Josh from Tucson, AZ
Interesting news about a Fowler/Bridgewater swap between the Jags and Jets. I can't see it from a Jaguars perspective, though. Why introduce controversy? He improved last year and has looked pretty fair so far this preseason. It stands out to me that against last year's No. 1 defense, after he threw an admittedly bad interception, he bounced back and led a touchdown drive instead of compounding mistakes, like in years past. What is the level of success he will have to achieve to change the narrative about him?
I'm going to assume you're referring to Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles. He needs to become a quarterback in whom the Jaguars are confident he'll make the game-winning plays at crunch time. I respect Doug Marrone for not taking umbrage to Doug Pederson's comments about not playing it safe at quarterback. The Eagles are the reigning Super Bowl champions because Pederson didn't play it safe with Nick Foles in the big game and at the big moments. I think Marrone knows Pederson's comments are accurate, and I think Marrone knows Bortles has to take the next step this year or the Jaguars will be looking for a new quarterback in the offseason. Controversy? If the Jaguars don't get better play at the quarterback position, the howl of the wolves will demand immediate action and force the Jaguars to function in a contentious environment.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, a list was recently published naming the best all-time QB for every NFL team. Brett Favre was chosen for Green Bay. How would you assess that selection?
Pick one: Favre or Aaron Rodgers. Either one works. I favor Rodgers because I covered him for five years and I can't imagine any quarterback being better than him. Rodgers is the best quarterback I've ever covered.
Greg from Cuenca, Ecuador
A week ago you mentioned the pre-Noll Steelers had a reputation for playing tough football, but also seemed to have bad luck. Is there a team today that fits that category?
I could make a case for the Bengals. I think they had an emerging franchise quarterback in Carson Palmer when Palmer suffered a career-damaging knee injury in the playoff loss to the Steelers. You could make a point for stupid play costing the Bengals the playoff loss to the Steelers a few years ago, but the circumstances that decided that game are so bizarre I almost feel as though the Bengals are being punished by the gods. Is it the curse of Bill Walsh? Are the Bengals being punished for Paul Brown's decision not to name Walsh, his de facto offensive coordinator, Brown's successor? The Bengals lost two Super Bowl games, in heartbreaking fashion, to Walsh's 49ers. It seems as though the Bengals just can't catch a break.
David from Madison, WI
What perceived weaknesses in Hines Ward’s game existed as he was drafted?
Ward was a slash at Georgia. He played wide receiver, running back and quarterback in college. He was largely regarded as a utility player heading into his draft, and even though no one doubted his athletic ability, he would have to become a full-time wide receiver and he lacked the body type and the speed associated with the position. What he didn't lack was toughness. I think he's the toughest wide receiver who's ever played the game. He turned the hunter into the hunted. He instilled fear in defensive backs. He knocked out so many defenders (mostly Ed Reed) they had to change the rules on peel-back blocks. He's got the body of work, a defining postseason moment as a Super Bowl MVP, and you can't tell the story of the NFL without mentioning Ward's impact on the rules of the game. Ward was also the consummate team player. The Hall of Fame committee will lose my respect if it doesn't elect Ward, especially after electing Terrell Owens.
Vincent from Seattle, WA
Vic, it is clear you are against the Packers signing Mack. With the Steelers in need of an impact LB, do you see any positives if they go after him?
They could lift the franchise tender from Le'Veon Bell, which would free up $14.5 million to spend on Khalil Mack, but the cost goes much deeper. I just don't think Mack is worth what it would cost in the way of draft picks and distraction. I think a team trading for Mack runs the risk of him being perceived as a savior, and that can be an attitude killer as a team heads into the start of the regular season.
Samuel from Jacksonville, FL
Who's the best bootleg passer you've ever seen?
College football has been a bootleg game and the bootleg play was all the rage in the '60s. Gary Beban is my answer. In the NFL, Joe Theismann might be the guy.
Dave from Madison, WI
Vic, I'm thinking of buying a kayak. I'm in my late 40s and I want smooth and slow for lake kayaking. A good cup holder is a must and I like to stay dry. What's your recommendation?
If the water is calm, I recommend a sit-in kayak. It gives you the feeling of being in the water. I don't like sit-on kayaks because they're wide and wobbly. Sit-ins are sleek and maneuverable. My sit-in kayak has a cup holder. The big negative to sit-ins is it's difficult to get out of them. If you find one with a hydraulic seat, let me know.
Scott from Lincoln City, OR
Vic, Mike said he thought you were nuts years ago for your idea about just letting the QB spike the ball at any time. Now he thinks you may have had this one right. Doesn't this just warm your heart and make you smile?
I just didn't understand why they were making the quarterback go through all these meaningless gyrations to be able to ground the ball. Why make him leave the pocket? That's exactly what you don't want him to do because that's where he's unprotected. Just let him spike it within the pocket. It saves time on the clock, which means more plays in the game.
Dave from Savage, MN
The mornings are getting crisper and there is moisture on the car windows when I go to work. What do you see, hear or feel in South Carolina to tell you football season is coming?
The kind of weather you're experiencing won't arrive here until late October, at the earliest. It's getting hotter and more humid these days, as we head into the heart of hurricane season. It's the sound of the cicadas that lets me know football season is on the way. We had them in Pennsylvania when I lived there, and we have them in South Carolina. I don't remember hearing them in Jacksonville or Green Bay. The closer we get to the start of football season, the louder the cicadas sing. It's as though they're saying, "The baloney stops soon," but they don't say baloney.
Dave from Jacksonville, FL
Vic, why did the NFL change the way they are cutting players this season? Previously it was done gradually from 90 to 53 players. But this season the turk is gonna be busy after that last preseason game going from 90-53 in one fell swoop! What gives?
This isn't something new and I like the change because the previous cutdown had become anti-climactic with a lot of moves to injured reserve and non-news cuts. The bottom line is the whole cutdown process has become something less than shocking. Look at it this way: Rosters are at 53, 10 will be signed to the practice squad, four or five will be moved to injured reserve and of the players cut, many will come back to the team during the season as injuries occur and more will be signed by the team following the season. Frankly, it'll be the end of the road for only a few players; most of the players released will find a way to stay in football for a while longer. The big cutdown drama for the Packers is at quarterback. Do they keep DeShone Kizer and Brett Hundley, trade one or cut one? The Steelers have four quarterbacks, but Josh Dobbs has practice squad eligibility, the Steelers aren't going to cut Mason Rudolph after trading up to draft him, and Landry Jones appears to be unchallenged as Ben Roethlisberger's backup. The Labor Day weekend anxiety just isn't what it once was.
Craig from Cedarburg, WI
What modern-day player you covered is most like the old guys in regards to telling the story?
I wish I had been able to spend more time with James Jones. I came to really like him. He had respect for the media and enjoyed telling his story. I'm not surprised he found his way into the media and I think he's done a great job in his studio role during the preseason.
Bill from Staten Island, NY
Do you think Tiger will win more major tournaments?
I think he'll win another major, but his putter could best answer your question. Tiger Woods is not the lights-out putter he was during his prime, and that's the reason he's come up short in this golf season. He's not making the big putts anymore. The days of Woods burying the competition with his power are over. More than ever, he needs to sink putts. Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson faced the same challenge late in their careers. They were bold putters known for making bombs in the prime of their careers. All of a sudden, the putts stopped falling. It's the same for Woods.
Derek from Eau Claire, WI
Do the Packers handle the preseason differently knowing that arguably the two most important games of the season will be played right out of the chute?
I'm sure this training camp and preseason has included an extra sense of urgency for Mike McCarthy and his staff, knowing the need to be at their best on opening day. I'm also sure they've included some game preparation for the Bears in the Packers' routine. Knock on wood, the Packers have done a good job avoiding major injury.
Chase from Madisonville, KY
Do you agree with Jalen Ramsay's QB assessment?
I think Ramsey is full of more than just himself.