"Ask Vic" will publish on M-W-F through the football season.
Bill from Sheboygan, WI
What are your thoughts on the Steelers-Cowboys game?
My first thought was this one is on the "Shade Man." I chuckled when I read his email. Chortling will do it every time. As for the Steelers, this was their third consecutive road game. They were coming off physically and emotionally draining wins in Tennessee and Baltimore. I'll give them a pass for being sluggish, and I'll applaud their grit in getting the win. I'll especially applaud "Big Ben" for playing big at crunch time. He added to his fourth-quarter comeback record, which is one of the best in NFL history, and he did it on one-and-a-half legs. I'll also applaud Mike McCarthy for having his team emotionally and schematically ready to play. The Cowboys were better prepared than the Steelers, in all three phases of the game, especially on special teams. The Steelers looked tired. I have no doubt Mike Tomlin will address it.
Keith from Roanoke, VA
This may be a meaningless year for football, but boy were there some fun games on Sunday. Which was your favorite and why?
I continue to like what I see from the Carolina Panthers. Matt Rhule is a great coaching hire and he has the Panthers on the rise. They nearly took down the Chiefs on Sunday, and it's not as though the Chiefs were off their game. Mahomes was on fire.
Brad from Jacksonville, FL
Vic, watching the new sixth-round rookie, it was apparent he is very raw but has a much stronger arm than Minshew. It also became apparent this team likely won’t win another game this season. Just preparing myself and hoping to see some growth in our younger guys, although I don’t have much confidence in the development skills of our current staff. I’m past being angry and just watching.
Thanks for not asking me if Luton is "The Man." The Jaguars must avoid winning another game. They need the first pick of the draft and the choices it offers.
John from Racine, WI
Apparently winning is good enough for the Dolphins.
Jackson from Minneapolis, MN
Vic, I want to start by saying thank you. Your column has brought me so much joy over the years. I truly value your insight and I have a great respect for you as a person. I keep reading the phrase "point of attack" and I'm ashamed to admit I don't really know what this term means.
It's where blocker and defender meet.
Ricky from Connecticut
Vic, I'm starting to buy more and more into your thoughts on how “mindset” of the fan base somehow feeds into what the team itself focuses on. Can you explain or give more detail about this self-fulfilling prophecy theory of yours?
It's known as spirit of place. I believe in it.
John from Seattle, WA
I remember as a kid when replay review and challenges were just starting to become a thing and you cautioned us it would take away the human element of the game. At the time, I balked at your human element. You mean getting calls wrong? No thanks! Boy, have I come around on that view. Watching Clemson/Notre Dame Saturday, and seeing an otherwise entertaining game get stalled and ruined by incessant replay review; I finally turned it off. Will we ever see the tide turn in this replay obsessive sports culture?
Replay review is here to stay. Look at it from a positive standpoint: You get two plays in one; the real play and then the correction.
Pete from Cedaredge, CO
Vic, I've been faithfully reading you since your days with the Jags; first time I've asked a question. We see teams like the Steelers and Packers, both you've also covered, have sustained periods of success. Why haven't the Jaguars had the same?
The answer lies at the quarterback position and in the draft. When Mark Brunell was in his prime years, the Jaguars had a nice run of winning. Brunell was one of the league's top quarterbacks and the Jaguars drafted star-quality players, such as Tony Boselli, Tony Brackens and Fred Taylor. The Jaguars also spent heavily in free agency, which ultimately led to the team's demise, but the point is the Jaguars had a star quarterback and a lot of talent around him. In my opinion, the draft is the second half of the answer to your question because drafting well is how you sustain winning. None of the Jaguars' first-round picks between 2010 and 2017 are with the team and several of those players were busts. The Packers are in a similar situation between 2010 and 2015, but the Packers were drafting near the bottom of the order and they have an iconic quarterback. In contrast, the Steelers have five first-round picks between 2010 and 2017 who are playing at a star-quality level, and Ryan Shazier would make it six other than for his injury. Stability at quarterback and long-term drafting success are the ingredients for sustained success.
Wayne from Beavercreek, OH
Vic, do you own any game jerseys?
No, I own memories.
Jason from Peyton, CO
In the pregame for Thursday night, Bradshaw said Tom Brady would not have let the Packers lose to the Vikings. He said it was because Rodgers basically just sat there and watched while the team played like crap. How do you feel about that statement? To me, jumping around and yelling, if that isn't who you are, means nothing. Rodgers has never been that guy.
Bradshaw often says stuff on TV he doesn't believe. He's an entertainer and he says stuff for effect. What was Rodgers going to do, yell at the defense for getting gashed by Dalvin Cook? Bradshaw knows Joe Greene and Jack Lambert wouldn't have tolerated a member of the offense scolding the Steelers defense. I can't remember Greene and Lambert not being supportive of the offense. "How'd you like our quarterback?" Joe would ask reporters on Bradshaw's good days. Jumping up and down and yelling fixes nothing. Just do your job, and that was a Nollism long before it became Bill Belichick's mantra. Rodgers did his job against the Vikings. The defense didn't do its.
Taylor from Amarillo, TX
With the Thursday night game being lopsided, I tried to specifically watch Gary on every play I could find him. I saw little impact either in the run game or rushing the passer. Is he a young player still developing, looking like a bad pick, making a bigger impact than what I can see from home?
Rashan Gary is beginning to remind me of Datone Jones at the same stages of their careers. It can change quickly. Give it more time.
John from Saint Augustine, FL
Would you pay a guy like Larry Fitzgerald or Julio Jones, given that other (less talented but still good) receivers are everywhere?
Yes. The Steelers re-signed Hines Ward, but allowed Plaxico Burress and Antwaan Randle El to leave in free agency. They re-signed Antonio Brown, but allowed Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders to leave in free agency. The point is you can't keep everybody. In the free agency era, you have to be willing to allow players to leave. It's a game of replacement and wide receiver is a position at which replacement is easiest. Dime a dozen.
Loftur from Columbus, OH
I think it's pretty clear the Jaguars will clean house after the season. The two most intriguing head coaching candidates in my mind are Eric Bieniemy and Joe Brady. Which one of them would you prefer?
I know nothing more about Brady than he's a good play-caller. Is that what you want in a head coach? A good play-caller? In my opinion, the Jaguars need a leader of men. They need a stable and strong personality that can provide direction for the future and become the soul and heartbeat of the franchise. Bieniemy has a reputation for being strong-willed and possessing leadership qualities. The Jaguars should pursue that kind of coach.
Derek from Eau Claire, WI
Does 30 years of Hall of Fame QB play engrain passing into the Packers' DNA or is it something more inherent?
Sure it does. That's called evolution. Packers fans cheer pass completions at training camp. Steelers fans created a traffic jam on Route 30 on the first day of full-pads practice because they knew it was Oklahoma day. It's in each fan base's DNA as a result of evolution.