"Ask Vic" will publish on Mondays and Thursdays through the offseason.
Tim from Foley, AL
First Bell, now Brown. What’s going on in Pittsburgh?
It's time for the Steelers to be new. It happens to all franchises. The Steelers will be judged on how quickly they can reconstitute themselves. The same is true of the Packers. I think it's the true mark of a franchise's strength.
Jesus from El Paso, TX
What can an organization learn by interviewing a head coach that it can't learn any other way? How grueling is the vetting process?
You ask him about everything. You ask him how he feels about including injured players and practice squad players on road trips. His answer will tell you how he perceives team building and demands accountability. When I covered the Packers, they took everybody on the road. Chuck Noll only included players who would be active for the game. He didn't even take Terry Bradshaw on the road when Bradshaw was injured. "If Terry can't play for us, Terry can't help us," Chuck said. There was a message in that. Is that the message you want your coach to send? Don't just ask him what play he'd call on third-and-eight. Ask him the fine-detail questions that'll give you a look into his football soul. If you hire him, his football soul will become your football team's soul.
Kevin from Greenacres, WA
Mike Mayock as the Raiders GM? All the TV personalities feel it's a play to sell PSL's in Las Vegas, rather than field a winning team.
Mike Mayock would sell tickets? I doubt it. I could feel this coming years ago when Mayock became the star of NFL Network's combine coverage. It always felt as though Mayock was trying out for a GM job. In his defense, he's an astute evaluator of talent and tireless worker at scouting draft prospects. If that's his sole duty, I see no reason he shouldn't be successful.
Monty from Seattle, WA
The most accomplished coach on the market ranks in the career top 30 in wins and winning percentage, has a playoff record over .500 and a Super Bowl championship. He's also the guy the team just canned. If you're not satisfied with that level of performance, you're probably incapable of forming reasonable expectations.
I remember a real estate agent telling me, "Your house is a great house. If we weren't selling it, we'd be buying it." It gave me pause.
Roger from Wyoming
Do you think Zimmer could be looking for a new job? Another choking Vikings season, in my opinion.
The Vikings need to show patience, but I can't help but wonder how tempted they are by Mike McCarthy's availability.
Jon from Air Force, USA
My brother and I have been reading "Ask Vic" for years and your writing has helped us achieve great perspective and given us wonderful memories. Thank you for your work. I am a public affairs officer in the Air Force. Some of our duties include speaking with the media and answering questions in a press conference setting. What advice could you share with me and what did you most admire about the great ones who stood on the other side of the podium?
I admire people who answer questions truthfully, respectfully. I always treated them with an extra measure of understanding and kindness, in appreciation of their honesty and willingness to share it with me. Coach Noll was such a man. He would not have handled the Antonio Brown mess as Mike Tomlin did. He would've made Brown own it.
Leif from Frederic, WI
The Steelers failed to make the playoffs with a Hall of Fame QB and WR, a top-four offense and a much-improved top-six defense. Where does the blame lie?
First of all, forget about that top-six defense. If ever stats told a lie, that's an example of it. In playing the blame game, you begin with pointing the finger at a defense that routinely failed to protect late-game leads. That was true even on the final day of the season. Roethlisberger repeatedly bailed out the defense by rallying to win a game the defense nearly lost by failing to protect a lead. Defense was the problem in 2017 and it continued to be the problem in '18, and that points the finger directly at the decision to franchise Le'Veon Bell instead of spending his cap money on upgrades on defense. Beyond that, Chris Boswell missed kicks that cost the Steelers at least three wins, and the decision to cut Landry Jones and go with two young quarterbacks who had no game experience might've cost the Steelers a loss in Oakland. Their season was also cursed by a malfunctioning x-ray machine and officiating gaffes that made it appear as though 2018 just wasn't meant to be the Steelers' year. I think Mike Tomlin also deserves blame for allowing Antonio Brown to become an even bigger distraction than Bell.
Dave from Chicago, IL
Vic, the cap still rules. Antonio Brown wants out of Pittsburgh and Brian Gutekunst could offer a first and another mid-round pick. Not bad for either team except there is a reported $21 million in dead money for the Steelers. Should the league get creative like the NBA in contract structuring so there is more opportunities to make a deal?
The dead money doesn't take into account the cap hit the Steelers would save by trading Brown. The difference would be $6 million and the Steelers could swallow that very easily. No, I don't think the NFL needs to get creative with contract structuring. As for Brown's trade value, the Steelers would be lucky to get a three for him. Why do fans want to give away the farm, so to speak, for big-name players whose best years might be behind them? Dez Bryant? If Brown truly wants to be traded, the worst thing he could do is publicize that fact. The Steelers have been vigilant in not allowing their players to dictate personnel policy. They stubbornly reaffirmed that fact this season in the Bell matter.
Elten from Pleasant Lake, IN
A Denver sports writer said, "During his tenure as head coach, McDaniels alienated every player in the locker room and most of his coaching staff." He embarrassed the Colts. He is being interviewed on Friday for the job of head coach of the Packers. Why?
His reputation is for being a play-calling genius, and I suspect he would be the top choice of Packers fans if surveyed. If Josh McDaniels is hired to be the Packers' head coach, the explosion of excitement and expectation will be like nothing the franchise has ever known for hiring a coach.
Nik from Apple Valley, MN
Do you have any thoughts on Mike Munchak as a potential head coach? He seems like a guy who would command the respect of the roster and I thought he did a decent job with the Titans, considering the quarterbacks he inherited.
I think he's an outstanding coach, but he would be an unpopular choice among Packers fans, and I think the pushback would make it difficult for him to succeed. The emergence of McDaniels' name as a candidate for the Packers' head coaching job has poisoned the water for nearly every other candidate.
Joe from Bloomington, IN
Did the Packers make a mistake letting John Dorsey go?
How could they have kept him? It's a game of replacement, at all positions and on all levels. I'll use the Packers, Steelers and Jaguars as examples. In the last year, the Packers will have replaced their GM and head coach. How long before they have to replace the quarterback? The Steelers lost their star running back, their star receiver wants to be traded and their quarterback is in the final stages of his career. Their run appears to be over and it's time to be new. A year ago, the Jaguars were a team on the rise with a young cast of star players. Now, it's a five-win team entering a blow-it-up offseason.
Nathan from New York, NY
Vic, what are your picks for the wild card games?
I'm going with the Texans and Chargers in the AFC and with the Cowboys and Bears in the NFC.
Zak from Muskego, WI
If extensive media reports are to believed, Mike Tomlin and Doug Marrone have lost their locker rooms, and Aaron Rodgers got Mike McCarthy fired. Given your incredibly unique perspective on these three franchises, I'm extremely interested to read your perspective on the validity of and similarities in all three narratives.
Three players will decide the tone of the Steelers, Jaguars and Packers heading into training camp next summer. Tomlin needs to reel in Antonio Brown or cast him away; Marrone needs to do the same with Jalen Ramsey. The relationship between Rodgers and the new coach in Green Bay will be closely watched by players and media through the spring. Will Rodgers and the new coach be buddy-buddy, or will the new coach keep his distance and effect a more businesslike relationship with Rodgers? How the new coach treats Rodgers will be how every player on the team will expect to be treated.
Stephen from California
When it comes to players, we want well-known, experienced veterans in free agency to fix the team, as opposed to relying on young talent in the draft. But when it comes to finding a head coach, it seems we want the young coordinator or college coach who's never been there before. This seems a little backwards to me. Can you explain this paradigm?
I think fans want a coach who fits their ideal of what the team needs. Packers fans want a play-caller. It's one of the most plays-obsessed fan bases in the league. During the season, most of the questions I receive are about plays that were called and plays that should've been called. In a perfect world, the new coach will call screen passes and throw the ball to the tight end. Packers fans have great sensitivity for those types of plays. I was surprised by the play-call fascination. I didn't expect it when I took the job with packers.com. In the first preseason I covered, I was amazed to find the media covering the Packers even assigned a play-count to the players; I had never seen that anywhere else. Every fan base has a personality that's unique to it. Steelers fans want a strong running game and defense. That's Steelers football and they haven't been playing it the past two seasons. Jaguars fans love a scrambling quarterback, which might be the result of the fan base's love of college football. Packers fans want to out-think the opposition. They love the unexpected.