With Week Four nearly in the books, let's take a whirl around the NFL. Here are my thoughts:
⦁ Micah Hyde might be this season's best free-agent acquistion. He's leading an impressive Bills defense and rebuilt secondary that upset the Falcons in Atlanta on Sunday. The Bills have my attention. Tyrod Taylor is showing gains and the Bills play hard.
⦁ The Patriots looked soft in losing to the Panthers. I can't imagine Bill Belichick will allow that to continue, but does he have the personnel to fix it? The Patriots are the best at patching, but I'm reminded of one of my all-time favorite Nollisms: "You don't build from the waiver wire."
⦁ Jim Caldwell has given the Lions a soul. The Lions got this one right.
⦁ The Week 3 anthem controversy might've cost the Steelers a 4-0 start. The team that sleepwalked to an overtime loss in Chicago is not the team that dominated the Ravens in Baltimore yesterday.
⦁ The Rams have arrived, further proof of what having "The Man" does for a team.
⦁ Don't bury the Bengals just yet. That's a talented team with a young, star running back. Joe Mixon is the real deal. He's what the Bengals need to beat the Steelers.
⦁ If there's an NFL team of the future, I believe it's the Texans. Deshaun Watson is the steal of the draft.
⦁ I've come to regard defensive pass interference penalties as a gift to the offense. Not one of the many I saw called yesterday was worthy of the yards and first down gifted to the offense.
⦁ Is Andrew Luck Greg Cook?
Vincent from Seattle, WA
Vic, I always wanted to ask you this question: After living in Green Bay for over five years, why do you consider Packers fans winsome?
In all the years I covered Packers games, including games against the Bears, I never saw a fight, neither in the stands nor in the parking lots. Conversely, I never covered a Browns-Steelers game that I didn't see a fight.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, what did you think of the two-game suspension for Danny Trevathan after his hit on Davante Adams? Do you think he will win the appeal?
I think his suspension is in line with the offense and I don't think he'll win his appeal because the league wants to enforce the message his suspension sends.
Steve from Racine, WA
Do you think it's time to dissolve the NCAA and start fresh?
The FBI was wiretapping college basketball coaches and building a case that would take down some of the sport's top coaches and programs, and neither the NCAA nor the university's presidents knew anything about it until the FBI called the NCAA on the day the news broke. In my opinion, that is the epitome of oversight incompetence. If I was elected president of the United States, the first thing I would do is establish an FBI task force to clean up college sports. If the NCAA won't do it, I would. By the way, is the NCAA ever going to rule on North Carolina?
John from Sioux Falls, SD
Vic, glad to have you back. Missed having my Vic fix. Watching the Adams hit cemented in my mind the refs have to blow the whistle when forward progress is stopped. This thing where they push and shove the pile from both sides is just dumb and dangerous. Not sure when that started to be acceptable, but nothing good can come from it. Agree?
I completely agree. Once upon a time, it was against the rules for an offensive player to assist the ball carrier. Remember "The Bush Push" in the 2005 Notre Dame-USC game? Somewhere along the line, the rule's language was softened. These days, the ball carrier has become the ball.
David from Hilliard, OH
Vic, as a 60-year-old contemplating retirement after 26-plus years on the assembly line of a major auto company, what advice can you give me?
Make a plan.
Chris from Auburn, NY
Hey, Vic, longtime reader here asking a question for the first time. I know you don’t put much stock in the first few weeks of the season, but what are your first impressions on how the NFC North is shaping up?
It's a three-team race.
Patrick from Burlington, IL
How does Jacksonville look so far? Are they finally climbing out of the gutter?
The Jaguars' arrow is pointing up -- Tom Coughlin's presence guarantees it -- but the Jaguars' problem is they play in a division with two young, emerging quarterbacks (Marcus Mariota and DeShaun Watson), while the Jaguars continue to struggle with uncertainty at the quarterback position. Out of the gutter? Yes. Playoff contender? Not until the Jaguars can say they have "The Man." That's what it takes to be a legimitate playoff contender these days. Backed up against their goal line late in the overtime period on Sunday, the Jaguars went run, run, pass, which was largely a flag of surrender that would cost them the game. Why so conservative? They lacked confidence in their quarterback, and that won't work. As I watched the Jaguars yesterday, I couldn't help but think what a young Mark Brunell would do for them. It makes me wish I was young again.
Nik from Greenville, SC
Did your house make it through the Edisto flood?
It did. My house is 13 feet off the ground. That's the building code; this is the low country. We have storage rooms under our homes, and I had moved everything up off the floor in anticipation of Irma's arrival. She arrived exactly at high tide; that was the problem. At 11 a.m., I saw the water coming up from the marsh; high tide was at 12:11 p.m. I knew my storage room was toast, so I took my old friend Jim down to the landing on the steps under the house and had a hurricane party as the water rose. At some point in the proceeding I cried out, "You call this a storm?" The water level topped out at about a foot and a half in my storage room. It was much deeper in my outdoor shower and I was concerned it was going to be washed away. With aplogies to Steinbeck, by two o'clock it was all over. When the power came back on two days later, I went into the storage room with my pressure washer and wet vac. All is well again. Such is life at sea level.
Joe from Dundee, IL
Vic, glad you are back online with us. What was your impression of Ted's abundant signing of free agents and waiver wire pickups this year?
He had holes to patch. That's how a draft-and-develop team uses free agency.