"Ask Vic" will publish on M-W-F during the football season.
Karl from Albuquerque, NM
If the Packers are charmed this year, they better take advantage of it because next year's road schedule looks daunting. Seems all the good teams are on the road and the not-so-good ones we have at home (division games exempted).
I don't see anything especially daunting about it. At the 49ers is the "killer" game, but at the Saints is subject to review as Drew Brees ages, and the remainder of the schedule is just plain, old any-given-Sunday stuff. The advantage I think the Packers are going to have is they're going to be playing in a weak division. The Vikings are capped out and Cousins isn't a difference maker, the Bears are without a first-round pick and likely to face another season with Trubisky at quarterback, and the Lions have shown no progress in the Quinn-Patricia regime. I expect the Packers to add more talent to their roster, so the only issue is the direction of Rodgers' arrow. How long can he be "The Man?"
Craig from Cedarburg, WI
You've previously expressed disappointment with the entertainment value of the regular season. What, if anything, will change that for you in the playoffs?
The game isn't the problem, I am. I've tried to be more accepting of over-officiated football, but I've failed. No matter how good the game I'm watching is, it almost always includes an officiating controversy that taints the event for me.
Brad from Driggs, ID
Would GM Vic give his thoughts on extending Aaron Jones this offseason before he reaches free agency in March of 2021?
I'd certainly begin negotiations with him, but he's got all of the leverage now, so I'd have to believe he's a premier running back because I'm going to have to pay him premier running back money to keep him. I suspect one of the reasons the Packers will restructure contracts is to create cap room to sign Jones. The big problem in letting him leave is the Packers wouldn't likely get a compensatory pick for him because they'll likely show a net gain if they're active in free agency, which is expected. I think the decision has been made. The Packers are all in. As Coach Noll said, "How do you wish to die?"
Kevin from Wheeling, IL
Is it possible the shellacking the 49ers put on the Packers is a reason for the pessimism your inbox is feeling?
That's part of it but the main reason is the Packers don't have a signature win this season. I think the Packers are going to host the Saints in the divisional round of the playoffs. That would be a signature win and at that point you'd see attitudes change very quickly.
Alex from Orlando, FL
Vic, how is Shad Khan going to sell to the fan base that Doug Marrone and Dave Caldwell deserve to be retained? This is unbelievable to me he’s accepting of what was displayed on and off the field this year. Dave Caldwell has been with the organization for seven years and six of those years the team has had double-digit losses.
In my power rankings I've attached the words "future clouded" to the Jaguars' ranking. That's the best I can offer at this point.
Ben from Vestal, NY
What QB would you want to win you one game?
Brady in his prime.
Jerry from Savannah, GA
Vic, you say you think Rodgers enjoys the responsibility of controlling the offense. Did Unitas enjoy it just as much or did he simply think he knew best?
As the story goes, Unitas called time out to ask new Colts coach Don Shula if he wanted to play quarterback. "Don't ever send a play into my huddle again," Unitas is claimed to have said. Chuck Noll would send a play into the game -- coaches used messenger guards in those days -- and then we'd hear Bradshaw call out "Brown!" at the line of scrimmage and we knew Bradshaw was changing the play. This is not new stuff. Quarterbacks are proprietary and I think Mike McCarthy was accepting of that fact with Rodgers. The mistake Rodgers made is he rolled his eyes too often. You don't have to agree with your coach, but never, ever embarrass him or call him out.
Ron from Bellaire, MI
Are the Cowboys' issues because of Garrett or Jerry Jones?
I think Jason Garrett is guilty of a very poor coaching performance this season, but the Cowboys have been an "8-8" football team for a very long time.
David from Rochester, MN
I heard a report the Panthers are interested in McCarthy. What are your thoughts? Any places you could see Mike coaching next year?
As I've written, I think Coach McCarthy would be an excellent fit in Carolina, but I would also add this: Make sure you like Trevor Lawrence because I think the Panthers could be "tanking for Trevor" next season. The Panthers are supposed to be a two-state, regional franchise, but they've never grown roots in South Carolina. Drafting Lawrence would do it. He would double the Panthers' fan base.
Elten from Pleasant Lake, IN
Were the failures in Cleveland, such as retaining Kitchens, really Dorsey's call or, like the Beckham signing, evidence of interference in football operations by the owner? If the GM can't have final say in football operations, who would want to be the GM in Cleveland?
All indications are Freddie Kitchens and Odell Beckham -- not to mention Baker Mayfield -- belong to John Dorsey. Last spring, I expressed surprise at the Beckham trade. I wrote I have to believe it's an owner's trade because the John Dorsey I know wouldn't make a trade that stupid. Of course, I was skewered by my readers, who were shocked I wouldn't trade for someone as wonderful as OBJ. Dime a dozen!
John from St. Augustine, FL
What would you have done if you were the owner of the Jaguars?
I would've started over. Those picks for Ramsey are the launch pad for the Jaguars' future. I think it was time to be new. I hope I'm wrong.
Tracy from Sioux Falls, SD
I know this question is early, but where the Packers are slotted late in the draft, how soon do they start looking for the future at the quarterback position?
Rodgers' dead money in 2020 is nearly $40 million. It drops to $31.5 million in 2021. The earliest out on Rodgers is 2022, when his dead money becomes a manageable $17.2 million. You can begin looking for his replacement now, but the pick you spend on that player is a pick you'll spend on a player who won't help the Packers maximize what remains of Rodgers' career. In my mind, he's "The Man" for at least two more years. Once the restructuring begins, it's best to just let it finish, if you know what I mean.
Bill from Sheboygan, WI
Why do you expect Za'Darius Smith is probably the next Packers player whose contract will be restructured?
Smith is due a $9.5 million roster bonus is 2020. The Packers can gain significant cap room by converting all or a portion of Smith's roster bonus to signing bonus. After the great season Smith has had, he fits prominently into the Packers' future plans and would be expected to play through a restructured contract, so it would be a sensible maneuver, though it would certainly push money onto future caps. All in is another way of saying "All aboard!"
Here are the final "Ask Vic" all-important power rankings of the 2019 regular season:
1. Ravens -- Champions of the regular season.
2. 49ers -- True power team.
3. Saints -- All is in order.
4. Chiefs -- Mahomes must lead the way.
5. Seahawks -- The wild card nobody wants to play.
6. Packers -- They just win.
7. Texans -- No more excuses.
8. Eagles -- They find ways.
9. Patriots -- Is this the end of their run?
10. Titans -- Look out, Patriots.
11. Bills -- Need to score more points.
12. Vikings -- Arrow pointing straight down.
13. Cowboys -- Season of regret.
14. Bucs -- On the verge.
15. Rams -- In decline.
16. Falcons -- Was late run a tease?
17. Bears -- Season opener was telling.
18. Steelers -- Must rebuild their offense.
19. Broncos -- Could be a contender next season.
20. Raiders -- Faded glory.
21. Colts -- Never the same after Brissett's injury.
22. Cardinals -- Murray era has begun.
23. Browns -- Pathetic in every way.
24. Jets -- Signing Bell was a mistake.
25. Dolphins -- Arrow pointing straight up.
26. Chargers -- Team without a compass.
27. Panthers -- Blow it up.
28. Jaguars -- Future clouded.
29. Lions -- Personnel moves unspectacular.
30. Washington -- Starting over again.
31. Giants -- Jones, Barkley good nucleus.
32. Bengals -- Joe Burrow is "The Man."