"Ask Vic" will publish on M-W-F during the football season.
Al from Wausau, WI
Does this Packers team look like a real playoff/Super Bowl caliber team to you? I want to think they can make a run but every game makes me more and more hesitant. They are not great at any one thing. Horrible on special teams, defense is mediocre and offense has yet to hit its stride. I am concerned there isn't a stride to be hit with the team we have? Talk me off the ledge.
The ledge, Al? Really? Yes, I think the Packers are a legit Super Bowl contender because Aaron Rodgers still tilts the field. If he gets hot in the postseason, they can go all the way. As for not having hit their stride on offense, what would you call their performance in Dallas, against the Raiders, in Kansas City? That's what the Packers offense can be when it gets hot, and that's what it's going to take to go all the way.
Wendell from Porto Alegre, Brazil
When asked about how you balance forming an identity and trying to win games, Matt LaFleur said: "That's exactly right. We are going to do whatever it takes to win. I'll leave that up to you guys." Maybe the identity LaFleur wants for the Packers is "whatever it takes."
A team's identity is formed by what it's done to be what it is. In the Packers' case, not much has changed; Rodgers is still the Packers' identity. They are what Rodgers is. What the Packers do in what's left of the season will either confirm that identity, or add to it.
Brooks from More, OK
Could Jacksonville trade Foles and pay part of his salary? It might make him more attractive to another team.
Baseball does it routinely, but the NFL doesn't want to go down that road. It has a bad taste to it. Here's a better idea: Find a team interested in trading for Foles. I'd give the Eagles a call and I'd take a seventh-round pick just to get Foles off the books, so to speak. It's not likely an interested team will be willing to assume the $20 million the Jaguars owe Foles, so, execute what's known as a "sign and trade." Do a new deal with Foles that would guarantee him a $10 million roster bonus the Jags would have to pay and an additional $10 million from the team trading for him. In effect, the Jaguars would be paying a portion of Foles' salary, but it wouldn't leave the bad taste baseball's similar deals do.
Mikey from Tallahassee, FL
In Wednesday's column, you mentioned Tampa may be able to win out. If they do, do we start hearing Byron Leftwich's name as a possible head coaching candidate?
Byron grew up in the shadow of RFK Stadium. He would help reconnect the Washington football team to its glory days.
Nick from Owego, NY
I like "rooting for stories." Any good December storylines I could be rooting for?
I don't think you'll be rooting for this one, but the Bears could be a major spoiler in the final three weeks of the season. They play at the Packers and at the Vikings and they could deliver a crippling blow to one of those teams with an upset win. The Bears are playing well right now and they'll be a tough out for the Packers on Dec. 15.
Elvis from Hoonah, AK
Despite their big numbers and immediate impact to our pass rush, was the money spent on the Smith Bros. worth it?
They're two of the best free-agent acquisitions of the last several years. The Packers wouldn't be where they are without them.
Luke from La Crosse, WI
Looking back at the previous Super Bowl winners shows a pattern of those teams possessing a top 10 defense (points per game allowed) or a top 10 offense (points per game scored). In most cases, they have both within the top 10. The Packers have neither thus far. Do you believe they can still make a deep postseason run?
"You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" The Packers certainly aren't a paper tiger. They're No. 22 in total offense and No. 28 in total defense. I, too, am amazed they could win nine games with numbers that dreadfully low. How have they done it? Well, they've made game-changing plays, the ball has bounced their way and the calls continue to favor the Packers. Against the Giants, the officials all but picked up the ball and marched it down the field. Team of destiny or team destined for disappointment? Soon, we'll have our answer. The uncertainty is what makes it fun.
Karl from Albuquerque, NM
Rivera leads his team with an erratic and sometimes good, sometimes bad quarterback to the Super Bowl. He has few weapons now and so they fire him. Vic, is there anywhere wolves don't live?
The wolves didn't do this, the owner did. Rivera was toast the moment the team was sold. I can't blame the new owner for wanting his guy. This isn't a firing, it's a re-fitting.
Andy from Iowa City, IA
Why have the Steelers been able to weather the loss of their quarterback so much better than the Packers did?
It's because they currently have a top five defense, and that wouldn't be possible had the Packers drafted T.J. Watt. He's the Steelers' MVP.
Andreas from Chicago, IL
Vic, how do you view Pete Carroll as a coach and/or leader of men?
He's outstanding in both categories. He and Tomlin are similar in style. They're always pushing, demanding and challenging their players to be better. They do it with encouragement, aggressive coaching decisions and a physical style of play. I didn't see that when Carroll was the Patriots' coach, but I see it now. I think coaching at USC changed him in a good way.
Leif from Frederic, WI
Is Duck Hodges “The Man?”
No, but I'm curious as to why he wasn't even a priority undrafted free agent. He had to wait to be signed as a tryout player. So, I asked a scout friend of mine what Hodges' weaknesses are. He throws a nice deep ball with a penetrating trajectory, he can move in the pocket and buy a little time with his legs, and he appears to be quick and decisive in his decision making. The scout said he saw him play live once and attended two of his pro day workouts. The scout said he graded Hodges as having above average arm strength and "shows very good competes and processing." At 6-1 he's the same height as Mayfield and three inches taller than Murray. So what's the deal? I think two things hurt him: the competition level at which he played in college, and he doesn't pass the eye test. He looks like a guy who makes duck calls.
John from Waupaca, WI
Announcer Tim Ryan was suspended after he said, "He’s really good at that fake, Lamar Jackson, but when you consider his dark skin color with a dark football with a dark uniform, you could not see that thing. I mean you literally could not see when he was in and out of the mesh point.” Seems things have gotten to the point you can't mention skin color at all.
Apparently you can if you own a football team in Washington.
Tim from Fernandina Beach, FL
Myles Jack had the most success playing on the outside, where he could use his speed with Posluszny playing the middle. Assuming he is healthy, do you see the Jags moving Jack Ryan to the middle and Jack outside?
Everything in Jacksonville is on hold until it's decided by the owner how the team will move forward. We need to wait for that to happen before we even begin to ask questions.