"Ask Vic" is published M-W-F through the football season.
Tim from Lancaster, PA
It looks like we are watching the changing of the guard in the AFC. Do you believe the NFL is in good hands?
The NFL has its finger on the pulse of America. It knows exactly what the American sports fan wants. That's what worries me. It disturbed me to see the Ravens trample the Titans' logo yesterday. What bothers me most is we delight in this crap. I am a product of the Lombardi generation. I am from a time when football was a noble endeavor. Now, it feels cheap. Taunting exists on nearly every play. Yes, the NFL is in good hands. Are we?
Paul from Cambridge, MA
Of this weekend’s losing teams, who only needs to reload and who needs to blow it up?
The Titans and Colts need to address the quarterback position. Tannehill is just a guy and Rivers is over the hill. The Steelers need to blow it up. Their offensive line needs a rebuild, the bottom half of their roster is weak and their salary cap needs cleaning. At the heart of it all is a decision by Ben Roethlisberger: play or retire? The Steelers did a nice job of capping him. He's owed a $15 million roster bonus that can be converted to signing bonus and pushed out, but do they want to do that and does Roethlisberger want to continue playing? His arm is fine but age has turned him into a statue and that doesn't work in today's game. I think he should retire on a 12-4 season and the Steelers should move hard into rebuilding. In the NFC, I'm not sure what the Bears should do. Join the Big 10? I think the Seahawks could be headed for hard times and Washington's arrow appears to be pointing north.
Kyle from Baldwin, WI
I just read an article regarding the Texans' coaching search. It stated Deshaun Watson "would be involved in the process to hire a new coach and general manager." Is it a good idea for players to have that much say in an organization?
Absolutely not. Brett Favre had reached that point of influence when Ted Thompson arrived in Green Bay. Favre effectively had an office adjacent to the Packers' locker room. Thompson got Favre out of there and it was absolutely the right thing to do. It wasn't popular but it was gutsy and in the best interests of the franchise. Thompson wasn't a media-friendly guy and he's not on my list of favorite personnel guys from my time covering the league, but I respect what he did to reclaim the Packers from a quarterback who had run amok.
David from Riverside, CA
I have always felt the NFC North is one of the stronger divisions in the NFL since there are often two teams represented in the playoffs. Why do you consider it a weak division?
The NFC North only had one team with a winning record, and the arrow is pointing down on all three of the teams with losing records.
Zibi from Krakow, Poland
Vic, do you think the Packers should pursue another Reggie White and land J.J. Watt on the roster next season?
Watt has a $17.5 million salary next season and he's a UFA in '22. If you trade for him, you'd have to do a new contract with him. It would be the ultimate all-in move.
Shin from Shimoda, Japan
So, how bad will the hangover be from spending two firsts on Jamal Adams? If I were Schneider, I would commit harakiri and maybe accept the ultimate punishment by taking the Lions GM job.
I think the Seahawks' biggest problem is Russell Wilson is beginning to look a little ordinary. It would be devastating if Wilson's skills were eroding at a time when his cap hit is exploding; $32 million next year and then $37 million in '22. The Seahawks could be facing upheaval, especially if John Schneider leaves for Detroit, where the picks are high and the opportunities are tempting. The Seahawks went all in. This is what the downside risk looks like.
Eric from St. Paul, MN
If the Love pick fires up Rodgers and inspires him to play at this new place, is it a wasted pick? I don't mean to undercut the situation you've laid out, I'm just curious as to your perspective.
You're trying to make yourself feel better about something that doesn't feel right, and you're not the only one. If, two years from now, Aaron Rodgers is still the Packers' quarterback, then the Love pick will have been a terrible miscalculation. The days of looking that far ahead are over, even at the quarterback position. In my opinion, once Rodgers got his new contract, he had to be "The Man" in Green Bay until he no longer could be "The Man." That's just caponomics. I get the sense the Packers picked Love because they thought Rodgers was at the end. It doesn't look like it, does it?
Timothy from St. Louis, MO
How was Heinicke not on a roster until a month ago, and the last time he was on a football roster he was a backup in the XFL? Was it he just had nothing to lose, scheme, game-planning, or is he just better than scouts and evaluators thought he was? Heinicke looked like he should have at the very least been someone's backup QB.
It's never been easier to play quarterback. That's the answer and I think teams that need a quarterback and are sitting high in the draft order need to think hard about over-drafting one. I don't think you have to do it. College football is loaded with average-arm throwers who stretch defenses with their feet and win with scheme. That's the new NFL prototype and if it's not by design, then it's the genius of luck. What the NFL has done is to have created a healthy supply of players at the game's most important position, at a time when replacing an aging crop of them had become worrisome.
Samuel from Texas
Vic, what is your assessment of Bills QB Josh Allen?
His feet make him special.
James from Canada
Why does Sean McVay coach in his pajamas?
Maybe he just got out of bed. That would explain his bed head.
Bo from Iowa Falls, IA
Vic, why can't football keep a minor league?
The injury liability is too great.
Jonathan from St. Joseph, MO
Are coaches losing their instincts for the game with blind use of analytics?
Frank Reich lost the game for the Colts with his wild decision-making, especially in the final two minutes of the first half. If I was the Colts owner, I'd be furious. While we're on the subject of bad coaching, how about Mike Vrabel. Second and two and he allowed pass, pass to go through his headset, and then he punted? Vic to Coach Vrabel: Run the damn ball! Vic to Jaguars: It's wide open for you. The Texans are a mess and the Colts and Titans don't have a quarterback. This is your chance, Jags. Don't screw it up!
Neil from Sun Prairie, WI
"I really missed the preseason this year." -- said by no one.
Yeah, but remember, no preseason results in a loss of revenue, and that has an impact on the salary cap.
Will from Julian, CA
Would GM Vic really be OK with Mr. Khan "having control of the roster" as long as he didn't make the picks? It sounds like having a non-football guy, who has the final say, looking over your shoulder on every pick. It would seem a simple directive to only draft high-character players would suffice. His statement seems to portend heavy-handed meddling.
In 1996, the Jaguars had the second pick of the draft and they were giving serious consideration to drafting Lawrence Phillips. They had their security director investigate Phillips and even had a psychologist analyze a Phillips interview transcript. The day before the draft, I got the sense Phillips was the Jaguars' guy. Then Wayne Weaver (at the urging of his wife) stepped in and forbid Tom Coughlin from picking Phillips. Wayne got it right, didn't he? I see nothing wrong with an owner exercising that kind of control. Be his own GM? No, because personnel people network. They need to be able to move up and down within the draft to get the players they've targeted. The ability to move within the draft is as important as the grades you assign to the prospects. Networking is a full-time job. A GM needs to be a full-time member of the NFL scouting community. It doesn't work to have an owner split his time between picking players and running the business side of the franchise. I don't know what Khan has in mind. If it's oversight, I approve. If it's meddling, I don't.
Fawaz from DePere, WI
"Maybe this is the year and the Packers are the team that makes it plays, not players." I don't agree with this assessment. What we are witnessing is the result of Rodgers' vast ocean of football knowledge and acumen combined with his tremendous physical skills of accuracy and arm strength.
You're right. Plays rely on the skill of the people who attempt to execute them.
Tom from Mt. Juliet, TN
I recently read the Packers offense can run three different plays from the same formation, depending on the defense. I also read Rodgers will look at the opponent's sideline to see which package of players are coming in the next play so he can anticipate the next play call. This takes great discipline to get 11 men on the same page and execute their assignments. Times have changed from "right dive 123," eh?
It's that way on all teams. Different plays from the same formation is what Coach McCarthy means with his "less volume, more creativity" philosophy. The quarterback is assisted in anticipating personnel packages by the coach who speaks into the quarterback's helmet communicator. It's one of the reasons I say it's never been easier to play the position. Progress is good, as long as the scales don't tip too much toward one side. The delicate balance between offense and defense is at the heart of the human confrontation.
Andre from Sao Paulo, Brazil
Should the Packers have a face-off against Tampa, considering the speed of the Bucs' pass rushers, how do you address the absence of your Pro Bowl left tackle? Do you just trust the replacement, or are there scheme adjustments to hedge for the situation?
If you sense the left tackle needs help, you chip-block with the tight end or back before he drifts into the flat as an outlet receiver. If both of your tackles need help, you lose. Chip-blocking would handicap the scheme a little bit, but Rodgers would easily adjust and overcome it.
Derek from Eau Claire, WI
Should the New England Patriots draft a QB in the first round?
Can they get their guy? That's the big question. Clearly, Coach Belichick needs a quarterback to be the centerpiece of his rebuilding project. The quarterback he drafts or for whom he trades will likely decide how long the rebuilding will take and, ultimately, if Belichick is still the Patriots' coach when the rebuilding ends.
Chris from St. Johns, FL
Did you happen to catch a recent NFL Network interview with Charles Woodson? What if he signed with the Jaguars instead of Green Bay back in 2006?
The Jaguars would've beaten the Patriots in the '07 playoffs.
Cody from Chicago, IL
Vic, please describe your time with each of your teams and retirement in one word each.
Birth, growth, graduation, memories.