"Ask Vic" will publish on Mondays and Thursdays through the offseason.
Erney from Hoover, AL
Well, Vic, it looks like the wolves got their wish with the hiring of offensive wunderkind Matt LaFleur to be head coach. What can we expect to see, besides better plays, of course, when the Packers break the huddle next season? Love the new site.
Expect to see a lot of formations, motion, shifting, misdirection, audibling. Sound familiar? In a lot of ways, LaFleur is a young Mike McCarthy, who came to the Packers as an offensive wunderkind. Chuck Noll was 37 when he became a head coach; he was off the Brown/Gillman/Shula tree. Noll was a wunderkind. All young head coach hires begin as wunderkinds. Plays will define LaFleur, for the good or the bad, but players and how he manages them will decide his future.
Bob from Australia
Well, Vic, I guess the most pressing question going forward is what do you think of the way Matt LaFleur combs his hair?
He has very good hair.
Mark from Madison, WI
LaFleur has a professional resume. Maybe it’s the optimism, but his background is well-rounded. His accomplishments don’t seem to be tethered to one player, team or style.
He moved quickly up the ladder. Along the way, he obviously learned how to interview because he hit a home run with Mark Murphy in leap-frogging some very strong and more-experienced candidates. LaFleur is polished.
Dave from Naples, FL
What does the hire say? It tells me they don’t want a recycled NFL head coach, they want an innovator and new blood. It also tells me he will keep Pettine.
The hire tells me the Packers believe LaFleur fits the team's image and vision, and is the right man to work with Aaron Rodgers. I get the sense those were the important factors in this coach search.
Mike from Evansville, IN
Well, Vic, you were correct, the Packers were looking for the next Sean McVay, so they hired one of his proteges. I know this will make a lot of Packers fans who love play calls happy, but I'm not sure I like the pick. I suppose we won't know for about 2-3 years, but putting on your prognosticator hat, what are your thoughts?
I advocated hiring a veteran coach and focusing on now. The Packers took the long view and hired a young coach with whom the team can grow and mature, and I respect and admire that kind of big-picture approach. Frankly, it's almost always the right thing to do. I predict success but I acknowledge the possibility of failure. I'm not dodging your question, I'm answering it truthfully. LaFleur is a projection; so was McVay. We can't know how a young coach will perform as a head coach until he walks in the head man's shoes. It all changes for LaFleur now.
Dan from Madison, WI
Let's be new. What is a realistic goal for LaFleur in year one?
Ask me that question after we see what the Packers do in free agency.
Barry from Hayward, WI
Vic, so begins the Matt LaFleur era in Green Bay, or is it more likely to be the first stop on the revolving door of head coaches?
You've asked the definitive question. This is an exciting but anxious moment in Packers history. I think you know the answer to your question can only come with time.
Charlie from Nashville, TN
It appears your crystal ball was accurate and the Packers have conjured a play-calling wizard from the play-calling tree. Will the wolves howl about the offensive numbers his team produced this past year? Or will they be pleased with the dedication to new-age play-calling? A few observations from a fan's perspective in Nashville. There were some serious growing pains, but the offense was hampered by injuries and some bad offensive line play. He strung together some creative game plans in the middle of the year and finally figured out how to use his running backs later on. Fans were less pleased by handing off to the blocking tight end on a crucial fourth-and-one, or going empty backfield on a two-point try from the one to try to beat the Chargers. In sum, the team's offense was headed in the right direction and definitely more creative than in years past, but LaFleur was still a bit of a question mark heading into the offseason. He seemed likeable enough, but we know little about his leadership qualities. Hope it works out for Green Bay.
Thanks for the scouting report, but I'm not nearly as interested in his play-calling history as I am in how he'll approach his relationship with Rodgers. Is he going to do the buddy-buddy thing, or keep a professional distance that allows him to be more demanding and analytical?
Isaac from Nashville, TN
Vic, if you asked a defensive coordinator how to beat Aaron Rodgers and he answered honestly, what do you think he'd say?
Pass rush caused problems this past season. I'm hoping LaFleur will emphasize having a strong running game because that's the best way to protect a great quarterback.
Sam from Fort Wayne, IN
Vic, Rod Woodson has always been a favorite player of mine, but I've never heard many behind-the-scenes stories about him. Any good stories you can share from your experience covering him?
He was a joy to cover. He always cooperated and I can remember one defining example of that. It was following a playoff loss to the Bills in 1992. Rod had sustained a blow to the head in the game and it left him with a postgame headache that caused Rod to squint as he soldiered through questions from the media at his locker. During the interview session, a radio guy holding a sizable recording device accidentally struck Rod in the head with the recorder. It hurt just seeing it happen and momentarily staggered Rod, but he smiled, shook it off and kept on answering questions. He was a great interview and he might be the best athlete I ever covered.
Blake from Jacksonville, FL
Vic, Tony Boselli is a Hall of Fame finalist again. What are your thoughts on his candidacy and should he ultimately be inducted into the HOF?
The Hall of Fame committee member representing the place where the player played usually makes a presentation to the committee promoting the candidate's election to the Hall of Fame. If I was making such a presentation, I would say Boselli was the best tackle in the game for four years, and I'd tell of how he dominated the great Bruce Smith in the 1996 playoff game. I would say there are examples of other players in the Hall of Fame who had short runs of greatness (Sayers, Swann), and I would highlight the fact Boselli was the Jaguars' first draft pick and would become the franchise's first Hall of Fame inductee, and I would finish my presentation by saying, "What do you want to do, elect another wide receiver?" I think it might work, but then I would be confronted with an even bigger problem: How am I going to get Fred Taylor into the Hall of Fame? It's one or the other, Blake. I don't think the committee will elect both. Which one do you want? It's not as simple as you might think.
Patrick from Indianapolis, IN
Vic, you indicated recently you felt the Packers would be best served by hiring a veteran/experienced head coach. Just how big a risk do you think the Packers are taking with LaFleur?
It's risk/reward. The veteran guy might be less risky, but his age makes it likely you'll have to replace him sooner. The young guy offers no track record as a head coach and is considered more of a risk, but his youth suggests a longer run of stability in your franchise should he succeed. Which do you prefer? Maybe the Packers think they're getting both. Only time will tell.
Tim from Pensacola, FL
Vic, please tell me it’s not becoming a young man’s game for coaches, too? I think there’s still something to be said for experience and loyalty in this league.
The Packers and Cardinals went young; the Bucs and Broncos hired veteran coaches. Those four teams could make for an interesting youth vs. experience comparison down the road.
Juan from Barcelona, Spain
Vic, what are your thoughts about Coach LaFleur? I'm excited but don't expect immediate results.
Look at it this way: The Packers job was the premier position available among all of the NFL postseason openings. The new Packers coach would become the face of an iconic franchise and he would inherit a generational quarterback who appears to have plenty of gas left in his tank. The new coach would also inherit a roster that made strides upward this past season, with the promise of more high picks on the way, which includes two first-round picks this year. Hey, what's not to like? This is a dream job for any coach, especially for a young man who grew up within the NFC North footprint. Mark Murphy knew what he had to offer. He didn't have to walk on his knees during his head coach search. It would seem LaFleur blew Murphy away in the interview, and the combination of LaFleur's youth and talent left no doubt in Murphy's mind LaFleur is the right guy for the job. That works for me.
Fabrizio from Fossano, Italy
Do you think the Steelers are going to trade Antonio Brown?
This situation is different from what it was with Mike Merriweather and Le'Veon Bell. This isn't about a contract dispute. If Brown shows restraint and doesn't make a media fuss about wanting to be traded, I think the Steelers will trade him. I think they desperately want to get back to their run-the-ball, tough-defense identity. I think Mike Tomlin is tired of having to jump through hoops to manage Brown. I think the Steelers want to be new and trading Brown would be a big first step in that direction. I have to believe Brown's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, is coaching his client to be calm and let the process play out.