Black and Blue all over: A different offense
Divisional rivals always like to point out how their opponents have changed when it comes time for the second matchup of the season. This week Green Bay has had good reason to take a second look at Minnesota.
The Vikings are 4-2 since switching to quarterback Gus Frerotte and are averaging 27.8 points in their past five games. That latter mark is the fifth-best figure in the NFL over that stretch. Packers coach Mike McCarthy said this week that the Vikings offense is running plays he didn't see in preparing for the teams' Sept. 8 opener at Lambeau Field, noting many of them are similar to ones he uses in Green Bay's downfield passing offense.
The Vikings have made 32 plays of 20 or more yards, just five off the NFL lead. Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune writes that coach Brad Childress deserves credit for turning around his once-clunking offense.
Childress, though, might have saved the season -- or at least extended his team's window of competitiveness -- by having the guts to make a quarterback change after two games. He recognized that he could have lost a veteran lockerroom that has experienced too little success since his arrival, and he installed a quarterback who has proved to be inspirational in terms of toughness and leadership, even if he is older than Joe Kapp. Whatever your perceptions of Childress, the numbers indicate that his offense has thrived with Frerotte under center.
Childress has listened to Frerotte's play suggestions for several weeks, writes Rick Alonzo of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Frerotte:
"At my point in my career I'm also saying I don't have anything to lose with telling them what I think about plays and how I feel about things. We've been open and honest since the beginning, and it's been really good."
The Vikings will need an explosive offense Sunday against the Packers, whom they haven't defeated since Nov. 21, 2005.
Continuing around the NFC North:
- Packers left tackle Chad Clifton discusses the allergic reaction he suffered to an anti-inflammatory drug before last Sunday's game at Tennessee. As Greg A. Bedard and Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel write, Clifton's body swelled and he had difficulty breathing. The Packers' medical staff reversed the reaction with other medication, but Clifton did not play.
- Rookie tight end Jermichael Finley apologized for his frontal criticism of Packers coaches and quarterback Aaron Rodgers, according to Tom Pelissero of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. "I promised [McCarthy] that it's not going to happen [again]," Finley said, "and I'm going to keep my head on right and just do what I'm trying to do."
- The Chicago Bears practiced in the rain Thursday at Halas Hall, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times. It was another reason for holding out quarterback Kyle Orton (ankle).
- Receiver Brandon Lloyd might have rankled some people in the Bears organization by saying he didn't want to return from a knee injury until he is 100 percent healed, according to David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune. Lloyd returned to full practice mode this week.
- Take it from someone who was at practice: Nicholas J. Cotsonika of the Detroit Free Press writes that Lions quarterback Daunte Culpepper looks sharper than quarterback Drew Stanton -- at least in individual drills.