Niclas from Stockholm, Sweden
Does the order of the schedule have any real significance?
It sure does. The schedule-maker can make a schedule a whole lot tougher by how he arranges it. For example, the opener in Jacksonville isn’t by mistake. That’s intentional. The schedule-maker is challenging a team from a cool summer environment to play in Florida at the hottest time of the day in Week 1, when the players will have yet to play a full game. He’s creating a storyline. Put that game in November or December and there’s nothing special about it. In Week 1, it’s a different ballgame.
Dylan from De Pere, WI
The only NFC East team we aren’t playing in prime time this season is Dallas. I love this schedule. Thoughts?
It’s quirky. Four in a row at home, three in a row on the road; I don’t think I’ve ever seen that, and I’m not sure I like it.
J.R. from Germantown, WI
With the 2016 schedule released, the first thing I noticed is that awful bye week. After all, the NFL rewards the best record with the best seeding in the playoffs. Doesn’t it seem like the NFL should reward the best teams with the latest bye week?
It rotates. The Packers have had late-season byes in recent years. I don’t know what the big deal is about a bye in Week 4. First of all, you can’t know when you need your bye until you know what the health status of your team is. Maybe the Packers will need a bye in Week 4. Secondly, after a month of training camp, five preseason games and a rugged three-week start to the season, the bye will be welcomed by tired bodies. I don’t have a problem with where the bye week is.
Kevin from Westport, WA
Vic, I can’t believe we only have three home games down the stretch. What’s the point of playing outdoors in the north if you’re not there in winter?
What’s wrong with three home games in December? One is against a dome team from Texas. The Texans are being challenged to play in the cold in Green Bay just as the Packers are being challenged to play in the heat in Jacksonville. I like the finishing schedule; a sweep of the division, all three games at noon and the middle one at Lambeau Field against the defending NFC North champions.
Jerry from Des Moines, IA
Vic, if the Rams take a QB with the first pick, clearly they think they are drafting “The Man.” If you were a GM and thought you were getting “The Man,” would you make the same trade the Rams did?
I consider the draft to be all about value, and the Titans certainly got a lot of value in that trade. Look out for the Titans. They got “The Man” last year and they should be able to use this trade to strengthen their roster. All of a sudden, the Packers’ trip to Tennessee in November doesn’t look so easy, does it? Would I make that trade? Yeah, if I was bound and gagged and forced to listen to my lead scout explain to me the quarterback we’re going to take with the No. 1 overall pick is the next Tom Brady. You don’t spend that kind of value for any player other than “The Man.” He’s the player of greatest value. If that pick yields “The Man,” it’s a good deal. If it doesn’t, it could be devastating.
Dan from Saint Peters, MO
When drafting for the offensive line, would you only draft players who played either left tackle or center in college?
I get your point. If the most talented offensive linemen are left tackles, then draft left tackles and make them right tackles and guards. Maybe you can even find one that can snap a football.
Josh from Baltimore, MD
When you think of Lynn Swann, are your lasting impressions of his Super Bowl catches or being carried off the field against Oakland? How do you think he’ll do as athletic director of USC?
I picture him lying unconscious in Joe Greene’s arms, and I think of how you never see a Super Bowl highlights video without seeing video of his circus catches. I think of one more thing, the misconception he was self-absorbed. He’s one of the best team players I’ve ever covered. If he caught one pass for nine yards and the Steelers won, you never heard a complaint. I can’t remember hearing him ever complain about not getting the ball. Swann is a winner. That’s what USC is getting.
Jerry from Wilmington, NC
Vic, how much does the Rams’ move potentially shake up other teams’ draft boards?
I don’t see why it would. I think everyone knew the first two picks would be spent on quarterbacks; the order isn’t changing. This is a classic case of teams fitting themselves to the picks. The Titans are moving down to where the players they covet fit.
Matt from Des Moines, IA
Does Vic like his grits regular, creamy or al dente?
I cook them in water (lots of salt, too) only and I like them a little gritty.
Dave from Glenview, IL
Vic, you strike me as a person who has reached Maslow’s self-actualization stage. Am I correct?
Yes. I reached it two days ago when I bought a chainsaw on a stick. I have reached fulfillment of the highest needs. If I can’t cut grass, I’ll cut trees. I must cut something.
Mike from Charlotte, NC
Vic, the Rams must have an awful lot of faith in their scouts if they’re giving up the entire top end of their next two drafts. That strikes me as a one-player-away mentality. What do you think?
If you don’t have “The Man,” you’re at least one player away and you can’t know how many more players you need until you get “The Man.” It begins with him. The Rams have a strong nucleus: Aaron Donald, Todd Gurley, Greg Robinson. They need “The Man,” and even if they draft him, it’ll take a couple of years to develop him. You don’t want the front end getting old waiting for the back end to catch up. Sam Bradford was supposed to be the front end. That’s another example of how fragile it all is.
Mike from Buckeye, AZ
Vic, I’m pretty sure you are a clairvoyant. First Jared Cook and now a one o’clock September game at Jacksonville.
Every time I saw reference to the Packers’ easy schedule, I thought to myself, “I can think of one way to make it a lot tougher.” The Packers will be ready for this game. Mike McCarthy knows how to prepare a team to play in the heat. I have concern for Packers fans planning to attend that game. Don’t buy tickets on the east side of that stadium.
Marty from Fort Worth, TX
Vic, we look forward to your return on 9-11-16. Let’s hope for 95 degrees, sunny and 100 percent humidity.
Should the Packers bring their green jerseys?
Beau from Lancaster, PA
Vic, what is the mood of your inbox after the schedule release?
Most of the complaints are about the bye week. I don’t get it.
Alex from Kaukauna, WI
How does Mike McCarthy prepare his defense for Week 1?
He prepares his defense by preparing his offense. What I mean is the more plays the offense can run in training camp, the more prepared the defense will be for the endurance challenge they’re going to face in Jacksonville. This is the kind of game that makes it good to run the no-huddle as your base offense. It’s a great conditioning tool. I think we’re going to hear Coach McCarthy talk a lot this summer about upping the tempo in practice.
Nick from Seattle, WA
Vic, if you were in the Rams’ position, who would you take with the first overall pick?
I haven’t studied the top quarterbacks, for the obvious reason. The last time I talked to Tony about Goff and Wentz, he was kind of wishy washy on both guys. That’s not the kind of trade you spend on wishy washy. The Rams have to know who their guy is, or believe there are two of them. If there are two of them, the Browns will be the big winner.
Martin from Grafton, WI
Vic, what were you thinking when the Jaguars selected Matt Jones in the first round? What were your thoughts of Rodgers at the time?
I didn’t study Aaron Rodgers because the Jaguars had drafted Byron Leftwich two years earlier. They were committed to him and they were throwing wide receivers at him to make him “The Man.” I thought they made mistakes with Reggie Williams and Matt Jones because I thought they over-drafted each guy out of need at the position. Jones was making a position switch. I thought that especially clouded his selection in the first round.
Shane from Bozeman, MT
Vic, I’m in the mood for a story with my Friday morning coffee. What was the moment that made you realize you picked the right profession and wanted to cover the NFL for the rest of your life?
I knew it with my first story, which was a feature on a journeyman guard named Bruce Van Dyke. He played briefly with the Packers. I don’t think I could’ve succeeded at anything else; maybe grass cutting. Yeah, I probably would’ve started a lawn care service, but not until later in life because there weren’t any lawn care services when I was young. Everybody cut their own grass. When did we become too important to cut grass?
Max from Green Bay, WI
Don’t give us that strength of schedule (baloney), Vic. It’s very hard to win a game in the NFL and Matt Cassel won 11 of them in one season with the Patriots.
You’re right. Strength of schedule is not a reliable indicator, as evidenced by the 2008 season to which you referred. The Patriots had the easiest schedule in the league (99-157, .387) and didn’t make it into the playoffs. The Steelers had the most difficult schedule in the league (153-103, .598) and won the Super Bowl. Falls down a well, eyes go crossed. Gets kicked by a mule, they go back. I don’t know.