NFC North: Jim Zorn
The Bears have sought permission to interview Minnesota quarterbacks coach Kevin Rogers. The Chicago Sun-Times reports the Vikings have given permission. If the interview occurs, Rogers would be the Bears’ third interview and the sixth publicly-identified candidate for the job.
UPDATE: Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune reports Rogers will interview Thursday.
Sean Jensen of the Sun-Times suggests the Bears pursue Jim Zorn. Jeff Dickerson of ESPN Chicago offers this suggestion: Norm Chow.
Meanwhile, there have been no reports that the Bears have interviewed anyone other than Perry Fewell for their defensive coordinator job. Fewell accepted a similar offer from the New York Giants. Bears assistant head coach/defensive line Rod Marinelli told the Chicago Tribune that he is open to any job coach Lovie Smith needs him to do, including defensive coordinator.
Continuing around the NFC North:
- Minnesota might have to open the 2010 season without starting cornerback Cedric Griffin, who will soon undergo surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune has more.
- Vikings coach Brad Childress took ultimate blame for having 12 men on the field at the end of regulation in the NFC Championship Game. John Shipley of the St. Paul Pioneer Press covers the issue.
- Detroit offensive coordinator Scott Linehan likes what he sees from Idaho guard Mike Iupati during Senior Bowl practices, according to Nicholas J. Cotsonika of the Detroit Free Press.
- Indeed, writes Philip Zaroo of Mlive.com, it’s time for the Lions to stop their rotation at left guard.
- It would be a “long shot” for Green Bay to hire anyone to replace departed personnel adviser John Schneider, according to Greg A. Bedard of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- Packers president/CEO Mark Murphy will play a key role in collective bargaining agreement discussions during Super Bowl week, writes Bob McGinn of the Journal Sentinel.
You never like to see people put in an impossible position to succeed, but that’s my overwhelming feeling after seeing longtime NFC North/Central friend Sherman Lewis named Washington’s new playcaller.
Lewis has been the offensive coordinator in Green Bay (1992-99), Minnesota (2000-01) and Detroit (2003-04). For all the good things he did during his career, especially in Green Bay, many people would agree that play-calling wasn’t one of them.
Packers coach Mike Holmgren called plays during most of Lewis’ tenure there. Lewis’ brief role as a playcaller under Ray Rhodes in 1999 did not go well, as Jason Reid of the Washington Post points out. And a few of you might remember that in 2001, then-Vikings coach Dennis Green once stripped Lewis of play-calling duties in the middle of a game at Chicago.
And as crazy as it sounds, those situations were much more conducive to success than what Lewis is stepping into now. Taking over an offense after two weeks as a consultant -- and as a result of a front office ultimatum to head coach Jim Zorn -- is a recipe for disaster. I just hope Lewis doesn’t catch the brunt of the blame in Washington if (and when) this experience turns sour.
Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert
Is this the week?
Detroit is 0-2 this season and has lost 19 consecutive games dating to December 2007. But when you look at the Lions’ early-season roster, no game seems more likely for a breakthrough that Sunday’s home matchup against Washington. The Redskins staggered through a 9-7 victory last week against St. Louis, the worst team in the NFL based on ESPN.com’s Week 3 Power Rankings, and have lost their past four road games.
“I’m not overlooking the Lions,” Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth said Wednesday. “You’ve seen what we’re doing. We scored nine points against the Rams last week. I think the Lions are a lot better than the Rams.”
Consider the Lions schedule over the next three weeks:
Oct. 4: at Chicago
Oct. 11: Pittsburgh at Ford Field
Oct. 18: at Green Bay
From this vantage point, Sunday is the Lions’ best bet to avoid an 0-6 start. (And yes, And I know I wrote Tuesday about the difficult short-term the Lions could face with quarterback Matthew Stafford making typical rookie mistakes.) But the Redskins 'offense is struggling to score this season, having managed only 26 points. (That helps a Lions defense that has given up 72 points this year.) Washington last won on the road on Nov. 23, 2008; since that victory, a 20-17 decision at Seattle, Washington has won only two of its nine games.
Coach Jim Zorn said Wednesday that he has spent “zero” time worrying about the Lions breaking their streak against him.
“I guess it’s a story,” Zorn said. “But not for me. They’re a good football team, so I would say zero.”
Here's one other schedule note that should put a smile on the face of Lions fans: In order to set the all-time NFL record of 26 consecutive losses, the Lions would have to lose at home Nov. 1 to the Rams. Stranger things have happened, but if it comes to that, I like the Lions' chances against St. Louis.
We had a little action last week in the NFC North, but as expected, the news certainly slowed as all four teams enjoyed some time away from their practice facilities. We got an update on the Williams Wall story, debated the pressure on Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford and argued over the identity of the NFC North's breakout player in 2009. (I say Minnesota receiver Percy Harvin, you say Chicago tight end Greg Olsen.)
But there's always material for the mailbag, thanks to your intrepid participation. Remember, you can contact me through said mailbag, our lightning-fast Facebook page or Twitter. Phones? They're, like, sooooo 2008. I don't even know why I have one.
OK, let's get on with it:
Kevin Seifert: Thanks for the assignment, Brad. Seriously, it's a good idea. As it turns out, the Lions rank last among the four NFC North teams in this category. The Packers lead with 33 players. Of course, these numbers can be skewed based on the total number of draft choices. But over time, it's at least a decent gauge of overall draft success.
Here's the team-by-team breakdown:
2001: 2 (Tackle Jeff Backus, center Dominic Raiola)
2004: 1 (Smith)
2006: 2 (Linebacker Ernie Sims, safety Daniel Bullocks)
2007: 5 (Receiver Calvin Johnson, quarterback Drew Stanton, defensive end Ikaika Alama-Francis, guard Manny Ramirez, cornerback Ramzee Robinson)
2008: 7 (Tackle Gosder Cherilus, linebacker Jordon Dizon, tailback Kevin Smith, defensive tackle Andre Fluellen, defensive end Cliff Avril, fullback Jerome Felton, defensive tackle Landon Cohen)
2000: 1 (Linebacker Brian Urlacher)
2002: 2 (Defensive end Alex Brown, tailback Adrian Peterson)
2003: 2 (Cornerback Charles Tillman, linebacker Lance Briggs)
2004: 2 (Defensive tackle Tommie Harris, cornerback Nate Vasher)
2006: 5 (Safety Danieal Manning, receiver Devin Hester, defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek, linebacker Jamar Williams, defensive end Mark Anderson)
2007: 6 (Tight end Greg Olsen, running back Garrett Wolfe, guard Josh Beekman, safety Kevin Payne, defensive back Corey Graham, cornerback Trumaine McBride)
2008: 9 (Tackle Chris Williams, tailback Matt Forte, receiver Earl Bennett, defensive tackle Marcus Harrison, safety Craig Steltz, cornerback Zackary Bowman, tight end Kellen Davis, defensive end Ervin Baldwin, linebacker Joey LaRocque)
GREEN BAY PACKERS
2000: 1 (Offensive tackle Chad Clifton)
2002: 1 (Linebacker Aaron Kampman)
2003: 1 (Linebacker Nick Barnett)
2004: 1 (Center Scott Wells)
2005: 4 (Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, safety Nick Collins, linebacker Brady Poppinga, defensive end Michael Montgomery)
2006: 7 (Linebacker A.J. Hawk, guard Daryn Colledge, receiver Greg Jennings, center Jason Spitz, cornerback Will Blackmon, offensive tackle Tony Moll, defensive tackle Johnny Jolly)
2007: 9 (Defensive end Justin Harrell, running back Brandon Jackson, receiver James Jones, safety Aaron Rouse, offensive tackle Allen Barbre, fullback Korey Hall, linebacker Desmond Bishop, placekicker Mason Crosby, running back DeShawn Wynn)
2008: 9 (Receiver Jordy Nelson, quarterback Brian Brohm, cornerback Pat Lee, tight end Jermichael Finley, linebacker Jeremy Thompson, guard Josh Sitton, offensive tackle Breno Giacomini, quarterback Matt Flynn, receiver Brett Swain)
2002: 1 (Left tackle Bryant McKinnie)
2003: 2 (Defensive tackle Kevin Williams, linebacker E.J. Henderson)
2004: 2 (Defensive end Kenechi Udeze, tight end Jeff Dugan)
2006: 5 (Linebacker Chad Greenway, cornerback Cedric Griffin, offensive lineman Ryan Cook, quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, defensive end Ray Edwards)
2007: 5 (Running back Adrian Peterson, receiver Sidney Rice, cornerback Marcus McCauley, defensive end Brian Robison, receiver Aundrae Allison)
2008: 5 (Safety Tyrell Johnson, quarterback John David Booty, defensive tackle Letroy Guion, center John Sullivan, receiver Jaymar Johnson)
Dictionary Guy objects to our use of "apocryphal" in a post about Brett Favre's appearance in the iconic "There's Something About Mary." Writes DG: Think about your demographic for about 5 seconds, then think about whether they know what apocryphal means. If you're not sure about the intelligence of your readers, try reading the comments sections. I have a college degree and I had to look it up. might want to dumb it down at least a LITTLE.
Kevin Seifert: What "college" did you go to, DG? Seriously, I get this type of note more often than you might care to believe -- and I hardly consider myself a wordsmith. My reading of the comments section reveals pretty much what we already know: The world is made up of geniuses, yokels and a lot of people in between. On this blog, we'll cater to everyone. And if you occasionally have to consult a dictionary, by gosh, consider making it a habit. It won't bite you.
VikingJ of Wausau, Wis., writes: Saw an ESPN story yesterday about certain teams allowing seasoned vets to go home during camp and not force them to stay in a college dorm room. You then hear coaches say that training camp is a period to build team unity (whatever that means). What are your thoughts on this subject, and what direction are the NFC north teams taking?
Kevin Seifert: You probably were reading about Washington coach Jim Zorn following in the footsteps of what ex-Baltimore coach Brian Billick once did with the Ravens.
I have often heard veterans complaining about off-site training camps. Some players don't like being away from their families. Many are uncomfortable in tiny dorm rooms and old mattresses, a legitimate concern when you consider how much energy they must expend during practice. For those reasons, I can see how it might help to sleep in your own home and bed. And to me, relationships can be formed during training camp whether you're sleeping at home or in the dorms.
Because let's be clear: Regardless of where you sleep, camp is a daily 18-hour affair. Typically, players are scheduled from about 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. If you're not practicing, you're either eating or in meetings or napping. For that reason, some players would prefer staying and sleeping in dorms because they're the closest thing to them. The long hours wouldn't really give them much chance to see their families anyway.
I'm not aware of a sleep-on-your-own policy in the NFC North. Everyone sleeps in dorms (Chicago, Minnesota and Green Bay) or in a hotel (Detroit).
Jimbo of Chicago writes: Kevin, what's the inside scoop on the other Adrian Peterson? With Matt Forte and Kevin Jones getting the bulk of the carries, and the Bears talking about how they need to get Garrett Wolfe on the field more this year, where does that leave a veteran like AP? Does he even have a spot on this team? Do they really hold a spot for him just to play special teams?
Kevin Seifert writes: Jimbo, there are a couple of interesting factors in play here. First, you wonder if the Bears really would keep four tailbacks on the 53-man roster. If they only keep three, the competition conceivably would be down to Wolfe and Peterson. To me, we'll find out once and for all if the Bears are serious about using Wolfe on offense. That would be the primary reason to keep him over Peterson.
Second, Wolfe showed proficiency as a special teams player last season, leading the team with 21 tackles. The Bears put a strong emphasis on coverage and wouldn't part easily with Peterson. But at least they would know that Wolfe can handle coverage assignments.
Randall of Monoma, Wis., writes: If the Williams Wall wins, why couldn't the Wisconsin legislature pass legislation forbidding the calling of penalties against the Packers in home games at Lambeau Field, as a violation of their employee rights?
Kevin Seifert: Haha. (I think. I'm presuming you're joking.) Randall, of course, is referring to the lawsuit filed by Minnesota defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams. Essentially, the players are arguing that the NFL's steroid testing policy violates Minnesota state law. (The NFL contends the policy, which is part of the NFL's collective bargaining agreement, should be subject only to federal laws.)
But I cordially invite the Wisconsin legislature to take a break from its busy schedule to pursue such a law. Just to see what happens. And I'm guessing there would be more than a few legislators willing to take up the issue. Revolution!
Joseph of Fort Meade, Md., writes: As a Bears fan I'm glad to see the "Williams Wall" case delayed. At the end of the day, the NFL doesn't care about the state of Minnesota's stance on drug testing. The wall will lose. So hopefully they can be suspended at a more critical time in the season.
Kevin Seifert: Joseph, you actually bring up a good point. We have no way of predicting how long the legal process will take here. One month? Three months? Six months? Who knows with these things. But if you strictly go by the regular season schedule, the Vikings' first four games might represent the best stretch for them to miss if it comes to that.
None of their first four opponents -- Cleveland, Detroit, San Francisco and Green Bay -- had winning records last season. And from a preseason perspective, at least, the only running game I would fear in that group is the Packers'. If the players' legal case ultimately results in them missing games later in the season, it could play a more important role in the Vikings' playoff aspirations. No doubt.
Admit it. You were virtually joining me Monday night by flipping between "Dancing with the Stars" (We call it DWTS on Disney-owned ABC!), "2001: A Space Odyssey" on the Encore Mystery Channel and that 1985 matchup between Chicago and Green Bay on the NFL Network.
I must say that the Packers' Jim Zorn era had totally passed from my consciousness. Took me multiple squints -- thank you, video degradation -- to realize that the left-handed quarterback wearing No. 18 was Zorn. I thought it was cool seeing Minnesota defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier playing cornerback for the Bears in what was his last NFL season, but one part of the game stood out most prominently for me.
As you recall, William "The Refrigerator" Perry caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from Jim McMahon just before halftime, his first scoring reception. I vaguely remembered that play. What came next, however, I did not. Perry returned to the sidelines, joined the special teams huddle -- led by unofficial Bears assistant coach Jeff Fisher, who was on injured reserve at the time -- and trotted back onto the field to cover the kickoff.
That's something you don't see in today's game: A starting defensive tackle covering kickoffs, let alone one who participated in the previous offensive play. The Fridge got down the field, too, and was near the tackle. Just one example of how the game has changed over the years.
Oh, the Bears went on to defeat the Packers 16-10.
End fantastical digression. On with our morning march around the NFC North:
- Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times has the numbers on free-agent offensive lineman Frank Omiyale's contract. Omiyale will receive $6.3 million this season, almost half of the total value of the deal. That's a strong sign that the Bears consider him a starter at some position this season.
- Packers defensive back Jarrett Bush visited Tennessee on Monday and will meet with Baltimore officials on Wednesday, according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The Packers gave Bush the low tender as a restricted free agent, meaning they would get no compensation if he signs elsewhere.
- The Packers have yet to host linebacker Kevin Burnett on a visit, according to Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
- Even "The Simpsons" have taken a shot at Detroit's 0-16 season. Check out the video on the Detroit Free Press' Web site.
- The much-discussed visit of free-agent cornerback Karl Paymah to Minnesota is, alas, on hold, according to Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
- The city of Walnut, Calif., is preparing a legal challenge to plans for building an NFL stadium in nearby Industry, according to the Pasadena Star-News. The Vikings are among a handful of teams that have been approached to play in the proposed facility.
- Former Vikings coach Dennis Green and former Vikings defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell are among the men expected to be head coaches in the new United Football League, according to Howard Balzer of The Sports XChange.
During a news conference earlier this week, Detroit coach Rod Marinelli answered a question this way:
"We're looking. There's not a lot of options for us right now, OK? But that's something we're still looking at."
Marinelli was speaking about the possibility of swapping out his kick returners, but the answer spoke globally about the helpless position the Lions have put themselves in. They're winless, blacked out on local television and their limited roster leaves them nowhere to turn for in-season improvement.
At this point, the Lions seem a shocking upset away from 0-16. You have to imagine that someone will go belly-up against them this season, but it's not likely to be the Redskins.
All Washington coach Jim Zorn needs to do is hand it to tailback Clinton Portis a few dozen times. Portis leads the NFL with 818 yards. The Lions, among their many deficiencies, have the NFL's second-worst run defense. They are allowing 167.5 rushing yards per game and will have a hard time slowing down Portis.