"Ask Vic" will publish on Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the football season.
Travis from Sobieski, WI
I feel I've been defending Mike McCarthy a lot recently to friends and family, as I still think he's a great coach. Your comments in this column seem to agree with me. However, when do you believe it is time to make a head coaching change? What signs do you look for?
Is the coach getting the most out of his talent? That's the question that needs to be answered. In Mike McCarthy's case, I think the answer is yes. The Packers have an ordinary roster. They lack talent at most positions, except for quarterback. Aaron Rodgers is both the best and the worst thing to happen to McCarthy. He's the best because he keeps the Packers competitive; he's the worst because he masks deficiencies and that causes unrealistic expectations among fans and media.
Chase from Madisonville, KY
I recently watched an interview with Marcedes Lewis. He mentioned Rodgers made up a play during the game. Is this typical behavior from the QB?
The only game the 1984 49ers lost was the result of a play Mark Malone drew up in the dirt, so to speak. Yeah, Mark Malone. It happens. The quarterback sees something he thinks he can exploit so he adds a little twist to the formation or the route tree that isolates a back or a receiver on a particular defender.
Pat from Seneca, SC
What do you think will happen once Le'Veon Bell reports to the Steelers? He doesn’t want to be there and I’m guessing most of the players and coaches don’t want him there, either.
The first question that has to be answered is whether or not Bell reports in shape. If he comes in heavy, the Steelers will likely use a two-week roster exemption on him. Assuming at some point he rounds into playing shape, I would expect Bell and James Conner to be used in a complementary way. It would be ideal because Bell doesn't want to be overused and Conner is a high-character, team-first guy who would never complain about his role being reduced. If the Steelers found themselves in playoff contention, and that's a big if given their schedule, the Bell-Conner combination could make the Steelers a hot team at the right time. I'm not a fan of Bell's style of running -- I've made that known -- but I love Conner and his ability to pound and catch. It's a rare skill set. I thought Conner was the perfect back to replace Eddie Lacy.
Nathan from Tiffin, OH
Vic, maybe it's too early to ask this, but what are your thoughts or feelings on the job Brian Gutekunst has done so far?
He assembled a good draft class and he's expressed a desire to use free agency to complement the draft. I'm not crazy about this year's free-agent additions, but I want to give him time to see if he can affordably patch what the draft can't fully address. I think he's upgraded the roster, and that's a very good thing because it had become obvious the roster was in decline.
Milan from New York, NY
Re: Jaire Alexander. It's easier to draft good future players after a losing season, ain't it?
Ask the Steelers if they'd like to have Alexander. In the NFL, to the loser goes the spoils.
Kelvin from Kenilworth, UK
Is Rodgers vs. Brady the closest thing to a matchup of the two greatest quarterbacks to play than, say, Manning vs. Brady, or has there been two better that played each other in previous decades?
I can't imagine a better big-game matchup of quarterbacks than Joe Montana vs. Dan Marino in Super Bowl XIX. Bradshaw vs. Staubach is the best I've covered. I think it has to happen in a postseason game for it to really count.
Mike from North Hudson, WI
Vic, it's been an interesting year for the Packers, to say the least. Moving forward, what will you be looking at the most within their organization?
I'm looking forward to getting a read on their personnel philosophy under Brian Gutekunst. To what degree will they use free agency? Will they re-structure contracts and push money out? Will they target a player and trade up? I sense Gutekunst wants to be more aggressive than the Packers were under Ted Thompson. How much more aggressive?
Loftur from Columbus, OH
I saw the Malcolm Butler interception against the Seahawks in the Super Bowl mentioned as the best interception in NFL history. What do you think are the best plays of each type in NFL history? Pass, run, reception, interception, sack, fumble recovery, etc.
Let's start with this: The James Harrison interception and 102-yard return for a touchdown on the final play of the first half in Super Bowl XLIII is not only the greatest interception in Super Bowl history, it might be the greatest play in Super Bowl history. He ran through the whole team and fell across the goal line as time expired. It's the greatest play by one man I have ever seen. The other stuff? I don't know, coach, that's a lot of work.
Maggie from Kenosha, WI
I truly believe Mike McCarthy is one of the better head coaches in the NFL. If the Packers do indeed move on from him in the offseason, do you think he would land elsewhere right away?
He would likely become the head coach in Cleveland, where he would lead a roster full of high picks into the playoffs -- maybe even win a Super Bowl -- and make the Packers and their fans look like fools. Be very careful, folks. You have a great coach and he's all over your record book. The Jaguars fired Tom Coughlin and then he won two Super Bowls. The Browns fired Bill Belichick and he's since won five Super Bowls.
Shane from York, NE
Vic, what do the Packers' trades tell you?
The Ty Montgomery trade tells me nothing more than we already knew: Circumstances following the Rams game made it impossible to keep him on the roster. The Ha Ha trade speaks volumes about the Packers' opinion of him as a player and of their personnel strategy going forward. They intend to be players in free agency, which meant they weren't going to get a compensatory pick for losing Ha Ha.
Craig from Miami, FL
It cannot come as a surprise the Packers traded both Montgomery and Clinton-Dix, albeit for different reasons. A change of scenery will be good for Montgomery and Clinton-Dix fell out of favor since his Pro Bowl season in 2016. What do you think of the value the Packers received?
The Packers got a pick a year earlier than they might've gotten as compensation for losing Ha Ha in free agency, but they would've only received that compensatory pick if they had sustained a net loss in free agency, which they don't intend to happen. They plan to be a player in free agency, which means they wouldn't show the net loss required to receive compensatory pick consideration. Losing Ha Ha in free agency would've netted the Packers nada.
Robert from Arizona
As one of the fans who "picked" Clinton-Dix, I'm pretty bummed out to see him go. Honestly, I just want some insight from somebody more experienced than I am. Are we officially in rebuilding mode?
Ha Ha's play was soft. He got some interceptions as a centerfielder, but he was weak at the point of attack. He reminded me of another safety I covered, Reggie Nelson. The Packers need muscle in that defense. They need some guys who'll bang. That's not Ha Ha. Beyond that, as I mentioned, his I-won't-be-here whine was getting old. You don't want your young players being subjected to that kind of self-absorbed attitude. It's not rebuilding, it's sound personnel management. Gutekunst has a roster to repair, not rebuild. The Raiders have a roster to rebuild. That's the difference.
Tyler from Dunellon, FL
Maybe I’m not remembering correctly, but it seemed in years past it was rare to see in-season trades, especially so close to the trade deadline. But these past two seasons, it looks Iike there’s been a flurry of them. What do you think has caused a change?
They're cheap patches for teams that think they're contenders. They dovetail with a team's overall personnel strategy. Teams are using every means available to improve their roster. They're better personnel managers than they were 20 years ago because they're better salary cap managers. The first indication of this change was the flurry of draft-day trading. It's all a result of the salary cap. Everybody is trying to find a way to address need without sacrificing value.
Dave from Madison, WI
Why has pro-style offenses disappeared from college football?
Generally speaking, the defensive backfield talent in college football isn't good enough or deep enough -- college programs have traditionally put their best players on offense -- to play man to man. For example, four wide receivers are usually covered by six defensive backs, which leaves five in the box against seven and the defense at a numbers disadvantage, but only if the quarterback is a runner. I'm sure you can figure out the rest.
Ron from Boise, ID
Vic, I noticed the Packers are carrying a little over $2 million in dead money for Ha Ha. I thought once a player was traded, that included the contract. Where does this dead money come from?
A player's bonus proration remains with the team that traded him. You pay it, you claim it. Remember? The contract goes with the player, but the cap hit changes. The Packers will get a credit for the salary they won't pay Ha Ha, and that will help offset the dead money he leaves behind.
Mike from Glen Allen, VA
"I like a day that begins with truth and ends with hope." That is lovely, Vic. I am going to use that along with my other favorite Vic quote, "Memories make us rich." There is much more to life than football. Thank you for enriching mine.
I was just trying to capture the spirit of the thing, Reg.