"Ask Vic" is published on Monday and Thursday through the offseason.
Timothy from St. Louis, MO
A lot of discussion about the new rules for expanding numbers. Tom Brady has come out against it, saying it will be bad for football. But in my mind, QBs will have to read and identify defenses better and teams will have to coach and scout other teams better to help their QBs and offenses better. After years of helping boost offense, it looks like the NFL finally gave a bone to defenses. Your thoughts?
Much ado about nothing. The Steelers didn't wear numbers on their practice jerseys when Chuck Noll was coach. It didn't take long to figure out which ones were Joe Greene, Mel Blount, Jack Lambert. After a few days of watching training camp practice, I could even identify undrafted free agents. By the time a team gets done studying an opponent on tape, it knows every player by their appearance and movements and by the sub package in which they play. The new number rules will create an even stronger identity and marketability for the league.
Morgan from Little Chute, WI
Last year the talk was Lawrence No. 1, Fields No. 2. What did Fields do to hurt his stock or was Wilson that extraordinary this year?
It's all a matter of who has the second overall pick. The belief is the Jets like Wilson. I get what they like. He's a ball distributor. He's very good at knowing where to go with the ball. Fields appeared to me to struggle with decision making, until the playoff win over Clemson. He was quick and spot on that night. My problem with Wilson is he physically doesn't look the part.
Vishnu from Boulder, CO
Vic, if players like Jerel Worthy and Datone Jones are seen as poor fits for a system by coaches as early as the day they are drafted, what is the rationale behind the front office drafting them?
The measurables and athletic talent say draft them. The Packers believed Jones and Worthy could adapt to new roles. These types of mistakes are common. It's a crystal ball business. Tim Worley was an I-formation back in college. He was best at lining up seven yards deep, pitching him the ball and letting him run right and left. Coach Noll cast him in an inside trapping game. He didn't fit. The Jaguars drafted Matt Jones to be a wide receiver. He never fit. I had this conversation once with Mike McCarthy, who firmly believed you draft top talent and then find a way to use it. I get that, but I also think it would be a terrible mistake to draft Aaron Donald and try to fit him into a two-gapping system. Something is going to suffer; either him or the system. J.J. Watt was miscast. So was Bruce Smith. In my opinion, it's very important to have a role in mind for a player in which he is a natural fit. T.J. Watt is a perfect fit for the Steelers. He's Kevin Greene. Watt plays a position that has long-existed in the Steelers' defense and required no adaptation for Watt or Watt for it. Plug and play is what you want, but it's not always available to a team.
Eric from Lansing, MI
What GM has most impressed you by his picks in the last few years, Vic?
Kevin Colbert didn't have a first-round pick last year and came away with three starters, all of whom have a long-term look to them. I think John Lynch has been sensational assembling talent for the 49ers. Carolina was a big winner last year. One more year of that and they could take over the NFC South.
Paul from Cumming, GA
Does a better pass rush improve the secondary, or does a better secondary help the pass rush? In your opinion, which straw stirs the drink?
The pass rush. It can make an ordinary secondary look good or a good secondary look bad. If it's rush or cover, I say rush.
Todd from Milwaukie, OR
Would the Packers not drafting significant resources in WR signify a further shift towards LaFleur's ideal offense, or just that Gutekunst didn't see a starter available (both of which might be true)?
He likes what he has and he knows when he needs to get a guy he can.
Jesse from Belleville, WI
Since you wrote about wanting to be treated as media and not as a team insider, a decision for which I applaud you, is the assumption your department was unable to view the portions of practices behind closed doors correct, and is this generally the case for all team media around the league?
It would be an insult to the other media for me to flaunt access they don't have. I would never do that. I have too much respect for my profession than to do something like that. Plus, why watch something about which I can't write? I would never agree to see news and not write it. I don't know what other team media reporters do, but I am the product of a credible profession that adheres to a code of ethics. My inbox is regularly populated with media haters who think they know it all about how media should behave and perform. I chuckle.
Kevin from Grand Rapids, MI
How specifically are scouts evaluated? There must be some measure as to how they keep their job or move up the ladder?
They're judged by the reports they write. Get too many of them wrong and you're gone.
Jerry from Grantsburg, WI
We haven't seen a meaningful snap, but does Aaron Rodgers know what the Packers have in Jordan Love?
Eric from Lansing, MI
Vic, why do you think football eclipsed baseball as America's game? Did Americans change or just come into its own?
Football and TV is a perfect relationship. They were married on Dec. 28, 1958.
Howard from Homestead, FL
You asked if Trevor Lawrence has faced adversity, but he’s clearly faced pressure, and lots of it. What does adversity do for a player pressure does not?
Let's stick with the pressure theme. Was he really facing pressure as a true freshman in the national title game? Were expectations as great for him as they were for Tua? The following year, he absolutely was facing pressure in his matchup against Joe Burrow, and Burrow clearly outplayed Lawrence. Dabo Swinney made a mistake getting into a shootout with Burrow. How about against Justin Fields? Who responded better to the pressure in that game? Lawrence has been granted immunity against criticism. Every other draft prospect is subject to it, but not Lawrence. I don't get it.
Dan from Cedar Rapids, IA
As someone with Crohn’s, I was interested to learn David Garrard has it. Would you be able to share some insight into how he dealt with it, or are there published pieces about it?
David underwent surgery for it. It was right around the time I had surgery for colon cancer. We compared notes. He is a tough, courageous man who never used his illness as an excuse. I can't help but wonder what his career could've become had the commitment been made to him early in his career. He was sensational in 2007; a 102.2 passer rating. The following year, the Jaguars headed into a run of bad years. David always reminded me of Steve McNair. They had the same heavy-footed mobility. They could move and they didn't get knocked down easily.
Jesse from Bonita Springs, FL
I see all of these smaller receivers being mocked in the early rounds and I think of Devin Hester and Desmond Howard (great return man but never made it as a receiver). Has there been this big of a fundamental change in offense in the past 20-30 years or is it just wide receiver fever? The return guys in the late rounds look just as impressive to me. Am I missing something or is it that I’ve enjoyed your blog for so long I believe in the “big guys early” mantra?
There are a lot more little guys that can run than there are big guys with light feet. Wide receivers are regarded as safe and sexy picks because in today's game it'll be easy to get them catches that'll justify their selection, but that's a myth. The bust potential is high.
Ed from Merrill, WI
Vic, I recently read a piece by a columnist named Gene Collier for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette regarding what the Washington Football Team needs in the upcoming draft. He claims they need a nickname. I hope you can read it and would appreciate any comments.
I've known Gene for a very long time and he's one of the most talented writers to grace my profession. On most days, he makes me laugh. On his best days, he makes me think. I like those days the most. Some years ago, Gene wrote a play entitled "The Chief." He sent me an autographed copy of the opening night program. I've included it in my box of memorabilia. In regards to his column on the Washington Football Team, I disagree with Gene. I don't think the Washington Football Team needs a nickname. I like them the way they are. It's respectful of the team's past and it's a constant reminder we should never, ever again denigrate a culture of people for our selfish entertainment.
Nick from Charlottesville, VA
Does a retired GM ever sit down with a journalist and tell his story of draft day from 20 years ago?
I've enjoyed walks down memory lane with personnel guys who explained what they couldn't say then. The greatest of these stories belongs to Art Rooney Jr. Why didn't he draft Dan Marino? Artie drafted nine Hall of Famers from 1969-74, but he'll forever be remembered for not drafting Marino. What a shame. They put Bill Polian in the Hall of Fame and left Artie out. Shame on the Hall of Fame.
Billy from Brookfield, WI
The Packers’ front office really likes their shotgun approach to building the team (running backs in ‘17, wide receivers in ‘18, pass rushers in ‘19). Is the draft deep enough at the big guys for the Packers to draft a bunch of them in the first two days?
There are big guys who fit late in the first round. We talked about that.
Ron from Beaufort, SC
I remember years ago some writer assigned blue tags on elite players. If I recall, there were three colors. Thinking about this, I wondered how many blue players are currently on the Packers roster. I'm thinking four: Rodgers, Alexander, Bakhtiari and Adams. What do you think?
I think you can add Kenny Clark, Elgton Jenkins and Aaron Jones.