NFC North: Damien Woody
I had only been covering the NFL for a few years when the Green Bay Packers added the general manager duties to coach Mike Sherman's job title. I remember wondering what exactly qualified Sherman, a longtime assistant, to run the front office. But the Packers had been performing well on the field under Sherman, and so I didn't think much of it.
In an interview this week with ESPN 540, former Packers president Bob Harlan called Sherman's promotion "the worst decision I made."
Harlan: "[W]hen Ron Wolf left, there were a number of things that bothered me about picking his successor. First of all, in his first season Mike went 9-7, won his last four games. We did have momentum going into the next year. I had talked to [quarterback] Brett Favre; he said it was the best chemistry he had seen in the locker room in all the years he had been here. And he'd been through a couple of Super Bowls by that time.
"I was concerned that if a new man came in from the outside, Mike might have trouble getting along with him, [or] the new man might want to come in and want to totally change the scouting staff, which I thought was a capable young scouting staff. And so I decided to do something that I don't like to do -- give one man both jobs. And he didn't hurt us on the field – we went 12-4, 12-4, 10-6, 10-6. [Sherman] did a great job of coaching. But it got to the point when we started having problems with players that he almost seemed to be ignoring the team."
Indeed, Sherman's performance as a general manager wasn't nearly as good as his performance as a coach, and eventually Harlan hired Ted Thompson to replace him in the front office. The lesson: There are a limited number of qualified general managers in NFL circles. There are also a limited number of good coaches. The chances of finding someone who can do both well are, statistically, pretty small.
Continuing around the NFC North:
- Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette thinks the Packers will keep seven receivers on their final roster.
- The Packers have covered themselves well along the defensive line, writes Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- Detroit Lions defensive end Willie Young's priorities have changed, writes Terry Foster of the Detroit News.
- Lions running back Jahvid Best wants to put pressure on opposing defenses, notes Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press.
- Here's a video of ESPN NFL analyst Damien Woody joining "SportsCenter" to talk about how the Chicago Bears' hiring of offensive coordinator Mike Tice will affect quarterback Jay Cutler.
- Bears receiver Earl Bennett has the best drop rate in the NFL over the past three seasons, according to Pro Football Focus.
- Dan Wiederer of the Star Tribune speaks with Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier about his trip to the Persian Gulf as part of a USO tour.
- Vikings guard Geoff Schwartz to Bob Sansevere of the St. Paul Pioneer Press: "I'm a lot more than a football player."
A tip of the hat to NFC West colleague Mike Sando, who flagged the latest offering from a fellow known as AdamJT13 -- a blogger who has gained some cyber-fame for his ability to predict the NFL's awarding of compensatory draft picks.
The league has never publicized the formula it uses for this program, which gives extra selections to teams that lost more talent than it gained in free agency the previous year. The picks can be as high as the third round and as low as the seventh. I won't overwhelm you with too many details, but in general AdamJT13 -- whose true identity is unknown -- believes it is primarily based on the average annual value of the contracts in question.
Here is AdamJT13's personal blog, which lays out his methods.
Now, for the moment you've been waiting for: AdamJT13 predicts two NFC North teams will net extra picks when the NFL announces the results later this month.
Chicago Bears (3)
- Players lost that impact formula: Bernard Berrian, John Gilmore, Brendon Ayanbadejo
- Players gained that impact formula: None
- Rounds: One in 4th (or possibly 3rd) and two 7ths
Detroit Lions (2)
The story line centers on a talk Favre had with former Detroit Lions president and general manager Matt Millen. Favre denied a report that claimed he gave the Lions an elaborate rundown on how to beat the Green Bay Packers.
Woody, who spent the past four seasons with Detroit, said he doesn't understand the uproar.
"I don't know all the details, but to me it just seems ridiculous," Woody told reporters Wednesday. "We have our own things going on here. I think people just keep stirring up the whole Favre-Green Bay thing.
"To me, it's just getting out of control. I think Brett has just moved on from that and it seems like something just keeps stirring the pot. We've moved forward. I know he has."
Woody was asked what his reaction would be if he discovered a teammate was giving away old secrets to another team rather than concentrating on the Jets.
"It wouldn't bother me because that kind of stuff happens all the time," Woody said. "If a guy gets released from here and goes to another team, and we're playing that opponent, you better believe that guys will be calling and asking 'What information can you give me?' That happens all the time.
"I just think this whole situation is blown out of proportion. I'm sure Brett has addressed it and I'll just leave it at that."