"Ask Vic" will publish on Mondays and Thursdays through the offseason.
Jared from Rigby, ID
Vic, I had a high school coach say the perfect defense can't beat the perfect offense. What are your thoughts?
He was probably referring to the design of the play. Executed perfectly, it can't be defeated. OK, let's get real. Offense's advantage is it initiates the action. It knows the play to be run and it's spent hours practicing that play to seeming perfection. The Packers sweep is the example. Defense can only guess at what the offense's plan is. Defense's advantage is its front can shift right up to the snap of the ball, which gives it the advantage of disguise. The offense could find itself running right into an ambush, and that brings us to the audible.
Samuel from Jacksonville, FL
I'm turning the tables on you, Vic. Ask your readers a question you want answered.
Why do you read this column?
Simon from Norwalk, CT
David Halberstam said of article writing: "If you write in 800 words, you begin to think in 800 words." Have you found your interpretation of events shaped by the structure of your writing? Newspapers to online, and now the inbox? And if so, how?
Forgive me, but I'm not sure what any of that even means. I open the laptop and I write. Some guys can pick up a golf club and kill a drive. I can open a laptop and write. Once upon a time, I could even put a Royal portable on an airplane tray table and write. Structure? Just write, baby. If you need to think about structure, you're gonna miss deadline. I worked for a PM newspaper, so I had to go in directions the AM boys wouldn't go. My ledes and story angles had to be more creative to still be fresh. My move to website reporting, in effect, made me one of the AM boys. All of a sudden, I was writing hard news, and I loved it. "Ask Vic" keeps me in contact with my PM roots.
Richard from Munster, Germany
Vic, you always say great coaches find a way to get the most out of talented players by adjusting the scheme. Was the release of Mike Daniels the result of Pettine not being able to maximize Daniels’ strengths?
Defensive coordinators prefer more length at the defensive end positions. Unless Coach Pettine could find a way of stretching Mike to be 6-4 and have long arms, he just wasn't going to be a good fit at end. You might remember, in the year Aaron Donald was drafted, I said he wasn't a good fit for a 3-4, that if he wasn't used as a penetrate-and-disrupt (three technique) defensive tackle, his talents wouldn't be fully realized. On the flip side, I think Datone Jones was over-drafted based solely on his length. To answer your question directly, I don't think the Packers wanted to change their scheme to suit Mike. I think they would've changed it to suit Donald.
Chris from Fitchburg, WI
What was the mood in the locker room the week before a big game when you covered the Steelers?
Joe Greene liked to use the media to set the tone for the locker room. He welcomed reporters because it gave him a chance to put the game in perspective and focus the team on the task at hand. I always felt that qualified Joe as the "heart and soul" of the Steelers. Jack Lambert didn't like that "heart and soul" stuff, but that's because Jack was a no-nonsense guy who never needed anyone to sharpen his focus. Joe wasn't speaking to Jack, he was speaking to all of the players who didn't possess Jack's intensity. I think every locker room needs a Joe Greene.
Ethan from Ontario, Canada
This is complete (baloney). Testifying under oath? Over a no-call in a football game? If that’s what we’re doing, then why don’t we grab the "Fail Mary" refs, Dez Bryant and, while we’re at it, pull Paul Tagliabue out of retirement and put him in front of the judge for the tuck rule! I thought you were being a little harsh on the Saints, but I take it back.
While we're at it, let's arrest the 2017 Saints for that final play meltdown in Minnesota. That was criminal. And how about those pass interference penalties in the win over the Steelers that got the Saints homefield advantage? I'm changing my pick for disappointment team of the year. I'm picking the Saints.
Eric from Keene, NH
If you were still covering the Packers, what would you look for in September?
I'll be looking for signs of defensive dominance. With what the Packers have spent on that side of the ball, defense must lead the way.
Rich from Grand Rapids, MI
Peter King cited a source that claims Green Bay faced the fewest defenders in the box per play last year under McCarthy, 5.89. Sure, that includes a lot of third-and-longs, but it is an interesting tidbit for those still interested in why runs were not called more frequently, and who is to blame.
Failure to win on first down? Falling behind early in games and having to pass? Did opponents lack respect for the Packers' running game? Exaggerated fear of Aaron Rodgers and the passing game? Not enough running plays called? Too many running plays changed to passing plays? Yeah, it's an interesting stat and real food for thought. I'll say this: If you're playing against fewer than six in the box and you're not running the ball, you're a soft and cheesy offense.
Doug from Burlington, WI
I have read Matt LaFleur runs multiple plays out of a single-formation look he gives the defense. What is the likelihood he would have a three-TE lineup and have multiple run/pass play options?
Less volume, more creativity?
Matt from Georgetown, TX
Vic, do you consider Aaron Rodgers a big-game quarterback?
Joe from Bloomington, IN
Do you still work your sources?
Sure I do. One of my most trusted sources and a friend for 25 years called recently, and he was forthcoming with a lot of information. He asked me why I was cold on Saquon Barkley coming out of college. I said I didn't like all of those lost-yardage plays his final year, and I wasn't sure if it was because Barkley had too much hesitation in his running style or if it was because of that read-option offense Penn State runs. I don't like that offense because it allows the defense to put the ball in the hands of the less-talented runner. My friend, who I consider to be one of the best scouts I've ever known, shocked me with his opinion of Barkley. "I think he's more talented than Bo Jackson," he said.
Justin from Delray Beach, FL
Do you ever go fishing?
Are you psychic? I bought my first-ever fishing license on Tuesday and I'm about to cast into Scott Creek in pursuit of dinner. Spot tail is on the menu.
Richard from St. Augustine, FL
With regard to the '96 Jaguars and other teams you have covered, does attitude play into success? The reason I ask is because the '96 Jags were a rag-tag bunch that needed another draft or two to fill some holes, but they seemed to will their way week after week.
Attitude matters, especially as it pertains to getting hot late in the year. That's what happened with the 1996 Jaguars. They believed they were a team of destiny. They had the league's hot new quarterback, a perfectionist coach who drilled his offense into peak performance, a disruptive rookie pass rusher, a favorable finishing schedule and the luck of a missed kick and a rare occasion when 9-7 got a team into the postseason. In my mind, it's all about playing your best football late in the season; that's what makes for a hot team. The '99 team was vastly superior to the '96 team, but the '99 team was playing its worst defensive football of the season when the playoffs began, and it lost Tony Boselli in the final regular season game. It was the Titans, not the Jaguars, who were the hot team late in the season.
Chad from Kansas City, MO
We have heard through the years your favorite on-field moments, but what is your favorite off-the-field moment? Did any players' community service blow you away or make you proud?
It was in August of 1988, as the Steelers were preparing to play a preseason game in New Orleans. En route to the airport, the team bused the players to a neighborhood church to pay their last respects to their owner, Art Rooney. I watched the team file past the casket and I was touched by the expressions of affection I observed. The Steelers were Art's team and these were his men. The love between them was obvious. At the time, linebacker Mike Merriweather was a holdout, which he would remain through the season, but Mike was present to pay his last respects. Pro football is about the money, but it's not without love. It's a manly quality I love about pro football.
Dan from Milwaukee, WI
How frequent or rare was it for a player to make it through an entire season completely unscathed? No visits to the trainer.
I think Cliff Stoudt is the only player I ever covered who earned his NFL pension without having played a down, but I guarantee he spent time in the trainer's room. Nobody leaves football unscathed.
Matt from Jersey City, NJ
My gut reaction to Mike Daniels being cut was: Brian Gutekunst is a very good GM.
Yeah, a good GM has to make difficult decisions. He must have the courage to commit to his evaluation. Be that as it may, it would've been advantageous to have traded Mike out of the division, preferably out of the conference. Couldn't Brian trade Mike for a seventh-round pick on the condition Mike would lead the league in sacks? Know what I mean?
Rik from Vancouver, WA
What are your thoughts on training camp entrances?
Deion Sanders and ESPN caused this.
Zach from Virginia Beach, VA
Vic, Michael Thomas just got $61 million guaranteed. Do you think the Saints overpaid?
Old and capped out. I think the Saints could be marching out for a very long time.