"Ask Vic" will publish on M-W-F through the football season.
Aaron from White Hall, AR
Long term, how much will Kyler Murray’s wind up hurt his development?
Murray's success is driven by his feet. You beat him by making him be a passer. That's what Carolina did.
Michael from Gold Beach, OR
Who do you consider to be the top three head coach hires during the past 20 years?
How about a top five? Belichick, Tomlin, Harbaugh, Payton and Carroll. If Mike McCarthy was still with the Packers, I'd put him in there, too.
Nathan from New York
I recently read an article in which Cliff Christl claimed Lombardi wanted Paul Hornung on the sideline for the Ice Bowl to provide leadership. It seems as though his philosophy differed from Chuck Noll's. Thoughts?
Coach Noll's philosophy was, "If you can't play for us, you can't help us." He didn't want cheerleaders. If you were injured, you didn't travel with the team; you stayed at home and rested. Coach Lombardi was an emotional leader who was known to raise his voice. Coach Noll spoke of the need for motivation to come from within and I can't remember an occasion when he raised his voice other than to emphasize a point in a teaching capacity. He wanted self-starters and he coached his players to act as professionals. Coach Lombardi had a weird kind of obsession with Hornung. Coach Noll avoided that kind of relationship with his players. Yes, their styles were opposite to each other, but the results were the same. They were perfect fits for when and who they coached.
Matthew from Olathe, KS
Vic, if I draft a running back and he is really good, why not franchise him for two years after his rookie contract and then let him walk?
The Steelers franchised LeVeon Bell two years consecutively. How'd that work for them? Running backs are plentiful and the franchise tag is expensive, difficult to cap and breeds enmity. If you can't do a contract with him, let him move on and find a replacement for him.
Samantha from Marion, IA
In his postgame press conference after the Jaguars game, LaFleur said, "We're playing football. These guys are playing a kids' game and getting paid for it, man. It's disturbing to me. And it starts with myself and our staff. We've got to bring more energy for these guys." Do you think that kind of talk demoralizes players (equating their job to a kids' game), or is it indicative of a leader of men when he says it starts with himself and the staff? I was honestly not sure how to take that when I heard it.
Professional football is not a kids' game. It's a savage game played by men who manage their careers as would be expected of a professional. At this time of the season, bodies are tired and hurting. These men are trying to find ways to get to the finish line and be at their best for the postseason. Coach LaFleur is young. I covered a lot of less-than-impressive wins against bad teams. Accept the win with grace and move on. The big games are in front of you.
Eric from Green Bay, WI
Vic, I appreciate the question about "how many would be enough?" The answer does not exist and here's why: The 2014 NFC title game permanently scarred this fan base. We could win the next three in a row but the pain of losing out on that opportunity to win a second Super Bowl with Rodgers, and also beat Brady, will never be cured.
You might be right.
Mikey from Tallahassee, FL
Do you think the Steelers will finish the season undefeated?
No. First of all, that's a tired football team. They got screwed on their bye week because Tennessee was, in my opinion, careless with the Covid protocol. It's forced the Steelers into a stretch of schedule that'll see them having played their fourth road game in five weeks. At some point they're going to shut it down. Today's players just don't think in terms of undefeated seasons. The good teams are trying to get to the postseason healthy and rested. That's especially true this year due to the expanded playoff field.
Eric from Las Vegas, NV
"T.J. Watt." I loved this answer and chortled out loud. Ah, what might have been. But who knows what might have happened as a result. All we have is what we got and can only hope to improve.
Every team has a T.J. Watt, which is to say regret for not having drafted a certain player. Dan Marino is the Steelers' T.J. Watt. Not drafting Marino haunted the Steelers for two decades. How could the Steelers have passed on him? They had need and his talent was undeniable. The same can be said of the Packers and Watt. The Packers had need and Watt's talent is undeniable. Even worse, Marino and Watt are locals.
Peter from Umatilla, FL
The Packers are obviously soft and have been under the past three coaches (LaFleur, McCarthy, Rhodes), maybe four (Sherman). Is there a cure for this disease and, if so, how many new coaches or players do you think the minimum would be to achieve at least semi-toughness and Big Boy status?
The running game is the cure. What's turned the Vikings around? The running game. The run fixes everything. When you practice the run, you practice stopping the run. When you run the ball, your team feels better about itself. The Vikings are 4-5 but I'm willing to bet they feel better about themselves than the 7-2 Packers do. What gave the Lombardi Packers their signature toughness? The Packer sweep. Don't run to achieve balance, run to win. When you run the ball, you're not taking what the defense is giving you, you're taking what you want. Don't run with scheme or the element of surprise, run with power and predictability. If you're not running with power you're not running the ball. Pound out those third-and-ones. Impose your will and everything about your team will have a hard edge. What does it take to achieve this? A complete commitment from the franchise. The wolves will howl. They want play-calling. Their howl must be ignored. The transition from finesse to power is slow and can be frustrating. It would require a commitment from the quarterback, too. I don't think that kind of commitment is doable for the Packers. I don't think it's in the franchise's or its fans' DNA. The Packers have to find a way to be two distinctly different football teams: a finesse, play-calling offense and a rock-ribbed, power defense. That's a tough act. You almost need two locker rooms and two coaches.
Bob from Houston, TX
Was Eddie Lacy a pounder with light feet? He had a spin move I recall seeing a few times and found impressive for a guy his size. I really wish he would have lasted longer than he did, both as a Packer and in the NFL.
Eddie had it all. He could pound and bounce, which is a way of saying he had the light feet to bounce out of one hole and into another. Derrick Henry is as good at it as any big back I've ever seen. I loved watching Eddie play. He was exactly what the Packers needed. Unfortunately, Eddie came to the Packers with a fused big toe. I suspect it might've been at the root of Eddie's foot and ankle problems. I got information on draft day Eddie was the Steelers' guy until they found out about the fused big toe. It caused the Steelers to pick LeVeon Bell, who was the back the Packers had targeted. I'll always take a pounder over a stop-and-start guy. The toe was the problem.
John from Milwaukee, WI
What’s the greatest obstacle a highly successful college head coach must overcome if he's to become an NFL head coach?
Greed. I can't understand why a highly successful college coach would leave that job for an NFL job from which he's likely to be fired in 2-3 years. It didn't take Nick Saban long to know he made a mistake. I was recently asked who I thought the new coach would be at Penn State. It was a jab at James Franklin, who's sitting at 0-4. I thought to myself, Matt Rhule, after he gets fired in Carolina. I think Rhule was a great hire in Carolina and I believe that's one of the up-and-coming teams in the league, but the odds aren't in Rhule's favor. In my opinion, a top college job is better than an NFL job because you're not at the mercy of the draft.