"Ask Vic" will publish on Monday and Thursday through the offseason.
Andrea from Magenta, Italy
I know you wrote that provocatively, but the worst performance against the run you have seen has to be the Colts' in the 2006 game against the Jaguars, in which the Colts allowed 375 rushing yards to Fred Taylor, Maurice Jones-Drew, etc., right?
It was until I went back and looked at video of the Packers-49ers game, specifically of the running plays. I had expected to see the Packers getting caught in blitzes and stunts, being out of position and being creased -- that's what I would normally expect when a runner breaks into the clear untouched -- but that wasn't the case. The Packers were playing run all the way, in their 3-4 base and with a safety down in the box. I saw guys being moved 5-10 yards from where the blocker engaged them. That's when I changed from the Colts to the Packers. The Colts were without Bob Sanders, the heart and soul of their defense; he would return and help lead the Colts to the Super Bowl title. It was a somewhat unimportant December game; Packers-49ers was for the NFC title and a place in the Super Bowl. Interestingly, the Jaguars and 49ers each ran the ball 42 times in those games. Taylor is a Hall of Fame candidate and Jones-Drew is an NFL rushing champion. Raheem Mostert? No, the Packers win the prize on this one. I've covered a lot of games in which teams rushed for more than 285 yards, but I honestly don't think I've seen anything like this.
Dan from Golden Valley, MN
Vic, not sure this has been discussed in detail, but what are your thoughts regarding a 17-game season?
I favor any plan that would reduce the number of preseason games.
Ben from Alameda, CA
When did you first begin to think of Eli Manning as an elite and possible Hall of Fame QB?
I don't think he belongs in the Hall of Fame.
Jerry from Savannah, GA
Vic, you keep saying WRs are a dime a dozen. If that’s the case, why weren’t the Packers’ WRs able to shine with an elite quarterback?
The Packers made it to the NFC title game with a receiver who was cut by the Jaguars and another one who was undrafted out of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Dime a dozen.
Andrew from Ettrick, WI
Aaron Rodgers or Mike McCarthy, who’s in a better position for their second Super Bowl?
I think it's McCarthy. He's the coach of a team with a young quarterback on the rise, a star running back, the league's No. 1 offense and No. 9 defense, and the Cowboys play in the league's weakest division.
Bob from St. Charles, IA
Vic, would you agree the Packers currently have the defense to get to the Super Bowl, if they have a two-score lead?
I get what you're saying but this is a bad time to try to sell the merits of the Packers defense. They were No. 18 overall and No. 23 against the run, and they just suffered through one of the most embarrassing defensive performances in franchise history. The Packers will almost certainly have to focus attention on the defense in, yet, another draft, and that's taking its toll on the offense. How are you going to consistently get a two-score lead if you don't draft offensive players? The last time the Packers drafted an offensive player in the first round was in 2011, tackle Derek Sherrod.
Steve from Lake Stevens, WA
Having the third pick, is it time for the Lions to draft the heir apparent and trade Stafford for more picks?
He'd be wildly attractive in a trade. He'd be $32 million dead on the Lions' cap, which means his proration would largely stay in Detroit but he'd still have three years remaining on his contract. I like the way you think.
Joe from Memphis, TN
When a team is winning, all its fans say "we," but when the team loses it's "they." I’m as guilty as anyone. Has it always been this way?
Probably, but it's never been that way for me. I don't think I've ever referred to a team as "we," not even when I was a kid. I think I've always been a sports writer.
Aiden from Jacksonville, FL
Jake Godbold passed this week. It seems he was one of the most important individuals in bringing the Jags to Jax. Do you have any stories about him or about the franchise early on from your days as a reporter?
I know the name and his contribution. They were some of the most wonderful days of my life. I was in Jacksonville recently for a reunion of sorts. It was an emotional time for me; the memories came charging back at me. Jacksonville will always have been the crossroads of my life.
Adam from Wausau, WI
Do you treat anything like a fan or are you always in the press box?
I am always in the press box and I will never leave the comfort, the safety or the calm of it. You can go there, if you'd like, and you don't have to be wearing ruby slippers. All you have to do is stop talking and start watching.
Patrick from Dallas, TX
Vic, you’ve hit it exactly right, in my opinion. This is a soft team and I appreciate the salty answers you’ve provided to the questions about what happened. This team talks and talks about togetherness and camaraderie and being a player-led team. That all sounds soft to me. How does a soft team turn around and become a tough team? Is that even possible without a major overhaul?
It comes from the top. If I was Coach LaFleur, there'd be a chill in the building this offseason. Accountability, right? Isn't that what the players council said the Packers needed?
John from USA (USA, USA)
Vic, where do you stand on the gun control debate? Does your experience at Kent State worry you about a society in which only the state is armed?
What if the Kent State kids had been armed? What if one kid had returned fire? What would the loss of life have been? I had never considered this until I read your question. Thank you for asking it.
Rob from Boulder, CO
Had the Packers won another Super Bowl under McCarthy, would their situation right now be any different? They’d still have an aging QB trying to chase another title. My point is, if you stick with your QB long enough, you will eventually have to go all in.
I'm not sure I agree. It's never been easier to play quarterback. I remember when it was widely believed it took five years to develop a starting quarterback; now they're making an impact as rookies. The Steelers were in playoff contention on the final Sunday of the season and they played nearly the whole year with two guys who had never previously played a down in the NFL. I think a team can transition at the position and remain a contender, unless it goes all in and has to cut and gut. If you can keep your roster strong and your cap clean, you need not go dark.
Scott from Hamlin, NY
In Pettine's introductory press conference, he said something along the lines of football is first and foremost a passing game. We will not be beaten by the pass. Do you think he's reconsidering his approach?
He was trying to emphasize the need to rush the passer. He got careless with his words and now fans are throwing those words back at him to make him look foolish. I promise you, Coach Pettine knows you have to stop the run or you won't have a chance to stop the pass.
Grant from Plymouth, MN
The Packers-49ers game, while depressing, was also fascinating on a couple of different levels. I hear the Pro Football Focus guys talk about how the 49ers were scheming the run game to some extent, mixing inside zone, outside zone and power-run concepts in a way that kept the Packers off balance, but I also hear Vic say the Packers simply got out-muscled and need to add tough guys.
Wasn't it Pro Football Focus that said the Packers defense wasn't as bad as its yardage rankings? Well, they were wrong. All of that scheming to which PFF is referring was meant to keep the Packers defense honest. The 49ers ran strong side, they ran weak side. They ran inside, they ran outside. They zone-blocked, drive-blocked and pulled linemen out in front of the ball. They froze the Packers defense in position so the 49ers knew exactly where every defender was on every play. When you put on the tape, what you see is a hat on a hat, and the gold hats are blocking the yellow hats out of the way for the ball carrier. Scheme? You bet it was. It was a scheme to win the one-on-ones.
Jrlena from Coffeyville, TX
Vic, certain teams, like the Steelers and Broncos, have an ability to find tough, punch-you-in-the-mouth linebackers out of nowhere. The Packers haven’t had one of those type guys in 30 years. Can you explain why?
Out of nowhere? Not hardly. The Steelers have drafted nine linebackers in the last five years and three of them were picked in the first round. If you're going to play a 3-4, you have to pick linebackers early and often because they are the stars of the show. The T.J. Watt pick was a critical miss for the Packers. He would've changed their defense and the Packers wouldn't have needed to spend all of that money on two Smiths.
Rich from York, PA
Who is your pick for the Super Bowl?
The 49ers are the better team, so I'll pick them. I acknowledge the greatness of Patrick Mahomes, but it was a down year in the AFC and the 49ers are a battle-tested team. I think they've earned the right to be the favorite.