Surprise! Here's a bonus "Ask Vic" I hope will help get the word out this week's postgame column will appear on Sunday, not Monday. Enjoy!
Matt from Chicago, IL
Do you think the Packers can acquire enough talent needed for the remaining Rodgers years through this draft with the unexpectedly high pick?
Yes, I do, but I think that's the wrong attitude to take. You're trying to turn back the clock. I think it's time to be new.
Roger from Auburn, CA
Vic, I'm going to challenge your answer about the Packers' lack of talent being all about draft position. The Steelers have eight Pro-Bowlers and draft near the Packers every year. The Packers have no Pro-Bowlers and got out-picked again when the Steelers picked T.J. Watt after the Packers had a chance to pick him. Time for a new GM?
Let's get the facts straight. The Steelers missed the postseason twice (2012, '13) during the Packers' eight-year run. In the '13 draft, the Steelers selected Le'Veon Bell and Vince Williams, and in the '14 draft they picked Ryan Shazier, Stephon Tuitt and Martavis Bryant. That's a pretty good haul of talent, and I think it's directly attributable to moving up in the order. If you want to use an example of drafting better than your position should've allowed, use the last two drafts. Artie Burns, Sean Davis and Javon Hargrave in '16, and T.J. Watt and JuJu Smith-Schuster in '17 are better players than I would expect of drafts that began with the 25th and 30th overall picks. Time for a new GM? I think it's time for patience. It worked for the Steelers when they missed the playoffs two years in a row.
Pete from Rescue, CA
Once you have "The Man," who is next most important for a team to contend in todays NFL? Stud pass rusher, stud left tackle, stud running back or shut down corner?
Blindside pass protectors are important, but you can chip with a back or tight end to give a guy help. A dependable and durable running back is important, but you can find that guy later in the draft. A star cornerback can cut the field in half, but you can play zone and get by. A star pass rusher is irreplaceable. He can make all the difference.
Cheryl from Chicago, IL
It seems every year the Packers defense in their season opener looks really strong and then they fall apart the rest of the season. What is their weakest defensive position and should they concentrate on defense in the draft?
Scheme wins early in the season, players win late. The Packers need an impact player, a star, on defense. Such a player could change everything for that defense. I think they've got support-type players. What they don't have is a star. They'll have a better chance of finding that type of player where they'll be drafting. I don't think, however, they should focus on defense. They also have needs on offense, and I think the need for a developmental quarterback is one of them. If such a player falls to them in the first round, I advocate drafting him. Take care of the future and the future will take care of the present. The Packers did that once before and it propelled them through eight playoff seasons.
Ian from Texas
Players, not plays, but there has been a considerable deterioration in Atlanta's offense since Shanahan left, yet, they have more or less the same players.
Julio Jones hasn't been the same; his ankle injury has dogged him nearly all season. Be that as it may, there was a considerable deterioration in Atlanta's offense in the fourth quarter of last season's Super Bowl. Who gets the blame for that?
Paul from Chicago, IL
Can the Packers rebuild a contending team before Rodgers retires?
Yes, they can but, again, I believe that's the wrong attitude to take. If your goal is to rebuild a contending team before Rodgers retires, you might pass on the next Rodgers. Patience is the key.
Steve from Wauwatosa, WI
Vic, fantastic to be reading you again! I am at a complete loss as to why the owners rehired Roger Godell. Are they blind? Don't they see the once mighty game of professional football in increasing decline? Unclear rules, bad officiating, inconsistent disciplinary action and the unforgivable sin of allowing politics to infect and fester in the game I have loved my entire life. Can you make any sense of it?
The NFL needs a commissioner who is first and foremost a football man, not an attorney, politician or marketing person. Under Tagliabue and Goodell, the league has lost its soul. It's an outrage coaches have to count the number of padded practices they can prescribe for their team. That wasn't about player safety, that was about getting a new CBA.
Karl from Albuquerque, NM
Vic, we're one week from Black Monday, when who knows how many coaches will be fired. I get the impression you think most firings are unwarranted and the result of the howling of the wolves. In any event, what criteria would you use to determine if a coach should be let go? How important do you think the coach is in the success of the team?
Coaches are critical to the success of their teams, just as player talent is. One makes the other better. The process of evaluating a coach begins with evaluating the talent available to him. When performance is not the equal of the talent available to the coach, it's time to find a new coach.
Sean-Luc from Oceanside, CA
Vic, you argue the Packers were "due" for a poor season because of drafting late. What do the Patriots do differently that gives them an edge every year despite drafting at the bottom for even longer than the Packers? I get that Brady is "the guy," but even he can't provide the top 10 defenses the Patriots have benefited from in several of those years.
The Patriots defense is No. 29. Their rush offense is No. 16, which is probably that high only because their pass offense is No. 1. It's Brady. It's not Belichick, Gronkowski, Guerrero, the Patriots' way or anything else -- cheating has helped, however -- other than Brady. He's the greatest quarterback who's ever lived. If Johnny Unitas was alive, he'd confirm Brady's place at the top. By the way, if you see Dick, tell him I said hello.
Brian from Columbia, MD
Thanks and Merry Christmas. Your stuff is better than ever. Now that you're in the balmy south, you can apparently take off your gloves.
In more ways than one, huh?
Pat from Seneca, SC
Thanks for trying to educate Packers fans about the leveling effect of the inverse draft order, the challenges of managing the salary cap and avoiding dead money, and the impact of pursuing free agency on the loss of compensatory picks and the inability to retain home-grown players. Although most fans still don’t understand any of this, I believe you’ve provided a much broader perspective for some of us. Thank you!
Here's a Mike Ryan sports medicine video.