"Ask Vic" will publish on Mondays and Thursdays through the offseason.
Vincent from Seattle, WA
What did your eyes tell you while watching both championship games?
They were sensationally entertaining games, but two officiating moments (a pass interference that wasn't called and a roughing-the-passer call that shouldn't have been called) left a bad taste at the end of the day. When the Saints were allowed to beat the Steelers a few weeks ago on two ridiculous pass interference calls against Joe Haden, I remember thinking to myself if I was the Saints I'd be worried the calls were going to even out in the playoffs. They did. The Rams are the better team and deserved to win, but my inbox is in an uproar about the apparent pass interference that wasn't called. The Chiefs lost because they're soft on defense, and that was a season-long problem Andy Reid never fixed. The Patriots are an ordinary team that was No. 29 on defense this season, but they have Tom Brady and that's why they're going to the Super Bowl.
Olle from Källunga, Sweden
Is Chatty on steroids?
I think I saw a deep safety on one of Chatty's cover zero plays.
Karl from Albuquerque, NM
Commissioner Vic, what, if anything, would you do about the refs/rules for next year?
Review everything. Nothing less is going to satisfy the fans. Also, make Gene Steratore the czar of officiating. He should make all review decisions. Steratore was the best referee in the game, and now he's the best TV referee in the game.
Dan from Toledo, OH
I guess we can probably back off on the “Patriots only win because of homefield advantage” theory now.
The Patriots win because they have Tom Brady.
Paul from Cumming, GA
Is it safe to say the NFL got everything it could want out of Championship Sunday?
My inbox exploded over night. A nation lost sleep due to football injustice. The NFL is smiling.
Connor from Greenville, SC
The dream of a world where Dee Ford lined up six inches back and Tommy Boy had three picks in a crushing loss will get me through tonight.
That was a great offsides call.
Jim from Maple Grove, MN
Vic, there's a lot that can be asked about specific plays and decisions and what not, but what I'm really asking is why the Chiefs didn't win.
I'm not an Andy Reid fan. His teams have always been soft. The longer the game went on, the softer the Chiefs got on defense. It played out just as it did in the Chiefs' playoff losses in recent years. Reid's teams just don't get it done. In Super Bowl XXXIX, the Eagles went soft on defense in the second half and the Patriots ran the ball down the Eagles' throat. Sound familiar?
Milan from New York
Vic, I trust you will not use the term GOAT with reference to Aaron Rodgers in the future. Wow! Brady.
Brady is the greatest. Anybody who disagrees isn't being honest.
Isaac from Nashville, TN
Vic, the drama in both games hinged repeatedly on penalties and replay reviews, and it often seemed as though controversies were supposed to be as exciting as good football. Something is very wrong.
We did this to ourselves by refusing to accept human error. We created a mania for that which can't be achieved, perfection.
Al from Pasadena, CA
During the Saints/Rams game the announcers said Payton and some fans had whistles. Why in the world would that be allowed? I'm really glad the Saints lost because of the huge noise disadvantage the visiting team has to overcome.
It bothers me, too. There's nothing that can be done about fan noise in dome stadiums, but the NFL can and should forbid music between plays, cheerleading PA announcers and message boards that encourage and direct fans to increase the noise level.
Tyler from Augusta, GA
It sure wasn't Belichick. His defense was awful, especially at crunch time, and his go-for-it decision on fourth down nearly lost the game.
Brad from Wilmington, DE
Hate on him all you like, but Belichick is the best in the business.
He's a great coach, but he was 5-13 and on his way to being fired when he made Tom Brady his starting quarterback.
Curt from York, PA
Vic, the Rams offense and defense got it done in overtime and the Saints did not. So it can't be said the big pass interference non-call gave the game to the Rams, but it sure can be said it took it away from the Saints. Is the wrong NFC team going to the big game?
I think the right team from the NFC is going to the Super Bowl, but I think Sean McVay got away with making the wrong decision on fourth down. I think he should've gone for the touchdown.
Steve from Hudson, WI
I found the Saints-Rams game to be disappointing, largely due to the obvious missed call. Did you find these last two games helped to save a disappointing season?
Yesterday's games helped define the 2018 football season as the year of frustration. Every team was the victim of bad calls. That perception is what's leaving a bad taste in my mouth. The whining and the crying is becoming difficult to endure. I liked football more when it was a noble game.
"Ask Vic" will publish on Mondays and Thursdays through the offseason.
Cofy from Ontario, Canada
I was wondering, what would happen if (when the new stadium opens) the Chargers and Rams, or Giants and Jets were both hosting conference championships in the same year?
One would be played on Monday.
Adam from Chicago, IL
Are good plays the ones that work?
Yeah, and good plays are also the ones that help make other plays work. All those four-yard runs help set up that play-action pass that wins the game. As I've written, you don't call plays, you call a game plan.
Art from Edwardsville, IL
I am convinced the Packers' downfall started when they got rid of Eddie Lacy. Am I wrong?
The Packers need to find a runner who can force defenses to get that eighth man up in the box, as Lacy did. The 2017 draft was a blockbuster for running backs. Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon, Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt, D'Onta Foreman, James Conner, Tarik Cohen and Marlon Mack were selected after the Packers made their first pick. The Packers selected Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. Maybe one of those two will be the next Eddie Lacy.
JPS from Illinois
Vic, if you could pick one, what would you say is the hardest NFL hit you ever witnessed?
That I covered? I remember a Jerome Bettis/Donovin Darius head-on, full-speed collision that caused both men to recoil. It was Okoye/Atwater esque. The Donnie Shell hit that broke Earl Campbell's ribs made me gasp for air.
Chad from Kansas City, MO
Vic, as a millennial with all the information at my fingertips most of my life, I find game commentary is becoming more and more pointless. Do you think there will be a shift to more calm and well-chosen words before, during and after a snap? I really miss listening to Pat Summerall. Sometimes what he didn't say was all I really needed to hear.
The video game people want chalk talk, so I suppose the mind-numbing cover two crap will continue. I want someone who can capture the moment. I want someone who'll see Derwin James whiff on a tackle and say, "The Chargers aren't ready to play." Chatty said nothing.
Mary from New Richmond, WI
The players' council wanted "accountability and removal of complacency." Is it wrong of me to think this was a cop-out attitude? Just do your job! Did everyone think their jobs were safe, or am I missing something?
When I first read of the players' council, I said to myself, "That's baloney," except I didn't say baloney.
Matthew from Rolling Meadows, IL
Not only are the rule changes making it easier for QBs, they are allowing a different QB to play the game now. The kid from Oklahoma is listed at 5-10, 195. Those numbers may even be a little exaggerated. The NFL wants exciting.
The rules changes have increased the supply of quarterbacks. It's genius. Prior to the rules changes of 1978, NFL quarterbacks fit into a tight prototype. The evolution of the game, especially in recent years as the protections have been increased, have caused quarterbacks to come in all shapes and sizes. I'm not sure there is a prototype anymore. Creativity, right?
Greg from Cuenca, Ecuador
Vic, in your last column you said Coach Belichick out-coached Andy Reid. What did you see in that game?
Belichick shifted gears in the second half. He went to a ball-control running game and Reid had no answer for it.
Jon from Lynchburg, VA
A Big 12 quarterback finally won a playoff game! Is Mahomes one you would pick if you were starting a team today or is it a little too soon yet?
I think he's a sensational talent. Maybe he's the new prototype. I only see one thing I don't like. He tends to turn and commit his entire body to the throw. I think we might begin seeing defensive backs jump routes.
Jason from Austin, TX
Vic, I've been thinking of ways the XFL could one-up the NFL. For starters, I think they could create a lot of attention if they had a female-coached team (which I'm still surprised there isn't one in the NFL). Secondly, remove kickoffs. I don't care what alternative they go with, but it will mean that if the NFL ever decides to change their rules, it'll look like they're following the XFL. Thirdly, allow college players to leave college and play for the XFL, where they'll get paid. If Trevor Lawrence left college early to join the XFL, that would send waves across the league and send a message to high-profile recruits. I think the XFL could carve a chunk out of the NFL, if it really wanted to. What do you think?
I'm surprised you didn't include a human sacrifice prior to kickoff.
Ben from Hilo, HI
Why are divas tolerated at wide receiver but not, say, on the offensive line?
We put a premium on playmakers and under-appreciate the guys who block and tackle. I think Mike Tomlin did a masterful job of tolerating Antonio Brown and quieting the storms he created. The most recent incident was too much to overcome. You can blame Tomlin for not acting sooner, but the fact of the matter is great players can use their talent to hold teams and coaches hostage. Lombardi, the ultimate taskmaster, had a higher level of tolerance for Hornung.
Nic from Milwaukee, WI
Did the dud last Sunday cost Phillip Rivers his last chance at the Hall of Fame?
Rivers is not a Hall of Fame player. If I was on the selection committee and one of its members campaigned to elect Rivers, I'd say, "Really? You want us to elect another Chargers quarterback who was terrible in the postseason?"
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, are people at your house allowed to talk during playoff games when your favorite teams aren't involved?
It doesn't matter if it's the regular season, postseason or what teams are playing, if we're going to talk, I mute the TV. Either we talk or the TV talks. It's one or the other, not both.
Mark from Wausau, WI
Do you have any insight into a head coach agreeing to let one of his assistants interview for an assistant position with another team? Some block interviews; some allow them. Is it based on personal relationships, the perceived talent of the leaving assistant, pending arrangements to bring in someone new, etc.?
The league regards coaches as belonging to one of two categories: head coach or assistant coach. A team can deny permission for an assistant coach to interview for an assistant coach position with another team, but may not deny a request to interview for a head coach job. Previously, coordinator positions were considered to be a promotion for a non-coordinator assistant coach, therefore, an interview request could not be denied.
Kirsten from Madison, WI
I know it was unrealistic, but I was hoping Joe Philbin could stick around. I think all Wisconsinites hold the Philbin family in their hearts, and the Philbins just seem like Wisconsin kind of people. Do you have any Joe Philbin stories to share?
I've never seen a family conduct themselves with more dignity than the Philbin family did during the funeral services for their son.
Ryan from Bloomer, WI
Do the Packers have the pieces in place to create a power running game? Is it a commitment thing or are they missing some key pieces?
Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones give the Packers a potential thunder and lightning combination. I think every effort should be made to develop a Williams/Jones complementary running game. Yes, it requires commitment, the kind of commitment Mike McCarthy made to Eddie Lacy when McCarthy made his big-letters promise to improve the running game. Here are the questions I have: Does Aaron Rodgers want to make that kind of commitment? Would Packers fans complain about a lack of creativity in the play-calling? The best running games are the most predictable running games.
Eli from St. Paul, MN
I used to share the belief the Patriots owed some of their success to playing in the weak AFC East. I decided to look at the numbers. Over the last 10 years, the Patriots have won 78 percent of their division games; they have won 76 percent of their non-division games. I was surprised to find very little difference. They just win.
I've even some of my readers complain the Patriots have played in a weak AFC. The Peyton Manning Colts, Ben Roethlisberger Steelers and Ray Lewis Ravens were weak?
Dimitris from Athens, Greece
Vic, your opinion about Adam Gase?
I hurt for him.
Aiden from Jacksonville, FL
You seem very keen on Tom Coughlin; obviously his resume speaks for itself. QB was never addressed, among other things. How much is he and/or Caldwell to blame for the Jaguars' down season?
Coughlin is the boss. I promise you, he's taking this very personally.
"Ask Vic" will publish on Mondays and Thursdays through the offseason.
James from the UK
Vic, that was the most disappointing divisional weekend I can remember. Where was the drama?
This hasn't been a great season for me. The games have been over-officiated, all three of my former teams failed to make the playoffs, and the playoff games to date have been a disappointment. Has the NFL tinkered with the game too much? I've considered the possibility. Anyhow, we've reached the final four. They're the four best teams in the league and they offer an interesting clash of two great quarterbacks at the ends of their careers vs. two upstarts. It's the best of the old vs. the best of the new. Maybe what's left of this season will save it.
Vincent from Seattle, WA
Vic, who are your picks for getting to the Super Bowl?
In the AFC, I'll accept no excuse from the Chiefs. They have it all. They are significantly more talented than the Patriots and the game will be played on their turf. Bill Belichick out-coached Andy Reid in Super Bowl XXXIX. I don't see that happening this time. In the NFC, I think the Rams are the better team but I think the environment tilts the field too much for the Rams to overcome it. I see a Chiefs vs. Saints Super Bowl.
Terry from Alpine, CA
Vic, love your work. Mentioned earlier in the year to not drink the Charger Kool-Aid. Bad defensive game plan; slow or not able to adjust. Cheap ownership could have kept the team in the East. Brady had to laugh, up 21-7.
Rivers and the Chargers defense were equally bad. The outcome was decided before halftime. The Chargers began helping Patriots players up off the ground and exchanging smiles. They looked like a team that wanted a burger and an aisle seat.
Tom from Pine River, WI
I expect the guy in the broadcast booth to provide informative insight during a game, but fumbling around trying to finish an obvious point while the next play is developing becomes tiresome. The Patriots/Chargers game became tiresome.
I muted the TV. Chatty feels too great a need to explain everything. The explanation for the Patriots' easy win didn't require chalk talk. The Chargers weren't ready to play. They looked cold. Derwin James whiffed on an easy sideline tackle because he was afraid to hit the ground. Just say what you see.
Tom from Bismarck, ND
Vic, the Chargers, with a better record than the Ravens and the Patriots, having to make two 6,000-mile round trips on consecutive weekends seems pretty unfair. I realize these things can even out over time, however, the Patriots consistently having first-round byes is truly absurd. I quite honestly love the way they play the game, with a great QB and a great coach leading a no-nonsense group of players, many of whom other teams might think of as afterthoughts, but the 20-year level of poor to mediocre teams in the AFC East is unbelievable. No, they wouldn't be getting these playoff breaks if they played in the AFC North or the NFC East. The Patriots' lack of competition, within a division, is not likely to come this way again. They certainly know how to reap the benefits and, to that end, congratulations.
I acknowledge the validity of your point. It's become the go-to explanation for why the Patriots have been so much more successful than the Packers, and I think it has merit. Be that as it may, there are those who would say the Packers of the '60s benefitted similarly from a watered down NFL.
Ryan from Hayward, WI
What are your thoughts on the loud music playing between every snap when the Cowboys were on offense? I personally felt it was over the top. Seems like they’re just trying to be more like the NBA. Is this just LA culture? Or is it the future?
It's been happening in New Orleans for a long time and, even though the NFL has strict rules governing when music and other such artificial noise must be turned off, I still believe the home team is being allowed to shape the stadium environment unfairly to its benefit. I think the NFL should be more aggressive in controlling artificial stadium noise. In my opinion, homefield advantage has become too great, and artificial noise and message boards that prompt fans are the reasons for it, especially in domes. The competitive balance is being lost and the NFL needs to address the issue.
Derrick from Rockaway, NJ
While the Rams offense is considered new and innovative, a lot of their plays remind me of what you would see in the old Wing T formations, 3-4 variations of a single play with multiple fake hand-offs in the backfield for misdirection. Also, everything is predicated on the run. Is this a fair comparison?
The Rams use finesse movements to disguise what they really want to do: run the ball with power. They have a road-grading offensive line that knocks opponents off the ball and creates wide running lanes. Power is the real genius of the Rams offense. When you can run the ball with power, you can do anything you want.
Samuel from Jacksonville, FL
The Colts did a disservice to Andrew Luck, making him throw so much this season. His arm looked shot against the Chiefs. I wonder what the long-term ramifications will be.
It looked like he was throwing bricks. He had a great comeback season, but his arm isn't what it was a few years ago. His skills might be eroding.
Chad from Kansas City, MO
Well, Vic, the Packers are going to be new one way or another. I don't have any expectations for this coming year, but I am excited to watch. Football is good.
When a team hires a new coach, it places a blank canvas in front of him. What picture will Matt LaFleur paint for us? Will it include a lot of bold brush strokes that speak of quick, decisive action, or will his brush paint subtle and measured changes to the canvas, the result of a patient and disciplined attention to detail? Will the image emerge quickly, or will we have to wait a couple of years before we can appreciate LaFleur's creation? Will we love it, or will it disappoint us? Creating a football team is very much an art form.
Richard from Koblenz, Germany
Vic, you said stats are for people who haven't had a chance to visually analyze a team. What do your eyes tell us about LaFleur’s statistically bad Titans offense?
They tell us the same thing they told us when Mike Mularkey was the head coach: the Titans have a struggling quarterback. There's no play-caller I respect more than Mularkey. He's balanced and creative. If he couldn't do it, it couldn't be done. Frankly, LaFleur stepped into a bad job. It says a lot about him that he used it to become a head coach.
Steve from Lake Stevens, WA
When the head coach is the play-caller, what are the responsibilities of the offensive coordinator in a game?
He's responsible for coordinating the offense. I don't understand why fans struggle so much with the distinction between play-calling and coordinating an offense or defense. They are distinctly different tasks. As coordinator, the coach is responsible for having the personnel in his substitution packages at the ready. He's responsible for identifying and communicating scheme and personnel changes by the opponent, and assisting the play-caller in scheming to counter those changes. He's responsible for practice regimens, breaking down film, detecting trends and flaws. He evaluates personnel and how it might be utilized to create matchup advantages. Play-calling is play-calling; that's all. The play-caller has to be left alone to order his thoughts. Andy Reid looks like a mad scientist. Matt Nagy covers his face with his play-call sheet as though he's hiding acne. Doug Pederson appears to be in a trance. When the offensive coordinator isn't the play-caller, he does the grunt work. When the offensive coordinator is the play-caller, another assistant coach (usually the quarterbacks coach) does the grunt work.
Geoff from Denver, CO
Was it really possible to get a look into LaFleur’s “football soul” so quickly? The whole thing seems rushed to me.
We won't know what LaFleur's true colors are until his team is on a losing streak and he has to hold it together. That's when true coaching ability, especially the ability to be a leader of men, surfaces. Chuck Noll was 1-13. Bill Walsh was 2-14. Jimmy Johnson was 1-15. That's when their football souls were revealed.
Brian from Yakima, WA
Vic, are you surprised McCarthy wasn’t more sought after, considering his resume and eight head jobs were open? It seems like NFL decision-makers like the young guys.
I don't think he was ready to take on a new job. I think he needs a year to rest and regenerate, and maybe that was apparent to teams that considered hiring him. Mike McCarthy needs a year to miss the game and, maybe more importantly, he needs to let the game miss him. Why do I have this feeling he's going to be the next coach of the Minnesota Vikings?
Jeff from Ogden, UT
Complacency? That's not what I saw. This was a roster with little talent. Why is it the click bait continues to focus on Coach McCarthy and not the real problem? This roster is a disaster. Upgrades are needed at eight spots for this team to reach the playoffs.
Complacency is a way of saying there was a lack of desperation, and that's usually the result of a lack of competition. McCarthy got stale? Maybe the roster got stale.
Jim from Anthem, AZ
Vic, how important is it LaFleur retained Pettine?
Continuity is good. Defense isn't LaFleur's specialty and I'm not sure he knows the assistant coaches on that side of the ball well enough to reshape the Packers' defensive staff. Retaining Mike Pettine is a logical decision. Not retaining Joe Whitt, in my opinion, is a mistake.
Pat from Collierville, TN
Vic, after watching the playoff games this weekend and seeing these young QBs, do you think the Packers overpaid Rodgers? It sure seems these young QBs are playing at a higher level than Rodgers, or is it the systems they are playing within?
A year ago, I wrote about the challenge the NFL was facing in having to replace a generation of great quarterbacks: Brady, Brees, Roethlisberger, Rivers, Rodgers, etc. I think the league sensed that challenge before I did, because the position has never been easier to play.
Hill from Denver, CO
What did your eyes tell you about the Colts this past weekend? It looks like knocking the Titans and Texans out of contention on the road in back-to-back weeks had them rinsed.
The bye week beat the Colts. The Chiefs were rested and ready. Their quick start was too much for the Colts to overcome. Andy Reid had his team ready to play.
Robert from The Netherlands
The four winning teams this weekend outrushed their opponents by an average of 135 yards and when the Saints needed a first down to seal the win, they ran it up the middle for 12 yards on third-and-10. Seems like no matter how much they change the rules to favor the passing game, having a strong running game is still required to have success in the playoffs.
When you can run as well as pass, you don't have to take what the defense gives you, you can take what you want.
"Ask Vic" will publish on Mondays and Thursdays through the offseason.
Erney from Hoover, AL
Well, Vic, it looks like the wolves got their wish with the hiring of offensive wunderkind Matt LaFleur to be head coach. What can we expect to see, besides better plays, of course, when the Packers break the huddle next season? Love the new site.
Expect to see a lot of formations, motion, shifting, misdirection, audibling. Sound familiar? In a lot of ways, LaFleur is a young Mike McCarthy, who came to the Packers as an offensive wunderkind. Chuck Noll was 37 when he became a head coach; he was off the Brown/Gillman/Shula tree. Noll was a wunderkind. All young head coach hires begin as wunderkinds. Plays will define LaFleur, for the good or the bad, but players and how he manages them will decide his future.
Bob from Australia
Well, Vic, I guess the most pressing question going forward is what do you think of the way Matt LaFleur combs his hair?
He has very good hair.
Mark from Madison, WI
LaFleur has a professional resume. Maybe it’s the optimism, but his background is well-rounded. His accomplishments don’t seem to be tethered to one player, team or style.
He moved quickly up the ladder. Along the way, he obviously learned how to interview because he hit a home run with Mark Murphy in leap-frogging some very strong and more-experienced candidates. LaFleur is polished.
Dave from Naples, FL
What does the hire say? It tells me they don’t want a recycled NFL head coach, they want an innovator and new blood. It also tells me he will keep Pettine.
The hire tells me the Packers believe LaFleur fits the team's image and vision, and is the right man to work with Aaron Rodgers. I get the sense those were the important factors in this coach search.
Mike from Evansville, IN
Well, Vic, you were correct, the Packers were looking for the next Sean McVay, so they hired one of his proteges. I know this will make a lot of Packers fans who love play calls happy, but I'm not sure I like the pick. I suppose we won't know for about 2-3 years, but putting on your prognosticator hat, what are your thoughts?
I advocated hiring a veteran coach and focusing on now. The Packers took the long view and hired a young coach with whom the team can grow and mature, and I respect and admire that kind of big-picture approach. Frankly, it's almost always the right thing to do. I predict success but I acknowledge the possibility of failure. I'm not dodging your question, I'm answering it truthfully. LaFleur is a projection; so was McVay. We can't know how a young coach will perform as a head coach until he walks in the head man's shoes. It all changes for LaFleur now.
Dan from Madison, WI
Let's be new. What is a realistic goal for LaFleur in year one?
Ask me that question after we see what the Packers do in free agency.
Barry from Hayward, WI
Vic, so begins the Matt LaFleur era in Green Bay, or is it more likely to be the first stop on the revolving door of head coaches?
You've asked the definitive question. This is an exciting but anxious moment in Packers history. I think you know the answer to your question can only come with time.
Charlie from Nashville, TN
It appears your crystal ball was accurate and the Packers have conjured a play-calling wizard from the play-calling tree. Will the wolves howl about the offensive numbers his team produced this past year? Or will they be pleased with the dedication to new-age play-calling? A few observations from a fan's perspective in Nashville. There were some serious growing pains, but the offense was hampered by injuries and some bad offensive line play. He strung together some creative game plans in the middle of the year and finally figured out how to use his running backs later on. Fans were less pleased by handing off to the blocking tight end on a crucial fourth-and-one, or going empty backfield on a two-point try from the one to try to beat the Chargers. In sum, the team's offense was headed in the right direction and definitely more creative than in years past, but LaFleur was still a bit of a question mark heading into the offseason. He seemed likeable enough, but we know little about his leadership qualities. Hope it works out for Green Bay.
Thanks for the scouting report, but I'm not nearly as interested in his play-calling history as I am in how he'll approach his relationship with Rodgers. Is he going to do the buddy-buddy thing, or keep a professional distance that allows him to be more demanding and analytical?
Isaac from Nashville, TN
Vic, if you asked a defensive coordinator how to beat Aaron Rodgers and he answered honestly, what do you think he'd say?
Pass rush caused problems this past season. I'm hoping LaFleur will emphasize having a strong running game because that's the best way to protect a great quarterback.
Sam from Fort Wayne, IN
Vic, Rod Woodson has always been a favorite player of mine, but I've never heard many behind-the-scenes stories about him. Any good stories you can share from your experience covering him?
He was a joy to cover. He always cooperated and I can remember one defining example of that. It was following a playoff loss to the Bills in 1992. Rod had sustained a blow to the head in the game and it left him with a postgame headache that caused Rod to squint as he soldiered through questions from the media at his locker. During the interview session, a radio guy holding a sizable recording device accidentally struck Rod in the head with the recorder. It hurt just seeing it happen and momentarily staggered Rod, but he smiled, shook it off and kept on answering questions. He was a great interview and he might be the best athlete I ever covered.
Blake from Jacksonville, FL
Vic, Tony Boselli is a Hall of Fame finalist again. What are your thoughts on his candidacy and should he ultimately be inducted into the HOF?
The Hall of Fame committee member representing the place where the player played usually makes a presentation to the committee promoting the candidate's election to the Hall of Fame. If I was making such a presentation, I would say Boselli was the best tackle in the game for four years, and I'd tell of how he dominated the great Bruce Smith in the 1996 playoff game. I would say there are examples of other players in the Hall of Fame who had short runs of greatness (Sayers, Swann), and I would highlight the fact Boselli was the Jaguars' first draft pick and would become the franchise's first Hall of Fame inductee, and I would finish my presentation by saying, "What do you want to do, elect another wide receiver?" I think it might work, but then I would be confronted with an even bigger problem: How am I going to get Fred Taylor into the Hall of Fame? It's one or the other, Blake. I don't think the committee will elect both. Which one do you want? It's not as simple as you might think.
Patrick from Indianapolis, IN
Vic, you indicated recently you felt the Packers would be best served by hiring a veteran/experienced head coach. Just how big a risk do you think the Packers are taking with LaFleur?
It's risk/reward. The veteran guy might be less risky, but his age makes it likely you'll have to replace him sooner. The young guy offers no track record as a head coach and is considered more of a risk, but his youth suggests a longer run of stability in your franchise should he succeed. Which do you prefer? Maybe the Packers think they're getting both. Only time will tell.
Tim from Pensacola, FL
Vic, please tell me it’s not becoming a young man’s game for coaches, too? I think there’s still something to be said for experience and loyalty in this league.
The Packers and Cardinals went young; the Bucs and Broncos hired veteran coaches. Those four teams could make for an interesting youth vs. experience comparison down the road.
Juan from Barcelona, Spain
Vic, what are your thoughts about Coach LaFleur? I'm excited but don't expect immediate results.
Look at it this way: The Packers job was the premier position available among all of the NFL postseason openings. The new Packers coach would become the face of an iconic franchise and he would inherit a generational quarterback who appears to have plenty of gas left in his tank. The new coach would also inherit a roster that made strides upward this past season, with the promise of more high picks on the way, which includes two first-round picks this year. Hey, what's not to like? This is a dream job for any coach, especially for a young man who grew up within the NFC North footprint. Mark Murphy knew what he had to offer. He didn't have to walk on his knees during his head coach search. It would seem LaFleur blew Murphy away in the interview, and the combination of LaFleur's youth and talent left no doubt in Murphy's mind LaFleur is the right guy for the job. That works for me.
Fabrizio from Fossano, Italy
Do you think the Steelers are going to trade Antonio Brown?
This situation is different from what it was with Mike Merriweather and Le'Veon Bell. This isn't about a contract dispute. If Brown shows restraint and doesn't make a media fuss about wanting to be traded, I think the Steelers will trade him. I think they desperately want to get back to their run-the-ball, tough-defense identity. I think Mike Tomlin is tired of having to jump through hoops to manage Brown. I think the Steelers want to be new and trading Brown would be a big first step in that direction. I have to believe Brown's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, is coaching his client to be calm and let the process play out.
"Ask Vic" will publish on Mondays and Thursdays through the offseason.
Eric from Hudson, WI
The sky is very bright in Green Bay. Minnesota overpaid a marginal QB. Trubisky, on a rookie contract, is the fourth-best QB in the division. Soon enough, Rodgers will own the North once again.
Or the Bears will use yesterday's bitter disappointment as a launch pad to a long run at the top of the division. The Bears have a powerful roster, and the "fourth-best" quarterback in the division made plays at crunch time. The Bears will begin next season with a strong sense of who they are and what they can do. They weren't going to win in Los Angeles or New Orleans. Yesterday, in my opinion, was going to be the end of the line one way or another. What the harshness of yesterday's defeat may accomplish is to fire the steel for next season.
Gidgit from Swasoulian, AZ
Where were Nagy's gadget plays?
He used one on the two-point try. It failed.
Jason from Thiensville, WI
I’ve heard it said good musicians know when to play and great ones know when not to play. Could you let Chatty know?
He said a bad word yesterday.
Mike from Des Moines, IA
The Chargers used seven defensive backs on 58 of 59 defensive snaps and were effective in stopping the Ravens downfield. Is this a sign of what's to come? Are the rules favoring the quarterback and the passing game making it so defense will prioritize speed over size?
The safeties playing linebacker were about adding more chase speed and mobility to defend Lamar Jackson's scrambling ability. The Chargers were able to make the strategy work by being able to stop the Ravens' power running game with a light-in-the-pants front.
Oscar from Santa Ana, CA
Should the Jaguars acquire Joe Flacco to be their starting quarterback, or even to be a veteran presence if they decide to draft one?
I don't like the mojo in a Jaguars trade for Flacco. They traded with Baltimore in 2008 to move up and draft Derrick Harvey; the Ravens then used the pick to move into position to draft Flacco. Trading a pick to Baltimore for Flacco 11 years later has a double whammy feel to it. I'd rather see the Jaguars use their high pick to draft their future quarterback.
Jim from New Berlin, WI
I read today the Packers' next head coach should run a modern offense. What does this mean?
I'm not sure what it means. Should the Colts run a modern defense, instead of that age-old "Tampa Two" (cover two) scheme they use? The Texans run a modern offense. How'd that work for them against the Colts?
Eddie from Midland, MI
Vic, do you think Ozzie Newsome was out in front of the NFL with drafting Lamar Jackson and creating an offense that fits the talents of the college game? The going rate for even average passing quarterbacks leaves little to surround him with decent players.
Where the Ravens selected Jackson, I thought he was an easy pick that didn't require much vision, just a sense of value.
Craig from Cedarburg, WI
If you were the GM of a QB-needy team, would you sign Foles?
No, because the cost would be too great and he's only been successful in Philadelphia. If Foles goes on a long playoff run again, I'd ask the Eagles if they'd be willing to trade Wentz. I'd give them a one for him; maybe even a two, too.
Dan from Toledo, OH
As much as I rooted against the Bears yesterday, I can’t help but feel for Parkey. The only thing that makes missing that kick worse is being booed by your own fans as you jog off the field.
How about Ravens fans booing Jackson? He put that team on his back and carried it to the playoffs -- a 6-1 run -- and they booed him. Fans are great.
Leo from Dallas, TX
Any memories of Terry Bradshaw singing?
I remember sitting in Bradshaw's training camp dorm room, interviewing him for a story about his edgy relationship with his coach, Chuck Noll, whose dorm room was directly across the hall from Bradshaw's. With his door open, Bradshaw said, "He's in there taking a nap right now," and then he laughed, picked up his guitar and began playing and singing a deep-throated country song. It was classic Bradshaw.
Jay from Minneapolis, MN
Green Bay signing Bell or Brown would seem like a mistake to me, but what about Clowney? Is that even realistic, cap-wise?
I'd have to swallow real hard to sign Jadeveon Clowney after the way he played on Saturday. He ran around blocks, did nothing of much consequence, and was even pancaked on a play by the Colts' rookie guard. It would bother me greatly that on the biggest stage of his professional career, Clowney turned in an embarrassingly soft performance.
Tom from Vista, CA
Tony Canadeo and Ray Scott were a great broadcast team. Did you ever bump into them?
No, but I grew up listening to Scott, who was the radio voice of Pitt football before he joined the Packers. I can still hear Scott calling Mike Ditka's name.
Dave from Savage, MN
What would you focus on in interviewing Josh McDaniel? In my mind, he has a lot to overcome in building trust and putting a staff together.
There are questions you can ask a coach candidate that'll provide answers you need to more direct questions. For example, by asking a head coach candidate how he feels about sponsors riding on the team plane, you can get a feel for his willingness to work with others. As I've written, it's not all about the play he'd call on third-and-eight, it's mostly about the impact the coach is going to have on the personality and function of the overall franchise. The head coach is going to be the face of it, the heart and soul of it, and it's most important he represents the spirit and vision that's desired. I would not want a coach who wants to separate the team from the rest of the franchise. That kind of walling up breeds contempt and elitism. Figuratively speaking, I'd want everyone walking through the same door every morning. When that feeling is achieved, you truly will have everyone pulling in the same direction.
Mike from Whitefish, MT
I share your distrust of classical stats, although I did find it interesting that although the Steelers defense ended up ranked sixth in yards allowed, they were tied for 16th in points allowed. On the surface, it looks like a break but don't bend defense, but I'm guessing their 28th-ranked turnover differential of -11 probably explains most of the above. I've started following Football Outsiders' DVOA stats, where Pittsburgh is ranked 17th in pass defense and eighth in rushing defense. What are your thoughts on DVOA?
Stats are for people who haven't had a chance to visually analyze a team. I trust my eyes, and my eyes told me the Steelers defense nearly always collapsed at crunch time. It seldom got it done. It didn't create turnovers and it didn't protect leads. It was a yardage paper tiger. Eighth in DVOA rushing defense? Does that include the 51-yard run that defense allowed as it attempted to protect a three-point lead vs. the Bengals in Week 17? The Steelers had allowed only 71 yards rushing up to that point in the game but, with the game on the line, the Steelers' rush defense collapsed and allowed the Bengals to tie the game. I don't need stats to tell me what I saw, and I saw it nearly all season long: The Steelers defense was soft and cheesy, especially at crunch time.
Eric from West Salem, WI
I think it's funny eight coaches have been fired but only one GM, and that GM was forced to trade away two of his best draft picks. Apparently, all those crappy teams have good players but they are under-coached. Is this proof for the age-old debate of plays vs. players?
Coaches are being used as scapegoats. It's a fire-one-to-excuse-all strategy to quiet fans, ease the effects of losing and create hope for the future. Maybe it's a good business strategy, but I don't think it is. I think there's a strength acquired in showing commitment and resolve that makes winning feel even better and promotes loyalty within the franchise and the fan base. Firing is finger pointing, and finger pointing breeds more finger pointing. So when is it the right time to fire the coach? You'll know it when you see it.
Wallace from Jacksonville, FL
Vic, what is your opinion about Shad Khan's decision to stand pat with the front office and head coaching positions for the Jaguars? Seems after six seasons as GM, Dave Caldwell's resume isn't exactly impressive. The team has won less than 40 percent of its games over the past six seasons and has gone from far under the cap to having to make some hard decisions this offseason because of the salary cap.
Khan has given control of his team to Tom Coughlin. I think it's a sound decision. Coughlin will do right things. Jaguars fans must understand Coughlin inherited a team that doesn't have a quarterback. Punishing Caldwell for that fact won't fix the problem. Coughlin is calling the shots. I think Jaguars fans should find comfort in that.
Marty from Grafton, WI
Vic, which type of coach would you prefer to be running your team, the bring-all-the-players type or bring-only-those-that-can-help-the-team type?
Each way can be successful, as long as it's consistent with the head coach's personality. You can't give pep talks and then leave members of your team at home; the words begin to ring hollow. Chuck Noll was off the Paul Brown tree and Brown once said, "I'll tell you when you do it wrong because I pay you to do it right." Coach Noll's way promoted toughness and contribution. He motivated players by challenging their need to belong. He played to the desire in each of them to be professionals. Being left behind caused a lot of injuries to heal more quickly than expected. I think I like that way better than the "Love Boat" method.
Bob from Caserma Del Din, Vicenza Italy
Can you please remind me why the Packers chose not to re-sign Casey Hayward a few years ago?
He had a hamstring that broke like a guitar string. The Chargers got lucky.
Joe from Bloomington, IN
How crucial is the pick play in modern offenses? Is McCarthy's reluctance to use it part of his downfall?
Reluctance to use it? The Packers' bunch set in which Randall Cobb cut underneath and behind a pick was a goal line staple in Mike McCarthy's offense. I remember him throwing a fit because it was penalized. You need to stop reading whatever site fed you that garbage.
Zak from Madison, WI
How do you describe your football soul, Vic?
I have a deep love and reverence for a game I believe requires noble effort. I cringe with every cheap and tawdry player celebration.
Brian from Baltimore, MD
Eagles (4-4), Ravens (4-4), Bears (4-3), Packers (3-3-1), Cowboys (3-4), Colts (3-5) at Week 8. One of your mantras is it's how teams finish. In your view, what propelled these mediocre teams to finish in the playoffs that may have misfired in Green Bay?
There's no common reason, other than something clicked, which is a way of saying they found their identity and began playing to it. The Packers' identity had always been for Aaron Rodgers playing well enough to mask the team's deficiencies. In 2018, that didn't happen.
"Ask Vic" will publish on Mondays and Thursdays through the offseason.
Tim from Foley, AL
First Bell, now Brown. What’s going on in Pittsburgh?
It's time for the Steelers to be new. It happens to all franchises. The Steelers will be judged on how quickly they can reconstitute themselves. The same is true of the Packers. I think it's the true mark of a franchise's strength.
Jesus from El Paso, TX
What can an organization learn by interviewing a head coach that it can't learn any other way? How grueling is the vetting process?
You ask him about everything. You ask him how he feels about including injured players and practice squad players on road trips. His answer will tell you how he perceives team building and demands accountability. When I covered the Packers, they took everybody on the road. Chuck Noll only included players who would be active for the game. He didn't even take Terry Bradshaw on the road when Bradshaw was injured. "If Terry can't play for us, Terry can't help us," Chuck said. There was a message in that. Is that the message you want your coach to send? Don't just ask him what play he'd call on third-and-eight. Ask him the fine-detail questions that'll give you a look into his football soul. If you hire him, his football soul will become your football team's soul.
Kevin from Greenacres, WA
Mike Mayock as the Raiders GM? All the TV personalities feel it's a play to sell PSL's in Las Vegas, rather than field a winning team.
Mike Mayock would sell tickets? I doubt it. I could feel this coming years ago when Mayock became the star of NFL Network's combine coverage. It always felt as though Mayock was trying out for a GM job. In his defense, he's an astute evaluator of talent and tireless worker at scouting draft prospects. If that's his sole duty, I see no reason he shouldn't be successful.
Monty from Seattle, WA
The most accomplished coach on the market ranks in the career top 30 in wins and winning percentage, has a playoff record over .500 and a Super Bowl championship. He's also the guy the team just canned. If you're not satisfied with that level of performance, you're probably incapable of forming reasonable expectations.
I remember a real estate agent telling me, "Your house is a great house. If we weren't selling it, we'd be buying it." It gave me pause.
Roger from Wyoming
Do you think Zimmer could be looking for a new job? Another choking Vikings season, in my opinion.
The Vikings need to show patience, but I can't help but wonder how tempted they are by Mike McCarthy's availability.
Jon from Air Force, USA
My brother and I have been reading "Ask Vic" for years and your writing has helped us achieve great perspective and given us wonderful memories. Thank you for your work. I am a public affairs officer in the Air Force. Some of our duties include speaking with the media and answering questions in a press conference setting. What advice could you share with me and what did you most admire about the great ones who stood on the other side of the podium?
I admire people who answer questions truthfully, respectfully. I always treated them with an extra measure of understanding and kindness, in appreciation of their honesty and willingness to share it with me. Coach Noll was such a man. He would not have handled the Antonio Brown mess as Mike Tomlin did. He would've made Brown own it.
Leif from Frederic, WI
The Steelers failed to make the playoffs with a Hall of Fame QB and WR, a top-four offense and a much-improved top-six defense. Where does the blame lie?
First of all, forget about that top-six defense. If ever stats told a lie, that's an example of it. In playing the blame game, you begin with pointing the finger at a defense that routinely failed to protect late-game leads. That was true even on the final day of the season. Roethlisberger repeatedly bailed out the defense by rallying to win a game the defense nearly lost by failing to protect a lead. Defense was the problem in 2017 and it continued to be the problem in '18, and that points the finger directly at the decision to franchise Le'Veon Bell instead of spending his cap money on upgrades on defense. Beyond that, Chris Boswell missed kicks that cost the Steelers at least three wins, and the decision to cut Landry Jones and go with two young quarterbacks who had no game experience might've cost the Steelers a loss in Oakland. Their season was also cursed by a malfunctioning x-ray machine and officiating gaffes that made it appear as though 2018 just wasn't meant to be the Steelers' year. I think Mike Tomlin also deserves blame for allowing Antonio Brown to become an even bigger distraction than Bell.
Dave from Chicago, IL
Vic, the cap still rules. Antonio Brown wants out of Pittsburgh and Brian Gutekunst could offer a first and another mid-round pick. Not bad for either team except there is a reported $21 million in dead money for the Steelers. Should the league get creative like the NBA in contract structuring so there is more opportunities to make a deal?
The dead money doesn't take into account the cap hit the Steelers would save by trading Brown. The difference would be $6 million and the Steelers could swallow that very easily. No, I don't think the NFL needs to get creative with contract structuring. As for Brown's trade value, the Steelers would be lucky to get a three for him. Why do fans want to give away the farm, so to speak, for big-name players whose best years might be behind them? Dez Bryant? If Brown truly wants to be traded, the worst thing he could do is publicize that fact. The Steelers have been vigilant in not allowing their players to dictate personnel policy. They stubbornly reaffirmed that fact this season in the Bell matter.
Elten from Pleasant Lake, IN
A Denver sports writer said, "During his tenure as head coach, McDaniels alienated every player in the locker room and most of his coaching staff." He embarrassed the Colts. He is being interviewed on Friday for the job of head coach of the Packers. Why?
His reputation is for being a play-calling genius, and I suspect he would be the top choice of Packers fans if surveyed. If Josh McDaniels is hired to be the Packers' head coach, the explosion of excitement and expectation will be like nothing the franchise has ever known for hiring a coach.
Nik from Apple Valley, MN
Do you have any thoughts on Mike Munchak as a potential head coach? He seems like a guy who would command the respect of the roster and I thought he did a decent job with the Titans, considering the quarterbacks he inherited.
I think he's an outstanding coach, but he would be an unpopular choice among Packers fans, and I think the pushback would make it difficult for him to succeed. The emergence of McDaniels' name as a candidate for the Packers' head coaching job has poisoned the water for nearly every other candidate.
Joe from Bloomington, IN
Did the Packers make a mistake letting John Dorsey go?
How could they have kept him? It's a game of replacement, at all positions and on all levels. I'll use the Packers, Steelers and Jaguars as examples. In the last year, the Packers will have replaced their GM and head coach. How long before they have to replace the quarterback? The Steelers lost their star running back, their star receiver wants to be traded and their quarterback is in the final stages of his career. Their run appears to be over and it's time to be new. A year ago, the Jaguars were a team on the rise with a young cast of star players. Now, it's a five-win team entering a blow-it-up offseason.
Nathan from New York, NY
Vic, what are your picks for the wild card games?
I'm going with the Texans and Chargers in the AFC and with the Cowboys and Bears in the NFC.
Zak from Muskego, WI
If extensive media reports are to believed, Mike Tomlin and Doug Marrone have lost their locker rooms, and Aaron Rodgers got Mike McCarthy fired. Given your incredibly unique perspective on these three franchises, I'm extremely interested to read your perspective on the validity of and similarities in all three narratives.
Three players will decide the tone of the Steelers, Jaguars and Packers heading into training camp next summer. Tomlin needs to reel in Antonio Brown or cast him away; Marrone needs to do the same with Jalen Ramsey. The relationship between Rodgers and the new coach in Green Bay will be closely watched by players and media through the spring. Will Rodgers and the new coach be buddy-buddy, or will the new coach keep his distance and effect a more businesslike relationship with Rodgers? How the new coach treats Rodgers will be how every player on the team will expect to be treated.
Stephen from California
When it comes to players, we want well-known, experienced veterans in free agency to fix the team, as opposed to relying on young talent in the draft. But when it comes to finding a head coach, it seems we want the young coordinator or college coach who's never been there before. This seems a little backwards to me. Can you explain this paradigm?
I think fans want a coach who fits their ideal of what the team needs. Packers fans want a play-caller. It's one of the most plays-obsessed fan bases in the league. During the season, most of the questions I receive are about plays that were called and plays that should've been called. In a perfect world, the new coach will call screen passes and throw the ball to the tight end. Packers fans have great sensitivity for those types of plays. I was surprised by the play-call fascination. I didn't expect it when I took the job with packers.com. In the first preseason I covered, I was amazed to find the media covering the Packers even assigned a play-count to the players; I had never seen that anywhere else. Every fan base has a personality that's unique to it. Steelers fans want a strong running game and defense. That's Steelers football and they haven't been playing it the past two seasons. Jaguars fans love a scrambling quarterback, which might be the result of the fan base's love of college football. Packers fans want to out-think the opposition. They love the unexpected.