"Ask Vic" will publish on M-W-F through the football season.
Michael from Sterling, VA
I'm confused as to why the Packers defense and special teams can never seem to close out games! What's the deal, Vic?
A 57-yard field goal isn't a special teams play? If Crosby had missed that field goal attempt, it's game on.
Fabio from London, UK
Vic, wins continue to pile up. Aaron is immaculate. The Packers are holding the first seed in the NFC. Which are your main worries, if any? Special teams, defense or both?
My main concern is the need for the Packers to continue to play at their high level of performance on offense. It's who they are. It's their identity. The way they're winning right now is the way they'll have to win throughout the postseason. The Packers are hot and they have to stay that way through the remainder of the season. That's my main concern: Can they continue to move the football as though nobody's playing defense?
Dave from Chippewa Falls, WI
Throw a shoe. Hurt your ankle doing a flip. That stuff doesn't bother me that much any more (that's a lie), but hearing Tim Brando and Spencer Tillman enjoy the flip attempt and hammer the "he didn't stick the landing" joke even after it was obvious Smith-Marsette had injured himself, that bothered me. Do we all have to think this stuff is entertaining and forgivable when it goes bad?
How about the kid coming back out of the tunnel wearing a boot? That was embarrassing. If I was Kirk Ferentz, I'd have words with my trainer for allowing that to happen.
Tim from Fernandina Beach, FL
If you put on your owner's hat, what would you look for when hiring a new GM? It seems if the GM lucks into a great QB, he is a genius. If he swings and misses, he's a failure.
I would be looking for a guy with a plan for blending all of the ways for acquiring talent. I'd especially want to hear his thoughts on blending the draft with free agency. I would be just as interested in his strategy for managing the salary cap and the regard he has for it. Any person I hire to be my GM would have to put a premium on the draft, embrace the philosophy football is a young man's game, be vigilant in protecting my franchise's salary cap and its future, use free agency to patch affordably and would be mindful to keep losses to free agency in the plus category so as to be eligible for compensatory pick consideration. Also, I'd want him to tell me who he's going to hire as scouts and what the structure would be inside his personnel department. I don't want a lot of directors and cross-checkers; I want scouts out on the road. I know the questions to ask and I know the words I don't want to hear. Too much talk of the present and he'd be eliminated from consideration. I'd want a GM whose patience matches my own.
Joe from Waukesha, WI
Talking Aaron Rodgers greatness right now, I have always thought it’s a simple test of where he stands in the league: Would you trade Rodgers for any other quarterback straight up? The answer is yes, for Mahomes, but not many others, which is really startling for a 37-year-old quarterback. You must consider age, talent and upside, so I ask, who would you trade Rodgers for straight up? Goff? Allen? Jackson?
I get it. Based on performance only, I wouldn't trade the way Rodgers is playing for the way anybody else in the league is playing, including Mahomes. But the question you're asking is more philosophical than it is practical because what you're suggesting would never happen. Philosophically speaking, the next 10 years are more important than this year. That's how I think. I believe if you take care of the future, the future will take care of the present. Rodgers is nearing the end. Mahomes and the good, young quarterbacks in the league are just entering their primes years. Yes, I would trade Rodgers for a young quarterback I believe would give me the equivalent of Rodgers at the beginning of his career, just as I would've traded Peyton Manning for Rodgers in 2009. Why? Because I fear the future more than I fear the present. Life without a top-tier quarterback is painful, and the pain can last a long time.
Alberto from Barcelona, Spain
Probably a naive question but for the same player (T.J. Watt in your quote), what makes it different playing upright or with his hand on the ground? More power, quickness?
It's leverage vs. maneuverability. Watt plays with great leverage. He gets his pads under those of hulking tackles and drives them back to the quarterback. Watt is a special player in that he combines a bull rush with the ability to drop into coverage. Za'Darius Smith's strength is maneuverability. He's best at running around blocks, not through them. In an upright position, Smith is able to feint one way and go another before the tackle gets his hands on him.
Loftur from Columbus, OH
How do you summarize the career of a player like Tyson Alualu, a first-rounder who is now in his 11th season but never a star. He's playing the best football of his career by far, according to PFF, the last two years. Of the 2010 first-rounders, technically 18 are still active but 15 are on rosters. That number includes Dez Bryant, who was out of the league for two full seasons. Only two of them have been with their original team this entire time, Maurkice Pouncey and Devin McCourty. Is his longevity and recent surge in play some vindication for Gene Smith, who drafted Alualu with the Jaguars?
The only knock on Alualu is he was drafted too high. Tony Pauline told me the Jaguars were hot on Alualu, but the Jaguars were picking in the top 10 and Alualu was considered a bottom-of-the-first-round prospect. So, for our radio show mock draft, I said I would trade the Jaguars' pick down to the bottom of the first round and pick Alualu. Smith told me he was listening to the show and he knew right away I had their pick. Gene wanted to get down but couldn't do it, so he took his guy with the 10th overall pick. I think one of the reasons the Steelers signed Alualu in free agency is they liked him in the 2010 draft. He would've been a consideration for their pick. Jaguars fans have always struggled with the Alualu pick, and I'm not sure why. It's not as though the Jaguars passed on a big-time quarterback. Truth be known, he's one of the Jaguars' best picks over the last 11 years.
Dale from Lodi, WI
Would you have suggested trading Rodgers if you worked for packers.com?
I would've been more discreet in discussing it, just as I had to be more discreet in everything I wrote. I take insult at what you're suggesting. You think you're exposing me as being disingenuous, but what you're really doing is exposing yourself for lacking media savvy. Anybody who goes to a team site to read content boldly inflammatory or critical of the team is foolish. When a writer/reporter is handed a laptop by a media outlet, he's not granted license to write whatever he wants. He's expected to write within the media outlet's platform. I never lied in anything I wrote on jaguars.com or packers.com, but I knew there was a line in the sand and I had to approach it respectfully and delicately.
Brandon from Imperial, WI
As Rodgers adds to his resume, trying to become the sixth player to win three MVPs, do you think we'll ever see a player win three consecutive MVPs again? Jim Brown and Joe Montana had back-to-back MVPs, Peyton Manning had back-to-back MVPs twice, and Kurt Warner may have had three in a row if his own teammate hadn't taken one (Marshall Faulk). I just don't see anyone ever dominating like those players did again. Am I wrong?
I don't know and I don't care. I'm not an individual awards guy. I'll respectfully refer to them in defining a player's accomplishments, but they mean nothing to me personally. Chuck Noll never won coach of the year. MVPs are decided before the postseason begins. Frankly, I think being awarded MVP after a postseason loss only deepens the despair.
Brian from Sugar Land, TX
Speculation is the cap will be a bit lower next season, and there might be added talent in the cap casualty free agent department at a discount. There is further speculation the Rodgers contract will need restructuring to free some money for Packers shopping. How might the Rodgers contract be modified? How might it affect the so-called future trade window for him?
We discussed this the other day. Please take note because I don't want to beat on this in every column. Rodgers' salary increases from $1.55 million this year to $14.7 million next year, and his cap hit explodes from $21.6 million to $36.4. In '22, it goes up to $25 million and $39.9 million. Something almost certainly will have to be done before '22. The Packers could add a couple of years to Rodgers' contract, convert salary to signing bonus and spread the proration out over the remaining years of the contract. It's what the Patriots did with Brady, the Saints have done with Brees and the Chiefs will one day have to do with Mahomes. The positive is it would create room in the current year to sign free agents, depending on what the cap circumstances will be next season. The negative is it would increase Rodgers' dead money and significantly blur the Packers' future. I had all of this in mind when I made recent comments about the Packers facing a possible decision on Rodgers following this season, and I think the Packers had all of this in mind when they drafted Jordan Love. I found it suspicious the Packers weren't big players in free agency last March. Maybe Rodgers' performance this season will have changed their approach.
Josh from Madison, WI
Matt Ryan was an MVP a few years ago; look at the Falcons now. Philip Rivers put up phenomenal numbers in San Diego and L.A. over 16 years; the Chargers scarcely made a peep in the playoffs and then he left. Matt Stafford has 31 fourth-quarter comebacks and 38 game-winning drives; nobody has ever been afraid of the Lions. Even rising young guys like Watson, a clear franchise QB, aren't enough to carry a so-so roster all alone. What Big Ben and Rodgers have managed to achieve, sustain and overcome during their careers is incredible. Write with whatever side of your pen you like.
The point is simply this: There's a penalty for drafting low in the order and the Packers and Steelers have managed to avoid it. That's all. Before we begin cheering the Browns' Cinderella-like resurgence, I would ask, "What took you so long?"
Justin from Canton, NC
It helped that the Saints had a good draft spot for a couple of years a few years ago.
It resurrected them.
Alex from Racine, WI
How would you describe the essence and spirit of football to you?
In my young life, football was an event. It had specialness. I've lost some of that. Maybe it's because I've seen too much football, or maybe it's the result of a Covid season that has moved games to Tuesday night and even to Wednesday afternoon. Football needs hype, and you can't hype games when you don't even know when or if they'll be played.
Taylor from Clarion, PA
I watched Zach Wilson play and I liked his ability to adapt to a good Coastal Carolina defense without the benefit of typical prep time. I think he's QB1 in the draft. What are your thoughts?
He's a natural passer and I like that, but he's not physically imposing and that drops him in my order.
Morgan from Little Chute, WI
Is next year's preseason career-altering for Jordan Love?
The Packers have a pretty good idea of what they have. Proof won't begin until Love gets meaningful playing time in a regular season game. He'll get his chance.
Brad from Jacksonville, FL
Vic, watching the Gator game and Trask is having a bad game. With that said, when he throws deep it looks like it’s easy, he’s not having to go through a big windup or huge strides. Still, do you think you would take him at two?
I don't think I said I'd take him at two. I said I thought he was moving in behind Lawrence and I didn't think Fields was worthy of the second overall pick. You're focusing solely on quarterbacks. What if none of them is worth the second overall pick? That's why it's so important the new personnel boss be more than a sit-and-pick guy. He has to possess the skill to massage the order and use his picks to position the Jaguars to get the best bang for their buck. Move to where the player fits. At this point, I don't know where Trask fits. A lot has to happen before the order begins to take shape.