We're Black and Blue All Over:
The Chicago Bears held what by all accounts was an interesting Q&A session with 2,000 season-ticket holders Monday night. More than a few fans expressed concern about the Bears' 0-4 preseason and their prospects for 2010, at one point prompting coach Lovie Smith to offer this response (via Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times):
"We plan on winning a lot of football games this year, and those comments you are making, I think this will be the last time we hear them from you.''
At this time of year, coaches have no choice but to offer positive appraisals of the upcoming season. This is the NFL's happy season, when everyone is undefeated (and also winless). But Rick Morrissey of the Sun-Times writes that fans "seem to know better this time around."
Morrissey: "If Lovie Smith had ever been publicly honest about his team -- like, just once -- maybe more people would believe him when he says everything will be fine. He'd have built up some equity by now. Fans would have disregarded the recently completed winless preseason because, really, what do four exhibition games mean? But when a coach has spent the previous six years insisting everything is swell even when it's not, people tend to withhold the benefit of the doubt. In fact, you'd need the Jaws of Life to extract the benefit of the doubt from many Bears fans."
OK then. As we've touched on a couple of times, I think much of the consternation is emanating from concern that the Bears will open the season with a home loss to the Detroit Lions, losers of 28 of their past 30 games. If that happens, Chicago's floodgates of negativity will truly be unleashed.
Continuing around the NFC North:
Bears president Ted Phillips refuted many claims in a recent Forbes magazine report on the Bears' finances, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Phillips: "From my perspective, when you have the smallest stadium in the NFL and you are able to even by Forbes' calculation be in the Top 10, I think that shows that we're doing an excellent job of maximizing our revenues from every source possible, maximizing the utilization of all of our resources and being able to have enough resources to compete on the field in terms of competing for player talent."
Biggs explores why the Bears' offensive line is in constant transition, noting the team drafted only one lineman in the first five rounds between 2003-07.
ESPNChicago.com's Jeff Dickerson: "It's unclear whether or not Garrett Wolfe will have a role in Mike Martz's offense. But one thing that's abundantly clear: the Bears could not afford to live without Wolfe's invaluable contributions on special teams."
Longtime Detroit Lions place-kicker Jason Hanson: "Even your average fan can see that we're a better team." Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press has more.
New Lions cornerback Alphonso Smith to Chris McCosky of the Detroit News: "It's really good to have a clean slate. I allowed certain individuals back in Denver to form a perception of me, and I paid for it."
Lions general manager Martin Mayhew believes the team will be "pretty decent" this season, writes Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com.
Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy is taking a risk by planning to use starting cornerback Tramon Williams as a punt returner, writes Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Not only did Packers linebacker Clay Matthews miss a month of practice, but he is also making the switch from right to left outside linebacker, notes Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The Packers believe they have upgraded their punting situation with Tim Masthay, writes Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.
Minnesota Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield said "it would be nice" to add another cornerback, but "that's not up to me." Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com has more.
Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson on opponents' attempts to knock the ball from his hands rather than tackle him: "They might not be on the field too long if they continue to do that." Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune has more.