"Ask Vic" will publish on M-W-F through the football season.
Eric from Hudson, WI
Why is the AFC so weak except for one team?
I think there are at least three top teams in the AFC: Patriots, Chiefs and Ravens. I'm waiting for the Texans to make it four. Much of the rest of the AFC is in quarterback flux. The Steelers lost Roethlisberger, the Jaguars lost Foles and the Colts lost Luck. Young quarterbacks such as Mayfield, Allen and Darnold are on the way up, and older quarterbacks such as Rivers and Flacco are holding on. Quarterbacks define a conference. The AFC is in quarterback chaos right now. Let's revisit this situation late in the season.
Rob from Rockford, IL
When the schedule was released back in April, you said the Packers "could explode out of the blocks." It seems you're right again, Vic. Can they keep this up?
Yes, I think they can. The schedule is favorable to go into December on a roll and with the NFC North lead. The last three games on the schedule will define the Packers' regular season. Bears, at Vikings, at Lions will validate or violate what the Packers accomplish up to that point.
Josh from Silverton, CO
Vic, I'm sure you'll get quite a few variations of this question, and I'm not jumping to any conclusions yet, but if Minshew continues to look capable at QB in his rookie season, even with some lumps, what do you think happens when Foles is healthy again?
The first sensible out for the Jaguars is 2021, when Foles' dead money would drop from $34 million to $12.5 million. Regardless of what Minshew does the rest of this year, I think Foles is with the Jaguars next year.
Jon from Jacksonville, FL
You growing that Minshew mustache yet?
Yeah, just started.
Robert from Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Run the ball, rush the passer remains a recipe for success, but what the heck happened to running the ball in the Jaguars game? Both offenses were anemic in that regard.
Each team's defensive game plan was to stop the run and make the quarterback beat you with the pass. I counted nine Titans in the box on several occasions. Gardner Minshew made the Titans pay for that strategy.
Justin from Layton, UT
Any difference in opinion after two surprising performances by Gardner Minshew?
What's the rush?
Brad from Jacksonville, FL
Vic, Minshew was again composed and consistent. His throws were accurate, he threw receivers open, he protected the ball. His footwork and release are impressive. If he keeps up this progression, Jacksonville will have a $50 million backup QB. Is that a stretch?
No, I like your analysis. I would add this: Minshew's best throws were slants underneath the coverage and lobs over the top of the coverage. That's a good combination, but future opponents are likely to force Minshew to play outside the numbers. They'll force him to hit the honey hole. Does he have the arm strength to do it?
Wendell from Porto Alegre, Brazil
Will Eli Manning go into the Hall of Fame? Do you think he deserves it?
I think he'll get in, but I wouldn't vote for him. I love the two Super Bowl wins, but I just don't think he was a special quarterback.
Mike from Boscobel, WI
Coach Marrone, by all appearance, seems like a good guy. Do you think he can right the ship in Jacksonville? Feels like this may be his last season with this franchise. Funny thing is I'm not as happy about that as some Jaguars fans seem to be.
I was a young reporter covering the Steelers when Doug Marrone was an undrafted free agent in the Steelers' training camp. He's a football man who's dedicated his life to the sport. Two years ago, he took the Jaguars to the verge of winning the AFC title. It's remarkable how it crumbled so quickly. His biggest problem in fixing the Jaguars is he'll have to do it with a rookie quarterback. Or maybe Minshew can buy Marrone some understanding and patience.
Dain from Columbus, WI
I get the idea of putting some talent around Aaron Rodgers before he declines with age, but how much are we crippling the future team with all the free agents this year and last? Or, simply stated, how healthy is the Packers' cap under the new regime?
The Packers are on the edge of their financing, so to speak, but they won't go over the edge, as the Vikings have. It's just not in the Packers' DNA to do that.
Jonathan from Southern Pines, NC
What if Mason Rudolph turns out to be really good this season and the Steelers don't have a terrible season like you think? Then what happens when Roethlisberger wants to come back next season?
If Rudolph wins the job, I think Roethlisberger would be given the opportunity to seek a trade or retire. I would expect him to retire. Cap-wise, it's doable.
Min from Seoul, South Korea
What does Mike McCarthy think to himself after Week 2?
He's probably thinking he wishes he had a defense like that.
Alex from Orlando, FL
Vic, what should the Jags do with Fournette after his rookie contract expires? In my opinion, he’s no better than an average back in the league. I can’t imagine they will be picking up his fifth-year option.
Here's the bigger question: Will the Jaguars have new leadership after this season? The answer to that question will determine what the Jaguars do with players such as Leonard Fournette.
Craig from Cedarburg, WI
Are the Lions a threat to challenge for the NFC North crown?
The next four games are the meat of the Lions' schedule: at Eagles, Chiefs, at Packers, Vikings. What the Lions do in those four games will answer your question.
Mike from Rochester, MN
Why are players salaries made public? Was it always that way?
It's always been that way because leaking a player's compensation to the media was good advertising for an agent that just got his client a favorable contract. Since the advent of the salary cap, compensation information isn't about agent advertising as much as it is about a need to know. For example, in analyzing the Minkah Fitzpatrick trade, you need to know the Dolphins paid him a signing bonus of a little over $10 million. What's left of the amortization of that money stays on the Dolphins' cap, which means the Steelers get Fitzpatrick at a big cap savings. The savings is money the Steelers can spend, say, on a free agent, so you could say the Steelers traded a 2020 first-round pick for Fitzpatrick and an unrestricted free agent to be named later, in addition to the swap of mid-round picks. In the salary cap era, fans absolutely must know the financials involving player acquisition to fully understand and appreciate the game.