"Ask Vic" will publish on M-W-F through the football season.
Travis from Knoxville, TN
In your opinion, why isn’t Ezekiel Elliott performing this year as in years past? It seems he went from being a dominant back to almost invisible.
Troy Aikman, he says Elliott lost his burst.
Wesley from Kingsland, GA
I’m thankful for you and your column. I’m thankful for the fact you sent back my wedding invitation with a note you wrote on the back of it. I’m thankful that by following your column I’ve become a more knowledgeable and stable fan. You’ve helped me achieve perspective. I’m thankful we have football this year and I’m thankful for the family and friends I get to share it with.
I'm thankful for readers such as you and for the memories of the "Ask Vic Golf Tournament" in Kingsland and for all of the golfers who went up the night before, got a hotel room and went to the strip clubs. God bless the fraternity of football.
Anthony from Milwaukee, WI
Did you pull your hair out when the Cowboys decided to throw the ball on fourth and inches? For a game so offensively favored, why are inches so hard to get?
It's because the distance between the line of scrimmage and the exchange point is giving the defense time to move the line of scrimmage backward. We saw that in the Detroit game; the Lions got stuffed on a fourth-and-one and it was a game-changer. I talked about this with my friend Ed Bouchette of "The Athletic" yesterday and he said the exchanges are so slow they are the equivalent of draw plays. He's right. Look at running plays from the '70's. Look at how quickly the backs hit the hole. If you can't do that in today's game, then get a big guy under center and push. The Cowboys used a quarterback sneak the next time they faced a fourth-and-one play and Andy Dalton got the first down. This isn't rocket science.
Justin from Titonka, IA
If the Packers don't win the Super Bowl they should blow it up? Why are you so eager for the Rodgers era to end?
I didn't draft a quarterback in the first round, the Packers did. When a team drafts a quarterback as high as the Packers drafted Jordan Love, they are guaranteeing change at that position in the near future. Otherwise, why did they draft a quarterback? I suspect change is planned to happen in the next year or two. What I'm saying is if the Packers don't win it all this year, get on with it. The cap structure of Rodgers' contract would allow the change, and the sooner the change occurs, the sooner the growing pains will be over. The Packers need to rebuild their defense, just as they did when they made the move to Rodgers in 2008. The scenario I'm presenting is a fact of life in the build/rebuild world of the NFL. I think Packers fans are savvy enough to understand it.
Mark from Bristol, UK
Vic, very surprised you think the Packers can win it all. Until they can stop the run, they will lose the first playoff game they play against a team that can run the ball half decently. This is not new. We have been run out of the playoffs time after time. I agree with you, the team still plays like McCarthy is still in charge. So just wait for a January exit as usual. Another good season full of wins and more low draft picks. I'm not tired of winning but would like to change the approach to win bigger games.
The Packers can win it all if Rodgers gets hot and the Packers offense scores so often it forces the opposition to abandon the run and match Rodgers throw for throw. That's Packers football. That's how the Packers win big games.
Jack from Jacksonville, FL
If you were designing a new Jaguars stadium in the age of pandemics and TV deals, what would it look like? How many seats, shade structures, etc.?
I don't think you should design and build a stadium with pandemics in mind. I think the big concern in Jacksonville should be weather and size. I think Jacksonville needs to build a 60,000-seat dome stadium, provided they get a commitment from the Jaguars, and then Jacksonville should get into the event business: Final Fours, college football games, conventions, the whole bit. The idea of building a stadium for one game a year, the Florida-Georgia game, is ridiculous.
James from Nogojiwanong, Canada
Rodgers says he prefers to play in domes. Isn't that a disservice to his team? The identity of the Packers is meant to be built on playing crucial late-season and playoff games at Lambeau in wintry conditions. Why would any GB QB want to play elsewhere in a re-purposed mall?
What you're describing is the identity of the Lombardi Packers. These are the Rodgers Packers. Rodgers is the identity of this team and passing the football is its trademark. If he wants to play in a dome, you should want the Packers to play in a dome.
Mark from Missoula, MT
You mentioned the Packers' linebackers as a defensive weakness, and linebacker is supposed to be the strength of a 3-4. Would a switch to a 4-3 (in an offseason presumably) be beneficial to the Packers?
It would certainly put Kenny Clark in a more athletic position, and more beef up front would help stop the run. The negative is I don't know what you'd do with Za'Darius Smith. He can't play with his hand on the ground and as a linebacker in a 4-3 he'd have to drop into coverage from time to time -- offensive coordinators would make sure of it -- or come off the field. He's a pass-rusher only and there's room for that type of player in a 3-4. I'm not opposed to what you're suggesting, but it would require an offseason makeover, especially at the linebacker position. Maybe it would be part of a blow-it-up approach.
Casey from York, PA
What are the Dolphins doing with (to) Tua?
That was a quick hook, wasn't it?
Matt from Schofield, WI
I feel bad for the harsh words people direct at you, and most of the time it is unnecessary, but when you put that comment in the power rankings next to the Packers, it's clear you like poking the bear sometimes. By the way, I agree with you. I just know lots of other Packers fans don't.
Yeah, I take shots, but nothing I don't believe to be true. The Packers-Bears rivalry is a dog. I covered 10 Packers-Bears games. I never saw a fight on the field or in the stands. I never saw a drunken fan with his face bloodied being led away by police. It was like a mutual admiration society in which both sides were so pleased with the game's history and tradition they were posing for the photographer of "Great Rivalries Monthly." One of the things I felt is Chicago looks down its nose at Green Bay. It's almost as though Bears fans believe they're above expressing emotion for a game against a team from a piddly little town to the north, and I always got the sense Packers fans liked to promote the rivalry because it gave them a connection to the big city. Packers-Vikings is much better. The horn is good. Packers fans hate the horn and Favre having played for the Vikings and Randy Moss having wiped himself on the Lambeau Field goal post, and Vikings fans hate the Packers fans' superiority complex. That's good stuff. I like that rivalry.
Steve from Lake Stevens, WA
Are there any rules pertaining to the salary cap you would change if you could?
I'd get rid of voidables. They're a cheap trick and a violation of the spirit of the cap.
Dan from Green Bay, WI
When I compare what other teams are doing and saying in regard to addressing racism in our country, it seems the Packers players' response has been muted. You have a unique perspective on three franchises and the league as a whole. Am I overreacting?
Mark Murphy spoke with force and distinction for the franchise.
Ben from El Paso, TX
What are you thankful for this year?
I'm thankful for Dr. Worthington and the neck surgery that eased my pain.
David from Phoenix, AZ
Your Steelers will fall flat this year. Maybe second to third round, depending on the draw, but not the Super Bowl. Even Noll couldn’t get them there. Not enough players to overcome the plays.
Kauri from Red Deer, Alberta
Is the offensive line offended when they don’t call a power run on third or fourth-and-one when the game is on the line? I can understand getting tricky in the second or third quarter, but when you really need it, let those fellas get after it!
An offensive line that prides itself on being physical is without a doubt offended when the ball isn't run in short-yardage situations. Just push, baby.
Pat from Seneca, SC
The Steelers appear to be a well-balanced team. What would you consider to be their primary weakness?
They lack a star-quality running back. I get the sense they believe rookie Anthony McFarland has big-play potential, but he has yet to break loose. I like Conner on sweeps and in the passing game, and Snell has a nose for the goal line, but the Steelers need a back who strikes fear in defenses.
Fabio from London, UK
I know you are a staunch defender of Mike McCarthy and the team had all the bad luck in the world this year, but would you agree the fake punt on their own 30 was a national Thanksgiving embarrassment and one of many inexplicable decisions by him and his staff which are blowing the chance of winning the lowest NFL division in history?
You think that play decided the game? Were you blind to what was happening up front? The Cowboys were getting their butts kicked. For the second time in a month Washington dominated the Cowboys on both sides of the ball at the line of scrimmage. The fake punt was a wild attempt to make something happen. McCarthy is the second-winningest coach in Packers history. He won as many Super Bowls as Holmgren, who unappreciatively left Green Bay for Seattle, more money and better sushi. Yet, despite the bitter snub, I sense more love for Holmgren than for McCarthy, who wouldn't have left Green Bay for anywhere. Why the hate? Was it the conservative play-calling in the final minutes of the 2014 NFC title game? Rodgers was fully empowered to change the plays if he thought they were overly conservative. Why didn't he do it? Why don't you blame Andrew Quarless for dropping that third-down pass? Julius Peppers for instructing Morgan Burnett to go down? Clinton-Dix for allowing the Seahawks to complete a two-point pop up pass? Tramon Williams for allowing the overtime touchdown pass? Rodgers for having a 55.8 passer rating? Brandon Bostick? Of course, he's an easy target, and so is McCarthy. Do I agree with you? No. A failed trick play did not blow a chance to win the NFC East. The Cowboys are in a very bad way. It's the state of their roster that's embarrassing, especially after drafting a wide receiver in the first round.