"Ask Vic" will publish on Mondays and Thursdays through the offseason.
Matt from Delafield, WI
Did you always record player and coach interviews? Do you have any note-taking tips?
I never used a recorder. I was raised on note-taking and I was taught to save my notebooks because they were admissible as evidence in a libel case. I think we waste space on making sure we get every word the subject said into the quote. I was schooled to get the key words, phrase and meaning of what was said correct. Also, recording interviews requires re-listening to the interview and transcribing what was said. That's a killer for writing on deadline. My note-taking tip is to devise your own system of short hand. That's what I did and it worked for me for 45 years. Not once in my career did a player or coach accuse me of misquoting them.
Nicholas from Appleton, WI
"There also has to be a concern that playing on the edge for the Ravens juices pass-rushing stats because the team so often wins before the snap with play calls." -- Gregg Rosenthal. What are your thoughts on that statement about Za'Darius Smith?
So, the Ravens are smarter than everybody else? If they were smarter than the Chargers in the regular season, why weren't the Ravens smarter than the Chargers in the postseason? If you're looking for reason to doubt Smith's stats, you might consider he played in front of a killer secondary that held coverage longer than any secondary I saw last season. That secondary also allowed the Ravens to max out in pass rushers.
Tyler from Augusta, GA
Specific to the teams you've covered, who would you pick for the following positions: owner, president, GM, head coach?
Dan Rooney, Mark Murphy, Dick Haley, Chuck Noll.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, what are the greatest challenges for a first-time NFL head coach?
His greatest challenge is winning the respect of everyone in his command, and that happens by displaying a strength of leadership that instills in everyone a feeling the coach knows the way.
Stephen from Jacksonville, FL
The Jaguars currently have five selections (rounds 1-4 and six) for the 2019 draft. What positions should they address with those picks to help Nick Foles and improve their putrid offense? Two offensive linemen, a tight end and a running back are on my wish list.
Tom Coughlin is a needs picker. He once said to me, "The draft is all about need." Be that as it may, he did a pretty good job finding value in his picks. I expect him to go hard toward offense, to find players who can help make Foles successful. I think he's looking for a play-making receiver, and Coughlin's tendency is to draft the same guy twice or more when he's looking to address need at a position. The Jaguars might catch wide receiver fever this spring.
Matthew from Madison, WI
If the Packers are going to go offense in the first round, what position do you think they are going for? Something I found interesting was of the final eight teams in the playoffs this past year, five had a first-round running back.
Big guy first, receiver second. That's where I see the value lining up according to the Packers' needs.
Geoff from Beaver Dam, WI
What does the coach tell his GM regarding players he likes?
Every coach has a wish list. The GM does the best he can to give the coach what he wants, but coaches with a personnel acumen appreciate the need to remain committed to value.
Chris from Lexington, KY
Vic, after free agency (so far), I think the Packers' biggest need is now ILB followed by TE. How do you think the draft looks for those two positions?
Those aren't true need positions. Those are positions where you fill in when the talent available at the premier positions doesn't fit the pick. You can always find guys at inside linebacker and tight end. Packers fans worry too much about the grunt positions. You find those guys along the way, unless you truly believe they are special.
Dave from Savage, MN
I'm a bit confused by the OBJ narrative. Everyone seems to be predicting a dire situation for the Giants without him. Can you tell me what was so great about the Giants with him? What will they be missing? What am I missing?
I refuse to believe that was John Dorsey's decision. The John Dorsey I know would never make a trade as stupid as that one. That's got owner written all over it.
Dave from Madison, WI
Vic, what was your relationship like with Ted Thompson? Was he easy to get along with? How much interaction did you have with the GM and was it different at your other stops?
I didn't have a relationship with Thompson. He wasn't a media kind of GM. Be that as it may, my personnel philosophy of draft and develop made it easy to defend and support Thompson because I believed in what I was writing. If I have one regret from my time in Green Bay, it's the failure to achieve a relationship with Thompson and the Packers' scouts. I'm a scouts kind of writer. I've always enjoyed their stories and appreciated the information they provided me, and I was always respectful of their need for stealth. Thompson blocked the media from that kind of relationship, and I understand why. I wish it hadn't been that way, but much about the game has changed since I began covering it and enjoyed nearly unobstructed access.
John from Neptune Beach, FL
Should baseball outlaw the shift?
Absolutely not. Batters need to Google Wee Willie Keeler: Choke up and hit 'em where they ain't.
Erik from Sweden
I’m with you, Vic. I’m all about the cap, but signing Foles might not be the same mistake as you are saying happened in 1999. Isn’t the explosive increase of cap space allowing a contract such as Foles’ to just be considered a bridge quarterback contract? The cap has grown from $112 million to $188 million in just eight years.
If memory serves me correctly, the cap was at $36.1 million the year I went to Jacksonville, 1995. They're giving that to part-time pass rushers now.
Jack from St. Louis, MO
Was Clay Matthews a good interview? Any good stories?
He's a good guy and a very good football player. The one thing that jumped out at me about Clay is he got it, which was no surprise coming from his esteemed football-family background. He was taught well. He was a good interview and helpful for reporters. He'd always give me a wink as he walked down the aisle while boarding the plane. I'd smile. I think he knew I knew he got it.
Ben from Alameda, CA
What are your thoughts on the Randall Cobb and Clay Matthews contracts? I'm happy they found nationally televised teams to call home.
I have no thoughts on their contracts, but seeing they signed with the Cowboys and Rams made me think about the turnover on the Packers' roster in the last year: Nelson, Randall, Clinton-Dix, Montgomery, Perry, Matthews, Cobb, etc. Wow! What's that tell you? It was only two years ago Packers fans were obsessing about what number Montgomery was going to wear.
Isaac from Nashville, TN
Vic, most folks will remember Cobb's time as a Packer for the kickoff return TD in his first pro game, or the touchdown in the 2013 season closer against the Bears. I'll always think of the 2015 Cardinals playoff game. Cobb made a one-handed catch, but took a hard fall on his back and looked unsteady when he got up. The camera cut away from him, but not before he grabbed both knees and spat blood onto the turf. It was one of those football moments when the violence of the game and the bravery of the men who play it comes home to you.
An old-school scout would say Cobb played too big for his body. His body began showing signs of stress early in his career. I remember him for being one of the best punt returners I've ever covered, but he was moved out of that role early in his career and I think that was the first indication of stress. He's a good guy and a very good football player, and he gave us great moments to remember.
Nate from Tucson, AZ
You mentioned again how a team's poor drafts will move them into a position to draft better. Is No. 12 in the draft order early enough to make a difference? How many drafts from the top does it take to re-stock?
The Packers are positioned well. A total rebuild usually takes 3-4 years to complete, but the Packers have "The Man" and Thompson left them with lots of cap room to spend in free agency, so I think the Packers can complete the roster makeover this year, if they draft well.