"Ask Vic" will publish on Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the football season.
Sean-Luc from Oceanside, CA
Aaron Rodgers finally building a rapport with his wide receivers or finally got what he wanted? Outside of the Bears game, he looks like a different QB since McCarthy was fired.
This is exactly what I meant when I wrote of wanting to avoid "Rodgers analysis angst." It's over the top. It was a meaningless game, except for how it will impact the draft order. The Packers rallied from a 15-point deficit to beat a 4-11 team. It's a feel-good win in a feel-bad season. Attaching greater meaning to it is an exercise in futility.
Dan from Toledo, OH
Rodgers throwing for over 400 yards and a couple of scores, the Packers putting up 40-plus points and not having to spend an entire offseason listening to the 0-8 on the road chatter: These are a few of the reasons that win was worth the loss of a few draft slots.
A few? The wins over the Falcons and Jets have dropped the Packers nearly 10 spots in the draft order.
Rick from Pine Mountain, GA
Is Ron Zook a good special teams coach? As bad as the offense and defense have been this year, the special teams have been worse.
Zook is one of the game's most respected special teams coaches. His wedge-busting strategy in the '90s caused the league to change the rules. In my opinion, kick-coverage failures often say something about a team's roster depth.
Paul from Hartland, WI
You said you liked the Ravens' pick of Lamar Jackson in the draft and they're winning with him. Is this the start of the transition away from the pocket passer toward the dime-a-dozen running QBs being churned out from college?
Yes, I believe the game is shifting toward running quarterbacks. Why shouldn't it? They can run and slide and you can't touch them. Jackson is the latest version of the new age quarterback. I thought he was a great pick for the Ravens and if I was a GM I'd be looking for a new age guy, and I don't think you have to spend a first-round pick on one. Their ranks are plentiful and they don't require as much grooming as a pocket passer. Drop back and run is a good play.
John from Jacksonville Beach, FL
What are your thoughts on Marvin Harrison and his overall career. He was elected to the Hall of Fame, but I always remember he underwhelmed in the postseason. Playing with Manning in all of those regular season games helped his stats, I’m just not sure they tell the whole story. Boy, those Colts teams were a different team when the playoffs rolled around.
I'm a big believer in Hall of Fame players having a defining postseason moment. I think it completes their resume. Harrison's body of work is apparently too great to ignore. So, what do we do with all of the wide receivers who have the body of work and a defining postseason moment, such as Hines Ward and Larry Fitzgerald? Maybe we should have a separate Hall of Fame of Wide Receivers.
Nick from Annapolis, MD
Regardless of whether or not the Jaguars' 2017 campaign was a fluke, they were very close to making the Super Bowl, and probably would have had a legitimate shot at holding the Eagles to under 17 points and winning that game. Given that this was a real possibility last season, where does this season's Jaguars rank on the all-time list of disappointing teams?
They're not on that list because, given their situation at quarterback, I don't think anyone was shocked by the Jaguars' fall this season. The style of today's game doesn't suit teams with underperforming quarterbacks. It can happen that a team can get so hot on defense it can overcome an underperforming quarterback, but it's nearly impossible to sustain that formula for winning.
Holger from Guayaquil, Ecuador
Regarding your comment about Big Ben's performance against the Patriots in the last four minutes of the game, back in the Packers-Seahawks NFC title game, Aaron Rodgers had the same opportunity and he didn't do it. What does that say of him?
Roethlisberger converted a third down at the start of that drive. Rodgers had a third-down pass dropped by Andrew Quarless. Had Quarless caught the pass, the Packers would've gained a first down that probably would've sealed the victory. Rodgers can't do it all; he needs help. I think that's what we learned this season.
Bill from Sheboygan, WI
Name one thing you don't like about the way football is being played today.
I'm exasperated by the league's emphasis on calling penalties, and yesterday was the worst example of it this season. There was an obvious and ridiculous emphasis on calling pass interference. I watched several games and they all had examples of head-scratching pass interference penalties, and they were game-changing. The Packers-Jets game was a flag fest. John Parry's crew turned in an embarrassing performance in the Texans-Eagles game. The Saints were handed a victory by two absurd PI calls against Joe Haden. So far this season, 3,244 penalties for 27,719 yards have been assessed, and that doesn't include another 600 penalties that have been declined or were offsetting. This is good for the game?
Joe from Bloomington, IN
The Colts drafted well without focusing too much on the premier positions. What do you make of that?
The Colts' resurgence is mostly about Andrew Luck. The Colts played hard last season, but they didn't have Luck. Chuck Pagano was fired for no good reason, other than somebody has to take the fall for losing.
Barry from Hayward, WI
Vic, I really enjoy a good running game and defenses that generate lots of turnovers. Of the teams still in contention, which would you suggest I watch next Sunday?
The Ravens are your kind of team. They're playing old-school football and I think it's fun to watch.
Joe from Germanton, IN
I’ve heard McCarthy is stepping out of coaching for a little while. If he decides to coach again, what kind of team is he looking for?
One with a horn?
Doug from St. Louis, MO
Vic, I still don't know what to make of the Packers' WR group. I know what Davante Adams is, but I'm not sold on any of of the other guys. From what you've watched this year, how would you move forward if you were the GM? Draft another wide receiver or try to find a good fit in free agency?
I think you got it right: Adams is the star and everybody else is replaceable. I like signing wide receivers in cheap free agency. Dime a dozen. Find the guys who know how to play and use them to address specific roles on your team. In addition, always draft a wide receiver. That's where you get young speed.
Marty from Grafton, WI
What did you mean by your comment "once upon a time, there was an extreme prejudice against power runners that didn't play behind their pads."
"Play behind their pads" is scoutspeak for dropping the shoulder pads and initiating contact. In the head-banger era, power backs were battering rams. Pads-down runners were the rule; upright runners were the exception. Franco Harris, for example, was a high-cut, cutback runner, which was rare for a guy 6-2, 230 (I had seen him listed as high as 241). Franco ran behind his hips, not his shoulder pads, and that caused a divergence of opinion of Harris as a power back. Chuck Noll even favored drafting Robert Newhouse instead of Franco. Newhouse was a short, squat, pads-down runner. Franco was ahead of his time. He was perfectly suited for today's game, which fits the high-cut runners in a game that demands its players keep their heads up.
Mike from Fort Wayne, IN
Vic, what do you want for Christmas?
I have repeatedly asked for a chainsaw, as mine broke this past fall, and I have repeatedly been told I will not get a chainsaw as a Christmas gift.
Mark from Bettendorf, IA
Vic, I see a lot of comments about players who "can't stay healthy." Do talent evaluators really take this into account? I can see being worried about a lingering injury, but a guy like Aaron Jones may never get injured again.
I think everything needs to be taken into account when grading a draft prospect. Why draft a guy higher than necessary? Curtis Martin is the perfect example. He couldn't stay healthy in college, and it caused him to fall to the third round. As a pro, he became one of the most durable backs in NFL history. The draft is a crap shoot; you need to get lucky. If a GM needs to get one thing right, it's where players fit in the order. Drafting players that get hurt and underperform can be forgiven, but overdrafting them is unforgivable.
Nick from Owego, NY
Can you tell me a good Christmas football story?
It's from Christmas Eve, 1994. I was covering the Steelers, who had just lost in San Diego, 37-34, to finish the regular season. The game was meaningless, as the Steelers had already clinched homefield advantage. Bill Cowher flooded the field with reserves in the second half and got into an up-tempo passing contest that exploded yardage totals. I was writing my story on the bus outside Jack Murphy Stadium when Dom Capers asked to see my stats pack. Capers was the Steelers' defensive coordinator and he wanted to finish the season as the league's No. 1 defense. "You're not gonna like it," I said as I handed him the stats pack. He studied it briefly, then handed it back to me. "Merry Christmas to me," he said, sarcastically. The Steelers finished No. 2 in total defense.
David from Madison, WI
Is there a career you’ve once romanticized about and also felt you could have developed the skills and attributes necessary for success?
No, I pretty much knew it was this or the sintering plant.
R.J. from Plymouth, WI
With the offseason talk heating up, what is your take on Le'Veon Bell to the Packers? I feel like that would be a risky investment after the Jimmy Graham experiment.
Risky? Let me put it this way: The best thing that happened to the Steelers this season is Bell not signing the contract he was offered. They got lucky. They almost screwed that up, too.
Derek from Eau Claire, WI
What is your recap of 2018 and your wish for 2019?
The 2018 season is about what I expected for the Packers. There was work that needed to be done and I think a large measure of that work has been accomplished. My hope is the team will hire a sensible head coach and the team will pursue a reasonable course of continued repair. Merry Christmas to everybody.