"Ask Vic" is published on Monday and Thursday through the offseason.
Eric from Tel Aviv, Israel
It feels sort of weird, but I'm kind of excited to see how teams will react to the impending (less than expected, but still) dramatic dip in salary cap space. Will bad teams reap massive spoils in cut players? Will good, overstretched teams mortgage their futures? Thank you for breathing excitement into such things.
This could be a great year for going all in. Again, I'm not a fan of all in but this could become a unique situation that warrants a shift in philosophy.
J.P. from Jacksonville, FL
If you're the Tampa Bay GM and your eye is always looking toward the future, when do you draft a QB and how do you avoid turning it into a similar situation as Green Bay currently faces?
All in means all the way in. You don't address your future when you're all in; everything is dedicated to the present. If I'm the Bucs, I ride this train as long as I can. When the ride ends, it's immediately all out. That's when the pain begins. The Jaguars have been all out, trading everyone who could return value, and now the good times are gonna roll. I like that kind of party, baby.
Paul from Cumming, GA
Is Brady's lack of physical dominance part of the reason fans have trouble accepting his greatness?
Packers fans are the only ones having trouble accepting Brady's greatness. Brady is driving Packers fans goofy with envy. Vic to Packers fans: Let it go. Brady is the greatest of all time. Rodgers isn't even in the conversation. It's 7-1. Game over!
Tom from Bismarck, ND
The look of what Tampa just did to KC should look very familiar to Packers fans. Yes, it was bigger, faster, tougher, meaner, thicker men doing what they chose to do against a fluff team. GB fans need no explanation of that term. Tampa has a dominant line, killer linebackers and an above average secondary. Couple that with what appears to be an outstanding defensive coach who meshes with the offensive game plan and you can get these results. The Packers leadership, I'm firmly convinced, is watching a different game than I am. Their selection of a new defensive coach really tells me all I need to know. It simply isn't a priority; not even remotely.
The Bucs had been drafting high for a long time. They assembled a strong roster and then hired a veteran coach and went all in to bring it all to a boil. They made it work.
Brendan from Denver, CO
You win as a team, you lose as a team. How does Brady keep winning despite the pieces around him are constantly changing?
He gets it done at crunch time. He scores when points are needed. He converts when time is the issue. That's how he beat the Packers. In contrast, at crunch time the Packers went dead.
Justin from Riverview, FL
Andy Reid must have watched the NFC championship game and known the key to beating the Bucs would be to run the ball. The Packers weren't committed enough to the run and lost. Helaire-Edwards had nine carries for 64 yards and the Chiefs lost. Why do coaches, who must know what needs to be done, not do that thing when the game is being played? Is it hubris, or is there something else?
It's who and what they are. Reid's teams have always been soft. They've always tried to beat you with scheme. With Mahomes having to play behind a patchwork offensive line, why wouldn't Reid try to protect Mahomes by running the ball? Why did he allow the Bucs to play rush only? The answer is when teams are under pressure, they revert to their true personality. The Chiefs' and Packers' true personality is they scheme to throw. The Bucs flooded the passing lanes with defenders.
Kevin from Northport, NY
In reading between the lines, it seems you do not care for the Joe Barry hire. Please expound.
I'm not for or against it at this point. I need to know what system the Packers will play and, if it represents a shift in philosophy, how will they fit their personnel to it?
Mark from Bettendorf, IA
Vic, I always thought you said declaring 3-4 or 4-3 doesn't matter anymore. So why do you think it will with Joe Barry?
What I've said is don't think formation, think function. You can move Za'Darius Smith forward a yard and put his hand on the ground and a 3-4 becomes a 4-3, but it's meaningless if the functions don't change. In a gap-control 4-3, the functions would change and that would require personnel that fits those demands. Kenny Clark would likely become a penetrate-and-disrupt gap tackle instead of a hold-the-point nose tackle. What are the plans for Smith and Rashan Gary? What I'm saying is I want to know how the Packers' defensive scheme might change philosophically, which would re-define functions and give me an idea of what the personnel needs might be.
Eric from Green Bay, WI
Tom Brady is a great QB. He's also benefited from more institutional support than any player in the last 30 years. It's a perfect storm of success. By going to Tampa, he did the exact same thing Favre did by going to Minnesota or Manning did going to Denver. They found the institutional support when their original team wasn't getting it done anymore. What does Brady do better than any QB, and don't say winning? That's a team achievement. He doesn't have the best arm, Peyton was smarter, Rodgers more precise, every QB is more mobile or athletic. What is Brady the best at?
He's best at driving Packers fans crazy. My inbox is Nutsville. Why? Because the Packers lost and their fans are struggling to accept it. That's not Brady's fault nor is it his problem. It's your problem and here's how you fix it: Win the game! Brady did. His skills aren't nearly what they once were, but he still gets it done at crunch time.
John from Strafford, PA
Whose situation would you rather be in: The Packers having Rodgers' replacement being groomed and potentially ready when they move on, or the Steelers, who now are in need of a QB with no heir apparent?
Love hasn't played a down. Isn't it a reach to assume he'll "potentially" be groomed and ready to go when the Packers move on from Rodgers? Do we even know if he has the talent to be groomed and ready to go?
Jim from Stevens Point, WI
Word has it the Packers' new defensive coordinator was picked because Matt LaFleur wanted to run the Vic Fangio defense. How would you describe the Vic Fangio defense and what is different about it from what they ran last year?
In simplest terms, the Fangio defense is a 3-4/4-3 hybrid that mixes the concepts of each. It would accommodate Kenny Clark's and Za'Darius Smith's talents by casting Clark in an Aaron Donald-type role and continuing to use Smith primarily as a pass rusher, as Aldon Smith was used when he played for the 49ers. I especially like what that scheme would do for Clark, who has more to offer than as a block-eating nose tackle; his contract demands a more dynamic role. Not much would change for Smith, but he would potentially have more run-stuffing beef in front of him. The shift in philosophy from Pettine's scheme shouldn't be problematic. My interest would be: How does Gary fit in that scheme? Does he stay at outside linebacker or does he move to a penetrate-and-disrupt end position? Pettine's ends were primarily two-gappers, and that role was judged to have not been a good fit for Gary. I find it amusing Fangio and Dom Capers were coaching proteges who formed their vision while coaching together in the USFL and for the Saints. It all comes full circle, folks. Players, not plays.
Greyson from Peterson, MN
Russell Wilson recently said he wants to be more involved with the team's personnel decisions.
Ben from El Paso, TX
What are your memories of Marty Schottenheimer?
I grew up listening to Pitt football, and Schottenheimer was one of its stars. A long time later, I participated in a conference call with Schottenheimer when he was the coach of the Chiefs. It was the morning after the dramatic Pirates-Braves Sid Bream playoff game. Coach Schottenheimer began the interview by saying he was wiped out from watching the baseball game, was crushed the Pirates had lost and had difficulty sleeping. He was a Pittsburgh guy all the way.
Dennis from Bay Bulls, NL
So, Vic, were the Patriots wrong for letting Brady walk? It appears to me he had one more Super Bowl left in him. Imagine if that number turns out to be two?
With or without Brady, the Patriots were not going to make it into the postseason in 2020. The Patriots' arrow was pointing down. It was time to be new. Coach Belichick did the right thing.
Isaac from Nashville, TN
Vic, regarding the Barry hire: Can you explain the difference in philosophy between the Capers and Fangio versions of the 3-4? I'm not entirely sure I understand the nuances.
Coach Capers used his defensive linemen as two-gappers, to occupy blockers and keep them off the linebackers. Coach Fangio uses a mixture of two-gap and gap-control techniques. One of his ends, for example, is cast in a penetrate-and-disrupt role. I could see Rashan Gary being used in that role.
Mike from Bridgeport, CT
Extremely happy to see Byron Leftwich have his moment in the sun. He's not far from being a hot head coaching candidate. I often wonder what if Leftwich didn't break his ankle vs. Arizona in 2005. The prior week he had the best game of his career, passing for three TDs and rushing for one while leading the Jaguars to a road win in Tennessee. They were ascending with a 7-3 record before the injury. His playing career was never the same after that moment. It was a blessing in disguise for David Garrard, but I've always felt badly for Byron and wish things worked out better than they did in Jacksonville.
You're right about the game in Arizona being a turning point in Byron's career, but that might've been little more than a coincidence. Byron was never a mobile quarterback. The real turning point in Byron's career occurred during preparation for a game the following year, I think it was. Byron came to the stadium on a Friday morning and told the trainer of an injury; I think it was an ankle sprain and it was cloaked in mystery. Jack Del Rio was furious. He believed Byron had hidden the injury during the week, which meant the Jaguars had largely wasted a big chunk of their preparation for the game. At that point, the relationship between Byron and Jack became irreparable.
Don from Oulu, WI
Step 1: Build a dominant defense with top draft picks. Step 2: Assemble an offense of free agents. Step 3: Profit?
You're going to use free agency for the expensive side of the ball?
Jackson from Minneapolis, MN
Vic, I agree Pettine did a nice job with the talent he was given, but doesn’t it make sense to let LaFleur choose his own guy?
Aaron from Somerville, MA
Vic, do you feel like there's been heightened expectations for players to accept pay cuts to retain rosters after successful seasons? There might be some recency bias here, but I feel like with the cap coming down, fans are expecting players to take smaller contracts to keep the team together.
They're not pay cuts, they're just reduced salaries. Everything above minimum wage is converted to signing bonus in a restructured contract and pushed onto future caps. If it makes you feel better to think players would take a pay cut to help the team win, go ahead and believe it, but it hurts me to think fans are being duped to actually believe that baloney.
Morgan from Little Chute, WI
I have a true passion for pressure washing. The things you can revitalize and restore are endless, in the right hands. How do I get word out, having a limited season for doing it in Wisconsin?
We pressure wash everything down here. My lawnmower is black with mildew; so is the gas can. They need to be pressure washed. Pressure washing is like a cut and gut; fresh roster, clean cap. I love to pressure wash. It always gives me a reborn kind of feeling.