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Coach must be committed to his plays

Tough to pick a favorite team in the Super Bowl


Cam from Plano, TX

Vic, is it just me or was the Pro Bowl good for once?

I wouldn't know. I turned it on and a few plays later the defense was penalized for an illegal blitz. I turned the TV off and picked my book back up. Hey, I have nothing against the Pro Bowl. It's a good way to kill time before the Super Bowl, but it's just not for me. Watching it disturbs me because I'm afraid I'm watching football as it'll be played in the future. No thanks.

Jon from Bath, England

So, who is Vic rooting for next Sunday, Patriots or Seahawks? Why?

Vic doesn't root, he just watches. I know there's no chance that at any point in my life will I be able to convince the readers of this column of that fact, but I'll continue to try. If the Patriots win, the game will forever be tainted by Deflategate. If the Seahawks win, the game will forever be tainted for Packers fans, for the obvious reason. If I rooted, I wouldn't know for whom to root.

Steven from Sheboygan, WI

Vic, the week leading up to the NFC Championship game, nobody on TV picked the Packers to win. One guy even said it's gonna be ugly and picked the Seahawks by 17 points. I was not surprised by the first 56 minutes and eight seconds of the game. It's as if outside Packer nation nobody respects the job McCarthy has done with this team over his years here. Do you think being in a small market lends less respect to our beloved Packers?

I do not agree. I think the Packers are one of the most respected franchises in all of sports. Don't succumb to small-market paranoia. I saw the same thing in Jacksonville, blaming a lack of TV coverage on being a small market. Media coverage is all about headline players. Indianapolis is a small market but when Peyton Manning played for the Colts, the Colts were one of the most celebrated media teams in the league. The Packers have the best quarterback in the league and he plays for a storied franchise with a huge fan base. No team in the league was more celebrated by the media than the Packers were this season. Five of the Packers' 16 regular-season games were scheduled for prime time. That's extraordinary. My guess is the Packers will begin next season as the favorite to win the NFC. I see no media bias against the Packers.

Matthew from Osceola, WI

Do you think there's any correlation to Matthews staying relatively healthy and Matthews not going head-to-head with a 330-pound tackle all game?

You don't move to inside linebacker to get healthy. In the middle, you've got blockers coming at you from both sides. I think if we hooked Clay Matthews up to a lie detector and asked him if he prefers playing inside to outside, I think the machine would explode if he said inside.

Matt from Bismarck, ND

A new goal for me is to get a question published. In your terms, what is the trajectory of our team? Arrow in what direction?

This team's arrow has been pointing up since it turned the corner in its rebuilding effort following the 2008 season. It'll stay that way for a long time because the roster is young and the cap is clean.

Jacob from Mayville, ND

Vic, what do you remember of the playoff bowl of the 1960s? Was the effort level similar to Pro Bowls?

It was a good game. It only lasted a few years because the concept was flawed, but I remember watching the few games that were played and the games had a definite postseason feel to them. So did the Pro Bowl back then. I remember watching Johnny Unitas rally his team in a Pro Bowl game that made you feel as though the outcome mattered. The difference is that back then we didn't have as many games as we have today. We wanted more. Nowadays, there's so much football on TV that it's difficult to accept an inferior product.

Eric from Fennimore, WI

For the sake of turning the page, what do you see when you see the upcoming Packers season? Anything to prove, voids to fill, hurdles to jump or new approaches you predict? It's a long offseason, but I'd like some idea of where we're heading.

I think we're going to see Coach McCarthy make a bold and definitive effort to turn the page. I don't think it can be business as usual this spring. I think there has to be a distinct newness to 2015 so the team and all of us can distance ourselves from the way this season ended. I don't know what that newness will be; I'm just acknowledging the need for it. There has to be a new, bold and intense commitment to 2015 and not to avenging the disappointment of 2014.

Juan from Astoria, NY

Vic, we're slowly turning the page and even though it's so hard to put that loss behind me, everyone is talking about how the team gets better and what they should do to improve. I want to know what we can do to improve as fans. Does anything come to mind?

Don't change a thing. This is the perfect fan base for a team needing to turn the page. Why? Because this is the most supportive fan base in all of professional sports.

Chris from Naples, FL

Vic, I know I'm probably thinking way ahead in the future, but the NFL released the opponent schedule last month and we play Seattle at home. As soon as the tickets are available, I'm getting my hands on some. I'm hungry for revenge and if it happens, I want to be there to see it myself.

That's the attitude that won't work. You can't go back to that moment. It's gone forever. Let it go.

Patricia from Anchorage, AK

Concerning the press conference immediately after the NFC Championship game, do you think Coach McCarthy's cavalier attitude about his play calls is a dangerous position to take going into our next season?

If 15 minutes after a game a coach professes regret for his play-calling, I'm worried. Making plays work is all about commitment to them. If a team doesn't believe its coach is committed to the plays he calls, the team won't be committed to executing them.

Brandon from Randolph, UT

Is this the year the front office pursues more of the team's needs in free agency?

I hope not. I think this team is beautifully positioned to address in the draft the few needs the team has and use its cap to re-sign its own players. That's the formula that works best because nobody knows your free agents better than you do. Was Sam Shields a good re-signing?

Mark from Tuscaloosa, AL

Vic, I think this Deflategate deal is ridiculous. We're talking about the psi in the football now and people think that's cheating? I'm sorry but you can inflate the ball to 50 psi or take all the air out of it and the Colts still would have lost to the Patriots. I wish they would get rid of the rule and let quarterbacks adjust their own balls. The way it is now makes it advantageous for quarterbacks that like the ball at 12-13 psi, so why not let all quarterbacks choose what they like? I believe you would be hard pressed to find many players that would oppose getting rid of the rule.

It's been a long time since I've inducted someone into the "Ask Vic" Hall of Fame. Congratulations, you're in.

Martin from Fort Wayne, IN

Vic, you mentioned we don't have to cut and gut a roster and that is why we remain contenders. That is the secret code in the NFL today. I was talking to a good friend who is a Bears fan, and he said it was our turn to have some bad years. I understand his position as a Bears fan, but with the way we are managed, we just don't have that.

I call it the dirty little secret, and the good franchises know what I mean. The dirty little secret is that the Super Bowl isn't the goal – at least not until the postseason arrives. The goal is to make it into the playoffs every year, with the idea that every so often you'll get lucky, be the hot team, be healthy and get the breaks a team needs to go all the way. The way you make that happen is by keeping your roster young and your cap clean. If you load up for a short-term run, as the Broncos have done, you're gonna go away for a while.

Tristan from Davenport, IA

When will it stop hurting?

When you accept that football is just a game. Don't make it more important than it is.

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