Here are my Week 13 power rankings:
1. Eagles – At Seattle this week.
2. Patriots – Cream of the AFC.
3. Falcons – Playing as well as any team.
4. Vikings – Showdown of hot teams in Atlanta.
5. Rams – Big win over Saints.
6. Saints – Big one against Carolina coming up.
7. Panthers – Newton is both the solution and the problem.
8. Steelers – Lost some shine against Packers.
9. Chargers – They might win the AFC West.
10. Lions – Disappointing performance on Thanksgiving.
11. Titans – They know how to win without doing much.
12. Jaguars – Quarterback remains a problem.
13. Seahawks – Can make a statement against Eagles.
14. Bills – Rally around Taylor.
15. Ravens – In the hunt.
16. Cardinals – Gabbert better than Bortles?
17. Raiders – They needed a good fight.
18. Cowboys – Turn out the lights.
19. Chiefs – Hard to believe they beat the Patriots.
20. Packers – Impressive in defeat.
21. Redskins – Ho hum.
22. Bengals – They'll be feisty against the Steelers.
23. Texans – December a time for looking ahead.
24. Jets – Should've beaten Panthers.
25. Bears – Playing for coach's future.
26. Bucs – Disappointing decline.
27. Dolphins – Bad and getting worse.
28. Broncos – Blow it up.
29. Colts – They always play hard.
30. 49ers – What's with Garropolo?
31. Giants – Counting the days.
32. Browns – Losing has become epoch.
Edward from Los Angeles, CA
Vic, between 1978 and 1983, the NFL lost Tarkenton, Bradshaw, Staubach, Griese and Stabler. They were then replaced by Montana, Elway, Marino and Kelly, who were eventually replaced by Brady, Roethlisberger, Rivers and Manning. The cycle perpetuates; the loss of today's superstars will make room for tomorrow's.
We saw Elway, Marino and Kelly coming; they were all first-round picks, as were Roethlisberger, Rivers and both Mannings (why have you left out Rodgers?). My point is I don't see an obvious group of first-round prospects. I see guys who'll have to be over-drafted. I see a lot of Pat Whites.
Adam from Wisconsin
During the "After Further Review" segment of the Packers pre-game radio show on Sunday, there was a discussion on whether the '60s Packers or the '70s Steelers were the better dynasty. All four thought the Packers were, but they wished you were there to share your perspective. So, I ask you, '60s Packers or '70s Steelers?
Since everybody else said it was the Packers, I would've said it was the Steelers. I would often do something like that when I felt a case needed to be made for the other point of view, as long as it was credible. I always saw that segment of the show as a debate. Seriously, those two decade teams are similar in nearly every way: iconic coach, signature play (Packers sweep, Steelers inside trap), great and underrated quarterback, powerful running game, suffocating defense and unforgettable moment (Ice Bowl, Immaculate Reception). There are two major differences, as I see it: Swann and Stallworth blow away Dowler and Dale, and the Packers played when the product had been diluted by the birth and rise of the AFL, whereas the Steelers' titles were won during the powerhouse post-merger years. That's what I would've said.
Dave from St. Peters, MO
Vic, which pieces finally came together for the Jags' breakout year? Or does their record deceive me?
The pieces that came together were a whole bunch of top 10 picks and hits in free agency. There were also plenty of high-round misses, such as Justin Blackmon and Luke Joeckel, and free agency misses, such as Julius Thomas, Davon House and Toby Gerhart, but when you keep picking in the top five and you have an empty cap, you're bound to collect enough pieces to become a playoff contender. It was just a matter of time. That's what's happened in Jacksonville. The Jags stayed bad enough long enough to get good. There's only one problem: They may not have collected the most important piece of all, quarterback, and now they'll be making a move to the back of the draft order, and that's not where you typically find "The Man." The Jags remind me of a favorite philosophy: It's OK to be 16-0 or an 0-16, just don't be 8-8 because 8-8 keeps staying 8-8. Good years are ahead for Jacksonville.
Ryan from Neenah, WI
I just finished reading your column and the "Insider Inbox." I was frustrated neither column addressed McCarthy's decision to attempt a 57-yard field goal at Heinz Field in November with a 7-point lead! To me, that was an inexcusable decision. That decision was the beginning of the end. I understand why "Insider Inbox" couldn't really address that one, but I was really hoping you would. Maybe no one asked until now. If that is the case, what was your reaction when they didn't send out the punt team?
I thought the Packers should've punted; I still do. I whispered to myself, "Punt it, Mike." So, why did one of the best game-management coaches in the game decide to attempt a field goal? One possible ingredient in McCarthy's decision might've been the direction Mason Crosby was kicking. He was kicking to the closed end of Heinz Field. It's the open end, where the wind swirls, that gives Heinz Field it's reputation for being a tough place to kick. I don't think McCarthy would've kicked had it been toward the open end. Maybe he decided to kick because he knew he woudn't have the closed-end advantage in the fourth quarter. To put the open end into perspective, if I was a coach whose team was playing in Heinz Field and I won the coin toss, I would not defer, I'd take the ball to start the game. That would give the second-half option to the opponent and they'd almost certainly opt to take the ball, which would allow me to defend the closed-end goal in the third quarter and drive toward the closed end in the fourth quarter.
Nathan from San Diego, CA
What impressed you most about Hundley on Sunday night?
It was his ability to deal with the rush. He obviously learned from his mistakes against the Ravens.
Tim from Lancaster, PA
The Bucs and Browns are winnable games for the Packers, and Rodgers would be eligible to return against the Panthers. Run the table? Rodgers' heroic return against the Bears? Will history repeat itself?
That would be wonderful. "If you can dream and not make dreams your master."
David from Washington, DC
I had always considered the wide receivers a strength of the Packers, but after I watched T.J. Watt cover Jordy Nelson on a key play, I'm re-thinking my thought.
As I recently wrote, I think wide receiver is a position the Packers need to address in the draft. I don't see a next generation waiting in the wings.
Dustin from Seymour, WI
The Packers' arrow is trending up, in my opinion. Do you think it's too late?
To make the playoffs? Probably. But it's never too late to get good. I wanna see a nucleus of young players emerge in December. That's my expectation and, if that happens, the Packers will end the season with their arrow pointing straight up.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, who are the leading MVP candidates?
Carson Wentz would be my pick.
Tom from Eau Claire, WI
The Giants benched a two-time Super Bowl winning QB? I haven’t had the opportunity to watch much Giants football this season, but are they making Eli the scapegoat? They must have many more problems.
To use one of my favorite Chuck Noll quotes, the Giants "have many problems and they are great." It's a young man's game, the Giants need to get young again and nothing says getting young like a change at quarterback. The football life cycle is reconstituting itself again in New York.
Paul from Indianapolis, IN
Vic, my father passed away a week ago from cancer. He was a big fan of yours and read you to the end. There were many times our conversations would consist of us repeating parts of your column and laughing or shaking our heads. I want to thank you for everything, especially your line about memories making us rich. I have lots and lots of memories of my dad and they include many Packers games. It is good to feel rich when you are down. Thank you.
You have just increased my wealth.
Stephen from Jacksonville, FL
Eli Manning being benched is pretty significant football news. Do you think this is a definite sign he is on his way out from New York? Do you think he has anything left in the tank? Which scenario do you think is more likely: Manning retires and does not play a game in 2018 or Manning is released and reunites with Tom Coughlin in Jacksonville as the Jaguars’ quarterback next season?
Young is good, old is bad. When you get young, you get better. When you get old, you get worse.
Toby from Lincoln City, NE
I think McCarthy pencil-whipped Tomlin, but it still wasn’t enough. Anyone who thinks Mike McCarthy isn’t a good coach has an agenda or is just uneducated. I enjoyed watching this one. Hundley played well under extreme pressure and the team responded. All is not lost, but we have to run the table. With Rodgers coming back, there is a chance.
I agree. McCarthy out-prepared the Steelers. The pop passes are a great example of how to beat a fast defense. The Packers didn't turn it over and committed only three penalties. They played a nearly perfect game. It took an exceptional performance from Ben, Bell and Brown to steal the win. The Antonio Brown catch in the final drive is one of the greatest receptions I've ever seen. The Packers found something in Pittsburgh.
Mike from Juneau, AK
It's hard to be too disappointed. Packers scratched and clawed and a young QB came of age. What do you see for Hundley's future now?
There's reason to believe he can be the future, for the Packers or for another team willing to return a high pick. That's what happened last night: Brett Hundley's value shot up.
Salvador from Metepec, Mexico
Do you think a flag should've been thrown on the T.J. Watt hit on Hundley?
Kevin from Greenacres, WA
What did you like most and hate most about last night's game?
I like that I saw something I'll remember. I hate nothing about it.
Brandon from Marshfield, WI
Vic, extremely happy that you are back writing. Watching college football this weekend, I just feel like they have the better TV product right now. I think the NFL should bring back you don't have to be touched to be down. Just seems to create a quicker and safer game. Are there any changes you would like to see them go back to how it was?
Really? Which college game this past weekend was better than last night's game? You must like blowouts.
Mike from Bella Vista, AR
Help me understand how Mike McCarthy is still rated as a top NFL coach. You were close to the team for several years and maybe you can share your insight. Admittedly, I am just a fan. My observation is that McCarthy is riding the Rodgers train. Under McCarthy, the only part of the team that has been good is Rodgers and some receivers. Everything else seems like an afterthought. Matt Flynn scalped the Seahawks, but what stars have McCarthy's QB school produced? Lastly, why does Capers catch all the heat for the defense's problems and McCarthy is rarely mentioned? Is McCarthy not responsible for the whole team? I am enjoying the new blog, Vic. Thanks.
It bothers me when fans talk about coaches needing to be accountable. What fan's life is judged by a scoreboard for all to read? Coaches live according to their record. If it's bad, they're fired. Look at the firings in college football this past weekend. Kevin Sumlin was 51-26 at Texas A&M. Fired! Talk about tired of winning. McCarthy is judged to be a top coach because his record says he's a top coach. I think it's possible he could finish his career as the winningest coach in Packers history. I have my own reasons for judging him as highly as I do: 1) He's an offensive genius. 2) He's won with marginal talent that's been forced to play due to injury. 3) He develops young talent. 4) He schemes personnel, not schemes. 5) His attention to detail exceeds Chuck Noll's. 6) His teams' preparation rivals that of Tom Coughlin's, who I thought was the best at preparing a team I've ever covered. There are more reasons, but those jump out at me. Penalize McCarthy for having Rodgers? Then you have to penalize Holmgren for having Favre, and Shula for having Griese and Marino, and Brown for having Graham, and Noll for having Bradshaw, Walsh for having Montana and, maybe most of all, Belichick for having Brady. Belichick didn't win with Testaverde, did he? I think the questions you've asked are insensitive and too many. It all comes down to one question: What's his record?
Brandon from Milwaukee, WI
Do you think the Packers have a legitimate shot at making the wild card this year?
I think it's very slim, primarily because the Packers have already lost the head-to-head tiebreaker to the Saints and Falcons. The Packers would have to win out, which would include a win in Carolina that would give the Packers that head-to-head tiebreaker. It's the only way. I think we need to adjust our expectations.
Jim from Maple Grove, MN
I assume your chief rooting interest on Sunday night was for your December friend. Do the Packers have any realistic hope of seeing him this year?
If they beat Tampa and Cleveland, I think the Packers will go to Carolina with their playoff hopes on the line. I think it would be a must-win game. I think that game will be our December drama.
Scott from Sauk City, WI
Hi, Vic! How are you doing? As this college season has worn on, I've tried to let the eye test tell me what the Badgers have going for them, and how far they can go. So far, my eyes tell me the defense has played off the charts for two weeks in a row against powerful, powerful teams. My eyes tell me we have a quarterback who bounces off the turf when he gets knocked down, but that sometimes the knockdowns are because of poor decision-making. My heart and mind say bring on Ohio State, bring on Alabama, put us in the CFP and let's do this thing. But then my doubts kick in, and I wonder if we'd even compete against Alabama. What do your eyes tell you? How does this Wisconsin team stand up against the nation's best? Can they do it? For the first time in my lifetime, the Badgers have a shot at playing for a national title, and I don't believe it. It's so surreal. Tell me they belong, Vic.
Ohio State will tell us whether the Badgers belong or not. If the Badgers win, they belong. If they lose, then critics of the Badgers' schedule are right. I tend to believe they are a product of their schedule. I hope they prove me wrong.
Marcus from Kenosha, WI
Hey, Vic, loving the blog. In all of your years covering professional football, have you ever seen a player turn his back on his team the way Bennett did? Anything close? I find it shameful to leave your brothers-in-football hanging for any reason.
LeGarrette Blount walked out on his teammates, causing the Steelers to cut him. The Patriots signed him and he's been rewarded handsomely for his mutinous act. Life isn't always fair. Sometimes misbehavior is rewarded. New England is the land of the misfit toys. Brady makes it work.
Tim from Jacksonville, FL
Would you rate this Jaguars defense the best in franchise history? How does it compare to the 1999 team?
The '99 defense was a Dom Capers scheme creation, which is to say it was a 4-3 playing as a 3-4. Heading into the final month of the season, it had a chance to set an all-time fewest-points-allowed record, and then it collapsed. This year's defense is better.
Sam from Jacksonville, FL
Do you ever look back and appreciate how good the '07 Jaguars team was? They had two running backs which could be considered for the Hall of Fame.
If Dennis Northcutt and Matt Jones don't drop what should've been touchdown catches, the Jaguars would've beaten the Patriots in the playoffs and ended their undefeated season. I also believe if the Jets hadn't traded up ahead of the Jaguars to draft Darrelle Revis, the Jaguars would've picked him and I think he would've been the difference-maker on the defense; I think the Jaguars would've gone to the Super Bowl.
Bill from Sheboygan, WI
What did you think of the big college football weekend?
Out of all of those "big" games this past weekend, only a few were close enough to be worthy of viewing. I enjoyed Miami-Pitt and USF-UCF, and that's about it. Blowouts dominated, and that's why college football TV ratings, despite intense hype, are terrible. The NFL product is vastly superior, yet, college football fans will call the Alabama-Auburn and Ohio State-Michigan games great games. Why? The fourth quarters were anti-climactic. The announcers spent the fourth quarter of those games and nearly all of the other games debating who the four teams should be in the playoffs. Does it really matter? The ratings will be terrible, which they were last season.
John from Green Bay, WI
I was looking through the arrival pictures of the Packers at Heinz Field and noticed at least 90 percent of the players were wearing headphones. My question is do players converse at all on the plane and or bus rides?
Not much anymore. When I began covering the Steelers in the '70s, we'd play the card game Bourre on the airplane. I mean, players and reporters. Terry Bradshaw was a Bourre crazy man. In my final years covering football, I'd look around for someone with whom I could have a conversation, but everybody was wearing headphones, even non-football personnel. So, I'd sit back and think about life. I kind of miss those quiet moments on return flights.
Dylan from Morgantown, WV
Do you think the Rams can survive in LA? It seems like they have done everything right in their first year. They have a good young coach that looks the part for LA, it appears they have a franchise QB, and they are winning. However, they are struggling to fill the stadium.
The Coliseum is huge and terrible. For the last game I covered there, in 1994, the press box was condemned and I had to sit outside in a makeshift press box. Don't judge LA until the Rams and Chargers are in a new stadium. Also, success in LA won't be defined by ticket sales. It'll be defined by what the market provides in the way of commerce. It was an embarrassment the NFL didn't have a team in LA.
Mike from Chicago, IL
Vic, I turned off football this weekend because of the ridiculous celebrations. Any chance this goes away. I really just don't want to watch anymore.
A lot of people feel as you do.
Jon from Bloomfield, NJ
I'm really waffling on how I feel about all the celebrating. I see the Eagles doing a 10-man electric slide by their own sideline, and don't find myself particularly offended. It looks like a group of guys having some fun. But then, within a few minutes, I see the Panthers have to burn a timeout because their players have wasted so much time celebrating. How will coaches get celebrations under control so they don't hurt the team? How would Coach Vic do it? The celebration circle?
Yep. I've been saying it for years. They could dance until their jocks fell off, as long as they were on our sideline. That would be my request. Incurring a penalty for a look-at-me celebration is a morale killer and an outrage to every fan whose happiness is dictated by the outcome of the game.
Here are my Week 12 power rankings:
1. Eagles – Have they already peaked?
2. Patriots – Peaking.
3. Saints – Getting that team of destiny feeling.
4. Panthers – At Jets before showdown in New Orleans.
5. Steelers – Big Ben getting better.
6. Vikings – Big one in Detroit.
7. Falcons – Hangover gone!
8. Rams – Humbled in Minnesota.
9. Lions – Must win today.
10. Jaguars – No. 1 in rushing, No. 1 in defense.
11. Seahawks – Not much boom in the legion.
12. Cowboys – Could be toast.
13. Chiefs – Is Revis the answer?
14. Titans – Must stay within a game of Jax.
15. Bills – Something has to give in KC.
16. Chargers – They have my attention.
17. Raiders – Start packing.
18. Ravens – Ravens looking like Ravens.
19. Cardinals – Must-win game in Jax.
20. Packers – Could get ugly in Pittsburgh.
21. Redskins – Lack grit.
22. Texans – Savage can play.
23. Jets – They may not win another game.
24. Bears – Playing for next year now.
25. Bucs – Winston is the issue.
26. Dolphins – Not as good as their record.
27. Bengals – Need to clean house.
28. Broncos – Elway is right; they're soft.
29. Colts – Big decision on Luck coming up.
30. 49ers – Seahawks will be angry.
31. Giants – Does it really matter?
32. Browns – Next loss, at Cincinnati.
Fabian from Munich, Germany
Looking forward to your power rankings today. Which are, by the way, the only ones I read all week because I just have to read one sentence per team and know what is going on in the league.
The bell rings today.
Ben from Texas
Vic, some analysts are saying Rodgers should leave the Packers because Ted hasn't surrounded him with enough help. Sure, our defense hasn't been spectacular, but our trio of receivers is arguably the best in football. Plus, our offensive line is not too shabby, either. What's your take on this?
Aaron Rodgers should and will stay right where he is, and the Packers should address their need for speed and explosiveness at wide receiver.
William from Savannah, GA
Are you gonna see cousin Eddie this year?
It's all part of the experience, William.
Agustin from Monterrey, Mexico
Vic, who will you be rooting for on Sunday night? Steelers? Anyway, I don't believe it's going to be a very exciting game.
I have two Terrible Towels hanging off my TV set and I'll be wearing my Steelers hardhat with the flashing light on top. I'm even going to fly my Steelers flag outside, which is against POA rules, but I'm the ARB chairman so who's going to stop me? Here we go, Steelers, here we go.
Neil from Cheddar, UK
Vic, seeing how the Saints have gone from losing to a Super Bowl contender, what changed and how could this be applied to the Packers? Thank you for reading.
The Saints are No. 13 on defense, which is the difference-maker in their revival, but the big difference between the Saints and the Packers is the Saints' quarterback isn't injured. Had Aaron Rodgers not broken his collarbone, the Packers would've beaten the Saints and they'd be where the Saints are now. At the end of the day, it's all about the quarterback. You're not injured until your quarterback is injured. When he's out, you're done.
Jesus from El Paso, TX
Are we somebody's underdog?
It was a feel-good thing when Mike McCarthy said it, but if you wanna know what being an underdog feels like for the Packers, this is the week to feel it. Nobody, not even the Green Bay Packers, is above being an underdog. Maybe we need to be thankful for that awareness this year. We needed it.
Mike from North Hudson, WI
Vic, it's time to give thanks and I'm very thankful "Ask Vic" is back! What are you most thankful for?
Most thankful? How about the next breath I take? Seriously, this is a good day and a good forum for me to express my appreciation for what football and three wonderful teams and their fans have meant to my life. I fell in love with football the first time I saw it, and I'm still in love with it. I give thanks for those Steelers-Raiders games of the 1970s, the 1996 Jaguars and the 2014 Packers.
Kabir from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
Should we root for the Vikings or the Lions on Thanksgiving? I have a sweatshirt that says, "My favorite two teams are the Packers and whoever is playing the Vikings." My gut says to follow my sweatshirt's advice.
Root for the Vikings because I believe the NFC North ship has sailed for the Packers. It's wild card or nothing.
John from Union Grove, WI
What's your favorite Thanksgiving memory?
I don't have one that jumps out at me. I remember the Oklahoma-Nebraska game of Thanksgiving 1971, and I remember the Packers-Lions game of Thanksgiving 1962. I also remember covering the Steelers in a 45-3 loss in Detroit in 1983. That night, Johnny Carson said, "I'll tell you how bad my Thanksgiving was. I had the Steelers and 42." And I remember covering the Packers at Detroit in 2011. It was a big game and I remember saying to myself, "Well, Vic, that's why you made the move. You wanted to cover big games. Here it is."
Dave from Madison, WI
Vic, you’re the GM for the Packers and 2018 is the year you’re going all in to build the best supporting cast for Aaron Rodgers. You’re willing to spend big. What areas of the team will you do whatever it takes to improve?
I never do what you're suggesting. It's a formula for collapse. If I'm the GM in 2018, quarterback is one of my positions of interest. No more taking a guy off the board because you don't need a quarterback. If there's a guy I like and I can get him, I'm drafting him. Why? Because the Packers are nearing the day when they'll need to replace Rodgers, and if you pass on a guy you like now, there's no guarantee another one will be available when you need him. The Jaguars passed on Rodgers in 2005 because they didn't think they needed a quarterback. When it became obvious they needed one, the best ones available to them were Jimmy Clausen and Tim Tebow.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, for what realities do Packers fans need to steel ourselves in the game against Pittsburgh?
After seeing the Ravens tape, the Steelers' pass rushers probably got goose bumps. Job one for the Packers this Sunday is to protect the quarterback.
Amis from Norwich, UK
Recently, I've heard loads of people say that, at certain positions, there simply aren't enough NFL-caliber players to go around (especially at QB and OL). Is this true?
The NFL's biggest problem isn't anthem protests, declining TV ratings or Donald Trump's Twitter account, it's the potential for losing the league's best quarterbacks all at one time. Brady, Brees, Rodgers, Roethlisberger, Rivers, Eli Manning and maybe even Matt Ryan might all retire within a few years of each other. How is the league going to replace that kind of star power? I don't think it can.
T.J. from Tampa, FL
The 2014 Packers versus the 2010 Packers. Who wins?
The 2014 Packers.
Let's take a whirl around the league:
Giuseppe from Parma, Italy
Vic, why would any home team, on a cold and windy day, playing against an opponent known to have a superior pass defense and an inferior run defense, pass the ball on nine of the first 11 plays?
Yesterday was the day Mike McCarthy was going to take the training wheels off Brett Hundley. That fact was announced in the first drive, which was moving down the field beautifully until Hundley threw an interception in the end zone. That was the game plan. For the Packers to make any kind of move on a playoff berth, it had to happen eventually, because the Packers are not built to win with the running game. I don't care what the Ravens' ranking is against the run, I didn't see the Packers running on them, and I'll be shocked if the Packers are able to run the ball against the Steelers, Panthers or Vikings. Hundley had to become "The Man." In my mind, that was McCarthy's thinking, and I can appreciate it.
Ben from Hilo, HI
Is this moment too big for Brett Hundley?
The moment? No. The pass rush? Yes. As I predicted in Thursday's column, yesterday's game was going to tell us whether or not Hundley is able to deal with a fierce pass rush. Unfortunately, the answer appears to be no. The Steelers will see that on tape and throw all three rivers at Hundley this coming Sunday.
Brett from Boonsboro, MD
Well, do we stick with Hundley or see what Callahan can do?
This isn't tryout time. If you believe in the 10-win theory, the Packers have one more loss to give before they lose their margin for error. You play the people you believe give you the best chance to win. Joe Callahan taking down the Steelers at Heinz Field in his first-ever start? I don't see that happening. Hundley got a good dose of AFC North football on Sunday. He should be better for the experience.
Matt from Iowa
Vic, do you have any QB trees down there in South Carolina?
There's one quarterback left on the quarterback tree, but he appears to be forbidden fruit.
Bob from Wauwatosa, WI
Look out, NFC, here come the Vikings. They looked like a serious contender against the Rams. Vic, are they for real?
Where have you been? The Vikings have been for real since 2015. I predicted it. A couple of years ago, I talked about the Vikings drafting well and about to move into a new stadium that would generate a lot of revenue, and the combination would make them the Packers' No. 1 competition in the NFC North.
Allen from Zephyrhills, FL
Going on social media, I've discovered many Packers fan aren't so winsome after they lose some.
It's time for us to check ourselves and seek perspective. In November of 2013, the Packers played five games without Aaron Rodgers and didn't win any of them. Do we remember that? This isn't something new. Without Rodgers, the Packers aren't the Packers. What were our expectations? Keep winning as though nothing happened? Really?
John from Madison, WI
Vic, it´s obvious Brett Hundley has not the play level needed to put this team in position to win, so why doesn't Coach McCarthy give Callahan a chance to show himself?
The Bills gave rookie Nathan Peterman a chance to show himself yesterday. How'd that work for them?
Richard from Truckee, CA
How would you fix college football?
It would begin with leveling the playing field and that begins with greater oversight on recruiting. It all begins there because recruiting is the source of all evil in college football. Clean up recruiting and you will have fixed college football. Ask the FBI how to do it. They know. Maybe they'll even assist you. I can tell you this, relying on the integrity of the coaches and university presidents isn't working. College football also suffers from lack of standardization. The power five conferences are their own leagues -- and so is Notre Dame -- instead of all of them belonging to one ruling body that provides for scheduling. It's ridiculous that Wisconsin could go through an entire regular season without having to play Ohio State, Penn State or Michigan State. The power five conferences need to establish one ruling body. That's essentially what Pete Rozelle convinced the NFL to do when he became commissioner, and look at the result. Clean up recruiting and standardize the product; that's how you level the playing field and make college football interesting for fans of all schools, instead of for just the powerful.
Brandon from St. Paul, MN
I remember you mentioning Coach Knoll's incredible insight regarding the impacts of the 1978 rule change allowing players to block with their hands. How long did it take for the rest of the league to react? Were there many teams that stubbornly refused to adjust?
It's Noll, please. It took a year. Don Coryell moved from St. Louis to San Diego in '78 and immediately began laying the foundation to "Air Coryell." A year later, the Chargers became the first AFC West champion to run more passing plays than running plays. That was also the year Bill Walsh became the head coach of the 49ers and drafted Joe Montana. With Coryell joined with Dan Fouts and Walsh with Montana, football made a sweeping move from run the ball to throw the ball. It will always boggle my mind that Paul Brown's last great football decision was to pick Tiger Johnson over Walsh as head coach. Brown should've seen where the game was headed. It was headed in the direction he was taking it. Walsh and Ken Anderson would've won some of the Super Bowls Walsh and Montana did.
Travis from Fort Walton Beach, FL
Didn't the league release a memo detailing a focus on respect for waiver processes? If "Deflategate" and the Elliott appeals have discouraged or intimidated the league from enforcing its rules, won't that send a clear message to 31 teams, telling them it's open season to contact players prior to being a free agent?
I think what the league is saying is teams have been doing it through agents for a long time, and to allow that to happen but go after the Patriots for doing it would've created another controversy that would've reflected badly on the commissioner. Look, you and a lot of other Packers fans are suffering from the painful effects of betrayal. You cheered for somebody who deceived you, and now it hurts and you want revenge. I don't think you're going to get it, so my advice is to learn from this betrayal: Stick with your own players; free agents are other teams' players.
Nick from State College, PA
How do you like the skycam view? I think it gives a greater appreciation to the size and speed of linemen and of how scary it is to stand tall in the pocket.
It helped me identify the coverages, but made it more difficult to identify the fronts. Overall, I disliked the experiment greatly because I had difficulty finding the ball. I felt as I do when I watch hockey. After all the pre-snap strategy stuff is achieved, I want to see the ball. I want to know where it is and where it's going. Skycam blunted my enjoyment of the game.
Dave from Savage, MN
Can you believe how cavalier the national media is about how Bennett made his way out of town? He lied about his injury, made up a story criticizing the team doctor for trying to get him to play against his will, then signs with another team and willfully plays the next week. The media chuckles about Marty "being Marty." They talk about how he has a right to lie so he can play for the one team he wants to play for. And they have no problem with his lies hurting his employer and a doctor that did nothing to harm him. Where is the integrity? Where are the guts? Why won't they challenge these guys?
I railed in this column about "Deflategate." I was outraged, incensed the Patriots were arrogant enough to defile the ball, the centerpiece of the game. I didn't think the punishment was great enough, especially for a franchise that had already been found guilty in "Spygate." I campaigned against the Patriots, using my experiences with sidelines communication failures as evidence of more wrongdoing. What was the reaction of my readers? A large and growing faction of them laughed me off as an old fuddy duddy. A lot of them even believed quarterbacks should be allowed to adjust the ball pressure to their liking. Don't blame the media. Blame the fans for accepting cheating as being part of the game. We've lost our virtue.
Adam from Wausau, WI
Did you always plan to continue this column after you retired?
It was part of being new. I knew I'd want to continue writing, but I'd have to do it in a different way. I like this way.
George from Beechview, PA
Are the 49ers trying to use Garoppolo for trade bait? Why would they not show what he has? The Patriots let him go, in the middle of season, for a reason? Clue me in.
Maybe he's just a guy and the Patriots have skinned another overanxious suitor, just as they did when they traded Deon Branch to the Seahawks for a first-round pick.
Jimmy from Madison, WI
I'm a firm believer the NFL has made ticket prices too high for the families. Do you remember your first game? Without your first game, how can you draw interest to the young boys with dreams? The NFL is not giving the young boys the fire to play. The young kids of America need to experience game day. The future looks sad for the NFL, if they don't draw more player interest. Your thoughts? My first was Packers/Redskins.
My first game was Giants/Steelers. Charlie Conerly and Bobby Layne were the quarterbacks. My dad bought tickets for $3 each from a guy in the street who promised they weren't behind the home plate backstop screen. Of course, they were directly behind it, and I remember how disappointed my father was to find out he had been deceived. I said, "It's all right, dad. At least we're not behind a pole." What I remember most is how the colors jumped out at me: the Giants' scarlet and the Steelers' gold. I didn't care who won the game. I was just thankful my eyes were being treated to such a spectacle. Yeah, I agree with everything you say. Tickets cost too much and too many kids are being denied their first game.
Mike from Fort Wayne, IN
So I guess Bennett gets the last laugh all the way to the bank and to the Patriots. Vic, who decides and what is the process for the Packers trying to reclaim some of their money back?
There's a process that involves the NFL Executive Committee, but I get the strong sense this is going nowhere.
Dave from St. Peters, MO
I agree wholeheartedly with you on touchdown celebrations. At least it entertains my 5-year-old and 7-year-old.
It's just a matter of time before someone acts out a skit that's considered offensive or politically motivated, and the you know what hits the fan. It's almost as though we want it to happen, because we're an angry people who aren't satisfied unless we have a target to express our anger.
Mark from Bellevue, WI
Vic, if your father and his contemporaries were able to time travel 50 years forward to today's NFL and sports scene, what would he say to you about what he sees?
My father doesn't have to rise from the dead to provide perspective on how it was 50 years ago. I can do it! The year is 1967 and I'm 16 years old and watching the "Ice Bowl." I am in love with football and can't get enough of it. I watch the NFL at one o'clock and four o'clock, and position myself close enough to our black-and-white TV to turn the channel -- what's a remote? -- to the AFL games during commercial breaks. My father claims overexposure will kill the game, but I want more. What are my thoughts about today's game? It's wonderful. Give me more, especially more playoff games. You see, nothing has really changed; we still can't get enough football. We love it. We crave it. It defines us.
Chad from Troy, MI
If the Broncos go dark for the next decade, not making it back to the playoffs once during that time, was it really worth the gamble with the salary cap? How many dark years is one Super Bowl win worth?
Killing your cap to win the Super Bowl shouldn't turn you dark for 10 years. You should be able to regain cap health and soften the effects of having killed your cap -- as long as you commit fully to recovery -- within four years. I think the question is: Is it worth four years of darkness to win it all? I'll say yes, it is, but can you guarantee you'll win it all? I am absolutely sure it is not worth four years of darkness to not win it all.
Here are my Week 11 power rankings:
1. Eagles – Rested and ready for big finish.
2. Patriots – Still crazy, after all these years.
3. Rams – Getting better every week.
4. Saints – Nobody expected this.
5. Panthers – Newton is on fire.
6. Steelers – Winning but offense struggling.
7. Seahawks – Can they win without Sherman?
8. Chiefs – No. 30 on defense.
9. Vikings – All of a sudden, they don't need a QB.
10. Falcons – Back in the hunt.
11. Cowboys – Elliott? How about Sean Lee?
12. Lions – Poised for a strong finish.
13. Jaguars – Everything going their way.
14. Titans – Buckle up in the Burgh.
15. Bills – Beginning to fade.
16. Raiders – It's all on Carr.
17. Packers – Facing another must-win game.
18. Redskins – That's all, folks.
19. Jets – Can they finish low enough to draft a QB?
20. Chargers – Collapse in Jax ended playoff hopes.
21. Ravens – Too far behind.
22. Cardinals – Too talented to be this bad.
23. Dolphins – Mr. Yuk.
24. Broncos – Stinko!
25. Bears – After further review, they withdraw their challenge.
26. Texans – Future looks bright.
27. Bengals – Should change uniforms to black and white stripes.
28. Colts – Come close but can't close.
29. Bucs – It's now or next year.
30. 49ers – The bad beat the very bad.
31. Giants – Very bad.
32. Browns – The worst.
Davy from Chetek, WI
John from Green Bay, WI
Vic, what are your thoughts on the Martellus Bennett drama that has unfolded?
I think he might be guilty of manipulating the system.
Ben from El Paso, TX
What do you think we will learn about Hundley's growth against Baltimore's defense this week?
I think we'll see how he holds up against a strong pass rush.
Jerry from Kansas City, MO
What do the Packers need to do to build on last Sunday's win and get a win against Baltimore?
The Packers need to run the ball to achieve balance and protect Brett Hundley from what can be a devastating pass rush.
Steve from Wauwatosa, WI
Given the concussion and major injury issues we've seen with this sport, I find myself conflicted when watching football games with my kids. What do I tell them when I watch the games but won't let them play? I feel like a hypocrite.
I guess you tell them you fear for their safety, but I think your fears are unfounded. High school football is not the physical game it was when I was young, and nobody is teaching and practicing spearing anymore. From what I can see, high school football is largely a seven-on-seven passing drill. It's closer to flag football than it is to the ground-and-pound game of the past, which included such ridiculous exercises as neck bridges in calisthenics and gauntlet drills to set a combative tone. That's the culture that's been changed. Yes, injuries can and will occur, but the sensitivity for head injuries is greater than ever. Will you allow your children to drive the family car? Explain that decision to them, too.
Monty from Lauren, IA
Vic, what is your opinion on locker room distractions? Are there teams that avoid media attention and locker room distractions, and others who are not too concerned with them? I feel like a Colin Kaepernick type player would bring unwanted attention to an organization. What are your thoughts on this?
All coaches are vigilant in avoiding distractions, and Kaepernick would be an almost certain distraction to any team he joined. He would bring national media attention to that team's locker room, and players would find themselves answering questions about Kaepernick's anthem movement instead of questions about the next game. Be that as it may, such are the sacrifices we must endure in defense of our right to free speech.
Stephen from Jacksonville, FL
If the Steelers beat the Titans, the Jaguars’ chances of winning the division will improve. If the Titans beat the Steelers, the Jaguars’ chances for a top-two playoff seed will improve, provided they win the AFC South. The Jaguars currently control their own destiny in regards to winning their division. Who should Jaguars fans root for on Thursday night?
Jaguars fans should root for the Steelers, because that's the result that would most help the Jaguars win the AFC South. That has to be the No. 1 goal, and the greatest obstacle to the Jaguars' pursuit of that goal is its home loss to the Titans. The Jaguars might need help.
Ray from Port Elgin, NB
Vic, given Martellus Bennett's comments at his locker after his first game back with the Patriots, basically admitting to influencing other teams not to claim him off waivers because he was planning on having season-ending surgery and then retiring, is this something the league could or should look into? He also stated Tom Brady contacted him before he was claimed to convince him to suit up for the Patriots. That kind of sounds like collusion to me and directly against the NFL's policy on waiver transactions. What say you?
The league said it won't investigate the matter, which doesn't surprise me, given the criticism the commissioner got for "Deflategate." What I can tell you is this: It's a violation for a team to contact a player during the waiver process. Contacting a player during the process is to effectively make him a free agent, which Bennett was not because he was released after the trade deadline. I guess we'll never know, huh?
Brad from Parker, CO
Vic, if Wisconsin is able to win out its last couple of games, including the Big 10 championship game, do they deserve a spot in the tournament, considering there may be teams above them in the rankings with one and two losses?
If they win out, they not only will deserve a spot in the playoffs, they'll get one. Clemson and Miami will likely play in the ACC title game, and the loser would drop beneath an undefeated Wisconsin.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Would you please give a power ranking of the top 10 coaches in the NFL today?
1) Bill Belichick, 2) Mike McCarthy, 3) Mike Tomlin, 4) Sean Payton, 5) Pete Carroll, 6) Jason Garrett, 7) Doug Pederson, 8) Mike Zimmer 9) Jim Caldwell, 10) John Harbaugh.
Mike from Niagara Falls, Canada
Vic, your age is showing with this celebration issue. I'm the kind of guy who thinks players should celebrate however they please. I'm all for handing the ball to the ref and getting back in the huddle, but I'm also all for Michael Flatley dance numbers in the end zone. It's a game, at the end of the day, and it exists for our entertainment. Don't want them showboating? Don't let them score.
What are your thoughts on issues such as sportsmanship, dignity, selflessness and respect for your opponent and the game? Unfortunately, your age is showing, too.
Adam from Wausau, WI
How does writing this column change now that you're not an insider on the company payroll?
I've said it before: I don't have to be as concerned about bulletin board material. Now, can we please stop with these insults to my integrity? I was on the payroll for the six years I wrote this column in-house, and I never lied to my readers. If you don't trust me, why would you read me?
Zach from LaJunta, CO
How much of a jump is it from college to the NFL? If you were to build an all-star college team and put it against the Browns (the last winless team), would the college players stand a chance?
The Browns would blow them out. Go back and check out the results from the last several College All-Star games played in Chicago? They were uncompetitive, which resulted in the game being abandoned. The college all-stars weren't even competitive against a team of pro reserves and rookies.
Travis from Houston, TX
What are your thoughts on the Saints?
I think their performance this season is every bit as much of a surprise as the Jaguars' and the Rams'. Sean Payton has done a masterful job of putting that team back together, especially on the defensive side of the ball. No. 2 on offense and No. 8 on defense. I'm impressed.
Chad from Troy, MI
Are we witnessing Denver getting run over by the salary cap train? Is this what a team built on free agency looks like?
Yes and yes. The Broncos are tight against the cap. They've lost several of the players from their Super Bowl team, but their cap burden has been passed on, either directly or indirectly. Hey, they won the Super Bowl and that justifies the gamble, but what if they hadn't won the Super Bowl? How many teams take that risk and don't win it all? I covered one that did and it played a big part in that franchise going dark for 17 years.
Chenc from Gent, Belgium
Vic, glad to have found your blog. I have read "Ask Vic" since I was in school in 2011. You once said that what impressed you the most about Rodgers was how easy he makes the game look. After three games, what impresses you the most about Hundley?
He was able to lead his team, on the road, to a must-win victory against its rival. That tells me the game isn't too big for him.
Mike from Somerset, WI
Vic, the Packers defense was good enough against Trubisky. Did the Packers show enough to win the next three out of four against Flacco, Roethlisberger, Winston and the Browns? I believe they need to be 8-5 after Week 14, assuming Rodgers returns, to get a wild card.
Yes, I think the Packers can win three of the next four, and I think your formula for making December meaningful is spot on. This week's game against the Ravens is another must win.
Eric from St. Paul, MN
These touchdown celebrations are getting absurd.
They sure are. Leap frog and sack races? It's childish to the point of being nauseating. I'm being asked if the anthem protest has cost the NFL viewers. I suppose it has, but I also had two people tell me they've quit watching the NFL because they can't stand the player celebrations. What disgusts me the most is they do them so they can get on the TV highlights. I miss Joe Greene so much.
Max from Milwaukee, WI
Do you think the Patriots are bad for the game?
I assume you're referring to the Martellus Bennett drama, which has a nefarious quality to it that further darkens fans' opinion of Bill Belichick. Al Davis and the Raiders possessed the same dark qualities, and the game flourished. Black hat football is good for the game because it's for people who like sports with an edge. The lesson to be learned from the Bennett fiasco is: Expensive free agency is a trap for fools.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, Green Bay held Chicago to 55 rushing yards. They must have read the concern you shared about the Bears' running game in your last column. Besides this accomplishment, what were the main keys to the Packers' victory?
If you're a one-trick pony and running the ball is your trick, Dom Capers will take it away. That was key No. 1. Key No. 2 was executing Mike McCarthy's game plan. The Packers played on Sunday as though they were being moved about a chess board by their coach.
Paula from Minneapolis, MN
Vic, can you recall a more unexpected result from a challenge than the Bears actually turning the ball over? Sorry, coach, but not only is that not a touchdown, it's also not your ball anymore.
The moment I saw the replay, I knew the Bears were at risk. John Fox got bad advice from his coaches' booth. Be that as it may, I don't think the call should've been reversed because I don't think the replay proved conclusively the runner hadn't stepped out of bounds. The Packers got lucky.
Mark from Bettendorf, IA
Vic, I still sense some hesitation in Hundley's decision-making as he goes through his reads, leading to some late throws. Do you see this, and can this improve as he continues to get more comfortable?
If he doesn't achieve FULL CONSISTENCY in his fourth start, he needs to be cut.
Alab from Albuquerque, NM
Did the Packers play well or did the Bears play poorly?
The Bears are not the standard by which a team should judge itself, but for a team on a three-game losing streak and clinging to playoff hope, this is a feel-good win. It creates a new identity the Packers will need to maintain to have any chance of making it into the playoffs. The Packers can't play as they have in the past. They must be new. Yesterday, they were.
Josh from Tucson, AZ
Well, the Jags have now shown they can have offensive explosions, defensive shutdowns, road warrior persona, and are now on a streak. The win over the Chargers might be the most impressive, simply because they shot themselves in both feet at the end, yet, still managed to focus enough to pull out the win. The only complaint is quitting completely on the run and putting it in the hands of the quarterback, but if we want to get to where we want to go, Bortles will eventually have to have a few clutch drives.
All of that is true, but you forgot about luck. The Jaguars had a lot of it in the magical season of 1996, and they were lucky to win yesterday. The roughing-the-passer penalty on Joey Bosa is the worst call I've seen in the NFL this year. Also, the Jaguars are fortunate Chargers coach Anthony Lynn decided to curl up in a ball when the Chargers got the ball back. Immediately, I knew the Jaguars would tie the game, or win it outright. You can't play that way anymore. Coach Lynn learned that lesson yesterday. He will never make the same mistake again.
Bret from Millani, HI
Vic, you’ve answered several of my questions over the last five or six years and I’ve always valued your opinion, even if we don’t agree on everything (I’m an "Ask Vic" Hall of Famer). In your honest opinion, is there still hope for the Green Bay Packers’ season?
Dan from Sebastopol, CA
Vic, who are your top four BCS teams this week?
Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma and Miami.
Patrick from Milwaukee, WI
Is Jim Brown better than Barry Sanders?
Greg from Danbury, CT
The idea for the draft came to Bert Bell when his financially troubled Philadelphia Eagles couldn't compete for or attract quality college players. The first draft class was inaugurated in 1936. The Eagles' first winning season came in 1943 when they finished third in the NFL East at 5-4-1. They lost the league championship in 1947 and won it in '48 and '49. The draft and the sword share but one quality: By them shall you live and die.
You are what you draft.
Jeffrey from St. Clair Shores, MI
You still have a great sense of humor. Your bird answer was classic. What is your take on the Steelers this year?
For three quarters yesterday, Ben Roethlisberger looked old. Then, with the game on the line late in the fourth quarter, he took his offense down the field as though he was 10 years younger. I think he's lost mobility and his ability to extend plays, and I think he's struggling to be a get-it-out-quick quarterback. For a lot of years, Roethlisberger carried the Steelers as they were rebuilding their defense, now the defense is carrying him.
Jamie from Cross Plains, WI
Who do you think will win McAdoo v. wolves?
The more wolves there are, the louder the howl. There are a lot of wolves in New York.
Dustin from Orlando, FL
Are the Jaguars a product of the inverse draft order? They spent a lot of years slumming with top draft picks.
As I look at the current standings, there are only three teams in the league that aren't a product of the inverse draft order: Patriots, Packers and Steelers. They've managed to stay at or near the top of the league despite drafting low each season. I think in every other case, you can point to a period of losing that resulted in recovery, or a period of winning that has caused losing. The Jaguars and Rams are prime examples of the former.
Luther from Coronado, CA
What cliché most rankles you in postgame interviews?
Anything dismissive rankles me. Reporters represent media outlets that have dedicated a lot of money and resources to covering the team. They deserve to have their questions answered respectfully and intelligently. Reporters also represent fans, who've poured their hearts into the fate of the team. Those fans deserve honest answers to questions only the players and coaches can answer. I allow for the emotions of the game, but if a player or coach is continually hostile to the media, I think it's only fair for the media to treat him as dismissively.
Here are my Week 10 power rankings:
1. Eagles – Ran out of fireworks.
2. Patriots – Still the class of the AFC.
3. Steelers – Tomlin is in control.
4. Rams – Offense to match their defense.
5. Saints – Will be tested in Buffalo.
6. Cowboys – Beginning to look powerful.
7. Panthers – They just keep winning.
8. Seahawks – How's life? They can't kick.
9. Chiefs – Time to do something.
10. Vikings – Headed for a fall.
11. Lions – Best team in the NFC North?
12. Bills – Can prove themselves against Saints.
13. Jaguars – Arrow pointing straight up.
14. Falcons – Season on the line vs. Cowboys.
15. Titans – Showing some grit.
16. Redskins – At a crossroads.
17. Raiders – Don't quit on them just yet.
18. Jets – Better than expected.
19. Chargers – Facing must win in Jacksonville.
20. Dolphins – Not a good 4-4.
21. Texans – Turn out the lights.
22. Packers – Playoff run could be over.
23. Bears – Setting a trap for their rival.
24. Ravens – Needed rest.
25. Cardinals – Worst 4-4 team in the league.
26. Broncos – Blow it up.
27. Bengals – More embarrassing behavior.
28. Colts – Future is cloudy.
29. Bucs – Could be in free fall.
30. Giants – A very sad season.
31. Browns – Now what?
32. 49ers – Once upon a time, they were the best.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, what do you think of Mitchell Trubisky's improvement at QB? What are the biggest challenges he provides for Green Bay?
He's not the challenge. The Packers' challenge is to stop the Bears' running game. It's No. 4 in the league, which is an understatement as to its effectiveness when you consider the Bears are No. 31 in passing. Opponents are focused on stopping the run, yet, the Bears are still able to put up big rushing numbers. That tells me the Bears are able to impose their will.
Sam from Jacksonville, FL
Can you give me one good reason why the Jaguars lost the 1999 AFC Championship?
They stopped running the ball. Fred was gashing the Titans. Why did they stop?
Nathan from New York, NY
Vic, I can only speak for myself, but I don't think Packers fans necessarily disagree with you about drafting a quarterback in the early rounds before Aaron Rodgers retires. We just feel it's not something that has to be done when Rodgers is still 34.
If you pass on the right guy when you don't need him, can you guarantee he'll be available when the need is immediate? The Jaguars passed on Aaron Rodgers because they didn't think they needed a quarterback. What followed were a lot of dry years at the position when the available quarterbacks were highlighted by Tim Tebow and Jimmy Clausen. I think it's time to begin thinking about the future. Of all the decisions Ted Thompson made as general manager of the Packers, his decision to draft a quarterback before he needed one is, by far, his best, and he was harshly criticized by fans for it. Haven't the fans learned their lesson?
Patrick from Ashland, WI
Glad to find your site, finally! If you listened to Mike McCarthy's press conference after the Lions game, he said something like, "Take a look at the lopsided statistics." What did he mean by that?
I wasn't at the press conference -- I think I had fallen asleep on the couch -- but the lopsided stats tell me the Packers were overmatched. I've read a lot of comments by fans that the Packers had a lot of first-round picks on defense in Monday night's game, but what we forget is for the past several years, every time the Packers made a pick, the Lions had preceded that pick by selecting a higher-rated player. It's the genius of the inverse-order draft. Success comes at a cost.
Ryan from Neenah, WI
If, as you say, the Packers are simply overmatched on defense, what is the best way for the coaching staff to put the players in a position to be more successful? My opinion is our defensive backfield struggles with zone concepts. I wonder if they would fair better in more man to man coverage? I realize a pass rush would help; maybe Biegel can provide a spark?
The two touchdown passes were against man coverage. The honey hole (what's with the turkey hole stuff, Gruden?) throws were against zone. The long screen pass was against an all-out blitz. I don't think concepts were the problem. I think it's time to play it straight, challenge the defense to win its one-on-ones, and find out who can't. Then you'll know how to fix the problem.
Joseph from Dillon, MT
Glad to read your material again; thank you. If you were coach, how would you prepare for the Bears?
I'd run the ball. The running game fixes everything. If you can't run the ball, then you know what needs to be fixed.
Bill from Sheboygan, WI
Who's to blame for the Packers' fall?
Matt from Christchurch, New Zealand
How does winsome cope with defeat?
With dignity and aplomb. Whining and crying worsen the effects of losing. I'm reminded of an interview I did with Joe Greene a long time ago. He was struggling with the frustration football often forces on us. Joe said he decided happiness wasn't a constant. When you have it, enjoy it. When you don't have, be patient and wait for it to return. I think Packers fans need to be patient.
Johan from Pembroke, ON
If Vic is head coach, what does he do to try and improve the Packers' current chances of having the December friend visit Lambeau Field this season?
There is no Vic the head coach. There's only Vic the retired reporter, and he is confident Mike McCarthy will find a way to make December meaningful. Vic the reporter has never covered a coach who is better than McCarthy at preparing a team to play.
Dustin from Seymour, WI
Can one man really tilt the field that much?
Tom Brady has for 16 years.
Richard from Clearwater, MN
I have to say, I appreciate the '90s the most, as my love with the Packers started in '93, when the balance between great running backs and passers still had some equilibrium. What decade of football would you say has brought you the greatest joy?
The games meant the most to me in the '70s because they were more than a game then. Is that joy? I'm not sure.
Bob from Wauwatosa, WI
Hi Vic, what is your take on Martellus Bennett being released by the Packers on Wednesday?
He had become a distraction.
Tim from Jacksonville, FL
Vic, when are you going to release a book? You could probably write about the migratory patterns of birds and I'd still buy it.
I spend a lot of time every day observing birds in the marsh behind my house. They especially interest me during the cocktail hour. There are little white ones, big white ones and gigantic gray ones that have a beard.
Greg from Danbury, CT
So, what did your eyes tell you?
The Packers were overmatched. The Lions were the more talented team.
Andrew from Minneapolis, MN
What is your most troubling observation of the Packers' struggle?
The Packers were overmatched. The Lions were the more talented team.
Mike from Beloit, WI
Enough of the gum chewing.
I don't like the body language, either. I don't like the bobbing and swaying. It makes him appear nervous and unsettled. Watching Brett Hundley confer with Aaron Rodgers on the sideline provided a stunning contrast. Hundley doesn't engender confidence and calm. I hope this will change with playing time and experience.
Nic from Milwaukee, WI
Vic, we're used to winning. It really, really hurts to lose. Football isn't the same without Rodgers.
This is an opportunity to achieve perspective. It's not time, yet, for resignation, but it will be if the Packers don't win in Chicago.
John from Sidney, MT
Lions go without a punt for the first time in 46 years, Vic. It’s to the point that third and long is just a flat gimme. What, in your opinion, is the reason the Packers defense is so sickeningly pathetic? Straight up, please; no ice.
When you can't win the one-on-ones, you have to win with scheme, and scheme wins aren't lasting. The heavy dependence on scheme last night suggests to me an admission the Packers can't win the one-on-ones.
Russ from Chicago, IL
Vic, there is no doubt the wolves are howling for the end of Dom Capers' run in Green Bay. Are the wolves onto something here?
Ultimately, the wolves always win, but their howls are seldom logical. If the wolves put on the tape, they'd see a defense that emptied its playbook. Nobody can say the Packers defense was conservative last night. It used an all-out blitz and got burned for a long screen pass. When the Packers went with a vanilla cover two look, Matt Stafford beat it with what Jon Gruden referred to as "turkey hole" throws -- I call it the honey hole. Those passes were successful because the safety didn't get to the sideline quickly enough; it was a lack of execution. The touchdown passes were against man coverage. The only scheme that worked with any consistency was the box overload against the run, but it got beat for a touchdown run to the outside. The Lions' game plan was to attack the Packers on the edges, and when you play a 3-4 defense, that means the offense is going after your linebackers. Hey, in a 3-4, the linebackers are supposed to be the stars of the show. I understand and appreciate Packers fans' frustration and their cries for change, so I won't try to quiet those cries, but I think we all know the problem on defense last night ran much deeper than the scheme or the man who created that strategy. The Packers were overmatched.
Jake from Corvallis, OR
Hey Vic, I imagine most of the blame will be placed on Capers and the defense. While it wasn't the best performance by that unit, they kept the Lions to 17 points through three quarters. That should be a winnable game for our offense. So my question is, what does it say about our offense that Mike McCarthy and his coaches felt it necessary after two weeks of preparation and getting healthy to run so many trap and trick plays instead of lining up and relying on his players to beat the man across from them?
When you dink and dunk, it's usually because you don't think you can plow and pop.
Dave from North Potomac, MD
Vic, did Brett keep his eyes downfield or not?
I sensed no fear of the rush. I liked his eyes at the line of scrimmage and what I saw of them in the pocket. Did you think his receivers created separation? Gruden didn't.
Jason from Wilmington, NC
Hey Vic, glad to have you back! I have been reading your work for a few years now and thoroughly enjoy it. My question is during your tenures with the NFL teams that you covered, did any of them give you complete freedom to write and respond as you pleased? I am curious as to whether we have been getting a watered down version of the real thing. Looking forward to many more columns.
I know you mean well, but what you’re implying insults me. Your question implies mistrust and doubt as to my credibility. If that’s true, you should never read anything I write again.
Wes from Green Bay, WI
Sunday we saw Jameis Winston go on the field and instigate a fight. Should he have been removed? Why are some removed, others not? The enforcement of rules needs to be constant.
The more the players are permitted to celebrate, the more they misbehave. Now they’re crawling along the ground as if they were snakes. I liked football more when it was an exercise in self-discipline.
Isaac from Nashville, TN
Vic, what’s your opinion on the decline of offensive line play? Do you think it's serious enough to compromise the old wisdom of get the big guys first in the draft?
I was thinking about this on Sunday. Offensive line play is horrible. I’ve never seen it as weak as it is right now. The worst part is these guys are permitted to use their hands to block. I can’t help but wonder what Jerry Kramer thinks: Try blocking Alex Karras with your elbows, boys. I’ve long advocated getting the big guys early, but why bother if they’re going to play like this on the offensive side of the ball? Passing the football has become a two-second event. It’s to the point I wouldn’t draft a quarterback unless he was mobile enough to get outside the pocket and make a play. In fact, I think mobility is becoming the No. 1 ingredient in successful quarterback play, and it's because the pass pocket is collapsing. I don’t know what’s happened to make pass-blocking so seemingly impossible – run-blocking became a lost art when zone-blocking became all the rage – but I don’t see one tackle in the league who reminds me in the least of Anthony Munoz.
Tim from Lancaster, PA
I think the Jags should consider making those their permanent jerseys. They sure do look nice swarming to the ball, don't they?
Even ugly is beautiful when it wins.
Nathan from New York, NY
Vic, do you think the Ketchman prevent defense would've stopped Tyreek Hill's touchdown at the end of the first half?
I think we'll see a team use the “Ketchman 0-0-11” within the next few years.
Adam from Jacksonville, FL
Great defense, good running game and a QB who can do just enough in the passing game. Is this team the super-charged version of 2007? Is our December friend finally ready to visit after being away for so long?
Yes. Here’s the bottom line: The days of being an underdog are over. The Jaguars are now a legitimate Super Bowl contender. They aren’t going to sneak up on anyone anymore. The hunter has become the hunted. How’s it feel?
Gabor from Budapest, Hungary
It's good to read your opinion again; thank you for the blog! What were your plans in case you do not get the job with the Packers?
It was not a competition.
Morgan from Fort Collins, CO
It’s the end of the third quarter and this is unbearable to watch. How can this team be so outmatched? Is there a solution for this year or is it wait and see? I know, I know, help is not on the way.
Don't beat yourself up. "Listen" to your eyes.
This is a bonus column to help readers acclimate to the publishing schedule for days after the Packers play. The Packers play tonight, so tomorrow will be a regularly scheduled “Ask Vic” column. See you tomorrow morning.
Isaac from Nashville, TN
Vic, can you think of a rule change that could counter the increasing prevalence of dink and dunk offense? I keep reading that offenses are getting better at short pass efficiency, avoiding turnovers, sacks, etc., but sacrificing the long ball in the process.
I hate dink and dunk offense. I don’t see the NFL reverting to the days of true bump and run pass coverage – that would require the elimination of the 5-yard chuck rule – so I would propose a rule requiring all defenders to be positioned within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage at the snap of the ball. That’ll do it.
Dan from Waupun, WI
Vic, I'm not getting the Kaepernick collusion deal? If you own a Best Buy in Dallas, and you talk to the owner of a Best Buy in New York, Chicago, or any other Best Buy owner, can you say you may not want this guy as an employee, he's bad for revenue?
I don’t know what kind of agreement Best Buy has with its employees, but the NFL has a Collective Bargaining Agreement with its players and the CBA provides for a system of free agency. Do you really believe Colin Kaepernick isn’t worthy of an NFL roster? He contends owners are in violation of the CBA and have collectively blackballed him from playing in the NFL.
Michael from Tallahassee, FL
As a former player and coach of the Western Illinois University Leathernecks, Red Miller would come back to Macomb from time to time. During my tenure as publisher of the Macomb Journal, I was fortunate to meet him several times. He was gregarious and engaging. Do you have any Red Miller stories?
He was a joy to interview because he was comfortable expressing his emotions. During a conference call a year after his Orange crush season in 1977, he became irritated by our line of questioning. “Hey, we beat you twice last year,” Miller countered. There was nothing corporate about Red Miller. He was a true football man.
Travis from Indianapolis, IN
Vic, glad you are back and doing what you love! I think you may have ruffled some feathers by saying the Packers should start looking for a QB in the first round of the draft to replace Rodgers. McCarthy and Rodgers have expressed the goal and expectation of No. 12 playing into his 40s. Would you argue that is unrealistic? He was playing better than anyone in the league in December/January at age 33.
I certainly don’t want to ruffle any feathers, so I’ll change my opinion and agree with the fans. The Packers should ignore the quarterback position and wait until either Aaron Rodgers retires or has to play with the aid of a cane before the Packers find and begin grooming his replacement. It could force the franchise to go dark for an extended period of time, but I’m sure no one would complain. All better now?
Benjamin from Jacksonville, FL
Now that both Andrew Luck and Deshaun Watson are on injured reserve, many consider the Jaguars the favorite to win the AFC South and get their first playoff appearance since 2007. Do you think they have what it takes to get there? If so, do you think they can pull off a win or two?
I think the Jaguars will win the AFC South. In fact, I will consider it a disappointment if they don’t win the AFC South. After that, anything can happen. How’s that make you feel? With expectation comes responsibility.
Hugh from Sioux Falls, SD
Is Carson Wentz a fluke coming out of the FCS like Kurt Warner? Or can the Packers really look beyond the big-school programs to find the next “Man?”
You find football players where you find football players.
Ryan from Stevens Points, WI
Vic, what's more important in a quarterback, physical skills or mental skills. Which would you prefer?
Lil Abner or Stephen Hawking? How about something between the two? Quarterback is the most demanding position in all of sports. He needs to be all things: physically gifted, smart and courageous.
Lee from Marshfield, WI
I see you putting the weight of the Packers wins and losses on Brett Hundley. Do you really believe if Hundley averages 200 yards a game with an average passer rating that will be enough for the Packers to win?
If he plays to that level, the burden falls on the defense, and it’s about time defense carries the cross.
Savannah from Monona, WI
Vic, can you give us a few of your predictions for the outcomes of games this weekend? For example, Monday night’s winner?
It’s difficult for me to envision the Packers beating the Lions. As I wrote, the Lions impressed me in their loss to the Steelers. Be that as it may, I’m going to pick the Packers to win tonight. Why? Because I think Mike McCarthy is going to inspire his players to play above the X’s and O’s. This is the big one and I think the Packers are going to play inspired football.
Mike from North Hudson, WI
Vic, looking forward to the 2018 NFL draft, the Packers, with their added compensatory draft picks, will have ammunition to be active. Based on the first half of this season, what positions would GM Vic be looking to address?
I think they need big guys on both sides of the ball. I also think they need more athletes at linebacker and wide receiver.
Here are my Week 9 power rankings:
1. Eagles – Deserving of a rest.
2. Patriots – Defense on the rise.
3. Steelers – Offense not scoring enough points.
4. Seahawks – These Seahawks are about offense.
5. Rams – All the indicators look good.
6. Saints – Five in a row.
7. *Chiefs – Back on track.
8. Vikings – Eyes on Lions-Packers this week.
9. Bills – Starting to get that winning feeling.
10. Cowboys – Big one in KC this week.
11. Panthers – Didn’t look great in win at Tampa.
12. Falcons – Super Bowl hangover?
13. Lions – Lots of yards but no touchdowns.
14. Jaguars – Remaining schedule favorable.
15. Chargers – Not who I thought they might be.
16. Redskins – Mueller should bring charges.
17. Dolphins – Yuk!
18. Texans – Better find their identity soon.
19. Titans – Not much to say here.
20. Packers – Showdown time in the NFC North.
21. Bears – Defense appears to be fixed.
22. Ravens – Need to make a move soon.
23. Raiders – Move might be weighing on them.
24. Broncos – At least they won a Super Bowl.
25. Bengals – Must-win game in Jax.
26. Jets – They know what the issues are.
27. Bucs – Could be in free fall.
28. Cardinals – Could get ugly in San Francisco.
29. Giants – Play for the top pick or their honor?
30. Colts – They play hard.
31. Browns – Poor London had to see this.
32. 49ers – They get their first win this week.
*Winners of the “Most Ridiculous Play of the Week Award.”
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, if you were the Packers’ GM, would you have traded a draft pick for Jimmy Garoppolo?
No. No. 1, it would be a middle-of-the-season act of desperation, and they’re seldom successful. No. 2, the Patriots are astute evaluators of talent, and if they thought Garoppolo was a big-time quarterback, they wouldn’t be trading him. There will be plenty of college quarterbacks from which to choose when the Packers decide it’s time to find Aaron Rodgers’ successor. The immediate challenge is to find out if Brett Hundley can lead the Packers to the postseason and, in the process, become that quarterback of the future. Picks, not players.
Steve from Spooner, WI
What do you think of the Patriots’ trade? Are they really gambling on Brady to stay healthy for the next eight weeks? Will they now use their first-round pick to take a QB in the draft? What a bold, brash and risky move to capture as much value as possible for a player that becomes a cap issue at the end of the season.
The Patriots are firm believers in value, just as I am. They get full value for their players, and I am in awe of their personnel management skills. This trade is about one thing, in my opinion: Getting value that can be used in the future out of a player they believe they can replace in the present. I think the Patriots are telling us they think Jimmy Garoppolo is just a guy.
Mike from North Hudson, WI
Vic What's your pet peeve with today's NFL?
The officials talk too much. “By rule, the penalty results in a first down.” Really? I needed to be told that? I like the way baseball does replay. The umpire gets his ruling and then gestures out or safe. These officiating explanations in the NFL sound namby-pamby.
Holger from Ecuador
Does Martell Bennett’s decision to retire mean Aaron Rodgers will not be the same after his injury? After all, he did sign a three-year deal and now he wants to retire. Big change of mind in a matter of a few months.
I think it means he needed some attention; that’s the only purpose this kind of theatrics serves.
Brian from Yakima, WA
What’s your take on Cam Newton’s recent interaction with the media?
He needs to change his attitude toward the media. It’s become a distraction and it’s hurting his game.
Mike from Somerset, WI
Vic, what does Brett Hundley have to do to beat the Lions?
He needs to be error free and throw for 200 yards. I think that’s a fair expectation. If he achieves that level of performance, the burden falls on every other aspect of the Packers. The finger then points to the defense, the running game and special teams. I thought those aspects of the Packers’ performance against the Saints were good enough to win. I don’t expect Hundley to be “The Man,” but he needs to be a contributor.
Mike from McFarland, WI
One pleads guilty, two others indicted and it’s just getting started. Wish you weren't covering sports?
And every day you get a new tweet controversy. Covering sports is boring compared to covering politics.
Chris from Bozeman, MT
Vic, as a Packers fan, I love your stuff. Read you long enough to know your comment on the Packers needing to go QB in round one was an example of you having fun and enjoying retirement. No. 12 still has it; they just need a little more grit as a team and get back to winning one-on-ones.
No, I was being serious. When your quarterback is in his mid-30s, you should begin thinking of finding and grooming a replacement. That philosophy worked pretty well for the Packers the last time they did it, right? Look at what the Chiefs did this year. In Rodgers’ case, the injury can’t be dismissed. Thirteen screws in a bone attached to your quarterback’s throwing arm is a daunting fact. If Hundley fails to prove he’s the man for the future, I think it would only make sense to consider drafting a quarterback. If you wait until Rodgers retires, you’re going to go away for a while, and sometimes those teams don’t come back for a long time.
John from Jefferson, WI
Vic, would it be considered victim blaming to insinuate Rodgers was asking for a hit via all the belts?
You can call it whatever you want, but the football field is a nasty place populated by nasty men, and all those belts and free plays aren’t a formula for making friends.
Tim from Lancaster, PA
What teams should we stick the proverbial fork in? Who should we be watching out for in November and December?
It’s too early for forks. November is when the real contenders begin to emerge. I gotta tell you, I like what I saw in the Lions on Sunday night. They’re no longer a will-o'-the-wisp. I saw some toughness and resolve.
Patrick from Fort Collins, CO
Hey, Vic, good to have you back online. The Internet just wasn't the same without you. What is your take on the Packers defense after multiple years with high draft picks invested? The approach seems right, but the results don't seem to match the amount invested.
We’ll know by season’s end where this rebuild stands and what the grade should be. I see some good things happening in the secondary.
Ben from Alameda, CA
Jeremy Lane failed his physical. In a sport that glorifies playing through pain and injury, what does failing a physical mean? How subjective are the findings?
They check everything. My favorite failed physical story is from a Bills tight end named Paul Seymour. It was 1978 and Seymour was traded to the Steelers for a very good wide receiver named Frank Lewis. Seymour failed the Steelers’ physical when he was judged to have fallen arches. The Steelers returned Seymour to the Bills – never played another down – but the Bills didn’t return Lewis to the Steelers. Chuck Knox, a Pittsburgh native, said the trade wasn’t contingent on passing a physical. Chuck Noll was furious, claiming it had long been a gentleman’s agreement players had to pass their physical. The next time the Steelers played the Bills, we hammered Knox pretty hard on the Seymour subject in the conference call before the game.
I got a lot of positive feedback on Mike Ryan’s explanation of Aaron Rodgers’ injury, so I’ve decided to make Mike’s work a regular feature of this column. Here’s a recent video he did on Zach Miller’s frightening injury. https://www.facebook.com/SNFonNBC/videos/1733718663347752/