"Ask Vic" is published M-W-F through the football season.
Adam from Denver, CO
Will the Packers be able to survive the loss of Bakhtiari?
My instinctive reaction to your question is run the ball. The run fixes everything.
Matt from San Luis Obispo, CA
This is why we don’t chortle in the inbox. Can the Packers’ Super Bowl aspirations survive this?
It's a big loss, especially heading into a game against Khalil Mack. Will the loss of David Bakhtiari have a domino effect across the offensive line? The Packers must isolate the impact of losing Bakhtiari to one position.
Steven from Racine, WI
Is this (Packers) team better than the 2014 team?
The postseason will answer that question. I feel no need to answer it now, but I acknowledge the question is valid.
Blaine from Fennimore, WI
How would you rate this regular season to seasons past? Did teams playing without fans make it any less enjoyable?
When the season began, it was difficult for me to imagine football being played without fans. I thought the product would suffer. I was wrong. I think I like football even more without TV showing us fans wearing ridiculous costumes and without the home team encouraging its fans to stand and howl. I like the level playing field. I'd be OK with the NFL playing in 100-yard studios. I wouldn't complain if the league switched to a fan-less, pay-per-view product, but what would we do with all these billion-dollar stadiums?
Mitch from Lansing, MI
Does the Steelers' synchronized dance for Tik Tok count as chortling?
It counts as more silly dancing, and this one will cost the Steelers a seventh-round pick because the dancers weren't wearing masks. I guess I'm just old and out of touch, but I've always considered football to be a noble endeavor and it pains me to see these goofs acting like teenage girls. Mike Tomlin gets low marks from me for letting this nonsense continue.
Santiago from Bogota, Colombia
Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, Stefon Diggs: Have we gotten to a point where rule changes have made a superstar wide receiver a semi-premier position, like LT or CB?
It's not about the position's importance, it's about its supply of talent. None of those star wide receivers was a first-round pick. Dime a dozen.
Chris from Oshkosh, WI
Which contributes more to a successful running game, a great run-blocking offensive line and an average running back, or an average offensive line and a great back?
Pounders are usually build-to-speed guys. They need some push up front so they can build up a head of steam. When they get it, the combination of the pounder's power and the line's drive moves the line of scrimmage. It becomes a repeating four-yard prophesy to which the defense must commit more big guys and defenders to stop, which opens up the passing lanes and sells play action. Slashers don't need road-grading lines. Slashers can bounce and cut back. They find room to run, as in run to daylight. The negative to the pounder is road-grading blockers tend to be average pass-blockers. The negative to the slasher is a defense stops him with the same personnel it uses to defend against the pass. As Coach Noll was fond of saying, "Whatever it takes." I like pounders because they dictate to the defense. I hope you can find an answer to your question in that dissertation.
Craig from Sheboygan, WI
I can now understand why the Packers may choose to not sign Aaron Jones to a long-term, expensive contract. Look at what Gurley and Elliott received and neither one of them is producing. But (Jones) is special. Couldn't the Packers sign him to a three-year deal instead of a five or six-year deal?
It's not about the years, it's about the signing bonus; the years are needed to spread out the signing bonus on the cap. There are plenty of cap tricks the Packers could use to sign Jones and make him affordable on their cap. They could sign him to a contract that voids and then spread the guaranteed money out over the dummy years, but that would create a dead money event and that's not how the Packers operate. They are responsible cap managers. The Packers drafted Jones' replacement. Move on.
Matthew from Olathe, KS
Vic, I am a Packers fan first, but I admit I am rooting for the Cowboys and Mike McCarthy to win and get into the playoffs. I will always think highly and fondly of McCarthy's years in Green Bay. I think it's OK to root for the Packers and McCarthy in separate spaces in my mind, right?
Absolutely. What if the Cowboys get into the playoffs, win their first game and face the Packers in the second round?
Wayne from Beavercreek, OH
The offensive line is the real hero this season. Its health will determine the Packers' success.
Did you feel a throb in your head before you sent that question?
Joe from Banner, WI
Gary, Savage, Dillon, Jenkins and others are all proving the general manager knows what he's doing. What's the rush to judgement on the Love pick? Are people not gratified enough by 12-3 and jars on the shelf?
I don't sense a rush to judgement. Here's what you might be sensing: Twelve quarterbacks were selected in the first round of the last three drafts. Only Love, Haskins and Rosen aren't playing, and Rosen and Haskins were starters in their rookie season. In other words, the leaguewide trend is to get these guys into the game immediately or soon after. It's left us asking: When does it begin for Love? I think it's a fair question. If the answer is after Rodgers retires, then I have to ask: Why did the Packers draft Love?
Carry from Milton, WI
Would you predict that because of the era he played in Dillon won't be justly celebrated at his career's conclusion?
I really think we should dial it back a little bit on Dillon. Hey, I love pounders and Dillon put on an impressive display of power football against the Titans, but it is only one game and it was on a snow-covered field. Back in October, I was asked what my scout friends thought of Dillon; we were obsessing on the light feet issue. So, I asked one of my most trusted scout friends and he said -- and I published it --"You will need him on muddy field to push, push the line of scrimmage." That's kind of what we saw against the Titans. Maybe we'll see Dillon on a dry field in Chicago.
Matt from Palm Beach Gardens, FL
Do you find the fake crowd noise for the TV broadcast as irritating as I do?
Yes. Some are on a loop that cheers at the wrong times. I don't like the fog horns and screaming PA people, either. For whom is that horn blowing and the PA person screaming? The Vikings' horn is OK. It's melodic and soothing.
Fabrizio from Fossano, Italy
I think chortling is fun. But you should be willing to smile when it's somebody else's turn to laugh at you.
Let me know how that works for you the next time it's your turn to smile.
Don from Iowa City, IA
What might one expansion team from 1995 give the other expansion team from 1995 for that first overall pick?
Yeah, that's the kind of question I like. What would Trevor Lawrence be worth to the Panthers in his home market? Let's start the bidding at two ones, two twos and next year's four.
Jake from Dublin, CA
I was watching a documentary about football in the '40's and '50's and noticed quarterbacks and running backs wearing numbers like 62 and 76. When did it change and why? Happy New Year!
The first pro game I attended featured Bobby Layne (22) vs. Charlie Conerly (42) as the quarterbacks. It all changed in the '60's. Everything about the game changed after Pete Rozelle became commissioner. He standardized it with a leaguethink approach. No more renting-out players, as Halas did with Rudy Bukich and Bobby Joe Green. No more teams negotiating their own TV deals. Everybody was on CBS and the revenue was shared equally. Also, Pete required teams to brand themselves with logos. It was all intended to clean up and popularize the game, and it did.
Paul from Chicago, IL
How do the Ravens stack up against the rest of the AFC, especially the Chiefs?
The Ravens are my pick to win the AFC, but first they have to make it into the postseason.
Ryan from Hayward, WI
If you’re John Elway, what do you do with Drew Lock?
Elway needs to figure out what the disconnect is. Why does a quarterback with Lock's jaw-dropping talent fail? What's holding him back?
Ian from Kirkwhelpington, England
Vic, I don't follow college football so, please, can you explain a couple of things for me? Is it only potential first-round draft picks who elect to go into the draft a year early? Is the motivation purely money?
No to the first and absolutely to the second.
Ben from El Paso, TX
Which teams have surprised and disappointed you the most this season and why?
The Steelers are a surprise. I saw a capped out team with a quarterback coming back from major elbow surgery. I expected them to finish third in the division and miss the postseason. I didn't expect the Dolphins to jump up as quickly as they have. On the disappointment side, the Texans and Vikings are Nos. 1a and 1b. Mike Zimmer angrily pointed the finger at his defense for a terrible performance in New Orleans recently. He should also point the finger at himself for a terrible coaching job this season. He didn't have his team ready to start the season, and it failed to show up on several occasions. The Broncos were a disappointment (I had high expectations for Lock), and so were the Cowboys (Prescott's injury is the cause).
Samuel from Milwaukee, WI
Vic, the Dolphins now hold the third draft spot from the Tunsil trade with the Texans. Miami seems to have clearly gotten the best of this trade. Pittsburgh was seen as getting great value in the Fitzpatrick trade, but they would have been in a great position to draft a future quarterback in the last draft. The Raiders seem to have gotten the better of the Mack trade and the list goes on. Is it ever worth it to trade a first-round pick?
Are you suggesting the Steelers would've picked Jordan Love? He was the only quarterback selected between the first-round pick the Steelers traded and the second-round pick they spent on Claypool. We'll never know.
Jason from Minnesota
Vic, I may be remembering wrong, but was the Super Bowl usually the last weekend of January? If that was the case, do you know why that changed?
There are only so many weeks in a season, and the playoffs have been expanded. Where Labor Day falls decides when the Super Bowl will be played. I remember covering a game in New England on Labor Day night, 1979. The Super Bowl for that season was played on Jan. 20. The NFL doesn't want to open on Labor Day weekend; too many complaints from season ticket holders. Here's a factoid you might not know: The draft immediately followed the Super Bowl. That changed in 1976, when the draft was moved to April.
Drew from St. Paul, MN
What makes for a good bad-weather back?
Mudders and skaters play over their feet. In bad weather, the game slows down. It favors control.
Geoff from Janesville, WI
Can you explain the duties of the person with the bright orange oven mitts on the sideline?
He's the TV guy. The game doesn't resume until he says it does.
Adam from Spring Green, WI
Josh Allen can sling it. Does he remind you of a young Big Ben or Favre?
His unbridled running style reminds me a little of Bradshaw, but Allen is a rotary passer and there haven't been a lot of those types. Bernie Kosar comes to mind.
Aiden from Jacksonville, FL
Would GM Vic be hesitant to draft a QB who isn't a dual threat such as Jackson, Mahomes, Murray, etc.?
I don't need my quarterback to be a dual threat, but he must be mobile.