"Ask Vic" will publish on Mondays and Thursdays through the offseason.
Brian from Odenton, MD
Vic, I have been wondering how much running game issues are caused by drafting/converting tackles to play guard, or by trying to save money at this position? Or maybe another way to ask is what does a power running team look like compared to a team that tries to balance its attack, or run as a change of pace?
A power running team can drive block and move the line of scrimmage on short-yardage plays. Teams that can only zone block are finesse running teams that routinely fail on short-yardage downs because the defense either holds the point of attack or penetrates and blows up the play, or both. That's why zone-blocking teams have to throw the ball on third and one. My idea of the perfect offensive line is one that can do it all: drive, pull, trap, zone and pass block. That usually requires a combination of big tackles with light feet and guards with low pad level. The Patriots offensive line appears to possess those combined talents. It was able to adjust its game to complement its running back, even when he was a wide receiver.
Tom from Bismarck, ND
Vic, for what seemed the entire football season, fans of the game were treated to an ongoing saga of the Steelers' running back and the daily claptrap that follows players like him. Since December, only the name has changed. The uniform remains the same. Today, the most popular sites for NFL fans reading up on daily NFL happenings have completely devoted themselves to the new problem child. We like to blame the commissioner, referees, owners, players and fans for what our wonderful game has become. However, your brethren in the sports reporting business are the ones fanning these fires. Please don't blame the readers. We're starved for news about the league and will read almost anything. Oops.
Vic to Tom: Stop reading "Bleacher Report” and other such re-write sites. They’re not trying to inform you, they’re trying to get your click by taking the same facts -- none of which they uncovered -- and putting a new lede and a sexy headline on an old story. By doing that, they turn a one-day story into an every-day story, as long as you continue to read it.
Bob from Australia
Vic, I feel like Antonio Brown is inviting you to respond when he tweets, "It's not about the money, it's for the love of the sport." Love to hear your take.
When they say it's not about the money, that's when it's really about the money. Thank you, George. You're still the best.
Dave from Chippewa Falls, WI
What does the Kaepernick settlement mean to you?
It means the First Amendment remains the guiding light of a nation that doesn't fully appreciate what truly makes America great, again and again and again. Way back when this began, I wrote in this column Kaepernick would win and become a very wealthy man, because there's no court in the land that'll rule against First Amendment rights. Thank God!
Phil from Marietta, GA
You've often said revenue sharing is one key to the Packers' viability. I don't get it. The season ticket waiting list is a generation long, the team has as big a national following as any and the owners/fans would pitch in for any high-priced free agent if given the chance. Assuming TV revenue for New York vs. Green Bay, for example, would be split between the two teams, how would teams spending on their own hurt the Packers?
All of the success the Packers enjoy is after the fact; it's the result of Pete Rozelle's pool-the-revenue plan. Without Rozelle's leaguethink, the Packers wouldn't have survived in Green Bay long enough to reach the Lambeau restoration phases. All of that wonderful tradition and the amazing allure of Lambeau Field would've been lost, and the Packers would've become just another franchise trying to survive. Even as popular as the Packers are today, I think it would only be a matter of time before the franchise fell into disrepair, if the NFL stopped pooling its revenue and every team was left to its own devices. The big-market teams would dominate.
Doug from Phoenix, AZ
You have very high regards for Tom Coughlin. Below is Jason La Confara's grade on their QB situation, and puts Coughlin directly in the crosshairs. Where is he wrong? "F--. Yeah, that's an F minus, minus. We don't play around here. Not only did they punt on an entire draft class of QBs, and bought back into Bortles, they amplified their problems by trading for Cody Kessler and pretending he was an NFL backup (of course, he ended up starting when Bortles was inevitably benched!) and scoffed at the Jets when they offered Bridgewater, straight-up, for Dante Fowler before the season (they ended up dealing Fowler to the Rams for picks). Bridgewater may have saved their season. Now they will likely land Nick Foles and pray he can do for 16 weeks what we know he can do for four. Tom Coughlin has botched the QB position to this point, no other way to say it."
I think I said it was a mistake sticking with Bortles before it even happened. I called the 2017 season a fluke, and that's when I got the email from the Jags fan thumping his chest about having beaten the Steelers in Heinz Field. I specifically wrote you can't expect to win a championship by playing around your quarterback.
Tim from Lancaster, PA
What are the ramifications, if any, of the collusion settlement? Why were you so sure Kaepernick would win?
There's no way the NFL's army of attorneys would allow the league to suffer the crushing defeat it would've suffered. As a result of this settlement, the league needs to amend its official position on any player kneeling for the national anthem to: We support our players' First Amendment rights.
Samuel from Jacksonville, FL
Why did it take so long for the NFL to settle? The NFL is a multi-billion dollar company. They should have settled as soon as this was getting traction.
What was the rush? The league was going to lose, whether it was sooner or later. The longer the NFL held back the settlement, the longer it had to invest that amount of money and bank the gain.
Brandon from Lafayette, IN
In your recent post, you mentioned you hope the NFL fixes what ailed it in 2018. What would you say ailed it that is causing us to all feel this certain way?
The game is over-officiated. The result is we've become over-sensitized to officiating mistakes. I think it's possible the league likes it this way, and I think it's disrespectful of fans and a potentially dangerous position to take.
Steve from Minocqua, WI
Vic, why do the Steelers have player drama with Bell and Brown? Is it coincidence, team culture, did they not conduct thorough background checks, or is it something else? I’m baffled as to why two stars are causing such internal strife.
The Steelers did this to themselves by franchising Le'Veon Bell for a second consecutive season. They should've let him go into free agency. The year-long circus that resulted from franchising Bell might've even contributed to Antonio Brown's misbehavior, as angst seemed to be the Steelers' constant companion. Do you remember what I wrote last spring about how I would respond to questions about Bell if I were Mike Tomlin? Le'Veon who?
Gary from Panama City, FL
I find it extremely difficult to wrap my head around the fact people who dislike your writing style so much are still reading every week. Why do people force themselves to be miserable?
Why do people remarry?
Joseph from Dillon, MT
I would love to hear your opinions on other topics.
OK, here's one: The water's rising, folks, and it's going to impact all of us, not only the people who'll be forced to move to higher ground. The devastation to our economy from the loss of the most valuable real estate in America will be felt by all. We need to come together on this and find a solution or, at the least, devise a plan for retreat. I am not intending to make a political statement. My interest is in preserving our beautiful country for our posterity to enjoy as we have, and avoiding the calamity that would follow if we do nothing.
Tristan from Durham, NC
It was nice of John from Ann Arbor to take his time to write you. Did he spell the name right?
It's the PR mantra that brought the NFL out of the darkness and helped make it our most popular professional sports league: Write anything you want; just spell the name right.
Tom from Superior, WI
Other than your position with the Packers, what was your favorite thing about living in Green Bay? We know it wasn't pumping gas in the winter!
I loved the nearness of everything. In the offseason, I went home for lunch. I never had to build my schedule around rush hour because there was no rush hour. That kind of job exists nowhere else in the NFL. It was wonderful!
Andrew from Mount Dora, FL
Vic, what would your advice be to someone looking to become a better writer? What are some of the best resources out there?
I owe my professional life to the newspaper business. It taught me how to write responsibly, creatively and on deadline. It taught me one car doesn't hit another car; two cars collide. It taught me to look inside the person I was interviewing and feel the truth he is trying to hide, and then make it my truth. It taught my fingers to glide over a keyboard, as one eye looked at my notes and the other glanced at the clock. The most pure writing/reporting experience of my life was Friday nights in the fall in Western Pa. Go to your local newspaper and volunteer to cover city council meetings. They'll teach you how to write.
David from San Francisco, CA
I’m more optimistic than you, Vic. What happens when AAF players get injured. You think the quality of play will drop as the season progresses? I disagree; that’s only one variable. I spent this past September watching NFL players, coaches and referees all embarrass themselves. I believe the quality of play will increase with familiarity and regularity as it did in the NFL, and I believe the pool of C-grade players available to the league is probably huge.
What will happen when AAF players get injured? Without a players union and a CBA, the players will sue and the AAF will begin reeling from the effects of its liability.
"Ask Vic" will publish on Mondays and Thursdays through the offseason.
Roger from Auburn, CA
Vic, who would you target in free agency if you were the GM for the Packers? Maybe your top three picks, if they could pull it off?
That's too aggressive for my taste. That's like buying Berkshire, Google and Amazon. You're not going to have enough money left to build a portfolio (team). I like cheap free agency. Wanna do what the Patriots do? Then identify some affordable patches and fit them into a role-playing design that covers your needs but doesn't pin you against the cap. Expensive free agency is a trap. You don't get a lot for your money and the reward, in my opinion, is seldom worth the risk. Jimmy Graham is a perfect example. Now the Packers are stuck with the decision of whether to cut their losses on Graham or pay him even more money and increase their risk. No thanks.
Jerry from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
Why would any team trade for Antonio Brown?
His cap situation favors trading for him, if you believe he's still a great player and he can be managed. His amortization stays with the Steelers so you'd only be on the hook for his salary if you traded for him. If after one season you don't want him on your team, cut him and he's off your books; no dead money. A team with wide receiver fever that believes it's one player away will trade for him, but I don't see the Steelers getting better than a third-round pick for him. I think Mike Tomlin did a pretty good job of dealing with Brown's disruptive personality; Tomlin got a lot of production out of Brown. When Brown walked out on his team, it was over; there was no excusing that behavior. Two of the best players in the game became the top stories in the league this past season, and for the wrong reasons.
Kurt from Springfield, MO
My family and I will be in Charleston this weekend. My nephew graduates from Navy Nuke School on Friday and gets married on Sunday. If you were to offer a suggestion on a local place for a good meal to take your family, what would it be?
High dollar -- Fulton Five. Medium price -- Acme Lowcountry Kitchen on Isle of Palms. Cheapo -- Swig and Swine.
Mark from Wausau, WI
Vic, really NFL? Kareem Hunt gets signed, but Colin Kaepernick doesn't?
The message is you can beat up a woman and get a second chance, but expressing your right to peaceful protest is intolerable if it's viewed as unpatriotic.
Bryce from Marquette, WI
Vic, have you ever given thought to writing about anything other than football? I find myself gravitating towards your writing style and your disposition towards your own life (and life in general) is something I strive for. Your columns are a constant exercise in perspective.
I'm toying with the idea of tweaking the "Ask Vic" format by adding topics on which I'd like to comment.
Pete from Los Angeles, CA
Vic, are there any second or third-tier free agents who pique your interest?
They all do. That's where the bargains are. A good pro personnel department finds those guys. They find role players from other team's castoffs.
Bob from Green Bay, WI
What are your thoughts on Sterling Sharpe having a shot at the Hall of Fame. Arguably the best receiver in the league his last three years, even when compared to Jerry Rice at the time. Any chance?
No. His career was too short. We don't need to reach for wide receivers. The Hall of Fame selection committee is barraged by better candidates. We need a Hall of Fame of Wide Receivers. Sharpe belongs there.
John from Ann Arbor, MI
You get your rocks off fooling imbeciles into thinking you’ve any real insight into the strategy of the game. This whole website is one vanity plate. You reminisce about a time when sports writers could paint a picture instead of analyze. The irony is you never had the talent for either. You claim to love the human confrontation but you completely ignore the grit and maturation of coaches like Belichick and instead attribute their success to others. There’s a reason you giggle when Romo makes a wrong guess. Because you mistake fallibility with coming down to your level.
Mike from Missoula, MT
I got my dad "Instant Replay" for Christmas and he found it interesting Kramer said the Packers practiced harder than any other team. In what ways do practices differ from team to team? Have they changed dramatically over the decades?
Under Chuck Noll, nine-on-seven drills and sled work were staples of Steelers practices. Coach Noll also liked to begin each training camp with an Oklahoma drill. That regimen is considered Neanderthal-like compared to today's passing camps. Bill Cowher liked a spirited goal-line drill in training camp. He liked to end a hard-hitting practice with a test-of-will thud. Tom Coughlin's practices featured precision passing. I think Mark Brunell could've completed a down-and-out in his sleep. Jack Del Rio was big on pass-rush drills pitting offensive and defensive linemen; that's where he put his exclamation point in his practices. Mike McCarthy was all about tempo and thoroughness. He covered all of the bases.
Ryan from Hayward, WI
Did you have the opportunity to watch any AAF games last weekend? I'm curious about your overall impressions and whether you think a league like this has a future.
I'm not going to judge the success or viability of that league on just one weekend of play. Can it sustain the level of play for which it's being praised? What happens when injuries begin depleting their ranks? Will the quality of play decline? What happens when the TV ratings and media attention declines? Will anybody still care? If it keeps its costs down and finds a way to limit its exposure to player liability, the AAF has a chance to survive and become a minor league of football, but the odds aren't in its favor.
Ryan from Bartlett, IL
Vic, I was watching the excellent documentary "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" discussing the lives of some of the members of Motown Records' house band, the Funk Brothers. This was the band that played the instruments for a massive number of hits, but received none of the recognition the singers did. One of the musicians was bassist James Jamerson, who hailed from Edisto Island, and his son still lives there, carrying on his father's legacy. Did you know before you moved there you'd have the scion of one of Motown's (unsung) heroes as a neighbor?
It was after I owned a home here I learned of Jamerson. I love the first three notes of "My Girl."
Brady from Milwaukee, WI
In the NBA in particular, there is a lot of discussion about market size. I don’t think I can think of a time the media has mentioned market size as a relevant factor for free agency in the NFL. Is this just because the NFL is such a national game and other sports leagues tend to be more regionally focused? Or is my analysis incorrect?
It's because Pete Rozelle instituted a system of pooling the revenue. It allows markets such as Green Bay to compete on a level field with New York. In my opinion, the Packers owe their success as much to Wellington Mara as they do to Vince Lombardi. Mara agreed to Rozelle's idea and at that point market size became meaningless in the NFL.
Tom from Vista, CA
Who was your fave player to ask for a quote?
In Pittsburgh, it was Joe Greene. In Jacksonville, it was Fred Taylor and Tony Boselli. In Green Bay, I thought Aaron Rodgers' postgame press conferences were always enlightening and I thought he worked hard and respectfully to help reporters provide an accurate account of the game. I found James Jones too late and I wish I had been able to spend more time with Charles Woodson.
Ben from Columbus, OH
Vic, what's your eye-test opinion of Dwayne Haskins and Kyler Murray? Do you believe they're top 10 picks?
Haskins absolutely is. Murray, in my opinion, is a little guy with a long throwing motion. I think he's a big risk in the first round.
Omar from Morelia, Mexico
Vic, this season was quite disappointing. Right now, I need to take a break from football and that saddens me. It is the first time I have had this feeling. I really want to leave this season behind. Do you have any advice?
I feel the same way and I think it's good for me because I came to count on football too much. I'm going to fill my offseason with other endeavors. Right now, I'm in the midst of house remodeling. It's taken my mind off football. By the start of next season, I want to feel refreshed and ready for something better. Hopefully, the NFL will fix what ailed it in 2018.
"Ask Vic" will publish on Mondays and Thursdays through the offseason.
Ben from El Paso, TX
Happy Black History Month, Vic! Who is on your Mt. Rushmore of black coaches?
Eddie Robinson, Art Shell, Tony Dungy and Mike Tomlin.
Rick from Pine Mountain, GA
Should the NFL return the hash marks to their original width? Do you remember why they were narrowed?
They were moved toward the center of the field in 1972 to help promote the passing game, but they had a completely opposite impact, as they produced an explosion of thousand-yard rushers. I see no reason to widen the hash marks, though I think the effect of doing it would further stimulate the passing game. Boundary corners would become plentiful, but the wide-side shutdown corners would become even more difficult to find and doubly expensive. I think there would be an immediate shift in strategy. Passing offenses would live on the wide side of the field, and defenses would have to flood that side of the field with coverage defenders. Kickers would have to deal with sharper angles on chip-shot kicks.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, while it may not have ben a great season or a great Super Bowl, what did you enjoy most about writing "Ask Vic" during the past year?
I didn't enjoy writing about Mike McCarthy's fall, the Le'Veon Bell drama or the childish antics of the Jaguars. This season was a disappointment in nearly every way for me, except for one: I always love reading and exchanging thoughts with the column's readers.
Barry from Hayward, WI
Vic, which teams are going to win the next five Super Bowls?
The Rams, Chiefs, Bears and Browns are best positioned going forward. I liked the Jets' future until they hired Adam Gase. I hope I'm missing something but I just don't get that hire.
Will from Salt Lake City, UT
I do believe Brady is the greatest QB ever, even though Rodgers is my favorite player. I think if it wasn't for Belichick he would have maybe 1-2 titles fewer than the six and I would still view him as the GOAT. Too much credit to their system. How do you think Brady would do with McCarthy or Tomlin as his coach?
He would've flourished because they are proven championship coaches. Brady is perfect for McCarthy's offense and Tomlin would've surrounded him with top defensive personnel until the last few years.
Dan from Sebastopol, CA
Vic, what are the top three positions Green Bay, Jacksonville and Pittsburgh each need to fill in the draft or free agency?
The Packers need a premier pass rusher, a guy who is disruptive and demands extra attention from the offense. The Jaguars need a quarterback, a guy who can win at crunch time. The Steelers need corners.
Dave from Jacksonville, FL
Vic, I’ve been retired for a couple of years. I believe I’ve watched every televised sporting event in its entirety at least once in my lifetime. I think the Masters is the best television sporting event. What do you think?
I enjoy it, but sometimes I feel as though I'm watching the same golfers hit the same shots every year. I like the variety the two Opens offer. The Masters' advantage is it's the only thing going on. Baseball has just begun and football is a distant memory.
Mike from Fort Wayne, IN
Do you think football, both college and pro, needs to be saved? If so, what needs to happen?
If the facemask had never been invented, you wouldn't be asking this question. Think about that. How do we turn the clock back? There's no chance the facemask will be taken off the helmet, so we continue to work around that fact by creating rules that are changing the game more quickly and radically than we can digest. The answer lies in changing the culture, but at this point it might be more about changing the fans' culture than it is about changing the players' culture.
Kirsten from Madison, WI
In defense of Chatty: I didn't grow up playing football or Madden, but I'm a long-time Packers fan who wants to learn more about the game, the same way I would about any other hobby I pursue. There are 22 men on the field and the game moves fast. Without any personal history in playing the game or seeing it coached, it's hard to sort through who is doing what and why. I can call an offsides penalty from my living room. Romo's insights give more clarity to the game itself.
I agree, he offers insight, but I think for those who know the game a lot of his comments come off as self-serving baloney, except I wouldn't say baloney. In my opinion, a fan such as yourself would be better served by a TV guy who gives you feel for what's it like to be playing in that game. Yes, I'm talking about the human confrontation. Imagine breaking the huddle for a goal-line play that'll determine the outcome of the game, knowing you're getting the ball and those 11 men on defense are looking right at you. I'd like for TV to give us an analyst who can capture that moment and that feeling. Cosell could do it.
Paul from McLeansville, NC
Much has been written about Rodgers changing the plays that McCarthy called. I'm guessing this happened in prior years, too. Have read a couple of articles of former players noting the change in Rodgers over the years. Now, with a new coach, how do you see this playing out if he continues changing the plays that are called in by the coach?
I think a quarterback of Aaron Rodgers' esteem should be granted the right to change the play, but there are times when a coach will call a play to set up another play. When those times occur, I think the coach should include the words "and run it" following his play call, which would be code for don't change it. A coach has to be allowed to call plays that dovetail with his game plan. Sometimes you have to run against an eight-man box to sell the play-action pass you have planned for the following play. If you're just calling plays randomly, you don't have a game plan.
Joel from Laramie, WI
Vic, I'll just ask it since I suspect a lot of Packers fans and others wonder or want to ask. Does Rodgers already have more Super Bowl appearances and victories under his belt with Belichick as his coach?
I have no reason to believe Belichick could've done a better or even as good a job with the 2010 team. It was superbly coached and McCarthy's stamp was all over it. The 2011 team suffered the same fate against the Giants Belichick did twice. The '12 team was garbage on defense. Maybe Belichick could've worked his magic on that team, but it would've begun with replacing the personnel. The '13 team had momentum and would've beaten the 49ers had Micah Hyde (I think it was Hyde) intercepted that pass. Maybe Hyde would've caught the ball had Belichick been the coach. The meltdown in Seattle the following year is germane to your question. I can't see a Belichick defense dissolving as the Packers' did. That's when the music ended for the McCarthy era teams. They were never the same following the meltdown in Seattle. Frankly, I think McCarthy got more out of the '15 and '16 teams than should've been expected of their weak rosters. Final tally: With Belichick, I'll give the Packers a Super Bowl title in '14.
Justin from Dacula, GA
I was wondering if you had any memories or thoughts regarding the Lou Holtz "era" with the Jets. Has there ever been a greater example of the massive gap between college and pro football?
He didn't even know the waiver rules and ended up painting the Jets into a corner by repeatedly claiming players off waivers. Holtz was smart enough to get out of the NFL and go back to college football. Spurrier did the same thing. He was a disaster, too.
Koko from New York City
In the Super Bowl, you mentioned the Rams offensive line performed poorly. Others have said the Pats defensive line dominated. Those two aren’t mutually exclusive, but what did you see and look for to arrive at your conclusion?
The Rams whiffed too many times. Getting bulled and walked back to the quarterback is one thing, but an NFL-caliber offensive linemen should never whiff. The Rams did a lousy job of preparation on offense.
Brooks from Moore, OK
Vic, I know the Packers had problems last year, but I was surprised complacency was on the list. Were you? I always thought Mike McCarthy ran a tighter ship.
I can think of another problem the Packers had: whiney players.
Gordon from Jacksonville Beach, FL
Can you write a bit about Noll's and Bradshaw's relationship? You wrote Noll is the most honorable man you've ever known, but I feel like I've heard some accounts of those early days with Bradshaw that didn't sound so great. Did Bradshaw get his feelings hurt too easily? Was Noll still coming into his own? I know you were there and I'd love to hear your summary and thoughts about it.
They won four Super Bowls together. What's not great about that? The intent is to win championships, not fall in love. Brown and Graham had a contentious relationship. So did Landy and Staubach. Starr drew a line in the sand with Lombardi about criticism in front of the rest of the team. Unitas called time out and told Shula, the Colts' new coach, to never, ever send a play into Unitas' huddle again. Bradshaw needed attention. He wanted to be pampered; don't we all? Coach Noll kept a distance from his players; that's how he achieved accountability in his team. He wanted no excuses. If Noll had babied his quarterback, it would've sent a wrong message to the rest of the team and it might've estranged the team from its quarterback. Someone once said Bradshaw wanted love and Noll didn't know how to give it. Noll knew how to win. Would you rather love and lose?
Nathan from New York, NY
Vic, what do you mean when you say a coach has his team prepared to play?
A team is prepared to play when every member of it knows its role and is completely focused without distraction on executing that role. Belichick is a master at preparing his team to play.
"Ask Vic" will publish on Mondays and Thursdays through the offseason.
Loftur from Columbus, OH
I know you are big on players having a defining postseason moment regarding their Hall of Fame case. I also know you think there are too many wide receivers in the Hall of Fame. What is your stance regarding the Julian Edelman Hall of Fame discussion? Shouldn't Cliff Branch get in before Edelman even gets looked at?
Why not Wes Welker, too? Those who believe Edelman belongs in the Hall of Fame are suffering from terminal wide receiver fever. They should be ignored because they can't be saved. Cliff Branch? If you're talking about the old guys, I would begin with Drew Pearson and Otis Taylor.
Kelvin from Kenilworth, UK
Vic, hope you're enjoying the mild winter compared to Green Bay. My question to you is there appears to be an increase in quarterbacks who can pass and run, yet, it is Brady, Brees and Rivers who are playing into their 40's and dual-purpose guys have been replaced quicker. So has the franchise pocket QB been devalued or has it actually increased due to the greater chance of longevity?
The pocket quarterback has never been more valuable, and that's the problem with the pocket quarterback. Conversely, the throw-and-run quarterback may not stay healthy long enough to play long enough to become a killer cap hit. He might be a one or two-year wonder, but the supply of these types of quarterbacks is plentiful. Are you willing to commit to that type of quarterback? You'll need to have a few of them on your roster and be willing to replace them several times before the pocket passer's career ends, but the throw-and-run guy is easier to replace and his friendly cap hit will allow you to surround him with talent. I think it's doable. In fact, I think the Ravens did it.
Brent from Dubuque, IA
Vic, do you remember any game or even a specific play early in Tom Brady's career that first made you say, "Wow, this guy is going to be great?"
I remember being amazed at Bill Belichick's confidence in Brady to convert fourth-and-short plays at midfield. I had never seen anything like that. And Brady converted. I had never seen anything like that, either. I was in awe of his ability to make clutch plays.
Fabrizio from Fossano, Italy
The Patriots are the great franchise of the last two decades, but how did they do it? Is it just Tom Brady? Or Bill Belichick?
I've been over this and over this seemingly a million times, but my inbox is still teeming with this question, so let's do it again: Belichick might be the greatest evaluator of talent of any coach in history. His ability to patch with affordable players for whom he designs specific roles he believes they can execute, and then designs a plan based on those roles, continues to amaze me, along with his ability to focus and prepare his team to play a game. Be that as it may, Belichick was 5-13 and on his way to being fired when he made Brady his starting quarterback. They became the greatest winning combination in pro football history. Packers fans don't like my analysis because they want to believe Aaron Rodgers is better than Brady and Mike McCarthy is to blame for Brady having won so many more titles. I believe Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time.
Don from Colorado Springs, CO
The Patriots neutralized Aaron Donald so he was not a factor in the game. Next season, every team that plays the Rams will look at that film and try to do the same. Since you think he's the best defensive player, what do you think of his play in that game?
On at least one play I saw, he was triple-teamed. He had beaten a double-team and was about to sack Brady when the third blocker engaged Donald. I don't consider double and triple-teaming to be cutting edge strategy. Don, the Patriots were held to 13 points. I think it's more likely teams will watch that tape to see how the Rams did it.
Mike from North Hudson, WI
Vic, are there any specific rules you would like to see the NFL change for next season?
I don't want to discuss rules or rules changes. I'm weary of it; this past season was a weekly seminar on rules, rules interpretation, etc. For next season, I would like to see the NFL give us a seminar on football playing, not football officiating. The 2018 season, in my opinion, was one of the worst in NFL history. It reminded me of politics: No solution, just bickering.
Jim from Maple Grove, MN
Vic, I just watched a four-minute video highlighting the best of Chatty's calls for the Super Bowl (I was underwhelmed). I've seen numerous articles over the past two seasons expressing nothing short of awe at his commentary and hailing him as a football Nostradamus. Can you explain why he has become such a football media darling?
He's perfect for the video game generation: they love plays and strategy. I think he makes a lot of astute comments, but he often ruins them by saying too much. On one play in the Super Bowl, he talked about how the Patriots were going to run right at Aaron Donald, and then they ran directly away from him. I laughed. What about that cover zero with the deep safety in the AFC title game? Hey, he knows his stuff and he got himself a big contract. Good for him. Success is the pure defense.
Kyle from Phoenix, AZ
Going into this offseason, would you rather be the GM of the Packers, Steelers or Jaguars?
I love your question. If I'm Brian Gutekunst, I like what I've done and I'm excited about adding to it. If I'm Kevin Colbert, I wanna get the defense fixed and begin playing Steelers football again. If I'm Tom Coughlin, I'm going to find a quarterback. I think I'd like to be Coughlin.
Travis from Belvidere, IL
I noticed your pre-Super Bowl answers had a nostalgic feel to them. Does Super Bowl time have that effect?
Dru from Lehi, UT
You mentioned you're nostalgic for old-school football games, but wasn't the Super Bowl just that? Both teams tried to run first and their defenses were great. I would have thought you liked the game.
I didn't think it was great defense; I thought it was bad offense. The Rams offensive line couldn't block a toilet seat, Jared Goff played in a fog, and his coach did nothing to clear the fog.
Allyn from New Canaan, CT
Vic, my Mt. Rushmore of coaches: Lombardi, Belichick, Noll and Walsh. Yours?
Brown, Lombardi, Walsh and Belichick. Coach Noll wasn't a Mt. Rushmore kind of guy. He didn't do commercials or endorsements. He believed players had a short career and endorsements should be left for them to enjoy. Coach Noll once saw his picture on a billboard and was embarrassed. His last name was commonly misspelled Knoll. Chuck liked that. He was never selected coach of the year. I think he liked that, too. When he retired, he did so with the same commitment he coached: He cast no shadows. He's the most honorable man I've ever known. Mt. Rushmore is too overstated for a man of his humility.
Mark from Wausau, WI
Vic, why do you think Belichick's assistants have been relatively unsuccessful as head coaches? Is their failure a testament to his coaching genius?
I think it's a testament to not having Tom Brady as their quarterback.
Paul from Hartland, WI
I believe the Rams and Chiefs are more talented teams than the Patriots but feel Belichick had an advantage getting to game plan against two young quarterbacks.
Belichick vs. Andy Reid and Sean McVay? Lombardi vs. Caspar Milquetoast.
"Ask Vic" will publish on Mondays and Thursdays through the offseason.
Ramiro from Jurupa Valley, CA
Vic, this was probably the most boring Super Bowl I’ve ever watched and I’m 40 years old. Do you agree or am I exaggerating? Why were the Rams unable to move the ball?
It wasn't a great season and it wasn't a great Super Bowl. I enjoyed neither. The season was mostly about officiating controversy, and the Super Bowl didn't give me the feeling it was a clash between the league's best two teams. The Patriots and Rams felt more like survivors than champions. The Rams were unable to move the ball because the Patriots defense was better prepared to play than the Rams offense was.
Seth from Aurora, CO
Could you imagine if MLB gave the World Series MVP to a player that was suspended for a quarter of the season for performance enhancing drugs?
Baseball? Bonds, Sosa, McGwire, Braun and on and on? The NFL has done a much better job of policing PEDs than baseball has.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, what surprised you most about the Super Bowl game?
I was most surprised by the poor play of the Rams offensive line.
Nate from Plymouth, MN
Personally, I think it's a bit rich to name an offensive player MVP after a Super Bowl in which only 16 total points were scored. I would've given it to Gilmore.
I think there was a movement to give it to anyone but Tom Brady. Truth be known, he was the MVP. With the game on the line, he moved the Patriots right down the field to the game-winner. He's a crunch-time marvel. It's what I respect most in a great quarterback.
Jon from Wright City (wherever that is)
GM Vic, is Goff your franchise QB?
If I was the Rams, I would be very concerned. Jared Goff looked worse than ordinary. His arm looked weak and he looked scared. The game and the Patriots defense were too big for him. Also in the truth be known category, the Rams weren't the same team late in the season they were at midseason, following their blistering start. They found a way to win and get to the big game, but their play began to look lackluster in many ways. I also think the game might've been too big for their coach.
Mark from Madison, WI
The game itself was not entertaining. It was an ode to the fundamentals. While not stimulating, it proved to be refreshing.
It was refreshing in the way sobriety is for a binge alcoholic. We all "drank" too much. We needed this.
Brice from Vancouver, WA
Was it Brady?
With seven minutes to play and the game tied it was.
Sean from Brighton, MI
How did the Patriots neutralize the Rams' high-powered offense?
They stopped the run. For all of the Rams' high-flying ways and their coach's reputation for calling great plays, their success was built on something as simple and as time-honored as the ability to run the football.
Chenc from Gent Oost-Vlaaderen, Belgium
Vic, recently I read an article that talked about Matt LaFleur wanting Green Bay to run the ball more often, and lots of commentators loved the idea. Haven’t we heard this before? What’s different now?
Every coach wants to run the ball, but it's about more than calling running plays. Mostly it's about having a strong enough defense that permits a coach to have the patience to commit to the run and stick with it despite early-game failures. If you go scoreless, your defense allows a touchdown drive, you go scoreless again and your defense allows another touchdown, your patience is in jeopardy. The 2014 Packers had a defense that allowed Mike McCarthy to commit to the run, and he did. Since then, defense has been a problem. Even last season, during which most Packers fans think the Packers made strides on defense, the defense ranked 18th overall, up only four spots from the defense that got Dom Capers fired. The Packers often found themselves trailing in games and being forced to abandon the run. Matt LaFleur comes from a Titans team that was No. 7 in rushing. He'll run it, if his defense allows him to have the patience to commit to the run. Nothing's different now.
Bill from Hawthorn Woods, IL
Vic, no disrespect to the five that got in, but Tony’s extended wait is disappointing. I know that’s through the lens of a biased fan, but I also know if No. 71 played in NY or LA, he’d have a gold jacket already. I feel confident inductiion is a matter of time, but it also seems past due. You’ve known him from the beginning. What are your thoughts?
It's not about where he played, it's about how long he played. Put four more good years on Tony Boselli's career and he would've been a first-ballot selection. Length of career is as important to offensive linemen as touchdown catches are to wide receivers. If it's any consolation, Tony is the best offensive tackle I ever covered.
Joe from Davenport, IA
I have major concern for the growth of the NFL or football in general. The media coverage and “entertainment," in my opinion, is ruining such a wonderful and simple game. I do all I can to avoid it. I feel the audience the NFL/players are trying to reach has shifted and the product on the field has deteriorated as a result.
I had a similar conversation last night following halftime. Vic to Vic: You're old. They don't want you anymore, and they don't want the game you miss and about which you wax nostalgic. It's over! The days of Al Hirt are gone. Deal with it.
Brian from Baltimore, MD
The game, commercials and all the rest were not particularly special. Two commercials for women's moisturizing cream says something, too. Not one truck ad and lots of network promos. That whole presentation package had to make the NFL cringe. What did you see, Vic?
I miss the Go Daddy commercials. I liked those.
John from Little Rock, AR
This past year, I did some construction work in a college football stadium and noticed all of the urinals in the visiting team locker room were hung at a height appropriate for children. Does the NFL have standards for visiting team facilities?
I know of no NFL rule governing the height of urinals. I think what you're describing is a matter of perspective. A team lacking confidence will see the low-mounted urinals as an insult to the team's masculinity. A confident team will see it as an expression of respect.
K.J. from Minneapolis, MN
It seems silly now, everyone wanting the next Sean McVay. Give me the next Bill Belichick.
I am in awe of his ability to prepare and focus his football team. They are always ready to play.
Bill from Sheboygan, WI
What are your thoughts on Julius Peppers?
Great talent, great player, great stats, certain to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Be that as it may, something is missing from his career, and it's not just a Super Bowl title. The defining moment isn't there. He was quietly great, but certainly not underrated. I wish he hadn't instructed Morgan Burnett to surrender following that interception. I wish Peppers had thrown the block that cleared a path for Burnett to the end zone and took the Packers to the Super Bowl. That would've been the defining moment that's lacking in Peppers' career.
Eric from Hudson, WI
I write you this question on Thursday after seeing your terrible prediction of a Rams win. What part of that Rams' run defense made you think they had a chance to win? Tom is better than Jared. Bill is better than McVay. The Patriots D is better than the Rams D. Aaron Donald is only one person. Belichick will force the Rams to throw. Jared Goff will have a terrible game. What were you thinking?
You nailed it.