"Ask Vic" will publish on Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the football season.
Daniel from Burton on Trent, UK
Vic, with the Bears winning on Thursday, is the Packers' season effectively over?
The Packers probably have to win out to make it into the playoffs. The losses to Washington and Seattle are very damaging to the Packers' wild-card hopes. A loss to Minnesota would kill whatever wild-card hope remains.
Nick from Waukesha, WI
One of the things I hear is Belichick takes away what the opponent does best. This means the game plan is intentionally opponent-specific. Do you agree with this assessment? How would you describe this philosophy?
All game plans are exclusive to the opponent. Bill Belichick does what every coach has done: Warner, Rockne, Lombardi, Walsh, all of them. Belichick evaluates personnel to identify strengths and weaknesses so he might create matchups that exploit his opponent's weaknesses and eliminate its strengths. In other words, Belichick schemes personnel. The difference between Belichick and most coaches is Belichick is a better evaluator of talent. Belichick is the best evaluator of talent of any coach with whom I'm familiar. Be that as it may, as Tom Brady ages and his skills erode, Belichick's ability to create favorable matchups will also seemingly erode. He's failed to pencil whip his opponent three times this year.
Tony from Los Angeles, CA
Chatty lived up to his nickname during the Lions-Bears game. What I found most insightful was how he knew exactly what each quarterback was thinking and feeling before, during and after each play. How does he do it?
Jerry from Savannah, GA
Vic, football scores as high as basketball scores. I guess the NFL is getting what they want.
The NFL is getting what it wants and I know that to be true because my inbox was overwhelmed by comments on the Chiefs-Rams game. The fans call the shots. They get what they want because they have what the league wants, the money.
Jerry from Sobieski, WI
What do you remember about Cleveland in December of 2001?
Clink! It's the sound a half-full plastic bottle makes when it strikes the ground. Our memory is a wonderful thing. Special moments and events in our lives are documented by sights and sounds we can see and hear for the rest of our lives. I'll never forget that sound. It was the sound of human behavior gone wild. Sometimes the wolves do more than howl, they throw bottles.
Dave from Madison, WI
What’s your assessment of Fackrell’s recent success?
He's not a speed rusher, he's not a bull rusher, and I don't get the sense he's a technician. I'm not sure what to make of him; I need to see more.
Carbo from Pittsburgh, PA
Vic, it's so good to read your work again. I heard Ed Bouchette on "The Fan" mention your name last week and I decided to look you up to see if you were writing anywhere again. I've been reading your stuff since you were here in Pittsburgh and I've read "Ask Vic" since it started in Jacksonville and followed you to Green Bay. You've always been my favorite guy to read. So, for the Steelers fan, what do you think their legitimate Super Bowl chances are? This team feels different than the ones that have lost in the playoffs the last few seasons.
Their defense is improved from the beginning of the season, but they went through another one of those couldn't-stop-the-run funks against the Jaguars, and that's a red flag for me. They're still trying to replace Ryan Shazier. Everything else looks pretty good. I acknowledge pass-defense concerns lingering from early in the season, but that's a product of today's game and all teams are confronted by it. If it's rush or cover, I pick rush, and the Steelers have a pretty good pass rush.
Oscar from Milwaukee, WI
Your comments about line splits intrigue me. Can you please say more? I'll admit I had no idea what a line split is, much less how to look for one and how it would contribute to the offense.
Line splits are the space between offensive linemen. As you increase the width of those spaces, you create room to run and blocking angles that favor the running game. The negative is you also create room for the defense to rush the passer. So, if you're going to widen the splits to promote the run, you need to know you can deal with the disadvantage you're creating for yourself in pass-blocking. Maybe your opponent doesn't have a strong pass rush, or maybe you intend to get the ball out quickly. Altering the line splits is a wonderful halftime adjustment mechanism. It's a way for offense to dictate to defense. I think it's important for fans to notice these types of subtleties because they go directly to play-calling. It's all part of a plan, and that's why I say you don't call plays, you call a game plan.
Gunars from Iowa
A few years ago you said you couldn't see a hole in Aaron Rodgers' game. Do you think he has developed one or is he just not surrounded by enough talent?
He appears to have lost some mobility, which is going to happen to any quarterback late in his career. When that happens, the ball usually needs to come out more quickly, which is something a quarterback of his experience is more than capable of doing. Getting the ball out quickly also requires receivers to get open quickly. I think Rodgers needs a little more of that to happen. Randall Cobb's absence has forced Rodgers to hold the ball longer, and that's resulted in sacks, as evidenced in the Seattle game.