Ask Vic will publish on Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the football season.
Ron from Boise, ID
Vic, what are your feelings on what Terry Bradshaw said about Coach Tomlin? In your opinion, is Tomlin too easy, too much of a friend?
I respect Bradshaw's opinion, but I remember how he was critical of Coach Noll for being too cold, too distant. Bradshaw says Tomlin isn't (Bradshaw's) kind of coach, but apparently Coach Noll wasn't Bradshaw's kind of coach, either, because their relationship was estranged, to say the least. I'm OK with Tomlin. Sometimes I get a little weary of his dramatic commentary, but I think he feels the heartbeat of his team and has the attention of his players. If I have a criticism of his coaching, it's that he didn't do enough to soften the loss of Ryan Shazier late last season. He just plugged in another player, and he didn't have a guy who could replace Shazier. That's why they lost to Jacksonville in the postseason. Where was the creativity? I feel strongly Bill Belichick would've found a way to coach around the loss of his best defensive player. As for Bradshaw, I'll always love him for his dramatics. He was a great story and an always willing interview. He played his best football when the games were biggest and the spotlight was brightest. He was my kind of quarterback.
Kamen from Bethel, CT
I don't buy that the Bears will be particularly good this year, nor do I understand any of the hype surrounding Mitchell Trubisky. Whether or not I'm right is something that will reveal itself, but suppose for the sake of argument I am and Trubisky is not the answer at quarterback. What, exactly, are the Bears going to do about the position?
Trubisky impressed me. Be that as it may, should he fail to be "The Man," the Bears will have to recycle, but they can't know that for at least two more years because when you draft a guy as high as the Bears drafted Trubisky, you have to give him three years to prove he's not "The Man." At that point, the draft picks lost in the Khalil Mack trade will have largely passed, and the Bears would be in position to recycle: New coach, new GM, new quarterback, new cap, the whole bit. They have a plan. It's not Nutsville.
Skip from Wisconsin
Still laughing from your colonoscopy preparation comparison with Brady/ Rodgers. Many Packers fans, including me, are amazed how the Packers continue to roll the dice with Matthews and Perry. Injured so often. What are your thoughts on this?
It's rush or cover. The Packers picked cover. In the next draft, I suspect they'll pick rush.
Tyler from Spring Hill, FL
Vic, any chance of seeing a return of your all-important power rankings? I enjoyed the reactions it garnered from those who take such rankings so seriously.
My all-important power rankings will return on Wed., Sept. 12. So will the infamous asterisk.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, what are the Packers' greatest strengths heading into the 2018 season?
The Packers' greatest strengths are Aaron Rodgers and a secondary loaded with high picks.
Zach from Chicago, IL
Which three rookies around the NFL will you most likely be tracking this year?
I'll be interested in the progress of four rookies: Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen. Who hit and who missed? It's a quarterback game. If you miss at that position, you'll have to recycle and that means somebody else will be doing the cycling.
Randall from Zarczyce Duze, Poland
I finally got my hands on Roy Blount Jr.'s book, About Three Bricks Shy of a Load. What a fascinating read! A quote from Ray Mansfield at the end of chapter seven jumped out at me. It's on the topic of hitting and being hit. "Maybe we're a dying breed. Maybe football will become flag football." That was in 1973.
It's one of my favorite sports books. Roy is a sensational writer. The last time I saw him was at a Hall of Fame Game in 1983. I gave him my press pass so he could go up to the press box and find out where his press credentials were. An hour later, I had to beg my way into the press box. After that, he kind of dropped out of the sports writing scene, which was a great loss for our industry. He has a special feel for sports and the ability to express that feel in words. Three Bricks is an example of his genius. Mansfield was perfect subject matter for Roy. The "Old Ranger" respected the media and loved to talk about the game he played and loved. My favorite Mansfield story is from a legendary Oklahoma drill fight in training camp. Mansfield conducted a press conference in his dorm room, which I missed because I was in his combatant's dorm room. When I went to Mansfield's room, he said, "Where were you?" When I told him where I was, he gave me a look that said, "You went to the rookie's room first?" Then he went back over the event with me, blow by blow. I love the old guys.
Samuel from Jacksonville, FL
The Bears better make sure they have "The Guy" because if they don't they'll go three more years without one.
Are you speaking from experience?
Curt from Poland
Vic, we look really thin (and weak) at linebacker. Am I being too skeptical? How does that position look to you?
It's suspect, for sure. I have a feeling Mike Pettine is going to play a lot of nickel. Sound familiar?
Ralph from Mönchengladbach, Germany
Looking at the Packers' roster composition, could it be that, although they want to compete and win this season, the true plan is to win big next season or the season after that, first finding the last missing pieces in the next draft (for example, pass rushers)?
They better find the missing pieces before Aaron Rodgers becomes a missing piece, if you know what I mean. Drafting at the bottom of the order has taken its toll on the Packers' roster. I think we're going to see Aaron Rodgers put up eye-popping numbers this year. It has to be that way for the Packers to be a contender. It's all on him.
Matt from San Diego, CA
After a full offseason on the job, what has Brian Gutekunst done well?
He's remained disciplined. He hasn't chased ghosts. He's stayed true to his board and his personnel philosophy. He has a roster that needs rebuilding and it's not going to happen in one year. I think he's wisely accepted that fact.
Jerry from Savannah, GA
Vic, I assume Coach McCarthy has been working on Chicago’s game plan for weeks. What adjustments will he have to make since Mack joined the Bears?
The obvious adjustment is making plans to help the tackles by chipping Mack with the tight end. That means having one fewer receiver in the passing lanes, which will tighten the coverage, but Rodgers can deal with it. That's the great advantage of having a quarterback of Rodgers' talent.
Craig from Cedarburg, WI
How many wins will it take to win the NFC North this year?
I think 10 will do it. I don't think you have to sweep the division to win it. A 4-2 record will work. Just don't lose twice to anybody.
Dave from Jacksonville, FL
Vic, it’s opening week and Bell hasn’t reported to the Steelers. I realize he's using his only leverage to try to get a long-term deal, but I also realize the Steelers have Conner in their back pocket. Looks like a game of chicken. Who will blink?
It won't be the Steelers. Ask Franco Harris.
Joe from Bloomington, IN
I know you wouldn't advocate this, but don't you think Le'Veon Bell's smartest business decision would be to show up, collect his paycheck, but play to preserve his body? It's not like a bad statistical season is going to turn away his suitors next year.
I wouldn't sign that kind of guy. Darrelle Revis developed that kind of reputation. Where is he now?
Greg from Danbury, CT
I recall the Seahawks' strategy during Wilson's rookie contract. A star QB on the cheap meant they could afford to go big in free agency and build a bully defense. It worked. In a copycat league, it looks like the Bears are taking advantage of the space Trubisky's contract gives them. Is another Super Bowl MVP from the defense in the NFL' s future?
It's not my expectation, but you make a good point about Trubisky.
Kenan from somewhere in southern Europe
Vic, old fan of yours from when you covered the Jags. Was wondering what you thought about their chances of going deep in the playoffs again?
They can do it, but I don't think they can do it the same way they did a year ago. Blake Bortles needs to become a quarterback on whose shoulders the Jaguars can put the game in the fourth quarter and win. You can't play around your quarterback and expect to go deep in the playoffs. Last year was a fluke.
Justin from Titonka, IA
What is the story behind the picture with Gruden?
It's from an interview I did with him in the ESPN bus.
Ben from El Paso, TX
What is the most memorable Bears-Packers game you covered at Lambeau Field? Steelers-Browns in Cleveland? Jaguars-Giants in East Rutherford?
Lambeau -- It was the 2013 game in which Aaron Rodgers was injured. It changed the season and set up one of the most dramatic Decembers I've ever covered. Cleveland -- I'll never forget the roar of the crowd as Eric Metcalf turned the corner on what would be his second punt return for a touchdown in the 1993 game. East Rutherford -- It was a preseason game in 1997. Mark Brunell was coming off a Cinderella season in '96 and had just signed a big contract when he suffered a knee injury at Giants Stadium that was feared to be season-ending. He returned to action in a dramatic Monday night win over the Steelers. In retrospect, Brunell was never the same following the knee injury. It shortened and compromised what I believe would've been an even greater career.
Steve from Lake Stevens (state unknown)
The mortgages the Rams and Bears have taken are huge. If either can win the Super Bowl soon, does that make the whole thing worth it? How much money and how many draft picks would you gamble on just a shot at the title?
I would never gamble with my cap. Take care of the cap and the cap will take care of you. Don't load up for one year. Be a contender every year. One year you'll get hot late in the season and go all the way. Going dark is too much of a cost to win a Super Bowl.
Tom from Bismarck, ND
Vic, a strange looking roster in Green Bay, to say the least. However, the new GM can only do so much in trying to athleticize (new word) this team. We still have the remains of a horrible group of athletes at the linebacker position. Our two top players eat up $20 million a year. At least two or three others don't have the speed or strength to seriously play on a contending team. Is this team athletic enough to win? The Vikings are faster, stronger and, as a result, more aggressive, at virtually every position. Especially on defense.
But the Vikings don't have Aaron Rodgers. It's all on Rodgers for the Packers. I hate that it's that way, but it is what it is and there's no denying it.
David from Madison, WI
What do you see as the biggest difference between the Patriots’ salary cap management and that of the Denver Broncos?
The Broncos went all in for signing high-dollar free agents. It got them a Super Bowl win but now they're dark. The Patriots are the masters of patching with affordable role players. It's kept them in Super Bowl contention.
Ask Vic will publish on Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the football season.
Sean from Phnom Penh, Cambodia
For those who wanted to trade for Mack, would it have been possible to sign both the highest paid offensive and defensive players?
It could've been accomplished by re-structuring contracts, pushing money out and making room on the cap for Aaron Rodgers and Khalil Mack, but the damage to future caps by the re-structuring and to future drafts as a result of the picks that would've been lost in the Mack trade could turn the team's fortunes dark when the combined bill came due.
Shane from York, NE
Vic, the Packers kept eight wide receivers for the first time in their history. Is this reflective of today’s NFL or did Gutenkunst get his wish for a more competitive roster?
Yes, it's reflective of today's movement toward passing the football, but keeping so many wide receivers also tells me something else: The Packers are a little thin at other positions. Numbers at positions must be respected, but GMs and coaches are most concerned about keeping their best players. You'd never hear me complain about keeping too many offensive or defensive linemen because they're hard to find. In my opinion, depth wide receivers are a dime a dozen, and the scouts I know and respect share that opinion. Keeping eight wide receivers is a little bit of a roster red flag for me.
Roger from Chesterton (wherever that is)
Vic, I just watched a documentary on Barry Sanders. I knew he was good but I never realized how dominant he was. That said, who is your preference, Sanders or Emmitt Smith?
I prefer Smith. I like pounders. I like backs on whom you can build a game plan and manage a game. Sanders was too unpredictable for my taste. Smith was my idea of the perfect back: a tough, durable, consistent, pads down pounder.
Craig from Cedarburg, WI
Who was your surprise cut of the three teams you covered?
The Steelers' release of Landry Jones surprised me, but it also sent me a strong, positive message. Do you remember what I wrote last week? I analyze cuts according to the commitment teams make to youth. Sometimes it takes courage to favor youth, but that's how you keep a roster fresh and strong. The Steelers have committed to youth at quarterback. Jones is a capable back up, and probably more able right now in that capacity than Mason Rudolph and Josh Dobbs, but the Steelers weren't going to win with Jones and he's probably as good as he's going to get. Rudolph and Dobbs have more upside. I commend the Steelers for going with young upside. That's the Steelers I've known, going back a long way.
Barry from Hayward, WI
Vic, did the Bears just make themselves playoff contenders and will Mack be ready to play on Sunday?
Pay him all that money and he doesn't play in a game that could change the direction of the Bears franchise? That's difficult to imagine. I've been singing the Bears' praises through the offseason. I liked what I saw in Mitch Trubisky last season and I thought the Bears made big strides on defense. They added a promising defensive player in the draft and I began thinking the Bears were on the verge of becoming a playoff contender. Now, with the trade for Khalil Mack, the Bears must become playoff contenders or the trade is an insane waste of draft picks. If Trubisky takes his game up a full notch, yes, I believe the Bears will be contenders, but I also believe the picks the Bears lost in the trade for Mack are going to stunt the Bears' growth. The Bears are not one player away, and the picks they lost in the trade could cripple their chances of finding the other players they need. In my mind, this trade is long-term pain for short-term gain.
Steve from Preston, UK
No fullbacks on the roster. Surprised?
I'm not surprised because fullbacks and tight ends are kind of the same guy, and Mike McCarthy values tight ends more than he does fullbacks.
Brian from Little Rock, AR
In the salary cap era, do you think it can hurt a team to have the best defensive player in the league?
Mack is not the best defensive player in the league, Aaron Donald is, and I don't think it hurts the Rams to have Donald on their team.
Eric from Colorado Springs, CO
The Raiders now have four picks in the first round over the next two years. Jon Gruden has a 10-year contract to build a winning team. I make the Mack trade. Would GM Vic?
It's a win-win for the Raiders. They were able to trade a player they couldn't sign for draft picks with which Gruden will build the Raiders by selecting players that fit his eye and style of play. In my mind, the Raiders were in a tough spot with Mack and the Bears bailed the Raiders out.
Dan Knobsville, PA
What do the scouts have as next year's strength of the draft? Just trying to figure what the Raiders could get with their two first-rounders.
Next year's draft class is thought to be loaded with pass-rushers.
Eli from St. Paul, MN
You've often mentioned the Packer sweep wouldn't work against today's penetrate-and-disrupt schemes. Why didn't defenses choose to play this way against the Lombardi-era Packers?
Penetrate-and-disrupt schemes are vulnerable to getting creased by straight-ahead, quick-hitting stuff. In the Lombardi era, games were controlled by defense and scoring was so low one big play was game-changing. Penetrate-and-disrupt schemes are designed to stop the run on the way to the quarterback. Read-and-react two-gapping in the Lombardi era was designed to rush the quarterback after it stopped the run. Simply put, the Lombardi era was about stopping the run. Today's game is about rushing the passer.
Ric from Longmont, CO
Did the Packers get enough for Hundley? I'm hearing a sixth-round pick and it seems he is worth at least as much.
What's important is they got something for him. It would've been a shame to cut a player of value. Draft picks are pieces of gold. The Packers added a piece to their collection. They played their cards perfectly at quarterback. They've upgraded the position and recouped value for the position's excess. I respect that kind of roster management.
Paul from Cumming, GA
Are the Rams going to salary cap hell?
They have a plan, and that plan almost certainly involves annual re-structuring of contracts to push money out they had already pushed out. That will worsen the problem, of course, but they no doubt are counting on league revenues increasing and the cap going up. A lot of teams have had that plan. It's the salary cap hamster wheel. They think they can keep running forever, or maybe the people who've made that decision figure they will have moved on by the time the team has to cut and gut and it'll be someone else's problem. To answer your question directly, yes, the Rams are on their way to a very bad place. Maybe they can win a Super Bowl before they feel the fire.
Sam from Sussex, WI
Would you have moved on from Brady to Jimmy Garoppolo? How many more years of quality play from Brady makes it worth it to ship out a young talent, in your opinion?
If Tom Brady hits the wall this year and Garoppolo becomes a star, the Patriots will regret not having found a way to retain Garoppolo. It could've been done, for example, by guaranteeing big salaries in future years and then converting those salaries to signing bonuses when the Patriots reached those forward years. Such a maneuver would've created cap room in the present to keep both quarterbacks, given Garoppolo the guarantee he'd replace Brady as the Patriots' starting quarterback, and created cap room when Garoppolo became the starting quarterback. That kind of plan, however, requires a massive commitment to Garoppolo as Brady's replacement, and I get the feeling the Patriots didn't want to take that risk. I think we need to see Garoppolo as a starter for a full year before we anoint him the next Tom Brady. Bill Belichick is a sensational evaluator of talent.
Leif from Frederic, WI
Vic, what are your thoughts on the Ryan Switzer trade? Tomlin and Colbert are batting .000 on these late trades, i.e. Boykin and Justin Gilbert.
Was Martavis Bryant a good trade? When it comes to wide receivers, Kevin Colbert has my respect. The Steelers made the right decision in keeping Antonio Brown and allowing Mike Wallace to walk, and they smartly drafted JuJu Smith-Schuster to replace Bryant. The Steelers gave up nearly nothing in the Switzer trade, and they get a player who has a little bit of a Wes Welker look to him. It's a no-risk, high-upside trade.
Chenc from Gent, Oost-Vlaanderen Belgium
Vic, I’m fascinated by the NFL cap and I’m constantly trying to understand how it works. You talked about the Pats lowering Brady’s dead money to avoid damaging their cap. How is that possible? How do they eliminate Brady’s dead money from their cap?
They do it by increasing his salary and creating LTBE (likely to be earned) incentives, of which he has several in his contract. Roster bonus is another means of bringing money forward. Signing bonus, NLTBE (not likely to be earned) incentives and voidables are a means for pushing money out.
Jesse from Bethlehem, PA
Vic, if I’m not mistaken, no Packers cuts were claimed on waivers. Is this a reflection of a weak roster, or nothing to read into?
That could change, but it's an indication Brian Gutekunst kept the right players. He knows what he's doing. He deserves patience, to allow him to build the roster according to his vision.