"Ask Vic" will publish on M-W-F through the football season.
Here are my all-important Week 16 power rankings:
1. Chiefs -- Best in the best conference.
2. Packers -- Defining game this week.
3. Bills -- They got the feeling.
4. Colts -- This is their chance.
5. Titans -- Do they have the defense?
6. Seahawks -- Nothing special.
7. Ravens -- Getting hot.
8. Browns -- Hoping Steelers lose.
9. Rams -- The Jets?
10. Saints -- Not all that.
11. Bucs -- Where's the beef?
12. Dolphins -- Defense for real.
13. Cardinals -- Don't count them in, yet.
14. Washington -- Best of a bad division.
15. Steelers -- Playing the worst football in the league.
16. Bears -- Too little too late.
17. Patriots -- Signing Newton wasn't genius.
18. Vikings -- Gross under-achievers.
19. Giants -- Looked weak vs. Browns.
20. Raiders -- Autumn wind not a Raider.
21. Eagles -- Stayed with Wentz too long.
22. Cowboys -- Still in the hunt.
23. 49ers -- Need offseason reset.
24. Chargers -- Herbert headed for stardom.
25. Bengals -- Good for them.
26. Broncos -- Is Lock the next Jay Cutler?
27. Panthers -- Change begins.
28. Texans -- Future not bright.
29. Falcons -- Collapses continue.
30. Lions -- They'll screw it up.
31. Jets -- When winning is losing.
32. Jaguars -- He who is last shall be first.
Dustin from Elk Mound, WI
Kevin Greene. Surely I speak on behalf of many of us in asking you to share your thoughts, feelings, memories of both the Hall of Fame football player and the man.
My first impression of Greene came during a preseason game in the year he was signed by the Steelers. I was visiting with Coach Noll in one of his rare returns to Three Rivers Stadium. He had his binoculars on the action when he said, "Ninety-one can play." That's all I needed to hear. Later that season, I was assigned a magazine feature on Greene and Greg Lloyd and their diverse personalities in the Steelers defense. When I interviewed Greene, he was wearing driving gloves. He was a dude, for sure. My last visit with Kevin was in Green Bay. In an "Ask Vic" I was asked how the strong side of the formation is determined and I answered it was usually determined by where the tight end lines up, or in a two-TE set, it's the side to which the true TE is positioned. Shortly after the column was posted, I got a call from Kevin. He asked me to come to his office, where he gave me a tutorial on bunch formations and how they were being used to disguise the strong side of formations. Kevin was a football man. He was a true member of the fraternity of football and I can remember him visiting with tailgating fans in the Three Rivers parking lot. My heart sank when I read of his death.
Robert from Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Assuming the Jaguars hit it out of the park with their QB pick and they get "The Man," how quickly would that change their fortunes? Do you think the level of talent on the rest of the roster is sufficient to compete for a playoff spot right away?
It can happen in year two.
Del from Sterling, IL
How big might that Week 17 matchup be between the Steelers and Browns?
If the Steelers beat the Colts this Sunday, the Steelers will clinch the AFC North title. If they lose to the Colts, the Steelers will limp into Cleveland in such a downward spiral they'll have no hope of beating anybody. The Steelers are playing the worst football in the league right now and, in my opinion, the root of the problem is their offensive line. Their two tackles were horrible against the Bengals. It's now obvious to me why the Steelers have been throwing short all season: They know they can't sustain their blocks long enough to allow routes to develop. Opponents have taken note. The Bengals were able to stop the run and rush the passer with four, which dropped seven into coverage. Roethlisberger's eyes were all over the field. Everywhere he looked he saw defenders. He didn't know where to go with the ball. The Bengals were dropping their linebackers at the snap of the ball. There was an almost total disregard for the line of scrimmage. I don't see it as a problem that's immediately fixable. It was disguised for most of the season but now it's been exposed and it will continue to be exploited.
David from San Francisco, CA
Realistically, how much money could the Packers save in the upcoming 2021 salary cap by restructuring Davante Adams' contract? What should the Packers use this cap space to accomplish?
He only has one year left on his contract, so it wouldn't be a restructuring, it would be a whole new contract and, given his level of play this year, a new contract would likely be pricey. You could do a salary-to-signing-bonus voidable to tack on a couple of dummy years, but that's not the Packers' style. A new contract could be structured to create a minor amount of cap room next year, but if you're looking to create cap room to sign free agents, look no farther than Aaron Rodgers. His is the contract that can create the most room in restructuring.
Chris from Lexington, KY
I was surprised to see the Panthers fired their GM. I thought they've been drafting well. "Team owner David Tepper said on a Zoom call he is looking for a general manager who is more analytical and data-driven." Is that his way of saying better salary cap management?
No, it means Tepper wants a GM who relies on data analytics in evaluating talent. It suggests to me Tepper and Matt Rhule are data analytics guys and Tepper wants a GM who believes in the same approach. Be that as it may, I think it must be acknowledged Marty Hurney was the GM of record when the Panthers recorded one of the most dynamic draft classes in the league this year. Their first three picks are outstanding.
Mike from Bergen, NJ
Do your scouting friends like Tony Pauline have anyone they favor as the next great NFL GM?
No and it's because the names aren't readily recognizable. Who are the hot personnel guys and coordinators? The names don't roll off your tongue because so many GMs and coaches have been fired there hasn't been enough time to replenish the supply. The wolves have eaten all of the meat.
Douglas from Binghamton, NY
Vic, I find the Steelers to be playing patty cake/non-big boy football more than any other playoff team right now. They constantly produce diva type/team disaster personalities: Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell and now Ju-Ju celebrates pre-game so he can post it on Tik Tok. You have said steroids were not illegal at the time, therefore, the teams of the '70's were not breaking any rule. I am convinced Tomlin was trying to trip the Raven on the sideline. My question is do you have a blind spot for the team from Pittsburgh?
Braden from Milwaukee, WI
What defines a good season? Does the definition change if you're the Packers or the Jags? The negativity that surrounds the Packers is shocking to me: 11-3, No. 1 seed in the playoffs, an offense that is rolling, a defense that is ranked eighth in yards a game and 14th in points a game. We are plus-five in turnover differential. Are there weaknesses? Yes, what team doesn't have a weakness? I urge fans to stop focusing on the future, whether that's the Super Bowl or Aaron Rodgers' future in Green Bay. Enjoy the ride. Focusing on the future all the time doesn't allow you to enjoy the present and it's pretty good right now in Packerland. Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Thanks for being you.
Barry from Birmingham, AL
How many rushing yards can the Packers give up to Henry and win the game?
I think 150 is the line in the sand.
Eric from Green Bay, WI
Vic, at what point is Rodgers allowed to be frustrated with the dropped balls?
Never! That kind of body language is not acceptable. Roethlisberger has endured a rash of dropped passes, but his body language was never negative. Johnny Unitas took teammates to task for missed assignments, but never for fans to see. I never saw Terry Bradshaw show up a teammate. I can say the same of Dan Marino and John Elway. Otto Graham was beloved by his teammates because he always had their back. The same can be said of Joe Montana. When has Patrick Mahomes' body language been negative. Russell Wilson? How about Bart Starr? In my opinion, Rodgers needs to pay more attention to his body language. TV knows he reacts negatively and the cameras are always on him.
Richard from Clearwater, MN
Brady has been shown on TV routinely yelling and screaming at the offensive players on his team on multiple occasions, and is simply labeled a fiery competitor. Rodgers shows a much tamer version of that same emotion and is essentially labeled a malcontent. Are six Super Bowl rings to one really the only reason this perception exists?
I'm not a fan of Brady's body language, either, but he does it differently than Rodgers. Brady admonishes and instructs, Rodgers dismisses and retreats. This past Sunday, Brady missed badly on a pass and TV showed him smacking himself repeatedly on the helmet. Frankly, I don't remember Brady being as animated when he was winning Super Bowls.
Nick from The North Pole
What does Vic want for Christmas?
I want questions that provoke thought instead of conflict. I want this to be a column read by true connoisseurs and students of the game of football, instead of an emotional reaction to victory and defeat. I want thinkers, not cheerleaders. I want readers who look for meaning, instead of meaningless gratification. I'm weary of modern day bravado. I want respectful conversation.