"Ask Vic" is published on Monday and Thursday through the offseason.
Mark from Eau Claire, WI
What can Matt LaFleur do to make the Packers his team instead of Aaron Rodgers' team?
Run the ball.
Daniel from Rapid City, SD
Who is the best free agent acquisition in NFL history?
Drew Brees. He saved a franchise and a region.
Eddie from Glasgow, Scotland
Vic, you mentioned last week the Jaguars could be the dominant team in the AFC South for a decade. What needs to happen for that to become a reality, or is it more the division is there for the taking and Jacksonville is in the best place to capitalize on that?
It's a combination of the Jaguars' opportunity to build their team all at once and an AFC South in which the best quarterback is on a team in chaos and the two best teams are challenged at the quarterback position. The Jaguars need to hit a home run with their quarterback pick. That's No. 1, and they have the pick at the top to do it. No. 2, they need to use their remaining draft capital to build a long-term supporting cast. No. 3, they must use their cap room wisely. That's the 1-2-3 strategy for a long run of success in Jacksonville.
Greg from Jacksonville, FL
What happens to an offense when it gets too pass heavy, like the Chiefs?
When a team lacks run-pass balance on offense and is forced to throw, the quarterback gets hit too much. The more you throw, the more your quarterback is hurried, hit and sacked. The running game is the best pass-blocker. We saw evidence of that with the Packers this past season.
Michael from Bella Vista, AR
The quarterback carousel seems more active than usual. Is this good for the league or would it be in the owners' best interest to keep the movement to a minimum?
I'm not sure. It's great for Hot Stove leagues but it's bad for identity. I think we might be on the verge of a new trend at the quarterback position. Today's game is favoring supply, and that's good for the game.
Benjamin from Syracuse, NY
How is the Bakhtiari restructure indicative of all aboard? The Packers were $28 million over the projected cap and still can't currently sign a seventh-round rookie much less J.J. Watt. They need to get under the cap regardless of their plan, right?
Yeah, but I find it curious the Packers would restructure a contract just a few months after negotiating it. Everybody knew the cap was going to be decreased by reduced revenue. The restructure suggests to me a possible shift in philosophy. Maybe not; we'll see. I can certainly think of ways of creating cap room without pushing money out.
Zach from Kenosha, WI
I don't mean this as a gotcha moment, I'm just genuinely curious. I seem to recall you having strong feelings about the cheating allegations and scandals that plagued the Patriots and Tom Brady for years. Not to put words in your mouth, but it seemed those instances diminished Brady in your eyes, so I was a bit surprised to see you put the crown on him. Is it just that seven championships in 10 tries is too much to ignore, even with whatever asterisks one might deem appropriate?
OK, let's get it all out. I absolutely believe Brady was complicit in Deflategate and benefitted greatly from the Spygate tactics and whatever other shenanigans Ernie Adams engineered through the years, but the league didn't strip the Patriots of those titles and I'm left with no option but to include them in Brady's resume. Seven in 10 could easily be 10 out of 10, and if it wasn't for that egregious pass interference penalty against Ellis Hobbs, it would be eight Super Bowl titles. I'm going to assume you think Aaron Rodgers should be in the GOAT conversation. Really? You want me to include in the GOAT debate a quarterback who's lost four conference title games in five tries? Bradshaw won four Super Bowls in four tries and I don't include him in the GOAT debate, because it's not all about titles, but they count. I'll accept in the debate Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana and Otto Graham, all of whom have a great body of work, won multiple titles, are famous, changed the game in one way or another and represent distinctly separate eras of professional football, but that's about where it ends, and Brady easily stands above all of them. Again, it's not just the titles. Brady's body of work is jaw-dropping, including three MVPs, five Super Bowl MVPs, nearly 80,000 yards passing and 581 TD passes. Crunch time? He's No. 2 in all-time fourth-quarter comebacks with 39; Rodgers is tied for 48th with 17. Building a case for Rodgers is nonsensical. I saw somebody take a shot at me in the comments section for putting Unitas above Starr, that I'm inconsistent in my regard for titles. Hey, Unitas won three titles, and the first two launched pro football's popularity. Because of Unitas, Pete Rozelle was able to negotiate a league-wide TV contract and convince owners to share the revenue. Without that TV deal and the revenue sharing from it, the Packers might not be in Green Bay. Unitas is the player on whom the modern game was built. He invented it. Ask Cliff Christl what Lombardi thought of Unitas. He thought he was a god. I love Starr for what he meant to the growth of professional football and for his Ice Bowl moment, which I believe is the most courageous act in football history, but his body of work pales in comparison to Unitas'. Duck Hodges threw more touchdown passes (5) in 2019 than Starr did in 1960 (4). I love Packers fans for their loyalty, but there's a line across which loyalty becomes blind love. On the heels of another devastating NFC title game defeat, this is a good time to avoid this debate.
Chris from Lexington, KY
If you had the cap space to sign either Jones or Linsley, which would it be? Do you apply the same get the big guys first approach to free agency and, therefore, value Linsley more?
My approach to free agency is to find the bargains. Neither Jones nor Linsley will be bargains. I think the Packers made a mistake in not doing a new contract with Linsley before the season began. I think they needed to do Linsley first and then Bakhtiari, as one would impact the other. It's too late now.
Bill from Sheboygan, WI
How would drafting Jim Brown have impacted the Packers? They obviously didn't need him.
When I answered the question, I was thinking how history might be different if a domino had fallen another direction. For example, if the Steelers don't cut Unitas, he's not the Colts' quarterback in that 1958 sudden death title game. What if the Packers had drafted Jim Brown? Maybe the coach doesn't get fired. Maybe Lombardi ends up coaching in the AFL. The whole idea of that question was to get creative with the answer, but I don't think I was being wild. Even after the Steelers cut Unitas, Paul Brown had his eye on Unitas, who was playing semi-pro ball in Pittsburgh, and planned to sign him. Weeb Ewbank had been on Brown's staff and knew of Brown's regard for Unitas as a prospect in college, and then Ewbank signed Unitas off the sandlot before Brown could scoop him up. Imagine Unitas and Brown in the same backfield. Brown with the Packers? He was an instant sensation and gained a record 1,527 yards in '58. I don't think it's ridiculous to think he could've changed Packers history.
Dave from Escanaba, MI
The Packers website is currently running a "pick your MVP of the MVPs" vote. Ballot is Hornung (1), Taylor (1), Starr (1), Favre (3) and Rodgers (3). I'm voting for Starr because of the difficulty playing quarterback in the 1960's compared to now. Do you have a comment?
This is a classic titles vs. body of work example. I would add one more criterion: impact on history. Favre and Rodgers easily win the body of work category, but Starr kills them with titles won. Impact on history? Favre resurrected the franchise, but Starr's Ice Bowl moment transcends the franchise. I think Rodgers is the best of three quarterbacks, but these kind of debates aren't about talent evaluation, they're about a player's performance and his fame. I would vote for Starr because he is the embodiment of everything Packers, from Lombardi to the Ice Bowl to the stadium to which Packers fans still make their pilgrimage.
Eric from Lansing, MI
Vic, tell me a memory from Isaly's in Pittsburgh, especially if it has anything to do with your youth in sports.
It was a dairy store and luncheonette, not a ballfield. I remember it for my mother always stopping after church on Sunday to get a pound of chipped ham for lunch. I also have one other memory: When I was in kindergarten, the teacher announced she was going to take us up the street to Isaly's and treat us to hot chocolate. I was a milk spiller and my mother cautioned me not to spill the hot chocolate on my new winter coat. I can still see that brown stain on that tweed wool coat.