rest is just whiney fan stuff. The Steelers peaked in their win in Cincinnati. It was all downhill after that.
John from Brandon, SD
No question, just glad to have you back!
No answer, just glad to have so many readers and great questions. Weebly.com provides me with daily reports on unique visitors and page views. The numbers are beyond my wildest expectations -- I really didn't have any. Thanks.
Jonathan from Saint Joseph, MO
I think the Jags have a good chance to beat the Pats. Rush four and cover (with seven). Giants used the same recipe to beat the Pats in two Super Bowls. Plus, they have a linebacker who can cover Gronk and limit big plays. No?
You got it. Now they have to do it. Plans are only as good as their execution. That plan didn't work in Pittsburgh. The Jaguars defense was awful. The Jags won that game because its offensive line kicked the Steelers' ass.
Austin from Denver, CO
Vic, of the four teams still in the playoffs, three of the QBs are Blake Bortles, Nick Foles and Case Keenum. Are we moving away from seeing the quarterback have to be "The Man?" I would say that three-quarters of the conference championship games sure make it seem like we are, or is this just an anomaly?
You want to try it again with Brett Hundley?
Neil from Cheddar, UK
Can the Vikings be the first to host and play in a Super Bowl?
Yes, they have the defense to do it. I won't root against them, but I don't like the idea of a team having homefield advantage for the Super Bowl. I covered Super Bowl XIV. It wasn't homefield but it certainly was a hometown advantage.
Brad from Jacksonville, FL
I was 10 and sitting even with the north end zone goal post when Morten Andersen missed that kick for the Jaguars' miracle run. The feeling in that stadium that day was when I fell in love with football. I have been an avid fan since then. On an odd day, Jacksonville allowed 42 points to Pittsburgh but still managed a win. You win how you win, but after all the years of being terrible, this feels like something special growing.
Revel in it. Chortle until your brains fall out. After all of the years of epoch losing you've had to endure, you deserve to celebrate, and I think you should take advantage of every second of celebration available to you this week before the next game. By the way, I was standing on the field just to the side of the left upright when Andersen missed.
Jim from Morrison, CO
Looks like Case Keenum is "The Man," Vic. How does it feel to be wrong?
Really? Because he completed a desperation pass that won the game? If the defender had wrapped his arms around the receiver and held him inbounds, the clock would've expired. Prior to that pass, Keenum had thrown for no touchdowns, one interception and a 71 passer rating. He is not "The Man," and the Vikings face the same dangerous decision on him the Jaguars are facing on Blake Bortles. Winning in the postseason could be costly for both franchises. The issue is: Will the Vikings pay Keenum as they would "The Man?" That's a tough one because you're talking about a longterm commitment. In my opinion, if the Vikings do that, they'll open the door for the other three teams in the NFC North.
Bill from Sheboygan, WI
What are your thoughts on the Saints-Vikings game?
My first thought is how painful it has to be for Saints fans. How could a great athlete completely whiff on the tackle as the defender did? When it hurts this bad -- Packers fans certainly know the feeling -- I'm not sure football is worth the emotional investment. The poor people in New Orleans don't deserve this heartache.
Simon from New York, NY
What are your favorite/least favorite personality traits in a person, football player, coach? Have those preferences changed since retirement?
Genuineness/insincerity, aggressiveness/softness, dignity/disloyalty. I'm more sure than ever before of what I like and don't like in people. The bottom line is I like virtue, as defined by the roles in which we're cast.
David from San Francisco, CA
We've seen the Jaguars improve with the free-agent signings of Calais Campbell, A.J. Bouye and Barry Church. As they continue their search to pay "The Man," how can this team remain competitive in future seasons and maintain financial stability?
The quarterback position will define the Jaguars' future. I don't think Blake Bortles is the future. The Jaguars are the result of a unique situation. That team isn't just about high picks and free-agent signings, it's about the uncapped year in 2010 and stripping the team for sale, which left the Jaguars so horribly beneath the cap floor the league had to give them an exemption from the cap minimum and allow them to recover in stages. I thought it was unfair and the Jaguars should've lost draft picks for noncompliance, but nobody complained because the Jaguars were horribly uncompetitive and irrelevant. As a result, the Jaguars were able to take an ultra-aggressive posture in free agency. They were so flush with cap room they didn't have to worry about their free-agent misses, and they had plenty of them. They still have room to spend. It's almost as though they were reborn as an expansion franchise. They are not a realistic model.
Jerry from Savannah, GA
"We must kick the extra point to finalize the game." Succinct and to the point. Steratore is a classic.
I love him. "There's no flag on the play." He didn't explain why there was no flag or for what there was no flag, there's just no flag. Deal with it.
Jonathan from Saint Joseph (folks, please include the state)
Has Tony Romo turned into a typical fan? In the Titans/Pats game he said the Titans need to run the ball to surprise the Pats on a third-and-three. Then, when they throw it to convert a first down, he says “no one knows the Titans run the ball more on third-and-short except Bellichick, and he stacked the box."
He talks too much and he was at his worst on Saturday. I watched Saturday's games with friends, which is kind of a first for me. I prefer to watch in silence and study the game as it unfolds. I guess I was being new, and I liked it. It helped me ignore "Chatty Cathy." Be that as it may, I couldn't help but hear him exclaim pleadingly following one Titans play, "What are they doing?" He's a fan! He talks incessantly, even as the play is unfolding: "That motion caused the linebacker to move with the man in motion, which means it's man coverage, yada, yada," or "they're unbalanced to the left so he needs to change the play to run to the right." It's just too much. He's missing the drama in his obsession for being the great scheme explainer. The Titans were slowly but surely being outclassed by the Patriots. Say that! That was the story.
Jake from Knoxville, TN
What did you think of Foles?
He did what the Eagles needed him to do, and that'll work as long as the Eagles don't need him to do more. The day they need him to be a star, it's over. That's when you need "The Man."
Edward from Canton, SD
Are you more happy for the Jags or sad for the Steelers
Happy for the Jags. The Steelers didn't need to lose to the Patriots one more time. It was over for the Steelers the night they lost Ryan Shazier. Cris Collinsworth more or less explained that the following week in his analysis of why the Ravens were running roughshod on the Steelers defense. It's another example of why I think Collinsworth is the best. Inside linebacker is a critical position in the Steelers' 3-4 defense. Shazier is a star. James Farrior and Levon Kirkland were stars. The Steelers lost Lawrence Timmons in free agency, then Shazier to injury and his replacement to injury almost immediately. That defense was toast. I'm happy for the Jaguars and I was happy to see Shazier in good spirits on Sunday. The best feeling I'll get from this season will be from seeing that man walk again.
Tim from Durham, NC
The announcers spent the last few minutes criticizing the Steelers' decision-making and didn't feel like mentioning teams that give up 45 points don't usually win games. Where does the Pittsburgh defense go from here?
Baltimore ran the ball at will against the Steelers, and the Browns moved up and down the field on a defense that was resting only Cameron Heyward. The Steelers have to replace Shazier. It begins with that.
Oscar from Milwaukee, WI
Vic, congrats to the Jaguars on making the AFC title game, however, I am not completely sold on the Jags' defense. I saw a lot of missed tackles and a lot of unguarded receivers. Despite that, the defense is still highly ranked. How do I reconcile this discrepancy between rankings and my eye test?
The Steelers offense is exceptional. Ben Roethlisberger was indefatigable. He threw for 469 yards and five touchdowns, and that doesn't include an open-field lateral pass to Le'Veon Bell for a touchdown. Antonio Brown is better on one good leg than most receivers are on two. Bell is the king of multi-tasking. I think James Conner was a big loss. I think he was developing into their short-yardage pounder. The Jags defense kind of ate the pizza after the touchdown return. It really fell in love with itself, and it better fall out of love real fast because just ahead is the greatest quarterback of all time, Tom Brady.
Greg from Danbury, CT
Bortles performed very well. Well enough to take down Brady and Co.?
Bortles can't beat Brady. Fournette has to do it. Everything Bortles did against the Steelers was the result of the Steelers' fear of Fournette. I routinely saw eight guys in the box with a ninth guy inching up. Bortles could throw short over the middle because the inside linebackers didn't dare leave the line of scrimmage. For the Jaguars to win in New England, they must run the ball and rush the passer. Bill Belichick knows what he must prevent. So did Mike Tomlin, but he couldn't do it.
Tim from Sun Prairie, WI
Vic, any word on the expected strength of the 2018 draft class yet?
It's getting stronger with each underclassman declaring eligibility. There were several last week. College football is suffering from these defections. I remember when Woody Hayes said a team loses one game for every sophomore in its starting lineup. Back then, freshmen weren't elgible. That changed in 1973 and now players are going pro after just two seasons in college football. Larry Fitzgerald and LeSean McCoy never got to their junior years, and they weren't redshirts. The ACC proposed interesting new redshirt rules last week, and I'm in favor of them. I'm in favor of anything that'll help college football retain its talent. Maybe college football needs to go back to freshmen being ineligible.
Clint from Boom Bay, WI
I was feeling we needed to bring in some AFC North blood to the defensive coordinator position, and I'm very excited about Pettine. Do you think he can bring the same edge to our defense Zimmer has to Minnesota?
It's a good thought. The Packers need some AFC North blood. They need that kind of nastiness. Mike Zimmer has brought the AFC North to the NFC North and that style of play is going to intensify. Mike Pettine will be looking for AFC North-type players in the draft.
David from Madison, WI
What do you think of the Big 10 scheduling games on Fridays?
It indicates to me a decline in high school football popularity within the conference's footprint, which saddens me.
Sean from Arlington Heights, IL
I have a lot of respect for what Mike Tomlin has accomplished as a coach, but kicking the onside kick with two timeouts and the two-minute warning left was a bad decision. Not using the timeouts before the two-minute warning was inexcusable.
He tried the onside kick because he had no confidence in his defense. He knew his defense couldn't stop the Jaguars. The Jaguars offensive line is bigger and stronger than the Steelers' defensive front, and Fournette is the new Earl Campbell. The only chance the Steelers had of winning the game was sending it into overtime, winning the coin toss and scoring a touchdown on their first possession. Do you remember what I wrote about the previous meeting between the two teams? Forget about the five interceptions and the long run at garbage time. It was the Jaguars' ability to run the ball off their own goal line and move the ball out to midfield at crunch time that resonated with me. That's the kind of physical dominance we saw again yesterday.
Andrew from Minneapolis, MN
Any plan to set up some merchandise for sale to pay the bandwidth bills? "Ask Vic" T-Shirts, hats and things?
I have no plans to monetize this site. My sole purpose for creating this site is to have a place to write the truth as I perceive it to be. If you don't like it, don't read it, but those who like it and read it will never have to pay for it.
Adam from Wausau, WI
I know you don't know what Twitter and Facebook are, but I know you're a big free speech guy. What are your thoughts on the recent revelation Twitter (a private company that lets you say whatever is on your mind whenever you want) is limiting certain kinds of speech they don't agree with? Just for the record, I love when you interject politics into your forum.
It's Twitter's site and it has the right to express itself as it wishes. If you don't like it, start your own site. What I'm against is any change in the first law of the mass media, that public figures are subject to public scrutiny. I recently listened to a lecture from a learned person on the Civil War media. I was most intrigued to know Sherman wanted to execute a New York Herald reporter for writing something Sherman didn't want written. The reporter's life was saved by his publisher, Horace Greeley, following a negotiation in which Sherman agreed not to execute the reporter provided reporters would henceforth include their names in their accounts. I guess that's how the byline was born. Imagine a nation that would execute a man for telling the truth. We truly are blessed by our freedom of speech laws, and they must never be compromised.
Blaine from Bagley, WI
Two games remain. Who are your picks for the Super Bowl?
New England and Philadelphia. Brady is nearly unbeatable, and the homefield will give the Eagles an advantage, especially in the cold against a dome team.
Robert from Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Vic, it was just like you said; the Jaguars ran the ball and rushed the passer. Seems retirement has made you sharper than ever.
It was obvious. Fans ignore the obvious because they like to tickle themselves.
Tim from Lancaster, PA
Can Brady hit the same throws as Roethlisberger at this age?
Absolutely! He's not as mobile in the pocket as he was, but his arm is still strong and accurate. He and Roethlisberger throw the deep ball as well as any quarterbacks I've ever seen.
Jon from Bloomfield, NJ
They called Telvin Smith for taunting after the play. It was clearly during the play and, to me, that's an important distinction.
I completely agree.
Peter from Benton City (wherever that is)
Did Mark Murphy just make himself the General Manager?
He gave himself oversight authority, which the president and CEO of any company should have. Football ops had been autonomous under the previous arrangement. It made decisions without requiring approval from above. Now, there's an above.
Ben from Chicago, IL
Vic, when personnel executives move to another team, the new team benefits from all the scouting that was done on the previous team's payroll. Seems a bit odd.
This is a rare year for personnel department moves immediately following the season. Those types of moves have traditionally occurred following the draft, for the obvious reason teams don't want to switch horses in the middle of the ride. Will this new way become a trend? I think it could if teams are going to treat GMs as disposably as they treat head coaches. I think you can chalk it up to the howl. In a lot of ways, the howl is running this league. Just howl, baby.
Andrew from Minneapolis, MN
The college football finale did not disappoint. Coach Saban decided to bench his two-time champion QB at halftime. The coach must know his team and players well to be confident with that move. The freshman QB gave a spark and showed his talent and poise on that stage. Whose performance was more impressive? Do you think this title would be a good place for Coach Saban to retire?
When you recruit as Coach Saban does, you can bench anybody you want at any time you want. The rumor is he wants to take another swing at the NFL. Maybe he's tired of winning.
Ben from Sioux Falls, SD
Vic, what's the inside story on this new hierarchy in Green Bay? You mentioned our new GM could bridge gaps between football and other departments in the organization. Can you help us perceive what some of these "silos" might be?
With completion of the new football facility construction, the football Packers moved into a fiefdom that would be off limits to the other departments within the Packers. Football parked in its own secure area, entered Lambeau Field through its own door and lived in such daily seclusion that someone working within the walls of Lambeau Field might never see a player or member of football operations. I found it to be an insulting and somewhat troubling separation. Why? Because it didn't fit with the friendly, small-town Packers image on which the franchise's fame had been built. I suspect Mark Murphy might be referring to that separation, certainly to its autonomous nature, when he speaks of "silos." The physical separation is going to continue, but I suspect Murphy's oversight will require approval on such matters as coaches' salaries, facility expenses, etc. Don't worry about the Packers going cheap on player salaries. The cap is the cap and the Packers spend to it, and they've never been a big cash over cap team, so I don't expect much to change in the way of player spending. It's all of the other spending that will be at issue. In all my years covering the NFL, I had never known a team with as many titles as the Packers have had in their personnel department. It was as though everybody got a title. Hey, those titles cost money.
Simon from New York, NY
He’s old enough to be my grandpa, but Terry Bradshaw seems like the most fun guy alive right now. Was he always this much fun or has he gotten better with age?
I always liked him because he never seemed to take himself or the game too seriously. Everybody got a scoop. It might not have been the truth, but you could put quotes on it and build a story around it. Some of his teammates thought he was full of baloney, except they didn't say baloney. Jack Ham wasn't a fan, and Jack is as honest and down to earth as any player I've ever covered. Jack Lambert just brushed Bradshaw aside as being some kind of comedy show. I have no doubt Lambert was thinking of Bradshaw when Lambert made his "put skirts on the quarterback" remark. Joe Greene loved Bradshaw. He knew the team couldn't win without him. I can remember often going to Joe's locker after a game and Joe's first remark was, "How'd you like our quarterback today?" Coach Noll knew Bradshaw wanted to be cajoled. Coach Noll also knew that would've been the worst thing for Bradshaw. Therein lies the rift between the two. Bradshaw wanted his coach's love, and his coach wouldn't give it. It reached a head in 1983 when Bradshaw missed nearly the entire season due to elbow surgery. Coach Noll didn't take injured players on road trips and he wasn't big on the player mentoring thing. Bradshaw made a comment that he'd like to be there for Cliff Stoudt to help him. Noll said, "If Terry can't play for us, Terry can't help us." I think I knew at that moment Coach Noll wouldn't be Bradshaw's Hall of Fame presenter, which he should've been. Yep, ol' Brad is a lot of fun. He sure wrote me a lot of good stories, and I'll always love him for it.
Karl from Albuquerque, NM
Vic, how much of a role do you think the wolves played in what's transpired in Green Bay?
As it pertained to Dom Capers, the howl couldn't be ignored any longer. The howl had become a distraction. Mike McCarthy had to make a change. The change is good for the Packers and it'll be good for Coach Capers. He needs to become new, too.
Nic from Milwaukee, WI
What can we expect from Mike Pettine? Do you have any stories about him?
Expect? Expect improvement. Don't worry about 3-4, 4-3, attack, bend but don't break or any other such schemes. Schemes aren't the problem. Coach Capers is the king of schemes. The Packers need better players and greater demands on them. As for Pettine, his father is a legendary Pa. high school football coach. Mike Pettine is off the Ravens tree, which is good, and my former radio partner in Jacksonville, Jeff Lageman, was Pettine's roommate at Virginia, which is completely meaningless but I thought I'd throw that in there.
Birky from Fennimore, WI
Without taking into account any current players on the roster, if you could build a defense from the ground up, would you prefer a 3-4 or a 4-3?
I continue to favor the 3-4 and for the same reasons: The pool of talent that fits in a 3-4 is deeper and more easily accessed in the draft than what is required by a 4-3, and the 3-4 allows for greater disguise of the rush and coverages.
Leif from Saint Croix Falls (wherever that is)
Vic, how would you handle the Le’Veon Bell contract situation this upcoming offseason?
I'd try to sign him, but I wouldn't damage my cap to do so. He's a great player but he's not my kind of back. I like pounders, and the Steelers already have one in James Conner.
Reed from Wisconsin
I really, really liked you on packers.com. I love you here. Thanks for letting loose as you promised.
I ain't savin' it for the prom anymore, coach.
Sean from Chaska, MN
Keenum's not "The Man?" He's an MVP candidate! Came to them on wings of angels, practically paid in pennies, and could very well give the Vikings a Super Bowl win with his high impact and low price. Other than financial footprint, what quality of being "The Man" does he lack?
I think you're going to get an answer to your question this weekend.
Jon from Bloomfield, NJ
Vic, I love the Packers, but what our fans need is a good decade of losing to remind them what it's like. The howling is giving me tinnitus.
I kept going to the door but nobody was there. All of a sudden, the doorbell stopped ringing.
Carl from Mount Horeb, WI
Does a front office shakeup have a direct impact on the part of the operation where you used to work? Or do things pretty much stay the same if you aren't working directly for a coach or the GM?
As Coach Noll would say, "Nobody knows."
Donovan from Crestline, CA
I know I don't have to tell you but I'll say it anyway: Don't let others tell you what to write. Keep writing about politics or whatever the hell you want. Just keep doing what you're doing.
I bought the domain name, I bought the LLC and I pay the monthly site charges. I run the show and the howl means nothing to me. This is where I revel in being a citizen of this great country and exercise the most wonderful freedom the world has ever known. If somebody doesn't like what I write, then they may do as that infamous Schenley High School cheer suggested: "Get your hat, your coat and get the heck out," except they didn't say heck.
Doug from Evergreen, CO
Mark Murphy all of a sudden is the man.
I think that's a little over the top. He's suddenly what he should've been all along. He's the president and CEO! If Murphy is responsible for the Packers' bottom line, shouldn't he have some say in how money is spent? He's one of the most personable and intelligent football people I have ever known. This should've happened long ago.
Tanner from Hilbert, WI
Jacksonville vs Pittsburgh: What key things does each team need to do to win?
The Jaguars need to run the ball and rush the quarterback. The Steelers need to stop the run and protect the quarterback. That's the confrontation. It'll decide the outcome.
Ben from Chicago, IL
Vic, I follow the perspective that picking at the back of the round for multiple years leads to a lower quality roster. How do the Patriots do it? What is the Belichick way?
All right, let's do it again. They have Tom Brady. He's the greatest quarterback who has ever lived. He tilts the field. He negates deficiencies. He has given the Patriots an advantage no team has ever enjoyed for as long as the Patriots have enjoyed it. It begins with him, as evidenced by the fact Coach Belichick was 5-13 and on his way to being fired when he made Brady his starting quarterback. To Belichick's credit, he saw the greatness when everyone else was criticizing him for not reinstating Drew Bledsoe as the starter when he returned to health. Belichick is a great coach. I don't like his "gamesmanship" ways, but he is an absolutely sensational football coach. With Brady as his quarterback, Belichick has kept the Patriots on top by getting what they can out of the draft, and then patching in affordable free agency. Dion Lewis is a reject, and look what the Patriots are getting out of him. How about Lawrence Guy, a Packers seventh-round pick in 2011? He's on his fifth team and he's playing at a very high level. Nobody patches as the Patriots do.
Joe from Germantown, TN
Jags or Steelers?
I don't put any stock in the five interceptions or the long run at garbage time in the previous meeting between the two teams. What I remember is a point in that game when the Jaguars were backed up against their goal line and ran the ball out to midfield to help clinch the win, and the Steelers had Ryan Shazier back then. That drive resonates with me and that's why I'm picking the Jaguars. Making matters worse for the Steelers is they don't have Shazier now, and their defense is showing the effects of it. The Browns moved up and down the field.
Tim from Jacksonville, FL
Do you have a story from the Jaguars victory over the Steelers in the '07 playoffs?
The Steelers were horribly decimated by injury for that game and the Jaguars were the better team. The following week, the Jaguars lost in New England, a game the Jaguars would've won if Dennis Northcutt and Matt Jones hadn't each dropped what should've been touchdown passes. I firmly believed the Jaguars were the better team in that game, too. It might be '07 all over again.
Mike from North Hudson, WI
Vic, Jaguars at Pittsburgh, you have any mixed emotions?
Of course I do. I lived in both places and covered both teams. I love each place and each team. I'll be happy for one and sad for the other.
Tim from Sun Prairie, WI
Vic, the Packers can't pay all their WRs. Do they part with Nelson or Cobb? Is Montgomery a slot WR after all?
You're not thinking new. You're perseverating over what's old. The Packers need to get younger and faster at wide receiver. The concern should be for adding players, not retaining them. I'm not being disrespectful. That's just the way it is in the NFL. It's a game of replacement.
Robert from Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Vic, I don't like reaching for accolades but if Jacksonville's defense carries the team to a Super Bowl in the same fashion it carried them to a win yesterday, should they be considered among the all-time great defenses?
Why wait? Overreaction is all around us. I am officially proclaiming "Sacksonville" to be the greatest defense in the history of the world.
Ben from Hilo, HI
What surprised you most during the wild-card weekend?
I guess I was most surprised by the Chiefs' collapse, but I don't know why. Andy Reid's Chiefs teams bear a strong resemblance to his Eagles teams, soft.
Leif from Saint Croix Falls, WI
Vic, what are your thoughts on Ben Roethlisberger and his odds of retiring after the season ends?
During the first half of the Indianapolis game, he looked old and I felt strongly I was seeing him playing in his final season. Then, in the fourth quarter, he caught fire. He moved his offense up and down the field, rallied for the win and, in the process, looked young again, and it's been that way ever since. I'm not sure about his future now. After a 14-season career in which the quarterback protections often weren't applied to him, I could certainly understand why he would consider retirement, but I'm not seeing anything in his game that suggests eroding skills. Be that as it may, the Steelers need to draft a quarterback high.
Darren from Chicago, IL
You've stated several times before that Mike McCarthy is a leader of men. Considering all the coaching changes at (the Packers) and around the league, how high on your priority list is that trait and how hard is it to find it among candidates? And thanks for continuing your work!
It's never been more important and we're seeing evidence of that right now as it pertains to the Packers. When I first suggested the Packers need to become new, there was outrage in my inbox. What do you mean, they stormed? Aaron Rodgers will recover. He'll be back and everything will be fine again, they said. Darren, I've lived a football life, and it was easy for me to see what was going to happen with the Packers, and the best news for Packers fans is they have a coach who also sees it and isn't afraid to do what needs to be done. Change is everywhere. It's in coaching and personnel, and it'll extend to the roster, where I think change is most important. Coach McCarthy is a leader of men. He knows what needs to be done and he won't rest until it's accomplished. A new GM is in place. I believe Brian Gutkekunst is the right man for the job, and it's believed he shares Coach McCarthy's vision for what needs to happen for the Packers to begin a new run. Soon, we'll begin getting a feel for what that vision is.
Randy from Medicine Hat, AB
Towards the end of the first quarter in the Jaguars/Bills game ... Tony Romo said "we are in for a good, old-fashioned field position game." Amazingly, that was what I was thinking at that very moment.
Romo says many things. He's the "Chatty Cathy" of TV football analysts. After the Bills failed to draw the Jaguars offsides and called a time out before the play clock expired, Romo said the Bills should've taken the delay of game penalty and saved the timeout, since five yards would've been meaningless in the field goal attempt. Then, before the ball could be snapped for the field goal attempt, the Jaguars jumped offsides, giving the Bills first and goal. I guess that's why you call timeout, Romo should've said, but he never did.
Michael from Fernandina Beach, FL
What do you think the Jags' chances are next week at Pittsburgh?
In all sincerity, the Jaguars have a defense that can beat anybody. I don't think "Sacksonville" deserves to be mentioned, yet, with the great defenses of all time, but it's good, real good.
Jesse from Bethlehem, PA
Can you tell us anything about Brian Gutekunst? Should Packers fans be excited about this?
I love him. He's a great scout and a wonderfully personable football man. He's dynamite in press conferences and he'll help bridge gaps between football and the other departments within the Packers. He's just what the Packers need.
Bryan from Springfield, WI
Is picking the picker a crystal ball business?
It absolutely is because you never know how a picker will pick until he's on the clock.
Roger from Auburn, CA
Vic, if the Packers GM position is such an attractive position, why would the Packers promote an internal candidate when the past several drafts have left us with a mediocre talent base?
I can't get it across, can I? Roger, in my opinion, the Packers' extended run at the bottom of the draft order weakened the team's roster. Gutekunst won't have that problem this year, and it might not be a problem for a few years.
Adam from Wausau, WI
I saw the NFL ratings were down almost 10 percent. How will this affect the cap going forward?
Ratings don't affect the salary cap unless they result in a less lucrative TV contract. The cap is determined by revenue.
Chris from Bozeman, MT
I'm curious what you think it means when someone says "the Packers' way"? You really only hear this in reference to teams like GB, NE and Pitt. To me, it's a little smug. All teams place value on an opera non verba philosophy.
A little smug? For those of you who weren't required to take Latin, "opera non verba" means "actions, not words." The only reason I know the meaning is because Tom Coughlin hung a sign in the hallway with those words on it. He was real proud of it, in an altar boy sort of way, and he asked me, "How do you like the sign?" I told him I didn't know what it meant. "I thought you went to Catholic school," he said. "It was an elementary school, not a seminary," I said. I don't think the sign was a big hit with the players. As for the Packers' way, the Patriots' way, the Steelers' way, it's a smug way of saying draft Rodgers, draft Brady, draft Roethlisberger. Players, not ways.
Bob from Green Bay, WI
If the President proposed eliminating professional sports to combat global warming, I'll bet you would have a different take on the subject.
Reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere offends you? I think we need to have an open mind on this issue, because a lot of people live on the water's edge and if they have to move in mass, everybody is going to suffer. I'm being asked to avoid political discussions. This has nothing to do with politics. Those who think it does are the problem.
Mark from Nashville, TN
What are some of your all-time favorite responses from news conferences?
When Chuck Noll would get questioned about play-calling, he'd say, "What you're really asking me is why didn't we win?" Chuck had many ways of getting his message across with succinct use of words. For example, when Chuck found himself having to repeatedly answer the question about when a player would be recovered from injury and able to play, Chuck might answer, "Nobody knows." If you were the subject of a "nobody knows" answer, it was time for you to get healthy. My all-time favorite draft-day response in a press conference comes from Tom Coughlin, who can be very diplomatic in choosing his words when the occasion demands. Following the selection of a player who had been suspended by the university for his part in a dormitory fire, Coughlin said, "Now, we all know the unfortunate story about a dormitory room and an incendiary device."
Jonathan from Saint Joseph, MO
Is this a do or die year for Coach McCarthy?
Why do fans love to fire the coach? As the Titans were in the process of rallying for one of the great wins in franchise history on Saturday, Pro Football Talk was posting a story proclaiming Mike Mularkey might be the next to go. Mularkey is the coach of a team that won three games just two years ago. He's reversed the fortunes of the franchise, yet, as the Titans were rallying for one of their greatest victories, Mularkey was on the hot seat. It's Nutsville, but it's what the fans want so the media and the owners play to it. The wolves are in control. Just howl, baby.
Steve from Phoenix, AZ
I'm a Badgers fan. I watched the first round of the playoffs. I hate to say it but I don't think Wisconsin could have effectively competed with the all-around speed and depth I saw on the field. I think things worked out very well for them this year.
Wisconsin played a horribly weak regular-season schedule, lost to a non-playoff team in the Big 10 title game, and then beat a Miami team that finished its season with three consecutive losses, two of them by wide margins. Still, the record looks great, and Wisconsin has an opportunity to use their 2017 fame to recruiting advantage. That's what has to happen for Wisconsin to go to the next level; it must recruit better. It's a good three-star program, but Ohio State and Penn State are recruiting at a higher level.
Les from Oshkosh, WI
It would appear your 1/1 response to Brandon about putting Edgar Bennett and everyone else on the hot seat wasn't an overreaction. I am disappointed he was dismissed so quickly while the head coach was given a year extension covertly in October.
Edgar is a top coach and he will grow from this experience. His situation is nearly identical to Tony Dungy's. Tony became Steelers defensive coordinator at a young age but faced a demotion following a terrible season in 1988. Rather than accept the demotion to defensive backs coach, he took the same position in Kansas City. His career quickly blossomed. I believe the same will happen to Edgar. Just as Tony had spent too much time in Pittsburgh, as a player and then as a coach, Edgar had spent too much time in Green Bay. You can get stale when you stay in one place too long. With this, Edgar will begin to move. There are 32 teams in this league.
Curt from Pennsylvania
Vic, I’m just curious. Take yourself back in time to just before the first Packers-Vikings game, when the Packers had only one loss and, of course, not knowing all the subsequent injuries to come, what were your expectations of the Packers' season at that point.
My expectation was Aaron Rodgers would camouflage the roster's deficiencies and take the Packers into the playoffs.
Chuck from Madison, WI
Vic, glad to find you again! What is your opinion of Damarius Randall, his play, his on-field demeanor, his recent comments about teammates not being held accountable?
The more he popped off, the better he played. I can live with that. Deeds, not words, right?
Chris from Lexington, KY
I'd like to hear your take on Clinton-Dix's comments.
He didn't have a great season. The words ring a little hollow.
Derek from LaCrosse, WI
What is your favorite Ted Thompson story?
I don't have one. That's kind of sad.
Mike from McFarland, WI
Would Hundley's value in this league be higher right now if he hadn't played this year? Is mystery and hype more appealing to a team than knowing?
Gary Cuozzo, huh? Chico Ruiz said, "Bench me or trade me."
Jerry from Savannah, GA
Vic, why do teams have to grant permission before certain interviews are allowed? Seems a bit communistic.
College football should be so communistic. If it was, it wouldn't bear the embarrassment of the coach of one team coaching another team.
Dan from Michigan
How much of the Patriots dynasty is due to a weakness of the AFC? It seems like every year they have a bye and their first playoff game is against a team that isn’t playoff caliber. If the Packers received two byes every year for the last eight years, I think we’d have more than one Super Bowl as well.
What would you say about the Packers' road to the Super Bowl in 2010? Jay Cutler and the Bears in the NFC title game, and Todd Collins and somebody named Mr. Hanie played most of the game? Packers fans need to see the Packers through the same eyes they view the rest of the league.
Ben from El Paso, TX
What if Mariota loses possession before the ball breaks the plane and tumbles into the pylon, incomplete or fumble?
Al Riveron would've burst into flames. Seriously, that's a great question. Mariota wasn't going to the ground to make the catch, so my guess is he wouldn't have had to survive the ground, which would've made losing the ball into the pylon a touchback. That's my take on it, but you never know about Riveron. Also, if I'm Mike Mularkey, I use that play as an example to my players to not use the pylon when you can use the goal line.
Steve from Natrona Heights, PA
Who do you like next week in the Pittsburgh/Jacksonville game?
I like Natrona Heights, because it's my hometown.
Fabrizio from Cuneo, Italy
Vic, do you think Case Keenum has earned a starting job for next year? I don't know why but I like his grit and I'm happy for this season of his.
He's not "The Man" and he'll never be "The Man" because he neither has the skill set nor the financial commitment to justify it. Even if he takes the Vikings all the way, he'll continue to play on the edge of being replaced as the starter. What he's achieved this year is longevity in the league. He's going to play in this league for a long time because as backups/starters go, he's "The Man."
Aaron from Wausau, WI
How important is a GM in relation to the rest of the personnel department? Have you seen any that were the difference-maker in the success of their organizations?
The GM is the picker, and the picker is the most important person in the franchise. You can have the best board in the league, but if you don't know how to massage it and pick from it, they're just names on a wall.
Paul from Cumming, GA
How did you enjoy the Rose Bowl?
That's not my kind of football. I don't like 102 points and well over a thousand yards of offense. It's not Georgia's fault. They play the right way, and eventually the best team and the best way of playing won. With apologies to TCU, which plays football the right way, the Big 12 plays soft and cheesy football. It's all scheme, and schemes work great until a real team sees them for the third or fourth time, and then they stop working. Schemes win early; players win late. That's what happened on Monday night. I was delighted for my friend Mel Tucker.
Greg from Danbury, CT
Do you still think the incoming GM goes for a No. 2 guy in the first round? The Insiders seem to think A-Rod will be around long enough.
We are so far from that kind of decision it doesn't make sense to even talk about it. Everything is open to change right now, and it'll stay that way until a new person is hired. I think we start with this: The Packers need a new GM and Aaron Rodgers needs a new contract. Packers fans know this drill. We wait.
Ben from El Paso, TX
What do you think really happened with Martellus Bennett? I don't buy the doctor story.
The Packers got conned. Welcome to high-priced free agency.
Joe from Minneapolis, MN
Do you think Monday's events indicate the Packers are tired of winning?
Monday's events indicate the Packers think it's time to be new.
Betty from Flagstaff, AZ
Vic, am I being too wild and crazy pondering the possibility of Mike Holmgren coming back to Green Bay as GM?
Betty, I said it's time to be new, not prehistoric.
Lupe from Minneapolis, MN
Is the relationship between senior adviser to football operations and GM similar to Vito advising Michael after Vito went into semi-retirement?
It's more like Tom Hagen advising Michael after the family moved its operations to Las Vegas.
Joel from Laramie, WY
Vic, we know how you felt about Mr. Capers and Thompson, however, you're given the keys to finding their very big shoes to fill, who is on your short list for each position?
There is no short list for GM. Right now, it needs to be a very long list. The search should be exhaustive and the process should be time-consuming. As for defensive coordinator, I get the feeling someone from within needs to be promoted. Reportedly, Mike McCarthy had a year added to his contract, which now runs through 2019. Assistant coaches' contracts are usually concurrent with the head coach's; new assistants usually don't get deals with more years on them than the head coach has. Where are you going to find a top guy who'll work on a two-year deal? I love Joe Whitt. I think he's ready to be a coordinator and he might be the next Mike Tomlin. He'd be at the top of my short list.
Greg from Cuenca, Ecuador
Vic, the Packers purge has begun. What is it like around the business offices when this happens? Is everyone on edge, including secretaries? Is there just a sense of resignation and acceptance? Is there any good way to transition?
Somebody almost always gets hurt when change occurs. It's the way of life in the NFL. For the fans, it's a game. They're entertained by the real-life misfortunes of good people. Just howl, baby.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, does the number of teams looking for a new head coach surprise you? What effect will the coaching turnover have on the league next year? Which team -- Bears, Cardinals, Colts, Giants, Lions -- has the most potential and would be your go-to choice if you were looking for a head coaching position?
You're not going to like this answer: the Bears. They've got a big-play defense, a quarterback on the rise and more high picks on the way. The Bears' days of futility are nearly at an end. They're about to become a worthy rival again.
Gregg from Chapel Hill, NC
Vic, do you think the Steelers and their fans will eventually welcome Harrison back the way the Packers did with Favre?
It doesn't work that way there. That door swings one way.
Joe from Wauwatosa, WI
SEC rematch in the CFP. Is this good for college football? Do you think it will lead to an eight-team playoff format?
It's supposed to be a national title game, not a conference title game. The process needs more work.
Bill from Sheboygan, WI
What are your thoughts on Baker Mayfield following his performance in the Rose Bowl?
I didn't see him complete an NFL-type throw. I'm not saying he can't do it, I just didn't see him do it. I saw drag routes, swing passes, back-shoulder fades, bubble screens ad nauseum, etc. They're scheme passes and they worked early. They made Georgia look as though Oklahoma was playing against air. I wanted to see Mayfield make the pro-like throws. Late in the game, as the schemes dried up, Mayfield was forced to make some throws at which he didn't appear to be comfortable. They're pro-like throws. Late in the fourth quarter, he missed on a honey hole throw down the right sideline. Earlier, he was intercepted on a tight-window throw down the seam. Late in the game, he threw incomplete short with a rusher hanging on him. I didn't see him attempt a deep sideline pass from the far hash. He didn't do anything to raise my opinion of him.
Connor from Greenville, SC
When I’m older, I’ll happily think back to eight straight years of playoff runs. Will we ever have it this good again?
A wise man once said to me, "Too often, we don't learn to say hello until it's time to say goodbye." Did we say hello to eight years of winning? In other words, did we appreciate its presence, or did we take it for granted? Unfortunately, it's time to say goodbye.
Ben from Chicago, IL
Vic, do you think Aaron Rodgers' play allowed other players to become complacent?
No, but I think it allowed for other players to be average, and that needs to change.
Joe from Rhinelander, WI
Vic, You have always said the stars of the 3-4 defense are the linebackers, yet, in the nine drafts where the Packers were picking with the 3-4 defense, they spent top three picks on exactly three linebackers (Matthews, Perry and Fackrell). None of them played ILB and they hit on two of the three when healthy. We wonder why the defense couldn't be relied on to win ballgames without top athletes playing the most important positions.
In that same period of time, the Steelers picked linebackers in the top three rounds six times, four times in the first round in the last five years, and they picked linebackers 13 times overall since 2009. If you're going to play a 3-4, you need to pick linebackers early and often. Dom Capers didn't get the picks he needed to run his schemes.
Nathan from New York, NY
Vic, what are your picks for this week's playoff games?
Jacksonville and Kansas City in the AFC and Falcons and Saints in the NFC. Yes, I'm making a change. I had made the Rams my NFC Super Bowl pick in a previous column, but I've changed my mind. After more thought, I like the way the Falcons match up against the Rams. I think the Falcons are going to stop the run.
Tom from De Pere, WI
What are the strengths of Russ Ball, Brian Gutekunst and Eliot Wolf?
Ball understands and appreciates the importance of the salary cap and how it relates to the future stability of a franchise. A GM must possess that talent. Gutekunst is a top scout and I was impressed by his ability to communicate with the media and explain why a pick was made. Those are also significant traits. Wolf has the bloodlines and there is reason to believe he possesses his father's magic touch. What's not to like about that?
Tom from Seatac, WA
Did the cold weather catch you?
Yes, but yesterday afternoon's event is about a whole lot more than a rare cold day on the southeast coast. Since October of 2015, coastal South Carolina has experienced a thousand-year flood, two hurricanes, five tropical storms and, now, something called a "winter bomb cyclone." Frankly, I think our king tides are most frightening of all. Every time I read or listen to our president mock global warming by referring to it as a hoax or fake news, my worry deepens. The sun is on the rise as I write this, and yesterday will be quickly committed to memory, but what's headed up the coast isn't a hoax or fake news. Mr. President, please open your mind to what's real.
John from Jacksonville Beach, FL
I have read all your columns since 2004 and, yes, I started reading after the 2004 Jaguars-Steelers game. I just found the new blog yesterday and I’m thrilled. Calais Campbell, A.J. Bouye and Barry Church have been excellent free-agent signings. I agree with your stance on free agency being a trap, so how did this success happen? Lightning in a bottle?
It's easily explained as the Jaguars falling so far under the salary cap minimum they were forced to spend ultra-liberally in free agency and, therefore, bound to hit on some of their acquisitions. Let's not forget the misses: Davon House, Chris Ivory, Jared Odrick, Julius Thomas, Toby Gerhart, Chris Clemons, Ziggy Hood and others. A team tight against the cap couldn't employ the Jaguars' strategy, and the day is rapidly approaching when the Jaguars won't be able to employ the Jaguars' strategy. The current Jaguars team is a product of epoch losing. They're good because they were bad.
Brandon from Strum, WI
With the lack of offense this year, why is Edgar Bennett not on the hot seat?
Put him on it. Put everyone on it. Everyone must be held accountable for our unhappiness. How dare they deny us joy? The fans of the other teams don't deserve it. Joy should only belong to us.
Bill from Sheboygan, WI
What is your new year's resolution?
I want to survive the ground.
Tracy from Sioux Falls, SD
Do the Packers have the star needed on defense currently on the roster, or is he going to come through the draft with needed development?
Through the draft.
Dustin from North Port, FL
What have you learned from being new? And what is your recommendation for 2018?
I learned to kayak and to never stand in a kayak. I learned to live without going to a football stadium every day. I learned to turn a trip to the food store into a social event. I learned to love nature and enjoy its beauty. I learned to sit in a quiet room and let it speak to me. I learned the joy of living in a place where neighbors are family. Most of all, I learned to be thankful for all of the people and all of the games that helped get me to where I am. Advice for 2018? Try as often as possible to do something you'll remember, because memories make us rich.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, what positive things do the Packers have to build on in 2018?
A high place in the draft order. That's where you find the players who win games.
Brannon from Greenville, SC
I'm glad you are in my adopted home state, though I really miss you on packers.com. You taught me much about the game I've watched (my dad and uncle were at the Ice Bowl and I remember them coming home from that game screaming and hollering with happiness and frozen with cold). The current Packers fans really disappoint me with the "fire everyone" talk. They have lost perspective and are tired of winning (two of my favorite phrases of yours). I feel lucky to be in a world where worrying about whether the Packers win is my main, first-world problem. I've enjoyed the run and look forward to what happens in the draft.
This season was cathartic. This fan base needed it. It needed to know how the other half live. Nobody is above losing.
Jon from Bloomfield, NJ
From a business perspective, does anyone in the Browns org get credit for them looking like a decent squad in many of their 16 losses, especially in matchups against some of the league's top teams, such as the Steelers on Sunday?
I thought they were disgraceful yesterday. The Steelers had top seed on the line and didn't fear resting their starters. That's the epitome of disrespect, especially when it comes from your supposed rival. I am continually asked when it's time for a coach to go. I think 1-31 should do it.
Greg from Danbury, CT
Happy New Year, Vic. I began the year with cancer and I end it with a clean bill of health. My December friend is hibernating and I'm a little drunk on sparkling wine as I watch the NY Philharmonic on Channel 13. I'm in love with my wife of 26 years and my cats are asleep. Life is good. May it be so for us all.
I remember the day my oncologist said my chemo was over. It was the Monday before the 2003 draft. I didn't have a hair left on my head and I looked like a wrinkled sheet, but it was a beautifully warm and sunny day and I raced home, put on my jogging shoes and hit the start button on my watch. I've never erased the time. It still reads 2:40. That's minutes and seconds, and that's how long I was able to run before I had to stop and nearly crawl back home. It felt wonderful.
Will from Salt Lake City, UT
What will you remember from this season?
As it pertains to the Packers, I'll remember Aaron Rodgers' injury. It defines the 2017 season. As it pertains to the Steelers, I'll remember their amazing string of last-second wins and one loss. As it pertains to the Jaguars, I'll remember this as the year the Jaguars returned to the playoffs.
John from Austin, TX
Vic, it's great to see you back online; too bad I just found you now. Are you going to continue during the offseason?
Yes, I plan to continue the Monday/Thursday publishing routine.
Dustin fron Seymour, WI
How do you recommend the Packers "be new" going forward?
By replenishing the roster with new talent. The Packers will be in a more advantageous position to do so. I think this would be a good time to get younger and better.
Joe from Dundee, IL
Vic, if the "wolves" win and Capers is relieved of his duties, who are some hot names and who are some up-and-comers who could be the next defensive coordinator for the Packers? I have heard names like Vic Fangio if the Bears let him go, and even Marvin Lewis. Others?
Capers is off the Fangio tree and Lewis is off the Capers tree. Anything for change, huh? There are good coaches everywhere. Finding one wouldn't be difficult.
Bob from Mystic, CT
Green Bay is positioned to draft a quarterback. Rosen and Darnold should be drafted 1-2. Who of Mayfield, Allen, Rudolph and Jackson would you select and why?
Before Saturday's bowl game, I would've said Lamar Jackson, but I saw major red flags in that game. Mississippi State overwhelmed him with its rush and in almost every case Jackson responded with his legs instead of his arm. Before Oklahoma State's bowl game, I loved Mason Rudolph. A year ago I thought he was a soft-arm guy, but this year he changed my opinion. Then, in the bowl game, he was wild, especially when he needed to zip the ball. Hmmm. A lot of people love Baker Mayfield but I'm scared away by the fact the Big 8/Big 12 has never produced a star NFL quarterback; John Hadl was a star in the AFL. Josh Allen is my guy. I liked what I saw in the bowl game. He has NFL toughness.
Matt from McNaughton, WI
What did you see in T.J. Watt vs. Kevin King/ Vince Biegel this year? I'm not sure if I am a homer for liking Watt more than I should, or having more faith in Biegel than I should. I like King, but worry about that trade being mentioned in a Hall of Fame speech some day.
First of all, I don't agree with linking Biegel to King. It's almost a way of apologizing for not drafting Watt. Every man stands alone. Watt vs. King is the issue and I think it's simply a matter of rush vs. cover. The Packers picked cover. I favor rush.
Curt from Pennsylvania
The Giants howlers got Tom Coughlin fired. How's that working for them so far?I'm not opposed to change, but it doesn't guarantee success.
Jim from Maple Grove, MN
Is it time to ask that age-old "Ask Vic" question? With the youth and apparent talent shift to the defensive line, could the Packers switch to a 4-3 defense in the offseason? Would the talent of Clark, Daniels and Lowry translate well into a 4-3? How would the drafting philosophy change?
Clark and Daniels are perfect fits as 4-3 tackles and Lowry is a classic run-stuffing left end. The issue is pass rusher. The Packers would have to find a hand-on-the-ground guy, such as Bradley Chubb, and they'll be high enough to get that kind of premium defensive end. Be advised, however, the pool of stand-up rush-backers is usually much deeper. Yes, the Packers could make the move to a 4-3. In my opinion, it would fit their talent base because they lack the depth of talent they need at linebacker to play a 3-4. It's all about that rush position. Do you want a guy with his hand on the ground or a guy who can stand up and be moved around. Are you sure you just don't want change for change sake?
Brian from Jacksonville, FL
Vic, you mentioned the commissioner should be a football man and not a lawyer or marketing man. If memory serves, Pete Rozelle was a PR man for the league, yet, he set the table for what the others enjoy today. Was he more football man than was reported? Or was it a different time?
PR people in football are football people, not marketing people. They're one of the moving parts of the football operation and they are privy to all of the inner workings of the general manager's job and work directly with the head coach. Pete Rozelle began his career as the University of San Francisco athletic news director. He followed by joining the LA Rams. His background in sports was deep. Pete was first and foremost a football man.
Jillaine from Star Valley Ranch, WY
Vic, I am glad you are continuing to enjoy writing and sharing your unique insight into football. This may be an odd question but maybe you can enlighten me. What does it mean to a player when they get signed to the active roster for the last game of the season?
Late in the season, teams out of playoff contention begin building their roster for next season by placing players on injured reserve and signing new talent to their roster. It's another one of the advantages of losing; those teams get a head start on talent acquisition.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, what are your thoughts on the situation involving James Harrison, who was cut by the Steelers and picked up by the Patriots?
Harrison lives and plays with an edge. It's what makes him great. He's not a loving man. He's motivated by confrontation and he didn't like riding the bench in Pittsburgh. Now he has a chance to make the Steelers pay for the slight. These are the men who make football the hard-edged game and business it is. Harrison is a great football player who may have authored the greatest play in football history. I love the way he plays and I'll never forget his "There goes the wildcat" comment. My only regret for him is this move to New England could cause him to become a man without a team. That would be very unfortunate.
Pete from Los Angeles, CA
Vic, as good as it is for drama's sake to have an evil empire in the Patriots, doesn't the NFL have to do something about players forcing their way out of their team's locker room to then sign with the Pats?
Blount, Bennett, Harrison; yeah, it's a problem. I don't know how it can be defeated without the commissioner ruling arbitrarily against the player and the team agreeing to suspend the player with pay, which would open up a roster spot. You certainly couldn't suspend him without pay; that wouldn't hold up in court. But the NFLPA would almost certainly fight a suspension-with-pay ruling. It looks like the Patriots have done it again. They're just so much smarter than everybody else.
Ben from Hilo, HI
What's the most disconcerting jersey switch you've seen a player make?
Johnny Unitas wearing lightning bolts. It was grotesque.
Maggie from Kenosha, WI
If you had to make an early Super Bowl prediction, who would be your NFC and AFC representatives?
Rams and Patriots.
Matt from Chicago, IL
If you woke up tomorrow as Coach McCarthy and had your job to worry about, family to feed, etc., would you change defensive coordinators?
There'll be no more of this. You all got your cup of blood. This is a day for you to rejoice. Happy New Year!