We're Black and Blue All Over:
Uh-oh. Another late-game collapse led two veteran players -- both in their first years with the Detroit Lions -- to call out teammates for accepting the organization's long-term losing culture. Nose tackle Corey Williams and cornerback Chris Houston both suggested there is not enough heart in the team's locker room.
Williams, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press: "There's a bunch of guys that need to be called out. A bunch of guys need to look in the mirror, realize that there's more to it than just playing in the NFL. There's more to it than getting paid. You got guys, everybody out here got their career on the line, you know what I mean? You can easily take your last snap at any moment, so I think guys need to take it more serious. I don't think guys take it serious enough."
Houston: "When adversity hits, everybody can't hold their head down. Leaders got to step up and lead. When adversity hits on the team, you kind of see it in some guys' body language, here we go again. You can just tell. So we just got to have heart and know that when adversity hits we got to keep on fighting."
After watching Thursday's 45-24 loss to the New England Patriots, it would be difficult to disagree with either sentiment. Whether we heard it from the right messengers is a separate issue.
Williams, for one, has been a part of a really good defensive line this year, but he committed another two encroachment penalties Thursday, bringing his season total to nine. He has 10 penalties overall.
We'll hit this issue in more depth a bit later in our Free Head Exam. For now, let's take our post-Thanksgiving spin around the division:
Lions cornerback Alphonso Smith took full blame for his horrendous performance, saying he was being "selfish" by peeking into the backfield when he had deep responsibility on what became a 79-yard touchdown pass to Patriots receiver Deion Branch. Tim Twentyman of the Detroit News has more.
Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News: "Some can be pinned on team leaders, but ultimately it gets pinned on the coach. [Jim] Schwartz is 4-23, the same dreary level as Rod Marinelli (10-38) and Marty Mornhinweg (5-27). He's a better coach than those two, but we can't keep saying that if the evidence doesn't support it."
Schwartz on the team's penalty totals, via Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com: "The fact is, when you're a 2-9 football team, you're not going to get those calls. When you're a 9-2 team, you're going to get those calls. That's the way the NFL is. It's close games and we don't have the reputation of being a team that makes those plays. We need to make those plays and then complain about officiating."
Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune offers this outstanding line: "If it's true chicks dig the long ball, how did Jay Cutler attract Kristin Cavallari?" Cutler has only one completion over 30 yards this season.
All Bears players had full participation in practice Thursday, reports Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com.
Bears tight end Greg Olsen remains on track to catch more passes than any tight end in the Mike Martz offense, notes Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Gary D'Amato of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "You check out Frank Zombo's bio and look up to see him starting at right outside linebacker for the Green Bay Packers and you wonder: How in the world did the dots ever get connected?"
The Packers are hoping for significant contributions from running back Dimitri Nance, writes Kareem Copeland of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com tells the amazing story of Packers safety Charlie Peprah, whose family fled Ghana in 1978.
The Minnesota Vikings are working to protect young cornerbacks Asher Allen and Chris Cook, writes Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune.
Since 1990, interim head coaches in the NFL have gone 51-111 for the remainder of the season in which they took over, notes Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com.
Don't totally rule out Donovan McNabb as a future quarterback option for the Vikings, writes Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.