"Ask Vic" is published M-W-F through the football season.
Robert from Rotterdam, The Netherlands
How do coaches game-plan for a dominant player like Donald when an injury might be hampering his performance? Obviously, the standard would be to double-team him, but do they prepare different blocking schemes in case he's clearly hampered by an injury, or is Donald so good coaches don't dare tempt fate with him?
Coaches routinely play these cat-and-mouse games of injury deception. Tom Coughlin was manic about not being forthcoming with injury information. He once waited until the media left the field before Mark Brunell began participating in practice. Coughlin listed Fred Taylor as questionable for a whole season, despite Fred having a groin that was torn from the bone and was having difficulty walking. When I see a tough guy like Aaron Donald double over in pain and then two days later his coach is saying Donald is fine, my liar alert goes off. I get the sense Sean McVay wants to make sure the Packers dedicate full attention to Donald so the Rams can get the one-on-one matchups they believe they can feature and exploit. Brockers? That's what I'm thinking.
Brandon from Minot, ND
I am calling my shot. You said the Rams are the team the Packers do not wish to face. I disagree. They are the team they wish to face. Rodgers is so clearly ahead of Goff as to make comparison laughable.
Isn't that fundamentally what I said in Wednesday's column ("Rodgers playing at an unbeatable level")? "What the Rams don't have is a quarterback who can play anywhere close to Aaron Rodgers' level. I think that'll be the deciding factor in the game. As much as the Rams are built to beat the Packers, I think Rodgers is playing at an unbeatable level."
Kamen from Bethel, CT
Well, Vic, not bad on your Wild Card Weekend predictions. How do you see this weekend's four games going?
Packers, Bucs, Chiefs and Ravens.
Joseph from Wilmington, NC
An article published on nfl.com quoted Aaron Donald on his injury saying he was "ready to go" and "with no pain." What’s he supposed to say, "Yeah, it hurts to breathe and my side is real tender"? Click bait!
I think he's lying. I think he's saying what his coach told him to say. I think Donald will get a pain-killing shot before the game and that can be problematic. I've known cases in which a player has lost feeling in an arm or hand.
Chad from Madison, WI
You mention Ramsey will try and out-muscle Adams, but perhaps the strongest part of Adams’ game is using his footwork to gain separation at the start of his route without getting bumped. Are you suggesting Ramsey’s technique is good enough to not be misled by false steps which will allow him to get his hands on Adams?
What's with my inbox? The questions are weird. Is the pressure getting to you people?
Jackson from Jacksonville, FL
The Jacksonville City Council shot down the Lot J proposal on Tuesday night, essentially saying it was a bad deal for the taxpayers. Your thoughts?
City council is right. It would be a bad deal for the taxpayers. In my mind, it would've been a $150-something million gift to guarantee the Jaguars' future in Jacksonville. The game isn't over. There will be veiled threats and hints of leaving for London. Eventually, the city will weaken. Jacksonville must keep the Jaguars. The Jaguars hold all the cards.
Reb from Lakeville, MN
I'm approaching my "Arizona playoff game" time of life. We are planning on retiring to the Smoky Mountains region of Tennessee. Did you enjoy your vacation there?
I think it's a lovely place. I heartily recommend the little town of Townsend. Be that as it may, I prefer the North Carolina side and the east side of "The Pass."
Jason from Austin, TX
I'm curious why you don't think the Packers will sign Corey Linsley. Is it a cap issue or is there something in his game you think doesn't mesh with their scheme? I'm always in favor of signing the big guys over the little guys.
When a player of Linsley's esteem gets this close to free agency, you're going to pay top dollar for him. He is, in effect, already a free agent. The Packers know that. They knew the longer they waited the more expensive Linsley would be to re-sign. If they want to keep him, they made a mistake by not signing him earlier. I get the sense a decision had been made to replace him. They made a similar decision with Scott Wells. In the salary cap era, you have to be willing to let players leave.
Garrett from Houston, TX
Are the 2020 Packers better than the 2011 Pack? If so, how?
They're absolutely better: better defense, better running game. I even think Rodgers is playing at a higher level. This might be the best Packers team in the Rodgers era.
Gerrit from Portugal
What does Urban Meyer offer (the Jaguars) other than a headline name that appeals to college football diehards?
He'll sell tickets in Jacksonville. He'll make the Jaguars a hot ticket and help Shad Khan get that Lot J deal.
Fred from Florida
Vic, I'm reading "Gunslinger" about Brett Favre. I am at the point where Rodgers is drafted. The narrative about Rodgers was he needed three years to sit behind Favre to learn, yet, the book makes it clear Rodgers had as strong an arm as Favre but better pocket presence and read defenses as a rookie as well or better than Favre. I know I’m probably opening up a can or worms, but what was Tony Pauline’s assessment of Jordan Love and do you have an opinion on Favre vs. Rodgers?
Tony liked Love's tools but acknowledged his disappointing performance in the 2019 season. As for Rodgers, the Packers didn't target him and trade up for him. He surprisingly fell to them. They even tried to trade the pick but, when they couldn't, they did the smart thing and picked him; he was too good of a talent to pass up. I asked a general manager why he didn't pick Rodgers. He said there were concerns about a shoulder injury. The GM said he thought that's why Rodgers fell in the draft. I was able to confirm Rodgers showed signs of shoulder weakness in his rookie season in Green Bay. I was told he threw the ball with much more authority in his second season, after the shoulder had time to strengthen. Drafting Love bears little similarity to drafting Rodgers. The Packers drafted Love with a plan. The Packers didn't have a plan for Rodgers until after they drafted him.
Aaron from Eau Claire, WI
What are the chances Belichick tries to get Deshaun Watson this offseason?
Are you suggesting Nick Caserio would give his old boss a sweetheart deal? It's happened. Back in the 1977 draft, a former Cowboys personnel guy who was the top guy in Seattle gave the Cowboys a sweetheart deal that allowed them to draft Tony Dorsett.
William from Green Oaks, IL
With the recent growth in supply of capable NFL quarterbacks, can you envision impacts due to labor market economics?
I don't want to go that far. We need to stop on this now. Every time I raise a food-for-thought subject we pee our pants and forget who we are. Let it go, folks. It's just something I sense happening. I think we've reached a point of creativity at the quarterback position. I sense some out-of-the-box thinking and a supply of talent that allows it. For example, a scout told me the Jaguars didn't draft Lamar Jackson because Tom Coughlin didn't want two offenses. How's that working for them now? The teams that are flexible and harvest the crop of talent available to them, as the Ravens did, will be the winners going forward. That's my opinion.
Kyle from Phoenix, AZ
What quarterback will Urban Meyer want?
I don't know the answer to that question, but it will likely define his career as an NFL coach.
Nick from Milwaukee, WI
Is there an example of a successful college coach being successful in the pros?
Pete Carroll has been successful at both levels. If you look at the bios of NFL coaches, you'll see most of them spent time in college football. Matt LaFleur coached at five colleges. Lombardi, Holmgren and McCarthy all spent time coaching in college football. I think Matt Rhule is going to lead the Panthers to a lot of good years and is one of the best young coaches in the NFL. I don't have a problem with hiring a college coach.
Lane from Winter Garden, FL
What’s the biggest adjustment or challenge Urban Meyer faces going from the college to pro game?
He can't recruit. He has to get in line and wait his turn to pick his players, and he can't build the kind of depth he possessed at Ohio State. Mistakes carry a much greater cost in the NFL.
Tom from Pittsburgh, PA
What are your thoughts on offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner being fired?
I guess 12-4 isn't good enough. Firing assistant coaches has become an annual ritual. It's the meat that silences the howl of the wolves.