"Ask Vic" will publish on M-W-F this week.
Doug from Union Grove, WI
They are who we thought they were.
Actually, I think they are who we were afraid they were. The league yardage rankings were foreboding. There's no denying that now. The defense is a yardage failure. As I've repeatedly said, if you can't stop the run, you won't have a chance to sack the quarterback.
Tommy from Detroit, MI
Getting to the championship game with a new offense and team isn't too shabby at all.
I'm getting a lot of that type of sentiment in my inbox, which tells me expectations for this team weren't really that high. All through the season I sensed an undertone of surrender. Fans' emotions are intriguing. What they demanded of McCarthy, they're willing to excuse LaFleur. I sensed it all along. There was a perceptible shift in fan attitude.
Bradley from Charlotte, NC
Initially, I was optimistic about the Packers punching above their weight this year, but now I'm concerned. They had so much good luck, but that wasn't enough. With so much money committed to Rodgers, the Smiths, etc., and a low draft position, is it possible they can get that much bigger, faster and more physical in the near future?
They'll probably have to be major players again in free agency to do it.
Scott from Hamlin, NY
"A coach must have his team ready to play." The Packers haven't been ready to play on the West Coast in three trips this season. What's your analysis of the issue?
Coach Noll said geography has nothing to do with losing.
Russ from Castle Rock, CO
As you say, the run cures everything. What do you see in the Packers defense that has caused them to be so bad against the run most of the season? Are the Smiths not that great against the run?
The Smith Bros. were non-factors. You have to have pass rushers, but if they can't play the run, then you better get some grunts who can hold the point of attack. Playing the run is beneath no one. Snubbed? Now we know why.
Chris from Kitakyushu, Japan
Not bad for year two of what was clearly a three-year plan to rebuild the team. I assume your inbox is full of the usual negativity that comes after these losses. I see the fact the team made it so far with clear roster holes as an indication of bright things for next year if they can add at least one more reliable playmaker on both sides of the ball. Next year is probably Super Bowl or bust, though, because if they add those players via free agency, the whistle will not be far in the distance.
Ah, sweet surrender.
Nicholas from Superior, WI
Looks like the Packers closed the gap a little bit. What can they do to close it completely?
Closed the gap? I'll have to think on that one a little bit. The Packers have a better pass rush and Aaron Jones emerged to be a star running back this season. Otherwise, I don't see a big difference from past years' teams. The fall behind and pass it on every down thing is getting old. The dinks, dunks, drags, dumps, delays and checkdowns are nauseating scheme football. Every team should aspire to play football the way the 49ers play football. They almost tell you what they're going to do and then they do it. They take what they want. They line up and play like men.
Bob from St. Charles, IA
How soon before "you can’t keep them all” kicks in for SF?
The 49ers can choose to push out money for a long time. This team was built quickly, which means the front end won't be getting old when the back end arrives. They'll have to begin restructuring contracts within a couple of years. As much as I dislike that tactic, I think they've built something special that would justify restructuring. These aren't guys at the ends of their careers. These guys are just starting. The 49ers could dominate the NFC for a long time.
Greg from Danbury, CT
Just when I wondered if anyone had an answer for Derrick, it turns out the real question is whether anyone has an answer for Mahomes. Amazing game.
It was not an amazing game. It was very predictable. The gap between Mahomes and Tannehill was overwhelming. The Titans were trying to beat one of the elite quarterbacks in the league with a quarterback who was cast off by one of the worst teams in the league.
Roy from Chippewa Falls, WI
Vic, all due respect, but you’re wrong about the Jacksonville situation. Shad Khan represents the very worst of what’s wrong with America today. He’s a foreign-born immigrant who is trying to move yet another American asset overseas. This is the hijacking and molestation of the American dream set forth for white Americans by the founding fathers. You should not encourage your readers to support Khan’s plans to destroy the Jaguars.
White Americans, huh? Are these the same white Americans who slaughtered those "immigrants" at Wounded Knee?
Roman from Rome, Italy
Well, it looks like the 49ers are wiping their feet on the Packers. Your pick proves correct again.
Roman, and anybody else who didn't get it, changing my pick on Friday was about being playful. I genuinely believed the Packers would win this game. I guess I ate the pizza. I, too, am disappointed.
Fabio from London
After Mostert’s unchallenged stroll through our defense and 49ers dominating virtually without involving the QB, should Pettine’s job be under threat?
Are you kidding me? Didn't you learn your lesson with Coach Capers?
Jim from Monroe, WI
Vic, I am not feeling bad, as it was a heck of a year for a first-year coach and good moves by our GM. However, do you see the Packers being in this position again next year with a few moves and addressing the run defense. It does not seem impossible. What do they need to win the Super Bowl next year?
The Packers' big problem is they have an aging quarterback whose amortization is beginning to stress their salary cap. They have to make a decision, or maybe they've already made it: Go all in, restructure across the board and get Rodgers what he needs to win it all? I think the answer to that question is going to be yes. If it is, we'll hear the first sounds of the train leaving the station in March.
Jerry from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
The year of the penalty continues. Why do the refs want to be part of the show?
I'm really struggling with it. This has not been an enjoyable season for me.
Pete from Minneapolis, MN
Interesting to see Mike Pennel starting at nose tackle for the Chiefs. I remember years ago you suggested he could be the answer for Green Bay at nose. Didn't think he'd have staying power in the league after his time in Green Bay. What did you see in Pennel?
He reminded me of Ernie Holmes, one of the most underrated players in NFL history.
Chris from Winstom-Salem, NC
Do you think a guy like Levon Kirkland could find a role in today’s defense.
Kirkland would be an every-down defender in today's game, just as he was in the era in which he played. He stuffed the run and he covered receivers 50 yards downfield. He was Luke Kuechly, but better.
Tim from Sun Prairie, WI
What do you make of Mike McCarthy not calling plays in Dallas? This has Jerry Jones written all over it.
I disagree. I think he learned his lesson about play-calling back when he appointed Tom Clements to be the Packers' play-caller and then had to take back the duties late in the season to quiet the howl of the wolves. Play-calling is a lightning rod for controversy. I get the sense he wants to distribute his efforts more broadly. This is a chance to do it his way right from the start.