Tanner from Hilbert, WI
The Jaguars won. Will that game plan work on the mighty Patriots or will they have to change up their game plan?
At this point in the season, game plans don't change much. You do what you do best. The Jags' game plan will be built on running the ball and rushing the passer. The Patriots' game plan will be built on a possession passing attack featuring Brady and Gronkowski. At this point in the season, it's not about the plan, it's about executing it. Plays win early, players win late.
Matt from McNaughton (hometown and state, please)
I’m glad they made it the first amendment, too. Philosophy aside, it really must suck not to have it.
Imagine living in a country where a reporter is afraid to report the truth because he might be required to prove it to avoid being sued for libel. It could require him to divulge his sources, which he couldn't do or he'd have to find a new career. That's a system ripe for corruption. I don't want to live in that country.
Jeff from Miami, FL
The Steelers and Packers have picked first-round defensive players with almost equal frequency over the last several years, but the defensive stats don't match. What do you see as the major difference?
The stats? Did you like what you saw this past Sunday? How about the way that Steelers defense played against the Packers? You want that in Green Bay? The Steelers are guilty of the same sin for which the Packers and Seahawks are guilty: too much winning. The inverse draft order got all three.
Kevin from Greenacres, WA
Vic, I normally agree with you about free agency and it usually being a big expensive risk without dependable returns, however, if the Chiefs are intent on moving away from Smith, would you pursue him as the Browns' GM?
Alex Smith isn't a free agent. He'd have to be acquired in a trade, and the Browns certainly have the picks to get a deal done. The Browns need to get a guy for now and draft a guy for later. I suspect that's what they'll do. I'd do it, too.
Pat from Seneca, SC
Do you think the last play of the Vikings-Saints game would have been a good time to use the "Ketchman 0-0-11" defense?
It was the perfect time. Three defenders down each sideline and five across the 20. The old pincher move, right? One day, somebody's gonna use it.
Jerry from DesMoines, IA
Vic, do Coach McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers have a good working relationship? Does coach push the right buttons to get the best out of A-Rod the way Coach Noll did for Bradshaw? It seems that way to me, but I'm wondering if you have insight to share.
McCarthy-Rodgers is similar to Noll-Bradshaw, Landry-Staubach and Brown-Graham. They each were respectful and sucessful, and each relationship had an edge to it. I did an interview with Otto Graham in which he told me he nearly went after Paul Brown on the sideline one day when Brown intentionally spoke loud enough for Graham to hear Brown question Graham's pocket courage. Terry Bradshaw told me he intentionally played his guitar with his dormitory room door open when Chuck Noll was taking his post-lunch nap in his room directly across the hall. Roger Staubach asked to be traded if Tom Landry didn't stop using the two-quarterback system. Remember McCarthy and Rodgers in Cincinnati? Edge is good. Happy is bad. It's an edge game.
Lee from Marshfield, WI
Vic, do the Vikings have their starting 2018 QB on their current roster?
Yes, and he's Case Keenum, but will Keenum be the starter in 2019? That's the issue.
Tony from the United States (hometown and state, please.
How would you handle the Jags' QB situation this offseason?
I don't think Bortles is the future. Jimmy Garoppolo, Drew Brees and Kirk Cousins are scheduled to become free agents. The 49ers will almost certainly franchise Garoppolo (if they don't sign him), but the Jaguars are so flush with cap room they could cause the 49ers to use the exclusive franchise tag on Garoppolo. Brees' contract forbids the Saints to franchise him, so he might be in play for the Jags. Cousins would fit well with the Jags. I don't like free agency, but the two four-year bands cap exemption the league gave the Jags makes the Jags' salary cap a unique situation. They have so much cap room they can't screw it up. Just spend, baby.
Dave from Savage, MN
I'm not a big don't-get-enough-credit" guy, but we don't seem to hear much about the two Dougs, Pederson and Marrone. Do you have any stories? Opinions?
I don't know Pederson but I think he's a real talent. I am greatly impressed with what he's done in Philadelphia. The only story I have on Marrone is he was an undrafted free agent lineman when I was a young reporter covering the Steelers. I love his sideline calm.
Gary from Hatley, WI
Vic, how much of an impact do you think Tom Coughlin has had on bringing the Jaguars back to relevance?
I think I wrote in my column last spring Coughlin would be the story of the year. Well, he's certainly one of them. He made a big difference, but the real difference-maker in Jacksonville was and still is their salary cap situation. Coughlin saw it. When he took the job, he not only was going back home, he was going to the best situation in the league.
Chris from Jacksonville, FL
Seemed like A.J. Buoye held on multiple plays without a penalty against the Steelers. It didn’t seem to make a difference, but did you notice it, too? What were your thoughts on the officiating?
The Jaguars secondary got away with murder but, you're right, it didn't seem to make a difference. Everyone's talking about that great Jaguars defense. Well, where was it on Sunday? Ben Roethlisberger trashed that defense. He became the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era -- that's more than 50 years -- to pass for over 400 yards (469) and five touchdown passes in a postseason game. Both corners were clobbered.
Alison from Aurora, IL
I have the flu and I am running out of things to do while quarantined in bed. So, I've decided to re-watch the NFC championship game from 2014 for the first time. Why am I doing this to myself?
Obviously, you believe in the Ketchman theory of maximum pain.
Don from Colorado Springs, CO
Isn't it great to be able to give your own truthful opinion as an independent, rather than being scrutinized or even fired by a team employing you? It is quite obvious about your opinions since leaving Green Bay. Personally, I wish I had become my own boss at a much earlier time. Do you ever wish you had done this sooner?
No, because I had to pay the bills. You know what I mean? The need to earn money requires a degree of compromise. At packers.com, that meant I had to be mindful of bulletin board material. I never misled my readers, but I had to be careful of my comments about the opposition. Now, I can write anything I want.
Bob from Australia
Case Keenum might not be "The Man," Vic, but he most certainly is "The Story." Why can't you bring yourself to root for it, even from a journalistic point of view?
You want me to help you tickle yourself, huh?
Sean from Helena, MT
Maybe you can create some merchandise for us all to purchase, and donate the funds to a charity that is close to your heart?
That's a great idea. The charity would get the money and I'd get the tax deduction.
Sam from Jacksonville, FL
Jaguars versus Patriots, baby! You better slap up a power ranking with an asterisk, Vic. It was the missing piece to our '07 run. Don't cave in to the wolves this time around!
OK, here it is. *Needed Al Riveron in three games.
Karl from Albuquerque, NM
Vic, you indicate the loss of Shazier was the end for the Steelers because the ILB in the Steelers' 3-4 is an important and premium position. In the past, you have indicated the ILB spot for the Packers is not such a premium position (at least in Capers' 3-4). What's the difference between the two?
The Packers took their inside linebackers off the field on passing downs. I remember A.J. Hawk playing something like two snaps against Philadelphia. The Steelers leave at least one of their inside linebackers on the field for all downs. If they didn't, they couldn't run their cross-dog blitz.
Leif from Saint Croix Falls, WI
Vic, between Tomlin's inability to get his team to play vs. inferior teams, the rift between Haley and Roethlisberger, and Butler's dismal performance vs. Blake Bortles, do you believe any of the Steelers coaching staff is on the hot seat?
Todd Haley's contract expired. He's gone. It was expected and I don't think it created positive vibes down the stretch. As for Mike Tomlin, he's getting a lot of heat for clock management -- Chuck Noll is the best coach I've ever covered and also the worst clock-management coach I've ever covered -- but my criticism of him is for a failure to cope with the loss of Ryan Shazier. Tomlin is a defensive guy, so I won't pass this off onto Keith Butler. Hot seat? No way. Tomlin is a forceful leader. Nobody challenges his players as Tomlin does. He has the ability to be demanding and not lose his players' respect. I think he regrets not being more creative following the loss of Shazier, but the rest is just whiney fan stuff. The Steelers peaked in their win in Cincinnati. It was all downhill after that.
John from Brandon, SD
No question, just glad to have you back!
No answer, just glad to have so many readers and great questions. Weebly.com provides me with daily reports on unique visitors and page views. The numbers are beyond my wildest expectations -- I really didn't have any. Thanks.
Jonathan from Saint Joseph, MO
I think the Jags have a good chance to beat the Pats. Rush four and cover (with seven). Giants used the same recipe to beat the Pats in two Super Bowls. Plus, they have a linebacker who can cover Gronk and limit big plays. No?
You got it. Now they have to do it. Plans are only as good as their execution. That plan didn't work in Pittsburgh. The Jaguars defense was awful. The Jags won that game because its offensive line kicked the Steelers' ass.
Austin from Denver, CO
Vic, of the four teams still in the playoffs, three of the QBs are Blake Bortles, Nick Foles and Case Keenum. Are we moving away from seeing the quarterback have to be "The Man?" I would say that three-quarters of the conference championship games sure make it seem like we are, or is this just an anomaly?
You want to try it again with Brett Hundley?