"Ask Vic" will publish on Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the football season.
Sean-Luc from the United States
Is defense dead?
For most teams, defense is the side of the ball that must be overcome. The Jaguars are the exception. For the Jaguars, offense is the side of the ball that needs to be overcome. In the salary cap era, it's one or the other; there's not enough cap room to be complete. Which would you choose? Most teams choose offense.
Randall from Sun Prairie, WI
Rams and Vikings. Two of the best defenses in the league. 38-31. Kind of says it all, doesn't it?
Nothing in September says it all. I've seen a lot of bad football through three weeks and one game into this season. A linebacker covering a wide receiver deep? That's not a Mike Zimmer defensive scheme. I think we need to resist forming strong opinions at this point in the season. This weekend, the preseason ends. Play will improve in pink October, and then the bell will ring in November and we'll begin finding out who the good teams are.
Matt from Verona, WI
What do you think will happen this weekend?
I expect the Packers and Bears to win, and the screws will begin to tighten on the Vikings. Zimmer's defense isn't playing hard. He's got a problem.
Ric from Longmont, CO
It appears Aaron Donald knows how to legally sack the quarterback, doesn’t it?
Maybe the intent of the new rule isn't to punish pass rushers, but to identify them.
Jason from Jacksonville, FL
West Coast prime-time games are magical the way the sun sets in the middle of the game.
Good for you! There is so much more to a football game than the football game. There's the beauty of watching the sun bounce off the St. Johns Rivers outside the south end zone of EverBank Field, the foreboding of snow clouds drifting in over the top rim of Lambeau Field, the magnificence of two rivers forming a third outside Heinz Field. The game is secondary to the human experience: father and son making memories, frozen toes, the sounds you'll never forget, the colors that dazzle your eyes. Controversies come and go, but the game survives because it's much bigger than the final score. Football is a spectacle.
Craig from Cedarburg, WI
The Titans won a slugfest against Jacksonville last week. You called them a team on the rise before the season. How are they finding success with Mariota minimized?
The Titans have muscle. Lewan, Conklin and Henry are dominant physical specimens. Mariota is expected to add finesse, but I've been stunned by the physical quality he brings to the quarterback position. He runs with purpose and resolve. I like the Titans' roster and I think they can go the distance if Mariota develops as a passer; the Titans need to make more plays in the passing game.
Maggie from Kenosha, WI
With the rule changes protecting the quarterback to an extent we haven't seen before, what do you predict professional football will look like in 20 years?
Once the league changes the culture that would use the helmet to deliver a blow, and I believe that will happen, I think we'll see the helmet and facemask reduce in size.
Roger from Auburn, CA
Vic, is Fitzpatrick just Matt Flynn with exceptional wide receivers?
I think a lot of quarterbacks in the league would fit into that category.
Brent from Dubuque, IA
As it stands, what defensive position group in Green Bay has the best chance to pressure the QB more in the upcoming games?
The Clay Matthews position group is the answer. Matthews is the Packers' designated pass rusher. He's paid DPR money. It has to be him or the Packers' pass rush will be spotty.
Amis from Norwich, UK
I’ve got to give you credit, Vic. You see the way the wind is blowing and instead of raging against it, you see how you can sail with it. You’re not a moaner. In fact, the only thing you seem to have no tolerance for is moaners themselves. All that being said, what’s the maddest you’ve ever been about something sports related?
Coach Noll said, "We don't always like the cards we're dealt, but we never complain about them." George Atkinson's cowardly and unprovoked karate chop to the back of Lynn Swann's neck as he ran downfield caused me the angriest moments of my sports-watching career. I never wanted to experience those feelings again, and it's the reason I'm vigilant about maintaining emotional balance while covering and watching something as frivolous as a sporting event.
Scott from Saint Charles, IL
Vic, Aaron Rodgers' yards per attempt each year from 2015 onward have been the four lowest marks of his entire career as a starter. He can still hit the home run with the best of them, but that stat does reinforce my observation the Packers' downfield passing game is just not as explosive or as consistent as it was through 2014. Why do you think that is?
He doesn't have Eddie Lacy forcing defenses to get that eighth defender up into the box. It's not just about running the ball, it's about running the ball with power. That's what causes defenses to react with the eighth defender. The power back makes it a muscle game. It's about getting enough mass at the line of scrimmage to stop the power back, or you're going to get snowplowed all day. The Packers need to find a back who can do what Lacy did.
Jeff from Ogden, UT
How can the Packers commit that many high draft picks to defense over the past few years and still be that bad?
The picks weren't that high. They were bottom-of-the-round picks, until this year. Jalen Ramsey and Khalil Mack might be the best cornerback and pass rusher respectively in the league, and they were the fifth picks of their drafts.
Mark from West Allis, WI
I nominate "The league likes it when the quarterback is on top" for ensrinement in the "Ask Vic" Hall of Fame. I hope my colleagues will agree and grant this Vicism a rightful place in the wing of forgotten one-liners.
I don't know what you mean.
Dan from St. Louis, MO
Guilty as charged for howling at both the Barr hit on Rodgers and the calls against Matthews. Do you think Packers fans are particularly whiny, or are we just fans being fans?
Losing and tying makes whiners of us all.
Eric from Colorado Springs, CO
What was the fan response to the 1978 rules changes? How did you feel about those rules when you saw them?
I had advance warning on their impact. It was a lazy July day before the start of training camp. I was in the Steelers offices, along with a few other reporters, and Coach Noll seized the opportunity to take us into his film room and show us a film the league produced and sent out to its coaches. The film featured Dolphins coach Don Shula demonstrating the new chuck rule and the rule that would allow offensive linemen to use their hands in blocking. Can you understand why I am so grateful and indebted to Coach Noll. How many coaches in today's game would take the time to educate a young sportswriter? When the season began, I took note of the new rules being applied, but I don't remember a rash of penalties that called attention to the new rules. Their application was largely seamless. What I remember most is Coach Noll turning off the projector and telling us, "These rules will change the game." I can never repay the debt.
David from Madison, WI
Talk about a dramatic coaching story!
Want another one? Here's one I especially love. A successful high school coach in Western Pa. was being courted by the rival school across the river. They were offering him big money to make the move. The coach went to his school's superintendent and told him about the offer. The superintendent told the coach to write down on a piece of paper a dollar figure he'd have to pay to keep the coach. The coach wrote down a number and handed the piece of paper to the superintendent. Without looking at the piece of paper, the superintendent wrinkled it up and put it in his pocket. "You got it," he said. It's a wonderful story of respect and trust. I love the old guys.
Justin from Boston, MA
How do you keep up with the news surrounding all the teams around the league? Do you read a ton of ESPN and nfl.com? Do you watch highlights of all the games? Do you disappear all day on Sunday to watch all the full games? You seem to have a pulse on every team!
I read, I watch, I talk. I know where to go to get the information I need quickly. I also have a network of people who feed me information. It's the result of a bond I call the fraternity of football. All of this allows me to pen this column with the confidence I am not infecting my readers with misinformation. It gives me joy to stay in touch with my fraternity brothers. We all belong to the fraternity of football.
Sean from Glen Ellyn, IL
I think since the quarterbacks are now untouchable, we're going to see more three-man rushes. Why bother rushing the QB when the league has more or less removed that from the game?
Flood the passing lanes with defenders and find out what quarterbacks have the arm strength and accuracy to fit the ball into tight windows? I can hear Coach Noll saying, "How do you wish to die?"