Let’s start with this for Steelers fans: No coach is better at challenging his team than Mike Tomlin. After last week’s pathetic performance against the Jaguars, he challenged his team to run the ball and play defense, and that’s exactly what he got yesterday. The final score was not indicative of the physical pounding the Steelers put on the Chiefs. That’s the hardest I’ve seen a defense hit all year.
Andreww from Woodville, OH
Vic, I know you tell us to enjoy the ride of the twists and turns of a season, but after a certain broken collarbone, are we wrong to be disappointed the ride is now much less likely to include a Super Bowl?
Disappointed? How about devastated? My heart goes out to all Packers fans today. I know how much you love your team. I know how much this hurts.
Tom from Wood River, IL
Do you think Packers fans are about to learn not to let hope turn into expectations? I will hope for a good game each week now.
You’ve achieved perspective. One win, any win, is good enough now.
Jerry from Wilmington, NC
Ok Vic, now that I know you are who you say you are, are the Packers who we think they are?
Not without Aaron Rodgers. That identity is gone. Now they must create a new identity. Now they must run the ball, stop the run, rush the passer, defend against the pass … they must do it all because they won’t have Rodgers to do it for them.
Joe from Colorado Springs, CO
Vic, first I'd like to apologize for any grammar or punctuation errors. I've never been much of a reader, but “Ask Vic” changed that for me and I'd like to thank you for the enjoyment I've had from your writing. It made me very sad when you retired; insider just isn't the same without you. I just discovered this blog while reading the inbox and I literally jumped for joy. I'm very glad to be able to read your work once again. You are truly unique and could never be duplicated or replaced by any means. Now, onto my question. Will you be bringing back the bans? Thank you for your time and all the joy you've brought me over the years.
Salvador from Metepec, Mexico
I found your column in the 2013 season when No. 12 went down. I came every day to packers.com to check. Do you expect any Week 17 heroics from Rodgers to keep the playoff streak going?
Expect? No. Hopeful? Yes.
Jimmy from Jacksonville, FL
In your vast wisdom, can you please explain what happened to Blake Bortles and how should GM Dave Caldwell be held accountable, if at all?
What do you want, a public flogging? All personnel directors are held accountable for their decisions, especially at quarterback. James Harris was held accountable for his decisions, and the ones in 2008 – Derrick Harvey and Jerry Porter immediately come to mind – did him in. Gene Smith was held accountable for Blaine Gabbert. Ultimately, Tom Coughlin was held accountable for the Jaguars’ salary cap problems. I wrote in this column last week the Browns are proof a team in need of a quarterback should never pass on a quarterback. That doesn’t mean you’ll pick the right guy, but you’ll never find the right one if you don’t pick one. Caldwell needed a quarterback. Bortles was largely considered to be the next guy up. Was Bortles overdrafted? Sure he was. So was E.J. Manuel, Christian Ponder, Tim Couch, Akili Smith and on and on. It’s the nature of the position. Bortles’ travails remind me of Byron Leftwich’s. It’s difficult for a quarterback to succeed if he has bad mechanics. The last pass Bortles threw in the Jets game nearly turned end over end. A decision will be made on his future by season’s end. There is still hope, but time is running short.
Tim from Madison, WI
Vic, you love Lamar Jackson. I do, too, but I don't see how he succeeds as a QB in the NFL. What am I missing?
You’re missing the evolution of the position on the pro level. Jackson’s skill set is the future.
Bill from Sheboygan, WI
What are your thoughts on the NCAA’s failure to significantly punish North Carolina?
The NCAA sent a strong message with its ruling on North Carolina. That message is: It pays to cheat.
Jeffro from Kenosha, WI
I constantly hear the media say the Packers have one of the least talented rosters in the league, sans Aaron Rodgers. The great Ron Wolf believed roughly a third of your roster needed to be Pro-Bowl caliber players to win the Super Bowl. Do you think we have those 15 players? Glad you're back!
Wolf said that? I find that hard to believe, especially in the salary cap era. You not only don’t need 15 stars to win the Super Bowl, you couldn’t afford to cap 15 stars. The Patriots are the proof of that. Yes, in the pre-cap years, you needed a deep and powerful cast of players to win it all. You needed the big three on offense (QB, RB, WR) and a dominant player on defense. The Cowboys had Aikman, Smith, Irvin and Woodson (among others on defense). The 49ers had Montana, Craig, Rice and Lott. The Steelers had Bradshaw, Harris, Swann and Greene (among several others on defense). The Packers had Starr, Taylor, Dowler and Nitschke (among others on defense). Today’s teams can’t afford all of those players on one roster. Look at Brady’s cast of receivers with whom he’s won Super Bowls; it’s been a revolving door.
Squirrelette from Bethesda, MD
Vic, with Aaron Rodgers possibly out for the rest of the season, how do you see the Packers’ chances to make the playoffs? I'm also worried about the defense.
The Packers’ playoff chances have taken a broadside hit, and now that becomes the storyline. Let’s play to that drama. It worked in 2013. It was one of the most thrilling Decembers I’ve ever covered. I do not want to lose my December friend. By the way, please use a real kind of name. I don’t want to start a trend of readers using tags. I won’t answer questions from people using tags.
Edward from Canton, SD
What do you think about signing Colin Kaepernick?
I’m not opposed to it.
Mark from Adelaide, Australia
Searching “Vic Ketchman” and “Ask Vic” on Google returned only your old work for the first two pages of search returns, so I thought I had misunderstood the mentions. A few nights later, I persisted by digging a little deeper and finally found your new blog on the bottom of the third page of Google search returns. Just thought you might want to know the path your former readers are taking to find their way back to you. Would you prefer the new blog flew a little under the radar, or would you be just as happy if everyone came flooding over to join the new conversation?
If no one reads this new “Ask Vic,” I make no money. If the whole world reads it, I still make no money. It’s still professional football, but for the first time in my writing career, it’s not about the money.
Kris from Copenhagen, Denmark
Vic, how much do you enjoy seeing the Jags finally having some success again?
It warms my heart. My early years in Jacksonville were my great adventure. I left home and a team I had covered for 23 years to live and work in a place I had never even visited. Everything was new. What followed were 16 wonderful years of learning new ways, and I learned more about myself in those 16 years than I had in the 44 years previous. That’s why I say change is good. It’s also why I left to go to Green Bay. Change is good. Now, I have all those memories to make me rich. They are memories of sweltering days in Jacksonville, and frigid days in Green Bay. They are memories of a team steeped in tradition, and of a team trying to establish one. Jacksonville allowed me to be a pioneer; I was there when it all began. I owe Jacksonville more than I could ever repay it. Go Jags!
Andy from Grand Rapids, MI
Vic, I know the only reason you never truly answered soccer questions on packers.com is because you were beholden by the big wigs to stick to football. Now that you are free of that burden, what are your thoughts on the USMNT failing to qualify for next year’s World Cup?
I’m OK with it because if they played the World Cup in my backyard, I’d close the blinds. If the soccer nuts broke into my house, opened the blinds and held my eyelids open and forced me to watch, I’d hold my breath until I died. If I was president, I would sign an executive order banning soccer, and I would propose a ban on immigration from countries harboring soccer.
Paula from Minneapolis, MN
Now that you’re able to watch football as a fan, do you focus on different aspects of the game than you did as a writer? If so, what?
No, I watch football the same way. I study what each team is attempting to do according to formation, motion, shifting and disguising coverages and fronts. Once I get a feel for the plan, I know what each team’s perceived strengths and weaknesses are, and then I just watch the ball and enjoy the drama.
Dustin from Seymour, WI
I was rooting for the Packers defense to get that last stop in Dallas. What's your opinion on the arrow of the defense?
It’s pointing sideways. Dom Capers is doing a lot schematically, and that always worries me. I like a defense that can line up, play it straight and win the one-on-ones. I don’t get the sense so far this season the Packers defense can play that way.
Mike from Niagara Falls, Canada
Do you find it a little too convenient a former USFL owner (who not only tanked the USFL with his ideas but was once denied ownership of an NFL team), is waging war on the NFL now that he has the most powerful office in the country? He seems petty enough to hold that kind of grudge.
Donald Trump will never get over the embarrassment of a $3 ($1 trebled) damage award to the USFL from the NFL. In his mind, he’ll always see the NFL people laughing as they left the courthouse. He pushed the envelope too far too fast. The USFL had developed a nice spring niche for itself, but that wasn’t good enough for Trump. He wanted to play in the fall. He wanted to wage war with the NFL. He made a big mistake.
Richie from Truckee, CA
How's that for another chapter in the Packers-Vikings rivalry?
It’s the best rivalry in the NFC North.