"Ask Vic" will publish on M-W-F during the football season.
Justin from Madison, WI
So what can the league do to force the Patriots to actually change? Obviously, fines aren't doing it. I think I speak for the majority of football fans outside of Boston when I say I'm tired of their baloney (but I'm not saying baloney).
I was the editor of two team websites. In addition to content, I was responsible for management of the site, which included living within a budget. There's no chance I would've spent the money required to send assets to Cleveland, or hire a video production team from Cleveland, to video a pro personnel advance scout sitting in the press box. That kind of video content could've been accomplished in my team's press box at no charge to my division. Also, any plan to video the scout or the playing field from the press box in Cleveland would've required approval from football ops, and I have no doubt, considering the sensitivity of this issue, the request would've been denied. Trust me, football ops doesn't give a hoot about the team website and its need for content. If football ops had its way, the team website would go dark. With all of that in mind, I am skeptical of the Patriots' claim of innocence. Their best defense is there's no logical reason to spy on a 1-12 team. This is comical. It can only get better if the Bengals beat the Patriots on Sunday. That would be the ultimate penalty.
Dustin from Seymour, WI
The legend of the asterisk continues to grow.
The truth is the pure defense.
Benjamin from Kershaw, SC
Which position is the most important to a 3-4 defense? I say it's either the inside or pass-rushing linebacker, but a buddy of mine argues it's the nose tackle. I defer to you.
The nose tackle is an important player because he has to be able to absorb the double teams and still hold the point of attack. Be that as it may, those kinds of players are easier to find than the pass rushers and run-and-hit guys who are the stars of the 3-4. The outside linebacker positions are the most important positions in a 3-4, and you must be good at both spots or the offense will chip all day at your best pass rusher. I'll use the Steelers as an example because they have long been committed to the 3-4. When they had James Harrison, they also had Lamar Woodley. When they had Kevin Greene, they also had Greg Lloyd. These days it's T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree. Apply that same standard to the Packers' Smith Bros.
Brian from Worthing, SD
"It all changed when the owners picked Paul Tagliabue over Jim Finks." Can you expound?
Tagliabue is a lawyer. Finks was a former quarterback, an esteemed football executive and one of the most respected and beloved men in the game. When the owners chose Tagliabue over Finks, they chose legal over football.
Jesse from Anaconda, MT
In your opinion, how would the league be different today if Jim Finks had become commissioner?
Finks died in 1994, so he wouldn't have had a chance to make much of an impact as commissioner. In the spirit of answering your question, I'll say Finks wouldn't have signed off on either of the last two CBAs. The CBA that created an uncapped year in 2010 was a bad deal from the start, and the CBA that followed in 2011 gave the game to the players. Finks would not have sacrificed the integrity of the game to achieve labor peace. Maybe that would've been the wrong thing to do, because I suspect there would've been a work stoppage in at least 2011. Maybe Tagliabue was the right guy for the job. All I'm saying is it all changed with that choice.
John from St. Augustine, FL
Jaguars fan to Packers fan: appreciate a win.
I said the same thing to Jaguars fans back in the early days of the franchise, when the Jaguars were the most successful expansion franchise in NFL history. Why didn't Jaguars fans believe me then? They ran Tom Coughlin out of town because they didn't like his play-calling. They wanted Steve Spurrier. How'd that work for Washington?
Matt from Minneapolis, MN
Why is so much emphasis (and maybe it's overblown by TV announcers) put on halftime adjustments? I understand a team devotes hours every week developing a game plan to beat an opponent and you can't give up on that plan quickly, but do coaches rely on halftime adjustments as much as we're lead to believe?
They rely on adjustments throughout the game. A coach doesn't wait until halftime to make adjustments. If your opponent has widened its line splits to create wider running lanes, you adjust by getting into the gaps and penetrating into the backfield and disrupting the play. If your opponent then counters by moving his backs closer to the line of scrimmage, you might adjust by slanting your linemen. The chess match is ongoing. If both coaches play their pieces correctly, the game settles into a conventional confrontation in the fourth quarter. At that point, the winner will be the team that wins the one-on-ones.
David from Fleetwood, PA
Is the lack of talent finally so great for New England Belichick and Brady can't overcome it?
For years I've been saying, it's Brady, not Belichick. Few believed me. They said the Patriots' success was due to Belichick's genius. The people in my inbox began inferring Brady was little more than a system quarterback. Now, all of a sudden, Belichick can't patch weaknesses at wide receiver and kicker, he made senseless mistakes in the most recent game that left him unable to challenge a bad call that cost the Patriots a touchdown, kicks are being blocked, receivers are dropping passes and the Patriots' defense is beginning to allow big plays. Is it just a coincidence all of this is happening at a time when Brady's play has dipped?
Here are the Week 15 "Ask Vic" all-important power rankings:
1. Ravens -- Nine straight.
2. 49ers -- Equal to the task.
3. Saints -- Defense collapsed at crunch time.
4. Seahawks -- Very costly defeat.
5. Rams -- Not too late.
6. Chiefs -- Here they come.
7. Vikings -- Focused on Dec. 23.
8. Packers -- Big game against the Bears.
9. Patriots -- Wheels are falling off.
10. Titans -- More than a contender.
11. Bills -- They can take the Patriots down.
12. Texans -- Who are you?
13. Eagles -- Close with at Washington, Cowboys, at Giants.
14. Cowboys -- Big one vs. the Rams.
15. Steelers -- Wild card battle vs. Bills.
16. Bears -- Trubisky has come to life.
17. Bucs -- You don't want to play them now.
18. Colts -- Must win at New Orleans.
19. Browns -- Mayfield vs. Murray.
20. Raiders -- Schedule is favorable.
21. Broncos -- Lock is "The Man."
22. Chargers -- Best bad team in the league.
23. Panthers -- The season is over.
24. Jets -- Bowling for dollars.
25. Falcons -- Haven't quit.
26. Lions -- Patricia might be toast.
27. Dolphins -- Robbed.
28. Cardinals -- Need more talent.
29. Washington -- Not an attractive job.
30. Jaguars -- Is this almost over?
31. Giants -- Farewell to Eli.
32. Bengals -- Can they take down the Patriots?