"Ask Vic" will publish on M-W-F during the football season.
Jerry from Savannah, GA
Vic, I agree with your assessment the game looks more dangerous because the players are so upright and more vulnerable to injury. Do you think the increased penalties also make it more dangerous because there are potentially more plays per game with the clock stoppage and plays having to be redone?
I don't know how many plays, if any, are added to a game due to penalties. What I can tell you is the game as it's being played today looks weird to me. The league wants to protect the head but its attempts to do that are causing players to play higher. Hey, that's where the head is. I rarely watch a game that someone hasn't sustained a concussion. By the way, what is causing players to do such ridiculous things? Cam Jordan punched Kyle Allen, a week after the infamous helmet swinging. The trash talking, taunting and chicken fighting are at an all-time high, and it's a bad look for the league. It has a WWF look to it. Every week brings another explosion of fines and wrongdoing. The league is trying to clean up the game, yet, I don't think it's ever looked dirtier than it does now. A big part of the problem is the league has neutered the coach. He's supposed to be the ultimate authority, but that ended when the league gave the players the game in the 2011 CBA.
Sean from Brighton, MI
Drafting defense in the first round has been the Packers' problem for the past eight years. It’s almost impossible to play defense in the NFL nowadays. This makes the transition from college to pros very difficult on defensive players. Why not load up on offense every year and build the defense with late-round picks and cheap, affordable patches in free agency?
A plan is only as good as the talent available to it. In my opinion, the best plan continues to be to draft the best available player, but I'll add this caveat to it: Never draft a guy you don't like. If you've landed in a soft spot in the draft, some how, some way, get out of that spot. Trade up, trade back, trade the pick for a pick in the next year's draft, do anything to avoid picking a player who doesn't excite you. I think teams that draft well see they're positioned in a soft spot in the order and they maneuver out of that spot. I'll even support trading that pick for a player. That's what I mean by don't just sit and pick. The draft has never been more of a crystal ball business.
Craig from Cedarburg, WI
To be a true fan of a team, do you need to support a bad (losing) product on the field?
You have no responsibility for being a fan. If you don't like what you see, don't buy it. I think that's an awfully fickle attitude that will likely limit your enjoyment of the game, but I don't believe in this stand and howl crap. Fans have no responsibility for performance. All of the responsibility for performance rests with the team. Having said that, I'll also say football is a soap opera. We enjoy watching the story develop. We enjoy the dramatic swings. If you're only going to watch winning, you're going to miss the story.
Justin from Titonka, IA
LaFleur wanted Darren Rizzi as his special teams coach but the Packers were too cheap to sign him. They also forced him to keep Pettine, even though LaFleur probably had his own guy in mind. And he was blocked from hiring his own brother. Do you think LaFleur not getting his guys is hurting the defense and special teams? Or is it just poor roster depth?
They're 8-3. Come back and ask me these questions when the Packers are losing.
Fabrizio from Fossano, Italia
Hello, Vic, how do you make a great athlete as Lamar Jackson be a pocket passer?
I'm not a coach, just a sports writer. I was asked how I would stop Jackson, and I said I'd make him be a pocket passer and it's because the thing everyone fears most about Jackson is what he can do when he gets out of the pocket. So, job one is keep him in the pocket, right? Someone's going to do it. Rush three, drop eight and flood the field with defensive backs who can run with him? Rush defensive backs? Don't rush? Drive him toward one side of the field so you'll at least know where he's going? I respect Mike Smith as much as any defensive coach I ever covered, and I remember what Mike said about Vince Young: Make him be a passer. I also think that approach worked against Colin Kaepernick. I know, Jackson looks like a pretty good passer, but I want to see someone take his legs away. I want to see him play as a pocket passer only. What might happen if his run option is eliminated?
Ben from Albuquerque, NM
What is your favorite Thanksgiving food other people might consider a bit unusual?
Mincemeat pie? Quince pie? Shoo-fly pie?
Neil from Cheddar, UK
You regularly talk about the uneveness of the college game and the regular blowout games. I feel the NFL this season feels a little more like that. A lot of games seem to be so one-sided a neutral fan can't enjoy it and it must be brutal for the losing team's fans. Any given Sunday does not seem quite so meaningful this year. Is it me, or does the NFL aim of parity seem to be falling a little short this year?
We've had some blowouts the last two weeks, but 11 of the 13 games played in Week 11 were decided by eight or fewer points. I don't think one-sided games are a problem. What I don't like is the repeating pattern of one team getting a big lead and the losing team making a mad dash to catch up, only to fall short on a Hail Mary or onside kick attempt. It has a kind of scripted feel to it.
Isaac from Nashville, TN
Here's what continues to puzzle me. Green Bay has a new head coach, a new defensive coordinator, tons of new defensive players, and a (theoretically) run-first offense, yet, the defense still looks soft, soft, soft. How can this still happen? What mysterious force can be bigger than players and plays and coaching?
If it stays this way through the remainder of the season, the answer to your question will be the Packers need more talent on defense.
Nick from Owego, NY
Do you think we'll start to see more trades for second-year players like Minkah Fitzpatrick?
Like Fitzpatrick? No, that was a fluke. The Steelers got lucky. We did see a distinct uptick in trades this year and I think that trend is going to continue because trading for a player can be better, if the price is right, than signing one in free agency. Why? Because his bonus amortization stays with the team that traded him. It's a great way for patching holes and you can wait until you're certain of where you need to patch.
Ben from Lansing, MI
Rodgers gives us hope, as you say, in a rematch with the 49ers. But what can be done about the pocket that collapsed around him and kept him from looking downfield? He could not step forward or slip out one of the sides. That is more than a problem with the tackles, and it directly affects "The Man."
The run fixes everything.
Enrique from Jacksonville, FL
"Pulled my Pittsburgh sign out from under my bed and went down to the turnpike." Does this mean you were hitchhiking home? What was hitchhiking like? As a young person, it just seems like a crazy idea to me.
Yeah, my sports car was in the shop. Hey, it was a different time. I remember getting picked up by a family with a kid who wouldn't let me alone. I said, "The next exit is my exit." I just wanted to get out of the car and start over. I never met anyone who wasn't a good person. Mostly, they wanted conversation. On May 4, 1970, they wanted to know what happened? Nobody should hitchhike today. I can't remember the last time I saw someone with a sign. Back then, it was common.
Geoff from Beaver Dam, WI
Chatty never bothered me until the Buffalo game. How can he be cheering for Hauschka to miss on a national broadcast?
Chatty, aka Tony Baloney, is out of control.
Scott from Little Rock, AR
I officially turned off football with 4:06 left in the second quarter of the Bears/Lions game. Officiating is ruining the game. I won't let it ruin my Thanksgiving.
Don't turn off the TV, yet. December is "Salute to Penalties" month. Players will be encouraged to wear yellow shoes and gloves.
Ben from Alameda, CA
What's your take on scheduling the same opponent 17 days apart? I don't think I can keep my eyeballs away from the Steelers/Browns rematch.
You want a human sacrifice, don't you?