"Ask Vic" will publish on M-W-F through the football season.
Kevin from Eau Claire, WI
You don't think the 2011 Packers were better than this year's team?
I don't. The '11 team couldn't run and couldn't stop anything. It was old and slow on defense and had a problem at the critical left tackle position. It was overwhelmingly good at passing the football. I remember writing "anybody but the Giants," and that's because I could see the Giants had the pass rush to play it straight and clog the passing lanes with defenders. We all know how that turned out. This team is well-rounded. The pass is still its best trick, but it proved late in the Kansas City game it can run the ball when it commits to it, and I think the defense is a work in progress and will improve as the postseason nears. There's a lot to like about this team; there was only one thing to like about the '11 team.
Chris from Minneapolis, MN
It appears both sides lost when Gordon held out earlier this year. The Chargers have lost games without him and really aren't a playoff contender anymore, and Gordon hasn't been sharp due to the lack of practice with the team. If you could wind back the clock, how do you think this should have played out for both sides to come out ahead?
Gordon who? Sorry, I couldn't resist. I'm changing my stance on malcontents: Trade them. Apparently, there's a market for them; previously there wasn't. Why hold a player hostage? Get draft-pick value for him in a trade and move on. The Steelers made the mistake of trying to hang onto Le'Veon Bell; they were smart in trading Antonio Brown. Times have changed. The malcontents are bad for the team, the fans and the franchise.
Jonathan from Southern Pines, NC
Responses about the Minkah Fitzpatrick trade like Samuel's on Wednesday are highly annoying to me. For one, the Steelers were never going to draft a QB, even if it's a top five pick. They love Rudolph and also fully expect Ben back next year healthy. Two, I agree, it's not going to be a top 10 pick and Minkah was the No. 11 pick. Three, safety was a huge position of need for the Steelers and would probably be a position they had looked at drafting in the first round. Four, the Steelers have done a terrible job drafting secondary pieces but, with Minkah, he's a stud and they know he can play. Cheap, three years left, young and a big-time playmaker. Fantastic trade.
No. 1, the Steelers have a roster to repair and a cap to fix, and the Fitzpatrick deal addresses both. I don't like trading first-round picks and I wouldn't have made the deal for that reason, but the cap room he's going to give the Steelers is the lynchpin in this deal. Miami is eating his $10 million signing bonus and the Steelers are paying his $1 million salary, and he's not a UFA until 2023.
Darren from Los Angeles, CA
The president needs to use Twitter or else the left wing media will continue to frame every move he makes in the worst possible light, with no direct outlet to the American people not watching FOX. Also, "world peace" is a naive utopia that leads down a path akin to the all-encompassing "equality" Stalin's communists promoted.
Joe from Chicago, IL
It sounds like you think the Packers are being cradled to victory by some sort of football “guardian angel” so far this year. Do you think they’ll need it to go all the way or can their talent take them there?
Everybody needs a guardian angel.
Jason from Austin, TX
You said you think the Ravens are going to "thump" the Patriots. I don't necessarily disagree but I'm curious why you think that's going to be the case? You're usually spot on with your predictions.
I watched the Browns-Patriots game and the Patriots didn't impress me. Minus the turnovers, I thought the Browns outplayed the Patriots. I felt as though I was watching the '79 Steelers, which is to say a team living on its mystique. I'm probably wrong but that's the impression I got. That's why I dropped the Patriots in my all-important power rankings.
Scott from Hamlin, NY
The NCAA voted to allow student athletes to profit from their likeness. Which programs will benefit from this change? Which will be hurt? Will this change the powerful teams in the NCAA or create a small set of powerful teams and render the rest obsolete?
I addressed this issue about a month ago. In my opinion, the programs that'll benefit are the ones in non-NFL markets, such as Alabama, Oklahoma and Clemson. I used Trevor Lawrence as an example. What do you think his endorsement value would be worth in a state that doesn't have a major league professional team? Programs in rural, non-NFL-market states should have a recruiting advantage for star players over schools where college players would have to compete with pro players for a shrinking endorsement dollar. Be that as it may, a long time ago I wrote in this column a college scholarship meets every IRS criterion to be considered income and, therefore, taxable. This battle is just beginning.
J.G. from Silver Spring, MD
Vic, how do you explain the use of Twitter by someone more deserving of respect, such as Vito Stellino? He has quite a following on there.
He's trying to be young and trendy; that can be the only explanation. On the serious side, Vito is as good a football writer as the sport has ever known. I was blessed to work alongside Vito for a lot of years and I learned from a master of his craft.
Isaac from Nashville, TN
Vic, I have not managed to watch a single 49ers game this season. I know they are playing great defense, but I know nothing beyond that. What makes them stand out? What do they do particularly well?
Heading into last night's game, the 49ers were No. 6 in total offense, No. 1 in total defense, No. 2 in rushing, No. 11 against the run and No. 1 against the pass. Well, I guess I shouldn't use those numbers because they're old-fashioned and misleading.
Dave from Savage, MN
What is fall like in coastal South Carolina?
It was in the low-80's all week, but I hear fall might arrive today. When it does, it's wonderful: shiny blue skies, temps hovering at 70, no humidity, warm and cool at the same time. What we really need is a night in the 50s. That's when the bugs go away.
Enrique from Jacksonville, FL
Vic, as a Jags fan, enough about the Packers! Can you tickle me more about Minshew?
I'm amazed at how many Jaguars fans are asking me to pick between Minshew and Foles. Foles only played the first quarter of the season opener before he was lost to injury. Minshew has carried the Jaguars to 4-4. There's no decision to be made. He's the Jaguars' starting quarterback because he has been since the second game of the season.
Tim from Madison, WI
Vic, who is the fastest football player you saw in person?
I guess it would be Bob Hayes. I saw him play at Pitt Stadium. Brady Keys must've done a good job against him because I don't remember Hayes having done much.
Brent from Dubuque, IA
Who is the most humble star-type player you’ve covered?
Donnie Shell immediately comes to mind. I remember doing a magazine story on Shell and talking to Ozzie Newsome about him when Newsome and Shell were twice-a-year rivals. Newsome said Shell never trash-talked, he just played the game hard and well. That's what I seek in football. I've always considered football to be a noble endeavor. I'm having trouble finding that quality in today's game. The bravado and silly celebrations make me long for another day. Today's players have a teenage girl-like need for attention and it saddens me.
Ramiro from Jurupa Valley, CA
Vic, maybe McCarthy will be back in the NFC North next season, but not in purple as you previously suggested. He could be wearing black and orange. Thoughts?
Nagy's not getting fired; he's only in year two. The same is true of Matt Patricia. Kirk Cousins has surprised me. I didn't expect him to play as he is. I agree, Mike Zimmer appears to be safe. Where are the jobs going to be open? Washington and the Falcons are the only two I can put my finger on right now. That'll change.
Mark from Regina, Canada
How many players can a team put on IR?
The 90-man roster is in effect year-round, though the rules that govern it change according to the seasons. In the regular season, the 90-man roster includes a 53-man active roster and a 10-man practice squad. That allows for 27 players that may be placed on the injured reserve list. More than that and you either have to reach a settlement agreement with one of your IR guys or subtract from either your practice squad or active roster. The CBA requires a team to carry 46 gameday players. Technically, a team could have as many as 44 players on injured reserve. Of course, that's ridiculous and would never happen.
Mike from McFarland, WI
Nothing like having to shovel the driveway so trick-or-treaters don't slip in the snow. Miss Wisconsin?
We don't do the door-to-door thing here. My neighborhood is a dense forest of live oaks and we have no street lights, so it gets really dark at night and a kid could step on a snake. Last night, Edisto Beach hosted its annual Halloween party at the marina for the Edisto Island kids. A lot of these kids are underprivileged and for them this is one of the big events of the year.
Heath from Piedmont, SC
I've typed and deleted my first-ever question to you numerous times, addressing my concerns with our defense. Instead, I'm going with a positive mindset. We are 7-1. Are there concerns? Absolutely! But again, we are 7-1. We could win every game 2-0 and I would still be happy we won. Success is not a perfect line pointing up. Success is a crazy zigzag line that encompasses the ups and downs faced along the way. If we want to hoist the Lombardi Trophy this year, we just need to win the games that matter the most. Doesn't matter what it takes to get there. Just win, baby! Agree?
We are fine.
Adam from Montgomery, IL
I look at the 49ers' schedule compared to their record and two things come to mind: The combined records of the teams they've played are 17-35, while the records for the teams moving forward are 43-26-2. The (remaining) games for them are going to be an absolute measuring stick and it will be interesting to see if they really are for real.
The time for measuring sticks is over. It's November. Now it's real.