"Ask Vic" will publish on Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the football season.
Brad from Jacksonville, FL
Vic, benching Bortles seems to show a definite change from the offseason perspective. Kessler seems efficient but doesn’t seem to have a particularly strong arm. All this offense needs is efficient, time-eating drives to keep the defense off the field. Where do you go from here? Let Kessler run the show, cut Bortles in the offseason and draft a quarterback?
As I wrote back in the spring -- remember the guy who got his chest all puffed out? -- it's a fluke that a team could go as deep into the playoffs as the Jaguars did last season by playing around its quarterback. I didn't say the Jaguars didn't have a good defense or a good running game, just that they won without putting the ball in their quarterback's hands, so to speak, and that's not the way it's done in today's game. Well, the decision to stick with Bortles has come home to roost. Yes, puffed out chest man, last year was a fluke. For the Jaguars to be a true title contender they need a quarterback they can trust with the ball in the fourth quarter. Obviously, there will be change at the position in the offseason. As for now, I think Doug Marrone needs to challenge Blake Bortles to up his play. I didn't like Marrone's postgame comments yesterday about benching Bortles. They were almost apologetic. I would say "we need better play at the quarterback position," and I would reinstate Bortles as the starter, but he'd be on a short leash.
Tom from Cornelius, NC
Vic, for me the Saints and Ravens game is the best of the NFL: hard-fought battles in the trenches, commitment to the run, calculated passing attack set up by the run, aggressive coaching and clean, professional play by the players. What Sunday game was your favorite and why?
I thoroughly enjoyed the Cowboys-Redskins game and for a lot of the same reasons you enjoyed the Saints-Ravens game. Adrian Peterson was a joy watch run with the football. I tip my hat to the Redskins. They made several good moves in the offseason, and Jay Gruden is doing a lot better job coaching the Redskins than his brother is doing coaching the Raiders. I also got a kick out of Chatty yesterday. On the big hit Dak Prescott took along the sideline, Chatty diagnosed Prescott with a concussion and had him on his way to the hospital for a head transplant before Prescott got up off the ground.
Karl from Albuquerque, NM
Vic, is there a league-wide kicker virus? Can't remember seeing so many kickers miss important kicks.
I think kick defenses are doing a better job of rushing the kicker from the wings. They appear to be directing the kick by cutting the kicker's window in half.
Jack from Chicago, IL
Vic, you said you don't like red uniforms. The Chiefs, 49ers, Cardinals, Redskins, Falcons and Bucs all have red jerseys. Which of those do you like the most and which could you do without?
I like the 49ers, Redskins and Chiefs, in that order. The other three are Joe's Bar.
Joe from New York, NY
Is it an overreaction to last night if I feel the Bengals have held on to Marvin Lewis for too long?
I think they've held on to Vontaze Burfict too long.
Eric from Green Bay, WI
Vic, when you say teams convert salary to signing bonus, what percentage of the salary can be converted? What are the advantages? What are the consequences?
You can convert the amount above the minimum wage for the player at his level of experience, which is largely what the Patriots have done with Tom Brady and several teams have done with star players they believe will be with the team deep into the future. The positive is you make room on the current cap; the negative is you reduce space on future caps and you invite dead money. Now that Brady is getting closer to retirement, the Patriots have begun unwinding the proration that's been pushed out. For example, Brady's salary in 2016 was $764,705, when his dead money was over $40 million. This year, his salary is $4 million and his dead money is $28 million. Next year, he's due to make $14 million in salary and his dead money drops to $12 million.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, was the Belichick-Brady combination vital to the success of both the coach and the player, or would they have accomplished NFL greatness without each other?
It's been a winning combination because Bill Belichick is the best at patching and Tom Brady is the best at making do with what he has around him. Would Belichick have achieved greatness without Brady? Belichick was 5-13 and on his way to being fired when he made Brady the starter.
Gregory from Milwaukee, WI
I know you aren’t in love with college football these days, but what have you got against the Badgers? At least get your facts right if you’re going to trash them. For the record, in the last 55 games (‘14 thru ‘17) their collective record against top 20 teams is 10 wins and eight losses. They have won their last four bowl games, three vs. ranked opponents and the fourth against USC. This year, they have lost to Michigan badly on the road but beat Iowa at their place in a night game. That ‘16 schedule was the toughest in the country. Overall winning percentage is 80.7 percent. Not bad for a place with very high academic enrollment standards for all students, even football players.
I think I hear "On, Wisconsin" being played in the distance. Gregory, the infomation I cited in my column came from a tweet by Dave Bartoo of CFBMatrix. It inspired a story ("How well does Wisconsin actually perform against more talented teams?") I found mildly interesting. Maybe you'd also find it interesting. First of all, Bartoo does not include bowl games in his analysis, for the obvious reason. Bartoo is a college football expert who hangs out with Paul Finebaum, which is high-end company on the college level. I get the point of the story and I think it pertains to a lot of college teams: They build their ranking on beating bad teams. Congratulations on your victory over Illinois.
Craig from Cedarburg, WI
You speak the truth about the Badgers. They don't play up in the big games. Is it simply not recruiting enough talent?
Bartoo concludes his tweet with: "They don't have the talent." I'll tell you what else they don't have: a signature win. Purdue has one. I think Wisconsin needs a signature win as much as they need more talent because a signature win would help them recruit more talented players.
Donovan from Al Qayyarah, Iraq
Do you like the move the Jags made for Hyde? I do. It's cheaper to get a pounder RB to make Bortles better than trade for a legitimate QB.
I repeat: You can't play around your quarterback and expect to win a championship. Doug Pederson knew as much and that's why he turned Nick Foles loose in the Super Bowl.
Steve from Eau Claire, WI
There was an article this week noting Aaron stayed on the field, rather than heading over to talk to Coach McCarthy during two timeouts last Monday night. The article speculated this action could indicate a possible rift between Aaron and the head coach. You know the game and the intricacies of coach and player relations in general. Any feel for something like this, or is it just the usual article trying to stir the pot a bit?
Blame the media? No, I think it's a credible observation. Rift? So what? Terry Bradshaw and Chuck Noll had a rift and they won four Super Bowls together. Otto Graham told me he had to be restrained by a teammate from going after Paul Brown on the sideline and they won seven championships together. Roger Staubach asked to be traded because he was angry at Tom Landry for the two-QB system Landry was using. There's even rumors Brady and Belichick don't get along. What do you want, love or championships?
Tim from Lancaster, PA
How do you think Byron Leftwich will do as the offensive coordinator for Arizona?
Byron is one of the most intelligent football players I've ever covered. I'm not surprised he's moved up the coaching ranks as quickly as he has. He'll do well.
Will from Madison, WI
After the heights of the 1970's, what was it like covering the Steelers in the 1980's? What moments stick out from that era for the franchise?
I remember them not being able to draft Joe Montana because they had forfeited the third-round pick they would've used to draft Montana, and I remember them passing on Dan Marino at a time when Terry Bradshaw had just undergone elbow surgery and would only play one more quarter of football in his career. When you don't draft either of two local kids who would go on to become quarterback legends, you're not going to have a good decade.