"Ask Vic" will publish on M-W-F during the football season.
Curt from York, PA
I’m sure your inbox has more chortling this morning. I wrote you last week and stated I will be impressed when the Packers beat a top-tier team that’s at full strength. Barely beating a three-win team gives me less hope for playoff success. So, Vic, how will this team compete with the Niners, Saints or Seahawks? Maybe some Ice Bowl weather?
I don't want to go too deep into analysis based on yesterday's game because it's become a broken record. My inbox is full of a win is a win is a win, and it was another ugly win, and suggestions that would make Aaron Rodgers a better quarterback. Folks, I'm not a therapist, just a sports writer. The Packers have an all-time great quarterback and they have a bye and homefield advantage for at least one playoff game, maybe two. Yeah, weather could be a factor. That's my analysis.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, which teams are hot going into the playoffs?
The Packers have won five in a row. They're the hottest team in the NFC playoffs.
Kirsten from Madison, WI
What do your eyes tell you is going on with Rodgers and his receivers? They didn't just look mediocre Sunday, they looked bad, yet, both TDs came on passes. I'm confused.
Last spring I was barraged by emails from fans telling me how excited they were about the young receivers. Me? Not so much. I said I was surprised the Packers didn't tap into that run on wide receivers in the draft. Now, I'm barraged by emails from fans wanting me to tell them what's going on with the receivers. I don't see a problem. They're playing up to my expectations for them.
Don from Colorado Springs, CO
Your analysis and predictions are no better than any average fan's, even though you have 40 years as a football reporter. 1) The Lions came to play even if their cars were packed in the parking lot. 2) Rodgers is not an elite QB. He looked like a rookie in his first game. What do you predict for the playoffs?
I predict you'll still be a rude person.
Bill from Forest Park, OH
Looks like the Lions checked back in for the final game after all.
Or maybe the Packers didn't check in until the second half.
Tom Eau Claire, WI
Vic, do you think Rodgers' accuracy is declining? Seems like I’m seeing more overthrows and behind throws.
My inbox has been full of this question on a weekly basis for the past several weeks. I've declined to respond because I don't think it's a fair question of me. I was the one who said, "What's the rush?" I didn't say that for any reason other than Rodgers was coming off a major injury and I thought it would be prudent to hold off on re-signing him. Well, this would be the final year of his previous contract and the Packers would be in a far better bargaining position now than they were when they signed him to a mega deal. They wouldn't have to restructure him and add more bonus amortization to his cap number, they could do a new contract and structure it according to their current needs. Outrage? An insult to the face of the franchise? Well, Tom Brady is on the final year of his deal. It's professional football. It's about the money.
Brian from Neenah, WI
I didn’t realize how close the Packers were to the edge of the salary cap.
No team is at the edge of their salary cap until every player on its roster has been restructured so as much salary as allowed has been converted to signing bonus and that money has been pushed out as far as the CBA permits. That is not the case with the Packers. They can create a lot more cap space and I get the sense they're going to do it.
Rolfe from Sammamish, WA
The Packers just converted part of Aaron Rodgers' 2020 roster bonus into a signing bonus that frees up over $11 million of salary cap space in 2020. Are you hearing the train whistle getting louder or is this a good move by the Packers?
There's no whistle. This is a rare restructuring by the Packers; most teams do it routinely. Rodgers was the obvious candidate for it because the size of his contract offers the most to convert and room to gain. I suspect there will be more of this and Za'Darius Smith is a likely candidate. Why are the Packers doing this? It's to create room to be active, again, in free agency. This is what the readers in this column wanted the Packers to do long ago. They wanted the Packers to go all in to get all they could out of Rodgers' career. The new football administration is in agreement with the fans but I don't see the Packers executing this restructuring tactic beyond a reasonable expectation for Rodgers' career longevity. If the Packers get wild with restructuring, I'll hear the whistle and I'll let you know. As I've written, this is it. The Packers are all in and the gods are smiling on them. It's dark on the other side of this, folks, so enjoy the sunshine for as long as you can.
Amis from Norwich, UK
What is your game of the decade for this decade?
I'll go with the Eagles-Patriots Super Bowl.
Aaron from Eau Claire, WI
Comparing records to stats, what's the deal with the Cowboys? They are 1-2-8 on offense and 11-11-13 on defense and they're 8-8.
This is a statistical rarity. Bad teams are seldom high in both the rankings for offense and defense. What's especially rare about the Cowboys is they've run the ball and stopped the run. Even in the pass-the-ball era, run-the-ball/stop-the-run still wins. Jason Garrett has done a terrible job with this team. It lacks the grit of a winner.
Jesse from Bonita Springs, FL
”Reports say he showed a Super Bowl ring to an officer and asked the cop if he was a Miami Dolphins fan.“ How the NFL has handled this is incomprehensible. Owners should be held to a much higher standard than the players. Is it time for a new commissioner?
I'm not qualified to offer opinion on the inner workings of a legal issue this deep. I'm going to wait until it's concluded. At that point, we're all qualified to offer an opinion on the pursuit of justice and whether or not it was served. What I will say at this point is this matter is beyond nauseating. That franchise, which should be the standard by which franchises are judged, is an embarrassment. When the Patriots' run is complete, the franchise needs to be blown up. The team needs to be sold and new ownership needs to dedicate its efforts to removing the stains that are making the Patriots a pariah.
John from Flagstaff, AZ
I'm curious why you wrote: "It appears to me LaFleur has turned the offense over to Rodgers."
I see evidence of plays routinely being changed at the line of scrimmage. It's easily detected': alert calls, players relaxing their stance, leaning to hear, impromptu-looking shifting and motion. I think Rodgers enjoys doing this as much as he enjoys throwing touchdown passes. He's a video game player's quarterback. He wants control of the offense and I think he has it. Coach LaFleur didn't fight it. You want it, you got it, but you're going to own it. I think Rodgers enjoys the responsibility.
Brad from Spirit Lake, IA
I'm a Packers fan, so I'm not completely up on what's going on in Pittsburgh, but I think I'm missing something. You mentioned an NFL team would have to pay Mike Tomlin to get him as a coach. Isn't he still with the Steelers? Why is he even in that conversation?
The process for hiring a coach under contract would require a team wanting to hire Tomlin to contact Art Rooney first and ask permission to speak to Tomlin. The next step would require an agreement on compensation should Tomlin accept the offer. The Bucs gave the Raiders two ones and two twos for Gruden, so Rooney would want at least that much for Tomlin. I think Rooney very much wants Tomlin to remain the team's coach, but I don't think Rooney would hold him back if he wanted to leave. Tomlin's from Virginia and I have no doubt Daniel Snyder would pay Tomlin a lot of money to coach Washington. I wouldn't blame Tomlin if he wanted to go home, and that's why I think this is a possibility. I'm not saying it's likely, only that it can be done.
Mike from Kalamazoo, MI
What do your eyes tell you about Joe Burrow?
There's nothing not to like. Physically, he reminds me of Bradshaw. His mental command of the game is Unitas-like. He sees the whole field and always seems to throw to the right guy. Burrow is the son of a former quarterback and coach. We're seeing more of that kind of thing all the time. The three Edmunds -- sons of Ferrell Edmunds -- playing in one game. The son of Randy Moss plays for LSU. The Mannings, the Watts, etc. Bloodlines are creating a master race of players. If I was a personnel director, I would pay very close attention to a player's bloodlines.
John from Des Moines, IA
How about those Hawkeyes? Are they overrated, underrated or about right?
I'm amazed at how college football fans get so excited about wins in meaningless bowl games. Maybe I'm not giving college football enough credit for tapping into a different kind of fan, one who doesn't ascribe to the mania to be No. 1. They know it's not possible so they set high mediocrity as the goal. We're No. 20! Iowa is a tough, honorable, well-coached college football program. The Hawkeyes play hard and I've always respected them for it. Iowa is a tough out on any team's schedule. The bad news, John, is Iowa needs to find a way to be new because it's fading in the west. Wisconsin and Minnesota are on the rise and the three powers in the Big 10 East are recruiting at an entirely different level. Iowa is recruiting what Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan don't want, and that's not a formula for success.
Bill from Sheboygan, WI
What are your thoughts on Ohio State's loss to Clemson?
The next time you think a defensive player should win the Heisman Trophy, think about the egg Chase Young laid on Saturday night. I can't help but think he "turned pro" after the Penn State game. That's one of the pitfalls of recruiting kids from all over the country. State and regional pride are lost on them.
Douglas from Binghamton, NY
Your thoughts on Bart Starr and Terry Bradshaw not making the top 10 QBs for the NFL 100 team.
They have the titles but don't have the body of work. I pay no attention to this NFL 100 stuff. The only rankings that matter to me are mine because I think this kind of stuff is purely personal. I don't want my memories changed! They are my greatest treasure and I am very protective of them. I know who the great players are and I know what made them great. When the lights were brightest, Bradshaw played the best football of his life. Starr was the same. Rankings can help educate fans and deepen their enjoyment of the game and I'm OK with that. My rankings go much deeper than 100 players.
Mark from Bettendorf, IA
Who would be your top 10 quarterbacks all-time?
1. Brady, 2. Unitas, 3. Montana, 4. Graham, 5. Elway, 6. Rodgers, 7. Marino, 8. P. Manning, 9. Staubach, 10. Brees. I'm firm on 1-4. Ask me again tomorrow and I might give you different names or a different order for 5-10.