We're Black and Blue All Over:
SAN DIEGO -- Week 9 is a slow-moving one here in the NFC North. The Green Bay Packers played our only game Sunday, with the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings on their bye, and the Chicago Bears don't get on the field until Monday night at the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Packers gave us plenty to think about while we await that game. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers continued his ascendance into the NFL stratosphere while one prominent member of the Packers defense officially registered his concerns about its leaky performance against the pass. Some of you might consider it splitting hairs when a team is 8-0, and maybe it is, but I built my game column around that dichotomy.
At any rate, I'm beginning an extended trek back to NFC North blog headquarters. I have a few posts ready to publish during the morning and we'll eventually turn our attention to Monday night's game. ESPNChicago.com will take the lead in coverage, but I'll probably chime in with a few thoughts. Hopefully you've already seen ESPN's Sunday Conversation with Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, which we posted Sunday afternoon.
Let's take a minute to catch up on local coverage.
Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette: "In reality, the Packers defense has nothing to apologize for. Not after returning two interceptions for touchdowns in the first quarter, one by Charlie Peprah and the other by [Tramon] Williams. And certainly not after stopping the Chargers' offense twice in the final 4 minutes to seal the victory while clinging to a seven-point lead. In between giving up big plays and gobs of yardage, the Packers defense has made crucial stops and forced key turnovers all season long. Sure, the Packers' perfect record has been spearheaded by quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' explosive offense, but don't sell the defense short."
Peprah confirmed a premonition Sunday with his two-interception performance, writes Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy, via Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com: "We're not going to turn a blind eye to the negatives that went on today. [But] we're 8-0. That's the facts. We're 5-0 on the road. That's huge. We're excited about that. The defense gave up too many big plays. Our offense scored points. … But the things I'm really concerned about are the things that go on inside the team. … We were not as sharp as we need to be as a team, but we won the football game. We're 8-0."
Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith is "on a roll," writes Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times.
The Bears hope their relatively settled offensive line can help mitigate many of the penalties and time-management issues the team has had on the road this season, notes Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com.
The Bears like their current safety combination, Major Wright and Chris Conte, because of its speed, writes Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune.
Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press grades the first half of the Detroit Lions' season.
Overall, writes Philip Zaroo of Mlive.com, the Lions deserve a B for their first half.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford should get more publicity than Tony Romo or Tim Tebow, according to Jerry Green of the Detroit News.
Dan Wieiderer of the Star Tribune picks five moments that led to the Minnesota Vikings' 2-6 start.
The Vikings get an overall grade of "D" in the first half from Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
It's possible the Vikings could release cornerback Chris Cook this week, writes Judd Zulgad of 1500ESPN.com. Zulgad: "Take Cook off the roster and all of a sudden cornerback goes from being an area of big need to an area of huge need."