"Ask Vic" will publish on Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the football season.
Here's the "Ask Vic" Week 10 power rankings:
1. Saints -- They beat the best.
2. Rams -- Dose of reality.
3. Patriots -- Won with WR playing RB.
4. Chiefs -- Cardinals and then the Rams.
5. Panthers -- Roaring into Pittsburgh.
6. Chargers -- They're for real.
7. Vikings -- Bye and then at the Bears.
8. Steelers -- Le'Veon Bell drama just beginning.
9. Bengals -- Saints game will define them.
10. Bears -- Feeding off bottom dwellers.
11. Washington -- Must win at Bucs to restart motor.
12. Falcons -- Beginning to make their move.
13. Seahawks -- No. 27 in passing.
14. Ravens -- In free fall.
15. Packers -- Who are they?
16. Texans -- Team to beat in AFC South.
17. Eagles -- Is Wentz all the way back?
18. Titans -- Mariota "The Little Girl With A Curl."
19. Jaguars -- Must-win game at Colts.
20. Lions -- Stop slouching!
21. Colts -- AFC South contender with win over Jags.
22. Cowboys -- Lacking focus.
23. Broncos -- Won't lose this week.
24. Dolphins -- Much worse than their record.
25. Jets -- Stinky game of the week vs. Bills.
26. Bucs -- I'd like to speak to Sybil now.
27. Browns -- Next loss, Falcons.
28. 49ers -- They found the next Jimmy Garoppolo.
29. Giants -- Titanic clash vs. 49ers.
30. Cardinals -- Just mail it in.
31. Bills -- You're going the wrong way!
32. Raiders -- Gruden is my hero.
Ramiro from Jurupa Valley, CA
Vic, the real heavyweight fight was the Rams at Saints. Barring a major injury and assuming they both get to the playoffs churning, who would you pick if they played each other in the NFC Championship?
I'd pick the Saints if the game was played in New Orleans, which is why last Sunday's game was so important. The Saints now own the homefield tiebreaker. The Superdome, in my opinion, is the toughest place in the league for a visiting team to play.
Tony from Onalaska, WI
I know the wolves are howling for McCarthy's removal. Do you suspect Brian Gutekunst has a different head coach in mind for the future, or is Mike his guy?
I have no reason to believe Mike McCarthy isn't Gutekunst's guy. In fact, I'm not sure Gutekunst is old enough and traveled enough to have a guy. He's just a young man in his first GM job doing the best he can to repair a roster. Frankly, I'm tired of the howl talk. I regret ever having introduced the term to this column. It's empowered fans to believe they're in control. Now my inbox is full of howl questions and comments. Vic to fans: A new coach isn't going to fix the Packers' problems; new players will.
Daniel from Cedar Rapids, IA
How do you think the Packers will finish this year? My prediction is 10-5-1. Who have the Packers lost to? Washington (leads division), Rams (that was on an insubordinate player who's no longer on the team. Plus, they lead the NFC), and the Patriots, who own the AFC. Oh, and Detroit due to Mason Crosby having the only off game he's had going back through high school. Who do the Packers play the next few weeks? Miami at home. If we lose this, someone should be fired. At Seattle on a short week. Not a gimme, but we should still win. At Vikings after a mini bye week; coin flip that we need to win for the division and maybe playoffs. Arizona at home should be a win. Atlanta at home; for various reasons we should be favored, but not a gimme. At Chicago not a gimme; I'm not sure we should be favored, but I like our chances. At Jets should be an easyish win. Detroit, without Golden Tate they need a deep threat; regardless, this is at home. I can see us going 7-1 and finishing 10-5-1. if we lose to Minnesota and Chicago, 9-6-1. I think we need to win at least one of those two games for the playoffs and both for the division. As for how we'd do in the playoffs, it depends on the development of our young talent, but we honestly need one more draft and free agency to be great (I think you said 1-2, right?).
You forgot the Super Bowl.
John from Sioux Falls, SD
Vic, I know better than to start asking play-calling questions, but here I go and please be gentle as I really am curious. When Rodgers gets pressured, there never seems to be a checkdown or some dump-off option to gain a few yards and avoid taking hits. Is it they don’t run those types of options or is it Rodgers doesn't like to utilize them?
It depends first on the blocking scheme. If the Packers are in max protect, which means a back and/or tight end is/are being held in to help block the rush, there is no checkdown receiver. I remember Aaron Rodgers completing a checkdown-type pass to Aaron Jones on Sunday night; Jones was tackled immediately. You have to know the scheme before you can judge Rodgers' willingness to dump the ball off.
Joe from Menomonee Falls, WI
Vic, the Pats and Brady have mastered the QB sneak. They use it a lot on third-and-short situations, and they are successful a lot. I don't see other teams trying to emulate this, why?
It's a skill and Brady has it. He finds a crease and he wedges into it. Most teams don't like their quarterback going shoulder first into the pile. The Steelers are just beginning to use Ben Roethlisberger in a sneak role. He scored a 1-yard touchdown on Sunday. I think we're going to see more of it because it's a sound strategy against penetrate-and-disrupt defensive schemes. Aaron Donald, for example, is just too quick off the ball to block in short-yardage if you're handing off deep to your running back. The QB sneak is a way to beat the defense to the punch, so to speak. I prefer a short-yardage back who can leap over the pile, as Sam Cunningham did. I think goal-line and short-yardage plays have become critical enough to have a back on your roster who specializes in getting up over the pile. Maybe it's something a wide receiver could add to his resume.
Sean from Denver, CO
Vic, you talk about repairing the Packers roster but also acknowledge the young talent in the secondary and offensive skill positions. I thought our offensive and defensive lines were better than average, at least. Obviously, we need a pass rush. What do we need on offense? What are the positions that need repair in your opinion?
The Packers need a couple of star-quality players, at any position. They're building depth. The young wide receivers, for example, are depth-type players, but I don't see star-quality in them. I could say the same about the running backs. Don't focus as much on positions; focus on impact.
Pete from Conway, AR
Vic, I watched two games before Packers/Patriots: Chiefs/Browns and Saints/Rams. Screen passes were everywhere. The Chiefs had four in the first quarter. Is there a reason the Packers refuse to run screens?
You run screens against teams that are weak at linebacker or like to drop their linebackers deep, or when you think you can catch them in a blitz. The Patriots' linebackers are, in my opinion, a good bunch; they don't usually invite the screen. Again, you have to know the overall design and concerns before you can pass play-calling judgment. Yes, the screen pass is great strategy for attacking deep-drop and up-the-field defenses, but it doesn't always meet with success. Do the Packers have the personnel to run it successfully? Eddie Lacy was a great screen back, and Sitton and Lang were great at getting out in front of it. In the final analysis, it's about players being able to execute the play.
Jerry from Grantsburg, WI
The Packers' primary needs seem to be pass blockers and pass rushers. What else is missing?
Stars! The Packers need young star players. Jaire Alexander might be one of those young star-type players. More are needed. Filling needs makes you 8-8. You win championships with stars. The Patriots do a lot of patching to fill needs, but they've had a lot of star players through the years: Brady, Law, Revis, Wilfork, Seymour, Dillon, Light, Bruschi, Gronkowski, etc.
Mike from St. Louis, MO
Vic, it seems good teams like the Saints, Rams, Chiefs, Pats, etc. take what they want from the opposing defense. In Green Bay, it seems like Rodgers spends too much time pre-snap trying to decipher what the opposition is doing. The play clock is always near zero or they end up wasting a timeout/delay-of-game penalty. Why is offense so difficult in Green Bay right now?
Your question doesn't mesh with your comment. The Packers' struggles on offense aren't about their pre-snap routine. Be that as it may, I am very tired of the catch-the-defense-with-12-on-the-field thing. It's an overused gimmick. It says we're gonna trick you because we can't beat you, and I hate that. I'd like to see more of a line-up-and-knock-them-off-the-ball mentality, instead of this catch-them-offside baloney. It feels bad inside. I thought the Packers should've committed more firmly to the running game on Sunday. I thought they were gashing the Patriots but they quit on it. The Packers averaged 4.7 per rush and 5.7 per pass and the Patriots were 4.0 per rush and 8.2 per pass, yet, the Packers were 25-43 in rush-pass attempts while the Patriots were 31-36. In other words, the Patriots had better balance, despite having less reason for it.
Travis from Plymouth, WI
Vic, two or three years ago, I seem to recall Aaron Rodgers discussing how he knew the red zone plays McCarthy was calling would result in TDs before the play was run. What happened to the confidence and ability to visualize such success in the few years that have elapsed since Rodgers expressed those sentiments?
The players around Rodgers have changed. Rodgers had Sitton and Lang in front of him, Lacy, Kuhn and Starks behind him, and Jordy Nelson on the outside. In 2014, Lacy, Kuhn, Starks and Nelson accounted for 3,666 yards and 29 touchdowns. In a few short years, they were all gone, and that's why I say it's a game of replacement. Replacing that kind of talent is difficult, especially when you're sitting at the bottom of the draft. From 2011-17, the Packers' average first-round draft position was 27-28, and that's not where you find star-quality players. In retrospect, the Packers probably should've tried to trade up more often to find star-quality players to replace the star players they would lose, but moving up is easier said than done.
Tom from Bismarck, ND
Vic, it seems the Packers went from having the slowest tight ends in the NFL to having, well, the slowest tight ends in the past 20 years in the NFL. Wow! The lack of athletes on this team the past 7-8 years is staggering. The laughably poor athletes on our defense, especially in the front seven, is a reflection of a systematic problem in this team's upper levels. Yes, we know about Ted, and it's as we expected. But wasn't there a little check and balance in the leadership room? How could this have happened? No one had the ability to step in? Why weren't you saying something? Isn't a good reporter's No. 1 job to see and report this?
They were drafting at the bottom. I think I warned everyone it would take its toll. What happened to the Packers is the inevitable for a draft-and-develop football team. Patch-and-plug like the Patriots? That's easier said than done, too, and it just wasn't the Packers' way under Ted Thompson. The Packers wanted to execute a self-sustaining process of acquiring and replacing talent, and I think they did. They had a good, long run of success. Eventually drafting at the bottom caught up to them, but it's not as though they're facing a cut and gut. They just need some repair. Why aren't fans more understanding? Isn't it a good fan's No. 1 job to be supportive?
Brian from Yakima, WA
How important is play-calling in a game?
It's critically important. The coach needs to put his players into favorable positions to make plays, and that's a process that begins early in the week when the coach and his offensive staff identify favorable personnel matchups and create a corresponding play sheet. Once all of that has been accomplished, it's up to the players to execute the team's play choices. It's not a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants process. Play-calling involves hours of tape study and advance scouting.
Matthew from Madison, WI
Vic, did you cringe at the Packers passing three straight times from the 2-yard line early in the game?
Craig from Cedarburg, WI
Why do fans want to declare a season lost before it truly is?
Their emotions are fragile. If they'd learn to discipline their passion for winning, they'd find more enjoyment in watching the Packers evolve. Change is happening and it's growth. We're going to see the Packers' roster improve as the team picks higher. The next big issue confronting the Packers will be having to replace Rodgers. I consider this to be an exciting time for Packers fans. They're seeing the future reveal itself.