"Ask Vic" will publish on Mondays and Thursdays through the offseason.
Brian from Odenton, MD
Vic, I have been wondering how much running game issues are caused by drafting/converting tackles to play guard, or by trying to save money at this position? Or maybe another way to ask is what does a power running team look like compared to a team that tries to balance its attack, or run as a change of pace?
A power running team can drive block and move the line of scrimmage on short-yardage plays. Teams that can only zone block are finesse running teams that routinely fail on short-yardage downs because the defense either holds the point of attack or penetrates and blows up the play, or both. That's why zone-blocking teams have to throw the ball on third and one. My idea of the perfect offensive line is one that can do it all: drive, pull, trap, zone and pass block. That usually requires a combination of big tackles with light feet and guards with low pad level. The Patriots offensive line appears to possess those combined talents. It was able to adjust its game to complement its running back, even when he was a wide receiver.
Tom from Bismarck, ND
Vic, for what seemed the entire football season, fans of the game were treated to an ongoing saga of the Steelers' running back and the daily claptrap that follows players like him. Since December, only the name has changed. The uniform remains the same. Today, the most popular sites for NFL fans reading up on daily NFL happenings have completely devoted themselves to the new problem child. We like to blame the commissioner, referees, owners, players and fans for what our wonderful game has become. However, your brethren in the sports reporting business are the ones fanning these fires. Please don't blame the readers. We're starved for news about the league and will read almost anything. Oops.
Vic to Tom: Stop reading "Bleacher Report” and other such re-write sites. They’re not trying to inform you, they’re trying to get your click by taking the same facts -- none of which they uncovered -- and putting a new lede and a sexy headline on an old story. By doing that, they turn a one-day story into an every-day story, as long as you continue to read it.
Bob from Australia
Vic, I feel like Antonio Brown is inviting you to respond when he tweets, "It's not about the money, it's for the love of the sport." Love to hear your take.
When they say it's not about the money, that's when it's really about the money. Thank you, George. You're still the best.
Dave from Chippewa Falls, WI
What does the Kaepernick settlement mean to you?
It means the First Amendment remains the guiding light of a nation that doesn't fully appreciate what truly makes America great, again and again and again. Way back when this began, I wrote in this column Kaepernick would win and become a very wealthy man, because there's no court in the land that'll rule against First Amendment rights. Thank God!
Phil from Marietta, GA
You've often said revenue sharing is one key to the Packers' viability. I don't get it. The season ticket waiting list is a generation long, the team has as big a national following as any and the owners/fans would pitch in for any high-priced free agent if given the chance. Assuming TV revenue for New York vs. Green Bay, for example, would be split between the two teams, how would teams spending on their own hurt the Packers?
All of the success the Packers enjoy is after the fact; it's the result of Pete Rozelle's pool-the-revenue plan. Without Rozelle's leaguethink, the Packers wouldn't have survived in Green Bay long enough to reach the Lambeau restoration phases. All of that wonderful tradition and the amazing allure of Lambeau Field would've been lost, and the Packers would've become just another franchise trying to survive. Even as popular as the Packers are today, I think it would only be a matter of time before the franchise fell into disrepair, if the NFL stopped pooling its revenue and every team was left to its own devices. The big-market teams would dominate.
Doug from Phoenix, AZ
You have very high regards for Tom Coughlin. Below is Jason La Confara's grade on their QB situation, and puts Coughlin directly in the crosshairs. Where is he wrong? "F--. Yeah, that's an F minus, minus. We don't play around here. Not only did they punt on an entire draft class of QBs, and bought back into Bortles, they amplified their problems by trading for Cody Kessler and pretending he was an NFL backup (of course, he ended up starting when Bortles was inevitably benched!) and scoffed at the Jets when they offered Bridgewater, straight-up, for Dante Fowler before the season (they ended up dealing Fowler to the Rams for picks). Bridgewater may have saved their season. Now they will likely land Nick Foles and pray he can do for 16 weeks what we know he can do for four. Tom Coughlin has botched the QB position to this point, no other way to say it."
I think I said it was a mistake sticking with Bortles before it even happened. I called the 2017 season a fluke, and that's when I got the email from the Jags fan thumping his chest about having beaten the Steelers in Heinz Field. I specifically wrote you can't expect to win a championship by playing around your quarterback.
Tim from Lancaster, PA
What are the ramifications, if any, of the collusion settlement? Why were you so sure Kaepernick would win?
There's no way the NFL's army of attorneys would allow the league to suffer the crushing defeat it would've suffered. As a result of this settlement, the league needs to amend its official position on any player kneeling for the national anthem to: We support our players' First Amendment rights.
Samuel from Jacksonville, FL
Why did it take so long for the NFL to settle? The NFL is a multi-billion dollar company. They should have settled as soon as this was getting traction.
What was the rush? The league was going to lose, whether it was sooner or later. The longer the NFL held back the settlement, the longer it had to invest that amount of money and bank the gain.
Brandon from Lafayette, IN
In your recent post, you mentioned you hope the NFL fixes what ailed it in 2018. What would you say ailed it that is causing us to all feel this certain way?
The game is over-officiated. The result is we've become over-sensitized to officiating mistakes. I think it's possible the league likes it this way, and I think it's disrespectful of fans and a potentially dangerous position to take.
Steve from Minocqua, WI
Vic, why do the Steelers have player drama with Bell and Brown? Is it coincidence, team culture, did they not conduct thorough background checks, or is it something else? I’m baffled as to why two stars are causing such internal strife.
The Steelers did this to themselves by franchising Le'Veon Bell for a second consecutive season. They should've let him go into free agency. The year-long circus that resulted from franchising Bell might've even contributed to Antonio Brown's misbehavior, as angst seemed to be the Steelers' constant companion. Do you remember what I wrote last spring about how I would respond to questions about Bell if I were Mike Tomlin? Le'Veon who?
Gary from Panama City, FL
I find it extremely difficult to wrap my head around the fact people who dislike your writing style so much are still reading every week. Why do people force themselves to be miserable?
Why do people remarry?
Joseph from Dillon, MT
I would love to hear your opinions on other topics.
OK, here's one: The water's rising, folks, and it's going to impact all of us, not only the people who'll be forced to move to higher ground. The devastation to our economy from the loss of the most valuable real estate in America will be felt by all. We need to come together on this and find a solution or, at the least, devise a plan for retreat. I am not intending to make a political statement. My interest is in preserving our beautiful country for our posterity to enjoy as we have, and avoiding the calamity that would follow if we do nothing.
Tristan from Durham, NC
It was nice of John from Ann Arbor to take his time to write you. Did he spell the name right?
It's the PR mantra that brought the NFL out of the darkness and helped make it our most popular professional sports league: Write anything you want; just spell the name right.
Tom from Superior, WI
Other than your position with the Packers, what was your favorite thing about living in Green Bay? We know it wasn't pumping gas in the winter!
I loved the nearness of everything. In the offseason, I went home for lunch. I never had to build my schedule around rush hour because there was no rush hour. That kind of job exists nowhere else in the NFL. It was wonderful!
Andrew from Mount Dora, FL
Vic, what would your advice be to someone looking to become a better writer? What are some of the best resources out there?
I owe my professional life to the newspaper business. It taught me how to write responsibly, creatively and on deadline. It taught me one car doesn't hit another car; two cars collide. It taught me to look inside the person I was interviewing and feel the truth he is trying to hide, and then make it my truth. It taught my fingers to glide over a keyboard, as one eye looked at my notes and the other glanced at the clock. The most pure writing/reporting experience of my life was Friday nights in the fall in Western Pa. Go to your local newspaper and volunteer to cover city council meetings. They'll teach you how to write.
David from San Francisco, CA
I’m more optimistic than you, Vic. What happens when AAF players get injured. You think the quality of play will drop as the season progresses? I disagree; that’s only one variable. I spent this past September watching NFL players, coaches and referees all embarrass themselves. I believe the quality of play will increase with familiarity and regularity as it did in the NFL, and I believe the pool of C-grade players available to the league is probably huge.
What will happen when AAF players get injured? Without a players union and a CBA, the players will sue and the AAF will begin reeling from the effects of its liability.